Archive for the ‘Advertising’ Category

Killing a tree for Christmas

November 9th, 2011 1 comment

It will cost Americans fifteen cents more per tree killed this Christmas, according to The Heritage Foundation.

When the headline hit my Facebook feed, the tree-hugging-Californian in me, with a fake tree stored in a Kansas-basement, was jumping with joy that Obama was taxing Americans for killing a tree!

I’ve honestly never understood why it was necessary for a one-day celebration. Particularly from those of us just fitting in with society’s rituals. (I do it for my kids! .. and the cookies.)

As an advertiser who has attempted to convince franchisees to agree on a cooperative marketing campaign, I am flipping-out-jealous of Obama.

A “tax” for marketing, where any seller of 500+ trees is forced to opt in? And they can’t even really argue about it because it’s not even their money that’s being spent on the campaign, er, “new image!”

Brilliant! .. No .. Umm .. Commanding?

Not even the biggest advertising agency has the opportunity to sell in a plan like that to win Agency Of Record.

I wonder if he’s getting some sort of fee or percentage of budget like we would for making that happen?

Because, last I knew, Christmas trees were sorta tied in with a little religion called Christianity. And I really thought we had rules about a separation between church and state in this country.

It’s not “Junk” .. It’s a Reflection

September 8th, 2011 1 comment

I couldn’t help but laugh at one of my morning chores today.

Sorting through my mail from yesterday.

Junk in my .. er .. ON my counter.

My “junk mail,” as my 80’s mind wants to call it.

But, is it “junk” today? Or, is it just a reflection of who we are and what we want?

Long gone are the days of buying names of lists blindly and hoping you would buy our >insert product here<.

Now? .. We know you.

Be paranoid.

Sometimes, it’s a good thing.

We’re after you.





“The Man.”


We’re getting SMARTER.

So lock your doors.

Hide yo’ children.

No body is safe from the message we want to speak.


Categories: Advertising, Life, My Opinion Tags:

Some people just .. know you.

September 6th, 2011 No comments

An Old Friend (AOF), 8/31: “Everything good kiddo?”

Me: “Why do you ask?”


Me: “lol. Because I lack a filter? .. But try?”

AOF: “lol.. just lookin out for ya babe .. as always”

Me: “It’s been a rough few months. .. But then I’ll add my filter back on, because right now it’s a fight I’m trying to avoid rather than face. … Although I’m smart enough to be prepping myself for the worst.”

AOF: “if ya need to yell, im always here.. …”

.. And then the conversation went entirely “agency/media/digital/dork” .. So I will save you from all of that.

And just say, “I am who I am. And I am not afraid of (most) things.”

I will challenge you directly. And I will apologize if I am wrong.

I am an anomaly. Or, as I prefer to say “a conundrum of contradictions.”

Categories: Advertising, Life, My Opinion Tags: ,

Honesty is a Lonely Word

September 4th, 2011 No comments

Just came to a realization, of sorts.

Perhaps the biggest problem in this country isn’t Laziness, Greed nor Ignorance.

Rather, I am now suspecting a new culprit: Censorship.

Yes, I realize you may think that I am “extreme” or “have no filter.” But I don’t just think twice before I speak.

I take a big breath, think my thoughts through a final time, SUCK IT UP, and say what I believe you need to hear. NOT necessarily even CLOSE to what you WANT to hear.

Yes, Clients. This applies to my conversation with you, too.

Take me or leave me.

ps. This also means my random compliments are sincere. You’re welcome. “Honesty is such a lonely word.” – Billy Joel

Ambiguous Truths

January 9th, 2011 No comments

“What do you do?”  It’s a question we all get.  A lot.

When I worked a full-time-with-routine-paychecks-and-benefits job, I thought that answer was difficult enough.

Me: “I work in advertising.”

Them: “Oh!  What commercials have you written?”

Me: “I’m not a copywriter.  I’m a media planner.  It’s my job to make sure you see the ads.”

One of two things would happen: they either looked confused; or they realized that I just told them I’m somehow responsible for interrupting their TV shows (and looked angry).

As awkward as I always found that conversation, at least my answer was always the same.  Since going independent, I’ve noticed that my answer changes depending on who asks me.

To fellow moms, in the middle of a week day: “I stay at home with my kids.”

If they catch me on a call while taking my daughter to gymnastics, going to the grocery store, or my other mom-tasks I also add: “… and I do consulting.” or  “I work from home.  And I have kids.”

I have always prided myself in not bending to appease others’ perceptions of me, so have been a bit perplexed by how shady my answer has become.  While all variations of the truth, I certainly wouldn’t call it “straightforward.”

Maybe I should just start answering, “I’m a juggler,” and be done with it.

Categories: Advertising, Life Tags:

Hi. .. Remember me? It’s Twitty Bird.

August 31st, 2010 No comments

It’s been a while. Again. I would apologize, but I know you don’t need it. You’ve been busy, too. .. Thanks for taking your time to listen.

I’ve tried to update this space several times since my last post, but have found it (exceptionally) hard. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say. Perhaps it’s that I’ve had too much on my mind.

I went home last month. For most people, perhaps that’s not such a big deal; it happens every couple months, or at least within a year (or few). .. It’d been almost 13 years since I was back to the place where I grew up.

You’ve heard the expression, “You can never go home again.” I was caught somewhere between that, and an overwhelming love for the few people from my past that remained. At the end of only a few short days, I found myself walking away, my chest overwhelmed with things that I couldn’t change or wouldn’t be.

Thirteen years. So much had changed: my childhood home was neglected; weeds were deeply rooted in cracked concrete where I met some of my oldest and best friends; hangouts and places that held so many memories were demolished or abandoned (and likely awaiting a similar fate).

What remained weren’t the streets themselves, but something beneath the surface that still threads a group of us together. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it until I read a post that hit straight to the heart of the connection that remained so strong.

“Social Media,” we call it these days. It’s the newest trend, so hot it’s making positions like Chief Listening Officers start to pop up. (Weren’t we supposed to be doing that, anyway?)

Back when I was in junior high, I called it a BBS (Bulletin Board System). T.R.E.X. (The Relationship EXchange), to be specific. As my title suggests, my first username was Twitty Bird.

To me, it wasn’t “Media”. It had no resemblance to where I sang along with the latest releases, mocked headlines, anticipated series finales, or sat on the edge of my seat for commercial breaks to end.

It was where I went to connect, share and be honest. With people that understood me. Because all we could do was “listen” as we typed and shared our stories well into the night.

Despite how we refer to it today, has that changed? Will calling it “Media” make it any more a palatable platform for advertising to be consumed by a product/brand’s potential purchaser?

We can want things to be whatever we choose to name them: “Home” .. “Media” .. But that doesn’t necessarily make it so.

Categories: Advertising, Life, Social Networking Tags:

Advertising or Fundraising?

September 30th, 2009 2 comments

Thanks to a “helpful” group called the CCFC, it seems like I shouldn’t be allowed to pick my kids up from school.  If you listen to the radio with your kids in the car, you might be as guilty as I am.


BusRadio was a radio station in buses crossing 160 school districts in the country.  The programming included kid-friendly music, news, health and safety tips, contests, and – yes – even advertising.  That is, it did until the service was shut down on Monday, according to Media Life.


Fueled by the “Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood” (CCFC), the FCC has apparently cracked down, forcing the service to close.  While the reason for the abrupt end has not been confirmed by BusRadio, the CCFC has been fast to stand up and take responsibility for the company’s demise. 


Way to go, guys.  I’m sure no kids have rushed home this week to grab their remotes without hearing the “entreaties to spend their after-school hours watching TV and playing videogames” on their bus ride.  In fact, I’m sure that they’re sitting in silence, missing the censored version of their local Top-40’s station that is likely not only available in their parents’ cars, but right in their own bedroom via (>gasp<) a radio!  Certainly, they’re not talking to each other on the bus about the hot new video game or toy that they already have at home, fueling the evil word-of-mouth.


There’s a reason that I call myself a “media fundraiser”: we (in advertising-media) make it free, cheap and/or even possible.  Perhaps we could consider ourselves “community fundraisers” as well, if only people would let us do our jobs.


Media Life’s Toni Fitzgerald seems to agree, “…school districts are pinched for money and looking for nontraditional ways to account for budget shortfalls. Programs like BusRadio, which required no upfront fee from the school districts and cut them in on a portion of the ad revenue, fulfill that need.”


This is quite a conundrum that we find ourselves in.  I don’t think anyone would disagree that we have a need for quality education, which also requires funding beyond what’s obviously available.  There are other ways of getting money than relying on a check from our debt-ridden government, yet the voices of a few can captivate even parents enough to help prevent assistance.


As silly as it is to think that the FCC might say that I’m not allowed to play the radio in my car when I pick up my kids, so is it to think that four minutes of advertising in a loud, kid-filled bus is going to make a bit of difference in how many times they ask for that Barbie or cell phone.


Maybe the parents in this group should’ve said “no” a few more times to their own kids, or spent some time explaining what a commercial is when they were exposed.  Perhaps if they’d taken such responsibilities, they wouldn’t be blaming advertisers and media vendors for their children’s greed.

Categories: Advertising Tags: , , , ,

The Fall of the Billboard

August 2nd, 2009 No comments

If a billboard falls in the middle of a field, does anyone notice as they’re speeding past?

Driving across the middle of the country, kids and husband finally sleeping, I had time for my favorite long drive activity: looking at billboards.  As I started searching for those ridiculous headlines that you see so often in the middle of nowhere, I found the scenery to be more frightening than humorous.  Sign after sign posted variations of, “Your Ad Here.”

As a lover of media and advertising, I felt a cold shudder.  It was like driving through my childhood neighborhood, turned into a ghost town.  For the first time since my own bad news and layoff, I felt true fear.  I found myself wishing that my kids’ whining was still a distraction as I held my breath through the graveyard.

On the upside, among all of the empty space, I still found a few of those nutty little advertisers that need our help.  For instance, after being served a 3-board teaser message about Jesus, we were delivered to the doors of the XXX Adult Video Store and Massage Parlor.  At least God and porn still have budgets.

Fueling Magazines’ Failures

July 20th, 2009 No comments

As September drop-deads are upon us, I’m hearing a lot about tumbling circulations and ad pages continuing to fade from magazines.  While it’s true that advertising budgets are trending downward, we have to remember that this started long ago.  Before big government bailouts, unemployment surges, mass foreclosures, and the fall of the auto industry, the once booming magazine industry has been quietly suffering.

The strength of magazines didn’t take such an immediate pummeling from things like the mass adoption of the internet as it’s printed sibling newspapers did.  But as more consumers’ dollars were allocated to cell phones and broadband connections, magazines began to see circulations decrease.  In early desperation, some publications falsified audit reports or inflated verified circulations, dumping titles in unnecessary public places.  They began to lose the faith of their advertising partners, and some began to close.

Planners paying attention began demanding cleaner circulations along with deeper discounts, free space, premium placement, product integration, cross-platform opportunities.  With the negative press, they had to deliver greater ROI to clients.  Even titles which had historically refused to negotiate began making “special exceptions” and “finding loopholes.”

While a great value for clients and making the negotiator look like hot-stuff, the additional decrease in revenue only fueled magazines’ woes.  Combined with the economy’s hard fall, titles both young and old began to announce last issues.  Those same planners once considered savvy are now finding themselves knocked for buying “cheap space” in a title that didn’t survive.  (Shameless Plug: Check out Magazine Death Pool for more dirt.)

Today, clients are uncertain of budgets, don’t trust signing annual plans and don’t know which title is going to be cut next.  Their lower budgets are still forcing even higher ROI expectations, yet the lack of commitment means positioning can rarely be negotiated, decreasing the medium’s value.  Of course, that means they’ll need to balance that loss with even bigger discounts and more free pages.

As a media planner, I jokingly used to say that I was a “media fundraiser” to folks not in advertising.  (Lest I be asked, again, if I write the commercials.)  Today, I wonder if I should’ve spent more time focusing on getting those funds approved, and a little less time doing multiple rounds of negotiations with titles I was forcing out of business.

Experian Simmons: You learn something new everyday

July 10th, 2009 No comments

I had a rather upsetting conversation with (what was) one of my favorite consumer and marketing research providers yesterday. 

I called Simmons (an Experian product), simply curious how much it would cost to gain access to their research.  I’m considering purchasing some consumer data, because I like being smart and I like writing about smart things.  I’m also working on a few independent ventures, and believe even the smallest “shop” needs to pony up some cash for research if they need it.  (Does anyone have a pony I can sell for research?)

After finding my contact was void (what? in this economy?), I was routed and rerouted and put on hold.  Finally, I was put through to a “woman” (the quotes are me being nice) who could tell me how much it costs.  I would tell you, except I still don’t know.  Also, please don’t think I’m being nice to her by omitting her name; she never told it to me.  I would have asked, but she was so short, I thought there might be a gnarly bear standing in her office, waiting with claws out.  I did, however, leave out the costs she quoted me in respect of her obvious fear.  (The below is paraphrased; it all happened so fast!)

“First,” she informed me, “you have to pay for an Experian membership.”  

For a minute, I thought I had another wrong person, “Experian membership?  For Simmons research?”

With a big sigh, she replied, “Simmons is a part of Experian, mam, so yes.  Then, you have to pay for the commercial building inspection.  Then..”

Now I was really confused, “Wait.  Commercial what?”

“Commercial building inspection.  We have to come and inspect your building for security purposes.”

“I don’t have a building.  I own a house and I work in my pajamas.”

“You work out of your home?”


As soon as she realized that I was at home, her shortness diminished to brashness.  At one point, I thought she was going to just hang up, but I still wanted to know how much it cost.  I pleaded that to get a commercial building, I would have to write a business proposal and include how much my resources were going to cost as a part of that.  She explained that I had to be already established, and in a commercial building, before she could even talk to me.

I apologized for keeping her on the phone and let her go before the bear attacked.  I hope she got out okay, but I was left standing in my kitchen, wondering wtf had even just happened.  Did I really just have such an outdated conversation, with what’s supposed to be a forward thinking research company?  They’re going to tell me how consumers are thinking, acting, and spending, while they don’t even support an independent, work-from-home, entrepreneurial workforce, like the one that’s exploding right now due to the recession?

Really, Experian/Simmons?  Are you even paying attention at all?

I might not have gotten my question answered on how much it costs to pay for their research, but I guess it doesn’t matter since I don’t want a commercial building.  It did, however, explain why they’re not on twitter, either.


Categories: Advertising, Research Tags: