Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: February 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Weekend of Gluttony


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It was Restaurant Week and ate a lot this weekend!


It started on Thursday night at Three Aces Chicago with a Bourbon Dinner I planned for a small group. We had a three-course meal with two bourbon pairings for $40 per person + tip. The first cocktail was called Pink Thunderbird - a sweeter bourbon cocktail (not sure what was in it, maybe grapefruit juice?). They paired the Pink Thunderbird with an Oyster on the half shell.

bourbondinner8


Next up was our white bean and rosemary soup with ligurain olive oil. The soup was delicious and probably easy to make and (I'm guessing) low in in calories. Following that dish was the braised short rib with pomegranate, parsnip puree and pistachios. It was a nice sized portion, in fact, I gave most of my dish to my brother.

braised short rib


And we finished our bourbon dinner with a cheese and Lion's Pride Rye. I liked the orange marmalade that accompanied the cheese.

bourbondinner15



On Friday I met a few friends for lunch at David Burke's Primehouse for Restaurant Week. I do my best to hit Primehouse every year for Restaurant Week because they serve their FULL MENU at Restaurant Week prices. For $22 I had: An Iceberg Wedge Salad, a 6 oz Filet, mashed potatoes and sauteed mushrooms (my sides) and Upside Down Pineapple Cake with Raspberry sorbet for dessert.

Wedge Salad


Yum...cooked just the way I like it!

David Burke's Primehouse

Dessert



Saturday night I went to Smith & Wollensky and had another Filet. This time, I had the bone-in filet, it was also very delicious and flavorful. God, I love steak.


Related Posts:

Monday, February 21, 2011

Video Content Marketing and Community Building


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Recently, I've been working with a client FoxyForex.com , they are a kitschy, fun, informational video site for Forex traders (foreign exchange). Each video is about two to three minutes long. They start with a 20 to 30 second introduction by a "field correspondent" - generally a goofy, dim-witted joke that is meant to be tongue-in-cheek. April Rose, the FoxyForex.com lead correspondent then goes into a real, trading news segment or a Forex news term for about 1:30 seconds.

My responsibilities vary but I primarily assist with marketing the video content. In order to do so, we work on audience development, understand what visitors find favorable about the site, user-experience and create events (on and off-line) around the product. On a secondary level, I work make contributions to increase organic search and paid search.

The site is less than six months old and about four months ago, we started to post content more regularly and put some marketing power behind the content. We shoot every other week with the field correspondents, Chicago area models (Loop Rock girls, etc.) and, April Rose, our lead correspondent, is in the office regularly shooting the Forex educational segments. We've been using Twitter, Facebook and live events to help spread the word about the site.

Currently, the videos are hosted on Fliqz.com and we also have a YouTube channel. Why both? Well, with Fliqz, our video quality is better and we are able to host approved ads on our videos (coming soon). We keep the YouTube presence because it is a great way to expose the brand to a larger audience. We have our URL on all our videos so visitors can navigate to the actual site to see more about the models. The site itself has a gallery and bios on the models.

Here is a sample video of the Foxy girls:



We try to partner with other Forex trading sites and Forex trading companies for live events. We bring the FoxyForex.com girls to the live events in cute T-shirts and give away small, branded gifts. In the future, we do anticipate hosting our own event. We were thinking a pool party where we partner with a liquor company and invite local Forex traders. In addition to our own events, the Foxy girls are available for private, corporate events.

So far, working with the site and the guys who own the site has been a blast. The funny part is, ALMOST EVERYONE behind the camera and in front of the camera are women. There are about four or five ladies who maintain the site, run the social media, shoot the video and book the models. That has been the most settling part of the experience, it may seem a bit exploitative, but the experience has been so positive for me because we're all girls!

Related Readings:

The Little Book of Currency Trading: How to Make Big Profits in the World of Forex (Little Books. Big Profits)

How to Make a Living Trading Foreign Exchange: A Guaranteed Income for Life (Wiley Trading)

How to Get Started in Forex Trading for SmartAsses! - Learn Everything You Need to Know to Get Started in Forex Trading...



Get 250 Free Trades and more at Firstrade!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Highlights of the 2011 Chicago Auto Show


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I attended "Social Media Day" at the Chicago Auto Show courtesy of Chrysler. Here are the highlights of my day.


I started off the day at 8:00 AM for breakfast as a guest of Chrysler. At 8:30 AM Ralph Gilles, the CEO of Dodge Brand and Sr VP of Product Design, gave us an intro to the new Dodge Charger.

Dodge Charger


From there we went onto the Ram Truck walk-around. It was here where my fantasy head went to a far-away land. After seeing the Dodge Ram 3500, I imagined my life on the range, hauling things like my horses and my range stuff. I thought this truck was super sexy! I also learned about an awesome club for Dodge diesel truck owners called The Cummins High Mileage Club.

Dodge Ram


Next up was the brand new, Chrysler 200 convertible. This was the unveiling of the Chrysler 200 convertible, I believe it debuted at the Chicago Auto Show. This car was pretty and it is one of the only convertible on the market that can seat four, full-sized adults. As opposed to pint-sized adults.

Chrysler 200 Convertible


Next up, my favorite car from the Chrysler day was the Fiat 500. So cute, I just adore this car. You can read more about this car on my dedicated post for the Fiat 500.



My favorite part of the day was the Jeep off-road installation where you can experience driving a Jeep off road. This HUGE Jeep area where you can off-road in a Jeep. Believe it or not, it is far more intense than it looks in the pictures, and if my video had turned out, you could hear me bouncing around in the back seat of that Jeep. If you go to the Chicago Auto Show, be sure to visit the Jeep Off Road course!

The Jeep Off Road Course

The Jeep Off Road Course

Jeep Off Road Track at Chicago Auto Show


Other Highlights of the Day


Porsche Speedster in this funky, baby blue.




Porsche Cayman R in lime green.




The weird looking Mini Cooper cross-over (for hipsters with families).

MINI Cooper!



Lexus IS Convertible (very girly!)




The Audi R8 Sypder

Check out the sexy guy in this pic...


Audi Spyder



The (no words needed for this car) Maybach



Maybach



And the grand finale...The Mercedes SLS AMG

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG

Mercedes Benz SLS AMG



If you would like to see more pics, just click on any of my images and you'll be redirected to my Flickr Page where all my Auto Show pics live.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Thoughts on Super Bowl XLV Ads


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Super Bowl XLV

I am not a sports fan and know nothing about football, so tonight, the game was about the TV spots. I look forward to the spots every year, and this year, I thought I'd share my thoughts with you. Kudos to the brands and their agencies who had the foresight to embed the videos in a sharable (YouTube) format on a landing page AND do a Google Adwords buy so that I could easily find the videos. What a way to bring the whole thing full circle.

Super Bowl spots I liked...scroll down for ones I liked more and the spot that FREAKED ME OUT


Bridgestone. I did not hear much buzz on Twitter about the Bridgestone ads but I thought they were pretty solid. I also like the Bridgestone website - clean, the Super Bowl ads are easy to spot on the main page a Twitter stream (with keywords carefully selected so that conversation about the ads show up in the stream) underneath the videos. A good, strong effort without any nonsense thrown in (like other brands went for), at least not in my opinion. Kudos to a tire company for having a clean, beautiful website with all the social channels incorporated.

Here is the Bridgestone spot.




My next pick is the Chevy Transformers ad. This was one of the last ads during the Super Bowl and I was glad I stuck around to watch. This ad reminded me SO MUCH of my days as a college student in Southern Illinois and the super-cheesy ads that the local dealerships ran. Back then, I was so entertained by these terrible ads and this Chevy spot was like a comedic homage to the cheesy car salesmen and the circus that surrounds a "sale". I love it when we embrace the ridiculous! Like Bridgestone, the Chevy website is also easily laid out so that the ads are easy to find. The Chevy site is not as clean (or, in my opinion, as lovely) as the Bridgestone site but it is still conducive to viewing the ads.

Here is the Chevy Transformer spot





Another one that I liked (not loved) was the Best Buy Super Bowl ad with the awesome Ozzy Osbourne and the lame Justin Bieber. I get nauseous each time I see Justin Beiber, which means I am sick a lot because he happens to be everywhere, but I do love Ozzie Osbourne. I love Sharon Osbourne too. I also liked that Best Buy mocked the whole 3G, 4G, 5G and 6G thing, with Ozzie asking "How many Gs are there?" I can relate to the G question, I'm not really clear what exactly a G is. On the flipside, I did not think the spot itself had a complete thought behind it. There were funny pieces but I am not really sure what the hell they were saying, or selling for that matter.

The Best Buy landing page for the Super Bowl ads is also pretty lame, unlike the other brands, Best Buy didn't really put any creative dollars behind making this landing page a visually stimulating place for visitors. I don't need to really tell you, you can see for yourself.

I would have embedded the tv spot here (like I did with the others) but Best Buy did not allow for that option. I found a few lame versions on YouTube uploaded by others that I did not want to include.

Super Bowl spots I liked better


The Chrysler ad. This spot gave me chills! Americans stand behind their brothers in need, in 2001 it was New York and in 2011 one can say it is Detroit, pummeled by the recession. The ad team behind this spot truly pulled at our Americanism and they did it well. The ad was able to make us proud, make us want to believe in Detroit, and make us want to believe in Chrysler. Considering this ad was two minutes long (at $3 million for 30 seconds) + productions costs + Eminem's costs, I still think it may be worth it.

I loved how this spot really built suspense, I liked how it showed Detroit as a cosmopolitan and seemingly luxurious city, and finally, I loved that it included EMINEM!

Here is the Chrysler spot (I've watched it a few times)



I guess the auto category really did it for me because I also loved Audi spots. I loved the idea of "Luxury Prison" - I was actually IN luxury prison once (maybe twice), it is a terrible place to be. I loved the tagline "Escape the confines of old luxury". Which seemed to me like an attack on derogatory term "New Money". Audi is telling us that stuffy, rich people can shove it. I can relate. I like money and I hate pretense and I hate boring. If you get a chance, check out Audi USA's YouTube channel and watch the KENNY G. Super Bowl "Teaser" video - it is probably the best thing they produced.




-->> My favorite spot of the night was the Volkswagen Darth Vader ad!

I watched this last week, it aired on The Today show, I loved it then and I loved it tonight. There is no script and the kid has a mask on but you can see so much emotion coming from his little body, it is so cute. Everything about this spot was awesome - the kid, his expressions, the objects he is trying to manipulate and even the final look the dad gives his wife after they freak their kid out. I just loved this spot, LOVED IT. Additionally, I think they spoke to the right audience (age, income) with making a Star Wars reference with a kid about 7 or 8 years old.

Here is the Volkswagen spot



What I did not like or understand

I hated the Doritos ads, just hated them. I thought they were so inappropriate and weird. Maybe I am no longer in the demo (probably not, they probably skewed male 18 to 26). I was not crazy about the Pepsi Max spots either, again, just not for me. I disliked the stupid commercial with the pug the most. Totally stupid, not funny, I have no clue what the point was.



This next one, "The Best Part," just FREAKED ME OUT. I mean really freaked me out. I am still a bit disturbed by this spot. I don't know if I can get this spot out of my head! I do know that I probably can never eat another Dorito for as long as I live.




The Motorola ad went completely over my head. I was not able to find the official spot on YouTube but below I've included what I found. Apparently, it is aimed to take a stab at the iPad and the 1984 Apple computer ad that aired during the Super Bowl (I have embedded that below).

I did not understand this ad, had NO clue it was making reference to an ad that aired when I was 12, and I found it insulting. I was insulted that the main character (Motorola boy) would fancy himself so much that he would stand apart from the rest of the drones in the world. The other thing I did not like was that Motorola was likening themselves to Apple in the first place. Why not try to stand apart by actually standing apart versus belittling your competition. I don't own an iPad but that ad did not make me even remotely interested in the Motorola tablet.

The Motorola spot



And the Apple spot from 1984




There you have it, that is my breakdown of the Super Bowl spots and my thoughts on them. What I liked, didn't like, what I didn't get and what FREAKED ME OUT.

Related Readings:

Friday, February 4, 2011

#FollowFriday What is The Point?


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What is the point of #FollowFriday, does it just adds to the noise?


That was how I was greeted at the office this morning after I undressed myself from 10 layers of winter clothing, grabbed my coffee and headed back to my desk. I was a bit surprised because the person it was coming from has 37K tweets, some might consider that noise, but not me. I have about the same number of tweets. For the most part, I somewhat enjoy this person's tweets, I appreciate opinionated people (as I happen to be one myself). I was caught off guard when I received the message, but then I went back and read her stream, she was having a bad day. It happens to all of us, right?



Moving on. What is the point of #FollowFriday

People have unfollowed me because I tweet too much and I completely understand. Some are kind enough to say "You were cluttering my stream so I put you in a list instead." I consider that to be a polite approach and I appreciate that they let me know. You see, if you don't follow a lot of people, my tweets could easily fill your whole stream, and there is no fun in that. I, on the other hand, don't follow people who don't tweet enough. Unless I see that you tweet a minimum of 3+ times a day, I will not follow you. I usually tweet those people and let them know that I want them to tweet more. I follow over 3000 people and unless you are tweeting multiple times a day, I probably will not see your tweets, therefore I don't see a point in following.

We all have our own way to read and to use Twitter. For me, Twitter is an unruly information highway. Lots of congestion, lots of fun, lots of useful and useless information... and I wouldn't have it any other way. I hate spam, but I don't really get that much, and when I do, I ignore it and move on.

So what is the point of #FollowFriday? People use it to gain more followers, to say "Thank you", to reach out to their friends. Some people hate it, I think most are OK with it, I happen to like it. I once received a message from @atomicpoet saying something along the lines of "Please don't #FF me, I don't like it". Understandable. Many people feel obligated to reciprocate when they receive the compliment, I ONLY reciprocate when I mean it or when someone has put a strong effort into reaching out to me. That's work and I recognize that.

People with smaller numbers of followers will sometimes #FF others in an effort to gain more followers. I don't have a problem with this as I once had a small following and I wanted to grow my audience - so why should I be botherered by someone who wants to do the same? I am not at all bothered.

I receive #FF from many people, and even when I think they are done in a way that I don't perceive as authentic, when it comes to praise, I try not to look a gift horse in the mouth. I am shocked, flattered and humbled each and every day that people care enough about what I have to say and that they would pay attention to me for even one second. I love it and I am grateful and I am thrilled that even one person would care even a sliver about my words. #Truestory

How I use #FollowFriday. I try to use it sparingly. When I have a true compliment, when I want to help out a friend or when I want to group like-minded individuals. You may be able to see by the above screeen shot that I gave a #FF to @secndcitysoiree. It was an individual message and I actually wrote that earlier in the week when I was thinking about her. I scheduled the tweet as a #FF for @secndcitysoiree today (Friday). Why didn't I just say it on Tuesday? Because I think people look for it on Friday.

I have friends who ask me for #FF, they see I have many followers and I will often get a private request for a "shout out" or a #FF. If the person offers value in some way, I will gladly oblige. If they do not offer any value, I will simply say, "I am happy to do so when you've committed a bit more to your stream of information." Who am I to judge? Well, I am not judging, I just don't want to offer a recommendation for others to read something that I would not read myself. That's fair enough, right?

After the "individual message", favorite way to #FF people is by grouping them. I follow various groups of people: travel, fashion, luxury, Howard Stern fans, marketing and PR, Chicago local businesses, food, agencies, designers, entertainment, event marketers, bloggers, etc. You can see my Twitter lists for more information here. Not always, but when I think about it, I group people and say something along the lines of "Great travel tweeps" or something nerdy like that.

I read many of the #followfriday recommendations. I click on most profiles I am recommended with and read their bios. I am interested because I get many of my follow reccomendations from #FollowFriday. I find great, new people using #FollowFriday. I put thought into my recommendations and I hope others benefit from my recommendations.

In the end, here is what I say about Twitter and life in general. I have always subscribed to the theory, "Live and let live" and I practice it every aspect of my life. I want to prosper, I want to make friends, I want to love my family and friends, I want to be happy (I want to buy hot shoes) and I also want to make sure that everyone who touches my life, even in the smallest way, is able to do the same. It may sound like hog wash, but I can't be happy unless those around me are happy. (Maybe that's what makes me a liberal).

I have met fantastic, wonderful, amazing people from Twitter. Twitter has opened doors for me that no other medium has ever done so in the past. I have connected with smart, powerful, professional people that I could not have ever reached in any other way. I built a business out of nothing as a direct result of how I used Twitter. So why wouldn't I want somene else to be able to enjoy the same fruits that I've enjoyed? I would and I do. I do everything I can for people who ask for my help with absolutely no expectations in return. Ask my friends, nearly all 5500 on Twitter and 1500 on facebook, they'll mostly all tell you its true.

And, for the ones who don't like me, it happens. We can't win everyone over, and nor do I want to! I don't want to be a watered down version of myself and I thank Anna for not backing down from our Twitter exchange this morning. I am not here to save the world, or to tell anyone how they should behave, just here to tell some silly fart jokes mixed in with a bit information. Take it or leave it.


Now buy some stuff so I can make a few pennies...