My hands may be SMALL, but my ideas are BIG


Brands Join In For New Year's Eve Countdown

Media Post recently wrote about a slew of brands that have nudged their way into Times Square, the center of many New Year's Eve celebrations, especially from an advertising perspective. They have found some pretty innovative guerilla marketing ideas and I thought they were worth noting. The brands listed below have made it to the top of the list:

Ciroc Vodka: "Official Vodka of New Year's Eve." In partnership with the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission and E! Entertainment, Ciroc has employed a street team to give out $15 debit cards for cab fares to thousands of adults "wandering Manhattan streets between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m." (Can they do that in Boulder?!) In addition, prolific spokesperson P. Diddy, reinforced the "get home safely" theme by running the message on taxi television screens through New Year's Day, coupled with billboards, and a donation of $1 million to an unspecified charity if the city would change the iconic New Year's Even crystal ball to the color of Ciroc's blue logo.

Nivea: The skin and beauty care company will provide New Year's Eve hats and blue balloons tied with silver Mylar ribbons, along with Lip Care samples "to keep our lips looking and feeling beautiful for that unforgettable kiss at midnight." There will be a Nivea "Kiss and Be Kissed Platform," which will feature a couple celebrating their anniversary, a "welcome home" kiss and a midnight-practice kiss. I think this is a brilliant idea--it's humanizing and touching.

Pepsi: Plans to hand out scarves and then a few minutes before the ball drops, will release 1,000 big bouncing balloons that say "joy," "hope," and "2009."

3 Musketeers: Will promote the New Year's Eve Wishing Wall with falling pom-poms, confetti bags, and chocolate mini-bars to help bring in 2009.

Stay tuned for New Year's Eve advertisements, commercials and branding wonders...What other brands have I missed? Please share.

I hope you bring in 2009 with prospertiy, loved ones, innovation, happiness and laughter.


7 Things You Wish You Didn't (Or Did) Know About Me - Meme #2

Micah says, "paybacks a bitch," as he gleefully re-tagged me in the "7 Things You Wish You Didn't (Or Did) Know About Me" meme. This one works like this:
  • Link to your original tagger(s) and list these rules in your post.
  • Share seven facts about yourself in the post.
  • Tag seven people at the end of your post by leaving their names and the links to their blogs.
  • Let them know they’ve been tagged
Is is just me or do meme's sort of seem like a middle school chain letter? Oh well, here it goes:

1. The language I took in high school is Sanskrit-संस्कृता वाक् an ancient Indian language similar to Hindu. I can read the Bhagavad-Gita cover to cover and yes, can read all those cryptic looking Sanskrit tattoos people rock (do they really know their meaning?)

2. I hate mint. I really do and just don't like any form of it.

3. I lived and worked in Costa Rica with sea turtles on a beach in the summer of 2005. The village beach in Ostional is one of the 8 beaches in the world where the 'arribada' (arrival in Spanish) occurs: female Olive Ridley sea turtles lay their eggs in masses, with each moon cycle.

4. I have an extensive background in horseback riding and for over ten years I competed in three-day eventing (i.e. reference Christopher Reeves harrowing fall). I owned a thoroughbred, taught riding and veterinarian lessons, and traveled around the Midwest competing.

5. You don't know me at all if you don't know that I'm 75% Italian (Calabrese/Sicilian) and 25% Irish (Boyle=last name). A quiet one who doesn't like to eat or drink, with a side sarcasm.

6. I've been meditating (Transcendental Meditation) since I was five, a simple way to release stress. I attended an alternative school where we meditated and practiced yoga before and after school, while in between it was a regular college prepatory school. Hence, the Sanskrit (#1). Other practitioners of Transcendental Meditation: The Beatles, David Lynch, Goldie Hawn. Curious? See below:

7. Queen-Under Pressure is one of my favorite songs of all time. Doo Doo Doo Doo Do Do Do ...

Now my seven people to tag. Your mission if you choose to accept it:

@fullyadam- What a good sport Fully is, plus he's one of my favorite people on the web (& in life)
@JMalan- Emerging into the tech scene with valor especially as my co-worker @ Lijit.
@daveraffaele- A new Twitterati friend and 'social media supporter'
@jshuey- A fellow Biz. Dev practitioner with a pension for tech
@rickbutts- 'International troublemaker'
@GlobalPatriot- With support for social justice and global consciousness, why not connect the dots?
@joegreenz- Spurs of thoughts a' plenty
@converstations- A fellow Iowan and "Social Mediatician."


Meaningful Holiday Gift Ideas

As we are amidst the holidays and the new year is fast approaching, this may mean a few different things for you; some time off, family, traveling, relaxing, energizing, gift giving, change? As I'm home in Iowa, visiting my family and friends I'm taking a little 'hiatus' and attempting to stay 'off the grid' for the next week. However, before I try to take a break from web 2.0 (try) I wanted to present a few organizations and gift ideas that give back.

1. Heifer: Based in Arkansas, this non-profit seeks to end worldwide hunger and poverty. They do this through helping people in developing countries feed themselves. Ie: Buy a goat-->provides milk for the family-->also makes yogurt or cheese to be sold.

2. World Wildlife Fund: Protecting the future of nature, WWF has annual gifts, grants or loans ranging from $1,000 to $3.5 million all of which helps to play an instrumental role in conserving places around the world from devastation.

3. Pro Mujer-Microfinance: One of my best friend's, Ali works at Pro Mujer (Spanish, meaning "for women") in New York City with their Finance Department. As they "give women credit," by helping them help themselves I love what they do for women in Latin and South America. Donations range in price--$25 gives a woman credit to grow vegetables to sell at the market, $500 provides 3 women with loans and health care and $5000 provides 25 women with loans and health care. To donate directly, click here.

2. Oxfam America: An online catalog that delivers to 120 countries around the world. It's as simple as purchasing an item (ie. can of worms, a camel, building tools), the card goes to the recipient, then the gift goes to those who need it most.

Whatever your choice may be, there are many ways to ensure your holiday gift is backed with meaning and making an impact in someone's life.

Happy holidays!


The Big Picture-2008 In Photographs

The photographer, Aaron Siskind once said, "Photography is a way of feeling, of touching of love. What you have caught on film is capture remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything." As I came across The Big Picture's photos of 2008, many emotions washed over me. With that being said, I decided to include the most moving and riveting photos that somehow spoke to me on a personal level (especially the flood from Iowa this summer since I'm originally from there and happened to witness the destruction first hand). Please visit The Big Picture for the complete list of photographs.

A U.S. Marine, from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has a close call after Taliban fighters opened fire near Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan May 18, 2008. The Marine was not injured. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)

Buildings and debris are seen floating in the Cedar River against a railroad bridge Saturday, June 14, 2008, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Days after it rose out of its banks on its way to record flooding in Cedar Rapids, the Cedar River has forced at least 24,000 people from their homes, emergency officials said. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

A personal favorite, because I've been to Grindelwald. Time exposure of the Swiss mountain resort of Grindelwald next to the north face of the Eiger mountain, seen on January 10, 2008.

Swiss pilot Yves Rossy, the world's first man to fly with a jet-powered fixed-wing apparatus strapped to his back, flies during his first official demonstration, on May 14, 2008 above Bex, Switzerland.

The head of a male student, still alive, trapped under the debris is pictured at the scene of the church school that collapsed on the outskirts of Haiti's capital Port-au-Prince, November 7, 2008. At least 30 people were killed when the three-story La Promesse school building collapsed while class was in session and some of the walls and debris crushed neighboring homes in the Nerettes community near Port-au-Prince.


Have You Been Elfed?

Talk about virtually spreading the joy. Two recent campaigns, Ace Hardware's "Ace Your Face" and OfficeMax's "ElfYourself" have created a promotion that allows consumers to upload their own face choices into humorous greeting cards.

In it's third year, this week 57 million elves has been created during the first three weeks of the most current campaign. Statistically, users have been averaging 15 minutes (double the 7.5 minutes last year) on the site and has created 4.5 separate elf-centric videos. OfficeMax boasted 11,088 blog posts mentioning, "ElfYourself," which is doubled from last year.

I think this is a great representation of a brand engaging their customers. Through this fun and free gift they've created a niche within social media by creating brand association.

Furthermore, with a recent partnership with JibJab, ElfYourself added a Facebook application, which 600,000 users have tried out. JibJab's technology allows users to merchandises the elves from their videos onto printed greeting cards, ornaments, mouse pads, coffee mugs and playing cards. A great carry over into their product line to increase sales.

Here's a little holiday cheer and sampling of ElfYourself with me and a few co-workers from Lijit: @tarable, @JMalan and our boss, @PQBoulder. We have the moves.

Send your own ElfYourself eCards


AD WEEK's Top Media and Marketing Innovations of 2008

Recently, ADWEEK posted the Top Media & Marketing Innovations of 2008 with 14 innovations, people and ideas making the list. I thought each was pertinent, as I reviewed them inserting my thoughts throughout. Since we're nearing the end of this year it's nice to look back and reflect because the growth of technology within the digital age is booming.
1. Obama: Digital Change Agent: No surprise here, Obama proved the web's powerful capabilities in raising money and support. "While marketers have drooled over the Long Tail, Obama grabbed it -- attracting more than 1.7 million contributors, with 93 percent of $2.9 million in online donations coming in by way of increments of less than $100. " -Brian Morrissey

2. The TAMi Show: NBC's Multiplatform Olympics:
As the first global broadband event ever, the 2008 Beijjing Olympics blew many of us away. NBC's TAMi stands for, "Total Audience Measurement Index," which helped to measure all media exposure. -Anthony Crupi

3. Hulu Takes Hold: The joint video-streaming venture of NBC and Fox delivered popular shows such as Heroes, The Office and The Simpsons to consumers-wherever, whenever they wanted it. There is even speculation "that Hulu could overtake YouTube in revenue in '09." -Steve McClellan

4. iPhone Juices Mobile Medium:
The "iPhone phenomenon created a shift in the mindset of the American consumer--from 'Why would I want to surf the Web on my crappy phone?' to 'I can do that? I want one now!'" Enough said. -Mike Shields

5. HuffPo: The Rise of the Political News Site:
Arianna Huffington's, The Huffington Post experienced a 474% growth rate, with 4.5 million unique users in 2008, per comScore. Her voice and site is a top 100 blog and a trusted source for information -MS

6. Fox's Clutter Killer: "This season, Fox confronted head-on the issue of commercial clutter, the growing number of ads and promos stuffed into shows by the networks." With this season's show, Fringe they aired half the usual network commercials and promo load making it the top-rated new drama among adults 18-49. Fox is paying attention to their consumers needs which is an impressive business venture. -SM

7. Turner's Big Year: Turner Broadcasting System boosted its share in the marketplace by offering "broadcast replacement" inventory. They also broke free from third-party ad networks and developed an in-house system which has led to viewing online ads at 50 million unique users and 3.5 billion impressions. -AC

8. Zuckerberg's Most Popular: The move in May to "open the social-networking service to outside developers," proved its influential capability. To date, 400,000 developers have created 52,000 apps. What a development to digital media. -BM

9. All A-Twitter: One of my favorite social media tools, (micro-blogging) proves "our conception of one another--and brands--are often formed by bite-sized interactions." They keep it simple, yet powerful, even when it comes to their small, 25 person team. -BM

10. Sponsor in Aisle Five!: Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. retailer rolled out their in-store digital network where they monitor and control television, content, ads and merchandising. Smart. This digital interaction "creates a dynamic, interactive dialogue between marketer and consumer." -Katy Bachman

11. Cinema Ads a Star: Their pre-show, 'First Look' showed a combination of ads and entertainment which reached 70% of moviegoers in the top 10 markets this year, and more than 65% in the top 25. They're experiencing double-digit growth in their ad business. -KB

12. Stardoll: Dressed for Success: The two-year old Swedish site built a virtual playground for tween girls that boasts 22 million members in 200 countries! Woah, look out they're "taking playtime to a whole new level." -MS

13. Web Amps Up Radio: CBS Radio's new online player has reinvented streaming--representing best that "the oldest electronic medium can migrate to the newest." Partnerships with AOL Radio and Yahoo LaunchCast also has boosted their new integrated-marketing possibilities. -KB

14. Oh, Snap! Magazine Ads Get Interactive: Unless you're living under a rock, the decline in print ads is obvious. However, SnapTell (Palo Alto based company) "enables brands to send messages to readers who shoot photos of magazine ads with their mobile photos." Men's Health, Rolling Stone and ESPN The Magazine are just a few to have adopted the technology this year. - Lucia Moses


6th Photo Meme

The social media world loves to create games. I just got opted into one of those games: '6th Photo Meme.' The idea is 666-fold: go to the 6th page of your Flickr photostream, grab the 6th photo, post the photo on your blog and then tag 6 of your friends to do the same.

Adam Fullerton
(@fullyadam) just tagged me over at his blog, The Passenger, so here goes my picture and response.

This photo I took is from the Boulder/Denver New Tech Meetup in Boulder. Five people get five minutes each to demo something about their new technology. I love this photo because it a) shows the collaboration of technologists, entrepreneurs, geeks and hackers (300 strong) in one room together; b) it represents the new tech boom in Boulder. The American Magazine calls Boulder, "a serious technology hub," and look out because, "The Western frontier is open, and geeks are populating the range." As a recent geek transplant, this makes me happy.

Now comes my turn to pass the Flickr meme love onwards:

1. Tara Anderson- a fellow 'too lijit to quit' co-worker (Marketing Manager at Lijit) who has a zest for life and insatiable humor. Tara is a force to be reckoned with.

2. Micah Baldwin- because he's keen on succeeding through failure, has a smart business mind (VP of Biz. Dev. at Lijit) and gives back by mentoring start-ups and coaching lacrosse.

3. Lauren Cook- a social media strategist and Founding Partner at Swarm Collective. Plus, we're connected by six degrees of separation and as a 'professional wine consumer,' we have more than one interest in common.

4. Melissa Michaels - her blog, The Inspired Room is one of my favorite sources of information for interior design and creating a beautiful home. Not to mention, she's one of the sweetest bloggers out there.

5. Jeremy Tanner - With a tagline like: "Consultant - Party Crasher - Startup Junkie," who could refuse Tanner's humor? He is also the Head Facilitator for Startup Weekend.

6. David Mandell - Best friends with one of my favorite professors, now also my friend. I love connecting the dots as Mandell's a local Boulderite and entrepreneur.


Cob Houses Around the World

The idea of living in a cob house is still very whimsical to me. It's efficient, inexpensive, cozy and environmentally conscious. From my past two posts on Building A Cob House and the follow-up with the Mullenneaux's I focused on the building of their cob house and then what it was like to be living in one. Today, I thought it would be nice to visually represent a few beautiful cob houses from around the World. Please feel free to share yours if you live in one, know of someone who does, or stumble across a cob house that I haven't.

San Bartolo, Mexico-Photo Credit: Cobworks

Mayne Island, B.C. Canada-Photo Credit: Cobworks

Devon, England-Photo Credit: Cob Cottage

Vancouver-Photo Credit: Flickr neil-san

Orgeon-Photo Credit: Hub Pages

California-Photo Credit: Cob Cottage


Social Media for a Social Cause: The Opp-Guide

Social Media is powerful in shaping brands, ideas, people and most interestingly, social causes. I ran across one such social cause from an article in Market Watch about Wendi Oppenheim, a 16 year-old founder of a community service, social cause revolution, The Opp-Guide. Oppenheim's non-profit was a recent finalist in the Best Buy @15 competition, inspiring teens to help their community.
The Opp-Guide is comparable to Zagat or Yelp, except here, teens submit reviews of their volunteer experiences with local nonprofits and charities. Their byline: "Community service ideas and organization reviews for teens, by teens."

I'm impressed with Oppenheim's eloquence as she understands where our country stands now and the importance of community, "Young people need to know the true satisfaction of giving their time to people in need." She attests that the reviews are honest and help fill the missing link between actually enjoying volunteering and only being there for the credit.

Market Watch believes, "The Opp-Guide has proven an innovative way to get teens involved in community service by helping them pinpoint opportunities that tap into their passion and skills."

So if you feel so inclined: Rock the Vote for The Opp-Guide at or text BBYV24 to 32075. You can also check out Oppenheim (President) and equally young, Ben (Business Manager and VP) talk in this cute video about their organization.

For more information about The Opp-Guide or to speak directly with Wendi, here is her e-mail: wendioppenheim[at]gmail[dot]com

So I'm curious...what other social causes do you know that leverage social media for their organization, cause or idea? Please share.


Attention Is Your Biggest Cost in Marketing

Our brain only attends to 5% of the information it receives from all available senses. That's right, 5%. Think about the challenging implications involved in leveraging a marketing campaign or increasing sales when everyone is vying for that small percentage and trying to make the cut.

mobileYouth recently wrote about the neurological concept of gating, a mechanism that enables our brains to function, when tied to youth marketing. Thus the statement, "attention is your biggest cost." Makes sense. Marketing is directly tied to gating, the "neurological tool for blocking out information such as pain, sensation etc. to avoid overload." Blocking 95% of products and brand messaging seems daunting to any marketer, however, it doesn't have to be.

Take a look at this attention awareness test and consider its implications for youth marketing:

Fascinating, isn't it? Who saw the 'moonwalking bear' the first time they watched it? I didn't. Then I watched it a second time and it was clear as day.

With that being said, I will echo mobileYouth's simple declaration: be relevant. "Less is more and relevance paramount," because youth gates the products that stand out to them.

Morale of the story: "Your youth brand may be a moonwalking bear but unless you’re the team in white, you may as well forget it."


Building A Cob House-Follow Up With the Mullenneaux's

In early November I wrote a post on "Building a Cob House" about the Mullenneaux family, and their personal cob building community story. The responses from readers were fantastic and inquisitive, so I felt a follow-up was necessary. I reached out to Hap and Lin Mullenneaux with questions readers had asked and how it felt to be living in their new cob house the past month. They happily obliged and also offered to serve as a contact for anyone else interested in cob houses. I hope you enjoy and learn from their responses as much as I did.

GB: With your cob home finished, how does it feel to be living in a home that you created solely with your own hands (and feet), especially with the help of Fairfield (Iowa's) supportive community?

HLM: We have been living in the house for one month. It feels more like a part of nature than a conventional house. As something natural, it is easy to accept it as it is. While there are some things that aren’t finished, we are beginning to realize that this house may never be finished because that is a static condition and this house is alive. We do look forward to running water inside and taking baths at home, coming as soon as the pond fills. Since summer ended we have missed our outdoor shower.
Loft Bedroom. The ceiling is bamboo matchstick blinds over reflectix. Photo Credit: Hap and Lin Mullenneaux

GB: What specific environmental benefits have you noticed in your new cob home?

HLM: In building this house we used much more “waste” than we created. Now our use of energy and water is a fraction of any house we have lived in before. We use rainwater from the roof. We heat with wood from the scrap pile at a nearby sawmill. Our total monthly housing costs are under $100, mostly phone and internet.
Cozy Kitchen-Photo Credit: Hap & Lin Mullenneaux

GB: In my previous post, I received a question regarding cob homes' flexibility and durability for various climates. Can you answer that comment, especially in light of Iowa's notoriously cold winters, wet springs and hot summers?

HLM: At this stage of our experiment the jury is still out. The season in question is winter. Cob walls give you excellent thermal mass. Heat them and they will radiate that heat back to you over time. But what happens when there is a sub-zero wind chill hitting the other side of the wall? Stay tuned!

GB: Are there any challenges you've noticed since moving in?

HLM: Balancing the heat was a challenge because we put the woodstove by the stairs. We are closing it in so that the heat spends more time downstairs. Condensation was an issue at first. We made the house very tight and there was still cob and plaster drying when we moved in. Add the vapor that we contribute from cooking, etc and you have high humidity. This is becoming less of an issue as winter progresses, but the interior plaster absorbs moisture easily and down the road we may cover it with something less permeable.

GB: So, if someone were interested in building their own cob home what insights, resources and advice would you give them and why?

HLM: In a climate with real winter you need to use every bit of the building season to finish a cob house before freezing begins. Keep the design small. Have the foundation and stem wall ready in the spring. Do the roof first on either permanent or temporary posts. We had to work hard to protect our walls before we got the roof on. Enjoy the process and encourage everyone to enjoy it with you. Cob is not meant to be done alone. To give cob a fighting chance in cold weather, do everything you can to help it. We made the house tight with good windows that are strategically located. We insulated the roof properly. We probably should have done more to insulate our stone stem wall. Keep the cob walls thick. In places where we sculpted seats or niches into the wall the thin wall tends to be cold and damp. Finally, don’t let heating be an after thought in a cold climate. Make sure you will have heat where you need it with proper placement of the woodstove or other heat source. Some folks who built a cob house in south central Iowa said that their home was a bit chilly when the woodstove was located on the north wall. The next winter they moved it closer to the middle of the house and were much more comfortable.

Be sure to get some hands on experience before you start your own project The workshop that we took at Cob Cottage was a blast.

Here are more great teachers we have met:

We are happy to answer questions and share our experience via email: haplin[at]gmail[dot]com

Thanks for doing this, Grace.
Hap & Lin Mullenneaux


Guest Blog Post - Promoting 1% For The Planet

As a proud alma mater of Champlain College (I've become a bit of a public relations poster child for them) I wanted to include a guest blog post from my friend, Kat Maund, a Senior at Champlain pursuing a degree in Business Management with a focus in Marketing/Sales.

I will note that with my passion and work in social media, I continually find university's that don't talk about or offer information on any social media tools in their educational mix. I know senior level students in public relations at other large and well-known university's that don't even know what Twitter is or the value it offers in their field. With the help of some incredible professors, Champlain offers classes such as online visibility, internet marketing, media communications, and contemporary media issues (the class Kat is currently taking). In these classes, (yes, I took them) students stay on top of new media technology and are encouraged to blog, use Twitter and work on real-life projects for companies to leverage their business. This real life project is where Kat comes in, so without further ado, I'll let her take the reins and explain.

Kat Maund
My Contemporary Media Issues class is competing (guys vs. gals) to see which team can get the most views on a Youtube video promoting 1% for the Planet. 1% FTP officially took off in 2002 with its launch at a Patagonia store in San Francisco, CA. Twenty-one businesses signed up on the first day and began giving 1% of their annual profits back to the environment. Some call it an "earth tax." Consumers want to know that they're investing in companies doing good deeds and that in turn grows member companies' profits and reputations. Talk about good PR!

"It’s about businesses recognizing that industry and ecology are inherently connected. It’s about realizing the positive effects of connecting businesses, consumers and nonprofits through philanthropy. And it’s about understanding that the true cost of doing business can be mitigated by a simple pledge to the planet."

Utilizing our social networking skills is crucial to winning the contest, so what better ways to encourage hits than to blog about it, tweet about it, and Facebook it? Not only do we win some pretty excellent swag from 1% FTP's member companies, but we are able to spread the word about the importance of giving back to our earth, a planet that has provided us with so much. Check out the video; the images are sublime and the song, "Sunshine" by Matt Costa, is a definite feel-good tune. Below is the video. After you watch it and if you feel inspired, ask your employer if they're giving back to the planet. If they aren't, challenge them to!