Some Funny for Your Monday

Just thought I would pop in over here to say hi and give you a good laugh for your (probably ominous) Monday.

The other day we had a power outage (because it snowed here), and although we have a generator and the power was back on when we got up, the internet had crapped out so I had to call the company.   Can we agree that over 50% of our adult lives is spent solving problems and getting things back where we put them/ the way we wanted them?  I think we can.

Anyhow, while I was waiting on hold for 30 minutes, I wrote this little ha-ha piece, and then Stephan Cox, voiceover guy extraordinaire recorded it.  It makes me laugh all over again every time I listen to it.

So, I guess let's all try to hang in there through 2016, cross our fingers and hope that no more legendary people die, and brace ourselves for what 2017 might hold.  I am working on some funny stuff for next year to hopefully distract us.  

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Umm…..how is this store still a thing? Am I looking at a wormhole to 1986? #oldthings #signs

Unnamed

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Updates! Finally!

Well well well—I’m back, and I thought I would post a little update for you about some writing and stuff I have been doing in other places.   I think I am also going to re-enable the “Instagram feed posts over here” function, just so you can be amused by my daily “Random Photos” I have been doing lately.  I finally pulled six years’ worth of photos off of my phone, and am posting one every morning for your amusement.  Here is a link:  My Instagram feed

Here are some places you can check out my writing:

  1. I’m With You,” on the Huffington Post, about post-election feelings and how we need to support our loved ones who are scared.

  2. This is the Secret to Book Marketing” on Rachel Thompson’s excellent website, where I pretty much give you (if you are an author) a lecture about getting in there and doing the work.

  3. Email Marketing and SEO for Small Business,” talking about how I got a weird email from a big corporation and it reminded me that small business people need to email their customers more.

Aren't we all just feeling a little like this giant bear from Costco right now?  I swear, every time I see one of these bears, I wonder how many days it has before it either a) is returned to Costco because it is crapping up someone's house, or b) is moved out to garage purgatory because it is crapping up someone's house.   I guarantee this impractically enormous teddy bear is no one's favorite thing for  a long period of time.  

 

This Costco teddy bear is like "I'm done." #funnypic #funnystuff

A photo posted by Lori Culwell (@lori_culwell) on

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I Got a Totally Random, Unsolicited Email About Cabinets. Hilarity Ensued.

Yesterday I got an unsolicited email from a company called “CabinetonDemand.com.”   I would now like to just enumerate all of the ways this is amusing to me, and to say for the record that I do not feel badly about calling them out, because I have never visited their website or signed up for their email list. I feel that by insinuating themselves into my inbox, they are asking for some light mocking.

Here are my issues with CabinetOnDemand.com and their email:

  1. I have no intention of buying cabinets online, ever, because that sounds like a terrible idea to me.   Having just remodeled my house last year, I now know how much cabinets cost and OH MY GOD DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH CABINETS COST?!   Seriously, one of the shocks of my adult life, how very wrong I was about how much I thought new cabinets were going to cost.   Yes, I realize I am saying “cabinets” repeatedly, which is making the word itself sound kind of absurd. Bottom line: cabinets cost a ton of money. Do not go into the cabinet-buying process all nonchalantly.

  2. I did not sign up for this mailing list, which in and of itself is sort of a problem, because as a rule I do not respond to or buy anything from companies that email me without my permission. Granted, maybe they got my email from a partner organization that shared my information, but I am having a hard time understanding buying leads for something as major as a whole set of cabinets, because as I mentioned, BRACE YOURSELF. CABINETS ARE SUPER EXPENSIVE.   That is not an impulse purchase that you are going to want to make from one cold-call type email.

  3. Why “CabinetonDemand.com” and not “Cabinets (with an s) onDemand.com.”   I feel like if you can’t get the domain with the “s” in it, maybe you should pick another name for your business.

  4. Back to the size and scope of a purchase like this. To me, cabinets are a major decision, not an impulse buy that you can just check off your list, so this push marketing type email where they are offering a screaming deal on “Santa Monica Cabinets” seems weird to me.   This is funny in the exact same way as a sign I pass when I go to my wine store—“Discount Steinways Today!” with an arrow that points into a storefront in a strip mall. Dude. You are not getting out the door with a Steinway piano today. Buying a piano is an arduous, multi-phasic process involving sticker shock, tears, trucks, schedules being moved around, phonecalls, probably some yelling, a payment plan, a scratched floor, maintenance that you didn’t bargain for, and many, many other things. It's not a fro-yo, and the signage makes me laugh because it really sounds like you can drive out of there right then with a Steinway, like, strapped to the top of your Subaru. Settle down, people. Some things take time.

  5. Speaking of things taking time, who exactly is installing my Cabinet on Demand? Do I have to bring my own contractor to this party?   Let me let you in on a secret, having fully remodeled my house last year—CONTRACTORS NEED TO BE INVOLVED IN THE MEASUREMENT PROCESS PRIOR TO THE ORDERING OF THE CABINETS, or all that money you just saved is going right out the window in extra hours and adjustments when your discount cabinets do not fit properly because you took the measurements yourself, bought cabinets from an email you got, then found a contractor on Porch.com and said “make it work!”  

  6. Why does there need to be a “monthly newsletter” about cabinets?   Who would need to hear about cabinets every single month? Cabinets (like pianos) are one of those things you put your attention on once in a blue moon, cry when you are paying the bill, then try to forget the pain and enjoy your new kitchen. Cabinets are not something for which I would imagine there would be enough content to fill up a monthly newsletter.

  7. If you are going to want me to spend thousands and thousands of dollars on your cabinets, I am going to want you to demonstrate your mastery of attention to detail by actually filling in the excerpt text in your email template, rather than leaving the default text there.   The misspellings are not helping to build my confidence either.   You can’t proof your monthly newsletter, but you are going to get every detail of my cabinet order right?   Probably not. Here are some of the egregious errors I noticed with my cursory 30 second glance of this email:
    Cabinet-top


Cabinet-bottom

Again, I am not even trying to get mean here, but I did not sign up for this newsletter. I have never interacted with this company, I don’t know anyone there, and I don’t need any cabinets, so the complete randomness of this email just showing up in my inbox is kind of funny to me in general.   The topic is oddly specific, the email is oddly sloppy given the gravity of a purchase like this, and the offer itself is unclear, even when I go to the website. What, exactly, does the $1920 in the newsletter cover?   The fine print is so small, I honestly cannot tell.   When, exactly, will my cabinets be delivered? Again, unclear. Who, exactly, is going to install these mysterious economical cabinets?   I am just not getting that from this email. Why, exactly, am I on this mailing list?   I simply do not know, although I would imagine that after this, I am going to be removed.

Stay tuned for this company to contact me and argue with me!

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Technology Gone Wild!

First, Happy 4th of July (early)!   I am frantically trying to get to "inbox zero" status before the holiday begins, and failing somewhat because it seems like half of all people are already out of the office.   This email just came to me, though, and I thought I would tell you about it.  Because here is, in my opinion, a totally hilarious example of technology that is not quite as sophisticated as it should be.

I don’t know if you’re a member of Rite Aid’s ambitious “Plenti Points” program—it is a co-branded system that they rolled out last year that is overcomplicated to the point of absurdism, and I predict that it is not going to last.   Here is one example of how they are trying so hard, but somehow failing.

Let me now say that it is NOT THAT HARD to write a simple script that eliminates a zero value parameter and would eliminate the possibility of an email like this going out.   The administrators of this autoresponder would simply need to code in a parameter indicating that people with ZERO points would not receive this email, since (as you will see), including me in this distribution produced a totally absurd result.

I give you….technology gone wild!:

IMG_0127 2





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Where I Try Blueberry Pie Oreos and Talk About Brand Strategy

First, let’s get some housekeeping out of the way. Yes, I know, I have not been writing over here for awhile. I apologize for the extended absence—frankly, I was sort of burned out on writing all the time, and if you write at all, you know that when you are burned out, you just switch subjects, because THE ABSOLUTE WORST THING YOU CAN DO is “take a break” from writing. When you take a break from writing, you then have to train yourself to get back in the habit, which is just as terrible as it sounds.   Even knowing this, I took a break and got out of the habit. Now I have to get back in, and wow.   Not fun. Should have just switched topics. Painful.

To get back on the proverbial horse, I thought I would start by talking about something that you know is one of my favorite topics, and that would be: companies trying to extend their brands by releasing strange and hilarious products. I thought today I would also couple this with a brief look at this particular company’s stock, since it might be interesting to draw a correlation between brand extension and the company’s actual success.

In a funny way, though, because I know you come here for the ha-ha.

I have mentioned the Mondelez corporation before—they make Oreos, as you probably know, but I think the company’s name makes them sound like they have offices inside Mount Rushmore, and like they must have a corporate jet that takes off by flying out of George Washington’s mouth. Am I alone in this?

Mondelez has been extending their brand equity further and further by releasing Oreo flavors that can, at this point, only be described as “surprising.” I am, of course, referring to flavors like red velvet, cinnamon bun, strawberry shortcake, s’mores, fruit punch, and the latest, fantastically random blueberry pie.   I’m as sure as I can be that these novelty flavors are meant to pique interest in the brand, and that this is a curiosity play on Mondelez’ part, meaning enough people are curious about the flavor to buy one or two packages. These weird flavors are also usually only available for a short period of time, so that might add to the urgency and represent a bump in sales if a flavor ends up being really delicious (like cupcake Oreos, which are so good, I drove around town buying them up like I was the subject of Hoarders: Cookie Edition).   This strategy is unique and funny, but also a little aggravating, because if a flavor sells through really well, wouldn’t it make logical sense to just add it to your permanent collection? I’m just saying.

Another weird thing to me about this strategy is that it is really not reflected on the Oreo website.   You would think that since “making weird flavors” is something they’re doing now, they would know that people are going to wonder about the flavors and probably go to the website to find out more about what inspired them, how long they will be around, which ones are being developed, etc.   Did I find any of that on Oreo.com? No I did not.   That is crazy to me. Dude! Mondelez! People want to know about your weird cookies!   Add a section on your website instead of just pointing people to an esoteric “Flavor Vault” video which tells us nothing. If you need a brand and content strategy person to help you make that happen, hit me up. I not only appreciate your strange flavor combinations, but I have actual experience in this exact area. Irene Rosenfeld (CEO), don’t you even want to issue a press release when these new flavors come out? Come ON!!!

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 1.35.27 PMWithout further ado, let me give you my taste-test analysis of the blueberry pie flavor. I’m not a big fan of pie, but I am a fan of weirdness, so of course I bought a package of these cookies and am trying to get everyone who comes into my house to try them. By the way, yes, I did try the s’mores flavor, which tasted vaguely of s’mores and does have a graham cracker flavored cookie. I wanted to like that one more than I did, because I super love s’mores in general. Overall I liked the concept of that flavor more than the execution, as I felt like once it was in cookie form, the s’mores flavor was a little faded, meaning it was just a vague hint of chocolate and marshmallow, eliciting only a slight “Meh” and a shrug from not only myself, but almost everyone at my mother-in-law’s birthday party last month, where I had those out in case anyone wanted to taste them.

Let me add another caveat on the blueberry pie: I am not a huge fan of fruit-flavored desserts of any kind., because warm fruit is disgusting to me (yes, even apple pie. I am clearly mental). With that said, this cookie was NOT BAD, although I would say it tastes more like the cookie form of a blueberry muffin made from a package than an blueberry pie. Stephan also tried it and deemed the flavor to be “uncannily like a blueberry Pop Tart.” He seemed to like it more than I did.

The packaging on this flavor is hilarious to me as well, with its ambitious busy-ness.   This might be the Oreo cookie flavor that is trying the hardest to be something that it is not.   It’s a blueberry-flavored cookie, ok? Let’s relax with showing a WHOLE PIE on the package, next to a cookie that looks nothing like the pie itself.  We are not playing a food-related game of "one of these things is not like the other."

So—blueberry flavor, graham cracker-ish crust. I’m giving this one a thumbs up, but since I’m more of a chocolate person myself, I’m probably going to give the rest of these away and try to get some more passionate reactions.  

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 12.59.07 PMThe final question, of course, is: is this strategy actually working?   I’m going to tentatively conclude that it is, since a) they keep doing it, and b) Mondelez’ stock price has steadily been on the incline since they started doing this regularly. Yes, they do own a number of other brands (like Cadbury, Chips Ahoy!, Honey Maid, Wheat Thins, and many others—like Tang. Did you know that Tang is still a thing?), so strong sales of each of these operating companies could be informing the upward trend.

All in all, I am consistently amused by this strategy and hope it lasts forever and gets progressively weirder. Honestly, I hope they keep pushing it until they just turn the corner and start releasing batshit crazy flavors like “Super Spicy Jalapeno and Bacon” Oreos.

And with that, I'M BACK!

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I guess this is what I’m doing this afternoon….

via Instagram

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McDonalds Gave Ronald McDonald a Makeover and Put Him on Twitter.

BY LORI CULWELL

This is one of those examples where a news story goes by, and then Stephan and I spend the whole day texting each other punchlines because we can't decide what exactly is the funniest about this scenario.

Here are some of the highlights so far:

"What....did McDonald's do a focus group and decide 'f$%k the food, let's put new pants on the clown?"

"Oh, you know what will make people eat more greasy chicken slurry?   Put the clown on Twitter!"

"Sales are down!   Clearly the problem is the clown's jumpsuit.  Get him some pants!"

By the way, here is the photo that McDonald's released to go along with the big news about Ronald McDonald's new pants and his social media. 

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 7.18.04 PM

 I believe Stephan wins "funniest line of the day" for this one:  "I'm curious as to why they decided to do the photo shoot in front of a brick wall. Probably it's supposed to invoke a comedy club, but really it looks like he's being held hostage."

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What is Pine Tar, and Why Do We Care?

BY LORI CULWELL

Screen Shot 2014-04-23 at 9.58.19 PMOK, a news headline just went by, and I honestly had no idea what it was or why I would care, so I looked it up so you wouldn't have to.

Here's the headline:  Michael Pineda ejected for having pine tar on neck.

Here's what is going on with that:  Michael Pineda is the pitcher for the New York Yankees.  Two weeks ago, he was spotted with pine tar on his palm, but he didn't get kicked out of the game until TODAY, when he apparently had pine tar on his neck.  Did he wipe his neck with his hand?   Does he STORE the pine tar on his neck to later put it on his hand so that he might pitch better with it?  

Your guess is as good as mine.

Here's why we care about this:   apparently PINE TAR helps you get a better grip on your baseball, and if you are a famous millionaire baseball pitcher, this matters because PINE TAR gives you an unfair advantage over the other players, and that is not acceptable.   Especially if you store said pine tar on your neck, where it can be plainly seen by people in authority.

Here's the exact definition of what pine tar actually is (in case you were curious like I was):  Pine tar is a sticky material produced by the high temperature carbonization of pine wood in anoxic conditions (dry distillation ordestructive distillation). The wood is rapidly decomposed by applying heat and pressure in a closed container; the primary resulting products are charcoal and pine tar. (from Wikipedia)

Here's where you can get some on Amazon, in case you're a baseball pitcher (NOT PROFESSIONAL) and want to get it so that you can pitch better.

 

And so, we all learned a little something today, didn't we?

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Um…..why? If I wanted tortilla chips, wouldn’t I just eat those?

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