Did Tostitos’ Fiesta Bowl Halftime Show Go Too Far?

Last night, I nearly gagged watching the ill-advised shenanigans Tostitos pulled during the Fiesta Bowl halftime show.

To summarize, Tostitos — the title sponsor of the game — partnered with USO to surprise four families by reuniting them with a loved one returned from overseas. The families had been brought down to the field and honored for their sacrifice. All of the sudden, a curtain dropped to reveal four servicemen, and 30 millions Americans looked on as emotion and shock flooded the field.

Was it touching? Absolutely. But the moment wasn’t ours. We didn’t deserve to be a part of it. It was a highly personal moment — branded, commercialized, and corporatized for your viewing pleasure. And judging by the mostly positive reviews on Twitter, it went over quite well.

The halftime show was a sort-of kickoff for the Tostitos Reunite America campaign. According to a Frito-Lay press release, Reunite America is “a program that will foster consumer-requested reunions of all kinds nationwide during 2011.” The release goes on to say,

Current pop culture trends show that consumers are looking for ways to reconnect, not just online, but in real life. From television shows that spotlight high-profile reunions to the recent trend in tracing ancestry roots, people are seeking out long-lost connections. With that in mind, the Tostitos brand intends to make desired reunions a reality for many people who otherwise might be limited to connecting with friends and family online, or not at all.

Please. Stick to chips.

It’s one thing to reconnect with an old friend, co-worker or classmate. However, reuniting with a family member who’s served overseas should be considered something sacred, not a marketing opportunity.

I’m not the only who reviled the halftime show:

Of course, there were plenty of positive reviews, too. If you can evoke powerful emotions in a consumer, nearly any campaign will be well-received. But take a step back and think about if military families reuniting was really Tostitos’ moment to own, whether it should’ve been used to sell some chips or drive people to a Facebook page.

(For the record, the Tostitos Facebook page received about 1,000 Likes in the half-hour following halftime — roughly a 0.003 percent conversion rate with a viewing audience of 30 million. Not good.)

Did you see last night’s halftime show? What did you think? Did Tostitos take advantage of a great opportunity or did they undermine their own campaign before it got off the blocks?

I Got The Job

Today seems like a fitting day to announce I’ve accepted a job offer at Fast Horse. Effective mid-January once my internshipexpires, I’ll be hopping on full time as an Associate.

I waited until today to break the news — I found out last Friday — because it’s Lose the Laptop Day at Fast Horse, which is ironic considering laptops had everything to do with me earning my internship and eventual employment. The reason I’m so excited about this job opportunity is for the fact I work at an agency that stays on the cutting edge, but not without challenging itself to get better. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. today, the whole staff is working away from their computers. That’s like an auto repair shop saying, “All right guys, no drills today.”

But as with mechanics and their power tools, marketing and public relations existed long before the Internet. It’s a relationship industry, after all, and while social media makes it easier to maintain contact, Lose the Laptop Day forces us to go out and engage, to meet people, to re-hash friendships, to learn the world we’re selling to, to be a consumer, to be inspired. We’re channeling our inner Don Drapers and Peggy Olsons, as my boss writes.

This isn’t a stunt or a drill. This is an exercise about checks and balances, well-roundedness, self-awareness, moxie and avoiding complacency when it’s just so damn cozy. Forget an arbitrary seminar, workshop or motivational speaker — we’re living the lesson today.

So, thank you, again, to everyone who voted in the Intern Search back in June. Every week, I seem to meet a new person who voted in the contest. Recently, the conversations would end with me saying, “Now I just I hope I get the job,” and I would walk away a bit sullen, fearful of the reality things might not shake out the way I’d hoped.

But, I got the job. Holy shit, I got the job. Thanks again!

[Powers laptop down.]

Rappers Give Blueprint for Better Blogging

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 the commonalities between blogging and rapping and how Drake’s career provides the model for aspiring bloggers:

As an intern at Fast Horse, I spend a lot of time researching and compiling lists of blogs so we can make pitches on behalf of our clients. When doing so, I’m most concerned with a blog’s content, the frequency of its updates and what it’s doing to create a buzz. Bloggers who are most conscious of these three areas continually put forth the best product, and that’s where we want our clients to be seen.

I’m an unabashed fan of rap music, but I also read about 20-25 blogs per day. That’s no coincidence, because rappers and bloggers have a lot in common – chiefly, a perceived narcissism, but also the desire to innovate, the struggle for mainstream relevance and tons of competition. Rap music and blogging, as media, have endured through years of doubt and dismissal, but remain viable, both commercially and creatively.

If a blogger is looking for inspiration, they shouldn’t look to an Arianna Huffington or a Matt Drudge, but to someone like Drake, the 23-year-old rapper from Canada and arguably the brightest pop star of 2010. (That’s him above.) Drake’s young career is based on a series of brilliant calculations that could provide a blueprint to aspiring bloggers and seasoned hacks alike.

Show swagger. So many blogs seem apologetic over their very existence. Too often, I see taglines like “A few musings and random thoughts from a suburban housewife.” That inferior, bashful tone does nothing but undermine a blogger’s authority. (Even before Drake released his first album, he rapped, “Last name: Ever/ First name: Greatest.”) Focus less on what inspired a blog’s existence and focus more on convincing your audience you belong on their bookmark bar.

Stay fresh. In fairness to your audience, you have to stick to a posting schedule that’s both regular and realistic. You can’t drop a full-length album every day, but maybe a single here or mixtape there is manageable. Consider guest appearances, too. If there’s a blogger you follow who might benefit from being exposed to your audience, offer the opportunity to post as a guest. Create a clear expectation of how frequently your readers can expect new material.

Come correct. It’s easy to get caught up in templates and promotion, but the most important part of any blog is the content. Make sure social media, widgets, and plug-ins all take a backseat to sitting down and writing something worth reading. Think of your content as rapping a cappella – can it stand alone? What happens when you turn off the lights and music? Would your audience still read?