#ThrowbackThursday: What Alpha Chi Omega Means to Me

Instead of posting an old family photo on Instagram this thursday like I usually do, I figured I would actually post something relevant to throwback to today. As my younger sorority sisters are just now heading to their sisterhood retreat to prepare for another exciting year of recruitment at Clemson University, I am brought back to exactly a year ago, as I was preparing for my final year of my undergraduate career.

I remember Jaclyn asking me if I would speak at Preference Round- I freaked. Of course I would love to speak at Pref Round, but I was certainly not capable of coming up with anything serious. This was Paige she was talking to. She then continued to ask me throughout the next week how it was going, and I lied every time saying, “yeah, it’s almost done!” Had I started? Of course not. Maria knew how seriously I was taking this and knew that I probably wasn’t getting anything done in my own apartment (thanks Laur and Melissa), so she made me go over to her apartment and sit in silence until it was done. I kid you not, I sat down and wrote my speech the night before Pref Round. It took maybe an hour, but I never stopped writing, never edited, and never proofread. We gathered all the girls to Maria’s apartment to hear it for the first time. Obviously, I couldn’t make it through the speech without crying, and neither could anyone else, really. I considered keeping this all to myself, but after my incredible sorority started posting some great PR content, I knew I had to share it. Good luck, ladies, I hope you have a fabulous recruitment and know that I miss you all!

Alpha Chi Omega.  Little did I know four years ago how much those three words would change my life.  At the beginning of Recruitment, just as many of you probably have, I struggled when it came to differentiating the various groups of women from one another.  The moment that I knew Alpha Chi Omega was the place for me is still one of my fondest memories of this sorority.  I was overcome with tears upon watching the skit and dance so much so that several people actually came up to me to make sure that I would be okay.  Mortified at my overwhelming emotions, I explained to them that no, I was not upset or offended; I was crying because I felt as if I had known these women for my entire life.  And for the first time in my life, I felt like I was a part of something so much bigger than what it had initially seemed on the surface.  For it is that moment that would lead me to the best decision I could have ever made: Alpha Chi Omega.

To me, Alpha Chi Omega is more than just the functions, the mixers, and the t-shirts.  It’s more than the block seating at football games or the Greek letters on the back of my car.  It’s even more than always having a network of women you can turn to when you need advice, or a job.  To me, Alpha Chi Omega is the sisters who knew you needed a support system way before you knew it yourself.  It’s the girl who set you up for your first function, who would become your big a week later, as well as one of the main reasons you made it through your freshman year alive.  It’s the group of women who were there for you no matter what the circumstances or the situation, even when they hardly knew your name.  It’s the sister you barely knew who volunteered to come on your Spring Break trip Freshman Year with a bunch of people she’d never met who became your best friend and future bridesmaid.  To me, Alpha Chi Omega is a phone call to California when you needed someone to piece you back together when you were falling apart.  It’s the random Sunday morning you and your sisters watched the sunrise over Death Valley and realized how truly blessed you are to get to spend 4 years in this place.  It’s your roommate who can normally sleep through a tornado, but just happened to wake up when you needed her most, and spend the rest of the night letting you cry on her shoulder; and the same roommate who brought you cookie dough the next morning because she knew you needed it.  It’s the last sister you thought you’d ever be friends with who would eventually get you your first internship and who you would spend a week with in Disney World, just the two of you, going back to your childhood for the last time before entering the real world. To me, it’s the best friend who drops all of her plans because you decided to make an impromptu trip to Charleston, and waited up until 3 in the morning until you got there, even when she had to work at 6am the next day.  It’s the sister whose wedding you can’t wait for because, boy, do you have some fabulous plans for what you’re going to say in her toast!  It’s the women who you lived on the hall with, who accepted you for everything that you are as well as everything you are not, and never passed judgment even when it was so easy to.  And it’s those same women who are the sole reason you are so comfortable in your own skin; they are the reason you have more confidence in yourself than you could have ever imagined.  To me, Alpha Chi Omega is the best part of your life that you never realized you were missing until you were actually a part of it.  It’s beyond a sisterhood. It’s an extension of who you are.

These are all a series of moments that are just a part of what make up Alpha Chi Omega. These moments are the foundation for relationships that will last a lifetime and will be the basis for even more moments.  Graduation, getting your first job, getting married: those are all just minor, passing moments that help make up the big picture.  And being a part of Alpha Chi Omega has instilled in me the importance of even the simplest of moments.  As you look around this room, I hope you take in this moment just as I did three years ago.  Although my time here is ending, I will cherish each and every moment with me as I leave, from the moment I cried upon knowing my home in college was Alpha Chi Omega, until now, the moment I look around and realize that I will forever and always be at home in Alpha Chi Omega.

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Game of Thrones: My Internal Dialogue to S1E1

As I am coming to the unfortunate end of Arrested Development on Netflix, I figured it was due time that I start another series. I had a lot of choices, but knowing how much I love science-y and fantasy shows [read: LOST, Once Upon A Time, Fringe, The Walking Dead, etc.] there was only one obvious standout: Game of Thrones. It had been a long time coming for me to start GoT; many friends are obsessed and being an avid user of the internet, GoT references seem to follow me wherever I go [read: WINTER IS COMING]. If you have ever watched a television show with me, I truly apologize and commend you because I tend to have something to say about almost every scene and I rarely hold back. In fact, I often live-tweet shows that I am watching, but, as of late, I’ve kept it to only live-tweeting The Bachelorette (ugh, Des). All this being said, I figured I would simply write down my dialogue as I watched the pilot episode of Game of Thrones and publish it here instead of cluttering everyone’s twitter timelines (you’re welcome). If you’ve watched the show before, hopefully you will be able to follow along with my ramblings. If not, welcome to my psychotic mind. I’ve also tried to provide some complimentary GIFs to the scenes in which I am talking about so my ramblings don’t seem so random (credit goes these guys). Enjoy.

  • Who is this man that looks oddly like Matt Damon?
  • WAIT, there’s a Michael Cera lookalike, too?!
  • Wait, it is actually the dead of winter; how are those horses not freezing?
  • What’s with the two bars of music and then dead silence? I’m sorry, that is extremely creepy.
  • Okay, sir, you see the smoke coming from under a log. WHY ARE YOU WALKING TOWARDS IT. IT WILL PROBABLY KILL YOU.
  • Oh, my bad, crawling in the snow towards it. You, sir, will get frostbite.
  • PSYCH. THERE ARE MUTILATED BODIES ON STICKS EVERYWHERE.
  • OH SH*T HE JUST RAN INTO ONE POSTED UP ON A TREE.
  • Seeya BYE.
  • Oh? These men have intriguing accents. Weasley-esque, if I may.
  • Matt Damon looks very suspiciously like Matt Damon.
  • These guys secretly hate each other but they know that they’re the only people in the woods so they have to pretend to be friends.
  • LOL YOU GON DIE IF YOU LEAVE EACH OTHER.
  • Matt Damon is kind of a bully, guys.
  • Okay, Michael Cera must be delusional because all those dead bodies have PEACED OUT OF THERE.
  • Yo, I would get on my horse into the sunshine if I were these guys. Count me out of this mess.
  • OH SH*T THAT SH*T JUST KILLED MATT DAMON.
  • I’m sorry, ICE BLUE EYES?! Matt Demon just killed Matt Damon, AMIRITE?!
  • This chick just came back from the dead, like, I’m sorry, count me out.
  • She has really pretty eyes though.
  • HOOOOOOLY IT’S JUST MICHAEL CERA LEFT.
  • Oh, so the rando guys’ head was a peace offering? Yeah, not gonna cut it.
  • Thank G they cut to the theme song and opening credits, that was getting too out of control for me.
  • Okay, but these opening credits are actually kind of cool. Is this song on Spotify?
  • Grass, how nice of you to join us. I guess we have changed seasons in 2 minutes?
  • Michael Cera ramblin’ around like a crazy homeless man.
  • WINTERFELL?!?! I need some explanation, people, HELLOOOO.
  • Ah, a small child, hmmm. I don’t think this show is suitable for him but okay.
  • Whoever this man is that is pressuring him into archery is extremely good-looking.
  • This betch is giving SHADE to the redhead stitching with the old woman.
  • Little kid just missed the arrow and everyone laughed; I’m sorry, he probably just killed someone.
  • Related: is his name Bra?
  • Who is this fat man with a braided beard? Is this another trend I missed?
  • Oh, I’ve seen this other man! He’s a meme! YAY REFERENCES!
  • WINTER IS COMING! I’VE SEEN THAT! YAY INTERNETZ!
  • Ah, back to homeless Michael Cera.
  • Actually, he looks nothing like Michael Cera. I take it ALL back.
  • White walkers?! I CANONT HANDLE A CROSSOVER LIKE THIS.
  • What, was it ‘kill your animal and wear it to work’ day?
  • Oh, tell the child to not look away while they kill Michael Cera? CHILD SERVICES.
  • Wait, I love the little boy’s voice.
  • YO DAT MAN WAS TELLIN DA TROOF. DEM WHITE WALKAS IS OUT DER. (sorry)
  • Oh, this poor moose. Blessings on his family.
  • I cannot get on board with these outfits. Like, do you think you look that cool?
  • PUPPY WOLF CAN I KEEP IT?!
  • THEY CANNOT KILL THE DOG STOP IT
  • Alright, I like that guy. Thank you for saving him. You, I like you.
  • ALL THE PUPPIES.
  • Wait, this man’s name is Snow? COME ON.
  • KING’S LANDING- CAPITAL OF THE SEVEN KINGDOMS lol okay
  • Is this man getting a massage? I need one.
  • These people with the square canvases? wat.
  • VIGGO MORTENSEN IN THE BUILDING
  • Who is dis blonde lady?
  • Hunting whores? That’s all I got out of that.
  • WAT we are back in the village, I  CAN’T KEEP UP WITH THIS.
  • OoOoOoO purdy tree
  • Ah, marital bliss under the tree.
  • I GET IT. THEY’RE CONNECTED. THE MASSAGE GUY AND THE WINTER IS COMING GUY.
  • lol his name is Ned.
  • All dis woman cares about are her candles.
  • OH HELLO ABS.
  • This child has never been happier running along the roof of this castle.
  • Moms in olden times are the same as they are now.
  • The kid just likes to climb, woman, GEEZ LOUISE.
  • WHAT IS WITH ALL THE CLOAKS, PEOPLE?!
  • HUNTER HAYES WHAT ARE YOU DOING ON A HORSE
  • THERE ARE SO MANY REDHEADS.
  • BABY HUNTER HAYES I CANNOT HANDLE IT.
  • Oh okay, I guess this is the king? Should I kneel down? Is this awkward?
  • TOO MANY CLOAKS.
  • “You got fat”- classic opening line to an old comrade.
  • 9 years?! Hate to break it to you buddy, he’s not a good friend.
  • So they’re like besties with the royal family? Word.
  • They’ve been traveling for a month? Shoulda checked Expedia; I’m SURE they had something available.
  • This guys’ priorities: “crack skulls and f*ck girls.” #playa
  • Joining houses? Is it really that easy?
  • VIGGO MORTENSEN IS BACK.
  • PETER DINKLAGE IS GETTIN IT. 
  • NUDITY
  • What is that? Her tool belt?
  • A LOT OF NUDITY.
  • These two families have a lot of issues to sort out, like dead sisters, and prostitutes, and beards.
  • PENTOS- ACROSS THE NARROW SEA 
  • yo, dis gurl’s hair is not natural in the slightest.
  • NEITHER IS HER BROTHER’S.
  • Allyria? The only thing I can think of
  • So, is this her brother just stripping her right here? Like, is this happening?
  • TITS OUT FOR THA BOYZ.
  • So, she’s burning herself? Numbing the pain of the fact that her brother just touched her boobs, I presume.
  • We go from men in 65 cloaks to naked men riding horses. WHAT IS THE WEATHER IN THIS WORLD.
  • This blonde betch needs to put a bra on. Ain’t they got Victoria’s Secret in their kingdom?
  • This man also has more makeup on than she does.
  • The ceremony was to just look at her and they are to be wed? Oh yeah, same here. Every weekend.
  • LOLZ BETCH YOU GOT NO CHOICE BUT TO BE HIS QUEEN SORRY CHICA.
  • This guy is maybe the worst brother in the world- “I would let his whole tribue f*ck you- all 40,000 men.” SEEYA BYE I WANT OUT OF THIS FAMILY.
  • Oh, back to the redheads.
  • What is it with all of these bitties getting married? Don’t they want to have fun in their twenties?
  • Like seriously, she’s begging to get married.
  • If this feast was at a bar, I would go there for every happy hour.
  • Ah, let me just beat this sack of hay with a sword. I’M SO MANLY.
  • Your half-back hairdo is so cute, sir!
  • This man looks like Orlanda Bloom.
  • So much family dramz. Also, Orlando has a name, and it is not bastard.
  • BACK TO STABBING THE SACK OF HAY.
  • Oh, so now he feels bad for cutting off Michael Cera’s head? TOO LATE BRO.
  • WINTER IS COMING. THERE IT IS AGAIN.
  • The queen’s hair: #stopthat
  • Seriously, this feast looks like a great time.
  • You can’t just ask a young girl if she’s “bled yet;” that’s just like, the rules of feminism!
  • HUNTER HAYES SEXUAL TENSION.
  • “Listen, fat man.” #romance
  • Does no one have privacy any more? Sure, old man, just come on in while we’re cuddling.
  • Oh, sorry, can’t read the letter, I’m just gonna throw it in the fire before I EVEN FINISH READING IT.
  • This bro’s got a lot of scars, how Wolverine of him
  • THIS BEACH LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THE BEACH IN MARIO KART SERIOUSLY I THINK THEY ARE THE SAME THING.
  • Also, these dancers- teach me your moves.
  • I just threw up at all these flies on the meat.
  • Okay, so I quickly learned that they are not dancers, but, rather, porn stars. Honest mistake.
  • BRICK JUST KILLED A GUY.
  • Yo, I think this guy has some phlegm in his throat. He is NOT speaking english.
  • I bet you there is something besides books in that pile of books. THERE’S ALWAYS SOMETHING.
  • I think her husband has the same bra size as me, so that’s fun.
  • IS THAT DANCER/PORN STAR WEARING A DENIM SKIRT?!
  • Oh, so are they going to ride off romantically into the sunset? Yeah, I don’t think so.
  • This sh*t is about to get REAL weird. I am uncomfortable already.
  • SHE DOESN’T WANT YOU TO TOUCH HER BOOBS, DON’T YOU GET IT.
  • This guy must have gone to the Hair Cuttery; his hair looks HORRIBLE.
  • The king is seriously guilting this guy into doing his dirty work, like, YOU ARE THE WORST FRIEND.
  • Yesssssssss the wolf puppy is back.
  • There he goes, climbin’ castles and sh*t again.
  • His combat boots are nice, where do you think he got them?
  • Does he not hear the two people totally doing it? LOOK AWAY CHILD!
  • BROTHER AND SISTER UHHHHHHH WAT
  • Did he seriously just kill the child, THIS SHOW IS TOO MUCH WHY DID I START WATCHING IT.
  • But on a serious note, I would like the theme song on my iPod. Pretty inspirational stuff.

Well, that was fun. As you can see, I tend to curse a lot in my head. Whoops. The verdict is still out as to whether I am going to continue with the series. There was a little more nudity and blood than I was anticipating. For now, I’ll get back to watching Gossip Girl with Laura and anticipating our start of LOST (I’ve persuaded another one!). Do you watch Game of Thrones? Have any suggestions for me in terms of what shows to start? HOLLA AT ME!

What I Want To Be Now That I’ve Grown Up

As a recent college graduate, here’s how a typical conversation goes upon just being introduced to someone new:

“Ah, Communication Studies. So, what do you plan to do with that degree, actually?”
“In a nutshell, I hope to go into social media, marketing, advertising, digital media, editorial content….”
“That’s a little ambitious, don’t you think?”

And you know what- no, I don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘too ambitious.’ My four years in college taught me that lesson. Well, maybe not the first two years, but once that switch flipped my junior year, I knew that I was starting to figure it out. Figuring what out, exactly, I wasn’t too sure of then. Fortunately, I think I’ve got a pretty good idea of what direction I’m headed in these days. All this being said, my brain rarely ever stops being in overdrive (with the exception to two occasions: driving with the windows down, and being near any large body of water), and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I grew up thinking I wanted to write for a magazine. I imagined that I would be the next editor-in-chief of my own fashion magazine, and it would be just like the movies. There was one problem with this scenario: I am completely blind when it comes to fashion. No, seriously, I can barely dress myself. I am fortunate to be friends with two of the most fashionable people I have ever met: Lauren, my roommate of two years (THANK GOD), and Laura, my future roommate (!!!). They are the only reason I look even halfway decent when I walk out the door. So, my dreams of working in the fashion industry quickly faded, but my love of writing held steadfast.

Fast-forward to college. I knew that since writing was very much a part of who I was, I needed to continue my education in the field. English major? Nah, I don’t really see myself becoming the next J.K. Rowling (not that I’ve thrown that out the window completely…). Ideally, I would have majored in journalism, but, unfortunately, Clemson did not have that as an option. Even as I sit here and write this, I am so thankful that Clemson didn’t have a journalism degree, because, if they had, I would not have discovered my love for my field: communications. I decided to major in communication studies because I knew that writing was a part of the curriculum, but I really wasn’t sure what else the program would offer me.

After my first two years of general education classes, figuring out who I was, yada yada yada, I started to get bored. Don’t get me wrong, I was having a blast. I was probably having too much fun, actually. But professionally and mentally, I just wasn’t satisfied. I needed experience, so I went and got some. I started writing for The Black Sheep, a national and local college newspaper that focused on things that they believed college students to be interested in: mainly alcohol and food. I wrote about flasks, fast food, and being a fiscal college student, all with a dash of sarcasm and witty humor. I loved it, but it was easy. So, I began to write for The Tiger, Clemson’s student newspaper. Again, I wasn’t writing the hard-hitting news stories, but I didn’t want to. I stuck to what I was good at: Super Bowl commercials and Saturday Night Live sketches. It was safe to say that I wasn’t bored anymore, but I had been bitten by the bug of wanting more.

Remember that farfetched dream I had of being the editor-in-chief of a magazine? Yeah, well that’s what I did next. I founded and ran Clemson’s chapter of Her Campus, the nation-wide online magazine for collegiate women. I am absolutely so proud of the work I did with Her Campus Clemson; creating something from nothing, recruiting and managing a team of writers, running all social media accounts, and working with other organizations and businesses to create promotions and spread the word about HC Clemson. This experience was one of the most rewarding things for me because it was the first time I took matters into my own hands and didn’t really accept no for an answer. After being turned away from so many other opportunities to get involved on Clemson’s campus, I used the rejection I received as fuel for my fire. The year that I spent as Editor-In-Chief of HC Clemson, it was the only thing I could talk about. I lived and breathed HC Clemson because I wanted everyone else to be just as passionate about it as I was. Whether it was pushing out content via any and all social media accounts, speaking at club meetings across campus, or skipping my tailgating time to host gameday giveaways, I was bringing the voice of Her Campus Clemson to the masses, and I wouldn’t have traded this experience for the world.

In the summer of 2012, I was also fortunate enough to have two incredible internships, both in fields I was really excited to explore. Again, at this point in my life, I was still trying to figure out what direction I was headed in; I knew it was communications, but what facet? Where was my niche? Would I ever truly find out where I was headed? [cue dramatic music] First, I interned as a hospitality intern for The Memorial Tournament, and you can learn all about my experience in this blog post. In addition to everything stated in that blog post, I truly learned so much about hospitality, customer satisfaction, and working with a team to create a seamless and smooth experience for the tournament patrons. My second internship was with the advertising agency White+Partners, where I served as the Media and Account Management intern. Prior to this internship, I knew that I had an interest in advertising (see previous blog post), but I wasn’t sure of how much I would enjoy it from the other side of the curtain. As the Media Intern, I was able to learn the nitty gritty details of what went into advertising and the process of working with various media outlets, whether it be radio, digital, print, or television. I was also introduced to the Account Management side, which involved working directly with clients and serving as the liaison between clients and the rest of the agency.  I was just so excited to dive in and experience all facets of the advertising industry; I never turned down an opportunity to get more involved with the agency and I ended up coming away with invaluable experience and knowledge. I am truly grateful for these two summer internship opportunities.

Throughout all of these experiences, I was (not-so-secretly) having a love affair with social media. Something about social media is just so glamorous to me, and I hope that never fades. To me, social media is just so incredible not because it introduces an entirely different angle of marketing and reaching the consumer; social media humanizes corporations and turns consumers into brand ambassadors. In short, no company today will be reaching its full potential without a social strategy, or at least online presence. Once I started to feel as though I was an expert on social media from the consumer standpoint, I wanted to try my hand at the other side of the curtain. I created the Twitter account @ClemsonGirlProb back in October of 2011, and have now garnered close to 5,000 followers. The purpose of this Twitter handle was initially for me to further my obsession with social media, but it quickly turned into much more than that. I started doing a lot of trial and error to see what worked and what didn’t work in terms of reaching my targeted audience, and I am proud to see that I reached over 3,500 followers before I let anyone know that I was the person behind the anonymous Twitter account. I figured out a specific voice for the Twitter handle, and I stuck to it. I made it a priority to use this profile to serve as a source for all Clemson female (and some male) fans for consistent and relevant information and commentary on what was going on in the Clemson community. It was from this experience that I learned how human social media is, and that there is no “9-5” time scale for it to be constricted to. I learned that social media is a never-ending conversation, and that in order to be successful at social media, you need to constantly be plugged in and listening to your audience in order to respond properly. In addition to @ClemsonGirlProb, I also responded to the rise of the #WhatShouldWeCallMe Tumblr accounts and created one specific for Clemson students, #WhenInClemson. As rewarding as it was for me to see my friends posting links to this account on their Facebook pages without realizing that it was me, it was even more rewarding to track the page visits using Google Analytics. At the height of the Tumblr page, I was seeing upwards of 10,000 clicks per day, and several times I had to take a step back and realize what was happening.

This is when it dawned on me: I loved interacting with audiences, no matter what the platform. Whether it be through advertisements that consumers would see, hear, watch; content being pushed out via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and other social networking sites that users could interact with by making viral or responding to; and, of course, just general interaction with people about something you are passionate about.

My love for social media lead me to many great things at Clemson. First, I was grateful to have earned the position as the first ever Social Media Intern for the Clemson University Division of Student Affairs. This experience only furthered my passion for all things social media and really continued to open my eyes as to how social media can be used to reach audiences. Since Clemson is something that I am passionate about, it was really rewarding for me to be able to combine two of my biggest passions in a professional setting and to see my ideas come to fruition. My experience in social media continued as I completed two creative inquiries with Clemson’s own Social Media Listening Center, a gift given to Clemson University by Dell and Radian6. During my time working with the SMLC, it really hit me how extremely vital social media is in today’s rapidly expanding society, and having the opportunity to work with the Radian6 technology was truly an honor that I am very fortunate to have been given.

During my last year as a Clemson student, I knew that I wanted to get just a little more experience. By this time, I had finally figured out what I enjoyed doing, and I couldn’t have found a more perfect position for me. My senior year, I had the esteemed privilege to serve as Chipotle Mexican Grill’s Student Brand Ambassador for Clemson University. Yes, that’s right; I was getting paid to spread the Chipotle love to the Clemson community. I read something once that said to “figure out what you love to do without getting paid, and that is what you should be doing for the rest of your life.” Well, to say that I am obsessed with Chipotle Mexican Grill is an understatement, so I knew that I could not pass this opportunity up. As I told the regional marketing manager during my interview, even if they didn’t give me the official title, I would still promote Chipotle and be an asset to their brand new Clemson location. Since the chain is not very prominent in the South (read: I went to Chipotle everyday after high school, my friends from the South did not), I felt that it was my responsibility, long before Clemson even had a Chipotle, to introduce the wonderful world of Chipotle Mexican Grill to my fellow peers. Once I got the job, however, it became official. I was constantly tweeting, posting on Facebook, handing out promotion cards, speaking at organization’s chapter meetings, and just spreading my love for Chipotle to everyone around me, especially those that were new to Chipotle and their mission of ‘Food With Integrity.’

So, here I am. A college graduate, ready for life’s next big adventure. I am headed to Chicago and I can’t wait for the next chapter of my life to begin. But, in response to the question posed to me at the beginning of the blog post, here’s what I plan on doing with my degree in Communication Studies: creating content and streamlining it to audiences. My passion for social media and marketing, combined with my natural tenacity and curiosity, make me an absolute asset to a team in a fast-paced work environment.

I’m finally grown up, and I couldn’t be more excited. Adulthood is supposed to be fun, right? Well, if that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

PS- If you made it through this entire post, I commend you.

4 Very Honest Ad Campaigns

It’s no secret that I love advertising. Instead of telling people to be quiet during the actual television program, I am the person that is shhhhing the room as soon as the commercials begin. Going out to a sports bar? You can find me with my eyes glued to the television during the time that people are supposed to be social just to watch the commercials. I prefer magazines that have more advertisements than actual content. In fact, I own several issues of Communication Arts magazine, which solely comprises of advertisements. Heading to the movie theater? The previews are the most exciting part of going to see a movie, DUH. Hopefully you get the point by now.

So, yes, Spring is one of my favorite times of year not because of the Super Bowl but because of the incredible and highly anticipated commercials that come along with it. Speaking of the big game, check out my article in The Tiger from last year on my Top 5 Super Bowl commercials.

Let’s get back to the focus of this post. As I have been watching my various favorite television shows recently, I have noticed an increasing trend among advertisers: honesty. When I say ‘honesty,’ I mean that the purpose of the advertisement is to speak directly to the consumers who choose not to purchase their product by clearly identifying a problem, misconception, or a needed change. In doing this, the advertisement is doing so much more than just trying to entice the viewer to purchase the product. In my opinion, these advertisements bring a brand new type of marketing to the table: one where the advertiser is very obviously in tune to the opinions of the consumer. It will be interesting to look at the success and failures of these four campaigns, but in the mean time, I present to you four very honest current advertising campaigns, in the order of personal relevance and interest.

1. Triscuit’s Gone Topless
A product of Nabisco, Triscuit has been around since 1902 (according to their Facebook page), and has been a classic on the cracker aisle ever since. Only did I really think about the actual packaging until their most recent advertising campaign, but apparently they had heard otherwise. Triscuits’ packaging has traditionally always had a picture of Triscuits topped with something, to show that the cracker was the perfect party dish. Now, however, they are wiping the toppings clean from the packaging after realizing that people didn’t know they could eat Triscuits without them being topped with something. The premise of Triscuit’s newest marketing campaign is “Topper’s Tantrums,” in that “angry satisfied” customers exclaim how angry they are that they had never thought of Triscuits like this before.

This is Triscuit’s first advertising campaign with Crispin Porter + Bogusky, an agency well-known for it’s A-list clientele and it’s innovative campaigns. Not only are there new TV spots and print advertisements, but Triscuit has integrated the new “toppingless” packaging campaign completely into it’s presence on Facebook. I think this ad campaign is extremely interesting because instead of trying to differentiate themselves from other cracker products, the entire goal of this campaign is to announce that Triscuit is just the same as other crackers in that they can be eaten plain. By completely changing their packaging design, Triscuit is really going the distance to communicate with their consumers.

2. Kraft Mac n’ Cheese, not Craft time
This next advertising campaign, also by CP+B, is for Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and addresses something that anyone who has ever attended Elementary School can resonate with. Remember in kindergarten when we would create art projects comprising of noodles glued to a piece of construction paper, or strung on a piece of string? Well, the whole premise of Kraft’s ad campaign is that macaroni and cheese is “Dinner, Not Art.” While consumers purchasing macaroni and cheese for craft projects isn’t necessarily hurting the profitability of the product, it is clearly not an objective of the brand. What this specific campaign shows is that Kraft is aware of what is going on in the consumer world and wanted to respond to consumers by essentially saying, “Hey, we’re proud of our macaroni. Don’t waste it by gluing it together.” [I mean, not literally, but that’s essentially what they are saying.]

In addition to the adorable television spots, Kraft actually went above and beyond by turning this simple idea into a full-blown socially responsible campaign. Kraft created an app for the iPad, in addition to the website DinnerNotArt.com, where users can actually use Kraft Macaroni noodles to create digital art, asking users to “save the real noodles for dinner.” And on top of that, Kraft announced that for every noodle used in the digital macaroni art, they would donate 10 noodles to Feeding America. Now THAT’S corporate social responsibility if I’ve ever seen it.

3. Don’t be surprised- it’s from Sears

This might be one of my favorite commercials from the past year, to be quite honest. This was the commercial that really started drawing my attention to these sorts of advertisements. From the very beginning of the clip, you know the exact message the brand is trying to send- and the message is phenomenal. Sears is essentially saying, “hey, we get it, we’re not known for cute clothes and you’ve probably made an effort to avoid clothes-shopping with us.” The woman is obviously embarrassed when asked where she purchased her top, and stunned when she receives a compliment for it. For the rest of the advertisement, the woman is thrilled to show off her clothing and equally as excited to tell others that her outfit is from Sears, which comes as a shock to everyone she meets. This. is. RICH. Complete re-branding at it’s finest. Just like addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem; and, ladies and gentlemen, Sears has done this flawlessly.

This particular advertisement was part of a total re-branding for Sears that started in the summer of 2012. The campaign is titled ‘This is Sears,’ and was an attempt to really change the way people viewed the department store. It was crafted at the hands of mcgarrybowen, and includes several other popular ads, including the recent clip for a fake dance competition show (you know, the one where the dancers run right into the appliances?), but none that are really as brutally honest as this one. They don’t have to specifically say, “we want to change your minds about us,” but they simply end the advertisement with the following- “Surprised? Don’t be?” So, while this is just one particular advertisement among a whole campaign, Sears really nailed it with this one.

4. We promise, we’re not as bad as we used to be.

In terms of re-branding and providing a really honest marketing campaign, Internet Explorer takes the cake. Their campaign for the new Internet Explorer 9 was appropriately titled ‘The Browser You Loved To Hate.’ And that’s because we all did (and many of us still do). The only thing IE was good for when we got out first Microsoft laptop was for downloading Mozilla Firefox, or more recently, Google Chrome. In fact, I personally remember uninstalling my Internet Explorer once Mozilla was on my desktop. Quite frankly, it sucked. And that’s what made the marketing campaign for Internet Explorer 9 so incredible- Microsoft agreed with us. They knew how horrible the browser was. The consumer’s hatred for Internet Explorer was just the right fuel for a flawless marketing campaign.

The first advertisement that was released for the campaign was called ‘Child of the 90’s,’ and hit every twenty-something with a wave of nostalgia. The premise of this particular advertisement was that just like we grew up, so did Internet Explorer. If this isn’t honesty, I don’t know what is. They are directly targeting the people that hated Internet Explorer growing up, the people who had all started using different browsers, and saying, “we know we were bad, but give us another chance.” The implementation of this first clip was genius. The video went viral very quickly, filling up everyone’s Facebook news feed and reaching over 25 million views on YouTube. But Microsoft knew it needed more than just a viral video.

This marketing campaign is also the product of Crispin Porter + Bogusky, and was even more successful because it was more than just a single successful advertisement. There were several other clips blatantly bashing IE that really showed the consumer that Microsoft understood; they knew how bad they were and they were doing something to change that. In addition to the video advertisements, they created a tumblr called ‘The Browser You Loved To Hate.’ Here, they addressed all skepticism for the new IE. The top row of the micro-site even has two tabs titled ‘It’s Good Now,’ and ‘No, Really.’ The target marketing for this was spot on. The average tumblr user is  a teenager or twenty-something, so this was a brilliant move. With Apple as their main competitor, Microsoft knew they needed to bring out the big guns, so they did.

If you’re not into advertising nearly as much as I am and you made it through this whole post, bravo, my friend. I hope this gave you a better insight to the workings of my brain. Maybe next time you’re watching a sports game or your favorite show, you’ll stop and think a little bit about the advertisements and why in the world anyone would pay millions of dollars just for that one thirty second spot.

Basic Editing: It’s not that difficult.

Before I get into this relevant and most necessary post, I would like to start off by welcoming both my fellow Comm. Studies major Emily Tumlin and my fabulous roommate Lauren Reddeck to the wonderful world of Wordpress! I am so glad to have convinced you both to join in on the fun.

Now on to the good stuff.

Y’ALL. As someone so passionate about writing, marketing, and social media, I feel the need to shed light on something that has been driving me up the wall. I have been absolutely dumbfounded and, to put it more eloquently, perturbed, at some of the not only public but promoted material being pushed out by brands on various social media outlets. For the most part, companies and brands are pretty good about making sure that their content is error-free. It has to be, right? I mean, this is how brands are connecting with their customers. Their social media handles are a direct extension and representation of the company. This stuff is kind of important. And I understand that mistakes happen, but come on. It is not that difficult to proofread something before publishing it directly to the newsfeeds of thousands of customers/potential customers.

The following are four examples that I have found solely through my own personal presence on social media. I did not go searching for these mistakes, I simply came across them on my various feeds. And they are not even the biggest or most obvious mistakes, but nonetheless, they exist. Also, I am 100% aware of the fact that I sound like the world’s ultimate social media nerd. I am okay with that.

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This first gem was posted on the ABC Family hit television show Pretty Little Liars‘ Facebook page, and it is probably the least harmful of the four examples. Let me just also say that 9,924,729 people are Facebook fans of PLL. Yes, this post was sent out to almost 10 million people. I will give them some credit, however. They’re using bit.ly, which, for those of you that don’t know, is a URL shortening and bookmarking service that tracks data from whoever clicks on the URL. And if you check out their Facebook page, they actually have a really strong and successful social media plan.Their interaction level with their fans is off the charts, and is evidenced by their close to 10 million fans. But let’s be serious; if one more person would have looked at this post, this tiny little error could have been prevented. I’m not letting you off the hook that easy. -A

samsungTaking it up a notch on the stupidity scale of mistakes is this specific action via twitter by Samsung Mobile US. A little background on Samsung’s presence on twitter: they have 4,313,729 followers, are verified, and have over 24,000 tweets, which is evidence of the fact that not only do they use twitter to promote their brand, but to create conversations by responding to their followers. But this….this tweet is just unacceptable. First of all, from a marketing perspective, it’s really never a good idea to actually ask users to ‘RT’ or ‘like’ something. If your content is actually good, people should do that stuff anyway. Second of all, it’s not just one letter that is off. Whoever wrote this used an entirely incorrect word (even if it is only two letters long). And third of all, and most importantly, SAMSUNG PAID TO PROMOTE THIS. Seriously? Samsung spent actual real dollars to have this tweet come up in every twitter users’ timeline. This is what my nightmares are made of.

outbackBranching out to a primarily mobile platform for social media mishaps is Outback Steakhouse with this lovely error on their Foursquare page. If you are not familiar with Foursquare, it is a mobile social networking app where users can check into the various places they visit and collect points, leave tips and recommendations, and see what kinds of places their friends are visiting, as well. It’s a pretty handy little app for both chain stores and local businesses because not only can they see who is visiting and what they are saying about their visit, but they can also offer users specials and discounts.

This error particularly got my teeth grinding for a variety of reasons. First of all, as a Clemson fan and student, I am not particularly proud of the fact that I cashed in on South Carolina’s win over Michigan at the Outback Bowl. All I have to say is that no matter the circumstance, if there is a free Bloomin’ Onion involved, you can count me in. However, I was going out on a limb by publicly stating that I was reaping the benefits of a USC win and Outback really let me down. I genuinely do not even know what they were trying to say. “…thanks the a USC win yesterday.” I mean, seriously? If your company is going to take the time to implement a social marketing campaign, you have got to at least make sure that it makes sense. I will admit, though, that  Outback was very quick to respond to me via twitter when I publicly called them out on their mistake. Just tryin’ to help a brotha out.

And last, but most definitely not least, is, in my case, the editing (or lack thereof) mistake that broke the camel’s back. Should we discuss the time that the website for the White House (you know, the home of the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, the ruler of our government and country?) posted this on their live video feed? Should we talk about it? Or should we just try to move on with our lives and pretend that this never happened?  Because at this point, my blood is boiling and I might hurt someone.

white house

In essence, just get it together people. Think before you post. Especially if you’re a nation-wide restaurant chain, or, you know, the President of the United States. You can do it. I have faith in you.

The Shopping Site that Didn’t Know How to Make Money

Ladies, let’s face it: we do the majority of our online shopping, even if it’s just ‘window shopping’ or browsing, via Pinterest. We discover new clothes we might not have come across if we were simply looking at the store’s website, and more importantly, we discover new online shops and boutiques that we definitely would have never found by simply browsing – come on, we all know how hard it is to find a new shop online.

Okay, so we use Pinterest to shop. And, well, most of us use Pinterest everyday. So how does the social media site generate any profit? Think about it: it’s not like we’re pinning or buying products created by Pinterest. The things we pin all come either from an individual user or, in most cases, from an external site (like the aforementioned little boutique or shop). Apparently, shortly after the site’s inception, Pinterest claimed that “they weren’t sure about how they make money” but that they wold eventually get to it. Hmm… does this sound extremely fishy to anyone else?

So, in typical Paige fashion, I did a little digging.

According to Forbes, the social media site is valued at a staggering $7.7 billion. Let’s compare that to the other social media juggernauts for a second, shall we? Facebook is valued at $1.26 billion, Twitter claims it is worth $8 billion, and, as the recent news of Facebook purchasing Instagram tells us, Facebook values Instagram at $1 billion.

But, seriously, how is this possible?

From a marketing perspective, it actually might be easy to see how Pinterest is valued at so much and how it generates a profit. Essentially, Pinterest is a gigantic hub for product advertising without pinners really realizing it. Well, that is, as long as its users pin your company’s products. So, one way that Pinterest potentially generates profit is through partnerships with other companies trying to advertise their product. In doing this, Pinterest would then promote the pins of said company to initially get the ball rolling and get the company’s pin travelling through the site at warped speed. Once the first pin is promoted, then users re-pin the product and promote it to their friends, who then, in turn, promote it to their friends, and the beat goes on…

Another way Pinterest could potentially generate profit through partnerships with companies is through promoting a company’s pins in the category sections on the site. This way, the first thing users would see when they click on a specific category would be the promoted pin (without them realizing that it is being promoted, of course).

Additionally, I did some more research and found out that Pinterest generating profit by modifying user-submitted pins by altering the links. I find this extremely interesting because this is something, that, if I would have never researched, I would have had absolutely no clue was being done. Who am I to care that Pinterest is generating money from what I pin from my favorite online boutique? It’s not affecting me in any way, so, personally, it doesn’t really matter to me (in terms of my usability with the site). But, as the article also states, it is a little fishy now that I know about it.

So, there you have it. Even though you probably never thought about it, Pinterest must be generating some sort of profit in order to be running at the high capacity that it does. Even though it technically doesn’t really affect us all that much, it’s still something to think about.

Lawd Jesus! Somebody Got Time Fo’ Dat!

We all have bad days. For me, I believed that today was going to rank at an unfortunate ‘2’ on a scale of 1-10. Not only was I not granted the luxury of sleep last night, but as I was being the ever-so-gracious friend that I am and chauffeuring my roommate to her 8 am exam, the PDjeep decided that today would be the day she would just stop running all-together. After watching her get towed away at 8:30 in the morning and walking home through downtown in my tie-dye sweatshirt and sweatpants (hottie alert!), I had pretty much given up all hope that today would be a good day.

That’s when I checked twitter. Scrolling through my timeline per usual, something caught my eye that just NEEDED to be addressed as soon as possible. Being the avid internet nerd that I am, I was ecstatic to find out that the face of one of my favorite viral videos and corresponding favorite gifs was now communicating with her fans. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, Sweet Brown is now on twitter. I took action immediately, and the following event made me more giddy than I probably should admit.

ain't nobody got time for that

And if you really want one more reason to be in love with Sweet Brown, the autotone remix of her viral video is one of the most inspirational clips of our generation. I mean, come on, Joe Jonas in a leotard and a gospel choir mashed up with the sweet, sweet sounds of one Miss Sweet Brown.

Carry on.