Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cosmo Objectifying Men is a Content Challenge

Rule #1 of being PC, you cannot be hypocritical. Meaning, if you're going to publish content outraged about men objectifying women, you can't later turn around an objectify men. 

It is amazing the double standards and selective listening we do as a society. No winners here: not the publisher, nor the two authors that created the respective content. It's hard to throttle serious content around objectification, than then have an objectification FTW moment later under the same brand's umbrella. 

Cosmo Objectifying Men
Cosmopolitan Magazine has no tolerance for men that objectify women, yet Cosmo is more than happy to objectify men. 

Publishers have it rough. It's readers very much could be interested in both pieces of content. Does it make sense for the brand to publish both pieces though? It's difficult to be serious one minute and then throw away any subject matter expertise gained to look at some Olympic bulges. 

I actually feel bad for the writer in article #1. Down the road googling about "Cosmo" and "objectifying" very well could lead to a photo of three guys bulges and to article #2 focusing on WHY IT'S OKAY to objective men (spoiler alert, because these men are athletes)

What if a male magazine did a 28 slide carousel dedicated to guessing thigh gaps and camel toes of female athletes? Would that be in fun or cause issues? If the gender tables were turned there would certainly be hashtag blow back towards the magazine, it's parent company and prominent advertisers. 

Did you see Cosmo's searing exploration of Olympic bulges the other day? You didn't? Shame on you — go peep it immediately. Here's why you should, besides the obvious appeal of seeing a very detailed outline of an Olympic peen: Cosmo got yelled at for it. Specifically, an agent who reps two of the bulge-owning male athletes demanded it be removed from Cosmopolitan.com. Fortunately, the guys themselves had other ideas. 
To malign male objectification as condescending and unfair while embracing the objectification of women is a problem. Athletes and performers' bodies are their tools, so I'm not calling for everyone to suddenly stop judging them on their looks or physique. But it's only fair that both sexes are objectified equally. Now, if you'll excuse me, I am going to go Google "Michael Fassbender penis."

My bad, all good. A few of the athletes took it in fun. While it will probably elevate their image (yikes unintended pun), it's the wrong message, and it's wrong to write it off as just a hypersensitive athlete's agent. We would never have a male pro athlete tell aspiring young male swimmers to practice often, eat well, and fluff up before heading out towards the cameras.

Equally, a rape victim would never be asked, "wellllll what were you wearing the night of the rape?" "Oh a short skirt... uh huh... you know it's part your fault for drawing that type of attention to yourself."

The bottom line, brands can't be in the business of fighting the objectification of women while moonlighting in the business of objectifying men. Looks like the author, Anna Breslaw, is taking some heat online for this 2014 article that referenced Olympic bulges from 2012. I empathize with her. What she wrote was fun, playful, also made some important hypocrisy points of its own.

Sadly we're becoming so serious as a society that we can't be playful like this. It costs us our sense of humor, but in exchange heightened respect is given. It's been like this for a while -- a male magazine and male author couldn't objectify like this towards women, even with a moral to the story at the end. In an odd twist, seems like this round of internet outrage is a sign of gender equality.

p.s. Cosmo isn't the first to have a double standard on this topic, and won't be the last. Elite Daily did the same back in 2015.

via Elite Daily: Why It’s Completely Okay To Objectify Men…No Really, It Is (2015)
Hey, that doesn't look like consent. Is he a victim or the luckiest guy ever? What if the attractiveness level was maintained, but gender roles reversed to "one female having a towel pulled by four males."

Monday, August 8, 2016

Rio TV Ratings Behind Barcelona Cause Merica (no really 'merica)

Olympics TV Ratings for the opening weekend in Rio are not looking good for NBC. For the 1st weekend TV viewership was lower than the 1992 Barcelona games.

It would be easy to point fingers at NBC on this. Don't.

London, Atlanta, Beijing and Barcelona all bested Rio in first weekend viewership. Rio outperformed Seoul, Athens and Sydney.  
Like with other recent games, Rio has been had faced a mountain of bad PR about the city, facilities, and logistics.
Hope's were high for Rio. As many know Brazil is a BRIC country, an emerging powerhouse in the global economy. Like the games greatly elevated my hometown of Atlanta, many saw Rio as a great breakout opportunity to get the world excited for what Brazil was capable of and to showcase it's future.

For months the headlines have been brutal. If the crime in Rio wouldn't get you, the pollution would, or the Zika, or the... you get the picture.

First Weekend Rio TV Viewership - By The Numbers:
Blame it on Rio? Not so fast. 
What's missing? 'Merica (also pronounced 'Murica)
This guy is ready to cheer. Get him to a TV (or computer, or tablet, or smartphone...)

My Take:

  • The Olympics are about global unity
  • They are also about competition and promoting national success
  • Overt patriotism is not fashionable.
  • The topic of nationalism is a topic being debated, including what role of the USA should play globally versus focusing on itself at home
  • Stories leading up to the games focused around real physical danger to athletes. That storyline is depressing and overshadows the games itself. 
  • Storylines before the games are important. Too much of that was dominated by the lack of readiness of the venue itself.

In the coming weeks we'll likely hear that TV viewership was down, but online was up. While this shift will likely be good for my industry as a digital marketer, the greater storyline should be how do we get overall viewership up? There's a lot more potential viewers today than during 1992 Barcelona games. Some of this is likely education about unfamiliar events that are only seen once every 4 years (what are the rules, who are the athletes, who is likely to win). Alternatively, the format and user experience itself might be a big issue. 

As marketers we know the importance of a video clip being short, the shorter the better. We also know the drop off after 30-45 seconds if the content isn't compelling. Watching a video clip is easy, getting a viewer to participate in the pre-event analysis, commercials, and continue afterwards to watch other events is the hard part. We can help by integrating the omni-channel, but with this integration also comes a distraction, an additional screen, during the events. 

  1. We need to find a way to be united by the games. If we had a fraction a country another country had during World Cup it would be an amazing cultural event
  2. Consumers have changed how they interact with video and media. The TV may be a secondary screen. Social media sharing short clips consumed on a tablet or smart phone are view much likely to be in use while watching the games
  3. Without a rally to #1, many advertisers locked into expensive sponsorship commitments look like they are going through the motions of connecting their brand to supporting and cheering on #TeamUSA.
  4. Sponsors can leverage the omni channel to create better user experiences, in this case "stickiness" towards the games, and better remembrance of the role their sponsorship played. 

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Launching Men's Issues Content

I saw this comparison image on social media a few weeks back. My first reaction, "guy on the left has a funny hat, I bet he's bald." I then started thinking about the pony tail -- seemed odd -- especially with that hat.

I changed my previous hypothesis to "maybe he's in music, maybe he's a producer." I then found myself asking is she with him for him, or is this some power trade situation?

I knew the two photo comparison was a setup before I even read the captions. The second photo reminded me of a Dove advertisement and the focus around highlighting beauty of average women over models. Guy in the second photo looked like he was in music too, maybe he was a drummer in a band... Then it hit me, I fell for the trap. And while the captions are intended to be ironic and funny, it put a magnifying glass over a double standard in how we view physical beauty.

Exploitation vs. Empowerment
It also was a reminder of stereotypes and messaging we hear today. Left photo the female is obviously physically out of his league so he must be preying on here. Right photo the opposite is true, the message is around female empowerment and a celebration of who you are. No such celebration for the heavy guy with the hat and ponytail.

Always thought "No Ma'am" was an unnecessary parody. The group was over the top to show irony of the topic. Ironically there is no prominent Men's Right's groups at a national level working with states, colleges, and local communities. 

If Al Bundy was a blue collar men's issues ambassador, then Dr. Helen Smith PhD is the white collar ambassador. Ironic one of the leading voices on men's issues is female, a point she raises in her book "Men on Strike."

Men on Strike Book
American society has become anti-male. Men are sensing the backlash and are consciously and unconsciously going “on strike.”

If Marty McFly gave Al Bundy a DeLearn ride to 2015 I'm not sure if Bundy would be freaked out, or shrug it off as times being exactly what he expected. In Men on Strike, Dr. Helen Smith, PhD outlines the challenges of shifts in society, including many of the unintended consequences.

From Amazon.com: American society has become anti-male. Men are sensing the backlash and are consciously and unconsciously going “on strike.” They are dropping out of college, leaving the workforce and avoiding marriage and fatherhood at alarming rates. The trend is so pronounced that a number of books have been written about this “man-child” phenomenon, concluding that men have taken a vacation from responsibility simply because they can. But why should men participate in a system that seems to be increasingly stacked against them? 
As Men on Strike demonstrates, men aren’t dropping out because they are stuck in arrested development. They are instead acting rationally in response to the lack of incentives society offers them to be responsible fathers, husbands and providers. In addition, men are going on strike, either consciously or unconsciously, because they do not want to be injured by the myriad of laws, attitudes and hostility against them for the crime of happening to be male in the twenty-first century. Men are starting to fight back against the backlash. Men on Strike explains their battle cry.

Achieving equality, through balance of opportunity, has long been an important topic I've followed as a novice and enthusiast. I first wrote about the topic over a decade ago during my MBA. I recall covering the topic marketing and modern masculinity in a term paper. The research was very eye opening. In many ways this was a primer to understand the often polarized society we live in. It doesn't need to be that way. Unfortunately men tend not to be as vocal, organized, or expressive communicating outrage as a collective group.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Train Trip 2016

The "Carousel of Progress" at Disney World has always been a favorite attraction of mine. It fulfills my love for history, culture, and technology. The attraction includes four segments, and one of the standouts is how travel speeds improve over time.

I've always wanted to travel cross country and now I have the chance. It's a bucket list item of mine, and it's loosely planned by design.

43 second mark: "And we can travel from New York to California in less than 7 days."

When I completed undergrad, I graduated on a Saturday, had a party that Sunday, and then Monday I started my first day of work. When other friends took some time to travel I was "smiling and dialing" trying to get ahead. Years later when I completed my MBA, I graduated on a Saturday and the next day boarded a plane to Atlanta to look at career next steps and scout places to live.

While its great to be focused on the future, living in the moment and savoring the present has become a welcomed pivot. As I've grown older and more successful I've come to respect the most valuable commodity we have is time. In some ways I've experienced a lifetime of material gains, and while I'm grateful of that, there is a void of experiences I have not made as much progress on as I'd like.

The idea of traveling across country has always been a desire, but never something I dedicated the time to, nor thought I would do until I retired. Here's some trip highlights planned currently on my bucket list. http://www.hanks.mba/p/bucket-list.html

  • Take a train cross country (San Fran to NY)
  • Write a book
  • Visit the 9/11 Memorial
  • Tour the Smithsonian 
  • Try yoga
  • Learn the basics of sailing
  • Unplug digitally and from the news media for 14 days

So what's the trip look like? Here's some stops:

  • Atlanta > Washington D.C. (Smithsonian)
  • Washington D.C. > New York (9/11 Memorial)
  • New York to San Francisco
  • CA (ad-hoc, includes renting a VW and driving the Pacific Coast Highway)

What do I hope to gain? Chance to step out of my comfort zone, try new things, be spontaneous and have a true once in a lifetime adventure. Intent is to unplug, take in the surroundings and relate back to those that made this cross country journey generations ago. I plan to travel light, just a basic brown leather duffle bag and a L.L. Bean backpack. Not my intent to live publish along the way, rather journal the trip and share as an overall experience.

Huge thanks to everyone that's help me with tips and suggestions to make this trip possible !!

 - Keith


If you've ever seen the "Carousel of Progress" try to get the lyrics out of your head :)

There's a great big beautiful tomorrow,
Shining at the end of every day.
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow,

And tomorrow's just a dream away.
Man has a dream and that's the start,
He follows his dream with mind and heart.
And when it becomes a reality,
It's a dream come true for you and me.

So there's a great big beautiful tomorrow,
Shining at the end of every day.
There's a great big beautiful tomorrow,
Just a dream away.

p.s. for those with 20-minutes to spare, here's the full video.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Hour 41, Getting Ahead or Staying Afloat

On CIO.com this article was recently featured, Why your employees are overworked, burnt out and unmotivated. You see business articles like this all the time, sometimes legit, to often clickbait.

Given the topic I took the bait and got ready for an anti-Millennial article, except it wasn't there. In fact, "millennial" isn't even used in the article once.

What gives? In a nutshell, over 3,000 workers were surveyed in the U.S. and Canada by Staples Business Advantage that blows open some well held thoughts on office culture and productivity.

  • Study found that 91 percent of employees say they work more than 40 hours a week. However, they are not spending that time getting ahead on work -- they're using it to catch up and stay afloat.
  • Even though telecommuting is on the rise, the best work is done in the office

Or is it?

  • While 66% say the say the office the most productive place to work, there's a catch.
  • 40 percent of employees feel burnt out, citing workload, time pressures, manager pressure and job security as the top four reasons for burnout.
  • 65 percent said that workplace stress impacts them on a personal basis
  • 15 percent said they have taken a leave of absence as a direct result of workplace stress

Can Flexibility be Expanded, but Distractors Reigned In?
  • 63% say they feel they could avoid burnout with more flexible schedules
  • Critical productivity distractors include: email overload, multiple meetings, social networks, texting, instant messaging and even employee training, and employees are more strapped for time than ever.
Translation, the time your employee wastes looking down at his/her phone is likely dust compared to the time he/she spends hitting reply all, or sitting in a meeting to give a status to the email he/she just replied to about the project he/she hasn't been able to see through because of other distractors. 

91 percent of employees say they work more than 40 hours a week. However, they are not spending that time getting ahead on work -- they're using it to catch up and stay afloat.

Office Layout:

"You might also want to reconsider the layout of your office -- 56 percent said that loud coworkers kept them from being productive and 47 percent said they got distracted by people coming to talk to them. Combine that with other distractors like email overload, multiple meetings, social networks, texting, instant messaging and even employee training, and employees are more strapped for time than ever."
The Good News: employee desire to establish a sense of purpose

"Nearly half of respondents also said they would be more inspired at work if they had a sense of purpose. Recognizing employees doesn't have to be expensive. Simply calling out an individual's excellent work at a staff meeting or via an office-wide email can be effective," says Ringel.
My Take:

  • Something is missing from the article, the term "millennials"
  • For every one company that is cutting edge with productivity and office culture there are ten stuck living in the later half of the Industrial Revolution
  • We're kicking the can too much as workers. All this access to communication and collaboration is great, but too often it can slow things down with process, updates, and audit trails that are unread. 
  • Each company is different, each department has different needs.
  • Open offices, strong technology, and ways to informally collaborate are critical to success, but require boundaries. These boundaries include the need for uninterrupted time, and private rooms of various sizes (for meetings, or some conf calls) to balance all that open office space. 
  • Nothin is perfect, people are very adaptable. Recognize and reward success is a great way to help employees avoid burnout and instead rally for an inner sense of purpose.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

What Eminem can teach us about Branding Business Citations

I've been enjoying helping a friend better market his small business. His business name is somewhat generic so customers and prospects will likely use a modifier of "city" or "business service provided" when searching.


  • Brand features "and" in the title (pick one: "and" vs "&")
  • It's an LLC that sometimes uses L.L.C. (pick one: "LLC" vs "L.L.C." vs. nothing)

There's no less than four names that are easily recognized to describe the music artist. 

Whether rebranding, or just tightening branding standards, it is important for businesses to consider how they brand themselves within digital properties they own (ex. website) or are third party and editable (ex. yelp, angieslist.com, twitter, linkedin, facebook, instagram, etc).

A good exercise is to review the various logins your team has for all digital properties maintained by your company. If you don't have one, create a "Business Citation Branding" document as a reference to help update the company information currently available online. Some sample fields to consider:

  • Business Name
  • Telephone Number
  • Website
  • Address
  • City
  • State
  • Zip
  • Short Business Description (< 150 characters)
  • Medium Description (150 - 250 characters)
  • Long Description (250 - 600 characters)
  • Services Offered (taxonomies)
  • URLs to link to other digital properties (ex. branded social media accounts)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Solved! Why Tetanus Shot Hurt

When I was about 12 I attended summer basketball camp. One day I was late to camp because I had a doctor's appointment. Normal checkup, not memorable, except for one thing, my first tetanus shot.

Seems like that shot hurt for days. Other tetanus shots I've had since then never hurt like that. Now I know why... basketball camp.

Just had a physical and part of that was updating by tetanus shot. Shot didn't hurt, nothing memorable, until I decided to work out later. Upward rows with 15 reps and about 60 seconds after finishing it hit me. My right arm BURNED. Left arm was fine.

Mystery solved. When you're having a tetanus shot try to refrain from physical activity shortly after that works the muscle area where the shot was administered.