Did you notice the boys in this classroom?

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In November of 2015, a YouTube video by Japanese personal care and beauty company, Shiseido, went viral.

The video depicted a classroom of female Japanese students as the camera panned across the room and focused in on the girls, only pausing to zoom in on a book in the last girl’s hands. The page reads, “did you notice the boys in this classroom?” Pulling back, the camera pans across the screen again, this time sped up, revealing teams of makeup artists and hair stylists returning the girls to their natural state: male. Wigs are un-pinned, makeup is un-applied, wall dressings re-hung, and books are re-opened onto the desks around the boys. The video ends with a smirk from the now-male teacher entering the room.

Director, Show Yanagisawa, and Creative Director, Masato Kosukegawa, set out to demonstrate the power of Shiseido’s products, and they did so with a captivating element of surprise. The video is also just plain cool, appealing to young men and women, as well as the LGBTQ audience among young people and specifically students.

Founded in 1872, Shiseido is a 144 year old multinational company specializing in skin care, hair care, cosmetics, and fragrance with over $105 million in revenue and over 33,000 employees. Despite its presence as such an established company producing high revenue and representing a significant number of employees, which historically can slow a company down, Shiseido remains flexible and innovative. On Shiseido Group’s corporate Shiseido at a Glance page, the company identifies its longterm vision as becoming a “multicultural company,”  “filled with energy” and “overflowing with youthfulness.” With this video, Shiseido takes a step towards that goal by pushing the boundaries of marketing and promising to represent today’s society.

And Shiseido isn’t the only company pledging to represent society and promote equality. Other brands challenging gender stereotypes today like Brawny (#StrengthHasNoGender) and Always (#LikeAGirl), will soon be joined by the Unilever lineup. The company recently announced an addition to their Sustainable Living Plan, which aims to ensure gender equality and promote female empowerment among its brands. Many stakeholders may argue that a company’s obligation is to its financial stability and long-term profit. However, Unilever operates according to the philosophy that promoting health and equality and operating sustainably is of crucial importance to creating long-term profit. Even formal studies have concluded that when advertisers create and perpetuate gender stereotypes, they harm gender equality and society at large (Opplinger, 2007).

At a panel event at the Festival of Marketing on October 5, 2016, Aline Santos, SVP of Global Marketing at Unilever, stated, “If we unstereotype women we might be stereotyping men, and that is something we don’t want to do. It’s about unstereotyping people [and] not just defining [them] by gender.” So on that note, I personally applaud Shiseido for their dedication to representing global society and cultural change, while also pointing out that the boys are surrounded by open books, wall hangings, and a guitar, while the girls are simply posed, lounging in a bare, white-walled classroom.


Chahal, M. (2016, November 04). Gender stereotyping is about people not just women. Retrieved February 06, 2017, from https://www.marketingweek.com/2016/10/05/unilever-gender-stereotyping-is-about-people-not-just-about-women/

Oppliger, P. Effects of gender stereotyping on socialization. In: Preiss RW, Gayle BM, Burrell N, Allen M, Bryant J, editors. Mass media effects research: Advances through meta-analysis.Mahway: Lawrence Erlbaum; 2007. pp. 199–214.

Shiseido Co., Ltd. (n.d.). Shiseido at a Glance. Retrieved February 08, 2017, from https://www.shiseidogroup.com/company/glance/?rt_bt=top-whoweare_003

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Airbnb’s Aggressive International Expansion

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Airbnb, a home sharing two-sided online platform, is shaking up the hotel industry and rapidly expanding internationally. Airbnb is one of the many new platform-based companies that have harnessed the power of online communities to drive international growth. As an online platform that pairs consumers with homeowners looking to rent their spaces, Airbnb has been able to enter foreign markets with relatively little investment, since the company does not own the properties that are listed for rent on the site. After its founding in San Francisco in 2008, Airbnb has grown exponentially, with “hosts in more than 35,000 cities and 191 countries. The amount of total guests using Airbnb has surpassed 60 million in 2015” (Mylotrade, 2016). Airbnb now has international offices in Spain, Germany, China, Ireland, England, Italy, India, France, Brazil, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Canada, and in several strategic locations within the United States. Their famous tag line, “Don’t Go There. Live There.” has targeted the millennial generation, encouraging travelers to truly experience cities by “living there” in a local’s accommodations, as opposed to staying in an expensive cookie-cutter, standardized hotel room.

An Airbnb listing in Paris, France
An Airbnb listing in Paris, France

Airbnb has created a new way to travel and experience a foreign destination while allowing customers from different market segments to choose their price limits and preferred level of privacy. Savvy Airbnb travelers can book anything from a budget-friendly shared rooms to luxurious private homes or even medieval castles!

Airbnb’s popularity has grown enormously since its founding in 2008. Its two-sided online platform benefits both the homeowners and the renters, providing Bed and Breakfast owners the ability to reach a huge amount of potential customers while supplying unique lodging options for customers with many different specifications. Airbnb’s ability to serve both sides of their online community has attracted more and more buyers and sellers over the years. The Airbnb online platform has benefited greatly from a “network effect”, since the service Airbnb provides increases in value for customers on each of the two sides of the platform as more people join the community. This growing popularity, and the profits earned through fees charged to customers who book through the site, have enabled Airbnb to enter emerging markets and create a global presence. One such market is the newly opened country of Cuba. As discussed in Mylo Trade’s article, Airbnb “continues to expand aggressively into new foreign markets: when Cuba became more open to American businesses last December, Airbnb jumped in. Airbnb already has more than 1,000 listings in Cuba” (Mylotrade, 2016). Michael Weissenstein’s article with the Business Insider stated that Airbnb’s international expansion to Cuba was “the most significant U.S. business expansion on the island since the declaration of detente between the two countries” (Weissenstein, 2015). Airbnb’s rapid international expansion and growing global community is a testament to the power of online platforms in the modern marketplace.

Airbnb expands to Cuba
Airbnb expands to Cuba

The internet’s growing influence through social media and online communities has fueled a rapid globalization of international markets. As the popularity of platforms such as Airbnb increases, worldwide markets will continue to unify into one global competitive market, and the international expansion strategies of existing competitors will be forced to evolve.




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Expanding Globally- developed or developing?

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With great risk comes great reward, but when millions of dollars are on the line relying on the success of a product in a new global market… How much risk should you take? When entering into a developing nation like Africa there is political instability, along with a lack of infrastructure and other things you wouldn’t worry about in a developed nation. This can be especially problematic for food producers because of food safety reasons. How is the food going to be inspected? What if there is lack of refrigeration or proper storage? All this has to be built and adds costs, and adding costs increases the risk.  However the buying power of African consumers is growing and there is great potential for profit. As markets in developed nations become saturated, riskier markets need to be entered but not without careful consideration and proper marketing. According to the article, “83% of African consumers are aware of television advertising, but only 19% are aware of online advertising.” This means the normal social media, and other digital tactics used for marketing in developed nations won’t work here.

For a firm to be successful in introducing a new product in Africa I feel the following needs to be considered:

The product needs to show flavor for local tastes.

The safety of the workers and consumers should be the #1 priority, this can also work to the firm’s advantage because Africans are willing to pay more for companies that advertise social responsibility

The firm needs to show interest and investment in being sustainable for the long term

Proper advertising through visual in store displays and more personal interactions rather than TV and digital advertising, since a lot of Africans are limited to TV and internet.

The firm that is socially responsible, as well as innovative is going to be successful in a developing nation. As resources and land become more scarce, taking these steps in global expansion and sustainability is necessary to feed the world. My hope is that firms will continue to be innovative and more responsible to focus on the long term growth and health of society, and developing nations are often rich in untapped resources. The risk is worth the reward here.

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The Marketing Strategy behind Building a Personal Brand at home and abroad

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Youtubers today cannot be ignored due to their ability to market themselves- they are becoming celebrities just by posting videos of their everyday lives online. American youtube personalities like Jenna Marbles, Michele Phan, Bethany Mota, Blair and Elle Fowler are entering mainstream media and pulling in 6 and close to 7 figures per year in youtube advertising revenue. They are known for their quirky videos and sharing their personal stories on the internet, but most of all- building their brand. In truth, the revenue not only comes from Youtube, but selling personally branded items on the side, such as Jenna Marbles’ plush dogs to resemble her two dogs in real life, Michele Phan’s Ipsy online store subscription service, or Elle and Blair’s store Glitzyglam. But in reality, the marketing machine behind Youtubers in other countries like the UK is much bigger. The highest subscribed user on Youtube Pewdiepie or Felix Kjellberg, has over 32 million subscribers, just because he plays video games and posts videos of himself playing and commenting in real time. Other users like Zoella, Alfie, and Sprinkleofglitter, easily pull in six figures with their book releases and branded items like Beauty lines. How do they garner so many fans when most people over 35 don’t even use Youtube? 

beth Bethany Mota, who is currently on Dancing with the Stars


 Jenna Marbles, who loves poking fun at everyone and everything


 Beauty guru Zoella with her new book

Youtubers are powerful marketers because of one thing: realism or the appearance of it. Even if everything is filmed on a soundstage, the perception that these are genuine people expressing their own opinions is very appealing to most viewers. Most Youtubers also collaborate and support each other, purposely marketing other users on their own channels to boost views. The superstars with books aren’t to be taken lightly either- Zoella’s new bookGirl Online” is set to be the top seller on the UK booklist with a sequel already in the works. These Youtube stars are pulling in large amounts of money for Youtube and Google targeting 13-22 year old women watching youtube for anything from Beauty tips to how-to videos for decorating their dorm rooms or apartments. Viewers also enjoy living vicariously through users as they “daily vlog” their lives, vacations, and any manager-sponsored trips that they take to destinations ranging from the Mediterranean in France, Walt Disney World in Florida during the annual Playlist Live Convention to Dubai to promote a new collaborate multiple-user channel on Youtube. The key to their popularity is building and maintaining their immense online presence, and viewers continue to watch videos that remind them with hard work anyone can reach their level of fame.

These Youtube users are prime advertisers for big companies like Pantene, L’Oreal, Unilever and other personal hygiene and beauty products. Some worry that they are treading a fine line, and now more regulations have come out in relation to advertising– users need to make an obvious disclaimer on their videos when it is sponsored by a company or when they are being paid to endorse and support a product. Recently, some Youtubers were in trouble in the UK for filming games or discussions centering around Oreo, but didn’t outright say that they had been paid to promote the brand.

A new study claims that the top youtube brands have gone from posting a dozen videos per month in 2005 to thousands in one month in 2014. These videos have been responsible for over 9 billion views, which means that viewers are seeing any advertisements played before these videos. The Youtube users themselves mainly make money from Adsense’s Ad revenue, and they make even more when a viewer watching one of the ads before their videos clicks on the ad. However, sometimes this can backfire if Google thinks a fan or a user is inflating their revenue and views by clicking on an advertisement too many times.

I think that however you feel about Youtube, the users that are very popular are definitely moving into mainstream media, and online companies like Youtube are going to be the advertising venues of the future all around the world. When it is becoming increasingly easier for Youtube stars to have cameras follow them around, they are going to continue to make money from sponsorships from daily brands that want to be seen by these Youtuber’s viewers.  What do you think? Is it worth it to invest in using youtubers as advertisers and promoters?


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Kellogg’s New International Brand Campaign

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Kellogg is a global brand with healthy cereal and snack products in many countries. However their Q3 profits have slumped, and Kellogg Special K brand has started to lose its appeal to women (and men in some cases, although it is unlikely they would admit it) for weight loss. We can all remember those campaigns a few years back where they instructed how to lose weight in two weeks using Special K brand cereal. The advertising campaign features eating healthy Special K products and other healthy recipes for 2 weeks to lose five pounds. At that time the food industry was experiencing a trend for weight loss, and the marketing campaign was successful. The brand grew and shareholders reaped the benefits.

However what happens when consumers aren’t as enthusiastic about losing weight anymore? What if consumers are changing their lifestyle to snacking more on nutrient dense snacks rather than eating 3 square meals a day? This shift in the food industry has forced larger companies to either innovate, or buy up smaller “healthy” brands to expand their product portfolio. Based on the article, Kellogg is working on restructuring, increasing innovation, and changing their advertising and promotional campaigns. It’s refreshing to see a large company turn to innovation rather than simply buying up a start-up or a healthy brand from another large firm. Kellogg’s new marketing strategy is already at work with it’s latest “Fruit Loop” commercials targeting young adults to reminisce in their childhood at non-traditional snack times (late at night in the case of the commercial). In order for Kellogg’s global branding shift to be successful, I feel their main focus should be on innovating new nutrient-dense snack products for adults. This is a growing trend among Millenials and market share needs to be snatched up quickly. Trying to re-target a current brand is clever, but Fruit Loops aren’t exactly known for being healthy and nutritional. This may help cereal sales for a little while, but it is not enough for Kellogg to be sustainable. In addition to refocusing their current brands they really need some new, healthy products that appeal to Millenials as snacks and/or meal replacers, and downsize on the brands that aren’t selling as well. Perhaps a whole grain line of Pringles, and new flavor combinations for their cereal bars are in order. Studies have shown that people are willing to pay a premium for food items perceived as boutique and healthy. Kellogg has the size and scope to add unique and healthy ingredients to current products as well as formulate new products to appeal to this growing trend and population. A slight slump is just what the need to create a new sustainable business plan to get back on top.



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