Monday, March 17, 2008

Something askew.

What if your friend told you they moved out of town to, say, Connecticut or New York City? They told you they lived there, worked there, ate there, slept there, had friends there and even somewhat enjoyed it. They told you details and stories, anecdotes about parties, specifics about food they eat, where they shopped, the new tights they bought.

Would you believe them? That they live there. Would you believe, even if you haven't seen them there with your own eyes and you've never actually seen them out of any context but one, one single context, would you believe that they exist outside of that? Would you believe they are where they say they are? What if they're still next door? What if they are completely deceiving you? What if they still live next door to you, and have been creating an elaborate rouse the entire time? An elaborate scheme. What if they lived in a different place than they told you they moved to? That they'd actually moved, but to a different place. A place you'd also never been, so they gave you directions when you said you wanted to come and visit and then they put up fake highway signs with arrows, deceptive arrows, that lead to their house in the place you think is where they live, but then you enter into the place that is neither here nor there. It's just what they make it up to be. It's not really anywhere, though it is somewhere, it's just not the place you think you are or that they said they were. You wouldn't be where you thought you were going, and they really wouldn't be who you thought they were anymore, right?

Though it's not likely, it's possible to be completely deceived as such, no? With a certain amount of trust and the power of technological advances, it's not likely that you would be so grossly deceived. It'd be something that was much more commonplace in the 40s or 50s, perhaps. It would have been possible then, but it's probably even possible now. Probably.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Thank you to Daniel Guillaume C., my partner in slowly attempting to change the world and break through the apathy of Gen Y and all of that kind of thing ("all of that kind of thing" is an indication of how intensely a rate this is happening at) for emailing me this article from

Since my brief stint working at a marketing firm during one of the more surreal passages of my life (there have been two to date), I quickly decided that in order to in any way possibly justify sitting there day after day, not to mention the hour commute in my car and the fact that I am essentially a Marxist, I must attempt to do something good. Is this not all one can hope to do in any situation? Some good? Something. Good?

In this case, I endeavored to attempt to use the firm I was working at to correct something I thought had been a long time coming--the use of marketing to promote green products. To use something bad (marketing or trickery, as I like to call it) to do something good (ease the wear and tear on our poor planet). Green products always, to me, looked dumpy and bland, boring, fruity, hippie-ish, etc., because for the longest time it was only a very minor part of the population that would buy these products. The type of people that would go into natural food stores. People that were bland, boring, fruity, hippie-ish, etc. I kid. But, honestly, a small demographic, no?

There were, of course, exceptions. Notably, the Method brand from Target which has an actually impeccable, modern, simple aesthetic that does not emphasize their eco-friendly nature as their main marketing tactic, but appeals to people's more general sensibilities, i.e. color, pretty, cutesy. No, lets face it, it looks like modern art, actually.

This is a great business model for eco-friendly companies. This is how green companies should be thinking. Unfortunately, green companies often times do not have enough lettuce (which I just learned means cash) to hire a marketing firm and design a whole aesthetic, which is why they end up with leaves on the labels, poor fonts and a general lack of consistency in their marketing. In other words, not much attention is paid to marketing. The attention is paid, rather, to creating a great, eco-friendly product.

But now green is in the mainstream, it's trendy, it's on people's consciousness--and not just people with granola breath. And as the article from Dan Guillaume points out, many, many companies are putting green claims on their products, when in actuality these products are not as eco-friendly as they claim. This is the case in so many situations: "Cheerios lower your cholesterol", "All-natural Doritoes", "Eco-Friendly Cleaning Product". Some of us are savvy enough to look beyond these labels and be skeptical, but the average person walking through a grocery store aisle trusts these labels.

The article states that TerraChoice Environmental Marketing company conducted an extensive study of 1018 products that claim to be green, and found that 99.9% of them committed one of the six sins of "greenwashing"--greenwashing meaning claiming to be green without actually being so. Most of the products were much more light green than kelly, the author says, and (I know, I use this phrase a lot) this is problematic.

How can truly green companies stand out in the pack? Go further. Go smarter. Go more beautiful.

I think the article, though not its purpose, furthers the point that it is necessary for serious green companies to appeal to the average consumer with general aesthetic marketing tactics while at the same time emphasizing, at least for now, the greenness of them. I feel that the green revolution may wane, and using typical marketing tactics can help boost brand loyalty. And just sell more products in general. So, I wrote a business proposal outlining this, but is anyone up for doing some pro-bono marketing work? Heh.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Everyone knows McDonald's is bad for you. Everyone, right? Is there anyone out there that doesn't know that fast food is really bad for you? Really, really, really bad. In the movie SuperSize Me, when they asked a bunch of doctors how often it is okay to eat fast food, the majority of them said NEVER. If I ever become a nutritionist, I do not want to use that word with people--never. Partly because it makes things forbidden and therefore more desirable, but also because I don't think it's true. You can eat fast food, yes, like everything! Just in small quantities and very, very sparingly. The problem doctors see, however, is that if they give even this much of a green light, people take it and run with it too far.

Nutritionists, doctors and anyone treating people for diseases/conditions related to over-eating are up against an insatiable, tenacious machine that is marketing. They can't give anything up to it--anything. My nutritional philosophy is simply, "everything in moderation" (I call it an Aristotelean approach). This doesn't exclude foods, therefore making them more tempting to me, but also I advocate mostly eating fruits and veggies. The problem is being able to give advice to people that has the potential to make them think they can still eat anything or to make them understand how little "little" is and how truly sparingly "sparingly" is. Perhaps these things need to be quantified for my approach to work.

I went to McDonald's at lunch today in Lower Manhattan and sat there for an hour. I feel like there could be so much happening at McDonald's, because it is this high-energy, strategic gathering place for an immensely diverse crowd. Young old, businessmen, construction workers, nannies, kids, teenagers, young professionals, you name it, everyone is there! In that regard, it is amazing. There are truly not THAT many attractions that can gather such an interesting mixed mass of humanity.

Unfortunately, people are just there to stuff their faces with horrible, horrible foods.

To their credit, people are really up against it when they are trying to figure out what's good for them and what's true and what to believe on boxes, trying to disregard the constant inundation of tempting advertisements, all the while attempting to afford the right foods. It's overwhelming. It's easy and cheap to just forget and give up and give in, what with so many things to worry about already. It's easy to ignore the prospect of much later onset, long-term affects on one's health, much like smoking.

What's extraordinarily hard is for the man next to me in line to deny more quantity for less money. Here is what I mean:
Guy in Line: I'd like two hamburgers and a small Diet Coke, please.
McDonald's Employee: Do you want the 99 cent double burgers? They're cheaper.
Guy in Line: (Hesitation, probable confusion) Yes.

We ended up sitting next to each other and I watched him eat twice as much hamburger as he ad originally intended, because it was, in fact, CHEAPER.