Commercial Woe

The week after the Superbowl seems to always include a lot of discussion about commercials, branding, marketing strategy.  The media likes the topic – after all, it’s part of the engine that makes them go and keeps them in funded.  From our perspective, this last Super Sunday featured some of the least memorable, least creative, and blah efforts in years.

Why?  Are the big marketing agencies afraid of the bad press?  Are the big brands more cautious, the smaller outfits less brave?  Is this part of the netflix and dvr-fueled zeitgeist that has the ad-men and women off their game?

Three commercials we liked for various reasons:  First, the Liam Neeson vengeance commercial for the Clash of Clans phone/tablet game.  That one drew a chuckle.  And, yes, a phone and tablet game at the Superbowl.  Next, the Kim Kardashian spot because we always like a bit of self-depreciating humor (someone probably needs to explain that further to Kim).  And finally, the Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbell commercial for the BMW electric:   “What is Internet?”

After that – not much.  And while we’re on the topic of media/marketing analysis and things we didn’t like or did’t take for us:  the new Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer.  Didn’t like it in the theater, don’t like it now.  It’s all dark and broody, with the heroes going after each other and looking depressed.  Hopefully this isn’t the tone of the movie as a whole, because that’s not what’s been working for Marvel in the theaters.

The Coachening

Yesterday, me, my brother, and our cousin with whom we grew up from just down the road in our little town were all coaching youth sports teams on the same day.  Social media confirmed this.  The latter two are both doing basketball right now; I’m doing an indoor soccer team and we’re about to start basketball for the kids as well.  And this got me to thinking…

Why most of us do it:  the kids are really fun as pre-teen participants, of course, and it’s great to be part of their team-sports development.  We can all list the stock positives for youth athletics.  Most of us who pick up the coaching gauntlet also feel like we know a little something about the sport at hand; we have some knowledge or wisdom to impart.   Continue reading

Bowl Watching

Like so many others, we watch a lot of college football around New Year’s.  This year, our very own Fighting Illini were in the party again, making it to one of those also-ran Bowls:  The Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl.  Illinois lost 35-18 and probably should have won – though you wouldn’t know it by the score.

With all these bowl games, especially in light of the inaugural 4-team playoff, the sports talkers have been discussing bowl viability, money, TV contracts, etc., and as we sit here watching Oregon pound Florida State, we have some thoughts as well.

If you’re among those who think that the major conference re-shuffling and re-jiggering is horrible, look no further than the now-departed BCS system.  Between the BCS contract and the guaranteed conference contracts to various bowls, the Big 10, Pac 12, SEC, and ACC had ample motivation to expand.  More money.  More prestige.  More TV markets.  Now that we’ve finally entered the playoff era, there’s a chance the system could correct itself over time.

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One Last Report

Unless you are completely deaf to the media, you know that last night was the final Colbert Report on Comedy Central.  Yes, Nation, Stephen Colbert will take his talents to CBS soon, where he will backfill for the retiring David Letterman.  So some people are probably thinking, no big deal, we’ll just see him on the network in a couple of months in Dave’s spot.  But wait – many viewers don’t realize (or don’t fully accept) that the Stephen Colbert on the Report is a caricature, a character, an ironic construct.  And that’s because he’s kept up this persona in front of the camera for nine + years, almost without fail.  He hasn’t done many interviews or public appearances out of this character at all.

So what’s he going to do on late night – that’s the question.  It will be different; enough hints have dropped that we know he’s doing interviews and jokes as more of himself.  How much will this confuse the Nation?  How will the viewers adjust? Continue reading

Overshopped (Online Edition)

It’s not what you’re thinking – not that we’ve spent too much online, bought too many things, no…  It’s a time problem.  Particularly a time-to-item ratio problem.  I like to research and sometimes this attribute gets the better of me.  So the last several days I’ve read more comments on Amazon and elsewhere, read some articles, looked at product slideshows.  I even went outside the online lane and discussed with friends and co-workers…

The item in question isn’t even the point of the gift; it’s an important accessory the protective case/cover for said gift.  It’s not all that expensive and we have a lot (and I mean a lot) of choices, but still…  Very odd.  With the shipping deadline fast approaching, this is no time for paralysis by analysis.  Finally, last night at a late hour, I hit confirm.  Is this a theme of our info-matic lives these days?  Is too much product detail a problem?  Of course, you would say no, but when the time-to-item ratio gets as out of hand as it’s been for me recently…

Fail Sportscenter

With Sportscenter on in the background this morning, and we’re waiting for some MLS Cup coverage.  Never heard it; never saw it..  ESPN – you fail.  Again.

Plenty of analysis on mediocre NFL Quarterbacks, reactions to the College Football playoffs.  Plenty of noise about QBs who aren’t even playing – Manzeil and RGIII.  But three good minutes on the championship of Major League Soccer?  Not saying it wasn’t in there somewhere, but I sure didn’t see it.

And it’s not like they were lacking stories…  Back and forth match, extra time heroics from Keane, and Landon’s final game! Continue reading

Thankful for Run-on Sentences

A few days ago my boy was scribbling intently on some homework.  His concentration level was high, and he continued writing until about twenty minutes past normal bedtime to finish it.  The project was a Thanksgiving-themed story using vocabulary words, and it began with a couple of gloriously long run-on sentences.  A whole long paragraph of descriptive scene-setting and character introduction.  These sentences moved along, without repeating information, plenty of dependent clauses and good conjunctions, without that messy punctuation fouling things up.

When the story moved to the action, the sentences became much more compact, and when the dialogue began, so did the jokes along with a lot of punctuation.  It was pretty great. Continue reading