Archive for November 2009
Now that we've pushed back from the Thanksgiving table and returned to work, it's worth focusing a moment not on our abundance of blessings, but on our glut of content across platforms. These blessings are decidedly mixed. Faced with multiple options we graze and gorge on empty calories, but rarely succeed in satisfying our hunger.
Back in June, Miracle Whip broadcasted its condiment manifesto to Gen Y. Punctuated with the official quivery chalkboard script of all advertising-spawned youth movements and set to a swaying, poly-ethnic crowd kickin’ it kiddie-pool style, a bored (yet defiant!) voice-over proclaims: “We are our own unique, one-of-a-kind flavor. We are Miracle Whip. And we will not tone it down.” Hmmm. A hipster decree from a 76-year-old sandwich spread most famous for its supporting role in my great aunt’s deviled eggs? The campaign was hard to swallow.
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, new walls are being erected that challenge the fundamental right of the public to free news and information. However, free today no longer means free from bias or state control, but instead not paying for content. News Corp.'s announcement that it would introduce pay walls has set off a firestorm of response -- the majority of whom say it will not work. The minority see Murdoch as the potential savior of professional journalism, an ironic twist for the man behind The New York Post and other tabloids. Others focus on the proposed model and respond that it could work, if News Corp. can apply the lessons it has learned from pay television and the music industry, which evolved its model in response to illegal downloading.
After years of disappointing design, quality and performance, GAP seems tapped into the American cultural pulse once again. The company's holiday advertising campaign announces that the country is "Ready for Holiday Cheer." Like many retailers, GAP is spending more and launching earlier this year, including a major Vanity Fair insert and back cover. Whether these efforts end up translating to sales, of course, remains to be seen. Still, the campaign does more than any other to date to declare a shift in attitude. Consumers will decide for themselves to celebrate in ways "modest" or "all out," but either way, GAP gives permission "to liberate" from the dark clouds of the past 18 months. A holiday declaration of independence -- "This holiday, it's up to us" -- makes the empowerment message abundantly clear: Yes, Virginia, there is an American spirit of hope, even joy, that will not be silenced. The recession is over.
Google's autocomplete search recommendations have spawned a new Internet meme. And before you keep reading, let me warn you: this post could rob you of your productivity today.
The Unbound Edition players, wisely sporting plastic-lined undergarments, take the stage to present the season finale, "Shut the Door. Have a Seat."
For more than a year now, I've admired an unusual vegetable garden in a middle-class St. Louis neighborhood. The owners, Chinese immigrants, have carefully designed the space to house lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, berries and all varieties of climbing and flowering foliage. What's unusual is that it's all in the front yard -- a space the other neighbors reserve for traditional landscaping. Compared to the austere evergreens around it, the garden is a beautiful, bountiful, dynamic space that transforms year round. And it reflects the reinterpretations and reappropriations of space I see springing up in the post-digital marketplace.
Help yourself to the prime rib and the fillet of sole and move to the front of the theatre as the Unbound Edition Players present "The Grown Ups."
It always stops me in my tracks when a television anchor utters a phrase that somehow references the real world as separate from the world of television journalism. As in: "Well, I guess out there in the real world...." Say what? As if they forget, for a second, that the sets aren't real and the stories are. So it's probably not surprising that, in the latest CNN Opinion Research poll, 70% of the respondents answered "yes" to the question "Are the media out of touch with average Americans?"
Not much surprises us these days. And that, by and large, is the way we like it. We have more control than ever over our lives. We bank and shop on-demand online. We use RSS feeds to filter our news. We carefully manage our public image by broadcasting the most appealing pieces of ourselves -- photos, status updates and MP3 playlists -- on our blogs and Facebook pages. Recognizing this demand for control and customization, more marketers are asking us to help shape their products as we see fit. So it's surprising to see some new businesses thriving by keeping us in the dark.