In Biz: Professor Boches on digital brands

By Madeline McGill, Staff Writer
@mcgilligansisle

There are few college students who are not familiar with at least one well-known digital brand. Staples such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr  have blended seamlessly into our lives, dominating our day-to-day rituals. Casual actions like waking up and checking Facebook or browsing through BuzzFeed during a study break  demonstrate the significant influence that digital brands hold.

Edward Boches, an advertising professor at Boston University’s College of Communication, says that digital brands are significant in that they often serve a certain utility, which is changing the landscape of how the idea of a brand is defined.

“By definition a digital brand isn’t something that you buy and wear, it isn’t something that you buy and eat, it isn’t something that you buy and drive, it’s something that you use on a day in day out basis,” said Boches. “So it has to add enough value to your life that it’s something you want to use.”

When one stops to think about how a digital brand such as Facebook became such an integral part of our social interactivity, the story becomes less clear. Yes, many digital brands arose to meet the growing market need for social media services. But how did the ideas behind Snapchat and Instagram turn into multi-million and billion dollar industries?

Boches said he believes that there are certain factors  that contribute to the success of a digital brand. One of these, he stated, is an available user base.

“If you look at the value of any digital brand, whether it’s Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, a blog like the Bleacher Report, it’s pretty much based on how many eyeballs it has,” said Boches. “

What use would Instagram be if no one had instant access to a camera at all times of the day? Part of the company’s success is that it was able to take advantage of the utility of the modern camera phone while creating a digital platform that appealed to a wide audience.

Appealing to a wide audience, according to Boches, can also be achieved by a frictionless user experience.

“Because you think about anything that you use in that space, and if it works really easily, really seamlessly, really simply, really institutive, and has very low friction to it, then you will tend to use it more,” said Boches. “So think about how fast Instagram took off. You didn’t need to figure it out or think about it.”

However, any avid Instagram user can tell you that it is not all about the individual user experience. There is a great need for users to share their experiences with their network, and Instagram provides a digital space where that need can be met.

“So why did Instagram take off so quickly? Because all of a sudden everybody in the world is walking around with a camera in their pocket that can capture images and what are you going to do with those images?” said Boches. “You’re going to want to share them and look and other people’s pictures, and so it could only have existed when all of a sudden the camera in your pocket was a universal thing. Which by the way was also connected to the web, which was connected to your social profile, which was connected to everything else.”

Digital brands that effectively tap into an active user base will experience astounding results. Since its  launch, Instagram boasts more than 200 million monthly users, 70% of whom log in at least once a day.

Recognizing the success effectively cultivating and mobilizing a user base may yield, there are individuals who use the process of digital branding, through digital brands such as Facebook and Twitter, to promote themselves or an idea that they want to share.

Many college students are familiar with the Twitter user @BostonTweet, who created a Twitter account in 2008 to promote  local business activity during the economic downturn. Boasting 112 thousand followers as of April 13, account creator Tom O’Keefe has successfully marketed himself as a personal brand to the Boston area.

According to Boches, this is just one example of how any individual can market themselves via emerging forms of digital media.

“You could be a brand,” said Boches. “If you’re a reporter, and you have a column, and you have a Twitter account, and then you also have a blog, and you also have a Instagram, and you share all of your content and you build a community of followers, and they pay attention to you and seek out and subscribe to your content, then you are a small brand.”

It may not fit the traditional definition of a brand, but it is all part of an evolving transition that is changing the way that the public regards the traditional definition of a brand.

According to Boches, anyone who is resourceful, determined and prolific could accomplish what @BostonTweet has done with the digital resources at their disposal.

“When I was your age, you needed five million dollars to do anything,” said Boches. “Now there’s a multi-billion dollar infrastructure courtesy of Facebook, Google, Twitter, the web, YouTube, et cetera… I think what it means is that anybody with the wherewithal, with the creativity, with an idea, with content, et cetera, can do something.”

Boches added that though actual content creators comprise a smaller proportion of social media platforms than content distributors, generational changes have encouraged the increase in the percentage of content creators.

“There’s an argument that goes like this: of all the people on all the platforms, whatever they are, Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, across all those platforms probably only 10 or 15 percent of the people who use them are actually creating content and calling attention to themselves. 30 or 40 percent of people are maybe distributing and sharing it, and passing it around or commenting it or interacting with it. The rest are just reading it, as consumers,” said Boches. “But, if you look at those numbers, that 15 percent of content creators used to be 5, then it was 10, now it’s at 15 and I think as your generation and subsequent generations have something to say, you’re growing up with the idea that ‘Well, we own the media. The media belongs to us.’”

With the ingrained idea that people have the power to manipulate the media, what are the future implications of digital brands and the process of digital branding? With more resources available, it is expected that the number of personal and digital brands will arise via the use of social media platforms.

“I do think that it’s not that we’re going to see less of it,” said Boches. “It might be harder to stand out, and harder to get real notoriety, and you might have to be more inventive and more creative and better at it.”

Nine-month-old charged with attempted murder in Pakistan

By Ann Singer, Staff Writer
@annmsinger

For most of us, life as a nine month old consisted of crawling around and learning that ‘no’ really meant no. This is no different for little Musa Khan, hailing from the slums of Lahore, Pakistan. Well, except that he was also charged with attempted murder.

Wait, what? Can this be true?

I’m afraid to admit that something so absurd like this can actually happen. Most news outlets are reporting that bill collectors came to the Khan home to collect money or turn off their gas. The family opposed this, though it’s not clear whether they did so peacefully or by stoning (as the police report in question states). Family members, including Musa, were then charged with attempting to murder the gas company workers and the police, and were booked and fingerprinted.

Pakistani lawyers say it is common for whole families to be punished in an incident, just one example of how the corrupt criminal justice system, full of underpaid and incompetent workers, functions.

Pakistan has a penal code that states children under the age of seven cannot be considered to have committed a criminal offense. Yet, Musa was only granted bail and now he and his whole family are in hiding due to pressure from the police.

It’s clear that the police system desperately requires reform, a general consensus by everyone from the Khan family lawyer to Shaukat Javed, the former Punjab police chief.

Because of the growing attention to the case, Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has demanded the police suspend the officer who filed the report and open an investigation into the incident. Nevertheless, the Pakistani police force still has a long ways to go before it can be considered legitimate and fair.

Check out the video below:

The Muse: music festivals happening this summer

By Olivia Shur and Hannah Landers, Staff Writers
@livsure @hannland

Electric Daisy Carnival Weekend./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Tony Nungaray

Which music festival will you choose?/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Tony Nungaray

Summertime means warm weather, no classes and — most importantly — the best music festivals of the year. Here’s a list of just a few of them, including where, when and, of course, who is going to be there. No matter what genre of music you like to jam to this summer, Muse has you covered.

BOSTON CALLING

When: May 23-25
Where: Boston
Lineup highlights: Jack Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Decemberists, Bastille, The Neighbourhood
Why you should go: Why venture far when there’s a great music festival right in Boston University’s own backyard? Boston Calling also offers the chance for concertgoers to get their fix twice a year — once in May and once in September. So if you’re leaving Boston for the summer, look out for that September lineup come move-in weekend.

SASQUATCH

When: May 23-25
Where: George, Wash.
Lineup highlights: Outkast, The National, Queens of the Stone Age, HAIM, M.I.A., Kid Cudi
Why you should go: Although Sasquatch! usually sticks to indie bands and singer-songwriters, it still has a rather varied lineup. It also boasts a pretty great view: The Gorge Amphitheater, carved right into the cliffs above the Columbia River Gorge, was voted “Top Amphitheater” in the 2013 Billboard Touring Awards.

ELECTRIC DAISY CARNIVAL

When: May 24-25 (New York City), June 20-22 (Las Vegas)
Where: New York City and Las Vegas
Lineup highlights: Tiësto, Bassnectar and Afrojack are included in New York; the Las Vegas lineup has yet to be announced
Why you should go: For the electronic music fan, this one’s a no brainer: EDC Las Vegas is the biggest electronic music festival in the world. Last year’s festival certainly seemed to promise more good things to come too, and year’s EDC in Las Vegas has sold out before even releasing a lineup.

FIREFLY

When: June 19-22
Where: Dover, Del.
Lineup highlights: Outkast (again), Foo Fighters, Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Arctic Monkeys, Weezer
Why you should go: One of the smallest states is packing some major festival game. Firefly is a relative newcomer to the world of music fests, but has gotten everything right so far with its killer lineups and pleasant, woodland setting.

SUMMERFEST

When: June 25-29, July 1-6
Where: Milwaukee
Lineup highlights: Neon Trees, B.o.B., A Great Big World and Pentatonix are all performing on the general admission stages; Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga are among those performing in the Marcus Amphitheater
Why you should go: Though those from the coasts may never have heard of Summerfest, it holds the title for world’s largest music festival. Last year, attendees could buy a pass for all 11 days of the festival for just $60. The pass offered admission to any concert on any day, excluding the performers in the headliner arena, the Marcus Amphitheater.

LOLLAPALOOZA

When: Aug. 1-3
Where: Chicago
Lineup highlights: Eminem, Lorde, Foster the People, The Kooks, Chvrches, Jacob Plant
Why you should go: Lollapalooza is one of the biggest music festivals in the country — and notorious for selling out before half of concertgoers even get a chance to look at the lineup. With those kinds of stats, they must be doing something right.

BONNAROO

When: June 12-15
Where: Manchester, Tenn.
Lineup highlights: Kanye West, The Avett Brothers, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, Elton John, Neutral Milk Hotel, Lionel Richie
Why you should go: Bonnaroo is the holy pinnacle that all music festivals strive toward. An extravaganza that can attract indie royalty like Vampire Weekend, hip-hop messiahs like Kanye West and kings of music in general like Elton John really needs no further explanation.

WARPED TOUR

When: June 14 to Aug. 3
Where: Various cities throughout the U.S.
Lineup highlights: Less Than Jake, K.Flay, Bayside, Yellowcard, Anberlin, The Devil Wears Prada (lineup varies from city to city)
Why you should go: This year let the festival come to you! Warped may have strayed from its punky roots in recent years, but a diversified lineup has only made it stronger as it approaches its 20th birthday.

LOLThursday: Girl sings “Let It Go,” gets video-bombed by dad

By Katrina Uy, Staff Writer
@katreenz

By now, the birds are chirping, the warm weather’s finally kicking in, and we can more or less relax knowing that there probably won’t be any more snow until next fall. You’d think that all of the craze behind Walt Disney Picture’s latest movie “Frozen” would be over by now… or is it?

Maybe not. Just last week, a video surfaced on YouTube featuring one girl singing Disney’s hit song “Let It Go,” with her dad “video-bombing” his daughter and lip syncing to her voice while acting out Queen Elsa’s movements behind her.

Maybe it’s staged, maybe it isn’t – it looks like the person behind the camera definitely knew what her dad was planning to do but I don’t think the little girl did. In any case, this video makes for a solid minute of entertainment, because dang, this girl can sing! Not to mention her awesome dad putting the icing on the cake by dramatically taking his sunglasses off as she croons, “The cold never bothered me anyway!”

The success of the newest movie and especially its catchy soundtrack has inspired countless covers, including an Africanized tribal cover of “Let It Go,” as well as a hilarious medley of the movie’s songs performed and acted out by the a capella group Pentatonix.

Does this videobombing Dad do Elsa justice from the original Frozen scene? Are you 100% over hearing anything Frozen-related, or are you eagerly awaiting more news on it being turned into a new Broadway musical? Check out the video and comment below!

Golf Digest cover sparks controversy

By Kyra Louie, Staff Writer
@beammeupkyra

Paulina Gretzky, fiancée to Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA) tour winner Dustin Johnson and daughter of a hockey superstar, has landed a solo spot on the cover of this month’s Golf Digest. The American model and pop singer surely fits the criteria for the cover, right?

Wrong.

May’s cover of Golf Digest portrays Paulina Gretzky in tight capris and a revealing sports bra holding an iron. In the article, Gretzky recounts how she once missed a ball in front of 30 people while playing in her dad’s tournament. It also features different exercises to improve one’s golf game.

Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) golfers have only appeared solo on Golf Digest’s covers 11 times since 1969. The most recent LPGA player to land the cover was Lorena Ochoa in August 2008.

“If a magazine called Golf Digest is interested in showcasing females in the game, yet consistently steers away from the true superstars who’ve made history over the last few years, something is clearly wrong,” said Mike Whan, the LPGA Tour Commissioner. “’Growing the game’ means a need for more role models and in these exciting times for women’s golf, the LPGA is overflowing with them.”

It’s time to give credit where credit is due. Yet the last issue featuring an LPGA Tour winner was six years ago, and in total the LPGA has only had 11 covers in the past 45 years.

“It’s frustrating for female golfers,” third-ranked player Stacy Lewis said in an interview with the New York Times. “It’s kind of the state of where we’ve always been. We don’t get respect for being the golfers that we are. Obviously, Golf Digest is trying to sell magazines. But at the same time you’d like to see a little respect for the women’s game.”

Last time I checked, the Waspy stereotype that golf still holds would never allow someone in Gretzky’s outfit anywhere near the clubhouse, let alone the course. There is no reason for this to be the face of Golf Digest if the figure isn’t wearing something that would be deemed appropriate, not to mention she has nothing to do with the game.

Juli Inkster, a seven-time winner and a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, as well as one of the 11 women to appear alone on Golf Digest’s covers, doesn’t appreciate the magazine’s choice in Gretzky either.

“What do you have to do to get a little respect? I’m guaranteeing you right now, it was not a woman editor who chose that cover,” said Inkster in an interview with the New York Times.

She’s probably right. Golf Digest’s editor in chief, Jerry Tarde, released a statement to the commotion surrounding this month’s cover.

“Sports figures, celebrities and models have appeared on Golf Digest covers since the magazine’s beginning,” said Tarde. “Paulina ranks at the high end of the golf celebrity scene today, and she has a compelling story to tell. She also might get some new people interested in the game.”

As a golfer, this cover is a slap in the face. I went to the 2009 U.S. Women’s Open Golf Championship, and I remember getting my hat signed by almost every player I could find. These women pride themselves on integrity, honor, dignity and respect. All of which are not portrayed on this month’s cover. The women of the LPGA are my role models, on and off the course. We faced struggles left and right to gain our “equality” in this sport. And now that we have it, we’re still faced with the same prejudice as before. I can name 15 people off the top of my head that would be better suited in that cover spot, and they’re all members of the LPGA.

How to Live to Senior Year: Apples

By Sabrina Katz, Staff Writer
@sabrina_katz

An apple a day really does keep the doctor away./ PHOTO BY Sabrina Katz

An apple a day really does keep the doctor away./ PHOTO BY Sabrina Katz

Thanks to Eve, Isaac Newton and Steve Jobs, the marvelous apple has become an icon known for its sweet taste and simplicity. That’s exactly how apples are in the minds of healthful eaters everywhere: a sweet and simple snack that’s easy to take wherever you go!

There’s a reason the saying goes, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away!”— apples are full of fiber, vitamins and healthy carbs to naturally fuel you through your day.

Compared to a 100-calorie snack pack that’ll leave you unsatisfied once you reach the bottom of the bag, an apple will fill you up with its high fiber and water contents.

The Vitamin C found in apples boosts your immune system (lowering your risk for long-term diseases) and is a great antioxidant.

Apples also pack potassium, which is necessary for cell health — watch out oranges and bananas because apples are killing it in the health department!

But one important thing to note about apples is that they’re one of the “dirty dozen” (a list of produce that almost always contains pesticides). Try to buy organic apples as often as you can to avoid ingesting any harmful traces of these pesticides.

If you’re bored of eating just a plain old apple, here’s an awesome recipe for apple crisp that you can eat for breakfast!

You’ll need:
1 small apple
A couple shakes of cinnamon
Honey (optional)
Granola

Take your small apple and dice it into small pieces. Then, add cinnamon on top and stick it in the microwave for 45 seconds. When it’s done, take it out and drizzle some honey for extra sweetness. Last, add a layer of granola to top off your deliciously crispy breakfast!

Why that cereal mascot is eyeing you

By Jacob Carter, Staff Writer
@jacobca1995

Yes, those cereal mascots are looking at you./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Mroach

Yes, those cereal mascots are looking at you./ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Mroach

A new study conducted by Cornell University proves that the placement and presentation of cereal intended for youth in grocery stores can affect product sales. According to the researchers, whether or not a child is enticed by a particular cereal is dependent on the orientation of the brand’s mascot.

Walking into a store, it’s easy to see that children’s cereal is placed on lower shelves than the adult’s. This makes sense, as the companies attempt to appeal to a younger, shorter demographic.

But the most interesting aspect of the study places focus on the angle of a mascot’s eyes on a kid’s cereal box.

The study explains that 57 of the 86 different mascots observed possessed a downward gaze of 9.67 degrees. The effect of this particular angle leads to the characters making direct eye contact with passing children.

Using this information, the researchers asked 63 people which of two boxes of cereal they would buy, one with the mascot staring straight ahead and the other with it looking down with the trademark angle. They discovered that the trust in a particular cereal is 16 percent higher if the mascot is looking down and making eye contact.

What to do with this discovery is a bit of a mystery. The study concludes by stating that if companies want to improve sales for healthy kid’s cereals, then those companies should make sure that the characters on those cereal boxes are engaging in a staring contest with potential buyers.

This isn’t out of the question, but the results of the experiment appear too slight to be taken seriously. After all, only 63 people were surveyed, and the results indicate that there was only a 16 percent increase in buyer trust. It looks like the correlation in this study is fleeting at best.

Besides, children are most heavily attracted to the sweetest of cereals. Therefore, even if kids are able to make eye contact with the jaunty sun-mascot on the Raisin Bran box, I am still inclined to think that they will lead themselves to more sugary pastures.

Indeed, the only success I can find in this study is that next time I walk down the breakfast aisle in CVS, I won’t be able to shake the feeling that I’m being watched.

Spotlight: Visit the MFA

By Stacy Schoonover, Staff Writer
@stacyscootover

Visit the MFA: it's free for college students!/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Kan Wu

Visit the MFA: it’s free for college students!/ PHOTO VIA Flickr user Kan Wu

The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston is free for college students, only a short distance from Boston University and has a lot of neat exhibits on display right now that are really worth checking out. Here are a few that can only be seen for a short time! Did I mention admission is free with your BU ID?

1. “To Boston with Love

Flags sewn in response to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings are on display in the Shapiro Family Courtyard this month. The MFA brought back the display as the one-year anniversary approaches. More than 1,700 flags were sewn with words of encouragement and thoughtful designs to show love and peace to the Boston community. These flags come from all parts of the world, and show global support for Boston.

2. “Permission to be Global

On display in the Henry and Lois Foster Gallery until July 13, “Permission to be Global” features Latin American art from the Ella Fontanals-Cisneros Collection. It shows what it means to be global today and includes paintings, photography, video and performance art.

"Think Pink" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/ PHOTO BY Rosemary Merrill Loring and Caleb Loring, Jr. Gallery of Textiles, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

“Think Pink” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston/ PHOTO BY Rosemary Merrill Loring and Caleb Loring, Jr. Gallery of Textiles, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

3. “Think Pink

“Think Pink” explores how the color pink has changed in meaning and has influenced art and fashion over time. It’s on display in the Loring Gallery until May 26. The exhibit includes dresses, men’s clothing, jewelry, accessories and paintings.

4.”Quilts and Color

In the Ann and Graham Gund Gallery until July 27, “Quilts and Color” features approximately 60 quilts of bright colors and designs. Artists Paul Pilgrim and Gerald Roy put together the collection to show the work of mid-20th century art.

With hours upon hours of exhibits to explore, be sure to check these out before they are gone! These displays can’t be seen anywhere else!

The Beauty of Dance: evolution of dance parodies

By Shivani Patel, Staff Writer
@shizupates

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have surely heard of the YouTube video “Evolution of Dance” by Judson Laipply. With over 250 million views, it has become one of the most popular videos on YouTube.

In it, Laipply imitates dance styles from the 50s all the way to the end of the 90s. Some of the hits he dances to include “Thriller,” “Walk Like An Egyptian,” “Macarena” and, of course, “Bye Bye Bye.” After the success of his video, Laipply created Evolution of Dance 2 and is currently working on Evolution of Dance 3, which is sure to include more modern tunes.

But of course, what’s a YouTube video without its parodies?

Jimmy Fallon, Tonight Show host and king of parodies, created a few parodies based on this insanely popular dance video.

His first parody of the video, “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing,” was a tribute to the most popular hip-hop dance moves over the decades. So of course he danced on stage with Will Smith.

While this version was popular, Fallon released another parody of “Evolution of Dance” that became even more popular – “Evolution of Mom Dancing” starring himself and Michelle Obama. The video is incredibly entertaining and accurate at the same time. The thought behind the video was to encourage both parents and children to get up and stay active as part of the First Lady’s campaign, “Let’s Move!

The duo started off with the “Go Shopping, Get Groceries” and “Raise the Roof.” My personal favorite is “Where’s Your Father (Get Him Back Here!)” If there’s one thing this video shows, it’s that Michelle Obama can dance.

Check out the video below:

Science Tuesday: How to get your daily dose of vitamin D

By Sanah Faroke, Staff Writer
@sanahfaroke

Sometimes, all we need is a little sun in our lives.

There’s something about the warmth caressing your face and the light that makes everything seem clearer. After a long winter it’s something we start to crave in New England and as summer approaches most people have gotten a head start on the summer clothes despite the fact that the warmest it’s been is in the high 50s.

To the girls wearing spring dresses and the guys wearing pink shorts and polos: we’re not there yet. But when we are, one the best ways to take advantage of the sun is to lie out on the grass (and soon enough it’ll look like a herd of seals took over the COM lawn).

Until it’s actually warm out, I’ve been taking vitamin D supplements every so often, along with fish oil (which apparently is great for you, however it makes my burps taste fishy). As for taking vitamin D, I’ve heard it can do wonders for helping my bones — and according to WebMD it also helps with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, skin diseases and asthma.

So I started taking vitamin D for several reasons on top of the fact that I’m tired of pulling out my asthmatic inhaler and being on Steve Urkel’s level (and I ain’t ready for that).

According to a study published last week in British Medical Journal, researchers evaluated the biases that are associated with the miraculous vitamin and found that it came short of many of our expectations. First, they tackled over 260 previous studies and papers. According to their findings, only ten of the studies lived up to the researchers standards.

According to Discover Magazine, earlier research claimed that vitamin D prevented over 137 conditions like osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, and only one study suggested that vitamin D levels in a mother’s third trimester correlated with birth weight. Other studies claimed that it was possible that vitamin D could be linked to childhood cavities and hormone levels of dialysis patients, but none of the evidence in these previous studies established actual proof.

So is it better to just take vitamin D in the hopes that it’s “good for you”?

The thing is, vitamin D deficiency is a probability and it is more common than you expect, especially for people living in the north (and even people like me who grew up in warm climates could have it too). It’s probably because we stay indoors a lot for fear of getting burned. So if you’ve become a skeptic, there are ways to get enough vitamin D, and hopefully not burn yourself to a crisp while doing it!