Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Peace Out 2007, USA, and Friendster

I'm leaving in a few minutes for Peru and will see you all in 2008. But I did a little clean up before leaving...

I can't imagine how frustrating receiving this form must be.

Happy holidays and an early happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Holiday Sweater Fridizzle

I couldn't think of a better way to say "Happy Holidays". Even with all the help from agencies like R/GA and corporations like Puma. So hopefully this picture is worth at least those two words.

I won in the category Best Incorporation of an Animal. I was the CATegory. Enjoy the kittens peeking out from behind the present as I walk up to accept my prize—Ozzy Goes to Hollywood on VHS.
Thanks again to Annie for the gear.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Best [Advertising] Ideas of 2007

There's no reason why I'm any more qualified than most of you readers to giving out these awards. In fact I may be less qualified considering I don't even know what those brackets around advertising in the subject even mean. However, I still say most because I do know a few friends reading who really are quite single-minded in assessment of advertising ideas—"Funny" or "Not Funny". But maybe the unsophisticated scale is dead-on-balls-accurate (yes, that's a My Cousin Vinny quote). I mean, shoot, look at the most liked Super Bowl commercials poll each year...you know Career Builder does. Oh word? Word.

The inspiration for a list like this came from my disappointment not to see any advertising agency ideas on The New York Times Magazine's 70 Ideas "that made 2007 what it was." While I have to admit, I wasn't surprised in the least, it is a bit disconcerting considering many of us see ideas as our currency. Plus, claiming we create (pop) culture in many cases, can we ever have the longevity to make a year what it was? I mean, I need a Bahamavention! Yes? No? Word.

Take a look at the 70 - or at least 3 or 4 before they tell you to log in. Most of the blogs I read didn't even cover these ideas other than Radiohead's pricing model innovation, of course.

I was also surprised not to see more companies on the list. I'm sure innovative companies have their own list. It is actually heavy on interesting research findings. And apparently as an industry, we did not come up with any earth-shattering research, uncover a relationship that exists between two unrelated things and put to use the scientific method we all learned in high school. Though I think I did hear that one big agency did find that moms shop for cars and electronics too.

Anyway, here are my nominations for the best [advertising] ideas this year. Please do not use old definition of advertising that's based on one-way messaging to a waiting audience; rather, use a more modern meaning (communications and conversations) as well as keep it broad enough to encompass any ideas from ad guys and gals and agencies. Okay, enough of that explanation - here are ideas that I loved in 2007 (in no particular order):

1. The Tap Project (Simple and simply amazing idea brought to life)
2. Cadbury Gorilla (Pure joy and completely memorable)
3. Planning for Good (Born at a Conference, who would have thought)
4. CMPB's Get The Glass (Visually stunning and engaging site)
5. Nike's Leave Nothing (I'm a huge Last of the Mohicans fan...and now I work at W+K so I'm biased)

Crazy both milk and chocolate in the top five, and I'm not even a dessert guy. Also would like to give a "quik" shout-out to Dynamite Surfing, Fight for Kisses, and Good Things Should Never End. Not that I couldn't make them numbers 6 and 7 I guess. Oh well, too late.

After starting this post, I realized that Johnny Vulkan already did a nice job summing up the year. And Contagious Magazine did an even more comprehensive recap of 2007 including everything from social media to design. However, what would be great is if people added to this list by emailing or commenting and then we put it to a vote.

Who knows, maybe by the end we'll be inspired to aim to make NYTimes Mag's list next year?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity: Back-to-Back

As one week of immaturity ends, another one begins. This is totally up my alley and hopefully will be up yours as well. Yeah, up yours. While watching Jason perform on Celebrity Rap Superstar annoys me to no end, Justin Bobby does quite the opposite. So you can imagine my excitement to find a JB and Audrina spoof by real actors!

I have been back this site since The Landlord skit that basically launched it, but you can be sure I'll be checking back in with FunnyorDie soon.

And lastly, may as well remind you all here that the season Finale for A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila is Tuesday night at 10PM. There's a show that will certainly help make the point of the video above. We all need those writers back working.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity

It's been a slow week for new stuff (except for things us ad people pass around to each other like Burger King's new viral campaign).

Yet I was fortunate enough to have this make its way into my life after a year and a half or so when it was posted.

I guess you could say I'm way late to the game, but we're not even talking about a game. Plus, watching this gets me psyched up to watch the Hoyas play Radford tomorrow night.

In case that didn't really satisfy your craving (and because it's holiday season), I've also added a few of the classics—Maury P, Sour Grapes, Bubb Rubb, and HCWD—, a throwback game, and if you're ever looking for an old Internet phenomenon, you may want to start here. (Take that Google/Knol.)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Working at Wieden

I never made a formal announcement because I told the 15 of you who read this at least somewhat regularly in-person. However, given that every once in a while Google Analytics shows me that someone from another part of the globe drops in (on?), it behooves me (yes, behooves—I'm always jealous when other people get to use that word , so even if there's a better verb here, I'm going with behooves) to post to the world that:

(1) I now work at Wieden + Kennedy. (Day 12)
(2a) The nonsense expressed here is all me baby.
(2b) Neither Wieden nor Kennedy know I have a blog. (But a few AE's do)
(3) Just rounding the list out with a number 3, so it looks prettier and officialier.

I'm working mostly on ESPN. You've probably already realized a bit of an increase in sports-related posts. And this trend will likely continue as the job requirement to "be even more of a sports fan" is one I've been gladly fulfilling.

Finally, for the many of you who aren't in the industry, definitely go check out the agency's site. But let me highlight a few things of the things (in addition to the kick ass work on ESPN - I'm saying that as a pre-job fan) that drew and now continue to draw me to this place:

Coca-Cola and Nike and Honda. London's blog and holiday card (well actually it's not PC in that regard; it's a Christmas card). Portland's school, and the fact that they get involved with things like Ignite Portland, the premise of which is this: "If you had five minutes on stage what would you say? What if you only got 20 slides and they rotated automatically after 15 seconds?" (You can see videos of the presentations here)

But just like any place, it's all about the people. They are some of the most creative people I know and have done some of the work I admire, yet they're all approachable and importantly not territorial. In 13 days, I've concepted with a writer, brainstormed with digital media, written briefs, and played pipeball (more on that See for yourself below where I've embedded a video of some of the guys I work with (in our offices at the start):

Be hooves.

Monday, December 10, 2007

What Are You Doing?

Here's a Monday Morning Mashup! (You all know how I love that alliteration). So I just got to uploading some recent pictures into iPhoto, including one of a ridiculous truck-limo that was trying to park on the west side of Union Square the other night. Additionally, last week I was surprised to see the VMA's back in my twitter feed (they'd stopped since the show in September) and the tweets from Lil Weezy and Soulja Boy made my day (or hour at least) so I took a screen grab. Now with these two images together, I'd like to imagine we were all there chillin' in that monster limo freestyling about the Internet.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity: Walk Hard

When immaturity and ingenuity in marketing collide, the thing (link, story, etc.) gets elevated to the IOI subject. This doesn't happen often (Shave Everywhere was probably the last time, or perhaps it was Tea Partay). Actually if I had moved quickly on Tay Zonday's Cherry Chocolate Rain for Dr. Pepper earlier this week, it could have made the leap up...but I didn't. Yet, a couple days ago flavorpill let the Internet world know that Dewey Cox could be performing in your city. Yes, that's correct: Before the movie goes into theaters, Walk Hard is going on Tour.

I'm a big fan of this type of promotion. Movies seem to have a lot of opportunity to create real experiences, to utilize many assets and content, to galvanize audiences/communities. This isn't funny, but check out what Kite Runner did with viewing parties. On the contrary, Balls of Fury is right up my alley but after the trailer went around online months before its theatrical release, there was no follow up. Anyway, I am going to try and hit up the show in NYC on the 19th, but its holiday party season so I may have to miss it. If anyone is definitely going, let me know.

Just in case that [info] was too soft, here's your fill of more traditional immaturity:

Happy Hamukkah. Oh thank you Balducci's.
Huhukkah?. As TrueHoop blog says "Dunk got your tongue?" Darius Miles is not as good when his lines aren't written for him Van Wilder-style. (This has nothing to do with the Jewish holiday, but was trying to keep the theme going.)
Chicagokkah. Okay, now I'm really forcing it. But thanks Jake, for this gem and for giving the pre-read background: "It looks like they took a press release for winter tires and replaced tires with a certain hilarious noun."

And finally, if you're in NYC tonight and are ready to begin training to walk hard, you can start by rocking out softly. My buddies Matt and Jimmy are going to be DJing at Midway (25 Ave. B at 2nd St) from 11pm on. From their "press release":

We'll be going by the moniker Awesome Dudes -- an alias that, besides being awesome, is also subtle and cool, just like us. We're gonna be jammin' like it's 1978, dropping nothing but the hottest soft rock hits and blue eyed soul from the likes of Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren, Boz Skaggs, Hall & Oates and whatever else we can cook up on the laptops. We'll also throw in some disco and house to get the bodies moving. So stop by to say hi, have a drink, and rock out (as long as you do it softly).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Badass By Association

I like to say I'm a combination of Seth Godin and Jabar Gaffney. Well, actually I've never said that before, but after last night I'm definitely trying to link myself with the latter. You see, I get pretty excited when people with (at least part of) my name perform. Call it "X" by association. In this case, I'm now one step closer to getting the nickname "Crazy Hands" Gaffney on the flag football field.

So when Seth Godin comes through with a hot book or post, I can't say I've ever felt closer to it than others but it does kind of make me want to step up my game as a Seth (a Seth G. at that). Or when Seth Green comes through with a hot video clip (like Chris Cocker) or Robot Chicken episode or character (Kenny, anyone?), I try to up the funny...after being like, "yeah SETH! that's what's up!"

And don't think this is limited to "real people." In fact, when characters in movies, TV shows, or books are named Seth or Gaffney (yet to see a Seth Gaffney), I reap the benefits. You don't think girls at bars ever said, "Oh, like Seth Cohen???" That's right. Jokes and jokes and jokes and spaghetti, spaghetti. How about Seth from Boiler Room? A bit of a whiner, but ran that casino from his house and could make a sell like no other newbie. Not last and certainly not least my sister, Julie "The Cat" Gaffney saving the last shot glove side in the Mighty Ducks 2 shootout with Russia. What? Yes, that's right. Team USA. Give me a high five for homegirl!

That's all. If you see my in the hall, throw me something. A pen, stapler, whatever. I'll catch it...and then I'll tell you about a Purple Calf...because I'm badass by association.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tennis Anyone?

In the midst of college football's most important pre-bowl games, college basketball starting to heat up, weekly NFL excitement, post-Euro 2008 qualifiers, and even some solid NBA action, not much attention has, or will I imagine, be given to tennis. I wish that was not the case, especially with this awesome news...
The United States has won the Davis Cup for the first time since 1995 (12 years is the longest span without a title) at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, OR (which is the first time the U.S. has hosted since 1992). Yes, that was a run-on sentence, but I figured if I didn't know the historical stats before reading the article, odds are you won't either. And for anyone who wants to learn more—like that the Davis Cup was conceived by 4 Harvard students in 1899 and was first played in 1900 against Great Britain—check out the Wikipedia entry. One last sentence of info: It is a 16-team/country tournament put on by the ITF (International Tennis Federation), and the U.S. beat the Czech Republic, Spain, Sweden, and then Russia (in that order) to take the title.

So congratulations to Patrick McEnroe (captain), Roddick, Blake, the Bryan Brothers, whom (as a doubles player myself) I believe are the most fun players to watch in the world. Watching Bob Bryan, a lefty, serve 4 straight aces in a game at the Open this year was one of the most ridiculous sports feats I've witnessed in person. (There should be a name for that, but I don't think there is. Anyone? What's the opposite of the golden sombrero.) He was also the model for American Express' serve analysis that they offered for free in Bryant Park.

I've always been a fan of doubles. I've enjoyed playing it mostly for the strategic aspect (as well as the fact that it allowed me to more easily hide my appalling backhand). And I've enjoyed watching the strategy that great teams employ (as well as the speed of net play and the energy that comes from having a partner with whom to celebrate - just look at the Bryans' patented chest bump). I've also always been a fan of team sports, so making this individualistic sport a team one for this tournament has always been appealing...even if I can never find it on T.V. And finally, I like an international competition...even it's no World Cup. Even as an accomplished singles player, Andy Roddick has talked about how this tournament holds the most importance to him for this reason. And that's the main reason I've always supported him. He cares as much about growing the sport of tennis in the U.S. as anyone in the USTA., and he acknowledges he can't do it alone.

Anyway, I'm pumped so I posted. As Mike Bryan put it, “No words can explain how we feel right now, except Woooooooo!” The energy around this event is really good for the sport, and if I ran the USTA, I'd work more closely with the ITF, invest more in getting it on air and making people aware of it, and link it closer to their youth tennis initiatives. Yes, I know there is a significant challenge in that it takes almost a full year to complete (first round in Feb and just finished now). However, as a planner this is a challenge I'd love to take on...with a team!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity

I've been too busy watching A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila to post my immaturity. You can have too much of a good thing apparently. Good luck to Dani. Sorry Amanda and Bobby, but T-squared deserves the best of both worlds. That didn't come out right. You know what I mean though. Actually, you probably don't...and you're definitely better off for it. She's just cool. Anyway, another excuse I have for letting the IOI slip is: I've been studying. Nope, not for the GMAT's or LSAT's or Jeopardy (What is quiche...anyone?); rather, I've been studying my maths...the math of rap, that is!

This is almost as good as The Village Voice's breakdown of This is Why I'm Hot: Rap Charts. A sneak peak of what you'll find (a couple of the more tame lyrics):

Wow. I really can enjoy that all day. But anyway, a few more links for the rock or folk music fans...
-This is not for trendy mustache wearers: Beards Rule
-This new sport may not catch on: Binocular Soccer
-This customer complaint is classic: Jimmy Dean Call
-This is a coldblooded prank: Cardinals Game
-This is for the margarita-loving and advertising-recalling New Yorkers: Dell Dude's New Gig

Those should hold you over for a while. Peace.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Me? You? Me? Meme?

Catching up on some blogs a few days ago (oh yeah, that hot RSS action), I realized Kevin called me out in his meme...

No, I have not turned into Beeker from the Muppets. A meme is "a cultural unit (an idea or value or pattern of behavior) that is passed from one person to another by non-genetic means (as by imitation). For all I know this tagging experiment may be over by now, and now I'm the guy who is trying to restart a wave after it ran its course a few times. But either way, the question to be answered was do you respect the Mediasnacker (one who consumes content in bit-size pieces) when you blog? Here is the video:

And now for my answer, it depends how much time I have to write. As Winston Churchill said: I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead. For this post I had Thanksgiving weekend. Bye.

Oh, Eric, Mike, Avin, and Misha - you're it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Friday 3 Months Ago

As I considered what to write the morning, I was still full from last night's Thanksgiving feast—aka Gaffney Fatfest 2007. Feeling like I even had stuffing stuffed fingers, I decided to check back to see if I had any draft entries sitting pretty for revival. Well, they were never really live, so maybe "vival" is more appropriate. And here's what I found from 11 Fridays ago...

At the suggestion of Amit Gupta (founder of Jelly and Photojojo), I attended my first coworking session. For those not in the know, coworking blends the appeal of an independent environment with the benefits of a traditional office by offering a space for people to work in the company of others. I won't get into the definition too much, just my experience. Here is the space:
Yes, I was the first one there at 9:30AM. The host was not even awake. I felt a lot less cool than I did entering the Chambers Street apt in my t-shirt from Buenos Aires, jeans, and high-top vans at 9:20.

Either way, by 10:45 or so it was packed. About 12 people, all with their laptops. And as suspected all of their laptops, Macs. I had never met any of them, but I did know a little bit about 'em. The beauty and fluidity of the Jelly NYC Wiki, which is the place where we all signed up for the Jelly session. Here is the wiki:
Yup, there really was a dude named Patrick Ewing and he had a sick keyboard technique. But seriously, overall it went down like this. Everyone introduced themselves as new peeps entered the apartment. We worked in relative silence for the most part - some indie rock played softly in the background - but every once in a while people would get up move around and show some of their work to each other. I commented on a few sites' usability, functions, and content and started to flesh out an idea I had for one of my clients (a hotel):

To host coworking sessions. Yes, that simple. To provide an area/open an existing area to this community. This "work together" confirmed that Jelly may become a victim of its own success. It was pretty packed even in the sizable Financial District apt., so a little more space would not only be appreciated but soon necessary. All it needs to provide is a comfortable space and Wi-Fi access. This hotel had the space (in fact it had a newly created space in its lobbies that was supposed to enable the same type of interaction). It could go above and beyond by offering free coffee and snacks, which is an expenditure it would likely recoup in people buying more substantial breakfasts or lunches. Regardless, it would do three things: (1) Build good energy in the hotel, (2) Build goodwill with entrepreneurs and creative types (which would hopefully impact future stays), and (3) Create the Hot Club Effect (which means people aspiring to be like these guys and girls as well as those wanting to meet these thoughtful people would come and stay).

In sum: Jelly, and the like, are really just forums to not feel alone, to bounce ideas off others, to meet interesting people, to inspire and be inspired while working. And really, that's more than enough. It happens naturally and seamlessly as you can see even from the way that people sign up to attend. It demonstrates the selflessness of the host and the power of the community. It's what every office that values creativity and collaboration should seek to create.

Other Resources:
Coworking Community Blog
Cream Cheese in Philly

Monday, November 19, 2007

Sold Out In New York

Nope, it's not just 30 Rock Live that's already sold out tonight in NYC. The second show of Birthright Israel Monologues is also completely booked. I wrote pre- first one here.

Now, I don't want to give anything away about my actual performance (you gotta wait for the DVD to go on sale as a stocking stuffe...eh, and/or make one crazy night a little bit crazier), but I will give you a little behind-the-scenes/in-the-bathroom look at my pre-show ritual. The first 30-seconds is about right.

Triple C

In the interest of consistency, I've cut the list down to three...even if Triple C stands for cataloging cool communications.

First, I'm glad to see these Geico commercials back. So far I've only seen this one on TV with the guy from Police Academy—which is the one I was most excited for given my love for those movies; however, I'm a much bigger fan of the James Lipton spot I found online. (I also think "geico police academy" is a tag they want to give this video when posting it around since that may be how people search - I did.) Either way, just as I appreciated Geico's multiple campaigns each with its own message running simultaneously, I appreciate that they stayed with this campaign (to promote its service). This form(ula) certainly has longevity - what celebrity would you choose for next round?

The second thing I'd like to give props to is what I'm calling AT&T&T-shirts. (Yes, very original I know.) Basically AT&T has thought up a cool way to leverage its new campaign (which is about working wherever you go/live) by enabling participation through personalization. However, rather than just give these shirts away, they're selling them (like Burger King's Xbox games). Props to the team for creating a new revenue stream. (Props to me for rhyming.) Anyway, you can create your customized shirt starting at $17.95, and I've made mine here - shouting out my two homes (Manhattan and Dix Hills, NY - no glamorous international travel lately). P.S. You can also make mugs, stickers, and bags right here.

And finally, here's a great article about Tide's "Swash" initiative. I'm liking the pop up store and P&G's claim that its "intention is to gather consumer insights" from this group of Gen Y. Furthermore, encouraging re-wearing between washes is eco-friendly. It seems to me that Tide has taken interesting strides (double points for rhyming) in carving out a position as the most eco-friendly mass detergent option/brand. Its Coldwater wash ad is a prime example. I'll be keeping my eye on the Tide.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Buyer's Something

I'm not necessarily feeling buyer's remorse. Maybe it's buyer's confusion. Or more like buyer's obsession. At about midnight last night I was catching up on some feeds and happened upon this story from Cool Hunting.

In case you don't click the link, here's the deal. Reebok partnered with Graphic Designer/Associate Director of Research at MIT Media Lab, John Maeda, to create a limited edition (100 pairs) sneaker (based on the Reebok Ventilator). They are calling it the Reebok Timetanium, and it not only sports graphics based on John Maeda’s original algorithms and computer code, but the inside of the shoe is actually lined with his own hand-written calculations. Take a look:

So at 12:03, I'm on the site seeing if there are any left. There were 5. I think, these kicks are mad ugly. I watch him talk about the shoe. I think, that's a pretty tight story. Then I start convincing myself that owning a great marketing/infosthetics/design/simplicity case study is worth the money. Then I worry that I'm going to miss my opportunity. Then I realize I've never purchased shoes or any clothing besides custom t-shirts online. So I go check my closet for the size of my Reebok Pumps. 10. It's worth buying this type of thing (one that I usually have to try on first) online. It's a good learning experience I tell myself. Then I purchase. Then I can't believe I just spent $179.23 on a pair of sneakers. Who do I think I am? Turtle? But they're "limited edition", and it's like owning a piece of history...I guess.

Now I'm hoping they fit but cool if they don't because it's all about the experience. I've been on a buyer's roller-coaster ever since. I'll let you know when they arrive.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Give a Guy a Ball

Sorry for the suggestive subject line, but it conveys the truth I'm trying to capture (and want to document for future use). That is, if most guys (and I suppose some girls) a sports ball (soccer, soft, foot, tennis) or even some other round shaped object like a rock or something AND some space, they'll figure out a way to entertain themselves. Especially if there are other people around to watch and/or participate. Be astounded by their creativity. Idiotball (played on an Israeli kibbutz beach comes immediately to mind - which I'm still waiting for a friend to upload as does an unnamed game in Nantucket - though beer was involved so I'm not sure what inspired our imaginations). Be prepared to be energized to join in the fun. And prepare, in other cases, to be wowed by their stubbornness. And that is the perfect transition into this old clip I found today on True Hoop blog.

Besides the fact that cross-over athletes (Bo anyone?) are cool, I honestly believe Nash would have stayed out there until he got dragged off if he had not yet made the header into the hoop. And if it came to that, he would have had a lousy second half (maybe even trying to head the bball on a fast break). I love that this type of determination even in a goof-around expo is so obvious. Reminds me of every time I leave a court needing to hit my last shot (even if it comes down to a layup in order to beat sundown), every time I try a silly trick shot (like a between the legs bounce from the foul line) feeling the need to drop it (and pressure, which builds after each miss - notice how 3 tries jumps to 5 and then 10 and then...), and every time I lose a game of 2 on 2, wanting "one more run, same teams."

Give a guy a lemon and he'll start tossing it at a target. Give a guy a ball and he'll make lemonade. (Huh?)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Ode to Goulet. Goulet.

Here's the thing: Just like I wouldn't hire a clown to fix a leak in the john, I wouldn't dare attempt to honor this man's passing on my own. Instead, I had to go the most passionate Goulet fan I know to get this ditty. That is my buddy Jake, who has been responsible not only for some of your favorite IOI links but also for some great comments—and outside of the blogosphere some fantastic work for the government and shirtless bar hopping. (Full bio of the author available upon request. Picture possible coming soon.) After a full 10 days grieving period, he has answered. Without further ado, I give you "Ode to Goulet. Goulet."

Since his passing and my subsequent vacation to Burbank to properly mourn the man, I finally feel compelled - nay, inspired - to pay homage to a great man. A man's man at that. One who was just as comfortable slapping you across the mouth for your insolence in trying to tear down the biz as he was in a velvet blazer and full turtleneck. I would go so far as to liken him to a real life James Bond without the license to kill. Although, if he were ever palling around with Neil Diamond, he may have been party to some ‘killing drifters for erection’ escapades. Lets look closer at comparison. They both drove cool cars (Aston Martin - Alpha Romeo), they both enjoyed martinis (Diablo - Shaken/not Stirred) and they both had the swagger of a modern day Greek god. Panties dropped at the mere whisper of their name. The only difference is that Mr. Goulet is a living, breathing, frieking Legend.

What makes Goulet so much better than his contemporaries you ask? I'll tell you. He had the great sense to poke fun at his larger than life voice and persona (probably stemming from his French-Canadian ancestry) starting in the mid 90s with commercials for the worldwide leader (ESPN for you sporting neophytes). It was this ability, not shared by other musical luminaries like the Chairman (Can you say Duets?) and Englerbert Humperdink, that enabled him to stay relevant to his dying day. He continued to stay on our minds through a series of skits on SNL and a wicked interview on Conan O'Brien by the comic stylings of Will Ferrell. Whether he was belting out hit rap songs or providing you with awesome ring tones, Goulet was staying modern. And, most recently he starred in a Super Bowl commercial the likes of which the world has never known. Mr. Goulet's foray into the nut business this past year will haunt me to my dying day. I will always be cognizant of the spectre of the post lunch food-coma bandit.

Will there be anyone else who can capture the essence of Goulet? In doing so, they would become a marvel for all mankind. My heart hopes so, but my brain says no. The current crop of stars just doesn't have it. Justin Timberlake is too pretty. He probably waxes his legs. Eddie Vedder is too dirty. The list is as long as Goulet’s resume, and each and every person remains flawed. For those of you out there who dare to mention that devilish, dancing, supernova that is Wayne Newton, heed my warning. He couldn't carry Goulet's jockstrap in a suitcase.

What I'm really trying to say is that Mr. Robert Goulet kept himself relevant by constantly reinventing himself and for this, he captured the hearts and minds of the world, not to mention my own.

Single Tear.

Jake Conte
Unabashed Goulet Enthusiast

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Get Grant's Green

Anyone coming here for the first time may not know my affection for alliteration. But it's well-documented. Regardless of your affinity for the technique, you should consider getting a copy of The Green Marketing Manifesto. Here is it in all its glory.
John Grant has been a source of knowledge and inspiration over my five years in the advertising world. His Brand Tarot blog has been linked to for a while (if anyone's coming to the site vs. RSS). So I'm sure it will be a fantastic read. And it could not have come at a more appropriate time. Whether you're tending to brands, starting a business, or making personal changes to promote an environmentally-friendly lifestyle, the green movement will have an impact on our future. As awkward as NBC's Sunday Night Football half-time show in the dark was and as cheesy as their marketing of their "Green is Universal" initiative is, I appreciate the thought and, more importantly, action. But it's clear that marketers especially need help from us in the agency world to figure out how the become more sustainable (probably how they define green in the first place) as well as how they communicate it (proving they believe it and aren't just looking to cash in (make some green, anyone?) from the "hot thing.")

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Refreshing Banner Advertising?

I, like most, am usually banner blind. (I've linked to this before but don't remember when, but originally got it from Noah.) However, these caught my eye the other day. Now, they're nothing really special, but for some reason I liked them enough to Apple Shift 4 them for blog use.

I'm a big fan of the tagline, "Tastier than Filet Mignon" - which Papaya King has patented (1975) by the way. Especially since I recently read a good post called if taglines were honest. While this may not be 100% true and tested, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. Another classic: Carlsberg's "Probably the best beer in the world" was love at first site (sometime around 20.02 I saw it in on a coaster in an Irish pub in Spain) and has been a favorite of mine since.

The "look and feel" takes me back but not in a they have old food type of way. More nostalgic and makes me want to hit it up on the way home. I also think there's something appealing about having numerous and diverse messages on one skyscraper. Of course they are all related to the products PK offers, but I like the lack of single-mindedness and waiver back and forth between the line. (Yes, I know this little game is not typical.) It also find it interesting that these messages don't just highlight the frank and the fruit drink, but really hit you with all types of "sell": aggressively calling out the competition ("I don't want to get a movie hot dog. I want a Papaya King Hot Dog.") and even sticking it to Slim Jim ("They've got snap!").

Anyway, that's all. Just a little tired of putting up ads from Apple and Dove and Sony. Wanted to shout out some more obscure advertising companies out there.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Comment Victoriously

It's hard to get people to comment. I usually consider a post a big success if I get two (since, of course, I can respond to each and bump it up to 4!). I know some of my fellow Gen GuY bloggers agree.
Last week, a very well-respected (especially in the planning world), -liked (he once received hundreds of comments after writing a heart-felt post about blogging), and -read (actually that's an assumption; more appropriately would be "oft-read" on his blog and in Campaign magazine) guy named Russell Davies held a contest. The prize a copy of Mark Penn's Microtrends dictated the challenge: Come up with your own microtrend(s) and leave them in the comments to be voted on by Jeremy from Penguin. (I linked to the Penguin site for the book rather than Amazon to show love.) I'm happy to announce I was one of the winners.

My favorite happened to come from John Dodds, another planner I have been inspired by. It was: "The Unwell - people going online, erroneously diagnosing themselves with worst case scenarios on the basis of symptoms and no knowledge." So true. I submitted three and was talking with a few friends on Saturday night about them, and we all seemed to have a different opinion about which we liked most/least. It got a little heated with the Sake bombs flowing, so I thought I'd put it up to vote. (Plus, I like using Vizu polls as some of you know from the Flu Shot one I created - which probably supports The Unwell.)

Here are the descriptions:
Playground Papa's - think the prom king from little children (movie) or joe from brothers and sisters (tv). Men who embrace being the primary caretaker and man of the house-hold chores but also make sure they stay manly. (This does not require any infidelity though the ex's suggest it.) Also known as the triple P's (add Progressive) and/or Soccer Dads.

- You won't find diversity in major cities anymore, you'll have to go out to the surrounding suburbs. And that's what many recent grads and young families are going to do to have a more rich and multi-cultural life.

- People who grew up IMing, texting, blogging, etc. but now fail to use proper grammatical English in the traditional world. This slang/shorthand is not just used in emails but also infiltrates presentations, legal documents, and love letters.

I don't know how much crossover there is between our blogs. But I'm assuming that only a handful of people that come here daily also read him regularly. Even if he's got me totally covered, you may have not read his contest in time or you may not have had the time to consider or you may have felt you had to say something intelligent in his comment box. Rest assured—and I'm sure most of you know—you don't have to feel that sort of pressure here. (I'm a couple days away from posting my next Inbox of Immaturity, which amongst other things will have an officer's awkward pat down of a suspicious character on the street.)

So, if you have some microtrends to add to the mix, I'd love to hear them.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Jewish Update

Over a month and five or so worksessions/rehearsals later, I'm less than 4 days away from performing my original piece for Birthright Israel Monologues. You can read about my feelings before my first meeting here. I thought then that I would document this experience but after that first meeting, I knew I wouldn't. Not because it was secret, but because it became a very personal experience for me. No, not a religious experience, nor a transformational one. Just a very personal one for me and the rest of the people in the show. I didn't want to feel the urge to write about them, their words, or their growth. I didn't want to give anything away either. But now, in the final days (and now that I've finally completed my monologue) I thought I'd share something from night one.

We spent the greater part of an hour doing a timed writing exercise. This is a fairly common way to practice I believe but she referenced this book called Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg as a good intro for us. Back to the exercise: pretty simple, she would say a phrase, ask a question, play a song, show us a picture, etc. and we had to write what comes into our minds. The only rules were keep your hand moving and on the page, don't cross out (or worry about spelling, grammar, punctuation), and don't think to hard (or worry about making sense).

Honestly, it doesn't sound too unique or amazing, but at the end of the however long (40 minutes I'd guess) I felt incredibly rewarded. Not because what I wrote was so poignant, rather because liberating thoughts from my mind, giving them life on paper was something I hadn't done in a while. I should clarify that it's a certain type of thoughts—about Judaism/Jewish stuff mostly—; however, writing was a completely creative endeavor without any purpose other than to get comfortable writing. Still with a deadline (each new question she asked) but not a typical schedule deadline like sending the pov to a client for example.

Rather than use that train of thought to go into how I think this type of exercise would be appropriate for certain types of qual, I'll show you the first thing I wrote. (The whole point of this post was to pass on the date/time for my performance by the way.) It was my answer to "Do you have any Jewish memorabilia, like jewelry, an accessory, or even a t-shirt?"

Should I raise my hand - the first thing that comes to mind is that cheesy Urban Outfitters t-shirt. The one that I wore in public only once. Not for fear of religious persecution. But scarred shitless, as I should have been) of the fashion police. Yes, you know what I'm talking about by now - "Everyone Loves A Jewish Boy." Fuck. That wasn't therapeutic like I thought it would be. It was straight up embarrassing. Whatever. It sucks and I feel like a loser every time I pay to put it in a washing machine. Well, at least it's comfortable.

Re-writing it now (I suck at using the scanner in my office. Plus I don't trust it not to be found by anyone else.) is weird, especially since I think that "straight up embarrassing" line made me sound like Kenny from Can't Hardly Wait. Either way, I wrote a couple pages that night on everything from a freestyle group my friends Craig, Vaz, and me loosely created (meaning we'd break it down drunk at house parties or leaving bars our first year out of college) to female IDF soldiers to JAPS.

Onto the reason for the post, I've written something else for this Monday, November 5th at 7PM (doors opening) at The Slipper Room - 167 Orchard Street (Corner of Orchard and Stanton Streets). I think you're supposed to email alumni@birthrightisrael.com to get on the list. There's also a show on the 19th of November, which I'll probably be more prepared for :) if you this is too short notice. Last night was the first night I saw everyone do their pieces and they are really different and really great, so as much as I don't think it would be the worst thing if no one I knew came, I do encourage you to try your best to make one of the shows.

Update: Ruvym agrees and offers his own encouragement. He's opening the show, and he's really awesome, so definitely be on time!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kinda In The Halloween Spirit

Deutsch recently created a new site for the Bronx Zoo that allows you to "build your wild self". It's really cool and educational. Given that many children will be dressing up as lions and tigers and bears and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I figured the connection was strong enough to post. Plus, I just signed up for the beta version of Mixaloo, a site that "makes the mix tape digital" and decided to make my first mix Zoo-inspired. The cover art is my Wild Thing and the songs are about animals in some form or another. I don't think I'll be making much money (getting many points) from people purchasing it, but that wasn't the point of doing it anyway. (It's all about objectives, right? I'm saying that way too often lately.) They make it really easy to share and that's smart.

Oh, and on the subject of music, something else interesting is that Paste Magazine has recently taken Radiohead's pricing-power-to-the-people approach. Limited time offer, so cheapos get on it quickly.

No Flu Shot For Me

Just Soup. The results are in and the decision is made. I don't know who voted but I know how many people did (7 people) and where they were from (three from NY, one from CT, one from MA, one from MN, one from KS). Just in case anyone else has the November 1st freebie at his or her j-o-b and is looking for the wisdom of crowds. Assuming the people who responded aren't some crazy glue-sniffers like the tooth fairy. I mean, you let these people vote on your blog once and that's all it takes. Next thing you know, your daughter is knocked up and there is change missing from your dresser. I have seen it happen a million times. On second thought...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity

This may get taken down but won't get old.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Music, Sports, and Advertising Collide!

Maybe it's because I still get pumped up from the Nike Football commercial with the Last of the Mohican's track on it a few months later. I actually seek it out to watch it every once in a while. Maybe it's because when I went to get some empanadas for lunch today, Phil Collin's "In the Air Tonight" came on and then I thought of the Cadbury ad with the gorilla drumming, which made me think of the Phoenix Suns mascot. Or maybe it's because I just briefed for a Sheraton spot promoting their NCAA sponsorship and, if possible, incorporating the song they have used in the past, for which we recently just renegotiated the rights.

Whatever the case, sometimes when these three things—advertising, music, and sports—come together something special happens. When watching some uploaded amateur videos from (my alma mater) Georgetown's Midnight Madness, I came across this one below (introducing our center, Roy Hibbert). I couldn't help but thank advertising for making it possible.

No, not for making Roy's return to G-town possible (he came back for his final year even though he could have possibly been a lottery pick in the NBA this summer - you can see in the jumping around in the stands how much he loves being in college). Rather for giving students and all our fans the ammo/inspiration to show their appreciation, enthusiasm, and love together, chanting, "Roy, Roy, Roy, Roy..." Because without advertising, bringing Roy out to the Eye of the Tiger would not have never happened.

The video does also seem to make a compelling case for regular-people-made-ads. I mean, you put a swoosh at that end of this footage, and I'm sold - on my way out to cop some new Nike kicks.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Paradox of Choice

Rob Fields makes some great posts on Marketing Pop Culture, a site I was reintroduced to by Chet's blog this morning. Now this is a heavy one for a Friday, but incredibly interesting and worthy food for thought going into the weekend. We spend a lot of time considering/debating the paradox of choice in our lives. In the marketing world especially. For less price sensitive consumers especially. For the rich and famous definitely...or not so.

In the video below, Jay Smooth tackles the current T.I. situation by drawing upon what he's learned from his involvement in helping youth at group homes. In doing so, he helps us understand the psychology of rappers. I'll let him doing the talking - he's incredibly in-touch and compelling - but highlight the part I found so interesting: When you go from having no options for so long, it's harder to see all the options around you when you finally get them. So before writing off T.I. for his stupidity, consider this:

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Improv of Immaturity

No that's not a typo. Replacing the normal shenanigans is this, may I say awesome, prank by the group Improv Everywhere.

No words will do this justice. I'm just here to make sure you get to bask in the glory that is 111 shirtless dudes punking my favorite brand as a 16 year old, Abercrombie & Fitch. Look out for the single this winter, "I like boys that wear..." And then the rebuttal No Pigeons - oh wait, mixing up references. Anyway, check it out as reported by Gothamist.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Blog Action Day: greenmail

Every week or so since April 22, my friend Kim has sent out an email with, in her words, "some little easy thing you can do to help out the environment." This week she sent the group #25. In honor of Blog Action Day, a movement set up by a few bloggers, which asks bloggers to put a single important issue on everyone’s mind - the environment - by posting about it TODAY, I'm going to post Kim's first twenty-five green tips.

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

25. Don't eat Chilean Sea Bass. Here's a list of the best and worst fish to eat for the environment (and your health).
24. Use coasters made of sandstone, and other absorbent materials so you don't have to wipe down tables. You'll save lots of paper.
23. Go to the local farmers' market. The produce is better and they don't use fertilizers or pesticides which suck up more than 30% of the energy used to make food.
22. Move to Eugene, Oregon. Hydroelectric and wind power contribute over 85% of Eugene's power, the city has biodiesel and hybrid fleets, and a really concerted effort and evaluation of all city activities for environmental impact.
21. Get one organic pair of jeans. The chemical process used to create soft, stonewashed jeans contaminates the water in Central Mexico (where more than 700 clothing manufacturers sell jeans to the U.S.).
20. Use ECOTAINERS. If your company or workplace has a kitchen and stocks it with paper cups, check and see how eco-friendly they are. There are cups called ECOTAINERS that are bought in bulk by companies and that are 100% compostable and biodegradable.
19. Seek out bamboo. For furniture, sheets, whatever. It's a super eco-friendly material, the grass is renewable and very kind to the earth.
18. Buy a digital red bulb thermometer. Avoid the silver mercury bulb ones as mercury is a debilitating nerve toxin for your body and the environment.
17. Offset carbon emissions with Terrapass. It does a lot of other great things too, like funding clean weddings, car stuff, etc.
16. Search with Blackle. Powered by Google, it saves energy with a black screen.
15. Turn your receipts over and use the blank backs for notes. Then recycle.
14. Swap one product this week for a better earth-friendly product. Swap a
toothpaste, dish-washing detergent, or snack (organic licorice weirdly good).
13. Dust the little vents in your a/c, and you'll save energy and money.
12. Turn your cell phone off when you're not using it (especially when you go to sleep at night).
11. Try an activity/sport that puts you smack in the dab of mother nature.
10. Plant a tree in someone's memory.
9. Don't over-consume. Throwing away 2 aluminum cans wastes more energy than 1,000,000,000 of the world's poorest people use a day.
8. Recycle more than cans and paper. Recycle your computer/laptop by giving it to charity, instead of throwing it away. The National Cristina Foundation will hook up your old PC or Mac with a nonprofit organization. You can also drop off your old cell phone at your local Staples store as part of a Sierra Club recycling effort.
7. Say bye-bye to junk mail here and save our forests.
6. Pat yourself on the back this week for being a part of this email (or reading this far down the list in this case) and doing your bits to make our world better.
5. When ordering take-out or getting food delivered, request no napkins or plastic utensils, unless you really need them.
4. When traveling, turn off your a/c when you check out of your hotel room.
3. Send potted flowers. Cut flowers dispose quickly. A greener option is to send potted flowers because they last longer, improve indoor air quality and can be self-watering.
2. Eat one less meat meal this week. Animal farming consumes tons of energy and water, is a growing source of pollution and leads to land degradation. Eat some sushi or a veggie burger.
1. Use a front loading washing machine when doing laundry. It uses way less water than a top load.

Even if you only incorporate 5 of these 25 suggestions into your life, you are starting to make environmentally-friendly changes/choices. Little things matter, especially when large amounts of people do them. Pass it on. Thanks Kim.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Design Based On Insight

As I sit on my couch multi-tasking (watching World Series of Poker, writing a brief, eating dinner, and making my way through my feeds), something clicks (pun intended). My coffee table is pretty bare (with feng shui in mind but mostly for aesthetic purpose). I've got a candle and a couple books and magazines that make me look interesting and well-rounded. Oh yeah, and my Time Warner Cable remote. Necessary ugly. ("Uglies" for the many people who don't have the universal remote and are still working with one TV remote for the power ON and OFF, one for the channels, a remote for the stereo, another for the DVD player, and who knows what else.) Necessary ugly - or so I thought.

I came across this link from Russell Davies' delicious feeds. The choose to use design to solve the problem of remotes getting lost. So they made a remote that's really fragile, so you won't toss it around/you'll take better care of it and thus not lose it. The brief could easily have been: Remotes ruin the living room look.

It reminds me of Method's insight into cleaning: People squeeze cleaning in between doing other things, so having to go into cabinets and search for cleaning products wastes time and is a part of the annoying process. So they designed their soaps, etc. to look nice so that people would keep them on their kitchen counters/out next to their sinks. Just a reminder of how design is a powerful tool for building insight in products.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Natalie Knows...

How I feel right now...yes, I'm torn.

Last night when catching up on some industry porn at Agency Spy, I made it to a post entitled, The Best Ad We've Seen In Forever. That piqued my interest. Here it is:

My reaction was a mix of "Awesome-I've seen this before-Love that Toyota didn't have to tag it-I've seen this before somewhere else not just Nessy spot-Leeroooyyy Jeeennnkins-Awesome." Yes, I immediately made the connection to this YouTube classic and the comments showed that I wasn't the only one. But unlike me, they didn't say awesome; they called it a "complete rip-off."

Between this and the recent rip-off claims against Sony Bravia's Bunnies, I have had to take a step back and figure out what I believe in the space of creativity. I don't think there's no such thing as an original idea solves it, and I don't thinking going back to Kindergarten rules (it's simple, don't steal!) adds anything to the debate. Nor does it help me understand why I'm annoyed at Sony and not Toyota. In my mind, both are equally obvious in their connection to the original.

Note: I'm not saying blatant in copying but obvious in where they drew inspiration. Thus, I'm basing my case mostly to the source of inspiration and the rights each source has to what they have to what they've created (in other words, this isn't 'Nam there are rules).

In Sony's case it's artists (Kozyndan) who makes their living creating art and has rights to it whereas in Toyota's case it's a gamer (Ben Schulz) who recorded some silliness and put it up on YouTube.

However, what I'm realizing as I'm writing is that I'm actually reacting to lying. I don't really give a shit about the line between being inspired by and stealing. I just don't believe them (Sony/Fallon/Passion Pictures). If they'd come out and say "we're created something that drew inspiration from a variety of sources, one of which is Kozy and Dan just like Kozyndan is inspired by things (Hokusai) created by others," I'd have more respect for them. If Toyota is asked about their new spot above and claim originality, I will be equally as angry.

Ultimately, I think both companies/agencies should be honest and involve inspirer's from the get-go. If Toyota had reached out to Ben, involved him in the process—creating more, new, better, deeper content as well as links to his viral video—and compensated him fairly for it, they would see a greater ROI for it.

Guess I'm not so torn anymore...just waiting for Toyota to not to lie.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity

It's been a while since you got your fill. The theme of the past two weeks was clearly throwback tracks and flicks. Here are the things that flooded my inbox, IM, and message board from friends.

First, this Duran Duran Rio seems like a bit of rebelling against the end of summer unless he started here with this Bruce Campbell Duran Duran cover for Old Spice and worked his way back.

Regardless, I don't know what kind of search led to this Swayze number but it could have led in two directions - Hasselhoff eating a cheeseburger off the ground or late 80s-early 90s movies around the time of Ghost's release. I'm happy to inform that in this case, the road less traveled was coming to America - watch and let your Soul Glo and the state of Johnny Utah - see Point Break Live

And though the final numbers may seem a bit random—The Aliens Robot Man and Night Ranger Sister Christian—well, they are random. Enjoy.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Triple C

Nope, I didn't mean Triple A for you non-advertising peeps. Nor did I mean the Three C's for you hardcore marketing peeps (Company, Consumer, Competition). Nor did I mean the new school Three C's (Content, Context, Community) for digital peeps. Nor did I mean the Three C's for making up your showroom (Clean, Clutter-free, Creative). Nor did I mean the Triple Lindy.

This is about Cataloging Cool Communications. These have all been written about last week or so, but wanted to post them here in case you hadn't seen all or any. First, some highly anticipated advertising from Sony Bravia and Dove.

Next, an interesting a smart move by man and brand, Marc Ecko. He won the auction for Barry Bond's record-breaking home run ball, which put him at the center of the biggest sports debate of the year (at the very least). He democratized the decision and the people have spoken: Send it to Cooperstown with an asterisk on it. Once again, Marc has created pop culture.

Lastly, really cool partnership that produced a Microsoft Wine. Stormhoek has created a product called Blue Monster just for Micorsoft employees with the tag "Change the world or go home." That's one way to change perceptions of outsiders and rally the people within.

That's all for now. Hope to have a more thoughtful post later.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How To Review An Ad

Here is the presentation I gave to Georgetown MBA's tonight. I think it went over well. I thought it would upload the PowerPoint notes automatically but it seems that it didn't so I'm going to work on getting the speaking points/details on there. Either way, it was a great experience and hopefully the attendees learned something new. Writing this thing from scratch over the last couple weeks was really enjoyable, and I know it could be better so any feedback you all have is more than welcome. Good luck to all the grad students going to Houston this weekend, and once again please let me know if you have any questions, thoughts, or requests.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Me in D.C.

So I'm going back to my alma mater next Tuesday to present to the Georgetown Graduate Marketing Association. The theme of my talk, as requested by the co-President of the GMA, is How To Review An Ad. It seems that when brand management (brand marketing) companies like P&G, J&J, Unilever, and others come to campus to recruit a question they all ask is: What advertising do you think is good and why? And Georgetown's b-school students feel unprepared to answer (especially first-year's and and career switchers). As I understand it, the MBA program has a great global perspective and strong finance track, but lacks a diverse offering of marketing-focused classes. In particular for these future brand managers, their marketing concentration rarely gets advertising-specific - and these are the people who will be assesssing our creative.

Thus, I'm going back to school to give them some tools and language that will help them feel more comfortable speaking about advertising. So they can get the summer internship that leads to the full-time job next year over those Wharton snobs. In all seriousness, I'm excited about the opportunity and just sad I'm missing homecoming this weekend.

I plan on sharing the presentation soon. If anyone's in DC Wednesday morning and wants to meet up for breakfast, I'm free so shoot me a note.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

My First Rehearsal

I've been hesitant to write about this—in fact, even thinking about writing gives me butterflies. Well, first I wasn't going to tell people that I was trying out (or in more proper but less macho terms, auditioning) because I didn't think I would be selected. They gave options. Write and read a less than 5-minute piece about your Birthright Israel experience or perform a memorized piece about anything. Oh, and send in your theater resume if you have one. Huh? I almost gave up there, but decided that opportunity to work with Vanessa Hidary (a Def Jam poet) was a potential experience worth the embarrassment. So on I wrote, read, and received - an email back stating that I was selected.

Tonight's the first rehearsal and it's fair to say I'm scared shitless. I don't know if the fact that it's a group rehearsal makes it better or worse. I guess it depends on how many of these people have that theater resume they asked for.

I'm not ready to share that piece yet, but maybe I'll feel differently after tonight. I'm not sure if that's what I'll be performing or if I'll be asked to write something else. I guess I'll just have to see. I'm not ready to send out the performance info either...but that I'm sure I'll pass on close to the date in early November. And lastly, far be it from me to give advice, but I do want to mention two things:

1. As uncomfortable as this whole process (mostly, the idea of performing spoken word poetry) makes me so far even the act of auditioning was rewarding. It felt like pretty good public speaking practice if nothing else. So, I'm of course not the first to encourage anyone reading this to try things outside of your comfort zone, and I surely won't be the last.
2. The process of creating something from scratch was extremely rewarding. Every once in a while I'll start with a blank piece of paper, word doc or powerpoint for work, this blank blog post rectangle even. But even in almost all of those cases I have an idea of what I'm going to write - some slides to recycle from presentations past, google to search for topic pov's, a link or video to embed. I don't draw or sew or build (Ikea furniture doesn't count, and even if it did, I don't think I could count it), and I only had my own mind as a resource/to get me through this exercise. It was worth it even if I hadn't gotten picked (but then who knows if you'd ever know :)).

Anyway, I'll keep you posted but in the meantime would love to hear any similarly rewarding stories (comment or shoot me an email - seth.gaffney@gmail.com).

Friday, September 21, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity: The Onion Comeback

Rather than pass on "stupidifying" video links this week, I'm going to make you read as well as hit you off with a Gen GuY observation. I'm just one person (just a man, with a man's courage...oh f'in Flash) so take it for what it's worth, but I believe The Onion is heating up online. Hey, maybe it never got cold. But I haven't had an article passed onto me in months and then all of a sudden I've got these three in my inbox/message board/rss feed from three very different social groups.
Pitchfork Give Music a 6.8
Bro, You're a God Among Bros
I'm Like a Chocoholic But for Booze

Yes one is older than the others, but still received all three within this past week from Noah, Paul, and James. I'm still sticking to F Everything, We're Going Wtih 5 Blades as my personal favorite, but these are definitely solid. Thus, as the brand onion seems to fade into oblivion, The Onion is so hot right now. The Onion.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Freestyle Walking

I thought this was a well-known "sport." But when I showed some people my pics from San Diego recently, they thought I was a perv that randomly snaps shots of teenage boys. So to clarify and educate...

From Wiki:

The art of freestyle walking (loosely related to Free Running) is a means of self-expression and creative interaction with one's environment. Many of the practitioners of this art form (or sport, as some consider) excelled at the sport by freestyle walking to find more full involvement with their otherwise routine surroundings. Freestyle walkers use leaps and air moves, clever footwork, dance or any non-traditional walking movement. Today, many practitioners view it as the act of rollerblading or skateboarding without the skates or board.

Here is the image referenced above of freestyle walking in action:

Note I was actually running when I took this picture. I'm not the first to say that running is a great way to get acquainted with a city, especially a new one (and it was my first time in SD). But back to the freestyle walking - in case you want to get schooled, here's its most prestigous University. See we don't just game and blog. Such a great example of creative activity or active creativity. Or just living fun. I love this stuff.

Monday, September 17, 2007

U.S. (of American Express) Open

By now, you've all heard the phrase Branded Utility. To recap, it refers to brands creating something that is useful to their customers. It's not only a response to the spam that is most advertising, but also a way to take advantage of the tools provided us by new technologies, specifically web 2.0. Most of all, it is the challenge and vision to make things that people really want and need; that have real value to them.

We've seen more examples of this type of branded utility lately, with Charmin's Times Square toilets to Nike+(iPod). These types of branded utilities pull in customers, rather than push a message out to them. It makes a deeper connection with them or becomes more integrated in/important to their lives. So if that is the goal, then the strategy is to understand people better and discover meaningful ways in which they can contribute to their lives. Arguably this should be easier for the customers a brand already has, but sometimes these are the people that feel ignored as brand look to get more awareness, more trial, and more acquisition.

However, over the course of the two-week U.S. Open, I saw and took part in a brand executing on the idea of branded utility to near perfection. That brand was American Express. Amex has long been a sponsor of the U.S. and long had an obvious presence on the grounds; yet, these past couple of years they have leveraged a major sponsorship in a bar-setting way. Instead of being happy with logos galore and a couple of booths, they have extended this through truely valuable brand experiences...and they have made both their customers feel valued and provided utility to all tennis fans.

This year, they offered branded utility in two main places: Flushing Meadows (the tournament site) and Madison Square Park and Rockafeller Center (in Manhattan).On the Open grounds, two things (utilities) really stood out: Radios at the Open with commenting by John McEnroe and TVs for other courts for cardholders. Additionally, cardholders got access to advance ticket sales (a utility for cardholders) and the U.S. Open club for eating better food with less of a wait.

In Madison Square Park, the main attraction was their live screening of the tournament on a big screens, where on those beautiful days (which lucky for the Open organizers, all of them were) people gathered to watch together. They had big tourney drawsheets up as well. Additionally, however, they offered all park-goers the opportunity to get an on-site Serve Analysis from a tennis pro as well as the video tape sent with more comments. Sure the comments are the same for everyone through email, but you get and have the video forever.

So you can tell I'm a fan of how Amex made being useful a priority. My only question is: Did all this utility come at the cost of entertainment? Of course, they had an amazing on-site presence for the over 650,000 attendees (it is the most attended annual sporting event in the world). But should Amex have spent a little more money trying not to annoy the around 100 million people who tuned in (many for most days and nights) with the same Johnny Mac commercial at every break for two whole weeks of matches? (By the way, is dispute resolution the most important message for Amex to get out these days? And if so, wouldn't have sponsoring the ball cam and challenges been more appropriate? They couldn't have outbid chase, who now has a 5-year deal on the review cam?)

Either way, I applaud Amex - tennis clap...and it seems to be applying this same customer understanding to other areas of business. Recently I read on Zeus Jones that Amex's iPhone price protection covers the recent drop in price.

If anyone has other example of Amex's branded utility at the U.S. Open or otherwise, or of the exact opposition behavior or policies at Amex, please comment below. (Sorry for all the or's. Oops I did it again.)

Friday, September 14, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity: You Can Run, You Can Hide, But You Can't Escape My Immaturity

This has been a week full of immaturity. So rather than save some links for next week when I'm sure to be struggling to find them (and you're sure to be ridiculed for passing on links that have made the rounds already - "I've seen that 6x already bro. Nice job."), I've posted them here.

The VMA discussion is still so hot right now...VMA discussion. So peep it, and my comments (#9) at Noah's bliz-og.

The 50 vs. Kanye battle ain't over either. And though Kanye seems to have taken an early lead, The Battle of Billboardsburg is on.

Lastly, a couple more entrepreneurs are making news. The new Crotchepreneur and old Didd-E.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Why I Love Facebook #5

Awoke to a nice surprise this Rosh Hashana morning...

Sharon is a friend I made in Israel (born and raised and now in the army there) when I went for Birthright trip. She's one of those people I always admire/am slightly jealous of that has an amazing and magnetic energy around them; that you gravitate toward. So it's wonderful that I've been able to stay in touch with her and other friends I made that trip through the Internet and Facebook, in particular, whose application enabled this thoughtful surprise.

Anyway, there's my sensitive side after some immaturity and hip hop posting. Happy Jewish New Year to all.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity (2): My 100th Post

Well, it's momumental for me, so keep it to yourself or I'll go off like the Louis Vuitton Don. It's only fitting that post numero one hundred is an Inbox of Immaturity post (even if I did have to EL fudge the formula (you like that?) to make it so. Saw this the other day on a site that I stumbled upon called thisisgoingtobebig through yobroitsmelitty, and from the moment this video started I knew it would be a gem (and perfect for this weeks IOI). Without further a do, enjoy "Internet People," Internet people.

Update 1: My buddy Jake just posted a link (on our xanga board) to one of the most hardcore pranks I've ever seen in real life. Perfect for this post.

Update 2: Just realized Aki posted yesterday...so I'm late (he's too quick). But gotta show him love anyway since if it wasn't for him I probably would have started blogging a lot later too.