Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I am the Best at Album Cover Photos

Here's something you may not know about me: I am the best at taking album cover photos. You know the kind I mean: weird, almost-lazily wandering photos that capture either ordinary moments, extraordinary things, or the ordinary made extraordinary. There's an art to it, to be sure, but I can't explain it to you any more than I can explain breathing without forgetting what "ATP" means. It's just a gift that one has, a kind of poetry that infuses the day. At the end of it all, all I know is that I have this rare and wondrous ability.

Unfortunately, so far my only clients have been indie bands.

Now, some of these bands are good, and some of these bands are bad, but you can't blame a guy for wanting to branch out. If Eminem, Jay-Z, or the Beatles want me to do some stuff for them, we will work us out a deal.

Click the "read more" link after this sentence to see my art come alive:

Friday, August 19, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Fixing Bad Commercials: The Travelers Insurance Dog

So I want you to think of at least one problem with this advertisement. After you watch the two videos, click "read more" to see if you and I are on the same wavelength. If you thought of a different problem with it, or couldn't find very much wrong with it at all, that will be interesting because it's entirely possible that I am the only one who hates this commercial concept.

Anyway, the two videos:

And now the read more link:

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Every Other Day the new update schedule for this blog. I'm going to be a little busy for the next couple of weeks, so I thought it was better to shift to a schedule that would leave me a little room for error.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It Came in the Mail: Hammacher Schlemmer Fall 2011

Okay, so if you guys don't know what Hammacher Schlemmer (hereafter "HS") is, then this post will certainly let you know. Also, if you have dial-up, it will certainly put a strain on your modem, because hella pictures.

I should also note that I have not "sold out." Hammacher Schlemmer has no idea of my existence and even if they did, I don't get the traffic that would be beneficial to them. I just like talking about catalogs today.

I haven't had much experience with this catalog before, despite getting several catalogs, and I was very excited and interested when it arrived because of a couple things.

It claims to be America's oldest catalog. Short version: it's like SkyMall with class and slightly less silliness. But that doesn't really begin to describe how perfectly odd this catalog is. It's the sort of magical odd that you don't usually think the world has left anymore, but indeed it does, and it is here. Nothing about this catalog makes exactly perfect sense. It's sort of just to the side of perfect. Some products it examines rigorously (more on that later) and holds to the highest standards. At times such as these it appears to be quite the classy catalog. Then other items pop in and make the whole thing look silly.

I mean, what? That's like a... huh?

It's this weird chimera of upper-crust offerings and more-credible-than-infomercial devices. There are going to be products that are very expensive. Products you never even thought you'd see in a catalog. It's going to blow your goddamn mind, bucko.

It does say "unexpected," after all.

So with that, let's dive in. We'll resurface together after you click "read more."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Advertising: Improving Starbucks's "The Green Straw Delivers."

Warning for anyone who cares: this may be a really nitpicky post. Also it's about advertising. I have no idea whether you guys like these posts or not, but I think about this stuff a lot so, uh, welcome to this.

Writing about the World's (Maybe) Worst Commercial really got me thinking. It's easy to make fun of/be horrified at terrible commercials and bad ad campaigns, but it's not so easy to talk about pretty good ones. So I challenged myself to think of ways to maybe touch up some things.

Now, I'm not necessarily an expert here and this is just my opinion, so if my version isn't better to you, cool. But if mine's a little better, then I think ad agencies should really start asking me whether or not, say, putting talking babies in a commercial is a good idea (actually, no, they should always ask me that.)

So anyways. Starbucks has this new ad campaign going that looks a little something like this:

I had to touch it up a bit because apparently they're litigious. I don't know why they'd be litigious about me showing their advertisement (I guess maybe they've heard stories about the internet and are worried every blog is connected to Nazis or pornography), because it's in any Starbucks you go into, but better safe than sorry I guess.

There's two stories about this photo. One I'll tell now and the other I'll tell at the end of the post.

So, the campaign they're going with is pointing out a green straw, obviously hoping to start seeing more tweets like the ones that cluttered the Google results as I searched for an image of Starbucks's displays online (I was ultimately unsuccessful) along the lines of "MMM LOve that Frappachino! As soon as I see that green straw, I know it's time for DELCIOUS!" That's not an actual quote but it might have been and, if I were reading it, I never would have known. This is why sometimes I hate people: because I am disproportionately frustrated about representations that may or may not be indicative of society as a whole.

Anyway. I thought I was going to be successful when I added "twitpic" to the search, thinking maybe someone else wanted a photo of the display. I was sure I had arrived at the sweet, sweet altar of fulfillment when I turned up a tweet that went like this: "I've got a comback to the new Starbucks slogan "the green straw delivers" yeah to MY MOUTH!" It was by someone named beerwench. She turned out to have taken a photo of her own drink (why, I have no idea) and so yeah.

What's the point, you ask? Well, there's two lessons to be learned from this:

1. people be stupid

2. sometimes people notice the wrong thing about your advertisement

Speaking of hating it, I don't actually hate this slogan or campaign. I think it's weird to think of a drink as "handcrafted," but you know, different strokes for different people and all that. I do think, however, that it can be improved.

Right. So. Improvement. Well, clearly, they're hoping to get people to finally notice that Starbucks's straws are different colors than the usual straws you can find at restaurants. There's a couple things that disappoint me about this.

To start with, I thought the green straw was a nice, subliminal bit of branding. I didn't even ever really fully acknowledge it as branding until that ad pointed it out to me. The problem is that I feel it's a little counter-productive. It's hard to explain exactly, but I'll try. Meet me again after you click the "read more" link:

Monday, August 8, 2011

One Last Delay

Okay, I had a post about Starbucks all worked out but someone informed me that they don't take kindly to posting anything with their logo on it online or something? Apparently it's not cool even if you're helping them out by offering superior ad campaigns. So now I have to fix that but I am way too tired tonight. I'll do it when I get back from a two-hour drive early tomorrow. I'm dedicated, I promise, I'm just also busy.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Coming Attractions

I know I've been falling behind, I'm a little busy at the moment. There should be a new post sometime this afternoon, and then another one tomorrow.

Here is a sneak preview:

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Postponed: Fixing the Worst Commercial

I just... I just need more time on that one. Because, I mean, seriously.

I'll post a real update for today in a little bit; I'm writing it right now.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Fixing Bad Commercials: The Worst Commercial

So, if you're not sure what commercial I'm talking about, see the previous post. And then meet the rest of us after the jump:

The (Current) Worst Commercial Ever

Here is a pretty picture to make up for some of the things that are about to happen:

Okay, I had some stuff going on that prevented me from doing a thing, and that are still preventing me from doing a thing, so for now I'll keep this short and elaborate on it later.

This is, quite possibly, the worst commercial. I don't know if it's the worst commercial ever, but when I think of the phrase "worst commercial," this is one of two commercials that comes to mind. It's so bad that I'm going to link it instead of showing it to you outright. I'm working on a post analyzing it, but in the meantime, here is a sneak preview.

Just to warn you, I showed this video to someone and his response was, and I quote, "AAAAAAAAHHHHH WHY WOULD YOU SHOW THAT TO ME I THOUGHT WE WERE FRIENDS". So yes, that... it is pretty bad.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The State of the Blog (Part Two): About Reading This Blog

(To read more about what's going on with my side of the blog, go here)
(If you're looking for Wednesday's actual post and not this crap, click here)

Here's the thing. I'm a bit of a freak for communication. I love feedback and comments and I love knowing that I'm talking to engaged people, which is why I'm a Justice of the Peace.

Anyway, there's a couple things I've done to make it easier for you to give me feedback or ideas. We'll get to them after the jump:

The State of the Blog (Part One): What's Up With Nimby

(Part two, which is more about you, is here)

Okay, I split this up into two posts because one part of it focuses on my end of the blog and the other focuses on your end of the blog. If you only read one of these two posts (though I can't imagine a non-ridiculous situation in which that was a requirement), read part two.

Okay, so I'm a little in a bind here. I'm super-busy with stuff to do and I have at least four posts lined up but I can't post any of them yet because most of them hinge on pictures taken at places I don't have time to get to right now.

Don't worry, this isn't the update for Thursday, it's more like a little bonus post, especially since today's was a little on the short side.

Anyway, I thought that to make up for not getting to read these things right away, you should take a look at the tantalizing things awaiting you by giving you a few random and probably misleading words per post. At least one (1) of these posts is going to be published this week unless some great magnificent other thing comes along, so it's not like all of these are great posts just waiting to be published. And, I mean, some of the ones that are delayed may not be fantastic either (this is called "lowering the audience's expectations"). See more of things after the jump:

Judging States Scientifically: Massachusetts

If you aren't sure what today's title means, you need to read this first.

Also, you might want to catch up by reading about the previous state.

Today we're going to learn about the importance of judging states based on nothing but what the evidence offers us. Otherwise we risk bringing in an outside bias formed by misinformation and deceit practiced by the 24-hour news networks and spin alleys. When you become a scientist, you learn to leave all preconceptions at the door, because otherwise you're tainting the scientific process.

We're not judging the coin by the state but rather the state by the coin. And only the coin. This is the only sensible way to do things. It is the way of Science.

Anyway, today's quarter is Massachusetts. The analysis, as always, is after the jump.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Update delayed (UPDATED)

until at least 5:30 Eastern Time. See second paragraph. In the meantime, feel free to suggest whatever but know that I may very well not do it at all. I kind of feel like talking about how horrible a certain commercial is, but I'm not sure it can be saved. See third paragraph.

update: Okay, the post has been delayed until tomorrow. I'm switching over to a format where instead of writing posts in the day and then just posting them whenever, I'm writing and posting them at late night so they're here for you when you get up in the morning. So it was either pull together a really lazy update, try to do two long updates in a row (which would have killed me because I've got other stuff to do), or do nothing, so I chose to do nothing because I'm a perfectionist and if I'd tried for a lazy update it would have led to the "two updates in a row" thing.

Also, I have no idea what to write about, so suggest something, please. The only rule is that you can't suggest what someone else has already suggested; this isn't a vote so much as an auction (idea most conducive to a good post wins).

Monday, August 1, 2011

fine here you go: SUDDENLY, HAT!

let it never be said I don't give people what they want.

I think one of the best hats is probably the opera hat, for reasons that will soon become apparent.

In about... now.