Had a blast on Friday taping (is that the right Web 2.0 word?) and performing my first-ever Webinar. The invitation came from the folks over at RetailTouchpoints, who caught my performance earlier this year at the Shop.org conference.
In essence, it's the same presentation done there--One Hand In Their Pocket, about how retailers can benefit from mobile in their marketing--but done with six months of experience behind it.
Frankly, I thought it was gonna be a dud; basically me talking over some PowerPoint slides, but on delivering it, I realized how (sorry for the ego, but it's true) good the slides were, and how pertinent and important the message is. Also, being "live" made each stumble a point to goof and improv on, so I had a lot of fun in the process. Best of all, if you boo me, throw things or fall asleep, I won't have a clue.
All this to say that it would be well worth your while--it's FREE--to check out the Customer Engagerment in general, and me in particular.
The Event takes place: Wednesday, August 6.
I'm on at: 3:45 p.m. eastern
Sign up now: By clicking HERE.
(And a personal shout-out to Amanda Ferrente, thanks for the experience, but as of yesterday, you still haven't update the website!)
Off to New York for a big meeting with Airborne's faithful giant client Verizon Wireless, but I promised a couple more Just For Laughs pix, and here they are. Four things to note before, though:
Whew! Even when I was on vacation, I haven't been away this long. Thanks for sticking by for the two-week layoff, folks (and I do mean "sticking by"; despite the lack of a new post, traffic was only down 4.75%).
Well, I haven't been completely radio silent. Multidisciplinary FOPs have followed me on Twitter (you to can do so by clicking here), and were given some insight into the inner workings of the Just For Laughs Galas I've been directing. As we move along, these Twitter tweets will focus on the re-launch of Airborne Mobile as well as the making of the marketing of the Pow! Right Between The Eyes! book, coming out in February from Wiley Publishing.
That said, I've been working on a couple of revolutionary Airborne projects, one which will be hopefully be finalized and 100% green-lit later today. Airborne's new direction and spirit will also be reflected in the new website we've been working on, which should make its debut in a couple of weeks or so. You will be linked!
On the book front, the manuscript will be delivered on Friday, and then it's onto the fun and games to make sure it's a best-seller. I'll be excerpting some of the book here in upcoming weeks, but until then, let me link you to something really cool, the "Wordle" of my first chapter. As described on its site,
"Wordle is a toy for generating 'word clouds' from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text."
That said, I downloaded Chapter 1, and here is the result. Kinda reminds me of a '50s jazz album cover or John Frankenheimer movie poster. This stuff is so cool I'm thinking of a parallel release of the Pow! book exclusively in Wordle.
But more to come. And at least two new posts I'm proud of later this week.
For now, once again, welcome back. You'll be glad you stuck around.
Ahh, a beautiful, sunny July Saturday afternoon and where am I?
Looking out at the mountain view from my offices at Airborne Mobile.
Don't cry for me, Argentina. I make my own bed, and I won't lie to you from it. July has ALWAYS been the busiest part of my year, but this year make previous Julys seem almost comatose.
So, here's my situation: in addition to the whirlwind of activity since Garner and I bought back Airborne from Cybird, I've been finishing off the Pow! Right Between The Eyes book for Wiley Publishing. Friends, family members, agents Bill Gladstone and Ming Russel, editors Shannon Vargo and Jessica Langan-Peck and FOPs everywhere will be happy to learn that as of last week, it is officially
DONE! DONE! DONE!
and for the rest of the month, I will be polishing up the manuscript for its August 1st official hand-off.
Add to this that I'm taking off six days from both Airborne and manuscript-polishing to once again direct the Just For Laughs Gala shows, working with the likes of old buddy Craig Ferguson, Jimmy Fallon, Kathy Griffin, Joan Rivers, Jeremy Piven and many, many more.
But, as mentioned a couple of posts ago, I won't be abandoning you. In fact, I urge and implore you and your friends to follow me on Twitter at
for the type of inside, real-time scoop that you can't get anywhere else. Never mind backstage or behind-the-scenes, this will be on-stage as we MAKE the scenes.
Trust me, now that I'm REALLY getting into Twitter, and have it set up on my Berry, I'm looking forward to seeing how far I can take it, so...
A splendid time is guaranteed for all. As Snoop Dogg said, "Follow me, follow me, follow me, follow me."
Get on my tail.
Beverage cans and soft drink bottles, long considered an eyesore by the side of the road or source of revenue for the homeless, have become the new fashion statement.
Coca-Cola just won a prestigious Golden Lion in Cannes (how apropos!) for its newly-designed aluminum bottle (that's them there at right), Pepsi is now pouring from 35 different eye-poppin' can creations, and over the course of this year, two beer companies will be packaging their brew in camouflage cans, ostensibly to appeal to the 65 million outdoorsmen (and women) who like to match their wardrobe while they hunt, fish, shoot and binge drink. This summer, Busch and Busch Light will be available in underbrush tones of green and muted brown, with Miller's "Camo Can" taking on similar attributes starting in October.
All this seems to be a natural progression as food packaging is becoming everything from a purveyor of poetry and motivation (Starbucks cups), promotional messaging and couponing (Burger King) to a broadcast medium in its own right (Coke's veiled threat to sell ads on its cans and bottles due to their massive international exposure).
Back to the brew for a second. While the aesthetics are indeed unique, methinks that perhaps they, too are just camouflaging the brewers' more insidious ulterior motive. Just think of the additional sales after the aforementioned outdoorsy types lay down their six-packs in the open bush...and then, no matter how hard they look, can't find them.
Well, as if I don't have enough to do...
Actually, this one is in YOUR hands folks and FOPs.
The official launch of
takes off today at noon.
You are both the passengers and pilot. Have a nice ride.
(And as per a question I received from Andrew B. Clark, you can indeed incorporate elevator-mates, bus-and/or-train-mates; I won't get anal with the details as long as you keep in the spirit and have a good story to tell.)
An obvious ploy to steal some thunder (and traffic, and eventually, revenue) from Google, Microsoft's search idea is a nice twist, but I don't know how excited folks are gonna get jumping through hoops and climbing somewhat rickety ladders to save a couple of bucks from some participating sites. There's a lot of variables at work here; too many, perhaps, to make us wanna jump and shout for joy.
Methinks the future of search--perhaps of many standardized, commoditized activities--can be better crystal balled by downloading an app called PicLens.
PicLens is part of the CoolIris group, which I stumbled upon while searching (there's that word again) for an in-browser preview program now that Browster has gone to the Web 2.0 graveyard. I dig their preview program, but I'm enamored with PicLens, which I believe is the beginning of the future of browsing.
Right now, it works only (only!) for image/photo, video and social sites like flickr, Photobucket, YouTube, Google Image Search, Facebook, MySpace and the like, but what a ride! Instead of pages upon pages of flat squares, PicLens converts the found visuals into a 3D-like wall, which you whip across and up & down with your mouse. Not only is the effect efficient and fast, but the experience is such a blast, you almost forget why you came there in the first place.
Making the mundane fun. Making a chore into play. Way more appealing to us at Surprise Central than waiting for a refund from Redmond.
Lemme know what you think once you find it.
Ah, the ingenuity of the Great White North rears it head once again!
Actually, it's way more interesting than that. What these guys do is sell you a t-shirt with a hand-drawn portrait of a random stranger on it (these portraits are very well done, and well worth wearing).
To keep the community growing, at the time of your order, you upload your own headshot, which is converted into a hand-drawn portrait, which is then put on the t-shirt that some other random stranger buys. And then...well, you get the drill. (By the way, that's Kristina Ferraro above and my namesake, Lucious Andy, below.)
What makes this even more endearing is that Jeff Woodrow, who conceived this idea, donates 5% of profits to a different charity every month, and a la Sally Struthers, packs each t-shirt with a card that tells you all about the person emblazoned on your (sweatshop-free!) garment.
Great concept, and indeed spreads the warmth, but I think that Jeff's only scratching the surface with this one. Just think what could be done if you could harness the process for mass gatherings of people where t-shirts are sold, a la music festivals, political rallyes or street parties. The meet-and-greets could be more entertaining than the events themselves.
Stand out or step back.
That's always been a motto of some sorts around Surprise Central. It's been the subject of many a blog posting here, like this one, and these two about my beloved Corvette (which celebrates its seasonal, coming-out-of-storage party this week).
And now, there's a book about it.
It's called Step Into The Spotlight, A Guide To Getting Noticed and it's sparkingly-written by a woman who goes by the mono-moniker Tsufit.
A former Dean's List litigation lawyer, Tsufit cast off her professional shackles and followed her passion into the world of showbiz. She did stand-up comedy, acted, recorded a CD before settling into her current passion of corporate coaching, saying (and I love this) "I show business how to use show business to get business."
The book is a primer on making noise and attracting eyeballs and ears to you and/or your message, and is highly endorsed by yours truly. You can't expect Pow! if you don't stand out; there's no Surprise by blending in.
And if you can muster up about one-100th of the chutzpah that Tsufit oozes, you'll be a magnet for attention. Check her out, and buy the book, by clicking here.
A couple of years ago, I spoke at a conference at Walt Disney World, and taking advantage of the free passes given to speakers, I head over to the MGM park to try out the Aerosmith Rock N' Rollercoaster. Now, I'm a big fan of Aerosmith, and admit the coaster was a blast, but other than the waiting-in-line preamble, the ride really had nothing to do with the band.
Cut to Led Zeppelin--the Ride, which has got to be the star attraction of the currently-in-preview but soon-to-open Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. With six loops, a top speed of 65 miles per hour (!!!) and climbing 15 stories high, this coaster's about as unpredictable and wild as John "Bonzo" Bonham after a long-weekend bender. That's it below.
But what makes the ride truly Pow!erful is the way it's action is actually choreographed to the tune "Whole Lotta Love." Like the seats at The Beatles' Love show in Vegas, each coaster car is equipped with a sound system that blasts the song through you. Sounds nuts, and rock 'n' roll purists are spinning in their graves, but if the "simulation video" (no direct link; go to the Rides link on the site's main page and click on Led Zep) is any indication, this could be the start of whole new way to experience music.
No matter what, after seeing the vid/riding the ride, you'll never hear the line "Way down inside, woman, you need...Looohhhvvvvve!" the same way again.
Coming soon to the Hard Rock Park: Marilyn Manson--The Dark Ride, Elton John--The Merry-Go-Round, The Eagles--The Massage Chair and Elvis--The Snack Bar.
Am totally enamored with the new MasterCard campaign, which gives its chestnut "Priceless" slogan--and the spirit of Surprise marketing--a new spin.
In association with a number of Conde Nast magazines (including Wired, The New Yorker, Architectural Digest, and other faves of Surprise Central), the credit card is giving away Pow!erful prizes like a first-class trip to all the seven wonders of the world or an original, commissioned portrait of you by artist Julian Schnabel.
What makes this all the more special is the promotion's modus operandi--nothing to send in, no user-generated videos to make...just crack open the sealed envelope to the four-page spread in the April issue of the aforementioned magazines and, a la the Oscars, see if you've won.
As the picture below sadly proves, I've been reading lots...and winning not .
Which is why there will be no post tomorrow. I'll be too busy stealthly trawling through magazine stores across this great land of ours. Or, put another way...
Paying for thousands of copies of magazines:
Opening envelopes while the clerk isn't looking:
Okay, despite the day, this one's no joke...but another addition to the Pow! Gallery of Obtuse Artworks.
Here's what Michael's piece looks like:
Just look at the detail! Intricate, impressive...and tasty, too.
Compare this to the most recent self-portrait print of Chuck himself, just recently published by the prestigious Pace Editions of New York:
Pace is selling its 200-colored screenprint for about $75,000, while Michael's painstaking handiwork of more than 26,000 six-colored cereal circles is going for an opening bid of $10,000 on eBay.
Now if I only had some empty wall space...
On the back page of this month's Fast Company, Elizabeth Spiers takes venomous aim at Business Books, which she calls "the modern era's second-worst literary promulgator of intelligence reduction."
"Contrary to what your parents and teachers told you." she jabs, "reading does not necessarily make you smarter."
As a perhaps-too-fervent reader (and sometimes writer) of the said literary works, I would be incensed if I only knew what "promulgator" meant. Okay, I kid.
While Elizabeth has a point (indeed many biz books are repetitive, uninspiring and propagate theories that are obsolete by the time you plod through the volume), it's unfair to tar the entire genre with the same poisonous brush. Like the diverse array of novels at our reach (which Elizabeth is about to delve into with the release of her first "And They All Die In The End"), the biz book shelves are stocked not just with the regrettable and forgettable, but the well-intentioned and the classics. Giving up on them would be like abandoning the drinking of wine after being disappointed by a few five-buck bottles of plonk.
But I came here not to bury Elizabeth, but to praise Jospeh Jaffe, Drew McLellan and Gavin Heaton, three biz book authors who do the field proud. And for different reasons.
Joseph just released Join The Conversation, his second great thought-provoker (following in the footsteps of "Life After the 30-Second Spot"). There are those in the biz book world who regurgitate the current jargon; Jaffe helps create and add relevance to it. He's a different kind of smart.
The book is a breezy read, filled with brand-name examples (both widely well-known and uniquely personal) and pertinent illustrations. But what sets it apart from the type that Spiers rails against, is the depth of its subject matter (marketing as conversation and vice-versa), and the way it exploits it to explain it. In other words, the book itself is more a conversation than a lesson, a list of rules, a pedantic Harvard treatise or a self-obsessed rant. And the way in which Joseph has chosen to market it--reaching out to the marketing community and harnessing the social media power of his connections--shrewdly proves his hypothesis. Prophecies have rarely been this self-fulfilling.
Followers of his popular blog JaffeJuice or clients of his innovation agency crayon may find some of what's inside Join The Conversation somewhat familiar...but unfortunately, not everyone reads marketing blogs or has the guts to hire a guy like Joseph. This is one of those books that will pop the eyes of newbies, allow us usual suspects to follow along with a wink of recognition...and perhaps give Elizabeth Spiers second thoughts. You can pick it up by clicking here.
But even if Spiers has a most carbonized hard-ass, she has to find a bit of love in her heart for the work of Drew and Gavin. Last year, they launched The Age of Conversation (that's a heckuva lotta conversations on the bookshelves, dontcha think?), a collective of 103 marketing writers from 12 countries (including a most honored yours truly), where everyone contributed for free and donated all proceeds of the project to Variety , The Children's Charity.
Well last week, the most dynamic of duos announced The Age of Conversation 2: Why People Don't Get It, which has attracted close to 300 potential authors to its swelling pages. Details on release date et al will be coming soon, so check this space.
In the meantime, if you STILL haven't picked up your copy, I'm urging and imploring you to HOLD OFF until March 29th, when the authors and friends are gathering together for a Bum Rush on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble and other book retailers. The Bum Rush was initiated by Chris Wilson of freshpeel, so I think it's only fitting to send you and some link-love over to him to find out the greater details and reasons why.
So there we go, Elizabeth. We biz folks may not be writing War and Peace, but with initiatives such as The Age of Conversation, at least some of us are trying to end the former and bring about the latter.
It ain't easy being a snack food these days. One one hand, the competition for shelf space is fierce, and on the other, you're being beseeched by health and fitness advocates and the government about how you're responsible for everything from rampant obesity to the downfall of America.
So I gotta give a lotta kudos to these two who are doing their damndest to cut through the clutter and the muttering.
On the "We Ain't That Bad" side there's Lesser Evil, who make "All Natural Kettle Corn and Krinkle Sticks" with no preservatives, trans fat, high-fructose corn syrup or anything else bad.
Usually, these are code words for "tastes like hell," but this ain't health food the Tuckahoe, New York company is touting...just "better" than the usual bag of oily chips or popcorn. And the retro packaging takes you back to a simpler time where things were healthier...or at least you didn't know how bad they were for you.
Also all-natural, the people at Robert's American Gourmet handle things a little differently. These guys are the Jones Soda of snack foods, with flavors and gimmicks that grab attention...and cash (the company enjoyed a 38% dollar growth last year).
Owner Robert Erlich throws a lot of SKUs up against the wall. Some--like Pirate's Booty and Moon Chips--stick; others--like the $50 bag of Caviar Potato Flyers, Bubble Tea Popcorn and St. John's Wort Tortilla Chips--don't, and for good reason.
But with $50 million in sales, Robert's is flying and will keep trying (up next: 50-grain Stem Cell Chips. Yum!)., and will even let folks like us get involved and suggest his next snack hit. Or miss.
And speaking about speaking (see yesterday's post), how's this for a cool, high-powered gig?
I've just been added to the bill of The Art Of Sales, a full-day event to be held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre's elegant John Bassett Theatre, on May 12.
The line-up is packed with some of my biz book idols, including:
I've spoken at many such a large-scale, full-day session, but what makes The Art Of's take on them so unique is that the company highlights a specific theme, and niche-markets to those most interested in, and who will take home more from, the subject at hand.
For example, other events set to go include The Art of Golf (featuring coaches of the top PGA money-winners), The Art of Cooking and The Art of Management, with more to come (hey guys, how about "The Art of Surprise"? I know a good closing speaker. Uh, just asking...)
One of the driving forces within The Art Of is a bright, well-experienced entrepreneur named Scott Kavanagh, who promises not just to entertain his audience, but educate them. Which brings me to a conversation I had over dinner in Chicago two weeks ago with my buddy Jim Fannin, one of the greats of the speaking world. Despite his success at empowering thousands all over the globe (including championship athletes like Alex Rodriguez and Grant Hill), Jim insists he is NOT a motivator, but an educator. Or, as he put it:
"It's the difference between telling someone
'you can do it!',
and actually teaching someone
'HOW you can do it'."
So go get 'em, Scott and company. Teach 'em how you guys do it. And thanks for the honor of allowing me to share the stage with such a prestigious group.
(By the way, if you wanna go, call The Art of Sales at 1-866-992-7863. Mention my name and get a discounted rate. Mention Herb Cohen's name and negotiate an even BETTER one!)
While I lurked about the backstages of CBC, I noticed I was being attentively watched by this young guy and girl. Shyly, they approached and asked when I'd be joining them at their table.
"Why?" I said, puzzled.
"Uh, aren't you one of the celebrity lookalikes?" they responded.
"No, I'm one of the Bloggers..."
"Oh," said the sizzling Angelina Jolie twin. "I thought you were a Dustin Hoffman lookalike."
By the way, I get this ALL THE TIME. Happened at last week's Shop.org speech, right after the keynote. And last summer, at a Toronto Film fest party, I had the pleasure of actually meeting Dustin Hoffman, who was patient and kind enough to hear my story of constantly being mistaken for/compared to him. His response?
"Aw...you're way better looking. I think you look more like Pacino."
Either way, I'll take it. And for the record, the Jolie and "Young Elvis" lookalike with the Hoffman-manqué below.
As you read this, I am heading towards Orlando on behalf of Airborne to the Shop.org Innovation conference , where I'll be hosting two roundtables as well as giving a keynote address debunking the myths and revealing the opportunities of marketing via mobile phones.
(Don't wanna sound pompous, but since this was the root of what we pioneered eight years ago for the likes of Disney, HBO and continue to do today for the NHL , Family Guy and Maxim, I think I'm pretty well-qualified not just to yammer about the subject...but to be listened to.)
The guest list the the event reads like the who's who of retail, and the hometown will also be represented by the ubiquitous Mitch Joel (my plane seatmate) and Pinny Gniwisch of Ice.com. Another highlight is that after a year of conversing via email and phone, I finally get facetime with my namesake and kindred spirit, word-of-mouth marketing guru Andy Sernovitz, who's also keynotin' (see below).
Will be in touch later this week to let you know how it goes...
Been a week, and the response has been nothing but unanimously positive, so big thanks and kudos to Airborne's Scott Brooks who not only re-designed the Pow! site, but gave it its unique visual personality at launch back in October, 2006.
Not did he capture the volume this site needs to generate, but Scott also played to the fashion victim in me by incorporating my logo into a Louis Vuitton-like repetitive pattern along the sides.
I dig Jay Nussbaum. As a lawyer, martial arts expert and college professor, he's obviously eclectic in his interests and gutsy in his career choices.
So it stands to reason that in publishing his second novel called A Monk Jumped Over A Wall, he's gonna take the grain and go against it.
While other authors have turned to the ubiquitous video vault with interviews and slick EPKs to peddle their wares, Jay's dramatization of one of the book's scenes and subsequent transformation of it into a short film (and a rather professionally-made one at that) is relatively unique.
Hopefully, it'll help the tireless author move volumes of volumes.
And if anyone ever wants to pick up the movie rights, at least one scene is already in the can.
Don't post personal, no-biz pix often (okay, there was that Police thing), but to counter-balance the downer of yesterday's post, here's a picture from Airborne's Christmas party last week. At the annual talent show, our office band, brilliantly named The Matt Demons by drummer Brandon Reti, got together to play a few tunes, including Van Halen's "Jump!"...instructions I took quite literally as you can plainly see.
P.S. No photoshop, trampolines or steroids were used in creating this leap.
The above video--a random collection of some of my fave pix from the history of Pow! dancing to the music of Misportrayed (my son Aidan's old band)--was put together in about 3 minutes by an ingenious Web applet called Animoto.
Yeah, I know I can accomplish the same thing if I play with iPhoto or Nero or whatever for a bit, but Animoto actually did this for me. In no time.
Essentially, all I had to do was choose the photos, choose the music and push play. The learning curve was non-existent, a vertical rocket; I literally went from discovering the site to final product above in five minutes.
Now, for a maestro of PowerPoint who's called upon to give countless visual presentations throughout the year, this is a Godsend. I can use it for intros, for extros, for summary Sizzle Reels...the possibilities are endless (well, they will be when Animoto releases its Biz version early next year).
I also know the above ain't exactly great art. But it's more than good enough for my needs. And with its automated effect generator, Animoto can remake and remix your presentation over and over until you're satisfied--or fed up--with it.
No, this won't replace professional tools or editors or high-end video presentations, but Animoto does for pictures what Typepad and Blogger did for writing--provide a simple, foolproof tool that democratizes visual communication.
Check it out here. And for a real treat, take 60 seconds to watch its inspired "Learn More" video.
Domo origato, Animoto.
Seems like every time I'm in San Francisco for this show, something nutty happens.
My first trip in saw me pull an overnighter leaving from the continent's most western point at 10:30 p.m. for a speech at 12:30 the next afternoon in St. John's, Newfoundland...the continent's most EASTERN point. (After a delay--what a Surprise!--in Toronto, I ended up making the speech by five minutes, but had no time to hit the hotel and change so I delivered it unshaven, in my overnight flight outfit of torn jeans, Rocawear oversized sweatshirt and gang-banger's knit skullcap.)
My next CTIA was the scene of the still infamous Donald Trump dollar bill toss.
I can't even describe what happened at the last one two years ago, being sworn to secrecy in a blood pact. Suffice to say, in the immortal words of former Airborne VP Marc Alloul:
"C'est la que ça se passe!"
Who knows what fun next week will bring?
Well, as soon as I know, you can be sure I'll be telling ya. Have a great weekend.
This is a different type of "fall," but...
When I ran the Just For Laughs Festival, I saw a lot of shows. Thousands over my 15-year career. Things have let up since starting Airborne, but given my professional heritage and my interest level, I still see way more live performances, of all kinds, than the average bizman.
This is said to establish my credibility for what I'm about to say (and add to the luster of whom I am about to extol), so...last week, at a dance/music/acrobatic show I saw called Line 1...
Dom Dagenais performed
one of the coolest, wildest,
most eye-popping and awe-inspiring acts
I've ever seen, anywhere!
A spunky little rock star-type (that's him below) , Dom stands on the edge of a large trampoline and starts to lay into an inspired guitar solo. He then falls (there's the connection!) backwards onto the tramp, twists and gets up, all while continuing the solo.
Then things get REALLY crazy.
Over the period of about five minutes, Dom jumps, flips, twists and somersaults all over the trampoline, sometimes soaring eight-to-10-feet in the air, and yes, all this without missing a note.
Truly something that has to be seen and heard to be believed. And trust me folks, after years of seeing everything at least twice, I don't impress easily. You can see it for yourself on YouTube (thanks, Gabriel!).
Didn't have a chance to catch up with him, but the story is that he was a championship trampolinist (is that what you call them?), until an injury put him out of international competition. Suffice to say that the Olympics' loss is the stage's gain.
Dom's act is so killer that it should be a staple at every NBA and NCAA Basketball half-time show, and it would be way better a warm-up for rock concerts than some of the poor souls that are thrown out to try and feed their unknown tunes to the lions every night. And at five minutes, it's the perfect TV/Web/Mobile Video length. Every second of it rocks.
It would be a true injustice if someone doesn't get on Dom's case...and soon.
A true Pow! performer.
As a follow-up to yesterday's post-with-the most, a couple of FOPs pointed me in the direction of Phoenix, Arizona's infamous Heart Attack Grill, notoriously renowned for its 8,000-calorie "Quadruple Bypass Burger" and its "Flatliner Fries," all served up by hottie waitresses dressed as nurses.
The joint's slogan?
Taste Worth Dying For.
Whether you love it or hate the concept is irrelevant. Check out its site, look around, and see if you can name any other restaurant--never mind a burger joint--that's generated this much attention.
Pardon the pun, but while this ain't everyone's taste, the sound of the Pow! is not just the explosion of patrons' arteries.
In its pursuit of championing the element of Surprise and the use of Pow! in selling products, concepts and ideas, this blog has pointed out dozens of relevant and effective examples over the past year.
But the great power of the unexpected need not be limited to consumer goods and services, nor to all things "cute" and cool.
To see what I mean, check out the website for a unique and somewhat disturbing summer camp for kids called Camp Okutta (found at www.campokutta.com).
This was sent to me by Teresa Beenken (one of the heads of the National Speakers Bureau, the agency that represents me to open my mouth on stage), who was turned onto it by Dr. Samantha Nutt, another one of her clients and one of this planet's great do-gooders.
Spend a few minutes and click around the site.
Then you'll understand Dr. Nutt's connection.
...and how Surprise can be used to reach into hearts and minds, not just wallets.
Marshall McLuhan defined art by saying “Art is anything you can get away with.”
In that fine tradition, meet 28-year-old George Vlosich III (whose name really should be George Vlosich !!!). George creates finely-detailed pop culture and sports star portraits using an Etch-A-Sketch as his brush, his palate and his canvas.
Anybody who has ever twiddled with Etch-A-Sketch’s two single-directional dials knows how hard it is to draw a decent curve or diagonal, which makes George’s precision output all that more impressive…and brings a whole new level of respect to a classic, iconic toy. Putting together a standard work (as if anything he does can be labeled “standard”) takes George about 60 hours, and who knows how many finger twitches. Check out the process in this YouTube clip.
The results are awe-inspiring, and since they are etched on aluminum-powdered glass, Surprisingly permanent in nature (he removes the excess powder to avoid very costly slips). And don’t think for a second that this ain’t taken seriously; George’s limited edition prints go for upwards of $2,000, while his originals start at $7,500. (Moms, don’t throw out those Lite-Brites or Mr. Potato Heads just yet…)
Not only is he talented, but George is also extremely generous and warm-hearted, donating his pieces for charity auctions all over the country. Now if I can only figure out how to establish Pow! as a charity…
Matt was kind enough to send along this drawing of me, done by an artist named Ethan, and explain the benefits of having such a drawing as a photo alternative for things like this blog.
So, is it me? A little harsh and sharp in the lines, but it does shave some years off the ol' birth certificate, and makes me look like a candidate for a reunion tour of The Knack. What do you think?
Same day, someone turned me onto Meez.com, from which you can create a 3D, animated avatar for things like...well, this blog. Didn't have the time or patience this week, but was impressed with the way it captures one's personality, even if the facial features will always be a bit off (perhaps Meez can merge with Matt...).
Point here is that as we move about the digital world, and as our every living moment can be documented on YouTube or Flickr or Facebook (or, most likely, all of the above), a new way of identity self-expression becomes paramount.
Even if we let others do the expressing of us for us.
Airborne Entertainment in the news, albeit coming to me a bit late.
This from the April the 23rd, 2007 post in the One Thousand Paintings blog (a great art experiment, by the way, from Sala, a young artist living in Zürich, Switzerland), spawned by an email from Airborne's Gabriel Jacob, Says Sala:
"After the 750th painting sold a couple of days ago, I got this email from Gabriel (750):
Not a bad sight coming off the 7th floor elevator, dontcha think?
Well, what did you expect from this art-loving, Pow!-evangelizing company President? A white door with stick-on numerals?
Anand V. Chhatpar is a very bright guy.
Taking James Surowiecki's concept of "the wisdom of crowds" one step further by refining his crowd to be North America's most creative college students, Anand has formed a company called BrainReactions, which brainstorms new ideas for Fortune 1000 companies.
He just launched a quarterly emagazine--which looks suspiciously like a blog, but I digress--entitled BrainWaves, described as "about coming up with good, actionable ideas, along with a bit of fun about ideation." Took a quick look before heading out to a dinner last night and was quite impressed; a pretty decent and uplifting read.
Given his impressive past and his mega-melding of the minds, you know that Anand and co. ain't gonna be satisfied with the same old same old, so...
Go ahead Anand--Pow! us.
Chris Jordan is my new art hero.
A socially-conscious photographer based in Seattle who has captured the devastation of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina like no one other, Chris is wowing the art world with his giant-sized prints he calls "Running The Numbers, An American Self-Portrait." His site generated quite the buzz around the Airborne offices this week.
While most of these super-Surprising pictures are a gorgeous but graphic depiction of some less-than-ideal slice of American life (for example, a five-by-ten-foot shot of 2.5 million plastic bottles, the number used in the U.S. every hour, or the Damien Hirst-like photo of 213,000 Vicodin pills, equal to the number of emergency room visits yearly in the US related to misuse or abuse of prescription pain killers), others use a photomosaic-esque process to make a even louder statement (like a black-and-white image of a pristine mountain and lake scene,made up of 24,000 logos from the GMC Yukon Denali, equal to six weeks of sales of that model SUV in 2004).
My favorite, however, is made up of soda pop cans; them there at right. That's the close-up detail of Cans Seurat, which replicates Georges Seurat's iconic Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte, but depicts 106,000 aluminum cans, the number used in the U.S. every thirty seconds. Below you find a slightly bigger image. For the whole shibang, check out www.chrisjordan.com and click on the Running The Numbers link.
Or deplete your bank account to the tune of $25,000-$35,000 or so...and hang it on your wall.
(Note: Can't do that, but will do the next best thing in New York at the end of the month when I get to see Chris's work at the Von Lintel Gallery.)
Okay, turnabout is fair play.
Been getting a ton of new traffic thanks to the linklove oozing my way from the other 31 bloggers "competing" for the title of Most Valuable Blog (which reminds me, Joseph, is there a trophy or something? A t-shirt? A fridge magnet? Some server space?).
This is me returning the favor. Check out some of the smartest, most dedicated thinkers, writers and ravers in the mktng game:
I should be asleep after another hard day at CTIA in Orlando, but I had to check out why the sudden spike in the day's traffic here at Surprise Central.
Here's the reason: JaffeJuice.
Seems that somehow, someway, lil' ol' Pow! got tossed into the fray of a MVB vote (Most Valuable Blog), and is playing David to Goliaths like Seth Godin, Mark Cuban, Wired, Roger Von Oech and the omnipotent Joseph Jaffe himself (that's him at right).
Like they say at the Oscars, "It's an honor just to be nominated," but as they say at election time, "Let's get out the vote!"
I'm not saying "Vote for me" (although I won't complain), but I do think that Joseph's initiative is a clever and fun one and should be supported (as is his blog, which should be, too). So no matter who you vote for, just vote. You can do so here.
Me? I'm sharpening up my slingshot skills...
Have you heard about the Bum Rush The Charts movement yet?
Got this from Mitch Joel who, as the Prince of Podcasting, is beaming with pride with the possibilities. As the Bum Rushers say on their website/manifesto:
On March 22nd, 2007 we are going to strike fear into the hearts of the music industry and make an independent music artist #1 on iTunes.
That's quite the ultimatum. And as a “cause,” I share Mitch's enthusiasm with it. This is powerful, exciting, vibrant and sends a strong message to both artistry and industry.
But it ain’t Surprise.
In fact, I suspect that’s just the point.
If Black Lab would suddenly find itself atop the charts via some organic, grassroots uprising, and people were wondering who the hell they were and where the hell they came from, then it would be magna-Pow!
if you ain’t scratching your head, you ain’t poppin’ your pupils. This
reminds me a lot of the Web “movement” to have journeyman Rory Fitzpatrick
named to the NHL All-Star Team. It
almost succeeded, but the counterweight of tradition and voting volume burst the
But if you ain’t scratching your head, you ain’t poppin’ your pupils.
This reminds me a lot of the Web “movement” to have journeyman Rory Fitzpatrick named to the NHL All-Star Team. It almost succeeded, but the counterweight of tradition and voting volume burst the balloon.
is well-organized activism, but you see it coming a mile away. Still,
this is a whole lot of fun, and although “the man” doesn’t have the clout he
once enjoyed in the music biz, it’s still a bit of a thrill to stick it to him
now and then. And no matter what, Black Lab is getting more buzz than if they WERE signed to Geffen or Sony or any one of the luxury labels.
So go get 'em, Black Lab. I’ll be watching.
And more importantly, I'll be listening.
A new addition here at Surprise Central this week is the AutoRoll, a blog recommendation widget you'll see on your left if you scroll down a touch.
While still in beta, it's an impressive lil' reach-out device. According to Jean-Baptiste Rudelle, CEO of recommendation tech co. Criteo, AutoRoll displays links to other blogs that have a strong affinity to this one, thus lists blogs based on readers with similar interests and reading habits.
Does it work? Well, 48 hours after first installation, while I can't exactly say I am drowning in a sea of blog love, the new visits I've enjoyed are quality pings, coming from people who write about marketing, art, pop culture and do so loudly. Best of all, they're coming from all over the world.
So check out where Pow! leads you by clicking on my AutoRoll, or get your own by clicking here.
By now, faithful FOPs know of my obsessive love of contemporary and POP art, which is why this site is one of my faves of the year so far:
There are plenty of "create your own art" sites, but few that can replicate an artist's style as faithfully as this one. The results are Surprisingly similar to the originals. And the interface is so easy, even a kid can do it (which is what critics originally said about Pollock...but I digress).
Best part, no mess to clean up, no matter how wild you splatter.
So go ahead...generate some content!
The Surprise is not that Jim Whimpey and his Brisbane Creative Team came up with something as sharp, biting and relevant as this...
...the TRUE Surprise is the incredible, intelligent and warm feedback to it.
It's double-barreled action/reaction like this that warms up my psyche after a cold, hard day.
(Thanks to Mark McQueen for sending it along!)