Doing The Dew

Shirley Wang Mountain Dewpng

Shirley Wang, right, serves as one of Mountain Dew’s Brand Ambassadors.

By Shirley Wang

It seems like everyday, people are coming up to me and saying, “You’re the Mountain Dew girl!”

As I reach week five of my job as a Mountain Dew Brand Ambassador, my name and image becomes more and more synonymous with the 16 fl oz. can known as Mtn Dew Black Label.

What is Mtn Dew Black Label you ask? Well, Mountain Dew provides this description: “Introducing new MTN DEW BLACK LABEL, crafted with dark berry flavor, real sugar, and herbal bitters. So grab your friends, grab a MTN DEW BLACK LABEL and let loose in a whole new way.” For me, however, Mtn Dew Black Label has brought with it a rewarding and exciting new job, a friend in my fellow brand ambassador, Cara, and some pretty awesome one-of-a-kind experiences that I would never have had unless I were a brand ambassador.

As a brand ambassador, I have the privilege of representing Mountain Dew and promoting their new drink that is only available on specific college campuses–Johns Hopkins being one of the lucky few. Aside from receiving a ton of swag (including but not limited to: t-shirts, speakers, backpacks, powerbanks, ping pong balls, etc), my job also consists of working with Cara to come up with creative ways to boost brand recognition around campus through a combination of social media postings, campus-wide taste testings, and guerrilla marketing.

Being a brand ambassador thus far has truly been a one of a kind experience–I have planned and worked with so many student groups and have met so many new and interesting people through my role as a brand ambassador. I am truly grateful to have the opportunity to represent such a reputable company.

Our first event was with the Student Government Association and Beta Theta Pi to create a joint event called, The Big Blue Jay Tailgate. With their help, Cara and I were able to hold our first taste testing and get the word out about Mtn Dew Black Label. The event ended up being so popular that Cara and I had to sprint back to our rooms to grab more cups, but nonetheless, it was a successful first event.

Our second and most recent taste testing was in conjunction with Hoptoberfest. This event was especially exciting because We the Kings came to Hopkins! The turnout was great, and we were able to reach a huge audience–all while having a blast singing along to Skyway Avenue, Say You Like Me, and of course, Check Yes Juliet. My middle school self was very pleased to say the least. After the concert, we were able to speak with the manager of We the Kings and give them some Mtn Dew Black Label to try. The best part of the day by far, however, was when We the Kings stopped by a house afterwards to chill with all of us! It’s also where I finally took a photo of the ever elusive Travis Clark DJ-ing and chilling with some Mtn Dew Black Label!

Cara and I already have ideas planned for our next few taste testing events. We decided to work with the American Marketing Association (an organization we’re both part of) to hold a taste testing event at their Annual Regional Conference. Our biggest and most ambitious event will be completely organized and run by ourselves, to be called The First Annual Mountain Dew Pong Tournament (played with Mtn Dew Black Label of course!). We will have teams from different JHU organizations sign up to compete for first and second place prizes, and we hope to reach a wide audience through this tournament.

Not many people can say that they are a Mountain Dew Brand Ambassador, and I’m not going to lie, it is a pretty awesome thing to tell people. However, just like every other job or club or assignment I’m faced with, it is not an easy feat, but I look forward to leaving my mark as the “Mountain Dew girl.”

My Internship Experience With The Orioles.

Up until this semester, a pigeon was the only bird I associated with Charm City and orange was something that you ate, not a color that fit into my wardrobe. All that changed when I became an intern for the team that became a phenomenon this summer and fall, The Baltimore Orioles. I was assigned to the Corporate Sales and Partnership Marketing program and was exposed to the contracts and proposals for current and upcoming sponsorship accounts. Furthermore, I assisted and led many game day promotions and events that were directly correlated to the servicing of sponsorship contracts. The Orioles have over 100 sponsorship deals in place that range from the obvious advertisements plastered all across the outfield walls to more subtle details such as the “Natty Boh Brot” or a “GEICO” logo mounted on the bottom of the ALCS rally towels. In the end, whether you realize it or not, Camden Yards is filled with the logos and merchandise of local companies such as Under Armour to globally recognized brands such as Budweiser all throughout the park.Glenn

My tasks fell into two categories: gameday promotions and office duties. To start, gameday promotions mostly dealt with providing our sponsors with top-notch hospitality that includes all different kinds of perks. For example, one of the most prolific clients for the Orioles is Bank of America. Therefore, during game 1 of the ALCS, I escorted around 12 clients from Bank of America down onto the field for Batting Practice. At this time, these clients got to experience what it’s like for a player to be down on the field prior to a playoff game. These clients would be within arms reach of all the Orioles players and coaching staff. Frequently, these clients would ask, “You must be used to this by now,” and to be honest, I can’t say I ever got used to such a surreal experience. The whole city got behind the Orioles during their playoff run, and there truly was no place like Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

One of my more surreal moments was when I was side by side with Mr. Boh himself who was set to throw out the first pitch during an afternoon matchup against the Yankees. I escorted him onto the field, and he asked me (while in full costume), “Do you have any advice for throwing out the first pitch?” It was just a very funny situation as I was seen talking to a mascot that Baltimore seems to idolize. Some fans may have thought I was a bit crazy as it looked like I was just talking to myself, but in reality, I was doing my best to keep Mr. Boh at ease.

Glenn2Aside from the meet and greets with players, I’d have to say that my favorite promotion to run was the “Esskay Steal Second Base” contest. For this promotion, I would meet the contestant (who is usually around 8 years old) and their parent at the “Fan Assistance” Entrance of Camden Yards. From there, I would take them into the grounds crew area where the contestant is briefed on the task that lies ahead. They simply have to run from the outfield wall to second base in the middle of the fifth inning and pick up second base. Then, they must run it back to the outfield wall in under a minute. If accomplished, the contestant gets to keep the base, and it really is an unforgettable experience for the young boy or girl. When the contest is running, I am on the field and direct the child where to go. Again, Esskay is getting their name out there by sponsoring this event as the child is wearing an Orioles’ jersey with “Esskay” on the back.

A major project that I worked on for my office duties had to deal with brand recognition and monitoring the reach of each sponsor. It is quite a difficult task to really conclude how many people see a certain sign in the Park, or a distinct billboard as they travel up a ramp to their seats. Therefore, I created a deck in order to find some of the most reliable and accredited programs that could put a number on how many people see certain signage. This was a very interesting task for me as I was able to study and analyze what a consumer really recognizes when watching a ballgame. For example, a great catch by Adam Jones in Center Field can be shown on the local news, ESPN and all across the country. As a result, brands are not only reaching a local audience, but they also are being viewed by people all across the country as well. Therefore, the Orioles had to show their clients that it would be beneficial to the company to agree on such deals because millions of eyeballs are seeing their company on a daily basis. Overall, finding a program to put a distinct number on how many people recognize certain sponsorship was vital to the Orioles’ Corporate Sales Department.

Interning with the 2014 AL East Champions truly was an incredible experience. From my interview to my time in the office, everything about the organization was first class. I am quite lucky to be able to say I am part of such a storied franchise, and I am excited to be back for the start of the 2015 season. Orange and black is now an integral part of my wardrobe. Go O’s!

Glenn Hyams ‘16

Blogging, Branding, and Business: Transforming a Fashion Blog into a Successful Business

As fashion consumers continue to stray from traditional fashion magazines—pushing the media landscape further into the digital realm and into the hands of independent fashion bloggers—burgeoning bloggers have experienced new opportunities to establish themselves in the industry and build their own businesses by creating an initial online editorial presence.

These independent fashion bloggers have quickly metamorphosed into “front-row” socialites sitting alongside photographers and editors from major fashion magazines at runway shows, and have successfully earned their place among the fashion elites.  They have revolutionized the fashion industry by asserting themselves as potential advertising platforms, powerful consumer influencers, and popular fashion icons in their own right. Most importantly, they have become formidable fashion industry entities by cleverly turning their blogs into brands, and finally, into full-blown businesses with promising potential for growth.

 An illustration by French blogger Garance Dore, first used as unique editorial content for her self-named blog, differentiating it from photography-heavy competitors.  Illustrations like this are now being sold on her online boutique.

An illustration by French blogger Garance Dore, first used as unique editorial content for her self-named blog, differentiating it from photography-heavy competitors. Illustrations like this are now being sold on her online boutique.

Among the most prominent independent fashion bloggers, the path from establishing a blog with a substantial following, to strategically developing a brand and, finally, to capitalizing on industry opportunities, has generally followed a consistent course of action.    The most popular fashion blogs began as nothing more than earnest attempts to create outlets to express unique creative philosophies through words and images.   Kevin Ma, founder of the streetwear-inspired blog Hypebeast, began his blog as a destination for sneaker and street style enthusiasts to browse through photos of urban-inspired shoes and apparel.  The beloved blogger-turned-fashion icon Leandra Medine, founder of The Man Repeller, launched her blog as a site for quirky high-fashion aficionados to browse through her comical commentaries and personal style looks consisting of unconventional designer pieces typically considered “repulsive” by men.  Her offbeat yet undeniably likable tagline appropriately reads, “The Man Repeller is a humorous Web site for serious fashion.”

Like Kevin Ma and Leandra Medine, the most distinguished fashion bloggers also attracted their initial followings by creating unique and specialized content targeted at niche audiences.  The process of creating distinct content based on compelling concepts easily differentiable from other fashion blogs not only serves to attract loyal readerships, but also serves to mold fashion blogs into brands with unique identities and dynamic personalities capable of crossing the boundary from editorial into business.

After relying on word-of-mouth communication and social media mentions to raise initial awareness, and on strategic branding to create loyalty and differentiation, the most distinguished bloggers-turned-entrepreneurs relied heavily on traditional banner ads, sponsorships, and collaborations to generate early revenue.   Scott Schuman, founder of the photography-based fashion blog The Sartorialist, began generating profit by selling banner ads to retailers like American Apparel and Net-a-Porter, and then to bigger companies like Coach and Tiffany & Co. as website traffic increased.   Sponsorships and collaborations with mega fashion brands have also been a major strategy in not only generating revenue, but more importantly, in increasing brand awareness and creating powerful associations with established industry leaders.  After appealing to advertisers, the popular beauty blog Into The Gloss, founded by Emily Weiss and Nick Axelrod, caught the attention of cosmetic giant Lancôme which collaborated with the bloggers to create sponsored content promoting Lancôme’s new lipstick line. Similarly, Leandra “The Man Repeller” Medine  collaborated with Michael Kors on a video to help launch a new store in 2012 and later partnered with jewelry brand Dannijo to increase sales by producing videos and blogging about the company’s new collections.

Photo featured on the blog The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman. Street photographer Scott Schuman differentiated his blog from other fashion blogs by blurring the line between fashion and photography and focusing less on trends and apparel than on capturing the "essence" of his subjects.

Photo featured on the blog The Sartorialist by Scott Schuman. Street photographer Scott Schuman differentiated his blog from other fashion blogs by blurring the line between fashion and photography and focusing less on trends and apparel than on capturing the “essence” of his subjects.

By capitalizing on opportunities to sell advertising space and collaborate with established fashion brands, fashion bloggers have been able to generate the capital required to expand their blogs into new spaces like publishing, designing, and e-commerce.  Both Leandra Medine and Scott Schuman have published best-selling books based on their fashion blogs.  Medine has additionally collaborated with fashion designers like Aimee Cho of Gryphon to create exclusive clothing lines, featured on The Man Repeller of course.  Kevin Ma, founder of Hypebeast, ventured into e-commerce, first selling apparel from several up-and-coming brands and then moving onto luxury designer labels such as 3.1 Phillip Lim, using an integrated approach to combining editorial content with e-commerce to create a unique shopping experience.  Similarly, French blogger Garance Dore, founder of her self-named blog offering aesthetically striking editorial and multimedia content, has also expanded into e-commerce through a small online boutique selling her illustrations.

As changing consumer behavior and the new digital media landscape continue to provide fashion bloggers endless opportunities for growth and expansion into industry sectors like e-commerce,  the power and prestige of leading fashion bloggers-turned-entrepreneurs is expected to rise among fashion industry elites. The rise of blogs as potent advertising platforms is a truly revolutionary phenomenon in fashion, which opens the doors to talented young entrepreneurial creatives with limited capital but limiteless drive.

As reported by the blog The Business of Fashion, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist comments, “You can really make a living out of this. It’s tough, but if you work really hard you can create a business, if you’re smart about it and have something real to say.”

by Chelsea Olivera, JHU junior

JHU AMA Presents: Student Alumni Panel

Earlier this month, the Johns Hopkins University undergraduate chapter of the American Marketing Association (JHU AMA) kicked off its Fall Speaker Series with a panel of JHU alumni working in marketing and advertising capacities. These alumni included representatives from Under Armour, AOL Digital, T. Rowe Price, Stanley Black & Decker, IMRE, and Factory Athletics. Students interested in pursuing careers in marketing, advertising, and digital media fields attended the event to learn more about the various industries represented.

Alumni Taylor Schulte, Tyler Goodell, Claire Sandgrass, Zoe Longenecker-Wright, Dave Carisiti, and Jason Budden speak at the alumni panel.

Alumni Taylor Schulte, Tyler Goodell, Claire Sandgrass, Zoe Longenecker-Wright, Dave Carisiti, and Jason Budden speak at the alumni panel.

The alumni spoke about several topics, most of which focused on breaking into the marketing industry, tips for surviving your first few months on the jobs, and other pieces of advice centered on helping current students make the most of their college experience to prepare for a transition into the real world. Richard L, an event attendee, commented that “thanks to them [the alumni], I feel much more prepared to send out job applications than I had before.”

Some key takeaways from the event:

  • Connect, connect, connect! Expand your professional network by reaching out to people in the industry via LinkedIn. (Note: always send a personalized message when seeking to connect).
  • Try it out. Find an internship, either during the semester or summer, in a marketing-related field, to see if it’s for you. An internship in this field is also critical if you want to land a job at a firm.
  • Clean up. Make sure your social media pages are devoid of undesirable content and make sure your resume is always updated and polished.

The JHU AMA will be hosting multiple upcoming events, the next of which is on Monday, November 10th. Hershey Associate Brand Manager Anthony Criezis will be speaking as part of the AMA’s Fall Speaker Series, and all interested parties are encouraged to attend a very informative discussion!

Native? Social? Both?

This summer, I interned at SocialToaster, a social media marketing agency that turns a company’s existing social media following into a team of organized brand ambassadors. Part of my job was to create blog posts and other marketing materials that reinforced SocialToaster’s core business concept, and I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned regarding native advertising and social media marketing.

Native Advertising: You’ve probably heard this term if you’ve kept up to date on the latest digital marketing trends. In short, native advertising is a form of communication that smoothly integrates with a user’s experience on a website or application. For instance, if you see a sponsored Facebook post that tells a story about a company’s new product, this is a native advertisement because it is part of the user’s core experience (i.e., not a banner ad). Online brand ambassador programs are also forms of native advertising: for instance, Maker’s Mark offers incentives for its ambassadors to share content about its brand.

Social Media Marketing, though, is the use of social media platforms to market a company to consumers or businesses. Examples of social media marketing are banner ads on Facebook, a company’s Twitter posts, or Instagram pictures with links directed towards purchasing or other landing pages. Social media marketing encompasses the development of marketing programs targeted at a company’s existing and intended social media audience.

Can Native and Social Intersect? Yes. For example, SocialToaster’s Super Fans (brand ambassadors) can earn prizes for posting a company’s message as a status update or sharing its content on Twitter. Native advertising can be seamlessly integrated into social media marketing because people use social media all the time. Therefore, native advertising and social media marketing are not mutually exclusive; rather, they are two effective forms of marketing that work incredibly well together.


The Numbers: Consider some facts from a recent Gallup poll:

  • 94% of social media users do so to connect with friends and family
  • 62% of social media users do not believe social media influences their purchasing decisions
  • 29% of social media users use these platforms to keep up on product reviews and trends

That 94% is important, because it means that over 9/10 people who use social media connect with people they (hopefully) trust. Now, if you’re part of the nearly 30% who use, say, Facebook for product recommendations, what are you more likely to look to as a source: a friend’s recommendation, or a banner advertisement? If your friend is a Maker’s Mark brand ambassador and posts a picture of delicious bourbon on Facebook, you’re statistically more likely to click on this post than you are to entertain a traditional advertisement.

But do you even realize your friend’s recommendation for Maker’s Mark is an advertisement? According to the study, 62% of the time, you will not.

And that’s why native advertisements on social media work. Companies can employ people you trust to recommend their products, meaning you might not even realize when you’re being advertised to. But you might find some great products in the process!


Analyzing Disney Media & Millenials As A Marketing Intern in New York This Summer.

This past summer, I interned for Disney Media Ad Sales and Marketing in New York. My department’s responsibility was to provide Sales with the tools, resources and marketing ideas they need to drive advertising revenue for Disney Channel, Disney X D, Disney Junior and Radio Disney. From my first day at Disney to my last, I was treated as if I was another member of the department which meant I was expected to do analyst level work. This gave me an appreciation of how this key unit functioned as well as what life in the real world would be like in two years when I graduate. While the commute from my home on Long Island was a bit taxing and expensive ($382 a month), going to sleep at 930PM to wake at 6AM was the biggest adjustment I had to make as any normal Hopkins student could attest to.


Many of the tasks I was assigned focused on the Research side of the business. I had to create a weekly “Landscape Report,” which outlined the competitive environment for Disney Media as well as updating other key reports which encompassed anything from analyzing VOD (Video On Demand) Ad campaigns to pulling weekly ratings from the StarTrak system for stunts (airing shows out of their normal time periods) and marathons (running a whole season of past episodes back to back). One of the main lessons I learned from the summer is that the Ad Sales Department of Disney only needs one story to tell in order to sell a spot to a potential company. You could comb through mountains of data, but all you need is one positive nugget of information and you run with it. Additionally, if a point you want to use doesn’t necessarily work at first, there are ways to make it work by using phrases like one of the highest rated instead of the highest rated or by saying the show is number one in its time period as opposed to comparing it to all programs that air throughout the week.

I also worked on projects that dealt more with “Consumer Insights.” For example, I developed numerous decks for clients ranging from addressing the interests of “Hispanic Consumers with Pets” to the affinity and preferences of “Toys and Games for Preschoolers and Toddlers.” I analyzed large Mintel Reports and from there, I generated stories that likened a consumer and their affinity for the Disney brand. I specifically enjoyed these projects as they allowed me to get creative and play with images and market the company to the best of my ability.

I also wrote sections of “Ad-Intel” Reports which analyzed the business foundation of potential advertisers such as Nike and Microsoft. I analyzed anything from current products to their key target demographics to their potential revenue stream for FY 14. By breaking down these industry giants, I was able to understand the fundamentals of running some of the most successful corporations in the world.

I was also chosen to be “Group Leader” and oversee an Intern Project that dealt with media consumption among the Millennial Generation. The “Disney Media” portion of the project focused on analyzing specific social media tendencies in the kid space, which became a bit tricky as you are not supposed to join a social media site until you reach the age of 13. However, we were able to determine that although kids aren’t supposed to be on social media before 13, they are. As a result, a lot of the same patterns we found with Millenials and their use of social media rang true for kids as well.

I along with 12 other interns presented our Millenials data to 80+ Executives from throughout the Disney/ABC Television Group. Being able to not only craft a presentation but to verbalize it as well is an invaluable skill that I will need later on in the business world. I made it through without any “ummms” or pauses, and I even answered ad hoc questions in the middle of my portion. It really is something to have people in the audience who have generated billions of dollars in ad revenue for Disney, ABC and ABC Family listen to your words and take in the slides that you created.

Besides the networking aspects in the television industry that this internship provided, it really proved to me that I would love to one day pursue a career in the media/marketing side of business. This summer I was lucky enough to come to work for a company that affects millions of lives a day and that everybody recognizes. Therefore, you take extra responsibility and pride in everything you create. Don’t tell anyone but Disney Channel now joins ESPN as my favorite network and I’ll be watching “Girl Meets World” every week when it returns for its second season (date and time to be announced).

Glenn Hyams, Class of ’16

Writing Seminars Major, Minor in Entrepreneurship & Management, Concentration in Marketing

JHU Graduate Produces Mother’s Day Video.

Ever since I started my graduate school adventure at Miami Ad School San Francisco (a portfolio school for advertising), I have been shown the true value of personal projects.

Personal projects that allow one to freely execute a campaign without being limited by the corporate aspects of advertising; personal projects that encourage individuals to pursue something true to themselves, while having fun playing with social norms.

This is how the idea of “Call Your Mom” came about. Everyday, we walk by so many strangers without interacting with them at all. My team and I wanted to break this social norm and get to know strangers in a unique way – by gaining insight into their relationship with their moms.

We therefore took to the streets of San Francisco and asked people when they had last called their moms. The end result was beautiful, and fully supported a notion we strongly believe in: if you are passionate about an idea, go and execute it. The benefits of advertising don’t just have to come from the professional workplace.

 Jiayi Wang ’13

I hope you enjoy it …

Stumped with Making a Career Out of Your Major? How About a Startup?

At an institution synonymous with its medical school and engineering programs, outsiders are often surprised to hear about the breadth of entrepreneurial ventures Hopkins students are involved in. The school quietly fosters a dedicated environment for students to create business ventures in the real world. The opportunities are quite diverse, from the popular Entrepreneurship & Management minor, to FastForward and JHTT, two groups of Hopkins inventors, entrepreneurs, and investors who aim at bringing technological innovations from the lab to the commercial marketplace.

A student in Professor Kendrick's class dons the sumo costume during the JHU Career Fair.

A MindSumo representative dons the sumo costume during the JHU Career Fair.

In addition to these school-sponsored initiatives, there is an extensive list of unaided Hopkins-born entrepreneurial startups that are just as poised to strike the commercial market. One prime example of such a company is MindSumo, founded by grad Keaton Swett, who majored in History and minored in Entrepreneurship and Management during his time at Hopkins. The vision for MindSumo was to create a unique opportunity for students, specifically in the computational and analytic fields, to showcase their talents in practical scenarios, shifting the focus of a job or internship interview from a single piece of paper (the applicant’s résumé) to a portfolio of proven skills.

Companies sponsor challenges for students to provide their own creative solutions to real business problems. Winners are chosen by the sponsor company to receive cash prizes, interviews for jobs and internships, and accolades to tout in their search for future employment. Since its humble beginnings, MindSumo has already attracted 30,000+ student users as well as dozens of top-tier companies in a vast array of fields (Google, Zappos, and General Mills, to name a few).

Although Keaton has since moved headquarters of MindSumo to California, he remains in close contact with his alma mater. He has lent his time, effort, and his company’s reputation to Leslie Kendrick’s Advertising and Integrated Marketing Campaign class, which is tasked with garnering new sign-ups and awareness for the company on the Hopkins Homewood campus and at other area universities.

Students might feel nervous about starting their careers, but Keaton and the dozens of Hopkins alums who have started their own companies are proof of the limitless opportunities that can come as a product of a Hopkins education.

Learn more about MindSumo at For more information about MindSumo’s campaign on the Hopkins campus, please contact either Lauryn Capers or David White at

Don’t Pay for That: The Student Economy.

Innovation starts at home

While studying for a marketing exam the other night, I was reminded of the true definition of economy: the management of resources required to run a business, household, or government. Though it’s on a much smaller scale than the U.S Treasury, I realized that my small home on Guilford Ave has its own economy. My roommates and I supply the home with toilet paper, food, labor, rent, and other supplies and services to keep it running. Because we’re staying at the house, we’re able to go to work, pursue our degrees, and have a place to sleep at night. I only start this post in this manner to say the home is an economy, and you can treat your household like a business to save as much money as possible.

Don’t Pay for That

Having lived essentially paycheck to paycheck for the past seven months, I’ve noticed a common trend: the less I spend, the more I have for essentials such as raw chicken and parking tickets. Shocking, isn’t it? Fortunately, Mother Nature Network contributor Melissa Breyer has compiled a list of 15 Great Things you can Get for Free, and I’d like to share the highlights with you today.

  • Textbooks are way more expensive than they’re worth. When publishers release barely modified, “new” editions each year, the new edition leaps in price, costing you as a student hundreds of dollars. Breyer recommends using Project Gutenberg to find free ebooks, but you could also search for international editions of textbooks (which are much cheaper than the domestic and may contain the exact same content), or simply use Google to search “filetype: pdf “textbook name” to land a free book.

    Project Gutenberg has saved me in literature classes throughout high school.

    Project Gutenberg has saved me in literature classes throughout high school.

  • Education has been made more easily accessible by the Internet. Sites such as Khan Academy and University of Reddit have free online classes that individuals can take to expand their knowledge. If you want to learn a language, sites such as Duolingo, in which a user completes language challenges to advance his or her skills, is also a good match. For a Mother Nature Network list of free online educational institutions, please click here.

    Use Duolingo to learn a new language!

    Use Duolingo to learn a new language!

  • Cash is sometimes more expensive than it’s worth because of ATM fees. Many of my friends in college are not from the Baltimore area, and they have to pay ATM fees if they wish to withdraw money. You shouldn’t have to pay to get your money, so take advantage of cash back when making purchases with your debit card, start a local bank account in your city, or use the app ATM Hunter to find your bank’s nearest fee-free ATM.

    The ATM Hunter App for iPhone and Android can save you money when you want your money.

    The ATM Hunter App for iPhone and Android can save you money when you want your money.

Leave it up to our mothers to help us run a household with as few costs as possible. Please comment below with the ways you save money around the house!

– David

My Movie Internship: Hollywood Is Just As Business-Orientated As Wall Street.

Many people overlook the fact that Hollywood is just as business-orientated as Wall Street. From a strictly business perspective, a movie is a staggering—and very risky—investment: producers and studios can pour hundreds of millions of dollars into a single production in hopes that the revenue generated from ticket sales, home-video sales, merchandise, etc. will turn a profit. Investing in a movie is precarious because of the underlying notion that no one can predict whether or not a movie will be good, and if it is good, if audiences will want to see it and purchase tickets. In order to dilute the risk factors, then, studios rely on securing high-profile celebrities and creative teams, reverting to known blockbuster genres, remaking classic hits, and making sequel after sequel (Saw 7, anyone?).

Unsurprisingly, box office sales are the primary way a movie earns money, and most movies earn close to 50% of their domestic gross in their opening weekends. The rare exceptions are the movies with strong legs, like Gravity or Avatar, which hold well in the marketplace for continuous weeks. Thus, luring audiences into the theater that opening weekend is especially critical, and consequently studios carefully deliberate release dates and spend huge amount of money marketing a film. In fact, most tent-pole movies (a movie, usually a blockbuster, that ‘holds up’ or balances out a studio’s financial performance, e.g. Despicable Me 2 or Harry Potter; they’re often expected to turn a profit in a relatively short amount of time) can have advertising budgets comparable to their production budgets. That is to say, if a movie’s cost is $80 million, it could have close to that in marketing efforts behind it. Additionally, if a studio knows a movie is going to be a flop, and they generally do, they might increase or decrease the marketing budget, either to make one last push to persuade audiences to see the film or to cut their losses. Securing a strong opening weekend turnout is also the reason why movies with widespread critical acclaim publicize their reviews early, while studios with flops on their hands tend to keep poor reviews under wraps until the last possible moment in order to prevent them from discouraging audiences.

From trailers and posters to TV spots and other publicity efforts such as Comic-Con parties and online presences, creative advertising attempts to both raise awareness about the movie as well as highlight it as worthy of the ten-dollar ticket price to see it on the big screen. A film’s trailer is without question its strongest advocate, and as such, most studios begin creating a trailer months in advance of its release. Studio executives work with the filmmakers as well as with external production companies (known as trailer houses) that specialize in either print (the poster) or audio-visual (the trailer) media to design a campaign that positions the movie in a particular, meticulously crafted light. Everything from the music and dialogue to the font of the copy (text) to the emotion the trailer evokes is highly scrutinized and debated because the trailer is not only the first glimpse audiences will have of the movie, but also, if constructed successfully, the most influential marketing tool.

Executives begin researching the campaign by reading the film’s script and watching trailers for similar movies. They study those trailers to understand what worked well and what did not, but to see how other marketing departments have approached a related topic: what angle on the story did they take? Was the focus more on the visuals or on the story? How much of the plot was revealed and in what ways? While they are researching, executives meet with filmmakers to decide how they want to advertise the film, read the script, and look at dailies. Dailies are visuals (both photo and video) of everything that has been filmed, uncut, on a single day; as filming progresses, the quantity of dailies increases and the executives have more footage to work with. The creative process really begins here, when executives work with trailer houses to select and edit the footage, piecing together the trailer that aligns with their vision about how they want the film to appear. The trailer houses send a number of versions of each cut of the trailer to the executive, each with varying music, copy, visuals, etc. The executive then considers what works well and what needs to be changed, and the trailer houses then make the edits. This editing and re-editing usually lasts several weeks. Once the trailer is ready, and the filmmakers have given their approval, the trailer is usually screened before several test audiences of various demographics. These test audiences comment on not only whether or not they like the trailer, but if the trailer is effective at accomplishing what the studio intended, e.g. was the film’s plot clear? did the jokes work?  When the trailer is finally ready, it ships, or is released.

Timing the shipping of trailers is crucial, as there are often specific movies to which the executives want them to be attached or accompany. Attaching a trailer to a movie means that the trailer will always play before a certain movie in the theater; the term comes from when the actual 35mm film of trailer would have to be physically attached to the film of the movie. Perhaps the most well-known recent instance of this was Warner Bros. attachment of Man of Steel’s teaser to The Dark Knight Rises. Studios can also vary attachment based on theater type, i.e. if you go and see the newest Thor in 3D, you would have been treated to a five-minute sneak peak of the upcoming Captain America. This strategy is more commonly exhibited with IMAX screens, as an added incentive to pay the higher ticket price. If a trailer accompanies a feature, it will often play before that film, but it doesn’t have to. Studios work with theaters to have their trailer shown before a movie, but the theaters have the final say and usually make their decision based on the expected audience of the film playing and the release date of the advertised film. In other words, the theater might not choose to screen a horror trailer before the latest Pixar film. This is why if you see a movie in theaters more than once, there may be different trailers before it each time, or if you see a movie at a different theater, there will also be different trailers.

While premiering a trailer in theaters remains the most common approach, in recent years studios have begun exploring other avenues by which to do so, such as on late night talk show’s (Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy trailer premiered on Jimmy Kimmel), during major television events (Universal’s Neighbors, the new Seth Rogen comedy, first aired its trailer during the Roast of James Franco), or at events such as Comic Con. This strategy is becoming increasingly popular, as with certain events or television programs, studios can target a more specific demographic. With the ability to watch trailers anytime online, the timing of shipping the trailer might appear to have lost some of its importance, but the opposite is true. The Internet can create immense hype for a film when a trailer is released and shared across various social media platforms, and studios need to time this hype to prevent it from coming and going too soon.

– Andrew Townson ’14 atownson@jhu.ed