Blog post

A bright, brash lesson on how to grab hold of an audience

A visit to New York can give you many things – there is such a huge amount to see. For student Mimi Oloni, our International Travel Awards trip gave her the chance to experience so much of what she had learned on her Marketing and Consumer Psychology course

By Mimi Oloni - 2 July 2019

First impressions

Times Square was buzzing. As you can imagine. It was the first place we visited after arriving in New York – and what a first impression.

The flashing lights, rolling adverts and high-rise buildings. You couldn’t walk in such a captivating environment like that without taking at least a hundred videos and photos. It exceeded my expectation!

The interactive advertisements are what captivated me the most as, being a Marketing and Consumer Psychology student, you learn how to grab hold of an audience. At Times Square, you just didn’t know where to look and to think all of these brands and companies are fighting for a space just to be seen and heard in one of the most iconic locations was crazy.

You looked to your left and you would see a beauty campaign. You’d look to your right and you’d see a film trailer. If you looked behind, you would see music artists promoting their debut single. You literally can find any kind of advert, all of which have some kind of call to action, and this is what Americans are brilliant at. They know how to emotionally engage an audience through the psychology of bright colours, iconic branding and repetition.

These are mechanisms I learned over the course of three years on my course and so this trip has enhanced my knowledge of Consumer Psychology since I was able to see advertising in a market-based economy.

Talking chicken

I always get excited when talking about food but one thing I was particularly excited to try was the chicken in America! Some even call me the chicken connoisseur.

I do have to say that the food in America is on another level. I visited Chick-Fil-A, Dunkin Donuts, Popeyes, Bubba Gump Shrimp and even the McDonalds tasted better. Some may view the food as fatty but the taste was beyond imagination. It had such richness and the portions were definitely larger! I wasn’t complaining because it was such great value for money in comparison to the food in the UK.

What made it more of a memorable experience was the customer service. It wasn’t as expected. For example, at Chick-Fil-A, you were given the option to fill out a tablet while queuing to speed up the process of receiving your food. Furthermore, you would provide your name alongside your order and this would be called out when your food was ready. I found this an efficient way to reduce the waiting time and also gave it a personal touch so this got me thinking about Marketing and Business.

Being bold

What had made the prospect of going to America with the International Travel Awards even greater was the fact that I’d had the opportunity last year to apply for this trip – which takes in Washington DC as well as New York City – but I was so into my head about not knowing anyone that it prohibited me.

Now, a year later, I finally found the confidence and self-belief to apply and look at where I ended up! I went to a once-in-a-lifetime destination, became more culturally aware and made the best friendship group. Who knew I could become so close to a few individuals after only spending a week with them? We are all still in touch and I am so blessed to have met them.

If you’re considering applying for the next International Travel Awards or having doubts, be bold and take that leap! I am ever so grateful to all those that made it possible for me to meet such lovely people in a location so mesmerising.

And it all became reality when I received the email congratulating me on my place for the trip on my birthday! What a way to top my birthday!

On top of the world

After Times Square on day one, day two consisted of the Empire State Building tour, with a visit to the Observation Decks. If the view from the outside of the building wasn’t enough, being at the very top was remarkable. I left my fear of heights to one side and took in the views with the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square and more just being in the distance.

I do have to mention, the day we went, the winds came in full force so to get photos of each other proved an absolute mission. With me acting as the wardrobe assistant and another being the photographer, we managed to get some half-decent photos of each other, but most consisted of faces full of hair.

Later that day, we visited the busy Grand Central Terminal. It was strange to see it in person as a couple of years ago I watched a film called 2:22 and it struck me how large it was. The interior was like no other station or terminal I’ve ever seen – a sculpture of Hercules, large chandeliers and large stairwells.

Here’s a fact our amazing tour guide, Russell Lewis, shared with us. There is a small dark patch on the ceiling of the terminal which was actually the original colour before restoration. It has been left as a reminder of the transformation that took place.

A wave of emotions

You can’t put together the words to describe the feelings that you experience when walking into the 9/11 Museum. Hearing the phone calls from the victims, loved ones and firefighters, reading the transcribed dialogue of what happened on that day, passing the destruction caused by the planes, I was left shaken.

What did make me feel hopeful was the togetherness and compassion created by such an indescribable tragedy. This also calls for a time of reflection and appreciation for life.

A famous quote from Virgil’s The Aeneid that was made out of steel inside the building stuck with me. It reads: “No day shall erase you from the memory of time.”

Washington DC

Despite only being in Washington DC for a night, you could feel the contrast from the busy, city life in New York. It was more mellow but there was plenty to do. The weather seemed to be on our side also!

We went on Russell’s walking tour to see some iconic memorials including the WW2 Memorial, Lincoln Memorial and Jefferson Memorial. We then had some free time to explore, in which my friend and I used the opportunity to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture. What a way to end my time in America.

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to the University of Derby for this incredible opportunity and their support throughout the journey. To now be able to say that I’ve been to America feels amazing! From binge-watching American TV series and films to actually experiencing and living the culture was surreal.

About the author

Mimi Oloni
Marketing and Consumer Psychology graduate

I am a recent graduate in BSc (Hons) Marketing and Consumer Psychology. I enjoy watching psychological films, TV series and documentaries as well as going to the gym.