Category Archives: advertisement

Just Dance?

My wife and I, we have Just Dance at home. I don’t play it, but she’s occasionally plays the game to work out or just to de-stress. I believe we have all of the releases since we started buying it for the Wii, even the two Just Dance Japans. We got it for the Wii, then for the PS3, then for the PS4. Something happened on 2018 however. The game, which to be honest, looked like it spent most of its budget on music licensing and often had poor production and didn’t spend too much money on the presentation and graphics, suddenly, it changed its UI. The makers of the game decided to incorporate a subscription service along with the main game. Now, when you load the game, not only do you see all of the games on the disc, you also see games from Just Dance Unlimited, a monthly gaming subscription service which allowed users to stream songs from past games.

Now, we didn’t have any reason to subscribe to this service. After all, I believe we already have all of the songs from previous releases. We just have to fire up the disc from other consoles and voila! But now we’re on a situation where we are constantly being sold a product we don’t need. And if anything, we are currently being reminded of other good songs in other games, with choreography my wife is more familiar with, instead of the new ones on the disc. It’s an awful, awful design. It’s like buying Super Mario 2 and constantly being reminded about how awesome Super Mario 1 is and how fun it would be to fire up that game again instead of slogging through the newer game.

But I think the biggest crime of the change in UI is that it treats the customer like a bystander instead of a customer. Now, I understand the concept of the “game as a service” model, but I think developers too often forget the “game” part in that phrase. I just bought a game, do I have to be reminded that I have to pay more to enjoy a fuller experience right from the start? And this is especially annoying to someone who already has the other games, a real loyal customer. “Thanks for your business, now re-buy all of the stuff again.”

So yeah, after 2018 came out, the 2019 and 2020 versions came out and were quite forgettable. They didn’t get much play. Or if they did, we ended up firing up the older CDs after being reminded of other songs in the Just Dance catalog. As for 2021, the game is already being sold on a massive discount after just being released last month. I’m not sure whether it’s because of poor sales or they are just banking on people paying for the monthly service after buying the disc. As for us, my wife is more into Beat Saber at the moment. This is another aspect where Just Dance dropped the ball. They didn’t even bother having the most popular band on their game. Beat Saber just released ten BTS songs on their platform last month. Just Dance won’t be missed.

So why am I writing about Just Dance right now? I’m not big into dance games, but the problem I saw with Just Dance permeates many aspects in business at the moment. People forget what they’re all about in the first place in their drive to push for more sales. And it’s not just with games. I wrote about Instagram last week. They’re turning into an advertising/shopping platform, forgetting that people are there mostly to share photos, grow their own following, and make their friends insanely jealous. This happens out in the real world, too. I remember going to a very popular Genghis Khan Japanese barbecued lamb restaurant a while ago. This place usually has a long line-up. But when we sat down and started eating, our server was in such a rush grilling meat and having us finish our meal in order to sit more people waiting in line. The dish is supposed to be slowly savored with drinks and conversation. It’s not fast food.

Anyway, I know businesses can’t help but try to make more money, but they should at least try to be more subtle about it. Make the “upgrade” icons less intrusive. Let customers enjoy themselves more before trying to milk them for more money. I just paid for a bottle of champagne for the table. Don’t ask me to fork over another $200 for a plate of cheese the minute the bottle arrives. At least flirt with me a little first and throw some lies at me. Call me handsome. There’s a delicate dance to these things, otherwise, customers will be turned off and leave. Don’t they teach this in business school?

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Striking Viral Gold

Calendar

Lately, there’s this new mascot in Korea has skyrocketed in popularity. Pengsu is a headphones-wearing penguin that does 10-minute man-on-the-street skits produced by EBS, the Korea Educational Broadcasting System. Unlike a lot of Korean comedy, the character is able to attract both young children and adults with his witty ad-lib free of sexual overtones, cursing, or slapstick.

I must admit, I too find him amusing. The whole set-up is reminiscent of Sacha Baron Cohen skits. Talk to someone for a few minutes, move one, rinse and repeat. He also has recurring things he comes back to, basically building his own world simply by virtue of the story he spins.

Much like PBS, EBS survives through sponsorship and advertisement. Because they’re mainly focused on education, they’re not as attractive to companies compared to other bigger broadcasting companies in the country. The character Peng-su’s surge in popularity not only because of the character itself but also due to the story of an educational character crossing over to the viral mainstream. And that is one of the things that interest me most about the character. A lot of the character’s fans are quite keen on speculating on what products the character would or should endorse in the future. Already, I’ve seen news stories of companies courting the creators of the character to ink a deal to start hawking their merchandise.

Now I know that some characters or some shows are always in danger of not having enough funding to continue. It’s always difficult finding funding for the arts. But to me, the Peng-su phenomenon is akin to having a viral tweet or Instagram post. When an unknown account suddenly goes viral with one tweet, it is often followed by either the original poster advertising something in response to the sudden popularity or just shrugging it all off and linking to something innocuous. That attitude of “BAM! You’ve hit the big time, not milk this for all it’s worth” is so pervasive that it’s a tad off-putting. Now, I know that this has been going on since the very beginning of mass media, but now it’s almost the very first thing one thinks of the minute they get a hint of fame (or infamy even). And now it’s even come to cartoon mascots. It’s a bit weird. I mean, I enjoyed cartoons and different characters and media when I was younger, but not once did I think they should trade their fame for more advertising revenue. G.I. Joe was already selling me action figures. I didn’t think they should advertise McDonalds just so they could eke out more episodes. Sesame Street could easily survive if Big Bird started selling life insurance.

I’ve seen this kind of talk with athletes before in the country. And this I understand. The champion figure skater Kim Yoona was super popular (and still is) in the country and her fame coupled with her good looks made her a magnet for advertisers. And good for her, too. Athletes only have a few years to capitalize on their fame, so she did well with her advertising and she didn’t overdo it either.

I remember Howard Stern once saying, “just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.” Which is him saying just because you can be part of any sort of project just to make a few dollars, doesn’t mean you should say yes to everything. You can afford to not be part of everything. You can afford to say no. Which is more than I can say with some celebrities in Korea. There are times when the media just keeps on pumping the same set of people again, and again, and again. Sure, they might think their current popularity has a very short lifespan, but during that lifespan, I’m already sick of their face on television (Yes, I’m sick of Park Na-rae). This is one reason why I get easily put off by Korean television. It’s the same people again and again until you get sick of them.

Now, I do hope this Peng-su character lasts for a while. If anything, his popularity shows that there is more to Korean television than singing, people eating, or fake reality show BS. It’s also good to see a character be successful fueled mostly by wit. It’s a good departure from the standard brand of stand-up comedy you would see in Korean gag comedy.

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Boycotting Jackassery

Grandma

Ad boycotts are great. Boycotts are great. Jack Schafer is wrong, dead wrong. Ad boycotts or boycotts in general are democracy in action. It’s the people telling companies exactly what they want, and the companies responding in return.

Jack Shafer writing for Politico, defends Tucker Carlson (and even previously defended Bill O’Reilly) and his right to have a platform where people are allowed to express their views freely, and argues that if advertisers were only allowed to support shows whose political views they support, then the only shows on TV would be the blandest centrist shows which cater to all demographic. Cenk Uygur  from The Young Turks doesn’t like the idea of pressuring advertisers either, saying that if a person doesn’t like a show, then just don’t watch it. Let it die a natural death.

The problem here is that toxic ideas, especially from those with a following, don’t die a natural death. Despite being deplatformed, if Alex Jones makes a controversial vile statement, his followers will still amplify it. But by the very fact that he is deplatformed, the extent and the damage he can cause is contained to a minimum. Ann Coulter doesn’t really have a regular media platform outside of her social network, but because she occasionally shows up on television, her celebrity status and her vile ideas remain. You can’t just “not watch” Ann Coulter and hope she disappears. It doesn’t work that way.

Jack Schafer and Cenk Uygur are wrong in thinking that companies, when they advertise in a show, are supporting the political message of the show. They might and they could but they don’t definitively do just by the virtue of advertising there. What they do however is enable shows to spread their message. Companies’ goals are to reach the audiences of the shows they advertise on. That is simply it. In doing so, they allow the shows to continue their programming. They want to sell things, not sell a political message or change hearts and minds. Some companies might be politically motivated, but by and large, that’s not how companies and advertising works.

Advertising keeps shows alive, and shows will remain alive as long as they have viewers and advertisers who are interested in said viewers. Tucker Carlson could turn his political show into a cooking show, but as long as viewers watch the show and support the advertisers’ products, the advertisers will continue to keep the show alive (not necessarily support the show’s views. Stop thinking this). But how do you let a show or a television station know that you are not happy with something when you don’t watch a particular show in the first place? Then you go to what you actually use or support in your real life, the advertisers. Bill O’Reilly survived years with seniors having his show on right after Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. People who are politically “woke,” are generally younger and couldn’t stand up against him and boycott his show when they don’t watch his show in the first place. And Bill’s hold with his senior audience is rock solid. So how does one act against him, go after his advertisers.

Boom. It worked.

And as much fearmongering there was about slippery slopes and threats to the free speech, Bill O’Reilly’s show has been off the air for a while now. People are still free to speak. Bill is still free to peddle his hatred on other platforms. The same goes for Glenn Beck, Alex Jones, and Gavin McInnes.

The whole free speech argument is a shell game. It is a way to distract from the vile things someone is saying in order to appeal to someone’s ego or righteousness. “Free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech.” Sure. But notice how people who usually say that are hatemongers or conservative trolls? And as much as progressives will often defend the free speech rights of hatemongers when their advertisers are being threatened, it never really goes the other way around. Jamal Khashoggi’s murder was an attack on free speech and freedom of the press, and yet I don’t necessarily hear the loud voices on the right standing up for the dead journalist. What about Colin Kapaernick’s free speech? These people on the right are not playing it straight, folks. They’re simply not.

See, the right’s problem with ad boycotts and boycotts in general is that they usually don’t work when it comes to their causes. Remember the boycotts against Nike, Starbucks, NFL, Keurig, Apple, etc.? They simply don’t work. Wars against Christmas have been fought every year and there have been boycotts against companies, but yet most of these companies still stand. The right wing’s victories in these boycotts, if there even are, are often miniscule and symbolic, certainly nothing worth smashing your own Keurig coffeemaker over.

So yeah, Tucker Carlson is human garbage. It’s a shame that major networks keep giving him shows time and time again despite being human garbage. People are boycotting his advertisers right now because Tucker Carlson suggested that immigrants make the United States dirty, then later doubled down on the claim, stating that illegal immigrants produce about five pounds of garbage per person as they cross the desert. Someone tell him Americans generate an average of 4 pounds of trash per day and 1500 per year. Tucker Carlson is a white supremacist, nationalist turd. Advertisers on his show help keep his racist platform alive. Sure, they might not necessarily support his message, but they sure allow him to say them.

 

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Things My Money Is Spent On

Reebok

Shoes which absolutely don’t lift your butt.

 

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