May 2010 Archives

Looking at trends because we are trendy and its important!


I was at work yesterday having a conversation with a coworker about the seemingly diminishing number of vegans. We were talking about how most counter-culture music nowadays isn't politically driven, but is more about an expression of the individual rather than a cry for societal progress. It might seem unfair to compare 80's political punk to the 21st century scenester, but the wave of politically driven bands are certainly not as prevelant as they once were. Now all thats left is the fashion inspiration, but none of the beliefs it once stood for. Maybe it is because its already been done, maybe because we are burnt out, maybe we want to spend our lives feeling happy rather than focusing on all the problems. Or maybe Brokencyde really is in the battle for societal progress. Either way, I was interested about the vegan thing. It used to be much more popular to be vegan, at least in her perspective, than now. BACON. There is so much hooplah about bacon now. If it were veal bacon, it would be the polar opposite of veganism. There's free bacon at the Triple Rock and many other bars, there's 'Ba-K 47's' and bacon bikinis and I can't even type all the baconness. Why bacon? Well, its good. I had some this morning. But bacon just might be the most indulgent most naturally enjoyable most salty most fatty most warm and crispy most delicious food ever. Most importantly, it's indulgent.

Most of the parents and older folk I talk to about social movements and whatnot seem to have the same 'well finally' attitude. Every generation wants to feel special for something, (which is a good thing, yay progress!) but I feel like we kind of forget about the whole 60's free-speech, environmental, civil rights, women's liberation, anti-war movement thing. Go green and all but just because we learned the marketability of alliteration doesn't mean our generation is pioneering the movement.

I seem a little hostile? Why am I so angry? Because people are angry and thats why theres free bacon.

But, but, people shouldn't get irritated with vegans and vegetarians because they care about the environment. Just think of all those factory farms and high methane gas levels and runoff and the amount of corn, the energy pyramid that can't be any other way, and the amount of subsidies going to the corn farmers so there's all this nutritionally low corn syrup in all our foods and we are only harvesting one crop so all the nutrients that one crop needs is getting sucked out of the soil and its not sustainable and all the water needed to grow the crops to feed the animals and how all the low quality of water and food is in the animals so in us and it's just a cycle and the unnatural hormones that are affecting our bodies and the antibiotics that are inevitably culturing one big mega virus that will wipe us off the planet, and I didn't even get started on the ethics of all this.

But, we know these things, why does bacon taste so good? Apart from the taste, its what it represents. Just like veganism was associated with punk culture in the 80's, bacon (at least how it is celebrated in society lately) is now a notion of counter-culture. Admittedly this counter-culture is definitely further up the self-actualization pyramid, and you probably have to understand our post-modern generation based on irony, but I think this is fair to say. But now it is becoming hip to eat bacon, so we are in a dilemma as to what is cool and what is right, and what feels so right (just like the Eagle Eye Cherry song), and it feels so right to eat bacon.

Being vegan is extreme, eating bacon is extreme, neither is helping our environmental issues with the industrialization of meat. It is the industry, after all, that causes most of these problems. We can't get around the energy pyramid, but in small localized animal farms is it easier and more economically beneficial not to waste.

Extremism can be good sometimes. Earth First members can chain themselves to trees to make a statement about sustainability, but their action is directly related to their message. In the matter of either not eating meat or eating large quantities of environmentally detrimental meat either way we are missing the point. We need to somehow fight or communicate for quality meat. What we need is a shift in the market from industry to local. Which is never pretty, and might not be as efficient in quantity, but it is quality that we want anyways.

Well, either way, we are trendy right? Well at least we enjoy learning about them as it ties into the psychology involved in design. So lets be meat trend setters, and have a party with a modest quantity of quality local bacon. mmm.

The Impact of Marketing on Society as a Whole!

There are lots of mediums we can apply our Graphic Design experience to, and because of this we are hopefully able to have a more actualized perception of our job and tasks. Graphic design not only requires creativity and skill of the programs, but most of it is psychology and much time is spend considering audiences and expectations. We are (hopefully) not going to be simplified to a specialized task for our job, we are expected to have independent thought and constantly weighing the ends and means of our actions not just on the company but society as a whole. This is awesome! So lets look at a medium we will be working with, marketing, and define ways we can have an upper hand at creating a better world, for as in a previous post I wrote that marketing is a notion of authority that has potential to breed a society either hyper-suspicious and cynical or mindless zombies. So how can marketing be healthy for both the company and the consumer?

It could probably start by not seeing our neighbors as consumers.

In a cynical point of view which may or may not be true, it seems our capitalist world is going down the inevitable track of valuing consumption over community. With our technologically advanced and globalized world we can be friends with people across the world or a few blocks down the street, no big deal, but when it comes to going 'home' and feeling welcome surrounded by neighbors that look after you this isn't always the case now a days. I remember having block parties every years in our neighborhood, but that notion of community and belonging dissipated into staying in and tending to our own interests.

And maybe this lack of neighborhood community is being replaced with more voluntary and proactive community, for because of our economy we are able to have time finding out what we specifically enjoy, in turn creating community out of those interests. This might not mean you and others that enjoy the same scene as you happen to live next door on a block, but you make it work.

But back to marketing and society. No one enjoys being told what to do or what to believe, which essentially is what marketing is doing. Marketing is also simply communicating, but there is so much at stake to the company's bottom line the 'communicating' results in 'cpersuasion' (I was doing good with alliteration with the letter 'c' up until this point). Looking at the marketing of Jesus! I was 'cpersueded' by the marketing tactics of the cool, alternative Pentecostal church from about 7th grade to 12th grade, which might be why I am now so sensitive and perceptive of roles of authority, persuasion, and the ends and means needed to do so. But after falling out of the dogmatic believe system and writing reflective papers on the matter I realized the real reason I was voluntarily consumed with this subculture for so long even though I was constantly justifying the irrational fundamentals of the belief system was a combination of--- fear and community. We were fearful of eternal fire and brimstone for us and our loved ones, but I think we were actually mostly fearful of loosing the loving, supporting, and welcoming community we were a part of. I also realized a lot of situations in life outside of a religious standpoint are rooted with fear and the desire for community, which seems like a pretty natural drive looking at humans in a evolutionary perspective.

So if two strong human drives are fear and community, how does that relate to marketing? Well is shows why the act of marketing will always have conflicting sides. It helps get rid of a sense of fear for the company, in turn the individual workers within the company, but it also threatens our sense of community, forcing us to treat our neighbors as consumers over comrades.

As newly budding graphic designers going into the field I think we should be considering what our role is in society, and to not be afraid to stand up for ethical issues. I'm sure most of us will be just happy to get a job no matter what, and we aren't entering our jobs like we are going to take over the place or anything like that, but to keep our world progressing and considering how large a design community there is in Minneapolis, its good to consider at least.

Let's talk social media: How empowering? How interconnected? How insane?

In a crazy cool book by Dave Evans founder of Digital Voodoo, an expert in social marketing, he states, "Building on the personal empowerment and liberation that the internet offers, consumers are actively connecting with each other and sharing information about everything from cars and health to scrapbooking techniques and pool chemicals. In the process, they are either reinforcing marketing efforts or beating marketers at their own game by directly sharing their own experiences and thoughts with each other." (Social Media Marketing). The idea that social media site like Facebook and Twitter and Myspace are all offering marketing without companies even tapping into it is crazy.

We are now in the age where marketers are tapping into this source of free advertising and marketing. I think that it is really cool that companies are starting to take a look at different blogs and twitter accounts, and they are actually following up via social media with clients in order to provide a better user experience. This, as a lot of things in advertising and marketing, comes with an interesting fine line between useful and overkill. In class we had a great debate over the boom in twitter and facebook use. We talked about many different facets of each of them and the overall consensus seemed to be that one would use the service if they wanted to, and if it wasn't relevant to their lives they wouldn't. Isn't that in-and-of-itself this ting we call target marketing? It is so perfect in my eyes for certain marketers to use these types of outlets such as facebook, twitter, myspace, as jumping off points for marketing campaigns, but there are niche markets which need to be found in order for this to be effective.

A very up-and-coming topic that should be really interesting in the next couple of years.

The BeGreen campaign is just one example of the incredibly forward moving society that we are all a part of. Taking ideas that stem from renewal of energy, reducing our waste, tracking carbon footprints and reusing materials to benefit the earth show us that there is power in marketing not only for products, but for causes. Check out how complete the website is here and you will understand the importance of a solidified brand and attitude when talking about issues. BeGreen is a movement that has begun to take over in all areas of the United States and now in the world. They are solidified by their strong visual presence and their creative marketing strategies.


Using our design backgrounds to empower people is not just persuasion at its best. Empowering is making a differnence and feeling great about it. It is seeing the results in the changing of activities. It is incredible how wonderful you can feel when you track your carbon footprint and you can see it going down. Empowerment is used in gaming, and this is something that isn't even close to new to consumers. Winning a game and getting positive feedback from a machine console is empowering to us. It is great to see that groups are using these techniques to empower individuals in a way that can change the planet for good.

I am no tree-hugging hippie of sorts, but this is a great way to become involved in change. Check out how they are offering positive feedback when individuals opt to make a difference

After writing all my other blogs, I actually found an article that I find really interesting and cool. Although I feel pretty nerdy to be this excited, but the article offered an entirely different way of thinking about waste that I hadn't thought about with my topic.

Check it out for yourself: http://bubbler.wordpress.com/2007/07/31/a-list-of-ways-to-reduce-your-waste/

However I'm going to continue talking about my feelings on it. What first really got my attention in the article is this idea about waster our personal energy and time.

"The main problem right now in all of the world, including within each of our own lives, is waste. We waste our time, we waste our resources. Our social, economic, and political systems waste money, people, natural capital, time, and energy. We have all been taught to waste, because we have been taught--and we allow ourselves--to be blind, heedless, "good consumers".

Honestly I feel silly for not having looked at it that way, but it really addresses all kinds of waste and not just the physical earth harming waste. Although the article does continue to talk about physical waste, it does address our time, energy, and resources from a personal stand point that really do encourage people to stop wasting on various levels, including physical waste and theoretical waste. At the end of the article he lists ways of reducing and many of his ways are feasible, and he presents those thoughts in a manner that doesn't guilt the reader into reducing waste. He simply puts it in a new light, but suggesting other ways of looking at it. For example, "Make exercise a part of your daily existence, such as in biking or walking to work, or biking or walking to a bar or bookstore or cafe. Try to eliminate the perception of exercise as an accessory chore or activity to become more desirable." It's simple enough and a great way of reducing the waste of your body, your youth, your abilities, as well as reducing the physical waste that harms the earth.

I just thought the article was great. It was short and succinct but it drove the point home. I'm definitely looking into other blogs he has posted and following them. I encourage others to do so as well.

Our waste is definitely a personal issue. There are various ways that people reduce their waste, and not everyone does the same. Some believe that recycling is enough, others collect tabs, others only buy eco-friendly, or help out in other ways. I think its being self-aware of what you're putting out and how much. There are give and takes in every situation, including waste.

Ecomii.com believes that, "living a simpler lifestyle isn't about doing without or cutting out the things you truly enjoy. It's about knowing the difference between what you "need" and what you "want." It's also about prioritizing - looking at your days and deciding what's really important to you so that you can make better decisions about how you spend your money. In this way, being careful about what you bring into the house has more benefits than just reducing the trash that you produce: It also can help to simplify your life and reduce your stress level."

My personal example is diet mountain dew, now if I could have a fountain at my house to reduce waste I would, however I don't believe I will be purchasing that anytime soon, but in the mean time I recycle my bottles, and believe it or not trying to reduce my dew intake. Now I'm aware of my mountain dew intake but I try to exchange that type of waste with my use of tupperware everyday or reuse bags. Thats my personal way of reducing. I think each person should have a small way that they are reducing their own waste.

When discussing waste and the environment most everyone knows that we need to reduce our waste for future generations. However it is easier said then done of course. After reading some of the comments on my past blog posts I couldn't help but think about how a person's environment changes the way we use, and dispose of waste. I also thought about how a person's financial status would change the amount of waste each person produces.

I understand that I'm bringing financial into my environmental blog but I think both go hand in hand. Someone with more money might be able to buy materials that conserve the most and be best for the environment. With that said however it doesn't mean that people with lower means can't do anything for the environment. There are easy changes that everyone can change to, and although it sounds preachy I myself need to stick by these solutions as well.

Epa.com asks everyone to do there part by doing the little things, "like buying in bulk items that won't necessarily go bad, buy items that will stand the test of time, reuse items, borrow items to and from neighbors and friends, use reusable materials for everyday task like; tuberware when packing a lunch, reusable bags or old store bags at stores, keeping track of "paper-work" electronically, etc." These are ways that all people can do their part regardless of means.

However when buying organically or without the waste of big corporations is another task entirely. I believe that there is a difference between the spending habits of a stay at home mom or dad and a single person with a high income. Although both should be aware of what their buying and who they are buying from, however a mother may be pinching her pennies a bit more. Both are hypothetical but representations. It could go the other way too. A single man or woman barely making ends meet at their job and a soccer mom who has a husband who has an expendable income.

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This page is an archive of entries from May 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2010 is the previous archive.

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