Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I am NOT making this up ...

According to this post by the Wall Street Journal reporter and blogger Benoit Faucon, "the April 20 spill on the Deepwater Horizon is being reinvented in Planet BP as a strike of luck."

According to Faucon, the article in BP Planet — a BP online, in-house magazine — reports “much of the region’s [nonfishing boat] businesses — particularly the hotels — have been prospering because so many people have come here from BP and other oil emergency response teams.”

Well, that's one way of looking at it, I guess. So what do you think? A gutsy and uncompromising piece of PR by BP's media office, or a level of spin that would put even a West Texas tornado to shame?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beautiful game inspires beautiful ads ...

Each year, enjoyment of American football's Super Bowl has come to include enjoyment of the ads, some of which are billed as special projects, drawing an inordinate amount of money, time end effort in order to produce a memorable promotion for one of the nation's largest (annual) television audiences.

On the Monday morning following the big game, there will be plenty of discussion of the big plays and the significant moments on the field. But there will also be some discussion - in both the actual and virtual worlds - of the ads, those that worked, those that clicked, those that made an impact ... and those that didn't.

Now, as we enjoy the World Cup, I'd like to note some of the ads that have stood out in the days leading up to the event, and in the early days of competition.

Advance promotions from ESPN have been VERY good, making excellent use of state-of-the-art technology, and capturing the spirit of the game and its worldwide appeal ...

... and once the competition was under way, ESPN/ABC trotted-out a good promotion for a single game that would have special appeal for American audiences.

Can't have a sporting event without an ad from Budweiser ... and this one is a great take on one of soccer's traditional displays of sportsmanship.

And you can't have a sporting event without an ad - or TWO! - from Pepsi ... which also deliver a LOT of humor.

Speaking of humor, here's a VERY funny spot from MTN

And finally, kudos to the shoe manufacturers. They are already well-branded on the field ... serious soccer enthusiasts cam not only relate a player's statistics, but also what brand/style of cleats he wears. For the rest of us, there are some entertaining spots during the commercial breaks. They include spots that build upon the myths and legends of the beautiful game, sometimes with humor, sometimes without.

Here's one from Nike ...

... and one from Adidas ...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

I remain a CHEVY guy ...

Sometimes, I wonder what it takes to make the move to the big city, and earn the big bucks as a marketing VP for a major corporation. Do I have what it takes?

Maybe not.

Especially when I find myself reading
this report from the New York Times' Richard S. Chang about a General Motors memo to Chevrolet employees, promoting the importance of consistency for their brand. "And one way to present a consistent brand message," Chang writes, "is to stop saying 'Chevy,' though the word is one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames."

Me? I don't see the sense in it. Especially when I read a quote from the GM memo, shared in Chang's article ... “When you look at the most recognized brands throughout the world, such as Coke or Apple for instance, one of the things they all focus on is the consistency of their branding,”

Excuse me? Coke? Are you talking about a highly-successful nickname for the Coca-Cola brand? And I can't help but wonder how many of us have a Frigidaire in the kitchen, get lunch at Kentucky Fried Chicken, or send packages by United Parcel Service or Federal Express. What does GM know that a lot of other major - and successful - corporations do not.

I lack GM's resources for a thorough, statistically-significant study of this move on brand consistency. But I did my own, informal and non-scientific sidewalk survey yesterday, and ran into a BUNCH of Chevy drivers ... and not a single Chevrolet driver.

Me? I remain a Chevy guy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

A century of summer ...

I wonder if poet Russell Baker had West Texas in mind when he wrote, "Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it." Or Samuel Taylor Coleridge, when he wrote, "Summer has set in with its usual severity." But then along comes a shot like this one, taken in the northwest quarter of the Midland College main campus ...
... and all I can think of is Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's, "Then followed that beautiful season ... Summer ..."

Monday, June 07, 2010

A new look at mywesttexas.com ...

And a pretty good look it is, too, easier to navigate and A LOT cleaner in appearance. The addition of a rotator for top stories text and graphics on the home page ("above the fold") is a plus.

See for yorself at

All in all, a BIG improvement for what one local blogger once called the "800 pound gorilla" of local news websites ... and definitely worth your visit, your perusal and your own assessment.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Land of hope and glory ...

Earlier this week, I observed the birthday of Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO and Master of the King’s Musick, born on June 2, 1857. I noted that his birthday coincides with that time of year when one of his works, Pomp and Circumstance March #1 (”Land of Hope and Glory”) is heard so much, in so many places.

It is a time when so many of us turn out in enthusiastic droves to congratulate young people (of ALL ages) as they cross the stage, accept a diploma and a handshake, shift the tassel from one side of their mortarboard to the other, and take their life’s next big step.

It IS a time of hope and glory.

I know, I know … there are some who will say it most certainly is not. For them, this is just another occasion for another rant about the terrible state of our country. Somewhere they’ll find an appropriate report - job prospects for this year’s graduates, or burdensome student loans - to assert their own view, and to cast blame upon someone for bringing us to our current state … the President, liberals or conservatives, the mainstream media, comet people from the outer nebulae, whatever.

There are some out there who seem to be following
Screwtape’s advice to Wormwood to use emotional and intellectual attacks on “the client," so the client will accept “the sight of human entrails as a revelation of Reality and his emotion at the sight of happy children or fair weather as mere sentiment.”

Me? I shall remain a sentimental fool. But it’s hard for me to be completely objective, really, working on the staff of a community college, and knowing first-hand what people and institutions are doing to improve educational resources - and employment opportunities - for all. Though the men and women who crossed our stage during commencement were not related to me, I still felt a sense of happiness and pride in their accomplishment … and in the knowledge that I played a part - admittedly, a tiny one - in that accomplishment.

At the reception, following the conferring of degrees and certificates, I move around among the graduates and their families, offering to take over on the camera so ‘Uncle Joe’ can get into the family picture, too. It is a time of smiles and laughter, of expanded horizons, open doors and new opportunities. Sure, there’s some work, some disappointment great or small in store for most of us at the reception … only a fool would believe otherwise. BUT NOW, we are better prepared to deal with it, learn from it and build upon it.

This IS a time, and we ARE a land, a nation of hope and glory!

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Turning-on the television, and firing-up the stove ...

With one annual exception, I rarely spend much time watching reality shows on television. That exception has arrived this month, as I feast upon a slew of food- and cooking-themed programs.

Two programs that I follow are already well under way - the new season of
Iron Chef America on Food Network, and the new season of Top Chef Masters, which serves-up its finale this month on Bravo TV.

To that line-up, I now add the new season of
The Next Food Network Star, which debuts this weekend on Food Network. This reality television series is seeking contestant who are not only talented cooks, but also appealing on-air personalities, awarding the winner his or her own series on the Food Network. It's that added, on-air angle that appeals to the old television producer in me, as I follow the show's judges in their critique of not only the contestants' skills in the kitchen, but also their abilities in a television program setting.

Kicking-off later this month (and parking me in front of the tube for an additional hour each week), is the seventh-season premiere of
Top Chef on Bravo. In this reality television series, up-and-coming chefs (or "cheftestants") compete against each other in culinary challenges. They are judged by a panel of professional chefs and other notables from the food and wine industry with one or more contestants eliminated in each episode. In many respects, this is the series that gave a jump-start to so many of the "cooking contest" shows that fill the primetime slots on cooking channels (as opposed to the more traditional demonstration shows (in the tradition of Julia Child, Graham Kerr, etc.) that fill the daytime hours. In fact, many cooking channel celebrities now do both kinds of shows ... Bobby Flay, for example, and Paula Dean, Giada De Laurentiis and more.

Top Chef also has a nice feature of setting each season in a different city, which is a great way of introducing variety into the show from one season to the next, and for spotlighting that community, its culture, and especially its food. This season, its Washington, D.C.

An added bonus to this new season of Top Chef - they gave judge
Toby Young the heave-ho! This guy seemed more fixated on demonstrating his wit (or lack thereof) with ridiculous quips, than he was with seriously critiquing the food. Pundit Young will be replaced this season by master chef (and former TC guest judge) Eric Ripert, and I am thrilled with the change ... they are definitely trading-up!

In my case, the conduct of the judges can make a lot of difference in the show's appeal. I recently started tuning-out
Chopped on Food Network. I like the show's premise, where contestants have to prepare courses from "mystery baskets" of diverse ingredients (including one that seems totally unrelated to the rest. And I really like the host, Ted Allen, who I first started following on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (I've also enjoyed his appearances on Top Chef, Food Detectives and Iron Chef America). But the judges ... I swear they gathered together some of snarkiest personalities for that panel, and I just don't enjoy sitting through their critiques anymore.

Anyway, I'll be spending a couple extra hours each watching some more television ... and I'm hoping to add a recipe or two to my box of index cards, for cooking, serving and enjoying ... the kind of repeats of which I never grow tired!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Lyrical birthday wishes ...

Sir Edward William Elgar, 1st Baronet, OM, GCVO and Master of the King's Musick, was born on this day in 1857. I like how it happens that his birthday coincides with that time of year when one of his works, Pomp and Circumstance March #1 ("Land of Hope and Glory") is heard so much, in so many places.

Here is a performance of an excerpt from that march, conducted by the grand old man himself, courtesy of mejillahyde at metacafe.com

And here is a performance of the complete march, courtesy of RupertJones at youtube.com, in a setting where I would LOVE to hear it, live and in-person, someday - Last Night at the Proms!

A fire ant's perspective ...

Just about everyone, everywhere, has had their say on the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. But IMHO, there are few gatherings of observers/punditz who could match the informed perspective of those found in our own oil patch.

One of those is Eric, proprietor of the
Fire Ant Gazette. In addition to some great photo essays, discussions on web design and reports from the front lines in his battle with mockingbirds, Eric has also weighed-in on various discussions stemming from the BP spill ... "Environmental Chic" and the Gulf Oil Spill , Gulf Oil Leak Perspective and Media Bias , Scattershooting on whether BP or the feds are better suited to plugging the leak and BP's Desperation.

It all makes for good reading ... and did I mention Eric also offers some great photo essays of birds and bunnies, sunsets and wildflowers?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Chevy guy takes picture of Chevy bird ...

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'll be brief, and let the photo do the talking. I will say, though, it's hard to imagine a more ringing endorsement of Chevy trucks than this, from a true Texas icon.

... although the deposits said icon left beneath his perch are another matter entirely ... hmmm ... maybe it's a Ford bird, after all!

Oh, my gosh! ...

According to the people at OMG Facts, "at exactly 06 mins and 07 seconds after 5 o'clock on Aug 9th 2010, it will be 05:06:07 08/09/10. This won't happen again until the year 3010."

No comment from me, actually .... I just thought it was an interesting fact.