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March 2009 Marketing Archives

Friday, March 06, 2009

Twitter Lists Celebrity Profiles to Lure New Users

twitter the real shaqIf you recently joined Twitter, you may have wondered if you were being spammed by celebrity impersonators, but the profile called The _Real _Shaq is, in fact, the real Shaq

To counter Myspace Music and the fan pages on Facebook, Twitter has resorted to  the online version of selling maps to celebrity homes.twitter starsCelebrities including Tony Hawk,   I read about the publicity stunt, on the pcmag.com article: Facebook Challenges Twitter to Celebrity Deathmatch!.

 

Sean Combs, Demi Moore, Jimmy Fallon, Sara Bareilles and John Mayer are among the Music/ TV stars listed.  Sports stars include Lance Armstrong, Shaq and Tony Hawk. Basketball fans can get the latest  NBA scores by following twitter.com/nba. Political junkies can find the latest updates from Washington at twitter.com/nprpolitics and fans of ABC's Good Morning America can read about upcoming guests and more at twitter.com/gma.

Twitter Lists Celebrity Profiles to Lure New Users By Matt O'Hern at 04:41 PM
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Linkedin's Financial Advantage over Facebook, Twitter & Myspace

linkedin logo

Few companies can boast record economic growth during the past six months, but Linkedin just came off its most successful quarter and the professional social network site claims over 36 million users in over 200 countries and territories, with a new user joining every second.

Linkedin still has a way to go before it reaches Facebook-like numbers of 175 million , but as Evan Williams and Mark Zuckerberg scramble for monetization solutions, Linkedin is generating revenue.

How did Linkedin find a path to profit before the social network kings? Credit the foresight of CEO Reid Hoffman, who was a senior executive at Paypal before it was sold to eBay,

When you want to influence the structure for millions and millions of people, you actually need to have a strong economic model that scales. If you can create structures where the interests of millions of align with the group's interest, then you can actually create things that generate a lot of value in the system.

Linkeden's revenue model is three-pronged:

  1. Upgraded Acccounts: Business, Business Plus and Pro Accounts provide extra features, including thorough lists of who's searched for you and your company.
  2. Hiring services.
  3. Advertising comparable to the Wall Street Journal Demographic

linkedin subscriptions

Social networks and job search engines like careerbuilder can't match the valuable service offered by Linkedin, because it provides both of those services, along with a free resume profile.

With layoffs mounting nationwide, every professional is exploring new ideas to improve their resume and protect their future. The average job length is two-to-four years, which has redefined the role of the American worker. Earlier this week, he told  Charlie Rose that modern businessman has become the entrepreneur, whether they recognize it or not.

In the terms of the business of themselves and how they drive that. So it's how they get their next job opportunity, how they get a promotion. All of that comes from how they manage the network around them.

As for the future of Linkedin, Hoffman believes the public is just starting to discover the value of self-empowering sites, tools and resources.

 We’re just beginning to explore how effective finding of information and communication and distribution of information makes you a lot more effective.

Linkedin's Financial Advantage over Facebook, Twitter & Myspace By Matt O'Hern at 03:47 PM
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Google Tip Jar: A Community to Save Money & Share Insight

Tough economic times inspired the creation of Google Tip Jar, a forum for money-saving tips and tactics.

We realized there were a lot of tips that could help people save money scattered across the web. Why not use Google Moderator to collect and rank them all according to community feedback? And so Tip Jar was born

The Tip Jar community is divided into eight categories:

  1. At Home
  2. At work
  3. Finance
  4. Kids and Family
  5. Shopping
  6. Food
  7. Cars and Transit
  8. Travel

Each user has the ability to submit a tip and vote on other tips, which Google Moderator collects and ranks. Tips with the highest vote total are placed in the section: Popular Tips. As of noon today, Tip Jar's community consisted of 23,000 members, including a two sites that raised my eyebrows.

  • doughroller.net
  • iwillteachyoutoberich.com

As with any  message board or online community, there's always the chance  for spammers to creep in and ruin a great site. Fortunately, you can report a comment as inappropriate, but I'm not sure what Moderator deems as, "appropriate."

Some of tips were so basic I don't know why the user spent the time to post "bring your lunch to work." I also saw a few that made me wonder where these people get some of their ideas, such as mixing vodka with shampoo. I'm not even kidding.google tip jar

 

I decided to register and offered these two tips. I was surprised that I was allowed to include a link in the post, but it wasn't active.

Tip Jar Pros:

  • Another community to create new connections.
  • A great method to build trust and expand your network.
  • Voting to rank comments.

Cons:

  • You can't comment on a specific tip.
  • Potential to become a spam magnet.

Google Tip Jar: A Community to Save Money & Share Insight By Matt O'Hern at 12:32 PM
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Obama Asks Twitter CEO Evan Williams for Economic Advice

twitter obama

From the start of his campaign,  Barack Obama was touted as the tech-savvy candidate as he utilized social networking to generate enthusiastic support.

Now,  Obama, the Commander in Chief,  is turning to Evan Williams, the Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder of Twitter, for advice on America's  economy.

Ironically, Twitter is has enough of its own financial challenges to deal with.

Judging from Evan's White House Tweet, he was perplexed by Obama's invitation. He's not sure what he'll say when he arrives at 1500 Pennsylvania Ave.

Going to the White House tomorrow for a meeting about the economy (which must mean they're *really* out of ideas). What should I tell them?

Williams left Google in 2004 to co-found Odeo, a podcasting company, and he eventually joined the team that launched Twitter in April, 2007.  Twitter's evolution and growth during that time span is comparable to Obama's remarkable rise in popularity en route to electoral victory. 

However, as Williams told Charlie Rose earlier this week, Twitter is still undecided about the best path to monetization. I appreciate Obama's desire to seek economic council from outside sources, I'm just wondering why he chose the leader of a social network that has yet to generate a stream of revenue.

Obama Asks Twitter CEO Evan Williams for Economic Advice By Matt O'Hern at 10:10 AM
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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Posterous.com Simplifies Blogging: Post Entries via Email

When I describe my career, one of the most common responsesis something to the effect of:


I've thought about starting my own blog, I just don't have time to figure it out.

You may place yourself in that category.It's a reasonable excuse for Baby Boomers and anyone who didn't grow up in the 90's. However, they should be savvy enough to send an email. Thanks to the simple format offered by Posterous, joining the blogosphere is easier than ever before.

Posterous lets users publish blog entries by emailing their material to post@posterous.com.posterous sent email

Once you mail is sent, Posterous handles the rest.A reply is sent to your Inbox with a link to your blog.posterous reply

As a nice perk, Posterous automatically embeds any attached audio files, video files or Youtube links. posterous post The email-to-post format distinguishes Posterous from WordPress,Typepad and other hosts, because it's appealing to all bloggers, from novices to experts. For novices, Posterous is an ideal introduction to the blogosphere.

For the gurus, Posterous supplements their social networking profile, and provides access to helpful tools to utilize, such as Autopost, which syncs your posts with your social network blogs; and Bookmarklet,  which allows you to select text, video, music or photos from any web page and post it instantly to your Posterous by clicking a special bookmark.

I encourage you to take a leap of faith. Visit Posterous.com and become a blogger today.

Posterous.com Simplifies Blogging: Post Entries via Email By Matt O'Hern at 04:06 PM
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OCR Terminal Converts PDF and Images to Searchable Text

How many times have you stared at copy on a PDF file or screenshot and wished you could simply copy and paste the text?

It's always frustrating to to type-out all that material, word-for-word, only because there's no alternative.
Well here's some good news:

With OCR Terminal, you can convert PDF and words from  images to .txt or *.rtf formats. Free membership is available at the OCR Terminal homepage. Once you've completed the registration process, you may upload,scan and convert up to 30 pages of popular document image formats- PDF,TIFF, jpgs and screenshots.If you need to convert more than 30, you can contact OCR.

Currently, OCR Terminal doesn't convert languages other than English, but developers are planning to add more languages. Other projects include a desktop client for multiple file upload and storage for all OCred documents. Product updates are posted on the company blog and Twitter page.

I wanted to test the conversion tool earlier this week, but due to a mass influx of traffic, the site was down for maintenance. Fortunately,it was up and running this morning .and I uploaded a PDF file, (a copy of my profile on Linkedin), Converting the file was a simple, four-step process.

  1. Browse and select the PDF file or image you want to convert the file to.ocrterminal browse
  2. Clck Upload.ocr terminal upload
  3. Click Yes- begin processingocr process.
  4. Choose and click  the text format you wish to convert toocr terminal convert: .txt, .doc, ,rtf,.pdf.

My Linkedin profile converted smoothly to Notepad, and Microsoft Word , so I decided to try a JPG.

I chose our company logo, Labitat. to convert to Word. OCR successfully scanned and converted it to Word in 8 point font in Arial, without the color scheme. I wasn't sure if that was the default format, so I uploaded a 336x40 black and red  marketingshift  logo.marketingshift banner logo I was surprised when  LARGER of the two images converted to a SMALLER font size (Arial 5), AND the color scheme remained intact.

Converting to .txt resulted in an inaccurate translation of the text.The  "ing" in marketing was interpreted as "M", so the .txt version  read "IMARKETMG SHIFT." To be fair, OCR is still in Beta mode, and those small errors are simple for the user correct.

As OCR Terminal is tweaked and the news spreads, demand will continue to grow for this valuable service. I expect the tool to become a major asset for anyone in academia or business.

OCR Terminal Converts PDF and Images to Searchable Text By Matt O'Hern at 11:28 AM
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Instant Coffee Taste Test: Starbucks Via vs. Nescafe

nescafe vs. starbucks

In an effort to recpature the customers who left from the coffee war with McDonalds, Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) launched its instant coffee-Via,  in select Seattle and Chicago markets yesterday.

You can buy your own Via pack online, but I want to hear from you coffee fans out in Seattle and Chicago. Does Via live up to Shultz' hype, or is it just another version of Nescafe Instant Coffee?.According to  Starbucks Twitter , it will be sold in London stores by the end of March.If you've had the chance to sample this new product, please leave a comment and share your review.

Instant Coffee Taste Test: Starbucks Via vs. Nescafe By Matt O'Hern at 09:26 AM
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Q&A w/ Jack in the Box CMO about Social Media & hangintherejack.com

One super bowl commercial can go a long way, if you follow it with the right social media / viral campaign.

Just ask Terri Graham, the Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing officer of Jack in the Box. jack in the box new logoToday, I had the chance to talk to her about the rebranding of Jack in the Box, including the new logo and the new website, which is set to debut March 16.

Graham also explained the creative process behind the hangintherejack.com social media campaign that creative process behind the series of videos that were viewed more than 4.3 million times, with more than 77,000 get-well text and video wishes, and more than 67,000 fans and followers via website, Twitter and Facebook  followers.

You can watch the interview on this video below. Also, be sure to check out the marketingshift Youtube channel for more videos, including an interview with Mary Dillon, the CMO of McDonalds.

Q&A w/ Jack in the Box CMO about Social Media & hangintherejack.com By Matt O'Hern at 12:09 AM
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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Hangintherejack Videos Get 4.3 Million Views Thanks to Twitter & Facebook

jackbox twitter

Jack in the Box marketing executives must be pleased with the results from the social networking  traffic they received from their Super Bowl Ad.  In the commercial, company mascot, Jack, was run over by a bus, and the ad ended with a website to track his status: hangintherejack.com.

Hangintherejack.com  featured  video updates on Jack's health after he slipped into a coma. Users could upload vidoes, write get-well wishes and follow links to  Jack's Twitter profile and Facebook page: Jack Box. According to our sources, the campaign videos were viewed more than 4.3 million times, Jack received more than 77,000 get-well text and video wishes, and more than 67,000 fans and followers via website, Twitter and Facebook sign-ups.

Senior VP and Chief Marketing Officer Terri Graham was pleased with the social feedback. In a press release, she said:

The enthusiasm and engagement among Jack in the Box fans has been tremendous. With the campaign still ongoing, it’s too early to gauge its full impact, but we’re very excited about the response it’s received so far

This week, Fans were relieved this week as Jack woke from his coma and vowed to get back to work. Jack in the Box announced several brand re-invention programs, including a new logo and website. As for the health of the actual corporation, you can check the stock status for Jack in the Box at (NASDAQ: JACK).

I'm working to find more details about the campaign and I'll post more about the social networking aspect of this campaign later.

Hangintherejack Videos Get 4.3 Million Views Thanks to Twitter & Facebook By Matt O'Hern at 05:05 PM
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FedEx Office to Host Free Resume Printing Day for Job Seekers

fed ex free printing day

In steady economic times, freebies and giveaways are associated with grand openings, holidays, a special occasion or festive event. But this economy is far from stable, and that's what inspired FedEx (NYSE: FDX) to take new approach to the time-tested promotional tactic. 

On March 10, 1,600+ FedEx Office Print and Ship Centers will print up to 25 resume copies for free. The timely promo, called FedEx Office Free Resume Printing Day, was created to help job seekers who were casualties of the recession. FedEx office CEO Brian Philips said:

We understand that the economy has affected many people in a very profound way, and we want to help.Printing resumes is one small way we can use our resources to help those who need it

Here's the only rule: Orders must be placed and picked up in-store. Customers may place orders by submitting their resume in printed format or as a digital file, and the copies will be printed single-sided on resume-quality paper. Usually, promotional giveaways are designed to entice customers to buy more products once they've been lured into the store, but considering the promo's target audience, you can't expect them to have very much discretionary income.

Philips should be credited for executing a plan that's sure to boost the company's image and reputation among the general public.

FedEx Office to Host Free Resume Printing Day for Job Seekers By Matt O'Hern at 12:29 PM
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ACC Tournament Ticket Change = Valuable Lesson for Sports Marketers

acc tournament

We all know about the law of supply and demand, but the Atlantic Coast Conference directors have learned the importance of location and knowing your audience.

Atlanta is hosting the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament this year, tickets are available to the general public for the first time since Lyndon B. Johnson was in the White House (1966).

For decades, corporate sponsors, team relatives, select students, and major boosters were part of the exclusive group with access to the nationally-televised event. As the size and scope of the tournament grew, the ACC decided try venues other than the Greensboro and Charlotte arenas, which were within a short drive from Tobacco Road.
Atlanta, Tampa and Washington D.C. were added to the rotation, and this year, the commisioners probably have Carolina on their mind, because Atlanta isn't the right fit

In a statement to ESPN, ACC commissioner John Swofford  cited a "unique combination of playing this year's tournament in a dome during very trying economic times." as the reason for the public sale. He also put a positive spin on the situation.


Having already sold more tickets to this year's tournament than the capacity of any of our other venues, our schools felt it would be appropriate to offer the remaining tickets to college basketball fans in the Atlanta area.


On the surface, Swofford's capacity quote sounds impressive, but the 70,000 seat Georgia Dome won't fill more than half of its seats. (They offer 30,000-40,000 seats when the layout is configured for basketball.)

By comparison, the Greensboro Coliseum seats 23,500 and Charlotte's Time Warner Cable Arena seats approximately 20,200. Here are some numbers to chew on:

The combined undergrad enrollment of the ACC is approximately 194,000 students. Obviously, not every student is going to spend the time and money to travel to the tournament, but even if only 5 to 10% of those students purchased tickets, their presence alone would nearly fill Charlotte or Greensboro. In addition to the current students,  consider all the alumni who would love their first chance to attend, and you start to get an idea of the market size.
Obviously, the demand is down. Why? I believe there are two main reasons.
One reason is obvious: the economy.
The other reason: Atlanta isn't a good location, which is why the ACC will return to Greensboro for 2010 and 2011.
My friend, Ben Burnett , who knows just about everyone in the college sports scene, connected me with Will Wade, who was the Director of Men's Basketball Operations at Clemson University during the 2006-07 season and a graduate assistant coach during the 2005-06 season. Currently, he's an assistant coach at Harvard, where he works with head coach Tommy Amaker, the former player and coach at Duke. I figured Wade could offer an insider's perspective on the ACC market. When Wade was at Clemson, the tourney was in D.C. and Greensboro, and he described it as a very hot ticket. Wade wasn't suprised by the conference's decision to open public ticket sales and believes that Atlanta is much better fit for the SEC, due to its proximity to conference members. (For the record, Atlanta does host the SEC tourney as well)


 Atlanta is a SEC market. I know Georgia Tech is there, but  most of the people are Georgia fans, and the dome is only two hours hours from Auburn and a few hours from Alabama and Tennessee, it's not too far from UF and Vandy. When it's in Greensbroro, you're  within 60 miles of Duke, UNC, Wake Forest and N.C. State.Other schools like Clemson and Virginia Tech are only a few hours away. You're within four hours of half the conference membership. Now, in Atlanta, you're asking a fan to take off Wednesday through Friday for the extra travel.


Should you purchase your tickets at the gate, you'll have to pay $363  for the entire 11-game book and you'll be in the upper deck. Online ticket brokers offer  flexible deals. Complete tournament ticket packages start at $350, but you can buy first round (Four games) tickets for $65 each. You can find tickets at razorgator and stubhub.

I'll be watching the tournament closely to gauge the size of the crowd.

ACC Tournament Ticket Change = Valuable Lesson for Sports Marketers By Matt O'Hern at 11:25 AM
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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Follow the Mind of Maurice Clarrett at mauriceclarrett.wordpress.com

mind of maurice clarrett

I've always been intrigued by the MSNBC documentary series: Locked Up, because I'm always curious to see how different inmates cope with life in prison. Now, I can follow the mind of one of America's most famous inmates:  Maurice Clarrett, on his blog: The mind of Maurice Clarett. (But be forewarned: he doesn't want to talk about prison life-because he's above that topic.)

Clarrett is one of many rishing young athletes who took the wrong path, and became the poster child for deliquent players. Clarrett made a splash on the college football scene when he ran for 1,237 yards and scored 16 touchdowns en route to a national championship during his freshman year at Ohio State University.

After an unsuccesful attempt at early entry to the NFL, Clarrett was forced to wait until 2005 to be drafted, and the Denver Broncos rolled the dice in the third round. His professional career was short-lived (one month, te be exact) .Clarrett never played one down of NFL football and his life spiraled downward, and he was arrested multiple times for armed robbery. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, where he passes his blog notes to friends and family, who post the entries for him.

Here are some highlights from Clarrett's most recent entries:

"I created this site for other reasons. There are too many young men and women that need hope and inspiration. To a large degree, prison doesn’t exist to me anymore."

Judging from that entry, you might assume Clarrett's matured and gained some perspective but continue reading his inconsistent remarks and you'll realize he still has a long road ahead.

"I am able to control the content and I am educated enough to accurately express myself. I am able to distinguish to people in a unique fashion that football is just something that I do. Football is not Maurice Clarett. The essence of my writings support humanity. I am in prison and I have the spirit of a champion."

Apparently, Maurice is a multi-dimensional guy, let's hear about the other areas in life where's he's striving to make an impact.

Remember that when you mention Ohio State and you begin to mention some of the “greats,” don’t forget to mention Maurice. When you put the photos in your memorabilia books, don’t forget #13. I inspired my ‘02 class. I made them believe. I was our leader and source of inspiration. I was the big brother. 14-0 felt good and please remember that I closed the deal in the big game.

Ok, maybe he does stil care about his football legacy. What are his other pursuits?

"I am a businessman. I’m a sovereign being. I am a symbol of hope. I am not a symbol of shame. I am not embarrassed by any of my life’s events. I am not afraid to keep evolving. I am strong both mentally and physically. I understand how to use my influence. I understand how to use my respect and power."

If Maurice Clarrett considers himself a businessman, a sovereign being and a source of hope, I'm glad that he's ALREADY in prison where he can't turn our recession into the next great depression. I wonder when he will publish his first motivational book. Maybe they'll sell it right next to the Tony Robbins collection, or he could star in another remake of The Longest Yard.

Follow the Mind of Maurice Clarrett at mauriceclarrett.wordpress.com By Matt O'Hern at 04:16 PM
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Evan Williams Explains Evolution of Twitter to Charlie Rose

twitter ceo evan williams

I'll never forget the first time I heard my journalism professor use the phrase "media melding."

It was during one of my first journalism and mass comm courses in the fall of 2000. He explained how  print, broadcast and the Internet,  were becoming homogenous. Newspapers were integrating outside sources on their websites, some websites were starting to look like newspapers and broadcast news was citing online sources for stories.This was a couple years before blogging and social networking revolutionized the entire web- the latest phase of media melding, or what we call "mashing" now.

For example, when Twitter  was created, it was distinctly different from twitter logoFacebook and Myspace because its primary function was to notify friends and co-workers of your status, and it was also used as an easy way to promote a site. Initially, the social networks were soley focused on user-to-user communication.

While that's still Facebook and Myspace's  primary function, their roles have expanded to the point where many are using the social network's status update features for the same purposes Twitter was created. In fact, many users have synched their Facebook status with their Twitter account.
Considering those facts, I thought Evan Williams made an outdated comparison when Charlie Rose asked him to contrast Twitter from social networks. Williams said:

Twitter is a synchronous (not synchronised) relationship model so I can be interested in you and you're sending updates and you have no idea who the heck I am or you just don't care about my updates and you ignore me. On a social network, you have to confirm. It's much more open and it creates a different kind of dynamic. You put stuff out there like you would on a blog.
 

Now, I must admit, Williams was right about the fact that Twitter is asynchronous,  However, I believe his claim that social networks are strictly for two-way communication is somewhat inaccurate. Granted, the majority of social network users are on there for the interaction among friends, but just as more tools and applications have been developed for Twitter, the same tools have altered social networks as well. 

Williams was touting the third-party developers who have created various programs for twittering, and he mentioned the different groups and organizations you can follow.

 There's also companies media, sports teams and friends. You can post a link to third party....Anything you can imagine now has a twitter interface all developed by third party developers. People just build all things around it.

Those are all great features, but last time I checked, there are plenty of apps, pages and groups devoted to teams, athletes, companies, go green organizations, charities, political organizations on Facebook. As for third-party enhancement, new apps are frequently made for Facebook. It seems like every day I receive an invitation to a new group, page or App.

Throughout the interview, Williams was very open and honest with Rose ,and he admitted that they're contemplating advertising implementation to monetize the site. However, he was too myopic when he boasted Twitter's evolution and adaptations yet failed to acknowledge the progress and changes occouring within social networks. I found a link to the interview video on Mashable.

Evan Williams Explains Evolution of Twitter to Charlie Rose By Matt O'Hern at 11:44 AM
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Monday, March 02, 2009

10th-Grader's Site nocussing.com Inspires No Cussing Week in L.A.

His campaign began three years ago. It started with grassroots support, followed by a wesbite, and the momentum lured thousands of enthusiastic supporters across the nation.

No, I'm not talking about Barack Obama, I'm talking about McKay Hatch, a 15-year old high school student who made it to the MSN hompage today, as the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors issued a proclomation that the first week of March will be "No Cussing Weak."

Hatch formed his first No Cussing Club in 7th grade, when he heard classmates uttering phrases he wasn't allowed to use at home.no cussing clubEventually, the club created bright orange T-shirts, wrist bands, a  theme song, DVD and a website.

There's no fine for offenders, but Hatch hopes to see more people treat each other with civility in L.A.

Next year I want to try to get California to have a cuss-free week. And then, who knows, maybe worldwide It's not about forcing anyone to stop, just to bring awareness. If you can do a week without cussing, maybe you can do two weeks. And then maybe a month

Hatch's movement gained the attention Dawson Publishing, which published a book about his movement. He's also been interviewed by Good Morning America, CNN, Jay Leno, Dr. Phil, USA Today, The New York Times and other media across the nation.

homer swear jarPersonally, I think L.A. and the state of California could solve their budget crisis if they just followed the lead of Marge Simpson and started swear jar, where every offender must contributes their loose change for every four-letter slip of the tongue. Heck, it's just as practical as an iTunes tax.

By the way, here's the grading scale for the club.

One curse-free week = Apprentice

One curse-free month = Journeyman

One curse-free year = Master

If you think you're up to the challenge, you can join the club online.

10th-Grader's Site nocussing.com Inspires No Cussing Week in L.A. By Matt O'Hern at 04:56 PM
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Myspace / Knowing Time Capsule Contest: Define 2009 w/ 1 Pic

myspace knowing time capsule

 I always appreciate a promotional contest that demands creative efforts, because it empowers the competitors with a sense of pride and purpose.

These contests simulatenously promote your product and provide your fans/customers with a chance  to showcase their creativity with their entries. The burden is on the participants to make it interesting, but they enjoy the task. That's why I have to credit to the marketing minds that conceptualized the Myspace Knowing movie Digital Time Capsule Contest.

For those of you who don't know, Knowing, the movie, is about John Koestler, (played by Nicolas Cage)  a teacher who uncovers a time capsule from1958. The capsule contains Nostradamus-like prophesies for all of the major disasters since 1958, along with three disasters to occur on future dates.

The Myspace Knowing contest's challenge: What photo would you put in a time capsule to represent you in the year 2009?

(On a side note, I chuckled to myself after reading the question, because my first idea came from the bitter section of my 2009 memories.)

With only two months worth of material to work with and only one photo to submit, contestants will have to tap all of their creative resources. Your photo must be from your Myspace photo album, and the grand prize winner will be featured on the Myspace homepage on March 18, with a special comment from director Alex Proyas and a signed Knowing poster.

With such vague guidelines, it's hard to determine what type of photos will appeal to the judges.I wish they'd given a few more hints to the type of photos they were looking for. For example, will they consider abstract photos that don't relate to any major current events?  So far, 2009 has included the inauguration of first African-American President of the United States, and a stock market in free-fall. How much credit will they give to metaphorical/symbolic photos?

I'm curious to see which photo wins the grand prize. As for the movie, the storyline sounds all too familiar. Once again, Nicolas Cage stars in a movie where his character unearths a document with information that could alter history books and change the course of time.

Have you noticed the recurring Nic Cage role? Whether it's an action/adventure film or a drama, he's always an egotistical jerk who has a revelation or document that unlocks codes from the past or enables him to see in the future. In the midst of his quest to preserve history or protect the future, he comes to the humbling realization that there's more to life than fame, money and fancy cars.

If you think I'm exaggerating, consider the following list of his notable movies:

National Treasure: Cage is a treasure hunter is in hot pursuit of a mythical treasure that has been passed down for centuries, while his employer turned enemy is onto the same path that he's on.

National Treasure 2, Book of secrets: Cage's family is suddenly implicated in Abraham Lincolns death after a missing page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth surfaces. To defend his family's honor, he pursues an international chain of clues from Paris to London and ultimately back to America. His jourey leads to surprising revelations and to the trail of the world's most treasured secrets.

 The Weather Man: Cage is a famous weatherman in his home town of Chicago, but his career prevents him from maintaining relationships with his dysfunctional family.

Matchstick Men: Cage is a neurotic con-man who receives an unexpected visit from his daughter, who throws him off  of his A-game. Eventually, he begins to enjoy her companionship, but he's conflicted over the fact that she's enamored by his shady career.

The Family Man: Cage is an ambitious and pompous businessman who loves life in the fast lane as a single man, but one morning, he wakes up to discover that he's somehow a husband and father of two. Over a few weeks time,he realizes money is not the source of happiness.

The Wicker Man:While recovering from a tragic accident on the road, the patrolman Edward Malus (Cage) receives a letter from his former fiancée Willow, who left him years ago without any explanation, telling that her daughter Rowan is missing. He discovers there's a larger mystery to solve among the island's secretive, neo-pagan community

Next: Cage is a Las Vegas magician with psychic visions. The FBI learns of his talent and pursues him to  prevent a nuclear terrorist attack.

Snake Eyes: Cage is a flamboyant and corrupt Atlantic City cop on duty major boxing match when a member of the government is killed. Cage soon has several leads and he reaches a crossroads where he must decide if he'll look the other way, or risk his cozy lifestyle to help the investigation.

Myspace / Knowing Time Capsule Contest: Define 2009 w/ 1 Pic By Matt O'Hern at 12:13 PM
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Coldplay Fans Learn MTV World Stage Doesn't Include U.S.A.

mtv world

Evidently, the  MTV World Stage doesn't include the United States, because American  Coldplay fans missed out on the concert from the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo. (Unless there's a MTV International satellite channel I'm unaware of)

I went to mtvni.com to find footage from the concert, and 27 different international sites were listed, with countries ranging from Germany to Tawain, but the U.S. was nowhere to be found.

Since my knowledge of foreign languages is "limited", I found the UK  World Stage page, and clicked "episodes" on the left side. The Coldplay Concert was prominently featured at the top,and I found a playlist of the Coldplay concert, categorized by each song.

For a few seconds, I was under the illusion that I discovered a backdoor to the concert footage, but after I sat through 30-second  commercial, this image appeared on the video screen.mtv world stage coldplay

Well, so much for MTVNI's claim.

MTV World Stage proves that all-the-world IS a stage.

I realize Coldplay isn't an American group, but I'm willing to bet our Coldplay fan base rivals Romania's, and we certainly bought our fair share of their record-selling albums. What were the leaders at Viacom (NYSE: VIA) Parlaphone Records and Capitol Records thinking when they decided to DENY American access to the online content? Surely they could have negotiated a deal when Coldplay signed on to launch MTV's series.

This is the worst time to restrict access to quality video content. Imagine all of the ad revenue Viacom could have generated with a U.S. feed.

Coldplay Fans Learn MTV World Stage Doesn't Include U.S.A. By Matt O'Hern at 09:26 AM
Comments (2)

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