Example Media Essay
Hakkasan Restaurant Review
Christian Liaigre’s magnificent designs and Tong Chee Hwee’s magical food makes the experience at Hakkasan truly memorable and out of the world, quite befitting to their glowing Michelin star …well except that it also creates a massive black hole in your money-bag.
It is not easy to find the restaurant in Hanway Place. The lack of visible sign-boards make the journey to the restaurant like a game of treasure hunt (Juliane 145, 2015). There is a fair amount of mystery surrounding its location and you soon realize that the feeling does not end there. As you open the doors of the restaurant you enter into a dark mysterious orient dream. The blue lighting, the play with the colours, the dark wooden screens and latticing, the black and gold panels all add to the mysterious aura of the place. It is creative and contagious in a ‘secret-society’ kind of way (Vera B, 2015).
I am seated on my table which is daringly close to the next one where two men in suits are having a quiet conversation. I am tempted to lean and listen and that makes me instantly uncomfortable. The tables are too close to each other and around me are all groups of well-dressed and elegant people. As a blogger from London said ‘The interiors are dimly lit enough for wisp thin socialites of the evening crowd to avoid interacting with the food without attracting too much attention to the fact. There’s a lot of black leather, dark wood and deep pockets’. (Kazim, 2013). Bits of conversation about the sublime and delicate dim sum floated into my ears and I ordered exactly that to start with. There is a strange sense of mystery and secrecy about the place. Imagine if ‘Men in Black’ was shot in some of the sets from ‘Kill Bill’. I was almost expecting an action scene from a Chinese movie or even a James Bond film to start unexpectedly in the middle of my meal and some writers who visited the restaurant before me seem to agree. ‘It looks like it could be some sort of high class opium den in the heart of Hong Kong’, one of them said. (Waters, 2011).
However, as soon as the food arrives you forget about everything else. The smell, colours taste and feel of the food take you on a journey to the far corners of China. Now the dream is no more dark but beautifully tasteful. The food not only tastes fascinating but it appeals to each one of your senses. The dim sum platter was truly sublime and delicate and they are definitely the best dim sums that I have ever encountered. A gentle cloud of smoke comes out as soon as I open the steaming basket, then the aura fills my lungs and when I eat it, my taste buds start to tingle.
My journey continued and rendered me more speechless with every course. However due to the lack of great service the wait between each of my courses seemed endless. As I waited impatiently, I witnessed impersonal waiters shuttling between tables and guests walking down the corridor which had turned itself into a ‘makeshift runway’ (Kazim, 2013). However, that is not a surprise considering that it is one of the few restaurants in London that imposes a dress-code. On the bottom of the website these words glare back at you, ‘Our dress code is smart casual. No sportswear. Jeans are permitted as long as they are worn smartly with shoes and a collared shirt. Please do not wear hats inside Hakkasan’ (Hakkasan Hanway Place, N.D.).
I ordered the stir-fry rib-eye beef and asparagus with lemon-grass for main course. It was flawlessly presented and the taste was exquisite. Each component complemented the other and the meat was so precisely cooked that it melted like butter on my tongue. I ended my meal with the chocolate and kalamansi ganache. The perfect amount of citrus infused in the rich chocolate created an impeccable end to my star studded culinary experience.
Undeniably Hakkasan is special and sensual in its own mysterious ways. Even though the sight of the bill will momentarily burst your bubble, it is an experience that will entice your taste buds and leave you begging for more.
Critical Appraisal of a Lifestyle Offering
In 2014, 38 million adults (76%) in UK accessed the Internet every day. Access to the Internet using a mobile phone more than doubled between 2010 and 2014. It rose from 24% in 2010 to 58% in 2014. 74% of all adults bought goods or services online which went up from 53% in 2008 (Office for National Statistics, 2014). Internet has consumed a huge portion of our lives and the above facts prove that a large section of people do most of their reading and shopping online. Howtospendit.com was launched in 2009 and in September 2011 they launched their free ipad app which has been downloaded 260,000 times. With extensive numbers of people using the internet, it makes it an intelligent choice for advertisers to use online platforms like blogs and websites to promote their products. Thus for the past few years sponsored posts have become exceedingly popular with advertisers and sponsors. A sponsored post is when an editor receives payment to publish an article provided by the sponsor or written by the editor/ writer, but includes at least one contextual link. These articles are also known as a guest posts. (Castellani, 2011).
This article on Howtospendit.com is an example of a sponsored post by Raid Senso. However, it is not one that is generic and uninformative. There are several factors that need to be considered while writing a good sponsored post. The first and the most important thing to remember is the target audience. The writer/editor must put themselves in the shoes of the readers to see if the content is either answering their questions or providing them with relevant and useful information. Howtospendit.com is a luxury lifestyle magazine and this article fits in with the target audience base that the online magazine caters to. The article is about Rais –Senso, a boutique inn in Rabat, Morocco, and it caters to the fairy upmarket, luxury holiday seekers. There are three people who need to be pleased when writing a sponsored post. Firstly, the writer/editor must be proud of the content they create. Second are the readers, because without the readers the publication will cease to exist. Finally there are the sponsors. The writers must make sure that all the requirements of the sponsors are met without compromising the integrity of the blog (Linsey, 2013). The relationship between the reader, editor and sponsor can be quite complicated and difficult. However, it is the responsibility of the editors to mediate between the readers the sponsors. The sponsors want to promote their brands and the readers are looking for engaging and informative pieces of content. So the editor needs to find this middle ground which will give both sides what they are looking for but also at the same time stay true to themselves.
A sponsored post usually works by creating engaging pieces of content related to the advertiser and then a link is added in the article with the intention of promoting the brand. This is done not only to promote products and services but also the addition of the link helps to drive traffic to the advertiser’s websites resulting in ranking higher on Google by the creation of backlinks (Google, 2015). However, there has been several controversies related to the backlinks and Google has laid down strict policies regarding that. Google Webmaster tools clearly states that buying or selling links that pass PageRank can negatively impact a site’s ranking. ‘This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link’ (Google Webmater Tools, 2015). A large number of editors think of ways of making money from their online publications. However, that is often done by creating irrelevant generic content which do not provide the user with any relevant information resulting in no engagement. This can be harmful for the advertisers as well. The link on the article results in the addition of a backlink but that does not convert into actual sales. However, with the fear of getting penalized by Google, many editors have taken Google policies into consideration and have started creating content solely keeping the reader in mind.
This article on Howtospendit.com is a great piece of content. It tells us a story. It takes the reader on a journey. This is a journey that a lot of readers are looking for and can identify with instantly. It is personal and informative at the same time. The vivid descriptions give the readers a sense of the mystique, colours and culture of Morocco. Even though Howtospendit.com caters to a luxury upmarket audience base, this article can also be categorised as edgy because it combines culture and intellect and puts it together in the shell of a romantic get-away. Such places cater to people who are looking for an experience that different and unique. The compelling back story of Migrants du Monde adds to the personal touch. It is also an informative piece of content. It gives the readers information on sightseeing, food, costs and souvenirs. If the readers are looking for such an experience, from the information that has been provided in the article, they can easily recreate the exact same experience. This article not only creates a perfect environment for the sponsors to promote themselves by painting a picture of the brand but it also tells the readers the story behind it. In keeping with the edgy upmarket theme, the design, the use of the colours black and gold and the layout give the article a simple, sophisticated but luxurious feel. This helps in creating the perfect backdrop for this article. However, a few more pictures would have enhanced the article further and helped the readers to visualize their stay in the beautiful Riad Senso.
Castellani, J. (2011, September 9). What is a Sponsored Post? Retrieved February 25, 2014, from http://blogadvertisingrates.com/2011/09/09/what-is-a-sponsored-post/
Google. (2015). What are backlinks and how do I use them? Retrieved February 26, 2015, from Blogger: https://support.google.com/blogger/answer/42533?hl=en
Google Webmater Tools. (2015). Link schemes. Retrieved February 26, 2015, from https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en
Hakkasan Hanway Place. (N.D.). Hakkasan Hanway Place: Overview. Retrieved February 25, 2015, from http://hakkasan.com/locations/hakkasan-hanway-place/
Juliane 145. (2015, February 21). Honoured by a star. Retrieved February 25, 2015, from Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g186338-d699656-r255595602-Hakkasan_Hanway_Place_Restaurant-London_England.html#REVIEWS
Kazim, L. (2013, October 6). hakkasan hanway, dim sum sundays - review. Retrieved February 24, 2015, from The Cutlery Chronicles: http://www.thecutlerychronicles.com/2013/10/hakkasan-hanway-dim-sum-sundays-review.html
Linsey, C. (2013, June 14). How to write a sonsored post. Retrieved Februray 26, 2015, from http://thebloggingbunch.com/how-to-write-a-sponsored-post/
Office for National Statistics. (2014). Internet Access – Households and Individuals 2014 . Retrieved February 25, 2015, from http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/rdit2/internet-access---households-and-individuals/2014/stb-ia-2014.html
Vera B. (2015, February 22). Memorable Dim Sum lunch! Retrieved February 25, 2015, from Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUserReviews-g186338-d699656-r255856983-Hakkasan_Hanway_Place_Restaurant-London_England.html#REVIEWS
Waters, C. (2011, August 11). gourmet chick. Retrieved February 25, 2015, from Hakkasan: http://www.gourmet-chick.com/2008/02/about-gourmet-chick.html