Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween 2KX

I have to say, I'm apparently a little behind the times, and it sucks finding out through the medium of Halloween costumes. While I was perfecting my Audrey Hepburn Breakfast at Tiffany's ensemble, the rest of the world was busy getting square-tip manicures and planning out how to best glue meat to their bodies for Halloween 2KX. That's right folks- the most 'original' costumes this year go to . . . drumroll please- SNOOKI and LADY GAGA. As dictated by just about every pop culture website and news media in the United States. Oh, so original.

Top costumes of 2010? Well, Avatars (the blue ones, not to be confused with the Japanese ones) are a big seller this year, as are vampires and characters from Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. These three categories make it onto the list of top mens, women's, couples, and kids popular costumes.

It's getting so un-original that there have been videos made predicting the crowd at this year's parties. And from what I've seen of my friends Facebook pictures so far, this video is dead on. Even Regis and Kelly are getting in on the fun of making fun of this year's costume choices.

How about trying something really original? Or, if that's asking too much for the girls, something thats just not skanky. My boyfriend's mom picked up a whole set of Wizard of Oz costumes for our group of friends, but unfortunately the Dorothy dress just wasn't low cut or short enough to be deemed socially acceptable by my friends. Where did this obsession with dressing up as

While we're on the subject, check out Nat. Geo.'s history of Halloween breakdown. Pretty interesting stuff.

But, if you're like the rest of America and just want to be 'creative,' here's a how-to guide for becoming a Snookie. But what is Snookie going to be? A pickle of course. I just hope I'm not the only one who doesn't understand the joke.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Becoming a Gleek

At the risk of coming across a spoiler or two, I'd like to talk about my latest obsession- Glee.
See, I have this problem where I get into a tv show and watch it like it's a movie. This of course spawns from the fact that I am culturally deprived and watching the show on DVD or online, not as it debuts like the rest of America. Also for this reason, I am currently two episodes from finishing season one, where every other Gleek is in the middle of season 3. It doesn't bother me though, except when I come across a spoiler or two.
The show is just so catchy. Well, I take that back. It wasn't at first. The first episode of Glee that I ever watched was highly publicized "Britney/Britney" episode. I just had to see what all the fuss was about.
After the thirty second run-down of "and that's what you missed on !GLEE!" I was sufficiently confused. Aren't those openings designed to get new people into the series? It definitely missed that target audience entirely. I watched the episode, but didn't like the filming style and couldn't get into the plot. Because I was so curious why this show was getting so much damn publicity, I found the first season and began to watch.
After the first episode, I was hooked. How could I not be, when I find out that the climatic ending performance was that amazing new rendition of Don't Stop Belivin' that played all the time on the radio at work? I'd had no idea that that song was from Glee. While I was watching it I got chills. So many of their songs are amazing remakes that I am going to get the complete season one CD.
Now that I'm into the series, I have to say, I'm addicted. I'm a Gleek. And yet, I'm scared to catch up to the rest of the world. I can't imagine hitting the end of a particularly suspenseful episode and having to wait an entire week for the next.
I've never had to do that. All of my obsessive show-watching has happened after the series has ended. Gilmore Girls, Wildfire, Beautiful People, Charmed. All of these I watched once they were already over. And I feel the need to watch and re-watch like they're just really long movies (a tendency that very few people understand).
Maybe that's just me trying to make up for not seeing them with the rest of the world while they were in their glory days. Then again, maybe it's just the side effect of being culturally deprived.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Natural-y Good Marketing

As the small animal specialist at my PetCo, I am in charge of a lot of the products and presentation in my department. I've noticed that PetCo has slowly been changing their packaging for many of our brand items. Before I thought too much about it, all I knew was that the new packaging looks much more professional. We are changing from brightly colored, mostly bright yellow and white boxes to a toned down green with brown accents. Even the pictures on the boxes have gotten a makeover. They're changing from a picture of an empty cage on a white background to a fully furnished cage with animals in it that is set up in a modern looking house.

Seeing the two boxes side by side, because we still have some of the old products, all I could think was how much better the shelves looked now. Changing the packaging was a very smart move for PetCo because the old packaging looked like it was for a toddler's toy. The new packaging is modern, professional, and appealing.

But why is it so much more appealing to me? This was the question I hadn't been able to answer.

I didn't think twice about this change until I was setting up a new endcap display in my department. I was taking down the traditionally recommended Kaytee Lab Fiesta seed mix and putting new Kaytee Nature's Benefits in its place.

As I was setting up the display, I found myself wishing that there was a mouse and rat version so that I could feed my rats the new Nature's Benefits food. I even started looking at the ingredients for the hamster/gerbil one and wondering if I could just buy that for my rats. At that point, I realized something. I have never thought of giving my rats something that wasn't made for them. Sure, it won't hurt them, but it might not be exactly what they need.

So why now? What was it about this new product that made me want to drop my old food and buy this one?

Confused, I made up my mind to articulate my thought process. First of all, it was natural. Second, it looked natural. Natural is good. I want to feed my pets natural food. I don't buy into natural foods for myself, so why would I for my pets? Where did this mentality come from?

I didn't even know it was natural- just because it's called Nature's Benefits and comes in a cardboard box doesn't mean it's not the same junk in the brightly colored bags. (And seed mixes are junk, high in fat and low in protein- aways feed a block diet. )

What did Kaytee do to make their products more appealing? They changed their packaging. They took advantage of the new natural ideal. Customers are now looking for simplicity, naturalness, and authenticity in packaging (Food Production daily).

Throughout my whole store, packaging is changing to reflect this interest in natural products. From eco-friendly doggie cleanup bags to toys made out of recycled materials, Petco's new line of items are dubbed "Planet Petco."

And it's not just Petco. Sunchips come in a 100% compostable bag (for now, at least). Although the first compostable chip bag was fromcompostable packaging. Yogurt cups are being made from corn.

Who knows where this whole natural movement is going. But for now, I'm glad I'm aware of these new marketing strategies so that I know why I'm really attracted to a product and I can use better judgement before impulse buying because something appears healthy.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Who Owns Her Heart?

Obviously, not the fans that have been with her from the beginning. Miley Cyrus has been following in the treacherous footsteps of former Disney Icon LiLo (AKA Lindsey Lohan) for a while now. We all know about the racy photos, pole dancing at the teen choice awards, lap dancing at the after parties, and the outfits-that-weren't. Now, seventeen year old Miley has released a new video, "Who Owns My Heart" that many are saying has crossed the line.

Opinions range from approval to interested concern to extreme disapproval and anger. Although her older audience seems to have no problems with her new persona, parents are urging us to think about what message she is sending to her younger fan base. The Parent's Television Council has taken great offense to this new Miley, pointing out that "Miley has built her fame and fortune entirely on the backs of young girls" and stating "it saddens us that she seems to eager to distance herself from that fanbase so rapidly." Due to the nature of the video, I would have to agree.

For a while now, I've thought that a lot of things Miley has done have been inappropriate, including Hannah Montana. Sure, it's fine for high schoolers to watch if they are bored or want a laugh, because they know that it's a show and that there is a difference in television and real life. But the younger kids that watch it like middle school girls are watching Hannah make ridiculous, over-exagerated faces, rudely make fun of her father, and walk all over her friends like that is the way that normal teenage girls act. Middle school girls are seeing these things and copying them in real life. I have a younger family member who would do things like this and all I could think was 'where is she getting this from?' Honestly, it makes her appear a little slow. Then, while in my dorm putting off writing a paper one night, I turned on the TV and watched Hannah Montana. And then I knew exactly where she was getting it from. Hannah is mildly entertaining, as long as you know the difference between watching her awful acting and how you should act in real life. Unfortunately, some younger kids do not understand this difference. Hannah Montana was a bad role model for middle schoolers, and Miley is a terrible role model for high schoolers.

Why do so many celebrity teenagers feel the need to take off their clothes and exploit themselves? Miley could have gone the way of Taylor Swift and been just as famous while still being a role model.

The next step for Miley? How about changing her name to MiCy.

Friday, October 1, 2010

On a Serious Note

18 year old Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi shocked America last week when he tragically ended his own life because of a gross invasion of his privacy. Clementi's college roommate Dharun Ravi and his friend Molly Wei videotaped Clementi having sex with another man in his dorm room. The students then posted the video online. Whether it was a hate crime or a college prank, the video had tragic consequences. On the night of September 22 Clementi took his own life by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

This tragedy has been viewed as a call to arms by many. MTV news, Ellen Degeneres, former NSync star Lance Bass, and How I Met You Mother star Neil Patrick Harris are speaking out about their views on the situation. On her show on Friday, Ellen stated "My heart is breaking for their families, for their friends and for our society that continues to let this happen . . . We can't let intolerance and ignorance take another kid's life."

The mother of Matthew Shepard spoke to CBS news, explaining how Clementi's death has brought back Matthew's death. Shepard was an openly gay student from the University of Wyoming. He was brutally murdered at the age of 21 twelve years ago by two men because of his sexuality. Following her son's disturbing murder, Judy Shepard has become an activist for gay youth. She has brought about The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which expands federal hate-crime laws to include crimes movitivated by a person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. Shepard's parents have also founded the Matthew Shepard Foundation to "combat hate and intolerance."

The unfortunate events of last week are a chance for us as a nation to rethink our view of privacy and come to terms with our growing problems with homophobia as a culture. In fact, even here at URI we are experiencing concerns about this issue. Beginning at midnight last Wednesday, about a dozen of URI's GLBT center began a peaceful sit-in at the 24hour room in the library. The students had a list of seven demands, including a new GLBT center, increased funding, and sensitivity training for faculty and RA's. The students ended their sit-in after a week and a day of their peaceful protest. An agreement was reached and the students goals were met, reported president of the gay-straight alliance Brian Stack. It was agreed that more sensitivity training for students, staff and faculty would be added to the University, GLBT students will be given a voice on several university committees, the schedule for adding a chief diversity officer to the administration and another staff member to the GLBT Center will be accelerated, Ruggles House on Upper College Road will be turned into the group’s new center and have apartments available to rent, numbers rather than names will be used to identify cases referred to the Bias Response Team, and an advisory commission will be created to explore and advocate for LGBT issues. Across America, people are becoming more informed and sensitive to issues such as these.