September 3, 2008

My first thought when I saw this ad was “what the furk is that woman doing up there?”  She’s crafted a pirate ship out of furniture and house garnishes, standing proudly like a maidenhead, freshening the air, much to her dog’s delight.

Is this what happens when women who don’t work, who have limited opportunity in life, who await the return of their kids in order to drive them to soccer and piano lessons, do during the day? They make play with their dog, swept up in their own fanciful crazier-than-thou muses? Her eyes are closed. She’s blissed out while freshening the furking air. This is the pinnacle of her existence! She can do no better!!

Too bad the dog is the only witness, but the thought bubble over its head reads, “if only I had opposable thumbs.” – Or, “you’re stepping on my bed, crazy bitch (dog vernacular). Give it back!” – Or, “I’m just going to have to wee in the corner again, if you keep covering my beautiful smell with that crap.”

Kudos to the agency who came up with this one. I can only imaging the cocaine-stoked creative conference and subsequent pitch. Salespeople to the first degree.

What’s with the asterisks? If you have to asterisk your main titles, you’re furked. And if that’s a phallus she’s standing on, is she dominating it, or is it hers?

This woman is master and commander; queen of all she surveys; republican; powerful enough to lift chairs that verily float above couches. She is whacked. I’m not sure what she’s selling, but obviously she needs to get out of those fumes.


following directions

August 25, 2008

This opportunity was presented by a dear friend.

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari

12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries

23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas

32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar

37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo

40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear

52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake

68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox

97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

The Contest

July 3, 2008

One technique to temporarily boost your brand awareness is to hold a contest, with your product front and center. The effectiveness of the effort is often pegged to the excitement and engagement of the contest and it’s prizes. What better way to promote hot dogs than by having an eating competition? What better way to promote your baseball team than by having a bat day?

MET-Rx has stepped up to the plate with a fitness equipment give-away. This makes perfect sense. If MET-Rx is dedicated to “shaping every body,” then why not help users kick more ass by giving them the props of their lifestyle.

No matter the pictures show that idealized MET-Rx users live in a lonely, humorless, post-apocalyptic world – this is about meeting your audience in the spaces where they feel their best. It creates brand resonance.

I understand what Tony’s is doing here. It’s a bit of a leap associating pizza with Super Soakers, but not with Fun.

I can picture kids running in a sun-drenched yard, gentle laughter mixing with the breeze. Cut to the white lace curtains blowing in the kitchen, a parent or guardian looking out the window with a smile. Then the extraction of fresh, manufactured pizza from the oven. The kids come running, happy to find the restorative foodstuffs while exploring their nascent social world.

But here’s the problem, at least for me. Chock full o’Nuts has chosen a prize unrelated to their core business of delivering mediocre caffeine supplements to middle America: they’re giving away a home theater setup.

This idea was born at one of those meetings where, after listing all the coffee-associated things they couldn’t give away because it would ignore their core demographic (such as a gourmet coffee set, a fancy cappuccino maker, a trip to a sustainable, fair trade coffee farm in Columbia) they threw up their hands and said, “what does everyone in American want.” After rattling off a list of things that they weren’t willing to pay for (such as a gas card, a better lawn, faux celebrity status) some intern in the back said, “home theater.”

Yep, there’s no better way to enjoy a movie at home than with a bucket of popcorn and a piping hot cup of joe. In fact, whenever I think of the word “movie,” my mind immediately jumps to the word “coffee.” Uncanny.

They should have offered a trip to Disney. Or how about a San Francisco treat? Coffee fuels exuberant vacation excellence! Even a new computer would have been a better association, because we all know that computing and coffee were made for each other.

And what’s with the nuts in the coffee? This I’ve always wondered.

the anniversary gift

June 18, 2008

Traditional wedding anniversary gifts are exchanged for the first 15 years and then every five years after, so that the “first 15” feel special and you get used to being nice. If you make it to 15 there’s an understanding that marriage has achieved autopilot, and you need to polish the silverware less frequently.

There’s also a modern gift calendar that recommends gifts every year until the 50th – no doubt developed to channel and encourage our purchasing habits throughout marriage, and equate anniversaries with obligatory expense.

Here’s a hybrid (traditional and theoretical) offering:

1st Anniversary: Paper
2nd: Cotton
3rd: Leather
4th: Fruit or Flowers
5th: Fruit Leather
6th: Candy or Iron
7th: Wool or Copper
8th: Bronze or Pottery
9th: Pottery and Willow
10th: Tin or Aluminum
11th: Steel
12th: Silk or Linen
13th: Lace
14th: Ivory
15th: Crystal
16th: Tin or Brass Knuckles
17th: Rope
18th: Fancy Scissors
19th: Bejeweled Letter Opener
20th: China
21st: Japan
22nd: Taiko Drumsticks
23rd: a Camel
24th: Camel Straw
25th: Silver
26th: Knife Set
27th: Trebuchet
28th: Handcuffs
29th: Rope
30th: Pearl
31st: Bejeweled Shovel
32nd: Pickax
33rd: Lantern
34th: Golden Compass
35th: Coral
36th: Fake ID
37th: Camel Straw
38th: Vermiculite
39th: A Pet Monkey
40th: Ruby
41st: More Straw
42nd: Tire Iron
43rd: His and Hers Golf Clubs
44th: His and Hers Revolvers
45th: Sapphire
46th: Cement
47th: Straw
48th: Gasoline
49th: Matches
50th: Gold

The golden anniversary is the best.

Time is relative to our species. We define it in order to control the flow of ambivalence.

I don’t wear a watch because it transmits a continuous reminder of this invisible lattice. On days without clocks I’m adrift. I work for hours in the yard. When I come into the house it’s because I’m hungry. I try to guess how much time has passed. Sometimes I’m accurate. Other times way off because I was wrapped up in an Edenic flow-state. Sometimes days pass and it seems I didn’t do a thing – the bad side of relativity for someone who covets time and tries to slow it down.

Before kids I used to camp with regularity. Off to the Texas Big Bend for a week, or the New Mexican mountains. It took me two days to fall into the rhythm of Earth. The day began with the arrival of the sun; meals were based on activity and need; sunset meant inward focus and sleep. This is how our species existed for eons. When I return to that sacred schedule, I fall into a deep state of relaxation. Sure, it’s vacation, but also it reflects growth under the absence of imposed time. There are no schedules or the omnipresent 60Hz electrical hum that permeates all modern spaces (itself a form of time measure). It’s a welcome break, and a realignment.

Living in Vermont, the time I most want to slow happens during spring and summer. These seasons move quickly, as seen in the frenetic pace at which the flowers, trees and weeds bloom and work to get their show on. And the birds! There are already baby robins nesting, ready to fledge. Nature exploits all opportunities to further its agenda; it’s a riot on the molecular level in the norther climes. How do I put my loving paddles into that river to synchronize with and accept its passage?

One way is to take photos. The act of being present to a moment and recording it’s existence helps me slow down and appreciate my existence. Taking thoughtful pictures is my way of practicing momentary mindfulness; the act just as important as the result.

Another is to stop. I work on a college campus and a few years back the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh brought a band of followers to stay on campus. Every fifteen minutes the church bell rang, and at that moment all the attendees stopped whatever they were doing – at their seats, while dining or in their tracks. They stopped and strove for full presence in that moment. Quite a sight to see bands of people frozen across campus. There’s an improv group in New York who showed up at Grand Central to pull this kind of momentary stunt. I got to live with it for a week.

My recent choice is to take a walk in the yard at the end of the day. I wander and look at the progression of nature and think about cutting the grass. I wonder about the plants I’ll put in the ground, and fantasize about mid-summer tomatoes. This is all good. It allows me a moment to own the moment, outside of the computer, my work, my family, my possessions. I’m simply an animal responding to the contours of the land, always finding something interesting to observe, without fail.


May 30, 2008

Smucker’s would like you to associate the favorite American pastime of sitting on your ass in front of a TV with eating ice cream and their toppings. This fits perfectly with our relentless pursuit of an idealized culture.

This ad is designed to make a quick impression but doesn’t hold up to deeper evaluation, which is what I live for.

Accolades: the messaging is well crafted. The typical location for eyes to land when scanning a page is the upper left. Notice that all the important stuff is there, resulting in the delivery of: smucker’s logo > toppings > sundaes > movie > smucker’s. Well done! And the bottom left shows bottles of yummy toppings propping up DVD’s. A new abiotic symbiosis is born!

Not accolades: the improbability of the sundaes. They’re idealized, mythical creations on a fake tablecloth. If they weren’t photoshopped, it certainly took a food stylist multiple attempts to make them just right, with an Awfully Large Scoop. They could be formed from mashed potatoes or ground, bleached collagen, because within moments under a hot studio light the ice cream would melt all over.

And look at the size of the sundaes being held by the family. The single scoops of ice cream are bigger than grapefruits! I’ve never seen a scoop that big in my life!

  • the sundaes they’re holding are PERFECT. The toppings have just the right drizzle and spread
  • nobody is eating because of you stuck a spoon into something that big, the ice cream would squish out the other side. In fact, eating these would be unpleasurable unless you were outside in a swimsuit with a garden hose
  • there are no napkins
  • those half-basketball-sized bowls would be too cold to hold
  • the mother’s spoon isn’t even oriented toward her eating hand
  • They’re holding their sundaes like crystal balls. They’ve looked into the future and see misery
  • (BTW, this is a family of five. Their teenage son is upstairs in his room with the door closed because the family movie choice sucks.)

I’d love to lock the doors and make those models eat. I’m assuming in the context of this photo that they’ve had dinner. If they were forced to eat all the ice cream and not leave the room, there’d be ruined clothes, ruined couch and piles of mom’s vomit at the base of the stairs.

This is a poster for immoderation. I wonder what the Buddha would say.

Baseball/bean Clinic

May 19, 2008

Every time I see the gaping maw of Youkilis anticipating that tasty spoon of beans, I smile. But it’s not because of his name. Youkilis reminds me of the phrase “you kill us,” no matter how it’s pronounced. (Maybe that’s his edge with opponents.) It’s because of the position he’s found himself in. This is about endorsing beans – B&M beans at that – and when you decide to sell your being so someone else can sell beans, you do what you’re told during the photo shoot.

Here’s what I like:

  1. How unnatural can a mouth look? Look at his. It’s a product of agency producers and an overworked photographer. In that mouth I hear the words “open as wide as you can,” “look tough,” and “don’t forget to smile!” I’m not sure how much they’re paying you, Kevin, but your mouth is indelibly imprinted in my brain’s scary memory place.
  2. “Where the hell is YouKilis? ”
    “He’s sitting at the top of the stadium, sir, eating a can of beans.”
    “We have a game on! What the hell is he doing in the stands?!”
  3. Kevin is eating from a can. It’s not even a bowl. What an animal! In their zeal to promote product, agency producers once again forget that their prop is actually a person with feelings.
  4. B&M Nation?
  5. And what’s with the light in the picture? The best photos appear to have one source of light. This has all sources, thus, it’s not one of the best photos.