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 -

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 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.

Inbox of Immaturity (1): Can't Hate on Kanye

Yes, he threw another fit when he got shut out of a VMA again and didn't get to perform on the main stage. But in fairness, he should have been up there over Britney and his rant was nothing like this. (Thanks to Mike.)

I'm sorry but Kanye's immaturity is exceeded by his creativity, willingness to take risks, and determination to set the bar higher and in a new place. Here's yet one more example: "Can't Tell Me Nothing" alternative video with comedian, Zach Galifianakis.

Plus, you know I DVR'ed 106 & Park last night to watch see Kanye and 50. What became apparent was that BET would not have treated this "Clash of the Titans" episode any differently—other than the Stuart Scott opening it was just like they do when they have 2 artists guests that have nothing to do with one another: Video, then Fiddy came out and talked on the couch, then a video, then he performed, then more videos, then he left...if it weren't for Kanye. Kanye came out, did two performances and not his biggest hit (Stronger, which is game changing in itself) but combo of Can't Tell Me Nothing and the Good Life and then a slower joint, Big Brother, which as it was about to wind down, Jay-Z came out, and they did the Encore chorus together. Then Kanye and 50 came out together, they gave each other props, and the show ended with an I Get Money/Can't Tell Me Nothing mashup.

In the end, it was starting to believe that Mister West has a chance of being, as he said, the new Prince. A girl was even hysterically crying as she met him. But it seems there's some other competition for the guys (and I'm not talking about Kenny Chesney).

Monday, September 10, 2007

Erasing the VMAs from Memory

Last night - 9/9 at 9PM so you couldn't forget - MTV put on its annual Video Music Awards. For the first year ever, it took place in Las Vegas at The Palms (home to a great Real World season, and more recently, one of the worst revival ideas they've had bringing the same cast back to Sin City). And the only reasons I note the location are (1) Because MTV did so a couple thousand times during their pre-show: "It's so obvious," "The perfect place for the VMAs," "How amazing an idea!" (No, that was not posed as a question - it was not open to debate.) AND (2) Maybe it's the only legitimate excuse for putting on probably the worst award show production I've ever seen (and sadly enough, sat through for a few hours).

Vegas may have been a little too much of a distraction for organizers and artists because from the very start, it can only be described as a trainwreck. (And even if that's an unoriginal description, I promise you it's accurate.) I will not spend time talking about the disappointment that was Britney's performance. Watch it here - before lunch if you're smart. It really should have been show-stopping.

She was followed up by an awkward Sarah Silverman, of whom I'm a huge fan and who may have been creating this uneasiness as a genius comic device - but other than a few sweet zingers ("if Amy Winehouse isn't Jewish, someone should tell her face" and "isn't it so cute how 50 Cent is still alive") it was really an uncomfortable two minutes (feeling like 10).

Then other than a pretty ridiculous (in a good way) performance by Chris Brown, I don't really know what happened. And I didn't black out. The presenters seemed equally confused. Fergie wasn't there to receive the Best Female award and Shilostache La Buff thought Ludacris was going to come up and accept it for her - which seems insane given the category even if he was responsible for the verse that was responsible for getting anyone to fork over 99 cents for Fergalicious.

Honestly, I really don't know who won anything other than the guys with eye liner in the Friends and Enemies suite. Timbaland's really the only dude who has his shit together, so maybe he should be called The Maestro. Peep the Twittering I did last night of some of the most noteworthy occurences. And note, none of them had to do with category winners. Of course, MTV "knows" that people tune in for the celebrity drama, fashion, lifestyle. But maybe it's time to rethink that because even if setting Britney up for failure was the "buzz-building" idea all along, they may lose their audience (as well as artist support). (Though there's no substitute for hearing JT say play more damn videos while on stage with The Hills girls.)

Kanye's complaining of course that he didn't win anything or get to perform on the main stage, but he really should be happy he didn't have any part in the "main" production. The suite shows were the only source of originality and slightly interesting and lively musical excitement. Now I can focus my attention on a truely intelligent marketing scheme...Kanye vs. 50, and tomorrow's release of both their albums. A rivalry which hopefully won't get violent like this one, which I'm calling Rocklee 2.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Friday, Two Months Ago

Oh, where does the time go? This should paint a fairly accurate picture of what moving looks like for GenGuYs post-college, pre-living with significant other...

You stop keeping track about a 3/5 of the way through.
Yes, that is a basketball hoop - I had a bit more room in my Minnesota apt.
No, books are not strategically placed and I may or may not have stolen Michael Porter's Competitive Strategy from school. (I read it before going to bed every night.) Shhh.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Inbox of Immaturity

Figured if anyone's having as difficult a time coming back to work after the 3-day vacation (or generally coping with the fact that summer's done), you'd be down for a little midweek immaturity. Also, although it's been a Friday thang in the past, I've always suspected that Wednesday may be more appropriate. While people may slack and have more time to watch the ridiculousness on Fridays, Wednesday may be the day that peeps most need a break. It also gives them time to pass on their favorite to their social circle and get the credit for being the purveyor of funny. Plus, Wednesday is often referred to as "Hump Day," which is kind of in the same spirit as IOI.

(I love that that whole paragraph was written as if people are actually reading this in the first place. Not to be self-effacing for the sake of it, but definitely should have been more active in my first month leaving Fallon if I wanted to convert mofos.)

Anyway, here's some nonsense for your Hump Day. A late lunch perhaps.
Apps: Thor Action
Main: Uncle Otto k-bob
With a small side of obvious
Second Helpings: It's Britney, b*tch
Dessert: Cadbury chocolate bar

Thanks to Aki for working that kitchen to feed y'all this week.