Too old for Halloween

Hey everyone,

So Halloween just ended (you may have noticed from the sudden flood of Christmas products today), and it really made me miss the old days when I used to go trick or treating.

If you know my backstory, you’ll know that I was in Hong Kong for five of my teenage years, which meant I missed out on five years of free candy since trick or treating was not recognized in HK. If you knocked on someone’s door on October 31st there, pestering them for candy, you may get rewarded with your very own restraining order.

It’s not just the candy that I miss. I have always loved dressing up as someone/something else. I remember one of my first costumes was Sailor Moon. After that, I kept finding excuses to wear costumes. I discovered cosplaying, which was an outlet, but what’s so special about Halloween is that everyone can be in costume! Every year, I get my mom to make me a costume (she loves designing them), but sadly, I don’t have much reason to wear them. Unless I choose to go to a party.

A quick picture I snapped with my friend before the party. I was Mulan for the night!

A quick picture I snapped with my friend before the party. I was Mulan for the night!

Parties aren’t always my thing, but it’s one of the few ways someone my age can wear a costume. Last year, I chose not to go, so I missed out on dressing up. I chose to party this year, and while I didn’t really enjoy the partying bit, I was in costume. I guess you win some, and you lose some.

But what I’ve noticed is that at parties and on campus, very few people actually care about their costumes. Put on a pair of bunny or cat ears, and voila, costume completed. On Halloween day, I didn’t have the guts to wear a costume to school. I did in my first year, but it was quite embarrassing since no one else dressed up. But I saw a few people walking around with costumes this year, and it made me super happy. Huge props to them for being brave and throwing on a costume! It really takes more guts than you would think. I sincerely hope that they had a wonderful time being someone else for a day, and I could only wish that I had their courage. My blog gets a lot less traffic than UBC Compliments’ Facebook page, so I also posted something similar to what I said above there. Hopefully, my message reaches the people who dressed up!

So how was your Halloween?

– Karen

Marketing Post #3: A New Beginning for Research In Mo– I mean, Blackberry.

With the new Blackberry Z10 released on February 5th in Canada, many realized that the new product was not the only new thing the market would have to get used to. Research in Motion has officially changed their name to Blackberry— the name that almost everyone associates with their company in the first place.

Within the marketing mix, it is obvious that Blackberry hopes to touch on its “promotion”aspect. With the wide variety of smartphones out there in the market, it has become evident that the promotion of the product has become essential to its success. Taking a look at the famous Apple product launches and the sleek ads displaying their new releases, the hype it brings up as well as sales it generates thereafter seems to be a recipe for success. Blackberry must learn to convince the wary public that despite the hiccups they have experienced in the past year, their new phones are just as good– or even better– than the leading alternatives out there. Of course, facing both Apple and Samsung– the two major leaders currently in the smartphone market– might almost be impossible, but the rebranding of the company may be one of the best first steps.

So what exactly is Blackberry trying to rebrand themselves as? I believe it is mostly to unite their company and products under a single name. Although RIM has been recognized in Canada and North America, many around the world do not see the link between RIM and its products, mistakenly referring to the company as simply Blackberry. By changing their name, it allows them to capitalize on something that they have already established: devices that provides security and an excellent user experience.

My classmate Winnie Li also points out that the name change may also be to associate themselves as a good phone for the public consumer market, and not just businesses and government organizations. I think this will be an interesting switch in their target market, and I too am interested to see how the public will react to the new marketing strategies Blackberry will be throwing out.

Blackberry’s CMO explains their name change


Marketing Post #2: People Are Dying, It’s Time for Shopping!

Many companies know that in order to have successfully promote your products, you need to seize opportunities. So when Hurricane Sandy wrecked havoc across the US, American Apparel leapt at the opportunity and chose to use one of the sure-fire channels of communication to reach their customers: the internet.

What exactly was American Apparel trying to communicate across? No, it had nothing to do with using the disaster to boost their image by urging people to donate to a relief fund, as many other companies jumped to do. Instead, they offered those who were stuck at home and ‘bored’ to discount codes for their online website.

The ad was met with criticism, and outrage from the public, especially when the death toll was climbing higher every hour during the hurricane. However, not only did American Apparel not apologize for their campaign, they went on to explain that it is “expensive to run a Made in USA brand like American Apparel,” so they were trying to make up for lost revenue.

They may have nailed it by getting an ad campaign up as soon as possible, seizing the situational opportunities of the hurricane, but in hindsight, did they really believe no one was going to get offended? The identified their target audience as those who were forced to stay home for safety reasons, but overlooked the fact that the US as a whole was panicking.

Another company who tried to make use of situational opportunities includes GAP. They chose to make a short tweet offering their concern for victims, but quickly moved on to promoting themselves not unlike what American Apparel did. However, they quickly tweeted an clarification to atone for their actions, which is more than can be said for in American Apparel’s case.

All the same, something can definitely be learned here. Sure, it is important to make use of any opportunities that come your way, but from what direction should you approach it?

Ye Olde Comic Book Shoppe – The Fall of Print Publishing

The ABC Book & Comic Emporium – GO VISIT THEM BEFORE THEY CLOSE! EVERYTHING IS ON SALE! You have until the 31st of November.

I was going down to Broadway for lunch with my mom, and she had to leave early. So I decided to go visit the comic book store on Broadway and Granville. When I got there, my heart sunk. Emblazoned on its store front was “Sale- Going out of business”. I cannot say I have been a regular customer at this comic book store, but I have been there every once in a while. It all started around two years ago when my friends and I came back from a movie and decided to venture into the store. Inside we found cheap comic books, as well as a huge variety of other books, magazines, DVDs and some novelty items. It was mostly a second hand book store, but they have a section of new comic books too. I have always thought that it was a nice place and would visit now and then on my way home from UBC.

I actually felt like crying when I walked in, realizing that these walls of books and boxes of comics were to be moved, sold or god knows what else is going to happen to them. I talked to the owner, an older fellow (maybe in his early sixties?), who I have seen every time I visited them. He was always the one who was by the cash register, ready to answer any questions on their selection, or general questions such as what a “variant edition” of a comic book meant. He told me he will try to find someone to buy the store (I am assuming their name and their inventory), and he assumes that if someone does buy it, they will move it to a cheaper location. Rent was around $9000 a month, which made me wonder if they even raked in $9000 in revenue a month. They probably relied on the small sector of ever-diminishing regular customers that they have built up over the years.

For me, I have always loved reading comics. It probably started with my mom borrowing Garfield comics for me at the local library when I was young, then moving into an Archie and Friends phase. More recently, I have been quite into Marvel and have looked into DC. That is why I visited them today. However, it is really sad that the ABC Comic Emporium is closing.

It is not just comics. They have old issues of magazines, really neat looking old novels, as well as new stuff too. You can easily find a second hand hardcover copy of Brisingr by Christopher Paolini on sale for $15. I also saw in their glass cabinet a Game of Thrones, first edition, first print version selling for $80 ish, but now reduced to half. This place was special and had character. You look over to Chapters across the street from them and you can already guess what you will find inside the two storey, glass enclosed building. However, walking into ABC, you have no idea what you will discover!

It is such a shame that print comics and books are being replaced in the modern world. There will always be people who insist that the feel of holding a good, physical book is much better than an e-reader. I am one of those people. However, that did not stop me from turning to my iPad. It is very handy having a bunch of books stored in this simple and small tablet. I used to bring 3-4 books with me on vacations. Now, I can carry a small collection with me, without taking up half my suitcase.

If you have never been, or have not been for a while, I highly suggest giving the ABC Book & Comic Emporium a visit before they close down. You just may end up buying something you never knew you wanted! Say hello to the owner for me! Let him know there is people out there who will miss him and his store. 🙂

– Karen

A New School Year

“The liver made me leave home,” Scott says explaining how he dreaded having to eat liver as a young boy. We all laughed. “No, seriously.”

And that is my COMM 290 (Introduction to Quantitative Decision Making) professor. He really does remind me of my Financial Accounting professor, whose class I took during summer. They are both charismatic and able to capture the attention of their students. I really like learning about Microsoft Excel in COMM 290, because to me, Excel had always been just a cool place to put numbers in little neat boxes. Now I get to go beyond that and learn useful new skills! However, I have heard that this course gets quite hard, especially when it comes to is final exam, which makes me like this course less.

It has been almost a month since school has started. I am pretty satisfied with all my professors and I am happy with the way I organized my timetable. I definitely learned a lot from last year! I am excited to have an excuse to write this term, since I am the Editor-in-Chief of our faculty’s newspaper, The Cavalier, as well as being in a creative writing course. Our professor, Steven Galloway, is quite interesting. For all you Canadians out there, you may have read his books? Want a quote from him? Well you will get one anyway.

             “You can write about anything you want! Except unicorns. I hate unicorns.Steven Galloway

At first I had no idea how one could give lectures in Creative Writing. I mean, do you not just write whatever comes to you and go where your creativity brings you? I was quite curious as I sat down for my first lecture. Going through the course outline made me realize our professor was there as a guide, to let us know how we can get started. The syllabus also revealed that we were going to touch on different forms of writing. It is an interesting class, and I quite enjoy it. I really like the way how Steven tries not to constrict or influence us too much, and keeps things vague so that we can take our own paths in our writing. However, I am also quite nervous as our first assignment is coming up. My writing definitely feels rusty and lacklustre at the moment.

On to my not so favoured classes. Or rather class, because I really just quite dislike this one class: Managerial Economics. I am pretty bad at economics, and was pretty proud that I was able to get through first year. What makes this economics class extra horrible? Well, it is a mix of calculus and economics. Great. I am pretty sure there is nothing I hate more in this world than math. Also, the textbook is filled with little errors, such as referencing the wrong example in its text. You can eventually work out what they meant to say, but it is quite distracting. (Plus, I spent almost $100 on that textbook, so having it properly edited before they printed it would have made me less frustrated.) Sadly, it is a require course, so I have to take it. Hopefully I survive with a decent mark, seeing as how I need a fairly good average to choose my major next year.

Well that is my quick update! Hope you are all doing well, and that those of you who are also settling into the new school year are on track! If not, get it together! Midterm month is coming.

Wonder how many more of these sunny days we will get at UBC