The Hess Report

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I'll Have The "Love-You-Long-Time" Style Wings, Please 

Marketers, take note: I hate you.*

* Excepted is Eric Eisenstein, rational marketing professor extraordinaire, who, you know, thinks about stuff.

Much like Homer Simpson punched the Ad exec who created the radio ads with the annoying people arguing in Mr. Plow, I would similarly assault the marketing wizards who are advancing a certain trend in product nomenclature. An example is in order:

Me: Hmmmm, I've heard that this here ice cream place, Cold Stone Creamery, is pretty good. Everyone looks so happy eating their gourmet ice cream!

CSC Clerk: Can I help you sir?

Me: Yes, I'd like vanilla cake ice cream with chocolate chunks.

CSC Clerk: What size?

Me: Small... er... wait a minute... your menu... what the hell?

CSC Clerk: We have "Like It", "Love It" and "Gotta Have It" sizes.

Me: I'm not ordering that way. It's embarrassing.

CSC Clerk: Well, that's what the menu says.

Me: Grrrr. I think I'll have "Stuff It Up Your Marketer's Hind End."

CSC Clerk: ??? Dude, I just work here.

Me: Exit, stage left, fuming.

CSC Clerk: What a tight-ass.

So that's it. Marketers: giving your stuff such stooopid names that it embarrasses your customers to say them is a bad idea. Moe's Southwest Grill is another culprit. Good food, but to get a burrito, you have to order the "Joey Bag 'o Donuts" or the "Homewrecker." That's just freaking embarrassing. I want a burrito, man, not clever banter.

Look, I understand what you're trying to do. You're trying to increase brand differentiation and provide a more unique, all-encompassing experience. Also, by getting people to agree to use your terminology, you're extracting a bit of "help" from them, having them make a concession to your system, which subconsciously (you hope) increases their loyalty. (Campaigning and psychology aside: Want someone to help you with something big? Build up to it by asking for a number of little things. When you ask for the big thing, the small amounts of help they've given you in the past will have them psychologically invested in your success, and they'll be more likely to help with the big thing.)

But what you forgot is that most people don't go around looking for excuses to interact at a familiar level with complete strangers. We prefer to be familiar with our friends, but to have polite but semi-formal interaction with strangers. That's right. I'd be happier getting your ice cream from a robot than engaging in the forced familiarity of your silly nicknames.

When Joe at Joe Zeppi's up the street sells us ice cream, I wouldn't mind him being a bit familiar. But that familiarity is based on repeat business, and the fact that he owns the place and is local. It's not been forced on us by his corporate overlords, and their slimy toad-lickers in marketing.

So, marketing geniuses, ditch the names and the fake familiarity. If something's going to have a nickname, it's because I or someone I know gave it that nickname. You're like some guy who goes to college and tells everyone that his nickname is "Razor", just to seem cool. He didn't earn the name. No one saw how his pool game was razor-sharp and said: "Bill, I'm calling you Razor from now on, man". He just decided to call himself "Razor". What a tool, you think? Exactly. Just like you.

I want my ice cream small, my wings just plain hot, and a chicken burrito with salsa and sour cream, and I don't want to have to feel like a complete fool when I order it.

Friday, April 14, 2006


I know that Pennsylvania's under drought conditions, but did it really have to rain this weekend?

Things I cannot now get done:

1. Fixing open eaves of shed.
2. Adding dormor to shed.
3. Fixing/finishing roof on shed.
4. Putting in built-in shelves in the music studio (the shelves are plain wood, and will be stained/finished by me, which is best done outside when it's sunny and warm).

Work has been so crazy that it feels like I've been in the middle of a Martin Lawrence/Nick Nolte convention, and I was looking forward to actually building some stuff in order to destress this weekend.

But, I suppose that in the grand scheme of things, these are considered "good" problems. Boo hoo! We're too busy at work! I can't build the custom shelving at my new house because the drought's being broken! Waaaaaa!


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Secret Is Out 

Sometimes I don't blog things simply because the pressure of writing a good post about it, one worthy of my genius comedic stylings, requires more time than I have. That's a bad approach, because it means that if I'm even the slightest bit busy, nothing at all gets written.

Well, no longer! I'm now going to catch things up by writing short, stupid posts. I'm sure it will be way better.

Clearing out the blogstipation:

The "secret" thing that I mentioned last month turns out to not be that momma!Joy is pregnant. She isn't, but someone who reads this thought that's maybe what I meant. Wrong.

The secret was that I got to have one of my dreams come true... specifically the one involving a baker's dozen of midgets, pint-sized Dallas Cowboys football gear and a steamroller. Well, not that dream, but the one of working in 3D animation. For five days last month, I worked full time as a texturing and materials artist on the Dutch short animation "Elephants Dream", produced by Studio Orange in Amsterdam.

Did I get to zoom to Europe for a week? No. But, due to my previous connections with the producer and technical director (I've worked on software projects they've been involved/interested in like Blender, and, of course my own BlenderPeople crowd simulation software) and my previous artwork (which, incidentally, you can see here), I was asked to help them meet their quickly approaching deadline.

They were able to come up with enough scratch to compensate me for taking several days off of work, so I was able do it. The blog detailing production of the short animation, as well as some still frames from it, can be seen at the Orange Blog.

I worked at home for five days, which was an absolute blast, although I don't know if FedUp!Joy would agree, and communicated with the guys in Amsterdam via IRC chat and by sharing files on our respective web servers. I certainly put in more hours working for them than I do at real work.

The final product was premiered in Amsterdam last month, and received kudos such as "visually stunning", etc. Of course, these guys are mostly European artists, so the concept/storyline isn't your run-of-the-mill fare. A bit avante garde, but my history as a creative writing major at a seriously liberal university prepared me well.

DVD's for the project ship sometime in early May, I'm guessing, and when I get mine, I'll put up some nice shots. I have access to a bunch of stuff already, but they want the people who bought the DVD to get the first look, as it was the pre-purchasers of the DVD who mostly sponsored the project. I'm happy to respect that.

And that brings me to the "secret" part. They informed me that all information about the animation, including production, was strictly confidential. I wasn't sure if that extended to the mere fact that I was working on the project, but they hadn't announced anywhere that they had a hired a few fortunate souls to help make deadline, so I didn't feel it was mine to share at the time.

And look, this got really long! So it's almost like a real Hess Report, although I didn't swear or say that anyone was an idiot, so I suppose it doesn't quite qualify.

Oh well. It's the new regime, and you're just going to have to live with it.