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Promoting Products April 30, 2007

Posted by Stephanie in advertising, brand, Consumers.
7 comments

The effort companies go through to advertise in both subtle and obvious ways on television is remarkable.  Characters in movies and television shows are often depicted with very specific brands of beverages, clothes and other products.  Products are strategically placed in the background of scenes, carefully positioned to subconsciously attract a viewer’s attention.  Another strategy is through the endorsements of talk show hosts.  Oprah has her “Favorite Things” episode about once a year which hopefully stemmed from her actual favorite finds.  Now however, hosts like Oprah and Martha Stewart look to make some extra money (as if either needed it) by promoting products on their shows. 

 
30-second spot on The Martha Stewart Show = $10,000

One-time in-show oral mention with product close-up = $100,000

Two-minute-plus branded segment, with two or three talking points = $250,000 +

 (Data: Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., BusinessWeek)

  In some cases Martha has never even used the product herself and yet she boosts of how phenomenal it is.  Even worse, in the case of the Scotch-Brite toilet scrubber segment, Martha doesn’t even like the fact that the product is used once and then wastefully thrown away.  This reminds me of hair product commercials featuring celebrities.  Do any of those women actually dye their hair from a box?  I highly doubt so. 

 Is this the same as false advertising? It seems quite deceitful.  Yet thousand, maybe millions of viewers take the advice of the “Queen of the Product Pitch.”  On whose recommendation would you purchase a new product?  Do they have to be an “expert” in their field? Is a simple commercial not enough anymore?

Adjusting to the Collapsed Highway April 29, 2007

Posted by Stephanie in transportation.
2 comments

The devastating pictures from The New York Times of Oakland, California immediately caught my attention today. 

“A fiery pre-dawn tanker truck accident caused the collapse of a heavily trafficked freeway overpass near downtown today, sending hundreds of feet of concrete crashing onto a highway below and hobbling a vital Bay Area interchange.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/29/us/29cnd-collapse.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Luckily no one was killed when the track carrying 8,600 gallons of gasoline crashed.  However the results of the intense fire cause catastrophic damage to the highways.  Most likely it was the extreme heat from the fire which melted the steel girders and bolts that support the concrete roadway which lead to the destruction of the road system. 

“On an average day, the two spans that were destroyed this morning carry 160,000 vehicles.”

We all complain as Route 80 in our neck of the woods is insistently under construction.  This however is planned construction and in comparison a far more manageable situation.  It will be interesting to see how the city reacts to the situation once the weekdays with rush hour traffic and busy work life resumes tomorrow.  With such an unforeseeable situation it will be interesting to follow how the repairs will be made considering budgets, the need to be time efficient and yet ensuring the safety of workers and eventually drivers. 

I would not be envious of handling this situation of project management.  The stress, pressure and watchful eyes of city planners, safety regulators, Californians and other stakeholders are sure to demand a quick yet safe solution.  

Would you be interested in construction/project management? It seems as though there are very clear tasks and goals.  But the unexpected challenges that arise with uncontrollable factors such as weather may be too stressful.

How do you think the city will adjust to the situation? What other problems do you see stemming from accident?

Honeybees – Bees Vanish, and Scientists Race for Reasons April 26, 2007

Posted by Jordi in agriculture, Organizations and Mother Earth, science.
5 comments

The bees are leaving! This is so weird. Life is stranger than fiction. Where are they going?

Honeybees – Bees Vanish, and Scientists Race for Reasons – New York Times
More than a quarter of the country’s 2.4 million bee colonies have been lost — tens of billions of bees, according to an estimate from the Apiary Inspectors of America, a national group that tracks beekeeping. So far, no one can say what is causing the bees to become disoriented and fail to return to their hives.

The article points out that the reasons why vary and many are a bit nutty: terrorism, cell phone towers, GM crops. This just isn’t about your Honey Nut Cheerios! Its Global. Many countries in Europe and Latin America report similar problems.

Bees are used to pollinate many food crops. They are considered a critical link in the food chain. The most important insect for agriculture. Combined with the cooler temperatures this spring, which wiped out the fruit crops in many southern states, we could be in for some rough times with food prices. Maybe inflation would start to creep up, leading to the Fed, out of fear of inflation, raising rates. The somewhat shaky demand in the US would fall, sparking a recession. A global recession. Yikes, all from some wayward bees! I want to know more about this.

Taking child education to the next level April 19, 2007

Posted by Janine in Education, innovation.
5 comments

Ok, so I was talking with my dad recently, and he was telling me about all the new toys that my 7 year old brother is playing with nowadays.  Most were pretty basic toys for someone his age, but one thing that caught my attention was a game called “Webkinz.”

http://www.webkinz.com/

I do not know if any of you have heard of this, but kids go online and “adopt” / pay for an animated stuffed animal. Then they are given a room for this animal, name it, etc.  Well the interesting thing about this game is that then you are given webkinz dollars.  You start out with 2,000, then depending on how well you care for your animal, and also depending on how well you do on the trivia games you can play on the site, then the kids are awarded more money.  They then use this money to buy more food, clothes, furniture, more animals to add to the family!  At the bottom of the screen, the kids can see how happy their animal is!!

 My little brother is obsessed with this game.  He heard about it from all his friends, and apparently, my father was saying, it is becoming a household name in homes with children.

Isn’t is quite amazing what “toys” have become?  I remember only having Barbies, and other such dolls and board games.  Now, everything is interactive.  It is all done on the computer.  This online game is an example of where our future is going.  It is almost scary to imagine what our kids will be playing with someday!

A Risky Investment April 18, 2007

Posted by Charley S in Idiocy.
5 comments

http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/apr2007/sb20070416_924680.htm?chan=smallbiz_smallbiz+index+page_top+stories

When most people think of investing, one of the most important factors is risk.  A basic rule is that the more risk you take, the higher the potential is that you will have a high return.  So, for normal people who don’t want risk they put their money in a mutual fund or a money market account; if people want risk they may invest directly into stocks.  The investors in this article have a very different conception of risk.  They are looking to start a 5 star hotel in the middle of the green zone in Baghdad, Iraq.  Here, there is a lot more risk than we are usually used to.  There is the danger that the country will collapse, no one will actually visit the hotel, suicide bombers, truck bombers, and random bullets flying into peoples rooms.  The people in charge state that security will be the most important part of the hotel, and who can argue.  They also state that there is currently a market for this product (which will cost $1500 a night) who as of right now live in standards comparable to a highway motel in the U.S.  I’m not entirely sure what I think about this business idea, but I know that I probably would not invest all my life savings into it right now.  These investors are placing their trust in the Iraqi government to be stable for a long time, which I am not too keen on. 

How far does the internet go? April 17, 2007

Posted by Abby in innovation, Internet, Technology.
6 comments

It’s amazing what you can find on the internet. It’s only been 1 day since the Virginia Tech tragedy, and already there are all kinds of things that have been published about the student. His assignments for a Creative Writing class, and scripts have all been made public online. There is an audience for it too, everyone seems to be hungry to find out what his motivations were.

If we simply looked back, perhaps 5 years, none of this would be available. Online documents/readings/files of another student. The curiosity of the public, and how much they want to know is slowly affecting the design and abilities of the internet.

On a separate note, in my ‘Topics in Gender Studies’ class, we were discussing porn. Our professor mentioned that it is the porn industry and it’s technicians that are the driving force creating new technologies for the web. This is an example of how a market drives what technologies need to be created, and how technicians might be inspired and given new ideas.

Update (4/18)
Here is a little section from a reading that I have for this English class, relating to the internet and developing technologies:

“The Internet and all sex trade, tourism, trafficking and pornography are experiencing unprecedented growth. Donna Hughes claims that “the Internet as a communications medium would exist without the sex industry, but the Internet industry would not be growing and expanding at its present rate without the sex industry” (2000:36). In 1998, it was estimated that 69 percent of the total Internet content sales were related to adult content (Hughes 2000). Jonathon Coopersmith reminds us that what is driving the transformation of the sex industry technology has been “the great capitalist engines of innovation and the quest for profits” (28). Internet pornography has become the highest growth, highest profit market ever known (Hughes; Coopersmith). “

– ‘E-Brides: The Mail-Order Bride Industry and the Internet’ by Julie Pehar

Internet Advertising April 17, 2007

Posted by Stacey Swift in advertising.
4 comments

As I was searching through websites looking for news to make a post, I was overwhelmed with the number of pop up adds, so I decided to do a post on that instead.  As I typed in Businessweek.com I was brought to a page on the Hilton, I was trying to get out of it and clicked in the center of the page, and it brought me to a page on Hilton vacations.  Do you experience the same problems when you are trying to search the web.  How about the pop up adds that say, “Congratulations you have won $10,000, click here for your prize!”  Do you ever fall for these?  Google’s recent acquisition of Double Click must mean Internet advertising really does work.

Have you ever been persuaded to purchase something from Internet advertising?  I personally avoid them at all cost.  Also, if you were a company how much would you be willing to pay to advertise online?

Leaders April 17, 2007

Posted by wilson7 in Workplaces.
3 comments

In my Management 312 class we were talking about leadership and leaders today and I just wanted to get some feedback on the type of people you hope to work for in the future. What traits or characteristic would you like your boss to have? Would you like him/her to be the charming, jeans-wearing CEO whose dramatic unveiling of the Apple iPhone in January drove the stock up 8 percent by day’s end? Or is he/she been chronicled in several books, the classic jerk boss, notorious for belittling subordinates and business partners? Most people would say they would want the charming easy-going boss who knows how to talk to people but some individuals just do not respond to this type of boss. A number of employees need someone always looking over their shoulder making sure they are doing the right thing. What kind of employee are you?

 

A perfect boss doesn’t take care of those who work for him. He is much more effective than that. The perfect boss treats those who work for him as if they were his most important suppliers. Which, of course, they are. Their supply of services is his biggest personal dependency.

http://codingslave.blogspot.com/2005/10/q-what-is-perfect-boss.html

 

CEOs and top managers should be authentic, considerate, sensitive, and modest, as well as creative, smart, and strategically brilliant. It would be wonderful if workplaces were filled with leaders who behaved as polite, mature adults. Despite their track records of success, Apple, Oracle, and
Hollywood studios have lost a lot of talent to nasty behavior. But utopia is impossible, which is why management consultants and authors should stop talking so much about how to find an ideal leader and instead focus on placing people into jobs that play to their strengths – and where their flaws won’t be fatal.

Being Rich is Not An Easy Goal April 17, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Consumers, Finances, Public Interest.
8 comments

I have heard once that the majority of adolescents had said that their ultimate goal is to become rich in life. So many people have the same goal, yet only a certain percentage are ever able to achieve this. I came across an interesting article that features a young couple, both earning a combined six-digit income. They want the typical American lifestyle, get married, buy a house, and put money away for their kids’ education. These hard-working Americans however, only have a few hundred dollars in their savings account and approximately $40,000 in debt.

This is the normal trend for people these days. With the ability to “buy now, pay later,” credit accumulates tremendously. Everyone wants the American life with their own house early on in their lives, and hence, they spend and buy things on credit.

CNN money gives us advice on how to prevent this crisis. Start saving early. It seems like common sense, but it is actually much harder than it sounds. Most people spend their money on things, and leave their “leftovers” in their savings account. This is apparently the wrong way to go about it. We should put a set percentage in our savings account, and then pay off other things. If we invest $10,000 at age 30, it will grow to $100,000 by retirement. If we waited to invest this $10,000 at age 40, it will only grow to about half of that.

This article makes me think that it is never too early to start saving. It sounds like a foolproof plan, but do we have the discipline as American consumers to do so?

How Much Control Do You Have Over Employees? April 17, 2007

Posted by Elaine in Business-Society Issues, Employees.
2 comments

I came across an article that featured an employer wondering what she can do about her workers that smoked cigarettes. Insurance companies charge a higher rate for employees that smoke. Employees obviously do not smoke at their workplace, but some do when they are off the clock. Is it fair for the employee to require that her workers do not smoke at all? It would save the company a tremendous amount of money in the insurance department.

Unfortunately for the employer, there are laws stating you cannot discriminate an applicant for their activities outside of the work place. This includes risky behavior such as bungee jumping, sky diving, etc. I remember watching the movie “Along Came Polly.” The guy’s job was to calculate how much insurance/risk each person was worth. His client would partake in extreme activities such as parachuting, hand-gliding, and free falls. He would constantly be stressed out and warned his client that he was too expensive to insure. Are there laws stating that you cannot limit the activities an individual can do just because of insurance purposes?

Helping out the employer, there are laws that allow them to pass the higher costs of insurance over to the smoker. Instead of being discriminated against and now allowed to have the job, these workers just have to pay the additional insurance money. Is this a fair practice?