This Is Wholesome

There are a lot of risky things a company can do that affects its image. Usually, they introduce a product, or rebrand an old one in hopes of stimulating the spending habits of consumers by appearing to have something sleek and new that their competition lacks. Sometimes, they invest in charity as means for bringing in new business by convincing people that their company cares about disaster victims, abused animals, or disease suffering folk. Or, sometimes the company truly rolls the dice and attaches itself to a social cause that can attract large amounts of consumers while turning off plenty of others.

Honeymaid drew its line in the sand when it started this ad with one dad leaning down to kiss his child’s forehead while the other father holds the infant and feeds it a bottle. Yep… Two Dads… It immediately brought backlash from socially conservative American and probably lost quite a few Teddy Grahams consumers overnight. With all of the five seconds or so of the ad devoted to spotlighting a family raised by a same-sex couple, Honey Maid may have caused their brand irreparable damage and hurt their future profits.

Or, they may have taken stand on a social issue that will ultimately put them on the right side of history. Fact is that plenty of inroads are being made for gay rights and while they may still be a ways from being universally accepted by all Americans, they have come a long ways from when their mere mention of the presence could invoke the authorities to throw them in prison. Honeymaid may have lost some ground to some anti-gay people in the short term, but set a precedence for their company to be recognized as one of the first to take this stand when so many others simply duck the responsibility until they are absolutely certain that such a move won’t hurt their image or profits.

Maybe the Honeymaid corportaing has simply figured out a universal truth that so many people deny and waste countless hours fighting against (specifically, The Westboro Church): There have always been and will always be gay people. The sooner more people can truly understand the gravity of that statement, the sooner we can all work together on real crises instead of trying to change something that should not be, or argue about the morality of a natural occurrence. I understand that I am departing from my amateur advertising and marketing analysis a bit here, but hey somethings are more important in life and like I’ve said before, it’s my blog and I will do what I damn well please.

In the end, Honey Maid responded to the unhappy critics with a second ad that I will post below and its message did a wonderful job of putting hatred in its place, because as corny as this may sound, family truly is all about the LOVE shared by the people who make it up and how they care for each, not other people’s prejudices against their non-character qualities.

A Kick In The Hump: Federal Baseball: A Classic Baseball Simulation Game

Federal Baseball

Keeping with the theme of Opening Day, today’s Kickstarter project I chose to focus on is, “Federal Baseball,” an app-based game that allows you chose any historical baseball franchise from the 1962 season to current day and take control over that team’s roster in order to create the greatest team through game simulations, drafting, and trades with the apps AI counterparts. For anyone that is heavily into baseball stats and lives to read box scores, this game is right up your alley.

I commend the creator’s lofty goals to create game based off known player outcomes and an AI component that will prove challenge to any player that attempts to load their team with all stars, but the other projects I’ve covered, this one really only appeals to specific customer base that enjoys stats driven by probable outcomes. There doesn’t appear to be any flashy graphics or rapid paced game play, so the casual baseball fan or gamer won’t see the appeal. However, with the popularity of all fantasy sports increasing each year and sabremetrics becoming a household name, their should be enough stat nerds out there to potentially make this game a success.

The campaign has an overall price tag of $75,000 and with 43 days to go, they’ve managed to get together about 2000 dollars. If you have interested in donating or want to learn more about Federal Baseball, go here.

True to the Blue

In honor of the first Mariner game of the 2014 MLB season, I thought it fitting that I should briefly discuss the Seattle Mariners’ promotional TV commercials. This year features Felix Hernandez going through a variety of “King,” costume changes, Hisashi Iwakuma showing his versatility, Robinson Cano playing in slow motion, Kyle Seager proving he’s old school and a guy named Chadwick, who first used the letter, “K” to signify a strikeout in a box score. To sum these all up, they’re a bit irreverent, goofy and cartoonish as were the commercials that have preceded them over the last couple of decades.

The problem I have with these spots is that for the most part, they aren’t particularly funny or clever, and they don’t excite me about Mariners baseball. Occasionally, the team has produced a few memorable commercials (From a few years ago, Felix Hernandez disguised as Larry Bernandez was an instant hit), but mostly, these spots are as forgettable as the starting pitchers used for the bulk of last season not named Hernandez or Iwakuma. There is nothing about them that convinces me that the organization is serious about turning around a decade of sub-mediocrity and really pushing to win either a world series, a division title or even just more games than they lose.

It seems like the producers of these spots could have saved some dough and created ads around highlights from archived footage. I would be a lot more excited about players like Fernando Rodney and Corey Hart if I was shown the former striking out the side with a nasty fastball or the latter clubbing a long home run from his stint with the Brewers. Or hell, just replay the final out of Felix’s perfect game a thousand times instead of dressing him up like Elvis. That way I don’t have to feel like I’m cheering for a team that’s more concerned with getting some cheap laughs instead of winning.

A Kick In The Hump: Feminist Style: Consent-Themed Underwear

I came across this Kickstarter campaign for Consent-Themed Underwear to be produced by Amulya Sanagavarpu of Feminist Style and decided I had to spotlight it this week, because it embodies so many positive qualities that most large advertisers and manufacturers fail to grasp in their never-ending quest to sell us whatever whenever however. Not only are the panties made by this company just as functional, cute and flashy as the ones offered by companies willing to spend millions to prove it to you, they also come with a social message meant to empower women to against societal forces that would see them as objects of lust used as accessories for endless supply of products lacking, “the right kind of sex appeal.”

In a society where social messages can get lost among long forgotten stacks of rubber wrist bracelets and faded, misspelled bumper stickers, this product goes right to the frontline where the boundary needs to be set. Sure, these slogans aren’t meant to function like chastity belts and will not protect the wearer from a truly, deranged individual, but they catch people’s attention in a way that continues a dialogue about the intent of both parties involved and the mutual respect people should have for each other in a physical relationship. Also, this product sends a message to girls coming of age that they control their sexuality and are not expected to panhandle for affection through the perverted dregs of a current advertising culture that demand they be, “ready for anything.”

With 18 days to go, Amulya is about halfway to her goal and should she succeed, she will have five consent-themed designs in plenty of sizes and colors for prospective buyers looking to by underwear with a purpose. Head on over Her Kickstarter site for more details.

Why There Isn’t An Academy Award for Best Logo

I watched Dallas Buyers Club (No spoilers to follow), and while it’s kind of pathetic (almost as much as the length of this sentence!) , I will now spend a ridiculous amount of text over an ad that only lasts on screen for 20 seconds and will be hardly memorable for most people, (unless this studio becomes a major Hollywood player from here on out), but oh well, sometimes stupid and insignificant ads get under my skin to the point that you are all subject to my crazed rants of extreme irritation. Especially when they involve a movie studio that produced a film nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars!

So, if you watch the video above, I have no issue with the quick logo spots for Entertainment One or Focus Features, other than the fact that I have to sit through both of these after a few previews of some films I probably won’t see and plenty of reminders to turn off my cell phone, which I’ve never had off silent/vibrate since I’ve owned the damn thing. Anyway, Entertainment One and Focus Features show their bland, non-too flashy, professional logo spots that remind us of their involvement, but leave no other impression.

However, the spot from Voltage caught my attention, because it seemed like a lot of unnecessary, computer generated garbage just to announce to me that Voltage Pictures was involved. The whole sequence looks like it was rejected from the beta version of Myst and does nothing to impress me about the production company. In fact, it nearly made me question how a company that leave there mark in such a tacky way could be involved in creating such a great film.

And that is what I find most specifically annoying about that or any other movie studio that tries to half ass their way to creating the MGM Lion or Tristar Pegasus of the computer animation age: Great films should not be proceeded by computer animated sequences that John Lasseter would digitally wipe his ass with before allowing them anywhere near a Pixar Film. Especially, when you have a decent logo, (which Voltage does!)! Just do what Focus does: fade into the logo, play some forgettable background music and save the standing out to the acting of Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey!

A Kick In The Hump: Halfbike by Kolelinia

I need to lose some weight… Like seriously… I’ve started to get my Gym routine going again and currently, I’m able to power through 30 minutes on the elliptical with varying intervals of tensions between level 8-15 (which means very little to those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about and even less to those of you that do). Point is, I’ve been a bit more worried about my health lately and so when I went looking for a Kickstarter project to write up this week, I stumbled across something that combines two forms of exercise that I am absolutely horrible at: running and biking.

Enter the Halfbike, an efficiently designed vehicle on three wheels with a long handlebar that the rider leans side-to-side in order to steer. There is no seat on this vehicle which puts the rider in a constant upright position, so in some ways it looks similar to a Segway, except its powered by the rider, it actually looks fun to ride, and its not a lame product that costs more than a used car, so actually, it’s nothing like a Segway. Furthermore, its pretty light and compact, making it easy to haul around when hopping on a bus or subway and appears to be one of the most innovative ways to travel the avenues and alleyways of a bustling metropolitan area.

As far as the campaign is concerned, Kolelinia, makers of the Halfbike, are hoping to raise a total of $80,000.00 in order to produce a large quantity of Halfbikes to sell to prospective consumers. In order to support this campaign, you should head over to theHalfBike Kickstarter Page.

Movie Trailer Tuesday: Robocopped

Once again, Hollywood has decided to take a classic sci-fi/action movie and update it. While I’m sure the producers are hoping that this new spin on Robocop for success ala the last Batman Trilogy, watching this trailer makes me feel like we will end up with another Total Recall, or Dredd. In other words a lot of flashy action and deep personal struggles with very little of the character from the original film transferred to the upgrade. The tone has become very serious, and except for a few quirky lines from Michael Keaton, it feels like the filmmakers are trying to out Dark Knight the Dark Knight.

Watching this new trailer feels like there’s too much a departure from the original which was a gritty, shoot ‘em up satire on just how disaffected society had become. At times it was incredibly hard to watch (ie. the gangland style murder of Alex Murphy) and at other times it was very funny. Robocop was created because criminals have become so violent that the Detroit police have to add officer that can fire back without any feelings or second thoughts, but meanwhile, the entire populace is buying anti-theft devices that electrocute thieves, playing board games that end in nuclear war and wearing sunblock that turns the body green and blue. Furthermore, Alex Murphy never consciously acknowledges that he has become Robocop leading to nearly everyone he comes in contact with to treat him with the same compassion they would a fax machine, though ironically, they’ve created this thing they view as subhuman through their own loss of humanity. I was hopeful they would have kept some aspect of this in the remake, and maybe I’m putting too much weight into a trailer that is largely misrepresentative of the film as whole, but then again, Robocop almost began sobbing at about the 30 second mark, so…..

The Art of The Derp: Part I: Idiot Wishes for 1/2 Price Cheeseburgers!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and what better way to celebrate than to get on down to Sonic for a half price cheeseburger that some cad named TJ wasted a four leaf clover on. Unfortunately, the closest Sonic is 60 plus miles away and I am not going to get some Harold and Kumar-like craving that will end up with me and a coked out Neil Patrick Harris chomping down burgers in Puyallup. Despite the fact that I hate seeing ads for places I will probably never visit, I have to give some kudos to the ad team for mastering something that advertisers for many other companies (Yes, Geico, mostly you!!) are horrible at: Idiot humor.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen these two dumb asses sit in the same car and spout off something totally moronic while eating some Sonic burgers, shakes, fries, or whatever. Typically, TJ, the guy on the left, is the dumber of the two, but Pete is also prone to his less than clever antics. Normally, this combination would produce a derp joke* or two and would have me shaking my head and irritated that I hadn’t switched the channel before being subjected to such an overused formula.

However, the writers for these ads are clever enough that while the jokes aren’t insanely hilarious, they contain enough creativity to catch a viewer’s attention rather than stoke their irritation. Furthermore, by the time the commercial is on the verge of going stale, it’s over! What a Novel Idea! I don’t know how many milkshakes Sonic pays their ad writers, but maybe some other companies (Once Geico, do us all a favor and consider this) should try to steal them away.

*A derp joke is a comedy bit where the audience sees the punchline from a mile away, but still the performer insists on going through with the joke even though it’s so unfunny for the viewer it can be painful.

A Kick in The Hump: Disappointing Moments in Cleveland Sports History

photo-main

It’s funny how much money people pay to get their products attention when sometimes, all it takes is just a very original idea to reach the same end. Honestly, the homepage for this Kickstarter campaign is pretty depressing and were this guy trying to pitch the next IPad accessory or a new Hip Hop album, I’d simply pass it by. However, it works perfectly to convince people to support a coloring book depicting the shortcomings of Cleveland sports teams throughout the years, because how often does one get to relive their sports teams’ greatest defeats while keeping their aggression inside the lines anyway?

Already this campaign has put the more conventional attempts at revisiting Cleveland’s non-winning past to shame, having reached its goal and then some (this project has currently been over funded by more than 20,000 dollars) with 4 days left in their campaign. Head on over to his kickstarter page to see a great example of an original idea taking crowdfunding by storm.

A Kick in the Hump: The Georgetown Orbits

Campaign: The Georgetown Orbits Looking to Complete Their 3rd Studio Album!

Background: The Georgetown Orbits have been one of the strongest and most consistent music groups from the Seattle area for nearly a decade. I should know, as I bore witness to the birth of the foundation of this group when a bassist named Toby met a drummer named David at a Kingpins show in June of 2004. Though Toby and David have moved on to other things in life, this band has managed to continue to thrive over the years and provides the best Ska and Reggae influenced music the region has to offer. They have already produced two excellent independent records, (the last one involved another kickstarted campaign) and hope to strike gold a third time.

Approach: The campaign has a strong video that not only gives the potential backer an excellent example of the quality of music they can expect on the album, but also markets the image of a lively and professional group while it promotes goals and past achievements. Also, the actual recording for the album was completed before the actual campaign started, so the fund requested  by the band are strictly going to mastering the album and having it pressed which are two relatively simple processes once the proper funds are received. In other words, the final product of this campaign is not threatened by the possibility of inadequate studio time, unfinished song writing, or band members quitting.

Rewards: Once backers reach the 60 dollar level, a copy of a Dub/B-sides album is thrown and is something I’m looking forward to getting into my IPod. If you were to throw down $250 dollars you get a bevy of swag (including a physical copy of the album) and a tune up from Adam, the trumpet player!

Campaign Ends: Sunday March 16th, at 12:26 pm. As of this posting, the Orbits have reached $1695.00 of their $2500.00 goal! More info available at their kickstarted site: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/312975517/a-new-georgetown-orbits-album?ref=live

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