Category Archives: Themes

Colors In Every Sense of the Word

Words have color. They can bleed red or be moody blue. Sometimes they are tinkled pink. Passive verbs are yellow-bellied cowards that are green with envy over their action counterparts. Don’t confuse that with Blue states passing Green laws or Red states turning blue in the face over healthcare reform.

Which reminds me, you have the green light to write that a red flag is a warning. We look into the night and we see black and are scared that Evil lurks. Angels wear white and represent purity, and not surprisingly, when we want to insult someone, we say that they are as bland as white bread.

Writers look into the universe and see a vast color scale and interpret it with words describing an emotional response, while marketers use both color and words to make a statement about their brand that connect it to our senses on a visceral level.

Color expresses words. Nike uses that orange swoosh mark in their logo, next to the words, “Just Do It.” It is no coincidence that orange represents energy and is a color that demands as much attention as the slogan’s command of “Just do it.“ Blue has somehow managed to become the color of technology. Think of “Big Blue,” IBM. Yet blue also suggests depression—or great jazz albums, like, “Kinda Blue.”

When I see blue, I feel a bit sad. It took me a while to figure out why, then I remembered that as a child, my aunt had a room that was painted an imperial blue. Her husband died when I was just two or three, and I barely remember him, but I remember how sad she naturally was after his death. She kept a cabinet in the room filled with his memorabilia, and to this day, I equate vibrant shades of blue with depression. Maybe that’s a subconscious reason for why I am Mac user instead of a PC. Apple is void of that blue, though if you look at the two brands websites, IBM is starting to look more like Apple’s site. That has less to do with any perception of blue, and more about Apple’s success, though.

We use our websites as visual representations of our brand. We ruminate on color, and try to pick ones that say something about us. This site, for example, for Snog yogurt uses colors that not only evoke sweetness, but fun.

Words and colors are connected to our senses. They are on each other like, dare I say it, white on rice. I have to quit typing now, my fingers are turning blue.

You Get What You Pay For

I’ve noticed a really nasty side-effect of this recession/depression/economic ruination (the label changes depending on who you talk to). Words are cheap. Literally, words are cents on the dollar. I for one, am really, really mad about it. Really mad.

Thanks to computers, everyone thinks they are a writer these days, which makes it tough sometimes for those of us who do it for a living. As a result, writing has become a commodity. A cheap one. If Walmart could sell Writing they would. If India could export writing—-wait a second, they already do. Just ask all the freelancers on some of the freelance sites who are bidding against overseas writers. They are being outbid by people willing to take on a job for a penny a word.

I am so sick of bad writers parading around as professionals, especially because they have cheapened the market. If a company wants to bid $5 to write a blog post or $13 an hour to write all the copy for an entire website, they feel justified in doing so because there are “writers” out there who will take it. My fees are pretty affordable. Seriously. Prior to the recession, I was still charging under $100 an hour for my writing services. Now, I negotiate. I’m flexible. I’m not $13 an hour flexible, but I know I have to be realistic. That’s the key: be realistic in what you charge and if you are the hiring company, be realistic in what you will offer.

Right now, there is a job on Craigslist LA for a medical spa in Beverly Hills that wants to hire a writer to do press releases and articles. They will pay up to $30 per piece. I don’t know who owns this spa, but I think he or she may have injected Botox into his or her brains. This person’s thought process must be paralyzed by cow poison. What other reason could there be to offer that little for writing a press release? Hopefully, no one will apply, but in this job market, I’m sure the spa is already inundated with responses. Writing a press release may not be a time-consuming process, but why not have a per-job minimum for what should take at least, at least, three hours of work? What about all the rewrites that go into a press release to get the message right? And, I distribute all the press releases I write for clients—is my media list not worth anything? It’s sure worth more than 30 measly bucks!

The printed word has become the town tramp. It’s easy to get, and good for a cheap turn. The writing profession, once honorable, is now a playground littered with hacks-for-hire. Get out of my sandbox, hacks. Or if you are going to stay in, at least pretend to have some dignity in your profession and stop whoring yourself out with cheap fees. Words are precious. Charge accordingly.

Oscar Day in LA: It’s All Marketing

It’s like Christmas today in LA, except Santa Clause has been replaced by a gold statue. It honestly feels like a holiday here. The supermarkets were a mad rush this morning with people buying food for tonight’s TV dinner (because everyone who is not at a party will be eating in front of the TV). There is less traffic on the streets, and friends call to with me a happy Oscar day, even though I do not work in the movie industry. For the last few days, the question I am asked most has been, “What are you plans for Sunday night?” On Friday, the studios let the employees go home early, and Friday afternoon traffic was a thick mess of mayhem with people rushing home for what they considered a holiday weekend.

All week, as I walk down my street, I have seen limos and catering trucks pulled up outside the apartment building where Marisa Tomei lives. At the end of my block, across Sunset, the Chateau Marmont is buzzing with paparazzi, more limos, and fans gathered outside. Each night there has been a party on the hotel’s rooftop terrace. You cannot drive down Sunset, literally, it’s a slow crawl because traffic is so heavy from the party’s and pre-award events.

What does any of this have to do with marketing? It’s all marketing, of course. The parties, the paparazzi (which have been notified thanks to the stars’ publicists) and the fans are the symbol of every given stars’ brand in action.

A friend of mine works at a major studio in their events department. She told me that the studios are scaling back this year because they don’t want to make the “Wall Street” mistake of displaying overt opulence in the midst of a nasty recession. Though the word is never used, this week is really all about Brand. How you show off your brand at the Zero hour, the moment it counts most. Designer dresses, designer jewels, scaled-back gift baskets, eco-friendly limos, and repeated advertisements of “The Wrestler,” “Milk,” and “Slumdog Millionaire,” on your TV, so many times you think you may go blind one more time if you see Sean Penn’s face, or see Marisa Tomei dancing, or the set of India’s “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

As for the rest of us, the mortals outside the industry, we are the examples of how it has all paid off, all the marketing, all the advertising, all the buzz in blogs and forums of which star is where. We look at our watches, we plan our day so we will be home early enough tonight to watch the Red Carpet showdown. It’s Oscar’s day, and it was created by Marketers. Today is the visual culmination of marketing at work. All of us marketers should be blessed with such positive results—and large budgets.

Audacious Times need Audacious Words

Welcome to Audacious Ink! I created this blog because the world lacked a blog on copy writing and marketing. Okay, I take that back. The world has enough writing and marketing blogs. What I am interested in, however, is a blog dedicated to those writers and marketeers out there who are big thinkers, and fortunately, most of them are. I wanted to hear what they do to succeed, how they learn from their failures, what keeps them up at night, what do they see as the latest trends in marketing and in copy creation, and frankly, I want their secrets. You learn by hanging out with people smarter than you, right? Lucky me, I know a lot of bright people, so I thought I’d interview them, and then post their comments here. I have no idea if this is a good idea or bad, but it is an experiment. Think “Interview” magazine for the web and instead of celebs, really good marketing folks (and copy writers).

Audacious Ink is a celebration of the written word in all things marketing: whether it’s advertising, brochures, direct mail, PR or the Internet. It’s a celebration of strategy and creative thinking. Everyday we get up and do our jobs. Some of us go through the motions, some of us treat each day like a gift. I don’t know about you, but I want to be in that second category.  Writing is my passion, and marketing is the fuel that keeps that passion going—meaning, I consider myself a writer first, but I just happen to love the world of integrated marketing, and it pays the bills as an added bonus!

Welcome to this journey. I hope it’s an audacious one.