After These Messages… We’ll Be Riiiiight Back!

I am a marketing department’s worst nightmare.  Because while I completely appreciate good commercials, they never influence me to buy the product.  Kudos to McDonald’s for their retro “Give Me Back My Filet-O-Fish” commercial, equipped with a Ford Ranchero and a catchy 8-bit sounding song via text message.  And those guys in the Sonic commercials, what’s not to love about “get those taste buds going, danga-langa-langa-langa-langa… Mornin’ Gents!” or “YOU’RE A CHEAP DATE!”

Yet I never buy from or eat at McDonald’s or Sonic.  I respect their commercials, but they’re just entertainment.  That’s all.  Completely ineffective as far as getting me to actually spend money.

Which causes me to think about this question:  When is the last time I bought a product or service based on an advertisement, of any kind?  Through a TV commercial, radio commercial, or magazine ad.  Any sort of marketing ad.

And I’m not counting the times I was already searching for a general product and came across a website.  That doesn’t count. 

I’m talking about this situation:  I never heard of the product.  I see an advertisement.  I buy it.

The last purchase I made was a food purchase.  I bought some cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes.  Because my wife heard about how awesome they are from some people at work.  So I bought the cupcakes through word-of-mouth.

Other than other mundane purchases like groceries and gas, the only other item I purchased in the last few weeks was a Rubik’s Cube, which I knew of through years of word-of-mouth.   

Three years ago I bought an i-pod, but not because of the commercials.  Because my friends had them.  Then I bought mine from amazon.com.

Same thing with my GPS. 

Same thing with choosing Verizon Wireless as my cell phone company.

And my subscription to Details magazine. 

And going through wordpress.com to get my own website.

And my town house.  My wife’s friend already lived in that neighborhood.

And my Wii.  I was sold on it well over a year before it even came out.

Even when I see a commercial for a movie, I won’t go see it or rent it or even watch it at all until I’ve talked to someone who’s seen it or until I’ve read a promising online review.  Word-of-mouth.

As for buying music, I may buy a new CD if I hear it playing on the radio or at Borders, but that’s not advertising, that’s exposure. 

So there’s the pattern.  I only buy things based on the recommendation of a person I trust.  And of course they’re never the ones actually selling me the product.

Okay, I can finally remember a time when I bought a product based on a commercial or ad.  It was high school.  My freshman year: 1995.  I bought a Trix t-shirt because I looked through a t-shirt magazine my friend gave me.

Oh wait, nevermind.  I only got the magazine because a friend gave it to me and said that I would like it.

So the last time I bought a product directly because of an advertisement was probably back in the early ‘90’s when I would buy Ninja Turtle action figures.  Toys.  When I was a kid. 

As an adult, I guess I kinda like the idea of outsmarting the advertising departments of companies.

Bottom line:  If a product or service is worth purchasing, word will get around and eventually get to me.  That’s the only advertising that honestly matters to me.

John Mayer’s Stupid Mouth

Will his recent humiliation humble him for good?  We keep on waiting.  (Waiting.)  Waiting for John Mayer to change.

In November 2009 when his new album Battle Studies was released, I wrote a review that in essence said the music itself was solid as always, but the man John Mayer himself was becoming increasingly annoying and obnoxious (read it here http://wp.me/pxqBU-fj).  But I have the ability to separate the art from the artist.  I believe John Mayer will always make music that I love, but can he ever get over himself?

I remember a simpler time, in college, circa 2002, when I ironically thought to myself as I was in the check out aisle, “How weird would it be if John Mayer was ever on the cover of these tabloid magazines?  What if he dated famous stars like Jennifer Aniston?”  It was such a foreign thought regarding the fresh-on-the-scene musical Wonderboy.

So it obviously was a huge case of déjà vu when this random thought from just a few short years earlier became a reality.  And with his rock star status came a major case of “I’m too sexy for my cat”.  That brings us to the year 2010.

The once funny and personable musician began to realize that the general consensus of him is that he is the current textbook definition of a douchebag, even more so than Spencer Pratt, who held that title for 2008.  Realizing this, and trying to shrug off his undesirable reputation, he acknowledged the public’s perception of himself in the December 2009 issue of Details magazine, yet still ended up saying this:

“I’m in the place of greatest freedom right now- not giving a f—…  I don’t have f— you money… I have ‘that’s my seat’ money’ “

Ultimately, his attitude has seemed to be: “I’m John Mayer.  I’ve got the talent, money, fame, and women that everyone else wants.  Oh yeah, and I’m clever and witty too.  See?”

Here’s the complete article: http://www.details.com/celebrities-entertainment/cover-stars/200912/singer-musician-cover-star-half-of-my-heart-john-mayer

It didn’t seem like he really cared or wanted to change.  He just wanted people to stop desecrating his name.

Then came the interview with Playboy magazine.  To sum it up, he’s gives his biggest “kiss and tell” list ever as he sexually degrades the women he’s been romantically involved with, makes a remark about his romantic disinterest in African-American women, and uses the “N-word” in the process.  That’s the PG summary.  Here’s a more detailed recap, not the actual interview: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35334100/ns/entertainment-celebrities/

Not quite the same mindset as his hit song, “Daughters”.

Soon after, he apologized on Twitter.  And last night here in Nashville he broke down on stage in the middle of “Gravity” (appropriate song choice) with the most sincere apology and acknowledgement of his self-centeredness:  http://wonderwall.msn.com/music/singer-john-mayer-breaks-down-on-stage-1537819.story?GT1=28135

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYS_qdWy_wM

It’s one thing to be a rich and famous womanizer, but even worse to acknowledge it, then brag about it while trying to appear sophisticated, in the public eye.

Now only time will tell whether the musical prodigy/media addict will return to the 2002 version of himself.  The guy that knew how to keep his stupid mouth shut.  The guy that seemed to narrate my life the way the TV show The Wonder Years did when I was a kid.  The only other guy I knew who was equally obsessed with the year 1983.

No need for us to collect all of our John Mayer recordings and burn them in the city square like disgruntled fans did with The Beatles when John Lennon said they were bigger than Jesus, or when Natalie Maines of The Dixie Chicks said they were ashamed of President Bush.  I still believe in the guy, as a person, that he can get through this by getting over himself.

Back on his first album, Room for Squares, John asked the question:  “Will you love me when I’m not myself?”

Yes.  Yes, John, I will.  But I hope the real you is the 2002 version, not 2010.

Related posts by this author:

Manspeak, Volume 1: Humor  http://wp.me/pxqBU-1i

Boyspeak  http://wp.me/sxqBU-boyspeak

Life’s Too Short: The Sad Truth that the Past is an Imaginary Place We Can Never Return To

About a year ago I was watching American Idol and Simon was interrogating one of the male contestants on why he wants to become a professional singer. The man explained he has a wife and a kid and he wants to be sure they’re taken care of financially. Simon asked the man again, “I get that, but WHY do you want to be a singer?” The man again explained it was because he has a wife and a kid… then Simon (who was obviously looking for an answer involving the man’s passion for music, etc.) cut him off with, “I get that, just sing for us.”

We focus so much on “right now”. Chances are, you’re never going to have enough money. Because once you do, you’re going to buy a bigger house or find a new way to get yourself in debt. Money is never enough.

Chances are, you’re never going to have enough time. America has set so much pressure on its people to be thin and in shape, yet it remains one of the most overweight countries in the world. We’re too busy to eat the right foods and to exercise, so instead of making time to be healthy, 74% of the population is overweight but carries the heavy burden of wanting to look like Jennifer Anniston or Brad Pitt, two people who are paid to make time to live healthy lifestyles. So obviously if we as a nation don’t have enough time to be healthy, we’re never going to have enough time.

Maybe I’m weird for not questioning the meaning life, but it’s never really been an issue for me. I’ve just always kind of known. I’ve understood since the age of six that this life is barely a speck of dust in comparison to the life after this. I’ve understood that God has blessed us with friends and family and we need to value them like the precious a gift they are. I’ve understood, more importantly, that God loves us and what it really comes down to our relationship with Him.  Even that goes back to loving people.

I subscribe to a magazine called Details. The thing I like most about it is its unique, random, and yet relevant articles. I realize as someone who earned a degree in English that quotes are only supposed to be a few lines, but for this I will cheat:

“…I climbed eagerly abroad this one-way rocket to Death in Adulthood and left the planet of my childhood forever in starry wake. I know this. My grandparents, my boyhood bedroom furniture… I will never see those or a million things again. And yet, lurking somewhere in the back of my mind is the unshakable, even foundational knowledge- for which certainty is too conscious a term- that at some unspecified future date, by unspecified means, I will return to those people and those locales. That I am going back. No, that’s false. The delusion is not really that I believe, or trust, that I will be returning one day to the planet of childhood…”
– an excerpt from “Time Bandits” by Michael Chabon

my Italian grandfather, Albert Metallo

Only a few weeks after I got married last July, my Italian grandfather died. He is the only one of my grandparents I have lost. Only second to my dad, he had the most influence on me as far as what it means to be a man. I know a lot of the reason I randomly talk to strangers in public is because of him. He always did it. I learned from him that much heaven can be found in spending hours working in a garden and then being able to enjoy the beauty of it. (Even though I don’t yet have a house with a yard.) It was because of his decision to move from Buffalo, NY to Fort Payne, AL in 1973 that I am alive. Otherwise my parents wouldn’t have met.

Like that article reminds me, all those weekends I spent at his house in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s as a kid are only now a memory. He would push me and my sister down the hill in his front yard in barrels. Then when we got too dizzy, he would get in the barrel and make us push him down the hill. We would do that for hours it seemed.

Then he would take us to Burger King for lunch. We would sit next to the window right by the drive-thru and he would make funny faces at the people waiting in the drive-thru. It was hilarious to see a man in his sixties being so goofy in public.

We would go back to his house and he would watch taped professional wrestling from the night before (WWF- Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Vince McMahon… the whole gang) and we would get out the toys (which were Styrofoam blocks). After about 15 minutes of my sister and me playing, and him watching wrestling, he pick up some of our Styrofoam blocks and throw them at our heads. Which would start an all out war in the living room. Then we would sneeze for 15 minutes afterwards from all the dust in the air from those blocks.

He had a bathroom closet full of nothing but bars of soap. And a freezer full of freezer-burnt TV dinners and ice cream bars, which were a treat to us. He wore a flannel shirt, navy pants, and black shoes no matter the occasion. Except for my sister’s wedding, which he wore a tux and sunglasses. He really looked like he was part of the mafia.

And all these strange and funny memories make up who he was to me. There is a major importance to “showing up to life”. He definitely did that. He was always there for every family get-together and would look for an excuse to visit our family, like bringing over a junky knick-knack he bought at a yard sale the weekend before. He knew what life was really about.

I was watching my favorite movie, Garden State, recently and though I’ve seen it probably at least ten times, I heard (and finally processed) what is one of the major themes of the movie:

“You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of the sudden even though you have some where you can put your stuff that idea of home is gone.
…It just sort of happens one day one day and it’s just gone. And you can never get it back. It’s like you get homesick for a place that doesn’t exist. I mean it’s like this rite of passage, you know. You won’t have this feeling again until you create a new idea of home for yourself, you know, for your kids, for the family you start, it’s like a cycle or something. I miss the idea of it. Maybe that’s all family really is. A group of people who miss the same imaginary place.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Y2snCNXT2k

I’ll always have that sense of “home” when I think of my grandfather. I still have a lot of family and friends whom I still have that sense of home with. Despite whatever shortage of money or time, despite whatever amount of stress or chaos calls for, life is too short to worry. And if you feel you must worry, pray instead.

Classic song…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6xMqo3wFxw