Underdog Under Armour Triumphs in Brand-Building Game

Every few weeks, I write a blog post for Idea Peepshow, the official blog of Fast Horse Inc., the consumer marketing agency where I’m currently an intern. Today, I wrote about Under Armour’s most recent endorsement deal with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady:

As long as I’ve been an athlete, I’ve always been a gear head. When other kids were spending money on personal training, camps and acceleration programs, I was busy checking out the latest advances in sporting goods.

In August 2002, before my senior high school football season, I went to a little family owned sports store in Sioux Falls to special order an undershirt made with space-age material proven to wick away sweat better than any product on the market.

As my co-workers can attest from some of our warmer softball games last summer, I sweat — a lot. I felt anything that could help me survive becoming a puddle during two-a-days was worth it, so I paid $30 for a T-shirt and implored the store owner to order more for my teammates.

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My Annual Halloween Dilemma – What to Wear

You are not dreaming. This Mike "The Situation" costume is real and extremely popular.

Put your coffee down. Swallow that scone. Guess how much the Halloween costume industry is worth.

$3.5 billion! You could nearly balance the Minnesota state budget with that! Minnesotans — we need to monopolize the Halloween costume industry. Now.

I tend to get pretty cheap when it comes to Halloween. I’m not about to spend good money on something I’ll relegate to the deepest corner of my closet after one wear. That’s horse pucky. Not to mention I’m the least clever costume-chooser ever. I completely lack the ability to wear something clever, funny or timely. If I think of something that meets those three ever-important criterion, I talk myself out of it by thinking everyone else will wear it.

Take this year. The most obvious costumes include: Lady Gaga, Mike “The Situation” (or any other Jersey Shore cast member), Don/Betty Draper, Chilean miner, raging air steward guy and Brett Favre in a robe and Crocs with cell phone in hand. All of those are funny and great — OK, the Chilean miner might be too soon — but I’m simply unwilling to spend $40 to get a few chuckles.

My biggest fear is choosing something I feel is clever that leaves everyone else completely miffed. For instance, I’d love to dress as a witch and go as Christine O’Donnell, but I worry most of my friends wouldn’t be familiar with the Delaware Republican running for U.S. Senate. There’s a better chance they’d recognize me as a weird zombie kid that likes turtles:

Let’s have a little fun with this. Starting today and running through tomorrow, I want your suggestion for a cheap, yet funny Halloween costume. (Post it in the comments section below.) Over the weekend, we’ll have a poll to decide what I’m wearing for Halloween.

What’s in it for you?

I’m giving away two books to whomever makes the winning suggestion. The only requirement is you must Like The Miller Times on Facebook. You can win these classy titles, published by Sourcebooks Inc.:

People of Walmart – Shop & Awe
by Adam Kipple, Andrew Kipple and Luke Wherry

“From the wildly popular website PeopleofWalmart.com, this photo collection of Americans in their natural shopping habitat (70 percent of which is brand new and never before included on the website) presents people of all shapes and sizes wearing and doing everything imaginable in full view of their fellow shopping public. Plus, for the first time brand-new fan-submitted stories offer the most random experiences you can imagine!”



Kama Pootra – 52 Mind-Blowing Ways to Poop
by Daniel Cole Young

“The only known translation of an ancient manual instructing readers in the art of enlightened bathroom experience, the Kama Pootra offers a thrilling rediscovery of the tiled path to porcelain nirvana. Willing seekers will find fifty-two progressive positions designed to maximize how you do number two. Every time the bathroom door closes, a new experience awaits.”


The Clear Link Between Heelys and ADHD

I’ve noticed an alarming number of Twin Cities youth have given up walking. Too boring, I suppose. Takes too long. There are video games to be played, movies to be seen, Justin Bieber songs to be heard. Kids don’t have the patience to walk anymore.

Several studies suggest Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder is over-diagnosed. In fact, a recent study compiled by Notre Dame shows the diagnosis of ADHD is up nearly 500 percent since the 1980s. I do know ADHD is a real thing and it shouldn’t be disregarded due to its overwhelming — if wrongly assumed — prevalence. However, if we want to win the War on ADHD, let’s start by banning Heelys.

Heelys are normal-looking shoes which include a wheel that’s stored near the heel. This allows kids to walk normally or skate wearing the same footwear. That’s right — kids no longer need to waste time changing from shoes to rollerskates or rollerblades. It’s all there.

Heelys have allowed kids to eliminate the walking from their lives. What’s the value of walking? It’s exercise, which our increasingly obese kids need. It requires patience, which our kids apparently lack. Finally, it allows time for meditation. You know — a deliberate thought process, a little time within one’s conscience.

I don’t have kids, so I hardly have the right to comment, but I believe the moment a parent allows their kids to wear Heelys, they might as well seek out a Ritalin prescription. Is there a link between Heelys and ADHD? Of course not. But, when a parent concedes that everything — including walking — should be somehow entertaining, they should probably anticipate kids who constantly need stimulus. You know what else is stimulating? Crack. So, while you’re off buying your kids a pair of Heelys, don’t forget a crack pipe.

Where’s this coming from, Andrew?

Sunday, I was at the grocery store picking up a few things. The store was packed, like any other Sunday, and I noticed a young mother crisscrossing me every aisle. She had two sons, both of whom were wearing Heelys and chasing each other throughout the store. At one point, one of the sons ran into my shopping cart, nearly jarring loose a carton of eggs I had in hand. No apology from the boy and none from the mother, and the charade carried on down the toiletries aisle like nothing ever happened.

Kids aren’t pets. You can’t just throw them a chew toy and assume that because they’re entertained, everything is fine. My mom would’ve yanked the wheels out of my shoes and forced me to apologize. She would’ve apologized, profusely, and there was no way I’d be getting Oreos or ice cream.

This mother — and I have no way of knowing this — probably thought, Time for another Ritalin, boys.

Sweating at an Outdoor Wedding

I've never sweated through a vest, but that's only because I've never worn one. I probably could.

My good friend Dave is getting married tomorrow. We tended bar together for a few years in Mankato, so naturally, all of our fellow bartenders from South Street Saloon will be in town to celebrate the union. Knowing them, I’m looking into a securing a B12 drip for Sunday’s recovery session. I’m not as 22 as I used to be.

More so than the absurd amount of drinking to take place, I’m freaked out by this being an outdoor wedding — my first. So far, the forecast calls for 86 degrees with high humidity and little wind. The wedding takes place at 4 p.m. on a golf course just a few blocks from where I live. I don’t do well with heat and weddings. I’ve been a prodigious sweater all my life. That’s never more apparent than when I’m dressed up for a wedding and my body decides to wring itself free of every last drop of moisture, usually via back sweat. Awesome.

These two anecdotes are 100% true:

  1. As a high schooler, I had an issue with pit sweat. Seriously. I would try every specialized antiperspirant on the market, and while it might work for a few days, eventually my determined sweat glands would render it useless. So, what did I do? I made regular trips to the restroom where I would peel off my shirt and dry my shirt under the hand dryers. I would do this four or five times per day.
  2. My mom — bless her heart — was deeply concerned with my sweating issue. She saw how it affected my confidence. She saw how anxious I would get in the days leading up to formals and such. So, she did her research. At one point, she proposed Botox. No, not this Botox. I mean the prescription, Botox. (Travel around the website a little bit. See any male references? No, because men are supposed to sweat. Yeah, right.) I never pursued Botox, because I’d read it leads to rancid breath. We’re talking I-just-had-my-wisdom-teeth-pulled-and-gargled-chili-and-ate-an-old-boot breath. There’s no hand dryer for bad breath.

I’ve said it a few times this week, but it begs repeating: Having your wedding outside in the middle of summer is the best way to tell friends and family you hate them.

However, in spite of my Niagara-like armpits and Evergladesesque back, I’m looking forward to the wedding. I’m a big softy when it comes to weddings. It’s not often you get to witness one of the most memorable days in a person’s life. I wouldn’t put myself through a personal sweat lodge if it weren’t true.

Does anyone have any advice for attending outdoor weddings?

When Drugs Go Digital

Just when you think you’ve seen and heard it all …

I read a story on the Huffington Post yesterday about teenagers getting a high off “digital drugs.” They call it i-Dosing. Here’s how it works: i-Dosers lay motionless with headphones on while listening to binaural sound clips from YouTube for 10-minute periods. This equates to a type of sensory deprivation experienced with other drugs like ecstasy or LSD.

From Wired.com:

“Those who want to get addicted to the “drugs” can purchase tracks that will purportedly bring about the same effects of marijuana, cocaine, opium and peyote. While street drugs rarely come with instruction manuals, potential digital drug users are advised to buy a 40-page guide so that they learn how to properly get high on MP3s.”

Don’t get me wrong — I’m good for a night of boozing now and then, but drugs have never been my thing. I’ve got a healthy fear of consequence, both physical and legal. (Christ, I rarely exceed the speed limit.) While there may not be a chemical element involved, you can’t tell me any of this looks healthy:

The fear is iDosing will act as a gateway drug; the same willingness to experiment with digital drugs could compel kids to try harder drugs with actual physical consequences. I get that. It’s probably no coincidence iDosing terrifies me just as any other drugs does. I’m a prude like that. But if you’re a 15-year-old who gives this a try and it turns out to be sort of fun, what’s to stop you from trying marijuana? Nitrous? Cocaine? Heroin?

These are practical concerns.

For you more adventurous types, I’d love to feature a guest post on what iDosing is all about. This seems to be the clip the kiddies are into. If you’re willing, give it a run and let me know how it goes.

I think I’ll pass.

Don’t Forget to Wear Sunscreen

With my girlfriend’s parents in town from South Dakota, it was only right we made one last trip to the Oregon Coast. The forecast called for 68 degrees and sun at Cannon Beach, which was just about the same forecast the first time we went to Cannon Beach last August for Beth’s birthday.

Things really came full circle when, just like last time, I left the beach with extensive sunburn. Vitamin D overdose. UV overexposure. Whatever you want to call it. Have a looksy:

(This is my back. You can tell because there's no belly button. Otherwise, I can see how it might be difficult to distinguish.)

This sunburn  — not my first, not my worst, surely not my last — says a few things about me:

  • My skin, when it hasn’t been exposed to excessive sunlight for 10 months, tends to be a bit on the fair side. This only took three hours.
  • I pride myself on making healthy decisions. I take a multivitamin and fish oil everyday. I work out several times per week. However, when it comes to applying sunscreen on a really sunny day, I’m a complete ignoramus.
  • I assume, time and time again, there’s a direct correlation between temperature and UV index. It was only 68 degrees yesterday, but the UV index had to be 34. Stupid.

So, today, a perfectly gorgeous Sunday which happens to be our last in Portland, I’m stuck in bed, marinating in aloe vera, taking refuge in the low light. (Although, the glow of my laptop screen may warrant sunscreen here soon.)

My girlfriend’s parents ship out tomorrow, and they’re taking some of our stuff with them. We’ll back my Ford Fusion to the brim Friday morning and start the 1,700-mile haul to our new home.

Here’s hoping Portland’s farewell is a little less painful than Cannon Beach’s.

Another Apple Product, Another Frenzy

Apple CEO Steve Jobs pauses during his iPhone 4 demo to think about all of the clowns who'll waste precious hours of life just to be the first to get his latest brainchild.

When Apple released the iPad on April 3, I took to Pioneer Square Mall in downtown Portland to interview fellow Appleholics to see what all the fuss was about. What I found was an exhaustive, winding line of overeager early adopters who just had to have an iPad to fill the device void they never knew they had.

Somehow, lemmings come to mind when I think of them and the thousands who lined up at Apple Stores around the world yesterday to purchase the new iPhone 4.

Confession: I found out around noon yesterday I was actually eligible to get the iPhone 4 as an upgrade from my iPhone 3G for just $199 instead of $499. Of course, I did more research and found Steve Jobs & Co. might’ve screwed the pooch on the first run of the iPhone 4. The good folks at Mashable summed up most of the early issues in this info graphic:

Regarding the reception issue — the most troubling issue of all — Apple released this statement:

“Gripping any phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas. This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.”

How serious is the reception problem? Apparently not that serious (or uncommon) at all. An article posted on Engadget today indicates similar issues occurred with the iPhone 3G when users gripped the phone “wrong.” So, this fuss may be about nothing.

But maybe it is something because we’ve come to expect so much from Apple. Aside from U2 tickets and Twilight sequels, what else leads perfectly rational people from around the world to spend countless hours in anticipation of a product release? On a Thursday, no less? Chew on that one for a bit. Here’s the answer: Nothing. No other company sees its consumer base show up in droves for each product release. It’s ridiculous and awesome and it should leave MBA professors across the country mesmerized.

If we – and by “we” I mean people more patient than myself — are willing to use vacation hours to spend an entire day in a mall to purchase a smartphone, shouldn’t Apple show more vigilance in catching these problems before the release date? Apple has one of the most loyal consumer bases of any technology company in the world. Where’s the reciprocation?

I still intend on getting the iPhone 4, but I can wait until Apple irons some of the early kinks. (They’re usually pretty good about that kind of thing.) Even at 6:30 p.m. last night, I saw a TwitPic showing the line at Pioneer Square Mall Apple Store still stretched hundreds of people outside of the store. I might check it out again today, but I’d be shocked if the store had any phones left in stock.

When it comes to capturing the obsession and lunacy from yesterday, though, I think this tweet about sums it up:

Was it? 18 hours? Really?

Politicians Have It Easy

Two.

That’s the most consecutive hours of sleep I was able to put together last night. I was checking my iPhone throughout the night to see the latest vote totals for the Fast Horse Inc. summer intern search. It was like being the parent of a newborn, minus the wiping.

This is going to be a long week. A long, awesome week. I’m humbled by the number of people who’ve already taken time to vote and implored their Facebook friends to do the same. Quite awesome.

It should be fun watching my self-efficacy decline come Wednesday. The rest of the week? Forget about it. Don’t let me operate any machinery heavier than this here laptop. Never thought I’d say this, but I’m envious of politicians. Their campaigns may be longer, but at least they get their election settled in one day. (Well, in most cases, anyway.)

I imagine my competition will be canvassing their Facebook friends in the same way I have. They may even have larger social networks, all things told. I’ve got a blog — the social media equivalent of a ninja star — but it’s only helpful if you do the following:

  1. Go to the Fast Horse Inc. Facebook fan page.”Like” the page.
  2. Find my video — “Intern Candidate #1: Andrew Miller of Portland” — and click “Like.”

At last check, I was up 7 votes or so. BOOM!

Why I Quit Watching the 2010 NBA Finals

“Talent is God-given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.” – John Wooden

I wonder how John Wooden would feel watching Celtics Rasheed Wallace and Nate Robinson get technical fouls in the fourth quarter when trailing 2-1 in the NBA Finals.

I wonder how he’d feel about Glen Davis screaming and spitting for 30 seconds up and down the court after scoring and drawing a foul.

I wonder how he’d feel about Paul Pierce accidentally punching a referee in the face after making a two-foot layup in the first quarter.

I wonder how he’d feel ESPN on ABC having to use the mute button over and over during their live recording because of the foul language frequently used by both teams.

I’ve defended the NBA’s product for a long time, but I’m quickly losing interest. It makes no sense that grown men would act more immature than their college cohorts, but nonetheless, the NBA Finals have turned into something I wouldn’t want young kids to see.

I can’t imagine any other sports league allowing its players to make such a mockery of the sports. This wouldn’t fly in the World Series, the Super Bowl or even the Stanley Cup. These men clearly don’t understand there’s a fine line between history and infamy.

Commissioner David Stern, if you listen long enough during those extended audio cutouts on ABC, you can hear something. What is that? Let me help you — that’s the sound of your fans giving up on a game they’ve defended for too long. You might want to do something about that.

Why Are My Towels So Foul?

Let me get this straight: To clean a towel, it’s put into a machine full of water and soap and swished around 40 minutes. Then, it’s put into another machine where it’s dried for another 40 minutes. At the end of this, the towel is fresh and clean.

A little more: When I shower, I use water and soap. I used the towel to dry off, then promptly hang it in the bathroom where it’s left to dry. Hours later, the towel smells like it was used to clean the lower deck of a pirate ship.

What went wrong?

I shower a good two times per day. It’s my way of staying clean and wasting the local water supply. Plus, each shower is warranted. Shower No. 1 acts as a wake-up call, where Shower No. 2 follows a gym workout. My showers are purposeful — not Patrick Bateman-purposeful, but of necessity. I need them. And you should be happy I take them.

My towels are not happy, though. My towels have become foul. You’re probably thinking, “Well, it’s probably mildew.” Mil-don’t. That makes no sense and I won’t have any of it. Keep your fancy science to yourself, nerd.

This problem — through no fault of my own — goes back to my freshman year in the dorms. Laundry costed about $10, but so did a 12-pack of Rolling Rock. I kept four towels in rotation, and if I used each towel for a week, I could save my laundry until I made a trip back home where it was free.

For each towel, fourteen uses before it hits the laundry machine. That seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Reasonable to me, anyway, but I’ve met people who change bed sheets every few days. Not I. I’ve never owned more than one pair of bed sheets. That’s not my definition of luxury.

Luxury, to me, would be towels that were indiscriminate about how and when they were coming in contact with water and soap. I want my towels to take on some of the same properties as, say, baking soda. Baking soda could spend its lifetime in a fridge full of rotting leftovers and do nothing but freshen the fridge up. Baking soda wouldn’t take on the odor itself. Rather, baking soda would benefit the fridge with its presence alone. High five, baking soda.

Here’s what’s not going to happen:

  1. I will shower less.
  2. I will wash my towels more frequently.

Here’s what may need to happen:

  1. I need to buy better towels.
  2. I need to study this “mildew” nonsense.

I realize this is one of those dirty, little facts we generally keep to ourselves. However, I can’t imagine I’m alone on this one. Under the cloak of anonymity, please tell me your towel-washing timetable. Is mine completely wrong?