Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Red Cardinal. Purple Tree. White Sky.

California Baby Print Ad

Below is an executive summary designed  for an advertising class assignment:

To convince or enlighten families and mothers about the benefits/quality of organic, sustainably grown/produced products for their babies and for the whole family. Gentle enough for babies first bath, and pure enough to reduce acne in adults, California Baby needs to get this knowledge about their products out to people in metropolitan/suburban areas all across the country and Canada.  We will specifically use cute babies in the picture (because cute/baby is always a successful combinations) but we will also place a customer review in quotes  on every ad. This will do two things: 1st- Create a strong brand image (trustworthy, responsible, valuable)  and 2nd- encourage customer engagement with the California Baby brand by promoting the online review of California Baby products with the promise that each ad will use a direct customer quote from their written review.
The target audience is women, in their 20’s to 60’s who have children or care for small children or have sensitive skin themselves. These women want the best for their babies, are environmentally concerned/involved, and are also open to trendy eco-friendly products. These are the type of women who will spend the $12.95 for shampoo for their baby. Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Katie Homes and Courtney Cox are all fans of the brand, which has earned cult status in trendier Asian countries. Though this is a celebrity endorsed product—we are trying to grow nationally and want to focus on the quality of our product vs. the sensationalism of celebrity.
The campaign will only be in print. In magazines (with high gloss photos) and on billboards and other outdoor surfaces (bus and train stops, etc.). Doing this will let the consumer experience the ad on their  time—and absorb it completely.

Thought Piece on Ethics

I recently wrote a rhetorical analysis of an apologia from Rod Blagojevich after his was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years in prison on corruption charges. While researching and reading quotes from Blagojevich, I began to formulate what constitutes ethical communications to me. Below are a couple standards I hold myself accountable to in any communication, whether personal, professional, or any other situation.
I believe all persons should always try to be respectful and trustworthy in all communications. If a person does not feel respected, there is already a barrier in the line of communication. If the communicator is not trustworthy, they will never be credible or believable. I also always try to be friendly and welcoming at all times. Sometimes a situation may not call for outright friendliness. When this is not possible, I still maintain patience and respectfulness. Another respect issue that accompanies many miscommunications is learning how to listen. Listening is key to understanding, and to be an ethical and effective communicator, one must be able to listen and think before reacting.
I also always try to be as direct and sincere as possible, and appreciate the same. When faced with allegations or a potential misunderstanding, miscommunication, or outright mistake, I apologize directly and honestly and own-up to any direct actions and responsibility. I have also learned to try to avoid using apologia strategies in rhetoric, as this is always misinterpreted as not genuine, and is usually not a sincere apology.
I am confident there are other areas of ethical communication that I have overlooked. But without Googling “define ethical communication” these are the best answers I came up with on my own.

A Story of Love and Citizenship

            Marisela Portes holds her right hand over her heart as she says the pledge of allegiance. This is the first time she has made this pledge as a United States citizen.
            This special ceremony is more sacred for Portes, 64, than for many. Portes’ father, Emilio Portes Gil, was the 41st President of Mexico. Because of this Portes has great pride and patriotism toward her home country.
            “My Father, Emilio Portes Gil, was president of Mexico from 1928 to 1930,” Portes said.
“I am very fortunate that he was president during a time before Mexican presidents were thought as corrupt.”
But just like in a movie Portes fell in love, in 1963, when she was only 15-years-old to an 18-year-old American exchange student named Gary Manes.
            Everyone in Mexico City knew the president’s daughters first kiss and first boyfriend was an American man. Just like any tragic love story, Portes and Manes were forced to end their romance at the end of his study abroad program. Manes returned home to Hugoton, Kan., and Portes went to Paris, France, to study.
            Portes later returned to Mexico at the age of 20 to be married to a family friend. She went on to have two children, one son and one daughter, and now has five grandchildren.
            Portes and her first husband separated and she reunited with her old friends from childhood. She reminisced to her friends about the days when she and Manes, 67, were together, and wondered what could have been. It became a story everyone close to her knew well.
            One day, Portes got a letter from an old friend in the mail. It was Gary Manes.
            After 43 years and a whole lifetime Manes wrote to Portes telling her he had retired, never married and was looking to reconnect with her.
Portes never though this moment would come. She immediately wrote back to Manes and invited him to come visit her in Mexico City.
Manes flew out to Mexico and shortly after that he returned to his home in Muskogee, Okla., and invited Portes to come visit him for his birthday.
Portes met him in Muskogee where he took her out to a lovely dinner, introduced her to his friends and they discussed the future. Manes and Portes decided they wanted to get married and enjoy their retirement together. They each spoke to lawyers in Mexico City and Muskogee and decided it would be easier to marry in Muskogee instead of Mexico City.
In 2007 Portes returned to Muskogee to marry Hanes. With both their families present they said their “I Dos.”
After five years and two green cards, Portes finally became a United States citizen. Portes closed her eyes and tears ran down her cheeks as she recited the pledge of allegiance.
“I recited the pledge of allegiance and closed my eyes and cried,” said Portes.
The officer who watched her recite her oath also began crying. Portes said the officer told her it was the most beautiful ceremony she had seen, and the Portes’ emotion had moved her to tears.

Rod Blagojevich's Apology: Genuine or Fake?

Analysis of Apologia: Rod Blagojevich’s Courtroom Apology December 7, 2011
Rod Blagojevich is a former congressman and was then Governor of Illinois from 2003 until 2009, when he was impeached during his second term (Chicago Tribune, 2011). Blagojevich was elected on a platform of ethics reform and anti-corruption in 2003. Rod labeled the climate in Illinois as a “culture of corruption” and wanted to end the cynicism among the majority of Illinoisans (Chicago Tribune, 2011).  But beginning in June of 2004, a little more than a year since Blagojevich had been elected, a number of state and federal investigations into his administration began (Chicago Tribune, 2011). The investigation began with “allegations of wrongdoing involving state hiring, board appointments, contracting and fundraising that battered his tenure” (Chicago Tribune, 2011).
While at first Blagojevich himself was not directly in the investigative spotlight, his top adviser and fundraiser, Antoin "Tony" Rezko  and Stuart Levine, a GOP Chicagoan politico , were and had cut a deal to split profits from a state education pension fund (Chicago Tribune, 2011).  Levine was the first to be wire tapped in 2004 and investigated and was indicted in May of 2005 on corruption charges. Other state education leaders plead guilty that year to extortion scheme charges and a “federal grand jury investigation into the alleged political hiring practices of the Blagojevich administration” begins (Chicago Tribune, 2011).  By 2006, the FBI was investigating charges that over 300 jobs were awarded to applicants who applied through the ‘back door’ or other roundabout and politically connected ways. This same year, Rezko was indicted on “federal charges he sought millions of dollars in kickbacks and campaign donations from firms seeking state business” and Blagojevich’s wife, Patty, began to be investigated for a real estate scheme involving favoritism and fraud (Chicago Tribune, 2011).  
In August of 2008 Blagojevich vetoed a state anti-corruption bill, saying it wasn’t tough enough and that it needed to include more state lawmakers, including himself. To add even more irony to the situation, a Rasmussen poll done in December of 2008, showed that Blagojevich’s approval rating was at 7%, the lowest in American history for a governor (Politico, 2008). Only four months later, the FBI arrested “Blagojevich and his chief of staff at their homes on a broad array of corruption charges, including asking for favors in exchange for his selection of a replacement in the senate for President-elect Barack Obama” (Chicago Tribune, 2011). In 2009 Blagojevich was impeached, but it was not until December of 2011, after his retrial, that he was found guilty of a variety of other corruption charges, and sentenced to 14 years in prison.  Throughout the seven years of scandal, Blagojevich vehemently denied allegations and swore to fight them relentlessly. In fact, during a courtroom motion the government reminds the jury that is was Blagojevich who first brought the media attention to the investigations and that the “defendant engaged in an unprecedented national media campaign … for the purpose of influencing public opinion, and that campaign was bound to have some impact, even if it was not the impact defendant had hoped for“ (Sweeney, 2011).
By opposing the allegations and lying about his innocence for over six years, and then finally apologizing the day of his sentencing, Blagojevich invalidates his apology through the denial of all the charges in the first place. Additionally, he uses a variety of apologia strategies in his final apology on December 7, 2011, to circumvent taking responsibility for his actions and apologizing outright. This history of denial, and his ornery attitude and determination to fight are two of the largest barriers for Blagojevich to overcome, once being proven guilty. However, the fact that there were taped recordings proving his guiltiness which were readily available to the public, and the fact that he was already found guilty of multiple corruption charges, only contributed more to the barrier of making a fool of himself through his poorly thought comments prior to this apology. Blagojevich only has one small possible advantage, which is that Illinoisans already viewed Chicago politics as corrupt, and therefor may have been more desensitized since the same thing happened to their previous governor. In the following analysis I will consider how Blagojevich used a variety of apologia strategies in his final apology to the courtroom, judge, and the people of Illinois.
            In his apology on December 7, 2011, Blagojevich addresses many of the barriers he is facing. He directly admits to the judge that he was out-of-hand and immature and directly apologizes for his actions. Later on in the speech he continues to make excuses for his actions, but at the beginning does apologize directly for them. As far as the recordings go, he did not directly speak about the content, but admitted he spoke poorly for a governor. And, though he had already been found guilty, he said he agreed with the people for finding him as such.  In his apologia, Blagojevich utilizes evasion of responsibility, shifting the blame (and denial initially), transcendence, corrective action, and mortification.
            Blagojevich’s use of making his good intentions known only served as a way to evade responsibility for his actions. If having good intentions qualifies as a blame shifter, Blagojevich has plenty of these. In his apology Blagojevich says, “I honestly believe, let me withdraw that…I-I never set out to break the law. I never set out to cross the line” (Lara, 2011).  Blagojevich wants to make sure everyone knows, even in his final media hour, that his intentions were pure of heart. He continues in his apology to say “it was always my intention, back in 2008, to try to see if I could do those things on the right side of the line. I thought they were permissible and I was mistaken and a jury convicted me” (Lara, 2011). The most interesting this about this statement is that he is not apologizing for what the jury convicted him of. Instead, he insists he tried to do things legally in 2008. This brings up many questions of Blagojevich’s ethos, since court documents had proven that Blagojevich was involved in wrongdoings since at least 2006, and most likely aware of there being done as early as 2003. While reporters who heard the apology said it was an unusually meek tone for the usually boisterous governor to use, the sentence still shows his true character, and that if he could not do things “on the right side of the line,” he would continue his plan regardless of where his actions may fall ethically and legally. It could also be argued that Blagojevich’s reference to his amateur boxing career could be considered a tool of provocation. When he says “I’m accustomed to fighting back, and I did, and it was inappropriate,” he indirectly blames his actions (lashing out and vowing to fight), on his experience as a boxer, and argued that it was in his nature (Lara, 2011).  
            While the boxing reference could be provocation, it could also be likened closely to flat-out denial. “I have a tendency sometimes to speak before I think,” is Blagojevich’s first statement to the judge in his apology (Lara, 2011). At this point, he begins to not shift the blame on others, but to shift the blame onto a poor personality trait of his own that is part of his nature. Him likening his behavior to his attitude as a boxer is also a way to shift the blame, or deny direct guilt.  He does eventually admit his wrongdoing, but not until he has already shifted to cause of his actions to his defensive nature.
Blagojevich’s “good intentions” also got him into trouble because he tried to use them to minimize the severity of the allegations against him. Blagojevich’s apologia also used the mortification strategy. He responded through aggression due to shame and humiliation. Denial and a commitment to fight are typical behaviors of mortification. Blagojevich also adds insult to injury because at this time, over 84% of Illinois voters said he should resign prior to being found guilty. (Rasmussen Reports, 2011).
            Since this apology, Blagojevich has been sentenced to 14 years in prison and is currently serving that time. His predecessor is also still in prison as well. Though Blagojevich spent a tremendous amount of energy and time working to clear his name, his undeniable guilt could not be avoided. While he said he was sorry, he never profusely apologized for breaking the law. In fact, his “sorry” only served to make the reader think he was sorry for being caught.
            Blagojevich’s advantage was so small, and based on a general desensitization to corruption, that he was not able to effectively overcome the overwhelming amount of barriers in this situation. Since he lacked evidence, he relied solely on his pathos and ethos, which were not well thought-out or credible.
            Blagojevich could have taken this opportunity to confess his wrongdoing opening, and to sincerely and deeply apologize for breaking the law repeatedly and being unethical. Instead, he continued to use the same strategies and practices that he was familiar with.           

Works Cited

Chicago Tribune. (2011, May 31). Blagojevich Impeached: Timeline of the Blagojevich investigation. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-investigation-timeline-1208,0,2680294.story
Lara, B. I. (2011, December 7). Transcript of remarks by Rod Blagojevich and Judge James Zagel at sentencing. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-blago-zagel-transcript-sentencing-20111209-pdf,0,663171.htmlpage
Pew Research Center For The People And The Press. (2008, December 18). Blagojevich Arrest Grabs Public Attention. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from Pew Research: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1060/blagojevich-arrest-grabs-public-attention
Politico. (2008, December 11). Blagojevich's Approval Rating at 7 Percent. Retrieved October 16, 2012, from Politico: http://www.politico.com/blogs/scorecard/1208/Blagojevichs_approval_rating_at_7_percent.html
Project For Excellence In Journalism. (2008, December 16). Blagojevich Framed as Obama's First Crisis. Retrieved October 2010, 2012, from Pew Research Center: http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1056/blagojevich-framed-as-obamas-first-crisis
Rasmussen Reports. (2011, December 11). 84% of Illinois Voters Say Blagojevich Should Resign. Retrieved October 15, 2012, from Rasmussen Reports: http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/december_2008/84_of_illinois_voters_say_blagojevich_should_resign
Sweeney, A. (2011, August 23). Blagojevich prosecutors deny allegations of bias. Retrieved October 10, 2012, from Chicago Tribune: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/chi-blagojevich-prosecutors-deny-allegations-of-bias-20110823,0,2667746.story