Monday, August 31, 2009

Apples to Oranges

Last week, my friend Thomas sent me some pictures he took while kayaking on the Chicago River. They made me surprisingly homesick, and I had Earl Hooker's "Sweet Home Chicago" in my head for the rest of the day.

Then, my family and I visited a thermal bath resort in the Alps this weekend, and homesickness ceased being a problem.

I'm not saying one place is better than another. But being homesick for one great place while living in another great place sure seems like a waste of time.

"Get busy living, or get busy dying."
-Andy Dufresne

CMA (corporate marketing acronyms)

I have learned that UHNWI stands for "ultra-high net worth individuals." Apparently, this is an acronym that is used frequently and should not be confused with plain old HNWIs.

And here I was calling them "rich people" the whole time. I have so much to learn.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Matterhorn vs. Matterhorn

I've ridden the Matterhorn at Disneyland several times in my life. But recently, my family and I took a day trip to Zermatt to see the real thing. If you're considering visiting one, but can't decide which would be best, here's a helpful guide to show you how they stack up.

Anaheim Matterhorn
composition: 80% paper mache, 15% roller coaster, 5% animatronic yeti

  • Happiest place on earth.
  • Usually warm enough to wear shorts.
  • Equipped with secret basketball court.
  • Waterfalls.

  • Waterfalls are totally fake.
  • Forced to listen to yodel music while in line.
  • Not only has Disney never made a movie about this ride, they haven't tried to replicate it at the parks in Orlando or Paris. Either it's just not safe and the insurance is sky high, or that much paper mache is cost-prohibitive.
Zermatt Matterhorn
composition: 99% slate, 1% snow

  • Bigger in real life. Much, much bigger.
  • More hiking trails.
  • Don't have to wait in line for 45 minutes.
  • No visible yetis.

  • Top covered in clouds.
  • Still had to carry tired kids.
  • No churros.

ADVANTAGE: Zermatt Matterhorn

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Name that lake

Everywhere in the world, this body of water is known as Lake Geneva.

Except in Geneva and the surrounding cities. To the locals it's known as Lac Léman.

I could understand if people in Geneva blatantly called it Lake Geneva in spite of everyone else, like people in Georgia who still talk about the War of Northern Aggression. But even the locals call it Lac Léman. Seriously, people, where's the team spirit?

I'm not sure who Léman is. But this is a wasted branding opportunity. Google "lac leman" and the top hit is "Lake Geneva."

To me that's like the whole world calling Lake Michigan "Lake Michigan" while the denizens of the Wolverine State insist, "Oh no. It's actually Lake Churbit."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Swedish Praise Part 2

I've just heard that my partner and I won the Rica Hotel proposal from I can't remember how many Swedish Krona we receive for this. I'm not even sure what a Krona is worth. But I've got the advertising warm and fuzzies.

If you're planning a trip to Scandenavia, please be sure to stay at a Rica Hotel. They should have some killer bathrobes in the next few months.

The real credit goes to Fred since he initiated the project and made it look so pretty.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The hobbit landlady

Last weekend I helped someone I know move into a temporary apartment. He's only here for a couple of months, so it's furnished.

The landlady was a little hobbit of a lady who wore a black skirt, blouse and sweater even though it was 80 degrees out.

I was there when she took him through the apartment, and it was excruciating.

She took the time to show him where every light switch was, and how to operate them.

She showed him where the phone was, how to pick up the receiver, and warned him not to trip over the lines (even though they were behind the desk).

She separated the dish rags into two stacks: "okay to use" and "not okay to use."

She even showed him how to use the key in the door and asked him to turn it himself just so he'd know how it would feel when she wasn't around to help.

If she would have been any taller, I'm sure she would have walking him through the mechanics of looking through the peephole when someone knocks.

This was part of their conversation:

RENTER: And there's a laundry room in the building, isn't there?

HOBBIT: Yes. But I would not use it.


HOBBIT: The concierge...He is not a good man. And if you use it, he may cause some problems for you. He may say you used the machines without permission.

RENTER: Can I get permission?

HOBBIT: Of course! But I would just dry your clothes on the balcony in the sun.

RENTER: But there's a washer and a dryer downstairs?

HOBBIT: Of course!

RENTER: Can I use them?

HOBBIT: Well, yes. But I really wouldn't. Just in case.

At this point I was kind of losing my mind, so I went to play video games on my phone in the car. He returned about 10 minutes later, having coaxed her into showing him the laundry room. I think he's the kind of guy who likes to live on the edge.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New jogging route

I had the same jogging route for several months, mostly weaving through Geneva's streets and neighborhoods.

A while back, on a whim, I took a different route, crossed a bridge and came across this...

It's especially nice when the sun is rising, and on really clear mornings Mont Blanc is visible.

So now I have a new jogging route.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Cat dancing

One of our clients is a pet food company. As such, I spend quite a bit of time looking at pictures of dogs and cats.

One book that's found its way into our stack of research is Dancing With Cats, a photo collection of...wait for it...people dancing with cats.

The author chooses to make no further comments at this time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meet Roger Pfund

I’ve just discovered Roger Pfund, a designer who lives in Carouge – the cool artsy suburb of Geneva.

He designed a series of Swiss Francs (unfortunately, never issued), and the Swiss passport in 2003.

But I mostly like his studio...

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ali Kebap revealed

The Ali Kebap teaser campaign ended today. Here's the reveal:

SGA Affichage is an outdoor sign company. The translation is roughly SGA Billboards, the track to success.

My predictions were:
  1. It's an already-established brand. To cover the country with this many posters, there's got to be some significant money behind it. WRONG. But it makes sense that a company that puts up outdoor signs would be able to canvas the country this way. Especially in this economy when there are fewer companies willing to spend money on outdoor.
  2. The posters will remain the same, but the reveal will appear in the negative space just below Ali's navel in the posters and to the left of his fist in the billboards. WRONG. The theme was the same, but the negative space on the original posters wasn't intentional. Just poor art direction.
  3. It will not be food-related. But if it is, it will be health food. CORRECT. But to be honest, I was hedging my bets a little with the health food thing.
  4. The reveal will be a "groaner," not an "ah-ha." I'd love to be wrong here. I'm just going by the track records of most other teaser campaigns I've seen. CORRONG. I'm not sure it's a complete groaner. It makes sense for an outdoor company to show how their services can help businesses grow and make money. And a teaser campaign is a nice way to do that. Not a terrible idea.
  5. It will not be for a Kebap restaurant. Duh.
I think if SGA Affichage really wanted to increase their income, they should actually partner with local kebap restaurants in cities throughout Switzerland and let them be the Ali Kebap for a month or so. Ali could make special appearances as a minor celebrity, and the otherwise non-descript kebap joint would surely see a boost. Looking outside their traditional source of income worked well for the Fenway Sports Group.

Paul Krugman on Swiss Health Care

Paul Krugman wrote an op-ed in The New York Times today called "The Swiss Menace." He uses the Swiss health system as an example of how President Obama's health plan would play in America.

He says one route to universal coverage relies on private insurance companies, using a combination of regulation and subsidies to ensure that everyone is covered. Switzerland offers the clearest example: everyone is required to buy insurance, insurers can’t discriminate based on medical history or pre-existing conditions, and lower-income citizens get government help in paying for their policies.

That's true. And insurance here is crazy high. Or at least it seems that way because it's not through the employers the way it is in the U.S. And the Swiss insure themselves for everything.

Krugman says, Basically, it’s a plan to Swissify America, using regulation and subsidies to ensure universal coverage.

If we were starting from scratch we probably wouldn’t have chosen this route. True “socialized medicine” would undoubtedly cost less, and a straightforward extension of Medicare-type coverage to all Americans would probably be cheaper than a Swiss-style system. That’s why I and others believe that a true public option competing with private insurers is extremely important: otherwise, rising costs could all too easily undermine the whole effort.

But a Swiss-style system of universal coverage would be a vast improvement on what we have now. And we already know that such systems work.

So we can do this. At this point, all that stands in the way of universal health care in America are the greed of the medical-industrial complex, the lies of the right-wing propaganda machine, and the gullibility of voters who believe those lies.

Friday, August 14, 2009

How to have great ideas

Spent the afternoon concepting on a park bench looking at this...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mayotard from Eurotah.

Pulp Fiction begins with a dialogue between two American hit-men making fun of the Dutch for putting mayonnaise on their fries. Vincent and Jules' conversation made an impression on me because I still feel a little guilty about what I'm going to admit:

I have been dipping my fries in mayonnaise for several months now.
Actually, I use a mayo-mustard mix. I call it mayotard. It must be my Utah roots because it's a lot like the mayo-ketchup mix known as "fry sauce" to Utahns and Idahoans. (Fry sauce, by the way, a common condiment in the Utah/Idaho region, but mention it in any other state, and you'll just get blank stares.)

So mayotard isn't necessarily a European thing. It's more of a Eurotah thing.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Censoring the Illuminati

When I was in Genova, Italy last month, I took this picture of a billboard advertising Angels & Demons.
In Italian, the name of the movie is Illuminati. Which makes me wonder if it was some angry Catholic Genovan that cut out the name of the story's anti-Catholic antagonists.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ali is new in town

These posters are all over Geneva. And from what I've read online, they're plastered throughout every other major city in Switzerland.

While I liked the ad at first for its kitsch, the lack of an address or a website had me thinking it was a waste of Ali's money.

But when I started to see them all over town (I bet there are more Ali Kebap ads in Geneva right now than McDonald's) I came to think it has to be a teaser for something. According to the chairman of Saatchi & Saatchi in Switzerland, I'm right. (Saatchi, by the way, isn't claiming ownership.)

Here are my predictions:
  1. It's an already-established brand. To cover the country with this many posters, there's got to be some significant money behind it.
  2. The posters will remain the same, but the reveal will appear in the negative space just below Ali's navel in the posters and to the left of his fist in the billboards.
  3. It will not be food-related. But if it is, it will be health food.
  4. The reveal will be a "groaner," not an "ah-ha." I'd love to be wrong here. I'm just going by the track records of most other teaser campaigns I've seen.
  5. It will not be for a Kebap restaurant.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Airlines I Have Yet to Fly, Part 4

(Official airlines of the United Arab Emirates.)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Oh, Slovakia!

There are a lot of cool travel blogs out there. That's not the purpose of this one.

But I have to say, one of the great things about living in Europe is being able to see places I would never visit otherwise. If I were in the States and wanted to travel to Europe, Paris, Rome and London would be on the list. But never Genova, Annecy or, as was the case last week, Slovakia.

We spent the week driving through Austria and Hungary. On the return trip I looked on the map and realized we could backtrack from Budapest to Vienna through Hungary, or we could swing up north through Slovakia, passing through Bratislava.

Slovakia has never been on my list of must-see countries. But that's kind of what made it must-see once we were so close to the border.

So for those of you who may never visit it, may I present southwestern Slovakia as seen from my car:

(Like you were really surprised southwestern Slovakia looks like this.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Let's kill some blogs.

I realize I'm starting to be a pack-rat for blogs. I've got too much digital detritus hanging around the blogosphere. I've started a handful on a whim. I had high hopes for one, nurtured it for about 18 months then stopped feeding it like a neglected gigapet. So I'm ready to put a few on some digital chloroform beds.

Here's the fun part: You get to help me put them down.

Go to this blog's main page. In the upper left corner is a poll to determine which blogs should head for Davy Jones' locker. You can vote for multiple candidates, and in the event of a tie (or near-tie), I'll do a two-fer, and delete a couple.

Poll closes August 15.

(The Bakugan Au Combat blog warrants explanation. For that, click here.)