Our Top Five Memes of 2011

When I first tried to rank the Internet virals of 2011, the diagrams just weren’t working. I kept trying to draw a graph in my brain, something I could mentally chart out and calculate to get some well-reasoned results. But I kept having this image of Robin Williams pop into my head to draw each diagram on a chalkboard, make fun of it, and tell me to rip the first few pages out of my textbook.And so I just asked myself, “What were my top 5 favorite memes of 2011?” and I was able to come up with … [Read more...]

Mixed Signals: Brands Want More Than Facebook Fans

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.Facebook makes it easy and painless to give a thumbs-up approval to everything from a snarky status update to a favorite product or celebrity page. With a single click, we add to the number of loyal fans and gain a few seconds of cyber-transcendence.But as business and brand pages seek to increase their fan count through social media campaigns and pushes, I am left perplexed. What … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: But Wait…There’s More: The Twelve Days of Christmas

When I was a child, part of my mother’s Christmas decorations included a figurine of a sleeping Santa, slumped against a signpost reading “December 26.” I remember the exhilarating anticipation of Christmas morning as a child, but I understand now, as an adult, how even the most fun and meaningful holidays can wear us out. By the time we reach December 25, it seems like we’ve been inundated by ads counting down our “shopping days.” Even the way we conduct our Advent calendar makes it seem like ev … [Read more...]

Mixed Signals: Red Cross Invites You to Give More than Stuff

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.At this late date, I bet most of you have finished your Christmas shopping. But if you haven’t, here’s a gift idea from an unlikely source: Red Cross.In its new TV campaign, Red Cross beckons: “This year, let’s take a break from all this stuff and give something that means something.” Their first spot is titled “2011 Holiday Giving with Fred.”http: … [Read more...]

Mommy, Daddy, Who is Santa Claus?

The Christian's relationship to Santa in America is varied. Some see Santa as a fun trick to play on your children while they are young enough to believe it. Others feel that Santa distracts children from learning about the incarnation of Christ. Some go further, claiming that Santa is a tool of the devil to distract people from focusing on Jesus. Still others view Santa as the embodiment of the Christmas spirit--he is jolly, generous, and loves children. Given the myriad of movies, television … [Read more...]

The Kiddy Pool: The Elf on the Shelf

Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.If you haven’t yet heard of The Elf on the Shelf, look out. Quite likely there is a small, plush elf surveying your every move and reporting it back to the big guy at the North Pole. That’s the basic premise behind the product, which sells online for $29.95 for the story and accompanying elf. Children are instructed to name their elves, thus activating the elfish magi … [Read more...]

The War on Christmas and the Kingdom of Christ

It’s that time of year again—the time when we light advent candles, celebrate our savior’s birth, and complain about how people don’t say “Merry Christmas” anymore. Every year, I hear Christians bemoaning the secularization of our country evidenced in hearing “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” This year the "war" even made it into one of Rick Perry's campaign advertisements where the republican candidate claimed that "our children can't openly celebrate Christmas." Since I don't pers … [Read more...]

Sacred Space: The Church and Sexual Sin

Every Friday in Sacred Space, Brad Williams explores the place of popular culture in the local church.Would you be comfortable with the knowledge that a pedophile visited your church this Sunday? Would it rattle you to know that a homosexual couple had been slipping into the back of the sanctuary to listen to sermons? Would it bother you less to realize that the only sexual deviant in the congregation on Sunday morning was you?It seems to me that the church is losing the battle for the … [Read more...]

Mixed Signals: Harvey Nichols Sells a Cure for Shame

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.Marketing messages are often crafted to sway commonly held perceptions about a specific product or a usage situation. If the message is strong enough, consumer perception will shift, opening the door for a larger customer base or an increase in sales.Fashion designer Harvey Nichols seeks to do just that in a new TV spot titled “Walk of Sha … [Read more...]

Podcast #107: Choosing Sides in the War on Christmas

Podcast #107: Choosing Sides in the War on ChristmasBetween Rick Perry, conservative pastors, your impressionable great aunt, and Fox News (or as Jason says in this podcast, an "unnamed news network"), you'd think Christmas was literally being attacked by atheist soldiers, cowering in a foxhole waiting for good Christians warriors to fight for its freedom. But is this accurate? Uhm, of course not. But what is the truth about the war on Christmas, and what does it mean for those of us that view … [Read more...]