Who Will Watch the Marketers?

For those of you who caught my ‘Watchmen’ reference in the title, the premier is only a week away. For those of you who didn’t, well, consider yourself lucky you don’t speak geek.


So I’ve been thinking a lot about Twitter lately. Everyone knows what a huge fan I am of the microblogging service that only gives you 140 characters to say something important (or completely irrelevant). The reason I’ve been thinking so much about it is because lately there seems to be a surge in rule or etiquette discussions, specifically in how to use DMs, criteria for following people, what should and shouldn’t be discussed, etc.


I’m not sure if that’s because my circle consists mostly of marketers or if these conversations go on among the business coaches, real estate, aspiring actors and porn stars who also take up residence on Twitter.


In the marketing community, at least, we analyze what someone should tweet, if it is relevant content, how its ROI can be measured and how others use Twitter or should use Twitter in general and what purpose it serves.


To that point, I think it only makes sense that we are put in charge of policing Twitter. Think about it – we weren’t as strict with the other social media channels and look what happened to them: MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook. The pedophiles and musicians took over MySpace. LinkedIn was practically handed over to recruiters and liars. YouTube, well, no one will ever plant their flag there. And now Facebook is slowly starting to sag as microblogging gains in popularity.


Face it. You want us on that channel. You need us on that channel. As marketers, we eat breakfast, lunch and dinner less than six inches from our computer screens. We are used to telling people how to do things when it comes to personal brand. With us in charge:

  • You won’t have to worry about impersonal DMs
  • No one with under 50 followers allowed to be cited on #FollowFridays
  • No more ‘make money from home’ tweets.
  • Any tweet containing the phrase ‘check out my book’ will be met with a one day ban.
  • Tweets containing sexual innuendos will remain legal but only between the hours of 9 p.m. – 7 a.m.
  • Anyone under 21 will be permitted only after we receive notification that their mom is following them.
  • People will be limited to seven RTs a day.
  • Anyone using Twitter to promote their social media campaign will have to submit a projected ROI for our approval.

(NOTE: These are just a few of the rules we’ll be enforcing. We’ll consider other legislation but it must be marked with a #TwitterPolice.)


People, Twitter is growing at an amazing rate. It has neared  the 5 million user mark. 20 percent of them joined in the last 60 days. The porn stars have already infiltrated Twitter. Don’t wait any longer. Let us, the marketers, protect you before it’s too late.


Hate the ‘dope’. Not the dope.

A lot of talk still regarding Michael Phelps getting caught hitting the bong. I’ve heard arguments from all sides, but my opinion throughout remains the same: it’s ok to be mad at Phelps. But not for what you think.

The reason people should be upset with Phelps is over his stupidity and lack of judgement in smoking in plain view of several partygoers with camera phones. (And I swear you can almost hear Cypress Hill’s Hit from the Bong playing.) You may hate the actual act of smoking pot, but that doesn’t give you the right to judge him as a good or bad person, role model/not a role model. If it’s me, and I had to explain it to my kids, I would hit one major point: people are always watching–in other words, your private world doesn’t exist. You have total transparency to your audiences. Always a good lesson to heed, from the high school basketball star to the Fortune 500 CEO.

And while I’m talking about Phelps, what is with the moral police lately? Not sure if you heard the news about Chris Brown being pulled from playlists at some radio stations, including Cleveland’s KISS FM, but if you haven’t, you need to sit up and take note of this blatant censorship that’s going on. Maybe I’m in the minority, but celebrity bad behavior doesn’t surprise me. Granted, Brown’s case was different because violence against women is inexcusable. But that should’t impact a radio station’s decision on what music to play/not to play. If you started using moral character as a gauge for who you play and don’t play, you will be running the risk of dropping a lot of artists. (I don’t know about you, but I need my R-Kelly fix.)

And I guess that’s my point. Where do we draw the line regarding what we expect/should expect from celebrities? We’ve been debating role model/not a role model since the days of Barkley and his Nike commercial.

 I think in today’s day and age, with so many channels/tools to obtain photos of celebrities doing anything at any time, we can’t expect the image we have of them to match what they really are – human.

Heard enough about the Super Bowl commercials? Too bad.

As I’m sure you were, following the Super Bowl, I was bombarded with blogs and write-ups reviewing the commercials, claiming winners and losers.  Rather than waste my time doing that, I chose to spend my time celebrating the Steelers win and defending their win to bitter Browns fans.

However, that doesn’t mean I am going to pass on an opportunity to critique the $3M spots. I should spend some time criticizing the fact that companies paid $3M a spot while 600,000 jobs were cut in January, but that will be another time.

I’m not going to list my best and worst; I’ll leave that to a guest blogger in a minute. Instead, I’d like to discuss what I think is the death of the ‘great Super Bowl commercial.’ It seems that era is over. I think with the popularity of YouTube, Hulu, etc., there’s no way to create a ‘big’ spot anymore. With social media a fixture in key demographics, concessions have to be made in ads to generate pre-game and post-game excitement. In a way, it’s forcing companies to market a campaign instead of advertising it – you know, the way things should be done.

However, with that approach comes a decreased focus on the ad itself, resulting in weaker ads that don’t have as much staying power. Combine that with the fact that the smart companies are putting more money into social media programs, because they can maximize their budgets, and you’re left with a weaker line-up starring Go Daddy and network shows rather than Apple, McDonalds and Coke. So maybe it’s not that the ads were bad as much as it is the bar has been lowered.

That being said, I loved the Dorritos Crystal Ball, Cash 4 Gold (why didn’t MC Hammer talk about this on Twitter though?) and Monster commercials, in that order. I absolutely couldn’t stand Budweiser (enough with the horses) and Careerbuilder (I wanted to poke my eye out by the end of that commercial).

So, I mentioned that we had a guest blogger today. You ever have one of those friends who you thought belonged in film, print, etc. — just a larger stage? Well, I do. One of my oldest and best friends, actually. This guy can break down anything you want to know about; and I’ve heard him do it all. From best movies to best and worst presidents; here, Jeff Hoffman breaks down the commercials as only he can:

Bad # 5 – G (Gatorade)  for weeks we’ve had lame ass “Thats G” commericals.  Now we get the big one and I know they’re going for motivational figures but the high school kid who hit 6 threepointers while no one guraded him in a blowout?  It was more the ongoing annoyance of “That’s G”


Good # 5 – Monster.com with the moose head in the bosses office and the ass in the room behind.  Not hilarious, just kind of clever because you know you’ve wondered where the body went when you’ve seen a head on the wall.


Bad # 4 – The tire commercial in space.  Yes it was nice to hear a little House of Pain with Jump Around, but then the rover got car jacked which was just dumb.


Good # 4 – Careerbuilder.com.  This was the repetitive spot with the lady screaming in the car.  It was funny in the sense that Family Guy is funny because they take something stupid and just keep it going and going.  Coming back to the lady like 6 times made it funny.


Bad # 3 – Coke One, Troy Polamalu playing the role of Mean Joe Green.  The first is a classic, this one was kind of lame.  I think it was the annoying Coke One guys coming in and Troy ripping off the white collar shirt that made it dumb.


Good # 3 – NFL Story.  I liked the Saints DB sitting with his dad and his dad making fun of him for being lousy at serving slushies or whatever he served at games.


Bad # 2 – The MacGyver spot.  When the best part of a commerical is the fact you ahve Richard Dean Anderson in it you’ve made a lousy spot.  The only thing that hinted MacGyver at all was the bad wigs.  Maybe if the guy could’ve used the can to diffuse the bomb or something, but really this spot was stupid.


Good # 2 – Hulu.com.  The spot with Alec Baldwin was great with Baldwin confirming that Hollywood wants to rot your brain.  This easily would’ve been #1 had they not added the little alien blurb at the end.  The spot was great without it.


Good # 1 – There really wasn’t anything great, but I kind of liked the Bob Dylan/Will I Am spot comparing generations.  I’m a bit of a nostalgic guy anyways so this spot was the most interesting.


Bad # 1 – I really want to go Anheuser Busch altogether here.  I hated the Bud Light spots with the skiing and Conan’s spot stunk.  But it was Budweiser that really drove me to the point of bitching at the TV during the commercial.  I hate the clydesdales.  They were kind of funny with the Zebra replay spot years ago, but now they are just annoying.  The immigrant one was stupid and historically I’ll bet the people would’ve eaten that damn horse on the boat.  The one that drove me crazy was the lovey dovey spot with the damn circus horse!  What the hell, I don’t know a single woman who drinks Budweiser and yet we seem to be marketing to fair girls?  Maybe its my love of the product that makes the Budweiser spots so damn annoying.


One for the parents

I have been spending a lot of time on Twitter. I mean A LOT of time. I’m making so many new connections and establishing new sources for information; if you haven’t checked it out yet, you really should. The only downside is that it’s taking away from my blogging. So, I come back to you now with a post aimed at the parents.

Over break, and with the winter weather going crazy, I have had a lot of time to hang out indoors with the kid. We’ve played quite a bit, but we’ve also watched a healthy amount of TV. I have to admit, I’m a bit of a TV junky myself, so I actually watch whatever she’s watching, just because it’s on. And after watching more than normal, and having some time to form opinions, I have to ask – what the hell are we letting our kids watch?

Seriously, some of the stuff on Noggin is messed up! Let’s go through a normal viewing day, hitting a few of the shows you fellow parents might know something about:

Max and Ruby. What have these two rabbits done with their parents? It’s like a kids version of ‘Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitters Dead’ except with parents. The mom and dad are never around, leaving Ruby to watch hell on wheels Max, who repeats one word over and over. And the grandma and all other adults act like this is normal – it’s more like a Lifetime movie than a kids show. And what’s with Ruby’s annoying voice? I heard they brought in another actor to do the voice because the original was so bad.

Yo Gabba Gabba. What stoned out drop outs got together and put this together? I think this is Sesame Street for the next generation. I tried to watch it and ended up sitting in the corner having a conversation with the cat. Every two seconds it’s some burst of color or wacked out image of a kid running/dancing across the screen. One day you have Biz Markie dropping some beepbox; the next you have a big green blog with a unibrow singing about a party in his tummy. I can only take so much of this one. For fun, turn off the sound and listen to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Franklin. This one isn’t weird as much as it is annoying. Don’t you wish someone, like Bear, would just throw a sharp elbow to Franklin’s face when he starts whining? The kid is always pissed about some injustice that he’s had to endure, like his grandma making cookies for the neighbor kid instead of him, or not getting a part in the play. And just when you think he’s terrible enough, along comes Beaver, with her big bossy mouth. And we all know someone like Beaver, so you’re sitting there getting pissed because you’re thinking ‘she is just like so-and-so’.

Little Bear. I don’t have any complaints about this one. Well, Little Bear is a bit pretentious and acts like he owns everyone in the woods. And his relationship with Emily is a bit disturbing, but other than that I find this one to be relaxing. Or maybe it’s Maurice Sendak’s illustrations that just have a calming effect. Either way I don’t mind it.

Upside Down Show. Another one I don’t mind, except that Noggin pulled back on its air time. I think that has something to do with the limited number of episodes, which really seems to be a problem with a lot of these shows.

Lazy Town. Now we’re back to one I can’t stand. This show is pretty much good for nothing. I’m all for the puppets/people mix, but in this case, I’m left feeling a little freaked out. Maybe it’s the puppetry or the extreme facial expressions by Jim Carrey wannabe Robbie Rotten, but this is one I could do without. And, again, a victim of only six episodes (or at least feels like six).

Backyardigans/Wonder Pets. I put these two together because they always seem to be back-to-back. I don’t have major issues with them except that I would have to beg for new episodes, in both cases. If I have to watch ‘Race Around the World’ and hear the line ‘it’s not sausage making day’ one more time, I’m taking all five of The Backyardigans out. Same with Wonder Pets – enough with dog that has to pee; the song weirds me out a little, not to mention that a turtle, duckling and hamster fly to save him, in a (fly)boat made of tinker toys. Side note burning question – is Linny a girl or boy? My wife have had major debates on this.

Jack’s Big Music Show. Skip. We flip over to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, which, really, what can you say bad about Mickey Mouse?

Wow Wow Wubzy. I love this one. It’s kind of like a video game on crack that steals every other cartoon ever made, but I like it. My wife hates Widget because she sounds like Reba MacIntyre (and she can’t stand Reba MacIntyre) so she sometimes changes it.

Maggie and Ferocious Beast. I like this one; how can you not that has a large imaginary beast saying ‘goggley moggley’ all the time?

Oswald. Another one I like, not just because of Fred Savage voicing Oswald. Ok, maybe that’s the only reason. But I do like that Henry the Penguin is voiced by the guy who played Squiggy on Laverne and Shirley. And for a bonus for parents, when Henry’s cousin came to visit they got Lenny to voice him.

Imagination Movers. Yes, I know this is Disney, but it is becoming a favorite, thanks to the imagination based storylines and the fact that it’s just people having fun and solving problems. Plus the singing gets the kids off the couch and dancing around. And having Nina stop by every now and then doesn’t hurt, if you know what I mean dads.

Caillou. This bald kid has to be the second whiniest kid on TV, right behind Franklin. And his parents are another story. We watched an episode the other day where the mommy had to clean off the car and try and start it herself, but she couldn’t get out of the driveway. Where was the dad? And how did he get ouf of the driveway? Way to be there for your family. Caillou is trying too hard to be this generation’s Charlie Brown.

Contrary to how it sounds, we don’t watch a lot of TV; but Noggin lends itself to being on in the background while playing, thanks to the zero commercials. And speaking of Noggin, don’t get me started on that son of a bitch Moose A. Moose and his lackey, Zee…….

We’re not mailmen, for God’s sake

I braved the madness that was the blizzard of 09 – until Fox 8 labels the next minor snow storm the ‘Official Blizzard of 09′ – and ventured to downtown on Saturday to see ‘Rent’ featuring the original Mark (Anthony Rapp) and Roger (Adam Pascal). I’m glad I did; I have seen Rent before, but not with a cast as stellar as this. (Side note: thanks to the city of Cleveland for not plowing one bloody street. It looked like a parking lot.)

On my way to catch 77, I passed a mailman stuck in a huge snow bank, shoveling his way out so he could get in and drive three feet to the next nearly buried mailbox and deliver what I’m sure was a compelling handful of bills, Gold Clippers and direct mail cards (do people still do those?).

I asked myself why he would do this – why he would want to do this? Then I realized it’s because that’s his job. Save the ‘rain, sleet, snow’ jokes; they just have to do that. They have to deliver the mail. As Newman said, ‘the mail; it never stops!’. Every day they have to do the same thing – every day. Over and over. It conjured up memories of the famous Dunkin Donuts commercial.

It was at that moment that I realized something very important – thank God I’m not a mailman. Could you imagine? Doing the same thing every day? We’re in marketing people. We better not be doing the same thing every day. And if you are you need to take a look at your drive, your passion, for what your client does and more importantly what you do.

The world doesn’t let us do the same thing over and over. There’s always breaking news. A better way to communicate something. More and more clutter that needs to be researched and experimented with. More people to talk to; less people doing more jobs to talk with – that need your help. We work in a great field, this ‘marketing’ that we’ve chosen. Make it count. Do something new. Do something different. Don’t accept normalcy – on the first try anyway. Push yourself and your client. Make yourself do something different from the previous day. Every day.

After all, we’re not mailmen. I mean, mailpersons. Sorry. I forgot The Burger tests very well with female postal workers, 34 – 45. Shout out!

Take a penny, leave a penny

I found myself thinking about the penny tray today. It’s really an underrated gift that retailers put out for you to make life a little easier. I mean, who wants to carry around all that extra change, making all that noise in your pocket/purse. And then you run the risk of losing it because there’s so much to worry about.

Then there are those times when you need the penny because without it you dont’ have enough. And you know that the jaded cashier isn’t going to let you skate by, so you have to leave the line and put your Vitamin Water back. Then - THEN - you really appreciate that little tray of beautiful copper.

I don’t know why, but it kind of made me think how people view public relations. You don’t realize how much you need it until it’s not there. Expecially when you have a lot of issues making noise in your pocket, like failed product launches, poor channel marketing or (lack of) employee communications. Then there are those times when you need the PR penny to pay your total bill, like crisis situations, mergers and acquisitions, recalls and labor disputes.

Maybe I thought about this because many of us are preparing to face a challenging year. We have to be focused more than ever. We have to understand our value – know exactly where we fit within our clients’ organization. And more importantly, we have to do everything we can to reinforce why our relationship brings value to what they are trying to accomplish as they face their own crisis.

So take heed as you prepare for 2009. You wouldn’t want your client to come up a penny short in the lunch line.

It’s finally here. My top 5 beers of 2008.

I spent 2008 drinking a lot of lousy beers. But it wasn’t my fault.

Candis and I shared the responsibility of bringing home the coveted puffy vest that comes with completing The Winking Lizard’s beer tour. We got a late start (February 29) but finished last Tuesday – with roughly 36 hours to spare.

We weren’t that smart and saved all the bad beers for the end. Nonetheless, we finished. And I can say, that after 100 beers, my favorites are safe. Not one came close to even cracking the top five. Too many fruity, yeasty, crazy beers. That might be part of the reason why you are able to choose your beers this year (from a list of 150).

It did impact my top five list though. It got me thinking – here I am trying all these beers and I’m denying myself the ones I like the best. So, without further ado, here is my tribute to the old faithful brews that will always hold a place in my heart – and my list.

1. Fat Tire. (New Belgium) [previously: no. 1] No change here. Still the best tasting, smoothest beer I’ve ever had. Now, if I could just get them to ship that stuff east of Chicago, I’d be happy.

2. Yuengling Lager. (Yuengling) [previously: no.3] Despite a strong late-season surge from his brother, Black and Tan, I have to keep the Lager here, sound and secure at number two.

3. Christmas Ale. (Great Lakes Brewing Company) [previously: no.4] Despite a weaker than normal showing this Christmas, I find myself appreciating this beer more and more every year.

4. Oktoberfest. (Samuel Adams) [previously: no.2] Dropping a tad because of the great showing Great Lakes Oktoberfest had this year. And I’m starting to look forward to Samuel Adams Winter Lager a little more. Not sure if it’ll hold on next year.

5. New Castle Brown. (New Castle) [previously: unranked] Oh my this was hard. There are so many beers right there at number five – not to mention the one it bumped – Honker’s Ale (Goose Island). However, like I said in the beginning, I had an appreciation for those beers I just plain like. And I find myself defaulting to New Castle more and more.

Now, like I said, the final spot was hard. So hard that I have to mention the cluster that is 5.1, 5.2, 5.3, 5.4, etc., etc.: Honker’s Ale, Samuel Adams Winter Lager, Yuengling Black and Tan, Great Lakes Oktoberfest, Great Lakes Conway’s Irish, Shiner Bock, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada ESB, Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Bell’s Pale Ale and….LaBatt’s! Yea, I said it.

What do you like?