Category Archives: Uncategorized

Letter to Steve : Pancreatic Cancer vs. Musical Friendship

In 2006 a family friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. When I heard the news, I wanted to reach out and tell him how much his musical guidance had helped to shape me as a human being and musician. I wrote a letter to tell him.

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Target: Color Changes Everything

I really like the ‘Color Changes Everything’ ad which Target released on Valentine’s Day of 2012. Target works hard to deliver the message of “Expect More, Pay Less” in all of its campaigns and there is no exception here. In this ad they have pushed the concept that ‘anyone can be fabulous.’ Target has worked hard to establish this as a core focus for their brand.

As the ad begins, a red hot air balloon lands in the middle of a busy city and a small horde of ‘color’ jumps out and proceeds to spread throughout the area, leaving Target designed clothing and house ware products in place of the dull and unstylish versions that existed. I love the fact that the ‘color’ creating all of the change is represented by people in colorful outfits; this adds a very human touch to the commercial and implies that the power is in our hands as customers to be out of the ordinary. Additionally, the stylish and light French folk song ‘Alouette’ delivers the brand’s modern and unique approach.

This particular ad is both over the top and reserved in content. With dozens of ‘colors’ running around hurriedly, the energy is fast paced, yet the only copy evident in the ad reflects the brand’s core focus. “Color Changes Everything”; “Expect More. Pay Less.”; and at the very beginning of the ad, the twitter hashtag #TargetColor

What this ad really communicates well is ‘Why’ Target exists. Affordable Designer Products. Target assumes the Magician archetype nicely, by communicating how simple style can be. “Color Changes Everything” seems almost like a blindfold being pulled off by a neighbor; as if to say “hey this room/outfit/makeup would look great if you added a splash of color, here let me show you’. I love target because they are considered number two to Walmart in terms of the discount retailer market share, but differentiate themselves so well by, according to the CNBC Original: Inside the Bullseye ‘bringing a fun, cool, design driven destination for their customers.’


Wapner, S. (2011). Inside the Bullseye [Television series episode]. In CNBC Originals. New York: CNBC.

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Volkswagen Passat & Darth Vader – Dissected

Darth Vader from Star Wars is a central theme in this commercial, and by itself the pop culture reference makes this commercial likely to grab the attention of a large age group.  In addition, the inclusion of a child on a mission to use “the force” on many objects around the house, further widens the demographic to include families and parents.

I believe this commercial would be best paired up with comedy shows, sporting events, primetime television and family themed broadcasts.  This video was first launched during Super Bowl XLV (Nudd, T. 2011).  I believe Volkswagen was trying to target families, including parents and would-be-parents. To be even more specific, they seem to target those parents who grew up watching Star Wars or who have children near age 5; when it is likely imagination is at it’s peak (Wang, S. 2009).

I believe the strongest examples of audiences which have been ignored in this commercial are hardcore sports fans, singles with no aspirations of having children, and the rugged outdoors type.   There is simply nothing in the commercial which might play to these mentalities directly.

The powerful “Imperial March” theme from Star Wars is the first thing you hear in this commercial, and it really grabs attention quickly.  A few seconds go by as the child walks commandingly through the house, dressed as Darth Vader.  Next, the cute factor sets in as the audience realizes the child is trying to use the force, without success.  The child visits many rooms in the house that reflect the typical family home, while the failed attempts to use the force tug at the heartstrings of most parents.  The dog barks to symbolize dad’s arrival, which any parent with a dog has experienced.  Then one of the longest shots in the commercial, of the Passat pulling into the driveway, leaves viewers wondering how this car will bring resolution to the child’s journey to use the force?

The child walks outside and right past the father’s outstretched arms, as he is now determined to use the force successfully on his father’s Volkswagen Passat.  As the child concentrates, the music dims to build suspense in the mind of the audience.  To the shock of the audience and the child, the car comes to life with a roar.  At this point, everyone watching the commercial is identifying with the child’s surprise.

The camera cuts to the key fob in the father’s hand, having just pushed the auto-start button from inside the house.  This again identifies with parents, who constantly look for ways to promote their child’s imagination.  The music kicks back in and the child is left in the driveway in utter amazement that he actually turned the car on.  This moment connects The Force with The Passat and communicates that the car has amazing abilities which will make it easier to be a good parent.

Nudd, T. (2011). The 10 Best Commercials of 2011 | Adweek. Adweek – Breaking News in Advertising, Media and Technology. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from

Wang, S. (2009, December 22). The Power of Magical Thinking. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 3, 2012, from


Marketing Strategy vs. Tactics

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” – Sun Tzu Energized Forever: Strategy & Tactics. (n.d.)

A marketing strategy is the overall approach you are taking to meet an organization’s goals.  Goals should be set prior to solidifying a strategy.  A online strategy could include pieces like: increasing e-newsletter subscriptions, increasing podcast downloads, or increasing Facebook page fans.   Once a marketing strategy is set, one should investigate the various tactics available for use.

I agree that it is incredibly important to have a consistent method for developing a marketing campaign, no matter the size or scope of the project.   Having a method which is understood by your entire team, enables cohesion between the team members and lays a solid foundation for creativity.  Using a well supported and streamlined methodology also facilitates communication with clients and establishes clear responsibilities for members of your team.

One should consider many elements before deciding which campaign elements to move with first.  For instance, if your team is quite adept at creating top shelf video content, you may lean towards taking advantage of those skills to create capture and promote solutions to your customers problems.   However, it would be important to factor in production times, as well as budget constraints before committing to these elements as mainstay.

Existing assets would also play a role.  If your client already has a website with usable navigation and reasonably current technology, perhaps you would start by simply creating a place for fresh content on the existing website and using that as a centerpiece for thought leadership efforts.

In order to determine the importance of various media channels, one should develop “buyer personas”, according to the method laid out in “The New Rules of  Marketing & PR” by David Meerman Scott. These elements would help to determine which channels will effectively deliver our content. Additionally, the buyer personas will help us identify the future problems of our target customers, so we can better inform them and become a reliable and trusted resource.

Energized Forever: Strategy & Tactics. (n.d.). Energized Forever. Retrieved February 21, 2012, from

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Instant vs. Delayed Gratification

Marketers and companies trying to motivate customers to buy, value instant gratification as a reliable tool.   Everyday, we are bombarded by  3-day sale ads, along with no money down and no interest for x months offers to make otherwise impossible purchases, within our immediate reach (if we’re willing to pay a lender a hefty bonus).

According to Sally Hogshead, Author of Fascinate: your 7 triggers to persuasion and captivation, “Alarm” is one of 7 triggers that is widely used to unconsciously motivate us to buy products and services.  “Time limits incite faster decisions” says Hogshead in this short video describing the Alarm trigger.  By shifting our bodily chemistry, this trigger distracts us from our logical thought process, making the buying decision easier.

Meanwhile, young parents struggling to stay on budget may fight the impulse of instant gratification on a daily basis, to help keep their finances in order.  A college graduate struggling to stay afloat financially would do well to develop a strong delayed gratification approach to purchases.  Web services like Mint and software like YNAB offer low cost solutions for managing cash-flow for the average person, helping to plan, track and stick to a budget.

Personally, I value delayed gratification.  My wife and I struggled for a years with money, but finally have gotten to a good place.  A few techniques we’ve used to succeed in this shift were 1) set specific uses for our money, 2) work together to hold ourselves accountable for impulse spending, and 3) dedicate one hour every week to go over our finances together.  In regards to ideas and working in the industry, it is important to know that not all ideas are perfect “right now.”  Some ideas, will be great in a few months, or even years.  Being able to assess “when” an idea, song, or script is relevant to your job or industry is a valuable tool.  I constantly ponder, when I should bring up ideas to my peers.  An additional benefit to this approach is more time to develop the ideas.



Hogshead, S. (2010). Fascinate: your 7 triggers to persuasion and captivation. New York: HarperBusiness.

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WordPress vs. Storify and differ in the area of content collection and this difference is significant enough to beg the question, “How much time do I want to spend looking for outside content?  While both sites focus on providing content creation tools for their users, Storify shifts away from the widely used blog model, in favor of joining a search based approach to building content with a simple, highly visual content navigation system.

I believe that Storify has the potential to be a strong platform for Internet Marketing, especially in the future.  This is primarily due to the company’s focus on content collection via web browser plug-ins and the website’s built-in search functionality.  Users can quickly search and add content using Facebook, Twitter. Youtube, Flickr, Instagram, Google and Storify.  With a simple click & drag the content is then added to the Storify Editor screen.   All these elements are then arranged by the user, to create a cohesive and potentially compelling “story.”

The “Stories” are similar to a web page with a blog style user interface which is defined by the user.  This style of layout is quite versatile, from an up to the minute overview of the 2012 NAMM show to a week on the road with Mitt Romney’s campaign team.

User profiles collect designated stories into a wall of visual navigation prompts.  Storify automatically references external content when included in a story, and provides the option to notify the original author of it use.   Additionally, Twitter and Facebook have been integrated into the site seamlessly.   With all of these features coupled to an easy to use social media search engine, I believe Storify represents a strong solution for future publishers’ main content authoring needs.

For more details check out:

Enhanced by Zemanta – Interactive Tools

Hi Everyone,

One of my favorite interactive tools is the home page of TED.  I’m sure we’ve all seen TED videos, but the recently updated site has made it incredibly easy and FUN to search & browse through hundreds of videos on all sorts of topics.

The home page uses a tiled video wall, which changes dynamically as you make selections from the adjacent filter menus. Videos can be mapped out by release date, most viewed, most emailed, and most comments, while the video’s quickly arrange themselves.   In addition, keywords like persuasive, ingenious, inspiring, and funny, keep you searching until you find a video that fits your current mood. Add in a simple keyword search box, and you can quickly drill down to find whatever topics you’re in the mood for.

TED has a high stickiness factor, because of constant supply of new “forefront” ideas from all kinds of industries. Watching the most talented, gifted people on the planet ponder out loud the future of things like electricity, psychology, parenting and robotics (to name a few), is very inspiring. It lets me know that there are still so many ideas out there, waiting to be discovered!

TED: Ideas worth spreading. (n.d.).TED: Ideas worth spreading. Retrieved February 7, 2012, from

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Hard lesson in Internet Justice

Recently gaming peripheral company N-Control missed the November 8th ship date on their exciting new product, The Avenger game controller.  Buckley, S. (n.d.)

The Avenger was met with much anticipation, due to some amazing pre-release reviews on technology blogs like Engadget.

Unfortunately, due to manufacturing delays, N-Control missed the November 8th ship date and did not communicate this to any of their customers; many of which had actually pre-paid the $50 for the promised pre-Christmas delivery.  As the holidays approached, pre-order customer Dave, sent an email to Ocean Marketing, the third party contractor in charge of marketing the controller.

The string of emails which followed, has severely damaged the reputation of Ocean Marketing, it’s representative Paul Christoforo; and left N-Control in a spin cycle of PR.

Penny Arcade – Just Wow!. (n.d.)

Dave’s emails started as simple, polite information gathering.  However, after several cryptic and uninformative replies back, Dave asks if he should cancel his (now extremely delayed) order, and reorder to get the new discount for late shipments.

Christoforo begins his assault…

“…no one is allowed to cancel and re order if we catch anyone doing it we will simply just cancel your order all together and you can buy it retail somewhere else.”

“Feel free to cancel we need the units were back ordered 11,000 units so your 2 will be gone fast. Maybe I’ll put them on eBay for 150.00 myself.”

At this point, Dave is quite frustrated and decides to copy his responses to a few industry news sites, as well as Mike Krahulik, who runs a blog called Penny Arcade, and the Penny Arcade expo (PAX)

The reaction from Christoforo is negativity worthy of Axl Rose circa “Get in the Ring.”

“…you look like a complete moron swearing and sending your customer service complaints to a magazine as if they will post it or even pay attention…”

“…you think you speak for billions son your just a kid you speak for yourself no one cares what you think that’s why were growing and moving 20-50 thousand controllers a month.”

“See you at CES , E3 , Pax East ….? Oh wait you have to ask mom and pa dukes your not an industry professional and you have no money on snap you just got told.”

This them brings Krahulik (the producer of PAX) to step in.

To: Dave, Ocean Marketing Dec 26, 2011 at 8:45 PM

“…this is unbelievable. Dave, if this guy has a booth at Pax east we will cancel it.”

This was only the beginning of a swift decline for both N-Control and Christoforo’s Ocean Marketing.

During the social media/internet melee that in sued, Christoforo’s Twitter and Youtube accounts were bombarded with tweets, likes, dislikes, comments, and general disgust; even garnering an interview with MSNBC’s Kyle Orland.

In the end Christoforo was humbled to say the least, and has appealed on numerous occasions for relief from the onslaught of threats to his wife, himself and their young son.

The business blog VentureBeat summed up Christoforo’s destruction brilliantly.

“It’s hard to judge precisely when Christoforo’s career ended…Perhaps it was when he name-dropped everyone from Cliffy B to the Yellow Power Ranger…Regardless, the world was watching, ready to serve up swift Internet justice, and that’s exactly what it did.”

N-Control released the following statement.


“Miami, FL— Wednesday, December 28, 2011— N-Control, makers of the Avenger Controller accessory, have categorically dismissed third party contractor Paul Christoforo and his marketing operation, known alternately as Ocean Distribution or Ocean Marketing.”

For more details see below:

Enhanced by ZemantaBuckley, S. (n.d.). N-Control Avenger Xbox 360 attachment makes it look complicated, we go hands-on (video) — Engadget. Engadget. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from

Ocean Marketing fiasco addressed in official press release | VentureBeat. (n.d.).VentureBeat | Tech. People. Money.. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from

Penny Arcade – Just Wow!. (n.d.). Penny Arcade – The Creative Spark. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from

Update: Ocean Marketing makes fatal gaming PR mistake – National Video Game Industry | (n.d.). Welcome to | Retrieved February 1, 2012, from

lol. (n.d.). Ocean Marketing Delivers The Biggest PR FAIL In History | GameFront. Gaming News | Game Reviews | Game Videos | Downloads |Mods | FileFront. Retrieved February 1, 2012, from