The Ultimate Marketing Excercise

On Mike and Mike on ESPNRadio this morning, Matt Millen, a former Penn State football player said, and I will paraphrase, that with Penn State, the only thing that has really changed, is there is a new football coach or two, and some new administrative staff. While that may be the literal truth, it is not what most people believe. It just goes to show how different the court of public opinion is from what may actually be true. I’m not agreeing with Millen, but I don’t disagree with him either.

Public opinion outside of State College, PA is decidedly not a positive one. Based on Sandusky’s convictions, the Freeh Report, the statue removal, and the resignation of school officials, and hours upon hours of media coverage, its almost impossible to have a positive view of any of this, whether or not Millen is correct or not. Having a positive image of Penn State at all at ANY point soon, seems impossible. On the other hand, there have been plenty of people, places or things that have had terrible reputations at one point or another who have been able to rehabilitate themselves.

Is Penn State a special case? Can they ever rehabilitate their image in the eyes of public opinion? If so, what can they do? If no, what should they do?

I’m interested in your responses.


Live The Gimmick

At BJ’s, there are no hand baskets.

But there are oversized shopping carts, pallet loaders, and other similar transport items that you normally see in the lumber area of Home Depot.

If you need a couple things, they don’t want to sell them to you. Oh, if you have a membership, you can go in and buy one or two things, but you gotta wheel around the giant cart and look weird with two things in it at the giant checkout area. Then there’s the merchandise checker at the door. They don’t know what to do with you if you walk up to them without a cart, and with a case of soda and two bags of chips. I know, I’ve been that guy.

But, why no baskets? Its because BJ’s lives their gimmick. Nobody wants to pay a membership fee to shop somewhere they’ll be running in and grabbing something quick on occasion. People want to pay a membership fee to shop at a place where you can buy four pounds of strawberries, nine toothbrushes, and a hundred pack of disposable razors, all alongside a variety pack of mini potato chip bags, and a seventy five pack of Keurig kCups.

Shopping at BJ’s is not a thing you should be doing as a quick stop on the way home from work. Shopping at BJ’s is an event. Bring your boxes and bags, and empty out your trunk and backseat, because you’ll need the room for all you bought. Hope your freezer at home has room!

Just one example of one of those little things that means so much.




Don’t look back in anger

There’s a reason why classic rock is still immensely popular. Yet in every other industry, it seems like we leave the old behind. Heck, we seem to do this as a life practice. Look how we treat our elderly!

Really, I keep thinking about all the stuff I learned in college, which was before the internet revolution, when there was little to no social media, and banner advertising was in its infancy.

Why does it seem like we’ve all forgotten our basics? We’ve gone to the flash, the quick shot. We are looking for LMFAO, when we should be looking for the Rolling Stones. We are listening to “Party in The USA” when we should be listening to “Tom Sawyer” or whatnot.

Enough pop marketing, remember the classics. Please!

Closing Time

I’m sure you’re aware of this weekends event. Yup, its the start of the new advertising season.

Oh, yeah, and the Super Bowl, too. Complete with obligatory overblown halftime show as has been made the usual in the last decade or so. This year, its Madonna. Well, shit – she’s pretty much a study in masterful marketing all to herself, but she’s got a new album to pimp, so I guess that’s that.

But I digress, music is not my focus today. For better or for worse, the Super Bowl has become more about the commercials than anything else. Given, the average Super Bowl draws in hundreds of millions of viewers in every potential demographic that could be dreamed of. Three million plus dollars for an advertisement that will be seen by the four people who it would benefit, and then another gazillion that couldn’t give a crap. Really? Why not spend that money on your product instead.

Yeah, I know, most of if not all of the advertisers are huge already, and that three million is nothing to any of them. But THINK of the impact of an extra three million dollars on R&D, or training, or for that matter, hiring people to do your customer service who aren’t complete assholes or morons.

Plus, now with the internet and its associate social media, half of the commercials end up released before the actual game anyhow. Doesn’t that lessen the impact? Yes, I get it…you got the new hotness for your commercial…DON’T SHOW ME THE COMMERCIAL BEFORE YOU ANNOUNCE ITS DEBUT AFTER IVE ALREADY SEEN IT! That’s idiotic. Yes, I know there are people who don’t spend all day on the internet, and don’t use YouTube or send videos around on their smartphone, but just stop it. If its meant to be a TV commercial, and to have a massive debut on the most watched tv show in months, don’t let me see it on YouTube several weeks before the game, because I already don’t give a shit. I don’t care about your commercial, I probably don’t even remember the product, either. You don’t need to be the first, or the coolest, or the company that got the cool new thing in their commercial to be the best.

You just need to be the best. Period.

In My Room


Your Happy Place.

Comfort Food.


All of these have one thing in common. Well, probably more than one, but that’s not my point. Each of the above things can be turned to in moments of insecurity, doubt, or confusion as a way to make things right within yourself, or can be relied upon when everything else is unreliable.

That’s something that is desirable to almost everyone, and that is understandable. Fallback is something everyone wants to have. But fallback is BORING. If you have fallback, that means you really don’t have to put in that extra effort, because you have something you can go back to.

People who are truly good at what they do, will generally not have something to fall back on. Can that potentially bite them in the ass? Of course. But that is something that will keep the right kind of person going…because if you have nothing to fall back on, you CANNOT fail. Failure at that point can be catastrophic. Oh, it still happens, and its devastating, for sure. But if you fail when you have nothing to fall back on, you damn well know you did everything you could.

The reward for fallback is still there, but I can guarantee you it won’t be as big or as sweet as the reward for putting it all out there, success or not. The reward for safety may be satisfying enough at the time, but after a while, it will cease to feel like a reward, because in reality, it never was one in the first place.

Reach for that brass ring, or as my good friend Sarah Robinson says, burn your ships…and you will know the true rewards, no matter what your potential is.



On a previous blog that’s not really completely retired, because I try to write for it now and again, but I haven’t published on it in months, one of my more popular entries was titled Depression and Social Marketing. At the time I wrote it, to be honest, it was a throwaway post based on a question I’d been asking myself for a while. I don’t even consider it that good a post, but apparently it struck a chord with a lot of people, because I’ve gotten hits on it from around the world, and in some of the referrer links, it appears as the first link on top of the search engine. Worldwide. That’s INSANE to me.

The thing is, despite not thinking it was that good of a post, and really publishing it because I needed to put something up at that point, the subject of the post is actually one of the most important things I’ve ever written about. Its actually one of the reasons why this whole blog here itself exists today. Do I, or anyone else who has anxiety, one of many forms of depression, are introverted, socially anxious, or whatever their mental condition or imbalance need to be treated any differently? Why or why not?

I can understand the want for a community that you can relate to, hell EVERYONE wants that. Everyone wants to belong somewhere. But really, unless it is directly mentioned, how do you really know the person who you talk to online every day on Twitter, or on your message board, or your email list (hey, remember those? I do.), or your blog is any different from anyone else?

Does the fact that there are some days when I don’t want to get out of bed, or eat, or go to work, or times when I declined an invitation to go out with friends for a drink really mean that I respond differently to marketing stimuli? I don’t think so. Child, adult, male, female, New York, California, Catholic, Jewish and so on, yes. Demographics and things like that DEFINITELY respond different to marketing stimuli, I don’t think that’s in question, it’s pretty much the base for our industry. But I don’t view mental state, whether it be permanent, temporary or under control as something that would affect response to stimuli, other than whether it exists or not as a general statement – cause if I’m not getting out of bed, I’m not going to go buy something.

Am I climbing the wrong tree here? Am I declining to see the difference because its natural to me since its what I see on a regular basis? I’d love to hear your thoughts.


I believe in the healing power of music.

Yeah, I said it. In my life, I haven’t met an emotion, an experience, or one of many other things that can’t be affected by music in one way or another.

A song can make a good day a bad one, make a hour commute to work seem like five minutes, make the unmemorable into the memorable, and of course, can do the opposite, as well. A song can trigger a memory, create a new one, make you laugh, make you smile, make you cry, make you scream, or stop you dead in your tracks.

There are songs I listen to that make me remember a specific moment in time, whether it be a good memory or a bad one. I can instantly be at my wedding dancing with my wife for the first time, or driving home from graduation rehearsal when I found out my aunt had passed away, or dancing in the aisles at my first concert when I was seven years old. Yes, I realize these are memories I have, and would likely have regardless, but to me, they aren’t as powerful without what was behind them. It could have been the lyrics, the music itself, or something completely unrelated to the actual song at all…but the music is what brings it back.

On the other side of it, music can be used to alter an experience so that it turns out differently than it may have without it. I make it no secret that I have more than my share of issues, whether they be realistic or not. I make it no secret that I have trouble with anxiety, depression, and antisocialism. This is truly where the healing can come in…but also where the opposite comes in, as I mentioned above. Yes, its true that music can change or sustain a mood for many people, but it doesn’t only work on good moods. I have certain things I can listen to that can bring me out of a spin, make me smile when I don’t want to, and I have certain things I can listen to that can continue the bad mood, make me angry, make me want to scream, and so on.

Music and health in general have a close relationship. Even if you don’t think so…take a moment and really think about it – I’ll bet you can find SOMETHING in there. Share below if you choose…I’d love to hear what you guys have to say.