Hemingway Foundation Condenses Novels Into Instagram Videos

The Ernest Hemingway Foundation has released a series of 15-second Instagram videos based on the writer’s works.

Hemingway Foundation Condenses Novels Into Instagram Videos

Ernest Hemingway likely isn’t at the front of most Instagram users’ minds, unless they’ve been assigned one of his books in English class. In an effort to drum up interest in Hemingway’s novels among the social network’s youthful user base, the Ernest Hemingway Foundation has condensed several of his books into 15-second videos.

Now this is some clever stuff. Whether or not this all leads to millenials embracing Hemingway is anyone’s guess, but these brief videos are highly entertaining. The animation looks great, and the stripped-down stories are quite funny.

My favorite is “A Farewell to Arms,” in which the tragic romance between Frederic and Catherine is boiled down to three brief exchanges of dialogue. (Catherine’s deadpan “I’m going into labor and dying” had me in stitches.)

For Whom the Bell Tolls” likely does the best job of creating interest in the source material, selling Hemingway’s Spanish Civil War tale as an intriguing adventure story. “The Old Man and the Sea” is the least-successful of the three adaptations. It still elicits a chuckle, but I’m not sure who would ever want to read the book after watching the Instagram video.

This campaign is an exceptionally clever move on the part of the Hemingway Foundation. I can’t think of a much better way to make books from nearly a century ago relevant in 2014. As for me personally, I don’t think these videos will drive me back to the bookshelf to catch up on my Hemingway. However, I did just read his entire Wikipedia page, so that’s got to count for something.

Howard Davidson Arlington MA

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Wix Spending Millions for Cheap Web Design

Israeli web-design company Wix is spending millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad, in an effort to heighten visibility for its dime-store service.

Wix

The irony here just slaps you in the face. Wix, the hilariously inept web-design company, will spend about $4.5 million on a Super Bowl spot to advertise their cheapskate, no-frills service. This news feels roughly equivalent to a Syfy Original movie receiving the advertising push of “Avatar.” Imagine if your local grocery chain suddenly started spending millions to advertise their knockoff store-brand Triscuits. (There’s the analogy I was looking for!)

Wix is essentially SquareSpace for people who can’t afford SquareSpace. It’s Geocities for the 21st century. It’s Blogspot for people too dumb to realize other sites offer the same tools for free. It’s “Web Design for Dummies” for people who don’t read books. Yet, here they are, buying a freaking Super Bowl ad, like it’s time to sit at the big kids’ table or something.

Well, I’ve got news for you, Wix. You can’t just buy your way into a spot at the big kids’ table and expect people to suddenly take you seriously. Furthermore, Wix says this is the start of a “far more aggressive campaign.” How do you get more aggressive than advertising during the Super Bowl?

Are they going to start paying people to tattoo “WIX” on their foreheads? Buy up the naming rights for people’s children? (I have to admit that Wix Davidson does have a certain ring to it, if the price is right.)

Do not get me started about a powered by Wix logo.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Bud Light Plans New ‘Mixx Tail’ Flavored Beers

Anheuser Busch InBev is planning a new Bud Light line extension – flavored beers called ‘Mixx Tail.'”

Anheuser Busch Mixx Tail

A-B InBev is continuing their quest to make flavored beers socially acceptable. Not satisfied with just one Bud Light-branded line of wine coolers, the company is rolling out Mixx Tail. The new line will feature nondescript flavors like Hurricane and Firewalker, along with a traditional Long Island Ice Tea flavor. Because the world needs yet another “hard iced tea.”

The goal here must be to join forces with the existing Bud Light Ritas line, thus cornering the market on not-beers. Clearly, A-B InBev is hoping to lure those darned indecisive millennials, who can never choose whether they want a beer or a cocktail.

Enter Mixx Tail, a product that allows them to have both a beer and a cocktail simultaneously, eliminating the need for decisiveness. (Which, when you think about it, is the exact same marketing strategy behind Bud Light Ritas.)

I’ve always referred to these types of beverages as wine coolers. The rebranding to “flavored beer” is definitely a smart move, because there is absolutely nothing cool about drinking a wine cooler. Therein lies the rub with all these products – at heart, these are still wine coolers we’re talking about.

The bottom line, in my opinion, still comes down to the same problem as Bud Light Ritas. A-B InBev is going to have to do a whole lot of convincing to get any millennial to view a Mixx Tail Hurricane as anything different from the bottle of Bartles & Jaymes their great-aunt drank at the family reunion.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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Radio Shack Getting Strange With Weird Al

Radio Shack is expressing its strange side, enlisting Weird Al Yankovic as the company’s new spokesman.

Radio Shack is expressing its strange side, enlisting Weird Al Yankovic as the company's new spokesman.

Weird Al Yankovic’s career renaissance started earlier this year with the surprising smash-hit album, “Mandatory Fun.” (I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know he was still making music until I started hearing buzz for his new record.) Now, Radio Shack is hoping to ride Weird Al’s coattails to a holiday sales bonanza.

In classic Weird Al form, he has taken the song “Babes in Toyland” and re-written it with his own signature satirical lyricism. I had a good laugh when Weird Al told the customer that Radio Shack has gifts for anyone – “even cousin Bob who’s 43 and lives at home.”

Let’s face it, Radio Shack needs to do something to increase their visibility in the market. When I saw the new ad, I tried to think of the last time I had been to a Radio Shack. It was only some time later that I remembered that I drive right past one every single day, driving to and from work. I have never been inside the store, despite passing it ten times a week.

Radio Shack has seen its market footprint shrink considerably, in the face of competition from big-box electronics stores, as well as e-commerce. I can’t be the only one seeing the irony in an electronics store with an outdated image calling upon an entertainer from the ’80s to push their brand.

The spot itself almost feels like a skit from Weird Al’s 1989 cult classic film “UHF.” This ad would have fit right in alongside that film’s fake ads, such as the unforgettable “Spatula City.” The reason this new Radio Shack spot works so well is that you can tell Weird Al wrote the lyrics. He’s not singing some brand manager’s lines, and that’s refreshing.

My walking into a Radio Shack is another store.  Let’s not go there.

Howard Davidson Arlington Massachusetts

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