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Blog
July 23, 2014
RE2PECT
How do you pay tribute to a legend? In the case of Derek Jeter, it starts with a brilliant 90-second spot Nike broke in last week’s A...
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July 21, 2014
HAPPIEST NATION
Paul just returned from a field study course in Denmark, which has been called The Happiest Nation on Earth. People there appreciate a good ...
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July 18, 2014
HEINZ
Have you noticed that Heinz sells plastic squeeze bottles in supermarkets, but restaurants use Heinz in glass bottles? At home, Heinz wants ...
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July 17, 2014
ACNE
There’s a way cool store chain in Scandinavia called Acne. It’s hip in every way right down to the name—which tells you the target age...
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July 16, 2014
FRONT OF THE HOUSE
SAS is one of the great classic airlines. But they’re in danger of going out of business. Paul recently flew them to and through Scandinav...
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July 15, 2014
JIF WHIPS
We’re impressed by a new product from Jif Peanut Butter. Jif Whips is Jif whipped (like cream cheese). Win for the consumer: No more torn ...
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July 14, 2014
HASHTAG, SELFIE, TWEEP
A number of new word have just been added to the dictionary – the real one this time Merriam Webster. We all know hashtag and selfies. But...
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July 11, 2014
BACKBONE OFFERINGS
Physiology has come to marketing. Lately we’ve been hearing and reading the expression “backbone offerings.” It’s readily unders...
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July 10, 2014
THE LOST ART OF FOLLOW-UP
Paul recently had a tooth pulled. Don’t ask. It was a Friday. At about 8pm the phone rang. It was the dentist calling to find out how Paul...
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July 9, 2014
DUD EMAIL
We got an email from an intern candidate who pressed send before completing the note. Haven’t we all? But what struck us is the follow-up ...
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July 8, 2014
FEMALE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
 A report from one of our readers who just attended her 25th high school reunion. She witnessed what she described as a medical miracle: ev...
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July 7, 2014
THE REFRIGERATOR
A number of years ago, an NFL player for the Chicago Bears had his fifteen minutes of fame: William “The Refrigerator” Perry. His nickna...
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July 4, 2014
INDEPENDENCE DAY
...
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July 3, 2014
IF THE SHOE FITS
One of our regular readers sent us this blog regarding Zappos’ new hiring policy. They will no longer post jobs anywhere. Not the web. Not...
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July 2, 2014
WHERE’S THE LINE?
Three new commercials—one domestic, two international—bring home the point that sexism can be a two-way street. A hidden-camera spot fro...
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June 27, 2014
ENTITLED?
It is customary to refer to a former political official by their last highest-ranking title. So Mitt Romney is referred to as “Governor Ro...
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June 26, 2014
RISK ASSESSMENT
We’re okay with risk—it’s foolishness that puzzles us. North Korea took a third U.S. citizen into custody a couple of weeks ago. All w...
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June 25, 2014
NO WONDER
Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors, fired 15 people when the report came out over the faulty ignition switch fiasco. 15 people in a chain of ...
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June 24, 2014
THE BIG EVENT
Big Event Advertising is more important than ever—from the Super Bowl to the Olympics to the Oscars to the current World Cup. High concept...
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June 23, 2014
QUOTABLE QUOTERS
We were watching an HBO special about Stephen Sondheim—a brilliant composer and lyricist who is eminently quotable. In discussing how he w...
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June 19, 2014
DOGGED OPTIMISM
We both have dogs who are forever chasing squirrels and chipmunks. They have never caught one, but they keep on trying. Their dedication and...
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June 18, 2014
IT’S ALL IN THE LANGUAGE
We were thinking about the term “bubble,” the other day. A word economists and business editors use to describe an overheated part of th...
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June 17, 2014
TAG, YOU’RE IT!
Burger King just killed its classic tagline “Have it Your Way.” The new line is “Be Your Way.” Really? It makes us nuts. One is abou...
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June 16, 2014
UBER PLAN B
Uber—the urban app that lets you order up a cab (at “market prices”) has gotten flak from a variety of sources. The two main complaint...
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June 13, 2014
NETIZENS
We’ve commented on both sides of the “Big Data/Big Brother” issue. A reader recently sent us a link to a study that links Web, soc...
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June 12, 2014
SAUCY
A1 Steak Sauce just dropped “Steak” from its name. Seems like a good idea to us. A1 is a strong enough brand equity to go it alone and t...
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June 11, 2014
FRESH
A bunch of rival companies in the frozen food business have banded together as The Frozen Food Institute to combat the bad rep frozen food o...
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June 10, 2014
GOOGLE BEFORE REPLY
Paul is leading a travel course to Scandinavia. His colleague planned a visit to Oikos in Sweden. With enthusiasm, Paul emailed that the vis...
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June 9, 2014
LEGAL NONSENSE
Fiat has been running this tie-in campaign with Godzilla. The opening scenes of a car weaving through wreckage carries the by-now expected ...
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June 6, 2014
BEATS
Apple’s acquisition of Beats is a game changer. Up until now, Apple’s purchases were technology plays to be folded into Apple products a...
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June 5, 2014
AT&T
AT&T has offered $48.5 billion for DirecTV. Seems a massive number for a static business (we mean growth, not reception The question oft...
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June 4, 2014
JUST TELL ME HOW IT WORKS
A plug for Steve’s brother. He’s just finished a new book, “Just Tell Me How It Works,” meant to demystify the digital landscape for...
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June 3, 2014
SIX DEGREES OF MICHAEL BACON
We wrote a few weeks ago about the use of celebrities in commercials. A clever viral campaign this week from Oscar Meyer links their less-fa...
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June 2, 2014
FREQUENCY vs REACH
One of our readers commented on our blog about “invisible campaigns” [“DID YOU SEE…?”] that don’t get seen by the target audienc...
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May 30, 2014
TO A “T”
  Used to be that one of the fun parts of travelling to California was reading and laughing at vanity license plates. In the Bay area, ...
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May 29, 2014
IT’S IN THE PHONE
Steve stopped at a UPS Store to ship off a Mother’s Day gift. The owner, Indee, who was behind the counter, asked for Steve’s mother’s...
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May 26, 2014
BY DEFINITION
The NY Times has been mining bizarre legal depositions and hearings. We were recently sent this link of a deposition regarding the use of a ...
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May 23, 2014
MAKE US BETA
    This is a tease for our soon-to-be-released app, MKTG. It’s a dictionary of the hottest new marketing terms and an analy...
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May 22, 2014
GOLF (REDUX)
Our story the other week about golf’s fading appeal prompted one of our readers to forward us a link to a less-than-forgiving editoria...
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May 21, 2014
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM
Much has been written about openly gay football player Michael Sam who was recently drafted #249 in the NFL draft. We bemoan the label “op...
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May 20, 2014
THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
At the end of World War II, two airplane manufacturers, looking for ways to keep their factories running, decided to manufacture cars. Both ...
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May 19, 2014
YOU CALL THIS HOSPITALITY?
Steve stayed in a Hilton last week at his client’s suggestion. When he went to the business center to print out his boarding pass, the...
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May 16, 2014
VIRAL VIDEO
There’s no way to guarantee that a video will go viral. And what’s a measurement of success, anyway? A million views? 10 million? 100 mi...
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May 15, 2014
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Steve flew out to Palo Alto last week to lead a seminar at Stanford University. Driving down 101, he was tuned into KQED—San Francisco’s...
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May 14, 2014
BARRIERS REAL AND IMAGINED
An intriguing story on NPR’s All Things Considered. 20 years after the end of the Cold War, Czechoslovakian Red Deer living in the woods n...
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May 13, 2014
DID YOU SEE…?
Philosopher George Berkeley is credited with the famous conundrum, “Does a tree that falls in the forest when no one is there make a sound...
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May 12, 2014
CELEBRITY HIJACKING
We wrote about the Taco Bell “Ronald McDonald” campaign the other week. It reminded us of the ESPN “Michael Jordan” commercial. Usi...
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May 9, 2014
18″ CUP
We didn’t know the sport of golf was in trouble until we read the recent article in the NY Times. We just knew that we had given up th...
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May 8, 2014
RIGHT MEN FOR THE JOB
A salute to one of the great ads of all time. When explorer Ernest Shackleton was planning his South Pole expedition, he ran the following: ...
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May 7, 2014
PROCUREMENT
Every time we hear that title/term, it reminds us of the exchange attributed to Winston Churchill: “Madam, would you sleep with me for fiv...
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May 6, 2014
DEVALUING CREATIVITY
Time and again, we read about clients contracting agencies based on hourly rates for account management, percentages and fees for media and ...
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May 5, 2014
CAN WE TALK?
Email communication is a skill. Think about how many exchanges you often have to establish a simple agreement such as setting a meeting or m...
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May 2, 2014
MOM? IS THAT YOU?
Would you recognize a family member or best friend if they were homeless and you walked past them on the street? A killer viral video from ...
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May 1, 2014
MAD BOOZE
Woodford Reserve just broke their first TV campaign on the Mad Men premiere. A great ad placement and a smart message for a brand that knows...
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April 30, 2014
RONALD McDONALD
Taco Bell has just launched its new breakfast menu with a full out McDonald’s takeover. They found a bunch of guys named Ronald McDonald ...
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April 29, 2014
ATLAS TEXTED
Our recent blog about Steve’s son playing the Atlas Shrugged video game generated an astute reply from Tom Dusenberry: “Maybe the video ...
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April 28, 2014
IT’S NOT YOUR FATHER’S OR YOUR MOTHER’S
20 years ago, in an attempt to get younger buyers to consider their brand, Oldsmobile launched a campaign that killed it instead: “This is...
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April 25, 2014
A MOST EFFECTIVE VIRAL VIDEO
Beyond babies and baby animals, mashups and sizzle videos are the stuff of the Internet. But some are so well done that their intention goes...
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April 24, 2014
WORLD’S TOUGHEST JOB
A smart viral video from Mullen in Boston. They posted a job titled “Director of Operations” and conducted online interviews with the 28...
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April 23, 2014
THE DEATH OF US MALL
A story on Marketplace last week featured an interview with mall developer Rick Caruso (pictured) who’s been successfully re-imagining wha...
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April 22, 2014
WOW! WHO KNEW?
Last week, Todd Pendleton, chief marketing officer for Samsung USA, took the stand to testify in Apple’s patent violation suit against Sam...
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April 21, 2014
SERIOUS BUSINESS
Experts are fussy about excellence. Try cracking a joke to a comedian and the best you’ll often get from them is “That’s funny.” Tak...
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April 18, 2014
MERGERS OF WEAKNESS
The grocery business is getting smaller. Safeway and Albertson’s are two of the latest chains that are merging. To us, it’s amazing ...
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April 17, 2014
ATLAS ROLLED IN HIS GRAVE
Steve’s younger son, Dan, is on staff at a television network—and is learning the reality that most businesses don’t really care about...
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April 16, 2014
BRING HOME THE BACON
There is a new iPhone app from Oscar Mayer that wakes you to the sound of bacon sizzling in a pan. Seems to us it’s a good tie-in to morni...
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April 15, 2014
THE DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE
We recently saw an ad in Bloomberg News for Ultimate Software. They were promoting their predictive software which uses Big Data and analyt...
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April 14, 2014
REALITY SUCKS
Every time we think television networks can’t find another new reality show concept, we’re amazingly surprised at the new low. Wanna wat...
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April 11, 2014
EVERYBODY KNOWS THAT
Credit to The Martin Agency – Geico’s ad agency – for the smart way they continually refresh the “15 Minutes Could S...
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April 10, 2014
IFWEMADEIT
Advertising hijacking is an everyday occurrence on YouTube. Mashups of commercials populate the web. But when a brand hijacks and mashes up ...
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April 9, 2014
DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY
Competitive sports such as gymnastics, skating and diving all have a “degree of difficulty” multiplier. The judges reward participants w...
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April 8, 2014
REDNECK CEO
We saw a hat recently that gave us a giggle. Redneck CEO. The guy looked the part. And in the age of Duck Dynasty, we’re kind of recalibra...
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April 7, 2014
SOMEBODY HAS TO PAY RETAIL
A recent report in Crain’s New York Business revealed that Macy’s is now the #2 employer in the greater NY area—trailing only pere...
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April 4, 2014
WHO’S THE BOSS?
Many years ago, Steve was creative director of an agency that accepted a client’s son for a summer internship. Mercifully, it was only a 3...
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April 3, 2014
MACHO WALL STREET
An interesting article from Crain’s New York forwarded by one of our regular readers. Seems that between 2002 and 2012, 200,000 women lef...
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April 2, 2014
THE END OF BRANDS
There was an interesting—perhaps prescient—article recently in The New Yorker titled “Twilight of the Brands.”  The premise is that...
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April 1, 2014
CHECKOUT
So now that CVS has removed cigarettes from their stores and behind the counter, guess what’s there? Boxes of Rogaine, Prilosec, Similac a...
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March 31, 2014
POOR AND FAMOUS
Jonah Hill accepted a mere $60,000 for months of work on The Wolf of Wall Street. But he also got to work with Martin Scorsese and got an Ac...
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March 28, 2014
FUN AND GAMES
NBC has become the fun and games network. Morning, afternoon and night. From the Today Show, to Ellen, to Jimmy Fallon and even their Prime ...
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March 27, 2014
DYSTOPIAN
Divergent just opened as the latest in teen female leads whose heroics manage to survive in a dystopian society. It’s great to have strong...
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March 26, 2014
STUPID PET TRICKS
Last Monday, the NYTimes ran a story about the World Pet Expo in Orlando, featuring pet products tried, true and new. The two that stood out...
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March 25, 2014
ULINE
  Just got our Spring catalog from ULine (as did most of you and most of America) and we had to smile at their smart marketing. The cov...
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March 24, 2014
PREEMPTIONS
We’re all for advertising. But we found it really interesting to see NBC run their daytime weekend coverage on MSNBC recently and turned t...
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March 21, 2014
ERGONOMICS vs FENG SHUI
Paul got into a conversation with a colleague recently about her planned office changes. Where to put the desk, the files, bookcase etc.? Sh...
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March 20, 2014
FIREWOOD CONVENIENCE PAKS
We’ve marveled at shrink-wrapped firewood at gas stations, supermarkets and convenience stores for some time. It’s certainly conveni...
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March 19, 2014
PLASTIC SNOWMAN PIECES
Paul recently saw plastic snowman parts at retail. Carrot nose, coal mouth pieces and eyes, black buttons and a pipe. We thought part of the...
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March 19, 2014
WHAT’S YOUR SKILL SET?
December’s security breach at Target recently led to the resignation of Beth Jacob, head of IT. She was a 12-year employee of the company ...
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March 18, 2014
WEATHER OR NOT
Steve joins a group of business owners and professionals weekday mornings for a pre-workday coffee klatch. The other day, a heated argument ...
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March 17, 2014
THE REIGN IN SPAIN
There was a recent article in the NY Times that talked about a cultural reset for Spain. If people have dinner at 10pm and are still watchin...
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March 14, 2014
NOT OUR JOB
A sociology student asked to interview us last week for her doctoral thesis. We said “yes” we would be happy to share our insights and g...
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March 13, 2014
GOING POSTAL
Jerry Seinfeld did a great bit about the Post Office the first week of Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show.  In the age of email, the post of...
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March 12, 2014
HERE TODAY, GONE SBARRO
   Sbarro Pizza just filed its second bankruptcy in three years. Management couldn’t handle “the rising costs of food, rent an...
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March 11, 2014
LULULEMON GAFFES
When your clothes are see through you’ve got a problem. In a world of consumer is always right, saying less-than-fit women shouldnR...
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March 10, 2014
AMBUSH MARKETING
The recent Newcastle Brown Ale Anna Kendrick spot was a great stunt for a Super Bowl commercial that never ran. The :90 would have cost $12...
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March 7, 2014
WHAT’S NEWS?
This past Monday, the New York Times reported that scientists had isolated a gene mutation that can kill the diabetes gene. We were a little...
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March 6, 2014
TALENT ACQUISITION
Paul visited Facebook in London recently with a group of his students. Beyond the fascinating presentation and discussion there arose the qu...
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March 5, 2014
MANAGING THE BS
There’s an old saying that “advertising would a great business if there weren’t any clients.” The simple truth is that we all ha...
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March 4, 2014
WHATSAPP
Many of us looked at Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram for $1 Billion as a startling overpayment for a business with no revenue. Now tha...
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March 3, 2014
McCOPYCATS
McDonalds survives by delivering the expected. And other fast food chains take their cue from the McDonalds and have lately been copying the...
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February 28, 2014
PERMISSION MARKETING
Inspiring customers to give marketers permission has been a hallmark of digital marketing. But increasingly, marketers have been violating t...
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February 27, 2014
1-800-ANYBODY’S GUESS
Did your recipient get the flowers you ordered? There have been damning stories recently about the flower delivery business. Too often the q...
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February 26, 2014
LEVELS OF GENIUS
We recently discovered there are three levels of “genius” at the Apple Genius Bar. The tougher your problem, the higher up you are direc...
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February 25, 2014
OLYMPIC STRENGTH
NBC’s ratings for the Sochi Olympics blew away the competition for two solid weeks, once again demonstrating that broadcast television...
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February 24, 2014
BUILDING VALUE
In an earlier blog, we showed Steve trying on Google Glass. He thought it was an idea in search of an application. Well Google is now giving...
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February 21, 2014
BITCOIN TULIPS
  Last month, a Lamborghini dealer in Newport Beach, California, sold a used Tesla S for approximately 91 Bitcoins. (The car; not the geni...
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February 20, 2014
ERASE THAT
One of our readers in Columbus, Ohio, forwarded a follow-up email survey from Staples. She’d purchased a packet of pencil eraser caps at t...
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February 19, 2014
HEALTHY STEP UP
The CVS decision to stop selling cigarettes is a game-changer. Besides taking an industry leadership position, it’s a shrewd recognition t...
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February 17, 2014
DO IT OVER
There’s a familiar refrain “There’s never enough time to do it right, but there’s always time to do it over.” Quality is a functio...
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February 14, 2014
A DRONE YOU CAN LIKE
Jeff Bezos made news by showcasing his intended new shipping method for Amazon Prime customers. Right down to the video demo of an army of A...
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February 13, 2014
TEXTING AND WALKING
We know how dangerous it is to text and drive. But recently we’ve confronted (and nearly ran over) people texting and walking and igno...
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February 12, 2014
TELEGRAPHED ATTITUDE
It used to take professors an hour or longer to spot the slackers in their classes. But Paul has seen a new pattern—they announce themselv...
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February 11, 2014
WHAT DOES THE FOX SAY?
The Harlem Shuffle was the meme of the first half of 2013. The second half went to Ylvis, a Norwegian comedy duo, with their video What Does...
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February 10, 2014
IMPORTANT
   Steve keeps telling Paul that “importantly” isn’t a word. Yet so many people use it. Is this true? Is it important? This is a...
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February 7, 2014
ASK THE WORKERS
A recent article in NewYorker.com compiled recent research showing that the beloved “open office” idea is counterproductive. Regardless...
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February 6, 2014
REALLY?
A commercial for the Nissan Rogue shows a car pool that’s late for work. The driver revs the Rogue up a ramp and jumps the SUV onto the ro...
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February 5, 2014
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Ad agencies and social media agencies have been trying to outdo each other with their clever new names. In fact, AdWeek featured a column l...
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February 4, 2014
RETRO SAFE
The NSA is scanning…everything. 110 million cards were compromised at Target. Millions more at Neiman Marcus. And who knows how many m...
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January 20, 2014
GOOGLE DELTA
Paul took a flight on Delta recently and checked in the night before. He went to Terminal C as indicated on his boarding pass only to find o...
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January 17, 2014
GEEK CHIC
Geek used to be a rather denigrating label for someone who was dweebie, awkward and uncool. Today, it’s got real cachet. From Best Buy’s...
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January 16, 2014
NIGHT LIGHTS
    Billboards make for a cluttered mess of advertising during the day. But Paul’s brother Scott forwarded a picture with the infere...
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January 15, 2014
NO CASH
Paul’s wife recently went to Uniqlo, the Japanese retailer that promises to be the biggest in the US by 2020 (promising  $50 billion in s...
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January 14, 2014
FLUSH WITH FAILURE
In 1993, the Dinkins Administration signed the first contract for public toilets in New York City. 20 years and now four administrations lat...
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January 13, 2014
POKER
Steve’s fallen into a penny-ante weekly poker game in Hartford. Well, more like 25-50, but we’re not talking dollars. Steve hasn’t...
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January 10, 2014
TWO DEMONS?
A friend of ours recently told us of the only pressures he ever feels in business. He expressed them as the “time demon” and the “mone...
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January 9, 2014
HAVE WHAT YOU SELL
A number of stores and restaurants have signature dishes, specials and much requested items. They can be loss leaders or premium delicacies....
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January 8, 2014
IDEAS THAT LAUNCH
Most of us come up with great, new ideas all the time. It’s challenging. It’s fun. And most of the time it’s just an exerc...
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January 7, 2014
FEWER CLICKS
We’re all in a rush these days. To the point where we don’t even bother to open e-mails we receive – we just read them in ...
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January 6, 2014
FLIP PHONES
Once upon a not so long ago time, most of us had flip phones. Why? Because science fiction (“Beam me up Scottie.”) established them as t...
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December 31, 2013
BRAND IT!
Years ago Ed McCabe—one of the great advertising writers of all time—took on the assignment of Perdue Chicken. In those days chicken was...
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December 30, 2013
INSPIRATION
Another delightful observation from Lord Martin Rees. When teaching his astronomy students, he urges them to read first-rate science fiction...
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December 25, 2013
HAPPY HOLIDAYS
...
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December 24, 2013
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
In our next life, we’re going to come back as Futurologists. We’ll get paid huge amounts of money to guess what’s going to happen…an...
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December 23, 2013
R2P2
Last year we had two Marine Corps Colonels attend our Marketing Plan in a Day session. They said it reminded them of the Marine Corps’ R2P...
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December 20, 2013
RELEARNING THE RULES
Early in our careers we were taken on tours of factories, printing plants and other vendor operations. That knowledge of product development...
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December 19, 2013
BUSINESS STRATEGY
In our lunch talk, “50 Experts in 50 Minutes,” one of the people we cite is a producer friend of ours. “Hope,” he likes to say, “i...
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December 18, 2013
YOU ARE A BRAND
On the first day of his advertising class, Paul carefully observes all his students as they walk into class and takes their seats. His first...
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December 17, 2013
“LET THEM RIDE BIKES”
As the Bloomberg Administration comes to an end, it’s interesting to see what was actually accomplished. While Mike took care of his 1% fr...
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December 16, 2013
TREND vs RATE
Lord Martin Rees was being interviewed on NPR the other Sunday and made a trenchant observation about the future. “It’s much easier to ...
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December 12, 2013
THE SOUND OF WHAT?
NBC broke new ground or, if you’re a student of television history, plowed old fields with a live production of The Sound of Music starrin...
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December 12, 2013
THE BITCOIN TESLA-S
Last week, a Lamborghini dealer in (where else?) Newport Beach, California, sold a used Tesla S for approximately 70 Bitcoins. We try to kee...
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December 11, 2013
BULLDOG BALLERINA
The job of “traffic” in marketing is an unsung and critical part of the process. If your traffic person is a pushover, you’ll always b...
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December 10, 2013
“EXPENSIVE” NEW YORK
Steve’s splitting his time between New York City and Hartford, CT. It’s interesting to notice the price variations between the two marke...
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December 9, 2013
WEB ILLITERACY
A conversation posting on a media site we read had the headline “Only 20% of People Say They Read Web Stories; 80% of Those Say They Would...
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December 5, 2013
GOOD vs GREAT
A few years ago the phrase “don’t let good be the enemy of great” popped up. It’s a phrase that often captures the w...
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December 4, 2013
FOLLOW THE BUDGET
If and as you want to develop business, follow the budget. We were reminded recently that CMO’s don’t have budgets, but their market...
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December 3, 2013
FIT TO PRINT
While it’s still on the print masthead of the New York Times, in case you didn’t notice, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” ...
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December 2, 2013
NETWORK RESET
Advertisers have been paying more and more for smaller network audiences for years. The game is changing as so many of us watch on our time,...
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November 27, 2013
THANKSGIVUKKAH
This year Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are falling on the same day. Tonight. This is a once-in-a-lifetime event and won’t occur again for 77,...
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November 26, 2013
WHAT A GAL!
German golfer Sandra Gal joined the LPGA tour about four years ago and has been rising steadily in the ranks. The result has been a successi...
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November 25, 2013
PIGEON DROPPINGS
A follow-up to our comment about athletes and drugs. An article in the New York Times late last month revealed that doping had come to pigeo...
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November 22, 2013
RAMEN BURGER
We just heard about a new hamburger. The Ramen Burger marries the noodles we love with hamburgers. Seems like a good substitute for a bun. W...
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November 21, 2013
THE CUSTOMER COMES FIRST
For the past three years, one of the most in demand workshops we do is “Customer Centricity.” Corporate marketing departments avidly wan...
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November 20, 2013
HUH?
While we’ve written a number of blogs about the shifts in language due to the Web, it seems “proper usage” may be an artificial an...
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November 19, 2013
GOOGLE THIS
  Steve’s talk to the Louisville AAF club last week came with an added bonus. One of their members, Liam Spradlin, is an avid Goo...
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November 18, 2013
THE THIRD PLACE
Starbucks works to a brand positioning that is not stated. The internal mantra, “The Third Place,” is all about attracting customers in ...
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November 15, 2013
ATTENTION DEFICIT
There was an intriguing story in the NY Times recently about a bet over dinner. Whoever reached for their smart phone first was to pick up t...
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November 14, 2013
HERE’S A TIP
Unlike more and more business travelers these days–around 30% according to CNN–we both leave a tip for the housemaids. Besides t...
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November 13, 2013
COMMERCIALS
Is it our imagination—or has it been a less-than-stellar year for commercials? We mark the “commercial year” from Super Bowl to Super ...
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November 12, 2013
FLY OR DRIVE?
At what distance do you decide it’s simpler, faster and cheaper to drive than to fly? Steve loves to drive. For him, the fly/drive circumf...
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November 11, 2013
PHOTOBOMBING
It’s the social craze du jour. Social invasions are such a game that they’ve coined the word Photobombing for people who stick their...
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November 8, 2013
EMAIL
The New York Times has just decided to join Mashable and others in deleting the hyphen in E-Mail. Short bursts of fast communication by thum...
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November 7, 2013
CRAZY LIKE A FOX
Miley Cyrus has been much in the news – for her VMA twerking display to her nude turn in her new single “Wrecking Ball.” Many have cri...
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November 6, 2013
SERIAL CMO’s
There are many famous Chief Marketing Officers. Some are highly regarded for their inspired work in building brands. Some are known for thei...
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November 6, 2013
BULLDOG BALLERINA
The job of “traffic” in marketing is an unsung and critical part of the process. If your traffic person is a pushover, you’ll always b...
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November 5, 2013
HOPE IS NOT A STRATEGY
We were reminded of this wonderful and scary admonition at the recent ANA Masters of Marketing conference. It’s just so true. Business and...
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November 1, 2013
BENCHMARKING
When was the last time you thought about success stories in businesses other than yours? It’s called benchmarking—and there’s much you...
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October 31, 2013
TRY, TRY AGAIN
We’ve all heard the aphorism: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And a recent survey in Forbes.com proves there ma...
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October 30, 2013
THREE LITTLE WORDS
Steve’s been in demand lately—teaching social media writing to corporate marketing departments and Ad Fed clubs. He starts each session ...
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October 29, 2013
ORDER OUT OF CHAOS
We were recently sent a link to a site explaining Amazon’s “Chaotic Storage” system. We don’t know if they’re the firs...
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October 28, 2013
VISUAL VELOCITY
When you’re editing a commercial for TV or video piece for the Web, remember the number of cuts per minute is a form of “writing.” You...
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October 25, 2013
FOREIGN ADVERTISING
Every week we screen dozens of new commercials from around the world. And for years, we have admired the growing creativity coming from othe...
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October 24, 2013
CO-OP ADVERTISING
  Steve’s dad owned a chain of furniture stores. And one of Steve’s summer chores was to go into the warehouse and throw out all th...
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October 23, 2013
CRAFT BEER
The beer business is tanking. The big brews – Bud, Miller, Coors are all down. Spirits are up and so is wine. But craft beers are the exci...
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October 22, 2013
BETTER OR DIFFERENT
The hardest skill Steve had to learn in business is the art of leaving things alone. His mentor once told him that the true gift of a great ...
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October 21, 2013
ONE SMART MARKETER
There are over 400,000 licensed home improvement firms in the U.S. and Canada. So why Mike Holmes? Why does this (sorta) cute (in a beefy ki...
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October 18, 2013
CHICKEN PARTS
Paul’s wife recently went to buy a chicken and all she could find in the supermarket was parts. Care for 25 chicken wings? Ah, tailgating ...
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October 17, 2013
KERFUFFLE
It’s a funny word. Few of us use it in a sentence. But in the world of screw-ups it surfaces as the wonderful expression of the mess it re...
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October 16, 2013
GENERIC ADVERTISING
No matter how sophisticated marketers become, we continue to see some truly basic mistakes year in and year out. The biggest sin is what we ...
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October 15, 2013
GOING…GOING…
Companies have life cycles, and life spans as well. Bank of Korea did a study and found only 5,500 companies in the world are more than 200...
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October 14, 2013
DISNEY’S BUSINESS
Occasionally, the Disney Corporation forgets what business it’s in. For years, they struggled with their planned community, Celebration, F...
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October 11, 2013
GRAVITY
Every few years a movie comes along that resets the bar—and we wonder why no one did it sooner.  In 1968 (45 years ago, folks), Stanley K...
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October 10, 2013
REVERSE SNOBBERY
A new eatery has opened in Macy’s Herald Square. It boasts “artisanal gelato.” Steve will never go there. Mainly because he doesn’t ...
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October 9, 2013
THE LAST AMERICAN HERO
October, 2001. New York was reeling from 9/11. Yet somehow the Yankees got to Game 7 of the World Series. They lost—because their “sandm...
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October 8, 2013
ARIANA GRANDE vs GRETA GARBO
Last week we asked whether Ariana was the new “it” girl. This week, E.D. Hirsch is back in the news with his 1987 best seller “Cultura...
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October 7, 2013
DIGITAL BUBBLE GUM
Snapchat, Texting, Instagram. These are the biggest digital play things of Paul’s students. Seems to us it’s all digital bubblegum. Comm...
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October 4, 2013
HERE’S A TIP
Unlike more and more business travelers these days–around 30% says CNN–we both leave a tip for the housemaids. Besides their mis...
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October 4, 2013
SPORTS DOPES
We spent the final third of the baseball season reading on a nearly daily basis about Alex Rodriquez doping. For us, the sport of cycling wa...
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October 3, 2013
O-PA!
We can’t eat yogurt anymore. The business has completely morphed into Greek. It’s true Greek yogurt is richer and tastier. But for half ...
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October 2, 2013
ARIANA GRANDE
Meet the new “it” girl of music. Is she really in the same category of Mariah when she came on the scene? Or are we just looking for yet...
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October 1, 2013
UPSIDE DOWN PACKAGES
For years, Heinz sold us ketchup on a promise that it was so thick and rich it was nearly impossible to get the stuff out of the bottle. Tod...
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September 30, 2013
8 TRACK STARSHIP
    Voyager 1 recently left our solar system. Far more successful than NASA ever imagined, this “little spaceship that could...
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September 27, 2013
TWERK
A month ago virtually none of us knew the word “twerk.” Now, thanks to Miley Cyrus and the VMA’s, we have all been victimized by t...
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September 26, 2013
Paul recently encouraged his students to have pen and paper bedside at night to capture notes for ideas that often come at the most unexpect...
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September 25, 2013
THE POWER OF A DREAM
     We wrote a few months ago about our intern competing for Miss America. She finished in the top 10, but this posting from her we ...
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September 24, 2013
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Once again, gentrification has ruined a neighborhood that had charm and character. Steve got off MetroNorth and walked across 125th Street l...
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September 23, 2013
KILLING THE GOLDEN GOOSE
    According to an article in Fast Company, Google has killed its “20% time” policy. It was one of the most innovative ideas ...
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September 16, 2013
APP STORE AT 5
Apple’s App Store recently turned five years old. The entire US was also locked in a heat wave. So to celebrate their fifth anniversary Ap...
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September 13, 2013
CASH LANES
EZPass is a great idea except when it isn’t. Too often cars bottleneck as they approach the toll plaza. No one knows where to go. Unti...
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September 12, 2013
GEEK SQUAD
Paul just recently got a new TV. A Geek Squad branded VW Beetle drove up and two experts stepped out of the car, into the house, hooked up a...
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September 11, 2013
INFOGRAPHICS
The name says it all. A plethora of information graphics have emerged on the business communications scene as a great way to telegraph and i...
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September 10, 2013
ON THE FRINGES
There always were, and there always will be, people on the fringes and extremist points of view. In the past, we were largely exposed to the...
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September 9, 2013
TABLET TAXIS
We’re seeing Limo drivers displaying customer names at airports on tablets rather than the old homemade signs they used to use. It’s...
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September 6, 2013
5 NAPKIN BURGER
We passed a 5 Napkin Burger joint recently and were reminded of the great branding the restaurant represents. The name says it all – exact...
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September 5, 2013
SOMEONE ELSE WILL
Our blog last month about the Lowes campaign on Vine reminded us once again of a truth Jerry Della Femina wrote so many years ago in his aut...
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September 4, 2013
WHERE ARE THE WORDS?
Steve was teaching a workshop on writing for the new media and was reciting examples of classic memes: “Just Do It” “Where’s The Bee...
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September 3, 2013
PHABLET, SRSLY & DIGITAL DETOX
  While we were gone, those were three of the new words added to the Oxford Dictionary in August. Tech and abbreviations are moving so ...
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August 5, 2013
A QUIZ
What do these four things have in common? 1. Manhattan psychotherapists 2. The cast of Saturday Night Live 3. The country of France 4. PS In...
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August 2, 2013
NATIVE ADVERTISING
It’s all the buzz. Advertising that doesn’t look, act, or sound like advertising. But it is. While industry is congratulating itself...
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August 1, 2013
SIGNS?
We’re continually struck by the obfuscation of road signs in America. In Europe most cities have clear signs that direct motorists to the ...
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July 31, 2013
SENSORY SELL
Paul passed a sandwich shop in Chicago recently called Jimmy Johns. The sign outside promoted “free smells.” In smaller type, the shop i...
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July 30, 2013
DOLLARS, NOT SENSE
The big marketing news this week is the merger of ad giants Publicis and Omnicon. It was front-page news in the NYTimes (and just about ever...
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July 29, 2013
HYPERBOLE PROGRAMMING
There’s a new Bear Grylls-hosted TV show entitled “Get Out Alive.” Are we to believe that some people won’t? In an effort to bui...
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July 26, 2013
WATCH YOUR LANGUAGE
The words mouseover and crowdsourcing have just been added to the dictionary. Digital developments are creating new words and usage all the ...
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July 25, 2013
H.E.L.P.
State Farm Insurance displays a dimension of their brand with H.E.L.P. trucks all over the highways. Neither of us has State Farm as our ins...
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July 24, 2013
BUILD A BURGER
  We recently went to one of the many build-a-burger joints that are popping up all over. We think it’s a win-win idea. The customer ...
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July 23, 2013
WEBBY 5
  We love the Webby Awards acceptance speech requirement that winners’ addresses must be limited to 5 words. It inspires creativity ...
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July 22, 2013
SELLING IN SIX SECONDS
When Twitter’s Video service Vine came online, lots of people questioned what you could possibly do in a 6 second video. We were impressed...
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July 19, 2013
DISAPPOINT OR DELIGHT
Paul recently had two experiences where clients disappointed. One was for-profit, one was pro-social. It really doesn’t matter. Both a...
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July 18, 2013
MUSCLE MEMORY
Great athletes spend huge amounts of time practicing. What they’re doing is building “muscle memory” so their moves become automatic d...
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July 17, 2013
FLY EARLY
A little advice from a couple of frequent fliers: If you want to reach your destination on time book early, check in online early and fly ea...
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July 16, 2013
THE POWER OF OBSERVATION
If you think about all the sciences: biology, geology, physics, you name it…they were all built on the foundation of…simple observat...
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July 15, 2013
RAIN CHALLENGED
The sidewalks of New York City are filled with people and energy. Thousands of workers, tourists, students, all going about their business i...
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July 12, 2013
THE PRICE OF AN EASY PASS
   Because Steve travels so much, he decided to sign up for TSA Pre-check (the domestic version of Global Entry). It involves filling out ...
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July 11, 2013
THE BEAUTY OF HARD WORK
   We wrote last year about our intern (yes, that’s her) who was chasing her dream—to win the Miss America pageant. At the time, w...
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July 10, 2013
PUSH COMES TO SHOVE (PT 2)
And while we’re on the subject of “building violence,” let’s talk about White House Down. Director Roland Emmerich is a master of py...
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July 9, 2013
PUSH COMES TO SHOVE (PT 1)
 The Man of Steel is the latest in the summer cavalcade of noisy high budget summer films. Its biggest contribution to the Superman mytholo...
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July 1, 2013
ZESTY
The new Kraft Zesty Italian dressing commercial has a bunch of women up in arms. They’re offended by the actor demonstrating zesty by los...
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June 28, 2013
TIME THIEVES
We wrote recently about Paul’s International students and their culture-based sense of time. Steve has a different approach to “cultural...
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June 27, 2013
EXPRESS YOUR PASSION
Steve’s son, Max, is a newbie writer in LA. He met with a producer last week who reviewed all his submissions but then asked Max, “Which...
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June 26, 2013
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GENE
The Supreme Court recently ruled that genes can’t be patented. There is also new debate about freeing the rights to the song Happy Birthda...
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June 24, 2013
PROFESSIONS
How do you measure the arc of your professional life? When Steve’s kids were growing up, he often gave them a simple yardstick: “A job,...
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June 21, 2013
WHAT A WASTE
Steve attended a trade show at the Javits Center the other weekend and admired an Italian distributor’s chair. When he asked for more ...
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June 20, 2013
LIMITED SKILLS
Shaquille O’Neal is a retired NBA player who’s a shoe-in for the Basketball Hall of Fame. But he was such a lousy free throw shooter tha...
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June 19, 2013
ARRIVE EARLY
Steve spoke at a conference a couple of weeks ago. He arrived early—and realized the conference and its attendees weren’t focused on...
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June 18, 2013
YAWN
It’s June. The NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Finals are underway. Or are you deep into the baseball season and waiting for NFL summer com...
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June 17, 2013
TCHOCHKAHS
Steve’s mother has been a children’s librarian for many, many years. Along the way she started collecting reading figurines. They now nu...
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June 14, 2013
GREAT LISTS
One of our readers sent us a link to Bloomberg News’s eclectic list of lists. We now share it with all of you. In case you’ve never...
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June 13, 2013
“THE USUAL”
We saw a hole in the wall restaurant named “The Usual.” We thought it was a great name for a neighborhood joint. Word of mouth (as well ...
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June 12, 2013
INNOVATION
Paul gives his international students a new product development assignment. They find it really difficult. They think it’s got to be techn...
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June 11, 2013
THE HURTFUL, HELPFUL GIFT
Paul sends “love notes” to his students. They are often scathing comments about their work or lack thereof. They’re focused missiles o...
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June 10, 2013
RELUCTANT CUSTOMER SERVICE
If you extend extraordinary customer service that’s easy to access, it’s a factor that can make you best in class. At Coach, service...
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June 7, 2013
FLYING REFINED
Paul flew Porter Airlines for the first time this week. It was the exact opposite of Steve’s Spirit experience. One class of service, ...
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June 6, 2013
HIDDEN COSTS
Steve found himself flying Spirit Air for the first—and last—time the other week. On Kayak they showed the lowest price. What didn’...
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June 5, 2013
FORMULA FOR FAILURE
One of our readers mentioned a company she worked for that bragged about being “nearly 100 years old.” But whenever someone brought up a...
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June 3, 2013
SELF PUBLISHED
We’ve published several books through established book houses and have now self-published three booklets. We like the booklet model. I...
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May 30, 2013
WHEN IN ROME (NEW YORK)
Alas, stereotypes too often come to be for a reason. Paul’s International class of Norwegians, French and Spaniards has behaved in stereot...
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May 29, 2013
GREAT MINDS
A few weeks ago we mentioned that there was nothing like a deadline to sharpen your focus and get good work completed. One of our followers ...
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May 28, 2013
THE AGE OF APPLE
It was so long ago that Apple products were almost universally embraced as the coolest consumer electronics on the planet – whether you ow...
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May 24, 2013
BLOG CRITIQUE
We got our first complaint about our blog last week. A friend we deeply respect criticized it for being incomplete. She felt we have more to...
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May 23, 2013
WORSE THAN EXPECTED
Steve recently went to Port Authority to buy a bus ticket. His expectations were low. His experience was worse. It’s like the furniture co...
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May 22, 2013
CONTENT CONTENT
English is a tough language. We’re very content oriented. But we were struck recently when we were satisfied with some new content tha...
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May 21, 2013
BOUNCE
The best thing about partnerships is the bounce. Bill Bernbach understood this when he created the idea of creative teams—copywriters and ...
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May 20, 2013
THE WEAKEST LINK
Your team is only as strong as its weakest link. We’ve seen it time and again when making or judging new business pitches. There was o...
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May 17, 2013
PERSONAL NETWORKS
Not so long ago in the TV biz we talked about appointment viewing (i.e. tune in to Friends and Seinfeld on Thursday nights). But today, medi...
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May 16, 2013
THE DAILY NY TIMES
Steve’s on the road 70 days a year or so. He only needs two things to make his trips enjoyable: The daily NY Times and a movie theater tha...
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May 15, 2013
TRAILER TRASH WITH ASPIRATIONS
There seems to be no bottom to reality TV shows. In fact, some of the more obscure ones even require subtitles so you can understand the reg...
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May 14, 2013
WRITER’S BLOCK
We’ve never believed in “writer’s block.” Maybe it’s because we were paid to write and were expected to come in every day from...
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May 13, 2013
GIVING AWAY THE STORE
We were in Macy’s the other day and noticed the names in the boutique men’s section, including Tommy Hilfiger, Tommy Bahama. It’s a ne...
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May 10, 2013
CREATIVE RHYTHMS
Steve used to do his best writing between 6am and 10am. After that, almost everything he wrote went into the round file. As a firm rule, he ...
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May 9, 2013
DEADLINES
It’s originally a newspaper word. A pun on “by line.” Meaning either you got your article in on time or you were dead. The story would...
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May 8, 2013
UNIQUE
Unique Clothing Company—Uniqlo—has made its way to the US with a bold pronouncement that they intend to be the largest fashion retailer ...
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May 7, 2013
YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE!
Bob Garfield in yesterday’s MediaDailyNews nailed it perfectly: “…the dead (Bangladeshi)  factory employees were not di...
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May 6, 2013
SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY
Steve was on a trip through some southern states last week, and once again the cultural differences in our country became evident. By the en...
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May 2, 2013
APP-PROPOS?
We talked about Vine in last week’s blog. Steve surfed around and checked out vine.com and found a consumer packaged goods store. He then ...
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May 1, 2013
VENDORS
Kudos to Jason Taylor, President of the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He was the opening speaker in the first annual Media360 Mega Summit an...
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April 29, 2013
INSIGHTS
Steve spoke at the Media 360 Mega Summit last week. 250 circulation managers of small- and mid-sized-market newspapers. Their job is to sell...
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April 29, 2013
“THAT BEING SAID…”
Have you noticed how many euphemisms there are for negating everything that went before? Like “yes, but…” and “that being said…”...
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April 26, 2013
FOMO
Paul was recently interviewed for an article on FOMO. He had to look up the  acronym (“Fear Of Missing Out”) before commenting on the p...
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April 25, 2013
VINE TIME
New social networks have generally hit their stride in response to big events. Twitter was elevated from a seemingly trivial mini blog forum...
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April 24, 2013
ON YOUR SIDE
Hats off again to Dove and Agency Ogilvy on their latest entry in the Real Beauty campaign. A really fresh idea shows a forensic sketch art...
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April 23, 2013
TEN MOST HATED JOBS
Shelly Palmer’s column last week featured a blog listing The Ten Most Hated Jobs. We think it won’t surprise you that three of the top ...
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April 22, 2013
THE MAGIC TIME SLOT
Talk to theater professionals and they’ll all tell you the best time to audition is between 11am and noon. Earlier than that and the judge...
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April 19, 2013
ONLY TWO TO A CUSTOMER
There’s an old expression: “there are only three things in business. Fast, cheap and good. The bad news is you can only have two of them...
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April 18, 2013
CUBICLES
At long last it appears that work cubicles are being torn down. What could be more dehumanizing? Yet they have been a standard means of spac...
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April 17, 2013
START ME UP
When Microsoft launched Windows 95, they paid The Rolling Stones a barrel full of money, bought the rights to “Start Me Up” and plastere...
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April 16, 2013
CASH LINES
As we noted a few weeks ago, EZ Pass was a great idea. But it’s the implementation that’s just as important. The cash lanes to one side ...
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April 15, 2013
BIG DATA
Big Data is the big buzz these days. We have more access to more data than ever before. But the key is identifying what to measure and then ...
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April 12, 2013
THE LITTLE GUY
Cyprus? Dinky little Cyprus throws the E.U. into crisis? Time and again, real danger comes from places you least expect it. When Bill Gates ...
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April 11, 2013
ANIMAL MAGNETISM
Our blog the other week (Dogs in Clothes) generated quite a bit of mail. One reader, however, gave us hope: “It reminds me of the simple m...
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April 10, 2013
TOSSING AND TURNING
What to do with what keeps you up at night? Don’t toss. Instead, turn your frets into productive ideas. If you’re taking longer than 30 ...
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April 9, 2013
CABLE PARITY
It took them nearly 30 years, but it appears the cable networks have achieved television parity. With “Walking Dead” and “The Bible”...
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April 8, 2013
MAKING CREATIVITY HAPPEN
We’ve been in an e-mail chat with one of our readers about the nature of creativity. We—and he—agree that creativity isn’t s...
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April 5, 2013
THE CHESHIRE CAT
A gentle reminder about staying on task from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Cheshire Puss…would you tell me, please, which way I o...
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April 4, 2013
LOST PARTNERS
In the world of commercial relationships there are so many more providers of special services than ever before. With a plethora of communica...
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April 3, 2013
MARINARA
Paul was asked to consult for two local Italian restaurants that just couldn’t build a steady clientele. He had “dined” at both of...
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April 2, 2013
A GOVERNMENT GOOD ONE
Here’s our salute to one good, simple, clear idea the government came up with: EZ Pass. Yes, there’s a loss of privacy (“Where did you...
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April 1, 2013
GREAT EUPHEMISM
A client of ours was referring to the way companies react in a recession: “Everyone looks like a strong swimmer when the tide’s coming i...
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March 29, 2013
WHO’S UP AT 3am?
A funny observation many years ago from an acquaintance. He was up pacing his living room floor one night and looked out at all the lights i...
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March 28, 2013
OBFUSCATION DISEASE
Why is it that so many people and so much messaging is so much more complicated than it needs to be? The best advertising says the obvious i...
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March 26, 2013
VENDOR FOOD CHAIN
Vendor mentality has created great difficulties for lots of small suppliers who work hard but get treated badly. Leveraging pricing, laying ...
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March 25, 2013
CREATIVE BY COMMITTEE
Increasingly, we’re seeing creative work being either crowd-sourced or brainstorming-sourced. Great creative doesn’t come from 90-mi...
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March 22, 2013
DOGS IN CLOTHES
Steve has a firm rule when it comes to dog parks: he never lets his dog come near another dog wearing clothes. He knows that owners who dres...
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March 21, 2013
WHAT KEEPS YOU UP AT NIGHT?
Worried about getting your kids into college? Retirement funding? Making this month’s rent? Put those troubles aside. The Senate Select Co...
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March 20, 2013
SLOT
Wesley Welker—considered by many the best slot receiver in football—just lost his slot on the New England Patriots. Welker wasn’t ...
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March 19, 2013
DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME
It’s 30 degrees out as we write this. Just as it was starting to get light in the morning, it’s now dark again. And it’s too cold to e...
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March 18, 2013
100 MUTUALS
Paul just got a Facebook friend invite from a person with 100 mutual friends. The message read “Hey Paul over 100 mutuals means I have to ...
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March 15, 2013
INSTANT MARKETING
Oreo was ready when the Super Bowl went dark. Poland Spring fumbled when Marco Rubio reached for their brand. The new social model is tellin...
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March 14, 2013
THE JOKE’S ON US
As we write this, the fate of the European Union (and possibly the global economy) rests in the hands of comedian Beppe Grillo, sometimes re...
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March 13, 2013
THANKS A MILLION
Nick Bilton’s column in Monday’s NYTimes stirred a hornet’s nest of replies. His suggestion that digital “thank you&...
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March 12, 2013
YOUR AGENDA ISN’T MINE
Last week, the City of New York launched a new ad campaign focusing on teen pregnancy. The next day, other teen pregnancy organizations comp...
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March 11, 2013
TELECOMMUTING
Marissa Meyer (Yahoo’s new CEO) canceled telecommuting as a work practice at Yahoo – and the editorials have been coming both pro an...
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March 8, 2013
DUNK IN THE DARK
Oreo received huge press and praise, not so much for their whisper spot on the Super Bowl, but for the Dunk in the Dark Twitter idea they la...
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March 7, 2013
SHAKEN AND STIRRED
The Harlem Shake remains the #1 Billboard single. Maybe the best way to kill a meme (did someone say Gangnam Style?) is with another meme. I...
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March 6, 2013
LATE NIGHT HIJACK
The Late Night wars just hit a new competitive level – stunt wars. Jimmy Kimmel was hijacked by Matt Damon for an entire show and Conan ra...
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March 5, 2013
IS NOTHING SACRED?
So the Pope announced he was stepping down and the jokes start coming. Really? Newspaper headline “Pope Gives God Two Weeks’ Notice...
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March 4, 2013
NIKE TRIFECTA
The problem with celebrities? They’re people. First, the Tiger Woods fall from grace. Then, Lance Armstrong. Now, Oscar Pistorius (complet...
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March 1, 2013
WHEN LIFE ISN’T A CARNIVAL
Well the ship finally came in. Five days of consumer torture at sea and the PR storm will continue. Why didn’t they get another ship t...
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February 28, 2013
QUESTION THE EXPERTS
Paul recently had his eyes examined. The medication to dilate his eyes was annoying and long-lasting. At the follow-up, he questioned whethe...
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February 27, 2013
CORRECT MISPRONUNCIATION
Steve lost a bet the other day when he mispronounced “dour.” He rhymed it with “sour” (as most of us do). Turns out ...
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February 26, 2013
MEETING COST CALCULATORS
Steve’s mentor used to break up pointless meeting discussions by calculating the cost of the meeting (participants’ hourly salaries time...
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February 25, 2013
READY, FIRE, AIM
We’ve been working with some Millennials and marveling at their approach to new business ideas. We were taught to have the idea, evalu...
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February 22, 2013
ANIMAL HONESTY
Steve recently took his Scottish terrier, Huxley, with him to an advertising competition he was judging. Hux was perfectly well behaved unti...
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February 21, 2013
PECHA KUCHA
Leave it to the Japanese to invent the Haiku form of PowerPoint: Pecha Kucha. The rules are: make a 20-slide presentation with each slide on...
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February 20, 2013
CUSTOMER, SERVE THYSELF…
While marketers talk about moving the customer to the center of the conversation, there’s another customer trend taking place: Customer, S...
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February 19, 2013
FOOT THE BILL
We’re both big fans of Subway’s $5 foot-long initiative from the customer’s point of view (Steve actually eats there occasionally. Ste...
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February 18, 2013
BREAD, MILK AND EGGS
We went through a big snowstorm in the East last week. And we noticed a classic pattern. Everyone runs out before the storm to buy bread, mi...
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February 15, 2013
BEST IN CLASS (REDUX)
Our blog about “Best in Class” generated a number of comments. We shared one reader’s observation that the phrase is meaningless and s...
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February 14, 2013
YOU GET WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR
Interesting article in NYTimes.com a couple of weeks ago titled “The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy.” A lucid explanation of the his...
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February 13, 2013
YOU BE THE JUDGE
Steve’s been in Florida judging a number of ADDY Award shows for local AAF clubs (and escaping the worst of the NY weather except last wee...
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February 11, 2013
PRESIDENTS DAY
   Today is “President’s Day.” Or is it “Presidents’ Day”? Or “Presidents Day”? Whatever. ...
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February 11, 2013
PAINTING YOUR CAREER INTO A CORNER
What do you read? Too often we meet marketers who are so laser-focused on their industry that they ignore the larger picture. There is a con...
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February 8, 2013
HAND MADE
A lot of the pizza chains today are touting hand-made pizza. That may be desirable in arts and crafts. But the thought of some pimply-faced ...
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February 6, 2013
EXPERTISE
We often forget that “expertise” and “expert” have their root in the word “experience.” Every few months, we read a news story a...
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February 5, 2013
ROBOT WISDOM
There’s an old saying, “knowledge is knowing tomatoes are a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put them in a fruit salad.” As we watch (a...
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February 4, 2013
CROWDSOURCING
The most popular commercials in two out of the past three Super Bowls were created by consumers for Doritos. Look for more and more advertis...
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February 1, 2013
CRM
We were fine-tuning our new Marketing APP (don’t worry, we’ll let you know when it’s up, out and ready in the Apple Store and Android ...
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January 31, 2013
HELP
We recently called a customer service line for help—and were told there was a 2-hour wait. A 2-hour wait on a help line is not a help line...
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January 30, 2013
WHO DECIDES?
Avis recently killed their 50-year-old tagline, “We Try Harder” and replaced it with “It’s Your Space.” From a consumer oriented p...
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January 29, 2013
BOOK IT!
  Getting published today is both easier and more difficult than ever. More difficult if you want to go the classic print route. Easier...
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January 28, 2013
HIGHER-THAN-USUAL CALL VOLUME
   What a euphemism for “we don’t have as many Customer Service Representatives as we need.” Over the years we’ve noticed th...
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January 25, 2013
A NOVEL APPROACH
  Paul just read a novel with footnotes. It seemed a mixed metaphor, but it won the Pulitzer Prize. Paul thought it was pretentious. Th...
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January 24, 2013
THE SIMPLE SOLUTION
When your computer doesn’t start up, do you decide the hard drive has crashed—or do you look to see if it’s plugged in? Don’t assume...
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January 23, 2013
WRITE IT DOWN
How many good ideas do you have every day? How many of them do you forget because you haven’t written them down? One of the fundamental ti...
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January 22, 2013
UNINSTALL/REINSTALL
How do you solve a problem? Our recent experience with some techies revealed their preferred solution was to wipe our computer – to uninst...
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January 21, 2013
MAGIC TRICKS
We always want to know “how did they do that?” Truth be told, we don’t really want to know how a magic trick was performed. The answer...
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January 18, 2013
BEST IN CLASS
Last week we posted a blog about “Chain Pizza,” and asked the rhetorical question, “What’s Best In Class for pizza?&...
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January 17, 2013
ZIP-A-DEE-DOO-DAH
So Avis bought Zip Car. And all we can think about is the UPS vs FedEx situation a few years back when each bought a business services chain...
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January 16, 2013
MACCA’S
Australians popularly refer to McDonald’s as Macca’s. For Australia Day this month, Micky-D’s will change the name of some locations t...
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January 15, 2013
INCHING UP THE BRAIN CHAIN
Thirty years ago, robots started replacing humans on the assembly line. As college-educated professionals, we were perhaps too cavalier abou...
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January 14, 2013
WEBB CAM
We were taken by all the politically-correct hoopla surrounding the Brent Mussberger admonition surrounding his enthusiasm for Katherine Web...
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January 11, 2013
CHAIN PIZZA
Is “chain pizza” an oxymoron? (Is that an obnoxious, New York-Centric question?). Or is pizza a business where best in class is the sing...
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January 10, 2013
PROVOCATEUR FOR POSITIVE CHANGE
Here’s to the Gadfly. The annoying person within an organization who constantly pushes to make things better. It’s a risky job. Annoy en...
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January 9, 2013
ROBOTICS
The advances in robotics are staggering. Less invasive surgeries, more precise targeting  and more efficient production. The genius that ha...
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January 8, 2013
MEASURE FOR MEASURE
We’ve always believed “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Today we can measure business initiatives more effectively than e...
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January 7, 2013
SALVATION ARMY
This year the Salvation Army had its volunteers out on the streets dancing to hip-hop and Christmas music. They seemed to be getting noticed...
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January 1, 2013
2014
...
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December 21, 2012
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Maybe you’re home for the holidays or maybe you’re away. Either way, enjoy. We wish you happy holidays and a healthy and prosperous new ...
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December 20, 2012
ASPARAGUS
If you’ve ever tried growing asparagus, you know that it takes two to three years before you have a crop you can eat. One of our clients o...
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December 19, 2012
CREATIVITY COMMODITIZED
The Hollywood Effect—the strategy of letting all your vendors do all the work before laying out any money—has moved beyond the movie bus...
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December 18, 2012
YOUR BRAND IS YOUR BOND
The latest Bond film has done big box office. But it was instantly forgettable (for Steve) and annoying (for Paul). Ironically, it’s becau...
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December 17, 2012
CROWDSOURCING OR TALENT RIP-OFF?
There’s a feeding frenzy around crowdsourcing. We’re seeing more and more examples of companies turning away from their “usual sup...
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December 14, 2012
NOT IN ITALY
“We’re sorry, but the cappuccino machine is broken.” Both Paul and Steve have heard this line from too many restaurant sta...
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December 13, 2012
CONFERENCE BAGS
Virtually every conference hands out a bag. Some are well designed and desirable. Some are cheap and crappy. We toss the latter out on the f...
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December 12, 2012
NO EXPIRATION DATE
The customer is always right, right? Paul had a membership in a fitness club and a personal training contract. After lapsing on his regular ...
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December 11, 2012
CHANUKAH ZEBRA
  We enjoyed receiving this Chanukah card this week – but it reminds us of an all-too-painful truth: These days, with the ease an...
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December 3, 2012
IDEAS THAT LAUNCH
Most of us come up with great, new ideas all the time. It’s challenging. It’s fun. And most of the time it’s just an exerc...
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November 30, 2012
HAVE WHAT YOU SELL
A number of stores and restaurants have signature dishes, specials and much requested items. They can be loss leaders or premium delicacies....
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November 29, 2012
FEWER CLICKS
We’re all in a rush these days. To the point where we don’t even bother to open e-mails we receive – we just read them in ...
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November 28, 2012
BLOG SOURCERS
We’ve truly enjoyed the comments and feedback we’ve gotten from you this year. Many of you are experts in specific industries, w...
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November 27, 2012
FOOTBALL “RULES”
Greg Schiano, the former Rutgers and new Tampa Bay football coach started the season by having his guys charge the quarterback on kneel down...
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November 26, 2012
ANOTHER GALAXY
Samsung has been running commercials lampooning people who wait in retail lines for new products. Without naming Apple, it’s clear who...
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November 24, 2012
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November 23, 2012
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November 22, 2012
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November 21, 2012
BITES OF THE APPLE
Apple just launched the iPad mini to pretty glowing reviews. This was not a product they originally planned or wanted to launch. But competi...
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November 19, 2012
A PENNY EARNED
Facebook declared their second quarter earnings and beat market expectations by a penny. Their stock increased by 10%. It can pay big time t...
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November 16, 2012
VIRAL VIDEO
Two weeks ago, Gangnam Style became the most watched YouTube video ever with over 400 million views (710 million as of this posting). A fun...
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November 15, 2012
LEO BURNETT
Our final observation about the Allstate “Mayhem” campaign. Leave it to Leo Burnett to be the agency that came up with the idea....
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November 14, 2012
COMFORT ZONE
Why did Allstate develop the “Mayhem” campaign? CMO Lisa Cochran said it was because she was comfortable with her advertising an...
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November 13, 2012
MAYHEM
We heard a fabulous case study of Allstate’s “Mayhem” campaign at the recent ANA Masters of Marketing conference. Even Dea...
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November 12, 2012
NOT SO SHARP
A recent NY Times article discussed the dire business position for Sharp, Sony and Panasonic. How could this be? Three major, innovative Ja...
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November 9, 2012
HAPPY HALLOWCHRISTGIVING
Well, as our observers have pointed out (and by now you’ve noticed it as well), Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas (oops, “Th...
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November 8, 2012
DISCOVERING COLUMBUS
If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t miss the art installation surrounding the Christopher Columbus statue (in Columbus Circle) in ...
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November 7, 2012
ICKY BUZZ WORDS
We know people who are “thoughtful.” We know people who are “wonderful.” But we never knew people were “choice...
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November 6, 2012
VOTING
    We caught an excerpt from StoryCorps on NPR’s Morning Edition Friday. Boyd Applegate <PICTURE IF POSSIBLE> is a ...
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November 5, 2012
POLITICAL WASTE
     We have been deluged with political ads as we move ever so closer to election day. $2.8 billion will be spent on political advertisi...
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November 2, 2012
MOVE OVER, “1984″
Until two weeks ago, the greatest marketing stunt of all time was the Macintosh 1984 Super Bowl commercial. It changed the rules for event m...
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November 1, 2012
DRIVE BY
It’s a really big song by the rock group, Train, and the video features a range of wonderful, vintage Pontiacs. So how come Ford Tri-S...
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October 31, 2012
TRICK OR TREAT
Quick. Name a business that will grow 17% this year. (Don’t you wish it was yours?) Halloween is now an $8 billion industry with $370 ...
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October 30, 2012
BEER HERE!
The beer industry has taken a series of dramatic turns as we’ve all enjoyed local microbrews. Now it’s growlers. With refillable...
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October 29, 2012
CONVENTIONS
It’s time someone reinvented the convention. You all know the format: High-profile keynote speaker, breakout sessions, cocktail recept...
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October 26, 2012
HYPHENATED PEOPLE
Our late, great friend, Broadway composer Albert Hague, had a firm rule: “Never work with a hyphen.” When we asked him what he m...
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October 25, 2012
COLLABORATION
It’s a tricky word-and reflects a different operating philosophy between Paul and Steve. Paul is a great believer in consensus, collab...
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October 23, 2012
THE NEW NORMAL
We heard an interesting observation last week. One of our business associates said, “In case you didn’t notice, the global econo...
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October 22, 2012
AGENCY ADVERTISING
Most advertising agencies don’t advertise themselves. Well, actually they do. It’s called their Web site! Before you begin any a...
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October 19, 2012
“INSTITUTIONAL PARSIMONY”
We were talking to a senior executive in an old media company and asked her why her company wasn’t experimenting with new business mod...
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October 18, 2012
ASPIRATION AND EMULATION
Motivational guru Tony Robbins, author Steven Covey (“7 Habits of Highly Effective People”) and disciples of NLP (Neuro-Linguist...
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October 17, 2012
TIS THE SEASON???
It’s October! OK, we understand the plethora of Halloween displays and product we’re seeing. But, Christmas? It used to be that ...
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October 16, 2012
HIRE A SUPPLIER
Want to know the smartest way to hire a new agency? Any kind: Advertising. Digital. Social. Design studio. Make them create a campaign ̵...
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October 15, 2012
AUTHENTIC vs CHAIN
We frequent a little deli near our office. As the neighborhood has gentrified a number of chain restaurants have moved in. They’re all...
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October 8, 2012
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
We heard a great line the other day: “Ping Pong is a recreational game you play in your basement; Table Tennis is a sport they play in...
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October 5, 2012
THE NEW TEAM
60 years ago, Bill Bernbach revolutionized advertising creative by teaming writers and art directors. But that model won’t work for th...
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October 4, 2012
CHINA SYNDROME, INDIA MIRACLE
So all is not hunky-dory in the economic rise of those two great Asian powers. It would appear that Capitalism without a transparent rule of...
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October 3, 2012
EMPLOYEE CARE
Paul was in the Apple Store the other day when spontaneous applause broke out. An entourage of five new employees were-literally-escorted in...
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October 1, 2012
FALL PREMIERES
   Ever wonder why TV networks premiere their new series in September? That’s when auto makers introduce their next year’s mod...
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September 28, 2012
MY OH MY OHIO
A follow-up to our blog the other week about our vote being ignored. Steve did a workshop last week at Mercy Hospital Corp in northwestern O...
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September 27, 2012
GREAT CREATIVE
We’ve got a simple question for you: How come all the advertising you love isn’t yours? That should be your mantra every minute ...
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September 26, 2012
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
We’ve given high praise in the past to a delicious little deli at the corner of 7th Avenue and 29th Street. Their menu and buffet are al...
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September 24, 2012
CROWDSOURCING AND SOCIAL MEDIA SYMPOSIUM
  Crowdsourcing and social media are two of the biggest buzzes in advertising today. This year’s AEF (Advertising Education Found...
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September 24, 2012
CALL ME MAYBE
Today the internet is pre-empting traditional media as the launch pad for new content. A little-known artist, Carly Rae Jepsen (photo), has ...
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September 21, 2012
SINGLE-MINDED EXCELLENCE
We used to think of food trucks as the place for water-soaked hot dogs. Today, all measure of gourmet foods are riding into neighborhoods an...
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September 20, 2012
ONLINE REALITY
The idea of enjoying the moment now seems to be trumped by recording the moment. Paul went to a fabulous family wedding Labor Day weekend. A...
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September 19, 2012
CMO / CSO
What’s more important – sales or marketing? It’s a trick question. Sales, obviously. And there’s the rub. In too man...
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September 17, 2012
ICONIC SYMBOLS
A new term entered the public discourse at the Republican convention. Eastwooding is now the concept of talking to an empty chair. Thanks to...
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September 17, 2012
UNIVERSAL RULES
People ask us how we can rebrand a company in 48 hours or less. “Don’t you need to do a deep dive into their business?” We...
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September 14, 2012
CONTENT CREATION
Andy Warhol said we’d all have our 15 minutes of fame. Now, it seems, we’ve all got our 15 megabytes of content. Between YouTube...
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September 13, 2012
VOTING
How come our vote doesn’t count? The presidential candidates are focusing on eight key “swing states.” But our state isn&#...
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September 11, 2012
BAD CREATIVE
How come there’s so much bad creative work out there? Steve believes it’s not for lack of talent. He believes there are very few...
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September 10, 2012
WISDOM OF THE ROOM
In our Marketing Plan in a Day™ methodology, we ask participants to do a lot of voting. After all, how are you going to get an entire plan...
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September 10, 2012
HAND CANDY
When the meeting is special, treat it differently. We’re fans of “hand candy” for special creative meetings – pipe c...
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September 7, 2012
MARKETING MOMS
The mommy blogger network has become a powerful social movement. Engage with online moms and you can enjoy positive word of mouth. Violate t...
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September 6, 2012
TOO HONEST TO BE IN MARKETING
We had a wonderful conversation with a new friend recently who in recounting his career cited someone who told him “you’re too honest to...
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September 5, 2012
SIMPLICITY
The world is complicated. People are complicated. Marketing is complicated. We were musing the other day about the incredible value and art ...
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September 4, 2012
PRICE vs VALUE
The debate rages. We have truly moved beyond price to value. Time and convenience are powerful elements in the mix of human consumption. We ...
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September 3, 2012
REMEMBER LABOR DAY
...
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August 30, 2012
THE JURY IS ASKED TO DISREGARD…
Any good trial lawyer will tell you, “Communication is irreversible.” Once it’s out there—spoken, texted, tweeted, blogged, e-mailed...
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August 29, 2012
HOW ARE YOU DOING?
NYC Mayor Ed Koch used to regularly ask reporters and citizens, “How’m I doing?” A rather direct—and in Ed’s case—charming form ...
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August 27, 2012
QR CODES
  Beware bright, shiny objects. QR Codes came on the scene a couple of years ago and have done very little. What was supposed to be Qui...
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August 23, 2012
EVEN MOTHER TERESA HAD BILLS TO PAY
You’ve got to be mercenary to be merciful. We’re constantly amazed at the way non-profits—even the ones we’re involved with—run th...
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August 22, 2012
READY, POSITION, AIM
Pret a Manger (“Ready to Eat”) the British “fast food” joint has 32 locations in NYC. The one near our office just put a new sign in...
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August 21, 2012
THINK INSIDE THE BOX
Over the years, a lot of people have spent a lot of time thinking about how to be innovative in managing different businesses. They have adv...
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August 20, 2012
MISS AMERICA
  One of our interns just became second runner up to Miss Connecticut. At first, we thought this whole enterprise was a trivial pursuit...
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August 16, 2012
DEJA VU
Ever heard of Joseph Murphy? He was “the Henry Ford of his day.” A St. Louis-based industrialist who provided America with every...
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August 15, 2012
RESPONSIBILITY
One of our interns—who only work with us one day a week—sent us an e-mail one glorious August morning asking if she could stay out in th...
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August 13, 2012
CASH OR CREDIT
None of us ever likes the small type – the disclaimer. And this new practice of charging a 10¢ premium for gas paid with a credit car...
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August 10, 2012
NEVER SAY “NEVER”
American Airlines has just announced that all frequent flyer miles with no expiration dates before 1989 will now have expiration dates. Real...
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August 9, 2012
LIBRARIES
Steve has occasionally participated on a committee working to rethink the business model (and marketing model) for the Westport Library. Too...
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August 7, 2012
PRICING
Paul and Steve are of two different minds on pricing. Paul believes you set your value-and be willing to negotiate. Steve believes the marke...
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August 6, 2012
THE GOPHER & THE RABBIT
The other day Paul saw a gopher out his window. Then a rabbit. The two of them were mutually attracted to a clover patch. There was plenty f...
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August 2, 2012
BOOKING
Paul is working on a crowd sourcing and social media symposium as a lead-in to ANA Masters of Marketing this October. In looking to line up ...
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August 1, 2012
THE PUBLIC AND i
Apple just discontinued its public folder service. iGoogle is going away next year. Now Apple and Google are looking to focus brand profits ...
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July 31, 2012
VOTING
Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government-except for all those others that have been tried.” While no o...
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July 30, 2012
JOB, CAREER, CALLING
We once heard a great description—the difference between a job, a career and a calling. A job is something you do for money. A career is a...
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July 27, 2012
AUGUST
Ah, to be French – and simply shut down the country for the month of August. Sadly, Americans are workaholics, so the best we can do is ha...
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July 24, 2012
REBOOT vs REMAKE
We were wondering why someone would bother to remake Spiderman. After all, the original was done just 10 years ago. Then we realized! Ten ye...
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July 23, 2012
LEARN AND SAVE
A follower, Aaron, wrote about a mentor who told him, “Learn all you can and save your money.” One of the problems with many of today’...
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July 20, 2012
CONTEXT
  Interesting ad from Acura last week. Headline: “This Is The Car Your Father Would Have Bought If He Hadn’t Had You.” Comment fr...
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July 19, 2012
TWO WAY LADDER
One of our followers – Jill – wrote that her father gave her sound mentoring advice: “Always treat the people you meet kindly ...
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July 18, 2012
100 WEBSITES
Paul got excited about a TED blog he stumbled upon on Stumble Upon. It’s title was “100 Websites you Should Know and Use.” The excitem...
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July 16, 2012
GRILLING
It’s barbecue season. Beyond the delicious fun of preparing and sharing summer fun food do you look at grilling as a creative art? You...
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July 13, 2012
IF YOU SAY IT, DO IT!
One of our readers (Michele) responded to our mentoring blog by noting her mentor told her, “If you say you are going to do something, the...
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July 12, 2012
A brilliant lesson in “winning” by the Troy Public Library. When the local Tea Party wanted to cut funding for the library, the library...
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July 11, 2012
GO TO THE MOVIES
It’s summer movie time. Go. This is the time of the Hollywood Blockbusters. Yet why do so many of them miss? We think it’s all a...
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July 9, 2012
GETTING PROMOTED
Getting promoted shouldn’t be seen so much as a goal but rather a natural progression for a job well done. David Ogilvy used to tell p...
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July 6, 2012
FROM PRODUCT TO BRAND
It’s a long distance from product to brand. A product is the performance of something you buy that fulfills its promise. A brand is al...
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July 5, 2012
FONTS
Font selection says a lot about the communication you’re creating. We all know that CAPS suggest urgency or anger. But there’s a...
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July 2, 2012
“COMPUTERS SAVE YOU NOTHING.”
That was a comment we heard from a senior IT guy 20 years ago that still holds true. Computers don’t save a company time or money. In fact...
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June 29, 2012
WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?
What’s the one, single most valuable piece of advice you’ve gotten so far in your career? Let us know and we’ll share it with everyone...
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June 28, 2012
BEST
Summer’s upon us and it’s time for State Fairs. Paul was reminded of his trip to the Wisconsin State Fair last year where he saw...
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June 27, 2012
MARKETABLE vs GOOD
Is it our imagination or has a conflict developed between “marketable” and “good”? All you have to do is look at the past year’s t...
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June 26, 2012
ZERO vs OH
When you’re giving someone your phone number, do you use the word “zero” or “oh” for the number 0? We’ve noticed a regional ...
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June 25, 2012
WHO KNOWS?
A great observation from Steve’s son, Dan: “Life is simple when you know who to ask.” It’s an often-forgotten gem of advice. Knowing...
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June 22, 2012
FACE TIME
Steve was in Austin, Texas the other week moderating a panel on creativity at the AAF national convention. Club presidents, program director...
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June 21, 2012
THE 4A’s OF SOCIAL MEDIA
At the AAF national convention in Austin, Steve Goldner of MediaWhiz had a smart thing to say about the role of social media in a company...
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June 20, 2012
WHAT’S GREAT WRITING?
That’s a question Steve asks during his creativity workshop. As a test, he gives attendees eight choices: the lead paragraph from eight me...
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June 19, 2012
COUGARS AND…
We think it’s sexist and misogynistic that there’s a word for older women who are interested in younger men…but no word for the young ...
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June 18, 2012
BACK LASH
Truth in advertising. It’s an age old issue. But the issue is heating up in the cosmetics industry where retouching virtually everythi...
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June 15, 2012
DISH
The networks are at war with DISH network’s new plan to enable consumers to skip ads via Auto-hop. As companies flail about to hold th...
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June 14, 2012
FOLLOW THAT CROWD!
Paul went to theater recently and upon exiting saw a Halal cart on Sixth Avenue. It was 10:30 at night and the line for food reached nearly ...
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June 13, 2012
DO IT RIGHT, NOT OVER
There’s never enough time to do something right, but always enough time to do it over. We’ve heard that adage from our earliest ...
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June 12, 2012
LISTEN FIRST
Steve and Paul edit one another’s prose and blogs. It’s a winning combination except when it isn’t. The other day Paul sta...
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June 11, 2012
SoLoMo
In 2011, venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins coined the term SoLoMo – a simple, elegant buzzword for “Social, Loc...
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June 8, 2012
CROSS TRAINING
So it turns out that Kim Kardashian did need to work out in those Skechers. It seemed too good to be true that just wearing a pair of sneake...
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June 7, 2012
JUNK FOOD
   The quick food industry has done itself no favors by enabling consumers and commentators to refer to their product as “junk food....
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June 6, 2012
STAYCATIONS
The high price of gas is inspiring more people to take their vacations close to home.  This is a major opportunity for local marketers to m...
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June 5, 2012
DIFFERENT MEDIA, DIFFERENT NEEDS
Bill Bernbach was the father of the “creative revolution” in advertising. In the mid 1950s, he was the first person to understan...
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June 4, 2012
UN-ISLAMIC
   Lady Gaga’s concert was just canceled in Indonesia. So there will be no “Meat and Greet” or other costume dramas. Hu...
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June 1, 2012
FAILING UPWARDS
   In 1969-more than 40 years ago-Dr. Laurence Peter and Raymond Hull wrote a best-seller that’s still in print articulating The Pet...
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May 31, 2012
ACRONYMS
   We’re receiving an increasing number of texts and e-mails with more and more inscrutable abbreviations. You may not know what cer...
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May 30, 2012
BEST PRACTICES
When you look at other industries and companies for “best practices,” don’t restrict yourself just to your work environmen...
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May 29, 2012
PESTER POWER
Paul was quoted by the BBC recently on advertising and pester power. The old belief is that advertising has created or has fostered nagging...
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May 25, 2012
QUICK SERVE RESTAURANTS
   What would you rather be? Junk Food, Fast Food or a Quick Serve Restaurant? How you refer to yourself-and how your customers refer to y...
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May 24, 2012
THE NEW ME GENERATION
Around the country we’ve spoken to lots of groups and organizations who are hiring Millennials. Many of these 40-something employers a...
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May 23, 2012
PARENTING CRISIS
   Where’s the parent in the family these days? Research shows that parents are eager to be their childrens’ best friends. The...
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May 22, 2012
RETAIL?
More and more, consumers are using retail stores to do some free sampling before going home, going on line and ordering the item on the Inte...
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May 21, 2012
AMERICAN SERVICE
Whenever Steve calls a company’s customer service line, he asks, “Am I speaking to someone in the United States?” If the p...
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May 18, 2012
REVENGE OF THE ART DIRECTOR
Our partner, Norman Siegel, is an award-winning art director with over a half-dozen commercials in the Paley Center collection (and his avia...
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May 17, 2012
QUALIFICATIONS
You wouldn’t hire an Internist to examine your torn ACL. (“Hey, they’re both doctors, aren’t they?”) You would...
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May 16, 2012
INFRASTRUCTURE
With the school term wrapping up, Paul asked his Spanish and French students in his International Advertising Class what struck them most ab...
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May 15, 2012
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN
How much are Americans suspicious of foreigners? Enough so that foreign businesses increasingly cover up their real names when they do busin...
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May 14, 2012
LEGENDARY SERVICE
    Steve made a call to his bank the other day and was told-via recording-”Welcome to [name of] Bank and our legendary serv...
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May 11, 2012
IRRATIONAL
Steve has a dog (Huxley – at left) that refuses to go out in the rain. Paul has a dog that cowers in a corner if someone coughs. Both ...
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May 10, 2012
ETYMOLOGY
 The meaning of the word “Chiclets” is changing. Ask most people and they’ll tell you “chewing gum.” Ask mobi...
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May 9, 2012
OUT WITH THE OLD
      We’re in the middle of a long-overdue purge of our offices – selling, donating or discarding huge amounts o...
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May 8, 2012
THE ART OF NEGOTIATION
      What we’re still wondering is: Did the secret service agent choose to ignore the price in his drunken stupor? Or ...
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May 7, 2012
ENTERPRISE?
      The other day, all New York City programming was interrupted to broadcast live coverage of the space shuttle Enterprise...
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May 4, 2012
ICEBREAKERS
    How do you start your meetings? Do you assume everyone in the room knows each other? Do you assume everyone knows what the mee...
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May 3, 2012
ENTREPRENEUR 101
      Paul teaches two international marketing classes filled with classically-trained, well-disciplined students from other ...
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May 2, 2012
WATCH YOURSELF
      When Steve runs our workshop on creativity, he talks about the paradox of the creative process: “Limits create unlimi...
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May 1, 2012
RETIREMENT
      A few of our clients have indicated they’re planning to retire in the next few years. Frankly, the thought is rep...
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April 30, 2012
WORKING FOR THE MAN
      We think that employer/employee relationship model died 10 years ago. Unfortunately, too few companies (and their emplo...
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April 27, 2012
ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
        Entrepreneurism in Silicon Valley is not about coming up with the next idea. It’s about having the spriit ...
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April 26, 2012
GIVE IT AWAY
   Our book, “The Little Blue Book of Marketing: Build a Killer Plan in Less Than A Day” gives you a complete guide to buildin...
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April 25, 2012
MR. INSIDE OR MR. OUTSIDE
          Every business needs both. Someone who stays in the office and gets the work done and the other who goes ...
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April 24, 2012
BOARDSTORMING
    Paul has landed on a new brainstorming technique in his marketing classes. He throws out a challenge and gets as many as 25 pe...
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April 23, 2012
POWER SHIFT
      Where is your future—and how are you going to harness it? Two articles in last week’s NYTimes caught our eye: One w...
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April 20, 2012
ESCHEW OBFUSCATION
    We could have titled this blog “Avoid Confusion,” but we’re out to make a point: too many people seem to want to snatch ...
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April 19, 2012
PROFESSIONAL SUICIDE
    Every once in a while (seemingly on a regular basis), someone publicly commits professional suicide. The latest was Two And A ...
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April 18, 2012
UNBUNDLING
      A seemingly brilliant idea for cost saving has turned into a slippery slope for advertising agencies. Unbundling agency...
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April 17, 2012
SEXIST ADS
                               We were recently e-mailed a batch of sexist ads from the 1950s (two of which we’ve post...
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April 16, 2012
JOURNEY TO THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA
  Kudos to James Cameron for his record-setting exploration of the ocean. Well beyond his huge fascination and accomplishment in direct...
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April 12, 2012
WHAT IS “BEAUTY”?
      Two of Paul’s favorite comediennes—Ellen Degeneres and Tina Fey—have major contracts with beauty companies (Cover...
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April 12, 2012
SHERMAN’S MARCH TO THE SEA
        The other week we attended a digital conference in Manhattan—and zipped through the exhibitor floor in under a...
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April 11, 2012
THE LAST 10%
        The difference between “good” and “great” is that last 10%. Is “good” good enough? Or do you take th...
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April 10, 2012
MISPELLINGS
      They drive us crazy. And it’s not that we’re being grumpy compulsives. It’s just that to us, misspell...
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April 9, 2012
BANANAGRAMS
      We managed to waste a good half hour the other workday playing a game that was new to us: Bananagrams. It’s a wor...
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April 6, 2012
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
...
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April 5, 2012
FEATURES-ADVANTAGES-BENEFITS
      A great lesson we learned many years ago at an industry workshop: 90% of all advertising puts the product features in t...
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April 4, 2012
BEST OF BOTH
      Marketing genius is often the sum of two parts! Consider the Labradoodle. Two terrific dog breeds combined into one, &#...
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April 2, 2012
RETAIL OFF THE BEATEN PATH
    We’re spotting more and more retailers opting for lower rents on side streets. With the proliferation of smart phones an...
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April 2, 2012
AMBULANCE CHASING
    Customers, consumers, audiences. They have got to be at the center of every brand conversation. With the plethora of new media...
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March 30, 2012
WHO’S RUNNING THE ASYLUM?
    During the Creative Revolution (1960s-70s) in advertising, when Creative was King, people used to say, “The inmates are in control ...
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March 29, 2012
MNEMONICS, CONT’D…
    And speaking of memorable messages, we were recently forwarded a page of great logo designs with “hidden” extras. Like the arrow ...
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March 28, 2012
MNEMONICS
   “Where’s the beef?” (Wendy’s) “Dah-dah-dah” (Volkswagen) A slap on the face (Old Spice). A great mnemonic moves into the le...
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March 27, 2012
NAMING FASHION
  You can tell you the age of an advertising agency by its name. If you say, “J. Walter Thompson” you’re an old-line firm from the ea...
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March 26, 2012
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
  Does your brand name paint you into a corner? Like E*TRADE – which seemed like the perfect name   when they first launched, and no...
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March 23, 2012
STANDING OUT FROM THE COMPETITION
      How do you stand out from what your competitors are doing? Actually, that’s a two-part question. Part 1: Do you know ...
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March 21, 2012
GEN WHY?
They’re here to stay – and you’d better learn how to work with them and how to manage them. They’re a different bree...
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March 21, 2012
BE SPECIFIC
Say what you mean. Get rid of the extraneous stuff and say (or write) clearly and concisely         exactly what you mean....
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March 20, 2012
STAND YOUR GROUND
      Professionally, would you rather be eaten by sharks or nibbled to death by ducks? Either way you end up dead. Stand your ground wh...
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March 19, 2012
“GUTS IS CHEAPER THAN RESEARCH.”
     Charlie Ryant, a terrific senior creative director, used to have that sign over his desk. It always made us laugh – but the t...
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March 16, 2012
“HELP! MY BRAND’S BEEN HIJACKED!”
     Welcome to the blogosphere – get used to it. And get a policy in place to cooly respond to brand hijackers. It’s going ...
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March 15, 2012
BRAND LOYALTY
     It’s more elusive than ever. Who’s loyal to your brand? Why or why not? As new brands come into the marketplace people ...
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March 14, 2012
EASY AND GOOD
     Good doesn’t have to be difficult. With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, a corned beef and cabbage + red potatoes dinner is about...
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March 13, 2012
TAKE NOTE
      As a favor to a former student of Paul’s, we met a 20-something entrepreneur with a pretty good new product idea and a litt...
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March 12, 2012
REVISIONS
    People make revisions, they don’t make transformations. It’s like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. It looks like y...
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March 9, 2012
GET BUSINESS BUY-IN
      Before you sell your customers, you’ve got to sell your company. Don’t ignore the value of internal positive feelings ...
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March 8, 2012
BE THE JONESES
    Be the Joneses. Keep up – and then accelerate. Always be aware of what your competition is doing and then be ready to do it you...
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March 7, 2012
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
      We spend so much time rushing around and trying to get things done that we seldom pause to smell the roses or appreciate the peopl...
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March 6, 2012
MENTOR SOMEONE
    Find someone in your organization to mentor. The magic of mentoring is that it helps both people. The person you’re mentoring g...
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March 5, 2012
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
    If something seems to be too good to be true, it probably is. What do you do to make “too good” so “true?”...
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March 2, 2012
MEETLESS FRIDAYS
    Today’s business has boiled down to meeting upon meeting upon meeting—and to what end? There’s always time to meet about differ...
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March 1, 2012
LET THE MAGIC HAPPEN
    When you’re on the set of a commercial, capture the storyboard – then let the people you hired do their job(s). Let the d...
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February 29, 2012
MANAGING LIFE
    Motivational guru Tony Robbins likes to say “it’s not what happens to you in life that matters—it’s what you do with it.” I...
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February 28, 2012
EVERYONE COUNTS
     We’re constantly amazed in business how many people brush by, ignore or try to dismiss the people who they think stand between th...
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February 27, 2012
SYMPOSIUM
    We went to a symposium recently. We mused about the name of the engagement. “Symposium” feels so much more important than “meet...
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February 24, 2012
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
   They have a place in business. What we’re talking about is alliances that can be mutually beneficial. Sometimes called Frenemies ...
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February 23, 2012
THE CURSE OF E-MAIL
    We have gotten so digitally dependent that increasingly we choose texting and e-mail over personal communication. Get out of your cha...
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February 22, 2012
OPEN PLAN
    More and more businesses today are tearing down the walls and moving to open-plan seating. It certainly saves them money on rent or r...
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February 21, 2012
WORDS ABUSED AND MISUSED
    Language keeps evolving and political correctness continues to take its toll. ESPN fired its editor who used the headline “Chin...
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February 17, 2012
THE 1-MINUTE INTERVIEW
   We’ve interviewed hundreds of people. 70% of all candidates strike out in the first 60 seconds. Everything about how you present ...
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February 16, 2012
BLAMESTORMING
   It’s easy to cast blame. It’s much more difficult to own a problem as a team. Both take energy. But, casting blame also spreads bad...
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February 15, 2012
THANKS FOR THE HELP
   We wrote about consensus vs. slash-and-burn the other day. There’s a third alternative that’s just as valuable: Get the inp...
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February 14, 2012
SPIN MASTERS
    Wouldn’t it be great if we all had our own personal spin masters? Then, whenever we made a gaffe, our spinmaster could come by ...
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February 10, 2012
CONSENSUS BUILDING
    Paul believes in consensus building. Steve is more of a slash-and- burn personality. Both get results. Paul gets more return engageme...
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February 9, 2012
SHOWER TIME
    Great ideas just happen (if only). But they do start when the mind roams free. The shower. Walking. Daydreaming. They’re all gr...
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February 8, 2012
SIT WITH STRANGERS
     We all do it. We attend a conference, a workshop, a talk or a lecture, a meeting — and immediately sit down with our cohorts, ...
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February 7, 2012
GET OFF YOUR “BUTS…”
   Ever notice how many of your colleagues start their response to you with “Yes, but…”? The “yes” is just a...
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February 6, 2012
HOW DID YOU DO?
  We always say, “you can’t manage what you don’t measure.” Do you measure your results? Even if it’s just a ...
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February 3, 2012
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
  That Buffalo Springfield hit had a lyric: “There’s something happening here. What it is ain’t exactly clear.” We&...
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February 2, 2012
BRAND AMBASSADORS
     Who are your brand ambassadors? Who are the people who are the biggest fans of what you do, what you make, what you sell? You have s...
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February 1, 2012
SHARP POSITIONING
   We recently worked with a company on brand positioning. In the exercise, the instinct was to go for what was safe and supportable. In o...
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January 31, 2012
WHAT DOES VICTORY LOOK LIKE?
   Time and again, we see companies execute marketing plans without any clear idea of what a “win” would look like. When brief...
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January 30, 2012
SUPER BOWL
  It’s an American football game. But more important, it’s the coming out party for a crop of new commercials. Many of us make ...
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January 27, 2012
INTERNS
   Spring semester has just begun – have you posted a job listing at your local college or university for an intern (or two or three...
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January 24, 2012
POP THE CORK
   When was the last time you celebrated a win – however big or small – with your team? Even if it’s just as basic as o...
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January 23, 2012
HA!
   Steve recently saw The Muppet Movie and was a little disappointed. It felt like there were too many sacred cows in the making of the ...
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January 20, 2012
MANAGEMENT
   Bosses focus on “who,” “where” and “when.” Managers focus on “what,” “how” and “why.”  Are you a boss or a man...
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January 19, 2012
MAD WOMEN
  Our friend and colleague, Jane Maas, has written a tell-all book about women and advertising in the 1960s. If you only know one side of ...
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January 18, 2012
SHARE INFORMATION
   The only way to break down silos is to share what you know with everyone else. Knowledge is power but only when it is activated in conc...
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January 16, 2012
GET THE NOBODYS OUT OF YOUR PROCESS
   Think about your marketing approval process and ask yourself, “How many people in this process are really ‘No-Bodies’...
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January 16, 2012
A SINGLE VOICE
  Do all of your advertising and marketing materials speak in a single voice? Too often, managers of different departments go about their b...
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January 13, 2012
MANAGEMENT BY FUTURE
   You know what your goals are for 2012 (we hope). But what about 2015? 2020? 2050? Our planning tends to be in the moment, for the year,...
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January 12, 2012
MY COMPANY’S GREAT!
   We believe 90% of all advertising – especially print – is some variation of “My Company’s Great, My ProductR...
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January 11, 2012
COMPETITIVE HISTORY
   Are you an avid student of your competitors? Do you have a complete history of their marketing and advertising? How has their strategy ...
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January 9, 2012
BRAND HISTORY
   Do you have a complete history of your brand’s marketing and advertising? If not, get to work gathering all that information and ...
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January 9, 2012
COMMITMENT
  What are you committed to? Your word? Your spouse? Your kids? Your career? Someone once said: “What are you willing to die for? When yo...
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January 5, 2012
CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
     In the 1990′s it was “customer relationship management.” In the 2000′s, it was “customer centricity.&#...
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December 26, 2011
HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
     Enjoy a break. Do things for you. Do things for those you love. Do something memorable…and, make just one great resolution for th...
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December 23, 2011
BEING #2
   It’s long step down from #1 to #2. There’s a big difference between the Bolshoi Ballet and just about any other. It’s also a big ...
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December 22, 2011
OCCUPY…?
   The concept of “we are the 99%” is potentially powerful and palpable. But as Paul’s wife, Susan, pointed out: the problem is ...
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December 21, 2011
LESSONS FROM REALITY TV
     The United States used to be the major exporter of entertainment. As the cost of scripted television keeps going up, network execs a...
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December 20, 2011
SPARK’n'SMART
  SPARK: The perfect hire is a lot more than someone who’s qualified for the job. Throughout Paul’s career he’s always looked for a d...
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December 19, 2011
METRO MAN
  There’s a free morning newspaper in NYC—the Metro. Every morning there’s a guy just outside Grand Central Station who brightens the...
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December 16, 2011
SELF EMPLOYMENT
  Payroll. Inventory. Staffing. Overhead. If you’re thinking about opening your own business, becoming a consultant or an independent con...
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December 15, 2011
POWER PERSON
   In every situation, there’s only one power person. In any meeting, sales call, workshop or corporate gathering, challenge yoursel...
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December 13, 2011
WHAT YOU VALUE
   How much time do you spend on what’s in front of you—regardless of its importance? The great Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa ...
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December 13, 2011
PR STUNT
  We read the story about a PR stunt that went awry. Ah, the best of plans for the “are you a big fish in a little pond?”  when the go...
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December 12, 2011
WE’VE GOT YOUR NUMBER
  We got tripped up by a new airline ploy last week: Code Sharing. We looked for a non-stop from JFK to Oakland and were given a flight num...
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December 9, 2011
COOL AT A PRICE
   The trend in urban hotels is to offer fewer amenities in return for “cool.” Dramatic lighting, black-outfitted receptionist...
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December 8, 2011
KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
  Tuesday we got an e-mail detailing the schedule for an upcoming national convention in Orlando. What caught our eye was the welcome party...
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December 7, 2011
FANTASY FUFILLED
  Many years ago, Steve’s son, Max, was being given a private tour of the set of Sesame Street. When he went backstage, though, Big B...
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December 6, 2011
POST-IT NOTES REDUX
  Okay, okay – we’ve already written about how much we love Post-It Notes. But what we see time and time again when we do our M...
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December 5, 2011
NO SURPRISES
   Dollar-off coupons feel like a great idea except when the fine print says they will be delivered in the form of an in-store credit or &...
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December 2, 2011
3-LETTER BRAND EVOLUTION
   IBM isn’t in the Machine business. UPS isn’t in the Parcel business. KFC is evolving beyond the Fried chicken business. Mor...
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December 1, 2011
THE STAPLE CONUNDRUM
  What do you do if you make a “perfect product?” Staples (the paper fasteners, not the store) are a “perfect product....
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November 30, 2011
HAVE A NICE DAY
   The great thing about living in the east is that “Have a nice day!” usually means “have a nice day!”  The old ...
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November 29, 2011
LIVE BY PRICE, DIE BY PRICE
   It’s an old truth in advertising – and it keeps getting ignored year-in and year-out. The bankruptcy courts are littered wi...
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November 23, 2011
HAPPY INCLUSION DAY
    Yup, it’s our favorite holiday of the year. Thanksgiving. Why? Because it’s the only US holiday that is for everyone. A c...
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November 21, 2011
ONE CALL SOLVES IT ALL
  Ever break a car windshield in NY or CT? A great example of customer service. One call to the insurance company. A connection to the glas...
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November 21, 2011
THE APPLIANCE WHISPERER
  That’s the nickname Paul has for his repairman who is the go-to guy to repair any household appliance. Who’s in your “s...
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November 18, 2011
VISIT YODA
  In our booklet “When the Going Gets Tough, Tough Businesses Get GROWING,” one tip we suggest is that you take your former men...
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November 17, 2011
MODEL NUMBERS
  In the 1920s, GM started altering their cars each year and introduced the idea of “model years.” Now it’s standard prac...
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November 16, 2011
“I’LL GET BACK TO YOU”
  Five dreaded words. Too often, when someone says “I’ll get back to you,” it’s a kiss-off. If only we believed “...
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November 15, 2011
TRUSTED SOURCES
  Who or what are you trusted sources? Malcolm Gladwell called them “Mavens” in his book, The Tipping Point. When was the last ...
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November 14, 2011
THINGS WE DON’T REPLACE
   What do you own that you think (or hope) you’ll never replace? Your refrigerator? Your mobile provider? Your dentist? Ask yoursel...
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November 10, 2011
FUNNY? OR HA-HA FUNNY?
   Why do we say “that’s funny” for ironic life events? Probably because of the observation Gilbert Gottfried made about...
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November 9, 2011
DIGITAL OBSOLESCENCE
  The “lifespan” of digital products seems to be three years – after which you own an electronic paperweight. Is that a g...
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November 8, 2011
THE HEART OF THE MATTER
  Sometimes we over think the hiring process. Remember the scene in The Social Network when Mark Zuckerberg is hiring programmers? TheyR...
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November 7, 2011
SMART HOUSES
  Every week we read about microchips being used in yet another object around the house. Smart refrigerators. Smart ovens. Smart washers an...
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November 4, 2011
IDEA AND EXECUTION
  Thomas Edison said, “invention is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.” When people find out we’ve written books, they ...
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November 3, 2011
POWER
  The nature of power is that it is never given. Power is something to be taken. As Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was once famously reported to...
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November 2, 2011
SCALABILITY
  It’s the Achilles Heel of most good ideas. What works one-on-one doesn’t necessarily scale up, either due to cost or time. Be...
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November 1, 2011
HURRY UP AND WAIT
  More and more, we’re seeing companies and individuals doing half a good job of customer service. Unfortunately, we seldom realize w...
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October 31, 2011
THE UNWANTED SALES CALL
  We’ve all made the mistake of answering our phones and getting a sales call. Many of us have trouble disengaging and getting off th...
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October 28, 2011
STAN FREBERG
  A salute to one of the giants of creativity and the creator of what may be the greatest radio commercial ever written. That spot demonstr...
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October 27, 2011
INTELLIGENCE WITHOUT INSIGHT
  Increasingly, we’re having conversations with key people who have great intelligence and a wealth of knowledge – and not a cl...
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October 26, 2011
CONSUMER REPORTED PERCEPTION
  We got some interesting pushback last week about our Maytag blog. One of our readers pointed out that Consumer Reports has been giving Ma...
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October 25, 2011
30,000 FEET
  Paul shared a speaking engagement some time ago with a very inspirational and well known speaker. His ideas were interesting, provocative...
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October 24, 2011
BAN FUN
  Early on, Nickelodeon banned the word “fun” from their building, their business and all marketing materials. Their reasoning ...
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October 21, 2011
DIFFERENT vs BETTER
  The hardest thing a manager has to learn is to ask herself the question, “Will the change I’m about to ask for make this bett...
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October 19, 2011
WASHERS AND DRYERS
  We love these appliances. Maytag gave us the confidence that they can last forever. In a world of obsolescence where technology’s h...
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September 29, 2011
WHOSE CENTURY IS IT?
   The 19th Century was the British Empire. The 20th Century belonged to America. But which country will have hegemony over the 21st Cent...
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September 22, 2011
FROM BRAND TO NOUN
   The goal of a marketer is to make our brand a household name. The ultimate dream (and danger) is that we’ll be so successful, we ...
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September 20, 2011
BOTTLED WATER
  Really? Once upon a time we all grew up drinking tap water. And here in NYC the tap water is some of the best water in the world. Then ma...
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September 6, 2011
THE INTERNET AND ASTRONAUTS
  Steve’s son Dan sees the Internet much the way everyone sees space travel: “There’s a vast universe out there and in tr...
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August 30, 2011
UNDERPROMISE, OVERDELIVER
  If you promise something on Monday but deliver it on Tuesday, you’re a goat. If you promise it on Tuesday but deliver on Monday, yo...
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August 26, 2011
ON THE FIELD
  A lot has been written about how the Philadelphia Eagles planned carefully over the past couple of years to manage the salary cap and ass...
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August 25, 2011
ONE MAN BAND
     Many of us wish we could do it all. We actually saw this one man band in Boston this past weekend. Funny, yes? But, his statement &#...
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August 24, 2011
WHAT’S AT STEAK?
  Great example of social marketing, PR and Customer Service this week – the story about a guy who tweeted that what he’d reall...
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August 23, 2011
THE CLOUD
  Coming soon – the latest, greatest innovation in cyberspace: the cloud. We’ll be able to readily access huge amounts of infor...
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August 22, 2011
ONLINE MORNING
  It used to take us about 30 minutes at the start of each day to address the digital inflow. E-mails. RSS feeds. Even spam. What we’...
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August 19, 2011
20 DRAFTS
  Early in Paul’s advertising career he was shepherding a storyboard for a commercial. Between client and legal comments, the storybo...
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August 18, 2011
FREE THE INTERNET!
  The Internet belongs to the people! We’re constantly annoyed every time we stay in a hotel that charges for Internet. At best, it&#...
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August 17, 2011
TITANIC
  Steve was shooting a commercial that was turning into a disaster. The director approached him and made a suggestion about how to salvage ...
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August 16, 2011
MUSIC IS FREE
 Every semester Paul asks his students, “How many of you illegally download music?” Every hand goes up and Paul threatens to ha...
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August 15, 2011
COMFORT ZONE
  It’s great to be comfortable when you’re talking about clothing or temperature. In business, being in your comfort zone is th...
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August 12, 2011
COMPUTERS AND SALES
  We have a friend who owns a string of radio stations across the country. He has one simple rule: his sales people aren’t allowed to...
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August 11, 2011
E-MAIL PARALYSIS
  The old adage was people would sit by the phone waiting for calls. Today, as we sit by the computer, the e-mail keeps coming in. The tend...
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August 10, 2011
PAPER TRAIL
 Another example of broadcasting where you’re from: A friend of ours was in LA buying a Sunday New York Times at the Pico-Robertson n...
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August 10, 2011
THE BEST
  Paul went to the Wisconsin State Fair this past weekend. There he saw best-in-class for clydesdales, cows, chickens and all manner of liv...
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August 9, 2011
UNBUNDLING
  Interpublic’s  Mediabrand Ventures just announced that they are breaking the business into three new “specialist groups:R...
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August 8, 2011
KEEPERS
  Y’know that little doo-hickey on a watchband or belt? The small loop to hold the end of the strap? That’s called a “kee...
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August 5, 2011
EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS
  A great example of customer service from Rick Branch of Delta Airlines in the Atlanta terminal this week. As we rushed to catch an earlie...
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August 4, 2011
DEBT CEILING
  What we witnessed from this entire debacle was an exercise in contentious vs concensus. Regardless of where you stand on the issue, there...
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August 3, 2011
STRATEGY vs TACTICS
  We’re working on an article with a U.S. Marine Corps Colonel on the differences between business strategy & tactics versus mil...
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August 2, 2011
WEATHER HYSTERIA
  Weather Hysteria. Paul’s wife, Susan, is fed up with weather forecasting designed to alarm. When the temperature gets hot, we aren&...
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July 29, 2011
BORDERS
  Borders. We’re not fans of hitting someone when they’re down – but we have no trouble hitting them when they’re a...
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July 28, 2011
JACKET AND JEANS
  Jacket & Jeans. We were in Chicago recently to lead a marketing session and were called out in a power restaurant as being from New Y...
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July 27, 2011
THE PERFECT FOOD
  The Perfect Food. Our friend, Shepard Kramer, quizzed us on the three tastes people most savor: potatoes, salt & sugar. These are the...
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July 26, 2011
SECRET SAUCE
  Secret Sauce. Some recipes are carefully guarded secrets. The formula for Coca-Cola. The spices in KFC. The flavor of Heinz ketchup. Each...
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July 25, 2011
COMMUNICATION PLATFORMS
  Communication Platforms. Salespeople have been noticing this phenomenon for years – and now it’s prevalent across the entire ...
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July 22, 2011
TOO MANY GOOD MEETINGS
  Too Many Good Meetings. We’re sick and tired of good meetings. Most of the time they’re the result of a bad agenda. Or no age...
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July 21, 2011
REVISION FIVE
  Revision Five. Steve has a general rule when it comes to creative revisions. If a client goes into a fifth revision of the copy, Steve br...
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July 20, 2011
CYBER SECURITY
  Cyber Security. Ten years ago, about the safest thing you could do was put all your passwords on a password-protected computer. Today we ...
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July 19, 2011
TREND TRACKING
  Trend Tracking. Yesterday’s lead story in Ad Age was a piece called “Justin Bieber is So Yesterday.”  Trend trackers a...
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July 18, 2011
WRITE DRUNK, EDIT SOBER
  Write drunk, edit sober. It’s a lesson we learned from a friend of ours years ago. Too many of us want to write the first draft per...
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July 15, 2011
TRANSMEDIA
  Transmedia. Communication platforms are out, “transmedia” is in. Who knew? Communication platforms signify every make and mod...
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July 14, 2011
VISION
  Vision: Hindsight. Insight. Foresight. It takes all three to successfully manage a business. Time and again we see marketing teams who do...
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July 13, 2011
FAD, TREND OR FOREVER?
   Fad, Trend or Forever? Size up what you see on the horizon. Is it a Fad – here today and gone tomorrow? Is it a Trend – a s...
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July 12, 2011
THE CULT OF COOL
   The Cult of Cool. Words constantly evolve in our language. Every generation coins a secret set of words that have a unique meaning to t...
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July 11, 2011
FOUND OBJECTS
  Found Objects. Some people’s trash is another’s treasure. Think “shabby chic.” Decorating and fashion often take ...
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July 8, 2011
COMMUNICATION IS IRREVERSIBLE
  Communication is Irreversible. There’s the Bridgestone commercial where the guy races around town trying to physically retrieve his...
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July 7, 2011
DON’T TELL ME I CAN’T!
  Don’t Tell Me I Can’t. Call Steve a contrarian. Or very competitive. But the surest way to guarantee that he’ll do some...
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July 6, 2011
INFOMERCIALS
  Infomercials. Did you ever buy anything from an infomercial? Both of us proudly admit we have. The best of them does a brilliant job of s...
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July 5, 2011
ALLOWANCE
  Allowance. Fewer kids today get a weekly allowance. At first blush that seems surprising, but today’s kids are more savvy money man...
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July 4, 2011
HAPPY FOURTH…
...
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July 1, 2011
MARKETING MAGIC
  Marketing Magic. It’s an essential ingredient in great marketing. “Where’s The Beef?” “Just Do It.” T...
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June 30, 2011
THE VOICE
  The Voice. The surprise television hit of the summer season so far – and a good indication of what television programming has becom...
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June 29, 2011
MALL RATS
  Mall Rats. Kids take to malls like ducks to water. An average Friday night, the mall will be overrun by tweens and teens. At first blush,...
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June 28, 2011
BIG IDEA
  What’s the Big Idea? Big Ideas are just that: one simple, single Big Idea. If you need to embellish it with other stuff it probably...
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June 27, 2011
MASTERY
   Mastery. For Malcolm Gladwell, in Outliers, it’s just a matter of practice, practice, practice. His formula suggests 10,000 hours...
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June 24, 2011
MAKE A DIFFERENCE
  Make A Difference. To your consumers. To your employees. To your family. To your bosses. To the world. When was the last time you volunte...
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June 23, 2011
HIGH LINE
  High Line. New York’s newest park and a lesson in meaningful meandering. Rather than just paving over the West Side railroad tracks...
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June 22, 2011
FIRECRACKER
  Firecracker. We have an intern who’ll be working with us for the summer who basically got the job by describing herself in one word...
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June 21, 2011
WORDS FOR SNOW
  Words For Snow. It’s a conventional belief that in the arctic there are many words for snow. Alas, it’s an urban — er, ...
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June 20, 2011
BE INQUISITIVE
  Be inquisitive. Ask yourself “why does this work?” “what can I learn” “how do we know?” Never stop as...
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June 17, 2011
REVERSE MENTORING
  Reverse Mentoring. The newbies have a lot to teach you. They come to your business without the baggage and rules that have gradually encr...
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June 15, 2011
SAND CASTLES
  Sand Castles. Summer’s coming. When was the last time you built a sand castle? You build things every day in your work. Grab the op...
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June 14, 2011
THE NEWS
   The News. One of our sons moonlights as a video editor at a national news organization. We were teasing him about the lack of objectivi...
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June 13, 2011
CROWD SOURCING
  Crowd Sourcing, The Tourist Way. Many thanks to the folks at Mississippi Gulf Coast Ad Fed, PRAM and AAF Mobile Bay. Steve spent a week o...
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June 10, 2011
PLAXICO BURRES
  Plax. We were pleased to see Plaxico Burris get out of prison. Clearly he is looking forward to his next chapter in football. He’s ...
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June 9, 2011
COFFEE’S ON US
  Coffee’s On Us. Some people used to do this at toll booths, today Steve did it with a cup of coffee. He was in line at the corner d...
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June 8, 2011
THE PERSONAL TOUCH
  The Personal Touch. It’s a tough world out there and seems to be getting tougher. For us, it puts more of a premium on being nice, ...
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June 7, 2011
STRATEGY vs TACTICS
   Strategy vs. Tactics. Make sure you know the difference. Strategy is how you plan to meet an objective, tactics are the specific steps ...
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June 6, 2011
WAREHOUSE SHOPPING
  Warehouse Shopping. Toys R Us was one of the first players to establish Warehouse Shopping as the lowest-priced provider. Inside the stor...
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June 3, 2011
VALUE
  Value. It’s a reflection of the amount customers are willing to pay above the lowest possible price. Is an iPhone $300 more valuabl...
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June 2, 2011
FASHION
  Fashion. Every season fashion choices are made and promoted to sell colors, designs, cuts and combinations that define chic and stylin...
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June 1, 2011
STAY THIRSTY
  Stay Thirsty. Paul recently saw a presentation on the very popular Dos Equis “The Most Interesting Man in the World” campaign...
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May 31, 2011
E*TRADE BABIES
  E*TRADE Babies. One of the most beloved campaigns on the air. And most people even know they’re for E*TRADE. That’s the good ...
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May 27, 2011
FOLLOW YOUR PASSION
       Follow Your Passion. It doesn’t have to be your career, it can even just be your hobby. Our partner, Norman Siegel, is a...
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May 26, 2011
EXPERTS
  Experts. They’re different from consultants. One we respect – the other is pond scum. Make sure you know the difference; and ...
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May 25, 2011
PEOPLE MAGAZINE
  People Magazine. One of the great social pop indicators on the market. Steve likes to tell the story of giving his teams the quiz every y...
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May 24, 2011
THE BEST KILL
  The Best Kill is the early kill. Once you’ve moved from the idea stage to the development stage, you’re investing time, money...
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May 23, 2011
TRENDS
  Trends. Are you keeping up with them? Do you even know what they are? If you’re a marketer, knowing what’s on the horizon is ...
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May 20, 2011
RETAIL BRANDING
  Retail Branding. Too often those two words don’t go together. They should. Retail is not just about shopping, it’s about bran...
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May 19, 2011
MORNING SCALES
  Steve has a morning ritual. He calls it his “daily scales.” As a writer, he starts the day with his crossword puzzle (NYTimes...
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May 18, 2011
ANIMALS IN ADVERTISING
   Animals in Advertising. Cute. Attention-getting. Furry. Memorable. But what are they doing for their brands? Like a YouTube video, peop...
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May 17, 2011
PROCUREMENT
  Procurement is a relatively new function in the marketing business. Not the most elegant name and not the most respected discipline. The ...
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May 16, 2011
INVESTMENT vs SPENDING
  There’s a huge debate raging today about Investment vs Spending. Which would you rather be doing? Obviously, investment feels like ...
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May 13, 2011
SOCIAL SHOPPING
    A lot of shopping in-store has morphed to shopping on line and is morphing once again via the social media into Social Shopping. What ...
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May 12, 2011
BRANDING WITHOUT WORDS
  Branding Without Words. Next brainstorming session, challenge your team to express your brand without using any words. Use Pictionary sup...
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May 11, 2011
TUNE IN. TUNE IN.
 Tune in. Tune in. Tune in. The world is telling you vital information all day long. Don’t filter out the stuff that could revolution...
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May 10, 2011
LAUGH OUT LOUD
  Laugh Out Loud. For real. Don’t just type LOL on your keyboard. A genuine, heart-felt, gut-busting laugh is one of the great stress...
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May 9, 2011
EAT WITH YOUR HANDS
   Eat with your hands. Or do something else that’s “outside the box.” How did it feel? What did you learn? (Besides the...
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May 6, 2011
SET A TRaP
  It’s OK to set a TRaP (Television Radio and Print). The new media is not the only sandbox to play in. Gene DeWitt always believed t...
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May 5, 2011
STURM UND DRANG
     Seems like there’s an awful lot of sturm und drang about the new digital and social media. But it still boils down to the 3 C&...
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May 4, 2011
MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO.
  Monkey See, Monkey Do. If you’re going to introduce a parity product, make sure it’s not a parody product. Find some way to c...
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May 3, 2011
INTERRUPTIONS
  Ever have someone come over to your office or cubicle without being invited? And then they stand there and wait for you to pay attention ...
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May 2, 2011
OWN THE CONTENT
    Own the content & control your brand destiny. The new media and new digital platforms provide two types of opportunities: you can ...
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April 29, 2011
HONESTY AND THE WEB
  If there’s one thing the Internet has taught us, it’s this: honest isn’t just the best policy, it’s the only poli...
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April 28, 2011
FLoP SITES
    We have an expression when it comes to the Internet. Is your site a FLoP? What we mean by that is “Flock Of Pigeons.” It...
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April 27, 2011
ENGAGE YOUR AUDIENCE
  There are three ways you can engage your audience: Passive (television, radio, print), Active (sweepstakes & promotions) and Interact...
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April 26, 2011
DUCKY
  Gilbert Gottfried killed the duck that layed the golden egg. As the now-former spokesquack for AFLAC, AFLAC is now looking for a new voic...
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April 25, 2011
SHOW ME A GOOD TIME
  “Show me a good time.” It’s what your spouse wishes you would do. It’s what your kids seem to demand of you all t...
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April 22, 2011
THE NEW AUDIENCE
  Is there really a new audience out there? Yes and No. Yes, you can find them on Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and FourSquare and Bel...
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April 21, 2011
THE NEW MEDIA
  The new media is like the story of the 7 blind men & the elephant. Each blind man goes up and touches a different part of the beast. ...
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April 20, 2011
AD AGENCIES 2011
  Advertising agencies: Big, small, regional, interactive – who cares? Consumers respond to brilliant communication. No one’s g...
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April 19, 2011
SERVING THE CUSTOMER
    The customer has moved to the center of the conversation. Now you’ve got to give them better reasons than ever to connect with y...
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April 18, 2011
ADVERTISING ISN’T DEAD
 Advertising isn’t dead, it’s reinventing itself…every day. Never before have there been so many platforms — diverse co...
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April 15, 2011
MANAGE YOURSELF
  Manage Yourself well and you’ll manage others better. Embrace and welcome employee evaluations (of yourself). They’ll point o...
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April 14, 2011
MANAGE UP
  Manage Up. It’s a forgotten skill: Motivating and managing your bosses can be as powerful as managing your employees. Keep your bos...
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April 13, 2011
LUNCH’N'LEARN
  Have a monthly “lunch’n'learn” program. Feed the troops (good for morale) and invite a guest speaker in (good for the b...
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April 12, 2011
TRACK THE COMPETITION
  Do you keep track of your competition’s advertising? Your customer does. So you’d better know what your competition is doing....
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April 11, 2011
FOCUS GROUPS. GRRR.
  Use focus groups to gain consumer insight. Don’t ask them to evaluate or rewrite the work. The minute you put new work or new adve...
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April 8, 2011
RESPECT YOUR CUSTOMER
  People don’t like being treated like idiots. Respect your customer and they’ll respect you. The great advertising giant David...
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April 7, 2011
CUSTOMER BENEFIT
  Put the benefit to your customer in the headline. Don’t make your customers have to work to figure out your value proposition. The...
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April 6, 2011
KEEP IT SHORT
  Keep it short....
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April 5, 2011
WHAT IS QUALITY?
  Quality is simply the absence of non-quality signals. You throw out resumes with typos, right? That’s a “non quality” ...
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April 4, 2011
CALL YOUR STORE
  Call your store or business (or client) as if you’re a new customer. See what happens when someone answers or you get lost in your ...
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April 1, 2011
WALK THE HALLS
   Walk the halls at 7pm and find the keys to your company’s problems. People who stay late are either part of the problem or are tr...
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March 31, 2011
LEARN NEW TRICKS
  Learn new tricks. If you stopped learning, you stop growing. Stop growing and you become less and less valuable to your company, your fri...
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March 30, 2011
WHAT’S YOUR REAL JOB?
   What’s your real job? Not the title. Not the description. What do you really do, whom do you do it for (hint: the correct answer ...
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March 29, 2011
GOT TALENT?
  Got talent? Talent is just a town in Oregon. Google it. You’ve got to move beyond “talent” to becoming a person who can...
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March 27, 2011
YOU HAVE A BIG IDEA. SO WHAT?
  “Idea” is such a simple little word with a heavy agenda tied to it. It’s not enough to have the idea, you have to bring...
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March 25, 2011
TRYING TO SOLVE A PROBLEM?
  Trying to solve a problem? Chew on it. . .then give it some time to digest. Sometimes NOT thinking about a problem is a way to solve it. ...
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March 24, 2011
MANAGEMENT BY INSPIRATION
  Someone bring you an idea you think is terrible? Try flipping it 180 degrees and see if it can be made brilliant. It’s an exercise ...
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March 23, 2011
STEP AWAY FROM THE IDEA
  Step away from the idea. We all have great ideas from time to time. But just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean you should ...
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March 22, 2011
WINDOW TIME
  When was the last time you turned away from the keyboard, put your feet up on the desk and just…thought? One of our partners calls ...
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March 21, 2011
THE ART DAY
  Give yourself an art day. One day a month, sneak out of the office, go to the local museum and spend 3 hours being inspired by the great ...
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March 18, 2011
THE POWER NAP
  Instead of fighting the 3pm sugar drop with a candy bar, do what most NBA players do: embrace it with a power nap. Close your door or fin...
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March 17, 2011
FREE IS A 4-LETTER WORD
  ‘FREE is a 4-letter word. It’s usually not worth much or there are major strings attached. We were in a pitch one time when t...
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March 16, 2011
WHAT’S THE VALUE OF CONSENSUS?
  Consensus doesn’t work in Congress, why do you think it will work in your office? There’s an old saying that “a camel i...
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March 15, 2011
THE VALUE OF AN AGENDA
  Want to accomplish your meeting objectives in one hour instead of 3? Have an agenda and stick to it. No sidebars. No digressions. Stay on...
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March 14, 2011
GETTING TO “YES!”
  When making a pitch, recognize when you’ve made the sale and STOP. Time and again over the years we’ve seen people turn ̶...
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March 10, 2011
A GREAT BOSS…
A great boss doesn’t have to prove it. He gives everyone the same respect he wants for himself. Every day. If you’re looking to ...
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March 9, 2011
THE PURPLE COW
   Take a lesson from Seth Godin’s “Purple Cow.” Find a way to stand out in the marketplace.  Then take a lesson from our b...
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March 8, 2011
WRITE TO ONE PERSON
   Write as if you’re writing for only one person in your audience. By speaking to that one person, you’ll reach everyone....
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March 7, 2011
WHAT’S GREAT WRITING?
  What’s great marketing writing? Empathy, empathy, empathy. Acknowledge and understand your customer’s problem before offering...
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March 4, 2011
HOW MUCH ADVERTISING DO YOU SEE?
   Want to know how much advertising you (and your customers) are exposed to? Write down every ad you see. Within 3 hours, you’ll wa...
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March 3, 2011
FIND THE ENEMY OF YOUR PRODUCT
  This was a lesson from one of the greatest advertising writers of all time: Ed McCabe. His point of view was to find the enemy of the pro...
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March 2, 2011
NEVER STOP QUESTIONING
     Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: “What we cannot speak of we must pass over in silence” What he meant is that you can’t ...
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March 1, 2011
WRITE GOOD
   Write good. Have fun with language. Break the rules. The syntax. The grammar. Find your signature voice. Start reading. When you find a...
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February 28, 2011
PARADIGM BUSTING
   When was the last time you thought of a product or service that broke the rules in your industry? Breaking the rules is fun. There are...
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February 25, 2011
BAN EXCEL FROM ALL PLANNING MEETINGS
  Ban Excel from all planning meetings. It’s a weapon, not a tool. Make people think and plan first – then add the numbers at t...
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February 24, 2011
IT’S GOOD TO BE THE KING
   It’s good to be king: Being the leader is empowering and intoxicating. Staying the leader is about confronting challenges and del...
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February 23, 2011
STUCK IN A SILO?
   Stuck in a silo? Take a walk. Talk to some new people. Find out what they do. Figure out how that relates to your job. Start talking ab...
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February 22, 2011
HAD A REAL CONVERSATION TODAY?
   Crackberries. Cell phones. Twitter. E-mail. Facebook. Have you had a good real-live conversation lately? Manage your digital flow! We&#...
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February 18, 2011
WRITE THE BILLBOARD FIRST
   Write the billboard first. If it communicates at 60 miles an hour, imagine what you can do when people are standing still. Going down ...
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February 17, 2011
ADJECTIVES ARE WORDS ABOUT WORDS
  Adjectives are words about words. They say, “I couldn’t craft a set of words that make you feel excited, so I’ll just t...
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February 14, 2011
SILENCE SPEAKS VOLUMES
    Next meeting, be the best person to listen and the last person to speak. Silence speaks volumes. So many of us want to jump in and add...
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February 11, 2011
WHAT IS GOOD WRITING?
  We’re always puzzled when people say, “I don’t know how to write this.” Good writing is the spoken word in print....
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February 10, 2011
SEE SOMETHING THAT ISN’T BROKEN?
  See something that isn’t broken? Break it! Then find a new way to fix it. You don’t have to break it literally – you ca...
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February 9, 2011
DROP THE ELECTRONIC LEASH
  We have a friend who works in the entertainment industry who doesn’t own a cell phone. He knows nothing he does is a life-and-death...
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February 8, 2011
THERE ARE NO EMERGENCIES IN BUSINESS
   Okay, occasionally there are emergencies. Those are extremely rare. (And your company had better have a disaster scenario team in place...
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February 7, 2011
TAKE A BREAK EVERY DAY
   Call it an “art day.” Call it “recharging your batteries.” Whatever you call it, get out of your everyday routi...
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February 3, 2011
MINE YOUR BEGINNERS…
   Mine your beginners for new ideas. Beginners don’t know the rules. They don’t know about all the sacred cows within your or...
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January 31, 2011
GET OUT OF YOUR SILO
   There are no atheists in foxholes. There are no cross-departmental visionaries in silos. The reasons are pretty much the same: most of ...
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January 28, 2011
HINDSIGHT, INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT
   In our book “The Little Blue Book of Marketing: Build a Killer Plan in Less Than a Day” we organize marketing planning in t...
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January 27, 2011
SENIOR MARKETER SKILLS
   What does a senior marketer have to bring to the table in today’s envirionment? Three key attributes: 1. A strategic vision ̵...
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January 26, 2011
EZ PASS
     EZ Pass. A great invention that makes an annoying slow-down faster! Have you created an EZ Pass for your hard-core customers? Do you...
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January 24, 2011
BOOM!
    Boom! The baby boomers are redefining old age the same way they redefined every other age. Focus big time on the boomers. 60 is not on...
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January 21, 2011
WANT TO WRITE BETTER?
     Want to write better? Think “content,” not “style.” Find ways to engage your audience rather than impress th...
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January 20, 2011
WHERE’S YOUR DIVERSITY?
    Where’s your diversity? Ask yourself and everyone you do business with why there are no people of color in any of your meetings...
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January 19, 2011
RIGHT SIZED PACKAGING
  Right-sized packaging. Take an axe to your wrapping! Learn from Walmart. Less is more. Walmart constantly looks at supplier packaging and...
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January 18, 2011
A THOUSAND WAYS TO SAVE A MILLION
   Recycled paper. Lights on timers. Thermostats up (or down) 2 degrees. There’s a thousand ways to save a million bucks. Tell your...
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January 12, 2011
NATURAL INCLINATIONS
   Natural Inclinations: never ignore your first instinct – or as we like to say, “Never reject the obvious.” If you wan...
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January 11, 2011
IT’S NOT EASY BEING GREEN
     It’s also NOT easy being green. Selling customers on your “green-ness” is harder than selling your company. No qu...
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January 10, 2011
IT’S EASY BEING GREEN
     It’s Easy Being Green. Start internally. Develop a green plan for your company that makes you look good – and saves your...
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January 6, 2011
PEAS IN AN iPOD
    Peas in an iPod. What apps work with your business? How can you do cooperative marketing with them? Do a search of apps that are rele...
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January 5, 2011
MANAGE THE METHODOLOGY
     Manage the Methodology. It’s as important as managing the business. Clear out the stumbling blocks inside your company to maki...
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January 4, 2011
PILOT THE PLAN
   Pilot the Plan. What’s your rush to roll it out nationally? Is your media company and ad agency pushing? Push back. Ask them R...
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December 31, 2010
WHAT’S A GOOD IDEA WORTH?
  What’s a good idea worth – and where do you get one? All your marketing should be driven by one clear, compelling idea. Do yo...
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December 30, 2010
DOES YOUR CONTENT HAVE LONGEVITY?
   Does your content have longevity? What’s the value of content that has no shelf life? As soon as you put it out there it becomes ...
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December 29, 2010
DOES YOUR PRODUCTION MATCH YOUR MEDIA?
   Does your production match your media? Are you spending $100,000 (and more) for digital content that’s going to be viewed on a 2&...
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December 28, 2010
CAN YOUR CONTENT THRIVE ON MULTIPLE PLATFORMS?
   Can your content thrive on multiple platforms? Do you create TV that can be webisodes? YouTube videos? Website content? PDA deliverable...
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December 27, 2010
IS YOUR CONTENT STICKY?
    Is your content entertaining and informative? Almost as important as “simple and honest,” content in the digital age has ...
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December 26, 2010
IS YOUR CONTENT SIMPLE?
Is your content simple and honest? If you only use two rules of thumb in judging your web content, those are the two you should use. Warren ...
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December 26, 2010
DOES YOUR CONTENT DEPEND ON YOUR BRAND?
  Does your content depend on your brand? Could you remove your name from your ads or website and put your competitor’s name on it? I...
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December 23, 2010
IS YOUR CONTENT CONSISTENT?
  Is your content consistent with your brand image? Banks and insurance companies are the worst at this – their ads say one thing, th...
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December 22, 2010
PARTNER WITH VENDORS
  Why are so many vendor relationships adversarial? Hint: it’s all about making them hired hands instead of business partners. Give y...
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December 21, 2010
OPTIMAL RELATIONSHIPS
   What’s the optimal agency relationship? Here are four key attributes. What others would you add?1. Partner, not vendor. Make the...
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December 20, 2010
“I MUST NOT…”
   I must not. You must not what? What are the unspoken sacred cows in your organization? Just as we have addictions, we also have Rules o...
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November 17, 2010
HOW’S BUSINESS?
Besides lying about your results, which the SEC, your investors and your mother tend to frown upon, there are only four possible answers: 1....
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November 16, 2010
WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR ?
As the Texas political commentator Jim Hightower once observed, “there’s nothing in the middle of the road but a yellow line and dead ar...
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November 11, 2010
FAILED IDEA – OR FAILED STRATEGY ?
What’s the difference between a failed idea and a failed marketing strategy? Some ideas are just plain bad. Others are good, but they take...
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November 10, 2010
WHAT’S A BIG IDEA ?
A Big Idea is anything that can build new audiences, new customers and new sales by mining undiscovered territory. It can be a brand new pro...
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November 9, 2010
THE 7 STEPS TO WINNING IDEAS
When you read the names of the seven steps to winning ideas, you’ll say to yourself, “That’s all I have to do?” And when you read th...
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November 4, 2010
THE SEVEN-STEP PROCESS
Over the years, we’ve come to understand the kind of vision and commitment it takes to get good ideas right and great ideas to market. Alo...
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November 1, 2010
HOW DO BIG IDEAS HAPPEN ?
Big ideas aren’t just the brainstorm of inspiration, but the result of a methodical, step-by-step process of development, refinement, targ...
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October 29, 2010
THAT’S A GOOD IDEA
Virtually every successful product or service out there came to market because someone initially said, “This is a good idea.” But if say...
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October 28, 2010
THAT IDEA MAKES NO SENSE
One thing that many of the best Big Ideas tend to have in common is virtually everyone says the idea makes no sense (when they first hear it...
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October 27, 2010
WHERE DO BIG IDEAS COME FROM ?
People think breakthrough ideas are a matter of luck. The truth is, they’re the result of careful thinking, planning and execution. Smart ...
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October 22, 2010
WHERE DO BIG IDEAS COME FROM ?
People think breakthrough ideas are a matter of luck. The truth is, they’re the result of careful thinking, planning and execution. Smart ...
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October 21, 2010
EVER HAD A BIG IDEA?
When was the last time you or your company came up with a breakthrough idea, product or service? Never? Wait…never say never. We all come ...
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October 20, 2010
WHAT’S YOUR BIG IDEA ?
Is your company creating breakthrough, winning products and services within your industry? Is the pursuit of Big Ideas standard operating pr...
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October 19, 2010
“I GOTTA HAVE THAT !”
“I Gotta Have That!” It’s what drives Apple sales. What drives your sales? Are there people out there saying, “IR...
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October 18, 2010
DON’T INTERRUPT ME WHILE I’M INTERRUPTING
“Don’t Interrupt Me While I’m Interrupting.” When was the last time you were the last person to speak in a meeting? ...
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October 15, 2010
BE ADMIRED
Be Admired. Think about what you can do, should do or would have to do in order to be admired and respected. By your customers and by your p...
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October 14, 2010
BE WILLING TO DIE FOR THE WORK
Be Willing To Die For The Work. How much better would your work become if you were willing to quit your job if your work wasn’t approv...
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October 13, 2010
TEST, TEST AND TEST AGAIN
Test, Test and Test Again. But make sure you’re asking the right questions. If you’re testing for a new product or service that ...
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October 12, 2010
DISTINCT VOICES
Distinct Voices. Think about the distinct style certain marketers have. Do you have a distinct voice that cuts through the clutter? Think ab...
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October 11, 2010
THE PARADIGM-BUSTING TEAM
Paradigm-Busting Team: Put together an extra-departmental “brain trust” team to find your next big winning idea. Watch for our n...
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October 6, 2010
THEATER OF THE MIND
Theater of the Mind – there’s nothing quite like Radio. It’s still got a place in your media plans – even if your ad...
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October 5, 2010
ME WRITE GOOD: MUSIC IS A FORM OF WRITING
Music is a form of writing. As Steve Karmen famously said, “No one hums the Announcer.” Are you using music well on your site an...
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October 4, 2010
INTRANET INSPIRATIONS
Intranet inspirations. If you’re enjoying tweets, Blogs RSS Feeds and other links coming at you, why not add them to your intranet? Gi...
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October 1, 2010
TEACHING DOGS NEW TRICKS
Be willing to learn new tricks – or you’ll just end up an old dog. We know hugely talented designers who can’t compete in ...
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September 30, 2010
LONG COPY STILL SELLS
Long copy still sells – moreso on the Web where people come seeking information. Don’t just run your advertising on your web sit...
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September 29, 2010
MULTI TASKING
Every week we read about people who were killed because they were multitasking. What makes you think you’re paying attention in meetin...
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September 28, 2010
GLASS FEELINGS
Glass feelings are as important as glass ceilings. We’re not fans of the expression “It’s only business.” Sometimes ...
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September 27, 2010
WHO’S THE BOSS ?
Who’s The Boss? It should be obvious through action and inspiration, not through assertion. If you’ve got to insist on being the...
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September 23, 2010
WHITE SPACE IS VALUABLE
White            space             is              valuable.         See?...
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September 21, 2010
WALK THROUGH WALLS
Walk Through Walls. Cubicles can be seen as dehumanizing-or as a way for everyone to be connected. It’s all in how you manage and mess...
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September 20, 2010
CANDY WRAPPER
Take a lesson from the candy displays and cereal shelves: Is your brand packaging designed to be noticed in a positive way? In fact, is it e...
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September 20, 2010
WHAT’S FOR SAIL ?
Have we forgotten how to treat our team like people? When was the last time you took ‘em to lunch, had a party or picnic? It takes ver...
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August 30, 2010
FLY PAPER THAT FEELS GOOD
Great ads should be like fly paper that feels good. Think about your favorite campaigns – you love seeing them over and over again. St...
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August 23, 2010
THE 10 COMMANDMENTS OF DIGITAL MARKETING
Do you know the 10 Commandments of Integrated Marketing? Yes, it’s “new media,” and “digital media,” but the o...
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August 19, 2010
PARDON ME, YOUR STRATEGY IS SHOWING
Pardon me, your strategy is showing. How often have you seen advertisers make their strategy statement their advertising? There’s a bi...
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July 29, 2010
ARCHITECT V/S CONTRACTOR
Someone once told us, “They hired a housepainter, don’t be an architect.” Don’t make the task more complicated than ...
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July 26, 2010
WEB DEMOCRACY : WELCOME TO MY GARAGE
Web Democracy: “Welcome To My Garage!” Great ideas come from anyplace. Where’s the next YouTube, Facebook or Twitter? Be o...
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July 23, 2010
THE MANY FACES OF YOU
The many faces of you: time of day, different situations, different connections. Speak to your customers at their convenience, not yours. Di...
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July 21, 2010
BE THE GUERILLA MY DREAMS
Be the Guerilla My Dreams. Be totally unexpected and delightful. Zig where others expect you to zag. Do the opposite of the usual – ca...
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July 15, 2010
STRATEGIC IRRELEVANCE
Strategic irrelevance: Don’t fall in love with execution that has no motivation. It’s easy to get into the habit of doing things...
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July 14, 2010
MIND SOMEONE ELSE’S BUSINESS
Mind your own business by minding someone else’s business. Fall in love with what other companies do well – then do it great, yo...
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July 13, 2010
DON’T GET DIGITALLY DRUNK
Don’t get digitally drunk. Just because you come across the latest social or digital medium doesn’t mean you should do it. Be ca...
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July 9, 2010
CHEAP AND CHEERFUL (CAN I SHOW YOU SOMETHING IN AN INFOMERCIAL?)
Have you tried a 30-minute infomercial lately? It’s a great medium for the right product or service. You’re not the only one wat...
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July 7, 2010
MANAGING BY POST IT NOTES
Try managing by Post-It Notes. Keep the message short, simple and focused....
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July 1, 2010
YOU GOTTA HAVE FRIENDS
You gotta have friends. Read the blogs that talk about your company. Got friends? Encourage them. Got enemies? Politely engage them. DonR...
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June 30, 2010
THE BIZ OF BUZZ
The Biz of Buzz: nothing’s more powerful than what customers tell other customers. Do you have any idea what your customers are saying...
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June 29, 2010
THE CONSUMER HAS A LIFE – REACH HER IN IT
Your customer has a life. She’s not waiting around for your message. Find her where she lives and engage her there. And not just where...
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June 28, 2010
NOBODY WATCHES CABLE TELEVISION
Nobody watches cable television any more. We watch television. Are you making distinctions in your industry that your customers don’t ...
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June 16, 2010
CREATIVITY CAN SOLVE ANYTHING
  We attended the AAF National Convention last week in Orlando, FL, speaking and moderating a panel entitled “What’s Your Big I...
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May 3, 2010
PACKAGING : WRAP IT IN A BOX
 Take a lesson from Tiffany’s: Don’t ignore the packaging. Everyone knows what that robin’s egg blue box means. It is lux...
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April 30, 2010
YOUR NAME HERE
Your name here. Your brand here. If your brand or brand name is interchangeable with a competitor in your marketing communication, something...
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April 29, 2010
THE IDEA IS GOD, MEDIA ARE AGNOSTIC
The Idea is God – Media Are Agnostic. Media are just the way you put your message and your Big Idea in front of your desired audience....
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April 26, 2010
CUSTOMIZE
Custom-me-ation. Ask BMW Mini. According to their president, over half of the 250,000 Minis sold to date have been customized by their owner...
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April 19, 2010
HONESTY IS THE BEST POLICY
Honesty is the best policy. Really and truly. It’s never the crime, it’s the coverup. You can make a mistake or do something the...
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April 16, 2010
ENERGIZE
Who are you to your customers? Do you bring excitement, energy and anticipation to your selling message? Unless you’re a funeral home,...
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April 14, 2010
START OVER
The old media plan isn’t going to cut it anymore. Two years ago we were on the road with our most popular talk, “Branding 2.Oh! ...
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April 13, 2010
CONNECT
Customer engagement is like a successful marriage: You’ve got to be willing to build a great relationship. Customers aren’t goin...
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March 31, 2010
THE CUSTOMER IS KING
We used to give lip service to the idea of “The customer is always right,” and then we went about our business like the customer...
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February 17, 2010
SHOP AS YOUR CUSTOMER
  See the experience through their eyes. We have a friend who owns an advertising agency. Every year or so he calls his company as if he...
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February 4, 2010
WORD FAST
  Want to improve your writing? Don’t speak for a day. Some societies even have a cultural term for this. It’s called a “...
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December 29, 2009
...
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December 22, 2009
BOUND TO BE CREATIVE
  Many creative people take the attitude, “get out of my way and just let me create.” It’s a path to unfocused, unsatisfy...
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December 11, 2009
MANAGEMENT BY OBJECTIVE
 Too many people manage blindly. They may know what they’re doing and demanding, but no one else does. It’s all highly subjecti...
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December 6, 2009
THE PEOPLE METER
  A simple way to test your pop culture IQ is to review the 25 most interesting people published in People magazine every year. In the age ...
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November 29, 2009
FIND THE ENEMY OF THE PRODUCT
Great lesson from Ed McCabe – one of the greatest copywriters in advertising history. Instead of just finding a competitive advantage,...
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November 23, 2009
THERE’S NEVER TIME TO DO IT RIGHT…
Have you noticed your production timelines lately — how the approval time built into the schedule is five or ten times longer than the...
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November 17, 2009
SPEC IS A 4-LETTER WORD
  Spec is ugly. It’s an insult to both the person who asks for it and the person who delivers it. If you ask for spec, you’re r...
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November 11, 2009
PIZZA IS A POWERFUL MANAGEMENT TOOL
When was the last time you served up pizza and soda (or beer) for your team? It’s an important cultural signal that says, “we...
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November 8, 2009
MAKE FRIENDS WITH A RESEARCHER
      It’s amazing how many marketers and creative types think research is a painful necessity. Those are the people who tend to u...
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June 26, 2009
INTEGRATED MARKETING
   Everyone wants “integrated marketing.” We hear a lot of ad agencies pitching clients based on their “integrated marketing” pr...
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June 23, 2009
SHARE THE GLORY
  Memories of David Carradine: We once read an interview that had a photo of him on the set directing one of his movies. On the side of his...
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June 16, 2009
2:55 vs 3PM
   Got a co-worker with A.D.D. or a distracted multitasker in your life? One subtle way to manage them is to use five minute time incremen...
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May 21, 2009
ARE YAWNS CONTAGIOUS?
    Why is it that when somebody yawns you tend to yawn too. Nobody seems to really know but everyone tends to agree that yawning is conta...
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May 15, 2009
PRE-OWNED OR USED?
   What would you rather own—a pre-owned car or a used car? Up until the past ten years you couldn’t buy a pre-owned car…you could o...
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May 8, 2009
FAILING UP, SUCCEEDING DOWN
  Time and again we see people who were abysmal failures at their job but continued to get similar or better jobs not because of their succ...
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May 6, 2009
THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A GOOD WHINE
  Nobody likes a complainer. Besides, complaining doesn’t really get you anywhere. What you’re doing is fretting, or as a friend of our...
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April 28, 2009
RECESSION CONCESSIONS
  In tough times we need to make tough choices. But as President Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel, so aptly observed, “never let a...
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April 22, 2009
NEVER HIRE SOMEONE YOU CAN’T FIRE
  In our callow, ignorant youth, one of us once went to a relative who was a podiatrist to have some work done. We thought we would get a m...
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April 7, 2009
INLIERS
  In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers,” he talks about the perfect storm of situation, opportunity and practice. For many of us, the...
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April 3, 2009
SECOND LIVES
   There’s a lot of hoopla these days about virtual worlds. Second Life has a plethora of real-life advertisers. And yet every time we a...
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March 31, 2009
BIRTH ORDER
  n   Over the years there’s been a great deal written about the personal characteristics of people based on their birth order—oldest,...
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March 28, 2009
SHARE THE GLORY
  We once read an interview with David Carradine that had a photo of him on the set directing one of his movies. On the side of his camera ...
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March 24, 2009
OWN YOUR OWN HOLIDAY
  We have a friend who celebrates two holidays each year—neither of them is Christmas: Groundhog Day and Talk Like A Pirate Day. At Chris...
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March 20, 2009
MENTORS
MENTORSnMentors should be forever…not just in the early days of school or career. Both of us have been blessed with great mentors in ...
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March 17, 2009
ONE SIZE FITS ALL
There’s a fundamental problem with one size fits all. It never does. Because any brand that claims that it fits everyone clearly fits no o...
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March 13, 2009
BRAND ICONS ON THE WRONG HEADS
  People tend to wear icons and images of the brands they love. The mighty Nike brand took a downturn in the 1990’s at about the same tim...
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March 11, 2009
NO SUCH THING AS A FREE LUNCH
 Robert Heinlein, in his science fiction classic “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” had an acronym expression “Tanstaafl” which stood f...
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March 5, 2009
CLEARANCE vs SALE
We all love a good deal, but good deals come in different semantic packages. Which is the better buy something on sale or something on clear...
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January 20, 2009
DIGITAL OVERKILL
   One of us recently renovated his kitchen. Got all new, fancy brushed-steel appliances. No sooner was the kitchen in and everything test...
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January 6, 2009
DYSLEXIA & BUSINESS. IT ALL A.D.D.s UP
   One of us is A.D.D. The other is, too. And that’s a good thing. More and more business people in recent years have stated that their...
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December 30, 2008
CELEBRITY
    Both of us have worked in the entertainment business and have encountered numerous celebrities. From the earliest days it was easy to...
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December 23, 2008
WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GREW UP?
It’s a question that can be an instant Rorschach test into a person’s secret desires. Both of us wanted to be garbage collectors…for d...
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December 19, 2008
FOOD IS LOVE
  No one ever got fired over pizza. We’ve never heard of a situation where someone was handed a slice of pizza and underneath it was a pi...
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December 16, 2008
FUTUROLOGISTS
 rnThe beauty of being a predictor of the future is that you”ve been paid and you”re gone before anyone can prove you were wron...
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December 9, 2008
ACCESS SUCCESS
rnrnHow do you achieve success? One of the keys is access. Getting to the right people at the right time with the right idea is 90% of succe...
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October 31, 2008
LOBSTER. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
    Hey, Urker! Why don’t we take this crawly, alien-looking creature with slimy insides, boil it in a pot of water and eat it?√...
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October 28, 2008
THE GIANT DUH! (or DOH!)
rnrnThere comes a moment in all our lives when we have The Giant Duh! The moment when we demonstrate our overwhelming stupidity,  or is it ...
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August 29, 2008
MAKING IT LOOK EASY
 rnrnWe all admire the well-turned speech; the easy, comfortable presentation. The best speakers, especially the ones who appear to...
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August 18, 2008
SITUATIONAL HUMOR
   Humor is a great icebreaker. We’ve all been to those first encounters—meetings, bli...
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August 6, 2008
MONEY DOESN”T KNOW WHO OWNS IT
 If money knew who owned it, Mother Teresa would have been rich and all the rest of us good people would be a lot richer than we ar...
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June 9, 2008
THE BUSINESS OF HOBBIES
 We learned a very interesting lesson years ago. We’re both lovers of music and film and we started writing popul...
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May 9, 2008
QUALITY ISN’T A SALES HOOK
rnrnWe were listening to an inspirational audio CD from Dan Kennedy called “Confidence, Power, Dollars & Wealth” a recording...
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April 29, 2008
PAYING ATTENTION
rnrnThe late Broadway composer and TV star Albert Hague once said, “in poker, you can’t bluff someone who ...
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April 8, 2008
ELECTRONIC LEASHES
rnrnCrackberries. Cell phones. IMing. Availability 24/7. There”s a big difference between customer service and doormat. Are you availa...
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April 8, 2008
WHAT DO YOU DO?
rnDo you know what business you”re in? Do you know what you do? That simple understanding and focus will make you more successful. Tak...
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April 8, 2008
NEW BUSINESS
rn   rnCall into your offices one day. Or if your voice is recognizable, have a friend do it. Pretend you’re a ne...
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March 24, 2008
EXITS
rnrnIf entrances are about grandeur, exits are about grace. How we leave, leaves a lasting impression. Some of the best exits we see are in ...
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March 7, 2008
IT ALL COMES OUT IN THE WASH
rnrnAn unabashed plug for a car wash (and not the one pictured above): If you”re ever in Sarasota, FL, make a point to get your car wa...
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February 28, 2008
A TIP ABOUT TIPS
On February 26, the New York Times ran a human-interest story about a Texas waitress who was given a thoroughbred horse as a tip. Certainly ...
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February 25, 2008
THE TALENTED BEGINNER
It”s about being pre-socialized. It”s about not being afraid to offer up ideas. The willingness to step in where no one”s ...
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February 19, 2008
WHAT DO YOU DO?
Do you know what business you”re in? Do you know what you do? That simple understanding and focus will make you more successful. Take ...
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February 15, 2008
HINDSIGHT, INSIGHT & FORESIGHT
It”s easy to be a genius after the fact. Monday morning quarterbacking, piggy-backing on someone else”s idea, me-too brands, par...
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February 8, 2008
THE 1-2 PUNCH
rn   rn rn   rn Take a simple, business-changing lesson from Jack Welch. He had a corporate vision that his company, GE, would only own th...
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January 29, 2008
THE SILO MENTALITY
rnrnHot topic: Silo thinking. You do your job in Finance or Sales or Marketing and you answer to your boss and you do your job. Silos are fo...
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