Better Living Through Food Science

Thanks to some inspired Australians who run Black Star Pastry, the world now knows the magic and majesty of the glowing donut: the Glonut. To celebrate Sydney’s Vivid Festival, an annual event of light, music and creativity, baker Christopher Thé infused icing with Vitamin B so that it would glow under black lights.

The luminescent results are worthy of Springfield’s Nuclear Power plant. But actually, while the donuts are wonderfully inventive, they don’t begin to match the visual impact of the lighting of the sails of Sydney’s Opera House. For even more amazing festival imagery featuring large scale light projection, visit here.

Wow. Winter in Australia looks really, really cool.

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Why Italian Lingerie Makes Me Nervous

I see what you did with that subject line.

A while back, my wife wanted to replace some underwear she liked that she bought out of town. So I found it on the web and placed the order. Good news? Problem solved. Odd news? Now, everyday, a new email from Cosabella arrives in my inbox.

There are certainly worse kinds of spam, but none that make me quite as uneasy.

Because I’m not really getting these emails from Cosabella, I’m getting them from Albert.

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The New Brand (dis)Loyalty

Professional sports has dealt with this for years: the Mets trading Tom “The Franchise” Seaver to the Reds, LeBron James leaving Cleveland for Miami (then coming back and now maybe moving on to Los Angeles?), Brett Favre leaving Green Bay for the archrival Vikings (best t-shirt ever seen in a Wisconsin gas station: “We’ll never forget you Brent.”).

That same phenomena has just hit advertising for the second time in less than a year as the recently-canned ‘most interesting man in the world’ switches from Dos Equis to tequila…

And judging from the pour, he drinks the stuff like water.

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I’ll Just Leave This Here: Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Powerpoint

I get it; no one likes Powerpoint. It’s a terrible format for communicating anything truly important, an awful source for disseminating real knowledge.

But…

Every year, Mary Meeker, a former Wall Street securities analyst now working as a Silicon Valley venture capitalist with Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, releases this highly-anticipated Powerpoint deck: her annual analysis of internet trends.  This year’s version weighs in at a staggering 355 pages. I won’t pretend that I’ve read through it all, but I plan to. And you should too; download a pdf of it here. Continue reading

Steve Cropper and the Transcendent Joy of Team Play

As a teenager in the late 70’s, I grew up on a steady aural diet of pre-formatted FM radio. I didn’t mind–I didn’t know better. Until I saw The Blues Brothers. Sitting in my seat at the Harrisburg East Mall theaters, Sam Moore and Dave Prater reached off that soundtrack and shook me by my (oversized) lapels. Thankfully, John Landis included a rather gratuitous close-up of Elwood plugging “The Best of Sam and Dave” into the Bluesmobile’s 8-track. The next day, I rode to the local record store and asked them to mail order it. Three weeks later, the LP was on heavy rotation on my Radio Shack Realistic turntable.

“Play your part, play it simple, listen to what the other guys are doing, and complement them. Make them look good, too. If you do that enough times, they’ll turn around and make you look good when it’s your turn. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it.”

Steve Cropper

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The Graduation Message Most of Us Need to Hear

“Commencement doesn’t mark an ending, but rather, a new beginning…”
Yada yada yada, blah, blah, blah, godspeed.

It’s that time of year again. The annual momentous, overly commemorated season of graduation; from grad school, college, high school, grade school, kindergarten, pre-k–basically every organization with tests and teachers.

Few of us have or ever will graduate at the top of our class. And thanks to a study from Boston College about high school valedictorians, we don’t have to feel so badly about that.

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Bad Copywriting: Memorial Day DIY Edition

We wanted to repaint some furniture this weekend so we were happy to learn our local Ace Hardware sells designer Amy Howard’s “One Step Paint.” 


“One Step”: that seems convenient.

Until you check out the accompanying literature containing the instructions.

Which run to nine steps.


Huh. You might want to look into getting a new copywriter Amy. You know, one that can read. Or at least count.

Happy Memorial Day!

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The Joy of Pro Bono

It’s gotten significantly harder to earn a margin in the advertising/marketing business. With already overworked staffs, agencies can rarely afford to offer volunteer hours to causes that truly need creative help.

That’s why it was such a joy pulling together this video for our friend Dr. David Gaus, who is not just a fun-loving Wisconsin guy and old college classmate, but the founder of Andean Health and Development: an organization committed to bringing quality healthcare to underserved communities in rural Ecuador.

Today marks what would have been Fr. Theodore Hesburgh‘s 100th birthday. Twenty years ago, Fr. Ted co-founded Andean Health and Development with David, serving as it’s board chairman until 2014. Fr. Ted was also my wife’s uncle: the man who married us, baptized our kids, and smoked many an after dinner cigar at various family events. It felt fitting to create something to commemorate this milestone.

There’s no bigger cliche than to say that helping others inevitably helps yourself the most, but it’s only a cliche because it’s so undeniably true.

It’s nice to be reminded of that, and to throw a favor to a very deserving organization and friend. And yep, it does feels really good. Thank YOU Andean Health.

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A Lidl Different Approach

Last year, German supermarket chain Lidl generated $96 billion in revenue from 10,000 locations by selling mostly their own private label brand. This Summer, they are opening their first stores in America with this decidedly countertrend stance: limited choice.

Lidl’s label makes up 90% of their stock, most at a significant Trader Joe’s-esque discount. They will not have all the brands we’ve come to expect from a visit to the grocery store, but as a top Lidl executive (gosh that’s fun to say aloud) recently asked “Do you need fifty labels of ketchup?”

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