Category Archives: Marketing

Icing the Iron Horse

“For the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth. When you look around, wouldn’t you consider it a privilege to associate yourself with such fine looking men as are standing in uniform in this ballpark today? That I may have been given a bad break, but I have an awful lot to live for. Thank you.”

~Lou Gehrig~

Photo Credit: Willie Zhang via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Willie Zhang via Compfight cc

Lou Gehrig was a gentle soul with a wicked sense of humor and was also a humble man. He was taken too young by a disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As Lou died pre-“me,” I never had the opportunity to meet the baseball legend. However my father did when he was with the Yankees during Spring Training in 1936 and 1937.

Pops was a pretty good player, but never actually played a game as a first baseman. The problem? Lou Gehrig, the “Iron Horse” himself.  Gehrig played 2,130 consecutive games – games where he was ejected (after receiving credit because he was already up to bat), injured (including being knocked unconscious), and ill.  But dad was in training with Lou (and Joe DiMaggio, Kemp Wicker, Frank Crosetti, Bill Dickie, Red Rolfe and other great Yanks) for two seasons before transferring to the minors.

Lou Gehrig impacted dad’s life quietly. He wanted to emulate the legend in many ways and Pops told me how Lou and Joe helped change his life not only on the diamond, but on the train rides to St. Petersburg, FL. Pops was a smoker on and off during his life. Trying to be “cool” like some of the other ball players, he was lighting a cigarette up on the train. Lou leaned over to my dad and instead of reading him the riot act, he softly explained to him, “If you keep that up, you’ll lose your wind.”

Dad kept in contact with Gehrig after leaving the Yankee organization and there is a letter tucked safely away written in 1938 or early 1939 (I can’t remember) to pops explaining Lou’s illness and that Eleanor, his wife, was taking care of him.

75 years after his death, Lou Gehrig seems to be finding himself in the spotlight again, not for his baseball prowess, but for the disease that took his life.  I’ve been watching the ice bucket challenges on social media to raise money and awareness for ALS. ALS is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or just plain Gehrig’s disease.  ALS is a neurodegenerative ailment that is as debilitating as they come to the human body and someone with ALS does NOT have a good quality of life.  Gehrig died when he was just 37 years old. You don’t have to do the challenge to help a really worthy cause. To make a donation today:  http://www.alsa.org/

If you want a weekend in, check out a movie called “Pride of the Yankees” starring Gary Cooper as Gehrig as well as real members of the Yankee organization: Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig and Bill Dickey. This was my father’s all-time favorite movie – most likely because of the representation of Lou’s character. To find out more about my father’s friend, Lou Gehrig: http://www.lougehrig.com/about/bio.html

Neither dad nor Lou are here today to witness the ice bucket challenge. I personally think both are probably sitting in a dugout in Heaven looking down and wondering what we’re all doing. However, I just know that as silly as dad would think the concept is, he’d agree it’s a brilliant piece of marketing in bringing awareness and funding to ALS research.

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More Than You Think… The Writer

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For years I hid the fact I’m a writer. It was too difficult to explain what it is I actually do. Most people seem to think I sit down at my desk, type a few pages and go about my day. But like many others, my life isn’t like that. My life is rather exhausting. I have a full time job, a family and some  dogs who, for lack of a better description, bother the hell out of me while I’m concentrating. I don’t have the luxury of secreting myself away for days on end until a piece is done. I try to carve out chunks of time to get done what needs to be done. Sometimes that ends in success – others are epic failure.

So what is this “being a writer” thing?

It is first and foremost being a goal-setter. It doesn’t matter if you are writing for newspapers / magazines or writing a novel. You have goals in mind that must be met. Whether it’s writing four articles a month or if it’s writing two pages a day, it’s still a goal.  I have found I have a better shot at achieving my goals if I am held accountable by letting my critique group know what I plan to do. Others have success by writing them down in a prominent place. A sticky note on the bathroom mirror is great for this.

So how do you set writing goals? You need to remember the SMART mnemonic often attributed to Peter Drucker.

  • Specific – how many words, pages, what kind of writing (Fiction/Non-fiction)
  • Measurable – find a way to show you are making progress whether it be word count, number of pages or chapters.
  • Assignable – who is responsible for what? As the writer, you are assigning the goals to yourself.
  • Realistic – this is where most goals fail. If I’m writing a 120k word novel, there is no way I can do this in 30 days while taking care of a family. Keep your goals within reach.
  • Time-related – deadlines are important. Give yourself one. Someday your publisher will and you need to know how to work under deadlines and the associated pressures if you have never done so before.

 A writer is also a thief of sorts.

Yes. I just said that. I seriously doubt any of us will be convicted in a court of law (unless we are plagerizing); however, we steal all the time. We filch bits of conversation from unsuspecting people around us. We gleen ideas from news articles, other books, names, places, and events. We take inspiration from the tales told to us from others and someone else’s moment in time becomes our own.

Writers are expected to be excellent story-tellers.

Strangely enough, this is not always the case.  One may be able to write brilliant and earth-shattering prose, but cannot tell a story to a group of friends in order to save a life. However, as long as they can deliver on the page, that’s all that really matters, eh?

Writers are notoriously private.

I tell people all the time I’m “anti-social.” Their eyes widen and mouths open in shock. Maybe it’s because I’m fairly friendly and outgoing, which sounds like an oxymoron to being private. But many writers don’t open up to people unless they are really close to them.  When you start talking about being reserved or dare I say clandestine, many people may think about authors such as the hermitic Orwell, Woolf and Plath who suffered from madness, or Nietzsche who preferred solitude and was also a bit mental.

Today, writers/authors have to have a “public face” if they are to be successful. Their writing will speak for itself, but marketing & book promotion will include book signings and interviews. Facebook, Twitter and other social media outlets are becoming more expected from authors. The public wants to connect with you. This does not mean that you have to detail every thread in the fabric of your life. But you do have to make accommodations you might not want to.

A writer is so many different things to so many different people. I describe what I do as: I’m an analyst, researcher, creator and wordsmith wrapped in a cloak of thievery and mystery out to transform the universe for but a moment in time.  But… maybe that’s the madness speaking.

The Superbowl, Halftime and Advertising

“The reason women don’t play football is because 11 of them would never wear the same outfit in public.”
Phyllis Diller 

It’s almost time for the Battle of the Titans… figuratively, not literally. In February the Superbowl will again be played.  It will be the first time the game will be played in a non-domed stadium as it will be in the Meadowlands (MetLife Stadium) in New Jersey. This also means that there will be two “host teams” (the Giants and the Jets) as they both play in the same stadium. As this is the first time the game will be held in a non-domed stadium, there is speculations there will be a winter storm / blizzard. Personally, I say, “Bring it on.” Come on folks. Wouldn’t that be just awesome – to have a Snow Bowl?  


And for those who watch the game for the Halftime Show… It’s Bruno Mars. 

I like Bruno, but logistically if it is snowing, it will be more interesting to see technically how that will go down.  I mean Bruno plays guitar and sings. It’s got to be harder to play a guitar with gloved/mittened hands and the cold definitely affects one’s vocal chords. But he has two platinum albums so I think he will be okay. 

And speaking of halftime shows. It’s been 10 years since Janet Jackson’s performance with Justin Timberlake and the phrase “wardrobe malfunction” took hold in pop culture. Her exposed breast during the half-time show almost caused the internet to explode. That bit was better than her actual performance. I believe she meant for it to boost her career, but ten years later, her brother still has more success and she is but a pale reflection with a Jackson name. Timberlake; however, walked away from the incident pretty much unscathed and has had a successful career. Ahhh… Nipplegate. Who will ever forget? 

Finally, let’s talk dough. Commercials for the SuperBowl are $4.0 million each for a mere :30 seconds nationally. That’s some serious moolah. I know a lot of folks watch the game for the ads rather than the game. I go back and forth from year to year – it depends on who is playing and if the ads are any good. This year (2013), in my opinion, the ads weren’t really worth the money. They kind of sucked.  

However, at this time there are some companies already announcing their plans to air ads in the SuperBowl:

Announced Super Bowl Advertisers for 2014:
Anheuser-Busch InBev
Dannon
Doritos
General Motors (Chevrolet)
GoDaddy
Hyundai
Intuit
Jaguar
Mars
Nestlé (Butterfinger)
Soda Stream
Wonderful Pistachios

Anheuser-Busch, Doritos and GoDaddy will probably have some of the best commercials during the game as they usually do. I’ll expect to see some Clydesdales, excessive cheese and Danica Patrick muscled up for starters. 

Rumor has it at least one of the car manufacturers has purchased a two minute commercial time slot. It should be interesting. I believe it will be Chrysler, who is not on the list above, but they have been making heavy national ad purchases lately and if I were to make a guess – it’s them. 

Dannon, Soda stream and Pistachios had better be new and creative otherwise that’s going to be some serious bank that’s just tossed out the window and could have been spent during the Olympics instead.  Now THAT is truly a marketing dream. 

Political Advertising and Other Woes

“I see in the near future a crisis approaching; corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.”

Abraham Lincoln, Nov. 21 1864

This morning on the way into work, I heard Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”  I was instantly transported back to the Clinton election campaign and became somewhat nauseous. It’s not because of Clinton himself, though I’m not a fan nor supporter, but because he took a good song and ruined it for me.  I hate it when good songs are used for whatever purpose and then become associated with something else that have negative connotations in my life.

Because of this song, I began thinking about this Presidential election and politics in general.  I’m not as knowledgable about politics as I should be – probably because my stomach churns when I think about the muck and the mire that makes up the election process.

One of the biggest problems that irks me is the PAC/ SuperPAC campaign spending / donation process. I don’t quite understand how all of that works. I read up on wikipedia to get an idea and I’m still confused to be quite honest. However, something caught my eye and made me heartsick.

As of February 2012, according to Center for Responsive Politics, 313 groups organized as Super PACs had received $98,650,993 and spent $46,191,479. This means early in the 2012 election cycle, PACs had already greatly exceeded total receipts of 2008. The leading Super PAC on its own raised more money than the combined total spent by the top 9 PACS in the 2008 cycle.[72]


The 2012 figures don’t include funds raised by State level PACs nor funds raised by national level non-profit groups that pool “soft-funds”. Spending by non-profits, also called 527 organizations, exceeded $500 million in the 2010 election cycle with the two largest organizations being the Republican Governors Association $131,873,954 and the Democratic Governors Association $64,708,253 [73] Spending by the 527 organizations for the 2012 is expected to be double and much will be derived from donors kept hidden from voters.[74]
I understand to run an election campaign, it takes money; however, wouldn’t it be a refreshing change to see someone do it without spending millions of dollars on television ads – there are all sorts of new media ideas out there that aren’t as costly? It makes me sick because all of that money is being wasted on blue sky – which is what advertising is. And why all the bashing? Why not tout what you can do, your accomplishments and all of that? Just once I would like to see a positive campaign run by a politician. 
Most people do not like negative political ad campaigns. And frankly, most people are so sick of political ads by the time  the election comes they don’t want to see another one.  And the cost of these ads is astronomical – especially in tightly contested states.  By election day, Romney and Obama campaigns and other independent groups will have spent about $1.1 billion on television advertising in 2012,  with $750 million already allocated in the handful of states likely to determine the outcome of the contest — Colorado, Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin according to Kantar-Campaign Media Analysis Group estimates. Florida tops the list, with more than $150 million spent by both sides so far. Is that not assinine? (Thank you Yahoo for that info.)  
There are many different ways to get your message out to people that spending that kind of money isn’t as “vital” as it used to be. These politicians need to find a campaign strategist that is able to think out of the box and use new media as well as traditional branding to cut costs and put out a more positive message. 
I think people are smarter than the political machine gives them credit for. I think most decide early on who they are voting for and only a tiny slice of the pie is actually up for grabs.  The politicians would be better served focusing on the debates, their credibility and what they really have to offer than wasting millions of dollars on an uncertain number of votes.  

Your vote matters… if you don’t vote – you have no say in anything that happens. You don’t even have the right to sit and bitch about how this country is being run.  On election day, get out and vote. Many people have given their lives so you can cast your ballot. I’ll be there at the polls. Will you?

“My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. “

John F. Kennedy