Gender Roles Are Changing – So Why Aren’t Ads?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for some time now, but I’ve barely had a chance to get out of the kitchen to do so.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “here we go again, another feminist rant”. Well, before you roll your eyes (they’ll get stuck up there, you know), hear me out.

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Who is the typical lead role in ads for cleaning products? Kitchen appliances? Childcare products? Yep, that’s right, a woman.

Why is that?

Studies have found that cleaning, housework and childcare duties are typically performed by females. So of course, companies are going to target that demographic; I mean, it would be silly to not target your primary users, right?

If we’re going to picture ourselves using products, the ads need to be relatable, and what other way is there than to be similar to the person using the advertised product?

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But, it’s a cycle.

Products are aimed at women because women are the primary users of said products. But women are the primary users because they’re always the demographic shown using the products.

These products are aimed at women, so women buy them. So they continued to be aimed at women, who continue to buy them. Do you see where I’m going with this?

Women will see these ads and think “oh, that’s aimed at me, I should be using that”.

Men will see these ads and think “oh its aimed at women, it’s not relevant to me” and thus not pay attention. And vice versa for male-targeted advertising.

If it’s not aimed at you and it’s not for you, why would you go buy it? I don’t see ads for chainsaws and think “hmmm, must get me one of those.”

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Ads don’t just sell products, they sell lifestyles and societal norms too. They create desire. To achieve the ‘desired’ lifestyle shown in the ad you should act how the actors are acting, use what they’re using, behave how they’re behaving. You should picture yourself as them.

It just so happens that the ‘desired’ lifestyle tends to consist of sexist and old-fashioned gender roles. Gender roles which reflect a sexist and old fashioned society.

But, things have changed are changing. More men are helping out around the house and with child care. Women are leaving the kitchen to go out to work and have careers. Men *gasps* make their own sandwiches.

Yes, our society does ~sadly~ tend to follow traditional gender roles – but maybe that’s because that’s all  we see? In a way, these ads reinforce the sexist and old-fashioned gender roles.

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Surely if cleaning and childcare products were targeted at males, then more males would use them? If you show women using home decor products and gardening tools, maybe we’d use them more because we would be able to see ourselves using these products? (I mean I personally wouldn’t but that’s not the point)

My point is, ads should be changing to reflect the changing society that we live in. Not reflecting the society we did live in. Do they not use PESTLE? Please tell me I didn’t sit through 5 years of hearing about PESTLE analysis to find out companies don’t actually use it.

– Brief recap: PESTLE is a ‘fun’ way to remember the components of external market influences; Political, Economic, SOCIAL, Technological, Legal and Environmental. My GCSE Business Studies teacher would be so proud. Basically companies are meant to analyse what’s going on in the world around them and be aware of changes, like yano, women being allowed to work and not being forced to be housewives? Wee things like that.

Companies and advertisers need to respond to these societal changes. I mean, why limit yourself to 50% of the population? Targeting both sexes gives you access to a whole other demographic. Double the potential customers, double the potential sales, double the potential dolla.

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Now, don’t get me wrong, we have come on a bit from the old days of women in aprons baking pies and cleaning while their husbands are busy at work or ignoring their children.

There have of course been ads with women doing DIY, men changing nappies (yes, you can do it too) and cleaning, and- dare I say it, women working. But the sad thing is, these ads aren’t the norm, they’re the rarity.

I think we need to see less distinct gender roles in advertising (and in general, for that matter). After all, how can you expect society to progress if you don’t show what it could and should be like? Equality. Make that the ‘desired’ lifestyle.

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If you show multiple genders using the products, then multiple genders will buy and use them. Then you can target multiple genders who will continue to buy and use them.

Like I said, it’s a cycle. But I think advertisers need to start pedalling.

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: Niamh Murray.

Controversial Advertising: Stupid or Strategic?

Have you ever seen an ad and thought “who thought that was a good idea?!” And no, I don’t mean those corny ads like something you’d see on The Apprentice. I mean those ones that make you think “who approved that?” or “umm why?”

I’ve always thought the whole “all press is good press” notion was a bit, well, stupid really. I mean, I never really saw how negative publicity and consumer backlash could be a good thing for a business?

 

 

Well, today I saw this NHS ad campaign for breastfeeding on my LinkedIn feed. The only reason that I saw this ad was because a connection of mine shared it and expressed their outrage at the nature of the ad. Then I realised that I probably never would have seen the ad if it wasn’t for them sharing it. I mean, I don’t exactly strive to keep up to date on the goings on of the parenting and baby world (well not yet anyway).

This got me thinking though, what if Eminem was right? *gasps in background* What if we do need a little controversy? These ‘controversial’ ads do get people talking and raise awareness about the brand/product after all. So what if all press really is good press?

 

  • To clarify, I’m not saying “let’s go out and offend everyone in the name of free publicity” (or, “let’s listen to Eminem” – I’m definitely not saying that). I’m simply saying that maybe there is method in the madness. And I’m not talking about ads that violate the principles of the ASA and have to be taken down either.

 

Marketing and advertising teams depend on people talking about products, companies, shows- whatever they’re trying to promote; and what better way to get people talking than to start a good old fashioned debate?

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Take the latest Cancer Research campaign – informing consumers of the link between obesity and cancer. Many people complained, stating that it ‘fat shamed’ individuals and lowered their self-esteem.

This sparked an online debate, with people vouching for both sides, which led to the ad being shared and talked about all over social media.

Think of how many people have now seen the ad. So, think of how people are now aware that obesity contributes to the development of cancer. Do you think an ad showing a microscope and cell would have had the same effect?

Whether or not they agree with the ad is irrelevant; these people still shared the ad with hundreds of people. What is relevant, however, is that the aim of the ad was to educate and inform consumers. Which it has.

Those who were so opposed to the ad, were the ones who actually promoted the campaign. Doing Cancer Research a favour. I mean, if you hate the ad so much, why are you giving the company free advertising space on your social media platforms?

Cancer Research essentially got free advertising and discussion about not only their organisation, but the message they were trying to spread.

 

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In a similar way, Netflix’s show Insatiable got slated online with a large amount of viewers complaining about it. I had never heard of the show, but decided to watch it to ‘see what the fuss was about’; I ended up watching the whole series. If the show hadn’t been featured on the likes of Buzzfeed and social media, I probably would never even have heard of it, let alone watched it.

What people don’t seem to realise is that “hate watching” is still watching. Do you think a series which follows the social norms and is 100% politically correct would have been renewed for a second series? Doubt it.

 

Let’s be real, we’re all (I hope it’s not just me) guilty of being attracted to a wee bit of scandal and  the chance to give our opinions *has flashbacks to whether the dress was white and gold or blue and black* and companies know this – they have to get us talking after all.

(it was white and gold btw- just saying)

 

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Advertisers love pushing boundaries. They have to think outside that clichéd box and come up with new and imaginative ideas for campaigns. If they didn’t push the boundaries, people wouldn’t react; and the whole point of advertising is to get a reaction from consumers. Yes, ideally you want consumers to actually like you, but, it’s a gamble that I guess can pay off. I somehow doubt that Cancer Research will have a tough time weighing up the cons of a few angry people vs the pros of raising awareness and saving lives.

The thing to note is the status of the company being controversial – the NHS can afford to be because, whether or not people agree with the ad, they’re most likely still going to avail of the NHS’s services. I doubt people would rather fork out a few grand for private healthcare than get it for free from a health provider that ran a questionable breastfeeding campaign.

Similarly, do you think consumers are going to ‘boycott’ a cancer research charity because they don’t like their ad? Don’t think so. So, whilst being controversial can be a good thing, it’s important for advertisers to think of the potential consequences of annoying consumers.

Advertisers also need to be aware of the fine line separating ‘controversial’ and just downright offensive. The last thing you want is for the ASA to be on your back, or having to withdraw a campaign you spent a hell of a lot of money on.

 

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Photo by Moose Photos on Pexels.com

So, next time you see an ad and think “what the hell were they thinking?!” Maybe now you know.

Or, maybe they’re not the strategic marketing geniuses we thought they were and it really is just be a poorly thought out ad. Who knows?

 

Niamh Murray is a 3rd year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University, currently on a placement year at The Irish News. She can be found on Instagram: @_neeev, Facebook: Niamh Ni Mhuirí and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/niamh-murray-4a013a150/

Hush From Scratch

There’s something very satisfying about launching a new nightclub event. Especially in a small city like Belfast where the competitors witness your every move and try their best to trip you up at every hurdle. It’s a thrilling and hands-on process that brings great success, but it requires more work than you can imagine. However, the proud moment when you succeed makes the stress all that more rewarding.

Here is a little insight to how we developed HUSH, a successful Saturday night brand that was located in the city centre. HUSH was introduced to the renowned Belfast nightlife scene following a strategic 6-week launch campaign similar to any PR campaign you would see from our beloved duo, Grunig and Hunt.

First was the long and draining planning stage. It was crucial for the basis of the brand. We brainstormed the initial fundamentals of any club night; gaps in the market, where we wanted to position, the target demographic, brand names, artwork design for online and print, the music policy and things of that nature.

We sent off different brand ideas to our graphic designer who came up variations of logos in terms of font, style and colour. It was exciting seeing all our ideas slowly but surely coming to life. These variations were pitched to focus groups consisting of staff and our target market. The final call was then made. We now had a brand and a logo, it was time to get this show on the road!

Next was the implementation stage. This involved increasing brand awareness by getting as many ‘eyes’ as possible on our new brand, creating a buzz amongst our customers and giving them a taste of what’s to come. This was completed using both traditional methods and more contemporary digitalised methods.

The process involved a lot of questions and answers. “What are the best channels to reach our target audience?” It’s apparent that social media is leaps and bounds above other platforms. We discovered Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are a club promoter’s dream. You can interact instantly with your consumers 24/7 for relatively no costs. Cheap, cheerful and easy, just the way it should be.

According to McGaritty, P. (2017), “Facebook is dominant social media platform with over 65% of adults using it in Northern Ireland.” Building the HUSH Facebook ‘business page’ was our main focus, as this was by far our most important asset. This page was our customers first point of contact where they could message us with any questions or booking requests. This is where we created events for every Saturday, uploaded photo albums, constructed a ‘guest list’ and booked in tables.

Content on the page varied, however it was designed to be interactive, relatable and relevant. This increased the likelihood of customers sharing the content from their own personal profiles and ‘tagging’ other friends. They would soon become brand evangelists and advocates! Content could be anything at all; drinks deals, funny videos or ‘memes’, DJ graphics, entry prices or generic promotional posts.

It was important to build the likes, reach and interaction amongst customers and ultimately drive all traffic through this platform. We used many tricks of the trade such as competition give-aways and a few promoter wizardry skills that need to be kept HUSH HUSH…The first video we posted was an interactive competition for the launch night to win free entry, a reserved table and drinks. To enter this, we asked customers to ‘like’ the Facebook page, share the video to their own profile and tag 5 friends. This technique caused the video to spread like wildfire and it reached 37,978 people, 16.2k views, 349 likes and 306 comments.

We did not forget about the traditional methods for our PR campaign. We smartly used our contacts to our advantage to save on major costs. The club GM was personal friends with an executive from The Belfast Telegraph and we luckily secured a press release about the launch into the paper. This was also published by ‘The Tab’ – an online newsletter for students and on Belfast Live’s website and Facebook page. One of our DJs was also a radio DJ for Blast 106. He hooked us up with a 30 second radio ad for a fraction of the price and promoted the brand every day between 6-9pm. These were great additions to our campaign and increased the awareness dramatically.

The last stage was the launch. This was Judgment Day for us. Would the long hours of tedious work be worth it? It was the most exciting day, adrenaline was flowing around the air and there was a special buzz which cannot be easily replicated. It was the time to ensure that everything was in place and making sure staff knew their roles. Knowing all the tables were sold out and seeing the guest-list numbers get higher and higher was a sign that success was on the horizon. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous counting down the hours before we opened our doors for the first time.

There is no better feeling than coming up with something from scratch, building it up, utilising all methods, pulling it off and becoming a success. You know it has all been worth it after witnessing the happy customers having a great time and wanting to come back. We were a full house on our launch night and the event has continued to attract steady numbers ever since. Success for the not so HUSH!
If you want to know more about the experience, please feel free to contact me.

 

Cal McIlwaine is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook – Facebook Account / Twitter – Twitter Account / LinkedIn – Linkedin Account

Video Link:

 

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References:

McGaritty, P.  (2017). Social Media Use in Northern Ireland.

PR, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

PR the bulletproof vest for the rich and famous, the lying politicians key to the white house, the reason we help others.

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Why is it whenever you mention PR, people automatically think of all the negatives behind the word? The bad that has come about because of it? The rich and famous pay a large team of PR Practitioners to protect them from the public eye. People like Harvey Weinstein have been protected, even after the monstrous things he has done. Companies like BP have been hiding in the shadows for years and then one day, like Harvey, things got out of control and stories were let out and reputations were destroyed. Tony Hayward would like his “life Back” after destroying the environment with his “little Oil Spill” and after saying things like that I don’t think we should let him have it back.

And I wont even go into the “bad and ugly” things we see in politics because we’d be here all day. But not all PR practitioners do these, what are seen as ‘immoral’, things. PR can be seen like people you have the good guy and the bad guy. Batman and The Joker. But what the good guy does surly out weighs all the things done by the bad guys?

Charities all work with a PR team to persuade people into donating, volunteering, helping. But then why is there such a negative view on persuasion by a PR practitioner. Propaganda is a word that usually comes hand in hand with PR but what is done isn’t lies or manipulation most of the time PR shows the public what is truly happening.

Those God-awful advertisements we see on TV about drink driving  and speeding are hard hitting but it shows the truth behind what happens when you get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol or if you break the speed limit. Its not lies or propaganda it’s the truth. Choosing to use such gruesome and traumatic visuals could have had a very negative effect, but the opposite happened as it scared many out of the notion… well we still have the odd idiot that will get behind the wheel… Here we can see a PR team using unusual (at the time) tactics to make an impact on the public in Northern Ireland.

Another campaign that has been a huge success for the past 33 years has been Band Aid. Every Christmas this single raises over £2 Million for famine relief per year. I’m sure that you are all sick of Christmas songs by now but this, I feel, is a great example of PR at its best. The song, written by Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and Midge Ure of Ultravox, has been a huge success and a very strategic way to raise money. The song has been released a few more times by more current artists, the most recent one included artists such as, One direction, Paloma Faith, and Ed Sheeran. This campaign raises money every year and therefore is a huge success in my books. This is another example of the good PR does. So why are there so many negative connotations with regards to PR?

PR is an extremely important aspect of all major charities and without it many audiences wouldn’t be reached. So all in all I feel the good most defiantly outweighs the bad. Who cares if the spin doctors are meeting in dark alleyways, or if we are being persuaded to donate to Dogs Trust. Shouldn’t we be doing our bit anyway?

Tierna Garvin is a final year student on the BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MissTierna and on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tierna-garvin-bbb3a0143/ 

 

FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS Volume 1: Part II

FOOTBALL VS PUBLIC RELATIONS

Volume 1: Part II

 

Public Relations within Soccer

Hi everyone, welcome back. If you read my last blog post you would know that I looked at the similarities between football and public relations. If you haven’t saw it yet, feel free to go check it out. Today I’m sticking with the football theme but I want to look and see what PR exists in football today.

 

Now, if we look at footballers we can’t deny that they have been blessed with remarkable talent. Fortunately for them they are able to make a living (a really good living) from displaying this talent. But where would they be without their fans? If they didn’t have the support of millions behind them then the footballing industry as we know it would not be as popular as it is today and it certainly wouldn’t be making as much money as it does. This is why I feel that it is important for the sport to give back to us. The fans. What is football without its supporters?

 

Barclays did exactly that. If you aren’t a big supporter of football then all you need to know is Barclays sponsors the Premier League, and the Premier League is the top division in England and one of the most popular leagues in the world. The new footballing seasons kick off in the middle of August and Barclay’s thought this would be the perfect opportunity to thank the fans which is why they launched this campaign on the 16th of August. Just days before the new season started. They released a 90 second video titled “Thank you” which was aimed at the fans. The video consisted of looking at different fans of different ages who supported a variety of teams in the league. It followed their journey to the match and during the match and finished it off with “To follow is to love. To the millions of fans who make the Barclay’s Premier League what it is, we say thank you.” This is the perfect message. The way the say it is the fans who make the league what it is and not the players shows their appreciation and is pretty much saying without us, they wouldn’t be able to have their dream job. This video was distributed worldwide and it hit 200 different countries reaching hundreds of millions of people. With this video they are also promoting competitions to win tickets and they have paired with the hashtag “#YouAreFootball”.

 

I feel like the reasoning behind this has been based behind some negative issues especially with FIFA. At the time they had been under the spotlight in terms of corruption and although they now have sacked their president who was responsible, I still feel like that reputation has been damaged and not mended completely. This campaign, in my opinion, was Barclay’s way of building trust and showing that they are not the same as FIFA. I feel that maybe FIFA should take a page out of Barclays book and try something to rebuild their relationship with the fans.

 

However, this is where I’m going to leave off today. Stay tuned for future posts and I hope you have a very nice day.

 

Joseph McAuley is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @JosephMcAuley96 / Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joseph.mcauley.3 

And the pint of Harp

And the pint of Harp

Recently on my Facebook newsfeed I came across this video –

Now I can’t say it’s the first time I’ve seen the ad as I think it pops up on my Facebook every other week but coming across it again had me thinking.

How come we don’t see more Northern Ireland based companies getting on board with this style of region targeted advertising/campaigning?

Harp are definitely the stand out company when it comes to these types of ads as they’ve been doing them for years, one of my favourite ads tells the story about a NI resident who is missing home. He begins naming the things he misses about home the most in threes and at the end of each sequence he says ‘and the pint of harp’. Maybe its just me but I personally love it because it’s stupidly funny and so simple. If you watch the ad, it’s some what true and relatable when you’re missing home.

Their most recent campaign is currently underway and its called ‘Pure Here & There’. It’s based around the six counties in Northern Ireland and it involves two actors using a Northern Irish comedic approach when describing the most well known facts about each county and their including cities and towns. There are six ads for all of Northern Ireland’s six counties and any Northern Irish resident with a sense of humour will appreciate them.

Pure Here & There, Co. Antrim

Pure Here & There, Co. Armagh

Pure Here & There, Co. Down

Pure Here & There, Co. Fermanagh

Pure Here & There, Co. Legenderry

Pure Here & There, Co. Tyrone

I think this campaign is a brilliant example of knowing your audience. I hope nobody takes offense to this but harps main consumers are men, obviously. The two characters in the adverts for the campaign are of course men (if you watched any of the links above) and they work their way around Northern Ireland describing its most famous features in horrible fashion as they sup on Harp beer however that’s what makes the adverts funny. My point is that this sense of humour is performed by men for men and I think Harp know that.

Along with the television adverts they have been selling their harp cans with individual county names on them and their accompanying iconic landmarks designed onto the can. They have even avoided the on-going controversy surrounding Derry\Londonderry by calling it Legenderry, turning a negative into a positive.

There is also the main ‘Pure Here’ advert that tries to figure out the perfect drink that has the pure essence of Northern Ireland. It’s a mix of a column from the giant’s causeway, shavings from the H&W cranes and the buzz of a night out in Belfast however the ad ends by saying these things are undrinkable and that harp had it right all along and closes with the slogan, pure here. An unexpected anti-climax but good advertising all the same!

As a fan of Harp and all things Northern Ireland I think this campaign is excellent, and its because they incorporate everything that people love about Northern Ireland into their campaign in a brilliantly clever manner and more local companies should follow!

They embrace the fact that they are a Northern Irish company and have made a campaign around that using the humour of the area. This style of campaigning and advertising does nothing but good things for their name and I’m sure their brand awareness has soared in Northern Ireland as a result of this. Their beer is probably doing pretty well too.

Aaron O’Reilly is a final year Public Relations Student at Ulster University. He can be contacted on Twitter: @aaronoreilly and on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaron-o-reilly-ab0708121/ 

Big Brother is watching you…

Towards the end of 2016 Spotify put its abundance of listener data and insights to playful use in a new Out-Of-Home ad campaign, placing billboards globally after an initial release in the UK, US, France and Germany.

The adverts were created by the company’s in-house marketing team and revealed some of the weird and wonderful habits of its users, using accumulated and even some personal data, Spotify generated headlines such as;

“Dear person who played ‘Sorry’ 42 times on Valentine’s Day, what did you do?”

“Dear person in the Theater District who listened to the Hamilton Soundtrack 5,376 times this year, can you get us tickets?”

Spotify then ended many of the billboards with the tagline “Thanks 2016. It’s been weird.” In ways a celebration of both a great year for music and also the continued support and listenership of its users.

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The ad campaign by Spotify was clever and engaging and was received extremely positively by consumers for the most part.  What they managed to do in a way was to humanise the technology – this worked particularly well based on the personal and emotional connection that people have to it.

 

A not so successful story for Netflix…

On December 11th 2017, Netflix tried to apply a similar approach to Spotify in customer data and insight sharing, only this time using their Twitter account as the medium.

Netflix revealed that 53 people had watched its latest Christmas movie ‘A Christmas Prince’ everyday for the past 18 days, adding to the end of the tweet – “Who hurt you?”  The tweet has gained more than 100,000 retweets and 400,000 favourites at the time of writing.

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The tweet was intended to be light-hearted and humorous, but has faced a massive backlash from consumers, with many users describing it as being “creepy”.  The tweet has also managed to kick off a debate around how closely the company is watching its customers, and raises the questions, what exactly can it do with the data generated by the viewing habits of its users, and more alarming, how many people in the company have access to the data.

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Netflix were quick to defend the tweet and certainly didn’t feel that they had anything to apologise for.  They did however, reassure their users that their privacy was not totally being invaded with an official statement saying; “The privacy of our members’ viewing is important to us.”

But the question is – how did Netflix fail at something that Spotify managed to do so well?

The Spotify campaign had an underlying positive tone to it, celebrating the weird and wonderful habits of its users.  One the other hand, Netflix took a slightly harsher tone in their tweet.  ‘A Christmas Prince’ is a movie that they produced and marketed and it follows a format not unlike the ever-popular Hallmark Christmas movies.  The tweet comes across as a little judgemental, shaming those for falling in love/becoming maybe a little obsessed with their movie.

It could also be perhaps that people hold different emotional connections to music and TV or Movies.  Therefore, to be potentially confronted by your TV viewing habits would feel a lot more intrusive than for someone to know what music you’re in to.

Up until now we thought that the scariest feature about Netflix was the ‘Are you STILL watching’ screen that may pop up while you’ve been watching the latest addictive series for 4…5…10 hours straight (no judgement here!).  Now we know they’re documenting everything we watch.

Is this a PR disaster?  Maybe, a little.  Will it have lasting impact on the company?  Probably not – people will still continue to ‘Netflix and chill’ and binge watch their favourite TV series.  Perhaps next time though…Netflix should think of all the implications before trying to be funny on Twitter.

 

Jonny Allen is a final year Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University.  You can find him on LinkedIn here – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonny-allen-257237112/