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That’s McDonalds? What A Shame.

Despite the abysmal ratings and overly scripted comedic moments, this year’s Oscars managed to pull off some stellar moments. Most of which had little to do with the ceremony itself, but everything to do with advertising. GS&P New York pulled off a visual tour de force for Comcast Xfinity with Emily’s Oz which easily became Ad Age’s Ad of The Day. And then, there was the spot that managed to simply convey movie magic and captivate audiences weary of a bloated awards telecast. Right up until the brand reveal.

I’m talking about this wonderful spot from Leo Burnett Chicago for McDonalds.

Simple. Highly interactive. Perfect. Everyone was enthralled at the party I attended, yelling out answers, pointing at the screen and clapping their hands with every solved equation. Then came the reveal and with it a collective groan. “McDonalds?! Aw, I really liked that commercial. What a shame!”

In that moment, I understood the power of branding like never before. Here you had that right ingredients (pun intended) for a marketing slam dunk. Every ingredient except the most important one: a reputable brand.

McDonalds used to be cool. Growing up, we happily drank the marketing Kool-Aid, singing, “Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese…” Fast forward through years of poor wages for its workers, questionable business practices, pink slime and other nutritional violations and you’re left with a brand image that’s severely tarnished. Not to mention all of the marketing missteps like this one. Now, it seems it might take a lot more happy meals, charitable actions and Ronald McDonald shuffling to get them back to where they used to be.

Oh, and what’s not helping is the wee bit of controversy about the originality of said Oscar spot.

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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Power To The Podcast

By now, everyone has experienced or at least, heard about Serial – the one podcast forged to rule them all. With it’s NPR-esque storytelling of a bonafide murder mystery, it has single-handedly made the podcast relevant again. And boy, is everyone jumping back on the bandwagon.

According to an article by Erin Palmer at Villanova University, podcasts are all the rage in B2B marketing circles. Seen as another valuable weapon in their content arsenals, podcasts are helping marketers connect, build and nurture an audience and ultimately, convert them into loyal customers.

But’s what’s so special about a communication medium that harkens back to the days of radio?

Well first, podcasts are great for reaching an expanded audience.

Newsflash: Your target audience contains people who aren’t remotely interested in reading blog posts, emails or consuming relevant content in written form. For them, your latest white paper is better delivered via a dynamic and trusted voice rather than a downloadable PDF.

Second, podcasts provide the opportunity to develop a brand’s true voice.

The planning and recording of a podcast can help combine the best points of a business with a natural voice customers can connect to.

And finally, podcasts allow audiences to make use of lost time.

They’re easy to listen to virtually anywhere at anytime. Stuck in traffic? Podcast. Waiting at the DMV? Podcast. Breaking a sweat on a treadmill? Podcast. Whenever and wherever an audience has time to kill, marketers have an opportunity to deliver great content.

So, the next time you’re working on a killer content strategy, consider the podcast. It just might make a world of difference.

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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“A Sequel? Elementary, My Dear Watson.”

So, I couldn’t just leave you with that riveting tale about Studio Movie Grill without giving you a review on what I saw, or what I tried to see. As I said in the last post, dine-in cinemas are fun if you’re not really into the cinema part. Unfortunately for me, that’s never the case.

As you’ve probably deduced from the blog title (or from my clever emphasis on the word “deduced”), I saw Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows. It was one of the December titles I was looking forward to, waiting for the crowds to die down so I could actually enjoy the film. I should have probably chosen my theater more wisely as well, but I digress. So, forgive me dear reader if this review seems half-cocked. It’s based on a less than ideal movie viewing situation.

Synopsis: With Dr. John Watson about to marry and end their partnership, a disconsolate Sherlock Holmes occupies his time investigating the schemes of his archenemy, Professor James Moriarty. However, when Moriarty warns that he considers the Watsons a legitimate target for his retaliation against the detective, Holmes must save them and get John involved in one last case. To do so, they join the Roma lady Madam Simza Heron’s quest to find her missing brother, Renee, who may be the key to defeating Moriarty. Together, the trio find themselves involved in a dangerous international conspiracy led by the Napoleon of Crime in which the fate of all of Europe hangs in the balance. (Ripped from IMDB.)

Story: Based on what I was able to glean between servers, clinking glasses and silverware, the story was very well done, filled with lot of twists and turns that were totally unexpected. I especially loved the way the family Mulroney (writers Michele and Kieran) weaved the inner machinations of Professor Moriarty and Sherlock Holmes together in a deadly game of cat and mouse. And, the dialogue between them was written flawlessly with plenty of dry humor and intelligent barbs flying back and forth.

Cinematography: Guy Ritchie definitely overindulged his fondness for slow motion cinematography. In the first movie, I didn’t mind because it was new and was confined to Holmes’s deduction of a conflict situation. In this movie it seem overused and therefore sloppy on Ritchie’s part. Case in point, the scene where Holmes, Watson, Simza and her gypsy friends are being chase through the woods by German soldiers and Moriarty’s henchman, Moran. In my opinion it was a great action scene made dull by the slow motion shots of trees and earth exploding from artillery shells. For a scene that should have had me on the edge of my seat, it just kept me hoping it would be over soon.

Also, didn’t like Moriarty’s use of slow-motion deduction at the end with Holmes. It felt out of place, especially when it’s been beaten into our heads that this is a character quirk specific to Holmes.

Acting: So many good actors in this movie! Once again, I am in awe of Robert Downey Jr. The man is just a genius and this role was made for him. The fact that I’ve said that about Iron Man proves how dynamite an actor he really is. Some may say it’s the same role (a self-serving prick who has little regard for the well-being of others until it really counts). I’d agree to a certain extent, but you got to admit the man pulls it off so well!

And who better to stand toe-to-toe with Downey Jr. than Jared Harris. Talk about a villain? His Professor Moriarty was downright diabolical! That cool, unfeeling demeanor he was able to channel while doing despicable things made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. It also made it more believable that his henchman would either died by his hand or kill themselves in order to avoid facing him.

Last but not least, I was ecstatic that both Jude Law (Watson) and Stephen Fry (Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock’s brother) were on the big screen together again. The last movie I saw them both in was Wilde and they both were phenomenal. While they weren’t the main attraction in this movie, I felt they both delivered roles that help ground the story and give it that extra dose of humor, while not overshadowing Holmes and/or Moriarty.

Most disappointing performances have to go to Paul Anderson (Colonel Sebastian Moran) and Noomi Rapace (Madame Simza Heron). While I would give Noomi a pass because her character was essentially a pawn to keep the story moving, Paul gets not love from me. Yes, I know you’re a henchmen and typically henchmen are one-sided, but they gave you a backstory, Paul. You were in a lot of the key pivotal scenes in the movie, Paul. The least you could do is give me more expression and passion, Paul! I get it. Henchmen. Aloof and unfeeling, but come on! Even the basest henchmen takes pride when he successfully executes someone. And pride sir, is an emotion you failed to deliver.

One final note on the acting, I thought all the main characters did a bang-up job handling the comedic aspect of the script. I think what makes the Sherlock Holmes stories so amazing is not only the twists and turns of the mystery, but the laughs enjoyed along the way.

So, can I say with confidence that I enjoyed the film? Of course! It’s elementary, my dear Watson!

Rating: 

 
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Posted by on January 11, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Toto, I’ve A Feeling We’re Not In AMC Territory Anymore!

So, it could be I’ve lived under a rock for most of my life. Or, that my lack of dates have bestowed an unintentional vow of loneliness upon me. Or, maybe it’s because I just like seeing a movie the old-fashioned way with stadium seating, reclinable chairs and an industrial-sized bucket filled with popcorn. Whatever the reason, I found seeing a movie at Studio Movie Grill to be a totally baffling, eye-opening and slightly entertaining affair.

Before I regale you with the details of my experience, I have to relate the story before the story – the “prequel” if you will. There I was sitting at my computer in a dark room checking my email when I received a message from my favorite addiction Groupon. While I won’t say I buy a lot of them, I will say I’m compelled to click on each one that finds its way into my inbox. The deal-du-jour was a movie ticket and a free drink for $5. Right away I was sold. It wasn’t until the purchase was confirmed that I realized that the theater was not in my neck of the woods. No biggie, I thought. We live in the age of Google maps and GPS, I couldn’t possibly get lost. Boy, was I wrong.

After a failed 1st attempt which ended in me getting lost and arriving 20 minutes after the movie started, I finally made my way to Studio Movie Grill. From the outside, it looked like a normal theater. It wasn’t until I was through the floor-to-ceiling glass doors that it hit me that I might have strayed a little too far from AMC territory.

This place was nice! Think high-end lounge/night club meets movie theater. The box office was off to the side and set up like a hotel concierge desk.

Of course, they were ready for the Groupon crowd (a.k.a the cheap-o’s) having set up a special line just for us. On the other side of the “lobby” was a full bar. Yes, I said a full bar. No cash registers. No neon signs advertising cheesy nachos, candy, and popcorn. Just a full bar complete with two bartenders.

Surrounding the bar were plush sofas and rolling Ottomon chairs. The lighting was definitely “in the mood” with modern track lighting fixtures creating a very cozy, yet cool vibe. On each wall were flat screens showing the latest trailers (on mute of course, because any sound would have definitely killed the vibe).

If the lobby wasn’t fancy enough, the people showing up for a movie decked out in their finest club attire definitely were. Right away, I could tell this sort of movie-going experience was the perfect date because couples were everywhere. So imagine those people with me in the midst of it all, gaping like a fool at the decor, while decked in my finest scruffy jeans, distressed hoodie and my running sneakers that have seen better days. Needless to say I was underdressed. Awkward situation #1.

Once over the initial shock of the place, I try and make my way to where I think the theaters are. Mood lighting has a way of not lighting anything at all, so getting around was kinda dicey. But I soldier on and find a hallway with a marquee advertising the movies and their theater numbers. At first glance, I don’t see my movie, but I figure how hard could it be to find, I’ll just walk around. I get two steps pass the entrance to the movie corridor and I hear this rude voice exclaim, “Hey, what are you doing?”

I whirl around to face this petite woman at a podium. “Excuse me?” I say.

“Let me see your ticket,” she says impatiently. Like a chastised child, I quickly fiddle through the stuff they’d given me at the ticket counter which, along with my ticket includes a food menu, a drink ticket, and my receipt. I hand the ticket over. She takes a look at it and responds rather curtly, “Sir, we’re not seating that movie yet. Have a seat.” Normally the attitude would have made me angry, but I was just so shocked and confused by the whole situation that I obediently took a seat. Awkward situation #2

Apparently, one simply doesn’t walk into a theater at Studio Movie Grill. You actually have to be escorted to your theater and seated by a theater usher. I was blown away! As I’m walking in behind our usher, I notice that the seating is rather interesting. It’s stadium, but on each level there is one row of regular theater seats with a table between each set of two. In front of that row is another set of seats facing a high-top table running the entire length of the aisle. I go for the theater seats because that’s what I’m used to. Turns out it was a good choice, because the high-top was actually reserved seating! Can you imagine? Reserving seats at a movie? Fortunately for me, I narrowly missed awkward situation #3 by a hair.

Once I got to my seat and the previews started to roll, things seemed to go as they normally would in a normal theater. That is once you ignore the waiters taking food orders, delivering food, and whispering loudly, “Will there be anything else?” while you try to concentrate on the thing you actually came here to do – watch a movie. All it all, it was a unique experience and when I get the chance to go again, I’ll definitely be more prepared.

1. I’ll try not to go by myself as I seemed to have gotten more “You poor, lonely soul!” stares here than in normal theaters.

2. I’ll definitely prepare to be escorted like royalty into the theatre (“re” because it’s fancy) by wearing my best top hat, sporting a monocle and practicing my goose-step with a gold-tipped cane.

3. I’ll make sure that the movie is one that doesn’t require a high-level of concentration as dine-in cinemas seem to add an extra level of distraction to the movie-going experience.

4. I’ll actually try to have something a little more substantial than popcorn and Coke. Maybe a basket of wings or a hamburger and fries which they have on the menu. No fajitas though, because that’s really just crossing the line.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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YMCA Uses Paper To Tell A Compelling Story.

When I first saw this commercial, I was blown away by the cut-paper animation. As somebody who has suffered through the process of crafting something out of paper, I could really appreciate how well put together this was. And not just the complicating flying birds and the realistic video game, but the small stuff like the light color paper streaming out of the computer screen that adds that touch of realism. Put a compelling story on top and you’ve got an ad that really tugs on the heart strings and jump starts healthy thinking.

But hey, what do I know. What did you think?

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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2012 Is Here! Everyone Look Busy!

2012 arrived on midnight, Sunday morning. Many of us slapped the newborn year on the rear with a toast, a kiss and list of expectations for ourselves with one goal: be better than you were in 2011. And now that the celebrations are over and we’re all fairly sober, that long list of resolutions is kinda making us wish we could put that whole “be better” thing off until 2013.

Which is why I offer you a different approach this year. One that does involve doing something, but nothing extra or too extreme to ultimately set you up for failure. The approach: identify the things that you loved doing in 2011 and resolve to keep doing them in 2012.

Take me for instance. I entered 2012 jobless, a few pounds overweight and single – the perfect candidate for unrealistic expectations. For a second, I thought about resolving to devote every waking minute/hour/day to finding a job, meeting a soulmate and working very hard to bring my inner six-pack out. And, then I realized how utterly stupid and unrealistic that would be.

So, I asked myself, “What did you like about yourself in 2011?” “What did you do to get there?” and “Is it something you could keep doing in the new year?” And wouldn’t you know it? I had a list of resolutions, I could actually see myself doing. Imagine that.

While I may be unemployed now, I am by no means unemployable. I had a job in 2011. I was pretty good at that job. The skills that made me successful then, will ultimately make me successful now. So, I plan to keep those up. There’s also a strong possibility that I may learn some new stuff. But if by some unexplained, freak coincidence my brain becomes incapable of processing new information and executing new tasks, I’ll have something to fall back on.

While I’m no supermodel, I did manage to lose weight and keep it off with sustained diet and exercise. For 2012, I plan to keep doing just that. If I lose more, than that’s just icing on the… Damn. Now, I’m hungry.

Finally, I was single for the entire year of 2011. There were days when I felt lonely, but many more days where I kinda liked being alone. During those days, I actually got to know me better. And, so instead of going on a mad dash search for someone, I’m going to keep enjoying the single life, and let someone find me when we’re both good and ready.

With those things resolved, I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

 
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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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I Just Missed Your Heart. Hope This Bullet In Your Brain Makes Up For It.

So, last Friday I decided to pick up a movie from Buster Box (my nickname for the Blockbuster Kiosks), and was pleasantly surprised to see Hanna as one of the choices. This was a movie I had wanted to see when it came out, but for some reason or another never got around to it. So, for all you readers who’ve seen it and know how great it is, this could be a boring read. If you who haven’t seen it, then read on and enjoy me being more of a movie aficionado than you.

Synopsis: Hanna is raised in the middle of nowhere by her “father” to be a killing machine. When ready, Hanna’s mission is to kill some “crazy spy chick” who is out to kill her and her “father.” CSC is also responsible for the death of Hanna’s “mother.” When Hanna is ready to embark on her mission, her “father” pulls out a red doomsday device (homing signal) that alerts CSC to there whereabouts. Girl and “father” make plans to meet up after the mission is complete, but of course things go wrong leading to an all out chase where everyone is trying to kill everyone else. Oh, and there’s a twist in there that answers the question: “Who or what is Hanna?” Spoiler Alert: She’s not a cyborg.

Plot: Despite my bad rehash of the story line, it’s actually not bad. It definitely has characteristics of stories we’ve all seen before i.e. The Bourne Identity. But, call me crazy. I dig the idea of badass kids kicking ass and taking names in an un-Spy Kids kinda way. Ever since Hit Girl stole the screen in Kick Ass (wow, did not see that redundancy coming), its been a wrap for me.

Cinematography: Holy mackerel! Soooo good! Loved the intensity of the tight camera shots in this movie. I mean it felt like I was right there with the characters, not knowing what was coming next until my head was blown off. This effect also intensified the franticness of being on the run. The entire time I was on the edge of my seat (wait, I was in bed, so on the edge of my comforter?) just waiting to see what would happen next.

I think the best example of the aforementioned camera work is when Hanna escapes from the underground bunker where she’s held captive by CSC. The lighting, the camera angles, the music all just work together perfectly to make this is an exceptional scene.

Acting: Saoirse (don’t ask me to pronounce that) Ronan was superb as Hanna. She delivered the perfect mix of calculated cunning, cold efficiency and childlike naïveté that was just spot on. I laughed at her awkwardness around electricity and boys, but shivered when she delivered the line, “I just missed your heart,” and the subsequent bullet to her victim’s brain.

Pair that with Cate Blanchett playing Marissa (a.k.a. “CSC”) and man, you’re just salivating to see these two forces collide. Marissa is just as cold and calculating as Hanna, but you’re thrown off by Cate’s flawless execution of a southern drawl. You’d expect Marissa to sip mint juleps with you on the verandah not mastermind your imminent demise with pinpoint accuracy.

I’d also like to give a quick nod to the supporting actors who played the Neo-Nazi, gay assassins working for Marissa. Hilarious and deadly. Come to think of it this character duality seems to be a theme – one that Eric Bana as “Erik” fails to capture. He was the worst actor in the entire film! And what was with that accent? Channeling Arnold Schwarzenegger much? “Hanna, GET TO THE CHOPPA! NOW!!” I guess being the only eye candy in the entire movie means we shouldn’t expect too much in the way of true talent.

Conclusion: See this film if you haven’t. I think you’ll enjoy it.

Rating: 

Best Line: Do I really have to type it again? Come on!

 

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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