New GE commercial makes me say, “Gee”

We were watching the national news when the commercial break hit and on came this GE commercial featuring a guy in dark glasses touting how GE technology is providing hospitals with data software that connects patient to nurse to doctor to machines, reducing down time and turning waiting rooms into just rooms.

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=loinY8MmVq8)

It struck me as really weird and it had an end scene where this guy holds up two suckers and asks a little boy, “Red? Or blue?” My wife said it reminded her of a child molester trying to lure a kid into his grasp. I was so taken aback by the spot that I had to see it again and find out what it was all about.

That’s when I discovered how tragically unhip I am. The guy is Hugo Weaving and he’s re-creating his role as Agent Smith from the Matrix movies.

I went back and viewed the commercial again. The opening scene has a flash cut that has that familiar Matrix-y green and black screen pattern and upon seeing the commercial for the second time, I realize I’m seeing Agent Smith clones throughout the commercial. Agent Smith says that he found “software that intrigues me. It appears it’s an agent of good.”

I guess anyone who has seen the Matrix (and there are millions) will instantly get all the inside jokes. I’ve seen the Matrix multiple times on cable, generally late at night and I don’t know if I ever made it through one of the movies from start to finish. I just never bought into the premise or maybe it’s because I never saw the movies on the big screen that they just didn’t connect with me. So in this particular commercial, Agent Smith comes off as some Tommy Lee Jones wanna-be who is creepy and weird and the whole commercial has kind of a sinister undertone that does not leave me with any warm, fuzzy feelings towards GE.

Hopefully, I’m not their target audience. Actually, in most GE commercials it’s hard to understand who their target audience is since they’re no longer selling light bulbs or microwaves. These days they’re selling their inventive technology that is continuing to evolve, affecting all kinds of industries – from aviation to imaging technology to … well, they’re into all sorts of high tech stuff that they want us to know comes into play in our everyday lives in ways we never imagined.

I went into GE’s vault of advertising which you can find on their website. (http://www.ge.com/news/advertising)

There are all sorts of fun and interesting commercials to be found there – each one completely different than the other, all telling stories in highly imaginative ways. The production values are awesome. I wanted to know who created most of these ads and to the best of my knowledge, it’s BBDO – an agency that is extremely good at big budget story telling. So some copywriter or art director who is probably a huge Matrix fan has been waiting to find the right marriage of product and Matrix to deliver a story and ten years after the movie came out, his (or her) wish finally came true.

So is this GE commercial a great commercial?

If you’re a Matrix fan, it’s either a great commercial or a total sell-out.

If you’re oblivious to ten year old references to movies that you never liked that much to begin with, it’s a little creepy and a little strange.

Toss it into the mix of other GE commercials, though, and it belongs. It moved me enough to write about it.

And not many commercials can do that.

Gee, GE. Nice work.

Advertising won’t help Schnucks now

Schnucks has a major credit card scandal on their hands and I’m sure they’re still trying to figure out what exactly they should do about it from a marketing standpoint.

In reality, marketing probably isn’t even in their thought process right now as they wonder what legal repercussions they could be facing as a result of having their “processing environment” compromised by malware.

Two lawsuits have already been filed and more are likely on the way. They were hacked by pros and apparently more than 2.4 million credit cards were compromised. Ours was one of them as we received reports from our credit card company of purchases made on our cards in Arkansas and out in Spokane, Washington.

First it was my BloodLines Creative card that was compromised and then our joint credit card also fell victim to shopping at what was once proclaimed as “The friendliest stores in town.”

A few years ago, Schnucks switched their line to, “We make it easy.”

Something tells me they won’t be using that line in the very near future as it was just a little too easy for hackers to tap into the company’s outbound data, scooping up hundreds of thousands of credit card account numbers in the process. There’s no telling how much was spent on these cards before they were called into question.

Schnucks has set up a dedicated hotline number but I don’t see them proclaiming that to the world, nor have I seen any sort of public apology to their customers.

When your card is compromised, it puts a fear in your head of untold dollars being spent without you having any idea of what’s going on. It’s both frightening and disturbing but it’s all part of living in our e-commerce world where we buy and sell online and hand over our cards to cashiers and waiters and waitresses and proprietors without having any idea if they could take our core account information along with our special secret card codes on the back, save that information and then go on a little spending spree courtesy of our cashless society.

Schnucks isn’t the first major chain that this has happened to and it won’t be the last.

But they do owe it to their customers to tell us how they have fixed the problem and what steps they’re taking to assure it won’t happen again in the future. That can be done via Public Relations because I just don’t think a heartfelt message from Scott Schnuck on the TV airwaves is going to win over too many customers.

They’re in danger of losing some serious market share as a result of this credit card debacle. But to think that it couldn’t happen at Dierberg’s or some other retail chain is naive. It probably can and it probably will.

So what should Schnucks do?

I like the idea of Free Food Fridays but I don’t see that happening. Maybe they should start a ‘good old days’ campaign where if you pay by cash or check you get a certain percent off and a balloon for the kids.

Or maybe they just completely ignore it and advertise super specials on pork butts.

Those always seemed to be on sale back when I was a kid and I’m sure Schnucks is certainly longing for those ‘good old days’.

Aren’t we all?

Tiger’s two-stroke penalty changed my game

The Masters is now over and for the first time, an Aussie gets to wear the green jacket. Tiger Woods finished tied for fourth and many will point to Tiger’s two-stroke penalty he received on Friday as the reason why.

Some say that Tiger should have been disqualified because he knew he was hitting his fifth shot two yards further back of where he had hit just moments earlier, when what seemed like a perfect shot bounced once on the green, caromed off the flagstick and rolled back into the small pond guarding the green.

That third shot of Tiger’s turned into a four-stroke swing which just so happened to be how many strokes back Tiger finished to Adam Scott.

At the time, I was amazed at his composure though I’m sure he was boiling on the inside. His fifth shot landed about two feet from the pin and he went on to make bogey on the hole. That was as good as he could do. But those additional two yards were noticed by some television viewer and the whole matter was brought to the attention of the rules committee and they assessed Tiger the two-stroke penalty after the round was completed.

All I can say is that I’m glad my rounds aren’t broadcast on TV. I’ve been playing golf since I was eight. Which means I’ve probably been violating the rules of golf for more than 45 years.

Somehow, the integrity of the game was never quite passed on from father to son. Maybe that’s because growing up, I generally played on golf courses that were closer to cow pastures. So if you hit the ball into a patch of mud, you moved it. If you hit the fairway but didn’t like the dead grass lie you had, you bumped it. If there happened to be a tree in front of you, it wasn’t for long.

The whole, ‘play the ball as it lies’ just never quite took in my family. Until yesterday – when my son, Michael and I were heading out for an afternoon round. After discussing Tiger’s penalty, we agreed it was time we stop fooling ourselves with our so-called pars, bogeys, doubles and higher and see what a true score we’d get without improving any lies, taking any mulligans and making every putt, even if it was less than a two-footer. It was time for us both to uphold the true integrity of the game.

I’ve tried to play the ball down but even when I have a perfect lie in the fairway, I have this irresistible urge to move the ball. My wife, Chris, still brings up a simple question she asked when we were playing on our honeymoon right after I had hit a miraculous shot from out of a deep ditch and onto the green.

“Did you move that ball?”

“No,” I replied with what was probably one of the most guilty looks I’ve ever given.

I remember another infamous incident, when I was down in a creek, alongside a green. I spotted my ball embedded in a mud bank and moved it to a clump of grass in the middle of the creek, took my shot and landed it inches from the pin. It became known as the “clump shot” and was talked about for years among my playing partners. There have been foot wedges, miracle ball discoveries and off the green shots that somehow found their way onto the fringe.

Yesterday, I dealt with reality from the first swing of the round to the last putt of the day. I ended up with a 92 – twenty strokes over par.

I opened my round by three-putting from two feet. I had another instance when I was hitting off of bare dirt and skulled it into a trap. But I also holed out from off the green from an absolutely terrible lie that, had I fluffed it, there’s no way I would have had the same shot. Bottom line, I think it might have cost me about four strokes.

We played the game with integrity. Did those four additional strokes matter to me?

Not nearly as much as they did to Tiger.

 

 

Tossin’ it out there

Recently, my BloodLines Creative blog posts have been on a steady decline and no one has contacted me asking why.

I don’t think anyone is all that concerned. Nor do I think anyone has really even noticed. I do have a loyal following who, at times, seem to enjoy what I write but I am also quite positive that no one has lost any sleep over the fact that there haven’t been any recent BloodLines Creative posts.

So what’s the matter?

At the beginning of the year, I made the decision that I was going to try and keep the majority of my posts concentrated on the wonderful world of advertising and marketing communications. If you want to be a true subject matter expert, you’ve got to push new info out there in your ongoing quest to be a thought leader. I’ve tried.

But I find many times that I’d rather discuss topics other than advertising. Maybe I’m becoming like the rest of society – immune to advertising messages. Traditional tactics simply don’t work anymore. You’ve got to engage your audience and get them to be a part of the conversation.

Maybe that’s one of the failing points of this blog. I don’t elicit enough back and forth conversation.

For instance, I’d love to know what Kim Jong Un is so darn mad about. I think it has something to do with his haircut and that he’s taking it out on the rest of the world but I know I’m oversimplifying things.

I’d like to know if Jason Motte’s elbow is going to be okay. When I hear that he has a flexor tendor strain in his pitching elbow, that doesn’t seem like something that’s going to get better once he resumes trying to throw the ball 100 MPH. It seems odds would be good that he’s in line for more of a strain and that’s going to put a major strain on the Cardinals bullpen as evidenced in today’s opening day debacle. Sure, it’s just one game. But it worries me.

There are plenty of other things that I think I should be writing about. I was thrilled that Prop P passed. I’m still worried about St. Louis’ steady downward spiral and wish that for once we’d get news of a major corporation moving into the St. Louis region because we have such a great quality of life and midwestern work ethic and everyone knows that Missouri is such a pro-business state.

So maybe in the future, I should go back to just tossin’ it out there and seeing if anything sticks.

What do you think?

Reader reaction is kindly requested.

 

Prop P will say a lot about where St. Louis is heading

By the time I’m done writing this, the polls will have closed and the small percentage of St. Louisans who actually went to their polling place today will have cast their votes either for or against Proposition P, also known as the Safe and Accessible Public Parks Initiative.

I already have a sinking feeling that this measure will fail and if it does, mark it down as another major step back for the St. Louis metropolitan region.

My dad used to tell me that St. Louis was full of NIMBYs – Not In My Back Yard – and I’m beginning to believe he’s right. Why on earth would we want to have yet another tax levied upon us all at the whopping rate of less than 2 cents for every $10 spent (excluding food and prescription drug purchases)? Who needs progress? What we have now is just fine.

I hope that’s not the case.

Through this tax, the following will, in theory, happen: (http://www.grgstl.org/Portals/0/Just%20the%20Facts%20-%20Prop%20P%20Final.pdf)

St. Louis City, St. Louis County and St. Charles County will make much-needed improvements and maintenance upgrades to its parks and facilities and help make the region’s parks safer and more accessible to users of all abilities.

The funds will also enable Great Rivers Greenway to continue making the St. Louis region a better place to live by ensuring access to nature and the outdoors for all residents through projects such as:

  • The River Ring, a system of interconnected parks and trails that will connect our communities and provide transportation alternatives for the entire region from the Katy Trail in St. Charles County to the downtown St. Louis riverfront;
  • The Gateway Bicycle Master Plan, which aims to create a bicycle component of the region’s transportation infrastructure that is consistent and safe for all users; and
  • The District’s annual grant process, which funds local programs that promote the conservation of natural resources, watershed improvement, physical activity and healthy living. A portion of revenues from the sales tax increase will also benefit the CityArchRiver 2015 project, which seeks to enhance the Arch experience for everyone by creating a park over the highway, restoring lawns and landscapes, and revitalizing Kiener Plaza and the riverfront. The project will improve safety & access for everyone.

So my question is, “How could anyone from the St. Louis area possibly vote against this?”

The Arch is our number one tourist destination. Improving the overall grounds, making them more accessible to everyone and connecting it to the downtown area via a covered overpass will be a tremendous plus. Without a healthy and thriving downtown, everything else in this region suffers. Not only that, but Prop P will help make our parks better, it will improve bicycle pathways, help preserve more natural resources and generally make this entire region a better place to live, work and play.

How could anyone vote against it?

I hope I am wrong, but just watch.

“We don’t need no damn improvements to the parks and we sure don’t need no lid over a highway. That’s fool talk and we don’t need it. Not in my back yard we don’t.”

My only hope is that since this is a minor election, the NIMBYs will have all stayed home.

We’ll know a lot about the direction St. Louis is heading by tomorrow morning.