Monday, December 13, 2010
Selling education, like selling any service, is difficult because it is an intangible. However, unlike other services, education institutions must paint a picture of their service in a way that helps people to understand the value of their service in comparison to other institutions that can provide you with the exact same service. This commercial from Wichita State University sells the idea that at their university, dreams can become reality, and people can alter the world. They differentiate their engineering degree from other universities appealing to peoples' fantasy of making a reality out of a far fetched idea or childhood dream. In reality, they are selling a four year degree. As all students know, you don't go to class one day to find that suddenly your dreams have become reality. A four year degree is a lot of multiple choice tests, classes taught by TAs with dubious English skills, and late night study sessions fueled by coffee. Wichita State may have a good engineering program, but the image presented in this commercial likely is unreflective. However, they sell the school in a way that makes me feel warm and fuzzy. I want to go there and become a leader.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
When I studied abroad in Switzerland, I took a weekend trip to Milan, Italy. We rode the train into their main station and then used their underground to get to the Piazza Duomo. Coming up the stairs from the station to the Piazza, you walk up a flight of stairs that has piano keys on it that play the tone you are stepping on. This is a really interesting way to advertise a music store. However, the one draw back is that most people going to that station are likely tourists who won't be buying musical instruments. Also, many people will be so excited by the how cool the experience is and won't pay attention to the company promoting their product. Even when I searched google for photos of the musical stairs, I could not find even one picture with the name of the company who paid to install the stairs.
I decided to watch an episode of Weeds to see how many product placements there are in one episode. There were several very obvious placements for the Toyota Prius (it was mentioned by name several times), Diet coke which the main character and her family drink regularly and Apple computers which are in every episode several times. However, when I watched this randomly chosen episode from season 3, and actually looked for placements I found many more than I expect. In one scene in the main character's garage, for example, there was an Old Navy bag, a case of Corona Light and several FedEx boxes. In another scene at a drug dealer's house there were many boxes for LG TVs, a kitchen aid box and a case of Heineken.
When I asked my fiance whether or not he noticed a lot of product placements in the show, he said that there were some that he noticed. Prius was the most noticeable for him, followed by diet coke. Then after thinking for a while longer he could also recall seeing Apple computers. I was surprised that it took him so long to remember Apple computers because every character uses one, I would say they are pictured between 2 and 5 times per episode. That's a lot considering that they episodes are only 25 minutes. When I showed him scenes at the drug dealers house, he was shocked by how many product placements there are that we both never noticed when we watched the episode for the first time. I was very surprised as well.