Thursday, December 24, 2009

merry christmas!!!

We didn't have a tree, so I made one out of construction paper on the wall. Merry Christmas to all!!!!!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

static no more

Love the old adage "art work is never done" and think it is applicable to websites, which are constantly updated. Successful webpages are not static likes posters, they are real-time. They allow motion around and in and out of the site (links) satisfying the basic needs of the reading audience.

However, websites are often not open and malleable for the internal audience. We perfect for the outer audience not taking into account those who form the organization that a site represents.

For example, a school's website acts as a representative of those who attend the school. Take my alma mater, the VCU Brandcenter - the website is like a poster that you can move about. The students have no way of altering it or adding functions that they desire*. So, it is most useful to outside sources. However, a different school, Yale's school of art is changing the way to look at school webpages. Here's what their page says:

Beautiful. Not what you'd expect from an Ivy League. But constantly a way for that community to be actively recreating itself.

This totally makes sense for the animal that an art school is. The creative work its' students exhibit is what makes it intriguing to other perspective students and the general art community.

*Now let's clarify: I understand why this has become protocol. Due to limited capabilities and resources, we know that a website cannot do everything. However, I don't believe that structuring our thinking about the potential of the web around CURRENT limitations is wise. What is currently impossible will be laughably easy in the future if we find that it is necessary for us to put our brain waves on it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

planning comms based on unemployment

Working on an insurance account and a funny/relevant comms planning idea just occurred to me. We plan communications based on what media vehicle they will roll out in or when a consumer along their journey will encounter the communications. But watching the unemployment rates across the country, would a smart comms plan for something like life insurance or a bank include geography based on unemployment rates?

Think about it, your communications in an area like Detroit, which is still reeling and grasping for jobs needs to be very sensitive to their situation. Northern Virginia on the other hand hasn't been hit as hard thanks to the number of government jobs that are held in the area. Communications in that geography for a national bank would be vastly different.

A map showing unemployment rates across the country:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

will wave be the new twitter?

Twitter has been overrun by spammer crap. Meaning that users will get fed up and head elsewhere. Another problem that I've been having with Twitter is that I can't converse/reply to Tweets unless I have direct messaging open with someone. I don't want to bug those who follow me with short replies to friends. Lists have helped us find Tweets that are most useful/catered to a particular purpose.

But with Wave I can have conversations with friends and the convos are as private or open as I want them to be. All of my Waves are saved and quickly accessible so the convo can start/stop whenever I feel like adding to it. I can write notes to friends for them to read at a later time (yeah, like an email) and it's all within the same Wave.

I kind of see public Waves as a combo of old aol-style chat rooms and Twitter-lists. They can be catered to a specific interest - I'm in the "planner wave" and anyone in the world can join. But with the use of profiles and the links that people post to their multi-faceted web-presence, it's less creepy than a chat room.

Could Wave some day replace Twitter? Seems unlikely, but then again...

I have a few invites to the Wave, if you'd like one leave me your gmail address.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

moving along

I am leaving my role in trendspotting at JWT and heading to TAXI to be a planner there. I am soo excited about this move!! I've enjoyed working at JWT, there are a lot of great people there. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

please leave the dancing to the Gap

Just because a brand can move its' feet, doesn't mean they can dance.

Dance in marketing/advertising is usually a pretty good schtick for getting me interested. BUT. Jumping on that booty-shakin' band wagon just because you know how to make a youtube video and can press play on a stereo is not the way to go about it.

I'm referring to Microsoft's recent non-trad attempt in their new California store. The Apple store wanna-be retail spot created a 4 minute video of their employees doing the electric slide in the store. It was wild, it was crazy, there was clapping, there was sliding, over and over and over again. For 4 minutes.

More than 300,000 people have now watched the video on Youtube and it has a 1.5 star rating. I rest my case.

See for yourselves:

Monday, November 16, 2009

social web game and inter-office smack talking

I have been competing for mayorship of JWT on Foursquare with some guy whose name on the program is Aface K. I tried to figure out who he was by looking through the company's address book with no luck. After I managed to steal it from him twice, he decided that he needed to figure out who his competition was. He called the receptionist and asked who "Katie F." was. He just walked up to my desk and said "you keep stealing my mayorship and it's not cool!" Haha! Some day I'm going to gather all 4 of us at JWT who play this game so that we can compare points and smack talk.

I recently commented on Gareth Kay's blog about a post he wrote concerning It's an online game where you gain points for doing good deeds, volunteering, etc. The points that you gain on BFA and 4SQ are fairly meaningless. You don't really win anything by playing, but frequent users are obsessed. Foursquare I was told a few months ago had an active user base of 50 percent - which is huge. 

These games keep it simple, they play on the competitive spirit and the human desire to win. Behavioral psychologists have found that competition in sports helps people become better athletes. So is competition in social media helping us become better at social media? Better at using it, better at building it, better at analyzing it?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

i would research

Need to start an on-going list of things I'd like to research (though will likely not have time to do), like my on-going stream "why i love."

If I had time, I would research:

Since graduating from grad school I have been asked numerous times "is the job market harder to day than before the recession."

My answer is: Since I headed straight to grad school after undergrad, I don't have any real experience job searching outside of a recession to compare today to. What I have experienced is real support from those in my position. My peers, who are also desperately seeking work, are hooking me up with people they know and sending me job openings they’ve seen. They are consoling me with their own personal stories and giving moral support.

My hypothesis: Those in the Millennial generation are helping one-another find job opportunities more than any previous generation helped their peers.

The Millennials are savvy, connected, and optimistic. Tough times are their motivator and digital skills are their arsenal, where opportunities do not exist, this generation will create. I also think that the idealism that often influences Millennials’ decisions will lead to many trips and falls along the way.

If anyone's done research on this, let's chat.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

cloud computing's where the money's at

At a beer festival, a friendly stranger asked me what things he should invest in, assuming that since I do trendspotting I must also know how to work the stock market. Right.

Well, what I told him to watch for the expansion of cloud computing and for opportunities to invest in that arena. He had no clue what I was talking about. I said that given that people are creating endlessly larger amounts of digital data, much like we need trash dumps to store our garbage, we need spaces to store our digital junk. At this point we buy gigs or terabytes of external storage space to keep all of our stuff. Eventually though, the average Joe will be annoyed that he doesn't have his external with him when out and about or that he has multiple externals that he has to search through for one darn file. Joe will begin to wonder why all of his files aren't accessible in the way that his emails on Gmail (who uses cloud-computing) are. He will head to services like iDrive who do remote data backup or cloud computing.

I was proud of my prediction today when I read in a Wired Magazine article, "The Good Enough Revolution," that Microsoft is moving into cloud computing. Apparently Office 2010 will be largely cloud-based. To add to it's cloud-computing operations, Google is developing a cloud-based operating system that will work in tandem with the company's Chrome browser.

Who knows? Maybe I could do alright in the stock market game.

Monday, November 9, 2009

tech ed.

Loads going on in the academic space using technology that's changing the academic world.

Just read that several universities are participating in a pilot program with Kindle Readers. While this will certainly help students' backs, will reading all their textbooks on a screen hurt their eyes?

VCU stopped giving out university emails this year. Instead students have Gmail accounts. I can see how this would be easier on VCU servers. But I wonder what kind of deal they've had to make with Google?

I also read that Google Wave has been made available to a few universities. I recently started using the Wave and while I think it is a useful chat program, I'm not sure how often uni students will conduct meetings, building documents over it?

Another thing I noticed about the academic space with regards to the Web is the utility of websites created for them. True that most are awful, Blackboard and pretty much every mail server made me want to throw my computer across the room. But, going through the list of entries for the Adobe MAX Awards this year, I noticed that the entries for academic space seemed 10 times more useful than those done for brands. It's pathetic really. I hit on this in another post about brands creating websites that suck. Below are a couple screen shots of academic sites and brand sites, may be hard to judge from these small images.You may want to read the descriptors on the site.

Games by brands:
2 games that involve driving a car around, one involving a digital claw-machine game.

3 educational sites. One that charts a students progress, one that is a network for educators around the world and the third a piano-teaching program.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

ford – profiting despite it all

Ford posting a profit of $997 million in the third quarter comes as a surprise especially given the fact that it took no bailout money from the government. The Cash for Clunkers program helped create this profit without a doubt, but Ford has also made major changes internally, cutting operational costs. Strong product launches have also helped, the F-150 doing especially well next to competitors. Less incentives have been necessary to offer in order to sell the cars, which is a good sign as it shows that consumers have faith that a Ford is worth the price. While there's still much to be done, the 3rd quarter results are the light at the end of the tunnel for Ford.

Ford has a history of prevailing in the face of great global challenges. It has weathered the storms of the Great Depression, two world wars, the gas crisis of the 1970s and a few recessions before this one. It defined a new form of industry when Henry Ford invented the moving assembly line and taught us that you can’t always ask the consumer what they would like.

Perhaps the rebound shouldn't be such a surprise, coming from a company whose history of resilience has a way of repeating itself. The battle cry of ‘prevail despite it all’ is a needed one during this period of doom and gloom and one that would be smart for a company like Ford to shout from the roof tops.

Monday, November 2, 2009

irony in simplicity

Hope everyone had a lovely Halloween. I got stuck in the rain and ended up getting shoved into NYC's Halloween parade while trying to cross the street.

I loved the costumes that were simple and ironic. I contemplated being a potato because I knew people would over-think it. A friend of mine was a bush - the plant version, not the presidential one. Halloween is a chance for us to take on the shape of something or someone new and sometimes the simpler you make it, the more ironic it can be in a sea of overly complicated costumes.

Thinking about this in the shower this morning, I started to apply this to the packaging design around me. In the packaging world, sometimes being a more simple design can make your product a winner - think about Method products for example. It's funny then that packaging designs are so complicated. They shout every benefit the product could possibly provide in a flashy, sparkly font. Why does it have to be "vitamin enriched, volumizing, shine inducing" shampoo? Why can't it just be shampoo?

I would like to design refillable packaging that simply states what it holds - shampoo is "shampoo" and hand soap, "hand soap." I feel like it could surprise visitors to your home.  Would they feel unnerved and ask what brand your hair spray was? 

 As it goes 'being a good designer means not adding as much as you can, but taking things away until only what is necessary remains.' We've all heard the phrase, but rarely do brands apply it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

in any language

This explanation through anamation leaps over the barrier of language that's message may reach around the world. It's a creative move for getting around that challenge and a short and sweet way to explain the problem and desired action of the viewer to spread the word.

Monday, October 26, 2009

swine flu

Went home to Virginia last weekend and discovered that my family's next door neighbor has swine flu, THE swine flu. This invariably led me to question the safety of the air I was breathing, the fragility of my mortality and why it's called the swine flu if it doesn't come from pigs.

Learned that it is named such because it resembles a flu that pigs get. Learned that dogs can get the flu. And ultimately, realized that if I am meant to die of swine flu, it's going to happen no matter how much Purell I squirt on my hands.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

asylum 626 is the product

I was recently chatting with a friend of mine who is a digital strategist at AKQA, about how brands need to stop thinking about their websites as print ads that live on the web and more as products with a function. If people hate ads and ignore then, then why would you ever model your $50k+ website after them? So many brands create websites that are completely narcissistic and games that provide little entertainment for the bored. The advergame where you drive the car around has been done, let's please move on.

Goodby, Silverstien & Partners has done it again with client Doritos. They have managed to make a web production which I am too scared to even open in my web browser, Asylum 626. (Here's a post I wrote about last year's fright, Hotel 626.)

It's a clear example of a brand thinking of their web-presence as a product itself, not just a 'web ad.' It's entertainment that is interactive and original and it doesn't shove a product down your throat. In doing this, Doritos is attributing their brand with a higher value, one that reaches beyond 'a yummy snack' or 'a cheap snack.' Doritos is associating itself with scary web productions. It's creating a new tradition, something you will look for each year around Halloween.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

"bitches on a budget" - cheap tips for big spenders

This recession has created a lot of guilt around spending money on things we want but don't necessarily need. I just discovered the sassy, say-it-like-it-is blog by author, fashion buyer and marketer Rosalyn Hoffman. Hoffman disagrees with the notion that living on a budget means abandoning the fabulous life. Her new book, which will be released December 29th, is designed to help the affluent woman who finds herself now on to a budget “learn to live a truly fabulous life on a shoe string,” as blog says. 

Bitches on a Budget, and it’s accompanying blog, illustrate how the values of the elite have shifted and ways for them to find compromise between their new budgets and their old ways. Her tips range from the best honey to how to get a stain out of a carpet (which involves paper towels and a stack of heavy books).

This leads me to a research idea for brands who play in the luxury space - have a group of customers read the book and give it a review. Ask them what tips they found most useful, which ones they passed along or actually tried themselves? How does the book resonate with their lives today and where does it veer away from how they budget and what they value?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

trend: rallying for good design

Just saw on a blog that some British designer decided he didn't like Facebook's layout and created his own design. What really struck me was the call-out for support in the article: "If you feel this is a step in the right direction, you can lend your support to the cause via a Facebook group here." Facebook was not asking for their help nor anyone's input on changes to their design. But we, as users, feel a divine right to have input over the design of a website we use so frequently.

I've seen this elsewhere too, people rallying to fight for good design. The demand for design is really less of an aesthetic thing and more for an easy-to-use user interface. People don't want to deal with visual clutter. (I'll bet you could study this by showing that sites with cleaner design get more return hits and a lower bounce rate.) They want their eyes to be able to understand instantly the purpose of a website and how their eyes should navigate around the page.

It's almost like the way people fight against clutter in their closet. You keep things organized because you get a pang of anger when you open a closet that you need to find something in. It's not that your closet needs to be art - there's a door covering it anyways, but it's gotta be quick to scan through and find the piece you need.

By designer Barton Smith:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

wired magazine: vanish contest

How difficult is it to disappear in a digital age? In Wired Magazine’s recent contest, Vanished, writer Evan Ratcliff took on the challenge of living under the radar for a month. The chase became a game of Where’s Waldo? meets The Bourne Ultimatum as people hunted Evan down, sharing clues and working together through social media to discover his whereabouts.

Ratcliff provided hunters with some basics about himself such as a few photos, his hometown and the fact that he has a gluten allergy. Ratcliff even provided his IP addresses (which show the general location from which a computer has accessed the Web), bank account transactions and emails to be published by his editor. According the rules, the first person to take a picture of Ratcliff and say the code word “Fluke” won the $5,000 prize.

Evan created a new Twitter account under alias name, James Gatsby (one of his favorite fictional characters) and made allegedly made anonymous comments to confuse hunters. He complicated his digital trail through his knowledge of how to manipulate and hide digital data in order to stay hidden.

In the last week of the contest, Wired enticed Evan into public spaces by offering prize money for the completion of challenges discoverable only by completing that morning’s New York Times crossword puzzle. After 25 days on the run, his IP address informed the only gluten-free pizza place in New Orleans, Naked Pizza, that Evan had been accessing their Web site. Knowing that Evan’s challenge that day was to attend a book reading, the team caught Evan walking in to a local bookstore and won the prize.

When asked by ABC News what he learned from doing this experiment, Ratcliff replied that in our digital age “fantasies about disappearing are just that, they are fantasies.”

Read all about it in Wired's December issue.

Monday, October 5, 2009

trend: praise for thrift in clothing

Since the accusations of Sarah Palin being a hypocrite - speaking as an average American mom and then spending $150k on one outfit - the clothing on celebs has been a hot issue. Mrs. Obama was praised for getting her outfit at J. Crew and spending like an 'average American' woman, not a high-rolling star.

Apparently this kind of commentary has traveled across the pond. Just saw on, a post about the Conservative Party leader's wife, Samantha Cameron. She was photographed wearing a pair of shoes that cost 29 English pounds. The post goes on and on about how pragmatic this shoe choice is and how she pulled together more than one outfit by wearing these shoes.
Gotta love how a show of thrift can be applauded.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

this program is smarter than i am

Testing out a Firefox add-on called Zemanta. It's funded by VC group Union Square Ventures who funds Twitter, MeetUp, foursquare (the newest addition) and many others. As I type, Zemanta, shown on the right hand side of my screen, recommends links to pictures, articles, websites of companies I am writing about, potential tags and other stuff that it thinks could apply to my content. By simply clicking on their suggestions, the two companies named above were automatically hyperlinked for me.

What's truly amazing to me is the concept of programs that learn, this program however is essentially teaching me. It has the power to direct my writing to new directions depending upon the stories that it serves up. This is a simple add-on writing tool. Who knows where programs that teach could pop-up next.

Question: Would you consider all of the mobile city-guides programs that teach?
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the counter-intuitive cuppa

Originally uploaded by lookitsfitz
Starbucks has just introduced its first instant coffee product, Via. Via, meaning “road” in Italian, is meant to be a quick grab for those on the go. The company will be selling the product at their stores, Target, Costco, outdoor gear shop REI and on United Airlines flights.

There are three things I find very contradictory about this product and it’s parent brand, Starbucks.

Via doesn’t belong on the shelves in Starbucks. The store locations, designed to be comfortable spaces where customers could sit and relax, reflect a brand you spend time with. The core idea of Via is ‘on the go’ making it a sore thumb in the store.

Starbucks has suffered in the recession as customers head to McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts for a cheaper cup of coffee. There is the understanding that at Starbucks you are getting the quality that you are paying for. Via is less than one dollar for a cup of coffee and while it may be a competitor at gas stations, cheap is not a value one attributes with Starbucks.

Despite the fact that families have cut back on road trips, Starbucks is promoting its ‘road coffee’ by filming two people on a road-trip. The duo road-tripped throughout North America to hand out the coffee and explore the scenery.

Taste test the instant cuppa at Starbucks locations October 2 - 5 and receive a free cup of the brewed stuff.

*Thanks Platypusrex256 for the suggestion. Adding this video from the road trip series.

**Update: I tried it! It's actually not that bad... just make sure to use enough water.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

keep your eye on this ball

Early adopters have found Foursquare addicting. Being one of them, I've noticed over time the increased number of friends joining the site and the number of those reporting being "checked in" at the same location as myself. One example I found funny was when I checked in at LaGuardia Airport one Friday morning a couple of weeks ago, there were two or three others (not "friends," but random Foursquare users) who had also checked in that morning. Who knew LGA was so hoppin?

3 Reasons why Foursquare will succeed:

1. Now hear this - Today's news is that Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, just put money behind the company

2. Part of keeping tech alive is figuring how to make money off of it and Foursquare users will have noticed the more recent pop-ups on FS maps - special deals for the mayor of the store. Thanks to geo-tagging technology, the trend towards local, which started in food, is now moving into other business categories. Placing ads for companies on Foursquare will bring money into the company. If it is so extremely localized (holding a mayor-ship is something only one local person could realistically have) this could help mom and pop shops.

3. The growing relevance of geo-tagging technology: Since the number of Smart Phone users has increased, Google has increasingly been developing geo-tag products. Consumers will find that they no longer have to look for a store, it will find them. Now that we can get the info we want WHEN we want it via the real-time streaming web, we will grow to desire info WHERE we want it.

We are seeing the release of augmented reality tools that give information of a Smart Phone users world by simply looking through the lens of their phone. Now if Foursquare is able to incorporate AR...

Friday, September 25, 2009

a documentary gives voice to struggling Americans

I wrote this piece for and am reposting it here.

Austin and Brian Chu were tired of hearing statistics about Americans losing their jobs and homes from politicians and reporters. The brothers, ages 26 and 23, decided to make the hard numbers more human by traveling across 50 states to interview Americans heavily affected by the recession. They talked to single mothers, seniors, Amish people, house squatters, students and others who have shown leadership in their communities but whose stories had slipped under the radar.

The resulting documentary, The Recess Ends, premieres Sept. 30 in San Francisco. The Chus will also preview the film in several cities before then.

One of their brand-related findings was the sizable shift in opinions they heard about Wal-Mart. While some consumers had once demonized the superstore as a killer of mom and pop shops, many now said they’d grown to be grateful for Wal-Mart, seeing it as a haven for the budget-strapped.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

gaming should be fun, not intrusive

Playing an online game should not lead you to have to apologize to your friends. Thanks to MobsterWorld however, I feel as though I owe all of my Twitter followers a big apology.

The damn thing took over my Twitter account, sent tweets to all of my followers trying to get them to join and tweeted each move that I made in the 5 minutes I spent playing. That's embarrassing. You shouldn't have to be embarrassed because you interacted with a game. Whereas MobsterWorld may see this as a way to gain users, they are actually putting themselves out in an extremely negative light. People will accept, play once, be angry, disable the game on their account and never go back.

Games via Twitter is a big potential market. It allows for interesting social experiments too; think about how you could prove the '6 Links to Kevin Bacon' theory. But a game has to think less like a virus and more like a console.

And just for the record, I did not rob any houses.

tweeting incentives to get customers into stores

I wrote this piece was written for and am reposting it here.

Smart brands are gaining followers on Twitter by offering real-time discounts or giveaways to get customers into their stores. Borders, the bookstore chain, is offering free or discounted books at certain locations. Baja Fresh, the Mexican fast food food chain owned by Wendy’s International, offers freebies or discounts during lunch hours to customers who show the Tweeted offer at the register.


This kind of promotion is smart for a couple of reasons. Establishing consistent rapport with consumers during a downturn helps a brand remain top-of-mind when the economy improves. And for chain retailers, which are often seen as having no real connection to the communities where their stores are located, a promotion like this evokes a sense of local familiarity. The tactic is also extremely measurable—return on investment is easily calculated based on the number of Twitter followers a brand has and the number of people who follow through on the giveaway.

Plus, this is a great way to participate in the online conversation, the constant stream of social media chatter that brands need to join. Our most recent trendletter, “The Now Web,” explores how brands can leverage the Web’s shift to real-time communication.

Monday, September 21, 2009


A couple trends we've seen popping up recently in society:

Loss of a filter
- South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson yelling "You lie!" during President Obama's speech to congress
- Kanye Interrupting Tayor Swift at the MTV VMAs
- Williams at the tennis match

Having the ability to broadcast our opinions the moment they are formulated in our heads has become easier than perhaps it should be. Taking the time to allow our consciousness to filter through our powerful words has been annihilated by our own expectations to stay current and react immediately.

Web: Integration through location
- The progression of map-based technology (such as geo-tagging) has allowed for online ads to incorporate a target's location into the message. We see, more and more, ads that directly link to maps showing where a brand's retail stores are near us.

Tools that brands provide online will be more useful and apply more to the user through this technology. One site for example, All for Good, uses IP Addresses and maps to help users find places to volunteer. Twitter is moving into geo-Tweeting. We will see this technology moving into all pieces of brand communication. Watch for over-lays on Youtube music videos that give you info about local music venues where that artist is playing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

fitz goes to the MTV VMAs

A few FAQs about my experience going to the MTV Video Music Awards:

How’d you get in?
A friend had a ticket he couldn’t use. The funny thing is, it was through the Richard Brand fan club. Now, I’m not up on my U.K. pop-culture, so I didn’t know if that was a person or a brand called Richard. However, I am now in a photo somewhere describing me as a member of the Richard Brand fan club (if someone finds, please send!). Turns out Sir Brand was hosting the show. I found him annoying. Thanks for the ticket anyways Dick.

Where did you sit?

Hahaha. Hmmm. Ah Dick. You see, Richard was supposed to save seats for his beloved fan club, but that must have slipped his mind. The fifty of us lucky winners got into Radio City Music Hall and were dragged from one side of the theater to the other and back again, field trip style.

After a while of this I got fed up, saw an empty seat and jumped into it. What I did realize is that I had just hopped into the ‘seat filler’ section. Seat fillers, selected through submitting a photo to MTV, are placed throughout the theater where there is an empty seat or if someone decides to go to the bathroom.

I went from being a nomad to having a great seat. But no, I didn’t sit next to any celebrities. : )

Did you see any celebrities?

I did. Many. During the field trip portion of the experience, I walked past Beyoncee (gorgeous woman), the actress who plays Blair Waldorf walked by, Taylor Swift with a very hurt facial expression climbed down the stars by me and I was standing in Adam Brody’s way. There were also a few MTV reality TV show stars wandering around - the brunette model from NYC show with Whitney from ‘The Hills.’ Those were the closest encounters. Otherwise they were in and around the theater. As you can pry tell though, I don’t do celeb names well and thus a few familiar faces were lost on me.

Two things that jumped out at me:

The quality of the screen!! The screen hanging in the back of the stage from which they project all of the videos is amazing! Crystal-clear quality. I swear I’ve never seen better.

How vigorously the crowd booed and raised their 'thumbs-down' at every mention of Kanye’s name or his videos. I wasn't surprised at how pissed everyone was, just how strongly, quickly and frequently they were up in arms.

Photos from my phone:

If you have any other questions. Please feel free to submit. : )

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

hip, trendy, basic

The basic necessities that all living people have (otherwise they wouldn't be alive) are:

1. Shelter
2. Water
3. Food

It seems like it would be counterintuitive then that in the 2000s this items have gone from hot commodities, to just hot.

We've seen luxury, elitism and high prices placed on these items. Think about it - luxury is diamonds and Aston Martins, and come....

Shelter - "The Small Movement" - It was all about compact homes/living spaces. Look at The Pod Hotel - everything is tiny and that is what makes it so damn cool.

Water - flavored, filtered, sparkling, enhanced, bottled, gourmet, find an adjective that makes your nose snub the ceiling and it can be attached to some stylish water brand.

Food - from celebrities writing cookbooks and 'Julia and Julia,' to the sexy Anthony Bourdain

Is it possible that these items will ever become passe? That water will once again just be water?

Anyone have an idea how this came about?

Thursday, July 30, 2009


I wish there was a widget that sat on your desktop and every time you higlighted and copied something, it would show in the history on the widget. That way, if you forget that you've copied multiple things, rather than copy the wrong thing into the wrong paste, groan, then search for what you originally copied - it would be in your history. Very similar to Photoshop's history (see pic). If you can build this, please do.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

east coast rambler

I have put thousands of miles on my car in this post-graduation summer. Broken promises, listened to hours of audiobooks and drank seltzer water to the point of bubbling over.

My endless wandering has been seemingly the only consistency in my life. The road is always there for me. It doesn’t matter the destination, or what I am running from, as long as I am running. I guess it’s not that I’m running from anything really. It’s that I’m afraid to stop running. You know how your legs, after a few miles, feel fluid--the motion a part of your subconscious.

I have begun to fear committing to one local.

Looming on the horizon lies August 12th. August 12th is the date I commit. I stop moving and start digging in. I will begin digging the trench that will, hopefully, become the foundation upon which I build my career. The less round-about way to spell it out is to say that I begin, officially, working on that date. I begin working, and although I have yet to truly define what my dream job is, I must begin to work as though it were my dream job. This mental state will help me wake up every morning. In the same bed. Take the same route to work. And feel satisfied by what I have accomplished that day, when I lay down to rest my head.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

drinks with anne hathaway

The Public Theater Organization puts on shows in Central Park for free! In order to make money they are doing an auction. What they are auctioning off just makes me smile.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

better at what cost?

Every year Apple drops news of its newest treasure during the much anticipated annual conference at which Jobs himself gives a speech. The new iPhone is soon to arrive much to the joy of those who have 200 bucks to drop on gadgets.

While the excitement created each year guarantees PR for the company it also presents the threat of a total flop for the new gadget when it cannot out-do the release of the previous year or meet the high expectations of those in waiting.

The continuity of such releases also presents a problem in the long run because it may train consumers to expect new releases and not spend money on the previous models in the months leading up to the new release.

Aside from potential issues for Apple, what will we do with the growing trash piles of phones left for the new models?

cultural standpoints

My strategy class at the Brandcenter put together a series of white papers we are calling Cultural Standpoints. Each team or individual writer chose a topic to research and dissect how the trend at hand could influence consumers or brands. We hope that this is the first of many Cultural Standpoint books to come out of the strategy classes at the VCU Brandcenter.
Here is a link to the book:

Saturday, May 23, 2009


Here we are. 60 weeks in our pockets. 60 of the craziest and best weeks of our lives. It wouldn't have been as meaningful for me if it weren't shared with such amazing people. Thank you to the professors and to the 85 others that I graduated with. You'll always be my family no matter how far apart we may find ourselves.

Here's a short flick that Les Green and I put together. Thank you Jay Adams for helping us find photos. The music is "Daylight" by Matt & Kim.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

publicity stunt creating new agency payment model?

BBH Labs wasn't hiring, so they told Hank Leber to start his own agency. And so, he did. A recent graduate of the VCU Brandcenter, Hank has been hard on the job search for a couple months now. He decided to start his own agency as a publicity stunt but now that he is gaining a lot of potential clients, at least he'll have some freelance type work to do while he looks for something long-term.

Welcome the new AgencyNil, headlined as "cheaper than freelance, better than interns."
Leber's strategy is basically to under-bid, majorly. On the site he says that they will do the work, then the client decides what they will pay for it.

I'm really interested to see what Hank's next move is. Will he be hired by an agency for his ingenuity? Or will AgencyNil become the next hot-shop to watch and Hank's permanent deal?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

why i love lookbook

I've decided to start a new series on my blog called "why i love..." Not sure how often these will roll out. The last time I did one of these was on Kid Robot. But, with no further delay...

Why I love

I recently decorated a tri-fold as a piece to introduce myself, the parts of culture that I love as well as a trivia game on those parts of culture. As it goes with tri-folds, it was for a science fair, of sorts, in which myself and my fellow students were the experiments on display. It was the annual Brandcenter recruiter fair and I was the nerd with the tri-fold.

One of the areas of culture that I hit on was fashion and as my board said "Fashion trends in the near future will not be determined by high-end designers, but by your 18 year-old neighbor with an armful of cloth and a camera."

Living, photographic proof of that is LookBook calls itself the "collective fashion consciousness." It's a collection of photographs, submitted by members, of people in different outfits they have assembled.

Lookbook is truly brilliant because...

1. It scrolls down endlessly. You never hit the bottom of the page while scrolling through "looks," which means you could peruse it non-stop for 40 minutes (no, seriously).

2. "Hyping" looks - A quick and painless (i.e. it won't send you to another window, just takes a click) way to show your love for a certain look.

3. Exclusivity. You have to be invited to be a member in order to "hype" looks. And exclusivity makes people feel as though they belong to something elite, special. Something to be proud of and write long blogposts about.

4. Not only does it take the creativity of putting pieces together, but an acumen of photography to really earn a lot of "hypes." So in other words, this site combines two parts of culture that I love.

5. It showcases the best of young design trend navigators. Some of the members on here are 15 and posting a maturity of style that would have knocked the 15 year-old pig-tail laden me into a locker.

6. Global.

7. Look descriptions - "Looks" are posted along with the title of look, name, age, location and general description of the person. Some examples:

And that is why I love Let me show you some looks and who knows, maybe you'll love LookBook too.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday, April 5, 2009

love. actually.

I've never had a lot of trouble letting go. I've moved quite a bit in my life and met a lot of people (I have more than 1300 facebook friends and only about 5 of them are strangers that friended me and I wasn't sure if I knew them.)

But I am becoming increasingly aware as graduation nears, that the Brandcenter is going to be the hardest thing i've ever had to let go of.

I guess the real reason why I've never had trouble letting go is because I never believed that anything was permanent from the beginning. I start phases of my life with a clear understanding that it has an ending. And although I knew the Brandcenter was a 2 year program, I am realizing that the friendships that I have made here will be ones I hold onto indefinitely. These people will be constantly coming in and out of my life because 1. it's a small industry and 2. in the U.S. there are basically 4 big cities we'll be concentrated in. L.A., San Fran, Chicago and NYC.

New york being the biggest for our industry and because I know I'll always have friends there and because I lived there last summer, it's the one I feel most comfortable moving to. I love new york. Really. It surprised me, but it happened, I fell in love.

I guess that's my problem in general, love. Falling in love with the Brandcenter, it's people and the drive it gives me. Falling in love with the inspiration that I get from NYC. Love is a problem because it's hard to shrug off and move past.

Friday, March 27, 2009

strike a pose

Read two posts about poses that people strike for their Facebook/MySpace profiles that are hilarious.

The first is by my friend Alex Aloise for, a website where 7 dudes all respond to a single topic that's chosen by readers every week.
Check out the link, he's got a bunch of them, I'm hoping he makes it into a book someday.

The other was on my new favorite blog (of this week anyways): 2birds1blog.

Monday, March 16, 2009

en vogue

My fashion presentation was featured on the fashion section of the other day. I uploaded it three days ago and as of now it's had 139 views. Not bad. I'm a little worried it's not as followable without the voice-over, but I did a damn good job art directing that presentation and don't want to kill it by adding bullet points of what was said. Bullet points are the route of all evil.


Here's a new techie vocab word for ya. FISI, pronounced like fizzy, stands for: fuck it, ship it.

It's used by web designers when they have been working on a site for a client and come to realize that they could sit there and toggle left and right forever. They know that they can make small changes later, after the site has launched. So they say it, fuck it, send this off to the client.

Friday, March 6, 2009

random and weird

I am having the strangest luck. A week ago my car was side-swiped, luckily I wasn't in the car, it was just parked on my street. However, the result was a broken mirror and I can't open my drivers side door. (You can just imagine the looks I've been getting as I climb in through the passenger side...)

Today I was meeting my insurance guy to assess the damage, I walked outside and what to my wandering eyes should appear, but I've just (luckily) missed a big car crash on the corner of 1st and Grace. The crash literally happened around my car and somehow my car didn't get hit. I'm not sure how the crash went down, but an old lady went up onto the sidewalk and into a fence. Had she not veered (or been pushed, I don't know) right, she would have slammed into the back of my car and my car would have gone into the brand new BMW parked in front of me.

Here's where the situation gets random. Sitting in my car, waiting for the insurance guy to finish typing up the report, I see a group of five round the corner. I'm watching them walk and talk and suddenly realize that I know one of them! It's Frank Gregory! Frank is an Adcenter alum and I met him through a mutual friend this summer in NYC. Frank and his friends are in town for the CAA Basketball tournament and staying at the hotel that is next to my building!

So weird. A strange mixture of good luck and bad luck. Hoping anymore strange events that decide to go down today will be good ones.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Got the hair did today and found my new favorite salon. It's called Wack Salon, the conversation is of bar names and films with too many endings (think the last LOTR). They have a salon dog and the owner's philosophy on work is: if feels like a job, get out.

When Wack owner Lee realized that he saw soo many single people he figured he may as well set them up. So he created the "Hot Lover" Facebook group. The idea is, you identify yourself as a hot lover and see if there is anyone else in the group you'd be interested in going on a date with. Once you find someone, you meet at Wack, chill at a table in the back, drink champagne and have your hair styled/blown out all on the house.

Although no one has ever done it, I think it's a cool experimental concept. And if you're tired of the bar scene, why not?

Monday, March 2, 2009

"Brazil, Russia, India, and China — already cooler than you"

Quick post while I watch my website load sloooowly. Just discovered this site called BRIC Pop. As their headline puts it: "The next 40 years of global pop culture will be built with four BRICs." Should be a great resources for all those in Global Branding this semester. Seems to have a lot to explore.

This gives me an idea. What if we did a set of 4 documentaries, each introducing one of the BRICs. It would be like Travel Channel meets the Economist... maybe after they've each had a few drinks. Could be fun to explore as side project after getting a job!

Friday, February 27, 2009

dear me, where'd you go?

Do you ever go back and read through old journal entries? A friend of mine, Johanna Beyenbach, just visited and reminded me of the first email I had ever written her. She said that it sounded so friendly and familiar, that she thought we had already met. I suppose I guilted her into writing me back. : ) Well, I went back and read through the email that I wrote her, along with a few others. And she was right, they were very friendly! I had been reading her column in Media Magazine for months and so when I wrote her, I felt like I already knew her. The thing is, I think I need to figure out how to inject that friendly spirit into all of my emails. It's strange, but I feel like that light-hearted person in me has died a little in the last 1.5 years of grad school. I guess I need to inject myself back into me before I can into emails.

Here's that email:

Thursday, February 26, 2009

how do you apply your knowledge

In Peter Coughter's Account Leadership class today we had an honorable guest, Johanna Beyenbach from Naked Communications. Johanna, an Adcenter 06 graduate, spoke to us about getting a job. The conversation bounced around the room and one question in particular made me think. Alina asked "My 12 year old cousin has just as much cultural knowledge as I do and it has taken me longer to get here. Is the knowledge that we have really that valuable to agencies, or is pretty much everyone versed in culture." (That's not an exact quote, but pretty close).
Johanna responded by saying that it depends upon how you apply your cultural knowledge.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

your media player never sounded so good

Nice example of remix culture.This guy took the Windows Media Player sounds and made them into a beat. He totally understands the art of self-promotion given the fact that half the lyrics talk about his blog. Just got to chat with Bud Cadell, Mike Arauz and Faris Yakob about remixing this weekend. Will post more about that soon.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

sketchin' yo

Hall & Partners, a research firm, came and spoke to my strategy class. They were great, very inspiring with their take on research. One of the things that they hit on was this video from TED by Tim Brown, the CEO of Ideo. Brown proves through having the audience draw their neighbor in 30 seconds that we fear the judgement of our peers. At the end of the 30 seconds, the crowd was laughing from embarrassment and apologizing for their renditions. Brown says that if you do this experiment with children you will get a completely different respoonse. Kids will show their drawing to whomever will look. As kids grow older and hit puberty, they begin to fear that judgement. He says that you need that sense of security as an adult working in a creative business. We need to feel comfortable when showing our work to others.

This discussion was very relevant to me as that night I attended another Dr. Sketchy's drawing event. The theme was "the prom your mother warned you about." I decided to go ahead and post a couple of my drawings.

Next month's theme is "Betty Page tribute."

Monday, February 9, 2009

forecasting fashion

2008 fashion garnered it's inspiration from television series 'Mad Men.' (Think Michael Kors and his collection of skinny ties.) I forecast that this summer's fashion will get it's influence from the 1960s psychedelic style music that's gaining attention. Take a listen to MGMT and Animal Collective on Youtube and see what they're wearing.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

openly evil

I've notice companies positioning themselves as evil. (The opposite of Google if you will.) The Hulu commercial and it's tagline: "An evil plot to destroy the world. Enjoy." shows Hulu embracing their evilness in enabling people to watch more TV. Which as our mothers all warned us, will turn our brains into mush. They could also use this positioning to talk about how they are a major competitor to TV because they are stealing viewers from the original airing of TV shows on TV. This could have a major impact on ad sales.
Brilliantly funny commercial:

I also found television without pity, whose tagline is: "spark the snark, spoil the networks." Their logo is a tv turned devil character.

I like the idea of embracing your brand truth (perhaps you are inherently evil) and being upfront about it. Honesty is the best policy after all.

open up your throat

Animal Collective - "Brother Sport"

I would love to see these guys on tour with MGMT. Just think about all the tye-die possibilities at that one show. The 1960s would be proud.
Here's another on of theirs called "My Girls."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

would you like the red kool-aid or the blue?

I wonder if Googlers (people who work at Google) marry others Googlers and make babies who they dress in onesies that say Google on them?

On Friday, Google paid a visit to the VCU Brandcenter to give demonstrations and speeches to the students and Martin Agency folk. The highlight of the visit was a speech by Sketch Up specialist (and author of "Sketch Up for Dummies") Aidan Chopra. Great speaker, absolutely hilarious guy. It was a fun Google-themed event.

I just read a bit about the Google campus and find it wild how damn self-sustaining the place is. They have bikes for transportation around the campus, free food, a free gym, volley-ball courts, field hockey games, special speakers, you can even continue your work while on the toilet at Google. One day they will build dormitories on the campus and a bubble over-head to maintain the highest air quality and optimal temperature. In another 2000 years, they will be the only ones still alive. But they'll all be brilliant and gloriously healthy.

Monday, January 26, 2009

opium for sale

Karl Marx - "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions."

How does marketing create illusions? Marketing often creates the illusion of need in order to get consumers to buy (look at toothpaste). So, how has it become the opium of modern (post WWII) society?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

pricing the formerly priceless

Praise the book of "Elsewhere, U.S.A." by Dalton Conley. In it, Conley talks about "pricing the formerly priceless," and more clearly articulates the idea about "marketing the formerly unmarketed" that I've been rambling about. Finding one other person (even if it is just one) who agrees with your theories is such an assurance to your sanity.

"Pricing the formerly priceless" is about taking things that were formerly accepted as "givens" by society and placing a price on their heads. The explanation that he gives is when airlines started charging for snacks. We as consumers hate being charged for things we have always gotten for free. I do. But in reality, that kind of pricing structure could be more efficient and cut fees for consumers while making us more informed about what we're buying.

It's funny though when you think about the entertainment industry. It has gone in the opposite direction. We went from having to buy the album of every song we wanted to play, to stealing music from friends and Kazaa and hardly ever even heading to music stores anymore. Music stores have become like museums. You wander around, pursuing the selection, able to look at what they've got on display, but not interact with what lies behind the plastic/glass casing. And in both cases you walk out of the building empty-handed. "Owning music" has lost its meaning.

How could the music industry use this concept of "pricing the formerly priceless?"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

true friends are hard to find

Brands need friends, loyal friends and lots of ‘em. But making friends is a scary task, just ask the new kid in school. Making friends in a society where “face-time” is less and texts are more. Where the old adage: “actions are greater than words” is losing it’s value. Our own ability to make and keep friends depends upon how well we communicate through words, our writing style and the frequency of our written communications.

I recently read an article in GOOD Magazine where an angry mom ranted that teachers needed to stop teaching kids handwriting skills because her child couldn’t do it and was becoming frustrated. She said that it was causing his self-esteem to go down and would cause him to hate writing (talk about helicopter-parenting). Although it may be true that most of us threw out our pencil sharpeners after 1997, communication through means other than typing allows us to find new means of expression.

Why do you look in your mailbox everyday? Aside from getting your favorite magazine or a flick from Netflix, there is always that giddy hope in the back of your skull that you’ll receive a letter. Now that’s the sign of a true friend. Getting a letter from a friend is better than bathing in holy water with the pope. You know, I know it, the Pope knows it. Writing a letter takes time, it’s got the physical connection of the paper to it, perhaps a smell, a smiley face. Its got permanence.

Now let’s look at this from a branding perspective (yes, this does tie in and have a point, I promise). You’ve got your target audience, a mass of face-less drones. Can you imagine if your friend thought of you that way? That is not a friend you write a letter to.

Here’s a challenge: call Netflix. Just do it. Even if you don’t have a reason to. You know what you won’t get – that mechanic recorded voice that makes you press numbers like a monkey to talk to someone who is half-asleep and getting paid less per month than your phone bill costs. Your call to Netflix will be answered in less than one minute by a customer service person in Portland, Oregon. The company purposely put their customer service department in Portland because they knew the people there were nice. Every written or spoken communication I've had with Netflix has been positive and personal. And although we may not post on one another’s Facebook walls, we’re friends.

And that my friends, is money in their bank. Amen.

marketing the unmarketable continued

Here goes my attempt at recombinant culture. Although it may not be truly recombinant, rather more building on a stream of consciousness that my friend Faris planted in his blog recently.

The topic of this circling conversation is about creating a market for a good/service that has never before been marketed and in some cases was deemed "unmarketable." (Here's where things become a bit recombinant.) Faris' wrote a blogpost about the birth of Virgin. Richard Branson, God of Virgin, placed his faith in a musician who was deemed by others as "unmarketable." Branson created a market around the music and thus was successful. As Ian Fitzpatrick, who wrote a post about it, said: "When the market for the unmarketable doesn’t yet exist, invent it."

I find this to be extremely relevant for entrepreneurs. How could creating markets (or marketplaces as I like to call it) around new goods/services spark spending and thus economic growth? I also like this idea because it reminds us of how valuable an acumen in marketing really is. You can create a new thing-a-ma-bob, but if you cannot identify where (or create a market where) that thing-a-ma-bob will be profitable, you'll fail. Clients today are slashing advertising/marketing budgets so we as marketing folk need to prove our value. How could this idea help us do that?

So many questions, I challenge you to use the laws of recombinance (steal, remix into your own) and build upon this topic.

Friday, January 16, 2009

will sketch for wine

The other night a bunch of us went to Gallery 5 for a Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School drawing event. Dr. Sketchy's was founded by a woman named Molly Crabapple who decided that drawing class seriously lacked alcohol and burlesque models. And I agree. It was great. I've never drawn for 3 hours before but it seriously flew. I would scan in some of my drawings but believe me, you aren't missing anything. Here are some pics that I grabbed from:

Thursday, January 8, 2009

predicting success

Last semester I did some research on the Myers-Briggs test. Learning that it predicts a person's preferred habit of behavior reminded me a bit of the SATs. The purpose of the SATs is to predict the likelihood that a student will be successful in higher education. They are both all about prediction of behavior; although studies show that neither of the tests' results can guarantee any particular behavioral pattern.

As we all know, and some have fallen victim to, not everyone is good at taking standardized tests. So what if you were to submit your Myers-Briggs personality to a school rather than (or in addition to) your SAT score? A Myers-Briggs personality analyzed in conjunction with a desired major could allow a school to assess whether or not they believe that student will be successful in studying that particular subject.

If you're curious as to what your MB personality could be, here's the test:
(and don't worry, the MB test is a heck of a lot easier than the SAT!).