Tuesday, November 30, 2010
by Emily Thorpe
Nicolas Hulot is an environmentalist and activist. He is the founder of the Foundation Nicolas Hulot which is an environmentalist group which seeks to create awareness among the people. In his television show, Ushuaia, Hulot shows images and clips of the worlds treasured places and the terrors which humans are putting them through. His television program is like the Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth but with a focus on the damage and destruction caused by humans. Hulot has become somewhat like the extended and French version of Al Gore. His environmental concern and popularity from his television show has given him sway in French politics. Nicolas Hulot uses and manipulates media for his own ecological devises.
Hulot not only hosts his own television program but has also written many books. His books include titles such as: “These Suffering Children'', ''Tabarly, 45 years of Challenges'', ''The Side Roads'', ''The Pole Hunters”, ''Emotional'', ''Questions of Nature”, ''The Titanic Syndrome”, and ''For an Ecological Pact''. His books’ topics surround the pressing issues on the world brought on by the recklessness of men. His many published works, his website, and his television show demonstrate Hulot’s knowledge of how to work the system and get himself noticed. This public exposure of himself is the best way for Hulot to make changes. A person might have the best ideas but if they do not publish their ideas and make them known, the ideas are wasted. Hulot is deeply concerned with the environmental state of the Earth. Hulot was once quoted saying, “My hope is that this film will question our model of growth. It's not a matter of ideology, it's a matter of physical law. Our planet is not growing, but what we ask of it never ceases to grow. At some point, we have to find a balance between what Earth can provide and what we need” (Masters), his goal is to stimulate change for the benefit of the world and it’s natural resources.
Hulot’s website for the Foundation Nicolas Hulot uses the message to create the design. The website is laid out in a landscape rather than portrait direction.The website evokes an interest in what Hulot has to say. There are articles recommending ways one can help and ways to get involved. There are also short explanations of UN reports and summaries of complex data. The site is full of information. It’s a little bit hard to use the website due to all the information and the interesting homepage layout. Even so, there is a ton of quality information on the website with bold colors and varying fonts attracting the visiter in.
Nicolas Hulot can advertise his company and ideals himself but having help doesn’t hurt. Like many philanthropic and idealist organizations, extra publicity is a key element. The Foundation Nicolas Hulot is supported by many celebrities, singers, actors, activists, and world travelers. One of the “ambassadors” of the Foundation Nicolas Hulot is Jane Goodall. Having celebrities supporting and representing your organization is a fantastic way to get your ideas into the media. People who like the supporting celebrities will be more likely to find out about and share the messages that the organization promotes. It also looks good for celebrities to support a good cause, such as environmentalism. This poster reads, “The French Rugby Team Supports the Nicolas Hulot Foundation”. There is an image of the globe in the shape of a rugby ball. The only environmentalist idea shown in this poster is the globe. This poster is not about giving advice; it’s meant to inspire curiosity in people who support the French Rugby team. Hulot understands that Recognizable faces, titles and names are a fantastic way to push his ideas into the media.
Every cause needs publicity and Hulot uses familiar images to relate well through his sometimes controversial posters. Environmental posters are not a new idea, but Hulot has taken his to the extreme in order to pull on people’s heartstrings. Leaving a light on doesn’t seem horrible. The message “Leaving a light on for no reason destroys the planet” is strong but when you add an image of a dolphin which has been killed by the light’s cord, the message becomes memorable. Instead of not caring if you have to do a small load of laundry because you want something specific cleaned, Nicolas Hulot wants to remind you that running a washer that’s not full will kill chetahs. One of Hulot’s poster didn’t require words. The image was too familiar, yet the poster is not of the World Trade Center Attack; it is an image of trees. This particular image will receive a very emotional response, and after the shock and realization that these are trees, not towers, the poster will create an association of the terrorism of 9/11 with the terrorism of humanity on nature. Not all of Hulot’s promotions are frightening. Some like this, which reads, “Our destinies are connected”, invoke a connection to the environment which is kind and loving. Hulot’s posters are his best media. They are quick and to the point with a short text message. After seeing these bold images, one would be unlikely to forget to turn off a light.
Nicolas Hulot has transformed from an activist into a celebrity with a large fan base and support group, which gives him more power. In 2007, Hulot saw an opportunity to get what he wanted. Realizing that he was popular in the media, Hulot threatened the candidates in the Presidential Election with the idea of Hulot running for president himself. Hulot would have made a formidable opponent if ecology was a main issue of the election. In order to appease Hulot, and keep him from running for office, five of the twelve candidates signed his "Pacte Ecologique". This pact promised that the agreeing candidates would consider ecological problems in future decisions. Included in this group of candidates was Sarkozy (Nicolas Hulot). Getting things done requires power; Nicolas Hulot is aware and skilled in this area.
Although Hulot has encountered some controversy over some of the media he uses to promote ecology and awareness, he has a large following and a great deal of support. Hulot began as an activist and has become a leading figure on the front lines of the war for environmental awareness.
Jean Baudrillard writes mainly about globalization versus universality. The term globalization refers to the globalization of technologies, the market, tourism, and information. Universality refers to the universality of values, human rights, freedoms, cultures, and democracy. Baudrillard suggests that the two concepts have an inverse relationship, meaning that as globalization increases universality decreases. He also argues that Western Culture is unique in that it regards its system of values superior and something desirable to all other cultures. Every culture that subscribes to these western morals loses its singularity, meaning that it loses its culture because they are abandoning their values for those forced upon them. The problem Baudrillard sees with this expansion of universality is that it does not expand at the highest common denominator, but rather the lowest. So countries that adopt Western values end up with the worst, most corrupt forms of democracy.
This process begins with the globalization of trades because it causes the interaction of different cultures for economic reasons. Baudrillard argues that eventually democracy and human rights circulate like any other global product, and become globalized the same was the production of a computer becomes globalized. Japan is the one country that has achieved economic success, but has done so without losing its singularity. This means that Japan is still Japan, while France and England have become Americanized. This same train of logic also explains why Islam is now “Public Enemy Number One”. They have resisted the transition to Western morals the most, so their morals contrast the most with ours. Baudrillard warns that it seems as if globalization is winning and homogenizing all of our values and creating one ‘unculture’. Fortunately though, matters are not settled. It is not certain that globalization will ‘win’. He ends his essay by arguing that we can see heterogeneous forces springing up all over, and forces that are willing to fight. However, he does not state which forces these are.
New Media, New Europe: Estonia’s E-Mediated State
The author, Alec Charles presents in this article, a somewhat argumentative essay that more or less questions the current and future use of the domination of media in Estonia, one of the world’s most media embracing nations. He begins by presenting many arguments in quotes against the use of an E-democracy, or an electronically dominated society, including points which question its accuracy in including the society’s voice as a whole and its' exclusiveness to wealthier people. The essay then goes on to introduce the nation of Estonia as well as historical aspects that preceded to its’ currently prospering electronic lifestyle. The laissez-faire economic policies adopted by governments since Estonia’s independence have allowed for the development of industrial, geographical and social sectors, bringing wealth. They were also the first to adopt online banking as well as public wifi installation after the introduction of the Tiger leap Initiative which was meant to solidify Estonia’s place as a competitive E-State in the EU.
However, Charles only regards the Estonian political system as a great thing just so he can counter those points with criticisms. He introduces E-government which was used to stimulate even more the use of electronics and media in society. The TOM program allowed for the suggestion of legislative laws by the citizens to the government, in hopes the voice of the people could be heard better, on a wider, larger scale. But, in the following paragraph, Charles proves with statistical evidence that the voting system and election process as a result of the biased votes taken by a populous with more money and accessibility to media, is heard more, especially through[and because of] internet. He goes on to say that e-voting never “resulted as a result of popular demand, but of middle class domination [due to accessibility].” He essentially says if there is “no advantage” to E-Voting, then why is there so much discussion around it? However, he still gives credit when due to the positives brought about because of the style of electronic culture which surrounds Estonia, and recognizes that it does provide additional opportunity for many to vote, only within an exclusive, money possessing specific group of people.
HALLIN & MANCINI
In chapter 8, Hallin and Mancini discuss the convergence, or homogenization of media systems toward the Liberal Model, citing that strong political ties no longer distinguished the Democratic Corporatist and Polarized Pluralist models. The forces that cause this transformation can be separated into internal and external forces. The external forces include “Americanization” and technological advancement. “Americanization” is simply the influence or cultural imperialism of the United States on media systems and journalism. This influence was strongest following the end of World War II and through the 1960’s. Included in these influences was a more formal training in journalism, the practice of interviewing, and a shift towards free press due to the lack of free press during WWII under fascist regimes. Technological advancements were an outside influence because the development of new technologies caused people to change behavior to adapt to the new technology, thus causing a common culture of technological practice across different social contexts. Journalism experienced a shift, because with the new technology, it now mattered less what a journalist had to say, but it mattered more how the information was presented.
The internal forces causing homogenization of media systems are secularization and commercialization. Secularization is the decline in strength of political, religious and social order institutions, leading towards a more individualized and fragmented society. Commercialization was driven by highly-capitalized advertising funded commercial papers which came as a result of businesses with the capital to invest in advertising. Small newspapers were driven out of the market, making room for big business looking to make a profit. European media systems, as a result, shifted away from the political world and towards more towards commerce. The never commercial media wanted to appeal to the ordinary citizen, and therefore often used an “ordinary citizen” point of view.
Hallin and Mancini conclude the chapter with a discussion of modernization, which rewinds to Chapter 4 and the discussion of differentiation theory, which questions the limits of the forces causing the homogenization of media systems.
In the most recent worldwide television spectacle -- the 2010 Fifa World Cup -- the airwaves filled with commercials about world harmony, the love of sport and competition, and, of course, how Nike or Coca Cola fulfills those ideals. When made well, these "global" ad campaigns by multinational corporations resonate very positively with audiences, and they reap enormous profits. Indeed, a large company cannot compete with international competitors if they do not have tap into many markets at once. However, "global" is in quotes because the target audience and the creators of these ads do not span the globe. Here, global primarily means that advertisements represent Western values, are created by Western countries, and target countries receptive to Western influence. Susan Douglas and C. Samuel Craig of the New York University Stern School of Business reported that American advertising agencies and their subsidiaries produce the majority of advertisements worldwide. They also reported that in 1997 the United States boasted seven of the ten largest advertising agency groups; the remaining three are headquartered in the United Kingdom, France, and Japan. In 2009 Adage.com reported the ten companies with the largest worldwide media expenditures, in order, were Procter & Gamble Co. ($9.73 billion), Unilever, L'Oreal, General Motors Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Coca Cola, Johnson & Johnson, Ford Motor Co., Reckitt Benckiser, and Nestle ($2.31 billion) (Adage.com). The companies listed represent five from the US, two from the UK, one from France, one from Switzerland, and one from Japan.
Evidently, the media content circulating globally is overwhelmingly Western in values and style, but is that necessarily negative? A successful global ad campaign must have universal appeal, and, to access that appeal, Western advertisers must have a sophisticated understanding of people's values worldwide. Imagine trying to target a specific group, like women in the United States: how could you begin to generalize? What values do they have? What are their ideals? What triggers their emotions? Now imagine trying to target women across the globe. Instead of focusing on specific niches, advertisements must tap into our shared existence -- into the things that unite people rather than divide them. In October 2009, Michelin planned to launch a global ad campaign across fifty-five countries, including the US, Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, India, and South America, with the slogan, "The right tyre changes everything," (Kimberley).
What value(s) are represented in this commercial? Maybe thriftiness? The breakdown of Youtube viewers by country indicates the value could be owning a car and having the luxury to choose a brand of tire -- a value which is definitely not universal. However, in this 2010 World Cup commercial by Coca-Cola featuring Roger Milla, an African soccer player, and teams from many countries, the response recorded by Youtube has a much wider appeal outside the United States and Europe.
Of course, English-speaking countries like the US, the UK, Australia, and Canada are represented, but there is also a stronger following from India, the Netherlands, Eastern European countries, South Africa, and many other African countries. Here, Coca Cola caters more to non-Western players, fans, and cultures, excluding the United States and Asian countries almost entirely. Unlike the previous advertisement, Coca Cola manages to promote its product without talking about it at all. Instead, it embeds the soda in the celebration to create the link in people's mind between success, happiness, and Coca Cola, regardless of their origin. In contrast, the Michelin campaign uses people's anxieties about rising oil prices to demonstrate its product's superiority. Both place emphasis on a shared aspect of life, but Coca Cola's approach unites more people more effectively through positive emotions rather than negative ones. Of course, tires and soda serve very different purposes in people's lives, target different audiences, and appear in different contexts, but the message projected by Coca Cola undoubtedly has a more global appeal, reflected by the diversity of the audience and the content of the commercial.
The success of Coca Cola's message "Open happiness" versus Michelin's "The right tyre changes everything," also lends insight into the commercial's popularity, regardless of brand awareness. Douglas and Craig outline how international advertisements must frame their message:
"First, the advertiser determines the appropriate message for the target audience. Next, the message is encoded so that it will be clearly understood in different cultural contexts. The message is then sent through media channels to the audience who then decodes and reacts to the message. At each stage in the process, cultural barriers may hamper effective transmission of the message and result in miscommunication."
The message must be simple, but it must also translate. For instance, the American Dairy Association tried to use the famous "Got Milk?" slogan in Mexico, but in Spanish it translated as "Are You Lactating?" (Douglas and Craig). The simple fact that many languages, like French and Spanish, do not have an exact translation of "to get" makes it ineffective. For this reason, abstract tag lines tend to travel further than culturally or linguistically specific ones. Famous examples of this are Nike's "Just do it" and McDonald's "I'm Lovin' It" which carry no specific cultural markers besides the fact that they are in English. If multinational corporations want to access a global audience, they must be in dialogue with their respective countries or risk losing business to better adapted competition.
However, all the proclamations about unity do not make it true. Corporations try to create positive associations with their product through global commercials, but they often eschew very real problems to paint a happier picture of the world. In an ideal world, all countries would have the opportunity to compete and represent themselves in a truly global market, instead of Coca Cola dictating how African cultures is depicted, for instance.
Although Western domination of advertisement has many negative consequences, there is hope in the fact that multinational companies must adopt a global orientation in order to succeed. Advertisement may not be truly "global," but the inclusion of a diverse array of cultures in those advertising campaigns is a step in the right direction.
Monday, November 29, 2010
by Ashleigh Hinrichs
Burger King/Eurostar: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6EGvTtXGpAI
Currently, there are no Burger King restaurants in Paris. There have not been any since 1997 when the company closed down their 39 restaurants in France due to heavy competition from McDonalds and Quick. However, after a misleading twitter post, many people believed Burger king was making its comeback. Instead, this post was a rumor, instigated by the advertisement Eurostar has placed within France.
The commercial begins with a typical demonstration of a Burger King ad; the formation of each layer on the burger, a shot of flames (symbolic of Burger King), and the Burger King logo. Then there appears the address located in London, followed by the route one would take; Gare du Nord to St. Pancras, then voila, Burger King in a mere 2 hours 15 minutes. Eurostar has used the longing and desire of this no longer present establishment to promote travel. With a quick train ride to London by Eurostar, one can enjoy the taste of a Whopper.
The ad is eye-catching because it draws French attention to a product that is no longer available in the region. Then, it dually promotes Burger King and Eurostar services. This demonstrates the use of media to promote tourism. Burger King has become the destination, located in an area easy accessible, only “a hop, skip and a jump away - London in 2 hours and 15 minutes.” This promotes travel, and presents the proximity of London to Paris via Eurostar services. This ad is effective because it gets ones senses salivating, and then redirects ones attention to another subject, traveling. The duality of food and travel also works because food can typically be paired with leisure, travel, and delicacies, rare and unique finds. Thus, Burger King is familiar, but becomes exotic through the necessary use of travel to arrive.
Skyrock uses the short and sweet slogan, “free people network”, to optimize their message. Since universality says we are all equal, anyone can join this site and connect with people all over the world through the globalization of the internet.
In 1986, Pierre Bellanger founded the Orbus group corporation, through which he created Skyrock.fm, a national FM radio station in France, which targeted a youthful market. It was inspired by the “Radio Libre” movement which stated that people should be able to freely express themselves via radio (wikipedia.org). With its 4 million daily listeners, this 96,0 station plays 24/7 and provides information on upcoming concerts, new albums, and any music-related gossip.
On December 17th, 2002, Bellanger began a blogging site known as Skyblog.com, changing the name to Skyrock.com in 2007 to broaden its image as a social networking community instead of solely a blogging site. One year later, Skyrock.com was ranked the 7th largest networking site in the world with over 21 million users. Initially its concentration focused on the French-speaking community, making it a hometown favorite over Myspace and other competitors.
What does Skyrock.com have to offer? It is now available in English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese as well. Once signing up on their website, you can add new friends, chat with other users, use Skymail and messaging, post pictures, or search for potential dates, making it similar to Myspace and Facebook. However, the one main difference is that Skyrock.com has a blog section where users can talk about their feelings on various issues, showcase their music, or add links to other websites. There are 24 different skins you can choose for your blog as well as easy-to-use text editing. You can adjust privacy setting to manage who can view your profile and who can post comments. Through cell phone SMS, you can post on your blog, see how many people are visiting your page, and leave voice messages (skyrock.com). Like Myspace, it also has its own brand of music marketing. Artists like Outkast and Pharrell have their own official pages, where new photos, tour dates and other information is posted (Cashmore).
In 2005, the website became a huge money enterprise for Orbus by bringing in $6.4 million in advertising income. This addition of an online networking site in association with the FM radio station was a genius idea since Bellanger knows that “the new medium is people, the new culture is participatory. The new generation has made continuous connection to the web a common practice - conversation is at the core of the relationships, and the web is the new centre of gravity” (Andrews). Skyblog communicated with Skyrock.fm’s advertisers like McDonalds, Sony, Nike, etc. to have them advertise on its website. Skyrock makes marketing campaigns for its advertisers by creating small product-directed blog sites where users can learn about new products and make comments. Advertisers pay for the design of their campaign and a day-to-day fee to keep up their ads (Cooper). Even French politicians communicate their messages using this medium. Skyrock plays into Guy Debord’s ideas of the society as a spectacle because we are seduced by outrageous claims overshadowing the reality of the finished product. Advertisers create phantom images to promote product sales and increase profits.
Skyrock promotes the youth market. It helped the French Army to increase its enrollment by creating a reality TV show called “Full Immersion”, in which young people who were against the military switched lives with an army man for a short amount of time. The casting took place through Skyrock which was a huge success (Cashmore). Another company, La Caisse d’Epargne bank used Skyrock to build the first banking website aimed at youths.
Although this site has been a huge phenomenon, there has been some negative attention. Several criminal prosecutions were made against adolescents who attempted to start riots against the police and schools through Skyblog entries. One teenager wrote "unite, Ile-de-France, and burn the cops, go to the nearest police station and burn it" (Crampton). Young middle-school students came dressed in doo-rag gangs and spoke out negatively against the faculty. Interestingly enough, none of the arrested individuals knew each other; however, they had all used Skyblog to send out their messages. This situation brings up the issue of private versus public realms which Raymond Kuhn wrote about. Do police have the right to go into students’ blogs and find out what they had been privately talking about amongst each other?
It was difficult to find recent information about Skyrock, so I decided to interview a few of my French friends to hear what they had to say. With all the company’s ‘proclaimed’ success, it was interesting to hear they all agreed that Skyrock is no longer a success and only used today by people from suburbs and lower-class neighborhoods. One specifically said that the website is only used by people who “listen to rap music all the time, dress badly, and write French poorly using a lot of weird signs like this ‘O mY God j'AdOore ça ^^mdr’” (Alazraki). They all spoke of how the social networking site was very popular back when they were about 13 and 14, but ever since Facebook took over, no one they know uses it anymore. The website also lost popularity because parents were able to spy on what their kids were doing, even though the company claims it was private. Skyrock.fm is still fairly popular among those who like rap and hip-hip. However, there have been a few lawsuits because the station “talks about sex a lot...which is a problem because this radio is especially listened by people under 18 years old” (Tudesq).
In conclusion, while reports on Skyrock say that it is one the top social networking sites, French locals believe otherwise. Skyrock peaked back in the early 2000s but is now being surpassed by other networking/blogging companies. After creating my own Skyrock to get a firsthand look at the website and its functions, there are no unique features that would draw users away from its major competitors.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Below are examples of French radio and far right Radio Free Europe aimed at reaching less developed areas.