July 22, 2005 by Colin
Today we hear from a different retail species: the frustrated movie theatre employee:
“To the mothers who ask me if the crappy ass kid film you are seeing is good…you know it’s not. You’re just toying with me now. Spy Kids is not good. What do you want me to say? It has the beginnings of a resigned Felligni, but really the diplomatic pace is more akin with such classic tales as seen from Weir? No, I’m sorry. Even if I were to say “Yeah, it’s really good” the words from my mouth would burn a hole in my very soul. Don’t ask. Just don’t ask. You know the reason you’re going is to shut your kids up or buy their love. That’s all. That’s it. Suck it up. It’s very awkward, and I dislike lying.
Yeah, it’s great! And think about it, I’m an early twentysomething guy. There would most likely be something wrong with me if I got really excited about the movie your kid can’t stop hopping up and down about. OH MY GOD! Sharkboy changed my life in ways I can’t describe. Really. Except I’m lucky if I remember the name of the film you’re seeing. You just want validation. You want me to tell you that that thirty bucks you just spent wasn’t for nothing. Well it was and you’re just going to have to live with that. Next! “(Craigslist)
July 21, 2005 by Colin
I suspect The Two Fat Ladies had something to do with it. They introduced me to the idea that cooking could be as interesting – and as much of a guilty pleasure – as reading about Richard Nixon trying to undermine the government.
July 21, 2005 by Colin
I wonder: in New York, is it a positive brand attribute for Whole Foods to have food demo staff that are knowledgeable but irritable?
“Whole Foods: We particularly like the one in Union Square … You can always count on the fish griller to be lining up plastic ramekins filled with swordfish or wild salmon. But we warned. If you take seconds, he will hate you. Really, with him you can do no right. If you ask what he’s cooking he’ll grumble the answer.
If you cower in fear, afraid to ask what you’re eating he will say accusingly, “Don’t you want to know what you’re eating?” We recommend that you keep a low profile, take your sample, give a nod of thanks then go.
However, you will want more than one sample. With this in mind we suggest that you show up with a few disguises. Hats, sunglasses and wigs are recommended.”(Cakehead.Com)
No, really? If there was an effervescent ray of sunshine handing out the carp on a stick, would New Yorkers feel poorly served? Is there a place for the Soup Nazi in NY’s retail food experience?
For more information on moving the samples off the shelves and into the carts:
Retailwire hosted a valuable discussion on “dazzling them with demos.”
As Cooperative Grocer tells us, an effective sampler should have these qualities:
-Is friendly and outgoing
-Has good appearance (no faux Elvis)
-Has good health (*cough*cough*)
-Speaks the language (whaaa?)
-Can memorize three paragraphs of information
-Is attentive to details
-Is a teacher and a booster — has a positive attitude
-Can effectively promote foods the sampler does not eat (have you tried the jalapeno poppers in aisle 23?)
(Thanks to Free Williamsburg for the Whole Foods link)
July 20, 2005 by Colin
From Sweet Blasphemy:
“Memo To Music Magazines:
Because you are all a bunch of cheapskates and don’t pay me enough money or in a timely fashion, I am reduced to temping. It is, in fact, fairly hilarious that I am sitting here in a blazer and black slacks in the headquarters of JP Morgan on Park Avenue working as a “receptionist” (I have answered the phone approximately four times in two days). …
I don’t want to end up being an investment banker so could a few of you up your freelance rates a few cents a word?!? Also, if you could get me my checks within five months of me penning some lame story about a rock band that sounds just like every other damn rock band, that would be fabulous.
P.S. Spin- If you put The Arcade Fire on your cover at any point in the next year I am going to be officially done with you. You suck as it is; don’t make it any worse.
P.P.S. Spin.com, on the other hand, does not suck. I write for them now and anything I do can’t possibly suck. Just for the record.”
The difference between writing screeds for music mags and writing for corporate publications? There’s a much greater possiblity your music writing will end up beside a fold-out picture of a half-naked starlet or a direct mail ad for male “enhancement” products. No such luck for my work.
Well, maybe if I worked for the Spanish government.
July 19, 2005 by Colin
I don’t know about you, but the pamphlets I found in the career counselling office never had titles like:
- Sandra Kendall of the 4-H: The Career Story of a Young Home Demonstration Agent
- Loveliest Librarian
- Space Secretary
- The Girl on the Bookmobile
- Tune in for Elizabeth: Career Story of a Radio Interviewer
- Jan Marlowe, Hospital Libariarian
I understand the historical significance of such “career romance” novels for young women entering the work force in the 1940s and 1950s – but they still sound like postings on a.s.s or r.a.m.e (oh, you know what I mean).
“Since she had decided to take the job as library assistant at the college’s huge old main library, Katie had met and made many lifetime girl friends, had acquired an apartment with color TV and a tiny balcony, bought and paid for a used red Porsche, and had been in and out of love—all within the brief space of seven months.
The light changed, and Katie walked briskly across the main street. Decidedly beautiful, Katie carried with her that continued air that lovely girls often do. Katherine Anne Dugan had long ago realized that being pretty helped her to be a better librarian, actually stimulating interest in learning and reading.”
Still, there are passages that remind me of graduate school:
“The microfilm reader fascinated Anne. It had been so helpful in the libraries where she had worked the last two summers. But she had never before had the responsibility of a machine, as she did now. She arrived early on her second day and went to the metal cabinet beside the machine to study the films which the library had collected. It still seemed a miracle to her that the contents of a whole book, or a big issue of a newspaper, could be recorded on a small roll of film less than two inches wide.”
Yes – I am old enough that I did research on a microfiche reader. With microfilm I ordered from the National Archives in Maryland. By mail. With stamps. Are you familiar with the concept?
July 18, 2005 by Colin
7-11 is moving back into the Manhattan market, and New York magazine “spoke with CEO James Keyes and his PR director-chaperone, Margaret Chabris” about the chain’s strategy.
Imagine the setting: You’re a multinational convenience chain, establishing a beachhead in a market dominated by local bodegas and immigrant-owned groceries. You’re trying to have a light-hearted, but on message, conversation with a magazine aimed squarely at the sort of NY’er who might chafe from 7-11 driving out their favourite Korean grocery. On top of it all, the PR director is in the room.
Q: 7-Eleven strikes some urbanites as hopelessly suburban. Is your brand hip?
Keyes: We believe 7-Eleven is the ultimate hip. We tuned in a few years ago, and Jason—I’m sorry, Justin—Timberlake is shooting a video in a 7-Eleven parking lot. We were really pleased …
Q: Have you taken into account New Yorkers’ need for condoms?
Heh-heh. Uhhhhh . . .
Chabris: He’s blushing. Let’s say the gross is really in fresh foods.
Actually, I think the gross will be in the manga and DVDs you’ll find customers will be requesting. That’s the reason the bodegas and groceries scrape along: they will cater to the quirks, habits and perversions of their regular customers. That sort of “focus on the customer” may prove difficult for a publicly traded behemoth.
July 18, 2005 by Colin
I can just imagine the editorial meeting: “We need to play in the Tom and Katie game, but don’t want to seem too opportunistic. Let’s whip up something about how papparazzi drive Lindsay, Bennifer and Aniston nuts as well, okay? Oh, and someone call Splash and get some celeb photos we can Photoshop!”
“… Listen to a star in the making: Ariel Gade, 8, at the premiere of mainstream horror flick Dark Water, when asked if she likes fame. “I love it,” she says, her voice quavering with excitement.
… When I ask her if things were still the same with her friends, first she says yes, but then reconsiders: “Well,” she says, scrunching up her exquisite face, “actually, I’m home-schooled, so I don’t have any friends. But I do have cousins.” She starts to walk away but stops short.
“Oh, and by the way, this is a Bill Blass design,” she says, holding out her pink tulle dress. “Bill Blass brought it over a few days ago, I don’t remember exactly when. Bill Blass gave it to me as a little gift.” (Which would have been nice, except Bill Blass is dead.)”
July 18, 2005 by Colin
“Some people are just into lavish dwarf entertainment,” says the 4-foot-2 Danny Black, a part-owner in Shortdwarf.com, an outfit that rents dwarfs for parties starting at $149 an hour. Mr. Black says he spent part of [a March 2003] weekend on the yacht and worked as a waiter on the Friday night at a high-end Miami eatery alongside what he called “regular size” people. “A good time was had by all,” he said, declining to provide further details.”(WSJ)
No matter if Mr. Black is now wrapped up in a post-Koslowski SEC investigation – an A1 hit in the WSJ is PR gold!
July 15, 2005 by Colin
… is a song on the second album by Harry and the Potters. “The Wrath of Hermione” is one of their unreleased tracks – and they were all recorded at home, in the basement or the shed. Definitely not part of the larger J.K. Rowling marketing plan. Still, the band is playing 28-odd performances over the next six weeks, packing them in at bookstores and public libraries.
“July 15th, Friday
Mount Prospect, IL
This is the Book 6 Release Party that will destroy all other release parties
We are playing at 3:00pm, 6:00pm, and 9:00pm
Randhurst Mall, Mount Prospect, IL
We are not actually part of the official Spellbound activities, but we’ll be playing a number of sets throughout the day at the Borders bookstore (which is across the parking lot from the mall), so come check it out!“
If you’re a garage punk band from Massachusetts, do you count Forbes as a significant media hit?
“…But like their music, their attire also has some edge. “We sort of embellished upon Harry’s traits a little bit,” Paul smiles. “To pull off the band convincingly, we felt like we had to make Harry into a punk rocker.” From waist down, at least. That explains the studded belts, jeans and sneaks.”
Harry and the Potters certainly draw from the Rowling fanbase – in addition to regular old music fans. And it is a very large fanbase. Steven Brown, who spent WAAY too much time analyzing Harry Potter preparing his “Wizard! Harry Potter’s Brand Magic,” makes the argument that:
“… Rowling, far from being hijacked by the marketing sorcerers who have exploited her innocence, is actually something of a marketing professor herself, even if she has never had a day’s academic education in the subject. She has created Harry Potter using branding techniques and the books themselves are full of brilliantly invented brands, corporate strategies, advertising campaigns and every element of the marketing mix. In effect, they make a textbook case for marketing.”(as paraphrased in the Guardian)
Still, publishing houses and their financial analysts are pragmatic about the long-term influence of the Potter phenomenon on the industry:
“You don’t ignore the Harry Potter earnings,” [Peter Appert, analyst with Goldman Sachs Group] says. “It’s real cash flow. But you want to value the company on some sort of normalized basis of profitability.” (Oooh. Don’t you love Street-speak?)
July 15, 2005 by Colin
“Slate will offer regular weekday podcasts of one or more of our articles read aloud (mostly by me, Slate’s resident radio guy). Think of this as books on tape—only without the books and without the tape.”
Uh, guys? That sure is a short book on tape. Why not use the medium to bang some memes together – get some of your brilliant authors to throw out ideas and discuss evolving stories? Or do you have an exclusive contract with NPR for material like that?
Come on. Give us something original, something creative – the sort of work we normally expect from Slate.
Reading a story into a mike? How far removed is that from the reading service for the hearing impaired I can find on channel 258 of my cable TV?
July 15, 2005 by Colin
“Bridging” is an interview technique intended to help you steer the direction of a conversation towards your key messages – and away from more difficult threads of the conversation.
While bridging isn’t recommended for the spokesperson with poor debating skills or an absolutely indefensible position (for instance, “but let’s talk about the positive effect of tobacco smoke in controlling the mosquito population!” just won’t work), it can help the agile spokesperson introduce valuable key messages and data into the conversation – reinforcing your argument and highlighting the positive aspects of your position.
Vincent Covello tells us that bridging statements can include:
• “And what’s most important to know is…”
• “With this in mind, if we look at the bigger picture…”
• “Let me put all this in perspective by saying…”
• “What all this information tells me is…”
• “Before we continue, let me take a step back and repeat that…”
• “Before we continue, let me emphasize that…”
• “This is an important point because…”
• “And if we take a closer look, we would see…
• “Let me point out again that…”
• “Another thing to remember is…”
• “Before we leave the subject, let me add that…”
• “And that reminds me…”
James Brown, in a clip from an episode of the old Sonya Live on CNN, shows us all how NOT to bridge messages.
July 13, 2005 by Colin
I may be going to Hell for this, but Betty Bowers has a funny flash animation with rolling smart cracks, including:
“So close to Jesus, He uses my birthday when He plays Lotto.”
July 12, 2005 by Colin
Are you one of the Economist magazine’s million subscribers? Or the thousands of online-only subscribers? Ever wondered why the Economist doesn’t have bylines? Why every one of its articles seems to have an opinion?
Are you weird like me, and think the Economist can even be witty?
July 12, 2005 by Colin
Like most Canadians, you will sit thirty cars deep in a drive-thru line-up at 7:46 in the morning to pick up a refreshing iced capuccino. (Hey! Even newly-released sex killers crave them!)
How can I be so certain? It’s all in the way U.S. retail chains are implementing their new research into customer behaviour:
“The [new Path Tracker ...] system revealed that morning commuters came to the front of the store where the bakery was located to buy coffee and a donut. By placing the bakery farther back and relocating the snacks along the aisle leading to the bakery sales of candy bars and chips have increased dramatically … ” (Infoworld)
That’s right, boys. If they’re coming into the store for a quick fill-me-up baked good, the first step to fulfilling customer needs should be to drive the customer farther into the store.
That may work within the footprint of the grocery store – but what if there’s a Tim Hortons/Wendy’s out on the standalone pad in the parking lot? Not only will the grocery lose the incremental sales, it’ll be sitting knee deep in recently defrosted centrally manufactured parboiled baked goods.
Side note: wondering why Tim Horton’s is missing the apostrophe? French language laws in Quebec.
July 12, 2005 by Colin
The Greensboro News & Record is experimenting with an audience participation model, based around reader-submitted stories, pictures and comments. But some of their audience may not be ready to embrace the future. Just a snippet from a July 4 piece in the NYT:
One, T.W. Caudle, who wrote about his grandson’s grand slam home run at a local baseball game, had submitted his article to the print newspaper, but it ran only online. His wife, Shelby, said the family was disappointed that the story did not appear in print because more people might have read it.
”I didn’t even know you could see the paper on the computer,” Mrs. Caudle said. She said she subscribed to the paper because she liked reading the obituaries and editorials.