Having gone through the period where I merely glutted myself on ads, I’ve progressed to the level of critiquing them, judging my own reactions to their images and how they work to provoke certain feelings within me. My senior research project is a study on fonts (Serif versus Sans Serif typefaces and their effectiveness in evoking moods and communicating beyond text), applicable to the branding and slogans of ads. In addition to fonts, I have begun analyzing other qualities of ads, discerning the artistic choices that make a Chloe or a Marc Jacobs ad instantly recognizable (the former: romantic vibrancy; the latter: striking minimalism) and, more generally, what aesthetics mean to business.
Attending Camp Impact at LeBow College of Business expanded my understanding of marketing choices to include production, distribution, and pricing. By altering simple variables and numbers in the PharmaSim market simulation–adding more coupons, offering a wholesale discount–I saw how the net profits and stock prices were influenced by issues outside of aesthetic design. But instead of discovering that marketing was less aesthetic than I’d initially thought at Camp Impact, where my groupmates and I stayed up till 1am one night to collaborate on our presentation, I learned to love marketing more, for its other aspects: the teamwork it involved, the math in calculating proportions, the overlooked variables of pricing and distribution, the prospect of discovering new ways to find an audience for an overlooked product. While my interest in advertising and product packaging, the aesthetics of business, still stands, I know there is more for me to explore as a marketing major at Penn’s Wharton School of Business.
What I like about Penn is the practical, learn-by-doing approach promoted by founder Ben Franklin, having initially applied it in my self study of liquid containers and ads. I look forward to classes like MGMT100, which seem daunting at first — a team of 18 year olds organizing an entire community event sans adult directives?! — and what they will teach me about making executive decisions, delegating authority, and turning the abstract into the tangible. MGMT100 is just one class of many at Wharton that develops teamwork and leadership skills in knowledgeable students, skills necessary for future business leaders. Penn also offers me, through research opportunities like CURF and the Weiss Tech House, the chance to explore the full interdisciplinary implications of my interest in typefaces, Serif and Sans Serif, or the impact of ad design on buying decisions and branding. This environment at Penn, that emphasizes real world applications and interaction among peers, while promoting individual responsibility and initiative, fits my learning approach.
At Penn, I hope to explore beyond my initial aesthetic interest, beyond what marketing encompasses, to other realms of business and other areas of study. My family’s background from China has highlighted for me, fluent in Chinese, the increasing globalization in business, evident on Sino-TV and in stories of lead contamination in toys. The chance to study abroad places these tensions of globalization in a more tangible context. Learning alongside international business students, we can build our knowledge on top of each other, to create solutions for future arising problems. A Latin student for six years, I’ve also gained an interest in the languages of other nations, and at Penn, I can supplement my business education with the studies of these languages at the School of Arts and Sciences. In this way, I can further contribute to the diversity that Penn offers, in my ambitions to develop myself as a well-rounded, multilingual leader.
Marketing is a field that encompasses everything from economics and art to politics and psychology, and Penn, where a liberal arts education is juxtaposed with experience-based training in business, is the perfect place to study just how much of an impact a sleek container, a slight change in price, a different distribution channel can really make on the world economy. I have always been interested in aesthetics because of my desire to see beauty, whether in an attractive Polo ad that instantly connotes class, or on the novel labels on Jones Soda bottles that give the hipster consumer the illusion of participation, or simply in the combination of rigid and flexible lines in Helvetica font. At Wharton, I can nurture this interest in marketing and expand it to areas within and beyond business. Here, I can become part of a community that grows through teamwork. Here, I can become a business leader. And here, I can proudly display my amateur exhibition of fine water bottles, without worrying about their disposal.