Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: marketing

Marketing Idea

coke

Prologue —

I deleted this post on Friday, five minutes after I published it, thinking it stupid, but of course, I forgot that the minute you hit the publish button, off it flies onto the top perch of the Google Reader, so there is no hiding it… ever.

The following  post, as bad as it is, actually went through several re-writes, and took a long time, because I had no real point in writing it other than to vent about this Lunchables hashtag that was cluttering my Twitter feed that night.   A whole group of  women were involved in some sort of sponsored conversation, complete with a giveaway of a Flip Camera, the requirement for winning the camera being that you had to “retweet” some message about Lunchables, slamming the web with advertising.

Normally, whenever someone complains about this type of thing of commericalism, the retort is always:  you can always unfollow the person or change the channel on the TV.  Unfortunately, social media makes this difficult because companies are actually using our own friends to sell things to us.    Social media professionals know that we aren’t going to “unfollow” our friends for trying to win a free Flip camera, so we are a captive audience for free advertising out of politeness and peer pressure.  I don’t blame those who participate in this giveaway as much as the companies and PR companies who KNOW this and create these types of viral campaigns, cleverly sneaking their marketing onto  my personal space.  They know that if I unfollowed every person who used their Twitter account for this type of viral promotion, I would have very few friends on Twitter.

So, since I felt a bit cranky as I scanned over these annoying Lunchables tweets, much like I am tonight with these crazy tweets about the good work of Nestle’s “family” of products — http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23nestlefamily, I fought back in my own passive aggressive way.  I tried to come up with a ridiculous version of this type of marketing campaign in the real world, as an example of how annoying this could be in a three dimensional world.

After I re-read the post and saw something profoundly wrong with it.   Rather than it sounding sarcastic and satirical, it actually sounded like a decent idea, and I feared that someone would actually steal this idea and call it “The Neilochka Scheme,” much like Ponzi is forever be remembered for his infamous “Ponzi scheme.”  And that would really suck.  So, I deleted the post.

But since it is out there already — here is the last version that I posted on Friday.

+++

Imagine there is a big Yankee – Red Sox game on Sunday at Yankee Stadium.  Coca-Cola takes out an advertisement in the Daily News saying, “Wear a Coke t-shirt to the Yankee game on Sunday, and one lucky winner will win a Mercedes Benz and free Coke for a year!”  For the price of one ad in the newspaper, one car, and a couple hundred cases of Coke, the company could make a big splash — all for 1/1000th the cost of a commercial!  Hundreds would show up wearing a Coke t-shirt in a customer-led marketing campaign, and the crowd would be a sea of Coke red.  I’m not sure they would even need the permission of the Yankees to do this since they aren’t requiring any of their resources.

Why don’t companies ever do this?  Wouldn’t this be the real life equivalent of how companies require  bloggers to write a post about a product in order to enter a giveaway or to tweet the company’s product hundreds of times on Twitter like was done during tonight’s “Lunchables” promotion on Twitter before they can win a FlipCam or free tickets to Disney on Ice?

I find the potential of this idea somewhat scary, but I see how it could work.

+++

There was more to the post, but I chopped it as much as that Sham-Wow guy does with his vegetables with that chopping gizmo on TV, not wanting to hurt anyone’s feelings, which only made the post make less sense in the final version.  Besides, I felt hypocritical.   Wasn’t I asked to do the exact same thing when I wrote for that Brita “green lifestyle” blog, asking people to write a “earth day post” so they could get some prize?

And wouldn’t I use any marketing tool that I had at my disposal if I wanted to promote something of my own, or a book of a fellow blogger,  like Kate’s new pirate book, or a friend’s new Etsy shop?  Is there any real difference to doing shout-outs for a friend, and getting a whole group of people to promote some unnecessary corporate product by offering them a prize for helping you advertising a brand they don’t really care about?   I guess the real question is, would anyone be shouting out good things about Lunchables if  the initial brand enthusiast wasn’t getting freebies and the others weren’t in a drawing for a Flip cameras?

We all do a lot of promoting online, but I feel that it is more sincere when we  pimp someone or something because we like the person or the project, or respect the person, or hell — want to get into that person’s pants!   At least that is an honest emotion, even if a bit sleazy.   But human.   And potentially better tasting than Lunchables.

+++

May this be proof that not every post ends up being good.

Doing Things Backwards

I had a dream last night, a plan for online success.  In the dream, I quit Twitter and Facebook.  I delete everyone from my blogroll.

Except for one woman.

I use my blog to woo her, day in and day out.  I close my blog, focusing instead on writing only to her, composing a new, passion-filled love letter each and every day.

This woman, a beauty beyond words, can not resist the attention of a man who has picked her over all the others, like a Prince choosing his Princess.  She invites me to her apartment.  We make love.  We make love for days.  By the end of the week, I move in with her as her permanent lover.  I continue to compose beautiful love letters for her each day, placing one on our King-sized bed in the morning, along with a freshly-cut rose.  In each letter, hand-written on the finest paper, I speak openly of how much I love her eyes, her lips, her breasts, her sense of humor, her creativity, her soul.  We make love again each morning, and as my head is between her thighs, kissing the very center of her womanhood, I think about strategies for monetization.

Mommybloggers: The Next Generation

(OK pre-post information — just so there isn’t confusion with readers. The LA Times article about the cheerleaders is real, as are the quotes in italics.  Everything else is made up, including the stuff about the mother and cheerleader daughter at the end.  I was inspired by my blogging friend Erin (Queen of Spain), who wrote an interesting post about mommybloggers and how they should think of themselves as businesses. It made me wonder… why is this story about corporations using cheerleaders for marketing purposes any different? I only recently became interested in this subject of marketing and blogging because I’ve been reading all these discussions on Twitter. I didn’t realize that so many mommybloggers get freebies and invited to these corporate weekends.  I think it is great that bloggers get any type of opportunities, especially those who never had the chance before.   I just think this is a bad for blogging in general to go so corporate, as we’ll then begin to distrust what everyone says (is it marketing or not?).  Call me old-fashioned.

The post —

We always hear such bad news about today’s teenagers — low test scores, teen pregnancy, drug use, etc. — that it is nice to hear some positive news about our youth.

In today’s LA Times, there is an inspiring article about teenage girls who are true leaders, and using their skills to empower themselves.

For decades, cheerleaders have been the most popular girls in school. Their influence is unmatched. Other girls want to look like them, befriend them, and get the same type of attention from the boys. Cheerleaders, acknowledging their important role as influencers, are getting smart — joining with major firms in exciting strategic marketing alliances. After all, if a manufacturer wants to sell a new type of “teen” hairspray, why not go directly to those “who matter the most” — the prettiest girls — the cheerleaders.

“Forces are making it very difficult for advertisers to connect with young people,” said Samantha Skey, executive vice president of strategic marketing at Alloy Media & Marketing, a youth marketing agency. “So advertisers are going into schools, forging new platforms for youth connection.”

“My whole bathroom is full of stuff they give us,” said a freshman on the Rock Star Athletics cheerleading team.

Companies are smart to target cheerleaders, said Marlene Cota, vice president of corporate alliances at Varsity Brands Inc., the Memphis, Tenn., company that ran the competition in Anaheim, because they are often the girls others look up to.

At recent cheerleading camps across the country, Propel, a unit of Gatorade Co., sponsored “hydration breaks,” handing out “fitness water” after participants exercised; CoverGirl conducted a makeover tour, showing how to apply lip gloss and other cosmetic products; and Skintimate, a unit of S.C. Johnson & Son. Inc., sponsored an in-camp cheerleading competition to anoint a “Smooth Moves” champion.

“The girls literally screamed at each camp when they learned they would get free CoverGirl makeovers and samples,” company spokeswoman Anitra Marsh said.

Sarah Schneider, a 35 year old mother from Santa Monica, is proud of her fourteen year old daughter, Kristy, one of the “popular girls” at school, and a cheerleader.

“It took me 35 years and two therapists to figure out my personal “branding,” said Sarah, a popular mommyblogger also known as AOKMomma. “Kristy is lucky to have become an early adopter at her young age. All her friends look up to her, so it is only natural for her to promote products to them, especially to those who aren’t very popular or pretty. By using the product that she is promoting, the other girls can make believe that are as wonderful as Kristy. It’s exactly what I do on my blog with MY FRIENDS! I’m so proud that Kristy is following in my footsteps! The two of us have really bonded, mother and daughter, helping each better monetize our brands.”

Of course, a pair of influencers in one household can also have humorous side effects. Recently, Sarah published a series of blog posts promoting Degree anti-perspirant, after receiving several freebies in the mail. A week later, another package came with more samples of Degree. Was she supposed to be writing another post? Then, she noticed that the package was addressed to… her daughter!

“Kristy was throwing a Degree anti-perspirant Party with her cheerleader friends. We laughed so hard. We were both marketing the same product to our friends! But Kristy is so much more clever than I am. She came up with her own slogan for the party — and we wrote it on a big sign that read, “Be as Cool and Pretty as the Cheerleaders. Use Degree anti-perspirant.” All the less-attractive girls were buying the Degree samples from her, so much so that she made enough money to buy her own Guitar Hero 3 for the freebie Wii she got from Nintendo for promoting that to her friends at church. ! I have a feeling that one day, she’s going to have a blog that is even more popular than mine!”

My Wii Story

wii2.jpg

Have you guys tried Wii yet? It is totally different than any other video game. It is so much, much more! Here is my Wii story and how I got involved with the nice people at Nintendo —

I was IM-ing with a great blogging friend of mine, bragging about the 400 comments I have on that”interview” post. I know it isn’t polite to “toot one’s own horn,” but I was really feeling like someone special.

“That’s great,” said my friend. “But you realize that a blogger like Ree from “Confessions of a Pioneer Women” gets 3000 comments on some of her posts!

“3000! My God. I’m so glad for her!” I said, lying.

My friend then told me that on the particular post where she received 3000 comments, she gave away a Wii to a lucky reader in a contest. Apparently Nintendo was creating relationships with several hip sites popular with women. I think it’s great when companies explore new ways to market their products.

“I need to get on this Wii thing for MY readers,” I said, knowing the demographic of my readership, and how they would respond positively to this unique opportunity.

Now, as you know, I have this problem with putting ads on my blog, but a contest is something very different. I am a people pleaser, and nothing would make me happier than getting one of YOU a free Wii. Of course, the 3000 comments wouldn’t be bad either. Talk about a sure-fire opening line at a bar.

I contacted the Nintendo company, and I was surprised that they knew EXACTLY who I was. Apparently, they have done their research on the movers and shakers in the blogosphere.

“You’re the interview guy,” said Marci, the Nintendo marketing executive on the phone. “We know you have a large female readership.”

“Yes I do. They love me.” I said, laughing at my own immodesty.

“We’d very much like for you to do a Wii contest on your blog. We can offer you a Wii for one of your lucky readers, as well as a free Wii for you to use and enjoy.”

“That’s great. I know Sophia has been anxious to try this Guitar Hero she’s been hearing about.”

“Perfect. I’ll email you the marketing copy for the post.”

“What marketing copy?”

“Well, you can write any Wii story you’d like, and do any contest you’d like, but we’d like you to use our new catchphrase, “Wii makes you feel more alive!””

“Wii makes you feel more alive!?”

“Exactly.”

“Uh, I know it probably isn’t my place to say this, but that’s sort of boring. Don’t you think?”

“Well, our marketing department thinks…”

“Marketing department?! Ha Ha. Listen, I know you’re in marketing yourself, and I respect that, but I consider myself a “writer.” I think I can come up with something better suited to my blog.”

“Like what, for instance?”

“Well, how about this — I think this is funny, but “realistic” — “Playing with your Wii is even better than playing with your wee-wee.”

“That’s ridiculous. I don’t even understand…”

“Well, I’m using wee-wee as a playful name for a “c*ck.””

“I know what a wee-wee is, but it doesn’t seem very appropriate for Nintendo to use that as a promotional…”

“I think it will appeal to a lot of men. What I’m trying to express is — “Why sit around jerking off to porn when you can be playing virtual tennis on your Wii?””

“Wow, uh, I really don’t know what to say, I’ve worked in marketing for many years, and, to be frank, talking about masturbation isn’t… and…even if it was… we’re trying to appeal mostly to your female readers.”

“My FEMALE readers?! Hell, they masturbate more than the men! They’re masturbating ALL THE TIME. I think that’s why half of them READ my blog!   You should read THEIR blogs:  every other post is about some new vibrator!  I can only imagine what they’re doing when they come to Citizen of the Month!”

“Well, even so, your campaign wouldn’t make sense since… uh, women don’t have a wee-wee.”

“That’s true. But, wait… I have another idea. This will appeal more to the women. We get a photo of a French woman, and she lying on her bed with her hand between her legs, fantasizing, and she’s going, “Oui…Oui…, and THEN we use the catchphrase, “Playing with your Wii is even better than… Oui… Oui…””

Click.

“Hello? Hello? Marci? Are you there?”

Can you believe it? She hung up on me! What the hell is wrong with Nintendo? You give them some good ideas, and they are too “corporate” to think outside of the box. Well, screw them. Who needs a dumb Wii anyway!

Announcing, Neilochka’s contest to win a 2-1 coupon to the Olive Garden. The 3000th commenter wins!

(for gullible newcomers — truth quotient: .05%)

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Money

The Secret

secret2.jpg

“Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s house” spoke God, and a lightening bolt hit the table and ingrained the tenth commandment in stone for eternity. Moses, his hair turned white from being in the presence of God, shook in fear.

“But how will I get the chosen people to follow these commandments, Lord? I am but one small man. And the chosen people are a stiff-necked group of nudniks who are always arguing with one another. Couldn’t you have chosen a group that was more mellow, like the Amish? Surely the Israelites will not believe that I actually chatted with YOU.”

“Don’t worry, Moses. The answer is simple. Change them each $29.95 to learn the “secret” commandments and before you know it, you’ll be on Oprah and they’ll be standing on line to buy The Commandments on DVD.”

Recently, I’ve read a couple of bloggers talking about “The Secret,” some sort of new Age self-help book/video/audiotape/budding industry that was talked about on Oprah. Oprah speaks, people listen.

Now, I should admit that I have not seen this DVD or read the book, so I have very little to say about the content of this material. It might be inspirational. It might make me a changed man. But — the thing that annoys me about this “Secret” is the way it is being marketed. First of all, I was immediately turned off by their flashy, overproduced website. On the website, there is a lot of talk about “secret membership” and your choice of watching the video online for five bucks or buying the DVD for thirty dollars.

To me, the subtext says: inaccessibility. Why use Flash technology? Why do I have to download a special video codec from Vividas just to watch the trailer? And frankly — WHY should I pay for something so astounding? If this Secret really will change the world, shouldn’t this information be shouted out from rooftops everywhere? Shouldn’t it be freely spread throughout the world in order to make it a better place?

rhondab.jpg
Rhonda Byrne

I’m not against someone making money. But the editor, Rhonda Byrne, former producer of “What’s Cooking” and “The World’s Greatest TV Commercials,” admits that she is just revealing a secret that has already been with us for centuries, albeit only for the elite.

The Secret is released to the world! This ground-breaking feature length movie presentation reveals The Great Secret of the universe. It has been passed throughout the ages, traveling through centuries… to reach you and humankind.

This is The Secret to everything – the secret to unlimited joy, health, money, relationships, love, youth: everything you have ever wanted.

In this astonishing program are ALL the resources you will ever need to understand and live The Secret. For the first time in history, the world’s leading scientists, authors, and philosophers will reveal The Secret that utterly transformed the lives of every person who ever knew it… Plato, Newton, Carnegie, Beethoven, Shakespeare, Einstein.

Now, if this is all true, then HOLY S**T, that is some cool stuff. Someone should be GIVING away this information for free. Don’t worry, Ms. Byrne. You will not starve for all your hard work if you give away this information for free. After everyone has unlimited happiness and money, I’m sure you will be handsomely rewarded. But to make people buy a DVD to learn this amazing secret is simply immoral. It is like Moses charging for the Ten Commandments. It is like Jonas Salk discovering the cure for polio and only sharing it with his friends.

What’s with this selfishness, Ms. Byrne? Shouldn’t this information be offered to poor people for free? What about those without internet access? Or those without DVD players? Shouldn’t the United Nations be in on this?

Of course, I am just taking what you say at FACE VALUE — that this information of the Secret with bring in a “New Era for Humankind.” I would hate to think that all this is just cheesy marketing gimmick used to package the idea of “mind over matter,” a concept that has been around since Philosophy 101 in college.

I also notice that you include Henry Ford on your list of great visionary leaders who knew “The Secret.”

ford3.jpg
Henry Ford

He certainly was an innovator, but considering that he was a nasty guy, an anti-Semite, and a Nazi sympathizer, I seriously doubt that “the Secret” alone will make this a better world.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: Know Thyself… Very Little

April Fool’s Day Prank

fool2.jpg

Psst… hey.  It’s Neil’s Penis here.  Neil is asleep so I have to whisper.  

Saturday is my favorite holiday —  April Fool’s Day.  And I’m thinking of playing a little trick on Neil, right here on this blog.  Are you game?

I love April Fool’s Day.  Maybe its because I’ve always considered myself a bit of a jokester.  There’s nothing funnier than playing a little gag on Neil.  Sometimes, I pop up at the most inopportune times — just to bug and embarrass him.  I remember once rising into action during a pitch meeting with an important female executive who wasn’t wearing a bra.  I don’t ever remember laughing so hard in my life.

You might think me cruel, but actually, there’s a long literary tradition of the "Fool."  Was it not the Fool who was wiser than King Lear?

Have more than thou showest,
Speak less than thou knowest,
Lend less than thou owest,
Ride more than thou goest.

You’re surprised I know that?   You think just because I’m a cock that I’m not well-read?  Who the fuck you think writes all of Neil’s smart posts?  Without me, he’s a drooling idiot who writes cheap gags about Zelnorm! 

Most women think the Penis is the dumb one. 

"He’s thinking with the head down there, not the head up there"  is the typical cliched statement by a woman. 

But, in reality, I’m the real "brains" behind the person you call Neilochka.

In fact,  just this morning I was telling Neil how he could increase his female readership:

Penis:  "Write this down, Neil.  Here are the three posts you need to write over and over again to win over the female audience.  More stuff about how you appreciate a strong and intelligent woman.  More stuff about how you love little animals, particularly cats.   And more stuff about how your greatest joy in life is eating a woman’s pussy."

Neil:  "But none of that is…"

Penis:  "Just say it, you moron.  (looking towards heaven)  God, why were you so cruel to hang a penis like me on an idiot like him?"

All in all, I guess Neil is OK, even if he is a little simple-minded.  But that’s why I love playing gags on him. 

So, here’s my April Fool’s joke:

It seems that there’s one thing that Neil really hates about the blogging world — the way it’s been taken over by those only interested in self-promotion or marketing.  Neil thinks "real" blogs should be about mundane things — like what you had for lunch yesterday or why your ex-boyfriend is a jerk.  

A few months ago, Neil got fed up with all these so-called bloggers that he decided not to call his blog a blog anymore:

"From now on, I will think of "Citizen of the Month" as a "Shpritz."

shpritz:  a short spray of seltzer from a seltzer bottle

Every day, I will write a daily Shpritz.

And like a shpritz from a bottle, a literary shpritz will spray you in the face to get your attention, but it will never, ever stain your clothes.

Good-bye, blog.  Hello, Shpritz."

Neil is always slow to change.  Not only isn’t he on MySpace, like I am, but he doesn’t even own an iPod!  He is what they used to call "a traditionalist."  He thinks blogging should be about expression, not self-promotion.  This doesn’t really surprise me.  Neil is old-fashioned in everything.   For god’s sake, he thinks fucking with "the woman on top" is "getting kinky!"

So, here’s my idea.  Neil has a cold and isn’t going to read his blog again until Saturday; nor is Sophia because the schmuck got her sick too.  I suggest that that we totally hijack this post and comments and fill it with the things he hates the most — self-promotion and marketing. 

Yes, it’s the First Annual April Fool’s Day "Promote Yourself on Neil’s Blog and Annoy the Hell Out of Him."

Do you have a book that’s coming out?  Email me about it.  Or write something about it in the comments.

Do you want people to listen to your songs on MySpace?  Write about it. 

Do you have an online store selling jewelry?  Tell us about it!

Are you looking for a new job?  Promote yourself!

Do you think you would make a great wife?  Tell the men of America what your qualifications are! 

Do you run a sexoholic’s group and are looking for members?  Feel free to spread the word!

Is your son playing a tree in his third grade production of "Oliver!?"  Do you think one of your blog posts is good enough to be in the New Yorker?  Have you invented a new toilet seat?

Promote the hell out of your writing group, your play reading, your up-and-coming clothing line, your breast enlargements, your husband’s new law offices — anything!

Personally, I can’t wait to see Neil’s face on Saturday when he sees that his blog has been hijacked by his own penis! 

Ready for some promotional stuff?  I’ll get the ball rolling by bringing up Pauly D’s new book.

Blogger and comic genius Paul Davidson’s "The Lost Blogs" comes out May 8, 2006.  It sounds like a real winner — a humorous collection of lost "blogs" written by such famous historical figures as Jesus, Abraham Lincoln, and Gandhi.   Fellow blogger Kevin Apgar has set up a "Grassroots Blogger Book Marketing Campaign" for the book, and you can participate in the fun during the week of April 10-April 14 by writing your blog posts as your historical figure of choice!

Am I actually going to read Pauly’s book?  No fucking way.  I much prefer reading Shakespeare than nonsense like that.  But I’m gonna promote it anyway — just to ANNOY NEIL. 

April Fools, Neilochka!

Call Me

sprint2.jpg

Last week, I made fun of businesses that “pay” bloggers to talk about their products.    I became a hero to consumer advocates everywhere, a Ralph Nader of the blogosphere. 

That exact night, in a bizarre twist of fate, I received an email from Sprint.  In it, someone from Sprint wrote that after reading “Citizen of the Month,” they wanted to invite me to be part of the Sprint Ambassador Program.  As an “ambassador” for Sprint, I would receive a free phone with free calls, emailing, etc. for six months. 

The Sprint Ambassador Program is all about exploring our latest products and services and allows you to give direct feedback to Sprint. We recently launched the Sprint Power Vision (SM) Network and want to provide you with the full experience, at no charge. Sprint Power Vision Network enables customers to download data at faster speeds and experience new data products.

I wasn’t required to do anything, but I wasn’t discouraged about writing good things about Sprint on my blog.  At first, I thought this was some sort of Nigerian scam, but I Googled the program, and found out it was legit.

“Go for it,” said Sophia.  “Then give the free phone to me.”

“Why should I give it to you?  They want me to use it.”

“Neilochka, you still haven’t figured out how to use your current phone.”

She was right about my lack of interest in my current phone.  And what type of ambassador would I really be?  Would I have to keep on bugging my readers to switch from Cingular and T-Mobile?  I could imagine the post I would be writing in a month: 

Hey, blogger pals!  Have you seen Sprint‘s new phones lately?  SEXY!   And Sprint‘s sound quality?   I haven’t actually listened to it yet, but I know it is the best in the business.   You can hear a pin drop!   And I’m not just saying this in the hope that Sprint extends my use of a free phone to one year.  Of course not.  As a fellow blogger, I care about you.  That’s why I strongly advise all of you to go out RIGHT NOW and…

My thoughts were suddenly interrupted with a tapping sound.

“Uh, excuse me…”

I looked down and saw my penis tapping me on the right thigh.

“What is it, Penis?”

“I guess I should also come clean with your readers.”

“Jeez, Penis, I don’t think my readers want to hear the details about what happened while watching Cheryl Burke, Drew Lachey’s amazingly sexy dance partner, do the mambo on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars.”

“No, not that.  I also got an email from a company wanting to recruit me.  I’m now an official “Trojan Brand Evangelist.”

“What the hell is that?”

“I get to try out Trojan’s new “Super Ribbed for Her Pleasure” condoms for free.    Only a select group of A-list penises are asked to be evangelists.  Of course, there’s a little promise I made.   You’ll have to write about how good the condoms are on your blog.”

“Write about them?  I haven’t even used them!”

“But I did.”

“You did?  When?”

“While you were sleeping last night, I put one on myself.  And they are excellent.   Much more comfortable than those awful Japanese ones you bought last time.   And with the “Super Ribbing,” women are going to love getting fucked by you.”

“Penis, could you watch your mouth?   I have religious people reading this blog.”

“I’m trying to get you laid, you idiot!  Now shut up and listen to your big cock!”

“Well, you’re really not that big…”

“Shut up, moron!   It’s all about salesmanship!  You’re never going to get anywhere without selling yourself.  No matter whether its cell phones, condoms, blogs, or getting some pussy.”

“Penis.  I must insist you stop talking like that.  I pride myself on being a feminist.  I don’t think women should be objectified as sex objects.”

“Think about it, dumbass.  Why do you think you’re not getting laid?  Women like sex.  Don’t you read your own comments?  They even like getting spanked.  So stop asking Sophia, “Would you like to fool around?” in a meek little voice!   Carry her to the bed, go between her legs, and don’t come up until she’s screaming for yours truly, your cock, in Russian and Hebrew.” 

“That’s enough out of you… or I’m going to wash your mouth with soap.”

“Ooh, please do.  By the way, Neilochka, that was an interesting IM conversation you had with that female blogger last night.”

“It was completely innocent.  We talked about stat counters and blogging.”

“Oh, you wanted to blog her alright.  So did I.  Several times that night.”

“Penis, she’s married.”

“So?  Her husband never has to find out.  After all, soon you’re going to have an extra, untraceable Sprint cell phone to give her as a secret “fuck me” line.”

“A “fuck me” line?  Are you crazy?   I’m a Sprint Ambassador, not a pimp.  What would Sprint say?”

“They’d love it.  Think of their sales!  Think of the ad campaign:  “A new reason to get another Sprint phone.””

“Please, Penis.  It’s like you alway have just one thing on your mind.”

“Salesmanship. Neilochka!  Remember — it’s always Salesmanship!”

This is NOT a Blog Anymore

seltzer2.jpg

Over the weekend, I purposely avoided reading blogs written by women in order to explore the world of male blogging.

Here are a few of my insights:

1) Too many men write about too many boring subjects — like computer technology, politics, gadgets, business news, and management styles.   Ironically, these are the most popular sites on the web and  make up most of the Technorati 100.

2) Blogs are getting BIG in the business world.  Companies from Microsoft to Tivo all want to market their products with a “human” face by having a “blog.”   Some even suggest that Walmart should start blogging.

IBM is getting into blogging in a big way.  According to CNN:

IBM thinks blogging is the next wave in marketing, and it’s preparing its employees to ride that wave, according to a published report.

With an eye on blogging’s potential to influence future employees and business partners, the technology bellwether began offering blogging tools to its workers six months ago, according to AdAge.com.

“Other companies have fired people for blogging, but IBM is encouraging it,” Christopher Barger, IBM’s unofficial “blogger in chief,” said in the report.

According to AdAge.com, IBM employees who blog are advised to follow the company’s business  code of conduct, respect copyright laws and to not reveal proprietary information.

The report said IBM now has 15,000 registered internal bloggers, and more than 2,200 of those workers publish external blogs.

My childhood friend, Tuck, works for IBM in New York.  I asked him today what his IBM blog was going to be about.

“I have no idea.  LAN administration?”

“Can you show pictures of your cute son on your IBM blog?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Do you know if any hot IBM women will be blogging?”

“There’s a really good-looking redhead who works in financial services, but her blog is mostly about accounting software.”

“Any photos of her on her blog?”

“No.”

“Well, thanks for the info.  My readers will appreciate it.  I’m looking forward to your first post.”

3) Some bloggers are making money.   Did you know that if you have some specific skill or expertise you can pitch your blog idea to one of the blog networks?  This will get you a lot more exposure — and maybe some money down the road.

Unfortunately, you have to have some expertise in something.  And you have to write about the same subject every day.  And if your blog is supposed to be about “Sports Equipment,” you can’t decide to write about, say — your wife.

4)  Because of the growth of blogging, the concept of a “blog” is changing.  Readers are expecting a blog to be about “something.”  IBM employees will write about IBM products.  Defamer and Gawker will write about celebrities and the media.  Engadget will write about gadgets.

So, where does this leave bloggers like most of us who write mostly nonsense?  You know, those of us who write about what we had for breakfast today?

When I started blogging several months ago, this is what I thought a blog was.  Now, I see that blogging is being usurped by those who want to say something, market something, or sell something.

Soon, a BLOG will have a whole new meaning, one associated with real-life issues.

That’s why, from now on, I don’t consider “Citizen of the Month” a blog anymore.

From now on, I will think of “Citizen of the Month” as a “Shpritz.”

shpritz:  a short spray of seltzer from a seltzer bottle

Every day, I will write a daily Shpritz.

And like a shpritz from a bottle, a literary shpritz will spray you in the face to get your attention, but it will never, ever stain your clothes.

Good-bye, blog.  Hello, Shpritz.

Marketers, Over Here!

ragu2.jpg

As if I don’t have enough spammers and perverts scanning my website, now I learn that marketing companies are using high-tech methods to scan my Web log for "valuable insights" into the consumer market.  U.S. companies using new blog analysis tools have already figured out that teens fear exceeding their cellphone minutes, consumers want longer-lasting photos, and interest in Atkins diet is dropping.

Umbria, with clients including Sprint Corp. and Electronic Arts Inc., says its natural-language analysis can determine blogger demographics based on language, subject matter and acronyms. OMG ("oh my God!") or POS ("parent over shoulder") are expressions defining Generation Y girls, or those ages 10 to 25; FUBAR ("fouled up beyond all recognition") is often used by male baby boomers.

Such analysis can be important. Umbria says Laker guard Kobe Bryant has lost his cachet with most bloggers, but he is still the No. 2 National Basketball Association personality, behind LeBron James, among the boys of Generation Y, important buyers of videogames, sneakers and basketball jerseys.

David Rabjohns, president of blog watcher MotiveQuest, calls the field "online anthropology" and says he regards his firm as "almost a mouthpiece for the consumer." The Evanston., Ill., firm’s clients include Motorola Inc. and Citigroup Inc.

For a Japanese auto maker, Mr. Rabjohns says MotiveQuest studied online postings about minivans. Soccer moms said their young children love minivans, which they regard as "a playhouse on wheels," but teens regard them as lame and want SUVs. MotiveQuest recommended developing a loyalty program to persuade minivan owners to buy the company’s SUVs, rather than trying to get them to buy another minivan.

As a consumer who wants his opinion heard, I will now be more vocal in using brand names so as to help marketers scanning my blog:

Ragu Tomato Sauce sucks.  It is the worst-tasting stuff on the market.  I find better tomato sauce at the 99 cent store. 

You couldn’t pay me to buy another piece of junk furniture at Ikea.

Sony TVs aren’t as good as they used to be.

The Hyundai Santa Fe comes with a really bad radio.

The Simpsons were better last year.

Pacific Theater‘s popcorn is inferior to AMC’s popcorn.

Starbucks coffee is too bitter.

Krispy Kreme doughnuts are over-rated. 

Vons is the worst supermarket in Los Angeles, with the lousiest selection.

Streit’s Matzoh at Passover is crap compared to Osem Israeli Matzoh.

Paramount Pictures‘ movies have been mediocre lately.

American Idol only has two more years left in it.

Office Max is the least interesting of the office supply stores.

Despite Paris Hilton, Carl’s Jr. is the worst fast-food place in California.

Her mother’s show, I Want to Become a Hilton, is the worst reality show ever.

The phrase "this" as the new "that" is overused.   Los Angeles Times editors should stop using it.

Newsweek and Time both suck as magazines.

The girls in Stuff are prettier than the girls in Maxim.

Brunettes are sexier than Blonds.

No more TV shows set in Las Vegas.  It’s really not that interesting there.

The vegetables in Whole Foods are way overpriced.  Are only the wealthy supposed to eat organic while everyone else poisons themselves with the vegetables at Ralphs?   Why not subsidize healthy vegetables rather than art in a museum?

Crystal Geyser water sometimes smells funny.  Are you sure this isn’t just the local water repackaged?

The equipment at the 24 Hour Fitness on Pico needs repair.

I have never responded once to an online advertisement.  It is a total waste of money.

Rice Krispies is the wimpiest cereal.  I can’t believe I ate these as a kid.

I never really liked the pizza at California Pizza Kitchen.

Cingular‘s advertisements lie.  Their service is awful.   I can’t even use the phone in my own apartment.

Although I use it, I’m not very impressed with the interface of gmail.

I’m a little concerned about drinking Coke with Splenda.  How do I know they aren’t going to find out that Splenda is cancer-causing ten years from now?

Mentadent toothpaste tastes bad and the toothpaste always drips onto the bathroom counter.

Jockey brand underwear never fits as well as Hanes.

I pity you if you have no choice but to use Comcast for cable (like me).

Michael Jackson was probably guilty.

Any other cry-outs to the scanning marketing bots?

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial