Monthly Archives: October 2009

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The Season

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Who Notices The Tadpole?

Picture 9 23-29-18StrawberryFrog is an agency I respect for both its personal branding and client work. When I first clicked on their site and browsed through the case studies, I was pretty impressed. Their philosophy revolves around the idea of creating a “cultural movement,” finding the ground on which a brand can equally stand and resonate with its intended audience. It’s supposed to be more than messaging–it’s about creating an idea where people want to be involved, hence, a movement. To better illustrate this, I highly recommend viewing the case studies on their site for Scion and Microsoft.

Although I’ve been a freelance copywriter for over a year, my dream job has been, and continues to be, obtaining a full-time position within an ad agency. Times are tough and I knew for a fact that StrawberryFrog had laid off seven of its junior level staff this past Summer. It’s clear they wouldn’t be hiring me, but maybe an internship was still possible. Ignoring the financial strain behind the prospect, I submitted my resume, portfolio, and cover letter to the email address specified by their secretary. There was no response and I’m not surprised. I’ve seen HR departments, they receive hundreds of resumes on a daily basis, nowadays even more, and the method I took wouldn’t help me stand out from any of them.

That’s when I had an idea.

Among all the collateral on StrawberryFrog’s site they feature an interactive booklet titled, frog versus dinosaur. In a children’s story format, it details how the big established agencies are “dinosaurs” and why StrawberryFrog is the next evolution in advertising. It’s fun, cheeky, and gives me a sense of their personality. Look through it first otherwise my next step is going to seem crazy, although that might be true regardless.

I decided to write and illustrate my own interactive booklet. Taking cues from their art style, I crafted a story about a StrawberryTadpole who one day dreamt of becoming a StrawberryFrog. For those slow on the metaphors, StrawberryTadpole is me. Once I created a gmail account for the occasion, I sent this booklet to the original address as well as the direct email of the Chief Executive, Scott Goodson, and, his second-in-command, Tiffany. But I didn’t stop there. I also created a twitter account @strawberrytpole, writing tweets from the character’s voice and @ing the Chief Executive when appropriate. All of this took place on October 7th and continued forward from that date–I waited, I tweeted, and hoped for the start of a conversation.

Picture 8

After all the time since October 7th, I received two responses. One was from a guy looking for work at StrawberryFrog, he read my booklet and thought I already worked there (at least I look the part). The other was on twitter from the Chief Executive himself, stating, “Cool.” In fact, due to the timing of the @ reply, his response likely wasn’t directed at the story I made, rather a tweet I sent him about a great pumpkin carving.

Picture 11-1

That’s the end of it. I couldn’t get a basic conversation, let alone discuss working for free. So, why post this failure at all? I could have kept it a secret and saved myself the shame. It’s because there’s no shame in taking a risk. I refused to sit idly and hope to get noticed–I got off my ass and tried to make things happen for myself. And, like a lot of good risks, it failed. I’m proud of the booklet I made. I’m proud of myself for taking a chance, dedicating hours to a project I knew full well might have zero return. And, the best part is, I’ll just keep moving on to the next thing, taking another risk. If StrawberryFrog ever decides to talk to me, they’re welcome to do so. The door is always open, I’m just not waiting by it anymore.

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Phillies Game: The Phinal Mission

baseballI was never much of a baseball player growing up, the positions I was assigned are proof of that. Far left field and catcher–both required little movement on my part, especially left field (honestly, how many kids do you think were hitting out that far?). Still, who could pass on all the lemon-lime gatorade and big league chew that came with dawning a recreational league uniform? Not me. Skilled or not, I saw it through and can thank baseball for some of my best memories, the fondest of which resides in Shea stadium.

When you’re ten years old, it’s one thing to play in little league, but it’s another to visit a major league stadium with your Dad. Can you imagine the first time? The sheer scale of the structure. The tremendous roar of the crowd. A magical world where items as basic as water are sold for five times their regular value. Ahh yes, the ball park is a wonderful place to be. So when Ford told me that this month was my opportunity to see a live baseball game, my second one ever, I was sold.

Truth be told, even with television available, I hadn’t really watched baseball or many other traditional sports since that trip with my Dad. If I do watch any sports on TV, they’re always more obscure, stuff like World’s Strongest Man, Sumo, Lumberjacking, and Competitive Eating–basically anything that would air on ESPN2. However, my lack of “game-watching experience” wouldn’t damper my excitement because this wasn’t just any live game, but Game 4 of the playoffs for the title-defending Phillies. This game was part of a bigger story, and, after thirteen years since my last live game, I was going to be a part of it.

You can watch the video at the bottom of the post for a glimpse into the Fiesta shenanigans. My friend, Angel, and I were seated in the 32nd row by the third base side. They were awesome seats (Thanks Ford!). Before you jump to the video, there were three things which I consider highlights from the game that weren’t included in the footage:

1) We were seated in a section with the only two visible Dodger’s fans in full fan garb. They seemed like nice enough guys, but fan tensions wouldn’t allow something like good-nature get in the way. Their presence definitely stirred the sea of red jerseys and led to many hilarious/tense moments when they cheered their visiting team.

2) The Kiss Cam is something they do in stadiums to rouse the crowd. If it lands on you, you’ll see yourself on the big screen, and that means it’s smooching time. Of course, this can usually lead to some funny moments where they accidentally picked a brother and sister, causing them to feel incredibly out of place. However, this Kiss Cam segment was punctuated by the operator focusing on a lone visitor in the stadium. He was way up in the corner, talking on his cell phone, oblivious to his presence on the giant screen. The tune All By Myself began to play, and that, my friends, is comedy.

3) It got a lot colder toward the end of the game so I was in the mood for some hot chocolate. My friend, Angel, was already leaving to get himself a soda and asked if I wanted anything. I told him “hot chocolate.” He asked if I wanted anything on it. I thought to myself, maybe whipped cream or marshmellows, but then shook my head ‘no’ deciding the stadium might charge extra for such a luxury. He then returned, placing a hot dog in my lap. He swears I said, “hot dog.” I swear I said, “hot chocolate.” We both swear it was hilarious.

Well, in the words of Michael Jackson’s World Tour: this is it. This was my final mission of six and my time with the Fiesta will wind down along with the month of October. You can view the full extent of my adventures at the fiestamovement site. What else can I say after an experience like this? Even long roads end.

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Black Tie Unfair

Formalities

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Burger King Receives Your Anger

I was having a gentle day.No, the brand hasn’t sparked outrage with a more risqué version of its Spongebob/Sir Mix-A-Lot dance, but it does have a new menu item hitting the Canadian market. The Angry Whopper is proclaimed to be the spiciest addition (check video after the jump) to the BK menu featuring jalapeño slices, pepper jack cheese, spicy onion rings, and a spicy “Angry Sauce.” In the spirit of the item’s launch ad agency, TAXI 2, has created a microsite where users can see the level of their anger when they vent into the ANGRRROMETER. With access to your computer’s webcam and microphone, the site utilizes facial recognition and voice software to rank your anger appropriately. I tested it out and as you can see from above I’m obviously too laid back for this site.

You have to love the little touches they added, like spraying rainbows and butterflies across my face to indicate the weakness of my anger. It’s an entertaining microsite and is a great example of interactive. Most importantly, it translated the big idea in an engaging way that can be shared with my friends.

Of course, my one complaint regarding all spicy fast food advertising is that it’s never as spicy as the commercial suggests. Not even close. I’ve had the Angry Whopper, it’s probably a 3 out of 10 in terms of heat. It’s the same deal with Taco Bell or Wendy’s. Of course, that’s not to say it wasn’t a tasty burger. It’s just that when I see someone pouring ice down their throat after screaming “HOT! HOT!” I expect a little more kick. Now that’s something for me to be angry about.

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Is There A Steamier Kind?

Forbidden

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Google Sailing School?

I knew little about sailing other than I loved it–a fact I wished to remedy this Summer. But where to begin? For as little as I knew about sailing, I knew even less about sailing schools. I started my search with a close friend, having known that her brother went to a maritime college and her mother was a highly skilled sailor, I hoped she might have a recommendation for a reputable school in my area. My friend was at a loss. Her family lives in Japan and though her mother was American born, even she had no suggestions regarding schools in NJ. So I did what anyone my age would do, I googled.

I typed “nj sailing school” into the search engine and found four schools which popped up on the first page of results. From there I made my initial impressions based on their websites and pricing, but ultimately I decided I would have to visit each one in person before I made my final decision. Even the cheapest one seemed expensive to me, so I wanted to make sure I would be getting my money’s worth. 

I made the day trip and visited each school. I was able to meet with the staff and instructors as well as get a feeling for their rental availability. After all, what’s the point of learning to sail if I don’t have a boat to sail with after the course? Ultimately, I chose Nelson Sailing Center and went on to become ASA certified in Basic Keelboat Sailing.

The contrast between their site and their actual facilities justifies my instinct to visit all the locations in person. What I had initially written off as a questionable business turned out to be the most well run and professional (CSS abilities aside) of the four options. Moreover, they were the only school to mandate that I read through 180 pages of text and watch a one hour instructional DVD before I could even meet my instructor on the water. They took my education seriously and that’s how they won my business.

What interests me most are my hindsight observations as a consumer entering this market for the first time. My initial instinct was word-of-mouth because I knew someone who might be able to help and I valued their opinion over anything else. When that hit a dead end, and, with no prior brand awareness to direct my search, Google became my only option. This speaks to a long-understood importance of SEO. For all I know there is a better school out there that would have been cheaper or had more renowned staff, but, the fact is I’ll never know if they never ranked high enough in Google to become part of my consideration set. Simply put, a brand must exist in Google’s top 10 in order to exist at all.

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