Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Day to Donate to Movember: I Mustache You a Question

Have you donated to Movember yet? Do you even know what it is? For the uninitiated Movember is a worldwide charity event wherein men raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer research by growing an awesome mustache (like the one on the sad figure above). Originating in Australia, people from all over the world are participating, including entire NHL teams and members of Canadian parliament. In 2009 the cause raised more than $42 million, this year we are hoping to top that.

Today is your FINAL CHANCE to participate. You can do so by throwing a dollar or two towards the cause and donating to my mustache (click here to donate). I have worked long and hard to grow the best mustache possible (I even trimmed it once when it got to be too Sam Elliott-y). I have endured strange looks from people and groans of disgust from my wife (who is also taking donations for the cause since she has to put up with the stache anyway). But don't donate because of that. Donate because 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime and donating a few dollars can go a long way towards helping the Prostate Cancer Foundation get that number down.

I know a lot of charities are asking for your help this time of year and times are tough, but if you saved a ton of money on Black Friday deals and free shipping on Cyber Monday, why not toss a small fraction of that savings towards a good cause? Please click here to donate TODAY. Together my wife and I have already raised almost $200, but I'd like to do better. My mustache and I thank you. Read more!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Toyota Highlander's Marketing Campaign Insults its Own Audience

Hey! I know, it's been a while. Sorry about that. We all get busy. Something has come up over the past couple of weeks, however, that enraged me enough to come out of hiding. Who's responsible: a car company named Toyota and a little boy name Nathan.

I am referring to the latest marketing campaign for the 2010 Toyota Highlander, which features a snot-nosed kid named Nathan James. This is how Toyota describes Nathan in a press release:

The commercials feature Nathan James, an eight-year-old boy on a mission to “un-dork” his parents. A purveyor of cool, Nathan uses the 2011 Highlander to demonstrate how not to be lame. He has tips and tricks for dealing with not-so-hip parents

There is nothing appealing about young Nathan. He's elitist, superficial, smug, and already has a sense of self-entitlement. He is embarrassed by anybody that isn't as cool as him. His (and Toyota's) "cute" catch phrase is, “Just because you’re a parent, doesn’t mean you have to be lame.” Take a look at one of the several Nathan James ads currently running:

That is supposed to convince you to buy a Highlander. I can't place all the blame on Nathan, however. After all, he's not real. Toyota, however, should be smarter. They still need to be regaining consumer trust after all their recalls, and how do they decide to do it? By insulting the very parents that will buy their cars.

This would be a good campaign if kids bought cars. Since they don't, the "parents just don't get it" tag that works for Apple Jacks cereal, doesn't quite work here. I haven't bought a car in a while, but I am pretty sure that on the Consumer Reports list of what a person looks for when deciding on a car purchase, whether or not their kid thinks it's cool enough doesn't even register. However, this is the selling point mentioned in Toyota's own press release announcing the campaign:

The fully integrated Highlander marketing campaign is aimed at parents with kids ages seven to twelve. During those early child-rearing years, these parents were preoccupied with the needs of their children. They were focused on functionality first, style second—after all, it’s difficult to fit a baby stroller in a sports car. Now their kids are a little older and a little more independent. They’re easily embarrassed, especially by their parents. The last thing they want is to be picked up from school in the old family hauler.

In the several Nathan ads running on TV and on Toyota's branded YouTube channel, safety is barely mentioned. Smart move, Toyota. If you want to get back in the public's good graces, smugly making fun of us is not the way to do it. Make us laugh, don't laugh at us and expect us to do the same. Any self-respecting parent should be insulted that Toyota thinks they are vapid enough consumers to be convinced by these ads.

I sympathise more with Billy and his dad in the above ad. I don't know their full story, but I am sure Billy's dad would love to drop 50K on a loaded Highlander, but he has a family to support, a daughter about to go to college, and a small business that isn't doing so well. Billy might be embarrassed slightly by dad's car, but he will learn in time that a parent makes financial sacrifices for their family. At least he has a dad who is there enough to pick him up after school. Maybe Billy wouldn't be so embarrassed if kids like Nathan weren't picking on him so much because of his dad's car.

OK, I'm ranting now. Am I alone here? I couldn't find many people online complaining. What do you think. Need more fuel? Check out this other Nathan James ad:

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Help Cast the Cereal Mascot Movies

It's official, we have run out of original movie ideas. "Inception" might have been the last original idea ever (or was it, there is some debate).

When we are making movie adaptations of The Smurfs and Marmaduke, we have run out of comic strips and 80s cartoons to adapt. Now, the big movies to be attached to are based on board games. Seriously. Movie adaptations of Monopoly, Battleship, Clue, Risk, Candy Land, Ouija board, and Monsterpocalypse are all in development with big names attached including Tim Burton, Ridley Scott, and Peter Berg.

So what's next? After we milk the board games for all they're worth, where do we turn? 1 suggestion: movies based on cereal mascots. There are tons of them, have a connection with people from several generations, and have built in product placement.

But who should play these iconic characters (and no, Johnny Depp can't do them all. He's running out of funny voices to use)? Let's see if we can cast these roles. Read the list of cereal mascots below, and let me know who should be cast in these roles in the comments section. We will follow up on this project later.

  • Cap'n Crunch

  • Count Chocula (also, Boo Berry)

  • Lucky

  • Trix rabbit

  • Snap, Crackle, Pop

  • Sonny the Cuckoo bird

  • Tony the tiger

  • Honey Nut Cheerios Bee

  • Wendell (Cinnamon Toast Crunch)

  • Toucan Sam

I suggest either Seth Green or Giovanni Ribisi for that last one since they both already have experience in the role:

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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Free Music: Pot Kettle Mix for August 2010

Hey kids, do you like songs? You do! Well then you're in luck because today you can download 13 of them.

Check out the latest Pot Kettle Mix. 1 full hour of rock. I tried to keep it fairly clean, but there might be a few "objectionable work words." Click here to Download the rock. Also, apologies to @CraigC for completely ripping off his idea. You should also download his monthly mix if you want some quality hip hop. You can check that out here.

Pot Kettle Mix 08.10 Tracklist

  1. Compliments - Band of Horses
  2. Ativan Eyes - Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
  3. Guilty Cocker Spaniels - Modest Mouse
  4. Birthday Boy - Drive-By Truckers
  5. Last Dance - The Raveonettes
  6. Love and Hate - Blitzen Trapper
  7. Morning Light - Ida Maria
  8. Dance Yrself Clean - LCD Soundsystem
  9. Orphans - The Gaslight Anthem
  10. Mondegreen - Yeasayer
  11. Unknown Brother - The Black Keys
  12. Ask Her For Adderall (Live) - The Hold Steady
  13. Battles On - The Ghost is Dancing

Click here to download it all. Be sure to let me know what you think after you give it a listen, or create and share your own mix.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

'Inception' Poster Making the Subconscious Think of 'Dark Knight'

I saw 'Inception' this weekend. I won't spend too much time here reviewing it. Know this: it is very, very good. The film has a creative story that messes with your mind, but makes sure not to leave out the action and cool visuals you want in your summer movies. It's one of those mind-benders that requires that you see it twice to fully grasp everything that you saw. I may have to go see it again soon at the new IMAX theater that opened in Crocker Park.

Anyway, one of the few things I didn't like about 'Inception' is the film's poster. It seems a little TOO similar to one of the teaser posters from 'The Dark Knight.' As one of Warner Brothers' most successful films of the past few years, the studio is of course making sure we know that there are many similarities between the two movies: same studio, same writer-director, similar release date, and even some of the same actors.

If they didn't beat the connection over your head enough already, WB taps into your subconscious with the poster. Looking at the 'Inception' poster should seem familiar even if you don't immediately recognize it:

Am I crazy? Is this intentional? Are we supposed to look at this poster and think "The poster looks like the 'Batman' poster, the movie must be just as good!" It's odd.

Have you seen 'Inception' yet? What did you think? Read more!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Hard to Hate: Hanson Reenacts 'Blues Brothers'

You know Hanson, don't act like you don't. At bare minimum you remember them from their 1997 teenybopper pop single "Mmmmmbop" (Note: I'm not actually sure how many 'Mmm's are in the song's official title and I'm not willing to look it up). What you may not know is that they are still together recording, touring, and maintain a loyal fan base (they'll be at the Cleveland House of Blues Thursday August 19).

Now get this: they're good. I can admit it. They know how to write a good pop rock song and have stuck to their guns recording catchy 1970s-style blues pop rock tunes. While I don't actually own any Hanson music, I recognize they got a good thing going on and hope they keep it up.

Need more proof that it's OK to admit Hanson is alright, check out the music video for their latest single which not only features a pretty spot on reenactment of the "Shake a Tail Feather" scene in "The Blues Brothers," but also Weird Al Yankovic on tambourine. For reference, I also posted the original "The Blues Brothers" scene below.

Are there any other "guilty pleasures" that you can admit are OK to like? Leave a comment to let us all know.

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