Peter Cottontail makes a good appetizer

There are many decisions that contribute to the growth of a successful business. Faced with a limited marketing budget, many can benefit from a carefully chosen name that not only engages and possibly entertains, but also clearly communicates the benefit to the customer. Like the rabbitry featured in today’s Wall Street Journal article about alternate […]

My allegiance to the Specials, and some Lily Allen

Twenty-eight years ago this weekend, the Specials shot towards the top of the British charts with Gangsters. Their interpretation of ska was directly responsible for me dancingĀ  strangely and dangerously for quite a few years. Just check out the clip of Nite Klub on the old documentary Dance Craze. (It’s a must watch, in my […]

The Life of An Alternative Band

Here you go folks. I’ve tried to draw out the career arc for the typical alternative band (or one hit wonder pop band). The arc progresses from left to right, with the four segments representing roughly two to three years in total (although it could be 18 months if you’re an American Idol winner). I […]

Put this analogy machine in your pipe and smoke it

Once you find someone who gives good quote, you’ve got to hang onto them. “He’s putting his money where is mouth is, and I like that,” Black said. “He’s got his own skin in the game, thinks out of the box, and seems to be one of those guys that takes the bull by the […]

Which is the Worst Stain on a Sport?

Wow. What a month for professional sports. Which is the worst personal failing currently staining the reputation and future of a professional sport? Jordan and Eric Staal, two National Hockey League players are booked for “harassing passing motorists” after a bachelor party in Minnesota (that’s right – NHL players go to Minn. to party!) National […]

Starbucks keeps its options open in China

It’s not breaking news that Starbucks is leaving its location inside the Forbidden City. The decision was driven, to a large degree, by the opposition stirred up by Rui Chenggang. His persistent criticism eventually resulted in a 500,000 signature petition for the franchise to leave the UNESCO World Heritage site. But how could Starbucks avoid […]

Is Miliband Giving Activists a Role on the Inside?

“… The old diplomacy was defined by a world of limited information. It was a veritable secret garden of negotiations. And secret negotiation still matters. But we live in a world where the views of a Pashtun herdsman, and the conflict he faces between illegal opium production and legal farming, holds the fate of a […]

Obscene or just plain edgy advertising?

I’m loving the new energy awareness campaign from (and I saw the first mainstream ad (here) yesterday, and it’s edgy and engaging. Not quite as raw as the first ad, but more informative. In the new ad, a young woman* walks the viewer through the argument for energy reduction, and a few steps […]

Social media, online identity and privacy

I’ve been doing some thinking about data collection and personal privacy lately, and it’s struck me that a lot of early adopters, online cognoscenti and bandwagoners are rushing headlong into a world framed by the overarching principles of transparency, honesty and personal interaction – without thinking of about how much of their personal information they […]

A parking space with your hot dog?

You know, it’s the focus on the needs of your customer that helps a small business stay alive. Like Wahid Rafiq, a hot dog vendor that usually works outside a Department of the Interior building in Washington. Like the many toppings available for his dogs, Rafiq allegedly offered options for his regular customers – like […]

William Gibson – pimping in Second Life

William Gibson’s getting ready to release a new novel, and his publisher has some innovative ideas to promote Spook Country. As the Penguin Blog tells us, they’ve prepared a range of activities in Second Life – making an apt link to the ideas first floated in Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer. “…we’re screening his fine and […]

Is this really respect for an 80s icon?

Wow. The Slug has it right. Yaz, the low dosage birth control pill, does draw a lot of inspiration from the synthpop band of the same name. Let’s misinterpret the lyrics to one of the band’s big hits, Situation: blue eyed dressed for every situation moving through the doorway of a nation pick me up […]

Harry Potter Spoiler – and a startling Menudo analogy

The word’s out, thanks to some clueless bookstore employees and some impulsive online booksellers. The NYTimes tells us that the latest volume of the Harry Potter series is violent: “…at least a half-dozen characters we have come to know die in these pages, and many others are wounded or tortured. Voldemort and his followers have […]

I’ll take “An Album Cover” for $400, Alex

A potpurri for you, folks. Matt Allen has convinced music festivals like Pitchfork, online game sites, Levis and others to underwrite his ice cream truck and its free goodies. His site sounds more participatory than the write-up in the Chicago Reader. Elsewhere in Chicago, the market for fake sneaks threatens to overwhelm the smaller sneaker […]

Impulse marketing at its best

You’re reading that right. “Maintenance Wanted” is the message on the billboard at the hotel. I paid $129 a night for that. With free breakfast, of course. The local job market has to be pretty tight for a hotel manager to muddy their marketing message like this. The other side advertised positions for morning waitstaff. […]

More Tagline Madness

Two billboard taglines, seen in Pennsylvania and Maryland on the last day of our summer roadtrip. The first is simply stunning in its simplicity, and jawdropping in its premise: Lunchtime Lipo The second, just as simple but more reassuring: NotYourMothersMammogram.Com That tagline, though, makes me feel sorry for my mother’s generation. One other note: if […]

Marketing tagline for morons

“If electromagnetic waves can penetrate walls, imagine what they can do to your skin” – spotted at a Clarins makeup counter at Macy’s Umm – the same thing they do to walls – nothing? Let’s put the claims made by makeup companies into a different context: if a home repair guy showed up at your […]

Quantitative research needs to balance smart and useful

Often, our approach to preparing a questionnaire or a piece of public opinion research is to send an email around asking about corporate priorities, convening a brainstorming session, changing the date on last year’s moderator’s guide, or simply revising the questions from last year’s omnibus survey. Andrew at Northern Planner offers some advice on preparing […]

Age of Conversation

Coming, just for you, on Monday! The Age of Conversation, an e-book collaboration by over 100 authors in marketing, advertising, public relations and big thinking. All profits going to Variety, the Children’s Charity. More details available on my custom Age of Conversation page. Thanks to Drew and Gavin for organizing this!

At Honest Ed’s – Only The Floors Are Crooked

Yeah, yeah. Ed Mirvish and his son David transformed live theatre in Canada, London and around the world. Let’s talk about his skills as a salesman. A master salesman. Once upon a time, I lived a half block away from Honest Ed’s Emporium, found at the corner of Bloor and Bathurst Streets in Toronto. The […]

Poorly considered messaging buffets Anne Murray

Famed singer Anne Murray has waded into the debate over building a wind turbine farm in Nova Scotia’s Gulf Shore. And she’s chosen some strange points to support her argument. While interest in alternative sources of energy has built up steam over the last year, there is a much longer history of opposition to industrial […]

Catholic Church Bags Itself

Wow. Back in university, we had an expression to describe a traditional, stuffy and unrelenting conservative: “a man of the 90s – the 1890s.” It seems like Pope Benedict is a man of the 1490s. First the reinstatement of Latin mass (and than a subsequent slow and grudging repositioning), then the declaration that Protestants are […]

I am, in no way, Peter Pan

I’ve been searching around for a new suit lately, mostly online. I was contemplating an updated look, but it looks like I’ll have to continue in my preppy ways, because the men’s fashions being prepared for next spring are, ummm, quirky. I offer, as support, a review of a recent Milan fashion show – Looking […]

Pushing music with karaoke

Now, I know most alternative songs have poor production qualities, home made cover art and only adequate singing, but Art Brut is taking promotion of their recent album to interesting new formats. Like Karaoke. They’ve made instrumental tracks available for select events in the U.S. As Brands Bands Fans points out, karaoke may be on […]

Internal Comms – is Facebook your daddy?

“I just have to tip my hat to the Yankees and call them my daddy.” So uttered Pedro Martinez (in a semi-lucid moment) after losing a 2004 game to the New York Yankees. Is it time for internal communications – as a profession – to curtsy and walk off stage? Year after year of newsletters, […]

Some vaguely religious linkbaiting

Following on Paul and Roger‘s example, some link love meant to inspire at the same time: “And did those feet in ancient time Walk upon England’s mountains green? And was the Holy Lamb of God On England‘s pleasant pastures seen? And did the Countenance Divine Shine forth upon our clouded hills? And was Jerusalem builded […]

Stephen Fry wants to tell you about the internets

Wow. General Melchett‘s gained a little bit of weight. And he’s got a video opinion on the quality of user-generated content. “ that sense, it’s the street corner with a lot of mad people with banners. But there will be good street theatre too …” Stephen Fry has a lot more to say about the […]

Public service webby types feel validated

Aaargh. Jimmy Leach, Tony Blair’s head of digital communications, wins an award for his work. He’s taken home the New Media Age award for “The Greatest Individual Contribution to New Media.” Why? Epetitions. Podcasts. A YouTube channel for a Prime Minister. All put in place in less than a year. Simon Dickson underlines the importance […]

Home run for a beer garden

Plattduetsche Park Restaurant, which is a German-style beer garden found just outside Queens, hit a home run with its review in the New York Times this weekend. in my judgment, there were four key elements: the headline: “Get Out the Lederhosen and Prepare to Oompah“ the first line: “BEER + sun + sausage = joy.” […]

The muzak is whispering to you … get out!

You walk in, and you hear a whisper of music. Just there in the background. It might be the lobby of your office building. The entrance to the mall. The train station. An elevator. That’s the shadow of programmed music, designed to either attract or repel you from a public or retail environment. We’ve all […]

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