Thursday, December 20, 2007

Elf Yourself. Your friends. Your sister. Your co-worker...

Flashback to 2006.

While I am sitting at my desk at work minding my own business, a curious link gets emailed to me. Something about elves, it reads. Of course I click on it, only to find myself laughing hysterically at a small dancing elf with my coworker's face affixed to its body. The elf moves awkwardly across the screen, flashing a few hints of spirit fingers now and then.

Marketing gurus hailed this amazing concept as one of the most successful viral campaigns to date. With 11 million elves created in just 5 weeks, who could argue?

Ah, and now we head back to 2007.

Based on the success last year, the elves are back. After a launch in mid-November, the site has already had more than 41 million elves created, crushing all industry expectations. It equates to 35 elves made every second.

Interestingly enough, not many people can name the brand responsible for this stroke of genius. OfficeMax (yes, that's who it is) has a logo placed on the page but doesn't incorporate any other branding into the site. While much of the success can be attributed to the fact that it isn't covered in advertising, brand recall should still be a consideration.

For those of us who aren't big fans of little people in tights, there is also

Friday, December 7, 2007

Tag, You're It

Thanks to my new Canon SD850 I have been able to get back on the photo-taking bandwagon. I am also a total Flickr junkie and can get lost in the "interestingness" pretty quickly. My one issue is that I am extremely lazy with tagging, and admittedly very uncreative. For example, my recent zoo trip resulted in the following tags:

San Francisco

Hm. I'm not sure people are going to be coming in droves to view my pictures, but "zoo" is listed as one of the top all-time tags on Flickr. (As a side note, "macromondays" is another Hot Tag that I found on Flickr. I will definitely be checking those out.)

While Flickr continues to build its database of tags and categories, other sites have been following suit and trying to get their users to label their information. ThisNext, a social shopping site that I have mentioned in a previous post, has launched a tagging initiathat encourages users to label items with "lux".

I think is a great promotion that will increase membership on, and also build community around products that are truly "lux". It would be great to see eLuxury (and other brands) start to view tagging as a marketing tool. By leveraging tagging, a tool that people on the site will use anyway, eLuxury could also further associate their brand with the luxury goods that they offer (a true differentiating factor when compared to other e-commerce sites).

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Those Are as Good as Money, Sir...

Ah, the ol' beer I.O.U. "C'mon, help me do ________" and I will buy you a few beers. Unfortunately there hasn't been a way to keep anyone accountable...until now.

Foamee is a free service that allows users to keep track of who they owe beers to (and vice versa). It is based around Twitter so each person must already have a Twitter account. I can already see a trend of other Twitter "applications" whereby more and more people will start following random companies and personalities. There is a woman who is trying to lose 10 pounds and she is seeking support from the Twitter community. With 201 followers so far, it's not a huge number, but it is interesting to see how people are responding to someone that they don't know much about (just 140 character snippets every now and then).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Directionally Challenged

Oh the image of the classic family road trip. Five people piled in a van, bursting at the seams with mismatched luggage. The resident navigator is riding shotgun, head tilted, trying to make sense of a map that had been stuck in the glove compartment since the beginning of time.

Nowadays, consumers are creating their own maps and experiences. Imagine a time before MapQuest and Google Maps! No longer does the navigator struggle with locating highways on a complicated map- they are able to read turn-by-turn directions and even find businesses along the route.

Companies are even starting to think about providing mobile guides for certain cities. While maps are often left in the car or lost, mobile phones are an extension of today's consumer. Do Me ... London, a provider of mobile entertainment guides, recently launched information for London. Users can request a tour via SMS and then a link is provided so free information can be obtained. Including:

Index of 80 attractions
Free audio guides
Finding tips about the city

While the site is not flashy or fancy, the concept is quite advanced (not to mention it will begin to open up opportunities for advertisers). The social aspect will continue to evolve as well. On the Do Me ... London site, there is an area where consumers snapped photos of themselves using the product. I could eventually see users submitting reviews of landmarks and providing travel tips.

Will the family road trips of 2010 have everyone Twittering and Whrrling and Yelping and Google SMSing from their 6th gen iPhones?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

whrrl-y gig

I’m sure many of us use Twitter and Yelp and wish there was a combination of the two. I, for example, often find myself somewhere trying to send an SMS to Twitter about a certain restaurant/landmark/etc. because I can’t write Yelp reviews while I’m on the go.

Whrrl, a new service, hopes to aggregate our fragmented social activity by providing a way to track/map/post/edit things with their spiffy technology. Their site is a combination of a map (that visually shows reviewed or “touched” places) and content (where you can write your own reviews, schedule a “meet up” with a friend, etc.). What’s even cooler is that users also have the ability to do almost all of the same things directly from their mobile devices. So if you’re eating at a new restaurant and can’t wait to tell the world about the great chocolate lava cake you’re eating, you can send a quick review (and pictures!) to a short code. These items will be posted to your feed and to relevant locations on the map.

Clients with brick & mortar stores could potentially offer coupons to drive in-store traffic. Since Whrrl is a brand new site, the opportunities are endless…

Additional links:

Friday, October 19, 2007

Gu/Sport Beans/Luna Bars/Shot Bloks Are All Good For You

Since I signed up for the Nike Half Marathon on March 1, it has been marked on my Google Calendar. All caps. I remember entering it in there and thinking it was eons away. I had all the time in the world to build endurance, find the right socks that wouldn't give me blisters, determine my Powersong and break in my new shoes.

And finally, the big day is almost here! This coming Sunday at 7 am I'll be heading out from Union Square and running my first race ever. My life has recently been a frenzy of reading Runner's World, going to the chiropractor, taking pilates classes (my core has to hold me up during those uphill climbs!) and eating ungodly amounts of carbs. If it's one thing running has given me, it's the ability to eat as many bagels as I want without feeling bad about myself.

Nike+ has been a big help in motivating me to run faster and run better. I'll definitely have my iPod with me on Sunday, even if I don't have my headphones on the entire time.

Maybe after this race is done I'll have more time to blog!

Check out all the race info and mayhem on the site:

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Who Are You Calling Crazy?

It's never fun to be the person to order lunch for a huge group. Everyone has their little preferences, and even when it's all down on paper, it's hard to catch all of them. Hold the mayo. Extra dressing. No dressing. Chicken instead of shrimp. Side of vegetables. is here to save the day! With their innovative tools and applications, they are trying to make lunch-ordering drama a thing of the past. The Group Order tool allows users to enter their customizable orders and then compiles them to be faxed, emailed or phoned directly to the restaurant. Another cool feature is Pick-A-Place, which is what you can use to send restaurant suggestions to a group of friends and then everyone can vote from their own computers. All available restaurants can be located by address/zip code.

No longer will you reach for a take out menu when you're out at your favorite place. It's refreshing to see that even the restaurant industry is developing solutions for today's sophisticated Web user.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

There's a Party in My Tummy

I tend to get insatiable cravings for Japanese food on a weekly basis. And while I love dragon rolls and and yellowtail and rainbow rolls, nothing makes me happier than a bento box full of other goodies. Chicken teriyaki and tempura are my favorites and seeing both of them presented on a giant lacquered tray is quite awesome.

Some very creative (and digital!) people have combined their own love for bento boxes with the blogosphere. While food blogs are still good sources of recipes and cooking tips, I have been keeping up with bento blogs too. They are colorful, fun and they make me think about the lunches I used to take to school when I was little. Trust me; nothing in my Cabbage Patch Kids lunch box looked nearly this cool.

Buon appetito!

Bento Yum
Lunch in a Box
Kitchen Cow
Adventures in Bentomaking
Flickr member Sakurako Kitsa (amazing bentos)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

School's Out

Attending college in San Diego meant ditching lectures in favor of laying out on a beach, with palm trees swaying overhead. Rainy days halted everything; students stayed at home, crippled by the fear of getting wet. When your footwear options range from light brown flip flops to dark brown flip flops, this inability to function in inclement weather is justified.

Ah, if only my undergraduate career had coincided with the explosion of user-generated video and social networking! I would have been able to bask in the sun and plop down on my couch later in the day with a lecture video from Art History class. In the case of the current students at UC Berkeley, they will soon be able to access full course lectures through YouTube. The university has over 300 hours of recorded courses that be found on their branded channel, featuring subjects such as chemistry, biology and physics. They are even offering a course on search-engine technology.

Will lecture halls across the country soon become even emptier? With the lure of beaches (in some cases!) and the ability to watch videos at one's leisure, students may not have to show up in-person for most of the school year.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Hint of Mint

I like to shop. A lot. And not only do I enjoy retail therapy, but also: going to the movies, eating out (while cooking is enjoyable, there's nothing like trying a new restaurant, hence my Yelp addiction) and exploring the city's endless festivals and museums. Combine all these activities together and you have the potential for a budget disaster. Living in San Francisco is not cheap by any means, and sometimes you have to sit down with a calculator and make sure the sorbet/wine bar/fancy jeans/running gear purchases aren't going to suck up the rent funds for the month.

Luckily the internet gods have been looking down on us financial nitwits and have come up with a solution for money management. is a free web-based application to help manage personal finances (and it just recently came out of beta).

What's great is that you can manage all of your accounts from one central site. The main page can be linked to all of your accounts (credit cards, checking and savings accounts) and will automatically categorize your purchases.

Not like I needed a pie chart to tell me that I spend more on necklaces and scarves than I do on groceries...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

An Apple a Day...

I've recently picked up a semi-lame habit. When I order something at a restaurant that is accompanied by french fries, I've been substituting them for a side salad instead. While I'm the self-proclaimed queen of fried food, I've tried to steer clear of anything that will give me a serious case of eaters remorse the next day.

But let's be honest here- when I do choose to eat fries, I will go all out. Sweet potato fries and garlic fries in particular. Imagine my dismay when I saw that Burger King (oops, "BK") is going to be selling apple fries: raw apples cut to look like french fries. Are we so desperate to get kids to eat fruit that they must now look like something deep fried? And if parents are hoping to introduce fruits and vegetables into their family's diets, I'm guessing they should be turning away from fast food restaurants in the first place (unless you are in a dire road trip situation, of course!).

I hope that my zucchini isn't going to start masquerading as cheeseburgers.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Media Overload

I left my cell phone at home today. In the typical morning frenzy of grabbing my pilates mat, gym bag, purse, banana and other assorted snacks, I left my BlackBerry buddy behind. Once I got past the initial feeling of shock and social inadequacy (not to mention I had no idea what time it was), it was a little refreshing to know that I couldn't be contacted while I was commuting through the city.

Let's face it, sometimes we are overloaded with media. I wake up in the morning to the tune of my cell phone alarm and clock radio, then automatically turn on Today. On my way to work on the bus, I pass countless billboards as I read my EW and listen to my iPod. Upon sitting at my desk, I immediately open my iGoogle page, check my Bloglines feeds and read DailyCandy. I check my Facebook page and spend an entire day with Outlook. At night, I cook dinner (usually a recipe that I found online and saved to my page for future reference), watch Food Network and send countless text messages.

I haven't blogged much recently because this amazing amount of media consumption has been somewhat overwhelming. My daily inspiration hasn't felt as unique or special when I know the next day will bring something even more interesting and different.

I think my vacation is over and it's time to write again. But sometimes I feel like I'm constantly running out the door and it's hard to grab everything!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

That's Not Fare

We've all been there. Digging at the bottom of your purse and/or pockets to see if you have enough money to get you from Bar X to your nice comfy bed after a long night out is pretty standard. And so the internal monologue begins: "Will it be...$10? What about tip? I think I got home for $8 last time...or was I coming from Bar Y that night? Which route will they go? What if the streets are blocked off and they have to take a long way around? Hm, another dollar. Yes, $11 should cover it ...and that's where my Chapstick has been this whole time!!"

Fret not, my loyal readers, as is coming to your rescue! It is a fare finder that operates based on distance from Point A to Point B (as specified by the user). But wait, it gets even better. There is a mobile version too, for those of us who need to look up this info on our phones.

The bottom line is: I love mashups! There is unlimited potential for people to meld all the content they could ever want into one useful application. And of course some geeks (much like myself) are following these beauties already, which you can read about on this blog: Google Maps Mania

Monday, August 13, 2007

Are You Cereal?

When I lived in San Diego, my uncle would request boxes of French Toast Crunch cereal since the grocery stores in the Bay Area had stopped stocking it. Of course, this was back when it was originally shaped like little pieces of french toast; now they just look like your typical sugary cereal. You'd think that with so much other good food at my disposal, he would have requested things like California burritos or fish tacos.

Lucky for us, San Diego (more specifically, La Jolla) is also the home of some healthy eats. Kashi, a company that is known for its "seven whole grain" foods, was founded there back in 1985. 50 products later, they are a key part of many hiking trips, breakfasts and afternoon snacks across the country. Their next project is a bold venture into the social networking space. Jeff Johnson, Senior Brand Manager, said that the company acknowledged the growing need for consumers to share health information/tips online.

Functionality on the site includes participation in daily health challenges, such as taking 30-minute walks or skipping coffee, all based on user-interaction with each other. There is also more robust content available to visitors, such as articles and recipes. While many brands have failed at adding similar tools to their sites, Kashi can capitalize on the huge segment of users researching health information online.

I highly doubt that there will be any French Toast Crunch networks built anytime in the near future, but I sure would enjoy anything based around waffles (anyone remember Waffle Crisp?).

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Shoppin' All Over the World

The last time I went shopping at Banana Republic, I scored the trench coat I had been lusting after for a while. I slung it over my arm while I continued to peruse the racks of jersey wrap dresses and cotton chinos when suddenly a woman stopped me dead in my tracks.

Crazy lady: "WHERE did you find that trench coat???!!"
Scared Lindsay: "Up by the the main entrance..."

I'm not sure she even heard the last part of what I said because apparently the glossiness of the black buttons on the coat took over her and whisked her away. It's a known fact that we all like to check out what other people are buying. Whether it's at the grocery store (I particularly enjoy the people that buy diet soda and piles of frozen TV dinners) or a fancy little boutique, watching real-time purchases around us could ultimately impact on our decisions as well., a "social shopping site," recognizes this consumer pattern and has tapped into it with their ThisWorld shopping activity map. Based on registered users (and visitors!) and their browsing patterns on ThisNext, bubbles will pop up in real-time, showing what people are shopping for in certain areas. Genius. Following somewhat in Twitter's footsteps, who paved the path for micro-blogging, ThisWorld is an interesting peek into popular products around the globe.

Now, I'm just waiting for it to get chilly enough to wear my trench coat.

Grid Lock

Today's obsession with perfecting images is almost exhausting. Make them crisper. Adjust the printer calibration. Too much cyan...too much magenta. In a world where 7.1 megapixel cameras are the norm, shouldn't we appreciate those little dots that help make them possible? I happen to really enjoy pixelation. I think there is some nostalgia that lives within any pixelated image; almost a slight homage to Super Mario and his original 8-bit self.

A contemporary German artist, Gerhard Richter, is showing off his own appreciation for pixels in the Cologne Cathedral. Based on his 1974 painting 4096 Colors, the window is made of 11,500 four-inch "pixels" cut from antique glass in 72 colors. Because some hues in his original design were "historically inaccurate or too pale," the artist modified the entire palette to make each piece stained glass-friendly.

This convergence of technology, religion and art is fascinating and unexpected. While most people are used to seeing cherubs and religious references in every corner of churches and cathedrals, this is a modern update that true geeks can appreciate.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Time to Go

I'm not typically a jumpy person, but when my cell phone suddenly vibrates on my desk while I'm in the middle of working, it's often startling. I then get this feeling of anticipation, guessing for a fraction of a second who possibly could be texting me during normal business hours.

At 2:21 pm this afternoon, Yahoo! texted me to let me know that their new Go service (mobile internet) is now available for my BlackJack. And, since I am always one for new/nerdy technology, I downloaded it immediately. The interface is clean and very easy-to-use. It's centered around what they call a "carousel," which you can use to scroll through various Go widgets (Flickr, Mail, Finance, etc.)

It's probably going to suck up a significant amount of data to use, but it will definitely come in handy when I'm...well...on the Go.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Media Makes Me Hungry

I am notorious for watching the Food Network while I eat dinner. I have no problem with fixing myself a huge steak and plopping down on the couch, flipping to channel 35 and listening to Emeril tell me about pot roasts and parfaits.

It seems that the joy of cooking has taken shape across all media, and its presence online is no exception. I am a loyal reader of Slashfood (a site that gets fed into my Bloglines, of course) but suddenly I find myself checking many other obscure food sites as well. Gone are the days of merely posting recipes; consumers are now actively posting instructional videos, step-by-step photos and networking with each other. Here is a list of my favorites:

1) SmittenKitchen
First of all, the name is adorable. Second of all, the photography is so amazing that you find yourself drooling for hours. I am a fan of the "skyscraper cakes" entry, and the woman behind it all seems to have quite a loyal following already.

I come from a family that loves to snack, so what better way to find out about the latest and greatest munchies? features reviews on chips, cookies and everything in between.

3) Tastespotting
A place to showcase pictures of food. 'Nuff said. Caution: do not visit this site on an empty stomach.

4) French Laundry at Home
For those of us who will never experience Thomas Keller's genius at the actual restaurant, we can at least watch this guy attempt to make recipes from the cookbook.

5) TastyFood TV
A "Lifestyle Food TV Network Community for Video Sharing," with helpful user videos. Some of them are lengthy (7 min for tiramisu) and others are much more simple (egg poaching).

6) CookThink
This site poses the simple question "What are you craving?" and then answers it with their database of recipes. This is great for when you want something specific but aren't sure how to prepare it, or what to pair it with.

7) Nook & Pantry
More scrumptious food imagery. Not much else to say, other than they had me at their Nutella Stuffed Brioche French Toast.

Now, please see my previous entry on Nike+. After you read all these food sites, you may need to go for a run or two also. ;)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Training is officially underway for the Nike Women's Marathon (I am running the half marathon, though I have actually considered running the full) which means lots of alcohol-free Friday nights and early weekend runs. While it sounds crazy to sacrifice certain social activities in favor of hardcore cardiovascular exercise, it feels great to run in the morning around the city. Less touristy, more foggy...and super fantastic.

I admit that I have a certain sweet spot for cute running/workout clothes, especially from Nike. While I don't wear Nike running shoes (sticking to Brooks for now), I am a huge fan of their shorts and jackets. Most recently, I invested in Nike+. "Invested" is probably not the most accurate word, since it implies a high cost and a lot of hassle. So far, it has been very easy! All you have to do is attach a small sensor to your shoe, and one to your iPod. Then you create an account on

Today is the first day I'm going to test it out, so I have been poking around on the site and getting my info all set up. I'm already a huge fan, mostly for the following reasons:

1) You can set goals for yourself (based on distance, number of calories you'd like to burn, etc.)
2) Data will be automatically transmitted to, where your progress will be monitored and aggregated
3) You can challenge friends (maybe you both want to run a certain distance, etc.)
4) No, you don't need Nike shoes; there are many companies that sell clips and shoe wallets to help attach the sensor to whatever kind you wear
5) You can set a "Power Song" for extra motivation
6) During your run, Nike+ will periodically tell you your progress (time, pace, etc.)
7) You can download guided workouts that have music as well as training information from coaches
8) It was only $29

While running is an escape for me (especially after a long day of being chained to a computer), I am looking forward to this little bit of technology to help motivate me and keep me on schedule.

If only it could slap my hand for me every time I eat more of this peanut butter cookie...

P.S. I am looking for Power Song suggestions! If anyone has any they want to throw out there, please let me know!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cool Site Roundup

Shopping sites rolled into one; similar to many comparison shopping sites but with a better interface

Social networking and shopping; allows you to create profiles and share outfit ideas with others

Gives you info from but without all the clutter

Finest example of web 2.0 shopping; you can even shop by color

A service that makes your Mii look more realistic (because who wants to play Wii Sports unless you have a Mii doppelganger?)

Share cab rides with people that are going to the same destinations (still in beta for NY only)

I've included this link purely for fun. I am a huge fan of food blog sites, and this one is far and away one of the coolest (the photography is fabulous!)

Play With Your Food

KFC has hopped on the viral marketing bandwagon with its new campaign for Teriyaki Boneless Wings. Artist Phil Hansen has created a one-of-a-kind mural of Colonel Sanders and the process was videotaped and then uploaded onto YouTube. Don't worry, the full 8-hour production was sped up for the most efficient viewing experience possible. What better way to showcase your new product than to have someone coat their hands and feet in teriyaki sauce then paint a mural on the wall (wow, I think Michaelangelo just turned over in his grave). Consumers are able to bid on the actual painting beginning on July 18.

Between McDonald's and their mommy correspondents to videos of a guy painting with buffalo sauce, has marketing taken a desperate turn toward viral and social media trends?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Ryder's Fireside Corner #3

"The HOTTEST search blog on the net"

I think our friends at MSN AdCenter must have gotten hold of my Christmas wish list. I found lovingly nestled on my desk a gift bag containing the two things I desired most in the whole wide world: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate and MS Office 2007!!! And boy have I been pleased though at first upload Vista was running like Adam Stalker (slow and awkward) but after downloading the many updates and patches since initial launch I could feel the raw power humming beneath my fingertips.

As for MS Office, I have finally found the venue to unleash my unbridled Excel fury which makes me more powerful than Superman, The Incredible Hulk, Spiderman, and RJ Hilgers combined.

A few of my favorite features:

Vista -
* Desktop gadgets
* Swirly processing icon
* Thumbnail display during Alt + Tab program scrolling
* Overall faster

Office 2007 -
* Excel
- Over one million rows (They heeded my beckon!)
- Additional autofilter selector functions
- Deduplicate, count, average, and more on the fly! (IF functions need not apply)
* Powerpoint, Word, Outlook
- Who cares? Excel 2007, baby!

MSN AdCenter, you just secured yourself a seat at the head table.

-Will add more later, going to play with my new MS software!

Baseball is Good For You

AT&T Park, home to my beloved SF Giants, recently installed solar panels in three areas of the stadium. Combined, they generate approximately 120 kilowatts of electricity (I am no kilowatt expert, but that sounds like a heck of a lot more than 0 kilowatts!). For a city that prides itself on being green and staying on top of environmental issues, even landmarks like this can support all of these efforts.

So even though I won't be able to enjoy my standard ballpark fare (hot dog, nachos, churro- in that order) during the off-season, at least I'll know that AT&T is making contributions to our lovely planet.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

"If you don't mind me asking..."

In a city where the restaurants are amazing, the weather is fair (hey, I like the fog!) and there is always something to do...the rent is going to be high. Friends of mine have been known to come by my apartment and be shocked by the size of the place, mostly because there is a separate dining room and foyer. Naturally, they inquire about my rent and I never have a problem with telling them. But since it's not something I like to broadcast to the entire city, I'm glad that there is now a Rentometer around.

This site, with a very simple and user-friendly interface, allows you to enter an address and see the comparable rent for apartments in the area. This is extremely helpful for people that are looking to move into a new place and don't want to get ripped off by the landlord. As for me, I just wanted to see if the cost of the foyer was really paying off in the long run...

Getting Schooled

From Gordon Ramsay's "perfect scrambled eggs" video to incriminating snippets of your friends doing karaoke, YouTube certainly has it all these days. While some people could argue that YouTube is not exactly a reputable source for most information, you cannot deny the fact that there are some gems buried beneath the exploding mentos/Diet Coke demonstrations and narcoleptic cat videos.

Moshe Pritsker, a former Harvard researcher, decided to turn the popular video sharing site into a vehicle for sharing scientific experiments. Ranging from lizards to stem cells, he has been able to share results and findings with his community in a new way. Check out the wide range of videos on his site called Journal of Visualized Experiments.

My prediction is that YouTube will continue to emerge as a tool for educators. It is a user-friendly method of sharing information that is otherwise difficult to communicate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Getting to the Bottom of the Big Mac

Slashfood, by way of Food for Thought (Food Network's Canadian counterpart) has reported that McDonald's has just hired "Mom bloggers" to visit the company's facilities, restaurants and kitchens and then blog about their experiences. I can't imagine that they will actually write anything negative (I'm expecting a lot of "I can't wait to go eat some McNuggets now!") but I could be completely wrong.

You can visit the McDonald's Moms' Quality Correspondents here. The site will obviously have more content once they start posting their online journals and videos, but for now you can read their bios and find out more about the program as well. I find it fascinating that the blogosphere has emerged as a legitimate vehicle for PR as well as marketing- even for the top brands in the world.

In an attempt to combine viral marketing with social networking and corporate transparency, McDonald's may find that people would rather not know what is in their Filet O'Fish. Or maybe this is trying to be the great Morgan Spurlock rebuttal?

Hey Mom, where do McNuggets come from?

From the Useless Items Vault

You can try to deny it, but there's really no point- you know you love popping bubble wrap. It's a guilty pleasure that many of us partake in after we've received a package in the mail or when we're wrapping valuables for moving. In fact, someone sent us a Sees Candies box today and I always love the chocolate-brown bubble wrap layer protecting the Nuts & Chews from getting crushed.

Inevitably, bubble wrap has been transformed into digital and portable versions. Perpetual Bubble Wrap is one of the biggest time wasters I have ever encountered online, and my only real gripe is that the bubbles look more like candy than anything else. It's time for Perpetual Bubble Wrap 2.0 if you ask me.

And, leave it up to the Japanese to create a bubble wrap keychain that is not only functional (and I mean that only because it holds your keys) but also cute. It comes in a variety of colors, including pink and baby blue, and it fulfills your "popping needs virtually anywhere". If you visit the manufacturer's site, you will notice the illustration of a guy that is in tears because of how much fun he's having with his bubble wrap keychain. Riiiiiight.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Day in the Life

My recent blogging has inspired me to do a "Day In the Life of a Media Planner" entry. The ability to send my pictures directly from my phone to Flickr (via Shozu, as I have mentioned before) makes it extremely easy to provide pics for you visual learners. So sit back, relax and soak in the wonderousness that is known as media planning.

8:22 am: I arrive at work, soy chai latte in hand (they can never spell my name right- don't they know it's with an "a"?!). Since I didn't leave work until nearly 11 pm last night, it almost feels as though I never left. Of course, the mac nut pie (see previous entry) is still here.

8:26 am: I glance over at my phone and realize that I don't have any voicemails yet. My friends (a.k.a. media reps) on the East Coast must not be on top of their game this am!

8:27 am:
My inbox has reached its limit. Again. So, I archive for the second time in the past 2 work days.

8:38 am:
Flickr refers to my phone as "cameraphone". Interesting.

8:46 am: T minus 14 minutes before my first presentation of the morning. If I continue to be as slow as the FTP site that we use, then I am in for a long day...for some good laughs, I revisit a really good email regarding mobile terminology. Who knew that mobile devices and hunting could ever have something in common?

8:50 am: AdAge reports that 96% of teens connect to social networking sites at least once a week. I then recall a Slate article I read stating that Facebook is the "Volvo" of social networking. Sturdy interface, and very reliable.

9:31 am: 9 am preso complete. Computer freezing as I try to open an Excel document that I need to update for a 10 am meeting.

9:40 am: Sent follow-up email to client with action items from 9 am preso.

9:43 am: "Premature end of JPG file" error message from Trillian. Why does that keep popping up?

10:05 am: Headset activated, waiting for conference call to start. Multi-tasking, of course, since there is a deck that I need to finish. I wish I had shiny bullets in my template like the one someone had presented yesterday!

10:11 am: Why did my ninja clock stop swinging?

10:53 am: Just set up a team gift exchange for next week. Who doesn't want a little Christmas in July?

11:49 am: Since we will be stuck in meetings for the rest of the afternoon, we are ordering lunch in. Thai food, yes! I enjoy yellow curry with chicken just about any day of the week. "You know how we spring-roll!" People think it's weird that everything at my desk has a mustache.

11:57 am: Hard copies of my deck in hand, I'm ready for my second preso of the day. Need to grab some water first.

1:40 pm: 5 meetings under my belt for the day already. 2 pm call starts soon...just enough time to check out the latest craze, The Mentos Intern. Still finishing the last of my Cherry Coke Zero from lunch.

2:52 pm: A 2 pm meeting once again reinforces that my favorite word is "montage". A little loopy from lots of whiteboarding.

3:01 pm: Time for a dose of Emergen-C. Invite for a party at Bourbon & Branch, which is always a plus in my book. Random emails here and there, voicemail light blinking. I've been so busy today that I haven't had time to install the new Twitter Firefox Extension.

3:07 pm: I'm trying to finalize some placements for one of my media plans, but printing anything in this office is kind of a challenge. Since I'm an Online Media Planner, maybe I'm not supposed to be printing things anyway...

3:55 pm: Finally sitting down to do work for the day. Spreadsheets and budgets, oh my! Like I say, these media plans won't plan themselves!

4:35 pm: I find it funny that part of my job is telling people that no, they cannot have more of my advertising budget!

4:42 pm: Hitting that late afternoon slump, after a day full of meetings and Excel. And oddly enough, people are still coming by for a piece of that mac nut pie. I just found a great article on ClickZ about marketing insights from a summer intern.

5:09 pm: Estimated Time of Departure today looks to be around 6:30 pm. Then maybe I will do some more emailing from home. Eating a Peanut Butter Cookie Luna Bar. I sure do need to go to the gym!

5:48 pm: Finishing up another PowerPoint, and going to look into booking travel for a business trip next month.

6:12 pm: Wrapping up a day's work. I will probably check email when I get home...pretty standard these days.

And there you have it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Media Planner's Diet, 6/25

Macadamia Nut Pie & beer to a glass full of Cranberry Emergen-C...and everything in between.

Pie in the Sky

Every once in a while I stumble across something that makes me jealous. No, it has nothing to do with envying someone's fancy sunglasses or handbag, but rather some genius marketing or advertising idea. "Why didn't I think of that?!" is a question that's no stranger to me...

In honor of the Summer Solstice, Expedia UK held a "Blue Sky Day," where 200 artists painted on blue sky canvases at Trafalgar Square and Edinburgh Castle. Three paintings were eventually selected to be hung in the National Gallery. Expedia hoped that this day would communicate their message: "Let Yourself Go".

Not only do I think this is a great guerilla marketing tactic, but it's also something that would have been so fun to participate in. There wasn't anything too pushy or marketing-y here; it was a simple branding play that brought out the creativity in others. By honoring art, the longest day of the year and brilliant advertising, they ended up on my blog. Hooray!

Source: Adverblog

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

On a Sunday Afternoon

Even on Father's Day, on a Segway (don't ask), smack in the middle of a hiking trail, I am always armed and ready to snap a photo on my phone.

I've actually grown really fond of cell phone photos lately. I think there's something organic and cool about the blurry quality and slightly off-kilter color saturation. Of course I sent the pics directly to Flickr (via Shozu), since I'm never that far removed from my digital self.

The picture you see above is an art piece that was installed around Mountain View's Shoreline Park. Simple yet impactful, in an unexpected location.

I'll spare you the photos of my family riding Segways together...because, well, that may be too nerdy...even for this blog.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bling Bling

Seeing how I am a huge fan of both Google as well as jewelry, it was only natural for me to become enamored with Mike and Maaike's Stolen Jewels collection. The designers searched on Google Images for famous jewelry (including the Hope Diamond Brooch), then doctored them and made transfers onto leather. The result? Low-res jewelry that is both nerdy and (arguably) chic.

This process is reminiscent of the early work of Cubist artists. Picasso took African figures and deconstructed them in a way that no one had dared to try before. In one of his most famous pieces, Les Desmoiselles D'Avignon, he exaggerated the female form and many of their faces have elements of African masks. By representing these people (and in Mike and Maaike's case, jewelry) in this figurative manner, it inspired subsequent artists to interpret their surroundings based on emotion and impulse.

I find these blurred lines between art and technology to be inspiring; apparently I should be checking my Tiffany jewelry at the door and trading it in for some pixelated gems.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Beanie Baby 2.0

I hadn't talked to my mom in a while, so I decided to give her a ring. My little brother (10 years old) picked up the phone and the conversation went as follows:

Tyler: Hello?
Me: Hi! What are you doing?
Tyler: Oh nothing, playing on the computer...
*Mom picks up and interrupts*
Me: Hi Mom!
Mom: Hi! Are you at work?
Me:, why isn't Tyler playing Wii right now?
Mom: Oh, because he just bought a Webkin.
Me: A what?!
Mom: Yeah, a Webkin. You haven't heard of Webkinz?
Me: No, but I'm going to look them up right now.

Little did I know, I was getting schooled by my 10 year old brother again. Anything that took precedence over the Wii was important in my book. My brother teaches me all kinds of useful media information, including: 1) is all the rage; 2) Tamagotchi is cool again; and 3) even elementary school kids "love being online". It's really no surprise, actually, since sites like Disney and NickJr. are constantly improving their offerings to appeal to this audience. What is surprising, however, is how sophisticated they really are.

Webkinz, I found, are stuffed animals that come with unique codes. The codes are entered on the main site, which also marks the "adoption" of the virtual version. This animated pet avatar comes with its own room on the site, a food item, furniture, and currency known as "Kinzcash". Most gaming and activities allow users to earn more Kinzcash for their pets. Needless to say, stores can't keep them in stock. At a fairly low price point (averaging around $10), parents view them as affordable, and kids don't need to do weeks of chores to save up their money either.

This successful bridge between offline and online worlds opens many doors for manufacturers as well as advertisers. An example of this would be themed Webkinz (Disney characters, etc.) that also live in special branded environments on What concerns parents is the amount of time and attention that kids are investing to take care of their pets. They also feel that it keeps their kids glued to the computer when they should be outdoors.

Ultimately, Webkinz are a combination of Beanie Babies, Tamagotchis, MySpace and Neopets. I'm not sure what my brother will teach me about next, but I'm pretty sure I need to schedule regular conference calls with him...just to find out what the latest craze is.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ryder's Fireside Corner #2

"The HOTTEST search blog on the net"

Google TV:
Google is now buying up TV ad blocks on The Dish Network and selling the slots through their their bid model. CPM's average around $12 but the testing and data collection are the key selling points (Track the length of time users watch the ad and at what point the change channels).
All major networks and dayparts are available and the Google UI allows advertisers to target geo, demo (age/gender), and network and daypart.
Could it be that the data jockies running search campaigns can now turn their high powered analytical powers on the largest media in the world! We will make those archaic, antequated traditional ad agency dinosaurs obsolete before long! Ok, so it's still in beta and the volume is not very large yet but old Ryder is all over this puppy. I can't wait to unleash some Excel fury on these reports and optimize the campaign with German precision.

eBay Dumps Google Paid Search Ads:
Today eBay announced they will discontinue running paid ads in Google AdWords. Their press reasoning was that they were moving the budgets into more efficient avenues but it was also convenient timing. For you see, Google has been trying to get eBay to use Google Checkout as opposed to eBay owned PayPal, which charges users a transaction fee. Well, Google had a big rally planned to take place during eBay's national conference in Boston called "Let Freedom Ring", let's just say eBay did not find this amusing.
Google has cancelled the rally and apologized profusely as eBay was pumping about $100M into AdWords annual as well as funding Larry Page's replica Millenium Falcon reconstruction. eBay has agreed to re-activate their campaigns if Larry agrees to personally hand deliver the iPod Shuffle not sent to their search manager last Christmas. The terms would also require Mr. Page to wear a Sunday dress and bonnet on such delivery. Google has announced no plans of following up on the offer.

Search Management Powermove of the Month:
Separate match type campaigns. Copy a high traffic campaign and set all terms to exact match. Revert the original campaign to only broad match. Test away! Are users getting all the traffic on broad match? If so then you need a larger keyword list to lower CPC and optimize more precisely. Expect better performance from exact match and start with a higher bid in this campaign.

Excel Powermove of the Month:
Press F2 on a cell to edit it without leaving the keyboard.

Txt Savvy

Even if you don't know what "short code" means when you hear it, chances are you'll recognize one when you see it. From billboards and soda bottles, TV commercials to American Idol, marketers are beginning to incorporate them into campaigns to trigger immediate reactions from consumers. They provide a convenient way to vote on different topics, get information on nearby businesses (I can't function without Google SMS), download ringtones/games and look up real-time sports scores.

Short codes are essentially shortened telephone numbers, which are obviously easier to remember. Both five and six digit codes are acceptable, and all of them are managed by the Common Short Code Administration.

Until now, there has been very little extension of short code usage into the apparel industry. Reactee, a company based out of San Francisco, aims to "bridge the gap between the physical world, mobile communications and the Internet." The product works in the following way:

1) You select a personalized slogan and keyword
2) Reactee prints your shirt
3) When people text your custom keyword to the short code 41411, they are texted back with the message that you previously set online

The options are endless- consumers can choose to spread environmental messages, provide updates on their favorite music and restaurants, or ask life's more difficult questions (an example I saw said "Can $1 change the world?"). It is far more dynamic than a classifieds ad and more interactive than a blog entry.

Ultimately, this is a fun platform for everyday people to engage those around them. While the internet provides similar engagement and encourages exploration (via Twitter, Facebook News Feeds, MySpace posts) the Reactee team alluded to this product's ability to bridge those existing gaps in the so-called "real" world.

My customized message will most likely combine my favorite things: cupcakes, media, churros and snow globes.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

All Up In Your TV Shows

Tomorrow night, USA is going to premiere The Starter Wife, a mini-series starring Debra Messing. Most people are expecting the usual marketing hoopla- microsites like nobody's business, maybe a few pre-roll ads here and there, and of course some product placement. Maybe our dear friend Grace (I can still call her that, right?) will drink a Coke, maybe go run in her Nike shoes, and take her Land Rover to pick up the kids.

Toto, we're not in standard product placement anymore...

For this particular show, Pond's identified an opportunity to align themselves with the overall message of the series. They are going to run vignettes about "starting over," which will feature their age-defying skincare products. reports that in exchange for financing, Pond's was allowed to put its marketing agents in the room with The Starter Wife's writers during the scripting process. During the show, characters use the products, and there are even related lines of dialogue.

This marketing approach obviously raises many different issues and questions:

1) This could potentially provide an avenue for offline/online agencies to start discussions earlier about a fully integrated sponsorship, but who should be the primary owner?
2) How will opportunities be priced?
3) Whose job is it to present these to advertisers? Should agencies become more pro-active in seeking out new shows before they have begun development?
4) How can success be measured?

As mentions, advertising will inevitably seep its way into the most unexpected areas. The lines between editorial and advertising will also become increasingly blurred.

Where will TV shows start and advertising begin?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

When Blogs Grow Up

The redesign of Technorati, once a blog search engine, marks the transformation from a niche market into something much more mainstream. CEO Dave Sifry, in his interview with Wired mentions that people can now get a full "360 degree context" of the web, which includes (but is certainly not limited to) video, user-generated content, podcasts and games.

Improved functionality includes better and easier tagging and a more streamlined (and colorful!) interface. The general layout remains simple to use, and feels somewhat like a cross between YouTube and

This new approach speaks to the fact that consumers are increasingly influenced by information provided by their peers. While CNET used to pride itself on "expert editors reviews," they are increasingly emphasizing user reviews. Which begs the question- as advertisers continue to promote products and services, whose voice will have the most authority online? Will there eventually be a shift back to "experts" or is the collective power of the common person going to stick around for a while?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

If Razzies Ruled the World

There is no greater bonding experience than shifting through boxes of bargain DVDs with someone at Amoeba. The thrill of flipping through discounted (and often forgotten) movie titles is not just an interest or hobby...but a skill. With practice, you too can skip past the half-decent ones and pull out gems like While You Were Sleeping in no time at all.

For those of you who lack this special skill, there is now The Slow Roll. A site dedicated to analyzing everything from Glitter to...well, what's worse than that? I guess that's up to the Slow Roll boys to decide. They've taken bad movies and turned it into an art form...freeing up precious spots on your Netflix queue.

Their current feature is:

Enjoy! (Shout out to Eric for creating an awesome site!)

Monday, May 7, 2007

Friday, May 4, 2007

RBOTW (Random Banner of the Week)

Welcome to my first RBOTW entry, where I uncover the web's most random and unexpected banners. Our first entry is Fiji Water, with a placement on GenArt's Pulse website, an extension of which features fashion/art/film/music events in cities like SF/NY/LA.

I can't recall ever seeing a banner promoting water specifically, especially when there is a sea of soft drink/sport drink advertising out there. By choosing to run on GenArt, they are obviously going after the influencers- people that would get their friends to drink Fiji Water just because they have it (that, and the square bottle is pretty rad).

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Beyond the Treadmill

Ah, nothing like the feeling of putting on your running shoes and heading to enjoy the scenery and fresh air. You say to yourself, "I am exercising because it makes me feel good! And it relieves stress!"

If only that were true. You want to know how many calories you burned in order to justify that lunchtime burger and milkshake, and the chocolate croissant you scarfed down at 10 am. You want to know how far you ran, and many miles closer to are to fitting into your favorite outfit from 2004.

Enter, a great site for mapping routes and getting inspiration from fellow runners. The technology is based around Google Maps, allowing you to zoom and drag with ease. The first step is entering your zip code, which then takes you to the general area where you will be starting your run. From there, you can search through saved routes (from other users) or create your own.

For each marker you place (by clicking on the map), it will calculate the distance between legs and how long it should take based on the speed you enter. Pretty cool, right? Now if only there was a site that pushed us out the door to go for a run everyday...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ryder's Fireside Corner #1

"The HOTTEST search blog on the net"

Greetings wary travels, come gather 'round for a healthy dose of search marketing knowledge nuggets. I will be unleashing my search geek supreme powers each month in an effort to quench your thirst for information on all things search. ~ Enjoy.

How MSN (Dumb) and Yahoo! (Dumber) Are Falling Behind in the Search Marketing Game.

Those bad boyz at Google just keep giving MSN and Yahoo! a digital snap kick to the head in the paid search battle. Not only does Google crush the competition in volume:

But Google AdWords empowers a search marketer in ways only kings and maybe Craig T. Nelson could understand. When an engine provides great research tools, a powerful user interface (UI), and customizable reporting options it allows search advertisers to be smarter about their campaigns which ultimate leads to a better user experience and large advertiser budget allocation.

For those not in the U-BOATS (Unquestioned Boorish Overlords of All Things Search) refer to some of the capabilities available and ratings for each engine:

Google has left the competition behind over the recent year with tools like AdWords Editor, a desktop application that allows for bulk account changes and unbeatable account visibility. Additionally, only Google pushes the envelope with innovative search outlets like video and click-to-call. Now if they could just work on their chatzkies.

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Excel-erate your Productivity!

Are you taking your Excel game to the next level or are you just getting Excel-cuted? If you use Excel with regularity like most of us data jockeys then you might appreciate my list of shortcut keys: Download Here. Other than that if you are ready for some advanced add-ins then pimp your Excel with ASAP Utilities. My favorite four ASAP functions:
* Columns/Rows > Merge Column Data
* Text > Convert to lowercase
* Fill > Copy values to empty cells below
* Web > Clean web imported data

More great Excel functions:
=len(reference cells here) > counts characters withing reference cells
=concatenate(cell 1, cell 2) > merges cell data into one cell
=if(data test, if true, if false) > more uses than you can shake a stick at, ask any AM for details.