Say it ain’t so

September 8, 2012

“So” is to 21st century professionals as “like” was to valley girls.

So… have you noticed how everyone starts their sentences with “so” these days.  This is not soley the purview of sloppy speakers.  EVERYONE is doing it.  Including me.  Which ticks me off.  But I can’t seem to break the habit.


At times like this, I’m embarrassed to call myself a marketeer

November 3, 2007

A couple of days ago, Bruce forwarded me this Slate Ad Report Card by Seth Stevenson about the incredibly annoying HeadOn TV ad above.  Just now, I noticed the post is more than a year old; I missed the whole HeadOn phenomenon last year, though apparently it’s back this year (obviously I don’t watch much TV).  I promise you the article is hilarious even now.  As a marketing person, here’s what I especially love:  the comments by Dan Charron, the HeadOn VP of sales and marketing who is quoted in the article, clearly smack of marketing bullshit.   

  1. We tested it in focus groups.  My first reaction was “Uh-huh.  If I had a buck for every time I’ve heard this one….”  This common assertion is impossible to prove wrong, and hey, what constitutes a focus group anyway?  You might envision panels of carefully screened consumers in a facilitator-led discussion discreetly observed by company execs through a two-way mirror.  But why not a group of your buds after a few drinks on Friday night?  Aren’t they part of the target audience?  If we give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they did actually conduct focus groups, what was tested?  According to a recent quote from Charron in Ad Age, they test which ad is most memorable.  The Ad Age article goes on at length about the focus group testing, so maybe I’m just cynical.
  2. We spent tens of millions of dollars on this campaign.  Okay, this is almost true.  According to TNS Media Intelligence (as quoted in Ad Age), the company spent $15 million in measured media in 2006.  The Ad Age article says Mr. Charron claims the product’s overall ad budget will reach $70 million in 2007. This seems a little surprising considering that it logged $6.5 million in sales last year, according to Information Resources Inc. (as quoted in Ad Age.) though Mr. Charron points out that the $6.5M doesn’t include WalMart, which is undoubtedly a very large customer.  Companies routinely exaggerate numbers like these, sometime other way around (e.g. “we spent only $500 on PR and got $5M of attention”)

In the Slate article, Charron also claims that the ad, which was produced in house, is not deliberately campy – hmmm.  Of course, with the benefit of an additional year of YouTube behind us, it now seems very likely the whole idea of the campaign was to become a viral hit.  And I give them credit for a gutsy, if annoying, strategy that stands out.  I just don’t want to work for them.

BTW, I didn’t link to the Ad Age article because they will only show you articles that you pay for.


October 11, 2007

David Colton, an editor at USA Today, has a great term for writing that doesn’t get to the point quickly.  He calls it “clearing your throat”.  I heard about it in Tate Linden’s post in the Thingnamer, The blog.   

Loyal On the Dot readers know I am passionate about writing that gets to the point quickly. I am hereby appropriating the phrase “clearing your throat” to refer to writing that misses the mark.  David Colton gets credit for coining the term unless someone else wants to step up and claim coinage. 

Interestingly, now that I’ve been blogging for awhile I’m realizing that many of the best posts don’t get to the point quickly.  But that’s for another day.

The wheels on the bus go round and round

October 4, 2007

Sometimes I get disproportionate pleasure out of the oddest things.  For example, I really love King County’s web tool for planning your bus trips.  I first found it last year when my brother Gary was visiting from Thailand.  He used it throughout his stay to get wherever he needed to go, including a trip from my house in the heart of Seattle to Bothell, a suburb to the north.  I was reminded of it earlier this week by my book club friend Nancy who bussed from her store on Mercer Island to our book club meeting in the Wallingford neighborhood.  (For those who don’t know Seattle, these are not particularly direct trips.)  

I love this tool because its utility is so high.  You enter just a few bits of data into a straightforward interface – in addition to time and start-and-end points, you can specify how much walking you’re willing to do and whether you want the trip plan optimized for fastest/fewest transfers/minimal walking.  It spews out just what you need:  several possible scenarios to choose from with the key information to help you choose between them.   The lack of mapping is a notable omission and suggests this application is getting long in the tooth.  But it was designed well to work without maps and I hope they don’t ruin it when they inevitably modernize.

My joy in this tool is admittedly “disproportionate” because I don’t even take the bus!  But I do clearly recall my frustration at collecting, deciphering and navigating bus schedules when I was a poverty-stricken, bus-riding college student.  And this is just the kind of application we now take completely for granted. 

Reading my way through Italy

September 26, 2007

I just returned from a fabulous trip to Italy, including my first ever visit to Rome.  Don’t worry, this isn’t a travel log.  I mention it here because for the first time in my life, I correlated my vacation reading to my destination.   Wow!  It added a whole new dimension to my visit.  If you have never done this, I highly recommend it. 

Here are the books that added so much to my trip.  They are all worth reading, even in your arm chair at home.  First, I read Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr.  Doerr spent a year in Rome with his wife and infant twins while he was a fellow at the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  I finished it on the plane and arrived in Rome dying to visit the Pantheon and to check out the Janiculum area of the city where they lived.  He is a great writer.  Now I want to read his fiction.  Second, I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love.  (I may be the last person on the planet to have done so – every time I mention it to friends they nod knowingly)  It’s a romp but her enthusiasm is contagious.  Lastly, I worked my way through Basilica by R.A. Scotti.  Thankfully, I read it after touring the Vatican because by then my curiosity was aroused.  Scotti chronicles the building of St. Peter’s Basilica through its many starts and stops during the century plus it took to complete.  This is not a light read but it is definitely enlightening. 

New blog name

July 24, 2007

Today, I changed the name of this blog from “Flaunt It” to “On the Dot”.  The original name was chosen very quickly to avoid the kind of agonizing that might turn into a delay tactic.  But it’s never seemed exactly right, so I’m trying out “On the Dot”.  What do you think?  Other suggestions?

My green resolutions

July 23, 2007

Until about a year ago, I paid little attention to my impact on the environment.  But since I started working with Tesla Motors, I’ve been increasingly conscious of it.  I’m not yet to the point of making major changes to my lifestyle, though I admire the many Tesla customers who have, such as Dr. Rob Wilder. 

But I’ve decided to consciously make a few changes.  Luckily for me, my commuting needs are minimal.  I drive only about 6,000 miles per year so I feel pretty good about my low gasoline consumption even though I drive a run-of-the-mill Infiniti G35.  (I’m a one-car household, so the two-seat Tesla Roadster sports car doesn’t work for me.  When Tesla’s more general-purpose cars come on the market I’m definitely a prospect.) Here are the three conserving habits I’ve decided to adopt:

  • Start drinking tap water instead of bottled water.  Now I rely on a couple of refillable Nalgene bottles in the frig instead of adding to the empty plastic bottle epidemic. 
  • Adopt reusable grocery bags.  I was shocked when I started paying attention to how many disposable bags I’d bring home each week.  All I have to do is remember to take the reusable bags into the store with me.
  • Use both sides of printer paper when printing drafts.  My printer doesn’t support two-sided printing, so I’m just making a pile of printout rejects and feeding them through on the blank side.  Interestingly, this has been the hardest.  For some reason I can’t put my finger on, it bugs me.  But I’m sticking with it.

These are modest initiatives – intentionally so to increase the chances I’ll be able to follow through.  And I know I need to do more.  Once I master these, I’ll think about the next thing.  Most likely, I’ll try to buck my addiction to hard-copy newspapers and go strictly electronic, though I almost get the shakes just thinking about surviving without the Sunday New York Times.