For the last four years, I’ve grown, shrunk, laughed, cried, worked my butt off, relaxed on the couch, drank until I passed out, and thrown up- regretting it the entire next day. Yes, college was an emotional roller coaster that I wish every human being could experience.

As planned, I will be graduating form the University of Oregon this spring, to be more specific, on June 18, 2012, and that day is rapidly approaching. I chose this post to write a small but meaningful retrospective on my understanding at this point in time because now, after I went through it all, I am realizing the significance of it.

I started out a pre-business major. And as the ongoing joke of the journalism industry goes, I was horrible at math so I dropped it fast. I quickly turned to advertising and public relations as a way to express myself through writing and creating to communicate to everyone. I am now supposedly prepared for my professional life in PR or advertising and am working now in an internship to better my experience in the real world.

From the time I was little, I was involved in sports – volleyball, basketball, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, my favorite out of the lot. Even through college where I played competitive women’s club lacrosse, I carried the values I learned through competition.

To me, the most valuable experiences happen outside of school and work. I found my best friends. Naria, Hillary, and Ursi. These women have literally stuck with me through the hardest year in my life since my mother passed away when I was eight years old.  I will forever be in their gratitude and I know that I will know them the rest of my life.

I am excited to move on to the next chapter of my life., but will never forget what I learned while I was in college.  Thank you to all of those (you know who you are) who have touched me forever.

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Ninkasi: Big Timing the Little Game

Ninkasi Brewing Company began in 2006 with two ambitious Oregon natives who decided to start a beer brewery, brewing their signature Total Domination IPA for the first time. Since then they have grown exponentially and moved to the historic Whiteaker neighborhood of Eugene, Oregon, while still keeping the local brewery feeling.

In 2012, Ninkasi has grown to feature a 50-barrel brewing system, and now uses it to produce and distribute its beer throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and my beloved city of San Francisco. The variety of beer has grown also. Not only do they carry the signature Total Domination IPA, but also distribute Tricerahops Double IPA, Believer Double Red, and Otis Oatmeal Stout; not to mention their popular seasonal collection.

The name Ninkasi has meaning behind it too. Ninkasi is the ancient Sumerian goddess of the intoxicating beverage. Her story begins with her birth out of “sparkling fresh water.” She is the goddess made to “satisfy the desire” and “sate the heart.” The founders of Ninkasi Brewery made no mistake in picking this name for their company.

Furthermore, Ninkasi supports a variety of positive community collectives and non-profit organizations not only locally but on a larger scale as well. They have worked to promote various sporting events, teams, musical events, theater, fine arts, as well as festivals and neighborhood parties for example the Whiteaker Block Party that comes every summer.

As you can see, Ninkasi is so much more that just a local brewery, it uses corporate social responsibility to increase consumer perception, as well as give back to the local community. Almost all of the profits from the beer go to non-profit McKenzie River Trust to maintain the water supply that nourishes the brewery as one of the cleanest sources in the world.

The Ninkasi brand has grown to incorporate the local Eugene spirit of togetherness and culture. If you haven’t tried a Ninkasi brew, make your way to your local grocery store and get your hands on one.

Product Placement

Within the last several years the advertising industry has had to turn to creative ways to market products because people just don’t buy into them like they used to. It becomes harder and harder to advertise to people because they are already experiencing information overload daily. Yes, impressions are extremely important to eventually selling the product, but there are so many other ways to advertise.

In recent years, subtly in advertising has really proven successful especially in prime-time television programming.  A great example of this subtle type of advertising is product placement. Product placement is a form of “embedded” marketing where products are literally placed into context of a story, like in television, movies, music videos, and things such as these.  The audiences are usually unaware of the product placement.

Product placement in the media is so often seen that it is hard to pick out examples, but since I am a Glee fanatic I will talk about this show. In a February episode of Glee, a song number was literally performed in a Gap retail store. In this case, the product was Gap clothing. Gap paid money for Glee to feature their clothing in the show in order to subtly influence viewers to buy Gap clothing. The cool factor of Glee would ultimately rub off on Gap, which would drive foot traffic to Gap stores everywhere. This is how product placement works.

In theory, product placement is a very effective way to catch the eye of consumers in a different way than the way traditional advertisements do.

Reality Television

What is our fixation with reality television? America seems to have officially changed their viewing pleasures from scripted television programming to “reality” television. I put the word “reality” in quotes because how real is “reality” television – not very real at all; but to the public, it is.

Yes, “reality” television has swept the nation.  The variety of reality TV available has grown exponentially within the last several years. American Idol really flipped the world on its backside. The many types of shows appeal to a wide range of audiences. From Keeping Up With The Kardashians to Swamp People, form Hoarders to So You Thing You Can Dance, virtually every demographic can be tapped into one of these reality shows.

Not only does this phenomenon give power to a new kind of celebrity, but also gives the public the right to imitate these newfound celebrities because of their “real” actions.  It is honestly scary to think that we give people like Mike “The Situation” celebrity status because of his drunken escapades on the Jersey Shore; however, this new kind of celebrity gives the more traditional actor celebrity a better name considering they are actually earning their status through hard work (e.g., George Clooney).

Another frightening happening is that the people watching these “reality” television shows get younger and younger, especially the ones watching MTV or VHI. These shows do not set good examples for young people because they are still learning. Watching reality television in this case tends to be a bad influence. Imitation of these so-called celebrities leads children to act accordingly. Not only children, but also adults are influenced.

I doubt this phenomenon will end in the near future. There seems to be some sort of “reality” programming on every network.  Some brands are based on this reality concept and the fact that they are adhering to what the public wants makes them strong. You have to actively listen to what your audience likes and “reality” TV is the answer in some cases.

Nordstrom’s 5 Star Customer Service

Word-of-mouth advertising is possibly the most effective way of marketing a brand. The most reliable source for any human being is their best friend, or their mother, or their girlfriend, their peers; people just like them. The power of word-of-mouth advertising is limitless. It can either promote the brand or utterly destroy it; so you better make sure that what is being said about your company is good.

Nordstrom has had no trouble relaying the benefits of their brand through this marketing strategy. Nordstrom, like any other luxury brand retailer, has experienced growth within the last several years; however this success is being threatened by differentiation of the American lifestyle. People are now entering the outdoor mini boutique segment due to convenience and community feeling. In order for Nordstrom to compete, they now had to incorporate something different.

To give Nordstrom the competitive edge they were looking for; they came up with their customer service mission. Nordstrom now thrives on providing legendary shopping experiences through this well-known customer service model.  The result of their dedication to their customers, is the spread of their good nature; the most powerful word-of-mouth advertising yet.

People believe their peers over any kind of billboard or print ad they see. A first hand source telling you that Nordstrom is the best place to shop is too hard to avoid or forget. Reputation is a huge part of branding. The way people perceive your company is all taking in when people consider shopping there.

I do not think that I have ever had a bad experience shopping at Nordstrom. The employees are always extremely pleasant and helpful when you want them to be. They might actually do anything for you. Returns are always possible even without receipts or three years later.  As long as Nordstrom has its five star customer service, they will continue to thrive.

Bay to Breakers

This past weekend, San Francisco natives celebrated the annual foot race “Bay to Breakers” that first started with a St. Mary’s College student and a newspaper copy boy, who won the first Cross-City Race in 1912. The name was then changed to “Bay to Breakers” in 1965. The race started as a way to encourage everyone in the San Francisco community to get up and move on after the 1906 earthquake. The spirit of the race lifted the hearts of many.

Since then, the “Bay to Breakers” has become so much more than just a race.  The Guinness Book of World Records named “The Bay to Breakers” the world’s largest footrace in 1986 with 110,000 participants. After all the runners are off, streams and streams of walkers wonder the course. The race runs from the fairy building on Embarcadero all the way through Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach, which is on the other side of the peninsula.

A majority of participants dress in decorative costumes or sometimes even nothing at all, which ultimately creates a celebration like atmosphere; Fun all around. One tradition that takes place each year is the tortilla toss; when runners though tortillas at each other to pass the time. The spirit of competition enlightens people to have a great time.

The end of the race marks “Footstock.” This after party marks the end of the race. Bands come and play for participants and spectators to, as well as musical acts and fun festival games.

It only feels right that this day takes place in San Francisco, the hearth for eclectic culture and contemporary life. The energy that exudes from this day just makes sense due to its prime location.  “Bay to Breakers” is only one of the many festivals that occurs in this great city.

Psychology in Advertising; the “Second Order Conditioning”

When creating effective advertising, you have to consider what people want to see, hear, eat, feel, and smell. You essentially have to figure out what people are thinking to appeal to as many senses as possible. You have to give the people what they want. Psychological theories have been applied to many aspects of advertising when considering how people respond and behave. The more advertisers understand the motives and demands of their consumers, the better they design their products and promote them.

The main theory that is brought up when discussing advertising is the classical conditioning theory of associative learning.  This type of learning incorporates the occurrence of one stimulus (conditioned stimulus) that then calls for another stimulus (unconditioned stimulus), which then elicits for a response.  Pavlov, a world-renowned psychologist, created this theory to account for associations between learned stimuli and responses.

When taking into consideration this school of thought, advertisers try to pair their product with other positive stimuli such as attractive women and men, music, humor, and cool colors. These positive stimuli can be used in a number of ways but all supposedly generate associations.

For example, Giorgio Armani and Calvin Klein have notoriously associated their brand to extremely attractive women to arouse consumers. Not only does it attract men for obvious reasons, it also attracts women because they want to be wanted like the women in these photographs. Classical conditioning is what drives the se of these stimuli to motivate responses in buyers.