Tom Buckholtz was a man known for many amazing things. He was a founding father of the New Orleans film industry and directed campaigns for local icons like Mignon Faget and Popeyes, as well as nationally acclaimed accounts such as Burger King. Mr. Buckholtz was also instrumental in creating music videos, and could at one point in time be found in the Encyclopedia Britannica’s definition of music videos as an important influencer and creator of music videos in the 1980s.
In addition to coming up with the Popeyes slogan, “There’s a party in my mouth,” he also was the one to suggest that Steve Perry, lead singer of Journey, put a sock in his pants for a music video, for which he received credit for every time it played on VH1 by an arrow pointing to his pants. Mr. Buckholtz was a local icon who gain national attention for his talent and impressive work. Not many men can take credit for casting Sarah Michelle Gellar in a Burger King commercial at age four and pioneering the film industry on a local level.
Although he was originally from New Jersey, Mr. Buckholtz was a true New Orleanian in his eccentricity and passion for life. Even after a car accident that left him a quadriplegic in 2004, he continued to be inspired and come up with brilliant ideas until his death on Nov. 2 at age 66. He is spoken of with admiration and respect by his peers and clients and will certainly be missed in the film community of New Orleans. This take is for you, Mr. Buckholtz.
It is said that radio advertising is the “theater of the mind”, because the images created by radio come from within the person that is listening. Since radio ads rely heavily on the imagination of its listeners, it is important to know how to paint a memorable mental picture in their minds.
While radio production is significantly less costly than other mediums, if you fail to cast the right voice for your radio ads the outcome will likely wasted and money. In order to cast the correct voice talent, you must be very clear on the tone of the spot. The tone should be based on product, target audience, etc. Your ad’s listeners need to believe in the message the voice talent is trying to convey, therefore matching tone and voice is extremely important. Another aspect you must consider is the question of music background. Often, a voice talent is drowned out by music that is too loud or too “busy”. In order to ensure your message is received, take time to consider whether you really need music at all.
When you only have 60 seconds to convey a message to a most likely distracted audience, and you have no visual aids, you are left with the challenge of creating a theater of the mind that not only entertains, but inspires people to take immediate action.
“Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost!”.” – Henry James, The Art of Fiction
There was a time when “multi-tasking” was a specialized talent, dominated by mothers, questionable drivers and jugglers.
Slowly, though, multi-tasking has become less a skill and more just a generally-accepted state of life. Staking your claim as a “multi-tasker” is like proudly proclaiming your ability to breathe air.
There are different levels to the multi-tasking, and certainly some are more successful at it than others (also not unlike breathing, where there’s Michael Phelps and the rest of us are just gasping asthmatics). But on the whole, the value has been compromised by a shift from conscious state to default operating mode.
The more rare (and possibly more valuable) trait these days is the ability to focus on a single activity. To shut down everything else, sit still and give your full attention to whatever (or whoever) is in front of you. A call for uni-tasking (formerly just down as “doing something”) is starting to gain ground on several fronts, but nowhere more than among the educational institutions struggling to deal with a generation of Americans who went straight from umbilical cord to firewire– and that was the subject of National Security Council Member and foreign policy expert Samantha Power’s commencement address at Occidental College:
“You’ve got to be all in. This means leaving your technology behind occasionally and listening to a friend without half of your brain being preoccupied by its inner longing for the red light on the Blackberry. In many college classes, laptops depict split screens– notes from a class and then a range of a parallel stimulants: NBA Playoff statistics on ESPN.com, a flight home on Expedia, a new flirtation on Facebook. I know how good you all are at multi-tasking. And I know of what I speak, because I, too, am a culprit. You have never seen a U.S. government official and new mother so dextrous in her ability simultaneously to BlackBerry and breastfeed. But I promise you that over time this doesn’t cut it. Something or someone loses out. No more than a surgeon can operate while tweeting can you reach your potential with one ear in, one ear out. You actually have to reacquaint yourself with concentration. We all do. We should all become, as Henry James prescribed, a person “on whom nothing is lost.”
In marketing, where everyone is on the push for increased connectivity, this is something that rings true. We’re individuals constantly trying to talk to audiences on whom much is lost– our job being to keep our message from falling down that black hole.
It’s a task that’s become more difficult. “Fragmented” is a word that is frequently used to describe younger audiences. “Fractured” is probably a better term, as the demarcations between the different areas are not neat, even divides, but sprawling, ragged cracks.
To combat this, the push has been toward integrated campaigns, stretching smaller ideas across more space and media. For some messages, it’s a tactic that works. The danger, however, is that in trying to create integration, we lose distinction– whatever it is that makes your idea, your message, your campaign stand out from everything else. In time, the marketing professionals start to develop cracks of their own and the work begins to suffer.
Multitasking isn’t a sin or a condition to be cured, but it does need an off switch. The value is in being able to shift between a singular focus and plugged-in master of all domains and then back again, as needed; To take the time to drill into a single task at hand, complete it, and then open up to bring it to the fractured masses and glowing screens of all sizes. And if a you can take the time to create a big, fat idea, it’ll be much less likely to fall through the cracks.
Its Friday, It 4:15, I didn’t have lunch. Why must my favorite package design blog, The Die Line tempt me with a delicious collection of vintage cheese labels.
When looking at vintage design I always appreciate the typography, since it was done the hard way, without computers. I think It might drive us contemporary designers mad if we had to perfectly hand-render all of those sans-serif letterforms. Here are a few of my favorites, The layouts are so simple, yet the small details make them so interesting.
It’s a question that gets asked about practically everything that’s delivered to the studio. Does it have a motor? If not, can we attach one to it? On this day, it was asked regarding the black pedestal for our macro lens shoot of stock footage for Baton Rouge, New Orleans and Mandeville based Boudreaux’s Jewelry. Because while stock footage of rings and necklaces are easy enough to come by, it seems like a good idea to have on hand high-quality footage of the exact items you are actually trying to sell. Madness, I know. But it’s so crazy it just might work.
So a very nervous account exec took temporary possession of an array of precious gems and metals for an afternoon of macro photography with a Cannon 100mm 1:1 ratio lens, lots of lights, a black backdrop and one non-mechanized turntable.
Lights, Camera Setup in Berning Studio
One blog describes shooting with a macro lens as creating the feeling of zen-like calmness and amplified senses. A 1:1 ratio literally means that the size of the object in real like is also the size the object is burned into your digital image. You take a picture of a 1 inch grape with a 1:1 lens, that grape is actually burned into a 1 inch area of the frame of film you’re using. Of course, the film itself has largely gone the way of the 8 track tape deck, but the same principle still applies. It can be useful for shooting jewelry stock footage or checking out the facial expressions of the fleas on your dog’s back.
While not quite on the transcendental level of feeling the shape of light, looking through a professionally lit 1:1 lens is fascinating. It’s not like a microscope, where things are broken down into level that makes them unrecognizable from their naked-eye form. It takes the familiar and just adds a level of detail, and in the case of jewels, magnificence and drama that is engaging. The images are still whatever they were without the lens, just moreso.
The end result is a stockpile of relevant footage that turns a small piece of rock and metal into an object that can dominate a television screen. Boudreaux’s stock footage went into a campaign for Mother’s Day and an engagement ring promotion. Because April showers bring May flowers, carried by June wedding bridesmaids who might start pushing for their turn in primary role when the cycle starts up again next year.
For the better part of recent history, race tracks across the country have faced the same question– how do we sell horse races to people who have no interest in horse racing?
They held the line for decades on the premise that they were the only legal outlet for the collective American gambling addiction. But now that every other state has a casino and every other suburban dad has an online sportsbook account, that hook has been straightened. In the 2000s, tracks have faced financial crisis and re-examined their marketing strategy.
Struggling with bankruptcy and state ownership, Pimlico Race Course, home of the Preakness Stakes, decided to cash in on their urinal-racing YouTube infamy by doing away with their BYOB infield policy, selling their own beer and then reaching out to the people who will drink said beer. They started with “Get Your Preak On” in 2010. They’ve gone plaid with the recently-announced “Kegasus.”
On the early summer morn of “Get Your Preak On,” I joined a small mob of other Washington, DC twentysomethings, struggled to choke down a sub-par bloody mary and boarded a rented bus for the Preakness.
Unlike 90 percent of my busmates, I had actually attended a horse race before. In fact, the better part of my childhood spring breaks were spent with my grandfather patrolling the backside of Oaklawn Race Course in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Multiplication tables were learned in terms of exacta boxes, and we found out I needed glasses when my grandfather complained I couldn’t read the tote board. I can decode the jumble of a racing form and know you always play the Holy Ghost. These are important life skills, none of which would be of any use at the Preakness.
We entered the infield, armed with our pre-paid “Beer Pass” bracelets—the Preaknesses’s effort to transition from free-for-all to profit-for-them beer drinking. For the first time, they would not allow backpacks, coolers or kegs to be rolled into the infield. Instead, attendees got a bracelet and a 6 oz. plastic mug that provided access to four bottlenecked beer tents.
There seems to be a loophole in your 6 oz. of moderation beer policy. From The Baltimore Sun blog
And we wandered the grounds drinking Black-Eyed Susans, eating crabcakes and rubbernecking for drunken, shirtless shenanigans. I heard a rumor there might have been some horses somewhere, but I’m not sure I ever laid eyes on them. Somebody asked me for betting advice, to which I could only suggest they bet on the jockeys with Cajun-sounding names. Between songs by the Zac Brown band, there was a faint whisper of a blowing bugle, but it seemed completely disconnected from what was going on in the infield.
“Get Your Preak On” was largely a financial success for the infield. Infield ticket sales were up and they’d increased concessions by banning outside beverages. The track on the whole, however, continues to bleed money. And so they’ve continued on by essentially splitting their image in two. There’s The Preakness Stakes, the prestigious second leg of the Triple Crown of Racing. And then, there’s Infield Fest where you get your Preak on with unlimited beer and live music for the sunburned masses with the love child of Kenny Powers and Rachel Alexandra leading the way. One has very little to do with the other except that they share a venue and date.
But can you successfully split your image? Can such brand schizophrenia be successfully managed into a sustainable, cohesive campaign?
Hosting concert events at race courses is certainly not new or limited to Pimlico. The New Orleans Fair Grounds has both the Louisiana Derby and Jazzfest, but they’re clearly distinct. They don’t share branding or marketing, and by the time Jazzfest comes around, the Fair Grounds has been stripped down to only the barest resemblance of a horse track.
The image of horse racing, especially at the Triple Crown level, is historically one of floppy hats and sundresses, linen suits and bow ties. Generational aristocracy discussing ancient bloodlines between sips of signature specialty cocktails and puffs on cigars. But even in a time when you could refer to horse racing as the “Sport of Kings” without snark, it was still largely a hard, dirty, unseemly business that relied as much on the exploitation of working-class addictions as upper class entertainment. The white gloves image has always been a bit of a façade…but at least it was a pleasant façade.
The separation of Fair Grounds Race Track and Jazzfest allows the Fair Grounds to still cultivate and tap into the better part of the horse racing façade, and they’ve done so effectively with their Louisiana Derby ads and their post time-come-happy hour Starlight Racing promotion for young professionals. It not only builds attendance for specific events, it also elevates and legitimizes the track as a destination throughout the year. A 30 something CBD lawyer who goes to Starlight might come back for another off day of Saturday racing because of the impression left from the Starlight branding and execution. Sure, the Starlight Racing had bands, but they were inside, toned-down local acts that didn’t start till well into the racing. And yes, they had the midrift, riders crop-wielding jockey girls on their ads. But those are touches, winks to the shared knowledge that this is not really about the horses. Kegasus is a full-on grope, “nice shoes, let’s have sex” approach.
And that’s where Kegasus stumbles. It’s a blunt object gimmick that does nothing to build the brand or the idea of the horse races at Pimlico. In fact, it diminishes it. Even in the mass of the Preakness infield, the lines to the Bud all-you-can-drink beer tent were still largely populated by drunk twentysomethings doing their best imitation of aristocratic chic — what they perceived as the attractive aspects of the high-end horse racing image. Past the once a year hit of Infield Fest, the Kegasus campaign makes it harder for Pimlico to tap into that more positive side of the horse racing image, and at some point will trample it completely.
Another bus rider from that “Get Your Preak On” weekend said it best when shown the new ads, “If I cared about horseracing, I’d be horrified. As I do not, I’m incredibly amused.” He might go back for Infield Fest ’11. He’d never consider a Sunday afternoon at Pimlico as a legitimate entertainment option.
In 1970, the Kentucky Derby had the time period equivalent of a toilet racing viral video in a Hunter S. Thompson article titled “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved.”It includes the following description of the reality of the infield crowd 40 years before the Port-O-John Stakes:
Now, looking down from the press box, I pointed to the huge grassy meadow enclosed by the track. “That whole thing,” I said, “will be jammed with people; fifty thousand or so, and most of them staggering drunk. It’s a fantastic scene — thousands of people fainting, crying, copulating, trampling each other and fighting with broken whiskey bottles. We’ll have to spend some time out there, but it’s hard to move around, too many bodies.”
“Is it safe out there?” Will we ever come back?”
“Sure,” I said. “We’ll just have to be careful not to step on anybody’s stomach and start a fight.” I shrugged. “Hell, this clubhouse scene right below us will be almost as bad as the infield. Thousands of raving, stumbling drunks, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money. By midafternoon they’ll be guzzling mint juleps with both hands and vomiting on each other between races. The whole place will be jammed with bodies, shoulder to shoulder. It’s hard to move around. The aisles will be slick with vomit; people falling down and grabbing at your legs to keep from being stomped. Drunks pissing on themselves in the betting lines. Dropping handfuls of money and fighting to stoop over and pick it up.”
It was hugely popular and has gone down in the annals of America’s greatest sports writing. In the end, it did, in some underground way, build the legend of Kentucky Derby weekend. But it’s not the kind of popularity a brand can openly endorse. Churchill Downs didn’t come out the next year with ads built on The Great Infield Broken Bottle Brawl. It has, however, tacitly posted the full text of the story on their website.
Walking the line between the wink and grope– of reality versus façade– is perilous trick, and it’s one that New Orleans and New Orleans brands must walk almost everyday. How to balance your seedier notoriety without letting it consume your entire brand? How to profit from vice without openly embracing or cultivating it? It’s a battle to split your personalities and appeal to all aspects of your audience — white gloved and bare knuckled. It’s no surprise then that the New Orleans Fair Grounds has performed rather well. Pimlico in Maryland still has some things to figure out.
Discussing social media marketing for one of our clients and looking through Facebook this week, I saw, for the first time, “Facebook Layouts”. Backgrounds for your FB page that can be as customized as anything else on the web.
The simultaneous best and worst thing about Myspace was the fact that you could program your own html to customize your page. Some people used that very effectively as a marketing tool and made some excellent pages (I myself used it as a sandbox for my first forays into html). The vast majority though, did not. Pages were slowed considerably by the bulky solutions and there were monstrosities such as red sequin glittering backgrounds which snowed over dancing trees at Christmas. The result was as unpalatable to the eye as mixing key lime pie with baked beans – great tastes independently, horrible if mixed. A good analogy would be exposing yourself to the moving parts of a machine. To a trained technician, getting ‘under the hood’ gives access for service and improvement and can extend the usefulness of the technology. To the general public, it’s an opportunity to get your hair stuck in the gears, to the detriment of the machine, those who rely on its operation and the individual connected to the hair. Myspace no longer allows unfettered customization of its pages but I fear it is too little, too late.
Please remember to wipe your screens free from vomit after viewing this image.
Hence, to see that FB now allows you to change your background makes me wince, thinking of the foul possibilities ahead… However, having done a little research into the topic now, I find that I’m a little late to the party (no news there). FB released their layouts in September 2010!
Is the fact that we haven’t all been seeing them the result of poor publicity, or is it that we love FB so much, we’re self policing and may have (finally) learned from our Myspace mistakes? I sincerely hope it’s the latter, or it won’t be long before we all have to up and move to a new digital location again.
There’s a special, choked corner on the left side of my heart for Sbarro pizza. Because for Sbarro, stuffed crust just wasn’t far enough. They had whole stuffed pizza. Pizza…stuffed inside of pizza. Like an enigma wrapped in a riddle inside a question brushed with delicious garlic butter. While other brands were jabbering on about where to put more cheese, Sbarro gave me more of what I really wanted and that’s crust. Wonderful, chewy, greasy, carb-loaded crust. That’s why the highlight of every elementary school field trip (which always included a stop for lunch at the MetroCenter Mall food court) was a slice or two of stuffed pepperoni pizza. Maybe a garlic knot.
Today, that Sbarro is closed and the MetroCenter Mall is barely clinging to life. It appears this is not an isolated incident.
As online shopping services have proliferated and improved, consumers are choosing not to fight the hassle of brick-and-mortar megalapolases packed with roving bands of feral, bored teenagers. Apparently, there aren’t enough sixth grade field trips to make up the difference. With their franchises almost exclusively tied to food court locations, Sbarro announced today it will enter bankruptcy, potentially leaving empty marinara-stained spaces around the world and forcing busloads of poor, hungry elementary school students to forage for food in the streets.
It’s shocking to me that company that showed such innovation in its food (STUFFED PIZZA, for crying out loud. It might be the second most important food innovation of my generation right behind the McGriddles bun) showed almost no such vision in its market presence past malls and airports.
“What’s more certain than Americans going to the mall? Why would we ever think about investing in any development past that? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a tee time with the CEO of Polaroid. Photography development! Now THAT’S a rock solid industry.”
It’s a passenger seat mentality that rarely serves any business well. The American Shopping Mall just had a heart attack at the wheel with Sbarro strapped into the back, screaming and helpless. No amount of marketing, branding, pricing or promotional innovation is going to help even a well-run franchise that’s stuck in a shopping mall in decline, and that’s a sizeable portion of the Sbarro business model.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the food court, Truett Cathey was taking his delicious, frustratingly Sabbath-compliant chicken sandwich on the road and expanded. Though built on much the same shopping mall niche as Sbarro’s, Chic-Fil-A began opening free standing franchises in 1986 and such stores now account for the vast majority of the brand’s current growth. In 2009, during the heart of the recession, Chic-Fil-A increased revenue by almost 9 percent with over $3 billion in sales and planned to open 70 new stores in 2010, predominantly free-standing franchises.
This doesn’t mean that Chic-Fil-A necessarily experienced some honey mustard-fueled clairvoyance as to the coming demise of the American shopping mall in the mid-80s. But, they did take the initiative to break out of their food court comfort zone. They got out of the passenger seat and learned how to drive.
So long, Sbarro. I wish you luck. In the words of a generation of suburban mothers, I wished you’d spent less time slacking around that mall with your loser friends. Maybe you would’ve made something of yourself, or at least learned how to drive.
Leave me a slice of stuffed pepperoni in your corporate will. We’ll always have MetroCenter, at least figuratively.
There are few things I enjoy more than a good solid prank. So naturally, April Fool’s Day is one of my favorite “holidays.” In recent history, major corporations have been getting in on the fun and duping the American public. In my opinion, this is a GREAT way to get social media buzz going, to endear your company to the people, and in some cases, to jumpstart a boost in business.
Following are some of my favorite examples of April Fool’s done well:
1. Google Motion –just released today (sorry if I’m ruining the joke for anyone), this program claims to rid users of “dated technology like a mouse and keyboard” by turning very literal movements into emails. My favorite part is “pretend to lick a stamp.” See the video and download tutorials here: www.gmail.com/motion
2. Taco Liberty Bell – in April 1996, Taco Bell took out a full page ad in seven of the nation’s leading newspapers claiming that they had purchased the Liberty Bell and were renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. Thousands protested, millions thought it brilliant, and Taco Bell actually attributed a sales spike to the hoax.
3. Burger King’s Left-handed Whopper – in 1998, Burger King took out a full page ad in USA Today claiming that they had created a new sandwich geared toward southpaws. Apparently, the condiments were rotated 180 degrees.
As consumers become savvier, I’m excited to see how brave companies step it up a notch in the coming years to fool the masses. Now, I need to think of a way to get Travis, my chosen target for this year’s antics. Any ideas?
How often do you hear this sentiment and shrug it off? Of course the world is more digital, but the moment that struck me as “the future” was when I saw the Chase bank commercial letting me know if I have an iPhone, I don’t need to go to the bank to deposit my check. I can do so by simply scanning it in through my phone.
And Chase isn’t the only company to “go digital” so to speak. Starbucks now offers the ability to pay via smartphone at select locations, and more than 3 million people have paid this way.
According to Mashable, “The Starbucks mobile payments offering is a ‘touch to pay’ system. It allows the customer to hold up the app’s barcode to the in-store scanner at the register to pay using the electronic tender. The program was piloted at select stores in September 2009. After extensive testing, it was found to be the fastest way for customers to pay.”
This is both exciting and frightening. So many films depict a dystopian futuristic society in which everything is taken care digitally, but it always seems so far removed … until now. Starbucks is one of the most powerful and largest corporations in America, and to have more than 3 million people pay with a phone … it’s impressive.
Take a minute to consider how many people even have smartphone, much less how many are paying with them, and you’ll get an idea of how significant this is. As smartphones become more commonplace and as giant corporations such as Starbucks start using this payment method, it will trickle down.
Soon, we may be living in that futuristic society. The interesting thing will be what the future will look like then.