Weekly REading & Class Reflections

Takeaways from class discussion + readings from Digiday and canvas .


Week 1 & 2

Week 1

Syllabus Review 

Link: Personal Introduction Post

Media Publication Assignment: Digiday

Summary of Digiday from website

"Digiday provides daily analysis of developments in the fields of media and marketing, such as the rise of programmatic, the impact of social platforms, digital video, artificial intelligence and more. It also produces a variety of learning and networking events for industry executives, such as summits and awards galas"

Week 2

Link: Presentation Notes on James Hamilton

Article Links & Reflections

The year in casually sexist advertising by Mark Duffy

In this piece, Mark Duffy assesses the subtle and not so subtle ways that the advertising industry perpetuated sexist themes throughout 2017. While we did see a few advertisements nodding to the changing social conversation on gender norms, Duffy argues that the majority continues to reinforce detrimental stereotypes and norms. One major reason this still occurs is because women are still very underrepresented in senior creative roles in agencies across the country. Duffy cites a study of four creative departments within major agencies that “protect the status of men through the organized subordination of women.” Duffy's examples range from the "bikini babes" of Carl's Jr to Santo Mezquila's tequila ads that had photos of scantly clad women with the copy line "there are still places that your tongue has never been."  

Turns out, the days of Mad Men aren't behind us at all.

Why Colin Kaepernick has few brand suitors by Ilyse Liffreing

In this article, Ilyse Liffreing examines how Colin Kaepernick's powerful act of public protest against police brutality continues to impact his career and brand partnerships. Just five years ago, after leading the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl title, Kaepernick  secured sponsorship deals with major brands like Beats by Dre, Electronic Arts, and McDonalds. In 2015, just one year before he repeatedley sat and kneeled through the U.S National Anthem, Kaepernick's endorsements totaled more than $3 million. Today, he is perhaps the most influential and polarizing figures in popular culture. 

After sitting through the National Anthem during a 2016 pre-season game, Kaepernick explained he would not "stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." Kapernick's act of peaceful protest sparked debate across the country and politicized the sports industry like never before. In the months following his statement, hundreds of professional athletes across the country joined Kaepernick in his refusal to support a system that fosters, enables, and ignores violence and fatal acts of injustice against people of color. 

Kaepernick had a successful 2016 football season but opted out of his final year with the 49ers in early 2017. Many believe that he opted out of this contract to avoid retaliation from the 49ers and NFL executives. Nearly five months later, Donald Trump re-ignighted player protests and the national debate when he called for the termination of any player that publicly "disrespected the troops."  The sports industry spent the fall of 2017 entrenched in conflict as political rhetoric pressured executives and players to choose sides. It may be no surprise that Kaepernick, now an outspoken activist and free agent quarterback, has not been offered a contract with a new team or been pursued by the high-status brands he once endorsed.

While GQ chose to "celebrate the man who became a movement" by naming Kaepernick 2017 'Citizen of the Year', the sponsors that once stood behind him have closed their checkbooks and gone silent.  Recently, however, some brands have benefitted by carefully appealing to customer's deep connection to the causes they champion. Liffreing shares examples from recent campaigns by brands like Starbucks and Airbnb, both of which declared their support of immigration. Kaepernick's luck may improve in the new year as brands are becoming more likely to employ methods of 'cause marketing'. According to Brandwatch, "Online mentions of Kaepernick were 62 percent negative the day before the GQ story was published online and swung to 81 percent positive after the story was published." This figure supports my belief that public perception of figures like Kaepernick will continue to ripen with age. In the meantime, I will applaud brands who genuinely support social causes through action over words and distinguish themselves when society is working through cultural growing pains. I don't mean to encourage the commercialization of movements that call for social justice and institutional accountability (cough cough Pepsi), but suggest that companies offer their larger platforms to help improve the lives of the costumers that likely made them successful to begin with. It is crucial we focus our efforts on normalizing voices that focus on moving forward. The curtains are open, time is up. We can not afford to sensationalize or make space for discrimination of any kind. I am convinced that pessimism is today's version of the easy way out. Instead, I encourage those of you with broken 'American' hearts to responsibly educate yourselves and help other educate themselves. Tribalism is toxic and an uncomfortable conversations won't kill you. If you seek to understand a human being by their fears, feelings and unique perspectives you may build a bridge that leads to positive, cultural change. 

Other Articles of Interest:

We Get Audience Data at Virtually no Cost by Ross Benes

How The New York Times is using interactive tools to build loyalty (and ultimately subscriptions) by Max Willens

Cheatsheet: Facebook’s attempt to rank publishers in the news feed by Lucia Moses



Week 3 & 4

Week 3

During class we discussed our thoughts on the lecture in week 2. James Hamilton brought many interesting points to the table and I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss our thoughts after he had left. Our discussion revolved around technology's impact on investigative reporting and whether or not the media climate with either help or hinder the future of investigative reporting.  

As Facebook retreats from publishers, Snapchat is rolling out a publisher charm offensive by Lucia Moses

In this article, Lucia Moses explores how Snapchat is picking up in an area where Facebook is quickly retreating. Moses explains that Snapchat's new layout (rolling out this week) will actively separate the personal from the commercial, but that the commercial will be granted a new and refined platform all their own going forward. This shift marks the commercial focuses of Snapchat's young consumer base while still maintain an air of individualization that they also value. Facebook's attempt to reform their image in light of recent backlash regarding fake news and various other problems, may still miss the mark with younger audiences. In the past few weeks, I have heard again and again that facebook and twitter are "dead" - In the light of Moses's commentary, I still find many issues with that claim. Facebook built and broke the mold many times on what should be expected from a social media platform. Sure, Facebook was the pioneer in this field. However, this 'social media' environment has only been around for about 14 years. That makes this a very new company that is responsible for changing the landscape of communication and the social interaction. This change of landscape is the only way that newer companies like Snapchat have been able to succeed and grow to the size they are now. While Snapchat may be taking advantage of publishers' facebook weariness, I still believe that snapchat has a lot to learn from facebook in all regards. Snapchat may as well take this as an opportunity to improve on the failures that facebook didn't anticipate in their own business model. 

How commerce publishers use their data to cozy up to retailers by Max Willens

Vox Media eyes sandboxing to tamp down on malicious ads by Max Willens

Week 4

Link: Presentation Notes on Jason Wambsgas

Amazon’s ad business grew 60 percent this quarter by Shareen Pathak

‘Ad tech needs more human oversight’: Confessions of a publishing exec by Yuyu Chen

Confessions of an agency millennial: ‘Nobody wants to help each other’ by Shareen Pathak


Week 5 & 6

Week 5

Link: Presentation Notes on John Capouya

Brand winners and losers of Super Bowl LII by Ilyse Liffreing

This week was an exciting week, especially within the advertising world. The Super Bowl has been a big day for advertising for many years because of the high premium on ad placement during one of the nations biggest television events. However, this year proves, yet again, that a greater cultural shift across the country has left previous Super Bowl Ad winners without an ounce of attention. Take GoDaddy or Carl's Junior. I am pleased to see that these companies no longer have a regular place on a national platform to objectify women and sexualize something as normal as purchasing a website domain or eating a cheeseburger. However, Ilyse Liffering shows that there are still many brand "winners and losers" in the Super Bowl Ad game. 

Digiday Research: Communication is at the heart of media transparency problems by Mark Weiss

A day in the life of M&M’s brand director before the Super Bowl by Yuyu Chen

Week 6

Agencies rethink their dating policies in the #MeToo era by Ilyse Liffering

Inside Amazon’s UK media and advertising growth ambitions by Seb Joseph And Jessica Davies

Digiday Research: Media buyers question quality of addressable TV targeting by Mark Weiss


Week 7 & 8

Week 7

Link: Hot Topic Pitches & Social Video Discussion

‘Everyone is trying to make a margin’: Jaguar Land Rover on its search for honest ad partners by Seb Joseph

Confessions of an ad exec: Ad agency culture problems start at the top by Shareen Pathak

In this piece, Shareen Pathak explores the arrival of the #MeToo movement to the advertising industry. While sexual harassment and assault has been prevalent across all industries in the U.S, the advertising industry is uniquely situated to set cultural standards going forward. Pathak looks deeper into the Ad agency culture and a popular hierarchal model that enabled toxic behaviors against women to become normalized and a notorious feature of many agency's reputations. Today, many believe it has improved from the days of Mad Men. However, many of Pathak's points prove otherwise. Pathak's conversation with an anonymous female ad exec bring some important points to light about the culture within the ad industry and why the #MeToo movement has had a delayed start. She works to deconstruct what cultural problems exist within the industry and why they have been enable for so long. First comes the attachment to maintaining a laid-back attitude, "Everyone wants to be cool. The white middle-aged guy in the suburbs who talks like a hip-hop artist is the CEO." Second, she mentions that the whole structure "reeks of so much white privilege" - She agrees that the ad agency is typically a very liberal, democratic place and many industry leaders are "social justice types", but, "Just look at how everyone got their jobs. They went to great schools; their dads knew someone in the industry. They say they get it when it comes to diversity, but I don’t think they do. They might know what’s politically correct, but I don’t think they understand what’s correct." - This atmosphere is an accident waiting to happen because the culture is based around being divergent, socially conscious and crass all at once. The exec states "ad culture is all about sexual innuendo. and joking around." but now the rise of the #MeToo movement has created a dangerous grey space where the fundamental methods of casual communication, like the occasional f-bomb, are now avoided in fear of retaliation, "People are now afraid to speak at work" - From here, Pathak shifts to the ways that HR departments have had to shift their protocol and methods of addressing workplace conflicts. The exec believe thats agency culture is shifting, because joking around is not as acceptable as it has been in the past, but the exec also believes that HR is paying attention because "..not because they should, but because it’s a liability." - I find this to be quite interesting because it speaks to the fragility of the very departments that are in place to protect employees and the company. You'd think that an ad agency, which is tasked with understanding culture so deeply, would be at the forefront of taking steps to provide safe and fair work environments - not just because its popular but because they claim to be "social justice" types. "But the fact is" says the exec, "if you’re putting a complaint against a senior-level person who is more important than you, they will take the senior’s side."

This article adds hypocrisy to a long list of cultural problems with the Ad industry - The whole intent of advertising is to help companies sell their brand and product to whichever consumer they desire. The unfortunate part is that an industry that is so obsessed with being socially conscious and popular, can't take steps to protect their employees, when it is most certainly in their favor.

Slack is the new place for marketers to network and find jobs by Ilyse Liffreing

Week 8

Link: Presentation Notes on Jeff Olivier

Live by the algorithm, die by the algorithm: How LittleThings went from social publishing darling to shutting down by Lucia Moses

Snapchat takes a flexible approach to how advertising is sold in its shows by Sahil Patel


Week 9 & 10

Week 9

Vogue, Vice put editorial collaboration on hold by Lucia Moses

In this piece, Lucia Moses covers the quick end of a widely publicized partnership between Vice and Vogue. Announced in October, many found this partnership to be quite odd. Vice, popular for its 'unedited' approach to reporting both timely and controversial stories, could not differ more from Vogue's refined, sophisticated and meticulously curated brand and publication. Surprisingly enough, this partnership was "delayed indefinitely" not because of the unnatural match-up but because of sexual-harassment scandals at both companies. Vogue, which was criticized for maintaining a professional relationship with a photographer notorious for sexual misconduct, and Vice, which was rocked by many  sexual abuse allegations and harassment accusations against many of its executives, decided to move away from a collaboration in an attempt to put their own fires out internally. Moses, uses this fallout as an example of another wave of activism within the media industry. Time is up, and those who do not quickly act, will most likely see great consequences. What was once an interesting approach to diversifying two popular media brands, is now just another example of the public's desire to move away from brands that do not represent current sentiment. 

Personally, I think that this collaboration would have added more depth to Vogue and attracted a different type of consumer to Vice's platform. However, it was very clearly a marketing idea that was not prepared for the possible consequences of internal issues within those companies. I believe that this partnership may be possible in the future if these companies follow through with some major changes. I believe that this is another powerful example of what widespread outcry from the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements can change. This is a result of cultural change and an indication that no matter the popularity or power of the subject, they can still be brought down and experience losses due to a long history of ignoring major internal injustices and the mistreatment of women in the workplace.

Confessions of a media buyer: ‘It’s a game right now of how cheap you can be’ by Shareen Pathak

‘If you don’t offer an experience, you’re not relevant’: Why banks need to be at SXSW by Tanaya Macheel

Week 10

The Daily Beast’s Heather Dietrick: ‘Trust in platforms is down significantly’ by Aditi Sangal

Why media companies are shifting their attention from Facebook to YouTube by Tim Peterson