Why We Hate Skyler White

Do you think Skyler White is a total buzzkill on Breaking Bad? Do you full out hate Skyler?  “…Male characters don’t seem to inspire this kind of public venting and vitriol.” In an 8/23/13 op-ed for the New York Times, Anna Gunn, who portrays Walter White’s wife, discussed what’s behind the vocal public contempt for Skyler, which has blurred into “loathing” and even death threats against the actress. Skyler White – I Have a Character Issue – NYT

Breaking Bad - Walter and Skyler White staring at piles of money in storage lockerAnna Gunn’s op-ed explores why viewers are so quick to hate TV wives like Skyler, Carmela Soprano, and Betty Draper while their husbands, the protagonists, commit crimes against humanity, cheat, lie, manipulate, and endanger their families, but rarely inspire such “homicidal rage” toward the Don Draper/Walter White types or the actors who play them. Anna Gunn’s article made me rethink why I used to see her character as a killjoy, annoying, or a nag as she’s been pegged.

Gunn makes an excellent point by complimenting Vince Gilligan and the Breaking Bad writers for painting an ever-evolving Walter White as complex and likable “despite his moral failings.” And yes, there is “a natural tendency to empathize with and root for [a show’s protagonist].” Still, the fact that everyone so loves the “deeply flawed yet charismatic genius” that is Walter speaks to the highly skilled storytelling that has earned Breaking Bad titles like “best show ever.” Maybe the writers of these top dramas aren’t making the wives likable enough. Maybe it’s a learned, default cultural interpretation of wives as automatically antagonistic to our beloved, flawed male protagonists. Regardless, this is an important conversation because our society is consumed with and influenced by media now more than ever:

  • “American teenagers spend 31 hours a week watching TV, 17 hours a week listening to music, 3 hours a week watching movies, 4 hours a week reading magazines, 10 hours a week online. That’s 10 hours and 45 minutes of media consumption a day.
  • Women hold only 3% of clout positions in the mainstream media (telecommunications, entertainment, publishing and advertising).
  • 53% of 13 year old girls are unhappy with their bodies. That number increases to 78% by age 17.”

-statistics from Miss Representation with sources (2011-2012)

In the documentary Miss Representation (click to watch), filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom exposes disturbing realities about how women are portrayed by the media and “under-represented in positions of power and influence.” Newsom demonstrates the relationship between the lack of powerful women (characters or real ones) depicted by the media and entertainment industry and the lack of female leaders in politics, business, etc. In summary: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” -Marian Wright Edelman

Miss Representation Katie Couric media quote text

There are TV shows with strong, likable female leads, but nowhere near as many as those with male leads whose adoration by viewers exemplifies an obvious double standard given the wider range of character traits, flaws, age, and physical appearance in male leads. This is one reason I love shows like Lena Dunham’s Girls on HBO and Jenji Kohan’s Orange is the New Black on Netflix.

One aspect of Miss Representation that relates to television and marketing is the business of commercials. Essentially, brands want to advertise on content that mirrors their messaging. Marketing is about making consumers uncomfortable: if you instill in a consumer a sense of urgency that they need a product to make themselves better, happier, sexier, smarter, younger, prettier, richer, etc. then you’ve caught their attention. In general, TV shows are written to reflect their advertisers’ brand values and messaging so that they will keep advertising to an insecure consumer. Characters and storylines often perpetuate the beliefs that make viewers insecure, i.e., better consumers.

Media companies, networks, advertising conglomerates, and ad agencies are male-dominated financially, philosophically, and visually – pure numbers. While the Skyler White conversation has many variables, it’s important to keep the undeniable reality of our gendered media in mind when deciding whether you think Skyler hatred is a symptom of a larger cultural problem or is simply the result of storytelling in the modern age, where character-bashing is more public online.

Good follow-up reads:

  1. Laura Hudson’s Wired article posted after the 8/25/13 episode, Confessions: Breaking Bad Recap: Walter White Is An Abuser – Wired.com 8/26/13
  2. Hey, Anna Gunn: Not Everyone Hates Skyler White by Willa Paskin, 8/26/13

Native Ads and Wearable Technology – Episode 25 – The Digital Dive Podcast

Video: Native Ads and Wearable Technology – The Digital Dive Podcast – Episode 25 (Vimeo)

–>Watch on YouTube

1. Instagram Ads: Native Advertising

Skinput arm - The Digital Dive Podcast- Native Ads and Wearable Technology

What will it take for a successful native ad to work on Instagram? Which brands are killing it now and why (Timberland, Redbull, Marc Jacobs)? The Instagram community is sensitive and accustomed to an intimate app experience – new ad execution is crucial. Our advice: Don’t be irrelevant and don’t be creepy.

2. Wearables and Google Brain

Wearable technology: it’s the future.

Mother wearing Google Glass holding baby wearing Google Glass

I am particularly ready to be done interacting with my devices on hard surfaces in the physical world. How will the rules of social etiquette adjust for a bunch of oncoming Glassholes? Our smartphone addiction is like cigarette addiction: both compel the addict to remove themselves from the moment. Google Glass can take away the physical barrier – maybe it will bring us back to being present.

Fashion meets technology: On July 2, 2013 Apple recruited Yves Saint-Laurent CEO Paul Denève to work on a “special project,” (presumably the iWatch), reporting to CEO Tim Cook.

Yves Saint Laurent CEO Paul Deneve new Apple VP black and white

Denève’s career is known for fashion, but this will actually be his second lap with Apple; he was a European marketing and sales manager in the 90s.

Modern memory: The phenomenon known as Google Brain isn’t as bad as it sounds – we hope. Columbia University psychologist Betsy Sparrow et al published key findings in Science (August 2011): Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips: “…when people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it.” Maybe that isn’t so bad: if the world has made information more readily available, why shouldn’t our brains adapt to locate it faster instead of working on remembering it? It’s all about efficiency, as my co-host will tell you.

3. Alone Together

12:36-16:50 – Are Millennials and digital natives losing the art of conversation? There is a lot wrong with the common sentiment, “I’d rather text than talk.” I recap psychologist and sociologist Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk and book Alone Together. Turkle asks: what are we losing by using technology to communicate when we want, how we want, and in an abbreviated and controlled manner? “As we expect more from technology, do we expect less from each other?”

14:00 – Melanie reminds us that as humans, we have historically had trouble accepting changes in society, in language, and in our bodies. Here’s our Death of the English Language episode (read: Emily’s head in Downton Abbey): U-Turn Into a Tech-Speak Future – Episode 5

Two great Sherry Turkle quotes:

The feeling that ‘no one is listening to me’ make us want to spend time with machines that seem to care about us.

We’re lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. And so from social networks to sociable robots, we’re designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.

Tips on Tap

1. Tile App – Tile, the world’s largest lost and found. The Tile App on your phone makes it easy to find anything you have placed a small plastic Tile on. Keep track of your stuff. Preorder now for $18.95. “Works with iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPad 3rd and 4th gen, and iPod Touch 5th gen. New iOS devices will be supported as they become available, as long as they have Bluetooth 4.0 support.”
2. Drinkify.org – Drink recommendations based on the music you’re listening to. I test out Elvis, Tool, Bach, and Nirvana.
3. The Intimacy 2.0 Dress: A sexy high-tech wearable: clothing that responds to your heartbeat. “The ‘Intimacy 2.0’ dress, designed by Daan Roosegaarde, is getting a rise out of the fashion world because its opaque fabric becomes transparent when you get aroused.”

 

The Digital Dive Podcast video thumbnail Emily Binder and Melanie Touchstone episode 25

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Book Review: “Delight Your Customers” by Steve Curtin

Steve Curtin’s Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary is about taking customer service from ordinary to extraordinary. The emphasis is on employees’ understanding of the difference between job function and job essence. It’s a good read for marketers, because we can help shape policies and culture for customer-facing team members.

Delight Your Customer book cover
Steve Curtin focuses on the difference between job function and job essence

Here are the service employee basics, according to Curtin:

Ordinary Service
Job functions: “The duties or tasks associated with a job role.”

“…job function is necessary—even critical (i.e., the shopping carts must be retrieved from the parking lot…)—but it does not represent the totality of an employee’s job role!… The other half…often neglected, is job essence. His highest priority at work is to create promoters.”

  • Job knowledge and skills
  • Typical customer service: “routine, expected, and ordinary”
  • Results-oriented: policies, procedures, checklists
Extraordinary Service
“Job essence: An employee’s highest priority at work (i.e., to create delighted customers!)”
  • Motivation (understanding why one performs job functions)
  • Reflected in employees’ personality, creativity, unique flair
  • Lasting positive impressions on customers

Teaching the importance of job essence can really make a difference in your employees’ attitudes, which you need to optimize for a great customer experience. Most people (in any job) don’t answer this question correctly: “What do you do?” They’ll talk about job function: “I collect shopping carts from the parking lot.” But they should talk about job essence: “I make sure every customer has a wonderful shopping experience, starting with their first impression.”

Bon Qui Qui is funny because it’s true.

Eye Contact

I quit going to LA Fitness for a few reasons, but the lack of customer service was a big one. For years, the greeter sensed my presence without looking up from her phone, held out her hand for my card, swiped it, and handed it back silently. It’s the case at most grocery stores, too. Over time, the effect of being shuffled along through impersonal assembly line transactions has a negative impact on our society. The difference made by a friendly Publix cashier who makes eye contact, offers a greeting, and thanks me first is a stark contrast to most transactions. We’ve come to expect the exchange of money for goods to be a robotic, thankless necessity. It shouldn’t be.

“Thank You” (for taking my money)

One of Curtin’s best observations is about the order in which thanks are given at time of payment. Do you find yourself thanking the cashier for taking your money before she thanks you? Does she even say the words “thank you”?

woman cashier taking customer credit cardIn our efforts to be polite or politically correct, we’ve become self-effacing toward workers in service jobs. We have established a pattern of not expecting to be thanked first for our business. This is a problem. Granted, plenty of customers are rude and service people deserve courtesy and respect. But the customer deserves the primary thanking. Curtin gets it and has helpful ideas about ways to motivate employees to provide great service.

Grab your copy here:

For all the lamenting of the loss of human connection due to technology, let’s remember the simple opportunities for positive impressions absent from mechanized transactions in too many brick and mortar stores.

When’s the last time you received excellent customer service?

Book reviewed:
Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary

Watch: Delight Your Customers Book Trailer

Updated 11/1/16

Gmail’s New Inbox Threatens Email Marketing; Gamer Dads Hack Away Gender Roles – Episode 23 – The Digital Dive Podcast

I. New Gmail Layout Threatens Email Marketing As We Know It

Email is one of the original eCommerce platforms, and it is also one of the most effective for businesses ranging from start-ups to enterprise. 83% of small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) say email is critically important to their overall marketing strategy.
So, what happens when the world’s most used email service, Gmail, introduces a new tabbed layout that automatically hides automated marketing emails? Email users rejoice. Marketers cringe. We discuss why Gmail’s new inbox is good news for consumers but potentially catastrophic for digital marketers. Or, potentially really challenging. Now those customers with AOL.com emails on your list don’t seem so bad, do they?

Email marketing vs Gmail inbox punching boxing match

Email Marketing Reports and Statistics cited:
  • Customer acquisitions gained via email marketing has quadrupled since 2009, with email delivering more customers than Facebook or Twitter. Custora Report via MarketingLand.
  • Customers acquired via email were 11 percent more valuable than the average customer, while customers acquired via Facebook ranked as average. Custora Report via MarketingLand.
  • Report from iContact finds that “83 percent of small and medium-size businesses say email is important or critically important to their overall marketing strategy. The report also notes that businesses are spending more of their marketing budgets on email than on any other tactic.”
  • Marketing email open rate in North America is 25.7% according to Direct Marketing Association.
  • iContact reports that 24% of email opens occur within an hour of delivery. After the first hour, that number drops to just 9%.
  • 43% of email is now opened on a mobile device. Litmus Report.
  • Mobile purchasing decisions are most influenced by Emails from companies (71%) only surpassed by the influence of Friends (87%). – Adobe “2013 Digital Publishing Report: Retail Apps & Buying Habits”

II. Beam My Map Up: In-Car GPS Navigation Moves to the Windshield

  • GPS navigation company Garmin has developed the HUD for drivers (heads-up display). It’s a portable device that projects navigation info from a smartphone onto the car’s windshield.
  • How: a transparent film affixes to the windshield, or an included reflector lens attaches to the device. You can see real-time navigation information in daytime and nighttime driving situations. The HUD supports iPhone, Android, and Windows Phone 8 devices when used in conjunction with the Garmin StreetPilot1 or Navigon app. HUD cradle: $129.
  • Question: When will mobile phones have a native ability to beam onto windshield? This would negate the need for a separate one-trick pony Garmin dock.

III. Dads Hack Video Games to Reverse Gender Roles and Inspire Their Daughters

Some very cool parents who also happen to be developers wanted to make gaming more of an inspiring experience for their young daughters. Examples: Donkey Kong and Zelda were hacked to change up gender roles and make the girl characters heroes. –Father hacks ‘Donkey Kong’ for daughter, makes Pauline the heroine 3/10/13
Game changes:
  • Mario was now under Donkey Kong’s control
  • Pauline was tasked with rescuing the plumber in distress.

After his successful role reversal for the NES version of Donkey Kong, dad Mike Mika’s YouTube channel shows the hack and lets you download the patch.

Another awesome dad: Small business owner and gamer dad Mike Hoye spent a few weeks hand-tweaking the text in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker so that the main character was referred to as a girl instead of a boy. “I’m not having my daughter growing up thinking girls don’t get to be the hero.” –“I am no man”: For Zelda-playing daughter, dad gives Link a sex change 11/8/12

Tips on Tap

1) Clapmera – So simple, so genius. Instead of relying on the often frustrating camera timer or someone else to take images from afar, this app takes a picture when you clap. iphone, ipad
Free on iPhone and Google Play, FXCamera is a cross between Instagram and Vine.
Just by sharing a single photo taken with FxCamera on Facebook or Twitter, FxCamera will donate a penny for a photo (up to $10,000) to Japan Water Forum.
3) ecorner.stanford.edu – If you’re a fan of TedTalks and other informative, often inspiring video tools for personal growth, take advantage of ecorner.stanford.edu. Melanie recommends contributor Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard, speaking on leadership and distilling information.

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Vine vs. Instagram Video and Lulu’s Controversial “Yelp for Men” App – Episode 22 – The Digital Dive Podcast

I. Vine vs. Instagram Video – New Feature

02:00 – Instagram’s new video feature poses a challenge to Vine and has some IGers pretty annoyed. We review Vine and Instagram video in a side-by-side comparison. Word to the wise: put your phone on vibrate or silent if you’re going to peruse Instagram during a meeting.

Instagram vs Vine comparison by TechCrunch

12:30-15: 00 – Do investors even know what Vine is?

16:00 – The biggest market for Vine

II. Controversial “Yelp for Men” Lulu App Lets Women Rate Ex-Boyfriends 

16:55 – We take on Lulu, an app that allows women (and only women) to anonymously create “reviews” of men they know. Profiles are pulled from app users’ male Facebook friends.Lulu app ad "Research your latest crush" This isn’t an opt-in app; profiles are automatically created without the man’s knowledge or permission, and any man on Facebook is fair game. Pictures and limited profile/public information from Facebook, combined with anonymous rankings from women who’ve dated them, hated them, or adored them, are used to create a man’s profile on Lulu– complete with a numeric ranking and a myriad of hashtags ranging from complimentary to cruel…

Examples of Lulu hashtags about men:

#CantBuildIkeaFurniture
#BurnsCornflakes
#ObsessedWithHisMom
#BabyDaddy
#DoesDishes
#SixPack
#DrinksTheHaterade
#CanBuildFires
#CheaperThanaBigMac
#WearsFratTanks

Arguments for and against the app are abundant. A few comments from around the web:

Creepy, non-consensual and harassing.
Just an app for something that girls do anyway.
This is the stuff [women] need to know when checking out a guy. Lulu puts the girls in control.
The textual equivalent of leaking your ex’s naked pics to the Internet.

23:40 – Is there an upside to the app for men who otherwise wouldn’t get much attention, e.g. if a woman rates a shy guy friend nicely?

25:00 – Lulu heavily emphasizes user anonymity: what will this invite?

27:00 – Lulu is pretty heteronormative: does it discriminate against gay and lesbian users?

The Burn Book-esque app is geared toward college-aged adults for now (but then again, so was Facebook).

Tips on Tap

29:10-32:00 – I. Swackett – A weather app we actually like. Free and available oniOS, Android. Combines forecast and weather information with added features, such as “Dog Walking Index”, clothing suggestions, and an excellent mobile shopping tie-in (e.g., popular Warby Parker). Nice native advertising.

32:05-33:00 – II. Facetune – Photo beautifying tools are a dime a dozen, but this one has been making waves. Ranked #3 on the App Store’s top paid apps chart, Facetune is geared toward making photos of people more flattering.

33:00 – III. LinkedIn Privacy Tip – There is a LinkedIn profile setting under Settings -> Groups, Companies & Applications. Under Privacy Controls, you can turn on/off two things. One is whether you share data with third parties. Understand the associated risks and potential social benefits for a LinkedIn connected content experience vs. exposing one’s perusal of job-seeking content to one’s entire network.

“If you’re signed in to LinkedIn when you view any page that uses our professional plugins, we receive information that you’ve visited that page. This allows us to improve your LinkedIn experience and provide you with insights from your professional network, like how many of your connections have shared an article into LinkedIn using the Share on LinkedIn plugin.” -LinkedIn

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You can download or stream The Digital Dive Podcast at thedigitaldivepodcast.com or search for us in the iTunes Podcast Directory–> If you like the show, please subscribe and leave us a review!

The Digital Dive Podcast is on Stitcher, the best free podcast streaming app. New to Stitcher? Please sign up with our link:

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The Digital Dive PodcastTM: Get the most out of technology… without ever fully giving in

Marketing and Digital