Thursday, May 31, 2007

MY Stupid State - dotcom

You know how when you're searching for an available domain name and the registration service, be it Network Solutions or GoDaddy or wherever you prefer, comes back with, "That name is not available" and then they offer you a bunch of crappy alternatives, many of them beginning with "My"?

Well, that's what happened when the State of Florida didn't jump on "" years ago and got stuck with "" Anytime you see a business with a domain name like, you can bet that business was way late to the game.

Since 2003, all new license plates in the state have borne this stupid domain name on them. I just received one of these abominations in the mail yesterday, as the state attempts to phase out all the older, better standard plates, the ones that said "Florida" and didn't have giant cartoon oranges on them. They had one orange, yes, but it wasn't fluorescent. They're purposely forcing me by their deliberately inept design to choose one of the more expensive specialty plates, like this embarrassment, as if being the Golf Capital of the World was something to be proud of. Rock on, silhouetted retiree golf addict.

When these new standard plates started appearing on the road and I found out that eventually we'd all have to have one, I got real pissed and sent a letter to the head of these things in my state.

"Who is responsible for the hideous and inexcusable standard Florida license plate design? Do I have to have this piece of crap on my car? Of particular offense is the name at the top. This is not progressive. It is ridiculous.

I can't tell you how bad this makes our state look. It is beyond stupid.


Carl A. Ford, Director of the Division of Motor Vehicles, wrote me back.

We regret you are not pleased with the design of Florida's license plate. The department initiated a new design for the standard Florida license plate in 2003. The Department of Agriculture in conjunction with the Florida Citrus Association recommended the new design that depicts two Florida oranges with leaves and orange bl
ossoms. The additional on the license plate is to broaden awareness to a web site that has links to all state of Florida government services. The website provides citizens greater and more convenient access to state government.

He then went on to point me to the URL where I can find a bunch of expensive alternative plates, like Save the Sea Turtles and Share the Road with a Biker and Don't Beat Your Kids and John Lennon is Dead and a hundred other special interest plates.

I just thought it would be nice to have a simple standard plate free of promotion of a stupid domain name. Like this one.

Or this one.

And likely 47 other decent designs that don't include a "MY" domain name.


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A Firmer, Longer Car Pleases the Ladies

There's no way she isn't talking her husband into this purchase. There's an extra four inches, and it has her moaning. I know people were a little more naive back then, but surely this wasn't lost on a whole bunch of people, including the creators of the ad.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wild Child

Dude - that is so wrong!

Previously in Dick and Jane Sacrilege

Yeah, I know, "Dude, that is so wrong!" Regardless, visit No Joe Girls.

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Meaningless PR Move

Romney says he'd donate his presidential salary to charity. What a guy. I guess this will make him a "man of the people."

But when you've got $250 million sitting in the bank, what's the big deal about donating $400 K a year?

Hi, there. Can I sell you a car? No? Well then, can I come in and tell you about God's good news? Are you sure? Well, Fudge! If I become President, I will be the first President to donate his salary and the first President to wear something very special every day.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Geico Establishes a Perimeter

After a few very unflattering reviews of some pre-released scenes of the new sitcom based on the Geico Cavemen, Geico has asked the producers to scrap the show, exercising their legal rights via a “suck clause” inserted in the agreement at the last hour by Geico lawyers. ABC is reportedly “disappointed with the decision” made by Geico, supposedly arrived at after a conference with copywriters at The Martin Agency, creators of the Caveman characters.

But the future is not hopeless for Caveman fans hoping to see more of the offended Neanderthals. Rumors circulating suggest that Martin and Geico have teamed with Fox to allow the introduction of a Geico Caveman at CTU in next season’s 24. A person close to the production said, “CTU is filled with overly sensitive, catty people saying snarky things while trying to save the world. It’s the perfect environment for the Caveman.”

The “character placement” will be paid for by Geico, allowing episodes to run longer with fewer commercial interruptions. The character is not expected to directly shill for Geico in the hit series.

"C'mon! We have some integrity," said a Geico spokesperson.

Seriously, if you're really believing this, send me some cash and I'll make sure a rich Nigerian widow loads your bank account with untraceable drug money.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Fine Art Exhibit - Colour Photography

This week's showcase image is entitled, "The Aftermath of the Sinking of the Gecko's Boat." This original photograph is available as a colour print (12" x 10" - £280) or as a litho print (12" x 10" - £230.)

Black and white and lith prints are printed on fibre-based paper to archival standards; colour prints are printed on Fuji Crystal Archive paper. All prints are individually hand printed only when you order.

And when you spell "colour" with a "u" and price things in Pounds, it seems more worth the asking price.

This week's image made possible by the omnipresence of the newest "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie and the photographer's/blogger's wish to see the Geico Gecko murdered.

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Of Mouse and Men

Here in Orlando, it's time once again for the annual Gay Days at Disney World, a weeklong, oil-soaked festival of shirtless gay pride. (Although attendees are encouraged to wear red-shirts to identify themselves.)

Often loudly criticized (and boycotted) by conservative groups, Gay Days has been rounding up huge corporate endorsements, with the likes of Delta, Saturn and CNA paying for premiere sponsorships. Some companies, like Southern Comfort and esurance, even alter their logos for the celebration, making them predictably rainbow colored.

I wouldn't even be aware that the event was this week had we not been driving from Tampa yesterday on Interstate 4 , approaching the theme park area, where a huge billboard picturing guys in Speedos standing around a car announced it. Disney likes to keep this week under wraps, afraid of tarnishing their clean image. It's an "under the radar" thing you'll have a hard time finding on any official Disney websites.

It's a fine line to walk for Disney. They don't want to lose the dollars of either the gay community or the conservative community, and so they just act like it's not happening. That silence on Disney's part can sometimes catch heterosexual visitors and their families off guard, prompting Moms and Dads to spontaneously explain why "two men are kissing." In recent years, it's said to be getting a little out of hand. A gay man in Orlando writes an eloquent piece, deriding the invasion of "he-women and shaved down muscle boys."

"What once was a small group of well meaning gay men and lesbians has grown – and in my opinion, deformed – into what is now nothing more than a vile spectacle of self indulgence and indecency. I don’t like it when I hear pompous windbags telling me I’m going to burn in hell for being gay, and I’m sure most of the free world would appreciate a visit to Disney World that did not include the vision of grown men in go-go shorts, and ads for lubricant prominently displayed throughout the host hotel."

So, if you're not gay and you're planning on a Disney trip and the sight of "two queens frenching outside Cinderella castle," would give you pause, best to stay away this week. If you do make the trip, leave the red shirts at home.

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Google's Silence

Sure, this country's messed up in countless ways. There are plenty of reasons when traveling abroad to pretend you're from Canada; like the preservation of your physical well-being and the opportunity to avoid political conversations and arguments you have no chance of winning. You might even be ashamed to be an American these days, even if your immigrant parents brought you here to give you a better life than you had in, I don't know, say the power seat of the old Soviet Empire. You may have gone to a top-rated school in California and later became fabulously wealthy beyond your wildest dreams after setting up business here - and yet you still may feel like you just aren't "home."

Today is not supposed to be a grim downer. It's called Memorial Day. That means you are simply mindful. Maybe you pause for half a minute to think about people who perished in order to allow you to enjoy what you have and what you can achieve. Sort of like we do on MLK Day. It doesn't mean you wear a black armband. It doesn't mean you eschew fun on your day off. It doesn't even mean you have to be patriotic. It just means "remember." Ten seconds when you see a flag. You might even alter your world-famous logo for 24 hours, like you have for MLK Day, St. George's Day, Independence Day, Earth Day, St. Patrick's Day and other not-so-notable days every year for the last 8 years.

I've received these comments (among many) on my previous post about Google's refusal to acknowledge Memorial Day:

  • Just because you don't honor them doesnt mean you dishonor them.... its like the 'youre either for the war or against the troops' argument.
  • Mabye Google thinks this is respecting the dead, not turning Memorial day into just another holiday with a cheap logo.
  • Uh, no offence, but if Google went around honouring the war dead in every country they operate in, they would probably have a different logo everyday.
The fact is that Google (an American public corporation) claims they can't do a Memorial Day logo because, "We wouldn’t want to create a graphic that could be interpreted as disrespectful in any way," which is why I gave them the free idea at the top of this post. Respectful and simple. The logos they do on serious days, like MLK Day, are not "cheap," but reverent.

Thanks, Google, for showing your true colors. Your arguments were hollow and your inaction quite loud.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Dark Horse Desperado

Without a snowball's chance in Hell of winning even his party's nomination, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico is at least making political ads that don't come from the same cookie-cutter mold of flag, family, and rolled up shirtsleeves that everyone else uses. It's nice to see humor in this genre, even if it could be criticized as "not very Presidential." Richardson says he understands he's a long shot and must therefore do things a little differently in order to get attention. Sounds like he even borrowed the Priceline Negotiator stinger as his unorthodox logo pops up at spot's end. (two 30s back to back.)

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Big Pharma for Big Love

HBO's show about a polygamist family in Utah is just plain bizarre - and well written. This spoof ad promoting the show is excellent. But I love spoof ads, especially ones with lots of juvenile not-so-subtleties like bananas, hotdogs, sprinklers popping up and more. (Note the extra special gag with a very high MSHI* rating as the husband holds the rake in the background as the three wives sit at the table.)

*Middle School Humor Index

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Fred Phelps Says "Go Google!"

Dear Google:

You know I like you. I was one of your earlier adopters back in the late 90s, abandoning Yahoo!, AltaVista and other not-as-nice search engines. Your clean interface is my homepage. I think this Blogger service you provide is really, really valuable, and I appreciate that it’s totally free. I use your Gmail, too. Thanks.

I keep hearing that you intend to take over the world someday and become the Antichrist, but until you attempt to compel me by force to receive the Mark of the Beast, I’ll keep using your services and appreciating them.

I note how you alter your logo on off-the-wall holidays such as Persian New Year, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s birthday, World Water Day, and of course, Halloween. You give a nod to traditionally Christian holidays such as Christmas and Easter, keeping them safely Pagan with elves and bunnies. That’s cool. Mustn’t offend the hundreds of sensitive groups out there.

Which brings me to Memorial Day. It was never intended to be just another three day weekend or the official start of summer. Now I know one of your founders, Sergey Brin, was born in Russia and maybe doesn’t have an appreciation for this American holiday, but I’m asking Sergey, Larry and the rest of the 12,000 or so Google employees to consider once again honoring America’s war dead with a Memorial Day logo.

Here’s how you’ve responded in the past to requests for a Memorial Day logo:

We understand your interest in seeing a Memorial Day Google logo. If we were to commemorate this holiday, we’d want to express reverence; however, as Google’s special logos tend to be lighthearted in nature, this would be a particularly challenging design. We wouldn’t want to create a graphic that could be interpreted as disrespectful in any way.”

Excuse me, Google, my friend, but I respectfully call “Bullshit.” Here are a few of the respectful, not-so-lighthearted logos your designers have come up with in recent years for various special days.

I’m no designer, but maybe a simple flag, perhaps a cartoon eagle bugler blowing "Taps." Something. Anything. Here you go; try this quick, one-off, reverent attempt:

That sort of PR crap coming out of your headquarters is not helping you one bit. It’s transparent, disingenuous, and it makes you look petty.

Do you fear being seen as partial to one particular political party? Will honoring war dead somehow implicate you as supportive of Bush’s Iraq war? Here’s news, Googleites: soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coastguardsmen come in every color, they are of every political stripe, of every faith, age and temperament. The ones we honor on Memorial Day have one thing in common: they died in service to their country. Whether the war they died in was one we consider worthwhile or justified is not the point.

Throughout the summer after 7th grade, every day I would hoist my bicycle over the low stone wall of the beautiful public park that is Arlington National Cemetery, on my way to spend the day at the swimming pool on Fort Myer, Virginia. It was the shortest route from our house in Arlington, and the shade tree lined winding roads within the cemetery were much nicer than the traffic snarled streets on those sticky Virginia summer mornings and evenings. It was a quietly haunted but peaceful place, with names of people from long ago whizzing by in a quick recap of America's many wars. Sometimes I’d ride slow and look at the names, calculate their ages at death, note the crosses, stars of David, or the crescent moons.

It’s hardly shameful, Google, to acknowledge the sacrifices of all those people in Arlington National Cemetery and hundreds of other cemeteries nationwide and across the seas. You do your good name and esteemed brand a great disservice by refusing to pay them the respect of a simple one-day logo alteration. I hope you break with tradition this Monday.

Thanks to Freelance Fred for the heads-up.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Team Hillary Action Center!

There are too many easy targets at Senator Clinton's website. From the song contest to "Hillraisers" (HAHA - get it?) I've never seen a campaign try so hard to be my friend. Oooooh! Updates on my cellphone! You really do care, don't you, Hillary?

As for design, it's pretty nice and easy to navigate. As for content, it's like a corporate blog; all fluff and rah-rah and careful spin. Now if they could just keep the candidate out from under the scary and very unfriendly fluorescent lights of the Capitol building and off the Google News homepage. As Team Hillary knows better than anyone: Image is Everything.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Locals Only - Part IV

Since 1969, Weichert Realtors has been perfecting a smarter approach to real estate focused on the needs, concerns, hopes and dreams of our customers.

And this is a picture of our corporate office. Or maybe it's a picture we got from a stock photography house in Hungary, but it clearly shows you our incredible diversity. Yes, the bossman is still a middle-aged white guy, but look at his team! It's a veritable United Nations of Diverse Real Estate Talent!

has 500 company-owned and franchised sales offices in key markets throughout the U.S.

It's those franchised sales offices I'm worried about. I'm fearing corporate isn't watching their local ads very carefully.

Found this today in one of those thrown-on-the-driveway printed on pink, yellow or blue paper local ad rags that gets walked straight into the garage and tossed in the bin.

The man is chained to a house. He is apparently dragging it. His head is giant. He looks horrified. The helpful copy lets us know that "Selling your home doesn't have to be a "drag" with "drag" courteously quoted, just in case we didn't "get it."

There you go, account execs. Now you know why the creatives cringe when you walk into their offices. Or more likely: you think this ad kicks ass.

Locals Only Part III

Local Only Part II

Locals Only Part I

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What is WRONG with this Country?

So I'm doing my morning coffee drop-in on a few blogs and cruise Google News thing when I scroll down the page to find these life-changing stories from the Entertainment section of Google News: American Idol, Dancing With the Stars and American Idol's Paula Abdul Trips Over Her Dog and Breaks Her Nose. Wow.

I'm saddened, alarmed and thinking of becoming an expatriate. Nothing has polluted our culture more in recent years than reality TV. And now it's everywhere. Everything's a contest. Who wants to become a film director? Who wants to create a commercial for the Super Bowl? Who wants their mom to get a makeover? Who wants to be told on national TV that whatever they brought to the table really, REALLY sucked and they didn't make the cut? Who is so desperate for their 15 minutes of Shame and/or Fame that they will take either, as long as it means they're on TV?

As for American Idol, I've never watched it and never will. It is based solely on singing - and singing of a particular Atlantic City Vegas Branson Celine Dion Mariah Carey Cher Sinatra style that I hate. (Oh yes, I really DID just say something disparaging about "ol Blue Eyes." Never thought he had an ounce of talent. He talked his way through lyrics he didn't even write.) These contestants do cover songs, they don't play instruments, and they turn out by the hundreds of thousands when auditions open up for the next season.

I'm not sure who to blame for all of this. I think the fault may lie with Bob Saggett and his old show, America's Funniest Home Videos. It was the predecessor to YouTube, where alarming numbers of ordinary people created fake situations for the camera and then sent them to Bob in the hopes that he'd show their stupid clip on his stupid show. Just how many dresses and pairs of pants actually fall off at wedding receptions in this country in a year? Why would you cut down a tree right next to a parked car? And why did you have a video camera rolling when you were cutting down said tree? Everyone is so desperate.

There really are Two Americas, but not the two that John Edwards talks about.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Redmond Sticks it to Mountain View

With Halo 3 in beta, X-Box's sure-to-go-platinum 3rd installment of the wildly popular game, Microsoft is taking advantage of a free ad medium that the gamers know and use extensively: YouTube. Nearly 4 million views of the various Halo 3 trailers, with thousands of comments.

If you can't beat 'em, at least you can piggyback on their success until they find a way to charge you for it.

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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Grow Your California Bigger! Longer!

This map shows the proposed "new look" of North America.

(WASHINGTON) California is at maximum capacity. Mexico is breaking down the door to get in, illegally and otherwise. Some government officials from the two nations have a plan to end both of these problems: throw open the door that blocks expansion for one and opportunity for the other.

A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity, has confirmed that the United States has been in secret negotiations with officials of the Mexican government with regard to the possible purchase of Baja, California.

“It makes perfect sense on all sides. This is not just a win-win situation. This is a win-win-win-win-win situation. We haven’t come to terms yet on an actual purchase price, but both sides are very encouraged by early talks,” said the official.

Under the proposed agreement, the United States would acquire all of the peninsula of Baja, plus one half of the water rights to the Gulf of California, or Sea of Cortez, after both governments and the peoples of Mexico and California have approved the contract.

“We’re a little sensitive about being seen as some ‘hostile imperialistic invading force,’ as we’ve been characterized by other countries in recent skirmishes,” our source says, “so we need to be careful how this is presented. We’re pretty sure that with the right marketing, the right spin, with all the benefits for both sides clearly outlined to the people, we can sell this thing. We bought half of the continent from France with the Louisiana Purchase. This is the old-fashioned way to acquire territory.”

“This is a business deal, and it’s a great one. Everyone wins,” said the official.

The plan's “selling points” were described in a one-page fact sheet that carried neither government’s official endorsement.

  • Elimination of California’s southern border will reduce crime, illegal alien activity, and drug traffic. With California effectively removed from the problem of illegal immigration, those INS resources can be redirected to Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
  • The addition of Baja to California will mean a larger labor pool, more tourism dollars, economic, industrial and real estate development, as well as taxes for the state’s struggling economy, currently running on a $35 billion deficit.
  • From a design point of view, it makes sense to balance the peninsular state of Florida on the East end with a similar one in the West. (91% of designers polled agree. “Better flow and image distribution,” say industry veterans, “We can work with these boundaries much better.”) Additionally, designers point out that Mexico’s Baja peninsula “always looked out of place, like it didn’t even belong to Mexico. Their image on the globe will now appear cohesive and complete.”
  • Mexico will earn a substantial amount from the initial sale of the property and will also receive an annual percentage of California’s GDP for 25 years. Baja will benefit from better roads, schools, and utilities.
  • Mexicans living in the region gain instant US citizenship.
  • No need to change US flags to 51 stars, as Baja will be part of California.
  • Baja is already supported almost entirely by US tourism.
  • A key ally, Mexico will now enjoy a “wall of protection.” US naval bases that would be placed in the region will provide a natural “first defense” against possible invasions from the Pacific.
  • It’s already called Baja, California, and adjustment by natives to their new national identity will be easy.
  • The “Twin Cities” of San Diego and Tijuana will create a thriving new Central California.

The State Department is expecting opposition to the proposal from both sides.

“Mainly, your southern Californians, San Diegans in particular, are going to be upset that their city is now in Central California. Central California has always been in their minds the epitome of uncool. We’re working with a PR firm on that issue. The whole ‘SoCal’ surf scene will be switching to Cabo San Lucas, and therefore greater LA and San Diego/Tijuana will need to remake their images. We may see a massive flight of surfers and others to the tip of Baja,” said the State Department official, “Also, under this proposal, the state is now twice as long. This will require big adjustments for any team, business, or other concern that uses the state outline in their logo, like the Golden State Warriors for example.”

As for Mexican opposition, the official expects it to be of the usual “imperialistic” name-calling variety. “But money talks. When Mexico is sharing in California’s wealth and people are better off for it, we’ll see acceptance of this idea.”

Continued the official, “We need to be careful. This is not a takeover. It’s a purchase. And it’s subject to approval by the governments and their peoples. We’re really just floating a balloon right now. Expect the official line to be total denial of any knowledge until we’ve finished the details and developed the target-specific marketing campaigns with the ad guys.”

Do you suppose, in the interest of diffusing possible alarm, that we include here a disclaimer that talks about parody and satire? Naw. If you're gullible enough to believe this, you should keep on believing it. Hell, you should even write your elected representative and express your opposition or support of the idea.

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The Artificial Male Enhancer - Since 1953

For all the hate that the Hummer gets, I don't think nearly enough vitriol has been directed at this target, just as deserving, just as expensive and just as much a gas hog.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Never Seem to Find the Time

Pictured here is the Yacht Master II from Rolex, because the Yacht Master wasn't elegant and luxurious enough.

In the year 2000 (June, as I recall) my watch stopped working. At first it bugged me, not being able to look down at my wrist and know the time. Eventually I realized that no matter where I went, there was a clock of some kind within sight. There are two in my kitchen in the form of the microwave and a CD player. The cable boxes show the time. My computers have clocks. My cell phone displays the time. There's a clock in the car. We've got clocks on the walls.

Conclusion: I don't need a frickin' watch, or "precision chronograph" or whatever they call them tomorrow. And if, as Seiko tries to tell me, "It's your watch that says the most about who you are," then I must be subhuman.

All you guys who own Rolexes and Breitlings and Tag Heuers and whatnot can now post comments about how when you're yachting, or piloting your plane, or fly fishing in Alaska, or rocketing to the international space station, it's much easier to look at your wrist than your cell phone. Also, feel free to tell me how the clocks in my home rely on electricty and what if that went out? I don't care. I'm not buying a watch. Or fixing my old one.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Colonel Gets Another Makeover

(LOUISVILLE, KY) Kentucky Fried Chicken is test-marketing yet another image change in select cities across the US. With a rearrangement of their letters to FKC and a drastic update of the beloved icon Colonel Sanders, the company says it’s all about attracting the crowd most known for frequenting fast food franchises.

“Appealing to busy families on the go might work in small town and rural America, but we’ve seen a trend in the chain's more urban markets,” said Jane Marquette, a partner in the advertising agency BSF+U. “When we visited KFC outlets across America, there was an overwhelming trend we could not ignore; many of the restaurant’s clientele were stoners, skaters, emo kids and blue collar guys on their lunch breaks.”

In San Diego, the image change has been viewed very positively; with local sports radio stations urging listeners to frequent the stores.

“F KC! That’s what it’s all about, man!” said Tug McBohner, host of the drive time sports show Chargers or Death. “We HATE Kansas City here. F them is right!”

Marquette insists the name change has nothing to do with the city of Kansas City and says it’s more about projecting an attitude that appeals to the modern fast food diner.

“The name means Fried Kentucky Chicken, obviously, but it can be viewed in any way a patron wishes. That’s part of the edginess of the campaign,” said Marquette. “We are fully aware of what F means, and our targeted demo understands the wink and the nod we’re giving them. We’re making Kentucky Fried Chicken cool.”

As for the makeover of the Colonel, Marquette says that was a tough sell for KFC brass.

“He’d only recently received a pretty dramatic makeover, so their squeamishness at letting us alter him even further was understandable. But when we showed them a random sampling of photographs of their own employees, who look very much like they might be the new Colonel’s partying buddies, they relented. He's a little menacing, perhaps even scary, but our studies are showing that the kids look up to him much more than they did the kindly old grandpa in the apron.”

Marquette predicts that other fast food chains will mimic KFC’s efforts.

“They’re already after the same group with their Do Wendy’s and Fourth Meal and I’m Thinkin’ Arby’s campaigns. It’s all about the hipster kids with the munchies and some money.”

Disclaimer: Please, do we really need a disclaimer here?

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Ice Age Is Coming

The Sun's Zooming In....

Audience polling must've shown that Al Gore's Scary Movie was a little too preachy and heavy, with Professor Gore lecturing us in his doomy yet droning way about global warming.

Hollywood will take another route this summer: Family Comedy Feel Good Chuckle Fest. Partnering with The Conservation Fund, the new film Evan Almighty will use Steve Carrell (of The Office fame - although all the promo materials list his most well-known work as 40 Year Old Virgin) to advance the theme of "going zero." This propaganda piece is not so much a sequel to Bruce Almighty as it is a spin-off of that much funnier film. According to director Tom Shadyac, this will be the most expensive comedy ever made.

Here's what happens: God (Morgan Freeman) tells Evan to build an Ark, because, you see, a flood is coming. Evan becomes a modern day Noah. The trailers only let you in on that much, but I'm going to guess that God or Evan (or both) make longwinded monologues at the end about taking care of the planet and planting trees. Watch the trailer and count how many times you laugh.

There's a site that teams the film and The Conservation Fund up called Get On Board Now.

I know it's PC and fashionable to be part of this movement. It has become all-pervasive. You can't escape the guilt train. So I turn off unused appliances. I don't drive a Hummer. We don't use paper plates that often. We recycle our newspapers, sometimes even our plastic and glass. And I know Europeans have, like, 90 separate recycle bins per household. But let's say the world's attention stops focusing on the US after we are all forced to buy cars that get 50 miles to the gallon and air pollution is minimized. Who's gonna start enforcing clean air standards in Russia and China?

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Monday, May 14, 2007

I Think the Name is Luddite

I'm the kind of guy who goes dragging his feet into the next technological advance. I'd jump on the jetpack before anyone, but when it comes to software upgrades, I'm pretty averse to change. I have Photoshop CS2, but I never use it, preferring instead to use version 7 simply because I know it and I don't want to learn a new version. I was forced to upgrade my Dreamweaver and it's still pissing me off when I try to do things the way I learned to do them. I don't need Vista; XP works just fine. I'm not joining Twitter, or MyBlogLog, or adding a thousand trendy widgets to this site. I caved to Technorati, but that's it for now.

Which brings me to RSS readers. I'm afraid it's time for me to get one. As my blog favorites list grows, I need to be more systematic about what I'm following. Any of you bloggers who see a lot of traffic from one IP address in Central Florida can thank me, since I check up on you through bookmarks usually, sometimes getting to you through links on other sites. I call it my "Daily Reads" folder (pictured below - it grows and shrinks all the time as I find new ones I like or as old links go dormant) and I just jump to one of them when the mood strikes me and time permits, not necessarily when you update your blog. So, if you're watching website stats and analytics and you're wondering if you've got a stalker on your hands, it's just me...and I know where you live!

And speaking of stats, the guy who wrote the book "Where's My Jetpack?" (or his publicist/publisher) has been searching the term "where's my jetpack?" every day from Portland, in every possible way. Quoted, no apostrophe, capital letters, no question mark. He's hoping that he can eventually beat me for top spot on Google for the term. Please help me crush his dreams by linking to this blog. I'm inclinced to agree with this review of his book.

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Sunday, May 13, 2007

We Don't Want Your Business, Just Your Understanding

"We are not promoting culture for the economy, but for good and understanding," states His Royal Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al-Qasimi. "I would never bring tourists just for business. It is for people to understand us and vice versa. We like peace, which makes people come together. We should first come together, understand each other and peace will come. This is my main goal."

So begins the TWELVE PAGE ADVERTISING SUPPLEMENT purchased by the Emirate of Sharjah, one of the seven United Arab Emirates, in Sunday's New York Times Magazine. (Sharjah has a population of 636,000 - about the size of Baltimore, MD) Mixed among the headshots of government and business leaders with traditional male Arab headdress are smiling white people like Sue Underwood, Winfred Thompson, Peter Richards and Bertrand Giraud, proving to you that Sharjah likes Western Good and Understanding. The Times includes a disclaimer that says none of their staff were involved in the content creation of the piece and that it was the production of Summit Communications, who specialize in "raising the profile of the world's most dynamic emerging markets...through an exclusive arrangement with The New York Times."

To be assigned this job as a creative would be a nightmare. The copy is sterile, as if it's been reviewed by a very large team of editors, who were extremely sensitive to cultural and governmental concerns. Even the headlines lack any sort of "grab." Examples: A Thriving Nation that is Also a Modern and Dynamic Commercial Center and University City Takes Education to a Higher Level. How about this gem: Achieving the Best Port Operations Productivity with Speed and Safety First.

The pictures are very generic: ports, buildings and universities. More like a textbook written from a nationalist's point of view, this heavy propaganda piece makes great efforts to appeal to business leaders while attempting to dispell the Western stereotype of the Arab nation. Summit Communcations is in the business of puff pieces for The New York Times - and the client is always right. When your client is an oil-rich nation paying a giant bill, you happily do what makes them happy, swallowing your artistic pride.

And I'll go ahead and take His Royal Highness at his word; he is at least reaching out. And it had to have cost him a small fortune in production and placement. Imagine Baltimore, MD taking out a 12-page ad in the NYT mag. We don't need to go into the sex and drug trades of the UAE, and that wouldn't be fair anyway. It's not like the Los Angeles Tourism Board tries to sell you on the porn and drug industries of Southern California. (In case you're visiting Sharjah, there is exactly ONE place in the region to get a beer, an expatriate sports club and bar called Sharjah Wanderers. You won't find that in Summit's piece. Nearby Dubai is a little more lax on alcohol laws.)

So, three cheers for Sharjah and their efforts to promote good and understanding with the West. Now, maybe they can apply some of that money, power and influence by helping us find some good and understanding in Iraq.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Locals Only - Part III

Or: Expensive Software is a Terrible Thing to Waste

A long time ago, when Gates and Jobs had only recently begun their feud, the world was introduced to “desktop publishing.” (This was PG - or Pre Google) Computer buyers were given access to horrible images known as “clip art.” Novices everywhere latched onto these images and began creating logos, business cards, letterhead and magnetic signs. Soon, the outline of two hands shaking was the corporate identity of thousands of independent insurance agents, realtors and assorted “business consultants.”

And then came Photoshop®. Designers the world over covered their eyes in horror and drank themselves silly, trying to convince themselves they could not be replaced by a dangerous and powerful program, confident in their skills and certain that a complex software package would not be used effectively by the masses. It was not used effectively and the designers were proven right, but that did not stop the masses.

The bevel was discovered by hundreds of thousands of car dealers. The drop shadow was abused by countless friends of the business owners, who were “doing a little side work” in logo design. Children presented their ad concepts to their parents. And the world will never be the same. I’ve been known to make a designer cringe with my concepts, but I only use it for conveying ideas and rough sketches. Just because you have Photoshop, please don’t assume you can design.

Realtors have been the worst abusers.

The conversation at the photo shoot for the ad below went something like this.

“Josh, I feel really stupid standing here with my arm hanging in the air. Are you sure about this?”
“A little lower, Mom. Perfect. Can you let your wrist relax a little – like you’re leaning on a fence?”

“Are you sure this is going to look right?”

“Trust me, Mom. I have a program called Photoshop. You’re going to be leaning on your logo! It’ll be so cool!”

Local Only Part II

Locals Only Part I

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Try this Guys!

She looks mesmerized, entranced, under his spell. This is wise (and likely highly successful) advice from Tipalet, the makers of some sort of cigarette/cigar.

Gentlemen, the next time you're at the club, please try this. Make sure you practice the expression worn by this Master Swordsman. You gaze deep into her eyes, get really close to her, take a long drag from your mysterious cigarillo, then exhale a long, slow breath right into her mouth and nostrils.

This works better than Tag or Axe, guaranteed.

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Advantage: Management

Ha! Got you now, slimy laborers. See this clipboard and this pen? See this haircut? See this dry-cleaned shirt? See this smile? All made possible by our new Big Brother Time Clock that I was forced to get because all ya’ll been “buddy-punching” and cheating me. Now when you see me in the warehouse or on the factory floor, I hope you realize who you're playin' with. And please, no eye contact.

People aren’t honest. Never have been. The execs are skimming and so are the grunts in their own inventive ways. But the grunts get watched much more closely. In the endless battle of Management vs. Labor, the suits score a big advantage with devices like this hand scanning time clock. Much as I’d like to side with the unions in their support of the practice of buddy punching, I have to agree with Mr. Charles Wasp here: You cheat me and I’m gonna make you pay.

Now, if we only had more effective ways to control the inventive ways that management keeps ripping off the company.

Scanned from today's NYT.

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Finally - a Death to Celebrate

I hate to get into TV reviewing, but I'll justify this post by telling myself that 24 is more than a TV show, it's a cultural phenomenon.

BuddyTV offers this take on the current season of 24:

24 has become a cliche of itself. Jack Bauer killing friends, or family, has become an expectation anticipated with mockery. The parade of ludicrous deaths has become more of a low rent cabaret of cartoon violence. The character turns have become so telegraphed, they exemplify satire in the theater of the absurd.

But now there's good news. Milo is dead. The guy did nothing at work. He walked around asking people if they were OK. Or accusing them of being moles. Or telling them to do things they were already doing. Or telling them to hurry up. When he wasn't getting in everyone's way, the actor playing him was posing for the camera. Now some Chinese terrorists have seen through this guy's BS and have severely punished him for his shoddy work ethic and arrogance. BuddyTV says "Much to the shock of everyone, the mercenary shoots Milo in the head. Milo dies."

No shock to me. I've been anticipating this moment since they brought this character back. He was much better in Season 1, when he was a quirky granola-munching freelance analyst. You know how when people die, everyone finds something nice to say about them? That won't be happening at CTU. No one liked this guy. Better off dead.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Orphaned Dancer Needs Your Love

Some people have been hating on the Little Lad from Starburst.

I must defend the boy.

  • Starburst got its start in England
  • The character would easily be a hit on Kids in the Hall or Monty Python (It's too good for SNL.)
  • As the new site alerts us, he lost his mother! Have a heart.
  • Comments on YouTube indicate that his dance is a hit on high school campuses nationwide
  • The covering of the face with the accompanying exasperated yelp is comic gold
  • The companion website is well done. (Hit refresh and see the homepage background change.)
Now watch this tribute remix put together by someone with too much time on their hands.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Easiest Copywriting Job in the World

A weird synthesizer sets the stage for this toy commercial from Mattel. The agency told the client, "The toy sells itself. We just need to let the toy do the talking." From the early 70s, I'm guessing, so the copywriter was probably on acid at the time. Funky tune and nice bass work, though. Now if the VO guy had only said his lines on the beat, it would've been a masterwork.

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Kill Your TV

Since it's May Day, the Commies over at AdBusters are winding down their TV Turnoff Week, or whatever they call it.

Seems rather fleeting and doomed to failure, though I do like the copy. Did you have any idea we were at the end of TV Turnoff Week? Had you even heard of until today? Don't worry, no one else had either.

The problem with AdBusters is they think crazy radicalism is the way to get people acting. Wrong. It just gets people hating you. Affiliation with the Anarchy movement is a pretty shaky start.

Why not adopt a much more usable, less draconian, friendlier program? Click the banner below to learn more.

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