Monday, 24 January 2011

Planning - Mind Map and Theme Analysis.

Above is a visual mind map that I created, showing the themes which were prevalent in the television networks/shows and films targeted towards our target demographic that I researched. The themes which were the most popular (i.e. appeared in five or more examples) are in red.

Most popular themes:

Fashion - Somewhat unsurprising, fashion is a common theme in media targeted towards females 18-34. Television shows and films have impacted the fashion industry for decades; from ABC's Dynasty in the 1980s, to HBO's Sex and the City in the 1990s (for the later duration of the series' run, costume designer Patricia Field was considered by many as one of the most influential figures in fashion), to the CW's Gossip Girl today (Gossip Girl themed clothing collections have been designed for both Target in the USA and Miss Selfridge in the UK, and costume designer Eric Daman has published an acclaimed style book).

Cosmopolitan - Many of the most popular shows and films targeted towards females 18-34 are situated in large cities, such as New York and London. This could be because cities tend to be more populated with young females; according to, 53% of NYC residents are female, and the median age is 34. The world's major cities are also often known as "fashion capitals", and as the fashion theme summary above reveals, females 18-34 are targeted with fashion related text as much as possible in the media. Another reason for cities being used so often could also be purely because the wealth of opportunities big cities offer open up more story lines for producers.

Wealth - The main characters of several shows and films targeted towards females 18-34 are either wealthy or surrounded by wealth. This could be cause wealth enables a realistic tie between several popular themes targeted towards females 18-34 (e.g. to create verisimilitude, wealthier characters are dressed better and live in more expensive areas, such as large cities), but could also be because wealth creates a life so glamorous that it appears almost unrealistic to average viewers who watch the show for escapism.

Relationships - As females are at their most adventurous in regards to relationships between the ages of 18-34, it's unsurprising that relationships are a major theme within media targeted towards females 18-34. It provides an aspect to a show/film that is relatable to the audience, regardless of the show/film's main theme(s).

Beauty - Most of the actors cast in shows/films targeted towards females 18-34 are attractive; a common opinion, and something that is often criticized. One major example which should contrast with this opinion is ABC's popular show Ugly Betty, in which the main character is (as the show's title suggests) unattractive. However, the characters she is surrounded by are attractive, she works at a top fashion magazine, and the show deals with how she doesn't fit in due to her looks. Despite it being speculated that the use of predominately attractive people within the media is to blame for many of the insecurities affecting females 18-34, they are still bombarded with them and still consume the media that they appear in. Perhaps it is due to the "escapism" aspect to consuming media, or perhaps it is due just to females finding attractive people more aesthetically pleasing and therefore pleasant to watch.

Insecurities - In the above theme summary I mentioned how media is considered in part responsible for insecurities, and statistics do prove that insecurities are at their most common within younger females. Therefore, the application of insecurities to characters within media targeted towards females 18-34 could be to make them more relatable to audiences. It could also be to make a character more multi-faceted, adding more dimensions to their personality and making them feel more realistic.

Modeling - Considering that fashion, cosmopolitan, and beauty are all common themes targeted towards females 18/34 in the media, it is unsurprising that modeling is another as it incorporates all three. It is also considered quite a glamorous theme, hence appeals to females as an "escapist"/"dream" career to watch.

By looking through and analyzing the most popular themes targeted towards our target demographic, our group has settled on the theme that we will base our film/trailer around. We have chosen modeling, as it incorporates many other themes which are popular with our target demographic, and is open to incorporate more less common themes which would create an interesting and appealing storyline. Working with this theme will also allow our group to combine our research for the practical side to our media studies with the theoretical side, in which we are studying representations of women.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Research - Television Networks and Films Targeting the Female 18-34 Market.

With our target market settled, our group is looking at which themes will be best for us to work to target the market in more depth.

I have done some research into which popular television networks and films target the female 18-34 market, so that I can pinpoint the themes that they work with the most often to draw in their big audiences. Most of the networks and films are American, which is unsurprising as, through modern cultural imperialism, the US film and television industries have huge international clout and their products make up the majority of the most popular.

Television Networks

The following networks are US-based, and are the ones from a list of networks targeting the female 18-34 demographic provided by the Time Warner Cable website that are the most recognizable to me.

ABC Family 

"ABC Family features original movies, series and specials - programming that is about today's families with all of their diversity, dysfunction, humor and passion. Real families, Real stories, Real heart."
Although ABC Family strikes me as being more family-based (therefore targeting demographics younger and older than 18-34, and male audiences, as well as the female 18-34 demographic), a few of their most popular recent shows have been targeted at the female 18-34 market. Including:

Beautiful People (2005-2006)

Beautiful People was a 16 episode series that centered around an all female family moving from New Mexico to NYC after the father figure leaves them. The three main characters were Lynne Kerr, the mother of the family who works in fashion, Karen Kerr, an aspiring model who struggles with her confidence after one of her agents suggests she uses diet pills to lose weight, and Sophie Kerr, an intelligent and talented photographer who wins a scholarship to an elite Manhattan prep school.
Themes: Beauty, Cosmopolitan, Fashion, Modeling, Insecurities, High Society, Wealth

Pretty Little Liars (2010-present)

Pretty Little Liars is a mystery teen drama series based on a popular series of novels of the same name. It centers around four beautiful high school girls who's friendship is affected by the murder of the fifth member of their clique, Alison, and the mystery of their being sent messages after her death from the anonymous "A".
Themes: Beauty, Mystery, High School, Friendship

The CW

The CW is a joint venture network between CBS and Warner Brothers. The CW is home to many of the world's most popular teen drama shows, and, according to its President of Entertainment Dawn Ostroff, "appeals to 18 to 34 years old".
Their shows which have been targeted towards the female 18-34 demographic include:

America's Next Top Model (2006-Present)

America's Next Top Model is a reality show in which women compete for the title of America's Next Top Model and the chance to start a career in the modeling industry. The show was created and is hosted by former supermodel, Tyra Banks.
Themes: Reality, Modeling, Fashion, Beauty

Gossip Girl (2007-Present)

Gossip Girl is a teen drama based upon a popular series of books of the same name, and is centered around the lives of privileged students of an elite prep school on Manhattan's Upper East Side. The female main characters include Blair Waldorf, who's mother is an acclaimed fashion designer and has forced several insecurities about appearance and an eating disorder onto her daughter, Serena van der Woodsen, the beautiful blonde "it girl" with a troubled past, and Jenny Humphrey, an aspiring fashion designer from Brooklyn who is deluded by the apparent glamour of the Upper East Side.
Themes: Cosmopolitan, High Society, Wealth, Fashion, Beauty, Insecurities, Relationships, Friendship

The Beautiful Life (2009-2010)

The Beautiful Life was a drama centered around a group of male and female models living in New York City. The main characters included Raina Marinelli, an aspiring model who experiences an overnight rise to fame, Chris Andrews, a new model from Iowa who has difficulties accepting his new life and modeling's "underworld", and Sonja Stone, a former supermodel who returns to modeling after having a child in secret.
Themes: Modeling, Cosmopolitan, Fashion, Beauty, Insecurities, Relationships

E! Entertainment Television

"E! Entertainment Television is the only 24-hour network devoted entirely to celebrities, entertainment and Hollywood. E! features original programming ranging from daily news updates to celebrity interviews to original movies and specials. E! goes behind the scenes of Hollywood and beyond."
The E! television network airs in several countries around the world, including the UK, hence their shows tend to become very successful with their target audience. Their shows include:

The Gastineau Girls (2005-2006)

The Gastineau Girls was a reality series that followed the lives of socialite mother and daughter duo Lisa and Brittny Gastineau in NYC (season one) and LA (season two).
Themes: Reality, Cosmopolitan, Wealth, Modeling

Keeping Up With The Kardashians (2006-Present)

Keeping Up With The Kardashians is a reality series that follows the domestic life of tabloid regular and model Kim Kardashian and her family.
Themes: Reality, Glamour, Wealth, Modeling


"What's happening and what's next in music and popular culture? Young adults turn to MTV to get the answers. From fashion, lifestyle and sports to attitudes, politics and trends, only MTV offers what's consistently fresh, honest and groundbreaking. The driving force behind MTV is its deep bond with young adult audiences. They talk. We listen."
MTV is a music and entertainment channel that, like E!, airs in several countries and has a huge following. Also like E!, most of its shows are reality and celebrity centric. Popular shows on MTV include:

The Hills (2006-2010)

The Hills was a reality series that followed the lives of young adults living and working in Los Angeles. The most notable figures to have emerged from the show are Lauren Conrad, former star of Laguna Beach, former Teen Vogue assistant, and current fashion designer, and Whitney Port, former Teen Vogue assistant, former star of The City, and current fashion designer.
Themes: Reality, Glamour, Wealth, Fashion, Relationships

The City (2008-2010)

The City was a spin-off of The Hills and followed former The Hills star Whitney Port as she moved to New York City to work for designer Diane Von Furstenburg, returned to work for old boss Kelly Cutrone at the New York offices for Cutrone's PR company Peoples Revolution, and eventually started her own fashion line. The City also starred Olivia Palermo, an old money uptown socialite who worked with Whitney at DVF before becoming an editor at Elle Magazine.
Themes: Reality, Cosmopolitan, Fashion, Wealth, Relationships


The following films were all targeted towards the female 18-34 demographic, and were huge successes at the box office.

Mean Girls (2004)

Mean Girls follows home-schooled student Cady Heron as she enters her first year at a public high school. At first unprepared, she soon learns about the various cliques, and a plot to take down the most exclusive results in her joining them.
Themes: High School, Friendship, Insecurities

The Devil Wears Prada (2006)

The Devil Wears Prada centers around a recent college graduate and aspiring news journalist, Andrea Sachs, as she moves to New York City and accepts a job as assistant to Miranda Priestly, the powerful and demanding editor in chief of a top fashion magazine, and follows her struggles as her job makes her question who she is and what matters to her.
Themes: Fashion, Cosmopolitan, Relationships, Insecurities

Sex and the City (2008)

Sex and the City is the film adaptation of the popular television series of the same name, and follows the lives of four women in New York City. The main characters include Carrie Bradshaw, a columnist who becomes engaged after a long term relationship, Samantha Jones, the promiscuous head of a successful PR firm, Charlotte York, the quintessential blue-blooded Upper East Side housewife, and Miranda Hobbes, a lawyer who struggles to balance her career and her home life.
Themes: Cosmopolitan, Fashion, Relationships, Friendship

Planning - Genre, Target Market, and Theme Ideas.

The group has been thinking about which genre of film we would like to produce a trailer for.

Last year, we produced a two minute film for the horror/thriller genre, with a vampire theme. We have decided that we would like to work with a very different genre this year, as we feel that we exhausted our ideas for the horror genre last year and would like experience working with a new genre.

We first discussed which genres are possible for us to produce to a standard that we would be satisfied with. For example, we feel that we couldn't work with the action genre as an action film/trailer would require a budget and level of professional special effects skills far above what we can offer to make it realistic and competitive with other action films on the market. We decided that either a romantic comedy or drama film would be the best for us to produce a trailer for, because both genres are "realistic" in nature, hence require less of a budget and professional special effects skills for us to create a high level of verisimilitude.
Out of the two, we settled on the drama genre, as after much discussion we agreed that low-budget romantic comedies often look, well, low budget. Working with a more serious genre will enable us to steer clear from potential "cheesiness".

With the genre we will be working within settled upon, we started thinking about more specific themes that we could work with. To be able to settle on a theme, the first thing for us to discuss which market we would like to target.
According to New York Magazine, the most profitable market for the film industry to target is the female market, as females not only choose the films that they would like to see alone, but those in relationships also tend to choose the film the couple sees.
The 18-34 year old market is often regarded as the "coveted" market, as younger people tend to be more media conscious, hence follow media news and film releases more so than older markets and frequent the cinema.
Therefore, our group decided that we should be discussing themes which target the females 18-34 market. We have started researching popular film and television products which target the same market, and will be producing a mind map for us to organize our ideas and visualize which themes will offer us the most to work with.