May 2010

Shock Value – Stand Out From the Crowd

In a bold move today – comedian, sports broadcaster, and all around great guy – Colin Cosell put out a public service announcement stating that he will not be wearing pants until more people watch hockey. Watch the PSA on the right.

Akin to the classic 1981 poster campaign where a model makes promises to remove her clothing, whether he knows it or not, Colin is testing the power of internet advertising, Facebook campaigning and YouTube media all in one – through what is referred to as shock value. Granted, it is likely that many more people wanted to see that bikini disappear than want to see Colin Cosell without pants, he attempting to create a buzz nonetheless. Although, I doubt his protest will cause more people to watch hockey, it may cause more people to watch Colin Cosell.

On September 2, I take off the top.

On September 2,I take off the top.

On September 4, I take off the bottom.

On September 4, I take off the bottom.

The display that keeps its promises

Avenir - The display that keeps its promises

As you can see on the left, the 80’s model did in fact keep her promise, although probably not exactly the way people were hoping she would. If you were around back then, and had your ear in advertising circles, you may have heard about this, because it created quite a buzz.  In Oglivy on Advertising, David Ogilvy reports that “all Paris was agog” over this series of posters.  Although nudity in European advertising was nothing new, people were still curious to see what was going to happen.

Is Colin really not wearing pants?  It is summer, so maybe he is just wearing shorts.  Maybe he has a nice pair of heart boxers on, some silk Marvin the Martian Boxers or maybe a pair of white briefs with skid marks. (Gross!)

Regardless of what Colin’s fashion faux pas is, I assume that he is going to keep his promise one way or another, just as our lovely french friend did. I can also guarantee that the people who saw Colin’s first ‘PSA’ are at least a tad bit curious as to what his next move is going to be. If he follows through and does something shocking, different, or out of the ordinary, people will talk, people will listen, and people will come to his website (if you build it, they will come).

Come See What's Inside

Albe created quite a buzz; and it wasn't the first time, or the last time.

The french posters were actually a BtoB marketing campaign from the French advertising agency Avenir who plastered them all over the public transport system in Paris to prove the power of advertising.

Proof is in the Pudding

While I was working as an Art Director at Giaccone Storytellers advertising agency, I designed an ad for Albe Furs which created quite a buzz.  Although I didn’t realize the effect it would have when I designed it, some of their clientele were shocked!  “Come See What’s Inside” was the headline. The visual, although simply a woman in a fur coat, suggested something more, and this suggestion alone caused an uproar.  The client reported people coming in and complaining about it, saying it was inappropriate and other such comments.  He also had people come in and say how much they loved it.  Albe loved the ad and the publicity – both the positive and the negative feedback – he was happy to know that his name was on peoples lips and in their minds. This was not the first time, nor the last time that one of his ads was drastic and bold in tone and message, but each time he used one, he got the desired effect. The owner of Giaccone Storytellers, Joe Giaccone – my mentor at the time – lives by the mantra “You can’t BORE people into buying from you.” This concept rings true with me as well, although I like to take it a step further and say that you CAN shock people into talking about you.

It doesn’t matter if you are Colin Cosell, Avenir, Albe Furs, or anyone else.  Good advertising and marketing stands out from the crowd.  Do something different. Create a buzz around a product or service.  Today is no different than it was 30 years ago (Sheesh has it been that long since the 80’s?  I feel old.) Be tasteful, but be BOLD.  Don’t be afraid to walk the fine line.  Don’t be afraid of the critics. People will talk. Let them talk! Encourage them to talk!  The Irish author Brendan Behan was credited with saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.” If your name, brand, and company is on everyone’s tongue and in everyone’s mind, you couldn’t ask for anything more.

Although I don’t really want to see a YouTube video of Colin’s bare ass, I am curious nonetheless to see where he is going to take this, and furthermore, curious to see if his bold moves increase his YouTube hits and/or Web site traffic. Only time will tell.  Colin – I apologize if I stole your thunder or ruined your punchline, but show me what you got!

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Elementary students put pen to paper to create books

The article below was printed in The Norwalk Hour
Thursday, May 6, 2010 Vol. 139 No. 126
Photo from

Ryan Bud and Kyle Mercer

Kyle Mercer and Ryan Bud illustrate prints for books they and each of their classmates will have published...

Hour Staff Writer

Ryan Bud took a break from his memoirs to reflect.

He never thought he’d be an author, he said. Not in his whole life. Meanwhile, in about a month, Bud will experience a gratifying milestone: the publication of his first book. It will be great, he said. He will share the book with his parents and his friends.

“But I really wanted to be an archaeologist,” he said, then resumed coloring. To be fair, Bud has plenty of time to pursue that dream, too. He’s only 5 years old.

“My book is going to be about play dates,” he said. “It’s going to be about the first time I had a real play date, with my friend Jackson, which I liked a lot because we played games.”

Through financial support from the Naramake Parent Teacher Organization and the vision of Naramake kindergarten teacher Lori Huber, Bud and every other student at the school — about 400 in all — will see their classroom work transformed into printed and bound books they can keep as souvenirs of their childhood experiences, aspirations and imaginations.

Some kids will write books about history, Huber said, or collaborate to publish anthologies of poetry. Other kids will write fiction or archive what they want to be when they grow up.

“What I wanted to do was support and enhance students’ literacy skills,” Huber said. “To me, when the kids work that hard, they like to see a published piece and they’re very proud of the work they do. They can read their own book, see their work in print.”

In September, the PTO announced its first competitive mini-grant program for teachers, and Huber said she applied for a relatively small fund. She wanted to finance a publishing program in her classroom yet, in no time, the project spread from 22 students to nearly 18-times that.

“The school has really bought into this,” said Lisa Lenskold, a PTO board member.

Lenskold said the PTO awarded $2,576 in grant money, funding eight innovative programs that included Huber’s book publishing, a composting bin in Michelle Burnham’s second-grade class, a hands-on demonstration of the butterfly life cycle for all second-grade students and a schoolwide reading challenge developed by Iziar Mikolic but led by Naramake’s ESL students.

“It is having a trickle-down effect where you’re seeing other teachers challenge themselves, too,” Lenskold said.

Huber said she is publishing the books through a company called Studentreasures, which works with schools nationwide. The company publishes the first copy of each student’s book for free, and the grant money — $312 — bought massive amounts of magic markers and colored pencils.

Huber said the books are important for a number of reasons: they improve students’ literacy, foster a sense of pride in the students’ hard work and capture a moment in time for students to revisit when they’re not students anymore.

“It’s really a snapshot of what they’ve done at this age,” Huber said. “The best part for me is, these books show how the students have all learned and grown since the beginning of the year.”

“The most wonderful part about it is, the PTO sees the impact of what teachers put into their class and what teachers are trying to do with their limited budget,” she said.

She said she hopes the books will be ready by June 14 so the school can host an outdoor reading celebration.

On Wednesday, Huber’s students put the finishing touches on their eight-page autobiographies. That’s the genre her class voted to explore, she said. The books document special events, like Bud’s favorite play date or a nice, long walk that Samantha Wallak took. They each start with the basic details of a student’s life — “This is me. I am 6. I am special,” by Benni Tucci — and conclude with a reflection on a student’s unique strengths.

Paolo Escobar wrote that she likes to baby-sit, because she likes taking care of “little people.” Estefania Carvente wrote that she is proud of herself because she has made so many friends since the beginning of the school year; before she finished jotting down her sentence, she confidently recited the names of all the kids at her table.

“It’s so incredible to watch,” Huber said. “They’ve come so far.”

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