Voting is every Americans given right. We fought hard for it and now we have it for all men and women who meet the basic qualifications. Awesome. However, what I can’t stand leading up to election day the most is being bullied by family, peers and strangers that this is no longer a right but a “civic duty.” Give me a fucking break. If you want to exercise your free will to vote, good for you, but don’t force others to exercise theirs. As someone who has voted in almost every election of the past decade, I am not one of those “your vote doesn’t matter” people. Your vote can matter, but as with anything in life, participation only matters to you if you care about the results.
I recently moved states and now exist in no-man’s land where I could care less about an absentee vote on a state where I don’t live anymore and I know nothing about the local politics of my new state to cast a fair, educated vote. If I have no interest in either candidate or their policies, who does my vote help? Certainly not me since I wouldn’t even know what I was voting for. I’ve been told that’s lazy, but I think it’s better than casting an ignorant vote for “The Democrat” or “The Republican” where all I know is whether or not they make annoying TV commercials. How come I never see any non-partisan, non-biased educational campaign on the election overall being slammed in my face? Obviously, I don’t want to learn about candidate Smith from the Smith camp.
Pressuring the masses just to get out and vote is dumb when you’re not teaching them anything about how their vote affects their lives. You wouldn’t argue to send a bunch of unqualified amateurs to do any other job, so why this? How about instead of guilting people into voting who don’t actually care, we use our energy to teach those who might be interested but just don’t know enough to care.
I’m gonna turn around and rant on myself and my industry for a minute. The design industry be it print, web, clothing, structural or interior is an arrogant business. Everyone knows best regardless of skill, experience or training. We sit in meetings day in and day out, pitching ideas to clients, telling others they don’t understand functional design and defending our subjective views as if they were fact.
The problem is that in the real world none of that matters. Years of classes, working under industry leaders, tens of thousands of hours putting your knowledge to the test and yet it seems we are actually the least qualified to make any claims about the products we sell. In fact we are so far removed from consumers and end users in our thinking that it’s a miracle we ever hit the mark at all. The mouse clickers, the readers, the window shoppers, these are the people who dictate what works and what doesn’t. Unfortunately we’re not all in 4th grade art class anymore and the concept of being “good” really has lost all meaning. Good design is design that either sells or advances your industry and changes perceptions.
So maybe next time when your mother’s nosy neighbor decides to give you her two cents on your job and this “really interesting thing” she saw yesterday, we should all listen up.
I was having a discussion with a friend who is a creative at a large ad agency about the latest Old Spice campaign (http://twitter.com/oldspice) and (http://www.youtube.com/oldspice). I haven’t come across anyone who didn’t find the original ad which aired during the Super Bowl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owGykVbfgUE) hilarious, but then there was a second television spot, print ads and a social networking campaign with short video responses made from questions posted on twitter and youtube. My friend, like many, enjoys these commercials and thinks it is great for Old Spice branding, whereas I feel they should quit while they’re ahead so as to maintain the integrity of a great campaign and brand image.
From a corporate standpoint, it seems like a no-brainer to push a funny campaign until it’s writhing in pain on the ground. If people are still laughing then keep your foot on the accelerator and keep climbing that mountain. The problem is that while consumers can be hooked in seconds with a clever line, they can be turned off twice as fast by a bad one. Just as a good spokesperson can create very positive brand associations, a bad spokesperson can create lasting negative feelings and as we all know from personal relationships in life it’s far easier to forget the good things people do than the bad; it’s in our nature to hold grudges and make people earn our respect.
So we’ve reached the top. Everyone loves the brand, the ideas are fresh and people are on the edge of their seat waiting for more. However, as any funny idea reaches its peak of popularity, eventually the writers run out of steam, the light burns out and the joke dies. This is the worst thing that can happen because on the other side of that great mountain of creativity is a steep cliff with an angry mob of cynical, disengaged consumers waiting at the bottom. In one 30 second clip, all of the good you accomplished is washed away and the very thought of your brand tarnished. As the target consumer for this particular product, an easily influenced man with no brand-loyalty when it comes to body wash, I would honestly say that I would buy Old Spice based purely on this campaign to date. Conversely with my expectations so high, if they ruin it by making a bad commercial, I will be left feeling annoyed and turned off.
Two guilty brands that specifically come to mind in recent years are Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials and the Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy. From nobodies to celebrities, these two spokespeople came into our living rooms, were plastered on billboards, printed on merchandise and even imitated by teenagers on halloween. Both campaigns were successful, ran through many iterations and humorous ideas and eventually became very annoying. So annoying in fact that I would be hard pressed to patronize either of these brands for any service based solely on the negative brand associations they created in my mind. Now I am a more uptight consumer than most (I mean come on, my blog is me ranting about nothing), but everyone has a breaking point. Maybe you don’t get annoyed by the 4th or 5th knock-knock joke, but no one is asking for more come #20 and when you finally do break and you can’t take it anymore, the very thought of another makes you want to scream.
So where is that sweet spot? Where do you end it to go out on a high note? Who knows if that next commercial will be the one where you lose the customer? As with anything in life (Sports, Politics, Hollywood), with great success comes even more scrutiny and haters. The biggest challenge of standing above the crowd is maintaining a likable, marketable image while at the same time being aware that you have an expiration date. It’s never pretty watching someone or something go down in flames when they refuse to exit the stage, so when is the right time to quit when you strike oil?
Still disagree with me and think there is no harm with milking the same success until it runs dry? Ask any out-of-work CEO, athlete or celebrity who was once on top. In any industry creating a brand is easy and success comes cheap, sustainability is the hard part.
Ok so congrats to this woman on having the best luck in the multiverse but I can’t help but notice one thing.
She has a PhD and she’s playing $50 scratcher lottery tickets!? I would think after 7 years of higher education that you would be smart enough to know that is a terrible investment. Maybe she laughs in the face of math and logic considering she beat 1 in 18 septillion odds. If you were dumb enough to enter a casino and sat down at a table offering those chances, they would probably comp you the VIP suite for the duration of your stay.
I saw these today and one thing I hate is people who get so defensive about Livestrong bracelets, Breast Cancer Awareness and Support Our Troops magnets. I’m not talking about people actually affected by these things, but assholes who just want to take up a cause and preach to the world about it. If you care so much then get off your ass and actually help organize a charity event, donate money or send a soldier a care package. Your $2.99 donation for a stupid car magnet does not show that you care, it shows you’re lazy, you care what others think about you and most importantly you want to feel good about yourself!
Photo Credit: Ian Stenseng
Unfortunately, Brad and I rarely go out to the movies anymore. It just always seems expensive, and the movies uninspired and well, frankly? We’d rather spend our money on some good wine and good eats. But last night we broke our routine and went to the Uptown theater to see Jean Pierre Jeunet’s new movie Micmacs.
Jean Pierre Jeunet is most famous (in America) for directing Amelie (my favorite movie of all-time). So when Brad saw that he had a new movie out, he thought, “this is gonna be good!” Me? Not so much. Amelie is my FAVORITE movie. Beats A League of Their Own. Beats When Harry Met Sally. Beats Eternal Sunshine. It’s the best. So how can Jeunet outdo that?
I don’t know if Micmacs is “better” than Amelie, but it was pretty friggin amazing. In fact, they were fairly similar. Vigilante characters. Beautiful camera angles. Rich, saturated colors. Quirky supporting characters. A crazy, unpredictable plot. It was so refreshingly original. I couldn’t get over it. I guess in movies nowadays I’m always guessing what will happen next (and most of the times, I’m unfortunately right). But with this movie, ANYTHING could happen at any minute.
Anyway, I highly recommend it :) Now, I just gotta convince Brad to go see Toy Story 3 with me.
The story of Ludger Sylbaris is one that is so outlandish, so astonishing that it is difficult to believe that it is true. So amazing is his story that Barnum & Bailey hired him to travel with the circus, not because he had an act, but because he was a sort of relic. The ‘only’ remaining survivor of a volcano that flattened an entire city, the “Paris of the West Indies,” killing an estimated 30-40,000 people.
Why!? Why do companies insist on messing with the classics? The O.G. Stouffer’s French Bread Pizza which for years was a staple in any child’s freezer. When mom was too busy to cook, pull a couple french breads out of the ice box, throw them in the microwave for 4 minutes and then dive in (inevitably burning the roof of your mouth on boiling, lava-hot, melted cheese).
Last night however, I decided to take a walk down memory lane and picked up a box of these at the local convenience store. Everything seemed in order until I got home and opened the box and realized the little paper crisping tray was gone. This seemed odd, but I figured microwave technology has come along way and perhaps our society has moved beyond “microwave baking sleeves.” I turn the box over and the microwave instructions were gone. In their place were oven and microwave + oven where you microwave the pizza for 2 minutes and then finish in the oven, which seems absolutely ridiculous to me.
Normally I would love to cook anything in the oven over the microwave, except that my oven was in the middle of a 5 hour self-clean cycle; a big part of the reason that I opted for a microwavable dinner in the first place. I figured, what do the people at Stouffer’s know? I’ve been microwaving these puppies since before these “food scientists” were graduating from Food University. I didn’t need any red-box instructions, 1 pizza takes 3.5 - 4 minutes on high. Unfortunately, without the magical tray, my pizza came out soggy on the inside, overcooked and rubbery on the outside. Sheer and utter disappointment! How could you do this to me Stouffer’s!? Bring it back!
What’s that you say? You crave a grilled cheese with bacon, but you don’t want all the carbs of a big, heavy bun? Well KFC has heard you cries and now your prayers have been answered.
Two all white-meat chicken breasts prepared either grilled or deep-fried sandwich strips of bacon, melted cheese and a special sauce. It’s the kind of thing that makes you question how you could be so blind to not see this obvious food pairing until today; I HAD to try one and considering my strict adherence to the empirical method, I could not fairly evaluate this creation without trying both varieties.
I first took a bite of the fried version and just as I suspected… delicious. I was instantly transported back to my days in college, waking up hungover to my friend Rachael standing their with Sam’s club frozen chicken patties, dredged in hot sauce and covered in melted provolone and bacon (she was a pioneer before her time). In fact my one complaint about the deep-fried Double Down was the lack of a spicy kick. The sauce they use has a nice flavor to it, but it was lacking that punch. A trip to the fridge produced a large bottle of Frank’s and my one complaint was solved.
I was delightfully satisfied at this point and did not think that the night could get any better when I realized I needed to give the “healthier,” grilled snack a fair chance. I dove in again like it was the first time and imagine my surprise. The grilled one blew its deep-fried sibling out of the water. The flavor from the grilled seasoning rub and the juiciness of the chicken. I felt like I was sitting at the black jack table and out comes deuce-deuce. A smile comes across my face as I split and then DOUBLE DOWN!
One of my biggest pet-peeves around the office or anywhere for that matter are those never-ending conversations. It’s even worse when you’re not part of the conversation but have to overhear a 45-minute discussion where one person clearly DOES NOT GET IT. You painfully hear the clued-in person explain in 10 different ways to the clueless party how it works and just when you think they comprehend and are walking away you get the, “but what about…”
It’s like you witnessed the conception, you watched it grow, you attended the college graduation, the wedding was a bore with a terrible spread, and sadly all you want is for this conversation to die! You know what I mean when it’s all wrapping up nicely and coming to a close (for the 3rd time) and then like Xmas decorations in October, it’s back in full force. It’s enough to make you want to shake a baby.