Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Everyone has a love-hate relationship with social media; why?

Pros:

  • Easy way to keep in touch with friends
  • Easy access to current affairs
  • Enables us to educate ourselves

The list goes on. There are endless reasons why we love social media; the extent to which can be seen in cities like Augsburg, Germany where pedestrian crossings signs have been put on the ground; because we spend most of our time with our heads down, engrossed in our phones. 

Cons:

  • Depression
  • Cyberbullying
  • FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  • Negative body image
  • Unrealistic perceptions of other people’s lives

Social media also has its pros and cons on the subject of body image. It can be a source of ‘fitspiration’ to people striving to lead healthier lives. Aroosha Nekonam battled with anorexia for years and claimed social media helped her in the midst of her eating disorder. https://www.healthline.com/health/social-media-choices#inspiration-vs.-expectation 

female bodybuilders’ Instagram and Youtube accounts provided something to aspire to

This is, on the other hand, is one of social media’s biggest downfalls; and dangers! Constantly flicking through Instagram, seeing models with perfect physiques on regular holidays; wearing expensive clothes, and driving expensive cars. This can have a profound impact on someone’s mental health; especially when they start comparing their lives to what they see on Instagram.


The question I pose is: are the various body positivity campaigns such as the 2012 #FatKini, or #LoseHateNotWeight encouraging us to be more physically unhealthy? In a time where positive mental health is so important, could we be losing sight of how necessary good physical health is to compensate?

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For years, the ideology that you have to be a size 4 to be regarded beautiful was all that we knew. In an age of mental health being so prevalent, businesses and individuals with a platform have tried to combat this mentality, which in my opinion is a huge positive and step forward. It is completely unrealistic to assume that all women should be a certain size as we come naturally in different shapes and sizes.


Dr. Stephanie Buttermore, a Ph.D. academic turned fitness model from Canada, is going “all in” in an attempt to prove that people’s bodies have a natural ‘set point’. Buttermore describes going ‘all in’ as eating until your hunger is completely satiable. Stephanie expects that by the end of the process her body will return to a size where it is genetically supposed to be.

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She delves into the process on her YouTube channel, self-titled, Stephanie Buttermore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DotlyWhBhak


Returning the focus to social media body positivity campaigns: I fully understand the main point of these; to be happy in your skin. As we are trying to push away from the thinking that you have to be ‘skinny’ to be viewed attractive. For example, Dove’sReal Beauty’ campaign, showing a diverse range of models; one that I thought displayed the message of body positivity in a healthy way.

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Another company that I feel tried to jump on the bandwagon with this, and in my opinion, failed was Gillette. Gillette’s April 2019 Twitter advert featured a plus-size model, Anna O’Brien.

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This campaign faced major backlash stating that the model shown is not healthy, and listing health problems that arise from being obese.

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Companies like Dove are positively combating the mentality that being dramatically underweight is not healthy, however, they are not using models at the other end of the spectrum to show this – surely this would be contradicting anyway?


We cannot deny the implications that come with being overweight: In England, obesity rates have increased from 16.4% in 1993 to 26.8% in 2015 in women (with similar statistics in men) costing the NHS £6.1 billion between 2014-2015 alone. Obesity is a trend that is on the rise and these figures are only going to vastly increase.

Now let’s look at the actual health risks associated with obesity:

  • 3 times more likely to develop colon cancer
  • 2.5 times more likely to develop high blood pressure (higher risk of heart disease)
  • 5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes

Obviously, obesity blame is not solely on campaigns like Gillette but isn’t helped by businesses on social media trying to normalise it to appear more inclusive with the sole purpose of generating more sales; disregarding the physical health risks that are brought with it.

I appreciate that businesses using these campaigns have an aim to make women feel more confident in their skin; although I think that we need to be more conscious of how this can be perceived. Many people may look at these campaigns and think that being physically healthy is not a priority so long as you’re happy, which to an extent may be true. Looking at social media for a perfect figure is unhealthy as often these figures are naturally unattainable. Pictures have been airbrushed and models have had surgery but it can be a great source of information and motivation to get on the right track.

My point is that we cannot neglect our physical health in the hope that we will feel more mentally healthy, instead, we need to work on getting to a place where our bodies and minds are both happy and with a healthy diet and regular exercise this can be achieved.

 

Orlaigh Doherty is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/orlaigh-doherty-7351a7139/ 

BREAKING NEWS: Instagram Likes MIA

It’s probably hard for most of us to imagine a world where Likes don’t matter. I remember when I was 14 and a selfie I got before Clubland got 24 likes on Facebook. I’ve never felt as famous. But finally, finally, someone has caught themselves on and realised the damage social media pressure is doing to us. Instagram. Is. Getting. Rid. Of. Likes. Supposedly.

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The new feature has been in the works for a few months now, being tested on small groups of users since July in over 7 countries including Canada, Australia and Japan. It’s just about to be trailed in US, meaning it most likely will be active worldwide in the pretty near future. And it’s giving Instagram users a lot of mix feelings.

So what will the change mean? Rather than seeing the number of people who Likes a post, Instagram will show “Liked by [who you fancy If you’re lucky] and others“. Meaning your followers will never know the number of Likes your post got. I mean they technically could count all the users, but who’s really gonna be so bothered to do that? I hope no one. Please spend your time on something more beneficial. If you want too you can see the number of Likes your post got if you click onto it, but only if you chose to do so. It’s easy to avoid the number if you want too. Good bye Instagram Anxiety.

Why are Instagram doing this? Isn’t liking pictures the whole point?

Basically Instagram wants to become the safest place on the internet, with the happiest users. It’s no shock that Instagram has been heavily criticised about its effect on mental health, especially to Generation Z. A 2017 survey carried out by The Royal Society for Public Health & Young Health Movement proved Instagram to be the most likely platform to have a negative effect on young people’s health and well-being. So, when announcing the change Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said,

“the idea is to de-pressurise Instagram and make it a space that’s more focused on connections, conversations and community, especially for young people.”

He wants the app to be a fun place for people to share and connect, not a place where you value your worth over a number.

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So, on a personal level, what do I think of this? I think it’s great and something that should have been done long ago. My personal attitude towards Instagram has changed a lot over the past few years. I’ve grown up (believe it or not) and I do not value my worth through who Likes my Instagram. I post what I want, when I want, as much as I want. Yet, when I was 16, a lot less confident and a lot more vulnerable, my attitude was completely different. A night out was a waste if I didn’t get a photo for the gram, and even If I did get a photo, was it really Insta worthy? Would it get good Likes? What if no one Likes it? What if it gets less Likes that my last photo? How come she got loads of Likes and I didn’t? I’d turn off my Instagram notifications after I uploaded so I’d never know if my post was getting Likes or not. And the most ridiculous of all, but I know you all did it too, I would have waited until “prime time” to post to make sure I’d get the best chance of Likes. Why was there RULES for posting a photograph on Instagram.

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So many unnecessary worries for a young teenage girl, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that, wouldn’t we be lucky if that was all we had to worry about nowadays. So yeah, the removal of the Likes feature will be a definite step in the right direction, but it’s only the first step in making the platform a safe and happy place for users. Have Instagram forgot about the comments? If Instagram are really looking out for the safety and happiness of their users, this is the real danger. Even Cardi B and Kim Kardashian have called Instagram out on this saying much more needs to be done to protect its users, starting with the removal of the comment feature.

All this aside, we must think of the people who aren’t using Instagram for personal use. Canadian Influencer Kate Weiland is not one bit pleased about the new change as Likes are what tells her what her audience enjoy, and what they want to see from her. She looks at Likes as though it’s the audience clapping at the end of a performance. Without Likes, it’ll be an awkward silence.

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Influencers, artists and celebrities relay a lot on their Instagram performance for income. Influencers are freaking out about how the change will impact their income, if not their entire career. Thinking if brands can’t see the number of likes their racking up for a sponsored post, how will they know the impact they have on consumer behaviour? How will they impress brands and make them want to approach them for sponsorship? But brands have spoken out about the issue and have explained how to them, likes are only “surface” level and what they care most about is other metrics such as engagement, URL clickthroughs, swipe ups and all that influencery stuff, which is a lot more important than a Like on a photo that most people probably forget about after they scroll past it, or Like on reflex without even realising it.

The change will mean people will be more experimental with their content, something I’d love to see. Influencers and celebrities will engage more with their followers about real stuff,  not what they think will get the most likes. And us nobodies, we’ll post what we want to, without thinking what our followers will think of it. I give Instagram a round of applause for the first step in taking away with social media pressures we all face today.

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Catherine Maguire is a Final Year year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Instagram: catherinelauram and LinkedIn: Catherine Maguire

The Digital Election

In the 2008 Presidential Election, we witnessed relatively unknown candidate Barack Obama become front and center of the race. Through an engaging social media campaign and a well oiled public relations team Obama would go on to become the 49th President. Fast forward to 2016 and Donald Trump has become the first “twitter – based” presidency. Trumps use of Twitter has become a significant breakthrough for social media in politics. It allowed Trump to utilise and connect personally with his supporters, slam his opponents and outline his policies all in the one space. Jump to 2017, Corbyn’s unexpected rise in popularity in the UK General Election seemed to be because of a surge in Labour’s youth vote which has been attributed to their social media strategies. Two years later, we are in what could be the most important General Election the United Kingdom has seen and it’s already begun to be dominated by social media.

Below, I have listed some ways in which political parties and their leaders have started to use social media to advance their campaigns.

BLURRING THE TRUTH

We are all very aware of the impact ‘fake news’ can have on elections, no thanks to Donald Trump. However, a more sophisticated form has now emerged where videos of interviews have been edited to make those in question appear in a negative light. The first week of campaigning has been dominated by the Conservative party posting a video of a “Good Morning Britain” Interview with Labour party member Keir Starmer. In the video tweeted on the Conservative parties account, it appears to show the Labour member unable to answer a question on their parties policy towards Brexit. Although when played alongside the full interview, it shows the video has clearly been edited, as Starmer answered the question immediately.

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This clip tweeted by the Conservative party became one of the most watched videos by a political party or party leader since the vote to hold a general election. Despite the high number of viewers, it’s hard to gauge whether or not these viewers approved or disapproved of the tweet. For those who look into it, it can easily sway public opinion against the Conservatives or vice versa. The public may only look at the original tweet and may believe Labour’s members still don’t know their stance on Brexit.

THE TWITTER SCREENSHOT STRATEGY

If you have the usual social media sites, you will definitely have noticed screenshots of tweets by party leaders and political parties making their way on to Instagram and Facebook. The reason being, Twitter has fewer users than other sites but can easily kick-start the conversation on Facebook & Instagram when these are shared. Jeremy Corbyn has now started using the screenshot to reach a wider audience, his main social media platform is Twitter, and evidence suggests that those who talk politics on twitter tend to support Labour. Hence why Corbyn has now began posting screenshots of his tweets on to Facebook.

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Conservatives have also been posting screenshots of tweets and not just their own tweets, but other party members in order to criticise them. They posted a screenshot of a Corbyn tweet regarding Brexit policy labeling it as “dither & delay”. Instagram, which is generally known for its pleasing aesthetic is also seeing a large amount of screenshotted tweet posts. Both Corbyn and Johnson have been posting simple screenshots on their profiles, as it stands however Corbyn has been receiving much more interactions with his posts.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK

Both Corbyn and Johnson have started to use Snapchat for campaigning posts hinting at their attempts to engage with an even younger audience. The posts mainly combine video with graphics and text, however, don’t seem overly informative.

RELATABILITY & PERSONALITY

Now more than ever, the importance of personality and being relatable to the younger generation is crucial for politicians. What Johnson seems to lack in relatability, Corbyn has definitely taking advantage with this through the use of his videos on his personal Instagram account.

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The six second video clip above garnered over 175,000 views and has been by far the most successful on a politicians personal account. All of the parties seem to have raised their game on Instagram since this and there has been an increase in most political parties followers. There are over 20 million Instagram accounts in the UK with the majority of those users under 45. This is a key demographic that Labour really want to reach and its clear that they are going the right way about it.

A lot has changed since 2017 when Labour outsmarted the other political parties with their digital campaign. They can no longer be certain of dominance across all digital platforms. However, Labour’s strategy of attacking the rich through Twitter & Facebook have been well – received and they continue to garner the most interactions. For how long it will stay that way, we don’t know. I suspect a few more twists in this digital election.

Eoghan Gilmore is a final year Bsc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: Instagram – eoghangilmore , LinkedIn – https://ie.linkedin.com/in/eoghan-gilmore-106a89164

Odd One Out

As with any university student, the thought of picking a dissertation topic that you will put blood, sweat and most definitely tears in is a daunting prospect. I know I wanted to pick a topic that firstly I found interesting and secondly one that is a current issue in today’s society. With much thought, I decided to research the effects that social media has on our self- esteem and body image.

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One of my main inspirations for researching this topic was through watching a BBC Three documentary, called ‘Jesy Nelson; ‘Odd One Out.’’ We all remember Jesy as being on the X Factor in 2011, one of the four members of the girl group Little Mix. As a 12-year-old girl, I was in awe of Little Mix, an all-girl group filled with ‘ordinary’ happy go lucky girls, who had just won one of the biggest TV shows in the UK. Being thrown into fame and fortune and not being able to walk down the street without everyone knowing you, is probably a dream for many. However, for Jesy Nelson she quickly wished she had never entered and desperately longed for the life she once had.

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Watching the documentary was genuinely heartbreaking; seeing someone in the spot light who seems to have everything you could possibly want in life so depressed and dispirited. It is completely beyond my comprehension as to why anyone can fulfil pleasure through being an online troll and bringing others down for their own satisfaction. These trolls hide behind keyboards and don’t take a second to think about the impact their words have on the individual. The tweets circling about Jesy were truly repulsive: ‘The fat ugly one.’….. ‘Go kill yourself.’…… ‘Wide load coming through.’…. ‘4 members 5 chins.’ …. ‘Saggy, baggy, rough and don’t get me started on her face.’

 Controversial Katie Hopkins added further unnecessary fuel to the fire tweeting: ‘Packet mix have still got a chubber in their ranks. Less Little Mix more pick n mix.’ Jesy gave an authentic, distressing account to the consequence of the sheer level of hatred she was receiving, as she began starving herself which led to her attempting to take her own life in 2013. We are all guilty of putting celebrities on this unrealistic pedestal, I know I do!  Celebrities tend to have a god like status with a human face, however this documentary highlighted just how ‘human’ celebrities are, with the same emotions any sane person would have in this situation.

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Jesy Nelson’s documentary aired on 12thSeptember 2019, breaking the BBC Three record with 3.3 million views, 64% of which were 16-34 year olds. The film tackles mental health issues and appears to have made a real difference to those going through similar experiences. One fan tweeted: ‘The #OddOneOut Jesy Nelson documentary is one of the saddest and scary things I have ever watched. This needs to be shown everywhere to teach people the devastating effects their words and comments have. Be kind. Always.’  Another fan tweeted: ‘My favourite from day one. The girl I saw so much of myself in. Please know that not everything you see on social media is what it seems. We are all human beings.’ The amount of support Jesy has received following the release of the film has been staggering.

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I really do recommend everyone to watch this documentary, I have a lot of admiration for Jesy Nelson, in being so brave and for sharing such a deeply personal and inspiring message.  The influence that mass media has on self-esteem and body image, can be devastating. This particular case showed just how impactful vile comments can be, leading to body dissatisfaction and other health concerns including; eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression. We all come in different shapes and sizes and shouldn’t let the opinions of others bring us down. I know that this film has empowered women from all over Britain and here in Ireland to embrace the body they’ve been given and not to let petty comments from petty people affect you.

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If I haven’t bored you and you’ve got this far please if you can take one thing from this blog post; be nice to people, no matter WHO they are, everyone’s fighting a battle others know nothing about. Now on that note off I go to start this dissertation.

 

Hannah Colgan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found at: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-colgan-b65179166/ and Instagram – @Hannahcolgan890

 

Caitlyn Jenner, “The Jungle” & The Transgender Community

It is safe to say that the Kardashian/Jenner family are among the most famous people in the world and pretty much everyone from the age of 12-35 knows who they are. So, it’s come as quite a shock to the UK public that one of Kylie and Kendall Jenner’s parents is taking on the Australian Jungle in ITV show – “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”.

Caitlyn Jenner (birth given name Bruce) is a transgender woman, Olympic gold medallist and American reality TV star. Caitlyn came out to the world as a transgender woman in April 2015 in an interview with American TV journalist Diane Sawyer. A cover shoot with fashion and popular culture publication ‘Vanity Fair’ followed in June (this can be seen below). Caitlyn’s tweet revealing the cover shoot was announced as the 10th most retweeted tweet of 2015.She has a reported net worth of $100 million (£74 million) and holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest person to gain 1 million followers on Twitter.

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Known for its brutal bushtucker trials that have celebrities eating animal genitalia amongst other gruesomeness; “I’m a Celebrity” is not an environment one would imagine a member of the Kardashian empire immersing themselves into.

So it poses the question why? Why is someone with Jenner’s wealth and fame taking on not only everything the ITV producers will throw at her in terms of bushtucker trials; but also, the notoriously critical UK public? It’s a question many people have tried to answer since the announcement that she was heading for “the jungle” but at this stage it’s all just speculation.

My guess is that she wants to reinvent herself after a lot of bad press over the last few years. You may argue that she’s not from the UK so she should try this so-called reinvention in the US, but the last series launch episode of “I’m a Celebrity” garnered over 14 million viewers. Only 4 more US series garnered more viewers last year – NFL Sunday Night Football, The Big Bang Theory, NCIS and Game of Thrones. With those viewing figures and the added benefit of social media publicity, the life of Caitlyn Jenner in “the jungle” is surely about to become a viral sensation around the globe.

After it was announced that Jenner was going to be a part of “I’m a Celebrity” this year, I like the true millennial I am delved headfirst into the chaotic social media uproar that occurred. The content that I saw on this social media sleuthing was horrific. The amount of transphobic and downright shameful language that people all over the internet were using in relation to Caitlyn Jenner, was truly shocking. I didn’t expect in 2019 for there to be so much hate directed towards a transgender person. Below are two examples of transphobic rhetoric being used on Twitter.

 

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One of the most surprising things to me was that all this hate was not coming from the typical people you would expect. The usual Twitter trolls and Instagram haters that we have come to expect this type of behaviour off were of course contributing to the chaos, but they were not the only source. I saw countless social media accounts with pride flags and empowering ‘bio’ messages slander Caitlyn Jenner and ‘like’ and ‘retweet’ posts making fun of her gender reassignment surgery and her life as Bruce. It was truly disheartening.

I completely understand the backlash that Caitlyn Jenner has received over the past few years, through publicly supporting Donald Trump and Ted Cruz she has rightfully disillusioned herself from the LGBTQ+ community. However, that is a judgement of her character and it should not encourage people to attack her as a trans person. If someone has a negative opinion of Caitlyn Jenner it should be about her as a person, not her transgender identity. A twitter user touches on this point, as seen below.

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The sad fact about this is that with Caitlyn Jenner entering “the jungle” she is opening herself up to the ridicule, slander and transphobia that will no doubt become a main stay on social media in the next three weeks. However it’s not only her that is affected, whilst she will be oblivious to the happenings of the outside world – the transgender members of the public will have to deal with it.

I have seen a lot of tweets detailing peoples’ concern about Caitlyn Jenner being a representative of sorts for the transgender community within the UK – one can be seen below. Bringing Caitlyn Jenner onto over 14 million screens around the UK will start conversations within households that a lot of young transgender people may not be ready to face. With the amount of transphobia present on social media right now when “I’m a Celebrity” hasn’t even started yet, it is a frightening prospect to think about what transgender people of all ages will have to see online as the show progresses.

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One Twitter user shares their interest in finding out how transphobic the UK public really are now that Caitlyn Jenner will be center stage for everyone to ridicule. Don’t get me wrong I personally don’t agree with many of Caitlyn Jenners’ choice in the past and I do not think she is a good representative for the transgender community, but as I stated earlier if you really feel the need to attack her, do just that don’t attack her identity.GD26

So over the next three weeks that “I’m a Celebrity” is viewable over every possible screen in the country – I want to encourage people not to enable transphobia. By liking a tweet or facebook post, you are supporting hatred that can cause detrimental effects to a whole community of people. By laughing at someone misgendering Caitlyn Jenner or making fun of her appearance remember that there is a whole community of people out there that this affects – Stonewall.org reports the damning fact that 89 percent of young trans people have contemplated suicide. Remember that somewhere in the UK a young transgender person is reading tweets and hearing comments in school that invalidates who they are; just remember that one word directed at one person can affect millions across the world.

 

Gareth Donnelly is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on LinkedIn at http://linkedin.com/in/gareth-donnelly-1a6161196 , Twitter – @GarethDonnelly4 and Instagram – @garethd__

 

 

Who’s winning Burger Wars – From Genius Marketing to PR Fails

So today I continue my account of ‘Burger Wars’, what is Burger Wars you might ask? Burger Wars is the competition between McDonalds and Burger King. Two giants of the burger world, battling it out for the top spot. How do they do this? Well through their PR and Marketing Campaigns of course. Often making subtle references to their competitor or not so subtle in Burger King’s case.

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I wrote a post on my personal blog around a month ago, called ‘A Day Without a Whopper’ which you can find here. This detailed Burger King’s decision to stop selling their famous ‘Whopper’ burger for the day in aid of their competitor McDonald’s charity campaign. They told all their customers to go to McDonalds and instead buy a Big Mac as profits would go to charity. This came a few years after Burger King had tried to collaborate with McDonalds on the McWhopper, again for charity, but had been rejected by their competitor. Burger King just being charitable? I don’t think so, these were very clever and well thought through marketing campaigns designed to make Burger King look like the bigger person in this clash of titans.

So what’s happened since?

Well I have personally been seeing a lot on Twitter and LinkedIn about various PR and Marketing Campaigns from the giants – both good and bad. So I thought it was only fair that I summarise my findings in a blog post on the latest in this saga.

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  1. McDonalds – It’s Not the Same Without the ‘M’

This campaign in particular I have seen widely shared across LinkedIn over the past week and it’s one that stuck with me proving how successful it was. McDonalds decided to stamp their branding in some of the busiest places in the world – Airports. Removing their signature letter ‘M’ for the titles of many well-known countries and simply using the slogan ‘It’s Not the Same Without the M’. One thing I loved about this campaign was this simplicity, it’s eye catching and straight to the point, you automatically known what brand it’s for and it makes you think of McDonalds. I know after a long flight, often the first thing I want is a quick and easy meal, so I think the positioning here is great.

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  1. Burger King – The Meltdown

Burger King decided to get on board with sustainability and vowed to stop producing plastic toys in its kid’s meals, as part of an aim to save 320 tonnes of single use plastic. The fast food restaurant now also offers a service where you can bring in your old plastic toys to be melted down and the opening week of this promotion you would receive a free kid’s meal in return for doing so. In typical Burger King style, they didn’t miss the opportunity to take a jibe at McDonald’s by stating their toys where ‘especially’ welcome in their promotional video. For me this is a huge win for Burger King, climate change and sustainability are such a talked about issue at the moment and this is the type of reaction we need from big brands and corporations.

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PR Fails

  1. McDonalds – ‘Bloody Sundae’

I’m sure most people have heard about this by now as it’s been highly reported on and sensitive issue, especially in Northern Ireland. But McDonald’s were the subject of a huge PR Fail, over a Halloween promotion of their Ice Cream in their Portugal stores featuring the slogan ‘Sundae Bloody Sundae’. McDonald’s has since issued a public apology stating that the campaign was not intended to reference historical events and that they sincerely apologise for any offence caused. However, this has not stopped residents of Northern Ireland and further afield being highly and rightly upset by the campaign.

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  1. Burger King – Milkshake Tweet

Burger King came under fire with the ASA recently about a tongue and cheek tweet stating ‘Dear people of Scotland, We’re selling milkshakes all weekend. Have fun.” The tweet came as a response to McDonald’s stopping selling milkshakes at the request of the police, due to politicians such as Nigel Farage being ‘milkshaked’ (having a milkshake thrown over them in the street). The ASA stated that they considered that the ad encourages ‘anti-social behaviour’ and banned the tweet.

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So who’s winning here?

In my eyes Burger King have the lead here, I love how reactive their PR and Marketing is and their constant focus on current issues. I think their constant ‘trolling’ and responding to McDonald’s is pretty humorous and clever and gives them the upper hand here.

 

Hannah Chambers is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. You can find her on – Twitter: @HannahC_PR  and LinkedIn: Hannah Chambers

My name is Emily and I’m addicted to TikTok…

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About a month ago I was off work sick spending the day in bed scrolling through social media when I came across a compilation of funny videos with the source listed as ‘TikTok’. At this point I’d never heard of this app but having exhausted all of my social media already and needing more of a distraction from my illness, I decided to download it and see what it was all about.

At first I was apprehensive and it seemed like the whole app was just a bunch of pre teens lip syncing or dancing to random songs and the odd funny dog video. But the more I scrolled through the app the more I realised there was actually a wide range of content on it from all ages and I found myself enjoying the short funny videos. In fact it was quite refreshing compared to the usual scrolling through pictures on Instagram or watching long YouTube videos. Now here I am a month or so later and I’m officially addicted, and I’ve got loads of my friends hooked on it as well.

I’m so addicted to it that its now my most used app on my phone with the screen time tracker telling me I now spend an average of one hour per day on it compared to just 20 minutes on Instagram and fifteen minutes on twitter. Then recently I watched a TikTok that said the app recently passed 1 billion users worldwide and it got me wondering, where did this app come from and how has it got so popular so quickly?

I did some research and found out that TikTok came about due to a merger between the Chinese app Douyin (branded TikTok for the western world) and the app Music.ly which became popular in 2016 and was an app where users could create short 1 minute lip syncing music videos.  Then when Bytedance, the owners of Douyin, bought Music.ly in November 2017, they realised they could easily expand into the US teen market which was already dominated by Music.ly.

The ‘new’ TikTok however, is a lot more than just music videos with users uploading a wide range of content including prank videos, storytimes, cooking videos, life hacks and comedy re-enactments – all under one minute each.

The growing popularity of this app, not just among  a teenage audience but expanding into young adults and beyond, shows the shift in how we like to engage in social media content as a society. We like short, to the point, varied content that we don’t have to read. That’s the beauty of TikTok, its very easy to consume, the app automatically sends you a feed of videos on your ‘For You’ page that are popular on that day in your area and it also learns what type of content you enjoy based on the videos you like and the accounts you chose to follow.

According to the Influencer Marketing Hub, TikTok ranked third in the world in November 2018 for the amount of downloads and the app was downloaded more than 104 million times on Apple’s App store during the full first half of 2018.

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Celebrities are getting involved now and there are even some users considered ‘TikTok’ famous with millions of followers now organising meet and greets and doing paid sponsored posts. I’ve now started to see it all over LinkedIn where everyone is saying that ‘TikTok must be a part of your marketing strategy’ and I’m starting to think we may have another Vine on our hands and TikTok could just be another social media app with a very short lifespan.

I think that if suddenly TikTok is just saturated with paid content and sponsored posts, people will lose interest and trust in the people they’re following.  I mean I’ve only been on it a month and even in the past couple of weeks I’ve noticed an influx of ads in between the videos! The ads are easy to scroll past but it is frustrating especially because the complete lack of ads and sponsored videos is what made it so easy appealing when I first joined the app. But I suppose with such growing popularity, its not surprising that brands are taking advantage of the app but I am very intrigued to see how the app grows in the coming months and whether or not it will last.

Source: The Incredible Rise of TikTok – [TikTok Growth Visualization] – influencermarketinghub.com

Emily Spackman McKee is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter @_spackman and LinkedIn Emily Spackman McKee