Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Midas Touch

How about some afternoon data?

Heavy gamers respond to advertising... blah blah... half of gamers women... blah blah. Wait, what's this? Top four reasons for purchasing last console or PC game:

  • Played it before and liked it
  • It's a sequel to a game that I like
  • I heard good things about it
  • A friend recommended it
(Go view the full data chart)

Hmm, now this is interesting. The top two reasons for buying a game is familiarity. Could it be that the main driver towards less innovation in the industry are the gamers themselves?

Granted, people are always risk adverse in terms of spending their money. In other words, buying Halo 3 is preferable to some random new game called AlienGunnerXtreme. However, I always assumed that gamers were a unique breed, made up of more first adopters than the general populace. Perhaps it's that there are so many gamers now that we ARE the general populace. Or perhaps there's just so much out there (of the same thing), that familiarity is the best way to choose between look-alike games. Regardless, it appears that we gamers need to take some responsibility in the matter.

Maybe this data isn't conclusive to anything but it does make you wonder. What's that phrase... becareful what you wish for?

via Comscore, via MarketingVox

Sell-lebrity Advertising

Surfing around yesterday and ran into a banner ad with the following pitch:

Build Your Dream Home on Dream Land!
Free Two Day Trip for Two!
Erik Estrada - National Spokesperson
Wazzat?! Huh? What the hell does Erik Estrada have to do with my dream home? I mean, let's be honest here, if I was going to pick a resident celebrity in my dream home, I'm sure he'd be like at least 9th on the list. I mean, c'mon, at least Hasselhoff would look good on the lawn next to the gnome.

But I have to hand it to them, it definitely got my attention. For your viewing pleasure:

Celebrity endorsements do something interesting to our brain. In most cases, the celebrity-endorsed product gains attributes from the celebrity, like how Tiger Woods-endorsed golf gear would seem to be of higher-quality than some lesser-known brand. In the case of Erik Estrada, let's call him Double-E, I'm struggling to figure out what attributes a real estate brand could gain. Therefore, we're left with just the familiarity of his face. For the purposes of these ads, that's really all it takes. You see his face and suddenly this ad campaign cuts away from the noise of other ads (like other ads with less familiar faces).

Apparently, these real estate guys know what they're doing because if you click through to the site, there he is again. The interesting thing is, he doesn't actually endorse anything, that is, there's no quote attributed to him like "These guys are awesome!" His head is the last thing you'd expect to see on the site but there it is and it works. Well, not works like it's going to get me to buy some land but works like it got me to blog about it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Twofer Post: The Newb Weekend - Mermaids and Coupons

Part I:
So I know it's Tuesday and all but I haven't caught you guys up on my weekend activities so bear with me while I do that. As you know from the previous post, I spent some time with my godsisters. Cutest little girls you'll ever meet. More cute if you get em all high on sour patch kids and Coke, endure the resulting hyper Hyper HYPER half hour and then blessedly watch them crash hard on your couch. Yes, I'm going to be that kind of parent.

Anyway, that was Monday. We spent Sunday at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood to watch a revival of The Little Mermaid. It's a great movie to take little girls to because the plot/moral of the story plays out like this:

  • Girl grows up with overprotective father, dreams of better things, rebels
  • Girl listens to more experienced woman, hatches a plan to meet boy
  • Girl meets boy, falls in love
  • Girl gets in trouble from listening to old woman, is saved by boy, who destroys old woman
  • Girl handed to boy by father
Patriarchy reigns supreme! Schweet.

[Update: The fairer sex has provided an alternative description to the Little Mermaid story:
  • Father stifles creative, inquisitive, and accepting characteristics in daughter
  • Daugher seeks independant path rife with insecurity and danger to seek out self destiny
  • Daughter brings love and life to ignorant boy unable to see what is in front of his face and easily tricked and deceived by other women
  • Daughter has pitty on foolish boy, loves him anyway, and breaks curse easily put on him by other woman
  • Daughter ultimately softens the heart of Father who sees error in his ways
Ok, I guess that might work too. =) ]

Part II:
Oh yeah, I also went shopping this weekend. It's been about a year since I've actually gone on a shopping trip(you know, one of those full day thingies at the outlet malls). The outlet of choice this weekend was Camarillo Premium Outlets. The "Premium" means it's good for you!

Now I wouldn't normally bore you with an outlet shopping story but this one has some relevance. First, let me say that I hate spam. Absolutely despise it. I most hate forwarded mail and if you ever forward me something, I will eat your children. That said, I'm not, however, against email marketing in general. I have a handful of relationships with brands from which I tolerate the occasional email. Send me email more than once a month and I usually hunt for the opt-out.

One of the brands I tolerate is the company that owns these outlet malls. They do a nice job of staying in the background and occasionally dropping me a line with "hey, we're like, doing something special this weekend, so if you're not doing anything, like drop by mmkay?" But it's not these "thinking bout you" notes that keep this relationship going, it's the cold hard cash.

They have a great online coupon system. Before you go shop, you visit the site and print out a little voucher for a coupon book or you can print out individual coupons for certain stores. I like this from two perspectives: As a consumer, I love that it helped me save over a hundred bucks this weekend. As a marketer, I love that it uses online to feed into offline behavior and that it's totally trackable. Unfortunately, the tracking falls short.

For example, I used a coupon from Banana Republic this weekend. Coupon code was: 174. In terms of tracking, here's what they know:
  • Camarillo store's online coupon program got a hit
This is pretty valuable information since you want to at least know if anyone is using your coupons. However, they could go much further. Imagine if the coupon I printed out had a unique number, say JvJ-24601. Here's what they could know:
  • Camarillo store's online coupon program got a hit
  • My transaction information
    • How much I spent
    • What I bought
    • If I used a CC and if so, which one?
  • My name
  • My address (real and email)
  • My demographic data based on my zip code which includes things like:
    • Avg household type
    • Avg household income
    • Avg education
    • Ethnic mix
    • Typical brand usage (Trucks vs. Benzo's)
  • My response rate to emails
  • Other coupons I printed out
  • My historic usage of coupons, which tells them
    • My lifestyle (Eddie Bauer vs Hugo Boss)
    • My spending pattern (frequent or infrequent shopper)
If you think this is all in theory, I'm afraid not. Although they didn't track me to this level for this program, there are other marketers that have done similar if not more. This type of information is incredibly valuable to marketers because it allows them to better target a very very big world. Ultimately, they can save marketing dollars and increase purchases. As a consumer, I should probably be worried but in reality, very few marketers have gotten their act together enough to gather, let alone use, this type of information. As far as Banana Republic is concerned, someone used coupon 174 and that's fine with me.

The take away from all this? Like dating online, when you engage with a brand relationship online and then decide to take it offline, know what you're getting into. You rarely find a free ride but when you do, take advantage of it.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hopelessly lame adult

Today, I'm hanging out with my godsisters (my mom is their godmother) who are 7 and 10. We went to Islands for lunch and had some Ben and Jerry's for dessert. We then went to Borders and weaved up and down the aisles, burning up our sugary ice cream high. I was in pretty familiar brand territory until I told the girls to pick out something for themselves. Amanda got a "Naruto" book and Kimberly picked out a "That's So Raven" 2007 calendar. I'm vaguely familiar with the latter and absolutely clueless about the former. I don't want to be a hopelessly lame adult so I decided to ask them a few more things on what they like.

I'm completely clueless to about 75% of their answers. I guess that should be a good thing given that I'm 30 and they're 17 (combined). What was most shocking to me was that they seemed to be consuming things a couple years ahead of what I would guess. A 10 year old surfing Yahoo! videos and listening to Linkin Park? Seems off to me.

Oh god, I'm getting old.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Why is he at the clinic again?

Launched just a few days ago, a new online startup allows you to set up a social network and then track the whereabouts of everyone in that network via mobile GPS technology. Check it out: loopt

It was only a matter of time before this came out. The question is: would anyone use it? The main concern would obviously be privacy. However, with technology pushing the definition of privacy beyond recognition, the younger generation probably won't care. Their lives are already on display 24/7 online and accessible by anyone. The older generation, well, they still have some catching up to do.

As for myself, I would use it though I'm not sure I could convince many of my friends to join me. I don't have much to hide and I've long learned that the only privacy you get is in your head. Everything else is free game.

Thumb poetry with fries

Back in college, I knew a guy that started his own coffee shop. This wasn't in the golden age of Starbucks so his customers were limited to the area beatniks (I guess they're like emo's now). The guy wasn't exactly a marketing genius but he did do one thing right: He would organize poetry and music events for his core audience. It successfully brought in foot traffic and they all bought gobs of coffee. It was a great arrangement. The customers got a great experience while the coffee shop got sales and brand building.

Now let's trade coffee for fries and poetry for video games and you have this. McDonalds in Texas is sponsoring late night game tournaments at their restaurant locations. Not a bad campaign and not a bad way to spend a night. Feels weird that it's McDonalds but it also makes sense. The company badly needs an injection of cool. For gamers who don't have courts or fields around every corner, a McDonalds will do. Oh yeah, the prizes are nice too. Makes me almost wish I was in TX and better at Guitar Hero.

[update: forgot to add, via Adrants]

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Frakkity Frak Frak

Ok, it was on BoingBoing so probably everyone knows about it. Regardless, as a citizen marketer, I feel it my duty to do my part. So here goes:

Psst, hey, the kids down the street are going to have a party for the Battlestar Galactica premier and everyone is invited. Head on over to, find the "kids" closest to you and get your frak on.

The big day is October 6. They want to get 45,543 people signed up to one party or another. How cute!

[Speaking of cute. Check out the lego Viper. How sweet is that?! Click for more.]

Electroshocking mules & a confession

Sometimes, when it's late at night and no one is looking, I head into the top floor coat closet. It smells of dust and memories left out too long. I usually try to get what I need quickly, in case breathing in these forgotten things might cause lung cancer. I fumble around for the light, push aside the old wet suit and college robes and forcibly wiggle my head towards the back. I usually just squeeze enough of my torso in so I can get to the hidden safe. Couple of numbers right, couple of numbers left and thunk clack!

Right under the love letters from ex-girlfriends and a stack of $2 bills is a key. In one fluid motion, I slide my hand deftly under all the "valuables", palm the key, close the safe, pop myself out of the closet and watch as everything falls back into place. It's all very ninja like and would be immensely satisfying in that way if not for the closet door that always sticks. It grunts loudly as I close it; I'm sure one day when I'm electroshocking mules, I'll reminisce to the similar sounds with a laugh.

At this point, you're probably wondering, what's with the key? Is it to open another safe full of unimaginable wealth? Does it have a twin and if I use it in unison with someone else, the world explodes? Oh silly you and your imagination. No, it's not that simple. Some things don't fit in a safe you see. Some things, you don't want locked in to keep it from outsiders but locked in so it doesn't get out.

I make my way downstairs and into the backyard. There's a chainlink gate behind the pool equipment shed and no, it's not locked. The gate opens with a creak; think zapped hampsters, not mules. As I try not to trip on the brightly-colored noodle floaties (what ARE those things called?) littered about, I make my way towards the far back of the shed. The front of the shed, you see, houses the actual equipment and has a door that's never locked. On the back side is a door too but this one is firmly locked, always. From back here, the natural assumption is that behind the door is just more equipment, humming loudly and doing its thing. If it makes you feel better, you can keep thinking that.

I unlock the door and step inside. I don't knock because there's no need for pleasantries and because he wouldn't care. The room is small, barely large enough to fit a loveseat, a coffee table and a TV. Laid out on the table are some DM guidebooks, a plastic tricorder and some printed maps to a text MUD. The small TV is straining to display an epic battle scene in space, the volume cracks and the pixels seem to be perpetually trying to catch up but more often than not, they snowflake out in exhaustion. Sitting in the middle of the couch with a bag of Ranch Doritos is me.

Now before you freak out, let me just tell you that everything I've been saying is in metaphor. Yes, that's me in the room but there's really no room, no pool noodles and no mules were harmed in the making of this story. If you take one look at the room, you can probably tell what part of me I'm talking about. I'm guessing if you reading this, you're guilty of it too. Yup, that's right, I lock away my geek.

I'm not proud of it but what choice do I have? The world is not kind to geeks. You can't exactly walk in to a meeting with a worldwide brand and chat up the time you rolled 5 20's in a row. You don't win clients by voicing your concern that in Stargate the movie, they always came out of the gate frosty and in the show, they totally ignored it. You definitely don't talk about how your date reminds you of an Aes Sedai, green, not black.

No, you don't do any of those things. You keep it hidden in a pool shed, let it get some light when no one's looking and let it do it's thing in solitude. It's a sad state but what are you going to do?

I'd like to end this story by declaring loudly that we should all let our geeks out. That we should build careers from our awkward fascinations and follow in the footsteps of uber-geeks like Gates. And yet, I can't do that, I'd be lying. I really don't want to build a career out of my geek's interests and I kinda enjoy the guilty pleasure of it all.

What I've come to realize is that my shed-shackled geek is indispensable but works best behind the scenes. I may be rationalizing and you can call me out on it if you wish but to me, the geek is my secret weapon in life. This fascination I have for the curious, the intellectual and the obscure has made me an expert in my field. The drive to know things, do things no one else does and generally not give a damn about what everyone else is doing is invaluable.

So if it's ok with you, I'm going to keep my geek exactly where he is. Once in a while, I'll grab my key and head down to the shed for a game of AoE or a Buffy marathon. And everytime I do, I'll learn a thing or two about myself or remind myself of what's important. Sure, I'll lock that door back up but don't worry, he's fine, he's got a ton of Doritos.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

America's Army; now with real soldiers

America's Army, the recruitment video game with all the hoorah and none of the real bullets, brings a whole new level of reality to the game. (Yes, I know hoorah is a Marine thing, sue me) According to the NY Times:

America’s Army, the online video game produced by the Army, has followed the lead of sports games like the Madden NFL football series and introduced real characters in the game — in this case, real decorated soldiers. Players who download the newest version of the free game ( can interact with the “Real Heroes” characters during the training stages of the game, as well as watch videos about those soldiers’ experiences in the real Army.
Hmm. Let's let that sink in for a moment.

This gives me a very unpleasant feeling. Are these real soldiers supposed to bring a sense of "reality" to the game? War is not a video game. It is a dirty dirty business. Clearly this game is not intended to help with revealing that truth. Adding these real soldiers is not going to help with that. In fact, it has the opposite effect. By including these real soldiers, you're immortalizing them into pixels and pixels never die.

I must sincerely beg for forgiveness for saying this, I don't wish anyone any harm, but what if... What if one of those real soldiers is KIA? War is death's playground. Pixels never die, real soldiers do. Will the US Army acknowledge a death in the game? Because if they did, wouldn't that clearly break the spell they're trying to cast? If they didn't acknowledge it, wouldn't that be grossly disrespectful of their "heroes"? God, I hope that never happens.

I'm genuinely unnerved by this move. I'm sure someone somewhere had good intentions but it feels so slimey, so disrespectful and so damn wrong that I can't put my head around it. Maybe someone can tell me why this isn't so bad because I need someone to tell me that right now.

Say hello to the MMOBE

I was sitting at my breakfast table, having a sip of my mocca-capa- shaka-kahn-chino when I ran into this story in the NYTimes: "Not in the Real World Anymore". MTV is going to introduce a virtual world mirroring their virtually watchable Laguna Beach fictional/reality show. The online world is going to be aptly and innovatively named Virtual Laguna Beach.
But let's be clear here, this is no Sims. In fact, if you hop on over to the site, there is absolutely no reference to this product as a "game". Psshaw, games are so like, for geeks. No this is bigger than that, this is like an "experience". The good folks at MTV are allowing all you boring looking, socially inept and financially challenged "fans" to live the good life. For the low low price of $5.99 a month, you could buy yourself into the "in crowd". In VLB, you'll lose weight, be fit and be ridiculously rich. Join now!

We need a name for this type of thing and I'm going to call it a MMOBE, massively-multiplayer online brand experience. (rhymes with Flowbee, hehe) It has all the visual tastiness of an MMORPG without any fattening raison d'etre like goals or a sense of purpose. Drive around the town and chat with your friends. Go shopping and chat with your friends. Visit the beach and chat with your friends. Hey, don't miss chatting with your friends at the ice cream shop. I know what you're thinking and you'd be wrong. It's not a glorified chat room. It's an god damn experience! ::cough second life cough::

Quite honestly, I'm surprised it took MTV so long to get into the game (err, not that I'm trying to call this thing a game, it's so not a game already k?) I don't know about you but I'm desperately waiting for the virtual My Super Sweet 16. I want a diamond-encrusted DJ bitch!!

(Also on iMedia)

Monday, September 18, 2006

Like a console with heart disease

Believe it or not, it's almost the holiday shopping season. For me, the most exciting part is surrounding myself with some next-gen console love. But which one?

Yes, I know this is a well-tred conversation so I'm not about to rehash the fanboi arguments on why one system is going to kick another's butt. I've pretty much decided that I'm going to buy a Wii. The question that remains is: should I get a PS3?

I like doing my homework and being thorough is a necessity at this price range. So far, I've pretty much addressed all the game related issues. Of the issues remaining is a particularly sticky one: the high def DVD player. The next-gen console war has found itself smack in the middle of the next-gen DVD player war. There is the Blu-ray side and the HD DVD side and as you may know, Sony is in the Blu-ray camp and so every PS3 comes equipped with a Blu-ray player. If rumors are true, it accounts for at least $150 of the price.

So built into any purchase of a PS3 is a bet that Blu-ray will ultimately prevail. If it turns out to be the losing format, well then, you still got yourself a nice game console. Anyway, I'm not going to go into technology comparison fight. That's not my territory to talk about. No, that's not me.

When trying to figure out which format will win, I look at marketing. Yup, let's critique the heck out of their online marketing campaigns. Here's the sites:

First, let's note the names. Blu-ray's site is "Blu-Ray" whereas HD-DVD's site is "The look and sound of". The latter is obviously tied to a marketing campaign and wins hands down in terms of sexy name. Heck, it's a NILF.

Now let's actually look at the sites. The home page images are below, Blu-ray first.Can you believe the difference? It's like the lunch lady vs. [insert objectified female celebrity here]. Blu-ray is in serious trouble if the technology is in any way related to the marketing efforts. With such big names behind the format, you'd think they could come up with something a little better. That's strike 2.

Now let's look at search. I Googled both names and here are the results:

The good news is that for both formats, the main site shows up on top of the natural search results. The interesting story is in the paid search results. When you Google Blu-ray, the third paid placement is from HD-DVD and there is no Blu-ray paid placement anywhere to be found. That's right, HD-DVD is trying to conquest the Blu-ray keyword. When you Google HD-DVD, the first placement is HD-DVD and there is again no Blu-ray paid placement to be found. It appears that HD-DVD is way ahead of the search game. Strike 3!

So far, I haven't been very impressed with the Blu-ray campaign (if you can call it that). They just don't have anything worth checking out. On the other hand, I'm totally impressed with the HD-DVD campaign so far. They catch me perfectly on search and serve up a pretty slick looking site. (I ran into some banners a while back but wasn't able to find any for this post. If you guys run into some, take a screenie for me.)

Quite frankly, this makes me a bit nervous about my PS3 purchase. Granted, a marketing campaign is only one element in whether or not the Blu-ray format will take hold but if this is indicative of the lobbying group getting their act together, it's bad news. And bad news for Blu-ray means more bad news for PS3.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Timberland cares?

Perhaps in response to the shoe company we all know is going to hell for using sweatshops, child labor, clear-cutting forests for shoelaces and testing shoes on a puppy kicking machine... (yes, that one, the one that rhymes with Mikey)

[Disclaimer: The Newb has not independently verified any of the above statements though we can firmly attest to the craftsmanship in the product for use in puppy-kicking.]

Where was I? Oh yes, so in response to evil shoe companies, Timberland has taken a step forward (get it, shoe company, step forward, oh damn, I kill me) in social responsibility and has now begun to include "nutrition" labels on their shoe boxes. They look like this:

The labels show how much energy was used to create the product, how much of that was renewable energy, how many community hours the company has logged and where exactly the shoe was made. The site's here.

I'm so torn. I really really like this idea. And yet it reeks of marketing bad feet (badumpching!).

Must... stop... being so... CYNICAL!

Ok ok, fine, this is a great idea. I know it's chock full of gimmick but if the numbers are really supported by real data, it may help us consumers decide which company is serious about being socially responsible. I like it, I think more companies should do it. Bravo to Timberland for getting this started.

[and then as I was about to write this post, I went to grab the url for that nutrition label page]


Oh lookie. The page describing this very socially responsible initiative is named "ad4". Not "wecareabouttheenvironment.jsp" or "lovemamaearth.jsp" or "wearegoodguys.jsp". "Ad" freak'n "4" dot jay ass pee!

If you edit the number to be ad3.jsp, you get another ad campaign. Yup, as good as this sounds, it's just another stupid ad campaign. Way to ruin the tiny sliver of non-cynicism I had left Timberland. As I always say, marketers are evil.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

This crazy media world

I was reading an article at today...

(If you've been at the Newb before, you may know that I subscribe to the NY Times, my newspaper of choice. So before you go telling the NY Times I've cheated on them, let me explain. Sometimes, when there's no Coke, you drink Pepsi. Ok fine, I was cheating, don't tell them!)

when I came across this page. Take a look at this screenshot. Go ahead and ignore the story, the idiot on the right, the mortgage ad on top. Look closely at the ad in the middle. Don't worry, click on the image, it's work safe and it won't give you 'puter cooties.
I know, not very interesting, just another ad. But then I started thinking. Wait a sec. Let's see if I got this straight. Television studio (which has online videos of their tv content) places an online video ad on a newspaper website. Holy smokes! [Warning: redneck accent coming] Dem media's been inbreed'n 'gain Bobby-Joe. You whack em good k?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Wiki dinners

For dinner tonight:

Dill Cucumber Salad

Classic Paella
Rosemary Garlic Baked Potatoes
Banana Cream Pie

All recipes courtesy of Wikibooks' Cookbook section.

Wiki + Cookbooks? This seems like a fantastic concept to me, why hasn't it taken off like Krispy Kremes at a Southern Baptist Picnic (c'mon, you know it's true)?

Is it possibly because the very nature of a wiki doesn't pair well with the esoteric nature of a cookbook? Everyone has their favorite recipes, their favorite way to cook things. "Your Paella recipe doesn't have enough saffron, you idiot!" I'm going to have to agree with myself here. I don't think wiki cookbooks make sense. It would be like trying to have a wiki entry to tackle the subject of:

How are you feeling today?

I'm good, a little sore from working out but overall, good.
edit? version: 23,522,319
I hate to say this because I love me some new applications on technology but I think I'll stick with Alton and FoodTV.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The best thing said yesterday

Keith Olbermann takes the President to task and executes one of the best speeches I've seen on broadcast news. If you haven't read or seen this yet, you need to. Seriously.

We normally don't dabble in politics here at the Newb but I'm making an exception. I didn't see this speech live but I received this in my inbox. Then I went and saw it streamed. It's good and I agree with the message so now I'm passing it along to you. And hopefully, you'll pass it along to someone else. I love the Internet.

PS3 site shoots and misses

Have you seen the European PS3 site? No? Go check it out. I'll be here with my morning joe...

Mmmm, fantastic kopi luwak this morning. Toast is a little burnt though, someone keeps changing my settings. ::sigh:: Where's my nutella?

Oh you're back? How long were you there? Wow, you can be so creepy sometimes.

So what did you think of the site? Got to hand it to them, it's definitely different. The question is, different good or different bad? Overall, I would say bad. Let me know if these thoughts crossed your mind too:

  • Are we selling the PS3 here or are we selling webcams and plasma TVs?
    • Lots of cameras shooting a lot of things but I'm missing the point.
  • What's so special about the PS3? Show me something... anything!
    • What about this "real time" thing? Is this something special?
      • Ok, so you're trying to tell me the PS3 is like boxing with a real person instead of a punching bag. Are you trying to suggest the PS3 has true AI? BS.
  • Are you serious, that's all the games you got to show?
  • You gotta hand it to them for thinking "inside" the box.
  • Bloody hell, you wankers, not until March 07?
  • Why is everything so quiet in this room?
    • Where are the doors? Umm, can I get out now?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Help others

"Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them." - His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

Time Waster


Make your own Simpsons character. Get there before the cease and desist does.

via digg

Friday, September 08, 2006

Oh gross

Ok, so I posted the other day on Paris Hilton showing up on YouTube. I was trying to be witty and thinking of things that didn't go together. At which point I came up with the title, "Like Grandma's Thong". At the time, it seemed like a clever little title and a good idea...

About a week ago, Google finally spidered the blog and well... I really don't want to tell you how much traffic I've gotten from the keyword "grandma's thong". Normally, I don't use little girly expressions but:

eww eww EWW!

::shakes it out::

Seriously, you people need to go away, you're totally creeping me out!

This is not a blog you can find old naked women, granny x-rated videos, granny nudes, old women in bikinis, grandma's in lingerie, grannies wearing tights, old ladies at the pool, retirement home strip poker, sunbathing in Florida or any of 80+ sex scenes.

Or is it?


Levi's wants your head

Levi's, not content with having your ass in their products, wants to put your head in their ads.

In this microsite add-on to their current tv campaign, you can upload your face and "be the star" of the ad. Nothing new, Wedding Crashers did the same thing. It was fun the first time in a "stick your head through this hole and have your picture taken as a bodybuilder on the beach" sort of way.

Overall though, I'm perplexed by the whole thing. Is it supposed to bring value to the brand because consumers are engaging with the brand? Is Becky (the face in the image) thinking, "What a cool brand Levi's is for doing this, I think I'm going to buy me a pair of jeans right now!"? This may have been cool the first time with Wedding Crashers, but now it's just a cheesy copycat. Surely Levi's doesn't want to appear to be a novelty chaser.

Maybe the brand thinks this is some kind of consumer-generated media. Unfortunately, it's really not. Lettings consumers upload their face to an ad agency-created commercial is not my idea of tapping into your audience for brand building.

I'm unimpressed. This is such an interesting campaign, they could have had a lot of fun with it. Let's strip down to the bare message here:

  • You love your jeans
  • You'll do anything to prevent them from being taken
  • You look really good in them when you get them back
Can you imagine what some creative consumers could do with that if you allowed them to submit their own content? You can't do many pantsless messages with other brands. This was such a great opportunity for people to have fun with Levi's and they totally blew it.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Kettle, Pot, nice to meet you

First day of the Austin Game Conference and the gloves are off. In the session titled MMOG rant, an experienced group of industry movers and shakers sound off on their pet peeves. One particular rant has relevance (if you've been following this blog and know who I consult for). that won't juice the customer base for every last dollar. As an example of that last bit, Jennings [designer for NCSoft] brought up a new project by Dave Perry and Acclaim that will include in-game classified ads on the screen. They can be turned off, but players won't level up as quickly if they choose to play without them, a point that drew a chorus of boos from the assembled audience. He also suggested facetiously embracing a "wonderland of consumerism," with Coca-Cola-sponsored magic swords, Kobalds corpses that hold Skittles, and a Jet Blue dragon to fly players around.

"When you totally disrespect your consumers like that, I can assure you of one thing: Your project will fail," Jennings said. "And deservedly so."
Hmm, let's see here. NCSoft. You mean the same NCSoft that also runs in-game ads in Auto Assault? The main difference here? Unlike Acclaim, they charge retail for their games and then show you ads. Now I haven't played AA but perhaps charging for a game and then showing ads is disrespectful too. Perhaps that's why it failed.

The Acclaim ad system may not be for everyone but at least those that decide to play haven't shelled out their own money before realizing it's a horrible experience. That, my friend, is disrespect.

via GameSpot & Amber

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The money creep

Lookie there, it's the soul of gaming dying...

1) From the infrequently posted but always full of quality stuff, comes news that IGE to buy a Korean RMT company.

2) EA offers in-game ads with Massive. via MarketingVox

Now mind you, the Newb is not against RMT or in-game ads. It's just that this feels like the powersuits are getting involved and the Newb hates powersuits. The starch makes my neck itchy.

Do I think IGE will be a force of good in the RMT universe? Probably not. It'll solidify the marketplace in Korea thereby causing all sorts of legal havok and substantially introduce social class structure to the pure "classless" world of gaming (look mom, I made a double entendre!). I'm still waiting for a game with RMT that doesn't make me feel like a second-class citizen to Richy Rich and his dog Dollar.

EA with in-game ads is just horrific news. Power-grubby suit-types are going to jump on this and it's not going to show up in the prices of games, let me tell you. Unless the games are free (cough Acclaim cough), I really don't see how EA could pull off in-game advertising and make it worth while for all involved.

First to finish rubbing my feet wins!

In this installment of Google World Domination Watch, Google makes you do their work for them. A new "game" by Google lets you have fun with images. Google shows you a picture and you come up with words to describe it. In another room (perhaps on the other side of the globe), an anonymous partner comes up with words for the same image. If the two match, you guys score 100 awesomeness points! Sweet! Winner's the first to finish the archive, wheee!!

Tagging images for Google, it's not a chore, it's a game! Google may take you out for ice cream later if you're good.

via Gameology
via Adrants
via Interstractive

Sarcasm aside, this is pure genius! Those brilliant bastards!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How to stop a parody

I spent all of Labor Day weekend working till the wee hours of the morning. This takes a toll on one's mind and body. Understandably, at around 4AM on Monday morning, I heard a very discernable "CRACK" as my psyche broke free from its foundation. So the heck with professionalism or good taste...

I was surfing around just now and came across this "How to" article on WikiHow: How to Stop Swearing. I started reading it and realized it'd be a much better article if it were on another topic....

(That's right, the Newb has sunk to this level. =P )

How to Stop Swearing Farting

Swearing Farting can easily become a habit and is generally a bad habit. It is reinforced by the company we keep, the people we are trying to identify with (e.g. the "in-crowd"), parental examples and workplace behaviour. Parents must be extra careful to curb farting tendencies as they are the first and principal cause of farting children. If you don't want people to get the wrong impression of you and you are tired of farting instead of speaking clearly, then this is a short guide to helping you to think about why you fart and how you might be able to curb the habit. Steps:

  1. Recognize that you have a problem. Farting is a habit. A habit is always difficult to break, so the first thing that you need to do is recognize that you have a problem with farting. If every second word is #!% this and !^#% that, then you have a problem. If you think the only cool way to reply to a friend, parent, teacher or co-worker is with an expletive, then you have a problem. If you don't know how to speak comfortably without farting, then you have a problem.
  2. Understand why you fart. Is it because you hang around with co-workers in a job nobody much enjoys and farting is a way of toughing it out? Is it because the cool crowd uses it as virtually the only way to speak? Is it because you are practicing defiance against a parent, teacher or significant other? Is it because you are angry, sad or afraid and can't express yourself more clearly (e.g. when something goes wrong shopping, driving, playing or at work, etc.)?
  3. Know why you want to stop farting. This isn't trite - you really must want to stop the habit in order to challenge it. If you are half-hearted or only doing it for a lark, you won't stop. You really must want to stop. Think about all the reasons why life will be better if you do stop. That is the best way to find the motivation to want to stop. Write them down if it helps.
  4. Make a commitment with yourself to stop. It's easier said than done, as it requires concerted effort and constant self-feedback. Be goal-oriented and choose a period of time during which you will try not to fart. Write down the following:

    • Why you think you fart(e.g., the triggers, the reasons)
    • Why you want to stop farting(e.g., better communication, better job prospects, better relationships with other people, brighter outlook on life, etc.)
    • Triggers you know will set you off (e.g., anger, certain company you keep, activities, music, TV programs, supermarket queues, weather, etc)
    • Ways you think you can either avoid or lessen these triggers (e.g., don't drive in icy weather, don't listen to music with expletives peppered through it, don't rise to bite back at your parents/spouse when they nag you, tell your friends you've had it with farting, etc).
  5. Express yourself better. Civilised and respectful conversation is not a farting contest. You owe it to yourself to find the vast array of other wonderful words your language provides to fill up your conversations. If you don't, you are limiting your own ability to clearly and accurately express your feelings and thoughts to other human beings and ultimately, you will be less accepted and understood by those around you. When you find yourself about to fart, make it a point to find another word or phrase that will better convey the same emotion or message. Find alternate words to substitute in place of expletives and discipline to use those instead.
  6. Accept responsibility. Only you alone can stop the farting. Be prepared for some people to feel threatened by your stand. Tell them that it is a personal decision to better yourself and that they aren't being asked to stop doing anything. Still, you're setting a good example to them in the long run and some may be so impressed they'll copy. For those who disdain you for it, consider how much you really need their friendship; friends are supposed to be supportive.
  7. Enlist support. Ask for the help of non-farting/infrequently farting friends and family (including spouse). Tell them you realize you have a problem and that you need to change. Make sure you pick non-judgmental helpers, though; you only want gentle reminders, not lectures or score-keeping. They may also have advice to offer on helping you to stop.
  8. Punish yourself. Every time you fart, put money in a fart jar for charity. This is a great idea for work where farting co-workers can all be encouraged to stop by placing money in the fart jar. Be careful not to let people think this is a good thing, though, and choosing to put money in the jar! Make a pact to move on from the lapse and get better. You could choose instead to call it "The beer jar," or "Friday night fun."
  9. Reward yourself. When you go for a day, a week or similar time space, reward yourself with something - a CD, some clothing, a movie, a day free from chores.
  10. Persevere. Farting won't stop overnight - if it has become a habit, it is second nature for you to respond this way. Don't beat yourself up about lapses. Like dieting, you simply stop doing the bad thing and start over again from that moment. It isn't fatal and it doesn't mean you'll never stop. It just means you are easing out of the old habit slowly and you're encountering a few hitches along the way. Keep trying!

MySpace to sell music

Back in July, oh at around 9:08 PM on the 18th... I wrote:

I think MySpace should sell stuff. I'm not saying MySpace should suddenly turn into Amazon. However, I am saying that there is potential for them to provide services to their audience that would generate revenue and make things interesting. How about selling some of that music?... [and so on and so forth]
Just the usual blah blah blah blah BLAH? Oh, no, not this time. Via the NY Times:
MySpace, the online community site owned by the News Corporation, said on Friday that it would sell music through a partnership with Snocap, a technology company started by the creator of Napster, Shawn Fanning. When the online store opens this fall, it will allow bands and labels of any size to sell songs online for whatever price they want.
(First, I'd just like to say that I totally called it. Yay me! Don't try to tell me they probably had this in their plans for months. Nope, la la la, not listening. They read the Newb and shamelessly yoinked my idea. That's what happened. Bastards!)

Woo, whatever price they want?! Now this is interesting. Finally a way for MySpace to make some money and a way for record label execs to shove it to Apple (who require a fixed price for music on iTunes). Everyone's happy!

But wait, there's more to the story: MySpace sold music will be in the MP3 format, you know, the unprotected-steal-all-day-long format? Somewhere out there, there's a music executive in her penthouse office screaming, "APPLE!! You win again! Damn you! Damn you to hell!"

Note to self: this guy always wins.

McMarketing III

Back in April, I linked to a rather ingenious live action reproduction of a Super Mario Game. (First video below) Then over the weekend, Kotaku posted about an ad by McDonalds (second video below) that appears to be a blantant ripoff of the first video...

Dear creative director of McDonald's ad agency,

I know what you're thinking: "I'm a creative genius! You don't f'ing ask this level of brilliance to copy some stupid college talent show! I can't believe I agreed to this. I should throw myself out the window."

I agree... it needs to be done. But here are several ways I suggest you do it to fully exploit the ironic twist:

  • Dip your head in a fry batter (You're creative but let's just get the obvious out the way)
  • Go on a steady 90 day diet of snackers
  • Put on that t-shirt you love (you know, that witty one) and jeans (you'll want to be comfortable for this one). Climb up to the top of your nearest golden arches with unloaded sniper rifle. Proceed to look mean.
  • Head to nearest McDonalds. Wait in bushes. When a minivan pulls up, preferably one with a ton of kids inside, lay yourself down in front of it. The soccer mom will never look back at that weird speedbump she hit while pulling out.
Please, feel free to select any of the above. For an extra dose of irony, you don't have to even give me credit for the idea, just like your commercial.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day 2.0

Got a day off eh? Go waste some time!

  1. Labor Day
  2. Labor Day
  3. Labor Day
  4. Labor Day
  5. Labor Day
  6. Labor Day
  7. Labor Day
  8. Labor Day
  9. Labor Day
In order: Google, Wikipedia, Youtube, Flickr, Digg, 43Things, Squidoo, MySpace, Cafepress

Friday, September 01, 2006

May I suggest a little WD40

Suspend disbelief and let's just have fun with this one:

Canadian pilot is locked out of cockpit after going to the bathroom.

"The pilot of a Canadian airliner who went to the washroom during a flight found himself locked out of the cockpit, forcing the crew to remove the door from its hinges to let him back in, the airline said Wednesday."
What's funny is not the initial, "oh my gawd, if you're here, who's flying the plane?" knee-jerk reaction. Rather, it's trying to play out what the co-pilot is thinking:

Should I make an announcement? What should I say? Oh man, this is not in the script. Screw it.

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is the co-pilot speaking. Please do not be alarmed at the man banging on the cockpit door. He is actually the pilot. David, turn around and give those people a smile will ya?

It appears that our door is jammed. There's nothing to worry about. I can fly the plane until we can get David back in here. I can also assure you that I've only had one cup of coffee before the flight so I can hold it until we land.

If anyone on the plane was able to sneak in a crowbar or a small stick of C4, that would come in handy right now. Please press your call button, a flight attendant will be with you shortly.

I've just been informed that some of you are trying to help with the door. Thanks but please remain seated with your seat belt fastened.

Er...what? Oh ok.

Could the "darker looking" gentleman with the Member's Only jacket please move to the empty seat at the back of the cabin. We'd all feel much more comfortable. Thanks.

We know you have a lot of choices for air travel and we want to thank you for flying Jazz."

via Reuters