Friday, October 28, 2011


Do you ever sit down to watch TV, only to find yourself thinking, "I've seen this before" or "This has been really overdone"? Me, too. Every once in a while (or a lot lately, actually), I'll realize that regardless of how creative a company strives to be, there seems to be a handful of ideas that keep getting re-used. Sure, we may associate these things with certain products or brands, but sometimes, it can be distracting when you're wondering where you saw it for the first time. Here, let me show you.

Now, I've never actually seen Risky Business, but who doesn't know that famous dance scene? Tom Cruise dancing around the house in his underwear, rocking out to Bob Seger . . . it's memorable. And apparently, these companies think so, too.

Band Hero - David Cook

Now, this isn't half bad. David Cook channels Risky Business to a T, and all of the humor of the situation is so reminiscent of the original, you don't feel like anything is left out. And of course, a whole string of Band Hero commercials followed in a series, all starring celebs such as David Archuleta, Heidi Klum, and Taylor Swift.

Years later, however, 2011 brings us this: a Shark vacuum commercial with the same song, some dancing, and . . . a little disappointment. Maybe it's just me, or the fact that cleaning ads directed towards housewives tend to be cheesy, but the underwhelmingness of this whole commercial just makes me feel like someone in the creative office isn't trying too hard.

Shark Navigator Lift

To use such a memorable song that's been used so many times in your campaign, you'd better make sure your ad itself memorable and blows every other ad who used the same thing out of the water. To me, this commercial definitely isn't the winner in a pool of contenders.

Then, we have colors. Some people wouldn't think that colors would make too much of a difference in distinguishing different brands, especially if the industries are different. Similar shades, though? And a repeated use of italic font? I find myself thinking of aluminum foil every time I watch a Progressive insurance commercial.


See those boxes? They always remind me of Reynolds Wrap.

 photo reynoldswrap_zps050f736b.jpg

 Truck rentals, too.

And of course, we can't conclude without the overuse of the ever-popular cheesy catch phrase. Most eye roll-worthy right now? "The best in the world." I had originally planned to post the Oikos Greek Yogurt commercial with John Stamos and a random beauty commercial I've been seeing all over the place lately, but not surprisingly, I cannot for the life of me remember which company created the beauty ad. Searching Google and YouTube for hours with phrases such as "makeup commercial best in the world" doesn't really help, either. So, I think that maybe this helps prove my point--a generic tagline doesn't stand out, especially if you see two commercials within a month of each other using the same one (If you end up seeing that commercial, however, please let me know who made it. Kind of ironic how I'm compelled to look for an ad I didn't even care for in the first place).

Are there any ads (print, TV, radio, anything) that make you think of something other than what's being advertised? Let me know. :)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Vending, Redefined

I love the way companies have been taking advantage of vending machines lately. Vending machines are no longer just your usual go-to for a soda or bag of chips, but rather a source of endless possibilities. Over the past ten years or so, I was usually excited enough to stumble across the odd Pringles or Dippin' Dots machines, but the last few years have proved that you really can find just about anything in a self-serve box.

The first time I saw a really great example of the modern-day vending machine was in 2009 at the Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. In the hotel lobby, there were several machines, many of which were dedicated to brand-new Apple products.

No, not that kind of apple.

Here we go:


Since then, I haven't been surprised to walk into a Macy's store to find a glass case filled with iPods, iPads, and spare ear buds. I guess rich people need gifts in a hurry sometimes, but I think I'd rather stick to the whole I-bought-it-at-a-store-so-I-can-always-take-it-back policy.

Surprisingly, I even saw this trend pop up a few weeks ago in my old hometown. I wasn't raised in the middle of nowhere, but our local mall in Virginia wasn't necessarily on the cutting-edge of shopping meccas. The gotta-have-it-now product? Proactiv!

I'm not sure I'd ever think of running across town to buy face wash out of a vending machine, but a huge refrigerator-type case covered in pictures of Julianne Hough might win some people over. Takes away the embarrassment of talking to anyone about your skin imperfections, I guess. If you're opposed to that type of thing.

And, of course, where would we be without our beloved Redbox? Never before have Friday night movie choices been so spontaneous and inexpensive.

When Brad and I were out driving around this weekend, I was amused to see a machine for fishing bait outside of a convenience store, right next to a self-serve cage for not ice, but firewood. I guess they really weren't kidding when they said Michigan is surrounded by lakes, huh?

A few more innovative kiosks:

Walking robot Coke machine (Source)

Kit Kat's Human Vending Machine--this one made me giggle. (Source)

YESSS! (Source)
Need an umbrella? I guess this is less shady than buying one for $2.00 from the guy walking around the subway. (Source)

AND . . .
Nothing says convenience like feeding your dollars into a machine and watching a Smart Car pop out.

Okay, I'm leading you on. That doesn't really happen, but you can push a button to receive a tube of pamphlets and stickers from Smart. Still pretty eye-catching, if you ask me.


So, what about you? Ready to scout huge shopping areas to see what you can watch fall out of a machine?

Happy hunting. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where I Come From

The past week and a half has completely flown by--I honestly cannot believe that it's been almost two weeks since I went home for a weekend to Virginia. Maybe it's because of the cold I had most of last week, but I can't really remember much in the few days after we got back. Now, I'm in the middle of working on a proposal for a project that's based back in Virginia, and at the same time, we're planning another visit home for Halloween. It all just makes each day go by even faster, to the point where I can't believe that we're almost three weeks into October. So, while I take a break from over-using the research portion of my brain, here's a story board of Brad's birthday weekend and everything that came along with it.

Thursday, October 6th

We left around dinner time. With nine hours of road ahead of us, convenience stores and streaming radio from Brad's phone became our best friends. I was expecting to fall asleep by 9:00, but I guess the Starbucks energy drink did its job. Plus, it was a surprisingly okay drive--other than the random driver in Ohio, who honked his or her car horn at me for driving too slowly right before an exit (couldn't they see the Michigan plate? I was lost, okay?). I was also a little unnerved by all the random, huge deer hanging out by the side of the road around midnight. Regardless, we made it in okay and finally got to sleep shortly after 4 a.m.

Friday, October 7th

Brad's birthday! Brad and I are now the same age, at least until my birthday next weekend (there's always that nice couple of weeks each year when I don't feel like an old lady). After waking our exhausted selves up and talking to my parents for a bit, Brad and I headed to Blacksburg, where he dropped me off at my old workplace while he went to hang out at Virginia Tech (his old stomping grounds).

With baked goods in hand, I walked into PSI, expecting at least a few people to be up front, awaiting my grand arrival. Even better--there was practically no one around. Of course. I dropped off the small plates of cake I had brought in the kitchen (only to find that there were two very large pans of very large cinnamon rolls already up for the taking), and started mulling around to find people to talk to.

Lucky me--some of my friends were having a prom dress-up day (I don't pretend to know why, but I wasn't surprised), and I got to be their photographer. It's things like this that make me miss my old job.

Me, taking pictures of the lovely (silly) ladies.
After photos, I went to an impromptu lunch with everyone, which made me remember all over again how much I missed them. Say what you want, but I really do believe that we all have different phases of our lives for certain reasons--and the reason I ended up working at this job was to meet so many great people.

After Brad picked me up from lunch, the two of us drove to his--sorry, his mom's--house (so weird saying that), where his side of the family was waiting with a festively-decorated house.

Yes, that's a stuffed squirrel on the left. Yes, it's real.
View off the back porch
After some greetings and basic family-style reuniting, we took a ride over to the construction site where Jessi's (Brad's sister) new house is being built! To make it even more exciting, Jessi's new husband, Jared, is the one building the house. Now, that's a pretty good wedding present.

The perfect place for a log cabin

That's Maggie. She ran up to join us.
Hilltop view from the house

We milled around the property for a few minutes, then it was back to the (finished) house for food, food, food. We definitely didn't go hungry.

And, of course, what would a birthday be without cake and presents?

An awesome cake for an awesome engineer


Brad and his granny, showing off his new hats

Queen kitty and pooped puppy, a.k.a., Fuzz and Maggie

Saturday, October 8th

On Saturday, Brad went to the Tech game while I hung out with my parents. Our day consisted of mall shopping (mostly for my mom, who put some birthday gift cards to use), sending my wedding band off to be repaired (don't even get me started), searching for deals at Walgreens (my dad likes sales), and stopping for  lunch at Red Robin. If you haven't tried it yet, I highly suggest getting their Oktoberfest burger (I got the chicken version). Definitely about as German as you can get at a burger restaurant. If you're a vegetarian, you're missing out.

Saturday evening was reserved for the Moose Lodge, where my parents are members. Every week, the lodge puts on a dance for members and their guests, and I went along to help my parents sell popcorn as a fundraiser for their upcoming haunted house.

My mom, head popcorn-popper for the evening

My dad, signing people in to the dance
The band
After the music started, I made the mistake of goofily dancing around the popcorn machine. Before I know it, a man in flannel and overalls came over and swept me onto the dance floor. The only evidence I have is a few blurry photos, but I believe that they're enough proof that those fun and interesting few minutes existed.

Sunday, October 9th

Continuing with the tradition of a busy weekend, Brad headed to see more family members on Sunday morning (just too many people to see in three days!) and I went with my parents to Sinkland Farms (a popular, local pumpkin patch). To me, fall just isn't complete without a visit to the farm.

Punkin Chunkin'!
This year was the biggest I've ever seen the festival--it just keeps growing and growing.
An outdoor event wouldn't be complete without a little clogging.

Tons of animals to make friends with, including Maude, the Belgian work horse. Hello, there.


I love and miss the mountains.


Since I'm poor, I didn't buy any pumpkins at the patch. Still, we had a good time with the hayride, eating brownies, and browsing craft booths. (P.S.: Don't tell anyone, but I might have gotten a couple pumpkins at Dollar General after we left. They were grown on a patch somewhere, right?)

Later that evening, I visited my family's church with my mom, where we helped organize a craft session for some of the kids at the church. It was fun and went by quickly, but I was definitely reminded of how exhausting kids can be.

After church, we went home to meet up with my dad and sister, Carolyn, who had just gotten home from a school-related trip to Georgia (At least, I think it was Georgia . . . she's always going places). Brad joined us soon after, and we all went out to celebrate his and my mom's birthdays. The venue? Cracker Barrel! Man, I missed Cracker Barrel.

*Waitress, taking picture*: "I can't really seen anything on the screen..."
Me: "You have to look in the little window"

And of course, we had to goof off in the gift shop after dinner. When an employee came over to talk to Carolyn, we thought we were going to get in trouble for taking pictures, but were just told that we could upload our photos to Cracker Barrel's website. I might just have to take them up on that offer.
This candle is so pretty!
We finished the night at home with Guitar Hero and stayed up as late as we could, despite how exhausted we were. Poor Carolyn, who had been on the road all day, fell asleep on top of her homework. That's normal, though.

Monday, October 10th

We had to head back to Michigan on Monday since, you know--Brad had to go back to work, or something silly like that. The goal was to get out by noon, but of course we were delayed. Luckily, I had the whole morning to get ready, and while it was difficult to leave, I knew we'd be back a few weeks later. Not to mention, Thanksgiving and the Christmas season are coming up, so there's sure to be lots of family time during the next few months.

Plus, we had a lovely, scenic trip home.

It's no wonder why I love this time of year.
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