moda vivendi

I'm just talking to myself. We do that sometimes, me and myself.

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The kids aren’t alright

Disclaimer: I came across this draft today.  It was started last summer.  I’ll do my best to change where it says “this summer,” but some of them may slip through. Apologies!

There are times when I sit here and say, “My childhood wasn’t that long ago, I have no right to say anything about ‘kids these days'” and then there are times when it feels like an eternity.  This summer has been Last Summer was one of those times when it’s felt like an eternity.  Last summer, Two summers ago, while training for a marathon, I’d run by a new building development.  It was just gravel at the time, though, so I didn’t really think anything of it.  Well, aside from the fact that the location of said development is in the middle of a once-heavily wooded area along a narrow, windy back road that connects two areas of our township.  This summer Last summer, though, as I was running along, buildings had sprung up.  And I noticed something unusual: there were no yards.  Granted, those cookie-cutter housing plans are pretty squashed together (gotta maximize that ROI), but there was about 5 feet of “yard” before the back dropped off.  Literally.

5 feet and then GONE.

What parent would allow their child to play in an area like that, let alone keep purchasing soccer balls to be offered up to the winds of fate that always carry balls away.  When I was a kid and a ball went into the woods behind my house, we had to go searching for it.  That usually was the best part because we got to go into the woods.  But really, what parent would say, “Okay, you lost it, go find it.  Just let me get the repelling ropes first”?

Allow me to shake my cane for a moment.. Kids these days just sit inside and play on their computer or their X-Box 5050 or whatever they’re called.  I remember being younger and my parents and my neighbors’ parents specifically saying “Don’t come home until it’s dark.”  Some of my best memories are of games that we made up, like swinging on the swing set, trying to kick a soft ball that was thrown at us, and seeing if we can kick it on the deck (and if it landed in my mother’s garden, how quickly we could get it out unseen).  Or having a wedding ceremony so the boy next door could marry the tree in his front yard (not quite sure what happened to that fellow or why our parents didn’t institutionalize us for that one).  Or biking along the trails and getting your tires stuck in dirt bike ruts.  I have some good scars from being outside.

There’s just something I don’t understand about developing and marketing family homes in a place that isn’t conducive to family life.

It’s pretty, but there is a big drop-off where dirt meets trees. That tree line is actually quite a few yards away.



Where is the love

Today I powered up Twitter to a see a feed full of tweets about Burger King’s twitter account being hacked.  A picture says a thousand words, so I’ll give you two:



McBurgerKing's Twitter Feed

McBurgerKing’s Twitter Feed

If you’re a high schooler, I’m sure you find this insanely hilarious.  I find it mildly entertaining simply because of the line “The Whopper Flopped.”  But that’s about where the humor ends.  Why is hacking accounts becoming so prevalent?  It’s like the new thing to do now that the secret about bath salts is out.  People hacking banks accounts, a business’s Twitter feed, even a knitting forum I have heard of has been compromised recently, resulting in stored information becoming vulnerable.

Is someone that bored they say, “I’m going to wreak havoc today”?  There are probably scores of people who are in really hot water from the compromised banking systems.  People at Burger King who are probably ready to jump off the building because of this PR nightmare that someone caused for giggles.  A knitter who’s identity got stolen from someone hacking a knitting forum?  Really?

Where is the desire to be a decent human being, to want to bring good into the world instead of breeding negatives?  I don’t understand how there are people out there working really hard to make a difference for the better yet someone is content to sit behind their computer and cause destruction like this.  Perhaps it is because my mind doesn’t function in a criminal way, but where do people get these ideas?  I understand that if someone is desperate enough, they’ll do anything to get what they want, be it money or a political message.  But where is the political message in the Burger King account.  I scrolled through some recent tweets and it just appears that someone is having a field day being ridiculous; I see no political content.  And it isn’t like there is a monetary amount to be gained from this directly in finding classified account information.  I just want to know: where is the love (and compassion)?

Although if this turns out to be a crazy marketing strategy for BK, great job; you succeeded in getting people to talk about your brand.  If not, get a job.

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What my professional personal ad would say

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to branding.  When I say branding, I mean marketing and branding, not the thing you do with cattle and other property.  If a company wanted to brand me, I think I’d run away, but it depends how good the benefits package is.  I’d really like to market myself in order to either increase the likelihood of being hired in a full-time capacity.  (Shameless plug: if you know of someone in the Pittsburgh area who is looking for a copywriter, I’m your gal.)

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here’s what my professional personal ad would say about me.  I have a few options, so let me know which is best and I’ll take out a Craigslist ad in the help wanted section. Or, put it on LinkedIn.  That’s probably a better channel..

23, eager to learn, interested in writing, baking, coffee, and long walks between my desk and the copier. Looking for someone to fund my Post-It habit.

Young candidate seeks the right company. Me: copywriter, designer, blogger. Familiar with InDesign and social media advertising. You: able to provide me with a cubicle, a working computer, and things you need me to do. Not afraid to play on a company softball team (hand-eye coordination needs work first).

Advertising hopeful looking for the right company to unleash my creativity on the world. Will work for Starbucks gift cards and Nutella.

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Sometimes We Bake – Apricot Ricotta Muffins

Occasionally, I bake.  Last weekend, with snow pouring down outside, this recipe was born.  Usually I don’t like to give it up so easily, but this one was too good not to share.

Apricot Ricotta Muffins

Apricot Ricotta Muffins

1 container (8 biscuits) refrigerated biscuit dough (Pilsbury was used)
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup apricot filling (substitute 1/3 cup apricot preserves), extra for garnish
1 egg white
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp orange zest (more or less if desired)
Cinnamon sugar (if desired)

Preheat oven to 375º F.  Grease standard muffin pan (you’ll only need 8 cups).  Pat refrigerated biscuits into 5-inch rounds and gently push into prepared muffin tin.  You’ll have some excess that pops out at the top.

Mix remaining ingredients and fill the biscuit muffins 3/4 full.  Sprinkle cinnamon sugar if desired.  Bake 20 minutes or until very brown.  Let cool in muffin tin for about 5-10 minutes.  If you greased it well enough, a slight twist and they’ll pop out.  If not, ease out with a spoon.

Top with a dollop of apricot filling or preserves.

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Oreos, Twitter, and Power Outages: The Trifecta of Super Bowl Sunday

It wouldn’t be “Super Monday” if everyone didn’t throw in their two cents regarding the Super Bowl, its ads, and this year, the power outage.  Side note: who wants to bet that next year any gambling on the Super Bowl will include concessions for power outages?

When I logged into Ad Age this morning, I was expected to be met with a wall of ad recaps and I wasn’t disappointed.  What was going to start as a disgruntled post about how most of the ads were lackluster and,”If I was going to spend $4 million on a 30-second spot I’d want a little more pizzazz” changed into a “Holy bejeezus, check out the power of social media” post.  During the power outage in New Orleans, the smart marketers jumped to create real-time ads via Twitter.  Nat Ives, Rupal Parekh and other Ad Age staffers compiled companies’ Tweets during the power outage.  In their article, “Marketers Jump on Super Bowl Blackout With Real-Time Twitter Campaigns,”  they write about Oreo:

“Power out?” Oreo posted to Twitter. “No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” The tweet was retweeted 10,000 times within one hour.

In the Super Bowl of ads, Oreo wins at life.  10,000 retweets in an hour.  An HOUR.  And it cost Oreo basically nothing because they used the internet.

The Oreo graphic was “designed, captioned and approved within minutes,” according to Sarah Hofstetter, president of the cookie brand’s digital agency of record, Dentsu-owned 360i. All the decisions were made in real time quickly because marketers and agency members were sitting together at a “mission control” center, or a social-media war room of sorts, at the agency’s headquarters in the TriBeCa neighborhood of Manhattan. Among those who were there were two brand team members from Oreo, and nearly a dozen creatives, strategists, community managers and social-media listeners.

While Oreo isn’t the only brand to jump aboard the Twitter train–Tide, VW, Audi, Speed Stick, and Bud Light got a piece of the action–its effort was impressive.  Granted, everyone was whipped into a frenzy and wanted to take advantage of thousands of Tweeters making Bane jokes.  Tide created a graphic that looked similar to an ad, but in my opinion, Oreo took the cake–er, cookie on making it look like they took time and put the ad together days prior just in case something like this would happen.  Oreo pulled together an advertisement that stuck with the brand’s personality and was consistent with the other efforts put forth by the company.

This is why you need someone on stand-by in case you need to create an ad, get approval, and disseminate it in a matter of minutes.  This is also why brands need to harness the power of social media.  It is quick and cost effective.  You can have a two-way conversation with customers or broadcast your brand’s message to thousands of users at once.  Social media is also a great barometer to check in on customer’s thoughts; a big part of social media advertising is using it as a tool to monitor reactions.

Last night’s effort during the Super Bowl highlighted the versatility of social media and the unpredictable nature that comes with the industry.  You work for months on a 30-second spot that you spend millions of dollars of the budget on and yet you get showed up by a simple Tweet and a cookie.