Archive for April, 2013
(Photo Credit: SI.com)
Way back in 2000, my parents were friends with a chaplain of the New Jersey Nets (now the Brooklyn Nets). Sometimes he’d stop by after his pre-game prayer meetings with autographed basketballs, t-shirts, jerseys, etc. You name it, he had it.
One afternoon, he handed me a basketball with two autographs scribbled on it in black marker. One was easy to read. “Eric Snow“, with a large cursive “E“. The second was not entirely legible, but the number scribbled next to it was easier to make out. “Who’s number 35?“, I asked. “Jason Collins”. I still have that basketball tucked away in my bedroom closet. I never thought much of it, since the players who signed it were fairly anonymous. Fast forward 13 years and the name Jason Collins is everywhere. No, not for his accomplishments on the court, but rather for the courage he’s shown off of it. Yesterday, Jason became the first active professional athlete in the four major American sports to publicly announce he is gay. Until now, gay athletes had been silent about their sexually for a variety of reasons, but Jason decided he could no longer keep his secret and that honesty is the best way for him to move forward.
Within the past 24 hours, Jason has received an incredible outpouring of love and support from family, friends, fans, celebrities and even the president of the United States, who told him “What you did today was brave. It didn’t just affect me. It affected so many other people in the country. I’m proud of you.”
Needless to say, this is a massive step forward for America as a whole, and all it took was one man having the courage to step forward, not because he sought attention or acceptance from the public, but because he “wanted to do the right thing” for himself and his loved ones.
Jason Collins has transcended sports. The once anonymous NBA journeyman is now a symbol of hope and change; someone we can all admire for his bravery. Yes, he’s changed the game forever, but more importantly, he let the truth prevail.
I’m definitely keeping that basketball.
Photo Credit: www.facebook.com/flyingpigmarathon
If you’ve ever been to a marathon, you know how much fun they are to watch. The sounds are deafening, the excitement is contagious and the support is undeniable. Not only will you see people doggedly pursuing a life goal, you’ll see thousands of people lining the streets to cheer them on. You’ll read signs like, “Beer at the next stop!,” “Think of the Pancakes!” and “Nice Butt!”
On May 5th, I’ll be lacing up my sneaks for my very first half-marathon: The Flying Pig Marathon. Like many other runners, my thoughts will be with the city of Boston as I cross the finish line, or in this case, the ‘finish swine.’*
My first race was a 5K named “Run Like Hell,” which took place at night with costumed runners. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun. As I neared the home stretch, suddenly I saw it…the finish line. Much to my surprise, I had run 3.1 miles without stopping, which was a first for me.
After the race, I called my sister (an experienced runner herself) to share my excitement about reaching the finish line. Her response? “That feeling never goes away, no matter how many races.” It turns out she was right. It hasn’t gone away. In fact, it builds with every race.
The thing I love most about running is that you compete against yourself. Sure, there are thousands of people around you, but they can’t make you run faster. They can’t make up for a skipped training day or a tightening muscle in your leg. That’s what makes finishing so fulfilling. Those other runners are not the competition…they are your teammates, your compatriots, your friends; and while victory tastes sweet to each individual, when we finish, we do it together.
We are a family of runners.
*In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon tragedy, the Flying Pig Marathon will purchase and make available at their event blue wristbands inscribed with “Boston Strong.” Participants can purchase the bands for whatever amount they would like to give as a donation to One Fund Boston. All of the money will be sent directly to One Fund Boston at the conclusion of each race weekend.
Earth Day only comes once a year, so we just had to throw a party. Our NYC office celebrated Earth Day in full force, planning several activities throughout the day that encouraged our year-round, “Go Green” initiative.
Instead of trashing our morning k-cups, why not recycle? It turns out those personal coffee canisters also stunt double as partially recyclable materials when cleaned and broken down properly. Fun Facts and Recycling Statistics were displayed on video monitors in the office throughout the day.
Our favorite Fun Fact? By turning off the lights in our NY office for a single hour, we save $160.49 (consider us convinced!). And speaking of turning off the lights, perhaps the most popular activity was “Dark Dessert.” For one hour, we powered down and snacked on Ben & Jerry’s ice cream cups, which also happen to be a Fair Trade Brand Food.
Moving forward, MKTG INC plans to implement additional recycling practices that will help our office – and the environment – become a greener place. Long story short, MKTG INC is for going green. Especially when it involves an afternoon ice cream break!
“Will they or won’t they?” “Did they or didn’t they?” These were the tweets and retweets that set Twitter on fire a few weeks ago during this year’s SXSW. The subject of debate: a surprise performance by the uber-elusive Daft Punk. If Prince was planning on stopping by, so could the electronic royal duo from Versailles…couldn’t they?
Hipsters and ravers alike waited with bated breath: would they play on the steps of the Capital or at @davidfordsmith’s house (as long as you have “$5 for the keg and band gas money”)? The rumor heard around the world first started on an Electronic Dance Music Facebook page and was then picked up by some “in-the-know” news outlets. It turns out that some well placed and well timed posters by Columbia records – featuring the now-iconic robot helmets and little else – had popped up during SXSW and got twitterers tweeting. Rabid fans took to social media to feed the harder, faster, stronger frenzy that ensues when anything Daft Punk hits the Internet.
Alas! The Interstella robots never showed. #wegotplayed
This is just one more time a completely unsubstantiated rumor has not only found its legs on Twitter, but was then amplified by legitimate news networks. Elections have been won, tigers set loose upon rioting crowds, and celebrities consistently declared dead all in the parallel universe of the social network. In fact, the mass media impact of a Twitter rumor lead an inter-disciplinary team from the University of Manchester to trace and dissect the narrative arc of a tweet gone viral. The result of an analysis of 2.6 million tweets and retweets is a digital visualization that shows how a tweet gone viral behaves just like that: a virus.
Rumors are shown to flow with influence via organic, circuitous interactions and then eventually ebb through the equal counter-influence of detractors questioning their validity. According to this discovery, if a rumor is ultimately proved false – it isn’t too long before these internal detractors who have successfully cured the misinformation, hence putting an end to the contagion of confusion.
In the case of the Daft Punk SXSW rumor, this viral behavior remained only partly true. Twittersphere was certainly ablaze with equal parts digital love, #FOMO, and plenty of mocking skepticism about the hype. It seems, however, that a Daft Punk rumor could be another type of Internet microbe all together as there continues to be an incomplete rectification of the false report. Outside of the continued Twitter debate – the same outlets that propagated the hype in first place haven’t even commented on the fact that nothing happened.
Hence, the confusion is kept alive. Fittingly – upon my return from SXSW that following Monday – I was actually informed by my colleague that a die-hard devotee such myself had nonetheless missed the show of a lifetime (a friend of a friend had found themselves face-to-face with Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter #fact.) Enraged and full of self-doubt, I frantically scoured the Internet again in search of evidence…technologic proof if you will! Instead, the eerie media silence only propels my suspicion that some covert robot rocking did take place.
Perhaps in the basement of the Alamo? #notentirelyconvinceditdidnt
Let’s set the stage – It’s Sunday, March 31st and the madness is in full swing. The Louisville Cardinals are taking on the Duke Blue Devils at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. It’s a packed house. Duke’s Tyler Thornton gets the pass and unleashes a perimeter jump shot. Louisville’s Kevin Ware flashes toward him and leaps high in the air for the block. Thornton gets the shot off, and Kevin Ware’s feet hit the court.
What occurs next is unfortunate, amazing, graphic and inspiring all at the same time.
We all saw it. We all winced and covered our eyes. We saw players, coaches, refs and fans alike gasp, collapse and hide their faces. Just about everyone in the building and watching at home was aghast at the sight of Kevin Ware’s broken leg. Everyone, that is, except for Kevin Ware. Despite his gruesome injury (which I’d rather not describe in vivid detail) Kevin didn’t just display amazing calm, he found a way to inspire. As tears streamed down the faces of his fellow players, Ware urged them on, telling them repeatedly “I’m ok, just win the game”. His team would rally and go on to beat Duke, advancing to the Final Four.
As the Louisville Cardinals regrouped and refocused to continue their title run, Ware’s influence was obvious. Players, coaches and family members who’d been affected by the graveness of the injury were given reason to smile. Ware, even while in the hospital, remained very much himself. Always smiling, always positive and with a seemingly superhuman calm, he showed the people around him that although his leg was broken, his heart was stronger than ever. Even his mother, who was horrified having watched the whole incident play out on TV, was relieved to hear her son tell her he’s going to be alright.
As the Cardinals cruised into the NCAA title match against the mighty Wolverines of Michigan, Ware, with his leg in a cast and crutches at his side would receive a standing ovation from the sold out Atlanta crowd. He would also receive hugs and high fives from teammates as they hoisted his #5 jersey in his honor. Ware cheered steadfastly from the sideline (dressed in uniform, no less) as the Cardinals beat the Wolverines, 82-76.
Kevin Ware may not have been on the court that day, but there is no doubt that he helped Louisville win the national title. As athletes will tell you, in order to be a champion, it requires more than just hustle. It requires more than good coaching, conditioning or knowing the playbook. Winning is all about heart, and Ware proved that his courage and calm in the face of unimaginable pain was enough to fuel his teammates to victory.
That’s what I call the heart of a champion.
Photo Credit: Chris Liao
Every March, GDC–the Game Developers Conference, for the uninitiated–rolls around in San Francisco without fail. It is the harbinger of E3 and herald of the non-stop gauntlet of the summer convention/conference/tradeshow season. In contrast to its ritzy and manic infused cousin, GDC forgoes the smoke and bright lights and opts for intimate meeting rooms and extensive one-on-one showcasing of the magic that makes games tick. But make no mistake; a battle is taking place behind the seemingly calm landscape. The gaming world is undergoing a fundamental shift. Developers in droves are choosing to go indie, swearing allegiance not to a console or publisher but to their games themselves.
If the gaming world is a battlefield, developers are the warriors, and the consumers the proverbial spoils…GDC would be their armory. The only impetus guiding a developer’s weapon of choice: innovate or die. The newest, fastest, greatest and latest are shown on the expo floor. Ranging from graphics engines, processors, gadgets, and user interfaces.
There is no lack of cool, shiny new things to discover. Case and point, Activision’s R&D team and the Unreal 4 Engine blew us away with their respective Real Time Demos–graphics in games are lunging headfirst toward the other side of the uncanny valley, where characters and animations are so realistic they are indistinguishable from reality. Nvidia with their Tegra 4 chips and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon chips are set to level the playing field between traditional consoles and mobile platforms.
And in the chaos of the rise of the indie developer and agnostic gaming, disruptive bleeding edge user interfaces, like the Neurosky Mindwave (a headset that can read your brainwaves) and Oculus VR’s Oculus Rift (a reactive 3D virtual reality) manage to stand out as a beacon of what’s to come.
2013 will no doubt prove that we live in interesting times, indeed. For a gaming industry in flux, we’re eagerly waiting to see how the cookies crumble.
By: Patty Hubbard (President, West Coast)
In early 2010, MKTG INC formed a partnership with buildOn on the West Coast. Our objectives were twofold: to give back to our community, and to mentor high school students who study in challenging urban areas. The buildOn organization provided us with both of these opportunities and more. Since 2010, we have completed several community service projects alongside Bay Area high school students. Along the way, we learned about these students’ extraordinary efforts to lift up not only their own communities but also build new schools in some of the poorest countries on the planet. Many kids involved in buildOn raise funds through volunteer workdays, earning the opportunity travel to countries like Haiti, Malawi, Mali, Nicaragua and Nepal and build schools there. This is where my journey began.
On March 8, 11 of my female friends, many of us working moms, took our own buildOn trek, traveling to Malawi to build a school. We called our group Team Achemwali (which means “sisters” in the native Malawian language of Chichewa) and we departed having raised $44,000 towards the cause. The Chinthola village found out about their school, and our visit, only about two weeks prior to our arrival. The money raised was enough to build a two-room school as well as fund a three-year adult literacy program. When they heard our group’s name, they were thrilled.
When we arrived after two days of traveling, the village of Chinthola gave us a warm Malawian welcome, running alongside our bus dancing and singing. As soon as we stepped off the bus, we quickly joined in the festivities. At times the only way to communicate was with sign language, laughter and an open heart. For many of the villagers, this was the first time they had seen a light-skinned person.
Our experience included living with local families. Each day would start at 5am with a short walk to the bath hut with two buckets of water (one cold, one hot) and a cup. The day would end with a family dinner of okra or nsima (a local cornmeal staple) and pumpkin leaves. We ate on a bamboo mat covering the mud floor with a single candle or headlamp illuminating our meal. At night we slept in sleeping bags under mosquito nets.
During our conversations with the 15-plus village chiefs, four teachers and a small group of women, we learned about our different lives and cultures but also our similarities. The richness of family and community support in Chinthola meant that our common thread is love and a desire for healthy, happy children who have the opportunity to get a good education and grow up in a safe world.
For me, the time in Chinthola is one of gratitude, respect and humility.
Photo Credit: lincoln.com
Abraham Lincoln is to David Bowie as … well, I’m not quite sure to be honest. But according to the marketing team at Lincoln Motors, it was the memory of the former president that inspired their latest campaign – “Hello, Again.” Though deliberately vague in revealing details, Lincoln Motors describes “Hello, Again” as a year-long program during which Lincoln Motors will align themselves with progressive artists across a series of projects and fields all celebrating the spirit of re-imagination.
The initiative recently launched with an online digital experience that showcases a live performance by Beck: a re-imagination of David Bowie’s iconic “Sound and Vision.” A fully immersive, 360 degree experience, the content was recorded by microphones and cameras lining every inch and potential angle in the room. The result: online viewers can both watch and hear the show from ANY vantage point, including what Beck and his 160+ supporting band themselves are each hearing and seeing.
You may ask yourself: “What does a 360 degree Beck concert have to do with selling cars and Lincoln as a brand?” Now, now – dear reader – don’t we all know better than to ask such naïve questions?! I mean, let’s be real. Who wasn’t lusting after a Carl’s Jr. Southwest Patty Melt after Kate Upton and her ample beauty writhed around in a hot rod stuffing her face with said-sandwich? In all seriousness, however, Lincoln Motors makes a rather valid claim for relevancy. The director describes the whole undertaking of “Hello, Again” as a larger “metaphor” that embodies “the personal and surprising differences in product and client experience.” Basically, much like the “Hello, Again” concert was designed with the audience in mind and can be experienced from extremely diverse perspectives, so too does Lincoln Motors seek embrace a more diverse consumer demographic via “creative empathy” – i.e. designing with the audience in mind and pushing this customized experience to new heights.
Call me a sucker for a good metaphor, but I’m actually buying this one. Not only did the larger campaign make sense to me as a consumer, but I both watched the concert, and then took the time to peruse Lincoln Motor’s website to learn more about the larger initiative. Keep in mind: I am simply a music lover who doesn’t even own / need a car. Yet, Lincoln’s marketing plan successfully attracted me to their website, and then provided enough compelling content that I stayed there. Grand sweeping metaphor and Beck on their side – I only mildly cringed at the brand messaging that is not-so subtly intertwined with the post-modern pastiche / “art is everything” hipster-speak us Gen-Y’ers live by.
The very act itself of revisiting the past and reinventing old classics is a rather brilliant way to reintroduce a brand to a younger audience without totally isolating the older demographic that remains their bread and butter. And ultimately… if that isn’t the equivalent of President Lincoln uniting the North and South under one nation, then I don’t know what it is.
Judge for yourself here.
P.S. David Bowie is a god, thank you very much.