Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Accessory.

Slowly, bits and pieces of my former child-free self are finding their way back to me.

I shower almost everyday.  I apply under-eye concealer to the dark holes under my eyes 2 out of every 5 times I leave the house.  I no longer moonlight as a cow.  Tonight, I even donned the super cute black and white striped dress, with pockets, my husband gave me for my birthday and headed to dinner with my two favorite guys.

My former self was relatively pulled together fashion-wise.  While never up-to-date on the trend of the moment or the season's hottest color, I like to think I had an eye for coordinating colors, textures, prints and patterns, and shoes.  Today in black and white stripes, pink flats and a baby in my left arm, I felt just as good as back in the day when I wore a navy dress with a brown belt, a necklace with different hues of oversized brown beads, tan shoes, and a bright orange clutch under my left arm.

The new puzzle is forming with some distinct markers from the old one, but it will never be exactly the same because these random pieces that float back are no longer quite the right shape.  The rectangle that was my love of shoes finds that mom-sensible flats have morphed its space into a triangle.  The circular piece for my J. Crew professional attire is now trying to cram into an oval created by old race t-shirts and sundresses.  The parabola formerly reserved for my gym obsession has come back to find a rectangle-shaped space encroached on all sides by sleep.

This was perhaps most evident as we sat at dinner eating guac and drinking beers while the baby slept blissfully next to us. 

"What's that on your wrist?" my husband asked as I flipped my chip deftly into my mouth.

Half expecting a bracelet or watch I'd decided to throw on to complete the outfit I glanced down.

"Oh," I said, "it's a dried booger.  The baby smushed his nose all over me before we left.  I must have missed some."  I brushed it off and remembered that some bold accessory choices just don't pay off.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Logo Loathing.

Maybe they were trying to communicate that the world is a blank slate, quivering in anticipation of your color choice.  Or possibly, in a moment of branding self-importance, they believed that only their products give color and brilliance to the world.

Whatever their communication intent, they failed.

Had I been sitting in the logo approval meeting at Sherwin-Williams, which was most definitely preceded by 12 meetings with brand managers and the design agency so that final CMO approval would be quick and painless, I would have provided the following direction:

1.  If we're throwing environmentalists to the wind, as the paint on the globe suggests, let's just go for it.  Please add some batteries and lightbulbs floating in the ocean that hasn't yet been overtaken by paint.  And give the PR/CSR team a heads up.  Otherwise, start over.

2.  Must we go with red paint?  It looks like  our brand is responsible for a global genocide.  Nice work with the drops pouring off the bottom.  They really nail that message.  However, I'd like to see some different options.  I'm not directing the creative here, but purple implies royalty, which would be a powerful communication point about our brand.  Yellow is happy, as most customers are when they begin painting.  Green is an environmentally-friendly choice which may balance out the earth-destroying aspect of the paint. 

Please rethink the color choice or let me see the deck that outlines "paint genocide" as a pillar of this year's strategy.  Otherwise, start over.

3.  I know we need our logo somewhere, but it really looks like our brand is single-handedly ruining the earth.  Also, not sure if you noticed that it's upside down.  Is this a new trend in logo design?  Since it's our largest intangible asset, I just wonder how you came to the decision to flip it 180 degrees. 

As for placement, think about moving it from the paint can onto the earth itself.  That's a very strong message about our global presence.  If it doesn't work, please start over.

I don't know how this one escaped the guard of SW's agency Account Director and then finagled its way outside the corporate campus walls.

Have you seen any other advertising/branding choices lately that make you think the Leadership Team is high most of the time??

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Celebrity Cool.

The little man and I are now in Texas with the big man for househunting and two weeks of togetherness.  We are on the third floor of an elevator free facility that is furnished with uncomfortable couches and zero kitchen gadgets.  I just pureed baby food with two butter knives.  Thanks corporate housing.

Since I haven't yet located the warp pipes that Mario found so easily at the end of World 1, I had to fly here, by myself, with the baby.  The night before our journey began I experienced the same nervous energy that I recall from nights before marathons.  My thoughts vacillated between confidence in my preparation and awe at my own stupidity.

Luckily, I read some tips on flying with a little baby and while most were trite suggestions about toys and bottles, there was one I hadn't ever come across and decided to follow.  "Wear big sunglasses," it read, "and people will think you are a celebrity traveling with your children."

Big sunglasses?  Check!
Bit of a bitchy attitude that could be confused with celebrity hubris?  Double check!

Below are some trip highlights with my self-awarded Celebrity Cool Factor Score (CCFS) for each.  The rating scale is below.  Let's decide if I pulled it off.

  1 = Similar to Britney the day she shaved her head.  Not so cool.
10 = Similar to Katie Holmes the day she served Tom.  Super cool, calm, and collected. 

Trip Highlight 1:
I was treated more like a VIP than when I was Delta Elite.  Kind businessmen, thankful for their two small carry-ons and wife at home with the kids, quickly let me ahead of them, helped with my bags and opened and closed my stroller.  When the baby started crying they smiled sympathetically and strapped on their Bose noice-canceling headphones. 

CCFS: 9.  It would only be a 10 if one of these kind business travelers had given me their first class seat.  A celebrity would already have one.

Trip Highlight 2:
I had to connect through Detroit. 

CCFS: 2.  Not only do celebrities never connect, they never fly commercial.

Trip Highlight 3:
During said connection, I called on all my past traveling experience and confidently made it from one terminal to the next via the weird-ass, neon-lit tunnel that is most definitely inspired by a creative's college acid trip.  The baby loved it.

CCFS: 7.  I thought about giving myself an 8 here because I kept my sunglasses on, but they don't make up for the two large bags I had in tow.  Celebrities have handlers for that.

Trip Highlight 4:
I managed to change the baby and shove some organic sweet potatoes into his little birdlike mouth after my half mile walk from one terminal to the next.  I did this all in under 30 minutes.  The only casualty of my multitasking connection were the wipes I left on the changing table.

CCFS:  6.  It was an outstanding performance, but I don't think a celebrity would plop down on the floor next to her gate, dump almost everything out of her bag to find the sweet potatoes, and force feed as many as she could to her child before boarding.  The sweet potatoes were organic which makes my score a 6 instead of a 5. 

Trip Highlight 5:
The baby pooped during that purgatorial time when you've pushed away from the gate but haven't taken to the air.  This is also the time when the flight attendants become cats, ready to pounce on anyone who touches seatbelt or glances forlornly at their iPad.  I waited until electronics could go on and dashed to the bathroom, ignoring the dirty looks from the flight attendants who still sat safely in their jumpseats.  Without the real thing, I Macgyvered together wipes with paper towels, water, and handsanitizer.

CCFS:  7.  I took control of the situationl like I owned the aircraft! 

Trip Highlight 6:
I rocked the baby to sleep in a 1.5 x 3 foot space and he slept for 90 minutes!!  When he awoke, the captain came on and said we were beginning our descent.  I cried tears of joy.

CCFS: 10!  I looked like a celebrity plastered across the pages of a glossy magazine new babe-in-arms, in a blissful, airbrushed state.  No, I wasn't airbrushed.  In fact, I didn't look that good, but I remember these 90 minutes through an instagram lens.  In my mind's eye, someone airbrushed away the spit-up on my pants and bags under my eyes.

Average Score:  6.83
With a score of 6.83, I cannot claim to have been confused by a celebrity.  At best, I may have been confused with a Desperate Housewife of Dallas, minus the boobs and the nails.  Oh wow, that's creepy.  This CCFS scorer is like a fortune teller.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Name Game.

Dear Pottery Barn Kids,

I still own nothing with your logo and hope to keep it this way for a long time.

The other night, however, as I was eating my grilled cheese in the glorious silence of a house that holds a teething baby in its walls, I opened up your catalogue to review the current trends in generic nurseries. I saw what I expected: some nautical elements and monogramming gone wild. Thanks for not wowing me with something creative that would make me rethink my position.

After flipping through, I have a request.  

Stop ruining names. 

A name on one of your bags, towels, or walls is its kiss of death! Emma, Mason, Jackson, Olivia, and Aiden are cute names that used to be original, but once in your pages they become as common as a mom with a blog. 

I know, I know.  You have reams of data to help you choose the names that grace your catalogue covers and this research indicate which will increase sales amongst your not incredibly original core consumer.  I bet she even has a name within your corporate headquarters.  Possibly Lisa?   

I grew up in the 80s and 90s, during the Jennifer/Lisa/Katie phenomenon and I fear we are about to repeat it with Emma/Lucy/Sofia.  No one wants that.  Not the Jens and Katies who had to differentiate themselves from the other three same-named girls in their class with their last initial or their friends who had to ask their Moms to call as Lisa R., Lisa B., Emily M., or Emily S. to come over and play.

You have the power to make roll call different for an entire generation!

Let’s remove Mason, Aubrey, Aiden, and Lucy from your pages.  I cannot take one more facebook announcement from parents claiming to “love Lucy,” their latest addition.  You are KILLING creativity everywhere.

Where the trendy names leave holes on your pages, add in some classics.  John, Sarah, Elizabeth, and Joseph will look great on backpacks and towels and you will have no impact on the popularity of these eternally classic, non-trendy names.  For God’s sake, “John” has been in the Top 10 since Jesus was baptized. 

Not convinced that you are having a material impact on naming trends?  Ok, let’s go a different route. 

Find your most jaded slash humorous copywriter.  Tell him or her they have complete control over the names in your Holiday 2012 issue and wait for it.  2013 will be the year Rumpelstiltskin and Elphaba make an appearance in the Top 10 Baby Names.  

If you are able to pull off this feat of lunacy and awesomeness, I will buy an embroidered blanket with my baby's name.  There is NO WAY I'm telling you what it is until he has at least one best friend named Rumpelstiltskin. 


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Skip, Jump.



It's my very first blog hop and Hilary at feelingbeachie is showing me the ropes by letting me co-host her hop this week.

Join in! What else are you doing right now?

This week's fill-ins:

1. My day always starts by _______.
2. I prefer _______ to _______.
3. I never thought I'd _______ until I _______.
4. I wish I could _______ for a _______.

My answers:

1. My day always starts by seven.
2. I prefer M.C. Hammer to Vanilla Ice.
3. I never thought I'd have more nervous energy than at a marathon starting line until I attempted air travel with a baby.
4. I wish I could write for a living and make it big!

Happy hopping.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fair Question.

With what feels like 1000 miles under the tires of the good ole' Sportwagen this week I had ample time to flip through the many radio stations of the Northeast corridor and have just one question.

Miley, when a Britney song comes on do you really put your hands up, feel the butterflies fly away, and nod your head like 'yeah' because when Brit was at her "I'm a virgin" prime and people actually moved their hips like 'yeah' for her, you couldn't have been much older than 4.

Come on, Miley. Carson Daly and an entire generation of college women question whether you even have a choreographed dance to "Hit Me Baby" that is good in a pinch or in a frathouse.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The 4th.

Every 4th of July, my husband and I converge on the Cape with our families for beachiness and fireworks. The measures we take to arrive should indicate how much we love this place. One year I flew in from a meeting in Memphis and then flew out to another one in Seattle. My husband has arrived via work trips from Boulder and Dallas, and this holiday, my travel escapades have raised the "pains I take to arrive on the shores of Cape Cod Bay" bar to previously unimagined heights.

Making this year especially exciting for us, is the presence of our little guy. Now, we're not trying to shove clams down his throat or anything, but my husband and I really want him to love it here. When we have a Capehouse of our own, which I say with confidence because if you believe it you can achieve it, he will be compelled to come from wherever he lives, regardless of travel hurdles.

Romantic notion? Yes.

Pain in the ass to bring it to life? You bet.

I am stating the obvious when I say our 4th of July Fest is different with a baby in tow. There are the expected changes: painful travel, enough baby accessories to fill a Sportwagen, the realization that your child is more interested in eating sand than reading in the sun thus significantly shortening your beach time and staving you previously ravenous appetite for the beach, and blogging on the night of the fireworks instead of roasting Smores and drinking a Bud Light Lime across the street next to a beach bonfire.

I expected these differences. What I did not expect, was the parade.

We've heard about this parade and for 10 years and have literally heard the horns honking and kids screeching with delight from the warm, comfy nooks of the back bedroom bed. Said parade starts at an hour that only marathoners-in-training and parents of small children see. My amoeba-ey thighs make it clear which category I call home.

This morning, we were awake a disgusting 90 minutes before the parade began. On the front porch we watched fellow parade-goers come out in droves and I realized my pink pajama pants and gray sweatshirt were not up to code. Uncle Sam stood across the street from me and his slutty daughter was next door in a Stars 'n Strips bikini and a red feather boa. I say slutty because it was overcast. No one dresses like that on a cloudy Cape day.

The parade consisted of spangled pick-up trucks, SUVs, antique cars, and convertibles filled with kids and seemingly drunk 20-somethings throwing candy to their fans. Spiderman was in the back of one truck, shooting some badass webs at the crowd.

Try as I might to find something to mock, beyond Uncle Sam and his daughter, there was nothing. The honking cars, happy kids, bleary-eyed adults drinking Dunkin' Donuts coffee, and random superhero were quite charming in an old fashioned 4th of July kind of way.

To stay in the mood I am going to have a 4th of July highball, put on a polka dot bikini, figure out how to rock a bandana in a cool way like I'm riding in a convertible with Cary Grant, and look happily forward to the day my little guy is in the back of his uncle's pick-up truck waving a flag and tossing candy.

Scratch that. I want him to be the random superhero. Or maybe a random dinosaur or Mario Brothers character just for kicks. After all, I'm choking on parade Kool-aid after just one viewing. Please stick around for at least another year and give me a chance to mock this thing like it was meant to be mocked!

Happy 4th. May all your parades be unmockable at first blush!

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Response.

Hi there everyone. This is annie's dog. While she's gone on vacation I wanted to share my side of the story.

She says she hates me and while I'd agree that our relationship is not at its height, hate is much too strong a word. She seems to get fiercely frustrated by many, err most, of my choices but I can tell when I lick the new little guy that we still have a spark.

Speaking of him, I tried to tell her for MONTHS he was on his way and she didn't understand. I nudged her stomach to convey that it wasn't just the extra bowls of ice cream growing in there and got no response. I followed her around like a jerky Doberman watchdog and just got reprimanded for always being in the way. I even rolled all over the rug in the new room they built for me shouting, "this will be perfect for the person in your stomach!" but she just got overwhelmed by how much I loved it and told me to get out. I obeyed.

When she and the man I love came home with the little guy ecstatic that he was here I was just like, "This isn't news, people, he's been around for months!"

We got to hang out forEVER, just the three of us, while the man I love went wherever he goes during the day. I was super helpful during this time, barking at any and all service workers who approached our backyard and trying to help annie when she was playing with the little dude on the floor via licks of encouragement. I did the same whenever she tried to nap on the couch. I could tell she was incredibly tired so I would stand extra close to her face and tell her she was doing a great job.

Seems that she listed five things she hates about me and I feel that I should explain. I've tried to explain it to her in person several times, but she's always vacuuming. I'm hoping that the printed word will prove stronger than the spoken or barked.

1. I guess I stood a lot when he got in the thing that takes us places for an entire day. I was so far away from everyone in the way back! I just wanted to see her, see my boy, and get a little AC action in the face.

2. While standing, I guess I breathed a little too heavily on her mom. I felt loopy. She gave me some funny peanut butter before we left and I had a hard time judging appropriate personal space boundaries for the next 18 hours.

3. She doesn't like when I roll in raccoon poop or any other variety. This is a matter of personal preference. She sprays Givenchy and thinks it smells fabulous. I think it smells like horse vomit, but you don't hear me complaining or trying to hose her down, do you?

4. I guess I woke her and the little guy up too early the other morning. When the little guy gets her attention, he gets food right away. I thought the same would apply to me. It was a risk that didn't pay out.

5. She didn't want to bring me on vacation and she shouldn't have worried. Some girl who lives next door is feeding me and letting me out. Time apart is just what we need. She and that little guy can be a lot to handle!

What? You heard the little guy is seconds away from crawling? Ruh-roh. (This is really how I say 'uh-oh.' I'm not trying to be funny or add color. Most dogs talk like Scooby-doo in real life.)

Anyone interested in boarding a lovable Golden Retriever?