So Many Ways To Save at American Eagle Credit Union

These window banners can be seen at a variety of American Eagle locations all over the metro St. Louis area.

These window banners can be seen at a variety of American Eagle locations all over the metro St. Louis area.

The assignment was a simple one – promote American Eagle Credit Union’s wide range of savings plans. Well, actually, that’s not as simple as it sounds because this wasn’t for a print ad or radio commercial or TV spot – it was for window signage at a number of their St. Louis area locations.

We’ve worked on a variety of these assignments before for American Eagle Credit Union and the challenge is always the same – come up with a message that essentially works as an outdoor board. The assignment’s slightly more complicated than that due to the fact that our message actually gets spread out over six different windows (or four very large ones with their main location on Lynch Street). And all of those windows have dividers separating them, making it tough to split words between the windows.

So we looked at all of the Savings account options. But then we also considered the fact that American Eagle helps you save money on auto and home loans – and you can save on credit card rates as well. Naming all of those in our limited space was not an option.

So we boiled it down to one simple statement: So many ways you can save. And we backed that message up by saying, “And so many reasons why” and then let the visuals pay off the copy – a retired couple on a cruise, saving for a new car, saving for college, saving for a new addition to the family – the reasons for needing savings plans are all across the board.

It’s a short, simple message. And it worked so well, we were given the opportunity to make it work in outdoor as well.

fullsizerenderIt’s a strong, simple selling message that is working to help promote American Eagle’s wide range of savings products. We even developed two additional messages for two smaller windows at their Des Peres location that remind members of additional ways that American Eagle helps them save – using icons from their newly re-designed website.

Two smaller windows allowed us to re-enforce American Eagle's savings message utilizing icons from their newly designed website.

Two smaller windows allowed us to re-enforce American Eagle’s savings message utilizing icons from their newly designed website.

So if you’re tired of being just another number at your current bank, consider American Eagle Credit Union. They’re always ready to help.

BloodLInes Creative helps a wide variety of clients with whatever marketing challenges they may be facing with strategic, on-target messaging. What can we do for you?

The confusing case of marketing St. Louis on a global stage

There was an impressive array of speakers at this year's Growing Global event.

There was an impressive array of speakers at this year’s Growing Global event.

I was a guest of Susanne Evens, president of AAA Translation, at the 2016 Growing Global event hosted by World Trade Center St. Louis this past Friday.

It was an impressive gathering that was well represented by many of the St. Louis region’s key economic driving forces. Senator Blunt was on hand, as were Mayor Slay and Steve Stenger, the County Executive. All three gave strong overviews of the tremendous potential of the St. Louis region to become a major player in global economic development.

Some might scoff at that idea, citing the numerous corporations that have left the area and our not so international airport. But what many people don’t realize is what a hub the St. Louis region has become for plant science research and innovation.

Agriculture, technology and innovation are three key areas of growth that currently have outstanding foundations here in the St. Louis metro area. The importance of all three in the not-too-distant future is going to increase as the population of the world continues to expand, combined with climate change and a dwindling water supply that will create demands on the world’s food supply that are hard to even fathom.

A lot of the research and development on these issues is being done right here in St. Louis by institutions like the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Monsanto is another major player in the global market and there are numerous other companies with major ties to agriculture as well. More international companies are being attracted to the market, lured by our Midwestern work ethic, strong school systems and overall quality of life.

Of course, all of that is debatable. The national spotlight certainly hasn’t shined very favorably on this region over the past few years and if you meet someone from out of town, you may find yourself trying to explain that St. Louis is a way better place to live and work than what has been shown via social media.

I have always believed St. Louis is poised to reclaim its spot as the true center of our country – transportation-wise, we should be a hub with railways, airlines, river traffic and highways – but there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m not sure if we’ll ever conquer the City-County divide but if we can pro-actively work as one to promote the region, particularly with a focus on attracting global business and foreign direct investment, there’s some cause for optimism.

Which brings me to the title of this particular blog piece – the confusing case of marketing St. Louis on a global stage. Upon leaving the event, I was totally pumped after hearing all of the speakers talk about the tremendous potential of further growing our ag/tech/innovation global presence.

There was a handout given to everyone called the Metro St. Louis Export Plan. In it, I expected to read more insights into how we’re going to more effectively target this lucrative and vital potential market base. Instead, I read about four strategies that had no mention of the importance of this focus and the topic only garnered a paragraph under Policy suggestions.

I understand the importance of getting companies and institutions throughout the region to get on board with the push to become more of a global player. It just seemed that all the talks we heard were focused on one direction and then this piece ventured off on a whole new tangent, all under the “St. Lou is Global” theme line.

The event also featured a speaker forum that featured key execs from global companies that do business here. The panel consisted of Fernando Merce, president of Nestle Purina Latin America and Caribbean; Antonio Santos, vice president of operations of Biomerieux; Greg Gorman, vice president of business planning and development for Nidec and Derek Bartlem, who leads the KWS Gateway Reserach Center.

All of these gentlemen talked about the importance of how branding for the region needs to be improved and the major strengths of the area need to be better communicated.

My thoughts exactly.

St. Lou is in need of better communications.

We have a tremendous story to tell.

Let’s GrOw St. Louis.

 

 

 

 

Dealing with a conehead

Luna Mae wearing her protective cone.

Luna Mae wearing her protective cone.

Back on June 24th, we gained an additional member of the family – a rat terrier that we named Luna Mae.

Earlier in March, our dog, Annie, died while we were away on vacation. There was considerable discussion as to whether or not our household needed another dog. Catherine was leaving for college. Michael was beginning his junior year at Mizzou and Tom had officially graduated from SLU.

We were potential empty nesters, free to move about the country.

However, I lobbied hard for a dog. Working from home, I was facing an empty house. In the evening, Chris is often attending some sort of meeting as her volunteer time for groups and organizations considerably outdoes mine.

Catherine and I searched a variety of rescue websites, in search of a new puppy but the timing didn’t seem to be working in our favor. We were gone for two weeks in early June and immediately upon our return, I was set to attend a trade show in Las Vegas.

That’s when I decided to investigate rat terriers. Annie was an awesome dog and the rat terrier breed is a high energy, quirky but totally lovable breed. I discovered a breeder in Lebanon, Missouri that had a new litter of pups on their website. One of the pups was named Hannah, and seeing that Catherine’s middle name is Hanna, which is Chris’ mom’s maiden name, it seemed like a sign.

We inquired about Hannah and were told she was available and that they could hold her an extra week so that we could get her upon my return from Vegas.

Even though it seemed like a sign that the pup was named Hannah, we didn’t want to stick with that name so Catherine came up with Luna which had that ‘nah’ sound to it so as not to confuse our new pup too much when we shifted her name. We made it Luna Mae to give it a bit of a country sound, reflecting her mid-Missouri roots.

Luna Mae joined our household on June 24th as a 9-week old pup.

Luna Mae joined our household on June 24th as a 9-week old pup.

Luna Mae has been with us now for about 2-1/2 months. Sometimes, we call her Lunatic. Other times, we think about what an act of lunacy it was to get this puppy who takes up so much of our time and is quite adept at chewing up shoes, chair legs and other assorted items while having a fascination with eating live worms and bugs whenever possible.

On Thursday, Luna was spayed, so currently, she is sporting a plastic cone wrapped around her head which she has been working hard to figure out how to destroy it.

Our vet told us it was important to not let Luna get too active. After just a day-and-a-half of sporting her conehead, we have found that to be a challenge.

So this Labor Day weekend, I’m laying low with Luna, trying to make sure she doesn’t rip her stitches open from her operation while escorting her on a leash in our backyard encouraging her to do her business and we’re both enjoying this idyllic weather.

She (and us) will be dealing with the cone for about ten more days. Then it’ll be back to the on-going adventure of raising the pup.

Though Luna Mae is proving to be a major commitment, there’s no doubt, she’s a keeper.

This weekend, our labor of love is a little 11-pound pup with her head wrapped in a plastic cone. Long may she live!

 

Close Encounters of the Pokemon Kind

Pokemon Go gets people out and about - but only paying attention to their phone.

Pokemon Go gets people out and about – but only paying attention to their phone.

 

The workout facility where I usually get my calorie burns is closed for a few days this week. So I set out for a little 5-mile walk in nearby Des Peres Park, only to be engulfed by a multitude of Pokemon GO players trying to find whatever Pokemon character that had been geo-located into the park that day.

It was a very bizarre experience.

I’ve heard about the popularity of Pokemon GO but I never really experienced it before yesterday. I went to http://www.pokemongo.com to get a little overview and I watched the video on their home page. It’s actually a pretty cool idea – using the interactivity of your phone as a geo-tracking gaming device to find Pokemon characters not just in your area, but all over the world.

Magical.

The reality was a bit different.

As I tried to stroll through the park, there were literally hundreds of people – mostly teens in clusters of three or four walking all around, all staring at their phones as they moved about.

Upon arrival, I immediately knew that Pokemon GO had lured them to the park. It’s what you call a Poke Stop. That’s not a bad thing. But most of them had their heads down as they were walking. You had to avoid them – they were oblivious to your presence as they searched the park for Pokemon characters in their habitat.

I saw a few people on bikes, riding and looking at their phones at the same time – a certain recipe for disaster. I had to step out of their way as they went by. There were a few others on skateboards, heads down, searching their maps, looking for where they might be able to throw a Poke Ball and up their level.

It wasn’t all teens, either, who were transfixed by their phones. Lots of adults were in on the hunt as well. I saw a mom, pushing a stroller with two babies in it. Her concentration was entirely focused on the phone.

You can’t really complain about a game that gets you out and about, off of the couch and out of the house. It also gets you to explore and maybe go places you haven’t gone before.

It’s just when you have hundreds of people doing the exact same thing and their entire focus is the phone, it makes you wonder.

Mark Twain had a quote, “Golf is a good walk spoiled.”

Put Pokemon GO in place of golf and that pretty much sums up my feelings.

How about you?

A big pillow fight on Pixels.com

Something's Wrong with America throw pillow

Something’s Wrong with America throw pillow

The last few weeks I’ve been totally occupied with trying to launch a BloodLinesArt product line on http://www.tom-blood.pixels.com where you can see a range of my paintings that are now also for sale on a wide variety of items – greeting cards, tote bags, iphone cases and throw pillows, just to name a few.

For some reason, I love seeing my art on throw pillows and that has caught a lot of my attention.

I’ve had this website for not quite four weeks. In that time, I have amassed more than 1500 views of my artwork and yes, I’ve also had a few sales. But like anything, you’ve got to do your homework if you want to succeed and I have a lot more homework in front of me.

Last night, I discovered that I had been vastly underusing the key words that you use to describe each painting. You’re allowed up to 500 characters and with the majority of works that I have on the site I was using about 30. So I dug a little deeper and saw that I should be using descriptors like surrealism throw pillows for entries like these two …

One of two throw pillows that would look awesome on a couch! This one is called 'Night'.

One of two throw pillows that would look awesome on a couch! This one is called ‘Night’.

This one is called ‘Day’. Imagine having these two side-by-side on your couch.

A little more homework told me that this is a very crowded market. And you’ve got to do everything possible in order for your work to be seen. There are literally millions of items for sale. For example, I would love to sell more of my paintings – I have quite a backlog of them – but I’d be just as happy selling items that have my paintings on them. So you’ve got to resort to certain tactics. Here’s one: a link to the surrealist art painting page: <a href=”http://pixels.com/art/paintings/surrealism” style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>surrealism paintings for sale</a>

Copy and paste that link into your browser and it will take you to that section. It will also put a few of my samples in the third row!

But what about selling more throw pillows with some of my surrealist paintings on them? Copy the ‘http: through surrealism’ link into your browser and it will help! <a href=”http://pixels.com/shop/throw+pillows/paintings/surrealism” style=”font: 10pt arial; text-decoration: underline;”>surrealism paintings throw pillows for sale</a>

I have a wide range of work. Some of it is kind of experimental. You might call it modern art. Others might call it abstract. I just know that this is a really cool looking pillow.

Nuts and Bolts - one of my 'stick' paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow!

Nuts and Bolts – one of my ‘stick’ paintings looks really cool in the form of a pillow!

But to get it seen by anyone, it needs a little help: http://pixels.com/shop/throw+pillows/paintings/abstract

I like this one a lot, too. It just so happens that there is a link to Jackson Pollack throw pillows that might get it seen by more people looking for such a thing: http://fineartamerica.com/shop/throw+pillows/paintings/jackson+pollack

http://fineartamerica.com/products/purple-splatter-thomas-blood-throw-pillow.html

http://fineartamerica.com/products/purple-splatter-thomas-blood-throw-pillow.html

Bottom line, I’m fighting for attention. I have a long way to go. And a lot more homework to do. I would love to see sales of some of my art take off – it’s possible.

Problem is, you spend more time trying to market what you’ve done than you do working on whatever’s next. We’ll see what happens.

For now, can I interest you in a throw pillow?

 

Eins, zwei, drei…g’suffa!

The fourth of four posts with musings and thoughts about our recent visit to Europe.

In case you don’t understand German, that stands for “One, two, three … drink!” Seeing that our last stop on our European adventure was Munich, which included a stop at the legendary Hofbrauhaus beer hall, that statement certainly fits.

But there is so much more to Munich, the 3rd largest city in Germany. I feel like we barely scratched the surface, getting an overview of the city through one of those guided tour buses that showed you the main attractions but all you did was pass on by. There simply wasn’t enough time to really explore.

We did manage to take in some pretty cool sights, though. Our hotel was in the heart of Munich so places like the NeuesRathaus with its chiming glockenspiel was nearby.

The glockenspiel in the tower chimes at 11 am, noon and 5 pm.

The glockenspiel in the tower chimes at 11 am, noon and 5 pm.

When we bought the bus pass, we decided to make it a two-day pass so we could travel more to the outskirts of the city. One of our first stops was visiting the Nymphenburg Palace. We had already seen our fair share of palaces and elaborate grounds but the immensity of this place did make quite an impression.

The former summer residence of the Bavarian rulers.

The former summer residence of the Bavarian rulers.

After touring the insides of the palace and just a small portion of the grounds, we climbed aboard and set out for the world headquarters of BMW, which is adjacent to the Olympic Park grounds. Though I’m not a huge fan of BMers due to their high maintenance needs, I was impressed with their headquarters and their museum. The German engineering that goes into the ultimate driving machine was also on display at their complex. It was uber-modern – very sleek and cool inside and out.

Standing outside of the BMW Museum with the Olympic Tower in the background

Standing outside of the BMW Museum with the Olympic Tower in the background

We decided to take a quick jaunt through the Olympic grounds as well but an unexpected shower put that to an end. So instead we climbed back on the bus and made our way to Alliance Stadium – home of Bayern-Munich – which just so happens to be Michael’s favorite team on the planet. Unfortunately, the tour times of the stadium which took you into the locker room and onto the field didn’t coincide with our schedule. So we saw what we could, bought a few souvenirs at their gift shop and made our way back to the heart of the city where we set out on foot, ready for whatever came next.

Home of Bayern-Munich

Home of Bayern-Munich

Much to our surprise, we ran into three Mizzou students who were all touring Europe. They had been a part of Mizzou’s Prague experience the year before and Michael had met them earlier while he was in Prague. We first ran into them in Vienna and they joined us in a bier garden. Next thing we knew, they were on our tour bus for the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg. When we encountered them a third time on the streets of Munich it was totally by chance.

They told us they had just been to the Hofbrauhaus where it was totally packed with people spilling out into the street so of course, we had to check it out. And they were right. The place was rocking with singing and toasts and beer chants going on all around us. There didn’t appear to be any place to sit – until Michael discovered the second floor and we managed to get a table that had just been abandoned. There was an Ooompah Band playing, beer was flowing, pretzels and schnitzel were great.

It was a fitting ending to our Munich adventure.

Next day, it was off to Amsterdam, onward to Minneapolis and finally home to St. Louis and its 95 degree heat and reeling Cardinals.

It’s a small world after all.

 

The Hills Were Alive, With The Sound of Music

The third of four posts with musings and thoughts about our recent visit to Europe.

For some strange reason, I was really excited to be visiting the city and surrounding countryside where ‘The Sound of Music’ took place.

I’ve always loved that movie. I think I’ve seen it at least seven times, maybe more. So when we were planning out our European excursion and the possibility of visiting Salzburg came up, I was all in.

It’s a gorgeous city, surrounded by truly breathtaking scenery. Once we checked into our hotel, we set out on foot to explore the city. Looming high above us was the Hohensalzburg Fortress – a formidable looking structure that was truly a work in progress – with work beginning on the structure in 1077 by Archbishop Gebhard von Helfenstein and continuing for the next 800 years or so. Talk about a work in progress.

Overlooking the city of Salzburg.

Overlooking the city of Salzburg.

We took a tram ride up to the Fortress and then began exploring it’s many nooks and crannies including a torture room that was quite frightening. Once we reached the top, the view in all directions made you contemplate what an infinitesimal speck in the universe we all actually are.

Next day, we were ready for our Sound of Music tour. Apparently, Americans are the only ones who take this bus journey. There was a German-made movie in 1956, called The Trapp Family that quickly came and went. That story was turned into a Broadway musical in 1959 but it wasn’t until 1965 when Hollywood worked its magic on the story that it became a huge success in the States that is still quite popular today.

So our tour bus was packed with a variety of Americans, all waiting to be filled with the Sound of Music.

Our tour guide didn’t disappoint. He was part carnival barker, part Liberace and a fountain of knowledge on all things regarding the movie. Our first stop was a home overlooking a lake that served as the back of the von Trapp residence that included the scene of all the kids tumbling into the lake from their canoes.

Chris on the other side of the lake of the Hollywood-version of the Von Trapp residence.

Chris on the other side of the lake of the Hollywood-version of the Von Trapp residence.

No, I’m not going to take you through every stop we made along the way. We saw the Gazebo where they filmed the “I am sixteen” song; the Church where Maria got married to Captain Georg von Trapp; the garden where the kids learned the “Do Re Mi” song and patted a gnome’s head for good luck.

All along, our tour guide was singing along with the music track that was played over the bus loudspeakers. Though I had hoped that I could twirl and sing in a field of flowers just like Julie Andrews did, the closest we got was a field next to a roadway.

That was good enough by me. Next morning, just like the von Trapp’s, we fled from Austria, leaving behind the beauty of Salzburg and with some new memories that will make our next viewing of the movie just a little more memorable.

Goodnight, Vienna

The second of four different posts featuring musings and thoughts about our recent trip to Europe.

In my mind, I always thought of Vienna as a city of art, music and culture.

I was pleased to find that it did not disappoint.

Vienna was the second city we visited on our European adventure. We arrived courtesy of a rented Ford Fusion, checking into a hotel that was once again in the heart of the city, only these accommodations proved to be a bit more cramped than our rooms in Europe. But that didn’t matter – we weren’t there to stay in a room we were ready to explore.

We started out by visiting Schonbrunn Palace. Sorry, I know nothing about the history of this place. The only thing I can say is that the grounds were immense. Though we couldn’t go in the palace, we were free to walk around the grounds – which could have taken hours had we gone from one end to the other. The views were stunning.

Schoenbrunn Palace grounds

Schonbrunn Palace grounds

 

It seemed that everywhere we went, we were surrounded by history. So it only made sense to try and take in a little history of our own by visiting a few museums. Though their history museum was closed that day, we did pay a visit to Vienna’s Art Museum where Catherine and Michael struck a pose similar to one of the pieces on display. Again, I have no idea what the name of the actual piece is or what significance it may have had. We were tourists on cruise control.

Catherine and Michael strike a pose similar to the piece on display in the museum.

Catherine and Michael becoming modern art

The real thing

The real thing

 

Our wanderings led us to the home of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and though none of us pretend to be classical music lovers, we did enjoy learning more about the life of this extraordinarily gifted man who craved the spotlight and loved to gamble. Rock me, Amadeus!

Our two days there were exhausting. My fitbit reached more than 23,000 steps on one of the days but they were well worth the effort. Of course all that wandering built up both a hunger and a thirst and we managed to satisfy both each night – the first night with an awesome outdoor evening meal enjoying some wienerschnitzel and beverages and the second night watching Austria take on Hungary in a Euro Cup game at a sidewalk cafe.

We seemed more interested in the Austria-Hungary game then just about everyone else.

We seemed more interested in the Austria-Hungary game then just about everyone else.

 

Our stay seemed like a short one. There was so much more to see. But we were on a schedule, so after two long days, it was “Goodnight, Vienna. I barely got to see ya.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Czech, please!

The first of four different posts featuring musings and thoughts about our recent trip to Europe.

I had never contemplated traveling to the Czech Republic before and knew nothing about the city of Prague. At least that was the case before our son, Michael, applied to take 6 hours of credit over there through the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Michael took off on his journey the Friday after he got home from his sophomore year at Mizzou. Chris, Catherine and I set out about a month later to pick him up after his studies were done so we could see a bit of Prague and then set out on a European adventure to a few other cities.

From what I had heard, Prague was a beautiful city. During World War II, Hitler avoided bombing it, apparently having some sliver of compassion in not wanting to destroy its centuries old buildings and cathedrals. Our hotel was in the heart of the city with transportation through its underground system literally right at our doorstep.

Our first venture out after a brief nap at our hotel was to a nearby restaurant where we were joined by one of Michael’s best friends and his family. The meal was excellent and when it came time to ask for the check, we quickly learned we should say ‘bill’ instead.

That became the running joke wherever we went.

We toured the city and it turned out, Michael’s time at the University was also well spent in the city of Prague. He knew his way around, serving as our own personal tour guide.

We visited Prague Castle and made our way up to the highest point in Prague where the city was spread out before us.

Taken from the highest point in Prague

Taken from the highest point in Prague

 

From there we crossed the Charles Bridge before making our way to the Lennon wall – a graffiti filled wall dedicated to the memory of John Lennon who garnered quite a following during the 70s. People would paint tributes to him on the wall and they would quickly be painted over by the ruling elite. This continued until the Czech Republic went free of communist control. Today, the wall continues to be painted over – only it’s more people adding their own messages. Look closely and you can see the Yes logo and my name, which probably got washed out with the first rain that came after I made my mark.

My own tiny contribution to the Lennon wall

My own tiny contribution to the Lennon wall

 

We also visited the Infant of Prague, located in the Mala Strana (I’m not sure if that’s an area or the name of the church) but this tiny statue supposedly has miraculous powers. We all prayed for safe passage for the rest of our journey and since we made it back safe and sound, I’d have to say the Infant was watching over us. Speaking of infants, we also ran across this unusual character in Prague’s Old Townhall Square. He was seeking money but we told him all we had were checks.

Man posing as a baby in Prague's Old Townhall

Man posing as a baby in Prague’s Old Townhall

 

Our trip finished with a gathering of many of Michael’s Mizzou classmates at a public park high on a hill on the outskirts of the city.

The view was magnificent and so was the beginning of our European adventure.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming

My apologies to all my subscribers for not pushing out any blog posts for almost the last three weeks.

I’ve been gone.

First, a family trip to Europe where we met up with our son, Michael, who spent the last month studying in Prague through a program sponsored by the University of Missouri-Columbia. His studies were over when we arrived and we began our journey by touring Prague and then made our way to Vienna, Salzburg and Munich.

More details to follow.

We got home very late on a Sunday night and on Monday, I took off to Las Vegas to attend the Licensing Expo where Snotes had a great booth and met with all sorts of potential new licensing partners.

More details to follow.

This past week has been spent catching up on existing projects, pursuing a few new opportunities and starting a new venture marketing my art on Pixels.com

More details to follow.

Oh yeah, we got a new puppy on Saturday.

Definitely more details to follow.

So that’s where I’ve been and why I’ve been away from the blogosphere.

But I’m back.

And I’m ready to roll.