Sunday, September 28, 2008

Novopelle’s Lip

Now appearing in the Houston edition of Envy: A sharp ad for Novopelle® laser hair removal clinics. Using a stock photo, an ad agency named C&G has taken credit for the work. Those initials could stand for “Carlos” and “Glen,” since an website posting credits Carlos Cortinas (art director) and Glen Day (copywriter). What attracted me, an occasional reader of this hip lifestyle magazine, was the careful, sans serif type across the upper lip of the attractive young woman in the photo:

A closet full of low-cut blouses. Countless hours at the gym. A small fortune in pushup bras. And he can't stop staring at my upper lip.

What an excellent, contrasty way to direct attention. The stock photographer’s shot helps: The young woman’s eyes looking up and to the right. In its cleanest version, there’s no more than the photo, the lip-contoured headline, the Novopelle logo and website. In the version pictured here, jpegged from the magazine itself, you can barely see Novopelle’s services: Fire, Air, Water and Earth. These packages describe the body parts from which hair would be removed and range from the under arm, bikini and upper lip ($587) to the “full” deal – arms, legs, face ($1,945).

In a magazine like Envy, wherein there’s plenty of food/drink/expensive fashion accessories, the C&G ad stands out big time. So you may or may not need hair removed (I could benefit from some transplanting myself). But you’d have to be blind if you don't “get” this one.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Restoration

Praised be forever the Lord of heaven, who onely dost wondrous things, because thy mercys indure forever. That's what John Evelyn said when Charles II regained the throne of England. Royal Charles himself never said anything like, “Whoa! Really glad I've been restored to power – thanks, Centerpoint!”

But we, whose electricity was restored yesterday, feel like a king now that our air conditioning is back on and electricity is flowing to vital systems like freezer and refrigerator. Now this doesn't mean that there's connectivity – the electric's back but the Internet isn't. I hope Comcast comes through with the cable connection real soon.

That being said, many many thanks to Centerpoint and all the other people who worked so hard getting out Spring Branch neighborhood restored to civilization. It was easy to lose one's cool in the two-week interval between The Ike and yesterday's re-electrification. But anyone with a brain can work out how well off our area has been compared to so many others throughout Southeast Texas.

Coming soon: More blog posts about genuinely interesting subjects, including marketing Commie cats (I swear). Meanwhile, here's to...The Restoration!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Ike

“I survived the Ike!” That's what I'd put on the t-shirt if I really got into the t-shirt thing. Which I don't – but if I did I'd sign on to CafePress to create what's on my mind – then sell it. Or perhaps not: Coming soon is a post about someone who's marketing via CafePress. This past week, my own marketing and advertising work has come to a standstill due to disconnectivity issues.

Meantime, perhaps you noticed the article? Not just plain Ike but “the Ike.” The article elevates the tone of the whole thing, don't you think? We have a dry roof and good health, even if we're headed into our second week without electric power. Electricity outages also make me forget what a calendar is for; and who's running for (what is it?)...President. I hope to be restored to power soon – my followers are getting restless.

To press on, I'm not going to duplicate the thousands and thousands of words that have been written about the recent hurricane's impact on Houston and Southeast Texas. You've seen the photos and the videos, listened to the commentators and the storm victims – so much, so much.

Instead, here's a public appreciation after “the” Ike. Mostly too many to name individually, but you've supported us in so many ways: Gasoline, foodstuffs, connectivity (well, Panera Bread's free WiFi and fresh coffee deserves a spotlight). A generator, courtesy of Doug, Donna and Maddy Nytes in Sugar Land – quite a gas-powered hoot after posting about the same subject before Hurricane Ike arrived in town; see below. The many, many smiles and – above all – patience!

Many thanks to everyone who helped us “survive the Ike.”

Friday, September 12, 2008

Generating Awareness

There’s nothing like a walloping great hurricane to generate awareness. It’s like your impending execution: “The unusual thing about the headsman’s ax is that it focuses the mind wonderfully.”

Yesterday, Alison Bond went to the nearby Home Depot to pick up a few things. She saw an extraordinarily well-dressed couple who, she could tell, had never, ever been in such a store. In their lives. They were shopping for emergency supplies against our coming Hurricane Ike. The man had the most expensive flashlight stocked by Home Depot. He held it gingerly, like it might explode and get…battery stuff…all over his nice suit.

He and his wife stopped by the largest portable generator on the floor, perhaps this AC Delco Model AC-G0005 with electric start. It’s 6,500 watts, “a real warrior,” according to the website write-up. (All Alison remembers, in passing, is that it was big and blue. She herself was not in the market for a generator.)

The man asked his wife, “We should buy this? Is this what we need?” His lady shrugged her shoulders. Looked totally blank.

Clearly, had there been time, the couple would have called someone to select an auxiliary generator for them, a professional generator picker of some sort.

Ad guy Tom McElligott told me once that people don’t notice advertising for tires until they need a new set. That’s when they finally see those newspaper ads. I know the same thing is true for what’s needful during hurricane season.

Proving once again that people do plan ahead – just not far enough. And when they do begin to pay attention, they have to repeat their climb up the learning curve. Or, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him water-ski,” as Roger Edmondson says.

Knowing now that Home Depot will still be stocking generators in October and November: $199 (Sportsman) to $4,200 (Xtreme Power 5000 Watt Professional).

Knowing the same thing last June? Priceless.

PS: Who manufactures these AC Delco portable generators? The brand name’s on the equipment, but the equipment’s not on the brand website. Just wondering.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hurricane Waiting

“Hurricane Ike poised to slam into the Gulf,” in case you’ve missed this. As a good blogger, I should help you understand that it’s entirely motivated by politics. True fact. Otherwise, why would the liberal-leaning media label this 100-mph blast of hot air Ike? Remember? Dwight Eisenhower, 34th President of these United States? A Republican. Well!

The timing is dadgummed suspicious: Right before the presidential elections…okay, not right before, but really, really close. And let’s not overlook Ike’s target which is Texas, a Republican stronghold if there ever was one (not counting The People’s Republic of Austin, which I don’t). Well.

I don’t want to add to the general ruckus. It’s the car manufacturers who will benefit most from this season’s string of “uncontrollable” hurricanes and tropical depressions. Toyota has already started its guerrilla marketing campaign with a Bizarro cartoon – I noticed the company’s promoting its Prius, of course, for gas efficiency in case you are evacuating the area. (Thanks to Barbara, we’re already covered there, don’t you worry about us.)

Well. We’ll just have to see who’s laughing on Sunday, eh?

Cartoon © 2008 Dan Piraro. All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

LifeFormulae™ Brandwork

Today’s horrid cliché: There are no small clients – only limited imaginations. Exceptions, though, disprove this rule; Lee Jones, Executive Vice President of LifeFormulae LLC, is one of them.

Thanks to Jones, I’ve been working to establish a brand around a software-as-a-service – called SaaS – for the third time in as many years. SaaS is a delivery mechanism for software, more efficient in many ways that purchasing a software package and installing it on your computer. In this case, the effort is for LARTS, the LifeFormulae ASN.1 Reader Tool Set. (In the world of bioinformatics, it’s safe to say LARTS is delivered by SaaS. Got that?) LifeFormulae is a new company…but that isn’t holding Jones and the rest of the team back.

With Jones’s encouragement, a brand has been built around the company itself, rather than its products. Seems straightforward: LifeFormulae, the toolmaker for life-science researchers worldwide, helps investigators shorten the time from research to results.

It’s really not so simple, not when it comes to the complex and challenging world of life sciences. The principals of LifeFormulae have built a better computational mousetrap that speeds up the unraveling of the secrets of life. Outside any perception of brand is a metaphysical platform captured in part by Jay Lake in his latest book:

And so Creation worked, the planet spinning like the hands of a watch, meshing with the ring of its orbits as it transited through the sky. Everything danced around everything else, advancing in a mechanical sarabande that told the story of God’s craftsmanship more eloquently than words in any book to talk…

At its most abstruse, LifeFormulae software aims to help life scientists breach the wall of God’s craftsmanship at speed: To provide them with the quickest route to the genomic and proteomic answers they need.

Beyond any brand communications the company is likely to develop, the motive for the stopwatch visual (discovered and deployed by website development manager Rachel Sandrock) is the intricate construction of life. What lies beyond this boundary, for researchers, “is another Creation.”

Whoa! All the foregoing is way too philosophical.

Look: There’s a new logo for LifeFormulae, created by Griffin Creative. The new look for this small bioinformatics company is provided by Sandrock. Her stopwatch visual could stand for “nonstop solutions;” instead, it emphasizes the time-sensitive deconstruction of life’s secrets.

And the new branding, from brand story to words, comes from me: LifeFormulae is the resource for researchers – the one that can deliver what they need for a shorter time to a result, a critical product…a cure. Everything’s on line to support Jones’s forceful sales and marketing initiative.

A small company may not have the time to explore every possible interaction with its stakeholders. It might have to start from scratch, inventing a position based on product attributes. Despite all the theory in the world, that’s not a bad place to begin branding. And it’s going to show up first at the Cambridge Healthtech Institute’s “Data-Driven Discovery Summit” in Providence, RI, September 21-25.

There’ll be more to this story. I’ll feed it to you as we go. Meantime, thanks to the LifeFormulae team – Ira Crain, Bill Eaton, Pam Culpepper, Jones and Sandrock – for the opportunity to help build another Creation.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Vagrant Wireless

Or perhaps it's “wireless vagrant.” Any road, here I am trying out the free WiFi connection at the nearby Panera Bread store.

While a lot of people highlight Starbucks (and the coffee is good), I wanted somewhere less cramped, more relaxed for my first away-from-home-because-the-cable connection-is-cut outing. This is it, the Memorial City bakery-cafe. The joe is a fresh-made Guatemala Antigua, I had the basic egg-and-cheese breakfast sandwich, then plugged the laptop into the wall and fired it up.

A little work, a little more coffee. The soccer moms and accompanying players are stirring, just about the only ones. Did I mention that the Panera Bread wireless connection is free? Yep, it's free. Just sit down, open up your laptop and you're ready to go. Send an email as you munch a warm bagel. Read the news as you sip a latte. It's a nice alternative to the office, isn't it? Please relax, do what you need to do, and enjoy our WiFi. It's free all day long.

Says so right on the website. For a hotspot, it's pleasantly laid back. Just the thing for a disconnected hobo on a Sunday morning.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Comcast Amputation

It is the shame of the world that September's first post has to come from a random wireless network – my apologies. I'd intended to have a neat write-up about a CafePress marketer but a funny thing happened on the way to Saturday.

Having a tree trimmed of a honking great limb yesterday (a hedge against hurricane-force winds), the efficient arboring team also took the Comcast cable connection with put paid to the TV service but – more critical – cut us off from the Internet. For a man that's used to feeling connected, this is something of a problem.

I'm filing this under “The Law of Unintended Consequences.” Comcast has been responsive, but there's no help for an intervening weekend. More later.