Greatness…..From Many Angles

25 08 2008

If you are like me, now that the Olympics are over you can return to a normal sleep-wake pattern after two weeks of late night sports facination!  Several friends and colleagues have also commented on the unintended obsession which developed from watching athletes compete in a myriad of sporting events. With that, it is the myriad itself which facinated me the most.  And, strangely, this vast array of unique and, at times, unheard of sporting events is quite reflective our society overall.  See if you track with me on this:

Traditional Olympic events, such as track and field and swimming, are expected and highlighted every four years.  But, who had ever heard of synchronized diving? Or, two person co-ed badminton?  Have you seen these badminton players?!?  They attack the little shuttlecock (a term, in itself, which hardly sounds like something in sports) with explosive abandon, watching it then “float” across the net to two other competitors who return the volley with the same Venus Williams-like intensity.  Like a car wreck, I could not look away from this event! Co-ed badminton! I picture this in one of those Bud Light “Real Men of Genius”  commercials:  “Here’s to you, Mr. Co-ed Badminton Shuttlecock Guy!”

Further, there are literally dozens of Olypmic sporting events which feature sports and athletes you would never hear of outside the Olympics. Ping pong is a basement game for most of us, but not for the “table tennis” athletes who competed in Beijing!  And, did I read that wind-surfing was an Olympic sport this year?  Wind surfing?? What’s next: Dodge ball?  And, did you know that until the 1950’s, Tug of War was an Olympic sport?  I’m not kidding….Tug of War! Google it and check me on this. Somewhere in America there is a fireplace mantle displaying a Gold Medal Tug of War championship! 

My point is this: While many of us are familiar with the high-profile sports and the leading athletes, it is remarkable how others train and fiercely compete in events we may never hear or see.  It is the exact same in life: Many high-profile careers and professions attract a broad number of job seekers, but there are just as many “unheard” of professions and career professionals who work hard and are committed to success in areas of endeavor most of us have never heard of, and may never know. 

Doctors, lawyers, teachers, architects, and on and on go into their respective fields based on a level of passion, interest or general understanding of the profession.  But, for instance, did you know there are teams of highly-skilled engineers who, as we speak, are using water-based algae farms to create clean-burning biodiesel for engines?  Algae farms?!?  How does anyone get into that field of endeavor?  Or, how about a mechanical engineer who crafted an Apollo-like figure of a man out of solid gold….and shaped it to be used as a golf tee?  What?!? Check him out at  Or, a leading artificial turf company that creates germ-free fake grass for dogs??  For real!  Someone came up with the idea, and then experts made it reality. Check them out at

There are thousands, perhaps millions of stories just like this: People who excel at an area of expertise in an area of practice the overwhelming majority of people will never, ever know about.  We come across these people all the time in our line of work: advertising and marketing.  It never ceases to amaze me the creative and passionate areas of focus for people with a dream or an idea. Like many inventions, some will fail or simply not ever come to fruition.  However, like the expert badminton player, the commitment and tireless work of a broad-range of professionals to perfect their craft is truly to be commended. 

So, whatever your passion or calling in life, do it with the zeal and commitment to make you the best in the world at it!  You may never get accolades or national attention, but there is something incredibly rewarding with knowing that you are working hard at doing something you know may make a difference.  

By the way, if you have a bizarre of facinating career or position, let me know about!  Perhaps we’ll grab a beer after a heady badminton game and talk about it!


A House Divided…

18 08 2008

Martin Moleski

I read one of the most fascinating presidential campaign articles this past week. Having worked on many different kinds of campaigns, I do my best to pay attention to how the presidential campaigns are running, examine what is/is not working and offer my analysis to anyone who will hear it. That mostly falls on my brother and one of our graphic designers, both of whom are ready for “Change We Can Believe In.” I’ll get back to that in a moment. First…the aforementioned article.

It's YOUR fault!!

It's YOUR fault!!

Joshua Green of the Atlantic gives the best insight, so far, into the fall of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The article starts with this devastating paragraph:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign was undone by a clash of personalities more toxic than anyone imagined. E-mails and memos—published here for the first time—reveal the backstabbing and conflicting strategies that produced an epic meltdown.

How can you not keep reading? The e-mails and memos show a campaign in chaos that failed on multiple fronts. First, the Clinton campaign failed to establish a unifying message that eventually tore the campaign staff into two conflicting teams. Second, the campaign did not prepare for a primary season that lasted until June 3 and ignored warnings that Clinton would be unable to mathematically catch Obama after he won 11 straight contests following Super Tuesday on Feb. 5.  Finally, the campaign suffered due to a lack of understanding that tactical implementation is critical.

I’ve never worked on a presidential campaign, so I can’t even begin to imagine having to lay the groundwork for a nationwide campaign. However, if I was being paid millions of dollars to do it…i’d do my damn best to figure it out quickly. I have, though, worked on multiple campaigns in Northeast Ohio and two things never change. First, stick to your message. I’ve found great success by crafting a strategic message, based on polls, and never straying from it. Second, poor planning will eventually catch up to you. What this article shows is a campaign team that did not know who was in charge of making critical decisions and implementing the many tactics that go into running a campaign. Weeks would go by before a decision was made, and in a 24/7 news world we now live in, her campaign suffered immensely.

Back to Obama’s now famous tagline (no need to type it again). Do you now understand how important those five words are? If you don’t, try to remember Hillary Clinton’s message. Yah, I don’t know it either.

Click here to read the rest of Joshua Green’s article, The Front-Runner’s Fall.

On a side note, the article earned Green a spot on the set of Meet the Press this past Sunday. I thought he did very well, as did David Gregory, who hosted for the first time since Tim Russert’s death.  I’ve been disappointed by Tom Brokaw in previous weeks, and I thought Gregory did a good job preparing for the show and not letting his partisanship come through. He actually seemed to praise Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for how the administration was dealing with Russia’s involvement in Georgia.

Gold Medal Opportunities

15 08 2008

Allison Stulpin

There is little doubt in my mind that many Americans have spent the last week at work in a blurry-eyed state due to the Olympic games, and who can blame them? With athletes like Michael Phelps, Nastia Liukin, Kerri Walsh and Tyson Gay, it’s likely that if you’re not watching you will be missing the latest record being pulverized or a come-from-behind victory accomplished with a fingertip by the best in their sport.

With all of this viewing comes prime opportunity for advertisers to push their products and peddle their services to the blurry-eyed masses through traditional avenues, but with a twist. While Americans are used to the media blitzkrieg that occurs during special events like the Superbowl and the Olympics, the Chinese are not. Despite being listed in the number two spot for the largest advertising markets, China is virtually untouched by Western product placement, and this makes the Chinese market the gold medal of advertising opportunities.

Dick van Motman, the chief executive of the Chinese division of DDB Worldwide, believes that in order for global companies to succeed they must “reinforce their image; align themselves with the China dream; and align with China entering the world stage.” Pepsi heeded this and seized on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Pepsi began its commercial blitz in China months before the opening ceremonies, and like many advertisers looking to flatter their hosts, Pepsi rolled out its limited edition “Go Red for China” pop cans’ advertisement. While this ad played to the pride of China’s people, it also pushed the product into a fresh market of willing consumers, catapulting Pepsi’s global status as well as its economic projections.

Pepsi was not the only company to heed van Motman’s statement, and a slew of ads have made their debut in a country ripe for this infusion of western-style product placement with a Chinese flare. I have included a few ads below for your viewing pleasure. Happy viewing!

McDonalds  – Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Coca Cola 2008 Olympic Yao Ming Torch Relay TV commercial
Olympics Visa TV Commercial

Blogging is hard work, but it pays off

12 08 2008

Blogging takes time. It is often difficult to get started. It is usually not a top priority. It’s hard work. But, The Impact Group can speak from experience that it does work. How do we know? Blog stats. That’s how. As I reviewed our stats recently, I noticed a funny trend…when we write, people visit the blog. When we don’t, they don’t!

There are obvious increases in blog traffic when a blog gets posted. And, then, when we don’t write for a few days, the traffic dies down. Seems pretty logical, don’t you think? So, how do we (and YOU) do a better job of keeping our blog dynamic (and attracting visitors)? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Be intentional. This is the biggest concept to address. If you’re not intentional about your blog, it will die a slow (or fast) death. Make a conscious effort. Recognize that when you blog, you’re giving your customers/prospects/vendors information they want and can use…and are looking for!
  2. Make a list. Create a list of possible blog topics. Sit down for 10 minutes and write out this list. That way, when you’re ready to write, you’re not starting from scratch every time.
  3. Create a bank of blogs. Take the time up front to write a few separate blogs. Keep them in a file somewhere so that you have some backup when it’s time to write a new post.
  4. Notice things. Read other blogs. Pay attention to the news. Make note of little things you experience that could be related to your blog. Then write about them. In my opinion, the best blogs are the ones that share a personal experience and then relate back to the theme/product/service. That’s when I can relate, as opposed to reading something that’s a clear “sell” of a company’s widget.

If you’re blog has slowed down lately, let this be an energy boost. Jump back out there and start writing!

Happy blogging!