Tuesday, December 7, 2010

An Education

I found this absolutely perfect chart on this great blog post about education:

The post is a criticism of the way we teach math/science/engineering, but, really, I think the criticism applies to our general approach to teaching. Having worked as an educator before, I have been incredibly dismayed at how critical thinking and imagination have taken a back seat to memorization, "problem-solving by recipe," and cramming. My students were completely at a loss when there wasn't a predetermined "right answer."Scary for our future and frustrating for generating genuine enthusiasm for learning.

I love how this blogger calls on computer scientist, Alan Kay, and his advocacy for a liberal arts education because it teaches metaphors and ways of thinking which Kay argues become useful later in engineering. In fact, he/she says that according to research done by Jacques Hadamard, mathematicians use the symbols, equations, and formulas they learn merely as tools to communicate the real work that they do--conceptualizing, problem solving, intuiting.

Now, it may be that this chart and thinking resonate with me because I such a geeky dreamer who loves to sit around and muse about hefty symbolism and meaning constructs...but it also seems to me rather ironic that both marketing strategists and mathematicians are looking for the exact same qualities in their future stars. Perhaps this begins to prove that this is the best groundwork for educating our future leaders regardless of discipline (I hope).

Two last quotes from this interesting blog:

From Jason Fried:
"Hire curious people. Even if they don't have the exact skill set you want, curious, passionate people can learn anything."

And from Jacques Hadamard:
" Logic merely sanctions the conquests of the intuition."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tea Party! A New Tradition!

Okay. Let's face it. I suck. I have had not had time to blog since the ignominous date of my birthday. The fact is, when you have lots of bloggable stuff going on in life, you just don't have time to blog.

BUT I do have to share these wonderful little snippets of jokes that my bff, Tai, and I sometimes share. Okay. Honestly, I just send them to her and hope they make her laugh. It's just fun with stock photography. Find a stock photo and give it a funny caption.

It's going to be my new blogging tradition. So even when I don't have time to tell you I just got nominated for a People's Choice Award (I didn't. Yet.), I can still share a little something. ;)

First in the Stock Photo Fun series:

Tea Party

"We're laughing because that's the same look Daddy got on his face when he caught Timmy playing Barbies!"

**on a side note: GettyImages is wonderful, amazing, the best. I pray to Getty everyday. You should always pay for GettyImages pictures. They're the best in the world. Please don't tell on me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gamepocalypse: Best Thing Ever or Should I Jump Off a Cliff Now?

Fair friends, lately I have been missing the hallowed halls of academia. It's true. Corporate America, even with the MTV veneer of advertising, can be fun, but it could use a little more ivy, wool cardigans, and musty books.

Thankfully, my wonderful friend and teacher, Cam, invited me to this great seminar/lecture, Gamepocalypse (please see slide show below). It's part of a lecture series from the Long Now Foundation, which apparently is dedicated to long-sighted solutions and thinking. How effing awesome is that? It's like my shrieking battle cry to 21st Century decision-makers.

So the slide show doesn't do the lecture justice. Jesse Schell is an incredibly funny, insightful, and smart speaker. Even when talking off the cuff, I was really impressed with how quick he was and how much he had clearly already thought through the issues. They should have a video up soon, so you can catch all of the amazing goodness for yourself.

He made some pretty spectacular predictions about the future of gaming permeating every aspect of our lives (particularly thanks to life-sucking marketers like myself). It makes sense in a lot of ways, as games become more interactive, it's less about Pac Man and more about user experience (UX) and augmented reality. I was most excited about the possibilities he laid out for really good voice recognition. It will really change everything.

Most of all though, I appreciated his insights into human nature and why/how we love games/interactivity:

--People love games because they don't HAVE TO play them. The minute you make a game mandatory, it loses its appeal.

--External incentives kill a game. People lose engagement quickly. Crafting an experience that is intrinsically fulfilling and engaging creates longer, deeper engagement and passion. *Beautiful point. I REALLY want to see some hard data to back this up!

--Digital is ruining the natural human/societal capacity to forget, which tied in beautifully to a recent Times article I read that does a great job of showing how disruptive this is to natural rhythms.

--People love games because they offer a sense of progress, the possibility of success, clear feedback, and engage curiosity (see slide 20).

Jesse also left me with another slew of books to add to my list of must read books, including: The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley, Good to Great by Jim Collins, Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kahn, The Chronicles of Narnia (re-read), and Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card (I know! I know! It's ridiculous I haven't already read it, but Scott Card always struck me as one of those weird Mormon writers, so I stayed away).

I am so glad I went, and I think I would like to find more lecture series to attend in the city. It's a great way to learn (like a podcast but without the earbuds!) and its inspiring. Thanks, Cam, for a great experience. Thanks, Gareth, for letting me steal the links to the presentation from your blog.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Daily Dose of Inspiring Beauty

This is a truly amazing display, an ingenious use of new media, and it really makes me miss figure painting...especially how whenever people asked me what kind of painting I did, when I answered "figure painting," I would almost always get the incredulous response of "finger painting??"

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Free At Last!

You may have noticed a dearth of posts lately. I have been a sucktastic blogger. There is no question.

Allow me to explain why. Ad agencies are notorious for working their employees crazy, long hours. Grad schools are known for doing the same to their students...what do you get when you combine the two? A nervous breakdown about every other day, otherwise known as my life for the past few months.

I have had the wonderful pleasure of working as a full time strategist at BBDO West (mostly on fun dog food brands) and also participating in some really cool capstone classes at the Academy of Art.

Finals were over a couple of Fridays ago (the last finals of my academic career! Hooray!) and Memorial Day weekend came just in time to offer some much needed reprieve.

Shane and I decided to get the hell out of the city and get back to nature with a camping trip. Unfortunately, so did everyone else in California. Finding an impromptu campsite was impossible...until we fell upon this little gem:


Sara, Jon, Anna-you guys remember this? New Brighton State Beach! A cliff of eucalyptus groves overlooking a beautiful beach. Somehow, in my memory it was so much more romantic. Our reality this weekend was more like...we paid a fee to rent a backyard for a weekend of backyard camping.

It was still great. We got lots of sun, gorged on rich foods, and laughed late into the night by the campfire. It was also Finn's first camping trip! Apparently he sees it as an indignity to endure only because we love it.



I can't wait to go on a real hike and camping trip soon. Just as soon as I undo some of the damage that my veal pen...ahem, I mean desk job, has done to my muscle tone.

(Full set of pics on Flickr)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Presentations for the Future! (For Now)

UGC (or user generated content) has been the fuel of the social media revolution. It started with simple blogs and comments and has morphed into our present landscape cluttered with social networks, fan videos, and microblogs. All of this activity online has shifted the digital consciousness from the software and hardware that lives in your computer tower to the collective consciousness of cloud storage and exchange.

What has allowed this social media revolution message to really take off is that people have been armed with increasingly easy-to-use tools to create compelling multimedia on their own PCs. One human being can literally be a production house unto themselves. This means that people can create videos, websites, photo albums, etc. worthy of others' attention. Our sophistication as media consumers has thus increased significantly. We demand slick graphics, an appealing layout, and engaging imagery.

This demand for visual sophistication doesn't just exist in the realm of online entertainment, but has been running simultaneously in the world of business. Replacing pages of dry reports is the behemoth PowerPoint and decks of dry bullet points...augmented with animated transitions and easy-to-use color schemes, charts, and image importing.

PowerPoint has encouraged people to...think more about visual presentation and has become de rigueur in business communication. In fact, there was recently an article in the New York Times on the rampant use of PowerPoint by our own U.S. military.

Recently, a friend of mine tipped me off to Prezi.com. It's a web-based software program (that wonderful cloud-computing we were talking about before) that lets you easily create very dynamic Flash presentations.

Below is my own first attempt at using the software:

My own presentation is rather limited. I kind of cheated and uploaded a large pdf, but that has created pretty blurry text. You can create text, add images (but maybe not use an entire image as your presentation), embed video, zoom in, zoom out, rotate your view, determine whatever path you want the points to follow. It's pretty great. It allows lots of personal control and at the same time is pretty simple to use.

You can store your presentations in Prezi's cloud (much like the currently popular SlideShare, you can share your presentation via link, embed it, or download it to your hard drive for an offline experience.

As a potential business communications tool, I think it shows genuine promise. It offers greater visual control and flexibility than PowerPoint. It is a web-based application, which means its very friendly to netbook users (but not necessarily iPad/iPhone users since it is a Flash-based application).

What really excites me about Prezi is that, rather than fracture an idea into bulletpoints one slide at a time (creating weak arguments and oversimplification of complex issues), the Prezi platform requires that you structure the narrative of your argument before you start using the program, that you look at the over-arching thesis of your argument and how you want to travel from point to point to point. Because of its zooming capabilities, it also becomes easier to take a step back and look at the "big picture" of an argument or zoom in for more "granular detail" (text/image points that were not previously visible in the presentation).

Angelie Agarwal does a much better job of showing in a simple way, some of the potential of Prezi (particularly for our Armed Forces):

I would encourage you to check out Prezi's brief demo video to get a better grasp of how you might be able to begin to use it in your own communications/UGC/thank you cards to friends:

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Good Idea, Bad Idea

Mems the "Good Idea, Bad Idea" segments on Animaniacs of yesteryear?

Ah, yes. Those were the good ol' days. Well, that segment was exactly what came to mind when I got this friend request on FourSquare:

Get involved in FourSquare, as a business/brand. It's a great way to interact with passionate consumers, you can incentivize check-ins and broadcasting, you can offer geo-specific, game-like promotions. I love it when brands get involved on FourSquare.

Friend request someone you don't know, who has never been a patron to your establishment.

A couple of weeks ago I was in Nashville on a business trip. I stayed at the very lovely Hermitage Hotel. Loved it. I never went anywhere near the Loew's Vanderbilt Hotel.

Having long forgotten, Nashville, Loew's friend requests me out of no where this week! On a social platform where I broadcast my every movement. Why on earth, complete-stranger-business, would I want to give you the same license to cyber stalk me that I would give me to my close circle of friends on FourSquare?

Your friend request left me feeling creeped out. And not in the good way.

Develop a best practices guide for your social media managers before diving into a territory you don't fully understand.

Tirade over. Friend request denied. I think I will go to my much-loved BiRite, now, for some stress-eating indulgence

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A Titanic Error?

OK. It's been too long since a post. Good reason, I swear. I have been busy doing the work that I love. More on that next blog post.

For now:

While I was at work researching great examples of love, I, of course, came across that great love story of the 90's--Titanic.

This seemed like a ready example that many people could identify with. This movie moved millions of people across the world to go the theaters again and again, form fan clubs, and shed tears. Great. Easy story for me to share...until I realized I have NEVER seen this movie. I don't even know the plot points (other than that the ship goes down and Leonardo DiCaprio probably dies).

So, I turned to my bestie, Tai, hoping she could give me the low-down on this great love story:

The fact is, I never wanted to see it as a teenager, as a sort of act of rebellion against all things blatantly pop culture. I now listen to Britney Spears with barely a hint of shame.

So the question is, now that I am over my adolescent distaste for trite should I bother with this movie and Netflix it?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Glenn Beck: My Latest Frenemy

I think Glenn Beck hates me because we used to be besties when I was Mormon.

It's sad. He can't let it go.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Profundity for the People

A couple of blogposts ago I talked about bringing profound thinking to marketing efforts.

Well, I just came across this interesting MediaPost article on people of "my generation":
Conclusion? Yes. Organized religion is taking a diminished role in the lives of Americans, but obviously that desire for quiet, reflective thinking (as takes place in prayer) remains.

I would say most of us know people many people who eschew the label of "religious," but like to still think of themselves as "spiritual."

The whole article is an an interesting read on the attitudes and demographics of "Millenials" (I still don't know how I feel about that moniker), even if you're not into marketing or sociology.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Natural History of the Rich

Yes. I followed my unsentimental foray into the institution of marriage with a safari into the mansions and golf courses of the rich.

Written by a journalist, it looks at the behavior of the rich through the prism of evolutionary psychology. Now, I have my own problems with evolutionary psychology, mainly that I think it so oversimplifies behavior that it can convolute ANY human action into a reach for propagating genes. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed this book.

The writer is entertaining and draws many varied, National Geographic-esque examples from animal behavior. He also clearly did his homework on caviar dreams, from detailed histories to interesting interviews with the obscenely wealthy. It has definitely left me with lots of little anecdotes for cocktail parties.

None of the conclusions Conniff made were earth-shattering. For me what it established more was the mysterious biological root to so much of our behavior. It is interesting to note that the DNA for almost every living creature on the face of the planet is pretty much the same. The smallest of variations account for all of our biological diversity, and the same sequences keep popping up in the unlikeliest of places, creating similar behavior in wasps, buffaloes, and humans.

It has definitely made me look more closely at the reasoning behind some of our most culturally expected behavior, so for that I would recommend the book. Just be patient with the beginning...and maybe the end. The middle is golden, though. ;)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Melancholia in Post-Modern Marketing

I recently read this New York Times article (fave pub) looking at depression through the lens of evolutionary psychology, speculating that depression is the result of "ruminating" aka pondering/introspecting/analyzing...basically thinking

I think, therefore I am...sad.

Thinking people are more likely to be depressed. Great. Tell me something I don't see in my own life.

The article goes on and on in an exhausting academic debate about the evolutionary benefits of having so many depressed people in our species.

What stuck out to me was this argument that there is an evolutionary/biological foundation for rumination/introspection/deep thinking. This is something people want and need in their lives.

There are some smarties/creative types out there that think they have the corner market on higher thinking, but if late night Boy Scout camping conversations taught me anything it's that people from every walk of life in our society share times of deep reflection and share the same concerns and conclusions.

Because I am in this cursed field of advertising, I am going to draw back conclusions to branding and marketing which is--why aren't we we creating things that speak to this obviously deep desire of people?

We make ads that speak to the desire to make love, to be loved, to be victorious, we encourage companies to be social to address people's need for community, and yet where is the brand/campaign/website that encourages users to engage in deliberative reflection?

There is a reason that Eat, Pray, Love was on the bestseller's list for over two years, and why the Oprah Book Club was such a big hit, in general. People want to think about these things. They feel better for having had these thoughts, for having a scaffold on which to hang these yearn-filled threads, for knowing there are others with the same wonderings and private struggles of internal reconciliation without feeling like a complete lunatic.

This all reminds me of the once beautiful meaning of the word 'melancholia,' which did not mean sadness, but meant deep, quiet, extended thinking about a question or problem.

Durer captured it best in his work entitled, Melancholia:

In the meantime, I am going to be on the look out, for campaigns/brands that offer this, and for opportunities in which such could exist.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Carnal Lust: Docs

My bff, Tai, frequently mentions the things she is lusting after on her blog (because she is thankfully a Mormon who is unafraid of filthy lucre) so I decided I might as well share some of my own worldly desires.

My latest yearning is for these:

That's right. Doc Martens. Tres 1998, I know.

The thing is, I have kind of been wanting some Docs since last year, right before I left for LA. They seemed like the perfect urban hiking boot for the San Francisco streets, in general I love having my foot cradled in a solid boot, and they had been out of fashion long enough that no one would think I honestly thought they were cool, thus also possessing a certain anti-cool appeal.

Apparently, my desire to be subversive manifests itself in massive geekiness. This is why I wore blazers in high school (long before that damned blazers and jeans trend fired up) and why I have been wearing grandpa cardigans since I was 18 (also long before everyone and their dog started wearing grandpa cardigans, dammit!).

On that note, a great tragedy has recently struck my home: my favorite cardigan--the blue cashmere one with the cowl neck that totally drowns me--is officially dying.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

For those of you who know me well, this cardie has seen me through many frumpy days, many profound conversations over hot cocoa, and many long painting sessions in drafty studios.

I will have to find a new frumpy, comfy sweater, but it will never be the same as this thrift store gem.

Back to the Docs. So the pretension of LA forbade the wearing of clunky Docs, but now that I am back in SF it's a different story, right? Imagine my horror when I found that Docs and Doc-like boots have made a dramatic resurgence amongst the hipster set of my new-found home in the Mission!

While apparently Docs are still anathema in the hipster Bible (Vice magazine), it's only a matter of time....

What do you guys think? I found a pair online for $80. Should I get the boots and risk looking like I am following an emerging hipster trend?

The fact that I hate looking like I am following trends closely probably reveals how prideful I really am. So there. I have confessed and revealed my vanity and pride, hopefully achieving a measure of catharsis and exoneration.

Should I get the damn boots?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


If you have ten minutes, check out this Oscar-nominated short film by by Francois Alaux and Herve de Crecy.

It portrays a world consisting entirely of familiar logos and mascots. Unreal in and of itself, but it is also a "gritty" crime story.


Monday, February 15, 2010

What's all the Buzz about?

Some people hail Google Buzz as the new Messiah of social media.

Here are the results of one of my first forrays into Buzz:

(You have to click on the damn link to actually read the convo. Lame.)

Ultimately, it is a microblogging service. I don't really see it as offering me something that I can't already do on Facebook, Twitter, or my blog.

The big thing it does offer is convenience. It is already there on my most frequently-visited site (which was initially unnerving/annoying). It's centralized. I do wish it was easier to organize and search through information. Maybe listing capabilities, like with Twitter (love that!).

So far, the people posting are my most adventurous of friends, so posts are interesting. It feels less commercial than Facebook (ironically) with a nice, clean interface that focuses on the content.

I do like that is can pull in my activities from so many different sources automatically.

I think it has great hope of scooping up people who have not gotten sucked in to other social media already.

What it may ultimately really do is poke people's curiosity enough to make them explore all of the many other things Google offers to make people's lives easier/better/screen-time consumed.

For example, in an attempt to figure out how to make Google Buzz more useful, I fell upon this nifty Mashable article on how to integrate Facebook and Twitter into my Gmail/Buzz. Still testing it, but so far less than dazzling results. Not really robust or smooth.

Still, I discovered a lot of cool gadgets, services, and streams in Google Labs, Gmail labs, and settings that I had not previously explored, making Google once again my favorite tech/web company.

Meaning I am committed to still keep playing with Buzz.


…speaking of Diane Rehm, I was just listening to an amazing interview on the Diane Rehm Show with Elizabeth Gilbert. I really loved her previous bestseller, Eat, Pray, Love, which really spoke to me, as someone trying to find spirituality and a sense of wholeness in this life without being shackled to the dogma of denominations. She is also a wonderfully frank and insightful writer that manages to pepper humor into even the most dire and serious of circumstances.

Her newest book, Committed is an exploration of the Western idea of marriage. Much to her reluctance, her own life circumstances have pushed her to marry the man that she loves, even though they are quite happy to live without the document of marriage.

In her interview, Liz talks about the wild, unrealistic expectations we put on marriage and the strange respect we seem to give anyone who has entered the institution, even though the act of getting a wedding license is one of the simplest things to do. Why have we fetishized marriage to such a degree in our society?

I couple of great quotes from the interview (loosely paraphrased):

“People used to make decisions of marriage based on very practical reasons on what would benefit their families and community, no one would ever think to hang their future prospects, prosperity, and happiness on something as fickle as romantic affection.”

“That is one of the greatest delusions we live under—balance. That we can have it all, that we can be both autonomous AND connected equally, simultaneously. That somehow we can achieve this if we can only figure out this magic equation of balance.”

These and other ideas in the interview really got my attention, as someone who is sublimely happy, but also sublimely challenged, in my own domestic partnership with the love of my life, Shane.

Growing up, I had such foolish notions about love and marriage. I imagined that my partner would help me become a better person by virtue of a relationship of such overwhelming mutual admiration (idealization), that we would both be perpetually-inspired to try to live up to the other. I imagined myself in a hetero-normative dynamic in which I would probably be the one bringing home the bacon. Most of all, though, I foolishly thought that I had such a willing domestic nature and such insight into human relationships that it would be easy for me to open up my heart and share my life with another person.

Reality has been oh so different. Shane and I do push each other to be better people, because we demand it of each other, because being in a relationship of two strong-willed people demands greater patience, forgiveness, and love. No one knows our personal faults quite as keenly as we know each others. As it turns out, I am actually VERY autonomous and like a lot of personal space and freedom. Domesticity and sharing a life does not come easily to me. Also, while Shane and I are both very committed to the idea of building a family together, including adopting a child at some point, we both love to work and love the nature of our work. We will have to navigate a new path that would allow us to work and raise a child.

So far, Commited has been a great read. Comfortable, easy prose and very stark, unsentimental perspective of the ever-evolving institution of marriage in the Western world. I am certainly learning a lot about the cultural underpinnings of this institution and can’t wait to finish it (which I suspect will be in another day or two).

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

What's Your Favorite NPR Show?

If you ever hear me say in conversation, "That's funny/interesting/discombobulating, I actually recently heard a story about blah blah blah...."

Chances are I heard about it on one of these three shows:

BTW-Sorry to whoever out there is a fan of Air Talk. I am sure Terri is a lovely woman. Mike and I just can't stand her.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl 2010

This year I watched the Super Bowl with a small, but disparate group of friends out in Fort Mason.

Unfortunately, I missed the first quarter because we were foolishly trying to buy all of the ingredients for 7-layer dip 30 min before the game. It was a great game, with the Saints really pulling ahead in the end. I think everyone was pretty much rooting for the Saints.

On to what really matters: the commercials.


None of my Super Bowl buddies works in marketing or advertising, and yet everyone in the room stopped what they were doing and shut up to see how this commercial would end. Isn't that the hallmark of a great ad?

Okay the end was over-the-top cheese. Still. I rank it as the best ad of the Super Bowl. After awhile, everything just seemed annoyingly loud.

With an overload of ridiculously testoroned/predictable car ads, this ad was a pleasant surprise, that had us all smiling, reminiscing over our own Vegas trip, and debating over who would get to be which toy in the ad.

Maybe not the most innovative idea, but this car ad also made us all smile.

Speaking of car ads, Toyota's absence in the line-up was very noticeable. Wish they had taken the opportunity rather than shied away. When will they devise a PR strategy?


Golly. Where to begin? It seems like this year was SO many bad, annoying, typical ads.


This one gets a shout out as the biggest disappointment. Intel's Rockstar ads were so brilliant! This one is just sadly predictable and uninsightful.

This ad took wacky, off-the-wall humor to a level of...stupidity.


Another disappointment. The beginning looked so promising. We were all sure it was going to go somewhere hilarious and unexpected. Instead we got this:

DIS-Honorable Mentions:

Manthem? Feel Comfortable in Your Own Skin? Who are they trying to kid? It's Dove. Give guys some credit for intelligence and recognize who you really are when talking to men.


They just seemed overexposed and had off-the-wall commercials/tie-ins that didn't make sense to us.

Also overexposed. And the baby gimmick is tired. Give it a rest already. Not funny anymore. It's like hearing someone tell another God-awful "That's what she said" joke.

Overall, it was refreshing to watch real TV with real commercial breaks. It is so easy to think that ads are genius when you watch them in the bubble of isolated clips. When you see them in context, they tell a very different story.

Sigh. Almost makes me regret my cable-free life. Almost.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Haus of Gaga

The Grammys suck. I think the last time I actually watched the Grammys, I was 15. Does anyone care about the Grammys anymore? Well. I am sure some people do. What I have noticed, however, is that in my conversations with people since the Grammys few people have talked about the winners but people have definitely talked about Lady Gaga's Grammy "performances" (and Pink's, too, of course).

This woman (Gaga) is brilliant. Sure her pop music is great to dance to. It has a certain Euro-electro-pop that has breathed new life into the American pop scene. But what I love about Lady Gaga is that she has crafted this larger than life spectacle (and brand).

To my way of thinking, she has brought post-modern art to the masses and made them love every minute of it.

I mean how is her work really that different from Jeff Kouns?

Or Andy Warhol (whose hijinks were arguably the greatest part of his work)?

The painter in me just has to love this.

She has created a persona that extends beyond a couple of music videos (*cough* Sasha Fierce!) to the stage, red carpet events, paparazzi photos, interviews,everything she does.

She manages to keep everyone interested without resorting to cheap parlor tricks like flashing cooch in paparazzi photos.

What I think is really interesting is that part of her aesthetic is an aggressive, seductive repulsion. It can be light and poppy and at the same time have a hard, sometimes uncomfortable edge. Which, I think in this climate is exactly what people need.

Anything too "pretty" would be out-of-touch and wildly idealistic, but at the same time I think people want some sense of celebration (which is why I think The Black-Eyed Peas' I Gotta Feeling was such a wild hit this past summer). Adopting Gaga's hard edge (and also her debauched dance club celebration) can make someone feel invincible, though; feel stronger in an uncertain world by defying convention.

This unique blend is, I believe, a big reason for her appeal across various social groups. Her inspiring fashions are also about personal creativity rather than unattainable labels, which is appealing in our current economy.

And when you're looking for bang-for-the-buck, nothing beats her over-the-top shows. If you gave me a choice between tickets to a Gaga concert or a performance of La Boheme, I hate to say it, but I am going to have to take the Gaga tickets and am pretty sure I would walk away with longer-lasting memories. Her performances have raised our expectations of creativity.

What is notable about Gaga's success is that she was this no-name weird sound that emerged to dominate the pop culture scene. I think she is great example of how viral sharing which so many young people do (a good reason to have a kick-ass music video that makes people say "You HAVE to see this" to their friends) can lead to huge commercial demand.

The Wall Street Journal
actually wrote a really great article on how Lady Gaga represents the future of the music industry, parlaying viral success into capital rewards in other channels.

One of my regrets about leaving LA, however, is that somehow, listening to Gaga outside of the boundaries of West Hollywood is just not the same. I guess it loses something of its ironic appeal.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Movie I Want To See: Lemonade

Thanks, Nomes, for sharing this with me. I think had heard something about it, but now this trailer makes me want to see it.

When Shane lost his job, my friend, Mark (who is a veteran copywriter), told me that we should both get used to times of unemployment, that especially in the ad world, it is fairly common, not a big deal, not a reflection of a person's work, and that you eventually learn to enjoy those lulls as pseudo-vacations while you find the next job.

The very prospect terrifies me. I can't imagine being let go/fired/downsized.

I have been fired exactly once, from a job that I hated, resented, had no passion for, and dragged myself to everyday. I would put on a plastic smile, robotically do my work, and think about how I could be doing something that was really challenging. I was a waiter in a caviar restaurant. I generally had two tables a night of the most annoying patrons in Beverly Hills. Even so, being fired from that job was incredibly humiliating and shocking. It was difficult not to see it as a reflection of my personal worth and work. Ironically, it happened on the exact night I was planning on quitting anyway.

I am so glad I have found planning, and I am knocking wood that anytime I have to leave an agency, it is to find a more amazing opportunity somewhere else.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

French Safe Sex Commercial

This is perhaps the weirdest ad I have ever seen. But I love it. In all of its weirdness, it is brill. Thank you, Loganatron!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Why Does Orrin Hatch Get to Decide My Life in California?

Okay, so this solution presented by GOOD magazine is a little far-fetched in terms of real possible solution, but the fact is, like California's state government, our national legislative branch is pretty messed up.

Our government has pretty much been set up so that it is impossible to get anything done. True, this was initially created out of a fear of tyranny and corruption but let's face it, people get creative and have found ways to bring both into our government.

Our legislative set-up was intentionally designed to make change happen at a glacially slow pace. There is prudence in this. It ensures that legislation is carefully scrutinized before it is passed, however, it is a system that does not work for a nation in the 21st Century that deals with crises far more pressing and fast-developing than our agrarian forefathers had to contend with.

What's even worse, is our current system has developed to such a state, that anyone with a gripe can bring a piece of legislation to a grinding halt. Anyone. From any small state, from any obscure interest group. Part of it is the gross disparities in representation in the Senate, but another huge problem is the strong voice of corporate interest groups and lobbyists in the legislative process.

America is unquestionably in dire straits. Our current legislative process is ill-equipped to respond to the problems that threaten our economy, security, ecology, and standard of living.

I believe in the power of human ingenuity in a crisis, but I wonder if our present system is just too slow to be able to innovate itself into something that will work. I am curious to see if there is a solution, what form it will actually take, because one thing is for sure--the current system isn't working.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

This Is Our Trip To Peru! Really?

Enough of this marketing mumbo jumbo. Who cares?

I just had an incredible international adventure with my partner-in-crime, Shane.

For those of you who don’t know, last July, to celebrate my birthday, my wonderful boyfriend booked us a flight to Peru for the holidays. Little did we know then that in December we would have to prepare to move back to San Francisco. So we packed up all of our stuff, I said a tough “adios” to 180, and we boarded a late night plane to Lima, Peru.

I am just going to give you a brief run-down of the trip. I will upload all of the pics to Flickr soon with a full color commentary on all of the interesting sights and experiences.

Best Food:
1) Ceviche—caught fresh every morning in Porto Callao. Fresh, spicy, and citrusy

2) Alpaca in Andean sauce—Tastes like lamb

3) Anticucho de Corazon—Yup. Cow heart. Not as chewy as I would have thought.

Best Restaurant:
Fallen Angel—Spectacular art collection, the coolest d├ęcor, San Francisco-worthy gourmet food, and hot waiters. A unique experience

Best Sites:
1) Machu Pichu—Duh. It’s why we made the trip. A majestic hike through the clouds. The terrain itself is even more spectacular than the ruins. See these ruins with a guide and you’ll get the gist of all of the ruins and history in Peru. High elevation+Lots of hiking=literal breath-taking views

2) Lake Titicaca—Puno (the starting point) is not great, but the lake itself is beautiful and immense. The artificial Floating Islands were a trip, as were the unique locals that have solar-powered electricity, but still get by fishing and making reed handicrafts. Our favorite was Taquile Island, whose views never disappointed.

3) El Parque de Amor—On the cliffs of Miraflores overlooking the Pacific, two blocks from our Lima hostel, this park is dedicated to meandering trails, poetry, sculpture, and most of all love. To that point, the park was rife with strolling and embracing lovers. It was beautiful and great to see a civic project dedicated to a specific idea/theme.

Worst of Peru:
1) Constant haggling—at some point getting snowed for being a tourist gets old and you just want a straight-up, no hassle price.
2) Not being able to drink the water—all of those fresh-made fruit juices kept calling to us, but we didn’t dare derail our trip for a day of diarrhea.
3) Pretending we were straight—sometime the jig was up and some people figured it out, but I still didn’t like being in a place where I couldn’t hold my partner’s hand or give him a kiss on the cheek because WE were having a special moment in Love Park. The hilarious thing is, Peruvians aren’t even that Catholic.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sony Make.Believe

It has already launched in Europe, I saw Sony Make.Believe signs in the Panama City airport last week, but, at last, this new campaign for Sony has finally reached the U.S. and I am proud/thrilled to see it here.

While I was not part of the concepting of make.believe, during my time at 180 LA, I was thoroughly indoctrinated in the campaign, even working on some projects that will branch out of the philosophy of make.believe.

I don't think people realize what a big deal it really is for Sony--a brand which straddles so many different fields: music, entertainment, electronics, gaming, and computers--to have a unifying message/ideology of being a brand of imagination and realization. Drawing on the early history of its dichotomous founders (as I believe many brands should look at their birth for a sense of identity), Sony is striving to position itself as a brand that is not only visionary and imaginative internally, but that allows people to realize their own visions through Sony products.

Having worked with some of the marketing and R&D people at Sony, I can see that this new philosophy has already inspired and excited some of the people at Sony and motivated them to change the way they approach product design. I hope this philosophy becomes truly infectious at Sony and I am eager to see what comes out of Sony (and 180) in the next few years.

I was little miffed to see that no planners were credited in this long list of credits in an article by Media Post's Agency Spy. Ah well. Planning is fun enough with accolades.