Monday, 7 November 2016

SPERI annual lecture with Nicola Sturgeon

Sturgeon does not rule out a second Scottish independence referendum

Nicola Sturgeon was defiant in setting out Scotland’s position in a post-Brexit United Kingdom. The SNP Leader spoke tonight at the SPERI Annual Lecture in Sheffield and expectedly started out by attacking the UK Government’s controversial austerity cuts “Austerity is damaging the very fabric of our society” she declared from the podium. Moreover, she described her opposition to the Government’s approach to Brexit negotiations by suggesting “Nothing about Brexit is straightforward.”

Sturgeon did not rule out another Scottish Independence Referendum however asserted the importance of expanding international relations amid claims that Scotland would become isolated as a result of Independence “I’m a Scottish nationalist – I believe Scotland should be independent – but I am also an internationalist.”  She also urged people to “understand the reasonableness” of a second Scottish Independence referendum if Scotland is deeply affected by a hard Brexit.

The Scottish First Minister set out the case for Scotland staying in the EU Single Market, “If the UK leaves the single market we will explore options to keep Scotland in the single market” eloquently stated by Nicola Sturgeon who is renowned for her good public speaking skills. 

Moreover, she condemned the UK’s inability to stem the rise in hate crimes “Your enemy is not your immigrant neighbour; your enemy is the politician in Whitehall” confidently professed by Sturgeon in response to a question from the audience.

Nicola Sturgeon also focussed on the environment by answering a question from the former Green Party Leader Natalie Bennett on making green agenda a part of economic transformation and she stated that “To tackle climate change, the economy needs to be transformed.”

Friday, 28 October 2016

Potential US First Lady

Who is Melania Trump?

Melania Trump wondering whether her husband Donald Trump will get elected
PHOTO/ Nozell, Marc. Donald Trump & Melania Trump. 8th February 2016. Donald Trump @ Manchester, NH (20160208). 28th October 2016.

Melania Trump was born on 26th April 1970 in Novo Mesto, Slovenia situated on the Balkan Peninsula, and is the 3rd wife of the American Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump. She is the mother of the 10 year old Barron Trump. She is a former underwear model who had a nude photoshoot for the British magazine GQ in January 2000 and now assists her husband by performing speeches to increase his chances of becoming the first Republican President since the year 2008 when George W Bush finished his second term as President. If her husband Donald Trump wins the 2016 US Presidential election, Melania would be the 1st legal Immigrant First Lady and she would also be the second First Lady born outside of the United States after Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams who was the wife of the sixth American President, John Quincy Adams (1825-1829). She is the only First Lady to have been born outside of the United States.

Melania Trump copied the speech of Michelle Obama, who is the wife of outgoing President Barack Obama, and Mrs Trump was criticised for plagiarism by sections of the American population. At the time of publication, Melania Trump will be performing two or three more speeches to help her husband get elected as President of the country United States of America. She could be the First Lady which is the spouse of an elected President, if her husband wins the Presidential Election on 8th November 2016. Mrs Trump recently had an interview on the American satellite television channel CNN (Cable News Network) with the American journalist Anderson Cooper to defend her husband’s allegations of sexual misconduct when he made disgraceful comments towards women.

Friday, 26 August 2016

The Rise of Insufferable People

The Rise of Insufferable People

Have you encountered bad customer service? Are you frightened of being put on hold?

These are just some in a multitude of questions that looks at the 'insufferable person'. It doesn't cost one to demonstrate good manners.

Our society has been plagued by selfishness and rudeness. Rather than helping out people in their time of need, some customer service assistants make matters worse either by being completely incompetent or deliberately stringing customers along.

Whether it's giving way on the road, whether it's making room for other commuters you get the sense that many people out there simply do not care about others.

On a daily basis I encounter insufferable people- families at the park who occupy too much space, people who stare at you as if you offended them, men and women who do not look where they are going on the street. You name it and it will almost certainly be another case of people who act irresponsibly and are absolutely clueless to the consequences of their actions.

What you must remember is that people will only look after their own interests so you cannot rely on them to help you out. People will only let you down, so be careful who you trust.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Croydon's Homeless Community

Helping the Homeless

On Tuesday 2th August 2016 I had the pleasure of being invited by a friend to the Croydon Seventh-Day Adventist Church. I was very eager to make my way to the venue in good time and familiarise myself with the activities this Church provides for the local community. Croydon SDA Church helps out the homeless by providing a weekly dinner for the ones who are struggling to afford regular meals every day. The gathering takes place on Tuesdays from 18:00 to 21:00 pm.

I arrived at the Church a few minutes before the meal was due to commence, and I was greeted by several volunteers who explained the planning behind the whole event, chairs and tables were being set up, the kitchen staff were enthusiastically awaiting their guests and the volunteers were pacing up and down making sure everything is in order.

Before the food was served, everybody recited a prayer of 'Our Father' while holding hands, the unison between these members of our community was evident despite the difficulties they were enduring. I could sense the camaraderie in the room among the people who were seated in the middle of the huge church hall, socialising and feeling at ease for a few hours in their day, in a welcoming and warm environment. The meal tonight included soup with bread, spaghetti bolognese and ice cream. It was a delight to be savoured.

I was in charge of the technical facilities and I would take requests from the guests for certain songs and videos to be played at the church. One such video showcased the work of some of the participants who were involved in art exhibitions across Croydon.

There was a total of 38 people who arrived to enjoy this meal. They all represented different backgrounds, races and socio-economic status. I realised that homelessness is rooted in our society and affects all walks of life. It is a huge problem and it's difficult to pinpoint the solutions to help everyone in their struggles.

I felt a sense of great satisfaction to have helped the homeless and enjoyed my time at Croydon SDA Church which does fantastic work for the local community in Croydon and the surrounding areas.

Friday, 29 July 2016

End of the Road

End of the Road

Uncertainty has hit the United Kingdom in the wake of the EU referendum. The most acute issue in my view is homelessness. The hostels and B&Bs don't have enough vacancies to accommodate people who have nowhere to live. Housing is a subject which has been avoided in this country for many decades, as a result there is a lack of affordable housing in our big cities, especially in London.

There has been inaction from the Government and there hasn't been a policy in place to effectively provide decisive solutions to ease this problem. Furthermore, the Government did not anticipate such a large population arriving from within the EU in the last decade. The net migration from non-EU countries also remains high. According to Government figures, the amount of homes built has hit a seven-year high as 37,080 new homes were built between October and December 2015, up 23% on a year earlier. Despite this rise, the number of homes needed to rectify the housing deficit is nowhere near the actual target.

The Government led by Theresa May must address the issue of housing especially after the 'Brexit' result. With a lack of supply and an unprecedented amount of demand, the new PM should promote revolutionary house-building projects, working with local housing authorities and Mayors, to solve this crisis. The key to solving this conundrum lies in our local authorities, who have the power to promote new housing projects but issues to do with bureaucracy certainly do not help to alleviate homelessness, which is worse than in other 'less advanced' EU countries, the Czech Republic for example. The new Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan has a big role to play in terms of acting as a gatekeeper for councils in Greater London to use existing brownfield land as well as TFL assets to create new council housing estates and develop community schemes to develop affordable housing.

There are indications that prices are falling because of the uncertainty created in the country in the wake of the EU referendum. Thus there is danger that an increasing amount of foreign buyers are acquiring a vast amount of UK properties and subsequently making it difficult once again for citizens living in the UK to own their own home.

Moreover action should be taken on unscrupulous private landlords who do not maintain their tenants' property to a satisfactory level and still charge premium rents in excess of £800 a month often for large families living in a single room in a shared house. Again there should be greater powers for the Government and local authorities to crack down on these landlords who do not provide shelter to acceptable or even basic standard to their tenants.

The housing market is a contentious issue due to conflicting ideas about how exactly the crisis should be addressed. Political parties are not part of the solution but rather part of the problem because they are squabbling between themselves and getting involved in personal attacks totally forgetting the bigger issue such as bettering the life of rough sleepers and failing to reduce long housing waiting lists. The only thing that is certain is that no one knows how long the uncertainty will last for.

Monday, 25 July 2016

How is the football superstar persona constructed in Convergent Media?

Throwback to my A Level days:

How is the football superstar persona constructed in Convergent Media?

“Stars are made for money purposes alone. Increasing the brand identity benefits the institution as they become a household name increasing sales in all of the media platforms they are in” 1(Dyer). The chief narrative focus of the FourFourTwo cover is the central image of the footballers Costa, Messi and Cavani who are positioned in a low angle medium long shot, subliminally creating a sense of aspiration for the target audience. Lionel Messi ranks highest in the visual hierarchy, as he is in the foreground. He has more global recognition than the other footballers through being instantly recognisable; therefore brand ‘Messi’ is reinforcing brand awareness by maintaining a strong brand identity. Whereas Diego Costa is living up to his Proppian archetype of ‘Villain’ by his facial code of gritted teeth, Messi, the Proppian ‘Hero’, has an indirect gaze with laser like focus on his quest.

There is low key lighting in FourFourTwo connoting enigma. There is an almost cinematic sense of drama, creating a hybrid of action and noir. The iconic Adidas boots and shirts are given the highest ranking, the footballer Cavani who is representing the brand Puma on Cavani’s shirt is being obscured by his own and Messi’s limbs reinforcing a subliminal bias towards this brand. There is a web address dedicated to the magazine which is thereby enhancing the reach to the target audience by inserting converging media connoting a ‘sense of interaction’ 2 (Blumler and Katz).

In reference to “Football in the new Media age” 3 there is an obsession with regards to celebrities (especially in the football industry) being used as commodities by various brands. A picture of Beckham scoring a goal is in the journalistic domain but “if he’s pictured with new boots or new clothes, then those are sponsored and he’s getting paid for the images used.” 4 (BOSE 2002). There is an increasing presence of footballers ‘being the brand’; a few examples would be the Argentine Lionel Messi or the Portuguese Cristiano Ronaldo, they have exploited their own image rights to reap financial gains and worldwide acclaim. Their appearances in comparatively sophisticated magazines such as FourFourTwo attract a mass market of the social classifications A, B and C1, as well as being middle-aged, multiracial and male.

The mastheads typography further enhances Messi’s ranking by donning his name in bright urgent orange colour and enlarging the word ‘MESSI’ thereby signifying the importance of his persona.

In the publication of “Football in the New Media Age” Beckham’s popularity is being described as universally recognised, now that Beckham has retired from the game professionally, the footballer Messi is assuming the mantel from Beckham and perhaps has overtaken him as a player brand “He is one of a few players to transcend football and achieve popularity among non-fans as well as die-hard followers of the sport...In short, he is a marketing person’s dream.” 5 (Matthew Garrahan, 2002) Messi is using the same formula as David Beckham to grow and monetize his brand, by emulating the success of David Beckham; On the cover of FourFourTwo magazine Messi is given the highest ranking as he is at the top of the visually hierarchy thus citing his important to the game.

Messi wears Adidas boots as he is under contract to Adidas endorsing - connoting there is synergy between the player and the boots, this allows merchandising of mass media products to a mass market target audience, thus creating a ‘sense of identification’ 6 (Blumler and Katz) denoted by the question ‘Have you got the new boots worn by Messi?’ thereby connoting a sense of exclusivity.

The masthead ‘FourFourTwo’ connotes sophistication thereby appealing to an audience with high social classifications. The images of the players are superimposed over the masthead as such an iconic masthead is easily recognisable of the magazine therefore the brand identity is being strengthened by brand recognition. The word ‘starring’ following the players names suggests film star reverence. The stylish and slick typography is in Sans-Serif.
The demographic of the target audience of ‘Match’ would be in the social classifications of C2, D and E albeit drastically different from the audience of FourFourTwo it is still a Mass Market, multiethnic and predominantly male thereby conforming to the natural target audience of the football genre. Whereas, the price tag of £1.99 and a house style containing the colours yellow and red as the predominant colours which mimic the codes and conventions of a ‘’red-top’’ tabloid newspaper, for example the Sun newspaper connoting they share largely the same ethnicity, gender and social classifications. Moreover, according to the ACORN cluster which is formed of 15 different sub-groups, the group most likely to buy Match would be Council Estate Better-Off.

Match magazine has high key lighting connoting there is a sense of aspiration 7 (Blumler and Katz). The plug ‘Free England and Brazil Boomsticks’ gives an incentive to purchase the magazine connoting the audience are special, denoting no other magazine possesses this attractive offer thereby connoting exclusivity. Therefore the USP of Match magazine is the glamorous looking exclusives which aspire the target audience into a feeling of optimism. Furthermore their audience tends to become passive recipients to whatever products they advertise, giving more credibility to the hypodermic needle model 8 (Lowery & De Fleur).

Messi is not the archetypal centre forward – he is short and pacy- he has revolutionised the role in which strikers operate, his rise has been due to the performances of his football team ‘Barcelona’ domestically and in Europe, picking up a huge amount of trophies along the way – a formula for success in the marketing aspect of the club and its players, most notably Messi, he is thus the ‘Poster Boy’ of football as he demonstrates the true capabilities of a winner, furthermore demonstrated in the magazine cover which features his name in bold bright orange typography and he is on top of the visual hierarchy compared to others.

The brand identity of Puma is very strong, in spite of the subliminal and enigmatic nature of the brand logo. Moreover the use of backlit in the background creates a sense of elevation and of God like status. There is use of convergent media, specifically the social media hash tag of #STARTBELIEVING which is an imperative thus creating a sense of aspiration and interaction among the target audience (Blumler and Katz). There is an equal visual hierarchy among the footballers in this advert, although they have different nationalities – they belong to one globalised brand, Puma. The iconography of the footballers implies they are as big as film stars, they all are positioned like characters in the action genre of movies, the names of the footballers are displayed like movie stars therefore the audience can “feature they the share or admire with the star” 9 (Dyer).

In a Nike advertisement there is a subliminal message, surrounding the boots denoted by eight spiders legs connoting the football boots are as venomous as a spider further implying footballers especially strikers are as dangerous as spiders. Another subliminal message is the football being covered by the web created by the spider connoting the ball is in the net (web).

According to Richard Boyle the author of “Doing the Business?” ‘Football clubs are actively seeking to control their relationships with the media. Moreover, media coverage of football ‘stars’ has never been more extensive, as players such as David Beckham and Michael Owen seek to control, market and promote a particular image of themselves in a highly commercial market place’ 10. There is room for development in terms of the advertising and marketing of the image rights of very popular football stars, thus enhancing the prospect of a mass market audience.

The Sun newspaper with the headline: “Suarez bites back- he accuses English of a ‘witch-hunt’” 11. The masthead of this story appears to demonstrate his defiance and therefore portrayed as a loose cannon and does not care what other people think of him. Nevertheless, Suarez is the archetypal ‘antagonist’ 12 (Propp).

The tagline “He accuses English of a witch-hunt” demonstrates there is a huge sense of animosity for everything that Luis Suarez stands for. The target audience would be C1, C2, D and E in social classifications and would predominantly be male and white in ethnicity and middle aged, C1, C2 is understood to be the bulk of society therefore the target audience is a mass market.

Another headline by The Sun is “I’ve let down the fangs” 13 a pun on the word fans. Red top tabloid newspapers such as The Sun are infamous of gross exaggeration and bias. The Sun’s USP is wordplay and pictures- most notably snappy and short headlines accompanied by pictures that reinforce the narrative.

Undoubtedly the fall from grace that Luis Suarez had suffered in a four month match ban which includes all football related activity and a subsequent loss of endorsements from 888Poker have not dented his finances. His transfer from Liverpool to Barcelona in the summer of 2014 increased his wages substantially, demonstrating that he does his talking on the pitch and not in the field of marketing.

The magazine Match mimics the codes and conventions of the house style of the Sun newspaper. The typography tends to be in Sans-Serif for ease of reading. The reading age of the Sun newspaper is nine years old 15( and Match magazine clearly attracts the same demography as the Sun newspaper.
“Large brands are generally large in all demographics, small brands are generally small in all demographics” 16 (John Dawes, Brand loyalty in the U.K. Sportswear Market). The rise of Nike and Adidas as sporting brands has been meteoric: their combined share of the sportswear market is 56% so they are in danger of monopolising the market as Reebok, Umbro, Puma, Fila and Diadora have combined a market share of 44% 17 (Dawes).

Marc Gobe, a prominent marketing author says Nike “...[is] a good example of an emotional brand. It made sportswear accessible to non sportspeople with a brand story that inspired not just success but energy and determination” 18 (Dawes). The brand of Adidas has quite a large share of the total sportswear market in the UK and it hasn’t happened by coincidence: Adidas has been endorsed by the magazine FourFourTwo, the most famous advertisement in this magazine is no doubt ‘’All in or Nothing’’ 19.

According to Brand Loyalty in the U.K. Sportswear market A Classification Of Residential Neighbourhoods (ACORN) this is a ‘’sophisticated geo-demographic clustering scheme’’ 20 (CACI 2007) instead of being classed into different social classifications, the ACORN model 21 has 15 different sub-groups with ‘Council Estate Better-Off’ at the top with 15% of total sales in the sportswear market and ‘Prosperous Pensioners/Retired’ at the bottom with 2% of total sales. However, despite the differences in socioeconomic status the ACORN group ‘Council Estate High Unemployment’ contribute to 28% of their own brand market share in this group the same percentage as the group ‘White Collar/Better Off Multi-Ethnic’ therefore they aspire to appear rich.

There is a sense of ‘polygamous loyalty’ 22 in the general public – the idea of ‘’loyalty’’ towards a number of brands for instance a Belgian fan supporting Chelsea would be inclined to purchase a product from the brand adidas, as they are the brand partners of Chelsea, however Eden Hazard a Chelsea player who hails from Belgium personally endorses Nike so this is an example of how easy it is to purchase more than one brand in any particular football season creating a ‘sense of emulation' 23 among football supporters (Blumler and Katz). For instance in the cover of Match magazine there are many different brands being advertised and therefore it entices the audience into buying more than one product from more than one brand. There is no brand – not even Nike- that receives ‘’loyalty beyond reason’’ 24 from its user base (Dawes).



1. Dyer’s Star Theory
2. Uses and Gratifications Theory by Blumler and Katz
3. Football in The New Media Age by Raymond Boyle and Richard Haynes
4. BOSE 2002
5. Matthew Garrahan 2002
6. Uses and Gratifications Theory by Blumler and Katz
7. Uses and Gratifications Theory by Blumler and Katz
8. Hypodermic Needle Model by Lowery & De Fleur
9. Dyer’s Star Theory
10. Football in The New Media Age by Raymond Boyle and Richard Haynes
11. The Sun- Thursday 26th June 2014
12. Propp’s Narrative Structure
13. The Sun- Thursday 26th June 2014
14. The Sun- Tuesday 23rd April 2013
15. See A Voice, 2010
16. John Dawes, Brand Loyalty in the U.K. Sportswear Market
17. Dawes
18. Marc Gobe in John Dawes, Brand Loyalty in the U.K. Sportswear Market
19. FourFourTwo Magazine June 2014
20. CACI 2007
21. The ACORN Model
22. Polygamous Loyalty according to John Dawes
23. Uses and Gratifications Theory by Blumler and Katz
24. Dawes