Friday's Top Four List

So I said from the beginning this blog would not just be about marketing – gotta throw some additional info in here to add some personality and spice! Continuing with the Friday trend of making lists of things I am currently diggin’, here is a hodgepodge of websites, restaurants and stores this marketing newbie likes:

1. Gofugyourself.com. This site stands out thanks to two really good writers. They combine satire with fashion by making fun of some unfortunate (celebrity) wardrobe choices. You will swear they took the thoughts right out of your head (but made them much more eloquent before writing them!).
2. Fark.com. It pulls offbeat stories from some of the major newswires, then tags them for you with words like “amusing,” “asinine” and “weird.” After you get your top headlines for the day, reading a couple of stories from FARK will, well, do nothing to reaffirm your belief in humanity – but it WILL make you laugh.
3. A Taste of Lebanon. Some friends and I found this restaurant a couple weeks ago, and thanks to its great food and even greater prices (er, as in it’s cheap), I have been back an embarrassing amount of times for their chicken shawarma wrap and hummus. Though it is a complete hole in the wall (not diggin’ their Christmas tree-ish border, or the sink smack-dab in the middle of the establishment), low and behold, it has been voted one of Chicago’s best restaurants in the past. It’s good, cheap AND I don’t have to cook? No-brainer.
4. Hopleaf. I LOVE this restaurant/bar. Their raspberry beer (they have a range of beers you have never heard of but will soon love) keeps me coming back, and their food is quite delish. Reservations are a must, but that does not mean you will be seated right away… If you come, be prepared to wait a while. But while you are waiting, by all means, have a raspberry beer.

Andddd, that’s all I got. Have a great weekend!


Lovin' the Companies That are Doing Some Good...

There is one trend in marketing that I am really happy about, and it has nothing to do with flashy designs or outrageous antics. Instead, this is a trend about doing some good within our worldwide community. Sure, the companies that partake in such programs receive good PR out of the deal, but I choose to believe they are also doing this out of the goodness of their hearts by noticing an area they can help improve and taking steps to make a change.

One outreach worth noting is The Starbucks Foundation. Whether you dig their coffee or not, there is no denying Starbucks is using its fame and fortune to help others. The foundation was actually started 12 years ago, with a focus on funding literacy programs. Since then the foundation's efforts have expanded into supporting young social entrepreneurs in the world, donating a sizable portion of Ethos water sales to clean water programs, aiding those in need in China through the China Education Project, and funding repair in areas ravaged by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Additionally, ice cream giants Haagen-Dazs launched a campaign to "Help the Honeybees" early last year. Noting honeybee pollination is necessary for much of the food we eat (yes, including ice cream) -- and that bee colonies are on the decline in the US -- the company created a money-raising new flavor (Vanilla Honey Bee), as well as donating $250,000 toward research.

And a more recent example lies in a Houston, Texas, summit that took place this month. The National Dairy Council, in conjunction with the Houston Independent School District and many, many others, decided the need to address childhood obesity is now. The summit was a two-day brainstorming session that included everyone from community leaders to students. The goal? To create feasible plans that offer solutions to the epidemic that is childhood obesity. Everyone donated their time and efforts in the hopes obesity rates in Texas could begin to lower, instead of continuing to rise.

Companies like these are leading the way and setting a great example of how we really can make a difference. It's not all about profits and stocks -- creating a presence in the community can make a world of difference both for others and the organization itself. And in all honesty, when I know a company is donating a portion of its proceeds or is working with its community, I am more inclined to buy its product or spread the word -- making this a win-win for all involved.


Bringing the Week to a Close...

Well folks, it's the weekend. It has been a busy week at JB, and it's cool to see everyone here really embracing social media. Our graphic designers have had fun working on their blog (shameless plug #1: http://www.cuttothepaste.blogspot.com/), and JB's own director of communcations now has hers up and running (shameless plug #2: http://thehealthcaremarketinggirl.blogspot.com/).

Considering it's 4:22 on a Friday afternoon, you can't expect anything too groundbreaking or insightful... so instead, I am going to close the week out with some links to marketing-related sites I think are worth checking out (trust me, they're cool):

1. Creative, funny ads from around the world: http://www.hemmy.net/2006/10/15/creative-advertisements-around-the-world/

2. Benches like you have never seen (or sat on) before: http://illusion.scene360.com/?p=1084

3. And, well, because it's Friday and I feel like throwing something random in the mix (completely unrelated to marketing but compliments of StumbleUpon -- love it!): http://www.thatwasfunny.com/hand-painting/1082


How Long Am I Gonna Be a Newbie?!

I was logged into my blog this morning, and our VP/COO caught a glimpse of it. "Marketing Newbie?" he said. "You're not a newbie anymore, are you?" I laughed and said yes, I was definitely still new to the game. He said that maybe in a couple more weeks, I could change the name of my blog to "Marketing Veteran." That got me thinking: when will that shift (in real life, not within my blog, of course) actually occur?

I've been a marketing assistant here at JB Chicago for over seven months now. After graduating from IU (go Hoosiers!) I plunged headfirst into the world of marketing, hearing terms like SWOT analysis, RFP and pay per click on a weekly basis. My background is in journalism, so this was somewhat of a culture shock. Granted, things became less abstract once I was exposed to their uses, but I remember writing down each unfamiliar phrase I heard uttered, then googling it at my first opportunity.

My role within the company has shifted a bit in the last month or so; I have moved away from many of the "typical" duties you might think a marketing assistant performs. Though I might be biased, I really think JB Chicago is on the forefront of understanding how companies can use social media resources effectively -- and I am now performing a lot of the research. This means knowing about RSS feeds, profile aggregators, SEO, backlinking... the list could go on and on. Overwhelming as it was (and can sometimes still be), these terms are once again become less abstract as I work with them and see their practical purposes.

So, because I am acquiring these new skill sets and learning the ins and outs of the beast that is social media, does this mean I am no longer a newbie? No -- I still have a lot to learn. I am, however, ok with that term... for now.


Love 'em or Hate 'em: The New Pepsi Ads

I have to confess: I love the new Pepsi ads. The bright, unexpected colors, the "pop-y" language, the young vibe... when I first saw the billboards, they made me smile. Maybe it's because the "YO," "XOXO" and "FO SHO" signage is, well, fun. And at the risk of sounding aloof, they (well, at least the ads that I saw initially) did not automatically remind me of the Obama campaign. I, however, seem to be in the minority... and I do now see where the majority is coming from. The only difference? I don't really care.

Google "Pepsi, Obama" and you will see the number of sites dedicated to "exposing" these similarities. And after looking at several, I can see the parallels. The "YES YOU CAN" and "COME TOGETHER" messaging does sound slightly Obama-esque, and if you really want to get literal, you can attest the newly-renovated Pepsi symbol itself does somewhat resemble that of "O" for Obama. There are people in the blogosphere arguing how if you "flip the sign, invert it, then rotate it 45 degrees, the two definitely look one in the same." (Not a literal translation, but you get my drift.) Obama is a hot topic, and hey, political analysts need something beside the downtrodden economy to discuss... maybe Pepsi was the next best choice?

The thing is, even if the two look somewhat similar, I don't see the problem. The ads made me smile because they are a change of pace, and are, for lack of a better term, pretty. Also, Pepsi has always taken the angle of being the drink of the new generation -- and believe it or not, messages of hope and community are not exclusive to Obama. Our country is going through some changes, and I think Pepsi is, at worst, riding on the coattails of the spirit of optimism...

but when did that become a bad thing?

Watch one of the commercials here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KS3PrYN8lc


A Quick Vent

I have been using public transportation for about two and a half months now. In Indy a car was my main method of getting around, and, directionally-challenged person that I am, the whole "red line," "brown line," "purple line" was hugely intimidating at first.
I'm not going to pretend like I have it down, but I can proudly report I know how to get to and from work a couple different ways. (If you are directionally-impaired, you will understand what a feat this is.) And since my commute is so long, I have lots of time to... sit there. In the hours I have spent observing, I have noticed some things that drive me absolutely crazy. Here goes...

1. If you are listening to an iPod, by all means, make sure it is turned down to a normal decibel. I STILL have Britney Spears' "Womanizer" in my head, thanks to someone on my bus this morning who was blaring it. Mind you, I was in the front of the bus, and she was in the back. She played it on repeat, which made me wonder: did something happen with a guy treating her badly recently? Did she get cheated on? What went down? Unless you want others hypothesizing about your personal life (and getting hugely irritated they are forced to listen to your new anthem), keep it down!

2. Yes, the bus/train is packed -- but try to retain some sense of personal space when it's doable. The girl who sat next to me on the bus today was all up in my grill. She elbowed me each time she turned the page of her Red Eye, and she repositioned every 8.5 seconds, also knocking into me in the process. You have your seat, and I have mine. Please stay there.

3. This should actually be number one: Give your seat up to the elderly. Yes, you might sometimes feel bad and think they will get offended if they are in that "not too old but old enough to make you question" range. My philosophy? Don't err on the side of caution and offer up your seat. It's simply common courtesy.

4. Finally, MOVE BACK! There's nothing worse than a morning when you are already running late, only to have a bus sail by because it's "too full." However, as it is zooming by, you notice the open gaps toward the rear. Next time you are onboard, remember those mornings... and scoot back to make room for those panicking they will have to sneak in after clock-in time.

OK, so maybe I'm ready for the weekend... upon reflection, this makes me sound like a cranky old woman. Most of the time my commute goes smoothly (minus the time a drunk guy fell on top of me -- that's a whole other story), and to be honest, not having to deal with parking, getting gas and all that can be nice. I know I cannot change the world (or make someee people learn manners!), but for what it's worth, that's my rant. :) TGIF.


Social Media: There's No Escaping It!

Today's topic: Social media.

Sure, most people already have a Facebook account, and eight out of 10 of them are probably using it to reunite with their first grade crush and their cousin's uncle's brother. You can also (creepily) view your ex's vacation photos, read 25 interesting facts about someone you took a class with four years ago, and even become privy to the fact someone you met once is posting statuses that offer wayyyy too much information (Jessica is "snotty and congested.").

But many business-minded people are realizing the huge capabilities these mediums (and not just Facebook -- we're talking Twitter, StumbleUpon and more) have in terms of getting their company's message out there. These forums have millions of users -- can we say free (and effective) billboards?

Here at JB Chicago, we think we are somewhat ahead of the curve when it comes to using social media to promote our vision. Though we don't have all the answers, we are working our derierres off to figure out the process (and iron out some of the kinks).

So please, check out our hugeeeee labor of love. It's around 50 slides of blood, sweat and tears... that we are giving you for free: http://www.jbchicago.blogspot.com/

And while you're at it, breeze your way through this presentation (from mzkagan on SlideShare.net) as well: http://www.slideshare.net/mzkagan/what-the-fk-social-media. The stats it provides alone will convince even the biggest skeptics that social media really is the new way of the world.


My first post!

Hi, and thanks for checking out my blog.

I will be doing my best to entertain you with my trials and tribulations as a marketing newbie. I'll be commenting on my findings, thoughts and anything else I think you might want to read. And as a Chicago newbie who is directionally-challenged as well, I'll be sharing what life in the city is like for a 23-year-old young professional.

Stay tuned. :)