The Cronut Consumes New York

It’s like a social virus.It’s spread by a bite and fueled by frenzy. It’s not a zombie plague, although if someone announces a warehouse-full giveaway of the stuff, you would see similar hysteria.

No, New Yorkers are going crazy over the “cronut”, a delectable hybrid of the flaky croissant and the sticky-sweet doughnut. It’s only available at one Manhattan bakery, and New Yorkers are lining up at dawn for just a shot at buying it. Construction workers are getting up early to scalp the product and knock-offs like the “doissant” are already appearing in bakeries in Washington D.C. and Melbourne, Australia. The pastries are even being resold on craigslist, which somehow seems just the wrong forum for retailing fresh foodstuffs.

Doughnuts are great, as everyone knows, but it seems unlikely that the cronut is that much better to justify lines of New Yorkers giving up several hours daily to wait for it as if it were the next iPhone. No, somehow, this pastry has randomly morphed into a form of social currency, much like tulips with the Dutch or Beanie Babies with 90’s Middle America. In a recent queue, one man was waiting in line to get a cronut to use as a peace offering to his girlfriend and another was hoping to bring cronuts to a meeting to impress clients. Some say the cronut’s popularity is just clever marketing, benefiting from an excellent hybrid name, while others say it’s riding the hybrid food wave, which began ingloriously with the tofurky. But really, lightning sometimes just strikes.

I hope this baker knows what he has on his hands. It appears so, as he’s already trademarked the cronut brand. All he has to do is ride the wave just right to license his product and introduce the cronut to the rest of America before the craze collapses on itself, and then he won’t have to roll out dough anymore, because he’ll be rolling in it.


Burberry’s Kiss and Sell

Unfortunately, Soulja Boy’s follow-up single “Kiss Me Thru The Phone” is actually possible (the unfortunate part being the mention of Soulja Boy), thanks to a collaboration between Google and Burberry. “Burberry Kisses” is an app/advertising campaign that allows users to take a picture of, or, on your phone and pad, actually kiss the screen to capture an image of your kiss to send via e-mail.

The campaign is part of Google’s Art, Copy & Code project, which seeks to “re-imagine” advertising through brand partnership by focusing on new and creative ways to advertise digitally. It’s certainly a touching idea. And it’s really hoping to catch-on with millennial consumers. Millennials are entering their peak spending years and now outnumber baby boomers, yet much is still unknown about them as consumers, except one thing. A report by The Boston Consulting Group confirms that millenials are tech-savvy, “digital natives”.

So, Google has started several experimental campaigns via Art, Copy & Code that focus on technological interactivity. One allows your sneakers to post updates on your phone. Another is a partnership with Volkswagen that connects your phone with your car to automatically post updates and interact with online friends while you’re driving. Both campaigns focus on connecting people to objects to social media.

This latest Burberry collaboration can be taken as a beginning step to indulge millennial consumers (usually “misunderstood” by companies and advertisers) and make sense of how to get the most out of a changing digital advertising landscape. As much as millenials are already attached to their phones, Burberry Kisses hopes to play-to that connection by adding the natural interface of lips-to-screen. Cute technology, but not game-changing.

The real trick to the campaign, though, is in triggering subliminal feelings of love for Burberry every time users “kiss” their app page. Next up: Burberry Snuggle? I’m done with cute for awhile.


Alec Baldwin Gets Pissed on Twitter….Again

It’s impossible not to notice that Alec Baldwin went all green and snarly on Twitter late yesterday. The object of his rage, this time, appears to be a tabloid reporter who dared to accuse his very pregnant wife of tweeting during James Gandolfini’s funeral. His tirade is epic, seemingly trumping all the previous Baldwin tirades by threatening violence, suggesting forcible sodomy and exhibiting extreme homophobia in a matter of minutes.

To be fair, the reporter seems to never have heard of publicist ghostwriters or automatic Twitter updates, and though the tweets do originate during the funeral, it seems unlikely that Alec’s yoga instructor wife really would be so classless as to tweet about Rachel Ray during the funeral. Think of what Alec would say if she did. He’s always been sensitive about phone etiquette and his family.

Buried in the tirade is a very real lesson for publicists, as Baldwin decided it was a good opportunity to fire all of his. It seems like Baldwin’s publicists should have known to coordinate tweets around the star’s schedule to avoid such insinuations. Maybe the publicity firm was letting an intern have a turn with the Baldwin account.

Still, it seems unlikely that the Baldwin brand will be forever tarnished. Alec has a way of turning terrible behavior into good publicity and career longevity. Winona Ryder gets caught lifting a couple of dresses and she’s stuck doing Adam Sandler movies for the rest of her life. For Alec, this probably means another SNL hosting gig, if he’s willing to laugh at himself.

I’m done with his nonsense.


Business Majors: Leaders of Tomorrow’s Waitstaff

Business as usual is…underemployed. A recent PayScale report found that business schools have the highest rate of underemployed graduates. Traveling, yelling at people to “sell high” on your cellphone, and doing other business-y things is more fantasy than reality for most, with business school grads 1.17 times more underemployed than the national average.

One of the most striking aspects of the underemployment report is that business administration and management majors are the most underemployed in the nation – 8.2 times more underemployed than average. Are their degrees helping them to “manage” that awful number? Apparently not well. One of the three most common jobs for grads in the field is waiter/waitressing. That should be disappointing to hear for those who were hoping to manage hedge funds instead of serving hamburgers.

Even with U.S. job creation at the best it’s been in five years, the PayScale report puts a good punch on the conversation of whether studying business in school is worth it. With experts saying that even an MBA isn’t a worthy investment and probably won’t command the salary increase you want, putting your hopes into an undergrad business program may be a pipe dream.

On the other end of the ranking are engineering schools (at number eight), whose grads are only 0.36 times underemployed compared to the nation. They also make a typical starting salary of $58,200 compared to business’s $42,500. And we know most engineering students don’t spend money on fashion or dining!

Did I mention that I majored in Art Education?


Barbarians Measuring the Drapes: Dictionary Acknowledges “Tweet”

The Oxford English Dictionary is seemingly taking Twitter under its wing by including the modern definition of “tweet” in its newest edition. The august word authority admits it’s breaking its own rules by including the word before it has had a decade to marinate in the vernacular lexicon. And with no hint of irony, the OED also has included the word “crowdsourcing”, as if to make sure we know that it’s lost control of the English language.

The first tweet apparently got sent out in March 21, 2006. (Unsurprisingly, it provoked potty language by the third comment.) Not coincidentally, the OED stopped publishing its print edition in 2010, and it now relies on online subscriptions. (Strangely, the word “retweet” was included in 2011. Not sure what that’s all about.) The lexicographers still must be feeling the heat of the competition from the online mobs that have taken control of the world, and OED seems to have chosen to work proactively to embrace a “crowdsourcing” future, rather than stand defiant in the face of rapid change. Of course, defiance of society’s rapidization has its points, too.

In a less groundbreaking development, the OED also has included the word “dad dancing”, which allows me to include this.

Okay, back to my tweeting.


Happy Mondays?

Happy Mondays?

Happy workers can’t tell the difference between the work day and the weekend, at least physiologically, according to a recent Gallup survey. Survey participants who identified as “engaged” reported feeling nearly as good during the work-week as they do during the weekend. And that engagement can lead to better productivity, especially on Mondays, and lower overall health costs, workplace health experts suggest.

The engaged employee, unfortunately, is in the minority. The report found that just 30% of the U.S. workforce felt that their employer was committed to their success and growth and that they were committed to the growth and success of their employer. Some 70 percent of the workforce feels “not engaged” or “actively disengaged”. The implications for U.S. productivity are staggering.

While it’s natural for stress and worry to increase during weekdays, the engaged worker manages to offset that stress because he or she feels respected in the workplace, researchers suggest. Gallup believes engaged employees likely channel their weekday stress in productive ways, including by exercising. These findings align with Gallup’s notion that engaged employees are in better health, handle commuting stress better than their peers and are more likely to have a happy home life.

So how do you help your workforce feel engaged?

  1. Promote learning. The single most effective way to increase employee engagement is by teaching them something new, research shows.
  2. Buffer the transition between the weekend and the work week. Some employers open the office later on Mondays or have breakfast catered on Monday mornings.

Fun facts:

  • Large scale-studies suggest that heart attacks are most likely to occur on Mondays.
  • Gallup research suggests the wellbeing of actively disengaged workers is often as bad as that of the unemployed.

Food Brands Push Energy

Food marketers are applying a lot of power to push energy. The marketing of cereal, snacks, shakes and even dog food is pushing energy as a selling point big time.

PepsiCo-owned Quaker is among the most aggressive brands trying to capitalize the appeal of newfound energy. Their new campaign includes a TV ad showing people nodding off on buses, at work and at home, and encourages people to fight the “human energy crisis” with the “good energy of Quaker” and its array of oatmeal-based products, from bars to hot cereal. The ads are by the Chicago office of BBDO, which is coincidentally known as Energy BBDO.

“What makes a modern mom different their parents’ generation is they embrace the chaos,” said Quaker Chief Marketing Officer Justin Lambeth. “They are not looking for the escape moment,” he added, but want a good energy source to get them through the day.

The campaign includes a microsite that tallies the nation’s energy level in real time by tirelessly scouring Twitter for terms like tired, awake, alert and exhausted.

Quaker reportedly has the energy to publish a quarterly “Human Energy Index” with Mashable that summarizes findings from the site. The publication will even show stats state by state. Louisiana is noted as the most exhausted state, followed by Mississippi, Hawaii, Alabama and Delaware.