Forget Twitter Skittle…M&M does M&A on Google

It was just a warm-up act.

The blogosphere lit up this week when M&M Mars replaced the Skittles home page with a constantly-updated stream of “tweets” from the popular micro-blogging service, Twitter.

Social media experts – and there are many of them – were divided as to the effectiveness of the campaign, but all discussion can stop now, and the Skitter experiment was merely a diversion from the main show.

While everyone was distracted with the little Twitter feint, Mars was landing the Big Kahuna – Google.

“Ever since Google was launched, with all of those bright primary colors in their logo, we’ve been convinced that a combination of Google search and M&M sweetness was the right combo for our worldwide audience,” declared Ike Livingston, Personal Brand Ambassador for Mars. “As of today, the new co-branded service – GMMGLE – will roll off the tongues of billions of people, just as our candy melts in their mouths, not in their hands.”

gmmgleOver the next several weeks, the new GMMGLE home page will roll out, but a few select beta users have seen the colorful new results page, which includes a “Link Sweeeetness Rating” algorithm that awards “thumbs up” for particularly tasty web destinations.

gmmgle-page

Reaction to the new GMMGLE portal concept came swiftly. However, all the negative stuff disappeared immediately from the serach results, leaving only expressions of awe and excitement from members of the theobromine lobby and from fringe, vowel-hating bloggers in Balkan countries.

A spokesman for President Obama praised the move, saying,  “We’re all about sugar-daddy funding. We have mounds of cash, piled high as the Andes, and this newly-minted GMMGLE portal will be used by the government to find lots of pork futures, and to search out tax cheats. Umm, scratch that last bit about tax cheats…we’re already finding those all over the place around here.”

Other candy companies have also been bargain-hunting. Hershey’s was about to announce the first milk-chocolate powered “brown” car in a joint venture with struggling GM, but pulled out of the deal after federal regulators withheld bailout money, asking “What can Brown do for you?” Tootsie-Roll did become the Official Corporate Sponsor of the Federal Stimulus and Takeover plan, however, explaining, “Who has more experience rolling people than us?”

Meanwhile, Mr. Livingston confirmed that, due to anti-trust considerations, the rumored YAHMM portal is no longer being considered.

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All logos, images, trademarks, and names belong, of course, to their respective owners. This is a spoof. Which means it’s not actually real. It didn’t happen. Really.

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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25 “Hidden” Things in Facebook TOS

borg

It’s been all the rage this week. Facebook changed their Terms of Service/Terms of Use (TOS for short) to imply that they own, perpetually, anything and everything that you post on their site.

After much uproar, Facebook has relented and gone back to the “old” TOS. Or have they? Hidden in the new/old TOS, in white text on white background (so you wouldn’t see it – but you never read the black-on-white TOS beforehand anyway, did you??), are the 25 of Your Things that You Didn’t Know Facebook Now Owns.

    1. By logging into Facebook (or having logged in in the past and now even THINKing about logging in again), you relinquish possession of all of your belongings, including property, house, auto, HDTV, and suet birdfeeders. They now belong to Mark Zuckerberg. Thanks.

    2. Facebook now owns your first-born, if you have one, and if said first-born is well-behaved. Brats remain in your possession. If you have no first-born children, rodent pets or 4-wheeled ATVs will be accepted.

    3. You are now auto-enrolled in Facebook Live!, which gives us the right to install cameras in every room of your house and randomly upload photos of every daily activity. Our alpha-version auto-tagging feature will make a best guess at identifying you. Heh.

    4. All your blogs are belong to us. Except Scoble‘s. He’s too noisy.

    5. Your privacy settings on Facebook will auto-reset each day to random settings chosen by our MaxEmbarrass Algorithm Method. You may change them back if you wish, but by clicking “Apply” to your settings, you grant us unlimited rights to ignore whatever you chose.

    6. At our sole discretion, you may be downgraded to our “Facebook Lite” application (herein referred to as “Compuserve”) so as to keep you from taking for granted the privilege of being on Facebook Classic.

    7. You are now opted in to receive SPAM.

    8. All applications and widgets that you choose to use on Facebook are hereby entitled to publish your personal data and preferences on our new “SPAM-ME-NOW.com” sister site, soon to be launched.

    9. Spontaneous Human Combustion may occur while using Facebook. If this happens to you, we own your ashes.

    10. You may opt out of using Facebook at any time. But it won’t make any difference.

    11. If you have ever thought about uploading any pictures, links, words, thoughts, or other assets onto the Facebook platform, those items are all, in perpetuity, the exclusive property of Facebook. Thanks.

    12. If you have ever filled out or read a “25 Things” meme on Facebook, you are now an indentured servant of Facebook, and we reserve the right to sell you on eBay to the highest bidder, or, at our discretion, at a “Buy it Now!” price of our choosing.

    13. By using Facebook, you agree never to use Google again. All future searches will have to be through a 1998 version of AltaVista.

    14. If your profile on LinkedIn, MySpace, Friendster, eHarmony, or Pownce mentions your name, we may take possession of said profiles, and the services on which you have described yourself.

    15. You may not whine at any time, for any reason.

    16. Cheap boxed wines may not be imbibed by any Facebook users. Screwtop bottles are acceptable if imported from New Zealand or Iceland. Use of wine coolers will be grounds for immediate termination. You don’t want to know what that means.

    17. Your college loans, mortgages, credit card debts, Madoff investments, and auto companies are exempted from Facebook ownership. See “Bailout and TARP” provision.

    18. By using Facebook, you agree to lower your “carbon footprint” by 15% per year by skipping every sixth exhale.

    19. If you use Twitter, you agree to follow @swoodruff, except if you are a spammer, in which case you agree to self-immolate (see #9 above).

    20. You agree to pick up the mess after walking the dog.

    21. You agree that outmoded discussions of “privacy” will not be indulged, either on Facebook or in any lesser sphere of life, since we now own you. Just shut up and keep spilling your guts. Wait a minute, that’s self-contradictory. Ah, whatever, this is white-on-white and no-one’s going to ever see it anyway! Toy boat! Toy boat! You’re all dolts! Ha ha ha ha…

    22. Facebook, its representatives or agents, may, at any time, and for any reason, choose to extract one of your kidneys.

    23. If you are currently single and choose to marry, a 10% dowry to Facebook is expected. If you met your spouse via Facebook, that becomes 25% plus a $200 gift certificate to Ruth’s Chris made out to Mark Zuckerberg.

    24. (we’re going to fill this in later. But you’re agreeing to it.)

    25. Resistance is futile.

Thank us for allowing you to be used by Facebook.

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Prior StickyFigure spoofs

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Social Media Museum has Bloggers all A-Twitter!

(Austin, TX) Today marks the opening of the long-awaited Social Media Museum (SoMeMe), a new mecca for worldwide networkers to come and gawk at really wOOty stuff that has fed into the historic Soc Med revolution.

conniereece1Curator Connie Reece, resplendent in a new pink-on-pink outfit financed by the Republican National Committee, cut a symbolic pink boa to mark the grand opening. Thousands of bloggers and tweeters attended virtually by watching a video stream from Jay Ehret‘s pate-mounted camera phone.

“This is a dream come true!” gushed Connie, fumbling with her smartphone to try to text message iJustine about the event. Matt Dickman quickly took over that task, with his patented “two-fisted Blackberry” technique, uploading a live HD podcast. “I can’t thank all the contributing bloggers enough, especially CB Whittemore, who picked out the carpet and cleaned the bathrooms, and Director Tom Clifford, who wore that cool beret, played 70′s rock tunes, and directed us while we did the work!”

“Wait ’til everyone sees what we’ve got here! In the Welcome Center, we have a continuous 45-second loop of Guy Kawasaki answering the question, ‘What is a blog?’, just the thing for nOObs stumbling in here with their postage stamps and FAX machines. Plus, we have a ‘Guess that blogger?’ Shel game for those who aren’t yet immersed in our superstar A-list rockstars.”

A continuous feed of Wine Library TV runs in the restrooms, with Gary Vaynerchuk bringing the thunder 24/7 to a captive audience. “And check this out over here!” Connie beamed. “It’s the Ike Pigott Personal Brand Exhibit, where visitors can assemble their own faux personal brand on-line and walk out with a keepsake avatar!”

soc-med-museumSpeaking of personal branding, the kids have not been neglected. In the Dan Schawbel Personal Branding nursery, young ones are schooled in the art of establishing their Generation-whatever brand right from the get-go, while toddler care in the Jibber-Jobber-Jr. room was designed by Jason Alba to help the little ones start planning their careers right away, complete with a complimentary on-line profile.

“And I’m so proud of ‘Shannon’s Slapshooters’, our special chick-blogger room featuring inspirational video-casts by Shannon Paul, Amanda Gravel, Beth Harte, Charissa Cowart, Lucretia Pruitt, and other luminaries of the fairer gender. We tried to get a wax statue of Arianna Huffington in here, but had to settle for the Ann Handley padded bench recliner.”

John Moore’s Brand Autopsy room promises to be a big draw, where John (and other guest bloggers) will dissect the branding and marketing efforts of various hapless organizations as a special hourly feature. In addition, Robert Scoble‘s upcoming trip to Mars to throw a blanket over the formerly-tweeting Phoenix explorer and mount a super-secret Nokia Nscoble camera phone on its robotic arm will be prominently featured, along with a 3-d hologram of the immortal Matt Bacak.

The Ancient History wing will feature such kewl exhibits as Jason Calcanis‘ blog, a life-sized Fail Whale, Mack Collier‘s modem (oh, wait – that’s contemporary), and a stuffed Pownce.

fail-whale-tshirtA final stop for visitors will be the Armano Blogger Wear and Hat shop, where the latest soc med fashions will be prominently displayed on life-sized avatars. A karaoke stage will also be set up in case the Catchup Lady ever visits.

For directions, just consult Douglas Karr‘s BrightKite posts.

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(Previous StickyFigure spoofs)

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TwACORN Busted for Massive on-line Fraud

A-list Bloggers and Twitterers caught up in Widespread Scam

During what was expected to be a routine call to check on the report of an honest poll worker in the Richard Daley Memorial Electioneering Institute, Chicago police uncovered a massive on-line fraud operation that has shaken the blogging world to its core.

“We had gotten this anonymous call from a community organizer that there was an inside operative actually counting real votes and screening out fraudulent registrations,” said Sgt. Frank Mulcahey of the Chicago PD. “We can’t have that around here, as everyone knows…so after cracking down on that guy, we took a look in the basement and found this amazing underground operation hiding there, calling itself TwACORN.”

TwACORN turns out to be a secret organization whose sole purpose is to inflate the rankings of bloggers and Twitterers by generating fake subscriber numbers. Their technology infrastucture consists of slick programs they call RoboRSS, RoboComment, and RoboSub. With these tools, they have managed to play “kingmaker” to scores of unwitting digiterati, who were led to believe that they actually had an audience.

Chicagoland technology guru (and TwACORN victim) Todd Andrlik examined the programs and reported, with mixed admiration and dismay, that they were first-rate. “Here I thought I had all these engaged readers, who subscribed to my blog, read my tweets, and made interesting comments. Turns out that 90% of them were Robos from TwACORN. Now I see that a former high school friend, one second cousin, and some plumber in Nebraska are the only ones reading my stuff. Plus, my entire Top 3,000 blog ranking system with AdAge just got flushed!”

TwACORN Chief Obfuscating Officer Guy Yamaha explained from his jail cell; “We got our inspiration from MarketingProfs Daily Fix, actually. We thought – what could be more fun than to “fix” the numbers for all these self-absorbed bloggers? Just wait until Scoble finds out that only 14 people actually follow him – and three of those are in Iceland. Ha!”

Twitterers were scrambling to identify which of their subscribers were actually homeless folks, deceased, or Disney cartoon characters. The flood of confirmatory DMs was about to bring the system to its knees and launch a huge Fail Whale display, until it became clear that there were only 300 actual, breathing users of Twitter. Worldwide.

TwACORN was formed by pulling from the ranks of local community organizers, political activists, Robo-call tech folks, and Swiftboat veterans. “Look, all this blogging stuff is political anyway – we all know that. It’s a popularity contest, just like our national elections. So why not bring together the best minds from that field to help create a little chaos here?” declared Yamaha.

Meanwhile, a pall was cast over the glittering MarketingProfs Digital Mixer event in Scottsdale, when it was discovered that keynote speaker Arianna Huffington’s blogging property actually has only 33 readers. She was immediately pulled from the stage by Q-list blogger Ann Handley, and replaced by Tina Fey, who did a dead-on impersonation of Sarah Palin unsubscribing from the Huffington Post.

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Prior spoofs:

New TwIndependent party springs up overnight

Well-known Blogger Demoted to “Q-List”

Meaning of Life Unveiled!

Twitter Rockstar Half-Year Calendar…Tweeet!

(photo credit: David Alston)

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Five in the Morning 100908

Effort? Or luck? Some pointed and  helpful thoughts from Seth Godin.

Social media campaigns – they ain’t like the traditional kinds. Nice overview from Kat over at Social Media Explorer.

CollabFinder – a place where designers and developers can find each other. Great use of web networking. Hat tip: Swiss Miss.

Mark Goren asks: Really, What is Marketing? From his Planting Seeds blog (nice design, btw Mark!)

Can you describe your personal brand in one word? Dan Schawbel is asking!

BONUS: New Twitter-generated TwIndependent presidential ticket announced. Go GaryVee and Chris Brogan! (now with bonus links to prior spoofs!)

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New “TwIndependent” Party Springs up Overnight

In a stunning move that has rocked the Presidential election season, a large group of disgruntled Twitter micro-bloggers has banded together and crowd-sourced a new political party in 24 hours, calling themselves the TwIndependents.

Sick of all the mud-slinging and shallow lies of both Republican and Democratic candidates, the TwIndependents, who have solved many of the world’s problems previously via social media, have hammered together a 140-character platform stressing free thought, universal understanding, and hearty beer.

Informed by late night DMs that they had been drafted as figureheads for the party, presidential candidate Gary Vaynerchuk and vice-presidential candidate Chris Brogan immediately hit the ground running with policy tweets and 12-second videos on such themes as economic recovery, the war in Iraq, Peruvian Pinot Noir, and mobile uploads.

“We’re bringing some partisan THUNDER!!” declared Gary Vee, underscoring his disdain for the current two-party system with a hearty spit into a NY Jets bucket. “The current candidates smell like a combination of old armpit and dried cowpies, along with a slightly grassy nose up-front and some Dr. Scholl’s foot powder on the mid-palate. It’s swill, baby! Me and Chris are going to take these oak monsters DOWN!!”

In a more measured tone, Mr. Brogan listed 14 reasons why the TwIndependent ticket was worth considering, along with 12 links to similar tickets in the past, and 5 counter-balancing principles to consider about voting for such a tech-heavy ticket. He also promised to provide more information at upcoming conferences where he is scheduled to speak, on October 10, 13th, 16th, 18th, 21st, 24th, 27th, and 3 webinars to be named later.

Given the heavy road schedule of both candidates leading up to the surprise announcement, Twitter conspiracy theorists were already speculating that this had been in the works for some time, and that both men had, in fact, been covertly campaigning all along. Newly-anointed TwIndependent party head Lucretia Pruitt denied that this was the case, stating that “all of this got started around my normal 3:30 am bedtime, and we had a full-fledged political movement launched by 8:00 am. That’s not even time to pal around with terrorists or drive kids to a hockey game, let alone anything else of a nefarious nature.”

The blogosphere was lit up with the suggestion that the next presidential debate occur via streaming video from Robert Scoble‘s phone, moderated by Leo LaPorte with responses limited to 140 characters or oncoming nausea, whichever comes first.

Other spoofs by Steve Woodruff:

Well-known Blogger Demoted to “Q-List”

Twitter Rockstar Half-Year Calendar…Tweeet!

…and, from the pharma-focused Impactiviti blog:

Doctors now to be Required to Consult with Patients

Cure for ADRD (Attention Deficit Relational Disorder) Announced!

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Meaning of Life Unveiled!

After experiencing his first-ever philosophical epiphany over the weekend, blogger Mack Collier decided to take on a challenge never accomplished by the world’s greatest thinkers – sketching out the meaning of life in one concise graphic.

“It suddenly came to me,” stated Collier, who was Plurking over dial-up in rural Alabama when the revelation hit him like a flood of tweets. “I saw the great secret, that which had eluded Socrates, Plato, Augustine, and Pacman Jones all these centuries. When you are suddenly aware of the unifying forces that bind together and explain all of reality, it’s positively awesome. Kind of like eating a bunch of White Castle sliders and washing them down with a mega-size Dr. Pepper.”

Click here to see the entire graphic.

Quickly, Mack abandoned his effort to update his constantly-unchanging Top 25 Marketing blogs and set about to draw, in one simple graphic that will be immediately understandable to all, the meaning of life. “I took my inspiration from top information designer Edward Tufte, and from David Armano, who had always made these neat-o graphics to explain tough concepts. I have always been a closet graphic designer, and I hope Armano won’t be too jealous when he sees how I’ve taken on a much bigger challenge that he ever attempted, and came up with a far more aesthetically pleasing production.”

Other bloggers were awestruck when Mack’s graphic exploded onto the blogosphere. “Oh man, I’ve been missing it…missing it all along!” moaned Greg Verdino, as he realized that his concentration on leveraging asynchronous micro-interactions to achieve scaled conversation was completely off-base and more than slightly geeky. “That thing with the Plurk mascot and arrow – now I get it. I really get it. I’m going to go be a lifeguard somewhere. My work here is done.”

According to Connie Reece, “The Mack” (the name rapidly attached to this seminal graphic) has had life-changing impact already on friends and neighbors. “I forwarded it to Susan Reynolds and she was so excited her peas melted. Then I shared it with Doug Meacham, and as soon as he saw that 13 o’clock thingie in parallel with the 3 Stooges, he knew. He just knew!”

Kevin Dugan, noted PR blogger, was in such awe that he was speechless. According to Kevin, ”           .” Of course, being on vacation, perhaps he is only concerned about such ultimate questions as what SPF sunscreen to slop onto his earlobes.

Collier has been humbled by the reception of his genius. “Heck, everyone knew I was a pretty smart blogger, after my first drawing of the Theory of Relativity, but now everyone will recognize that I’m just a regular ol’ blogger from Alabama. Who happens to be smarter than everyone else. Heh.”

UPDATE: “The Mack” already having a profound effect on child development – Think tank Collier and Collier today released remarkable results from the first clinical study using “The Mack” to influence intellectual development in infants. A volunteer group of bloggers pinned full-color copies of “The Mack” over the cribs of their newborns, while a control group used a printout of the home page of Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop. Within 2 weeks, the “Mackerels” were not only sleeping through the night, but 44% of them were using Blackberries to text food and clothing needs to caregivers. On the other hand, 81% of the “Kawasakis” were colicky and had to be “404′d” out of the study. All but one of the control group (that would be Emily Falls) were incapable of composing a 140-character tweet.

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Starbucker Caught with Glass 3/4 Empty

Terry Starbucker, the renowned “Ramblings from a Glass Half Full” blogger, was spotted yesterday in a small bar in Boulder, Colorado, nursing a wine glass that was three-quarters empty.

Blogger audiences – half of them, anyway – were stunned. RSS subscriptions dropped precipitously as disenchanted readers abandoned Starbucker like a beached Twitter Fail Whale.

“I can’t believe it,” cried Claudia Woodstock, sometimes 70′s hippie-rocker and owner of the Berkeley T-Shirt Shop, Half-Tees. “I have spend half of my adult life following Terry’s half-full philosophy, including subscribing to his blog way back in 1982 when he started out. If I’d had half a brain, I’d have seen this coming.”

Past attendees at SOBCon, which Terry helps lead along with Liz Strauss, were nonplussed or, in some cases, half-plussed. Tom Clifford (Director Tom), filmmaker and beret fashion icon, quickly came to Starbucker’s defense. “Hey, I once released a film that was only 7/8 complete, and no-one blasted me for it! In fact, no-one even noticed! Of course, I’m better-looking than Terry, but still…you can’t be half-full the whole time.”

Starbucker was remorseful that his glass somehow managed, for a few brief moments, to be significantly less than half-full. “Honestly, it’s never happened before. I always ask the bartender for a “topper” when the glass is at about five-eighths. However, I got to tweeting the Marketing Diva on my half-charged iPhone, and before I knew it, I’d gulped a few eighths too many. Then who should walk in with his video camera to document my embarrassment but Robert Scoble. I’m totally plurked now!”

Asked if he planned to change his blog title to the less specific “Babblings from a Small Snifter Containing an Indeterminate Amount of Potable Libations,” Terry was noncommittal. “I’m half thinkin’ about it,” he mumbled, before leaving 3/4 of the way through an interview.

Zemanta Pixie

Well-known Blogger Demoted to “Q List”

In a surprise move that has echoed across the blogging world, highly regarded Ann Handley (of Marketing Profs fame) was today demoted to the “Blogger Q List.”

“This is an outrage!” spewed Ann, fresh off a victorious B2B Summit that she hoped would finally elevate her to the “A List” along with other blogging luminaries. “I worked hard to move from Beta to Alpha, and to be relegated to “Q” status along with such long-tail bloggers as Steve (Stickyfigure) Woodruff and Charlie the Tuna is simply not acceptable!”

The mysterious Blogger Pecking Order Consortium (Blo-POC), which officially classifies bloggers into their respective ranked orbits, was cagey when asked about the demotion of Ann to the equivalent of blogging Siberia. “Look,” said the pseudonymous Seth Scoblecanis, spokesavatar for the group, “ever since she launched that annhandley.com thingie, with its tales of ancient slights and teenage angst, we’ve had to re-consider her semi-prominent place in the blogospheric echo chamber. We felt that a period of exile might be the best thing to help her shape up until she plurks more like, say, Mack Collier.”

“This will make quite a case study for my next monthly book, ‘Tangerine Spell-Checkers,’” stated Seth Godin, who analyzed Ann’s dilemma between bites of a meatball sundae. “It may lead to her subscriptions taking the dip, but small is the new big, and survival just isn’t enough. As long as she doesn’t self-promote, by offering a free prize inside or some other liar/marketer scheme, she should do fine. Maybe I’ll send her a bobble-head or a purple cow or something.”

Fellow A-lister Steve Rubel (Micropersuasion blog) had a similar reaction. “I was looking forward to Ann joining us on the A-list, and especially, of course, on FriendFeed. Not many Q-listers make it to my FriendFeed, but Ann will be an exception. I hope all my subscribers (on FriendFeed) will Twitter Ann’s plight and grab her FriendFeed.”

As of this writing, it is not certain what the “Q” in “Q List” stands for. Quiescent, Quack-ish, Quibbling, Quizno’sUmmUmmGood, and QuitNow have all been suggested. You may vote for your favorite using the QArmano widget on Facebook.

The demotion actually occurred yesterday, but was announced on Twitter, and therefore no-one knew about it until today, when that feature was enabled.

(Unhappy Ann Image credit)

UPDATE: After a blogstorm of protest, Ann has been re-instated to the B-list of marketing bloggers, with an “on-deck” status for the A-list in case Copyblogger or Problogger drop out. Ann also retains her membership on the Z-list, and, in Greece and at GE, she is on the “six-sigma” blogger list.

“Outstanding!” exclaimed Tim Jackson (Masi Guy) from a Medevac helicopter after tumbling off of a Big Wheels tricycle. “I give her one bionic thumb up, since that’s all I have left.”

(Happy Ann image credit)

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Twitter Rockstar Half-Year Calendars – Tweeet!

How can you better rejoice in the glittering elite of the budding Twitterati than by ordering your very own Twitter Rock Star Half-Year Calendar!

Yessir, it’s a fast-paced world! New Twitter stars have emerged over the past few months, meaning that the 2008 full-year edition of Twitter Rock Stars is already obsolete. Trashed! Now, you can get your July-Dec edition before some of the newest and coolest Twizzlers flame out into virtual oblivion.

We have them all here. @scobleizer. @tobydiva. And, of course, @garyvee (thundering us off in July!). With stunning photos taken by some of the best Twitterazzi out there, straight off their webcams.

Each day of every month, you get some of the top Tweets from this all-star lineup, such as:

“Brain a wasteland. I need coffee!”

“Good morning Twitters! Have a glorious day!”

“You gotta check this out! http://tinyurl.com/3k3635″

And, everyone’s favorite: “Stuck on the runway at LGA AGAIN! I need a JetBluectomy”

For the low, low price of $49.95, you can take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – plus, if you order now, you’ll also have a genuine, up-in-the-sky star named after you! Just call the number at the bottom of this blog post.

Call today!: http://tinyurl.com/3k3635

Bonus - if you tweet in your order using BrightKite coordinates, you’ll get a free one-day following from our November Rockstar!

Municipal Marketing

Who wouldn’t want to live in a town that had a sense of humor?

“Hillary, you’ve got a problem!”

On rare occasions, I’ll comment on political matters – typically, not to make a political statement, but to note how certain events have a “branding” twist to them.

hillary-got-a-problem-sm.jpgBrand Hillary just lost the moon.

The juxtaposition of her fantasy-like description of dodging sniper bullets with the pictures and descriptions of the reality of the event have put, in my mind, the final nail in the coffin of her damaged image. How can any reasonable person respect someone who plays so fast-and-loose with the truth? Or feel confident in their leadership?

Companies that do that lose their chance to make the landing in our hearts, because it’s a trust thing. When you begin to conclude that a person or a company will say or do anything to achieve power or influence, you have to shake your head and walk away.

Nope. This is not her finest moment.

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 1_26

Who doesn’t like to save money? Here’s a page with 21 money-savings sites around the web.

Create your own, instant, no-cost, ad-hoc chat room on-line (ChatMaker).

Fun with time-lapse photography. 13 very cool time-lapse wonders. It’s hard to pick a favorite, though the Milky Way clip is really astonishing. This is a 3/4 cup of coffee stop on the web, so give yourself a few minutes…!

Do’s and don’ts with babies. Hysterical.

7 Wonders – some interesting links to various “7 Wonders”. You’ll have to go there to find out more.

Simple math. This is why I quit any further mathematics study in my first year in college.

If the same wine is either $90 or $10, does it taste the same? You might be surprised to find out

Make your own wine review! This “generator” will allow you to weave in all the upper crust wine descriptions at the press of a button! (example: In the glass, this wine opens up beautifully to offer rich, dense and intensely flavored qualities. This wine is soft and succulent in feel and flavor, with notes of mustard seed and cheese puffs remaining in the forefront thanks to mercifully subtle use of oak. This would be exquisite paired with richer pastas, wild mushroom risotto, grilled salmon and herb-crusted pork tenderloin.)

I laughed so hard it hurt. Forwarded by a sister-in-law: Mrs. Hughes. If you have kids, you’ll especially enjoy this!

Top 5 things to do while stranded at the airport

It happens to all of us, of course. “Due to Air Traffic Control delays at your destination, your flight is going to be (significantly late / canceled / diverted to Duluth, MN / dangled tantalizingly in front of you for the next 5 hours, then postponed until tomorrow morning…)” – you know the drill.

And here I am, typing away in the airport, while hundreds around me board planes that actually seem to intend to get airborne. So what do you do, when the work is wrapped up, and idle time stretches interminably ahead?

Here are 5 ways to entertain yourself when your status on the video monitor is “terminal”:

cinnabon.jpg1. Stand in front of the Cinnabon outlet and breathe deeply. Ten times. Then call your spouse and boast about how you have successfully resisted excruciating temptation.

2. Let your eyes wander over all those self-help book titles in the little news and book store, snort quietly, and tell yourself that you could easily write one of those and make a fortune. Resign yourself to the fact that you’re in the wrong business, but hey, if only you could do it over again…
janitor.jpg

3. Wander up and down the terminal hallway and look for that junior high crush you always hoped you’d see again. You won’t. But you’ve just productively burned off 10 unproductive minutes, and you will see someone that looks like your high school janitor.

4. Envy all the Tumi luggage you see being wheeled about by smug and successful looking business persons. Stride on over to the airport luggage store, let your jaw drop in amazement at the prices all those spoiled prima donnas have paid for their designer baggage, and stalk out feeling downright superior that your middle-of-the-road thingie from Samsonite proves that you understand value over style, thank you very much.

be-a-tiger.jpg5. Stare at those ubiquitous Accenture/Tiger Woods posters, feel the impact of the inevitable ego hit, then do a self-affirmation that, while you’re not going to be a tiger, you might at least be a pretty decent sort of housecat.

You’ve prowled the claustrophobic halls of transfrustration. What time-killing activities would you add in the Comments?

Monkey goes wild on world tour!

For a while, all seemed orderly. Curious George, the Age of Conversation mascot, was making the rounds on his world tour – when suddenly, he broke free of his restraints and began to exert his curious nature!

curious-george-escapes.jpgFirst, it was all the partying and bar-hopping with the NYC crowd. OK, you let a monkey out of his cage and he goes a bit wild – we can accept that. But then he started going “underground” for long stretches, refusing to move along to his next destination (carefully choreographed in a most logical pattern by his tour director). Now, he suddenly pops up on the scene at Rishi Desai’s blog, with a cryptic note about escaping over the fence to Ohio (rumor has it that he plans to visit with Matt Dickman)!

So, this curious creature with a mind of his own is temporarily bypassing his responsibilities to complete the Northeast leg of his tour, and now may be jumping unpredictably from blogger to blogger, without clear rhyme or reason. Where will he end up next? Stay tuned…nobody really knows!

george_yellowhat.jpg

(Today’s Wall Street Journal expands on the theme of escaping animals!)

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 12_07

It’s official – Style has now replaced Substance (30 second audio).

Would you pay $120.00 for a beer?

Something as simple as a water droplet can make a great photo. Examples here and here.

Do you have teenagers (I have 3…so far). Then this will make sense to you! It is now posted in our kitchen…

Steve’s Sticky Stuff 10_19

Breathtaking image of a lunar eclipse.Plants are apparently far more complex than we thought. First, they “talk” to one another. Now we find out that one plant species absorbed the lessons of Arsenic and Old Lace and poisons its neighbors with acid! And finally, Pinot Noir grapes are genetically more complex than we are!

Why didn’t anyone think of this before? How to keep from banging your thumb with a hammer.

Kids explain love. Hysterical.

From the Great Test Answers file:find-x.jpg

Big Pharma Outsources all “Bad Stuff” to Sri Lanka

The Pharma Side, August 30, 2007 

In a surprise move today, the heads of the Top Twenty Big Pharma companies announced that all mistakes, scandals, negative side effects, approval delays, and “other bad staff” would all be outsourced to the tiny country of Sri Lanka. “Frankly, we’re sick of dealing with it all,” said Hank McSpinnell, President and CEO of the new Offshoring Umbrella Union (OffUU)… more

[Having a little fun over at my Impactiviti (pharma consulting) blog...]

Marketing a Flop

20070821123022.jpgMy wife recently got something that’s a brilliant marketing move. What does Jelly Belly do with all their “defective” jelly beans? Well, they sell them – just packaged into 2-lb. bags called Belly Flops!

They taste just like regular Jelly Belly beans, but the shapes are somewhat…creative. I have a jar of them 3 feet behind me on a shelf right now, tasty little diet-busters that they are.

Turns out you can also order them on-line – here’s the site.

Some companies seem absolutely embarrassed by anything less than perfect – and, of course, this approach wouldn’t work for many products (“Come on down to our Ford Flops outlet!”). But I like the posture these folks have taken, having some fun with the inevitable imperfections of product manufacturing. This shows a company that is secure enough in their brand identity to poke a little fun at their own expense.

Weekend Video Fun

For your amusement, two very funny videos:

You know the voices. You’re sitting down in the movie theatre, and the “voiceover” guy is narrating the previews. What would happen if 5 of them got together for a limo ride?

And, one of the best trick football plays ever. “Coach, this isn’t our ball!!”

Search and You shall Find?

WordPress allows me to see what search terms people use to get to my blog.

Here’s what somebody was searching on yesterday, which got them to StickyFigure:

How to throw up instantly

Some of these search results are quite amusing…or are they enlightening? I’ll let you be the judge!

Customer-centric??

I saw this billboard in town and it made me laugh – in a “you’ve got to be kidding me” sort-of way. In fact, I couldn’t get it out of my mind until I took a photo and blog-blasted them.

These folks (I have mercifully cropped out the company responsible) are highlighting their customer service. Which, in my book, means being customer-centric. It’s not about you, the company, right? It’s about me.

And so what is most prominent on this banner of brag-dom? Is it the customer? Noooo…it’s OURSELVES!

Geeeez. Glad you think so highly of yourselves. I’ll go elsewhere…where someone is more centered on me.

Actually, that reminds me. Here’s a real customer-service story. The only billboard for these “service so good” folks will be this blog:

Last week, I was driving to an evening networking meeting which was an hour away. Halfway there, I heard this very loud rumbling sound nearby, as I got off the highway onto a crowded feeder route. Aha, thinks I, there must be a Harley around here, about to pass me. However, a quick glance around indicates that no loud motorcycles are in sight – curious, thinks I, putting my foot back down on the gas pedal and suddenly realizing that the awful sound was emanating from – my car!

Grim. I pull off and realize that I have a very sick vehicle on my hands, and that the evening meeting will surely go on without me. I manage to limp the car to a gas station and call my wife to come and get me there – it wasn’t going any further. This station has no car repair capabilities, but a gas attendant very kindly tells me about a station down the road a few miles that does. That station, in turn, tells me that they cannot take it then (it’s 5:00 pm), but give me a phone number for a towing service, and tell me that they’ll slot me in tomorrow.

The towing service people were super-friendly and ready to help – sure, they’ll come and tow the car in the morning. Then the gas station attendant PERSONALLY takes my key, assures me that he comes in to work at 6:30 am (plenty of margin for the tow truck), and allows me to leave my stricken car locked up there overnight.

I’m in the hands of strangers, 30 miles from home. I’ve handed my car key to a complete stranger. It’s uncomfortable. And this is New Jersey, remember.

However, the car gets to the garage the next morning without incident. I’m in touch that day, back and forth with the service guy at the garage, and they fix what turned out to be damage from a blown spark plug. The charges were surprisingly reasonable. And all for someone they might not see again, who broke down on the side of the road among strangers.

So, Surjit at Pluckemin Exxon – you give me hope that there are decent people everywhere. George’s Towing – you have one nice person helping distressed people over the phone! And Mike Pine at Martinsville Auto – you rock! Here’s YOUR billboard – one that I will remember fondly, unlike the braggarts shown above!

Brainstorming Wars!

I was scanning through new branding posts this morning, and in my RSS reader, as it turned out, these two new posts came up one after another. Quite a juxtaposition:

Death to Brainstorms!

Brainstorming for the naming process

I’m not getting in the middle of this one! In fact, I’m not even going to call a group meeting to brainstorm the “right” approach (which is part of the fun of working with so many bloggers – we can have some amazingly diverse perspectives!)

When it comes to brainstorming in a virtual environment, I prefer a “pulsed iterative” approach (neologism!). That is, you start with something, put it out to others to comment on/react to/tweak, then put out an improved version or concept. One reason is that for many, it is hard to get creative until dealing with something tangible – some of us can create out of whole cloth, but others prefer to react to an existing “something.” And there can be an efficiency to it – as long as everyone is willing to participate, and there are clear milestones.

What are your thoughts on the value of brainstorming? On the best processes?

(image credit: Flickr)

A Little Friday Fun

From one of my favorite marketing campaigns.

It’s amazing how much you can differentiate yourself in an undistinguished business with a little humor.

Go to their site and you’ll see what I mean…

Have a great weekend!

A Weird Weekend Marketing Challenge

thingie.jpgWhat is it?

How would you brand it?

Then, how would you market it?

Let your imagination fly in the Comments!

(from the What is It? blog)

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