Tag Archives: freshlypressed

The Mug, The Tampon and a Pigeon

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Being late really ruined my morning today. Now all I’d think about was the unwashed coffee mug sitting in my sink. I should have just quickly cleaned it before leaving for work. It would have taken a minute… I could have forgone the 53 seconds it takes to put on my silver bracelets and knuckle ring… I could have gargled my mouthwash 42 seconds less than usual… 95 seconds would have been more than ample to soap up and rinse a little white ceramic coffee mug…

Hey– I can do it when I get home, right? In 8 hours and 95 seconds, it’ll be squeaky clean. In the meantime, I will let it ride… focus on what counts… we’ve got a huge agency pitch… channel the anxiety, channel it into creativity… the ideas… I can SO do this. I’m already on Jim’s bad side, and this is my chance to redeem myself. If Jim, the Creative Director is on my side, I’m golden… I’ve got a future. The mug… the instant coffee grind stained mug isn’t an issue… the WHITE mug with dark, oak brown beaded stains that are seeping deep beneath the surface enamel coating of the WHITE mug… it doesn’t bother me.

‘Good morning, team! Alright, let’s get started. The brief for the pitch. A feminine product– Tamplus. Any ideas? People?… Steve! Lay it on me!’

‘Uh… well… this is all about a woman’s menstruation… her period… a period is also a double entendre on the ‘full stop’ punctuation mark…’

Mark… Mark Twain… white suit… the WHITE mug…

‘So, I’m thinking: ‘Tamplus…A Period No More, It’s a Full Stop.’

‘I’m sorry, I didn’t hear anything after the ‘double entendre’ trope,’ Jim sardonically started. ‘Just to clarify, do you feel the clothes you wear are not making enough of a metrosexual statement? Cause I can tell ya, message received loud and clear without you having to say ‘double entendre’!’

Entendre… rhymes with James Bond… Goldfinger… Nescafe Gold… COFFEE-STAINED WHITE MUG!

‘Malcolm, batter up!’

‘Well, tampons, from what I understand, go inside a woman, and expand as they absorb… women also gossip between themselves about the size of a man’s… you know…’

‘PENIS. You do have one, right?’ Jim wasn’t being rhetorical.

Penis… willy… rhymes with Billy… Bill Gates… Windows 95… 95 SECONDS MORE AND I COULD HAVE WASHED THE WHITE MUG!

Malcolm failing to pick up on the lack of rhetoric didn’t help his situation. ‘Yes, Jim, I do have a penis. Here’s what I’m thinking: ‘Tamplus… The Tampon that Makes Men Jealous’.’

‘Great! Now that we’ve established Malcolm has a PENIS but clearly doesn’t doesn’t have a dick, anymore ideas?’

OH MY GOD… I HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE! I know! I’ll say I have an emergency! No, no… Jim will ask what it is and I’ll totally not know how to lie and he’ll hate me more… I’ll create one! Like on a FEMA scale… mass emergency so we all have to clear out! Then I can go home and wash the WHITE coffee mug! FEMA would probably arrest me and take me into that rendition thingy, but I would have at least cleaned the mug and been thrown into that rendition thingy knowing my sink was mug-free and my WHITE mug was WHITE!

‘Carry? Hello? Creative Director to Carry! Slogan ideas, Tamplus?!’

Oh shit, slogan! Think, Carry! Think! ‘Ah, well, Jim,’ and then, the following words came tumbling out of my mouth with a force that was too heavy for me to stop.

‘Well, Tamplus is something women use to avoid leakage, which is a super crisis. At the same time, FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is associated with crises.’

I spewed it all out at the speed of light, slowing down for the finale, which culminated into an artistic beatnik whisper, ‘Tamplus… Take the FEMA out of Female’.

Everyone around the table froze. Jim’s eyes stabbed me, and from the looks of it, his psychotic rampage would end up in fatal multiple verbal wounds.

‘FUCK ME! Brilliant! I actually think it’s SO HUGE, it should FUCK ME!’

I hadn’t seen Jim this excited before. I had never heard the word ‘brilliant’ from Jim’s mouth, while directed at my face. Granted, the ‘fuck me’, wasn’t a new, either as a metaphorical exclamation or as a blatant, unabated sexual request.

‘People! THIS IS WHAT SELLS! THIS IS CREATIVITY! THIS IS AWARD WINNING’

Jim continued on.

‘I mean, don’t all the men in the room want to be women just to have a period?! Steve! Malcolm! You’re already half way there, but doesn’t it make you wanna go the full distance to becoming a woman?!’

‘I’m growing tits as we speak, Jim…’ Malcolm conceded.

‘Already have a vagina, Jim.’ Steve confirmed.

‘Carry, Carry, Carry! GREAT JOB! Alrighty! Well, grab a coffee, cause you and I are going to get this rolled out by tomorrow, which means pulling an all-nighter!’

My heart’s racing… I am going to have a heart attack… skipping beats will soon evolve into no beats… an all-nighter? ALL-NIGHTER?! The WHITE mug? What do I do about the WHITE mug? WAIT! I have a client meeting at noon, near my apartment! I’ll go a bit early, wash the WHITE mug and then run to the meeting! YES!

‘Listen, Carry– we have to board ideas by 2pm, that’s the only time the illustrator is free. So, send Sandy instead to the noon meeting with Richter & Co. Lunch on me, my office, 12pm.’

I’LL JUST QUIT. Yes, QUIT. I’ll find another job. Someone will hire me, and in any case, I only really need enough money to make rent. I’ll quit now, go home and wash the WHITE mug!

GET A GRIP! DO YOU HEAR YOURSELF?! You’re going to quit over a dirty, stained, coffee-grind infected WHITE mug?! Screw the mug! Get another one! Throw it out if it can’t be washed back to its original WHITE!

That. Is. My. New. Plan. THROW IT OUT.

‘Carry, come check this out! I think a great TVC can come from this!’ Jim summoned me.

Walking into his office, I was ecstatic. I had a new plan. Throw it out. Now, all my energy could go to the pitch. ‘Sure, Jim, shoot!’

‘We open with a woman on the run, a woman who appears to be running from the law, a woman who went from tabula rasa innocence to a blown-out, full-fledged dirty, rotten scondrel…’

Tabula rasa… Latin… ‘blank slate’…’blank’…’blanco’… Spanish for ‘white’… WHITE MUG!

‘Wait! I’ll go get a sketch pad from the AD’s room, it really comes through in the sketch!’

As Jim bounced out the door, I kept thinking about the WHITE mug while gazing out the window… window… window… what if I sneak out the window??? Climb down the piping, rush back home, wash the WHITE mug, and sneak back in?

Jim always gets tangled up in a minutia of corridor conversations. It will be an hour before he makes it back here– by that time, I would have returned, sitting right where he left me.

I don’t know how I did it, but in 47 seconds, the time it would take me to wash two WHITE mugs, I was on the ledge.

There, I got to know a little bit more about myself.

For instance, that I’m frantically afraid of heights.

A paralysis unlike anything I’ve experienced kicked in. My vocal cords suffocated as my larynx contracted. My legs rooted themselves into the half-foot wide cement ledge, while my fingernails broke one by one, failing to dig themselves into the exterior gray brick facade.

I’m no mathematician, but I was sure between me and the pavement, the perfect quadrature came to form. It would take one itch, one gust of wind, one sneeze to ruin it.

More detrimentally, to ruin ME.

‘Carry?! Carry?!’ Jim’s ‘Let’s Make a Deal’  voice echoed onto the ledge, growing louder and louder as he came closer and closer to the window.

‘Carry? What the hell? What are… what are… what are you doing on the ledge?!’

Before I could answer, before I could negotiate with my parasympathetic ganglia to release my larynx, Jim already made his version of the story, THE version of the story, screaming it out to the entire agency. ‘Quick! Call 9-1-1! Carry’s on the ledge! She going to kill herself!’

Five seconds later, 15 floating heads were bobbing out the window to my right.

‘Don’t do it, Carry!’

‘I know your life sucks! But it’ll get better!’

‘You’ll find a man! You won’t always be the one getting dumped!’

‘Shit! My Car! Jump diagonally! But don’t hit my car!’

The comments slid quickly between a spectrum of extreme worry and biting pity. There I was, listening, hearing it all, when to top it off, a pigeon landed and fastened its talons onto my head.

Everyone gasped.

Slowly, the pigeon released one talon, fastening it further right, followed by its second talon. Juxtaposing itself at a three-fourths angle, tail pointed towards the window, the pigeon froze.

Ten seconds later, an infinitely inadequate amount of time to wash one WHITE mug, it shat straight onto my shoulder.

Everyone gasped louder.

My heart started racing. I broke out into a cold sweat, my hands lost hold of the brick. My trachea contracted, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe.

My WHITE shirt… look what just happened… to my WHITE shirt.

What’s ‘Likes’ Got to Do, Got to Do with It?

You just moved into a new neighborhood, and really want to get to know your neighbors. Suddenly, you get a brilliant idea! Sprinting downstairs, to the entrance of your building, you tack a sign on the community bulletin board, “Party in 3D, Saturday at 8pm”.

Come Saturday, people start pouring in at 8pm– by 10pm, 200 people are jam-packed into your sardine box of an abode, overflowing out the balcony. They’re talking, drinking, dancing– really, really enjoying themselves. It couldn’t be going any better. As you wind through the crowd, making sure everyone’s cup runneth over, random guests cheer you on,

“Great party!”

“Really happening!”

“Wicked music!”

Come Sunday, your apartment looks like Katrina ran into King Kong throwing a hissy fit. But, hey, you don’t care, cause you just threw the party of the century. Mission accomplished…

YOUR NEIGHBORS KNOW YOU… and LIKE YOU.

Monday morning, as you sing to yourself in the most un-Mercury voice possible, “We Are the Champions”, you set off to work. As the elevator doors slide open, you meet a few of the party goers, who begin raving about your shindig.

“That was epic, Mike!”

“It was totally insane, John!”

“DUUUUUDE, it was fierce!”

By now, you should be stoked– and you would be, if…

Your name was Mike or John, or it wasn’t so obvious that ‘DUUUUUDE’ was an eponym for ‘I don’t know your name’.

See, the problem is, though it was a kick ass party, and everyone who was anyone was there…

No one knows you. They ‘liked’ your party, but who doesn’t like a party?

If you really wanted them to know you, remember you and actually interact with you again, you’d probably have fared better throwing a small dinner party for a few people in 3C and 3E. The week after, you’d invite Mrs. O’Mally and the Browns, whom you met at the mail boxes s a few days ago, over for tea.

Replace yourself with a brand, and the party guest with social media followers. Social media is more social than it is media– you can have 1,000,000 people love your page, but that doesn’t mean those 1,000,000 people really know you or care about you.

News flash: People are humans, and humans form relationships through one-on-one interactions. Those interactions are predominantly based on you getting to know them too– ie, seeking their presence in your life necessitates you giving a damn about theirs.

Brands today deal with social media as if it was a billboard space. They think its enough to boost a post, and get more ‘likes’. But in the end, those ‘likes’ are a faceless number of clicks. And as much as ‘numbers’ are the mantra of marketeers, quantity is the LAST thing social media is about.

Because social media’s greatest advantage, is it allows brands to get up close and personal. It takes brands from talking TO a consumer, to conversing WITH a person– having 100 people you know and speak with is infinitely more valuable than having a whole sea of followers who, you aren’t even sure, are really people with whom you want to engage.

The biggest culprit of this massive catastrophe, ironically, is the inventor of social media; to be social, a brand MUST be on Facebook, but…

The way Facebook taught brands to be social, has them acting more like immature frat brothers, than grown-up adult holding a mature conversation. Which, shouldn’t be a shocking surprise, given its founder just graduated a few years ago, and, like his other 20-something Silicon Valley compadres, deals with social and the business of it, as such.

But, for you marketeers out there who still love your numbers, let’s talk fact: on average, less than 1% of your followers are ‘talking about’ you. Worse, if you scroll through people who ‘like’ posts you’ve boosted, you’ll find more than a couple of Juanitas from Guatamala and Marias from Mexico– which would be so bloody brilliant if you weren’t a hunting store selling fishing lines in Cardiff.

The problem is compounded by brands rambling on with posts that offer no significant value to social media followers– in the pre-digital era of media, we called that ‘filling dead air’. Brands think by keeping up these posts, they are being socially ‘active’ and ‘engaging’ their followers.

But engagement is a two-way activity… and it’s the brand’s job to listen more than speak. The incentive to keep your followers in that engagement is recognizing and sharing the content and insights they provide you.

Because a successfully social brand doesn’t have an audience of millions; it has a front row seat in the audience of 100 people— and it is listens to each one of those 100 everytime they speak. Further, a brand that really capitalizes on social media uses its own pages to post content from each of those one hundred.

The payoff being quite self-evident: if a brand recognizes each of those 100, and they each have at least 500 friends in their social networks, that means genuine brand exposure to and engagement with 50,000 others…think about it, when a brand shares a follower’s content on its own page, that follower will share his or her recognized content with their own networks.

To cut a long and very twisted story short… having the most ‘likes’ might make brands feel secure about their social status in the digital world. But that insecurity should have probably waned their in sophomore year at the University of Grow Up. Punning the words of that ever-so-famous cereal rabbit, “Eh, ‘likes’ are for kids.”

It’s Social, It’s Media, But What’s It Selling and Who’s Buying It?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and the list goes on and on.

They’re social. They’re media. But what the LOL are they really selling? At valuations that exceed the GDP of most developing countries, what is so valuable about them?

Let’s step back to the stone ages– the 1990s. Remember phone bills? They were wrapped up in an envelop, delivered by someone called the ‘postman’. Millenials, if you watch Seinfeld, you can see footage of one of these highly endangered creatures.

Phone companies had a business because people needed to communicate. Now imagine, if in the middle of your call, an ad message interrupted your conversation– literally just put both parties on hold so they could listen to an ad. Yeah, that would have been the death of them.

Advertisers would have jumped at the idea of course, given that they’d brand my grandma’s oxygen mask or anything else that had at least a centimeter of space to brand. Phone companies didn’t do that because, back then, a business model was built on the business you’re in, not the air you can sell.

Okay, so let’s come back to the future, 2015. Phone conversations are replaced by social media chats, phone cords by WiFi and dialing pads by keyboards. Same business– connecting people… save that the social media companies are under the impression they can sell the air.

Chalk it up to the fact that most of their founders were or are in their 20s, and have been called the Tech ‘Gurus’– their experience in business, let alone life, is about as savvy as ours was at 20, so ‘Guru’ might be an overstretch (and of course a brilliant term only an advertising or PR exec could coin).

Throw in the fact that the old-school financial or investment experts are in a mid-life fret about not really understanding the technology, the age of digital and all the new apps in between– instead of offering their expertise to guide these creative tech geniuses through building a solid business, they’re slipping into their Silicon Valley Crocs and voyeuristically enjoying the ‘Billionaires Under 30″ ride.

Then again, these seasoned venture capitalists are no different than their Neanderthal Wall Street ancestors, who parlayed everyone into the 2008 shits and giggles meltdown.

Let’s step back a bit, shall we? Businesses sell something– something that is tangible, such as a product or service. Ergo, they have a ‘core business’.

Second, the business model is built on that tangible product or service.

Lastly, advertising (marketing) is used to sell THAT product or service.

So, when we use the simplified– oh-so-ever oversimplified, but key checklist– let us look at the social media business:

  • Product/Service: Communication. Call it sharing, posting, status update, poking– in business terms, its communications, people.
  • Business Model: Advertising. Call it ‘Pages You Might Like’, ‘Brand Influencers’, or ‘Brand Advocates’. If it looks like an ad, sounds like an ad and talks like an ad, it’s advertising.
  • Marketing Strategy: PR 20-something ‘Gurus’ in jeans and sneakers, sporting a ‘Geek is Chic’, ‘Techy is Sexy’, image. Big Bang Theory meets (or rather bumps into) GQ.

Will everyone who graduated from Wharton please stand up? What’s wrong with the above picture?

Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?….Bueller?

Well, then, let’s begin.

Social media is no different than telecom, broadcasting or publishing– they are all media venues that make advertising more possible and place-able. Having said that, the latter 3 create have core businesses, with business models built on their core products/services, and they use marketing to sell them.

Telecom sells phone lines.

Broadcasters sell programing.

Publishing sells information.

Advertising supports these businesses, but these businesses have something to sell– things that they produce or service– things that answer people’s needs and wants.

Social media sells people. Really, that’s about it. It sells people to advertisers.

They know that’s all they have to sell– because it is the easiest way to sell.  They know it so well, that they’ve compromised our personal info and content in hopes that they can close the gap between their ACTUAL profitability and their pie-in-the-sky valuations that they need to keep up in order to get more investors.

The joke is, the big punchline we haven’t seen coming yet– the last time history had businesses selling people was the slave trade; it’s irony at its best, my friends… social media as the altruistic hero carrying us all into the age ‘democratization’.

What we haven’t learned for some reason, though history is sick and tired of teaching us, is that people will only buy air for so long before they realize the air can’t be bought. It happened with the dot.coms, it happened with real estate, its happening with Quantitative Easing.

Valuations in the double-digit billions should make us think it won’t happen with social media businesses– simply put, they don’t have a business.

The question is, who’s going to wake up before all the 20-something Gurus and the financial suits-gone-surfers grow up?

If history is always right, unfortunately, we all will… 10 seconds after the social media bubble bursts, and we find ourselves covered in Guru goo.