International Stereotypes in Advertising

Spending five months abroad taught me a lot of things, many of which were to be expected. However, I learned a few things that I wasn’t exactly seeking out- namely, not to believe everything that I’ve been told about the people in other countries. I didn’t realize just how deeply advertising affects not only what we think about certain brands or companies, but also what we think about whole groups of people. By promoting certain services or products, advertisers shape what consumers believe about their fellow humans across the pond and elsewhere- just Google what’s advertised as “American” in any other country and you’ll see what I mean. There were a whole slew of pre-conceived notions that I didn’t even know I had until they were proven wrong, such as:

  • All French people smell bad- deodorant brands have explicitly advertised that you “don’t want to smell like the French” in order to sell their products

  • All Italians eat mountains of pizza and pasta- songs, TV shows and restaurant chains are just a few of the things that characterize this nationality into a costume

  • All English people have bad teeth- from gum companies to toothpaste brands, the image that Brits have poor dental hygiene has been painted into our heads

  • All Swedish people are blonde- ok, this one is MAINLY true...but still, there are plenty of non-blonde Swedes, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they are advertised and played in the U.S.

None of this is to say that advertising is inherently harmful to people of other cultures. It helps us understand an aspect of each other in a way that is easy for our minds to grasp, and it’s a quick way for advertisers to make their points. However, it was an enlightening experience to have some of the stereotypes in my subconscious shattered, and it was interesting to note just how much advertising had affected me- even when I left the country they had been reaching me in.

My Big Break

I spent my last Spring Break at Mitchell Communications Group in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Along with six other Big Break interns from around the country, I learned all the inner workings of a full-service PR agency. Throughout the week, I sat in various sessions with representatives from each department and learned about what they do, and by the end of the week, I was able to see how all the pieces of the agency puzzle come together.

Coming into Mitchell, I thought I would learn about agency life and how it was applicable to PR, but I was shown much more than that. Big Break allowed me to dive into agency culture, learn about the industry and network with agency professionals.

One of my favorite sessions was about defining personal brand. I’ve been in classes throughout college that discuss the importance of branding yourself, but I never understood how it worked or what it really meant. Big Break helped me condense it down and think more clearly about my strengths, weaknesses, passions and goals. From there, I was able to see a common theme: drive.

Defining your personal brand is more than one word, however. It’s everything about you as an individual, from others’ perceptions of you to your work. It’s thinking of yourself as a company and representing yourself in a way that reflects the brand you want to embody. Your brand can also be portrayed in a quick power statement, an elevator pitch and even your resume and cover letters. Being immersed in Mitchell was a great way to see and understand its brand and the brand of its employees, and therefore use it as an example to continue to build my own.

There were so many great takeaways from that week, but my biggest one was confidence. I went in not knowing what to expect, but came out certain that my JMC department has prepared me well. I learned early in the week that I was the only Big Breaker with experience like Morris+Mitchell, and after spending a week in the agency, I realized how prepared I was to go out into a real agency life. Of course there will always be new things to learn, but I’m so excited to dive in and feel confident in what I’ve learned. I’m proud that a part of my personal brand will always come from being an ACU Wildcat and member of Morris+Mitchell.

When It’s So Bad It’s Good

In the words of an unnamed fictional racecar driver, “if you ain’t first, you’re last.” But exactly how bad is it to be last?

I’m sure we can all think of things that are so bad, that somehow they’re good (I’m looking at you, Taco Bell.) We have a fascination with things that are bad. This is in part thanks to the Internet, which makes it super easy to make fun of things that fail.

Because of this, brands are taking notice of the “so bad it’s good” phenomenon and capitalizing on it, even sometimes intentionally “failing”, just to make a point.

A fairly recent example of this is Drake's music video for the song “Hotline Bling.” His unchoreographed, awkward-on-purpose dance moves in the video rival those of your weird uncle having just a little bit too much fun at a wedding. Almost immediately after its release, the Internet went crazy with memes and parody videos, which have since been followed with companies taking their own spin on the viral clip. Among them are the Philadelphia Police Department with a PSA about saving parking spots, Comedy Central India promoting reruns of the TV show Friends, and even a Super Bowl spot from T-Mobile, which Drake himself participated in.

So how should these artists feel about this? Should companies feel like big bullies for making fun of something that is so obviously bad?

I think not! In the end, what’s the difference between getting entertainment from a bad music video and getting entertainment from a good one? If you’ve been made into a meme, I’d say you’re probably going to be alright.

The Desire to be Creative in Advertising

My imagination has never just been in my head… it has always been active. I was the kid that would wet the bed after hearing of the bad guys my dad’s bedtime stories brought to life. As I got older, I used my active imagination to fuel my creativity in writing a short story at eight-years-old that was published in The Rising Star, a Texas state magazine for young writers. I went on to pursue music, recording Taylor Swift-inspired, angsty teenage songs when I got to high school. Coming into college, I decided to pursue a major that capitalized on my “on-set” creativity.

Unfortunately, with age, I have found my creativity harder and harder to hone in on, activate and use to my advantage. My to-do list motivates me more than the idea of finishing that last chapter of the latest thriller I’m reading (and no, I no longer wet the bed).

I find that I mesh better with my team at Morris+Mitchell by being the administrator, the planner and the task master. I am confident in my ability to get things done and get them done well; but when it comes to taglines, slogans and the creative process of advertising, I hide. I shiver. I fear. I’m not sure when I began to shy away from the innovative process, but it has become crippling to put myself out there.

What I tend to forget is that everyone is creative. That term tends to exclusively describe artists, designers and copywriters, but in advertising everyone on board has a creative spirit in their heart. It’s why they’re in the business that creates something out of nothing.

“If you’re alive, you’re a creative person,” says author Elizabeth Gilbert in her book, Big Magic. To be creative means to have a good imagination, original ideas or produce artistic work. It doesn’t require having “Creative Director” on your resume. It may mean you’re good at working on teams that reach a seemingly impossible end goal, strategizing your day with your planner and to-do list, rebranding a company from the ground up or simply brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. Being creative is an innate gift in every single human, desiring to be manifested from the inside out. I may pursue a career as an account coordinator/manager/director, but that won’t stop me from playing with the "creatives." I hope it doesn’t stop you, either.

AN Ad/PR major finds her niche

Written by junior Kaitlyn Grothues

I had no clue what I wanted to major in as a freshman at ACU. I had no direction whatsoever and didn’t know what I was good at, so I spent a year taking basic university-required classes rather than learning about what I would be doing for the rest of my life. Eventually, I took Media Issues, which was the first of many classes I would end up taking in the Journalism and Mass Communication department at ACU. This class led me to fall in love with the world of advertising and public relations. I realized that there was so much I could do with Ad/PR and I loved every direction I could go with this major. I didn’t know that I could make a career out of things I already love, such as social media and event planning. Now, rather than feeling lost regarding what I want to do in the future, I have too many ideas, which is a great problem to have. That’s what I really love about Ad/PR; I’m learning about many different aspects of mass communication that will allow me to go in whichever direction I please. The things we do and learn in this major are beneficial in so many different areas of the real world. Additionally, the experience of working for a real Ad/PR agency like Morris+Mitchell really gave me a glimpse into what a potential career in the industry would be like. I can’t wait to see what my future in Ad/PR holds.

Don't Sit Out

Since its launch in 2010, Instagram has been steadily growing over the past six years. Recent data shows the social media juggernaut has now recruited more than 400 million users, including 30 percent of all internet users. Instagram’s large follower base means brands, companies and organizations alike need to be active and engaging on Instagram.

With so many organizations vying for attention on Instagram, a lot of pressure has been created for brands to be “the best.” Any update or change to Instagram has to be seen as an opportunity–even if the update isn’t always popular among users.

Instagram’s newest update gives users the ability to zoom in on their friends’ posts, similar to the zoom feature in the iPhone camera and photos apps. Brands are already utilizing the new feature as a way to engage with current followers while gaining new ones, ultimately leading to a larger consumer base and greater brand recognition. Utilizing the ability to zoom empowers brands with yet another social media tactic to engage their followers.

Primark, a European-based company known for its discount clothing, is one example of a brand quickly jumping on board with the new zoom feature. For example, the post below highlights 25 of the company’s products. Allowing followers to zoom in on photos, Primark can showcase more than two dozen products in the same image, knowing followers can zoom in on any particular item.

The increased growth and accessibility of Instagram means brands need to stay active and consistent to get ahead. Instagram is a great way to promote ads while building name recognition at a reasonably low cost.

One of the challenges of advertising is the need to constantly stay current and consider what social media features are evolving. Sitting out = missing out, so get in the game.

celebrating client uniqueness

Here at Morris+Mitchell, creative thinking and dreaming are big keys. We celebrate being unique and recognize that in order to best represent our services and satisfy our clients, we must identify and amplify the characteristics that define each company or brand that we work with. With this in mind, we look forward to getting to know our clients on a deeper, more human level.

"The work of an advertising agency is warmly and immediately human. It deals with human needs, wants, dreams and hopes. Its 'product' cannot be turned out on an assembly line.”
 -Leo Burnett American Advertising Executive Founder of Leo Burnett Company, Inc.