Mixed Signals: Miracle Whip Offers New Motivation for Divorce

Mixed Signals is Erin Straza’s weekly musing about marketing miscellany in advertising, branding, and messaging.People love contests. Especially contests that give cash prizes. Miracle Whip got this part right in their contest titled Not for Every Relationship. The winner is awarded $25,000. So far, so good.Then things get goopy.Submissions are via video, in which contestants are to explain how Miracle Whip has either enhanced or destroyed their relationship. Contest rules state: “Tell us y … [Read more...]

Friday Night Lights Will Guide You Home

Anyone who is unfamiliar with the critically-acclaimed drama, Friday Night Lights, may assume that it is merely a show about football and teenage culture, or just another example of triviality dipped in glamor and thrill - reflecting another attempt to cash in on two of Americans’ present-day idols: violent competition and sexualized young adults. On the contrary, it's likely that the show struggled to achieve high viewer ratings because it did not, like most network television shows, pander to v … [Read more...]

Know Your Limitations: the Great and Not So Great Jon Stewart

On Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” one of Jon Stewart’s favorite targets of ridicule is Fox News, so his appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” to be interviewed by Chris Wallace, presented the opportunity for inevitable fire-works and potentially good television. The conversation between Wallace and Stewart brought up several topics of note, including the importance of genres, the dangers of blurring them, and similar cautions for ourselves as viewers.I find Stewart’s “The Daily Show” to be one o … [Read more...]

The Passion of Survivor's Matt Elrod

Redemption Island was just a twist. When the Survivor producers prepared for yet another season of one of television's oldest reality programs, they knew they needed to keep it fresh. They did this in the same way reality programs typically keep the competition interesting: the altered the mechanics, throwing a wrench into the plans of those playing and making the outcome less predictable.Indeed, one of the most unpredictable outcomes of Redemption Island was an ongoing focus on what it was … [Read more...]

Michael Scott: How Far We've Come

When I first met Michael Scott, he had little to recommend him.  The Office was a shot in the dark, a cheap knock-off of the British version.  Steve Carrell was trying to fill the unique shoes of Ricky Gervais, and nobody would have blamed him had he failed.  I was a year out of college, about to get married. I was just starting to experience the ups and downs and quirks of the modern workplace.Somehow, Michael kept my attention.  He was incredibly quotable, and it helped to know some of the be … [Read more...]

Winter Is Coming: An Introduction to "Game of Thrones"

On April 17, HBO will premiere what is arguably the largest fantasy film-making effort since Peter Jackson's adaptation of Lord of the Rings: the first season of Game of Thrones, an adaptation of the first book in George R.R. Martin's long-running Song of Ice and Fire series. I don't make the comparison to Jackson's epic adaptations lightly - the HBO press department has been rolling out teasers and "behind the scenes" featurettes on a pretty regular basis for the last few months, and from the … [Read more...]

Rebecca Black, Stephen Colbert, and the Ethics of Mocking for Charity

I tried really hard to avoid watching Rebecca Black's music video "Friday" but somewhere around Twitter/Facebook status number 75 or so, I finally gave in and watched it. I am not going to lie--I laughed ... alot.The video was posted on Youtube about a month ago and has since received 87,944,639 hits, 1,760,908 comments, and countless parodies, dubs, and remixes--many of which have also procured a staggering number of hits. Late night comedian Jimmy Fallon jumped on this phenomenon in an … [Read more...]

Play in Process: The Patient Assassins

Each week in Play in Process, Richard Clark shares what he’s been playing and why it means something to him.It's been out for a while, but I've recently regained interest in the multi-player mode of Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Here's my thesis: If you're the kind of person who finds the standard fast-paced, shooter-based multiplayer games overwhelming and or boring, this is for you. Here are some things that set apart Assassin's Creed's multiplayer from any other game:An emphasis on pati … [Read more...]

Signing Away My Life?

Here's something you might not know about me: I am a singer. Recently, I thought I'd try my voice at an audition for a new NBC reality show being produced by Mark Burnett. The working title for the show is "The Voice". It is apparently going to be an "American Idol" type competition/elimination show, but the concept is based more strictly on the vocals of the contestant. In fact, according to the video that was up on the audition website page earlier this month, it looks like the judges will be … [Read more...]

Character Flaws and the "Final Frontier"

When I was in junior high and high school, my world was basically dominated by Star Trek: The Next Generation. I watched the show religiously, and my classmates and fellow nerds would often discuss -- in our physics class, natch -- the series and especially its myriad technologies, e.g., warp drives, photon torpedoes, and transporters. I would create and draw up my own starships, dream up my own storylines... Lord only knows what access to the Web circa 1992 would've done to my Trekkie-ness, … [Read more...]