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.


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.

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.

Working with a Difficult Client

I am sure that working with a difficult client is an integrated part of working in this industry. It is hard to avoid the situation where you and your client have conflicting interests or you just cannot connect on a professional level.

As part of my public relations capstone class, our professor assigns real clients from the local area that are in need of a communications plan, with pr teams from our class. These clients volunteer their time to collaborate with us in the hopes of creating complex strategies and tactics to attack their market. Granted, we as students are working for free, much like any internship; but the client receives professional grade work.

Although this might seem like a great opportunity, mainly because you don’t have to apply to work for the clients or go looking for this opportunity, the clients are sometimes not easy to work with. My pr team had the privilege of working with the most difficult client out of them all. The problem with our client is that she came into this project knowing that it was a school project, therefore treating us like students rather than professionals. Although our interests and visions were on target, we had difficulties staying in contact and executing a majority of the planned primary research due to prior plans by the client.

The number one goals for any agency or firm is to keep their client happy; mostly by throwing at them communications and marketing plans that will give them maximum return on their investment. Clients however, take into consideration much more than that. There is a culture and partnership that comes with working with a client and the best work comes out of those special relationships. Experiencing working with a difficult client gives pr and ad teams strength and knowledge of how to approach a good client or better the relationship with an old one. I cannot wait to create these relationships with clients I will work for professionally.

Motivation in the Workplace

As Facebook Incorporated approaches its high profile initial public offering on Friday, a large number of San Franciscans are expecting to become cash multi-millionaires in a matter of minutes. This brings about several issues that could arise in the transition to a publicly traded corporation, especially for a company like Facebook.

One key issue that arises when that amount of money is put on the table is motivation. When you first start out and are working for a cause, your motivation to succeed is extremely high. The drive of those who worked for Facebook at its beginning was incredible. They stopped at nothing to get what they wanted. Now they have it and are about to be rich. What is that outside factor going to do to affect the motivation of Facebook employees?

This is how non-profits function. Non- profits gain support form outside sources by way of donations and grants, which then go to fund projects. Employees get paid very little but their work ethic is extremely high because they find passion in what they do. Money takes away from the enthusiasm and excitement that drives people to work for a cause.

Facebook thus far has run on insider trades and funding. Now that shareholders will have their hands in the company, that initial drive to produce great work will start to diminish. The motivation of the company to achieve maximum potential will now grow dim in the light of millions of dollars. The only motivation or employees after the IPO will in turn be to acquire more money for either the company itself or to return to shareholders in dividends.

Obviously, this situation is all hypothetical because Facebook’s IPO has not occurred yet, but due to past occurrences with the same idea, motivation might end up being Facebook’s next big issue.


Culture Jamming

I took an alternative media class over last summer that really opened my eyes on different ways to communicate your message.

Culture jamming, which is term coined in 1984, is a tactic used by many people where a part of the anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt mainstream cultural institutions such as corporate advertising. A well-known group that is active in culture jamming is Adbusters. Adbusters describes itself as “a global network of artists, activists, writers, pranksters, students, educators and entrepreneurs who want to advance the new social activist movement of the information age.” They have numerous spoof ads up on their website that are designed to comment on popular culture.

Culture jamming is so much more than just “subvertising.” Many culture jams are created to expose the questionable political assumptions behind some of the commercial culture. As you can see from this example, different tactics include re-figuring logos, writing commentary on fashion and product images in order to challenge assumptions about the freedoms of consumption or lack there of.

Other forms of culture jamming can include transforming mass media to produce ironic or comical commentary about itself, using the same medium of communication as the original. An example of this could be an activist creating a President Obama or Kim Kardashian twitter account and tweeting about topics that make it seem like they are making fun of themselves, producing satire. The culture jammers are creating a space where they can spur reaction in the public against social conformity for example.

 I personally though this notion was intriguing because I had never seen or heard of anything like it. Culture jamming can have an effect on the public in very real way. If done correctly, jamming can hit people on an emotional level, which sparks thought; then generates action. Any good ad in general needs to be able to do this. Advertising is a function of consumerism, yes, but it is also an effective way of building the foundations of millions of companies in our world. Our world runs on capitalism and I doubt that will change in the near future. That’s just how it is. Culture jammers try to break that truth.  They incorporate satire and humor to change the views of publics to create change in society.

The Adbusters website is filled with spoof ads and different campaigns people could join everyday. Currently they are extremely involved in the Occupy Wall Street Campaign and continue to challenge the “restrictions” of consumerism in our world. I salute them for their efforts and I guarantee they will not stop in the near future.