Color me stupid, but I finally uncovered the not-so-secret fact that I have a Picasa account by default. I found every image I've ever uploaded to Blogger all in one place, even the duplicates, edits and changes. I've made a few of those 3,000 images public and I guess I'll let it serve as a place to piss off professional designers who cringe at my crude concepts. But that's always how I've worked: "Here's what I'm thinking. Make it better."
Found one I like. I think I did this at my last full-time gig as I was waiting for some CMO with his head up his ass to see if he could remove it. There was a lot of downtime on that job. This was just over a year ago. The point was, as I recall, that even Leonardo would find himself facing a community of clowns and critics if he were to unveil his work today.
I've always hated the jangly, busted-down, one-wheel-doesn't-work, clank-clank shopping carts at Target. But last week my local store finally got the new ones. They look like the "shopping cart" icon on any ecommerce site. I understand this is a weird thing to get excited about, but you've never pushed a cart like this.
Below, a portion of my review for "Cart and Driver"
The steering improves on the numb performance of earlier models with a smooth ride, the insulated handle not transmitting a lot of unwanted feedback to the driver. A sporty front end really helps give the cart a more modern look. The new model makes previous generation carts look ancient. Handling, acceleration and stopping performance are second to none. Responsive, powerful, and sexy, you will love driving this cart for hours, the wind in your hair as you roll carefree through the landscape of the chain store's smoothly laid aisles. When you're done, attempt the time-honored practice of riding it, scooter-style, through the parking lot to your car.
For the moment, it seems the Target cart is without competitive peer. The question then becomes: Does the cart matter? When a shopping cart occupies such a unique niche in the market place, pointing out the highs and lows becomes moot, because customers will push them all day long. After all, where's the competition?
This one, called "Interview" has great writing, casting and acting.
What does the spot do, other than make you laugh? It sticks the term "raise your rate CD" in your head, for one, through the hilarious (if totally inexplicable) interviewer's inability to hear the statement, thus necessitating its repetition.
It also positions Ally as "on your level," not talking down to you; the bank doing humor instead of the other two templates available to banks: feel-good-happy-life-remodel-your-home-get-a-college-loan...or... will-you-have-enough-money-when-it's-time-to-retire-you-should-be-scared.
The tag, "Do you love your bank?" has an obvious answer. Who does? It's a nice little seed of doubt to plant in the heads of all of us who hate our banks.
The Perpetually Malcontented Trolls of TripAdvisor
You can't believe everything you read, especially on TripAdvisor. If it's not some asshole looking for a free meal or a comped night, it's the proprietor himself posting fake five-star reviews. You want a glowing review of that hotel you're thinking of booking? You can find it! You want a picture of mold in the shower? You can find that, too!
A London brand reputation management firm is hoping to sue TripAdvisor on behalf of its clients. The founder of the firm, a master of the obvious, said, "The world of the Internet and particularly social media has pretty much outstripped ethical guidelines, and some legal ones as well.”
Everyone's a reviewer. Everyone's a critic. Your best bet is the recommendation of someone you know and trust; someone who will give you the straight story. "It was awesome. I mean, sure, the little bottles of shampoo were kinda harsh on my hair, but other than that, good bed, nice view, decent staff. It's a hotel, man, what do you want?"
Or you can trust the whining freaks who can't wait to get home and pretend to be authorities on all things hospitality and dining.
Two images combined to create a strange Halloween costume idea, or the name of your new band, or the title of Stephen King's next book, or simply a disturbing image to appear in your RSS feed on a Monday afternoon in late October.
I need to get this guy back on track. He is Hans, an unemployed musician who is a stay-at-home Dad raising his two kids Torch and Scorch. His wife, Britte, is a corporate attorney. Hand-drawn and then scanned and colored crudely in Photoshop. But my scanner died, so this is a rework of the original.
Doing my part to save your municipality some money, this sign will replace bike crossing warnings, slippery when wet signs, notices that a crosswalk is coming, bridge freezes in cold weather, dangerous curve, blind intersection, rock slides, deaf children, road subject to flooding. You name it. Just keeps you on your toes, watching the road.
It also serves as a nice philosophy for either the optimist or the pessimist.
I was making an effort this week to be less cynical, when along comes a letter from Claire at EuroRSCG to ruin my vow. Seems the London agency's new "Twitter powered" website is up, "letting the 200 people within its office power its website in real-time."
Russ Lidstone, CEO Euro RSCG London, said, “The agency listens to its employees and connects with its clients on a completely new level. This new Twitter centric website embodies our belief that social media should sit at the heart of what we do.” OK, Russ, now let's change your title to CWO, Chief Wanking Officer.
Why won't this work? First, employees are going to be cheeky yet careful, not allowed to reveal their true thoughts, which is half the fun of Twitter. They will always be mindful of the boss and the clients watching.
Here are the profiles of some of the recent tweeters on the EuroRSCG page:
Seeing a pattern?. All new accounts. Either EuroRSCG's employees really weren't all that into Twitter in the first place, or more likely, brass made them create alternate "work" accounts for this endeavor.
Naomi, from one of the profiles above, offers a link to her personal blog, however, where her bio tells it all:
London girl in the soulless world of advertising, seeks outlet for obsessive need to consume and own many pretty things.
Finally, honesty. But I'll bet you some money Naomi's bosses will ask her to remove the link very soon. Too much transparency. Too much truth.
You're Only as Green and Eco as Legal Will Let You Be
A few months ago, I was in the in the habit of getting the day's groceries on a bike. Now that the worst of summer is behind us, I might take it up again. On one of my trips, I came up with an idea: (Well, it wasn't an original idea, since people have been delivering groceries on bicycles since the early 1900s.) But why not have a chain store offer localized delivery? I thought, "Surely, the average carbon-footprint-obsessed corporation could get behind this and sell it to their equally concerned canvas bag-toting customers." So, in my never-ending quest to do many things not-very-well instead of sticking to one thing and doing it well, I contacted Publix headquarters in Lakeland with what I thought was a cool pitch (delivered in a Dynamic Powerpoint Presentation, since corporate guys like that shit). I laid out the costs and benefits, the strategies and logistics, offering to oversee the pilot program at my local Publix, with me being the first delivery guy.
It got some attention and even a phone call from a guy with a big title that had "VP" in it. He actually thought it was cool, but in the end, legal would trump cool, and the potential liabilities of bicycle delivery (accidents, spoiled food, etc.) would outweigh the convenience to Publix customers. Too bad. He suggested going it independent. Maybe.
It took seeing the new Geico commercial to remind me that I have an xtranormal account, which is a great tool, even the free version. In this little movie, Drew is back from Vegas, reporting to his supervisor on what he "took away" from the blogging and new media conference.
A cool tool in the hands of people who don't know how to use it generally becomes an ineffective tool. But before you go off to another blog and social media conference to get a crash course in social media best practices, see if you can't find that information online. And besides, what the geniuses tell you will work today won't work by next year, which is why they have that conference annually.
There are so many sights on Google Street Views; everyday and ordinary things, captured in a moment when a funny looking car drove by. Pump up the saturation level and the scenes take on a surreal and dreamlike quality. Or at least they do for me. I can find and frame scenes all day long.
Here a child is at play on the banks of the Anacostia River, apparently herding geese with a stick.
Anacostia Drive, SE, looking across to the District Yacht Club. (Click for the massive, full screen size)
This link will take you to more of my super saturated street scenes, and in cooperation with Google, all of my compositions will be brought together in a giant coffee table book available very soon*. When it's released it will be met with bookstore protests by privacy rights alarmists who think blurred faces and illegible license plates aren't enough to protect us from the evil Big Brother that is Google. "They drove by me! They took a picture of my house! We must stop this menacing intrusion!" Get over it. Your whole life is documented, right down to every item you ever purchased with your debit card.
* Well, OK, not really, but I'm throwing the idea out there for Google to ponder.
Fake Italian Restaurant Sues With Never-Ending Insolence
Chicken and Artichoke Vomit, as prepared by Olive Garden
The Darden Group, an Orlando-based restaurant conglomerate that counts among its chains Olive Garden and Red Lobster, has decided that a couple of San Diego T.G.I.Friday's restaurants are not allowed to use the tern "never-ending" when describing a shrimp sale. It's too close to the Olive Garden's "never-ending pasta bowl" an annual promotion that Darden attorneys, flacks and other assorted assholes with VP after their names think is a "valuable business asset" and so they will "vigorously oppose" the use of the term "never-ending" by the San Diego T.G.I. Friday's.
If I'm the judge, I say to the plaintiffs, "Bring me a bowl of this never-ending pasta." And then I say to the defendant, "Bring me a plate of this never-ending shrimp." Then I say, "Bring me a DVD of the Wolfgang Peterson directed Never-Ending Story." Then I sample the pasta, which I declare bland, unimaginative and far too cheese-laden. Then I try the shrimp, which I find to be dry on the inside, nearly spoiled and dripping in grease. I say to the two parties, "These taste very similar in their blandness and are exactly alike in that they both make me despise chain restaurants that pretend to be authentic. Nonetheless, shrimp is not pasta and I doubt any idiot could be fooled into thinking that this sale in a San Diego area T.G.I. Friday's is in any way associated with the Olive Garden. But then again, who knows, since I can't tell you guys apart just driving down the road where all the chains congregate within the same four blocks." Then I try to watch the movie, which after a few minutes is just too dated, the primitive animatronics and child-actors not sitting well after eating two variations of popular "American" cuisine.
I declare the lawsuit frivolous and I issue an order that requires all Darden corporate assholes to wash dishes in local T.G.I. Friday's restaurants for 4 years.
I'm not sure what it is about this La Quinta spot that falls so flat for me. The voiceover artists, the writing, the wanting to be ironic but not succeeding. It makes me cringe. It took more time and effort to secure the rights to the old film footage than it did to conceive, cast and produce this cheap spot. I don't know. Maybe I'm just a cynic. You might like it.
Jetpacks are in the news of late, thanks to some Fox News hosts getting duped by Weekly World News. The verdict, here from the Mythbusters guys appearing last night on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, is that no, we won't see any jetpacks anytime soon. Yeah, I thought I said that already.
I love how the folks who developed this behemoth, screaming jetpack claim it will fly for 30 minutes at 63 mph, but you never see it flying for more than a few seconds, and always hovering at about four feet off the ground. And this is Martin's second go-round with a PR push. The first one (over two years ago) didn't generate enough buzz, I guess. Maybe because this was and still is a shitty jetpack.
With all this jetpack news, you'd think a radio station, commercial producer or someone should be playing or licensing my song at this point.
Sensors picked up an anomaly in blog stats and delivered this graph.
Seems someone posted the old "Tweet Your Breakfast" comic over at Reddit. That thing is nearly two years old and it keeps on giving, though rarely to my site as I was a dumb and naïve blogger in January of 2009 and never put any identifying information on the original image. Now it just gets shared all over the planet, but this blog remains at its usual, measly 150-200 visitors per day, (most of whom arrive here in search of naked women) unless a gentleman like RayTube comes along and IDs the thing on my behalf.
So, here it is again, only this time with a couple small identifiers on it. I also took the advice of HighJive and sat Major Mike Adams down in his chair.
The preponderance of experts in the field of social media is astounding. It really shouldn't be such a mystery anymore, requiring a conference per month and seminars out the ass. It's basic common sense, but we had to turn it into an industry. A recent visit to my Linked-In network showed me people I know who couldn't compose a paragraph in an email now touting themselves as experts in the oh-so-mystical realm of social media. Here is one such person conducting a recent seminar. We catch up with her just after she prompts the audience, "Let's think of some social media tools we use today!" Thankfully, there were a couple of smart-ass bastards like me in her audience.
Love this spot for FedEx. "Kickin' off with sales figures!" says it well, all you PowerPoint Rangers, and the portrayal of TSA employees as knowledgeable haters of the standard, sleep-inducing presentation is a nice touch. The guy playing the supervisor role finally has something for his acting resume that eclipses whatever he was doing previously, which was probably "Thug #4."
I Can't Believe This Guy Is Beating Me by 59 Thousand
And with your help, he won't be much longer.
Tim Wilson. Never heard of him, but he's one of those country singers who throws in the F-word on his song and it's a success. "Ha-ha! He said, 'Where the Fuck is My Jetpack?'" and his song has over sixty-thousand views on YouTube.
By contrast, here is what I find to be a far superior song, and instead of just a picture of the smiling singer/songwriter you get an actual video, and this video is only sitting at about 1,200 views. (And between you and me, these lyrics are way better.)
Now granted, Mr. Wilson has a major label behind him and he tours regularly, whereas I write a small blog with a low readership and dabble in music from a computer in my bedroom, so I suppose it's only natural that the number of views for his song should surpass mine. Nevermind that he probably stole the line from me.
I would like to someday beat Tim Wilson on YouTube. Another person I'd like to beat is this dude, whose Kraftwerk/Devo/Cars sounding Jetpack video is just...well, you decide. He's got nearly 7K views.
What makes a successful video? I like to think it's content, creativity, a small push from a few people and maybe a bit of luck. With any luck and a small push from a few of you, I will beat Tim Wilson and Devo Dude in no time.
Then the world will buy the song and Tim's Nashville corporate lawyers will come calling, seeking copyright infringement money, to which I will reply, "Bite me. Owned the domain since 2003. Blogging under the name since 2006. Whereas your song was published in 2009. Who is infringing upon whom?" Or, "Upon whom is infringement being perpetrated?" Or, "This infringement you speak of, dear sirs, is wholly mine to claim! DON'T TREAD ON ME!" And then I will wave my snake-flag and call some local TV stations. Tell me, lawyers, do I have a case?
But it's not like the phrase is unique anymore anyway. Author and Roboticist Daniel Wilson (Another Wilson?) came to me years ago hoping to buy the domain for his book, which has the same title as this blog. I told him, "No. Why don't you register 'Where IS My Jetpack' instead?" Which he promptly did.
After the lawyers go away in sheepish defeat, (compensating me out-of-court for the pain, suffering and loss of potential wages) I will then maybe let Tim open for me at a show or two, provided he doesn't sing his Jetpack song.
It's 1932! Get Your Depression On with a $195 Harley-Davidson. Leave your troubles behind, brother, as you scour the countryside looking for a meal or a job digging a ditch. Maybe head out West and help build that Hoover Dam. (Click for the massive)
Even in Florida you can feel October in the air. The overnight low last night was in the upper 60s and the pool is getting colder. Halloween crap lines the store shelves and I don't break a sweat just standing in the garage. It's on in a big way. When you say "Autumn," you don't mean September or November. And for the sake of beauty, poetry and this mongrel language we call English, let's call it Autumn instead of Fall.
Surveys* show that Americans prefer October four to one over every other month on the calendar. I think we love October for the nostalgia. When I was a kid I loved it for the nostalgia of years before I was born, books I'd read could put me there and the descriptions of smells in the air and the feelings they'd conjure were just as they were wherever I was. Now I love it for the nostalgia of my childhood, and even in Florida the damp smell of leaves or a brief cool breeze can put me in Oklahoma, Kansas, Washington, Virginia, New York or any other place where I experienced a real, true October as it was meant to be. I think Virginia Octobers stand out the most in my mind, the autumn colors somehow a brighter memory. But down here we don't really get to feel what Midwesterners and Northeasterners are experiencing right now until about February, when we put on our thin coats and grumble about having to wear socks.
In the ad above, you can see where I started to colorize the leaves and then bailed out, not wanting to waste that much time on a throwaway for a blog post that will be ephemera by tomorrow. Got other fish to fry - or apples to cobble and pumpkins to gut. I've been spending some time over at Victors and Spoils, the crowdsourcing agency that gets a lot of crap from bloggers who bemoan its model as an attempted usurpation of traditional agencies. But right now those traditional agencies are at best, not hiring, and at worst, folding. I see Victors and Spoils as an opportunity for me to throw out some ideas on big brands I might never get to touch otherwise and who knows, maybe pitch an idea that wins me some cash. Right now they're accepting ideas for Harley-Davidson, a brand Ihavenoproblem offering advice to while pointing out what they're doing wrong.
Well - that's enough for now. Time to go do a quick 5K and then jump in the pool.
Back when we were kids, the advertising people told us that "in the future" we'd all be free from disease and living in peace, flying around with our own jetpacks. The future is now...and we're still waiting.
For Your Viewing Pleasure
Get This Off the Ground
Google Gives Me a Penny If You Click This Stupid Banner.