the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Category: Advertising and Marketing (Page 3 of 7)

More Grouchy Rants About Corporations

I thought I could come up with a funny post if I found out that Dockers/Levi Strauss — the company that was screwing me over with their fake free-flight promotion and making it difficult for me to go to BlogHer — was actually a sponsor of BlogHer.  Unfortunately, I struck out.   They’re not.

But — jeez, BlogHer has a lot of corporate sponsors on their website.  How much do each of them have to pay to get in on this?  It is nice that corporations are so willing to help their female customers.  I don’t want to be cynical and suggest it is all markeing.  But will these same companies be there when the products break down?  Or will you then be talking to Menuel from India on the phone?  Maybe companies should spend less money on social media experts and marketing to us on Twitter and conferences, and more on hiring customer service representatives.

Anyway, like I said, this would have been a funnier post if Dockers/JCPenney was a sponsor of BlogHer.  The only interesting tidbit I found out about BlogHer is that the major platinum sponsor of the San Franciso, California conference is General Motors, the company directly responsible for 30% of all carbon emissions in California. 

“This year’s sponsor line-up is a testament to top-tier brands realizing the necessity of reaching influential women who have shifted their attention to online sources of information and entertainment, and taking a proactive approach to reach them through our conference,” said Jory Des Jardins, BlogHer co-founder and president of strategic alliances. “BlogHer’s annual conference provides the perfect platform for marketers and advertisers to connect directly with consumers and create relationships with key influencers. The conference presents an opportunity to learn firsthand what these women are all about.”

Enjoy the fresh California air.

Luckily, there are some some corporations that do try hard to please their customers.  Over the past three years, I’ve received some very nasty comments from Olive Garden servers on my blog, all because of one 2005 post where Sophia and I discuss sharing the “unlimited soup and salad.”   I have been called “cheap,” “miserly,” “an asshole” and several names unfit to print.  After complaining to Olive Garden executive offices, I received a phone call from the CEO himself.  He was “shaking in his boot,” to use the old term, knowing the far reach of “Citizen of the Month.”

Olive Garden CEO:  “What can I do for you to make this up to you?  Your sarcastic comments about our fake Italian atmosphere and cheapo wine is killing our business!  I can give you a special VIP card that will give unlimited free soup and salad bars for the rest of your life!  How about that?”

Neil:  “I do enjoy your minestrone soup, but how many times in a week can any one person go to Olive Garden?  That VIP card would get as much use as my 24-Hour Fitness Card.”

Olive Garden CEO:  “Name your price.  I know you are big in the mommyblogger community.  Our franchises are half-empty because of your power.”

Neil:  “I don’t want your money.  If anything, the rudeness didn’t come from the corporate offices, but from the Olive Garden servers themselves.  I know some of them need this job to work their way through their community colleges, but they were the ones who called me those horrible names on my blog.

Olive Garden CEO:  “I’m sure we could figure out a way for the Olive Garden servers to make it up to you in a reasonable manner.”

Neil:  “Actually, I do have an idea.”

Several months later, Playboy published this pictorial.

While I respect Olive Garden for their responsive customer service, and admit that some of their servers are cute (but probably too young for me), your restaurant still sucks.

Update:  Just wanted to add that this Playboy pictorial, “Girls of Olive Garden” is true.  Kendra Wilkinson, one of Hugh Hefner’s “girlfriends,” loves Olive Garden so much, she suggested this idea to “Hef.”

Here is a video of Kendra talking about her favorite restaurant. The only reason I include it here is to fight against the fallacious stereotype that Playboy bunnies are really stupid.   In fact, if Olive Garden sponsored BlogHer next year, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her as one of the speakers on the “Monetizing Your Video Blog” panel.

Dockers Hates Women (A New Approach to Getting My Ticket)

I’ve thought about this long and hard, and there is only one conclusion to this Docker/JCPenney free-flght mess:  Dockers hates women.

Hear me out.  I’m not a woman.  There is no need for me to go to BlogHer.  I was merely going to San Francisco to help the BlogHer organizers give the conference-goers their money’s worth in eye candy and sex appeal.  It is expensive to attend BlogHer.  It costs more than Disneyland, Legoland, and a meal at Souplantation — combined.  The participants expect a good time.  Sure, the organizers provide you with “speakers (mostly bloggers you can read for free online),” and some lucky bloggers will read from their best posts in a “Community Read,” but let’s be honest — can we really consider that “fun?” 

No male convention is complete with female strippers.  I believe in equality.  Blogher is dullsville without hot-looking men wandering around in their best nehru jackets, telling the female participants how “pretty they look.”  I know 3/4 of those women going to BlogHer have scheduled a salon appointment this week so they don’t look like shit.  They want to resemble that photoshopped photo they have on their profile page — at least in some way.

So, clearly, my role at BlogHer was to be “the professional flatterer,” a modern twist on the guy who is hired to make animal balloons at birthday parties.  I had already completed writing out some individual compliments for some of you, all compiled from information I took off of your own blogs.

To Female Blogger A — “You look like you’ve lost 10 pounds?  Have you been on the Oprah cleanse?”

To Female Blogger B — “The divorce has been good for you.  You look more rested and five years younger.”

To Female Blogger C — “I think a forty year old woman is at her most beautiful.  Here is the key to my hotel room.  Since your always too busy husband isn’t here, we can **** all night.  What happens at BlogHer, stays at BlogHer.”

But now Dockers has ruined it all.  The entire plan.  By refusing to give me the flight that was due to me, I am stuck in New York, spending the weekend with my mother rather than drinking high quality vodka from bloggers’ bra cups. 

But this hurts YOU — the wonderful female bloggers of the world — more than it hurts me.   Dockers is trying to sabatoge BlogHer.  Dockers hate women.  Is there any other conclusion?  Mr. Dockers CEO — weren’t you born to a woman… your own mother?  Don’t you have a wife?  A daughter?  A sister?  Don’t you like Katie Couric?  You are disappointing all of them with your total disregard to the needs of women at BlogHer. 

Dockers, it is up to you to prove this theory wrong and send Neilochka to San Francisco with the free flight he so deserves!


I just received a phone call from Sophia, which isn’t that unusual, but it about my blog, and it HAS been a while since she has taken a real keen interest in my posts.

Why did she call? She took me to task for caving in so easily to Robb’s comment on the TLC Marketing Post.

Robb is a blogger who has lived in India for the last year and a half. Because of this, he has a unique take on Meneul, the TLC Marketing customer service representative from India who was driving me crazy two days ago.

This is what Robb wrote in his comment:

Actually, in rereading this, I think someone should come to Menuel’s defense. In India, call center employees are given scripts they are to stick to, and when the conversation sways from the script, no matter how logical or necessary it may be, they MUST stick to the script or risk being fired. In a country with over a billion people, 1/4 under the poverty level, he has a good job. A job that thousands of others wished they had. What in the west is seen as a crap job, in India gives him a good salary (approx 200-300 dollars a month), maybe insurance, etc.. One posting for a job like this means thousands and thousands of applicants hoping for the chance. I am sure Menuel knew exactly what you were saying, in fact he probably has a university degree, but to give you the service you desired and deserved would have meant swaying from the mandatory script and probably have cost him his job. Here, I have seen managers slap their staff, and I have seen people yelled at and humiliated in front of their co-workers. All things which would be CNN headline news if it happened in the US. Menuel is most likely the sole or primary provider in his family and also probably supports his parents and possibly grandparents as well. He probably works 6 days a week and maybe 10 -12 hour days- all for 200 – 300 dollars a month). I know a lot of guys like him. So yes it can be frustrating, but what you experienced is just a tiny bit of a much larger issue and many young and intelligent Indians are feeling trapped in the world of offshoring and “cheap labour”. Please, the next time soemone is on the phone with someone from India or other developing country and not getting the service they want, please remember, it is not due to the staff on the other end of the phone, it is due to corporate processes and behaviors. Please take it out on the company, not the man or woman doing their job.

I responded by writing:

Robb — thank you. I absolutely agree. I think most people know this. This is exactly what the corporation wants — for us to blame them!

Sophia seemed to think that I was trying to hard to look like the nice liberal rather than being honest. She said it is a bad policy for customers to start worrying about the customer service’s feelings — in the context of customer service. Soon, companies will be hiring children and old woman just so we never complain.

I have to say, Sophia has a point.  I have nothing against Menuel, but do I really want to sit around worrying about his economic conditions?  I wasn’t mean or insulting to him.  But he was hired to be a robot, so it is my job as a customer to combat that.   I wish him well, but I wish I could have kept him on the phone for another hour bugging him, wasting the company’s time.  If enough of us bug the hell out of unresponsive customer service people, the companies themselves will be forced into making some changes.

So, what is the consensus?   Be understanding of the customer service person’s crappy job, or push them until you get what you want?

My Conversation with TLC Marketing Customer Service

After a day of phone calls, I finally was able to get TLC Marketing (or at least some guy in India) on the telephone to discuss the Dockers JCPenneys Free Round-Trip fiasco  (see last post).

Neil:  I’m calling about the Dockers Free Round Trip Ticket… I still haven’t heard back from you.

TLC Marketing:  Yes, did you fill out the form?

Neil:  I filled out the form a long time ago.  I received a phone call saying everything was OK.

TLC Marketing:  Then, you will be receiving a call from the booking agent.

Neil:  When will I get this call?

TLC Marketing:  You will get be receiving a call from the booking agent.

Neil:  When?  I’m supposed to have a flight on July 16th.

TLC Marketing:  The booking agent will…

Neil:  Can I give you my name and you can look it up in the computer?  Maybe you can tell me when I will get this call.

TLC Marketing:  I do not have access to individual records.  You will be receiving a call from the booking agent…

Neil:  When?   In the brochure, it clearly states that I will receive a call two week after you receive the form.

TLC Marketing:  You will be receiving…

Neil:  When?!  My flight is next week already…

TLC Marketing:  Those with completed forms will be receiving a call from the booking agent starting on July 22nd.

Neil:  On July 22nd?

TLC Marketing:  Starting on July 22nd, you can negotiate your booking.

Neil:  What?!  My flight is supposed to be on July 16th. 

TLC Marketing:  You can negotiate it with the booking agent.

Neil:  How am I going to negotiate my July 16th flight with the booking agent on July 22nd?

TLC Marketing:  That’s something you can negotiate with the booking agent.

Neil:  Is there a supervisor around?

TLC Marketing:  All the supervisors are busy.

Neil:  I’ll wait.

TLC Marketing:  The supervisors are unable to take any calls today.  You will need to wait to speak with the booking agent.

Neil:  And what am I supposed to do now?  I asked for a flight on July 16th.

TLC Marketing:  You can negotiate it with the booking agent.

Neil:  No.  It doesn’t work that way.  I can talk to the booking agent on July 22nd, but I cannot negotiate my July 16th flight with the booking agent on July 22nd?  Do you understand what I’m talking about.  The flight is on July 16th.  The call is on July 22nd.

TLC Marketing:  I only know that the booking agent will negotiate…

Neil:  So, I WON’T be getting my flight for July 16th?

TLC Marketing:  I cannot say that.  You can negotiate…

Neil:  Why can’t you say that?

TLC Marketing:  That is something to negotiate…

Neil:  Negotiate what?  There is no POSSIBILITY that I will get a flight for July 16th on July 22th.  Do you have a calendar in front of you?

TLC Marketing:  Yes, I do.

Neil:  So, you understand that I will NOT get my flight on July 16th.

TLC Marketing:  I am not saying that.  This is something you can negotiate…

Neil:  Is this being recorded?

TLC Marketing:  Yes.

Neil:  What is your name?

TLC Marketing:  Menuel.

Neil:  Manuel?

TLC Marketing:  Menuel.

Neil:  Manual?

TLC Marketing:  Menuel.

Neil:  Can you spell that?

TLC Marketing:  M-e-n-u-e-l.

Neil:  And this is TLC Marketing?

TLC Marketing:  Corrrect.

Neil:  So, Menuel of TLC Marketing — you are telling me that there is a possibility that I still might receive a flight for July 16th when I receive my phone call on July 22nd?

TLC Marketing:  You can negotiate it with the booking agent at the time.

Neil:  Can we talk — just between me and you.  I won’t get my flight on July 16th, will I?

TLC Marketing:  This is something to negotiate with the booking agent

Neil:  C’mon, Menuel.  I understand that I will negotiate with the booking agent on July 22nd.  But it will not be about my flight on July 16.  That is literally IMPOSSIBLE except in Hollywood movies.  Do you understand?

TLC Marketing:  The booking agent…

Neil:  Forget the booking agent.  Just me and you.  Do YOU see it as possibility that I might still get my flight for July 16 on July 22?

TLC Marketing:  I am not a booking agent  That is who you will negotiate…

Neil:  Can I speak to a booking agent then?

TLC Marketing:  The booking agent will call you on July 22nd.

Neil:  So, let me say this one more time, so the recording can hear this.  You, Menuel, a hired and paid employee of TLC Marketing, and a representative of the company, is telling me that no one can tell me whether or not I will be getting my July 16th flight to San Francisco until July 22nd, when I will receive a phone call from a booking agent where I can then negotiate, and still possibly get my flight to San Francisco on July 16, even though it happened to leave six days earlier?


“Free” Round-Trip Flight From Dockers

… or why I probably won’t make BlogHer this year.

I wrote a long, creative piece to tell this story, but sometimes I think it is best to just write things in a boring, just-the-facts manner.  So, here it goes:

A year ago, Sophia read about this Father’s Day promotion online:

“Buy $125 dollars worth of Dockers pants from JCPenney and receive a “free round-trip ticket within the U.S.”

So, off we went to JCPenney, where I spent two hour trying on different Dockers pants, each time parading in front of Sophia like a male runway model, waiting for her sign of approval.  Did it fit in the back?  Was it the right color?  Finally, we made our choices, mailed in our reciepts, and received the official brochure in the mail.

 From the brochure sent to me by

TLC Marketing
c/o Dockers/JCPenney
1 Faneuil Hall Marketplace, 4th Floor
Boston, MA 02109

“This complimentary round-trip airfare allows you to visit one of these ten exciting cities:  Boston, New York City, Washington D.C., Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Chicago, Orlando, or Dallas.  Name your destination; we just named your price:  FREE.”

The promotion had some odd stipulations.  You had to choose —

“Different first, second, and third choice destinations.”

“Different first, second, and third choice date preferences for both outbound and return travel.”

“That’s weird,” I thought.  “This free ticket is not very useful if you really need to get somewhere important, like for business.  It’s a bit of a crap shoot.”

I decided to try to use it to go to BlogHer in San Francisco this year.  I joked with some of you that I might end up in Chicago or Dallas during BlogHer, but I was fairly confident that I would get tickets to San Francisco.  After all, there are dozens of flights from the New York area to San Francisco/Oakland.  Surely, there was room in one of them during the days I gave them, even if I had to do a stop-over.

The brochure gave further instructions:

“A Representative from TLC Marketing will contact you within 14 days of receipt to book and confirm travel itinerary.”

A few weeks ago, I received two automated voice messages.  One said that my completed form was in order and to expect a call.  The next offered me other options besides the free ticket.  I could receive a $125 rebate or $150 in “restaurant coupons.”  It was a bad deal.  Coupons to what — Olive Garden?  I took the flight.   Still, a red light went on in my head.  It was sneaky of them, because in the brochure they clearly write:

“TLC Marketing may substitute another reward of equal or greater value if promotional availability runs out.”

Free ticket to SF does not equal Olive Garden coupons.

Time passed.  It was now two weeks before BlogHer.  I called the TLC Marketing “Dockers Concierge” number to find out what was going on.  A few months ago, I had spoken to a woman in India at this number who helped me correctly fill out my form.  Now, there was no one to talk to.  All that was left was a message that participants would get a call by “July 3rd.”  It is now July 9th.  I already missed BlogHer registraion. 

I was as if the promotion has been taken off of TLC Marketing’s agenda. 

I googled this promotion online and quickly found out why.  This promotion was an ongoing PR mess for TLC Marketing.  There were already 500 complaints issued with the Better Business Bureau of Massachusetts against TLC Marketing and their company president, Walter Osterman.

There were problems from the get-go, even from those customers who received their flights.    Their free flights ended up costing them $90 in taxes and and processing fees, which might be considered legitimate if the airlines themselves didn’t charge $50 in taxes and fees.  Why were customers being charged this extra money?

Now, customers couldn’t  get flights.  Was the promotion defunct?  Why would Dockers offer a promotion that they can’t fulfill?   To get customers to buy $125 dollars of Dockers pants at a time? 

And who needs so many Dockers anyway?

I sent emails to Dockers (owned by the Levi Strauss co. of San Francisco) and JCPenney, but received useless automated responses.  I phoned them and received more run-arounds.  The customer service woman at Dockers said she would ‘present my information to upper management.”  The woman at JCPenney gave me some phone number in Florida to call.

“Who is this that I am calling?

“It is the number that can help you with this promotion?”

“And who is it?

“Just call them?

“Do they have a name? Is this someone at JC Penney.’

“I can JUST give you this number.”

I called the number and no one answered.

Both JC Penney and Docker seemed to point the finger at  TLC Marketing  I’ve seen this before – a corporation not taking responsibility because they chose to deal with a incompetent company.

The moral of this story is the same as the one about my cheap, useless, not-Vista compatible web-cam from a few days ago.

You get what you pay for. 

So, unless someone at Dockers or JCPenney reads this and is embarrassed by this post, I won’t be at BlogHer, even if I was mostly going just to flirt with girls at the parties.

I take responsibility for my dumb mistakes — of being cheap and trying to use a free ticket.  I wish some companies would take responsibility for their own stupid mistakes, like offering promotions with tons of restrictions, and then not keeping their part of the bargain. 

If I don’t make it to BlogHer, I blame myself AND —

DOCKERS  (R. John Anderson, CEO Levi Strauss)

JCPENNEY  (Myron E. (Mike) Ullman III CEO)

TLC MARKETING (Walter Osterman, President)

Hey, Consumerist — here are some links of others who are pissed at TLC Marketing, Dockers, and JCPenney.

Fat Wallet

Flyer Talk


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!”

A Little Anorexia is Hot


I’m beginning to think that magazines intentionally choose articles to make their readers feel insecure, buy their magazine, and eat up the products advertised in the current issue. (I’m sure some blogs do the same thing)

A few days ago, I mentioned the Details magazine article which theorized that man’s happiness is directly related to the size of his member.  Of course, since most of us never reach that nine inch status, we need to compensate by buying Axe cologne or a sports car.

It’s all pretty ridiculous.  First of all, most men keep their private parts hidden in their pants until the third date, so no women really knows what’s up (other than in the Middle Ages – Renaissance when men tried to fool everyone with codpieces).  In modern times, men use this “dating” process for their own purposes, suckering the always emotional woman into overlooking any other issues with the male body, as they “fall” for you.

Joking, uh… ha ha.

Women have it tougher than men.  Men do judge women by how they look.  But — I’m not sure they do as much as you think.  Different men like all different types of women.   Some like all women!  Despite what men talk about when they are drinking beer in Hooters, a woman with a good sense of humor is much sexier than a pair of fake boobs.  Not that men don’t like boobs.  That is a given.  I just think that women’s magazines go overboard in setting up a feminine “ideal” that is not essential to being attractive to men.   Perhaps women are forced into all this more from peer pressure of other women!  And unlike men’s magazines, women’s magazines don’t give a woman an out– our culture doesn’t say that a woman owning a sportscar can ever compensate for a woman’s physical “faults.”    Instead women have to buy, buy, buy beauty supplies and diet, diet, diet. 

I’m pretty insecure about myself, but I’m surprised how confident I sound when I IM with some of my female blogging friends!  I’m about as dorky as they come, but even I don’t think it impossible for me to be with any woman I wanted to — if the situation was right.  When I was watching the Grammy Awards last week, I was thinking about this exact thing when Beyonce was singing.  Now that is one beautiful, talented successful woman!  And I was sitting there thinking — “You know what.  If circumstances were different, and we were in the same social circle, and I had a little more money, and if we had something to talk about, I bet you I could woo Beyonce.”  Do you find that crazy?  I think most men wouldn’t.  This is why some men come off as cocky — because even I — the most insecure person you’ll meet — have this insane, unrealistic male ego.  Do I think I will ever date Beyonce?  Of course not.  But in my mind… it is possible.

Do women think they could be dating Brad Pitt if things were different?  I think it is harder for women to have these crazy thoughts, because the media is harder on your psyche.  Our culture makes you feel that you aren’t worthy of being considered attractive if your body shape isn’t a certain type.  This is not a new discussion, either on blogs or on Citizen of the Month. 

I can hear the thoughts already.  “Brad Pitt would never want me because I’m a size 12!  Maybe if I lost weight.  I really should go to the gym… today.” 

You would think that women’s magazines would be “with the times,” advocating the sexiness of real women, like in those Dove ads.   You can be sexy being thin and athletic.  You can be sexy being full-figured with a squeezeable ass.  So, I was surprised to hear about this article in March’s Elle magazine, written by Amanda Fortini, which touts the idea that “men prefer anorexic women.”  Huh?  Is that really true?  Is this the same research company that came up with the results that Hung = Happiness?  Or is this written in the magazine solely to make women feel insecure and renew their subscription to Elle?

From the article (via Jezebel):

“Many men, I quickly learned, really do like frighteningly lean women, whatever they may claim to the controversy. As an average, medium-size young woman, I was unremarkable, innocuous. As a skinny slip of a thing, I was something of a sensation. In restaurants and at parties, men flirted at me extravagantly.” Men in media and literary circles hit on her frequently and audaciously, (one of them with the awesome line, “You remind me of a heroine from a Joan Didion novel.” (You know, “all bones and big eyes.”) “As a male friend once put it to me, semifacetiously,” she writes, ‘A little anorexia is hot.'” 

P.S. — Let’s keep an anorexia count on for tonight’s Oscars!  At least it will make the always boring show interesting…

My Wii Story


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!?”


“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…””


“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

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