Blog #4: “Sex Sells”/“The Apprentice” (Women in the Business World)

With Donald Trump being a hot topic in the news lately … and the center for comedy as well *cough cough SNL, cough cough Jimmy Fallon* … I’ve found myself watching old seasons of “The Apprentice” in my spare time. I never used to watch them, but now that I’m taking marketing classes for my minor, I have found them both entertaining and informing. Yes, when I watch the very first episode for a particular season, I always try to judge who will win at the end of the season and who’s going to be my season favorite. But more importantly, I try to learn at least one thing from every episode in marketing, business, or management senses. Because even though half of Donald Trump’s tasks seem impossible or crazy, the contenders manage to always do something extraordinary or something not so extraordinary using both their street smarts and book smarts.

So besides comedic media and political media focusing on Donald Trump and his presidential candidacy, why am I bringing up “The Apprentice” in this blog? A common statement that keeps being brought up in Advertising class is “Sex sells.” Funny enough, I was watching the Season 2 finale of “The Apprentice” (episode 16) last week and they dedicated a whole segment called “Sex Sells”, where they looked back at three previous moments of the season where the contestants – both male and female – used their physical appearances and sex appeals to make sales (30:20 – 34:00). Carolyn Kepcher, Donald Trump’s right-hand woman, said she was “ashamed to be a woman” based on the female contestants’ advances, most particularly on the infamous and controversial event that took place on Wall Street with contestant Ivana on Episode 13 (dropping her skirt for $20 to in turn make more money on her M&M candy bar sales). In that same episode, “M&M sisters/twins” Sandy and Jennifer dressed very similarly in red tank tops, skirts, heels, and straightened blonde hair to sell $5 candy bars to people on Wall Street. Ivana said, “They look like strippers with candy bars, cheap hookers … I’m pissed they’re using sex appeal to sell and I need to do something completely drastic to get 20 bucks for this candy bar.” So naturally to beat out her competition, she thought dropping her skirt was the right move to make. Despite her passionate defenses in the boardroom, Ivana was sent home for her actions. Season 2 was written about in online articles about the whole notion of women in the business world based on the Season 2 female contestants’ behaviors.

Even though that episode/season aired in 2004, it is still relevant today as we have concluded so many times in class and have noticed in our everyday lives outside of class (i.e. movie/TV show castings; print and media advertisements). Tonight, for instance, I went to the Women@Work event at New Hall, which was a networking opportunity for undergrad female students to talk to businesswomen. One of the topics that came up immediately in the discussion portion of the event was “Do women still have to meet society’s standards and wear that low-cut shirt at an interview to get the job?” Quite a number of the businesswomen took the mic and said no – women should not have to use their physical appearances to get a job in today’s day and age. As one woman said, “Confidence is the sexiest garment to wear to an interview and in the work place.” Even though this empowering statement is true, “sex sells” is also true as well in the advertising world, especially here in the States.

Related links:

NY Times “To The Editor” piece (2/1/04) –

Slate article (2/6/04) –

“The Apprentice”, Season 2, Episode 13 –

“The Apprentice”, Season 2, Episode 16 (Finale) –


Blog #3: Future Extreme Couponer?? (Ads and Deals)

Last week, I went grocery shopping and, not only was I happy at the end of the day, but so was my bank account. Now that I live in a townhouse, I can’t just buy a few bags of chips or holiday-themed Oreos every so often because they’ll last me a while – now I need to think about actually cooking! (Quick, have 911 ready to go to be called because I cannot cook … seriously like not at all.) So I went into Price Chopper with a good game plan. That afternoon I scoured the weekly flyer online and wrote down all the items I wanted and what items I could potentially use to cook with in a list formation. I don’t know what was more amazing – the list I made or the deals that were in effect for that week! As a college student, I was looking for quality products with decent prices so that I wasn’t killing my wallet either. There was 2 for $4 Barilla pasta sauce; Buy 1 Freihofer’s cookies, get 2 free English muffin packages; 10 for $10 Campbell’s tomato soups; 10 for $10 3-liter Poland Springs; 10 for $10 Cheese Nips; 10 for $10 cans of tuna; 10 for $10 pasta side dishes; and 8 Entemann’s donuts for only $2.99. How amazing does all of that sound?! The best part was I could get all of these deals because I had a Price Chopper AdvantEdge card. And on top of all that, I found e-coupons on the Price Chopper website, printed them out, and clipped them out to be used on that trip too!

When I finally made it to the store, I felt like such a mom – I got a shopping cart, put my purse right in front, and had my pen and paper in hand as I went to the aisles I needed to go to. I had a set game plan and really had no intentions of swaying from what I had written down. Yes, some things were out of stock so I had to think on my feet and find suitable replacements for reasonable prices. And for other products, I was willing to pay a little more because of the brand name because it had good quality and I’ve had good experiences with such brands in the past – brand loyalty right there [Chapter 4 principle]. At some points as I was going up and down the aisles I had some cognitive dissonance (a conflict of two thoughts); like I wanted to buy a bunch of junk food, but didn’t have the money to just give into that temptation [Chapter 5 principle]. And with junk food in mind, I had my grandmother’s nagging voice inside my head – That’ll make you fat. You gotta watch your weight and figure. How are you going to get a boyfriend when you’re busy stuffing cookies in your mouth? Not only is my grandma vain and obsessed with physical appearances, but so is society – follow the latest health trend instead of giving in and eating fast food or junk food [external and internal noises – Chapter 5 principles]. Yes, I indulged and splurged, and bought some cookies and snacks because I’m not going to let society dictate what I can and cannot eat for pleasure. But I was really proud of myself that I didn’t really buy on impulse when it was so easy to just reach over to a product and plop it into the cart [Chapter 4 principle].

At the end of the trip, I purchased 23 items for a total of $38.28, which I thought was pretty good. My roommate, on the other hand, did not check the weekly flyer and bought quite a number of products on impulse – meaning she had a much higher bill when compared to mine – needless to say she was jealous of me. Obviously I love a good deal and can’t wait to go grocery shopping again. For now I’ll just keep watching “Extreme Couponing” reruns – when I’m not doing my Advertising homework of course – to keep the motivation going.

From Pinterest:

Blog #2: Pepsi or Coke? (Branding and Society)

Fun fact: one of things I kinda hate when going to restaurants is the waiter or waitress emphasizing the fact that they don’t carry the soda brand I asked for and asking if the equivalent is feasible instead. Ma’am, we don’t have Coke. Our menu says Pepsi products. Do you want something else or is Pepsi ok? I was raised in a Coca-Cola household all my life (don’t know why – that’s just the way it is), but I don’t make a scene in a restaurant and refuse to drink Pepsi if they only have Pepsi; I say ok, whatever, Pepsi’s fine because I just instinctively say Coke from habit and preference [brand loyalty and brand relationship – Chapter 2 principle]. Yes, there is a difference in taste (that’s a fact, not an opinion), but whatever, I don’t care that much – just give me a carbonated drink, please and thank you. But some people get crazy over the matter and judge each other’s taste buds on that age-old question.

However, this brings me to my next point – it’s not just enough anymore to choose & buy one brand over another, pick up a can or bottle, hear the click and fizzle, and take a swig of your favorite soda. Now companies give  incentives for drinking soda through brand loyalty programs [Chapter 2 principle] – redeemable codes underneath bottle caps or printed on the insides of cardboard boxes – which give consumers the chance to ‘claim’ a variety of prizes through a point system (cough cough Coke). Kinda ironic right? Drink a ton of sugary soda to get that free steam cooker – worth 1050 points AKA 350 bottles of soda – you’ve always wanted, but never got a chance to buy (this is an example from Recently over the summer to endorse its summer concert promotions, Pepsi humorously fired shots against Coke, as seen in the two different TV commercials, in order to convince consumers to buy their products and not Coca-Cola’s [Chapter 3 principle]. Pepsi mocks the iconic Coca-Cola polar bear mascot and also criticizes its recent “Share a Coke With” promotional campaign with personalized products (see videos below). According to the Business Insider article, “Coke is the largest carbonated soft drink brand in the US with a 17.6% of the market, while Pepsi is number two, with an 8.8% share, according to Beverage Digest data for 2014” (O’Reilly). Of course, it’s only natural that Pepsi tries to stir the pot by going after its competition, and that is something that will never ever change.

One of the things I wanted to also bring up in this blog post that’s somewhat related was comparing the past with the present, which was inspired by the 1994 Diet Coke commercial we watched in class today. Nearly 20 years later in 2013, Coca-Cola revamped the ‘Diet Coke Construction Worker’ commercial with the ‘Diet Coke Lawn Mower Stud’. Even though they’re in different times, the same ideals still apply and the same objectifications take place: a shirtless, chiseled working-man; a suggestive song playing in the background; and the women gaping and swooning. Except this time – both the man and women are drinking Diet Coke, and the main woman initiates the soda-drinking action by rolling the can towards him and giving him the ‘drink up’ gesture. Regardless of the time lapse and these slight differences, what does this say about us – as consumers? As a culture? I think the answer’s pretty obvious, and Coca-Cola is not the only brand/company to use these kinds of tactics when developing and producing advertisements to get into people’s heads and wallets.

Related links:

Business Insider (June 2015) –

Pepsi vs. Coke commercial/video (Polar Bear – 2015) –

Pepsi vs. Coke commercial/video (Larry – 2015) –

Diet Coke Lawn Mower Stud commercial/video (2013) –

Adweek article (January 2013) –

Blog #1: Mass Media (Chaps. 1 & 2)

One of the things that stuck with me following our class discussions and after reading Chapters 1 and 2 was advertisers’ mass media approaches. Mass media can be a very helpful and effective tool in the advertising world when you promote your product to SO many viewers at a certain time during a certain event that is being broadcasted to your target market, so that sales and profits increase afterward. Major sports events, like the Super Bowl and the World Series, immediately come to mind. While sports fans get all hyped up about the two competing teams fighting for the coveted title, a new trend has emerged with many non-sports fans; they tend to put on the major cable channel (like FOX or NBC) just to watch the commercials, which have evolved to be fun and interesting (and controversial for some), and comment on them moments later.

For instance, a memorable commercial that seems to be a fan favorite during Super Bowl time is the different friendships featured in Budweiser ads — in 2013 it was the Clydesdale horse & his trainer, and in 2014 and 2015 it was the Clydesdale and a puppy. Targeting not only beer drinkers (typically male), Budweiser also looked to women and animal-lovers by tugging at heartstrings with this commercial — who doesn’t like a cute little puppy reuniting with his best friend?! So the better question is — were these commercials effective for me as a consumer to buy or consume Budweiser’s products? No, not necessarily — however, I do look forward to seeing the next, new advertisement they’ll put out because they’re adorable and they leave a good, lasting impression on me.  With this in mind, social media is so important in today’s day and age because it creates a global buzz and word of mouth conversations. Of course I’m guilty of this — after the Budweiser ad aired during the Super Bowl, I immediately picked up my phone to text my mom to talk about how cute it was, and then I tweeted about it with the hashtag Budweiser provided (#BestBuds) — viral marketing right there. Clearly their marketing team and ad agency know what they’re doing; they had a strategy, they had target audiences, and their ad budget was used wisely (at least in my opinion anyway).

As seen with various commercials during different major televised events, mass media either makes or breaks a company and its reputation — after paying so much money for airtime, you have a short, allotted amount of time to get your message across and convince people to buy your product. To go back to the 2015 Budweiser commercial, Forbes stated, “Meanwhile, Budweiser is so far past its marketing heyday, it would probably have better luck just bringing back the ‘Bud—Weis—Er’ frog commercials. Though maybe I’m wrong about that. Cute puppies are hard to beat” (Erik Kain).  Was it the best, according to them? No. But it wasn’t the worst either. Forbes, for instance, was not receptive towards the Nationwide commercial; “Nationwide’s childhood death ad was not only depressing, it was exploitative and insulting, playing on our fears in an age where parents already freak out way too much about their kids’ safety” (Erik Kain). Personally, when I saw that particular commercial on live TV, I was a little creeped out by it too. It did not leave a good impression on me, thus not really leaving a good brand image in my mind afterward.

A lot of thinking, planning, and research goes into this type of advertising, along with the pressures to do well for profits and revenues sales afterward. As this course continues, I hope to learn more about the various ways advertising works and what are the best ways to reach a target audience in the most effective and cost-efficient ways.

Related links (with Youtube videos):

Forbes article:

USA Today article: