24Feb/120

No Boys Allowed – This Ad is For Women’s Eyes Only

Posted by Emily

Photo: i.bnet.com

We're all aware that once we leak our information into cyberspace there's no going back. Google knows things about us from the brand of shoes we pine after to our favorite dessert, knowledge they use to bombard us with targeted ads for Jimmy Choos and French Macaroons. The same goes for super stores like Target; swipe your credit card at Target and you're immediately assigned a unique customer ID number used to track every single one of your purchases so they can then mail you relevant coupons and ads (I'm sure you've heard about the father who found out about his daughter's pregnancy from Target?). Well, one company is taking this "invasion of privacy" one step further with high tech facial recognition software. "Plan UK's 'Because I Am A Girl' campaign uses facial recognition software mounted on a bus stop and, if it recognizes a female face - which the charity says it does accurately 90 percent of the time - shows the viewer a video from the 'Because I Am a Girl' campaign urging them to support the education of young women in developing countries." If the facial recognition technology detects a male face brief stats and a URL are shown, rather than the full video, in an attempt to drive the point home about what life is like for women who are not allowed basic rights. Does anyone else feel like this is a scene out of Minority Report? This new technology isn't necessarily taking note of your personal information, it's merely recognizing your sex, but is the advancement of technology and its use in advertising going too far? Will our great grandkids live in a world, like the one depicted in Minority Report, where we're greeted by holograms when we enter the GAP and our irises are scanned so they can provide us with suggestions based on previous purchases? I'm all for embracing new technology, so I'm not going to write this off just yet (I actually think it's pretty cool), but it does seem like our world is evolving into a place straight from the pages of a science fiction novel. Next thing you know we'll be perfecting the science cryogenics and ordering our burgers from androids.

22Feb/120

All of life’s problems have been solved!

Posted by Roger

I came across the blog Stuff My Mom Sends Me this morning and learned some really innovative solutions to everyday problems that will leave you wondering,"Why didn't I think of that?!" I feel it would be wrong to keep these solutions to myself so I've decided to share a few of my favorites. I guarantee you'll want to try at least one of these ideas soon as you're finished read this.

I've always been told that a little bit of lemon juice will keep sliced apples from browning but, although this works, I don't like it when my apples taste lemony. Prevent your apple from browning by slicing it and then putting it back together! Keep the pieces in place with a rubber band.

No matter how hard one tries, it's near impossible to keep your linen closet neat and tidy. Try folding your sheets and then placing them within one of the set's pillow cases. Don't worry, if you keep reading I'll tell you how to get that fitted sheet nice and flat.

Have you ever been in a situation where you needed to play the music on your iPhone louder than its tiny speakers would allow, but there were no iPhone speakers on hand? I have. Place your iPhone in a bowl for a makeshift sound amplifier!

Storing wrapping paper is no easy feat. It's awkwardly shaped and you can't cram it somewhere or you'll ruin it. Try hanging some wire at the top of a closet and place the wrapping paper on the wire as shown.

Finally! The secret to neatly folding those clumsy fitted sheets. Your mother will be proud.

We've all been there. You squeeze behind your desk to unplug your mouse only to find a snarled mess of black cords and you can't tell what goes to what. You yell for your spouse and while they jiggle the cord above the desk you crouch below the desk watching for movement. This little dance is then followed by a brief game of tug-o-war to ensure that you have, indeed, grabbed the proper wire. Save yourself some frustration and label your wires with bread bag clips!

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21Feb/120

The Oscars are second only to the Super Bowl?

Posted by Emily

Photo: johnfarr.typepad.com

We're five days out from the Academy Awards so, naturally, there's ample buzz around the internet about what the celebs will be wearing on the red carpet, whether or not the "Best Picture" nominees deserve their accolades and, of course, Bill Crystal - whom many think is the best emcee to have ever graced the Oscar stage. The buzz that surprised me the most, however, was that the ad space for this year's Oscars sold much earlier than usual, and at a higher price. The price for a 30 second ad during the Academy Awards increased from $1.5 million last year to $1.7 million this year (in 2008, pre-recession, 30 seconds during the Oscars went for $1.8 million). This is interesting because most of what you read about the Oscars is virtual "tomato chucking." People rant about the award show being over-hyped, way too long, dreadfully boring and need we mention last year's Anne Hathway/James Franco train wreck? Poking fun at the Oscars has become a sport, if you will, and the ratings are abysmal - having dipped more than 15% during the past five years. Regardless, companies in search of prime ad space continue to disregard the award show's decreasing popularity and drop the big bucks. But, if you think about it, this makes sense. After the Super Bowl, the Oscars is the only other "big night" on T.V. - millions of people gather together to sit in front of the television on the same day to watch the same thing, some people even throw parties, and hype about the Oscars begins well before the month of February. This year, Hyundai takes the reins as the primary sponsor for the Academy Awards with a reported eight commercials to air during the show, joined by other big-buyers like Coca-Cola and JCPenney. A rep from Hyundai said that the Oscars is the perfect outlet to promote their snazzy new cars because they're looking to reach upper middle class females. Who watches the Oscars? "An upscale audience that's 70% female." So, best of luck to those who purchased Oscar ad space! With the abundance of online and social media promotion for this year's Oscars, and with Billy Crystal at the helm, it's a safe prediction that the 2012 Academy Awards will at least be more entertaining, if not higher rated, than the Academy Award Disaster of 2011.

15Feb/120

As Pinterest gains momentum, should companies jump on the bandwagon?

Posted by Emily

Photo: AgBeat.com

Pinterest, a popular virtual pin board, has been a guilty pleasure of mine since well before it gained any real momentum. One way I'd describe the site is a "Tumblr for adults." It's a time-suck for people to share their ideas and inspiration with one another; home to hilarious Memes poking fun at yuppies, fancy dessert recipes accompanied by fitness tips, DIY projects you tell yourself you'll do one day and fashion that most people will never be able to afford. Don't get me wrong, I love Pinterest and visit the site every day, but companies who have been alerted to the site's high traffic volume are trying to find a way to jump on the Pinterest bandwagon. To this I say: Hold your horses. An article on PRNewsOnline said it best, "For retail brands - particularly those geared toward women - Pinterest can't be ignored. Outside that realm, it pays to take a wait-and-see approach before investing the necessary resources." The U.S. military branches have even started pinning! But, I just don't see the connection...know your audience! There are categories on Pinterest that are stereotypically male (cars and motorcycles, sports) and androgyneous categories (travel and places, photography) but Pinterest remains a primarily female-driven site about topics like fashion, interior design, beauty, etc. and until it reaches a more diverse audience I would tell business who don't "fit the mold" to not waste their time...not yet.

10Feb/120

A Haven for all the Little Monsters

Posted by Emily

Photo: SoLongAsItsBlack.com

Everyone knows who Lady Gaga is - the mega celeb on par with pop royalty like MJ and Madonna? My 62 year-old uncle, a retired Air Force colonel whose favorite T.V. show is the O'Reilly factor, knows who Lady Gaga is. She was the first artist to hit one billion YouTube video views and she has more than 19 million "little monsters" following her on Twitter. These factors make Gaga the perfect candidate for a start-up called Backplane, a company that will focus on online community building. Similar to Pottermore.com, the exclusive Harry Potter online community for Harry Potter fanatics, Lady Gaga will have her own online social community called LittleMonsters.com. Although this seems like a good idea in theory, due to her mass following, I just don't see it being extremely successful. Maybe over time it will become popular and heavily trafficked, but an online community all about Gaga? I don't know; I mean, I'm a contributer to the one billion YouTube video views, I follow her on Twitter and I'm pretty curious about her strange goings-on, but would I take the time to sign up for an online social community all about her? Nope; and I feel confident in saying that most people probably fall into the same category as myself. Pottermore was wildly successful because Potter fans were looking for something new after the finale of the movies and the series. But, my prediction for LittleMonsters.com is that people will be less enthusiastic - not because they're not fans, but because she's already all over the place. Why would they need/want to read about her and make comments about her on yet another social media outlet? Prove me wrong Gaga!

2Feb/120

Komen’s Kluster

Posted by Jennifer

If you're even remotely aware of current events, then you've heard of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. And, if you've turned on a television, listened to the radio or read a newspaper or blog in the last 48 hours, you've heard of the public relations nightmare in which Komen has become entrenched.

The "Twitterverse" blew up Tuesday after the Associated Press reported Komen was ending grants to Planned Parenthood. The article indicated Komen was pulling the hundreds of thousands in grants to Planned Parenthood, which currently are used for breast screening for underserved populations.

Indications today are that the majority of the news and comments about Komen's move was negative. Komen even released a video late yesterday from the organization's founder and CEO saying everyone got it wrong. The video says Komen isn't pulling grant money due to anti-abortion pressures, as the NPR story indicates. CEO Nancy Brinker (Susan Komen's sister) said she was attempting to clear the air and stated that Komen was changing its funding policy based on a regular review of their granting policies. She says the goal is to eliminate duplicative grants, award funding directly to the service provider (and not a third party, like Planned Parenthood), and that through this process they established stricter criteria and standards, thereby impacting a number of their long-standing partners. Brinker goes on to say that existing grants are not in danger...only future grants.

More on this blooming story is that Planned Parenthood was put under investigation last year by Congress for their spending practices (whether public dollars were being spent on abortions). Planned Parenthood claims this investigation was launched by a conservative congressman who was "...bowing to anti-abortion pressures," and that Komen is, in essence, doing the same thing. Komen denies it.

Meanwhile, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are experiencing a flood of comments, posts and memes about Komen's move. And, tomorrow, Pink Ribbons, Inc., a film about the commercialization of breast cancer, will be released in Canada.

Only time will tell whether Komen (and its immense fundraising machine) will be able to weather this storm, but this is definitely the largest public relations battle the organization has ever faced. Stay tuned!

1Feb/120

A Super Bowl may be just what our economy needs

Posted by Roger

You often hear that advertising budgets are a barometer of the overall state of the economy. As the proprietor of a small agency I have found this to be true. When businesses hunker down, advertising - especailly media purchasing - goes down. When optimism returns, so does expenditures. I found an interesting article about the Super Bowl in the San Antonio Express-News this morning written by Carolyn Said entitled “Advertisers step up their marketing game." One important trend is the increase in automobile ads which is reflective of the big three’s recent sales increases over the previous year. What caught my attention was the Century 21 ad. It has been more than 21 years since a major realty company advertised on the Super Bowl.

The fact that Lexus will appear for the first time also is a good sign. “We, like many of the automobile companies, are feeling much more bullish about this year and next year,” said Brian Smith, vice president of marketing for Lexus.

NBC sold all game ad slots before Thanksgiving. You might say the winner of Super Bowl XLVI will be the U.S. ecomomy. Go team go!

   
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