|Original articles from David Soyka.|
Probably like most freelancers, I’m registered with a multitude of temp agencies in the hopes that at least one of them might occasionally manage to match me with an opportunity. I’ve ranted previously in this space on what you can expect as a contract employer both from the agency that placed you and the entity that is actually employing you to perform work (quick summary: not much). First, let me stipulate that I have had positive dealings with a number of agencies.
|Was Coca-Cola Color Blind?|
The question now becomes whether the presumably scarcer white cans will rise in demand as true collector items. In an era in which every mundane CD or DVD release is a touted as a collector’s edition despite the absence of a regular edition or any production expiration date, Coca Cola may have executed a brilliant marketing strategy, however inadvertently.
|A Room of One's Own|
I recently attended an open house for a small (six person) company’s new office space in a converted residence. Everyone who worked there had their own office. You might remember those: rooms with walls to put pictures on, which the employees sometimes even use when they aren’t working from home.
|A Rose by Any Other Name?|
Everybody wants to stand out, and maybe a slightly off-kilter moniker for your agency might reflect your out-of-the-box-thinking. Or, maybe just that you weren’t thinking. Consider these Strangest Agency Names as reported by Adweek. My personal favorite is the Wexley School for Girls. Right away, you know they don’t have to deal with clients that don’t have a sense of humor.
|Linked In to What?|
The job-networking site LinkedIn is a case study in brand building — the name literally says it all. Who doesn’t want to be linked in? Particularly in this job market, in which every career counselor robotically emphasizes the importance of building networks, as if that’s hard to figure out. So the beauty of LinkedIn, particularly if while highly competent at your job you’re not so hot with schmoozing at job fairs, is that networking is only a few clicks, along with maybe a few extra bucks, away.
|The Emperor Has No Clothes?|
So, I’m a copywriter; what I do for a living is try to make sense with words, and I’m the classic English major who just never did get math. So perhaps that’s my problem when it comes to SEO guys, who it seems to me are blowing a lot of smoke these days and racking up hefty billable hours to tell companies how to optimize their websites. Now, again, I’m a math-illiterate. How to game Google’s algorithms to get the best ranking is out of my league.
|Thoughts on Occupation|
The other day my kid asked me what I thought of the unfolding growth of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Truth is, I’m not sure what I think of it, though in some ways I feel more in sympatico with an Occupy Wall Streeter than any actual Wall Streeter.
|Free Agency — Breaking Up is Not Hard to Do|
The percentage of free agents—workers who perform projects on a temporary freelance basis and/or act as pseudo employees under a limited time contract—is at an all time high according to one recruiting site. However, in this economy, it’s likely that this is less by choice than circumstance; nervous employers don’t want to risk the costs and commitments of “real” employees.
|Does Anyone Have Any Idea What They're Doing?|
So Netflix, the company that branded red envelopes in the mail and slayed Blockbuster (not to mention countless mom and pop video store owners), lately has not only been shooting itself in the foot, but seems aimed at self-inflicting something potentially more fatal. It’s stuff like this that makes you think The Onion obituary headline about Steve Jobs is not, alas, entirely satirical.
I don’t remember too much about my adult neighbors from childhood because, well, they were adults and I wasn’t and back then the line of demarcation was drawn more broadly (as, for example, adults still used belts to keep their pants up and never wore sneakers since no one jogged; they smoked cigarettes for exercise). But one thing I do remember is that Mr. Wallace was a Chevy man, while Mr. Brougley drove Buicks, and Mr. Cedars only bought Fords.
|One Smokin’ Commercial|
Now, this is funny. General Mills, a company that doesn’t exactly immediately bring to mind the phrase “cutting-edge,” has released a short video called the “Magic Brownie Adventure Movie.” It’s a take-off on the drug humor of the Cheech and Chong comedy duo and specifically their stoner flicks such as “Up in Smoke."
|We're All Burned|
Ray Bradbury has a “new” book out this month, A Pleasure to Burn, a collection of short stories that served as the basis for one of his novels (and what few novels he has written are based on his short stories) Fahrenheit 451. This is an example of repackaging, recycling, and rebranding old stuff (really old, as the novel appeared in 1953 and the stories date back to 1947) to make it appear fresh. Now in his ninth decade, Ray has more than earned the right to let his publishers generate some cash for him the same way the Beatles (as well as a multitude of musical groups from the era) and their heirs keep coming up with repackaged versions of the same old catalog. But anything that makes you reconsider some “old” notions in a new context still has value.
|Automatic Writing: Robots Wanted?|
It used to be an insult to say someone’s prose style was “robotic,” meaning not lifelike, automatic, and dull. Now, it might be a job qualification. Only machines need reply.
Admittedly, the cost- and time-saving value of such software is obvious, but there is a downside corporate bean counters might be overlooking. Namely, how do they develop new and inexperienced writers if they don’t have fresh stacks of relatively unimportant copy for them to take a crack at?
|Predicting the Future, for Better or Worse|
Back in 1977, science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov wrote a piece for Advertising Age predicting, among other things, that consumers would opt to receive ads personalized to their interests as well as the role of “persuasion techniques developed by advertology (sic)” to promote social change. While Asimov got the general idea right, he was wrong on the delivery channel for target marketing (he thought it would be television, having no notion of the Internet) and the evolution of political advertising (he thought it would be for the purpose of “battling ignorance and folly” as opposed to most political messages today that’d rather promote ignorance and folly).
|A Better User Experience|
For all the deserved accolades Jobs has received for his visionary products, for knowing what consumers wanted before they did, I think one thing is getting overlooked that helps explain the intense consumer loyalty to Apple. It’s the customer service, stupid! Go into an Apple store and ask someone a question; you get an answer from someone who seems knowledgeable. Not only knowledgeable, but somebody who actually seems to want to help you. Got a problem while working on your computer? Call a toll-free number, get connected in reasonably quick time, and talk to someone who can actually solve your problem.
|The Man in the Grey Flannel Shorts|
According to the Wall Street Journal, Sanjay Jha, head of Motorola Mobility, tried to change its corporate culture by wearing flip-flops to the office. (In case you were wondering, this is why CEOs get the big bucks.)
Okay, there are probably other reasons, but Google didn’t purchase Motorola Mobility because its employees don’t wear shoes. In fact, observers expect a cultural clash because while the two companies may share jeans and t-shirts as office wear, beneath the superficial there are distinct differences in attitude, with Mobile Mobility being much more conservative, bureaucratic, and risk-aversive. This maybe explains why Motorola Mobility is the purchased rather than the purchaser in this relationship.
|Boxed-In Boring, But Brilliant|
How many times has this happened to you? A client asks for something different, something “out of the box,” an expression overused primarily by folks who don’t know the inside of the box from the outside, but makes them sound as if they do. This is the assignment we all want, right? Where we can show off our creative chops and render copy with a clever quotient sufficient to gain industry accolades and an upward adjustment of the hourly rate.
|Is Brevity the Soul of Wit? Or Witless for the Sake of Brevity?|
I used to write email copy, which is junk mail without the paper. (Don’t hate me for stuffing your spam folder; it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it.) My creative director usually had one standard response to just about any draft I submitted: “Good, but make it shorter.” This is the axiomatic principle of writing emails. Nobody has the attention span. Nobody wants to scroll through lengthy discussion. The twittering masses are in 140-character mode. Who has time to read more than a sentence or two when you’re trying to keep up with all those Facebook updates?
It seems commonsensical.