Friday, December 11, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Well ... do you smell it? Read more!
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Unfortunately for those that like to be teased, the show's producers and ABC have decided not to include ANY footage of the new season in promotion of it claiming that showing even a frame of anything would spoil some big reveals (don't really believe that, but I'll bite). This has lead ABC to create a rather dull campaign cutting old footage from the past 5 years together. Other networks, however, are being more creative.
Although not a top 10 Nielson show in the states (though it's close), "Lost" is currently the #1 watched television series worldwide. Networks from around the world have to come up with ways to promote. This spanish speaking promo is by far the coolest commercial I've seen in a long time. It uses old footage while also remaining dark and creepy capturing the major themes of the series. This is much cooler than anything ABC's promo department has ever put together. maybe if they were a little more creative, I wouldn't fast forward past all of their ads.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
First, K'naan. If you aren't familiar with K'naan, he is a Somali-born rapper who fills his songs with his unique outlook on the world, and the troubles of his home country, all to soul, pop, reggae, and even rock beats (Metalica guitarist Kirk Hammet guests on his new album Troubadour). Here K'naan performs three songs, stripped down and unplugged as a part of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concerts. Watch it here.
Next up, Blakroc, a new collaboration between Akron's own The Black Keys and some talented MCs including Mos Def, RZA, Jim Jones, Nikki Wray, Billy Danze, Raekwon, and others. The combination of The Black Keys dirty blues sound works well with these artists. Their album "drops" on Nov. 27. Here is the first single from it, Ain't Nothing Like You (Hoochie Coo)-featuring Mos Def and Jim Jones. Yes, I realize I'm cheating here a little. The song itself is not a live performance, but the video is ... kind of. Just roll with it.
Finally, a little something from Beck's Record Club. This is a little experimental project that Beck and his friends are doing. I'll let him explain:
"Record Club is an informal meeting of various musicians to record an album in a day. The album chosen to be reinterpreted is used as a framework. Nothing is rehearsed or arranged ahead of time. A track is posted once a week. As you will hear, some of the songs are rough renditions, often first takes that document what happened over the course of a day as opposed to a polished rendering. There is no intention to 'add to' the original work or attempt to recreate the power of the original recording. Only to play music and document what happens. And those who aren't familiar with the albums in question will hopefully look for the songs in their definitive versions."
So again, I'm kind of cheating, but these songs are recorded live and then released. It's almost like a live performance. Last week the Club started their third album: Skip Spence's 'Oar.' I'll be honest, I know nothing about that album, but now I want to check it out. The album was recorded by Beck and Wilco along with special guests including Feist and Jamie Lidell. Check out the Beck's Record Club website to listen to the songs and watch video of the recording sessions. There are two songs from the album posted to date. If you wish to hear the album in order, scroll down to the second post and work your way up.
And that concludes Live Music Week. What did you think? Did I leave out something big? If so, leave a comment and share it with everyone.
THANK YOU, CLEVELAND! GOOD NIGHT! Read more!
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
One such band that I'm really into right now is The Avett Brothers. While not the coolest band to admit to liking, this folk/rock/country collaboration between two North Carolina brothers produce solid studio recordings that come to life when performed live. That's a rarity for a semi-mellow folk band that borders on the wussy, but the Avett Brothers' enthusiasm and powerful voices put them in unique category of folk artists who can rock.
Full disclosure: I've never seen the Avett Brothers in person, although they tour constantly. They last came to Northeast Ohio last June when they played the Akron Civic Theatre. At that time I had only discovered them a few months prior, and didn't know enough to go see them live. I will not be making that mistake again when they come to the Cleveland House of Blues on Feb. 27, 2010 (purchase tickets here)as they tour on their new album I and Love and You (produced by uber-producer Rick Rubin).
Enough talking. Below are four separate Avett Brother performances/concerts. Give them a listen yourself and let me know what you think.
First up, to continue the Live Music Week theme of late night TV performances, The Avett Brothers played on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last night (without The Roots)performing one of their more upbeat songs "Slight Figure of Speech":
Here they perform "The Perfect Space" on Spinner.com. They perform three more songs from their new CD during this session, which you can view here.
NPR invited them to perform in their office as a part of their Tiny Desk Concert series, which features small intimate performances recorded in one of their offices. The 3 song performance caused NPR's Bob Boilen to ask Scott Avett, "Did you swallow an amplifier as a child?"
You can watch here.
Finally,The Avett Brothers performed an hour long set at the Newport Folk Festival last summer. NPR said of the concert:
"Without fail, the enthusiastic roots-rock band generated massive volume onstage at Newport. The Avetts brought their emotionally charged and frenetic live show to the Fort Stage at Folk Festival 50 less than two months before the release of I and Love and You, stomping and hollering through a set of old and new songs."
Listen to the full concert here. Read more!
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The musical performance is often my favorite part of the late night talk shows. Lately some of the best and most diverse musical performances have been on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon," which has the good fortune of having hip-hop band The Roots as their house band.
LNWJF definitly does not squander the talent of The Roots, allowing them to often perform as a backing band to the evening's musical guests. As a band The Roots are very good at weaving in and out between musical genres, and usually elevate musical performances that otherwise might put you to sleep at 1:30 am. Want proof?
Last week The Roots backed up hip-hop MC Wale. As hip-hop artists this performance is right in The Roots wheelhouse. I like Wale, but don't really care for this song. (This video will probably go away after 10 days. Sorry for any ads you have to watch before any of these performances)
To see the diverse talents of The Roots get to play with on display, check out the 3 performances below featuring The Roots and 3 very different artists.
Have you discovered any new music via late night television? What performances should we be checking out?
To prove that The Roots are more than just a run of the mill hip-hop band, look no further than this performance with musical icon Paul Simon.
If you find the Paul Simon performance surprisingly cool, yet odd, you haven't seen anything yet. Check out The Roots, 70's singer songwriter Christopher Cross, and a VERY special guest sing the 'hit' "Ride Like the Wind." Then be sure to e-mail this post to your dad.
Finally, The Roots perform with one of my favorites as a child, 'Weird Al' Yankovic as he sings the darkly funny song "Good Old Days".
Sunday, November 15, 2009
First up: Wilco live from the Paradiso in Amsterdam
If you've never seen Wilco perform live, you're missing out. They are consistently considered one of the best touring bands around right now. They are a group of very skilled musicians that know how to bring it. I've seen them 10 times in different venues across the US and they have yet to disappoint me.
Friday, November 13, 2009
- Make the product a central plot point
- Have the product around constantly but make no mention of it
- Ironically over "promote" the product so the audience is well aware it is product placement
It is this third method that's getting old. It's originally was a humorous meta commentary on the commercial business of television.
In this type of comedic placement, both the characters in the show, breaking the fourth wall, AND the audience watching them are aware there is product placement being done. Although it's not "cool," there's nothing the show can do to stop it, so let's all take a moment to laugh at how crazy it is (while also making sure to actually promote the product), and poke fun at how commercial it is by looking into the camera and spouting tag lines.
The "hit" NBC comedy '30 Rock' is largely considered to be the originator of this method. They have been doing it so often since their show debuted three years ago, that they get accused of ironically promoting products even when they aren't. Three years ago it was funny. But like all jokes, they become less and less funny the 8th, 9th, and 10th times.
This became evident to me during the 11/5 episode of '30 Rock.' During this episode Alec Baldwin's character Jack has to participate in a teleconference due to a bed bug infestation. Cisco Systems provides the equipment to make the teleconference happen:
Did you catch that? Wasn't it funny, clever, and ironic? Maybe in 2007, but now it's become an easy joke. And if it becomes an easy joke, it's an unfunny joke, which makes it not a joke at all, which makes it an actual commercial in the middle of a scripted program.
Now I'm not saying '30 Rock' should stop using product placement to defer costs (and yes, in the credits of the show, you can clearly see "promotional consideration provided by Cisco Systems"). I just want them to stop making a joke out of it. Can't there just be a Cisco Systems teleconference without talking about it? Simply having the logo on the monitor briefly is enough. I've already noticed the product. I've been well aware of Cisco Systems products, including this teleconference system, in other programs including "24", "Chuck","House", and "CSI," and they never made one mention of the product they are using.
It was funny the first 6 times, now stop going for the cheap laugh, we're expecting it.
What do you think? Am I being too harsh? Is it still funny?Read more!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Sooooo .... just like my buddy Calvin here, I lost track of time over the summer. My "summer break" from the blog accidentally lasted longer than I expected. I'm going to blame the weather. It's tough to recognize that summer is over in Cleveland when it's sunny and 70 like it was this past weekend.
So now that I've been gone long enough to have lost my entire audience, I am back from the dead! I have a laundry list of topics to talk about, and sorry Simpsons fans, it will probably not involve anything in Springfield. I never intended this blog to become a Simpsons fan site. I was simply posting random facts on days that I didn't have time to write anything substantial. A few dozen posts later, and I'm receiving 800 hits a day from Scotland so 2 arguing towns can determine who can claim to be the birthplace of Groundskeeper Willie. I like the Simpsons as much as the next guy, but that was never the audience I intended to attract. So I'm going to tone the Simpsons posts down a little.
There is a lot of other cool stuff I want to share with you this week though, including the best music of 2009 debate, adventures in product placement, and Christmas Ale. In the meantime, play around with "Let Them Sing it For You." It's a fun way to send a message by stitching together random song lyrics. It's like sending a musical ransom note, instead of spending all that valuable time cutting out magazine letters. Feel free to e-mail me one @ firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay tuned.
P.S. How did you spend your summer vacation?
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
- Krusty's chimp companion was dishonorably discharged from the space program.
- Secret ambition is to one day have his own talk show.
- His special skills include tying his own bow tie and driving a stick shift.
- Favorite foods are chocolate ice cream, head lice, and nicotine gum
- Named "Smoking Chimp of the Year" by the National Tobacco Board.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Why Wally (I'm going to keep calling him Wally, because I don't feel like typing Szcerbiak over and over)? Wally and this sandwich have a lot in common. Like Wally, at first glimpse you may think, "Oh, that doesn't sound very good at all. Why would I waste my time with that?" Like Wally, the ingredients are simple and unassuming; able to be enjoyed by young and old alike. And like Wally, it will surprise you. Tasting the Wally Szcerbiak Cheesesteak for the first time is a lot like this:
It's a lot like that ... only for your tastebuds. Have I hyped the Wally Szcerbiak Cheesesteak enough? Full disclosure, I did not create this recipe. Credit must be given to 10-year-old Jordyn Boyer who won the Jif Peanut Butter Cooking Contest. In layman's terms, The Wally Sczerbiak Cheesesteak can be known as the Po' Boy Peanut Butter Chicken Cheesesteak. The only thing I have altered from young Jordyn's recipe is hot sauce and the name.
Seriously, it's easy to make, delicious, and the closest thing to actually eating Wally Szczerbiak. Try it when watching the Cavs tear into Orlando/Boston. If you don't try it, the Cavs will lose, and you don't want that on your conscience the rest of your life.
THE WALLY SZCZERBIAK CHEESESTEAK
- 2 T olive oil
- 1 small onion
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1/2 yellow pepper
- 1/2 apple (red or green)
- 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 4 chicken breast slices (1 large chicken breast sliced in long strips)
- hoagie/sub roll
- 3 T creamy peanut butter
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp. honey mustard
- 1/2 cup water
- hot sauce to taste
Cut peppers into strips, cut onions into rings, slice apples in strips. Place them in a skillet with olive oil and cook on medium heat until soft. Cook chicken breast and add to the pepper-onion-apple mixture in the skillet and cook for a few min.
For the sauce, In a sauce pan or small skillet on medium heat, add peanut butter, Worcestershire sauce, honey mustard, honey, and water. Cook and stir until creamy and soft. Add hot sauce to taste.
Place chicken-onion-pepper-apple mixture in a toasted hoagie roll. Top with peanut butter sauce and mozzarella cheese.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Every May, once the regular television season is over, the TV networks hold what is known as Upfronts. Basically, they announce which of their programs will be on next year, which will be cancelled, and spend some time introducing the new shows they plan on rolling out in the fall(ish). Each of the major networks gets their own news cycle to bring out their (current and soon to be) stars to spin and promote the new fall schedule.
The main audience for the Upfront is not the public, but advertisers. The presentations are done so that sponsors can see what the network has planned, and decide whether or not to purchase ad time (or product placement spots) "upfront." These used to be big, lavish affairs meant to wine and dine, but since the strike last year, recession this year, and the general state the TV business is in right now, the Upfronts have become more like a glorified press conference.
The major networks don't hold their Upfronts until the week of May 18, but today NBC got a leg up on the competition by holding what they stupidly call an "Infront" presentation. During this presentation NBC announced what new shows (pilots) they decided to pick up for the 09-10 TV season. They have yet to announce time slots, release their full schedule or announce what existing shows will be picked up or cancelled; that will be done in 2 weeks.
4 new dramas and 2 new comedies were picked up by the network. 2 look like they have potential, 3 look like nothing special, and 1 I have no idea about. None of the new shows NBC premiered last fall are on the air anymore, so they can only go up from here. After the jump, take a look at video clips of each show (with descriptions). Which look good to you?
To me, this comedy looks like the best of the group. It would fit in well with NBC's Thursday night comedy schedule. It stars Joel McHale (from E!'s "The Soup"), Chevy Chase, and others as a diverse group of adults attending a community college who form a study group and "end up learning a lot more about themselves than they do about their course work." It's from two of the better writers of "Arrested Development"
Remember that hit 1989 Steve Martin movie "Parenthood?" Remember the 1990 bomb of a sitcom based on the movie "Parenthood?" (Probably not, it only lasted an episode or two.) Well nearly 20 years later NBC is trying again with the more dramatic version of "Parenthood" - with comedic undertones. It stars nearly every single television actor from the past 15 years; I'm not going to name them all. It's from super producers Ron Howard & Brian Grazer, developed by "Friday Night Lights" exec. producer Jason Katims. To me, it looks like ABC's "Brothers & Sisters" with more kids and maybe a little less angst. It's the other show I think might have some potential.
Trauma & Mercy
Those are the names of 2 new medical dramas. "Trauma" is a more action-intense drama about first responding paramedics. "Mercy" is a more emotional, character driven drama focusing on a group of nurses at a particular hospital. Neither of them look like they are reinventing the wheel. Basically it looks like NBC decided to cancel "ER," a medical drama with both emotional, character driven elements and intense action life-saving elements, and in its place create 2 new shows to cover each of those elements.
While "Trauma" and "Mercy" are a throw back to NBC's "ER" heydays in the '90s, "100 Days" is yet another attempt to clone the success of "Friends," while also being a second rate knock off of CBS' excellent "How I Met Your Mother." It's a romantic comedy sitcom about a girl who just can't seem to find Mr. Right. She goes to a dating service, and they ask her a survey of 100 questions about her life/personality/relationships. With each question, comes an episode-long flashback at her life, her crazy friends, and all the life lessons they learned while facing adulthood in NYC. I think I've seen it before. NO THANKS!
There is no footage available for this post-apocalyptic drama. The series tells the story of a group of survivors' life on earth following a global catastrophe that has devastated the world's infrastructures. Sounds pretty bleak. It may appeal to the niche "Lost," "Jericho," "BSG," sci-fi crowd, but too dark to appeal to a mass audience. I'll have to hold off judgement for now.
That's all there is until the Upfronts in 2 weeks. There would be more shows, but NBC's decision to move Jay Leno to the 10pm time slot Monday through Friday eliminated 5 hours of potential scripted shows (as well as numerous jobs working on those shows).
So which of these shows do you want to see more of? Which of them did you want to turn off before the 4 minute clip was over?
Monday, April 27, 2009
That's all I got. That should be enough to keep you busy. Do you have any recommendations you'd like to share (Peabody winning or not)?
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
You didn't remember? Or care to? Well neither did most of the world.
After TANKING in the ratings, even by Saturday night standards, NBC has decided to pull the remaining episodes from the air until the end of the regular television season. The remaining episodes will air Saturdays at 8 p.m. from June 13-July 25; at least that's what's being said now. That news could change by June 16.
Make a note of it, all 7 people still watching the show. (Seriously, is anyone still watching 'Kings?' I am, but I may be the only one.) Read more!
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
- He was conceived, born, and educated on a pool table in a tavern near Loch Ness.
- Failed at the culinary venture of selling Chef Willie's Haggis Helper
- Future plans are to build a security bog around his prize-winning heather, catch a leprechaun, and marry his tractor.
Monday, April 13, 2009
Why? Simple: No one was watching. Were you? I wasn't. I watched (suffered through) the first episode and that was enough for me.
When it premiered I wrote about the endless amounts of product placement deals in the show, and wondered if they were intruding in on or leading the storytelling.
Judging by the number of people who regularly viewed that post the day after a new episode aired, the product placement was a problem. People reading the post (the most read post on this blog) often came to it by searching for terms such as. "too much promotion, trust me," and "annoying product placement, trust me." It appears that the general consensus on the Internet is that the product placement got in the way.
I still have yet to actually hear from someone who watched the show, however. If you did, what did you think? Will you miss the show at all, or just its built-in commercials? Read more!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
I'm not a big fan of "House." My wife likes it, and I'll often watch it with her while multitasking. It's amusing enough, but I have no vested interest in the show. For those that do, however, last night's episode, where Kal Penn's character Lawrence Kutner is found dead by a self-inflicted gun shot wound in the show's first 10 minutes, must have come as quite a sad shock.
Unlike most television deaths, this one wasn't coming from a mile away. There wasn't a "farewell" episode, a redemptive scene, or endless foreshadowing. In fact, the suicide was so shocking (and realistic) because there were no signs or backstory leading the viewers (and characters) to a reasonable conclusion. The episode was well written, acted, and edited; a high point in the series this season.
Then Fox had to go and cheapen all that creative work with a stupid cross promotional marketing gimmick. Fox has set up a "In Memoriam" website for the character. On the site (which I do not want to link to), visitors can view a fake memoriam video, read fake letters written to Kutner from the show's other characters, read his fake obituary, and see clips from "Wolverine" while buying a "24" T-shirt via links at the bottom of the page.
Fox has also set up a Facebook group "in loving memory" to the character. There, viewers can post their favorite memories of Kutner and get a memorial badge to post in Facebook profiles and blogs.
First, there is something morbid and wrong about an international corporation asking me to join them in mourning a fictional character. Second, after so many people worked so hard to create this episode, why did they feel the need to cheapen all that hard work by turning it into a commercial for News Corp. products? They told a moving story that was less moving once Fox decided to manipulate fan's connection to the show to help them promote the network. Nowhere on these sites are there links or discussions about suicide or suicide prevention. Just a lot of ads.
Plus, THE CHARACTER ISN'T REAL!!! How can you share your favorite memory about someone that doesn't exist?! That's a waste of everyone's time. Instead of spending time mourning over "losing" a "friendship" that never existed, why not see what your real friends and family are up to. Lean on them during this "tough time."
What do you think? Did Fox cheapen things or do you want to see more of this type of cross-promotion?
Oh, and in case you haven't heard, Kal Penn asked to leave the show so that he could take a job as the White House's associate director in the Office of Public Liaison. I consider that a step up from "Harold & Kumar."
After four weeks of last place, bottom-of-the-barrel ratings, NBC has decided to move the show to Saturday nights starting on April 18. Basically, it won't be renewed, but the remaining episodes will see the light of day (for now).
That's too bad, but I'm not surprised. It's a quality show, but not easy to follow with a mass appeal. It never seemed to be a good fit on Sunday nights. To me, it would be a better fit for Tuesday night. It's still worth your time though, so set your DVR or wait for inevitable DVD release in a few months. Read more!
Monday, April 6, 2009
In February I wrote about the outrage consumers had over the new packaging design of Tropicana's orange juice. The mob was loud enough that Tropicana ditched their $35 million dollar campaign to revert back to their old OJ design.
Last week, Tropicana reported a 20% decrease in sales from Jan 1 - Feb 22 (the day before the debranding announcement). That is a loss of nearly $33 million during that short time period; all because of a little change in art.
has anyone seen the old/new design back in the grocery store?
Two months ago I also wrote about Starbuck's new venture VIA, its single serving, water soluble, instant coffee. At the time I thought it was a bad decision for the brand, and that opinion hasn't changed. Whether it tastes good or not, Starbucks shouldn't try to be everything for everyone. They already tried that and it backfired.
Regardless, the VIA rollout continues. VIA is now being sold in Target, Costco, and Barnes & Noble stores in Seattle and Illinois. If you live in those areas, try some and let us know what you think? Would you have VIA every day or only on days when you're in a hurry and need a last resort coffee? Read more!
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
- His specialty equipment includes an ice pick with a laser sight.
- Also known as William D'Amico, William Williams, Marion.
- His rival crime families are the Cuomos, Travoltas, Lasordas, and Boyardees.
- His itemized extortion bills always include a smiley face.
- His dream jobs deferred are pizza man, organ grinder, or leaning tower maker.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
In short: It is a modern "retelling" (used loosely) of the Biblical story of King David. It's set in a fictional country very similar to America, and run by corrupt King Silas (played by "Deadwood's" Ian McShane).
The first episode is well-written, shot, post-produced (by my friend Adam), and sets up a lot of interesting characters and storylines. It airs Sunday, 8 p.m., on NBC (Ch.3 WKYC in Cleveland). Check out "Kings" before NBC changes its mind and decides to cancel it. You're brain will thank you for not watching another episode of "America's funniest Home Videos."
Here's the first episode (or go watch it at Hulu):
Monday, March 16, 2009
The SciFi channel announced today that they are rebranding the network of "Battlestar Galactica" and cheesy Saturday night B-movies to appear less nerdy. The new name: Syfy. Really, guys?! Is that the best you could come up with? That's not a brand, that's a typo. That's like renaming CNN to CNN and saying "We switched the Ns around." What's the point of it? Even worse, they spend a lot of time and money coming up with this new strategy.
From the New York Times:
"No discussion of change affecting consumers could ignore what Mr. Howe called the “Tropicana debacle” — the recent decision by a unit of PepsiCo to abandon a major package redesign for Tropicana orange juice after shoppers vociferously complained.
“The testing we’ve done has been incredibly positive,” Mr. Howe said of the Syfy name, reading what he described as a comment from one participant: “If I were texting, this is how I would spell it.”"
So that's what it's come to, naming brands based on how easy they are to text.Read more!
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Monday, March 2, 2009
Friday, February 27, 2009
Then, on last night's The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert yet again discusses members of Congress using Twitter during President Obama's address Tuesday night:
Does all this discussion of congressional Tweeting help or hurt Twitter? Will the younger generation be less likely to adopt Twitter; viewing it lame and pointless? Has it reached its saturation point? Read more!
Thursday, February 26, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
- Extremely large beverage holder
- Tail fins
- Bubble domes
- Shag carpeting
- Several horns that all play "La Cucaracha"
- A second soundproof bubble dome with optional straps and muzzles for kids
The Homer failed miserably and bankrupted the manufacturer.
This long lost tribute to the auto industry immediately popped into my head when I saw this commercial for the Pontiac Stinger. Thank God this monstrosity never caught on. One look at this and you know why Pontiac is no more:
Monday, February 23, 2009
Take a look at these two orange juice cartons. If they were side by side at your neighborhood grocer, which one would you choose to purchase? Well, THE JOKE'S ON YOU! They're the exact same brand of orange juice!! The carton on the left is Tropicana's new packaging design. Some very vocal consumers, however, prefer the carton on the right. They can rest easy tonight, Tropicana announced they are returning to the old design.
Last month Tropicana was proud to introduce a new packaging design for their orange juice. Gone was their iconic orange with a straw stuck in it, and in its place was a tall glass of OJ. The redesign was accompanied with a $35 million campaign with placement everywhere including print, billboards and television.
THEN .... THE WORLD IMPLODED!!!
Even though Tropicana focused grouped the new design to death, consumers did not like the new package. Some loyal fans were downright outraged. They felt an attachment to the old logo, and felt the new design made the product appear like a generic brand of orange juice.
“Do any of these package-design people actually shop for orange juice?” one e-mail complaint asked. “Because I do, and the new cartons stink.” (Courtesy of NYT article below)
Thanks to social media tools like Twitter, as well as using blogs and e-mail to spread word of mouth, consumers were able to make their voices heard. More importantly, Tropicana was willing to listen and quickly change course. The old packaging should be back in the stores some time next month.
There are 2 key takeaways here:
1) Consumers use social media to organize and make their voice heard. Tropicana admits that only a small fraction of their audience complained, it was a very vocal and loyal fraction. Brands should listen to what is being said about them and be willing to respond if needed. By changing course so quickly, Tropicana avoided the further spread of backlash and anger that could have lead to a significant sales decrease.
Consumers can complain about anything. When I was little my sister wrote a letter to General Mills because she felt that they did not change the content on the back of the Frosted Mini-Wheats box often enough, and she was tired of looking at the same old info every morning. They sent a form letter thanking her for her loyalty in response. I wonder what she could do now with social media. Would she get more than a form letter if she was able to organize a group who felt the same way she did? Probably. Social Media has given the consumer that power.
2) Every logo matters. Tropicana president Neil Campbell admitted he did not realize consumers had such an attachment to the orange and straw logo. While it isn't as iconic as Coca-Cola's use of red or the Nike swoosh, the logo was recognizable. To completely remove it from the packaging was a mistake. Focusing on a glass or orange juice would have been fine, as long as that orange/straw image was present somewhere (even add the red and white straw IN the glass of orange juice). If you want to overhaul a logo, do what Pepsi did (which owns Tropicana) and make slight design changes that seem different while still being recognizable as the brand's logo.
What do you think? Did the new packaging bother you? Did you even notice it?
Tropicana Discovers Some Buyers Are Passionate About Packaging - NYT Read more!
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Let's take a trip back in time, shall we? Don't worry, it's not the crazy nose-bleeding, brain-scrambling Lost-style time travel. We are going on a short trip to January 2008. This was the first month of Starbuck's triumphant return to its coffee brewing roots. After declining sales and a loss of market share to the likes of McDonald's and Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz returned to set the ship straight again.
Upon his return after leaving his post in 2000, Schultz promised a return to what made Starbucks great: a love of fine coffee and the art of brewing the perfect cup. Schultz felt that Starbucks expanded too fast and overextended its brand by attaching the Starbucks name to grocery store coffee, ice cream, candy bars, and numerous other products (not to mention record labels and movie production companies). One of his first acts as CEO 2.0 was to close 100 underperforming stores, slow down the opening of new stores, and discontinue the sale of warm breakfast sandwiches that according to Schultz, "interferes with the coffee aroma in our stores."
The next step towards making a better coffee was in the machine. In March 2007, Starbucks purchased the maker of the $11,000 Clover coffee brewer, the Coffee Equipment Company of Seattle. The Clover is a top shelf machine that brews only one cup of coffee at a time, grinding the beans fresh and filling the room with the aroma of coffee.
Schultz put Clover machines in six of his top Boston and Seattle stores. Other shops installed new and improved espresso machines in locations visible to everyone in the shop as a shrine to coffee. Starbucks even closed down ALL of their stores for three hours to re-educate their employees on the new machines and the art of making the perfect espresso. It seemed that Starbucks brand position was clear: Yes, we cost a little bit more than the other guys, but our focus is coffee and coffee only, so our product is much better. For a while there I was falling for it.
Then Pike Place came along. Have you tried that stuff? Awful sludge. Instead of serving several different blends of coffee every day, Starbucks decided consistency was best. Pike Place started brewing late last spring. It's a basic roast meant to compete with McD's and DD's blends. It is a step backwards that didn't seem to align itself with the rest of Starbuck's new position statement. If they are the brand that is a step above all the other places, why are they slumming it with them by focusing on Pike Place? Their eyes were bigger than their stomach. Starbucks wanted both the coffee aficionado, and the casual drive-drinker who prefers their coffee cheap.
Of course, we are in a recession, and even after their rebranding, Starbucks is hurting. Consumers don't want to give up their coffee, but they want a good deal. Starbucks to the rescue! Last week Starbucks announced a new value menu that will launch in March. For $3.95 consumers have the choice of a tall latte with oatmeal or coffee cake. The other option is a tall coffee with a NEW artisan bacon sandwich, NEW artisan ham sandwich, sausage breakfast sandwich, or reduced-fat turkey bacon breakfast sandwich. That's right, they are going to serve the same warm breakfast sandwich's they discontinued a year ago because they interfered with the smell of their premium coffee. Another step backwards.
Now, this week Schultz proudly announced the launch of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew, water soluble instant-coffee powder. VIA will be sold in March as single serving pouches for about $1 a cup. The same company that less than a year ago justified spending $11,000 on coffee machines that perfectly grounded and brewed one cup at a time, is now selling powder you can pick up at your nearest Target (starting in 2010). One more step backwards.
Starbucks, who do you think you are?! Schultz has no idea what to do with the brand and as a result he's trying to be everything to everyone. That isn't helping the brand, just diluting it further. Schultz says that they have been developing VIA for years and that it is not a panic move due to the recession. That does not make it any better. That means you have been wasting shareholders money for years on developing a product that does not align itself with what you claim the Starbucks brand is. Schultz, you're diluting your brands' hold on the coffee category. If you keep flip-flopping every couple of months, it's just going to get worse. Pick a position and stick with it, through good and bad times. If you need to make changes, make sure your decisions are aligned with what the Starbucks brand is (if you even know what it is anymore). Do you own the luxury coffee brand or not?
What do you think? Has your feelings towards Starbucks changed over the past couple of years? Have you tasted a coffee that's worse than Pike Place? Will you give VIA a try (I'll at least try it).
The Ford placement, however, was never so in-your-face. With Hyundai, 24 has written entire scenes existing only to showcase the Genesis.
This season was supposed to air last year, but was put on hold due to the writer's strike. At the time of the strike, nearly 14 months ago, half of this season was already shot and ready to go. When the strike ended in March 2008, they resumed production and completed the entire season by the end of the summer. It was around this time that the Genesis deal came along. Producer's then had to go back into those first 12 episodes filmed in 2007, and insert scenes that featured the 2009 Hyundai Genesis.
This week featured one of those scenes. It was by no means a scene necessary to the ongoing plot. It felt more like a car commercial, complete with a loving family and a child safely in the back seat. There were obligatory dashboard navigation shots, as many shots of the entire car as they could squeeze in, and shots that start low and focused on the car and then slowly pan up to the actors.
Again, I don't mind product placement; it is necessary to counter rising production costs and a good way for brands to generate awareness. However, it does not need to be so obvious that it takes viewers out of the show. Ford never had that problem in previous 24 seasons. Do the producer's think we won't notice the placement? It's laughable how obvious it is. Does it bother you? Take a look:
Fox's '24' In Gear with Hyundai Integration Read more!
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Courtesy of The Simpsons 2009 Laugh-a-Day 365-Day Box Calendar:
Has a Big Daddy Roth tattoo on his butt
Special skills include air guitar, carnival Rocket Car operator, and faking his own death.
Has had fifteen crashes without a single fatality
Likes to read "stuff from the vampire's point of view." Read more!
Monday, February 16, 2009
That's right! Wow, you are really observant (and can read the title of this post)! Last night The Simpsons aired in high-definition for the first time. Welcome to the future. I seem to recall reading an interview with the show's producer's about two years back where they claimed that the show would NEVER convert to widescreen hi-def because that would be sacrilegious. The Simpsons, they claimed, was a television show, and that meant broadcasting in a 4:3 ratio forever!
Well, forever wasn't as long as they thought. Broadcasting in high-def didn't really add that much to The Simpsons visually, but the colors were brighter, the lines were more defined, the occasionally crude drawing stood out more, and there is more room for potential sight gags.
With this convergence, is there any program still airing in standard-def that you wish would catch up with the times? I can't think of any program in particular, but I wish Time Warner Cable of Cleveland would get their act together and offer more than a handful of HDTV channels. Every other cable provider in the area offers at least twice as many HD channels. What are you waiting for TWC? You are certainly charging us enough! If The Simpsons can do it, so can you. Read more!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Apparently the press, the blogosphere, and yours truly jumped the gun a little bit when accusing 30 Rock of shameless McFlurry product placement (see previous post below). The outcry was getting loud enough, that showrunner/head writer/star Tina Fey felt the need to clear things up:
"“It gives me great pleasure to inform you that the references to McDonald's in last night's episode of 30 Rock were in no way product placement. (Nor were they an attempt at product placement that fell through.) We received no money from the McDonald's Corporation. We were actually a little worried they might sue us. That's just the kind of revenue-generating masterminds we are.
Also, the upcoming story line where Liz Lemon starts dating Grimace is just based on a recurring dream I have.
Seriously, though, it's not product placement.
Also, whoever is writing my Twitter account is pretty funny, but it's not me.” - Tina Fey
Again, my bad, but your reputation does precede you. Next time I'll give you benefit of the doubt. Read more!
Last night's episode included a shameless plug for McDonalds and their McFlurry dessert. This time, however, I felt the plug was ever-so-slightly crossing the line of their typical clever/meta joke into annoying promotion. I almost missed all the jokes because I was paying too much attention to all the McShilling that was going on. I'll let it slide though. If I have to take the occasional shameless promotion in order to keep 30 Rock on the air, I'm more than willing to do it.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
That’s what everyone is saying. Every passing week brings word of magazines folding and newspapers laying off staff members. Old standards are being forced to change their game plan; The New York Times has even started running ads on their front page Now, this week brought the announcement that weekly magazine Newsweek will be changing its strategy in order to appeal to a smaller audience: the rich.
In the spring Newsweek will begin to focus less on covering the straight news stories of the week, and focus more on opinion and analysis geared towards a wealthy demographic (after all, they are the only ones with the expendable income to subscribe to magazines). The overhaul includes a new design, a smaller size, and an increase in subscription rates.
Will this re-branding strategy work? Possibly. While appealing to the masses, Newsweek has always seemed like a second run issue of Time. They could benefit by distinguishing itself as the magazine that delves deeper into the issues of the week, while talking (and advertising) to their core audience of wealthy, educated news-junkies. Maybe then we will take them seriously as a source of expert opinion, and reward them with our hard earned money.
Or maybe not. I am not so sure Newsweek's web presence is aligned with their new strategy. Take a look at this new web-series produced by NTV (hat tip to Julie for bringing this to my attention):
“The District” is a satirical look at Obama’s administration. It is funny, but does it fit with the rest of Newsweek's new branding strategy. How serious are we supposed to take them? Do they want to be the New Yorker or the print version of Slate.com? They say their editorial position is geared toward "not just analysis and commentary, but an opinionated, prescriptive or offbeat take on events." I guess this web series falls into that category.
Regardless of their new image, during this brand transition, Newsweek should make sure their print strategy is aligned with their online strategy, and commit to the re-branding: be consistent with the presentation of the message, even if it means a decrease in sales for the first few months. If you say you are not going to cover traditional news anymore, don’t. NO EXCEPTIONS!
Does this re-branding make you more or less likely to read Newsweek? Is the reason you don't read it now because it is too broad, or is it because you get most of your news online (unless you're in a dentist's waiting room)?
Newsweek Plans Makeover to Fit a Smaller Audience Read more!
I turned 27. Yep, I’m getting old. In these twilight years I have thought a lot about my legacy: What will the name JD Drake mean generations from now? How will they speak of my grand achievements? What will those achievements mean to the world? I’m not getting any younger, I better get achieving. My problem is, I don’t have a lot of free time, and I don’t want to work too hard for a legacy.
My solution: create a sauce. I’m not sure what kind of sauce it will be yet: barbecue, salsa, cajun, marinara, or maybe teriyaki. All I need to do is create a classic recipe by the time my future offspring/business partner is old enough to learn it to perfection. He/She will then pass the recipe on to the grandchildren, who will then begin to sell and distribute it to grocery stores. By the time my great-grandchildren are in the Drake Sauce business it will be one of the best-selling specialty sauces in the country.
Now I don’t want to be too specific here, but the front of the sauce jar could have a cartoon rendering of my likeness giving the thumbs up (possibly with a chef’s hat or wooden spoon in my hand). On the back could be a blurb, something like:
“Four generations ago, in a modest Ohio kitchen, our great-grandfather Drake cooked up a dream of bringing friends and family together with a love of (insert type of sauce here). Today, his dream is a reality at kitchen tables across the country, thanks to Drake’s Sauces. This core belief has been at the core of our sauce making core for decades, and shall continue for decades to come.
So crack open a jar and enjoy! As great-granddad always said, ‘You can’t make sauce without a spoon and a smile!’ "
There, I have already done most of the leg work. All I have to do now is throw some stuff in a pot and let my progeny do the rest. LEGACY CREATED! Now to see what’s on TV. Read more!
Gabbo's special skills include doing the Hully Gully, imitating Vin Scully, and traveling back in time.
Arthur Crandall's special skills include smoking and ventriloquizing simultaneously.
Gabbo products and services include Gabbo dolls, Gabbo doorstops, Gabbo Brand Air Freshener, Gabbo's Guide to Gargling, and Gabbo Airlines.Read more!
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Cleveland Twestival – Thursday Feb. 12, Harry Buffalo on E. 4th St., 6p.m. – 9p.m. $15. Proceeds support Charity:Water
This Thursday, in 175 cities around the world, people are using Twitter to organize and promote events to benefit Charity:Water, an organization working to provide clean drinking water to those who need it.
Cleveland’s contribution will take place at Harry Buffalo on E. 4th St. downtown. $15 at the door gets you free wings, pizza, good conversation, a cornhole tournament, and excellent raffle prizes. Cleveland has an active social media community (check out the Cleveland Social Media Club by clicking on the badge on the right) that has worked hard in the past few weeks to organize this event. It should be fun.
For more information or to purchase tickets online, check out the Cleveland Twestival website.
Cleveland Free Clinic Benefit Concert & Art Auction– Friday Feb. 13, Beachland Ballroom, 9p.m.-12a.m. $7.
On Friday night a mere $7 will get you access to four bands at a legendary venue. All proceeds benefit the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland. An art auction will also be taking place at the nearby Waterloo 7 gallery (an after party will also be held at the gallery after the shows). Bands performing include Oldboy, Sparrows & Arrows, Tastycakes, & Beardo Bandini.
For more info check out the Beachland Ballroom website Read more!
I was finally able to watch the Grammys from Sunday night. I had to watch it on DVR, I wasn’t about to sit through three and a half hours of glad handing and country music for what ended up being 45 minutes of somewhat watchable material.
THREE AND A HALF HOURS!!!?? No awards show should be that long. Especially when you only hand out something like 10 awards (tops), and then fill the rest with endless performances (I lost count around 20). The producers could easily cut an hour from the program. After the jump, let’s see what performances we could have cut from this year’s program to make it shorter and more relevant(take note for next year):
U2: The Grammys is not a show meant to reward music in general, but music from the past year. A new U2 song from an album that has yet to be released does not qualify. Save it for next year.
Al Green/Justin Timberlake: This was a last minute performance to fill in for Chris Brown/Rhiananana so I can let it slide, but has Al Green sung anything besides “Let’s stay together” in the last 30 years? He had a new NOMINATED album; couldn’t he perform something from that?
Coldplay: Of course they needed to perform, but for the sake of time let’s keep each performer to one song. If they wanted to do this 2-song combo they should’ve opened up the show instead of U2.
Stevie Wonder: Is it in his record contract that he has to perform on the Grammys EVERY YEAR? When was the last time he actually released new music (besides that song he sang at the end)? Unless you are nominated during that year, you should not perform.
Kenny Chesney/Taylor Swift/Carrie Underwood/Sugarland/Kid Rock: Too much country music. Cut back.
Katy Perry: This was just bad; we could have done without it.
Paul McCartney/ 4 Topps/ Neil Diamond: Maybe the most pointless performances of the night. This is exactly what is wrong with the Grammys. If you want to know why the ratings for the 18-34 demographic decrease every year, let’s start here. Stop clinging to the past. For a show meant to award the music of the past year, the Grammys spends too much time being nostalgic for the music of the good ol’ days.
If you want to reward the past, create another awards show and fill it with classic performers singing their hits, reuniting, and singing duets with the up and coming stars of today. Leave the Grammys alone and let them focus on the music of the present and introducing new artists to the mainstream.
During the same year as the Soy Bomb incident, the world was introduced to a new Latin singer who brought the house down with his performance. He was relatively unknown outside of his genre, but after his Grammy performance, he went on to achieve international success for years. He ended up being Ricky Martin, but that’s beside the point. The Kings of Leon are a great live rock band (coming to Cleveland in May) that could’ve benefited from a performance, but instead we got Jamie Fox singing old Doo Wop songs. YAWN!
Bottom line: the show should focus on the music of the past year and the unique artists and performances who contributed to it. Until the old dogs learn some new tricks worth rewarding, let them phone in their old hits someplace else.
EXCEPTION: Honoring the dead. I have no problem with the Bo Diddly tribute. One performance every year honoring the passing of a legend is alright. This tribute to the Clash’s Joe Strummer from the 2003 Grammys was awesome (and the last time I remember seeing an unforgettable Grammy performance):