Happy Holidays!

That's pretty much all I had to say.


Layoff rumors.

In a bad economy, everyone knows ad dollars are one of the first things to go. Especially with car companies going out.

I'm really hoping to keep my job or stay in advertising in general. But what if I had to leave?

Top alternate professions, without considering education or feasibility:

Runners up - undercover agent at a high school, hostess at a restaurant, personal assistant, photographer

10. Bow tier at a wrapping station (special family talent)

9. Cat whisperer

8. Bartender (specifically in a non-smoking bar)

7. Journalist/Blogger/Twitter feeder

6. Party planner

5. Slogan writer for movie posters

4. Anything Obama wants me to be

3. College professor in advertising or writing or mass media in general

2. Personal shopper

1. Author (I've become a copywriter stereotype.)

I guess I'd also like to think of something new to do. Hopefully, we will not have to see.


The end. And getting there.

When I was in college, my minor was in creative writing. I took a lot of fiction writing classes and finally made my way to honors.

Here are a couple of things I learned that I try to apply to everything I write:

1. You only get 2 exclamation points for your entire life.
The situation and the words themselves should have enough emotion that punctuation isn't necessary.

2. You know everything. Your reader knows enough.
If a scene ends with a character going to bed and the next begins with them waking up, you should know every dream they had. But you shouldn't write it all down.

3. Be Hemingway.
Use necessary words.

4. Know the ending before you begin.
You have to know where a story is going and then take it there. I've heard other writers say they create the characters and let them drive the story. But on every successful story I've written, I've known the climax before I began.


Serious journalism meets banner ad.

I was just on the NY Times site, trying to read the news. I consider the NY Times to be a serious, sacred place.

But then I rolled over this banner - rolled over, not clicked - and it expanded to take up my reading space. It was a Capitol One ad, a "What's in your wallet?" campaign piece. So a wallet opens and a picture of a child in a bath comes out with a rubber duck and water.

I was just looking at a picture of rows and rows of graves where people in Africa are dying of cholera. I had perused a headline where white collar jobs are falling to the terrible economy. And you're going to invade my screen with a picture of a child in a bath?

Not okay.

Please be aware of where you place your ads. Maybe try a parenting site next time. Or at least don't make it expand and infringe on my serious space.

Thank you. And goodbye.


Oh Blogger, you have disappointed me.

My first few days on Twitter have gone well. I've got an app on my iPhone that I can semi work and I've been texting in my comments as well.

I was disappointed to find out that Blogger really doesn't have a good system to link to Twitter. You'll notice I have a Twitter feed on the blog but linking the blog back to Twitter is complicated. Even more frustrating - other blogging companies like WordPress have already figured it out.

Perhaps it's all about who owns what and making the right deal with them. I hate to think it's oversight.

I feel like almost* every company should have:
a website
a Twitter feed
some sort of blog or updated content
an iPhone app
a widget
a Facebook page

These things should all connect and the content should take them further. In fact, companies should look at every piece of technology, every app and see if there's a way they could get in on them and benefit. Are there dedicated staffers who do these things? Technology hall monitors?

By the way, I'm pretty sure Barack Obama completed the list and went beyond.

*I say almost because if the concept doesn't warrant these things or if it would harm the concept to have them, then they shouldn't exist.


Twitter and the 24/7 pressure.

I joined Twitter today, at the urging of a coworker. And now I feel this extreme pressure to "Twit" (oh god, I don't know the terminology, I'm so behind!) all the time.

My friend, Paul, has already sent me three sites - one that grades and ranks you on Twitter, one that tracks your stats and one that threatens to track you down if you ever quit Twitter.

What have I gotten myself into? And how far does it go?

I've already got my iPhone app for it, of course. But I can also connect it to my Facebook and this blog.

My next question: do people really care what I'm doing and thinking or is this just work escapism at its finest? Am I a virtual socialite or do I suffer from boredom?

And what could I do with Twitter to make things interesting? Barack Obama had a Twitter. I'm sure other companies do too. (I'm already Twittering NPR, and they're Twittering me. - Twittering? Right word?)

I wonder how fast a message could spread on there. Like an elementary school parent's phone tree.

I'm connecting it to the blog now. If I can figure it out.



There's the bell and we're off.

Time for recess. Meaning we all relax and enjoy our stations in life before someone makes us go back to class.

In the case of the US recession, people don't seem to be taking it easy. The feeling in the schoolyard is not light. Everyone is desperate to get back to work, to make the big bucks and become super rich again. Obama is going to deliver, I have the faith. But until then, why can't we take some time for ourselves?

I guess it's hard to relax because we're all so worried. Advertising is the first thing a lot of companies cut down on. Apparently "you have to spend money to make money" really doesn't apply when you're in a heap of debt. Everyone here is working hard to show they want to keep working. Creativity is devoted to home projects.

And that's what I mean by recess. As advertisers, we have a lot of time on our hands in a slowing, dying, weeping economy.

What am I going to do with my creative energy? Run it out on the playground until it's time to go back inside.


Futility and Passion

I am very passionate about my work. Sometimes a little too passionate, though I would still have to be convinced there was such a thing.

A question that's been on my mind lately is when to stop fighting? Where do I draw the line and say I've given enough, any further and the idea would be compromised beyond recognition?

I'm not sure. Especially since the client ultimately holds the cards. The power and the money is in his or her hands. And the hands that control me, the ones that don't fire me and let me come to work every day, have to bend to that bottom line.

 Sometimes I worry that it's going to break me. That eventually I'll have to quit advertising (unimaginable) because I've lost the love and the passion that I have now. Or I'm afraid that I'll separate myself so much from my work that I'll just be a machine, a means to an end for client whims. (Also unimaginable.)

But how do I sustain my passion? I'm told that I keep it in my book in the director's cut. Or find another creative outlet. And I've been trying to do that lately. I need to regain my sense of control and start making art again.

I miss art.


Black Friday

I wish Black Friday didn't exist.

How much are you hurting your brand by discounting things to the max? And add to that the absolutely horrid shopping experience customers will have in your store. 

I like a discount as much as the next girl. I've also seen the articles this year that hinge a business' entire future on their success this Friday. But isn't there a better way to do this?

Continuing discounts, loyalty rewards?


Happy people.

I just saw an article on nytimes.com called, "What happy people don't do." My first thought was, "Read this article," but I chose to click anyway. I got through the first paragraph before I realized I must be profoundly unhappy.

Turns out happy people don't watch tv. I already knew that some psychologists advise not reading the news so much. I wonder if there's a connection between being culturally savvy and terminally unhappy. Is media bringing gloom and doom upon us all?

Probably. But the oblivion of not reading the news or not watching television - the oblivion of the human experience, I would say in a dramatic flair - is not the kind of happiness I want.

See Synecdoche, you unhappy tv watchers - it's good.


When experience fails advertising.

I've been in NYC the past few days. Please excuse the massive break in the blog. My next few posts will probably be based on my trip. This entry is about living up to your brand promise.

I flew Jet Blue for the first time, with very different results going and coming.

Our local airport does not have a Jet Blue terminal. In fact, there are only a few flights a day that go to NYC. Jet Blue really has no control over the terminal or airport situation. And that's when the experience starts to contradict the advertising message. 

Jet Blue has this idea of "Happy jetting." When you see this message on the little screen in front of you, during the second time you've boarded the plane, right after they've told you that you're going back to the gate to get off it again, you might have a similar reaction to mine. I was infuriated. I mentally declared I was never "jetting" again, that this brand promise had not only failed me, but made me more angry than I would have been otherwise.

Also, our airport pretty much shuts down at eight or so. We had no food, no entertainment. And the measly offer of Doritos snack mix didn't make me any perkier. I was stuck in a grey airport in an uncomfortable chair with people telling me my flight "may" take off soon. Ultimately my flight was delayed eight hours - not Jet Blue's fault, it was the weather, but still I irrationally blamed them.

My return trip showed me what "Happy jetting" was supposed to be. JFK has a Jet Blue terminal, so ultimately the company can fulfill their brand promise because they are controlling the situation. The carpets were bright blue with streaks of orange. There were people everywhere just to answer questions. There was a Jamba Juice and other good food. They had special stuffed, soft seats with free-standing ottomans in all different colors that could be moved around. I was reclining. The announcements were loud and clear. Everything was clean and gleaming. They had free Wi-Fi internet and stations for people without computers. It was terminal heaven.

Of course my flight was on-time here. My only complaint is that some of my channels were out on the way back, so I didn't get to see the "Happy jetting" message again. That time I might have liked it.


Overheard while voting.

I know I just did an overheard entry, but this was too good for me to pass up.

The place where I voted yesterday (for Obama, in case there was any question) was run by four older women and an older man. I'm second in line at this point and can clearly hear this conversation.

Older man: I'm going to run to the bathroom. (Walks off)

One older woman to another: I think he has a problem. That's the second time he's gone.


Heather the writer.

I don't think the McCain campaign is ever going to cite me or my profession in their laundry list of "[first name] the [profession]" people they're trying to win over. But I suppose I'm not a prime target.

It's an annoying and infuriating tactic, but it's one of the few concrete things I've seen from the McCain campaign since it began. The name/profession game is definitely some sort of branding, something you can hold on to. I sincerely hope it's not successful, but for me, it's about to turn into fun.

Who else is not the McCain target?

Bill the philanthropist.
Eunice the librarian.
Dora the explorer.
Tina the lesbian.
Ryder the college student.
David the unemployed.
Tyrone the teacher.
Colin the former Secretary of State.
Candice the journalist.
Lee the designer.
Stephen the Hawaiian.
Derek the agnostic.

And hopefully more.



Small child at Chick-fil-a:

Ama gah blue EEEEEEEVA.

And repeat. And repeat. (Father clamps hand over son's mouth for approximately 10 seconds.) And repeat. And repeat.

Ama gah blue EEEEEEEVA.


If television becomes obsolete.

Last week was a mad rush to the finish. Sorry I didn't do any updates.

I've had a couple conversations lately where I or someone around me has casually said, "Television will become obsolete." Nobody has offered any further explanation orally, so I thought I'd expand my thoughts here.

I think I first need to clarify that television, as we know it, will become obsolete. There will certainly be shows but I doubt they will be delivered in the same manner. The ability to DVR and fast-forward has decreased the value of television to advertisers. To remedy that, television will move towards an on-demand system where viewers choose their own shows that are sponsored by one advertiser at a time. We have that now with on-demand channels that have limited offerings and online where television shows stream from network sites. Advertisers and viewers both benefit from this delivery. Why can't every show be like that? Seems like shows would be viewed more if people could try them out on their own schedules. I'd be interested to see which shows survived this Darwin approach.

But that's just thinking in the short-term. I'd like to see all household media come into one place, the place where the television used to be. Could the "television" now run off the internet so that it was actually a type of computer screen? Could you run security off of that, choosing different parts of your home to monitor, making sure windows were locked and lights were out? Could you choose news segments, skipping through the weather report to find out how alligator sightings will impact your weekend? How about picking your own sponsors - your given a list, you have to watch at least two ads, you choose? What about YouTube? 

It seems like a few of these are happening - my parents' caller ID comes up on their TV screen. And my Wii runs the news and weather. My computer lets me choose segments and shows. There are a few on-demand channels. But it could definitely be better. All of these technologies could be combined to cater to the individual and help advertising become more effective.

Television will not be the same and I probably couldn't sit here and tell you how. But I'm excited to find out.


Keeping up.

Media moves fast. I always feel like I'm behind, but that's probably because almost everyone is. Here's an inventory of what am I using, what do I want to find out more about, and what's slipping away?

I use: Blogger, Google Analytics, Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, iPhone, AIM/iChat, YouTube, Wii, DVR, Netflix, personal website, Linkedin, Wikipedia, television online, iPod, digital cameras, Craigslist.org, TripAdvisor, online shopping, iTunes

Sub category - How I communicate: text message, email, in person, instant message, phone, mail, links, blog, Facebook

I want to learn more about: Twitter, Google Reader and the full extent of Google, XBox Live, online gambling, streaming music sites, file sharing sites, Blinkx, Nike +, Apple tv, digital video cameras, Tom Tom and other GPS, Digg.com, Spore, and all the things I've heard of but can't think of and all the things I haven't even heard of... I'm ambitious here.

I know but I've let go of: MySpace, Mobile Me, Skype, Widgets, online dating (just let it be known that I know how to navigate them), Podcast, Friendster, Photobucket, Webkinz, Second Life



I tried to write this entry last night from my iPhone, but it wouldn't work. It's sad when my technology fails me. It hurts my faith in the iPhone's seemingly limitless power.

Yesterday I spent a portion of my day surfing stock photo sites. Eventually I got extremely frustrated with the stock photo process and thought to myself, "I'm a writer. Why am I doing this?"

But I did not and would not say that out loud. The truth is, I love being included on all aspects of projects. And I welcome help on my copy from art directors as well.

I find the disconnect happens most often when a logo project comes up. It's not enough to just have a designer on it. Copywriters think differently. They can add to a design project and offer suggestions that designers may not come up with on their own. A logo will be smarter and more conceptual when two opposing thinkers are working to create it. Just like any project.

Go team.


Exclamation points

My writing teacher once told me that you only got two exclamation points for your whole life!!

Since I used them all up just then, I'll have to rely on other things to get emotions across.

"Look," she said, raising her voice and her arm as swiftly as I turned my head.

She held the door opened and inhaled deeply, filling her lungs to capacity before she let it all go in a rush of words. "Get out of here."

He looked behind us. He looked down. He looked behind us again. The decision was made before he even said, "Jump."

When the spotlight hit him, his body contorted and stopped mid-motion and his eyes went wide as he spat out the words, "Don't shoot," before guns were even drawn.


ATTACK and surrender.

Attack advertising does not get anybody anywhere. I'm not talking about the mildly funny "I'm a Mac"ads. I'm talking about being downright mean to your opponent. I'm talking about ignoring your own inadequacies while lashing out at your opponent.

If your company is struggling in the market, there is something inherently wrong with your brand. It might be that your product doesn't work. It might be that you've gone astray in earlier advertisements. It might be that your message is not speaking to your intended audience. A lot of the times, it's because you're afraid of change.

Listen up: if the only thing you have going for you is an old name, you will fail. Relying on your name or your experience will not be enough. You have to change with the times, not fight them because they don't make sense to you.

Change happens. New, young, hip brands come into play. And you have to adapt your product and your message to stay current. Attacking those brands because they are young and hip, criticizing them for inexperience, is not going to win you a place in the hearts and minds of consumers.

Try to think about yourself. How are you young and hip? How do you tackle a problem? Forget about the other guy. He's got his share; he's got his message. Focus on yourself and making those changes necessary to your brand's survival.

John McCain (yes, here we go) needs to take an honest look at what he is trying to portray about himself. What is his message? Because if his only message is, "Hey, this new guy is a stranger and I've been here forever," he's in trouble. Not only for contradicting his own decisions, like his desperate attempt at saving his failing brand with the incredibly new Sarah Palin, but for calling attention to the very reasons we like Obama and not McCain.

Obama is young and fresh. Obama has a plan. Obama does not stoop to calling another person a terrorist with no basis. In fact, if he does mention McCain, he talks about real things that happened in the past, relevant things. Obama seems to be focused on his own plan and his eventual presidency so much that he barely acknowledges the crazy man in the background shouting lies about him. McCain comes off as old, whiny and out-of-touch.

Obama is definitely the Mac. McCain isn't even a lovable PC.


Mall ads.

Nice space if it was used to its fullest. 

Follow-up: I was back at the mall the next day (I failed to reach my goals the night before) and looking at this escalator again. Seems like a great place for a shoe or sock ad, since that's the part of the people the ad takes up. A string of shoes going down would be funny, especially when people lined up with them. It'd be a great ad for a store in the mall but maybe an even better ad for DSW, to drive people out of the mall to a free-standing store.

You could do the same with clothes, if you covered the window portion instead of the bottom area.

Posted by ShoZu


Why can't advertisements be genius?

Okay, iTunes Genius is brilliant. I'm constantly amazed at the excellent songs it pairs up. It's all I listen to now. I pick a song I'm in the mood for and just jam out.

Why can't advertising be as smart as iTunes Genius? Is there not some way to leverage this?

Here's a commercial I like for a product I would buy. Now show me more! I know this happens a little bit, mainly on the internet. Television needs to catch up. I'm so much happier influencing my surroundings. A commercial break tailored to me? I might actually watch that. (I also may be a little bias.)


Naming exercises

Bobby Pin - women's fashion line inspired by men's clothing

Gutter - used book store

Snail - stationary store

Strapped - a line of cheap bookbags and messenger bags

Bit Mobile - a line of super energy-efficient scooters

9th Level - hot sauce

Core - juice with extra vitamins added in

Adam Wasn't Worth It - feminine products

I've been doing naming assignments like this all day today and part of yesterday. I think I could be tapped out. 


My kitten-inspired products

I have a kitten named Wall-e. He's a handful. Nobody warned me of all the various adjustments I would need to make to have Wall-e around. I think there should be a line of products to deal with these unexpected kitten needs.

I suppose I couldn't really name this line after my kitten, since his name is a little popular. I'll call it Cabitat Collection - Products to help you co-habitate with your kitten. You'll have to excuse the cute names, but cat-lovers are okay with cuteness associated with cats.

Keyboard protector for your laptop so you can work while your cat investigates. It would be a clear, sturdy plastic cover that your hands could slip underneath. This way you could type while your cat sat on the glass part. How to keep the kitten from pawing that the cursor... I'm going to have to keep thinking.

Paws Out
Gates in varying and expandable sizes to put under cabinets to block out certain sections from access, like behind the dishwasher. In front of washers/dryers to keep cats from going behind them. Under beds to keep cats from staging attacks. Beside and under refrigerators and other furniture to keep cats from disappearing behind them.

Pet Ping
Okay, I hate the bell around my kitten's collar, but it's necessary because things get very quiet sometimes and you know he's doing something bad. What I'd rather have is something similar to a key finder. When I want find Wall-e, I hit it and it beeps. No annoying bell when it's not necessary.

Kitchen products:
Furry Freeze Out
Is there some sort of sound that cats don't like and humans can't hear? Can we put one on a sensor so that it sounds every time the fridge is open? At the very least, there needs to be some kind of motion sensor in the fridge in case I ever shut my cat in by accident.

Cat Counter Down
A 6"- 1' lip to put around your counter, making it inaccessible to the kitten when it's up. It would fold down when you needed access to your counter. (Tape doesn't work on the surface, bubble wrap is not the deterrent some claim it to be and I don't want to shock him.)

Bathroom products:
Feline Faucet
You can cover your toilet, but not your sink. I propose a sliding sheet, like you'd see on a child's window in a car, that you can slide over your sink while not in use, suction cupping to the bottom.

Tabby tub toys
My cat loves playing in the tub, but he needs toys that don't stop moving and that he can't get out. Something weighted would work. And it has to be able to roll.

Other products I need are an industrial strength fitted sheet to put on the bottom of the mattress pad. He likes to claw his way in. And some way to get him to stop chewing wires. And some way to get him to stop attacking the curtains. Sigh. Good thing I love this cat.


Buttoned up.

In honor of the debate, I made some buttons for friends. I think you can tell who I am voting for.

Posted by ShoZu



So I found an application for my iPhone that lets me take photos wherever I am then blog them. Very awesome. Look for new posts related to this new app soon.

Posted by ShoZu

Test picture.

Posted by ShoZu


Talkin' bout dialogue

A mother (M) tries to ask her daughter (D) if she's having sex.

M: Hey, sit down with me for a minute.

D: Okay?

M: How was your day?

D: Fine.

M: You want a snack? I can whip us up a pizza.

D: No.

M: We have chips.

D: No. Can I go?

M: In just a minute. How are things with Jeremy?

D: Fine. Why? I know you hate him.

M: What? I don't hate him.

D: Whatever. You don't even say like hi when he comes over.

M: I do. Besides, he's practically a mute. He could say hello too, you know.

D: Why would he? He knows you hate him.

M: I told you, I don't hate him. I barely even know the boy.

D: K, so whatever. Can I go now?

M: No, wait. You never answered my question, how are things going?

D: I said fine.

M: Right, fine. Are you two serious?

D: We're not getting married or anything. God, I'm only 15. Are we done?

M: No. I have to ask you something.

D: You just asked something.

M: But I didn't get the answer I wanted.

D: You want us to get married? I thought you hated him.

M: I don't... Just, look, are you and Jeremy having sex or not?

D: Ew, God, Mom. Even if we were, which we're not, why would I tell you? You're like my mom. Ugh, disgusting. I'm going now.

M: Take the chips when you go.

A girl (G) hinting to her boyfriend (B) that she wants him to propose.

G: Do you think my finger's fat?

B: Huh, what'd you say?

G: My finger. Does it look fat?

B: Why? Did you jam it?

G: No. But it's like a size 9.

B: Fingers don't have sizes.

G: Yeah they do. Like that's the size ring someone would buy for me if they wanted to. A size nine.

B: Huh. Didn't know rings had sizes.

G: Yeah. And mine is a size nine. In case anyone was wondering.

B: That's nice.

G: Also if someone were to ask, I'd tell them to get platinum.

B: Uh huh.

G: So yeah, platinum. Size nine. And round. Don't you thing round diamonds are the best?

B: What?

G: Round diamonds.

B: Aren't diamonds shaped like diamonds?

G: No, some are round. And platinum. And size nine.

B: Oh yeah? That's awesome, baby.


Giving a voice to voices

I've heard some unique voices lately and I wanted to see how accurately I could write a description of them.

Girl at brunch
Her voice sounded like she thought so fast, the words couldn't keep up. They kept tripping over her front teeth on their way out.

Her voice has one pitch, the sound one makes when they see a spider and leap onto a chair to get away.

His voice is deep and slow, like watching water slide slowly from one end of a bottle to another. He takes long pauses then casually continues, using words that have far more gravity than their delivery implies.

Her voice has a drawl that appears on every third word or so, as if to remind you where she's from and the politeness she's accustomed to.

His voice is deep and throaty, like an exhale from a long drag on a cigarette.

Crawler comments

So normally I would not post comments from crawlers on my blog. But my last somewhat atrocious personal trainer blog got a comment that turned out to be a gym ad. I found it humorous and wondered about its effectiveness. Maybe if it wasn't so boring and long and fake, it could actually work.


Gym buddy

I have my first appointment with a personal trainer on Wednesday. Basically, I feel that any time I spend in the gym, which I hate, should be used to my advantage. And it's free with membership.

But I started to think on the way home today of how a personal trainer could advertise him or herself.

Weighted business cards - See how wussy you are? You think paper feels heavy. (Those wouldn't be the exact words, but the sentiment.)

Since most people don't have pockets at the gym, business bracelets may be in order. Paper bracelets with a plastic cover would work - think hospital.

The locker room gives plenty of opportunity. There are standard locker magnets or locks for lockers. Maybe there are special lockers reserved for your clients only.

The scale is also a great place for a trainer to step in and say it's about toning, not weight. Set realistic goals. The ad could be on the wall behind the scale or on the scale itself (as long as it didn't add weight.) Perhaps the ad could SAY it added weight. Hey, this ad adds 1lb. Look at all the progress you're making. Get back to it. Isn't that what a personal trainer does, makes you feel better and pushes you harder?

The benches in the locker room look a lot like weight benches. You could advertise there with a "spotter" message.

Water bottle labels on free water bottles.

Almost all the weight equipment has space on it. Though I am not sure how okay the management would be with that.

As a personal trainer, you could offer some perks. For example, a stockpile of better gym towels than the gym provides. 

You could also create playlists for your clients who are going out of town, for them to use at hotel gyms. Easy workouts for when the trainer isn't there, and time them with your voice.

Provide access to YouTube videos showing you doing at-home exercises.

Sign on the way out saying, "Just one more rep."

I'm laughing more than anything on this series of ideas. Oh well.


The power of words.

Let's see what words the news organizations are using about the financial situation. Keep in mind, this is just in the parts they are showing without clicking on the stories.

NY Times


LA Times

USA Today

Washington Post




When it comes to the stock market, I'll admit having a limited knowledge of economics. I have no idea how serious this situation actually is. But it's the feeling I get when I read these words that worries me. Even when they are interspersed at random, it leaves me feeling panicky and uncertain.

The media plays a huge role in forming the national mindset. Is it our responsibility to restore confidence? Probably not. But I do feel like sensationalizing the story, even through something as simple as word choice, isn't right either. In a media-smothered country, is it more important to sell papers/get more hits online or is there a way to use this power to improve conditions?

I'm not only talking about the stock market, but so many other social, political and economic issues as well. Let's go beyond raising awareness and start thinking about actions. What do our words cause people to do? And can we live with those consequences?

And, for your amusement, the Fox News Headline: "Gov't in Full-Court Press to Solve Financial Crisis"



My best friend is applying to graduate school. Of course, since she is my best friend and I write for a living, I've agreed to help her with her "personal statement."

It was interesting initially for me just to see the differences in our styles of writing. You can tell she is an English major with a master's in literature. And you can tell I am a storyteller who writes for the masses. For example, she used this phrase, "my students expressed the sentiment that," which I quickly marked out and replaced with "my students felt that."

I've really loved doing it, as much as I've loved helping other friends with cover letters and personal statements in the past. I think it's because I enjoy writing mantras and mission statements. I like to use action words and pretend like I'm writing a speech that Obama will read at his victory party. That's the type of voice I often hear in my head.

I've also wondered if there's a market for this kind of work and how ethical that is. Send me your cover letter or personal statement and a check, I'll fix it up and send it back. The fee would increase with success. For example, I'd charge a $100 base price and my bonuses would include $25 additional for each interview and $75 for a job offer. If you want to tweak your cover letter or personal statement for a different school or job, $5-10 per version.

Anyway, while I'm all about being an entrepreneur, this blog is supposed to be all about something else. Maybe this blog needs a mission statement.

I am a writer and these are my ideas. Advertising, literature and observations come together here, like they do in my work and in my life. I am not asking for your sympathy or your patience. I am asking for your judgement. I present my thoughts to you with courage and with fear. I am a writer and these are my ideas. Read and see.

Overheard at Panera

"Anyway, he said another woman is pregnant in his class."

"Is it you?"


The Spirit of Advertising

Can someone who isn't dead be a ghost? For example, when you move to a new place, can a part of you still haunt the old one? It's an interesting idea and really goes along well with philosophy and theories of time. But that's not really what this blog is about. What can I do with the idea of a ghostly presence of a living person?

Let's use it in an ad for a vacation spot, maybe Hawaii.

A woman is on the phone with the hotel manager and she whispers: "I want a new room."

The manager's voice says: "Oh? What seems to be the problem?"

The woman practically hisses into the phone, hysterical. "There's a ghost. Of someone who was here before me."

The woman turns around and we see an apparition of another woman behind her, lounging on the porch hammock with a magazine. The apparition waves. The woman's eyes widen and she turns back to the phone. "She waved at me."

"Listen, ma'am," the manager says, "I know a nice doctor who works in the city..."

The woman hangs up. She looks at the apparition who waves again, before turning to wave at someone else, another apparition drinking a fruity drink on a lounge chair.

The voice over says something to the effect of, "Once you've been to Hawaii, a part of you never wants to leave." 

This isn't my usual process when working on ads. I usually start with the product and strategy, then create a concept and see what media fits that best. This is an interesting way to work however, for a blog.



What follows is a totally fictionalized look into the life of a woman in my town who walks down the street yelling. It's a short glimpse.

Today she woke up and thought it was yesterday. Or the same day it had been for the last eleven years. Wednesday. The day she had to meet the bus in town. God-awful things could happen to her nephew before he found her tiny house, well-hidden by wild tangles of bushes and weeds.

She moved slowly toward the edge of the bed. First her right leg, then her left, then her hips and chest and head and over and over until she was there. She felt around the cement floor for her cane and when she had it, she pushed her top half up with it, letting her legs fall off the bed into a sitting position. Then she heaved until she finally stood facing the wardrobe.

It took a full thirty minutes to get into her flowered dress. Another ten to pull up her hose and lace up her orthopedic black sneakers. She hobbled toward the door then, taking her floppy hat off the hall tree and placing it over her matted hair. It would have to do.

She took one deep breath before she went onto her doorstep, cane first, and began the long walk to town.  She was sure that the devil lived between her house and the bus station. She felt his heat rising up from the sidewalk and heard his voice on the air stirred up by passing cars.

"You git on from here now, ya hear?" she yelled.

"You won' git me t'day, no sir," she muttered. "The Lord's got me t'day."

"The Lord's got me t'day," she bellowed, flailing out her cane.

As she passed, people on the street snickered. To her, it sounded like fire licking toward the edge of her dress. "Go on now, Satan, you Hell fire, you won' hurt me again," she yelled.

And quieter, "You won' git him this time. No sir, not this time."



When I get a project that I can't get my mind off of, I go into some type of zone. I stare into space. I don't talk much. My eyes seem wider. Sometimes this lasts for a day, sometimes an hour. I feel that way now. It's similar to the way I feel when I take medicine that's too strong. Like my body is somehow out of my control. As long as good work comes out of it, I suppose it's okay.



I saw a Wal-Mart ad the other night and noticed the change for the first time. Now it's Walmart. Young, friendly, forget the Waltons. I began to wonder what other dramatic changes one could make with punctuation and capitalization. Maybe change businesses entirely.

Victoria's "Secret" - Girdles

Block Buster - Construction supplies

Apple Bees - Children's clothing

Blackberry - Fruit smoothies

RoleX - Adult films

Puma! - Safari tours

Maxwell's House - Men's clothing

Win DOWs - Financial services

So NY - Travel magazine

Ups - Energy drink

Amazon Com - Airline service

Charm-in - Hairspray

CarNation - Rental cars

Virgin? - Pregnancy tests


"Keep those balls in the air"*

Last night I was watching football, against my will, when my boyfriend asked what the line that indicated the first down was called. My friend responded, "The Budweiser Line." I countered that it would make more sense for Sharpie to sponsor it.

I took sports marketing in college. But I haven't thought about it in awhile. What companies could sponsor what things in sports that aren't already taken?

The Axe Body Spray 3rd Base Play - Replay of any action on 3rd base

The E*Trade Coin Toss - If it's heads, everyone at the game gets $10 to invest

Weber Tailgate Pre-show - Interviewing tailgaters to see their best innovations and hear their stories

Purrell Port-o-Potty - With free samples

IKEA Bleacher Section - Cheaper seats in the front, made by IKEA, making better seats affordable

Honda Soccer Mom Parking Service - Special valet for Honda minivan drivers at sporting events

ADT Goalie Play of the Day - Replay of the soccer goalie's best moves

Facebook Jumbotron - Shows your face and your name

*Arrested Development


Songs for sale

As a music lover, I get a little angry when my favorite artists show up in odd television ads. For example, what does Stephen Malkmus have to do with Sears? And how about Led Zeppelin and Cadillac? And Bob Dylan for Victoria's Secret? My job here today is to see if I can think of any matches between song and client that would be either good or humorous enough to be considered good. I want each to make the song really important.

Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
A diet company like Slim-fast - the commercial features a woman drinking a Slim-fast a day and looking at the scale. She's on the street walking right past pastry stores. In the last scene, she shakes out a pair of jean, puts them on and fastens them. Clearly from the 80s, they're acid wash and skinny leg. (pair this with the Journey live video and you've got a hit). Slim-fast could have a contest to go along with this. Provide a photo of yourself in a pair of pants in the 80s. Then fit into them again.

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry - Hank Williams
For ESPN, targeted to people who move away from their college town or state and can't get their favorite games on television. The ad would feature a guy having flashbacks to old times, at games, at bars with tons of other team fans. He'd stare into bar windows and see teams in different colors cheering, then turn away, downtrodden. Then, when all hope is lost, he'd get a gazillion ESPNs so he can watch again.

Ageless Beauty - Stars
An ad for converse. It features a pair of converse as they slowly wear out. They're used in sports, in different seasons so you can tell it takes a long time. They get dirty, they get doodled on, they get new laces, the sole starts coming off, they get a hole and eventually, they have to be retired. They are carried through the house but pass the trash and go to a shoe rack to join worn out Converse in increasing sizes.

Hustler - Simian Mobile Disco
Twizzler commercial featuring a young child switching out lunch items for Twizzlers. In one scene he's offering the Twizzler owner a paper bag with the words: "Secret Surprise!' on it. It turns out to be a muffin. In another scene, he offers a juice box, which turns out to be empty. By the end, he is cruising down the hall, with Twizzlers in his back pocket like the hustler he is.

Get Me Away From Here, I'm Dying - Belle and Sebastian
This would be for Orbitz or a similar company. The commercial would feature very bored people, in the dregs of life and an Orbitz vacation would be their way out. Orbitz would then add something to their site called "Get me away from here, I'm dying" that people could click on for impromptu vacations to spice up their lives.

That's it for now. Perhaps a Part 2 in a later blog.


Rainy Days

As we brace for a big storm, I ponder the things that are going to sell like crazy. Bread, water, candles, batteries, flashlights - all things that people probably already have a set brand for or will buy the cheapest kind available. (Nature's Own, cheapest, cheapest, cheapest of Energizer v. Duracell, Magnalite, in case you were wondering.)

But what about umbrellas? What differentiates them? There's Totes, of course, which is probably the only brand name I know. But when I think of them, I don't think of innovation. I think of tiny, wussy umbrellas that fit in my purse then inevitably find their way below the seats in my car. What do I really want in an umbrella?

First of all, I want one that's not going to be difficult to carry around but provides protection that I would not refer to as "dinky." Secondly, I want it to dry quickly. Third, I want it to look awesome and unique. This is an accessory, after all.

So the umbrella needs to be super compact, yet powerful. Like Mighty Mouse. Is there a way it could fold into a flat rectangle and slip into a sleeve? Could it fit in my pocket? Is there a way to attach it to my belt loop or carry it over my shoulder? Perhaps there is an attachment that goes into my pocket and makes an extra pocket on the outside. Like an add-on pouch.

Or maybe we should reverse the situation. Maybe the umbrella could be a consolidator and carry your other things. Imagine an umbrella where the inside has a zipper pocket that hangs down and a little clip for keys. You'd put your wallet and phone and lipstick or whatever in the pocket and go. When you got inside, you'd carry your umbrella like you normally would and your stuff would still be tucked inside the closed version.

Now to the drying quickly. Nothing sucks worse than to get inside all nice and dry only to smack yourself in the leg with a wet umbrella. There's got to be some better repellant on these things. Nicer establishments, like Nordstrom, offer umbrella sleeves at the door. And if you really trust someone, you could always leave it beside the door to wait for you - hmmm... umbrella locks? You'd have to have something to lock it to, but malls could most certainly do that. Could you check your umbrella for free?

Back to the umbrellas solving their own problem. Could umbrellas come with a little matching drying towel? Or a bigger bag to put them in, because let me just say, you still get soaked trying to wrap a wet umbrella and shove it in a tiny bag. Maybe a disposable layer for the top of the umbrella, but that's not very environmental. This is a problem best left to the scientist. And I'm not the only one complaining, another girl I know mentioned the same issue today.

Design... What a neat shape. You'd think there would be more available. I've seen different shapes like the bubble umbrella or the golf size one, but those are hardly revolutions. Neither are the sections of color or the occasional polka dots. This is my safe place, my shelter and I think there's a lot of space here to do something more. What could be written inside there to make you feel happier and warmer during a storm? What else could that pole be made of or shaped like? Could there be a mobile in there or would that make a mess?

The outside is clearly a blank canvas. I admit, I have seen a few things but nothing ultra-simple and hip. Could you make an umbrella where you could change out the top to match your day?

What other additions could make an umbrella better? A beeping feature if it senses rain so you don't leave it in your car. Or just a simple scale of percent chance so you can look and see before you go. A way to connect your phone to the handle, so you'll have at least one hand free. A censor for your car so your door will unlock when the umbrella comes toward it, eliminating the need to search for keys and locks in the rain. I'm sure my bubble would feel more complete with music, can I use my iPod without it getting too wet?

There are probably a million ways an umbrella could be better. And an umbrella company could take the lead.



Today, as I was buying a budget application on iTunes, I thought of an idea for an ad. It seems like all I do now is spend money and worry about it. So what if everything a person touched made a cash register sound? Or a dropping coins sound? Maybe it's everything they see, even cars going by.

I think this could work with:
A site like Monster where people are looking for higher paying jobs.
A political ad about the economy.
An ad for Wal-mart about saving money. Perhaps the items at Wal-mart could make a softer noise?

On a similar note, what about an ad for a real-estate company, encouraging people to buy instead of rent? Run it at the end of every month, right before rent is due. A couple sits in their living room and writes a check for rent. They put it in the envelope, address it, add a stamp and take it outside to the mailbox. They then take a match and drop it into the mailbox and walk away.


Barack the Brand

Obama has made himself into an incredibly successful brand. It's what he needs to win the election in a country with a media-saturated population. And I think we can all learn from it.

With the tagline, "Change we can believe in," the Obama brand is young and mobile. It's red, white and blue with authority. When he speaks, his voice and tone make him sound like he's delivering a sermon to people who are desperate and hungry for salvation. He makes his audience want more, practically yearn for it, by promising to deliver. He's moving us to action.

If Obama is a brand, he's definitely not an established one. So what are we buying? It has to be his ideals and his "brand promise." We have nothing else to go on. It's an incredibly successful launch of a new product. And how many consumer brands do the same? How many advertisements do we see and say, "I want to be a part of that"?


Books and Taglines

What organizations could some of the book titles on my shelf be taglines for?

Major League Soccer. A Farewell to Arms.

Rock Band. The Unstrung Harp.

GQ. About a Boy.

Eddie Bauer. Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.

Wikipedia. The World According to Garp.

Big & Tall. The Great Gatsby.

Bic. The Fountainhead.

The Melting Pot. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Swatch. A Clockwork Orange.

Huggies. The House at Pooh Corner.


6 word stories

There's the famous challenge, issued to famous writers, to write a story in six words. Hemingway's went something like, "For sale: baby shoes. Never worn."

I would like to take on this challenge.

He never meant to wake up.

She smelled perfume. Not her brand.

Before the procedure, they were twins.

New pet. New car. One survivor.

"Love you," he said. She paused.

Are you pregnant?
New hairdo?

Alimony paid for her first honeymoon.

When he ducked, she got shot.

Inbox: 0. Sent: 32. Still sorry.

50th anniversary. 30th reunion. No regrets.

Main discovery - it's much easier to write sad stories. Is this the format or just me?


Ideas for iPhone apps and sponsors

A DVR program that works remotely to set up your television recordings. You can set the DVR to record, see what you have recorded and search for upcoming shows.

The obvious choices for companies would be cable companies or TiVo. Channels, like the TV Guide Channel, could bring this service to you individually, as well. Other more random ideas include: Entertainment Weekly, Pop Secret

i Got Connections
This program would be incredibly simple, a lot like contacts but with a camera component. You get a business card, you take a photo of the front and back, input the last and first name and then give the card back. Eventually, if enough people had the program, you could exchange cards without the paper card altogether. "Send my card to iPhones in the vicinity."

Obvious sponsors include Rolodex and calendar companies. You could also use an environmental company or Monster.com/Careerbuilder.com.

An apartment-finding application that's user-run. It's like craigslist with a map feature. You're in your apartment and trying to rent it. You take pictures on your iPhone then pinpoint your location on the map. Prices, pictures, location, directions from your Current Location, surrounding apartments for rent, everything renters need to know is all there.

Craigslist could obviously be a sponsor, assuming this was a paid service. IKEA and other furniture or home companies would fit. Or a realtor could steal the entire thing for their properties exclusively.


Give and take dot com

This is an idea I've wanted to see happen for quite some time.

Sites have registries easily available for baby gifts and wedding gifts, but it's usually on the companies' individual pages. I think there should be an online registry available, independent of any individual company, for any occasion that you can create for yourself.

Here's how it would work. Let's say I had a registry under my name. I am not engaged or preggers, so my registry would currently be general. I'd go on there, input my name, my birthday, holidays I celebrate, anniversary dates, etc. Then I'd start a general list because nothing is coming up right now. I'd go to sites, pick out things I wanted, link them back to the page where they would be inputted as a small photo, a price and a link to the site. (I guess if things were really awesome, you could order it from here.)

My friends, family, adoring fans could access this list at any time. They could also see when my birthday or holidays were coming.

Well, once Christmas rolled around, I'd make a list for that, moving things from my general list into there. I could also send an e-card to my family, telling them where my list was. Same thing for my birthday.

Of course you could create baby and wedding gift lists in here too, sending e-cards as well. And your guests wouldn't have to go access different sites to see what you were asking for.

And like a normal registry, the site would keep a running list of who bought what for any occasion. This list would also be available to the gift receiver to help them create thank you cards after the gift arrives.

Ways the site could make money:
Advertisers could pay to be included in suggestions for users, kind of like the Amazon "also recommend" function.
Paying advertisers would also be considered for the Top Ten lists, available in all categories. Top ten most given, top ten most requested, etc.
There could be a one-time low fee site for users (though this would discourage use.)

How are people going to hear about it:
The site would need some hype, of course. Hello Oprah...
Participating stores would be sent window decals, cards and more to make available to browsing shoppers.
The site could be connected to Facebook's birthday reminders. If you want, you could have it say "see what she wants" beside your reminder.
Ads would run online on shopping sites and in women's magazines.
The site would send birthday e-cards to anyone whose birthday they could access, several weeks in advance, informing them of the site.
Small ads could be run in card aisles.
Around big gift-giving holidays, ads would run targeted to men, asking them, "Don't you wish you knew what she wanted?"
The site would also partner with wedding planners, informing them of the service, perhaps offering discounts on certain things.