USA Today Is Proud Of Its ‘Cool Balls’
Posted on 09.14.12 by Danny Glover @ 2:33 pm

When designers and marketers think outside the box, this is what you get: “I have a dream … that one day all Americans will join hands and declare their undying love for our balls.”

That’s how graphic artist Sam Ward began describing his vision for remaking the USA Today logo, the cornerstone of a rebranding campaign by America’s second-largest newspaper. And it only got worse from there. Sadly, USA Today chief marketing officer Maryam Banikarim liked Ward’s vision so much that she shared it in detail with the whole team, complete with repeated, anatomically suggestive references to “balls.”

The memo sounds like it was written by a teenage boy — one determined to ply his creative trade outside the box:

Whenever anyone steps outside the boundaries of the box it will create a stir. In fact, nothing good can be created without stepping outside the box. No, let me rephrase that; nothing can be created at all without stepping outside the box. Our balls could be our boldest statement; our chance to engage readers on a level that we currently are not doing.

The memo earned plenty of well-deserved scorn from readers of media reporter Jim Romenesko. Here are samples of the feedback on his Facebook page:

  • “A CMO who thinks ’sophisticated’ readers will enjoy jokes about balls? What a boob! (Maybe they could let her go and hire a dozen reporters.)”
  • “This is the same newspaper that sacked three veteran women staffers a few years ago because they dared to touch the “big blue ball” statue in one of the then-new Gannett towers out in Tysons Corner. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for that kind of ‘management’ and their recent “success.’”
  • “As our boss wondered: Did we wake up and fast-forward to April 1?”
  • “How much did they pay The Onion [a satire publication] to write this memo?”
  • “Cue Beavis. ‘Heh, heh. He said “our balls.”‘”

Sam Ward and Maryam Banikarim, you are definitely “outsiders” — and that’s not a good thing.


Filed under: Business and Media and Outside The Box and People
Comments: None

Candy Corn Oreos: Halloween Trick Or Treat?
Posted on 09.07.12 by Danny Glover @ 4:22 pm

The question in the headline is rhetorical. Anyone who would corrupt the sweet Oreos combination of chocolate wafers and vanilla cream with the horrid flavor mix that is candy corn obviously is perpetrating a vicious Halloween trick on American consumers.

Unfortunately, Candy Corn Oreos are not an imaginary nightmare on Main Street. They are about to become a reality at Target stores thanks to some evil marketing genius with a sick sense of humor.

The news is all over the Internet today, and I knew before I read it that someone covering the story was sure to use the phrase “outside the box,” which too often is synonymous with bad ideas.

I’ve explained my animosity toward that phrase before. Now, with the introduction of Candy Corn Oreos, I’ve decided to revive my regular ridicule of the concept with a new feature on this blog. Consider this the first official installment of “Outside The Box.”

While we’re talking about nasty attempts at sweet treats, enjoy comedian Tim Hawkins’ take on the subject to start your weekend:


Filed under: Advertising and Business and Food and Holidays and Human Interest and Just For Laughs and Outside The Box and People and Video
Comments: None

Thinking Outside The Juice Box
Posted on 02.23.09 by Danny Glover @ 8:36 pm

Years ago, I had a boss who kept telling me to “think outside the box.” He could never explain in practice what he meant by the phrase, so I ultimately decided thinking outside the box meant working for someone other than him — and writing a column called “Inside The Box” because that’s where I think. Just call me a “boxist.”

My column, which ran in a local newspaper for a few months, was dedicated to the proposition that all thinkers are not created equally — and that those who think outside the box more often than not make foolish decisions. Thinking outside the box “has something to do with eating McPizza, drinking New Coke and dating the office intern,” I wrote in my first essay.

I was reminded of that column today when I read this blurb on the blog PRNewser:

Tropicana recently went ahead and changed its iconic “straw in the orange” packaging, but consumers are none too happy. After a plethora of complaints, notably via social media, the company has decided to forgo the new look (which cost Tropicana $35 million) and return to their original design.

So to recap, Tropicana blew $35 million for a new box when its customers loved the old box. That was an expensive way to learn that thinking outside the box — or doing something different just for the sake of being different — isn’t as enlightened as the “outsiders” would have you think.


Filed under: Books and Business and Outside The Box
Comments: 2 Comments

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