Did you ever have one of those existential moments when just as you were about to do something totally insane, the one sane cell left in your brain lets you know you are about to do something totally insane, but then dies just before it can stop you? That is a bad moment… let’s call it the first stage of hell.
In recounting this story, my first memory is of me sitting in my car at the drive-thru window of Burger King. I have no idea how I got there. I am fairly certain I hadn’t been drinking for the previous six hours, nor had I lost a poorly wagered bet. Regardless, there I was.
The speaker beckoned, “May I take your order sir?” I could have said no. I could have just driven away. I could have ordered a salad or pretended to not speak English. But the words I never thought would ever come out of my mouth simply erupted: “Yes, I’d like an Angry Whopper… (wait for it)… and can I get that with extra pickles?”
Naturally, the speaker did not tell me that this sandwich doesn’t come with pickles and, therefore, “extra” makes no sense. After all, this is Burger King, home of have it your way; I am fairly certain they would have given me cyanide if I had the good sense to order it. But I didn’t.
As I drove around to the pick-up window, I sensed shame and joy holding hands in the backseat of my car; that is the second stage of hell, when the best and worst of times become intimate in your backseat. .. and you are forced to drive them around, pretending nothing is happening. Yuk.
At the pick-up window, and I remember this with clarity, a woman whose eyes begged for the type of freedom William Wallace died for, simply smiled as she handed me the “bag” and suggested I have a nice day. And this is the memorable part: she barely reached out the window, forcing me to make the conscious choice to grasp for my order. Stage three.
Now what? Clearly I had not thought this plan through. Yes, I was wise enough to use the drive-thru, but where was I going to take this bag of food? Unfortunately, I knew the answer immediately and simply pulled ahead into an empty parking spot. And no, the word “empty” was not lost on me. Stage four.
The Angry Whopper was, as I suspected, a taste-bud sensation… or maybe more of an overload. I began sweating almost immediately – partly from the heat and mostly from the embarrassment. I was unable to locate the nutritional value of the Angry Whopper on the BK website before placing my order, but I was fairly certain after one bite that I was well within the 900-1,200 calorie range. And it was delicious. Stage five… denial.
Like most pleasures, it did not last long. As I backed out of my space and idled the drive of shame to the main street, my stomach started talking to me. ”What is wrong with you? Where is your self-discipline? Where is your pride? Why didn’t you order onion rings?” Stage six.
I began to weep, or maybe I was burping up pickles… this part is hazy. But I know what happened next, I woke up. Yeah, turns out I was having one of those Advil PM-induced crazy dreams about that creepy, plastic-headed Burger King and his Angry Whopper.
And while I feel perfectly fine blaming this dream on the onslaught of pre-Super Bowl commercials (coming 2.3.13) I can’t help but wonder what else might be at play. Stage seven, when you’re no longer sure if you are awake or dreaming.
In the words of Dr. Peter Venkman: ”Have you been outside lately? Do you know how weird it is out there? We’ve taken our own head count. There seem to be six million completely miserable a**holes living in the tri-state area… make that six million and one.”
So when the 12-21-12 Mayan prophecy showed up a few years ago, everyone got kinda excited. Maybe a blue star asteroid or a tectonic plate shift would end the world in a giant cataclysm, or perhaps Earth would simply shift on its axis and up would be down and down would be up. Anything is possible.
And to a degree, it makes sense. With $16 trillion dollars in debt staring us in the eyes and the constant threat of global war hanging over our heads, virtually any change would be welcome… even if it meant the end of the world (or John Cusack’s acting career).
But as it turns out, 12-21-12 was just a new version of Y2K… a lot of hype, a little hope and a tiny puff of smoke. But don’t give up, there’s sure to be another doomsday prophecy on the next bus.
Or, consider the advice of Ray Stantz: ”You know, I just can’t believe things have gotten so bad in this city that there’s no way back. I mean, sure, it’s messy, it’s crowded, it’s polluted, and there are people who would just as soon step on your face as look at you. But come on! There’s gotta be a few traces of sweet humanity left in this city.”
There’s got to be.
Earlier this week, Joe Agozzino, 57, exited this world and moved on to the next. Like his father (Charlie) before him, he left this world way too soon. It was a shock and a heartbreak to everyone who knew him. And everyone, it would seem, knew him.
Hundreds, if not thousands attended his wake on Monday, while hundreds more attended on Tuesday what could only be described as a heavenly send-off at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church (West). Not least among them being the entire wrestling squad from St. Edward High School.
And through a sea of sad tears, the question arose: “Why? Why Joe? Why now?”
Joe was a good man. A good son, a good brother, a good husband, a good father, a good friend, a good neighbor, a good co-worker. He was good. And by all accounts, he was healthy as a horse. And yet, he is gone. And a void has been created.
But upon reflection, it occurs to me that while we have lost one of the good ones, we are blessed to have so many good ones still among us. And for that we should rejoice.
Joe’s brother Leo, though in many respects completely different from his only sibling, is likewise a good man. A good son, a good husband, a good and loving father, a good friend and a man of tender mercies.
Joe’s wife, Annie, is as sweet and good as a woman can be. Caring, loving and devoted. A good daughter, a good wife, a good mom (and soon-to-be grandma).
Joe’s aunt Domenica is more than good; she is saintly. One of the finest, kindest, most sacrificing women I have had the pleasure of knowing in my life. And her daughter Josephine – Joe’s first cousin (which is like identical twins to the Irish) – is a saint in waiting. The best daughter, the best wife, the best mother, the best sister, the best friend, the best teacher, the best neighbor.
And of course, Joe’s mother Leonarda and his children Leah, Charlie and Rocky, and his uncle Sam and his good friend coach Urbis… and the list goes on and on.
And though most of us find ourselves walking in Joe Agozzino’s shadow, it is good to know – and I am certain Joe would agree – that the good are still here… and they are all around us.
In the real world, the idea of doing something that has already been attempted and/or accomplished is considered a waste of time.
In the world of marketing, the idea of beating a dead horse is not only acceptable, it is often recommended.
The age-old answer to the age-old question – “How long should I run the same ad?” – supports this concept. “You run it for as long as it works!” Yeah, there are lots of other answers, some supported by scientific studies and most bolstered by personal opinions. And there are mitigating circumstances (like the size of the budget to produce more ads or a change in messaging).
Once upon a time, a seasoned (and probably drunk) ad guy told me that you run an ad until the marketplace is sick of it, then you run it some more. That is the essence of beating a dead horse.
In an age – the digital one to be precise – where everything is in a constant state of change and transformation, the idea of staying the course and beating the horse is anathema. Plus, it is hard for agencies to make money and employees to justify their jobs if they keep doing the same thing.
Unless, of course, doing the same thing is the right thing to do.
Oscar Wilde would argue that “consistency is the refuge of the unimaginative”, and that is a safe harbor for some to moor their boats. But in this case, I defer to the words of Confucius: “Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
I have heard some talk lately that 50, which used to be the new 40, is now the new 30. That’s just great. It’s not enough to be young at heart anymore, you actually have to be young… or at least act like you are younger than you really are.
Perhaps this is the reason why energy drinks – a product once relegated to pimply boys on skateboards – reached nearly $7 billion in sales last year, outpacing bottled water by $200 million. And we are not just talking Red Bull and Monster Energy and Rockstar, we’re also talking Starbucks and Jamba Juice and V8. Main Street marketing, baby.
Because while teenagers will put just about anything into their bellies that tastes good and gives them a sugar high, 50-year-olds (and 40-year-olds and 60-year-olds) want to be healthy and natural.
According to a recent story in Food Product Design, “the greatest long-term opportunities in energy likely still exist firmly in the beverage sector—but with a decidedly “natural” spirit (think whole-food ingredients, juices, tea, whole grains, etc.).” Better still, the article reports “Aging consumers regularly cite a desire to have sufficient energy for the day’s activities.”
In other words, “We may be the new 30, but we are tired, and we would like to be laying in a hammock on a beach, but we cannot afford to retire, so we must keep working, and we cannot take drugs without a prescription (or the risk of arrest), and we really don’t want to mess up our bodily functions (we’re talking urination, bowel movements and erectile functionality here), so can someone please give us an all-natural and apparently healthy energy boost to help us make it through the day?”
If that’s not a marketing opportunity waiting to happen, I’d like to know what is.
The competition for online advertising spending is fierce. With U.S. online spend forecasted to grow 23.3% this year, according to a February 2012 forecast from eMarketer, it comes as no surprise that two big online giants are doing whatever it takes to secure more ad dollars.
Just this week Google and Facebook announced upgrades to their systems. On June 5, Google launched its DoubleClick Digital Marketing platform, the “biggest ever overhaul” of DoubleClick. The goal of the upgrade is to allow marketers to more easily manage ad campaigns across different platforms, including mobile, video, display and search.
Direct Marketing News explained it best: DoubleClick — essentially a tool to streamline digital marketing efforts — aims to integrate the process of creating and tracking campaigns by enabling tailored messaging and an easy analysis of real time results. The entire system is bolstered by Google Analytics to allow backend tracking and the ability to report onsite traffic while incorporating that information into specific ad campaigns.
On the social media side, Facebook is also enhancing its online advertising offerings. Now advertisers can select whether they want their Sponsored Stories links appearing on fans’ desktop News Feeds, mobile News Feeds, within the sidebar, or in any combination of the three.
“Facebook is always looking for ways to improve products and has responded to requests from marketers to control the placement of their sponsored stories,” the company said in a statement, according to Business Insider. “As companies are promoting services more frequently on mobile, this option gives them the opportunity to focus on specific placements that will impact them most directly.”
The message both Google and Facebook are sending is clear. They want to make it as easy, as fast and as flexible as possible to purchase online and mobile advertising. In turn, marketers need to stay focused on what online and mobile advertising platforms are going to deliver the best results.
Hats off – or should I say helmets – to the Great Lakes Science Center for dreaming big and reaching for the stars.
The Great Lakes Science Center is widely recognized as the perfect spot to take the kids for both entertainment and education. But did you know it is an equally awesome destination for adults? And you don’t even have to be a nerd, unless of course you want to.
Next month, on Saturday, April 7, from 8:00 p.m. until 1:00 a.m., the GLSC staff will be entertaining adults (sans children) to an out-of-this-world evening of heavenly delights. Close your eyes and imagine Tom Hanks from “Big” hanging with Ben Stiller in “A Night at the Museum” while doing shots with Harrison Ford at the Mos Eisley Cantina on the planet Tatooine in “Star Wars.” It’ll be sort of like that.
Music, dancing, alcoholic beverages, hors d’oeuvres, an Ominmax movie, a costume contest, a trivia contest… and a whole lot of fun science. In case you didn’t know, Yuri’s Night parties and events are held around the world every April in commemoration of April 12, 1961, the day of cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s first manned space flight, and April 12, 1981, the inaugural launch of NASA’s Space Shuttle.
By the Numbers: In 2012 there will be 72 events in 29 countries on 5 continents on 2 worlds…and you have the opportunity to join them.
SPECIAL OFFER: If you act before St. Patrick’s day, GLSC is offering tickets for just $50 each ($10 discount). Use the promo code “Gagarin” when you purchase your tickets online: http://www.greatscience.com/yurisnight.php. [offer is good through 3/17/12]
And be forewarned. In the words of C.S. Lewis: “A man who has been in another world does not come back unchanged.”
Dan Pallotta is the president of Advertising for Humanity and author of Uncharitable. Last week Dan wrote a very interesting blog post about business jargon. To quote Dan, “I’d say that in about half of my business conversations, I have almost no idea what other people are saying to me.”
I could not agree more. Between the idioms, the acronyms and the hyperbole, it is almost impossible to follow conversations. Dan credits the Internet for making an already bad problem worse.
Maybe he’s right. Or maybe it is a failing education system. Or maybe it is a growing number of insecure business professionals seeking job security through language obscurity. Or maybe – just maybe – we’ve become so accustomed to marketing, we’ve forgotten how to communicate.
You remember President Reagan? He was often referred to as the great communicator. But in truth, he often did not know the difference between reality and a film reel. He rarely communicated and frequently marketed. I pass no judgement on him, and in fact openly admit that I voted for him… even when he said stuff like this:
“Approximately 80% of our air pollution stems from hydrocarbons released by vegetation, so let’s not go overboard in setting and enforcing tough emission standards from man-made sources.”
“I never drink coffee at lunch. I find it keeps me awake for the afternoon.”
“How can a president not be an actor?”
In truth, President Jimmy Carter was the last great communicator of our time. There was very little marketing and a whole lot of communicating going on there. No abstract concepts, no meaningless expressions, just the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth… so help us God. Stuff like this:
“I have often wanted to drown my troubles, but I can’t get my wife to go swimming.”
“I’ve looked on many women with lust. I’ve committed adultery in my heart many times. God knows I will do this and forgives me.”
“People make a big fuss over you when you’re President. But I’m very serious about doing everything I can to make sure that it doesn’t go to my head.”
Hmmm. Now that I consider it more closely, perhaps the difference between marketing and communication is one without distinction. Maybe it does not matter so much whether one uses business jargon, but rather that one has something worth saying.
Though I consider myself a fairly smart guy, I am admittedly not a scientist. So I won’t pretend to understand the chemistry of Alcoa Architectural Products’ new Reynobond® with EcoClean™ – aluminum building panels (cladding) – that clean themselves, as well as the air around them.
Fortunately, I don’t require an advanced degree to recognize the new technology’s value: Reynobond with EcoClean constantly works to remove pollutants by using sunlight and the water vapor and oxygen in the air to clean the air itself. According to the company’s website, “10,000 square feet of Reynobond with EcoClean has the approximate air cleansing power of 80 trees. That’s enough cleaning power to offset the smog created by the pollution output of four cars every day.”
In addition, because the EcoClean™ coating is superhydrophilic, it makes the surface of the Reynobond® super slick in the presence of water. So when it rains, water doesn’t bead on the surface. Instead, it collapses and runs evenly off the building, taking most of the broken-down organic matter and nitrates with it. Even the slightest amount of rain or humidity in the air creates the effect, so the building is constantly washing away contaminants. That means lower maintenance costs for owners, and a consistently cleaner image for the building over time.
In summary, EcoClean is a really innovative technology that is good for building owners, good for the environment and good for the community-at-large. Congratulations Alcoa.
P.S. Please update me when you introduce the self-cleaning car.
[Disclaimer: Alcoa did not request or pay for this review.]
Sometimes the best way to learn from others is learning what not to do. I received the following email below in my inbox today.
This is exactly the type of emails you don’t want to receive as a consumer or send as a marketer. Here’s why:
1. I intentionally removed the sender’s name from the email because I didn’t want to call him out personally. However, the email said it was from “Gevalia Stainless Steel Bundle Pkg” and then it listed a person’s email address. The “FROM” line of a consumer email should always be the company, in this case “Gevalia Coffee” and should not list an individual’s name (unless your the Geico Gecko).
2. The subject line is not enticing at all. Plus, I’m not a coffee drinker. The only reason I opened this email is because I was curious as a consumer marketer.
3. The copy does not encourage me to click the link. It simply falls flat. Plus there is no visual in this email at all. Why not create an HTML email with the offer right there for me to see.
4. What is with that URL? The URL should be a link to the company “Gevalia Coffee”. Not a link that looks suspicious and I have no idea where it will lead me.
5. Who is “Gevalia Coffee”? There is no information in this email to tell me about the company and why I would want to buy their coffee.
6. “Write to us”? Huh… why would I want to write to you? Plus, how do I even know who I’m sending a letter to if you only provide a PO Box?
As you can clearly see, there are many issues with this email and it is highly likely it didn’t produce any positive results. You better believe I don’t want to be receiving email again from this company. Did I mention I’m not a coffee drinker?!