Steve Jobs to Unveil Apple’s new iPants

All the hullabaloo about a new tablet has been a carefully orchestrated hoax, according to a source inside Apple who leaked plans for the elaborate announcement of a brand new platform from the stylish technology company – iPants.

Reportedly, Steve Jobs was behind an elaborately planned launch that included a 7-figure payoff to American Idol to feature General Larry Platt singing what will be the theme song for the new product, “Pants on the Ground.” This YouTube meme went viral just before the big Apple unveiling in order to generate awareness of a major cultural problem in the inner city, that of ill-fitting pants.

“We plan to conquer the ‘denim divide'” Jobs told insiders in a leaked e-mail. “For too long, Apple has been known to produce high-priced products for elitists. Now, with iPants, we’ll use our technology and fashion sense to reach a whole new demographic – jeans-wearers who are not designers or techies, but regular folks who are simply not aware that jeans should be on the waistline.”

Leaked photos showed that iPants device, secured to any belt that has sufficient bling to generate a small electrical current, will deliver a mild but uncomfortable electric shock to the wearer whenever the pants droop over 6 inches from the ideal waistline location, determined via real-time sub-space transmission technology married to GPS triangulation. Wearers who have iPhones and Twitter accounts will also possess the option of a Foursquare auto message, such as, “I just got zapped by my iPants at Broadway and 33rd.”

It is anticipated that Jobs may actually drop his famous jeans during the product announcement ceremony to demonstrate the iPants shock, and rumors are swirling that the audience will then get a preview of the long-rumored iBriefs, currently under hush-hush development in the top-secret textile section of the Palo Alto campus.

For General Larry Platt, who recently signed a recording contract to belt out a series of operatic duets with Sarah Brightman, the announcement will come as a major lift to his once-floundering career as a zeppelin test engineer. “I thought that the Balloon Boy kerfuffle might help elevate my professional opportunities, but now, starting with iPants, I plan to evangelize Apple products in every city, or at least on YouTube.” When pressed for future plans, Mr. Platt would not comment on the stylish matching black hat and turtleneck he was wearing, only stating that the “iThreads wi-fi network you’re detecting has nothing to do with these wires in my clothes.”

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Mystic Speaks

I was quite surprised to discover this week that my dog, Mystic, is actually considered to be quite the successful marketer in her circle of influence. In fact, she has quite a social network, and, as I discovered when I sat down to interview her (between doggie treats and luxurious naps), dogs can teach us a lot about influence and branding.

Me: Mystic, you seem to be pretty popular in the neighborhood after one year. What would you say is the essence of your Personal Brand?

Mystic: Well, for me it’s all about what we call canine benchmarking. It was clear in our walks around town that best practices in the area of impression management meant a head held high, a glossy coat, and turn-key approach to adding value by sniffing backsides. The rest just takes care of itself.

Me: Did you approach this challenge by trying to define your own niche, or did you seek synergistic partnerships with other leading canines?

Mystic: I took a both-and approach. Obviously, when you’re a startup, you’ve got to achieve some sort of critical mass, so I made sure to relieve myself in the sight of some of the bark-leaders in the neighborhood. Eventually, once I had some best-of-breed backers, I had to recontextualize in order to unleash my own brand positioning. Which usually involves lying on my side and drooling.

Me: What metrics do you use to ensure that your brand is top-of-mind, and not mired in the long tail?

Mystic: Just remember two words. No, not “Down, Girl!” Trend Analysis. All the canines in this vertical maximize insights from these data points.

Me: Final question: I’ve been told that you – and perhaps some other influencers in your sub-group – roll around in your own…you know, doo-doo. What’s up with that?

Mystic: Every dog quickly learns about leveraging recurring assets. When the input/output ratio is unbalanced in the supply chain, you have to morph past deliverables into current value-added resources.

Me: In other words, you just harness back-end action items to produce a fresh brand presentation.

Mystic: Exactly. Can I go out and pee now??

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David Armano Wins Nobel Prize for “Really Cool Drawings”

(why not celebrate our third birthday with a fresh social media spoof?)

Today, it was announced that globally-recognized artist and hat-wearing aficionado David Armano has been awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in creating “some of the coolest graphics on the planet.”

Full CircleAccording to Hans Blimsted, Swedish Nobel judge of Peace and Social Media Stuff, Armano’s work, while somewhat confusing to the average mind, is full of soft, pastel-y colors and will certainly, over time, contribute to world peace and to the entire re-architecting of business processes across the world.

“Take his use of circles within circles,” said Blimsted, in announcing the award to a hushed audience of twelve Swedish professional curlers, joined in a live stream by countless bloggers and Twitterati around the globe. “Just gazing at those round shapes reminds us that the world is one, we all are one, and by moving toward a social business design in new collaboratories, we can calibrate a new ecosystem of holistic frameworks. Umm…folks, I just read the notes – you make sense of it.

“Plus, he does dots and gently curved arrows. That means peace in any language. Well, most. Actually – what do all those little arrows mean anyway?”

dachis_ecoShocked bloggers reacted with a mix of exuberant exultation and petty jealousy. “I couldn’t be happier for David!” declared Cathleen Rittereiser, just before unlocking the “local” badge on Foursquare. “Of all the circular-thinkers I follow, David has always been the most well-rounded! And if the President can get one for sounding cool, David should get one for looking cool.” On the other hand, Dear Leader of PlaidNation Darry Ohrt sniffed, “The guy doesn’t know colors at all. Pastels-pshaw! When has he ever done anything in plaid? Amateur!”

Rumors that Barack Obama had actually declined his Nobel Prize in favor of Armano were quashed when the President strode out of the White House wearing a cowboy hat and proclaiming that he was at least as cool as Chicago’s Austin’s favorite designer. “Armano didn’t deliver the Olympics for us, but with his circles and my teleprompter, we’re going to run rings around those pesky petty tyrants around the world. Now that’s some hope and change, baby!”

Mr Armano could not be reached for 140 characters of comment, as he was encased in his studio creating the next-generation 550-circle graphic of intergalactic business interoperability.

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Weather Channel Classic Launched!

WCCThe Weather Channel, after listening to years of strident input from viewers everywhere, has launched a new channel – WCC (Weather Channel Classic) where every description of the weather is 100% accurate.

WCC provides day-old forecasts – called backcasts – to show you, with unerring precision, what the weather was like for the past 24 hours. Or, if you subscribe to WCC Premium Gold Plus, you can go back and find out exactly what the weather was for any date in the past 30 years!

“We’ve had complaints for, oh, just about forever that forecasts simply aren’t accurate enough,” said Joseph Cumulata, Director of Statistical Analysis at The Weather Channel. “‘Chance of rain: 60%. 80% this. 50% that. Blah, blah, blah – just give us the facts!’ they keep telling us. So, with WCC and WCC Premium Gold Plus, we’re going to give you the facts. 100% everything. Because we want to bat a thousand too, sometimes!”

A new crew of weather backcasters has been hired, who will do the usual magic wand waving over colorful maps, but who only require a maximum IQ (and body temperature) of 98.6 to read a teleprompter and get the weather description right. “We’re going to save a ton of money,” declared Charlie Nimbus, director of Programming at The Weather Channel. “We can put up doe-eyed models and half-brained pretty boys who will dazzle with their perfect smiles while giving perfect forecasts…er, backcasts. Everybody wins.”

AltoStratusWCC was soft-launched in beta markets full of older people (Orlando and Phoenix) who tend to be more sensitive to the nuances of weather, and more demanding that weather descriptions be perfect so that they can figure out if they should have ventured outside. “I love WCC!” exalted Bertha Perambulus, who has been watching the channel several hours a day for 3 months now. “The backcasts correspond perfectly with the achiness I felt in my joints during last week’s low pressure, and in my sneak peek of WCC Premium Gold Plus, I was able to see that big rainstorm roll right in that ruined my 40th high school reunion in 1998. I don’t know how I lived without it!

“Plus that cute backcaster, Alto B. Stratus – I can’t take my eyes off of him!”

Assuming a successful uptake of the new Classic Channel, the company is already in discussions with Glenn Beck and Keith Olbermann to come on board for a new venture, the Weather Channel Smackdown, where opinions about upcoming weather will be debated in live, free-for-all screaming matches.

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ROI – Solved!

blanchardThe very thorny problem of Social Media ROI (Return on Investment) was finally solved this week by the brilliant research work of social media guru  Olivier Blanchard (aka The BrandBuilder).

Olivier, well-known throughout the blogging world as a marketing finance expert and bike-rider, dug deep into the world of virtual metrics and came up with a reliable, scalable, and reproducible method of calculating the financial impact of social media.

Eschewing traditional measures such as dollars invested vs. dollars realized, increased sales, and boring data points like that, Olivier applied his guru-like creative expertise to come up with a totally new and relevant series of measures – the “Blanchard Scale” (BS).

Since social media is relatively new and there is so much indirect impact on business, the Blanchard Scale bypasses hard numbers for new measures that take into account the subjectivity and wishful thinking of social networking efforts.

The Scale is summarized thusly, and works best if pronounced with a faint but distinct French accent:

– The Chihuahua (CH) – the smallest measure, a chihuahua of social media impact means that somebody saw something you did somewhere. If you get re-tweeted on Twitter, that’s an extra (or, venti) chihuahua.

– The Nutella (NU) – a Nutella of social media impact is when at least one comment on a blog or one Twitter dialogue ensues. A Nutella unit is often considered a measure of social media “sweetness”. If the dialogue is re-tweeted on Twitter, that’s a NU-CH.

– The Blanchard (BL) – also called a “glop”, this is a totally subjective impact measure which indicates that a bunch of really cool stuff is going on over several platforms, even if we can’t quantify it. Most social media campaigns are considered a success at a 5-Blanchard level post-launch.

– The Brogan (BR) – formerly labeled the Godin, this rarefied measure of impact is only achieved when you go viral, which means that there must be some money changing hands somewhere, and probably we’re going to get some. A 3-Brogan campaign is the gold standard in social media ROI. Occasionally augmented by a Vayner, which currently hasn’t been fully defined, but is definitely kinda loud.

– The Kaw (GUY) – only achieved once so far, all top bloggers want to be “that Guy”. Guess what – you’re not.

Prominent blogging gurus and experts were dumbfounded by the simplicity and utility of the new Blanchard Scale. “I give it 2 ‘heh’s up!” proclaimed social media expert influencer Jason Falls, who once had a post “go Blanchard” on his Social Media Explorer site. “I think all my clients will want to employ these targeted metrics, which are perfectly suited to describe whatever it is we’re trying to make happen. We’ll get people used to some CH-sized returns, then go straight for the big bucks with a double-Brogan campaign!”

Known for delivering consistent Nutella results for her many clients, social media guru Kris Colvin was ecstatic at the release of the new BS scale. “Olivier let me work with a beta version, and except for some spurious Kaws and a couple of transient Chihuahuas, I was able to provide some very soft calculations to my clients on the preliminary possible projected impact of their social media endeavors, right down to the nearest glop or two. Brilliant! I still think there should be a “Colvin“, however, tied to YouTube views…”

Doing BS calculations can begin immediately after downloading the Blanchard Scale from the BrandBuilderROI website. You simply make up your own price and get right to work, which is good practice for utilization of the tool. Those who use the Scale for a week receive a free “I’m a Full-of-BS Social Media Guru” certificate, suitable for scanning and posting on a blog sidebar.

Apart from a 975-work blog post on the subject, Olivier was reticent to share much about his next endeavor, the Nutella Channel, created to spread recipes using the new blanchard cooking scale. It is rumored, however, that a new micro-measure, the “Gill“, will be introduced when the upcoming Book of Blanchard and new on-line video channel are unveiled.

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Zappo’s “heels” the Barefoot Executive

zapposUPDATE: See end of this post for a major news update. The REAL reason why Zappo’s was acquired by Amazon!

In a masterstroke of brand protection, Tony Hsieh of Zappo’s, the Internet’s most famous shoe store, has bought out his main competitor, The Barefoot Executive for an undisclosed sum and a social network to be named later.

“Our shoe sales have been growing like crazy!” stated Hsieh, who measures corporate results via bottom-line profits and top-line Re-tweets. “However, we’ve noticed a disturbing trend among our ‘executive’ customers – a drop-off in sales like nothing we’ve seen before. Market research indicated that Carrie Wilkerson – the Barefoot Executive – was clearly the influence causing many Presidents and CEOs to walk around shoeless. And they’re key influencers – clearly a trend we couldn’t allow to continue. Can you imagine entire companies loaded with barefoot people trying to emulate the boss? Ewwww!”

Calling a company brainstorming meeting on Twitter using the #stopcarrie hashtag, the consensus was reached that no other shoe retailers were, in fact, worthy of competitive mention. Problem #1 was actually the Barefoot Underground – about to get worse with the release of Carrie’s upcoming business/networking/barefoot fashion book – and there was only one method that could be employed to stop this anti-footwear phenomenon.

“We bought her out,” exulted Mr. Hsieh, refusing to go into the financial details except to say that it was in the “high five figures” of pairs of stylish executive shoes over the next 10 years. “Plus, her impending book will now be re-named ‘The Well-Shod Executive,’ and will feature her discussions of the relative merits of heels, pumps, flats, and bling-blingy boots in each chapter.”

Barefoot smA quick bump in shoe sales was already recorded when Carrie, using her famous Hypno-Eyebrow Webcam Method (HEWM), recorded her first video extolling the virtues of wearing the latest fire-engine red spiked heels while blogging from home.

The surprise move may be a portent of a new trend to come. Rumor has it that @themarketingguy, Jay Ehret, is in discussions with a hair-growth company to trade in his bald pate for something more lush. Not to be outdone, Jason Falls was recently spotted pouring his favorite bourbon down the drain while talking earnestly to a marketing rep for Tab cola. Even Twitter founders Ev and Biz, famous for going against the money-making tide, were recently spotted with AOL t-shirts.

Carrie could not be reached for comment, being tended to in a local hospital after twisting her ankle rollerblading with a pair of spiked purple PamelaMartins.

UPDATE: It was announced this week that Zappo’s has been acquired by Amazon. Beneath all the congratulatory blah-blah about synergy and growth, the REAL reason has now emerged (with thanks to @techcrunch for hacking into Zappo’s computer network and unearthing secret files…).

It turns out that the announcement of the Barefoot_Exec acquisition sent the shoe business into a sudden tailspin, as thousands of former customers began returning shoes in order to join the Carrie Cult and go barefoot. The only way to halt the slide, secret documents reveal, was to “be acquired by a major book retailer and seek to quash the release of Carrie’s upcoming book.”

The documents also reveal, in conjunction with Twitter documents already purloined and published, that Twitter has finally decided on a monetization strategy and plans to acquire the new Amazon/Zappos combo, since “this 140-character market is proving blasted hard to make a profit from! Let’s sell some other stuff!”

It is not know if @barefoot_exec will be allowed to tweet on the new Twamazapp platform. Stay tuned to TechCrunch for further details…

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Bye-Bye, Social Media Die

This is part 2 of the Death of Social Media™ (part 1 is here, wherein we recount how the doomsayers are predicting the demise of SocMed, and the haters are rejoicing). Alan Wolk and I were exchanging. via Twitter, ludicrous traffic-inducing blog headlines about this doomsday scenario, which is how this 2-part “series” was birthed.

For those of an earlier generation, the lyrics and melody of Don McLean’s “Bye-Bye, Miss American Pie” will remain forever embedded in perma-memory – if you’re not familiar with it, here’s a performance on YouTube, and here are the original lyrics.

Now, onto the show…

Bye-Bye, Social Media Die

A short, short time ago
I can still remember how that Twitter used to
Make me smile
And I knew that if I had my chance
I could make those people tweet
And maybe they’d be happy for a while

Did you write a blog for nerds
And do you have faith in Zuckerberg
If the Scoble tells you so
Now do you believe in baiting links
And can Brogan save your blog that stinks
And can you teach me how to Plurk real slow

Well, I know that you’re in love with Guy
‘Cause I saw you tweetin’ on the fly
You both linked up your tribes
Man, I dig those linkback vibes

I was a lonely soc med guru schmuck
With a pink MacBook Pro and a rubber duck
But I knew that I was out of luck
The day the Soc Med died
I started singing…

Bye-bye, Social Media Die
Drove my traffic via bit.ly
But the stats were awry
And good old boys were linkin’ Godin and Guy
Singing this’ll be the day that it dies
This’ll be the day that it dies

I clicked an URL whose link was blue
And I pinged it for some happy news
But it just crashed my Chrome and went away
I scanned my feeds as I had before
But all I got was 404’s
I couldn’t even read Olivier

Well now, at their desks the tweeters screamed
The bloggers cried, and the spammers schemed
But not a word was written
Not even by Laura Fitton
And the gurus I admire the most
Loren, Ev and Kevin Rose
They made a name, then it was toast
The day the Soc Med died

We started singin’…

Bye-bye, Social Media Die
Drove my traffic via bit.ly
But the stats were awry
And good old boys were linkin’ Godin and Guy
Singing this’ll be the day that it dies
This’ll be the day that it dies

(do I really think Social Media is dying? Of course not. Here’s how I see the evolution unfolding…)

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