American Horror Story Season Rankings 2018

Wow… My Apple watch just told me I needed to calm down about 5 times in one hour. I can say that American Horror Story Season 8 was a thrilling success. In lieu of a full review of the season, pending my rewatch I will give my initial rankings on the seasons, and as a bonus my rankings on the finales:

Season Ranking:

  1. Asylum

  2. Coven

  3. Apocalypse

  4. Hotel

  5. Murder House

  6. Cult

  7. Roanoke

  8. Freakshow

Finale Ranking:

  1. Apocalypse

  2. Hotel

  3. Asylum

  4. Coven

  5. Murder House

  6. Cult

  7. Freakshow

  8. Roanoke

Debate in the comments!

Leave my parody alone.

When looking at copyright laws it is important to understand how and when it is appropriate for a brand or corporation to take action against violators of the brand or trademark. Often times brands seek to control all messaging that comes from them. While this is important  to control the messages people are creating about your brand, it’s not always the best choice to completely shut down a rogue Twitter account or blog postings. Customer relations are becoming increasingly social when it comes to how companies are able to respond and interact with consumers. Earlier this semester there was an incident with an apartment complex in Denton called The Grove. To give a brief overview; several residents were standing on a balcony that collapsed. As a response to this residents of Denton and students at the University of North Texas began to respond and comment on the event on The Grove’s official Facebook page and via Twitter. The Grove’s response was to simply shut those outlets completely down--a form of censorship.

Due to the actions of The Grove, the community was outraged at the fact that they didn’t take the opportunity to actually converse with the enraged students. Essentially their censorship of these comments led to even more negative feedback and severely damaged the reputation and credibility of the apartment complex. Though it was completely within the rights of The Grove to do so, the action ended up causing more harm than good.

A better solution for brands who are dealing with social media commentary by their consumers is to actually work with them. At the end of the day the consumer is the ultimate representation of a brand, and by addressing their grievances instead of censoring them, a lot more can be accomplished to increase brand loyalty.

One way that this has  been addressed is through companies that have seen parody accounts arise that mock the brands. The most well known instance of this is the fake BP twitter account @BPGlobalPR. This account was created as a mockery of the BP oil spill and contained some outrageous Tweets that were not representative of what the company wanted.

Due to copyright laws and the terms of service Twitter has in place BP probably could have gotten the account terminated and removed, however, they chose not to do so. A BP spokesman told the Wall Street Journal “"It’s a shame, but obviously people are entitled to their views.” In my opinion this was a good move on behalf of BP. Though they had the right to take action against this account, they were already facing negative publicity, and attacking a rogue consumer would only have brought more negative backlash from consumers.

A similar social media parody situations have occurred within public universities including UNT. Earlier this Fall a parody Twitter by the name of @OfficialUNT sprung up and tweeted some pretty humorous satire about our beloved university. According to an OpEd piece published in the NTDaily by UCRM, UNT’s marketing arm, they decided that the best course of action would be to reach out to this fake account before taking actions to have them shut down.

As a result of this @OfficialUNT changed their Twitter handle to @unOFFICIALUNT. According to UCRM “in the spirit of education and practicing ‘social good,’ [they] choose collaboration over dictation.” I believe this is the way that every company should act in this way. As a result of this the rogue Twitter account is still allowed to operate and give the UNT brand a more human characteristic than official communication channels might bring.

Another article in the NTDaily said that “Through it all, their hubris and parody of Denton, its schools, and its people give off a roundabout endearing quality, reminding their followers that we can laugh about Denton because we love Denton.”

It is clear to viewers that this account is not associated with any official university communication, however it still serves to bring awareness of the brand in a unique way. Tweets like “Don’t forget: Every Friday is Pride Day. Wear red to support the winning team! #untcares,” bring awareness to certain university events that otherwise would might not reach everyone. The Tweets also give the university administration a good idea of what issues are relevant to the students.

Similar fake Twitters have been popping up at several universities and the response by most has been quite similar. At the University of Georgia several of these fake accounts have popped up. Some of them have been shut down because they weren’t clearly parody,  others have been allowed to exist.

Kate Burkholder, the Assistant Director of Sports Communications and Social Media, said “I don’t necessarily think there’s much cause to worry, because they say they are fake accounts. But we will continue to monitor them.” What she has to say is true. There is not a real need to police these accounts, however it is important to strengthen the brand sponsored accounts so that the consumer will know what to believe and not believe. Georgia has done so by adding “the official account of [Coach X].” to it’s official coach accounts.

While it is ok to let fake accounts operate, it is equally important to respond to them as to avoid any market confusion. In a media landscape where brand identities are social in nature, it is important to respond with caution. The immediate citation of copyright and trademark laws, and use of censorship has the potential to damage the brand much more than it originally was damaged.

I'll volverize it.

The Code of Ethics . . . If you’re a Fortune 500 company you probably have one and spend a few hours a quarter reviewing them and clicking an “I affirm” button on a computer screen. It seems like a waste of time to most people, if you work for a successful company one would hope that you have a decent personal set of ethics. In my opinion the codes of ethics in advertising and public relations exist to appease the consumer more than they exist to guide the practitioner. Why do I say this? Well, let’s take a look at the “Principles and Practices for Advertising Ethics,” the code of ethics released by the American Advertising Federation. The preamble of this document states that is was created due to “revelations of wrongdoing in particular industries and government programs resulting in an erosion of public confidence and trust in all our institutions.” Translation: people have been blowing the whistle on companies we represent and because of that we want to make sure we are acting ethical. The blame may be the fault of the company at the end of the day, not always the advertiser, because of this, it is part of our responsibility to use our judgment in what is reasonable and what is not when it comes to the ethics of an ad we create.

People like to play the whistleblower because it’s easier to file a lawsuit than it is to think for yourself these days. The AAF code of ethics stresses that it is important to avoid the deception of consumer, and was created out of reactions to consumers feeling they had been completely deceived by advertisements. To be honest I think a lot of this comes out of this modern day American sentiment for people to not want to think for themselves, and place the blame somewhere else.

All of the principles of the AAF code of ethics are centered around making it completely clear to a customer that they are being shown an advertisement. I think the industry does a pretty good job of doing that. Ads show up at specific times on television along with another block of advertisements, and in print and online the company logo is clearly defined. It’s made very clear to adult consumers that they are being advertised to, and if the product is shown in use they always noted that this is “a dramatization,” or that “results may vary.” Any adult with a brain can distinguish that the talking dust in a Swiffer commercial isn’t representative of what dust is really like.

This brings me to the fifth principle of the AAF Code, “advertisers should treat consumers fairly based on the nature of the audience.” To be honest I don’t think it’s fair to treat an adult like they have no brain and spoon feed every little bit of information about a product to them in 30 seconds or less. If that’s what they want us to do then we may as well hire Morgan Freeman to sit and read patent information instead of creating advertisements for our clients.

The entire point of an advertisement is to drive home a particular feature or benefit of the product being advertised. People often criticize Volvo for its campaign that showed one of their cars being rolled over by a monster truck and surviving. The FTC did come in an require that Volvo pull these ads after the public criticized them for not being 100 percent accurate.

My question to these people is: when are you going to be in a situation where a monster truck is going to run you over anyway? The point of the advertisement was to drive home the fact that they are safer than other cars, and it does drive home this fact The true fact of the matter is that you are probably safer in a Volvo than a similar car if a monster truck decides to roll over rush hour traffic.

Personally I think that this particular ad is an example of how AAF members still treat their consumers fairly based on the nature of the audience. If this ad was aired on children’s network it may not be fair, but it wasn’t. The day a 22-year-old man gets checked into an emergency room because his Volvo didn’t protect him from that jerk in the monster truck, is the day I will give that FTC lawsuit any merit.

The key to the AAF code of ethics is to be careful about what you say to your consumers, make sure that they know it is an ad, and let them make decisions on their own. Products may not always preform exactly as they appear in a ad, but the consumer has a brain and in the modern age we can research reviews of a product before they buy them. We no longer live in the 60’s where we have to rely simply on ads for product information. Ads illustrate the features in a creative visual way to make our lives a little easier, but they aren’t the end-all for sources of product information.

I think Chris Moore of Ogilvy put it best, “for a company trying to sell something, an ad is like getting a job interview with millions of people all at once. The ad wants to make a good first impression and really, really doesn't want to make people mad. But different people react differently.” The advertising code of ethics actually defends our right to make the best first impression for our clients. It was created as a response to this this outcry by the public that all advertisers are liars . . . We aren’t; we represent the first impression of the brands, so we have to leave out some of the nitty gritty. It’s like going on a first date-- are you really going to let your date know about your hamster collection on the first night?

Thoughts on 9/11.

It’s September 11, 2011. Ten years ago I was only 12. I remember how I found out; we were sitting in my 7th grade science class and there was a rumor going around that the twin towers had been hit by a plane. “What are the twin towers?” I wondered. “Is this a joke?”  In third period there was an announcement, the towers indeed had been struck, not by one, but by two planes. I think the biggest emotion I felt was confusion. “Was this real? Who is Al Queda? I thought Muslims were good.” To be completely honest I am not sure my young mind completely grasped the gravity of the situation. In fact, I still don’t think I do.

Perhaps it is because, half of my life our country has been at War. The important half too. . . The half where I began to form my own opinions, think critically, and be shaped into the person I am today. A part of me feels guilty for not feeling as bad as some people do today. I wasn’t interested in any of the memorial events this week; I didn’t donate to any memorial funds.  Yes I recognize the gravity of the situation, but I can’t really feel much pain from it.

I truly believe a lot of it has to do with growing up in an age where everything is right in your face. In Vietnam they had television coverage of the war yes, but now we have it being blasted at us from 20 million sources in 20 million ways. In order to cope I a lot of us have become desensitized to things of that nature, because we now see it every day; another bomb killed 20, a story on a family left behind, all of this negativity has been broadcast straight into our lives for years. The only way some of us can deal with it is to develop a sort of apathy barrier. It’s not that I don’t care, but in order to keep our sanity we have to ignore the gravity of it at times, if not we become paralyzed with fear.

Another factor plays into this apathy of our generation is the fact that we see so much of it from a screen. The screen helps us believe it’s not real; the screen lets it be ok for us to not feel. We don’t have to face the families that were affected; we simply can watch them from the outside, as if it was some soap opera. I’m sure if I met a victim’s family or talked to one of the firefighters or officers that were there I could actually feel the gravity of everything, I am not cold hearted, just desensitized.

Perhaps I have just been able to move on faster than most. You can't change the past, but you can always look ahead to the future. I look forward to a future that is free of war, free of hunger, and full of joy. I see what has been as a lesson, but not something to sit and wallow in.

I know this post is a little off color and not what you would expect. I do want to hear from others. Am I the only one that feels this way or are there others? I do ask that you be respectful. I’m simply being honest with how I feel.

Thoughts on a bunch of Angus bullshit.

People often criticize advertisers for selling people things they don’t need. I completely agree that most advertisements do sell people things that they do not need, however I don’t believe that this is unethical or wrong. Chris Moore of Ogilvy and Mather says that calling this idea unethical,  “presupposes that we shouldn't have the things we don't need but want anyway.” No one needs modern art to fill their walls; no one needs a bottle of water when their office lunchroom has a drinking fountain, no one needs a car that parallel parks itself— unless you are me and parallel parking is a matter of public safety. We don’t need these things but we still buy them. What advertising does is build a relationship between the consumers and the products that they want; this is why a good company must strive to be ethical in its consumer’s eyes. Consumers will not give their money to a company who violates their own personal set of ethics.

Advertisers seek to build a relationship with their consumers, because many of their products are unneeded. To establish a relationship with someone requires ethical behavior, however advertisements should be seen as the “first date” with a new product. Advertisements are often the first impression someone has of a product or company, though you wouldn’t flat-out lie to someone on a first date and tell them you drive a Ferrari, but you might also keep the fact that your feet smell from them. Is this ethical? Yes, but only if the company assumes that eventually the consumer will develop a better relationship with the product once they purchase it. Eventually the truth will come out, and if the advertiser does their job correctly they wont emphasize a product attribute that is blatantly untrue or false. Doing so would ruin their relationship with the consumer and lead to lost revenue.

There is a new trend in the fast food industry to bring attention to their angus beef products.  According to this blog, Angus beef is not much different than the beef they already used. In fact angus cattle are the most common type of cattle raised in the united states. Is this ethical? McDonalds and other fast food chains aren't participating in what would be considered false advertisement, the product they advertise is exactly what they are selling, people just precieve it to be better because it's not just plain old beef. [youtube] Normally I would say that this type of tactic is unethical, but I believe in order to really determine if an action is unethical you must also look at the company's relationship with its consumer. McDonalds is so heavily regulated that it has to post nutrition facts in all restaurants, if customers choose not to use them it's their own fault. Sure the burgers cost more, but the also come with additional ingredients not included on their standard patties which does set them apart and allow them to be considered a premium burger, after all it is “a little bit fancy” to put BBQ sauce and Swiss cheese on a McDonalds burger.

At the end of the day the McDonalds makes no claims that it is a healthy choice, and their customers know that, and government regulations in this case have forced full disclosure by McDonalds. If this offends health nuts, it shouldn't matter because they aren't going to be consumers of McDonalds products. The consumer believing that a Mushroom and Swiss Angus Burger is healthier than a Big Mac is similar to my first date scenario —if Joe Suave tells you he runs three times a day but weighs 300 pounds, he may run three times, but not very far— the facts are right there in front of them, if they chose to ignore them it's their own fault.

I believe that it is important to create a code of ethics for a business, but that code of ethics can varry from company to company. This makes it that much more important to establish a standard of practice so that everyone is on the same page when making business decisions. If Kashi or Whole Foods may not act the same way as McDonalds does, does that make McDonalds unethical? No. It just means the core values written in their code of ethics may be different. It is also a reason why a companies code of ethics should change and be rewritten as their relationship with the consumer changes because consumer morals and values will change over time. If a large amount of patrons oppose an action made by a company, in order to stay profitable that company should react and make a change to their practices which begins at their code of ethics.

Just like a relationship; when your wife starts a diet, don't bring her chocolates. She doesn't want them, and you’ll end up on the couch. If she loves chocolates keep bringing them and you'll be with her for 40 years. Doing what's right for your target market is what I base my business ethics on.