Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Boxing (not Boxers) Day

How did the bank holiday in England acquire its curious name? According to a letter to the NY Times from an Anglophile reader in 1902, on the day after Christmas "the letter carriers, lamp lighters, messengers, and newspaper boys and others apply to householders for Christmas gratuities…presented in boxes." A hundred years later, most Brits know Boxing Day as the day sales start. Except when Christmas falls on a Saturday. Then the holiday is observed on Monday, as in 2004 when this Harvey Nichols ad ran. Ladies, take your corners.

DDB London, photographer Ben Stockley, via Ads of the World

Thursday, December 25, 2008

hey kids! it's not too late to turn your home into a winter wonderland

For some reason we were never allowed to do this at our house. Probably because of what George Fenneman (the anncr) doesn't tell you: how difficult the damn stuff is to get off. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

of course, sometimes only the oldest handheld reading device will do

Lucky (yep, that's) me. I'm on a beach while my NY compatriots suffer under inches of snow. My family and I are at a resort that was chosen in part because it has wireless internet--or so says the literature. Why do I so often let myself be duped by the canny words of other copywriters? The "wireless" internet involves an ancient modem strung up on wires below a desk in the room. I'm pretty tech savvy (having a blog and all) but after following the 14 steps in the laminated instructions (printed in 7 pt. type), I finally cried uncle and called the front desk. The "technology servicer" was gone for the day, but the next morning spent two hours with me trying to get their system to work with a Mac. "It's not designed to work with Macs," he informed, rather accusingly--as if I was trying to log on with something preposterous, like a mainframe.  After spending a good deal of time on the phone with the nice folks at Applecare, he finally got it to work. But only if I sit at the desk, bolted to the modem with the shortest ethernet cable imaginable. It's as frustrating as being tethered to a cord phone again. But, hey, snow bunnies, I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

sorry, kindle, you're being replaced

So much for my love affair with the Kindle. Even as I hold down the ALT key and press Aa to wake it…I'm itching to get my hands on the next generation, the geekily named Plastic Logic Reader. As soon as you see it, you think Why didn't Kindle do that in the first place? Instead of the weird let's-pretend-it's-a-paperback-book-folded-over design which is comfortable to hold but visually awkward, the PLR looks like an Air book. Only thinner and lighter. Like a flat etch-a-sketch. But designed for business use, made to eliminate all that paperwork you lug back and forth. It can read any office document, no matter what platform. And its XL screen allows for comfortable reading of newspapers. Magazines. Even sheet music. It's got wifi. And the battery life is measured in days, not hours. Best of all, the touch screen isn't glass, it's plastic and flexible, so unlike your 401k, it's designed to withstand a few drops and beatings. Not sure when the PLC will be officially launched--maybe they're angsting over a marketable name.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Charlie Brown learns the true meaning of Advertising

Poor Charlie. He's on impossible deadline for a concept but all his ideas suck. Linus lords his silver Addy over him, Sally's hounds him for timesheets and Peppermint Patty wonders why she ever slept with him. What a writer at Crispin would do?

Anonymous creators of this ought to get a Clio for Christmas. I got it from Adfreak who tipped Adrants and Brettner.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

top ten reasons to switch to i-phone

I haven't yet caved to buying an iphone. Partly, it's the thought of shelling out that extra $150 to Verizon. And partly it's dread of having to convert years of contacts, calendars, memos from Palm platform to Mac. (Yea, I know it's supposed to be easy, but it only seems easy if someone else does it.)

I'm not a gamer and hate the thought of hunting and pecking on glass. However. I was so tantalized by a friend's personal list of Top i-Apps, I just might appeal to i-Santa, after all.
1. Zenbe: This is a great for list making (to - do, shopping) and sharing. It's better organized that the simple "notes" that comes with the IPhone.
2. Movies by Flixter: Great for finding movies in your area using the GPS software. LInks to traliers and ticket purchase. Also gives box-office tops.
3. Jott: This one allows you to record breif notes which it then translates and sends to you in an email - this is free. Variouis levels of monthly payment allow for more sophistication as in sending texts to your kids, adding things to your clendar, etc.
4. Recorder: Is a simple recording device that creates AIFF files, stores the recordings and also allows you to email them.
5. Shazam: Picks up ambient music from stereo or radio nearby and tells you who it is and even allows you to purchase. kind of great.
6. Ambiance: Noise machine with a large number of sounds including a cat purring.
7. Urbanspoon: Using GPS function, finds restaurants in the area as well as reviews from NY mag, NY Times, Voice. Has bookmark feature.
8. Yelp: More broadly searches restaurants, bars, coffee shops, gas stations, drugstores with google maps. Has Bookmark feature.
9. Stitcher: Online radio offers many brief daily feeds from a variety of subjects. I listen to NPR and a few others. There's even Apple Category as well.
10. Mental Case: This is kind of interesting. It's a mini PPT in a sense, not to build but simply to rehearse small presentations on the run on your phone.
Thanks to Lisa M. for this list via Cathy W.

Friday, December 12, 2008

friday flashback: when beauty reigned in the subways


From 1941 to 1977, little girls rattling underground on their way to school or to Grandma's uptown, dreamed of being Miss Subways. The contest was sponsored by an ad agency set up for the purpose, called (what else) New York Subways Advertising. Applicants had to be aged 14 to 30, New York City residents and subway riders themselves. They sent their photos and bios to John Powers, a top modeling agent. The lucky winner had her face, along with a blurb about her life and ambitions, plastered in every car of the IND, IRT and BMT for a month. 

Interestingly, the posters reflected the rise and fall of women in the workplace. When civilian women were critical to the work force during WW2, December 1942's Miss Subways "aims to be a doctor as good as her dad" but by June 1950, her "fondest hope is a trip to Bermuda." Then the 60s came along and Miss Subways (pictured) is described as "young, beautiful, and expert with a rifle." 

Ellen Sturm, Miss Subways in 1959, owns Ellen's Stardust Diner where many of the posters are preserved and displayed. (It's where I found this one.) Would that these vintage cards still hung in trains to provide respite from ads hawking cures for bunions or hemorrhoids.

Are you, by chance, a former Miss Subways? If so, Fiona Gardner wants to picture you in her forthcoming book.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

oxfam to shoppers: get them something they don't want


This time of year, instead of earnest appeals, Oxfam might do better to exploit a consumer insight I learned this morning on the crosstown bus: sometimes gift donations are made out of spite.
WOMAN ON CELLPHONE BEHIND ME: Let's think how to get out of this the cheapest way possible…

My ears perk up for details of a real estate selloff or messy divorce proceedings…

… I'll do Mom this year and you can do Dad and Terry and we'll put both our names on it.

I'm about to stop listening when…

Dude! Dad and Terry are married now, you can totally get them something together. It doesn't have to be good. Just go to the drugstore and get them, like, a battery charger. Ooooooo, I have a better idea. Oxfam has a website where for, like, 18 bucks you can irrigate a farmer's land for a month. That's perfect. Just make sure its in a faraway country they've never even heard of, okay?
Someone on your gift list you can't stand? Give them something they can't use, but can't return either. A water buffalo in their name. A goat. A cow. Something that makes you look like an angel of mercy when you're actually feeling like Scrooge. You'll get the satisfaction of cold-shouldering someone in a way they can't object to, and helping someone else truly in need. Because it's sometimes easier to maintain the holiday spirit with people you've never actually met, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

from the annals of what else can't be done over here: bank ads featuring dildos

Can't get a mortgage? Try banks in Poland. Clearly bankers are more open-minded over there. At least the Dombankers who approved this commercial. VO/super reads, "Time to buy your own flat?"


another tip of the Santa hat to GardenBroad

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

adbroad *gets* the good housekeeping seal



One of the pleasures of writing a blog (aside from being able to use words like hornswoggle) is the people you meet because of it. Well, not actually meet. Most "meetings" are email exchanges of mutual admiration, but sometimes a meet-up in the dimensional world occurs as it did in the Hearst building the other day where a kind admirer offered me a tour of the Good Housekeeping Institute. Where the seal comes from.

The Seal is for real? I asked, not meaning to rhyme. All these years, I'd assumed that the gold sticker was just a marketing ploy, a gold star awarded to products whose manufacturers had the good sense to advertise in Good Housekeeping.



My cynicism dissolved after a hydraulic ride in a green (not literally) high-rise elevator which opened onto 2800 square feet of bright, spotless rooms where thousands of products are tested each year. Bras are stretched to make sure the elastic, er, holds up; down coats are worn in a room made to feel like a meat locker; cellphones are hurled to the floor, then picked up to check for dial tones; recipes are created at least three times to ensure they come out when a dunce like you makes them in your own inadequate kitchen.



Since 1909, readers have been promised that if any product advertised in the magazine, which bears the seal, proves defective within two years, Good Housekeeping will replace it or refund the purchase price.

Of course, as with any consumer offer, there are certain exceptions. The policy does not extend to financial/investment products. So much for getting a refund on that worthless hedge fund.

Monday, December 8, 2008

kudos to BBH for getting a brand manager to sign off on this

Everyone has a concept they've been dying to execute, if only they could hornswoggle a client into paying for it. Props to Pete Bradly at BBH who convinced Barclaycard to underwrite a shoot so extravagant, they did a short to explain the making of it. What does commuting home in a waterslide have to do with choosing a credit card? Um…Barclaycard is accepted everywhere, so it lets you…um…glide through life! Yep, that's it! Only envious fellow creatives would find the execution gratuitous.



Watch this and weep as you go into yet another bid meeting with CPG cost-cutting consultants.



hat tip to GardenBroad

Sunday, December 7, 2008

real men take ballet lessons

right after they quaff a few pints of Isenbeck beer.


From the troves of GardenBroad.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

bugs in his shorts

Obsessed as I am with stop-motion photography, I can't believe I've only just discovered the work of Wladyslaw Starevitch whose turn of the century (last century) animation is what computer animators attempt to imitate today.

A childhood passion for entomology inspired Starevitch to film insects. Under the heat of the only shooting lights available in Moscow in 1909, the insects died. But no matter. He used the bugs anyway, wiring the legs to the thorax with sealing wax and employing stop-motion photography to show them in action. After the British screening of one of his films, London journalists, convinced the insects were alive, praised not only the film, but the talent of the "unidentified Russian scientist who can train insects to act." (Those amazing Russians.) 

Starevitch also directed films in which leading actors of the day appeared, but he preferred working with dolls and (dead) insects because "actors never did what you wanted them to." In 1920, he moved to Paris to escape the Russian Revolution, anglicized his name to Ladislaw Starewicz and made over forty films casting inanimate objects, including dolls, branches, rocks, insects and puppets of his own creation. His The Tale of the Fox, a film that took him over ten years to produce, is still considered one of the best stop-motion films ever made.

In celebration of the season, here's a Starewicz short about Father Christmas. Entomologist viewers will note that the cast of insects include a Dung Beetle and a Grasshopper, not a Ladybug and a Dragonfly as indicated by the English captions which were added much later.

Other Starewicz films can be viewed here, including The Cameraman's Revenge (1912), a gripping drama about infidelity among insects.


Tip of the director's visor to Casey. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

so you want to be a media trainer

Downsizing, shutdowns, collapses worldwide means carnage in Adland but an upsurge in two businesses: fortune telling and media training. You might not have what it takes to tell fortunes, but surely all those new business pitches puts you in good stead to be a media trainer. For your bag of tricks: this oldie but goodie, a short film demonstrating how not to do damage control. Courtesy, A Current Affair, the Australian version of SNL's Weekend Update. If you're looking for clients, seems the folks over at Motrin could use your services.


hat tip to Scott at MyExtraLife

Saturday, November 22, 2008

if you're a boomer, you remember where you were 45 years ago today

November 22, 1963 was a defining moment for kids growing up in post-war America, a date we recalled to each other for years, and still recall to each other when younger (more employable) people aren't in the room.

Our memories aren't of Warren reports or conspiracy theory, but of how the world a kid took for granted, its safety, its social orders, was shattered in the space of a single afternoon. (As our own kids' vision of world order would be similarly detonated, 38 years later.)

I was in third grade, enduring arithmetic class. Suddenly, Sister Superior burst through the door and whispered something to our teacher, who began to cry. She fumbled in her mysterious robes, pulled out a hankie, and told us the news: the President had been shot, but not killed. Then, schoolbuses magically appeared outside the windows, hours before it was time for dismissal.

When I got home, the television was on, which was unusual in our house during the day. Even more unusual was that all three channels showed the same thing, so that we watched what was previously unthinkable come to pass, not just once, but over and over.

Of the events shown, the one most shocking to me was unseemliness on the part of Jackie, who'd been held up to me as a role model, being the first Catholic First Lady. One minute, she was seated beside her husband, looking proper in her pink pillbox hat, matching coat and white gloves. The next minute, she was clambering across the trunk of a car⎯behavior so inappropriate for a First Lady, not to mention one who was Catholic, that every time the scene was replayed, I half expected she'd do something else, and so was astonished again and again.

Friday, November 21, 2008

used to be there wasn't enough fuss about a woman getting a job as a secretary


Whether or not you agree with Obama's pick, you have to admit that Hillary's appointment says something about how times have changed since I was a kid, when girls grew up to be only one kind of secretary and the only cabinet they worked with was in a kitchen.

Being a secretary was a job I did not aspire to. (I thought waitressing better: at least you got tips.) So when I was in college and looking for summer work, I snubbed Katy Gibbs and Kelly Girl and drove over to Manpower Employment Agency instead. As its name suggested, it listed jobs for men. But by the early 70s, there were laws that said they had to list jobs for women, too.

I'd seen an ad they'd run for a landscape worker, thinking how nice and tan I'd get by July. But when I asked about it, I was told I'd come to the wrong place. "This is the men's side. The woman's side is around the corner."

I went back out and through another door and there I found listings for secretaries, cashiers, nannies, candystripers, restaurant help. But no jobs outdoors. And no pay that approached what was offered on the other side.

So, I drove home, took off my interview dress, put on overalls, came back and (deep breath) walked through the men's door. My reappearance caused much consternation. "You can't take a job away from a man supporting his family, honey," I heard not only from the woman (!) behind the desk, but from men in line behind me, hoping for work. I saw their point. I really did. Part of me felt sorry for them. But part of me felt I had a right to work, too.

I held out for a day or so before taking a summer job as a waitress.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

make your copy read itself to the client


Now you can paste your copy onto a website and hear it instantly read out loud. OK, the female voice isn't SAG quality, but it's at least as good as the one on your GIS system. iSpeech was launched on November 11 as announced on the Speech Technology Magazine Blog. The site voice-converts not only text, but blogs and websites, too.
"iSpeech is a web-based solution that allows users to convert websites and blogs into audio. iSpeech … does not require users to download or install anything. They simply cut and paste what they want to convert into the box provided on the site, or upload the files in question. After that, it’s easy to share the files in pretty much any format or forum.
The site's still in beta, but pretty impressive. It converts not only .doc files, but pdf, txt, even excel. Once you translate your doc into audio, you can post as a url. So who says you have to fly out to that pitch meeting in Milwaukee?

FYI, click here for the iSpeech version of this post.

Monday, November 17, 2008

ad broad goes to china



I just discovered I'm being reposted in Mandarin. (Thanks, Google Translator.) In Beijing and Shanghai, I'm not Ad Broad, I'm 广告广泛.

My site isn't converted entirely to pinyin characters, though. English words that don't translate float between characters, unchanged, looking oddly foreign. Unsurprisingly, there's no translation for twitterverse. Or snuglis. Or babywearers. But back pain? Impressive! Chinese medicine must be even more powerful than I thought. Still, they must be needing Western relief for something. Because even tweeters over there noticed the Motrin.com outage.

欢迎你,新朋友!

taxi crashes on motrin

No doubt Daniel Ravinowicz, president of Taxi NYC is waking up with a Motrin headache today. His agency was responsible for launch of a video on Motrin's website that caused such an uproar in the twitterverse this weekend, the site had to be taken down and apologies zapped to protesters pronto. (Yea, that job must have made somebody's Sunday.)

Taxi's intentions were admirable: create a site-promo to target a niche audience, timed to coincide with inauguration of International Babywearing Week. (Babywearing? When I wore snuglis it was called…wearing snuglis.) Babywearing causes back pain + Motrin relieves backpain = Easy Sell. Or should have been. Problem was, team who created the video had obviously never had to wear a snugli or sling or whatever trendier contraption babywearers wear these days. That they weren't babybearers themselves and never consulted with people who were, seemed painfully obvious from copy intimating that wearing your baby is akin to accessorizing and one does it to "totally look like an official mom." (Um. Hello. It's 2008. Huge percentage of babywearers are dads.)



Spot went viral, but not in the way that they'd hoped.

Jessica Gottlieb, a blogger/mom who writes for National Lampoon, saw it and posted her outrage on the microblogging site Twitter. A few hours (and thousands of anti-Motrin tweets) later, #MotrinMoms was the #1 search on the site, eclipsing SNL for first time since Obama was elected.

Then it went youtube. Katja Presnal, PR and Social Media Consultant/Mom tweeted Holy Cow. I just can't believe the motrin ad. Speechless. But not for long. Her next post was, I'm making a video to boycot motrin-pls send your baby wearing pics if I can use them! A few hours later, she posted a protest video to youtube. As of this writing, it's received over 4000 hits.



Katja's video went live at 3 AM Sunday morning. By 8 PM the same day, the Motrin site hosting the offending ad had come down and apologies sent to commenters who'd posted objections to it.

Big Pharma: welcome to the world of social media, where it takes sore consumers less than 24 hours to make corporate bumblers responsible for it, feel their pain.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

and speaking of hatchets, buy now while supplies last

As if reports of worldwide doom and gloom weren't depressing enough, this alarming list is making the rounds: The First 100 Items to Disappear in a Panic. (Hatchets are #26.) First circulated in '99, during millennium mania. Supposedly, it's compiled by a war survivor from Sarajevo, whose addendum does make it sound pretty convincing. But I'm hoping it's a merely a ploy by marketers at Amazon to incite a run on its languishing inventory. (Studies show ad practitioners are predominantly optimists.)

100 Items to Disappear First in a Panic

1. Generators (Good ones cost dearly. Gas storage, risky. Noisy...target of thieves; maintenance etc.)
2. Water Filters/Purifiers
3. Portable Toilets
4. Seasoned Firewood. Wood takes about 6 - 12 months to become dried, for home uses.
5. Lamp Oil, Wicks, Lamps (First Choice: Buy CLEAR oil. If scarce, stockpile ANY!)
6. Coleman Fuel. Impossible to stockpile too much.
7. Guns, Ammunition, Pepper Spray, Knives, Clubs, Bats & Slingshots.
8. Hand-can openers, & hand egg beaters, whisks.
9. Honey/Syrups/white, brown sugar
10. Rice - Beans - Wheat
11. Vegetable Oil (for cooking) Without it food burns/must be boiled etc.,)
12. Charcoal, Lighter Fluid (Will become scarce suddenly)
13. Water Containers (Urgent Item to obtain.) Any size. Small: HARD CLEAR PLASTIC ONLY - note - food grade if for drinking.
14. Mini Heater head (Propane) (Without this item, propane won't heat a room.)
15. Grain Grinder (Non-electric)
16. Propane Cylinders (Urgent: Definite shortages will occur.
17. Survival Guide Book.
18. Mantles: Aladdin, Coleman, etc. (Without this item, longer-term lighting is difficult.)
19. Baby Supplies: Diapers/formula. ointments/aspirin, etc.
20. Washboards, Mop Bucket w/wringer (for Laundry)
21. Cookstoves (Propane, Coleman & Kerosene)
22. Vitamins
23. Propane Cylinder Handle-Holder (Urgent: Small canister use is dangerous without this item)
24. Feminine Hygiene/Haircare/Skin products.
25. Thermal underwear (Tops & Bottoms)
26. Bow saws, axes and hatchets, Wedges (also, honing oil)
27. Aluminum Foil Reg. & Heavy Duty (Great Cooking and Barter Item)
28. Gasoline Containers (Plastic & Metal)
29. Garbage Bags (Impossible To Have Too Many).
30. Toilet Paper, Kleenex, Paper Towels
31. Milk - Powdered & Condensed (Shake Liquid every 3 to 4 months)
32. Garden Seeds (Non-Hybrid) (A MUST)
33. Clothes pins/line/hangers (A MUST)
34. Coleman's Pump Repair Kit
35. Tuna Fish (in oil)
36. Fire Extinguishers (or..large box of Baking Soda in every room)
37. First aid kits
38. Batteries (all sizes...buy furthest-out for Expiration Dates)
39. Garlic, spices & vinegar, baking supplies
40. Big Dogs (and plenty of dog food)
41. Flour, yeast & salt
42. Matches. {"Strike Anywhere" preferred.) Boxed, wooden matches will go first
43. Writing paper/pads/pencils, solar calculators
44. Insulated ice chests (good for keeping items from freezing in Wintertime.)
45. Workboots, belts, Levis & durable shirts
46. Flashlights/LIGHTSTICKS & torches, "No. 76 Dietz" Lanterns
47. Journals, Diaries & Scrapbooks (jot down ideas, feelings, experience; Historic Times)
48. Garbage cans Plastic (great for storage, water, transporting - if with wheels)
49. Men's Hygiene: Shampoo, Toothbrush/paste, Mouthwash/floss, nail clippers, etc
50. Cast iron cookware (sturdy, efficient)

(next fifty after the jump. But how can duct tape be so low on the list? Remember how hard it was to find after 9/11?)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

wanna be happy? start doing hatchet jobs.


Hard to believe, but roving knife-grinders still exist in New York, giving you the opportunity (if you've got a street-facing apartment and can hear the clangs) to gather your Wusthofs and hurry down to the street (probably giving your neighbors a fright in the elevator) and have them restored to their glittering, fresh-from-Williams-Sonoma state while u wait.

I always seem to miss Del Re when he makes his rounds. His truck appears on no particular schedule. He doesn't make appointments. According to a New York Times profile (of course, he'd have a New York Times profile): "I'm like the fisherman. He doesn't make an appointment with the fish."

His unfettered work life contrasts sharply with his former job as Wall Street commodities trader. The firm he was working for went bust in the 1987 crash and, to support his family on Staten Island, he bought a truck from his retiring uncle and gladly threw off his suit and commute and has been working without a dayplanner ever since.

His only advertising (isn't it refreshing?) are illustrations on his truck that look like they were painted by Grandma Moses, announcing that he services not just your knives, but your scissors, your hatchet, your ice skates, your lawnmower (lawnmower?)

Today, I was sorry to see him driving away, just when I was tempted to run up to the apartment and haul out my butcher block full of dullards. But later, trawling the web for info about him before writing this, I came across conflicting assessments of his work.

So, given the need for cuts these days (sorry), maybe instead I'll finally learn how to sharpen a knife myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

applying yourself, freelance


I went for a freelance interview today. As is usually the case, I was referred for the job. Someone with whom I had endured a series of difficult meetings—another creative director—had recommended me for freelance in his department.

The agency is so big, it is spread out all over town. The job I was seeing about was in a building downtown far away from the midtown locations I’d worked in before. When I got off the elevator the receptionist greeted me with a friendly smile and startled me by passing me a clipboard and asking me to fill out an employment application. An employment application! I hadn’t seen one in years.

The receptionist suggested I take a seat and make myself comfortable. I retreated to a trendily upholstered sofa and stared for a while at the form in my hands. Why was it making me feel so demeaned? Why did I resent being asked to put down the date and previous addresses if less than five years at current address? Why was I confused by the simple question What Job Are You Applying For? And insulted by a request for the names and contact information for 5 business persons not related to me? (Do they think without that caveat you will reference your mother?)

It took me a few minutes to get over feeling affronted (the job is guaranteed to last many months) and I bought time to get over my hesitation by conducting a full-out search for a pen in my bag. (The fact that the clipboard hadn't come with a pen on a cord consoled me, for some reason.) Finally, reluctantly, I got down to business.

Just as I was checking boxes to indicate which office equipment and machinery I knew how to operate (options included: calculator? typewriter? copier? postage meter? Was I was applying to Sterling Cooper in 1962?) the receptionist’s phone rang and when she hung up, she said person I’d come for was ready to see me. “I didn’t know you were freelance,” she said. “Sorry. You don’t have to fill out the form.” Ridiculously, her words restored me to full height as I rose to pass her the empty clipboard.

The incident reminded me of what it was like to break into a business, before jobs came to me through word of mouth, before I was accorded professional courtesies and privileges that I now take for granted. For jobhunters in receptions filling out forms today--hats off to you and good luck.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Quit Your Boring Job - Be a Google Millionaire!!!



I must have deleted this subject line 14 times before finally opening the email. Which made me instantly grateful for my boring job. Because it made me imagine not the wildly unlikely prospect of becoming a Google Millionaire, but the far more likely one of being the Ad Hack hired to write copy like this. Which I'm posting just in case you're on the lookout for new opportunity…

Do you wish you could:
Quit your stupid job and stay home all day?
Be with your kids instead of your coworkers?
Save all that $$ you are throwing into your gas tank to drive to work?
Make more money from home than you do from your job?
Pay off your credit cards and other nagging debt?
Finally, prove to everyone else that you have what it takes to succeed?

Learn How A Stay At Home Mom, With No Experience, Earned $107,389 In Six Months Just Filling Out Forms & Doing Searches On Google & Yahoo!

AdBroad: Nikky R. from Alabama made over $1130.00 in her First Week- You Can Too!

Click Here For Information AND Photos of My House! My Land Rover! My Vacation in the Maldive Islands!
Suddenly writing concept statements for soap doesn't seem onerous, nope, not at all.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

yes we did

Sunday, November 2, 2008

if obama doesn't win, it's alan wolk's fault

As any well-informed reader of ad blogs knows, Alan Wolk (aka Tangerine Toad) is vacationing in Disney World this week. While that may bode well for his family relations, Wolk's absence from the polls on Tuesday could have huge ramifications for the rest of us, as this video shows. No doubt you'll be receiving your own personalized copy  soon, if you haven't already. (Reason #2355 why Barak Obama won landslide victory for Ad Age Marketer of the Year.) Don't forget to vote.


found by The Finder, KLR

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

how not to sound like a zombie on twitter


One of the most enlightening things about my extreme twitter experience has been to learn which tools are effective in building a twitter audience--and which are not.

For instance, by signing up for a service like TweetLater,  you can enhance your chances of retaining new followers by generating a welcome message to accompany the standard alert they receive from Twitter. I've never gone to this extreme myself, but check out this auto-greeting sent last week by the other twittering Betty Draper. Hats off to her, I think it's a winner:

Will you be my friend? My husband Don is on an endless ‘business trip’ and I’m not even sure I need him, anyway.

Her appeal, though canned,  is effective for three reasons: it sounds personal, it gives followers an idea of what kind of content to expect and is 100% free of marketing jargon. Twitter newbies might even be convinced that January Jones is staring at a screen somewhere, breathlessly awaiting their next post. 

Of course not every auto-greeting is as savvy as this one. Most are salespitches for things you don't want, from someone who obviously hasn't read your tweets, and sound transparently bot-generated, making you want to unfollow promptly. (Suspect you're one of these clueless senders? Track who unfollows you, and when. Sign up for Qwitter.)

Here are the lamest auto-greetings I received, tweeting as Betty Draper. Proof that as useful as bots and zombies can be, they still can't do the job of a good copywriter.

Elizabeth, thx for following.
— Beware the bot that formalizes nicknames.

Hi! I am a personal development coach. What are you doing in your life and your business?
—I'm an imaginary character in 1962. The only personal development coach here is Dear Abby.

Thanks for the follow. Btw, what are you working on at the mo?

—Mo?

Hi! Feel free to ask my your most pressing lead generation questions for real estate.
— Not even if divorce puts the Ossining house on the market.

Hey cool! In one tweet, what makes you unique?
— It would take a whole season.

Let's make Money Online Together!!
— Sure! I've been sitting around just waiting to meet a business partner this way.

Hi, Champion! Special Bonus for you "177 Motivational Success Quote"
— Um, did you mean to follow my horse?

Hi, would love to know what you think of my blog.
— Enough about you. Let's talk about you.

Thanks for the follow! Hope you have a fabulous day!!! The Blouse Gap Eliminator 
—Talk about a product with limited market potential. Better try @joan_holloway or @jane_siegel.  




Tuesday, October 28, 2008

how to know you're not in manhattan anymore

When there's a gun display in the toy aisle of the drugstore. Clients often tell us that New York is a world apart from the rest of the country, and I was recently reminded of the truth of this in North Carolina when I stumbled upon a wall of toy weaponry while hunting for toothpaste. It would have parents in my neighborhood up in arms, so to speak.

Monday, October 27, 2008

before wordle there was gastrotypographicalassemblage



RIP Lou Dorfsman, generally acknowledged to be the father of corporate design, who worked at CBS for over forty years, setting standards for branding back when it was called corporate communications. Son of a sign-painter, Dorfsman worked at CBS from the late 1940s through the 1980s, becoming creative director of the company. He designed two proprietary fonts: CBS Didot and CBS Sans and, in what was a revolutionary idea for the day, insisted on their use not just for advertising and marketing, but for corporate stationery, insertion orders, memo pads and matchbooks, thus ensuring all communication materials were identifiable as part of the CBS brand.

When CBS moved into a new building in 1965, Dorfsman was charged with the job of creating the interior and exterior graphics. He conceived design standards for every last detail, down to numerals on wall clocks, elevator buttons, even elevator inspection stickers and mailboxes. Discovering a 40 foot empty wall in the new building's cafeteria, he killed a committee's plans to put up wall maps of New York and envisioned a wall of solid type,  similar to a typesetter's tray turned on its side. He designed a 3D collage of more than 1,450 hand-milled wood letters and images related to the cafeteria's fare, calling it "Gastrotypographicalassemblage". In office parlance it became known as "the Wall."


The Wall (33 feet long x 8 feet high) graced the CBS cafeteria for over 25 years, until the 1990s when new management decided to scrap it. It would have been lost but for the building superintendent who called Dorfsman to tip him off to the wall's removal. (By this time, Dorfsman had moved on to the Museum of Broadcasting.) Dorfsman called Nick Fasciano, a designer who'd created several of the wall's sculptures, and Fasciano collected the discarded panels and brought them to his home in Long Island. There, they they sat in storage for more than 20 years, safe but deteriorating, until being acquired by The Center for Design Study, a not-for-profit in Atlanta.

The Center is seeking to restore The Wall, a daunting endeavor in the nonvirtual world where there's no button to press to reboot or refresh. More than 25 percent of the letters have damaged beyond repair; they must be re-milled. The sculptures must be recreated by hand. If you'd like to do your part to save a landmark in design history, you can make a donation to the project here.

images via AIGA and Flickr

Thursday, October 23, 2008

i am @bettydraper


If you thought you were corresponding with January Jones or one of Weiner's writers or a neglected housewife circa. 1962--sorry for the spoiler. I am one of the large (and still growing) cast of Mad Men characters on Twitter.

As has already been revealed, the cast of Mad Men twitterers is in no way connected with AMC or Matthew Weiner. Neither are they part of Deep Focus (AMC's digital ad agency) or any other PR marketing group, despite tweets like one from @ddrager yesterday guessing tweeters are paid or "they wouldn't go to the lengths they have, and for how long they've been at it!" Rational people, he means.

My life as a Mad Man began as a lark. On August 26, just after AMC lawyers changed their minds about closing down Mad Men twitter accounts (persuaded in part by bloggers and journalists who couldn't believe AMC would toss away a brilliant promotional idea that did not cost them a cent) I went on Twitter to see which character was still available, and signed up @francine_hanson. I found a nice photo of her on the AMC website and started to tweet, trying to engage @betty_draper. But she wouldn't tweet back. Instead, she sent me a nasty direct message. So I went back on twitter and registered @bettydraper; now I had a Betty to play with.

Naively, I believed at that point the Twitter Mad Men were connected with AMC, that we were in some sort of "playoff" for jobs as twitter-writers for the show. Surely no one would do this for free, I thought, as days went by and I realized how much, how VERY much time it took to properly twitter a character (the reading! the rewatching shows! the historical research into what was around in 1962 and what was not!)

By the time I learned that what I'd signed up for was a volunteer effort⎯I was too hooked to quit. There is a thrill that comes with taking on another persona, interacting with the world as someone else, especially if that someone is as complex and interesting⎯ and as sexy and glam⎯as Matthew Weiner's Betty.

I found myself scouting for back issues of Life magazines, searching for things for Betty and Francine to do together. I ordered books online ("The Golden Age of the 60s") and spent hours and hours googling 60s culture, making sure that my tweets were historically accurate. (Of course, it helped that I'd lived the era myself, but I didn't want to trust my tweets to the memory of a child.)

Needless to say, all this living in the past took a toll on my life in 2008. I began to resent time away from the twitter screen, began to beg off social engagements, turned lunch meetings into phone meetings, neglected my work, friends, my family. My blog!

"You're not tweeting again, are you?" my husband would ask, coming into the room, when he knew I had actual deadlines to meet, emails to answer, bills to pay. "Uh, no," I'd lie, feeling as guilty as Sally caught smoking, hurriedly switching the screen back to Quicken.

What are you doing, I'd ask myself as I googled an old recipe for German noodles or the television schedule for 1962. But I couldn't stop. Just one more tweet, I'd think, then I'll go back to work. But to write that one tweet, I had to find out the year that Tastykakes were invented…

At first, the follower counts of the two Bettys were too far apart for the other Betty to care much, except to send me a few nasty dms. (" I suggest you try your hand at being who you really are, some (real, ok) woman dreaming about Don, and we'll all get by.") I had a few hundred followers to her fifteen hundred. But as weeks went by and my count kept going up, she began to make noise, insisting the Betty character was "hers" as she'd staked the claim first. The people behind the Don and Peggy twitter accounts agreed, insisting that "First come, first claim" was the rule--which surely made sense from their own perspectives. But "landing rights" seemed to me an odd approach for creative endeavors, like Weiner hiring the the first actor who shows up for the job. And I found it ironic--hilarious, even--that the character who was a wild philanderer on screen was proving so monogamous in the twitterverse.

If I'd been a sane person, I'd have quit when I realized that @don_draper wasn't going to acknowledge @bettydraper in the public timeline, though he'd sent her husbandly direct messages in private. ("Be home soon, Birdie" and "I'll be home in an hour".) In fan fiction terms, not being acknowledged by the main character is the equivalent of being sent to the Siberian front.

But I wasn't a sane person. I had grown insatiable, driven by an almost physical need to communicate as Betty to my "fans." I had almost a thousand followers now. How could I let them down? My Betty had even begun to come to life in the blogosphere.

At this point, I gave away the Francine account, and a few other characters I'd picked up on the way, to devote my full energies and concentration to Betty. She was the main character, the most interesting one, the one I most wanted to "be."

My follower count grew. And grew. And I learned a lot about what fuels success on Twitter: your popularity is determined not so much by what you say, as who you are, saying it. If you want to build following, it's best to be (or pretend to be) an industry leader or a famous writer or one of the lead characters in a popular TV series. I'm not the first to observe that @don_draper's posts are pretty bland, considering the creative genius he's supposed to be. Yet this doesn't deter his 3800 followers. The person behind @pete_campbell doesn't post at all; he stopped after only four tweets in August, yet his follower list continues to grow, exceeding 760 as of this writing.

I also learned that your popularity on Twitter also has a lot to do with how many people you follow. For most twitterers, follow limits are capped at 2000. Which may sounds like a lot to you. But if you're building a fanbase, it's not enough. @don_draper has so many followers, in part because he follows over 3000 people. I somehow learned how to uncap my follow limit and @peggyolson sent me a friendly email inquiring how I did it. I thought about withholding the answer from her, knowing she'd pass it along to Don's Betty--but I recoiled at the thought of being so anti-social…in social media! Sure enough, the other Betty blew the cap off her follow count the next day.

Following people is tedious; a lot of hunting and pecking. Basically you're poaching from similar twitterers' follower lists or searching twitter for posts using key words like "Mad Men" and following the people who said them. Add following time to the time to research posts to the time to write them…what was I doing?

Yet. I couldn't stop. Now my fanbase numbered 2000!

For a while, Bud the Mailman made valiant efforts to get us to work as a team. He solicited our email addresses and circulated them but after a few rounds of enthusiastic exchanges (we could do storylines! product placements! sponsorships!) it became clear that we could never work together, as we could never agree on anything, not even on whether or not to meet up.

One of the most curious aspects of the whole experience is how true to character each of us stayed (except for the philandering); how even when dealing with each other we remained in character, as if we were actors instead of PR types, ad hacks and digerati for hire. In group emails, I found myself sounding housewifely and deferential; Peggy was earnest and fiercely loyal to Don (whom she'd never met); Sal was ironic and devil-may-care; Don was tacitly acknowledged to be the boss, and took an authoritative tone with us, as if he'd started a company instead of a twitter account.

My follower count at 2800 exceeded the other Betty's this week. Why am I outing myself now? I find I've lost stomach for our competition. I realize the lengths she is willing to go to, lengths that I am unwilling to match. I want my life back. But, you can take a valuable lesson from her, if you're looking to pump your popularity on Twitter:

1. Craft an auto-message that goes out to all the people you follow. The standard message people receive from Twitter when someone follows them is "Betty Draper is now following you on Twitter." But you can configure a unique appeal to accompany it. Something like "@Betty_Draper wants to be your friend and begs you not to follow fake @bettydraper."

2. Create a new character that will acknowledge you often in tweets, validating your character and sending you followers. (This means, of course, you'll have to keep up more than one character. Forget that day job.)

2. Set up a Twitter site ostensibly designed to impartially rate the quality of whatever category tweets you are doing. Like the @OnMadMen site run by ex-MM Twitterer @jimmy_barrett which claims to be "A critical look at Mad Men on Twitter…let's keep the game fun and healthy, shall we?"

This will allow you to:

a. Stage a contest between you and competitors
b. Dm followers asking them to "vote" for you in the contest.
c. Win the vote!

Inspired in spite of this post to launch your own Mad Men twitter account? Join the crowd. The latest cast count is 67, I think, including @ xerox914, the handsome new Sterling Cooper copier. You'll be helping to keep good TV alive by taking part in a small but effective branding campaign. How do I know it's effective? Lots of people post that they are inspired to watch Mad Men because of the tweets.

Which brings me to my bill, AMC. Given my day rate and the time I've put in so far, I figure you owe me $48,000.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

sally draper's doll collection

If you haven't seen Sunday's Mad Men, don't worry, this isn't a spoiler: little Sally Draper finally gets a Barbie. But Barbie wasn't the only doll girls pestered their parents for in 1962.

There was the American company's Betsy Wetsy who came with plugged "real " hair and an open mouth where you could insert a toy bottle. As soon as you "fed" her, water came out her other end, giving you the joyous experience of changing her diaper.

American also made Tiny Tears who had two tiny holes at the side of her nose that "cried real tears." That is, if you first fed her from a little bubble pipe that fit into her mouth. Feeding her the pipe while squeezing her stomach produced an unadvertised but even more entertaining result : she blew a big bubble.


Then there was unlikely-named Poor Pitiful Pearl, based on a cartoon character by children's book author William Steig. Pearl came dressed in her "pitiful" outfit (chic by today's standards): patched dress, red scarf, black stockings and shoes. In the package was the "pretty" outfit you could change her into (pink crinoline party dress, white anklets and Mary Janes) thus becoming her fairy godmother.

My sister's favorite doll was Chatty Cathy who spoke eleven phrases in random play when you pulled a ring at the back of her neck. The ring was on a metal string connected to a phonograph in her stomach. My sister adored her, as did so many other girls that Chatty Cathy became the second best selling doll in the 1960s, second only to Barbie. (Both were made by Mattel.)

I myself found Cathy's conversation wanting, as her repertoire included only stock phrases like "I love you", "Tell me a story" and "Will you play with me?" Even then persnickety about copy, I begged my parents for Little Miss Echo who would say whatever you wanted her to, thanks to a tape recorder planted inside her (flat) chest. Little Miss Echo was considered to be more of a "grown-up" doll, and now I see why. For some reason, the agency that made the commercial for her cast a girl old enough to be playing with real babies.

Monday, October 20, 2008

:) = (^_^) if you are in china, UPDATED

You might think, as I did, that emoticons are universal, but turns out if you're tweeting someone in Asia, you need a translator for emoticons, too. Want to add a smiley to the end of your message to Beijing? You should know that :) is (^_^) over there. To Asian speakers, the meaning of emoticons is derived from the eyes, while Western emoticons more often use the mouth to express meaning. A good illustration of this is the sadface. Look at our :( versus their T_T which is meant to suggest tears streaming down.

Western emoticons read left to right mirroring the way we read romance languages. But in Asia, emoticons read straight-on like pictograms, reflecting the graphic nature of character-based languages. Is it because Asian readers are more accustomed to graphic characters, or because they're more in touch with their feelings, that their emoticon glossary is more extensive than ours is. They've even got an icon for the pleasure of smoking.

(-.-)y- cigarette break

(v_v) silent resignation

(O_O) shocked

(o_O) confused, surprised, disturbed

d-_-b listening to music

fO_o scratching head

*^_^* blushing

\(^o^)/ happiness or wow!

(o)_(o) tired; sometimes used to mean crazed

(/_\) profound dismay

(H_H) pervert (from Japanese "hentai")

x.x Dead (in which case, how are you messaging?)

($_$) or (¥_¥) or (₩_₩) money eyes; thinking about money

And my two favorites:

(x(x_(X_x(O_o)x_x)_X)x) Alive among zombies

(-(-_(-_-(O_o)-_-)_-)-) Waking up in the subway

UPDATE

Joker adds a few of his own creation:

]:)
Bull fighter or horn dog. you pick

\./
Period.

:P d:
Spiderman kiss.

Wishydig observes that Western emoticons don't read left to right any more than Asian emoticons read top to bottom. Western emoticons are turned on their side, but they are still just as image based. He sends a handy link to the world's most complete compendium of smiley face options, perfect for any occasion, including when you need to convey that "user is a midget" or "user is the Pope."

More emoticon translations here and here and here

Friday, October 17, 2008

i'm not pc, I'm the most ignorant commercial for fast food ever made

When the economy goes down, first casualties are industries selling discretionary items. So I'm wondering if this (very un-pc) spot for a South African-based fast food chain was originally created for makers of breast enhancements who already went, um, bust. 



Another fab find from GardenBroad

Sunday, October 12, 2008

for mad men addicts and codependents

another brilliant sentiment from Someecards

Friday, October 10, 2008

friday flashback--when flying was fun

Oh, for the days of flying in the Age of Mad Men. Fifty years ago this month, Pan Am inaugurated transatlantic jet service with a Boeing 707 they named the Clipper America. Here's a video that introduced the former comforts of air travel, which included " living room quiet and relaxation" and stewardesses lighting your cigarettes for you.



For years, the friendly skies were the domain of businessmen and well-heeled families who could ante up for a first class vacation. Tickets were pricey and there was no point shopping around; airfares were controlled by regulation. The only way for airlines to compete was to provide the best service. Which meant free food and drink, no matter how short the flight was. And I'm not talking snack paks and half-cans of soda. There were three-course meals on fine china and linen and omelettes made from real eggs in the galley. Routine flights included roses for female passengers and stick-pin "wings" for their children which would be presented in a little pre-flight welcome ceremony. Of course, everyone would be dressed to the nines, as befitted the occasion; only after boarding would women remove their white gloves.

Speaking of wardrobe, I can't help remembering that outrageously sexist spot created in the late 60s by Mary Wells for Braniff Airlines. To convince businessmen to fly Braniff, she hired Emilio Pucci to design a new uniform for its stewardesses. He created a layered look that could be changed during flight. She called it The Air Strip. No doubt filling fleets of planes with Don Drapers and Pete Campbells.

Friday, October 3, 2008

problems with twitter? welcome to the twilight zone


You may have heard that Twitter is revolutionizing customer service, providing the platform whereby companies riddled with terrible reputations for customer service are now redeeming their good names. Comcast, Home Depot, Dell and others have set up Twitter accounts and assigned employees to lurk online, browsing Twitter Search for disgruntled consumers having trouble with their service, enabling the company to swoop in to solve a complaint instantly or put the complainer in touch with someone who can help.

You'd think that Twitter, ultimately responsible for changing the customer service paradigm, would be at the forefront of customer service themselves. You would be wrong.

A week ago, my twitter account began to have problems. At first, things went well. Help on Twitter's dashboard launched me into a website with the promising name of Get Satisfaction. But, it turned out to be a dispiriting place-- a repository for complaints about not just Twitter but "thousands of companies" where questions go unanswered for weeks, even even though the site claims "Twitter is here! 21 people are listening and participating!" A complaint similar to mine posted 2 months ago is followed by a happy face inviting me "to be the first to reply!" A sidebar asks the dispiriting question: "Know any helpful people? Email this question to them!"

It takes some time to post my complaint because, as is par for Twitter, parameters must be strictly adhered to. The first is: Give your problem a great title. Really? Seems just when your service is pissing me off, Twitter, is not the right moment to ask me to be creative. But. Whatever. I fill in a description of the problem, ("one or two paragraphs work best!"), come up with tags (couldn't Twitter make a bot do this?) then comes the most annoying parameter of all. "One last thing before you post…how does this problem make you feel?" My choices are four emoticons (I hate emoticons) : smiley, sad, serious, tongue sticking out. After choosing one (you can guess) I must "describe my feelings in words" to "increase the likelihood of my problem getting noticed." Really? Questions aren't answered in queue, Twitter decides which to answer depending on how people articulate their feelings?

Luckily, I must have chosen the right words, because my problem is addressed within the hour. Unfortunately, the answer is: we can't answer this, you have to post this problem on the twitter help site. But I thought this was the twitter help site? I log onto the new URL provided and go through the "fill in the boxes" thing again.

Days go by. (Days in twitter-time are equivalent to centuries.) I log back into Get Satisfaction (which must be the world's most ironically named website) to ask when I might be hearing from Twitter. It takes several more days for them to respond. Vaguely: "Unfortunately, it really does take some time before we see a response from Twitter Support because they're dealing with a backlog."

Twitter has no customer service phone number (naturally) but they do post a snail mail address. So I sit down and write an old-fashioned letter. Wouldn't it be ironic if it turns out that snail-mail is what it takes to get Twitter's attention? It's been 7 days and still no word from them. C'mon, Twitter. If you care about users (and some say that you don't) why not put some of that $15 million of venture into dealing with the customers you already have?

UPDATE
Twitter's @crystal (who kindly replied in a comment) worked doggedly to fix the problem and solved it w/in 24 hours. Thanks, Crystal! The lesson? If you've got a problem with twitter, forget their help desk. Post your problem to @crystal to Get Satisfaction.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

life is short people. punctuation matters.

A message went out this morning over the twitter network:
 Sad about Newman. Life is short people.
It is sad that Paul Newman died. But⎯life is short people? (Although being a short person myself, I was kind of flattered.)

Sure, grammar protocol is changing to adapt to new ways of communication--remember when polite email started with the same salutation as a letter on bond stationary? But no matter how truncated our communication becomes, punctuation will always matter. Why? Because those tiny little dots and dashes and curls contain the power to transform the meaning of words. And, though this may surprise some art directors who consider them decorative, punctuation marks are not interchangeable. A comma, for instance cannot do the work of a colon. And vice versa:
A woman, without her man, is nothing.

A woman: without her, man is nothing.
Punctuation can even impact high finances, as Canada’s largest telecommunications company learned. An attorney for Rogers Communications misplaced a comma in a contract with a company that agreed to install Rogers's cables across the Maritimes. Because of that errant squiggle, a Canadian court invalidated what was believed to be an ironclad five-year contract, costing Rogers $2.13 million. (The "Great Comma" ruling was later reversed by a judge who was presumably less of a grammarian.)

OK, I'm a grammar geek, but there are others out there far more zealous than I am. For instance, Jeff Rubin. He's a former newspaperman who was so alarmed that "punctuation is being devalued by a generation of computer wizards" that he went to the trouble of creating National Punctuation Day. You may not have noticed that it celebrated its fifth anniversary on Wednesday. There's a website, of course, and what most interests me on it is that every mention of the holiday is followed by ®. One little mark that contains a whole sentence: Steal my brilliant idea and I'll sue your pants off.




Friday, September 26, 2008

friday flashback: first televised presidential debate Sept. 26, 1960

If you're a Mad Men addict like I am, you know that the Nixon/Kennedy race in 1960 was supposed to be no contest. Nixon was the favorite. Kennedy was considered too young and inexperienced for thinking voters to take seriously. But then, television changed everything. 48 years ago today, 70 million US viewers tuned in to see candidates debate issues on screen for the first time. Polls showed that people who watched the debate on TV thought Kennedy won; those who listened to it on the radio declared Nixon did. Politics was never the same after that.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

cover letter train wrecks



True, a good cover letter won't get you a job, but a bad one can kill any chance you have at it. No better way to show a potential boss you don't care than by sending a letter (email or other) containing typos, grammatical errors, inappropriate language and other linguistic lapses of judgement like these found in actual cover letters from the circular file of recruiter Lawrence Shifflett who has preserved all syntax and errors for factual correctness (and maximum hilarity):

"I want to take this time to point out the weakness of my resume."
— One hundred percent honest. One hundred percent not getting the job.

"Brian Tracy relates a story of a friend that is a Sales Manager in Southern California for a large corporation."
— The lamest name-drop of all time.

"I am a dilettante and a factotum whose knowledge of English and its usage, earmark me as an ideal candidate."
— Sorry, our quota for factotums is already filled.

"I am one of 3 survivors out of 15 hired."
— no comment

"But no matter how we communicate to each other, whether by newspaper or Web site, the reliance on the use of words will always remain."
— Clearly, words aren’t your most effective comunication tool.

"Hi my name is ____ i attached my resume please look it over and give me a call thank you"
— You can't be bothered to capitalize or write a complete cover letter, but I'm to presume you'll be busting your chops working for me?
For more don'ts to avoid when writing that cover letter, click here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

singing the twitter anthem

I was at a dinner party this weekend, and found myself trying to explain Twitter and the reasons I like it. I am paid quite a lot for words that make things sound appealing, but I failed to sway compatriots at the table who remained convinced that life was social enough what with email and IMs and LinkedIn and text messages.

"But it is just like text messages," I insisted, suddenly feeling like one of those evangelists you avoid at Times Square. "Only from lots and lots of people at once."

"Lots of people you don't know?" asked a periodontist. And then I gave up.

So I was impressed to discover that a songwriter, Ben Walker not only found words to describe Twitter, he put them to music in a video that, as of this writing, has over 244,500 youtube hits. In case you can't spare three minutes to watch it (because if you're not on twitter, email probably sucks up way too much of your time) here's what he says:
In the old days it was all about achievements
collecting all your trophies in a shrine;
then everybody came across the internet
and suddenly you had to be online.

A home page was all you really needed
to seem like a success but not a geek.
As long as you updated semi-annually,
and checked your email once or twice a week.

But now you're no one if you're not on Twitter
And you aren't there already, you've missed it.
If you haven't been bookmarked, retweeted and blogged
You might as well not have existed.

Now you need to publish every movement
and every single thought to cross your mind
I'm told the Twitterverse if full of rubbish
but most of us are really quite refined.

We validate each other's insecurities
and brag about the gadgets that we've bought.
We laugh out loud at every hint of jolliness
and try to self promote without being caught.

CHORUS: Cause now you're no one if you're not on Twitter…

Thanks to the Girl Riot who told me about this, after spotting (what else) a tweet from Alan Wolk.

Monday, September 22, 2008

emmys validate Mad Men obsessives



My obsession with Mad Men (damn you, Matt Weiner) was validated last night by the fact that the series made Emmy history, being the first basic-cable show to win best drama award.

Weiner also picked up the award for best drama writing. Only disappointments to me were that Jon "Don Draper" Hamm lost out for best actor and that (creepily true to the show's premise of White Guys Rule) none of the stellar actresses (Hello, January! Howdy, Christina!) received even a nod.

What makes the win interesting to insiders is that the show took home the grand prize despite the fact that Hollywood traditionally sees success through the prism of viewership. Mad Men evangelists may be surprised to know that its 2 million strong fan base pales in comparison to the 21 million glued to American Idol's finale in May. But no doubt last night's wins will help convert more fanatics. Sign of a fanatic? Following Mad Men and Women 24/7 on Twitter. Here's their rolodex:

Don Draper
Betty Draper
Peggy Olson
Joan Holloway
Bobbie Barrett