Tastes of summer

Summer’s here… or at least in some parts of the country.  It’s time to hit the beach, grab your longboard, suntan lotion, towel and flip flops.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but as someone who drinks maybe two or three sodas a month, it’s also time for more soda consumption.

Well this year you can pack your cooler with your usual suspects: Orange Crush, Fresca, Dr. Pepper, Cheerwine (O.K., maybe that last one’s just me and other enthusiasts from the Tar Heel State), or you can pack a few Cokes and really get into the summer spirit.

But how’s Coke any more summery than the next soda?

Coming on the heels of Tropicana’s recent packaging redesign fiasco, Coca-Cola decided to try its own (brief) repackaging effort just in time for the sunny season.  The brand has unveiled five limited edition beachy designs:  sunglasses, surfboards, grill, American flag and beach ball.  Here’s the collection:

summer coke cansPicture source:  The Dieline

And a closeup of my favorite can:

sunglasses coke canSource:  The Dieline

So how does Coke’s redesign fare compared to the infamous Tropicana one?  Pretty well in my opinion.  The iconic Coca-Cola script font and signature red color are intact, so there should be no brand confusion.  The new Coke (no pun intended) cans should be easily recognized on store shelves.  Simple and visually stimulating, the designs are clean, with uncomplicated lines and forms.  I feel transported to summer just looking at the sunglasses and beach ball.  And despite being a nice change of pace, the cans aren’t an unrealistic departure from Coke’s default design.

The cans should be on shelves by Memorial Day weekend.  They will have a staggered release with a new design hitting shelves every few weeks, continuing through Labor Day.

What do you think of the cans?  Which is your favorite?

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Hoops-la in Durham

Though the basketballers in Carolina blue won the 2009 NCAA crown, it appears their royal blue foes are getting all the off-season attention.

A few weeks ago, the big news was that Stephen Curry’s little brother, Seth, was transferring from Liberty to Duke. The younger Curry averaged 20.3 points per game for the Flames, pacing freshman throughout the country.

But somehow creating more intrigue, graduating Duke point guard Greg Paulus is examining his future, in football. After starting in his first three years for the Blue Devils, the senior saw more action as a role player this season.  The Blue Devils, a No. 2 seed in this year’s NCAA tournament, fell in the Sweet 16 to eventual Final Four contender, No. 3 Villanova.

Prior to his Duke career, Paulus was heavily recruited to play both college basketball and football.  As the four-year starting quarterback for Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, N.Y., Paulus led his team to a 42-3 record and a state title.  He also passed for 11,763 yards and 152 touchdowns — no small feat for any athlete, let alone one that can start for 3.5 years for Duke’s not-too-shabby hoops squad.

Paulus’ name splashed all over the media outlets a few weeks ago, when he worked out with the Green Bay Packers and followed it up with a trip to Ann Arbor to discuss his possible future with Coach Rich Rodriguez and the Michigan Wolverines.  He even was interviewed on ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption in a segment called “Five Good Minutes”:

After all the initial excitement, Paulus is no longer in the headlines, but still appears to be shopping around for a college football opportunity.  Where has he expressed interest in playing lately?  Nebraska and his hometown Syracuse.

A source says he’s 95 percent sure Paulus will join the Orange’s roster for next season.  If that’s the case, Paulus would enroll in a master’s program in communications at Syracuse’s highly touted S.I. Newhouse School of Communications while competing for the Orange.  When he toured Nebraska’s campus in Lincoln last week, Paulus looked at the broadcast journalism master’s program there as well.  (For the record, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s communications programs aren’t too shabby either.)

So how will Paulus suit up in the coming months?  In maize and blue?  As a Cornhusker?  Will he bask again in hometown glory, this time in orange?  Or will he continue his basketball career overseas?  And perhaps more importantly, when will we know?

The double-sport threat will receive his bachelor’s in political science from Duke on May 10.  His high school coach, Joe Casamento, believes Paulus will finalize his decision within the next two weeks.

‘Til then, let the speculation continue!

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Want solid job hunt advice? Listen to the hunters.

If you’re graduating in the coming months, just graduated or have been laid off recently you’ve probably been inundated with blogs and news articles about how to find a job in this down economy. I know I have. While I certainly appreciate that people are trying to help, I can’t help but notice the vast majority of this advice has been written by people with (relatively) stable jobs and incomes.* I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told, “Read this and maybe you’ll find out what you’re doing wrong and things will turn around.”

In case that wasn’t bad enough, we keep hearing conflicting advice and of course, the daunting 22 percent statistic.  (In case you missed it, the National Association of Colleges and Employers conducted a study that found that U.S. companies will be hiring 22 percent less 2009 college graduates than grads from the Class of 2008.)  We know the odds are stacked against us.  We know we have to be better than great to get a toe in the door.  We have to lower our expectations, increase our skill sets and be fastidious, but patient.

So how can we cope?  Just keep plugging away?  It’s all we can do.  And for me, reading the accounts of others with similar experiences helps.

Yesterday I read the Danielle 2.0 blog and found this post, and it really resonated with me.  Having been on the job hunt for a few months I feel like I finally read the words of someone who gets it:

I have written the cover letters and tailored my resume. I’m all over LinkedIn, Twitter and any other social networking that I can get my hands on.  I’ve had fabulous interviews that I walked away from with a big smile on my face. I followed all the advice and did everything right. I still haven’t gotten a job. You see, no one pointed out that I could be great but there still might be someone better. I simply assumed that if I was at my best, then I was the best. That’s simply not the case. It is a devastating reality in this tough economy. It’s also very difficult to realize that you did everything you could and it still wasn’t enough. At that point, pick yourself up and realize it wasn’t the right job for you and that there will be other opportunities. Remember that at some point your best will be the best. At least that’s what I keep telling myself!

What a breath of fresh air — advice from someone who has actually been in the trenches and knows what the job hunt is like!  Someone who knows the pain of agonizing over every line of their resume, tweaking their LinkedIn profile in the wee hours of the night and meticulously crafting the perfect cover letter, over and over again.

While Danielle’s advice is a whole lot better than mine, I’d suggest two things:  talk to peers that are experiencing the frustrations of today’s job hunt and keep your head up.  It’s amazing how much better you feel when you can discuss your trials and tribulations with others.  And stay positive.  This is probably the most challenging thing you’ll encounter.  The job hunt is irksome at best and demoralizing at worst.  You just have to keep fighting and one day it’s going to work out for you.

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no hope at all.” –Dale Carnegie


*Admittedly, much of this advice is valuable, I just wish more of it came from those who’ve experienced the job hunt in this economy.

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Toothier Lions and upside-down Bull heads

In the past two days there’s been much fuss in the logo design world about two professional sports teams: the NFL’s Detroit Lions and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls.

While the laughingstock of the NFL has had a minor logo renovation, yesterday the Chicago Tribune pointed out something about the Bulls logo that had skirted unnoticed by sports fans: upside down, the Chicago Bull is in fact a robot reading the Bible on a park bench.

Don’t believe me? Take a look.  I would even argue that the robot is a very sad distant cousin of Bender:

bulls-head

Photo credit: The Chicago Tribune

But that isn’t all I learned from the Tribune about well-known logos.  I mentioned a few weeks ago about the arrow within the FedEx logo, but did y’all know about the 31 within the Baskin Robbins logo?  I certainly didn’t.  The 31 of course refers to Baskin Robbins’ 31 flavors of ice cream.

So how did the Detroit Lions change their logo?  Now the team’s lion has sharper, scarier teeth and is accompanied by a flashier, more modern font:

lions-logo

Photo credit: Sports Pros(e) blog on Chicago Sun-Times

Roar!  Quite menacing, don’t ya think?  The “new Lions logo ought to solve everything,” a Chicago Sun-Times blog post facetiously said.  That’d be quite a feat for the design world, as the abysmal Lions tallied an 0-16 record last season.

As one of my favorite people on Twitter pointed out yesterday, “The Lions new logo probably won’t solve their problems on offense. But it might sell some more merchandise!”

Only time will tell if the rebranding effort will rescue the team from a repeat of last year’s misfortunes.

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Happy Easter!

Everyone has a favorite holiday.  For some it’s Christmas.  For others it’s New Year’s, Halloween or St. Patrick’s Day.  Some enjoy their birthdays most.  For crazy ol’ me, my favorite is actually the 4th of July.

Easter, though loved internationally, doesn’t really get a lot of respect.  It’s not on the same date every year (let alone month) and not everyone is Christian.  But even still, I think we can all agree on the excellence of the sweets associated with the holiday.

For whatever reason back in the day, Easter was deemed the holiday of pastel candy.  I’m not exactly sure how Jesus’ resurrection and pastel candy in baskets with fake plastic grass go hand in hand, but I’m down.  I’m all for a holiday where people dunk hard-boiled eggs in a colorful vinegar concoction and then later search for them in their yard.  I’m also for feasting on Reese’s cups shaped like eggs, giant chocolate bunnies (hollow chocolate bunnies if your parents don’t, ahem, the Easter bunny doesn’t, like you), SweetTarts shaped like bunnies, chicks and ducks, pastel-colored M&Ms and of course, sugar dusted marshmallow chicks and bunnies.

Mmmmm, Peeps.  The tasty mystery dessert best enjoyed stale.

As it turns out, Peeps aren’t just fun for eating.  In fact in Washington, D.C. the whimsical treats are an excuse for good old-fashioned creativity and silliness.  How old fashioned?  Think fourth grade.  Think arts and crafts.  Think dioramas.

That’s exactly how The Washington Post views Peeps.  In 2007 the paper had its first “Peeps Show” diorama contest.  The contest was an instant hit and won the hearts of locals and faraway readers alike.  Now it’s a yearly tradition, and this weekend the winner and finalists from Peeps Show III were announced.  (And if you can’t get enough, be sure to check out the finalists from last year’s Peeps Show II as well.)

This year’s winner:  “NightPeeps,” a take on the Edward Hopper’s 1942 “Nighthawks” painting.  The winning artist, graphic designer Melissa Harvey of Arlington, Va., spent 45 hours on the project.  She took the top prize amongst the 1,100 dioramas submitted for this year’s competition.

peeps1

Here are a few of my other favorites from this year’s contest:

“Double Peep Strike”
peeps2

“Mrs. Peepcock, in the Conservatory, with the Revolver”

peeps3

“Chinese Olympeep Women Gymnasts Win the Gold”

peeps4

“A Very Peeps Passover”

peeps5

“Steve Jobs Presents iPeep Nano”

peeps6
And not one of my favorites, but I’ll end with this one because everyone loves “As Seen on TV” products and this one prominently features everyone’s favorite, the Snuggie:

“As Seen on Peep TV”

peeps7

I spent much of today daydreaming about possibilities for next year’s diorama contest.  Will I be crowned Peeps Show IV Queen?  Doubtful, but you never know.  Either way, can’t wait to see what next year’s Easter crop brings.

All images courtesy of WashingtonPost.com.

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Get your degree, but don’t forget to tweet tweet

If I could offer my fellow (former) UT ad grad classmates one piece of advice it would be keep your eyes and ears open.

While the program we went through was pretty special, it will all become null and void quickly if we don’t adapt.  Everyone knows new media is sweeping advertising, PR, journalism and basically all communications fields.  What can we do?  Be flexible.  Embrace change.  It’s all we can do.

This topic has been address ad nauseum by myriad “millennials” “experts” and other knowledgeable bloggers, so I won’t bother to replicate it or rehash their points.  But I will say, if you do nothing else, please use Twitter.

I’m not saying this because I want more followers or people to follow.  I genuinely think it’s the best thing you can do in your career right now.  If you don’t believe me, see what Adweek thinks.  See what they say in AdAge.  See what your own classmate says (in AdAge, no less)!

There are a million reasons why you should join, but I’ll just mention a few.  Hear what other people in the industry are saying (CEOs, entry-level people, all types).  Read timely, relevant articles and blog posts everyday.  Get advice from others.  Network painlessly.  Be in the know.  And it’s simple, not to mention free.

Mostly, just have your fingers on the pulse of the industry, or whatever industry you’d like to pursue.

Get your feet wet.  You don’t have to publish a tweet every minute, every hour, or even every day.  Despite what critics may lead you to believe, not all people on Twitter blabber about minutia.  Just be patient.  You’ll be surprised how quickly like-minded users will follow you first.  Engage with others.  Listen.  Something somewhere will strike your interest.  See who your friends are recommending on #followfriday and follow them yourself (or at least see their most recent page of posts to see if they’re someone with which you share interests).  Don’t be afraid to ask questions!

You might still think I’m nuts, but here’s a few reasons why Twitter has worked for me:

  • I’ve actually gotten interviews out of using it. Both informational and job interviews.  Though I haven’t landed a job yet, it has worked for people before.
  • I’ve asked questions, and gotten answers.  Quickly. After all, I decided to move my blog to WordPress much in part to feedback from a question I asked on Twitter.
  • People are willing to help. One of my favorite people on Twitter saw in my bio that I was looking for a job in DC and ended up passing my resume along to several of his friends in the industry.  Even though none were looking to add to their staffs at the moment, I got my resume in a few more doors I wouldn’t have otherwise.  This individual, of course, is a Twitter saint.  But others have helped in other ways as well.  Many have dispensed invaluable advice via email, due to the character limitations of Twitter.  All you have to do is ask (nicely)!  The worst that will happen is you’ll be ignored, but people will, in general, help how they can.
  • When you think you’re alone, you aren’t. Do you think you’re the only one stressed out about finding a job?  You aren’t.  You’ll be surprised what like-minded people are out there.  Even if it’s silly, I found out that I’m not the only glutton for punishment with a love-hate relationship for Trust Me.  I know it’s bad and that I can’t stop watching.  But because of Twitter I know I’m not the only one!
  • There are some hilarious people on Twitter, almost guaranteed to make you laugh. In times like these, we all need to laugh.  And if you like celebrities or athletes, there’s no shortage of them on there either.  There are also CEOs, politicians, authors, broadcasters and a slew of others.
  • Every day I’ve been almost bombarded by a wealth of helpful, interesting links. I never have time for them all, but I do try to favorite them to go back to later if they look particularly helpful or amusing.  This may be the most important point of them all.  If you follow a decent sized network of people, the smattering of intriguing, useful links is almost endless.

And if you need recommendations on who to follow, let me know in the comments.  I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, but if there’s a subject matter you’re interested in, I may have suggestions.  If you have other specific questions on how to use the service, I’d be happy to help however I can.

Hope to see you in Twitterville soon!

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More freelance, more fun

As a few of you already know, I recently jumped into the freelance writing realm.  So far I’ve only written a few sports pieces here and there, but I’ve decided to kick it up a notch…

I’m going to expand into design as well!

I just got my domain name, and now it’s time to put my web design skills to work and crank out another site.  I’ve made a logo too, but I keep changing my mind on it.  I haven’t decided the timetable yet for getting the site up and running, but hopefully I’ll have something soon.

What sort of stuff will I venture into?  Anything really.  You name it — restaurant menus, cards, invitations, publications.  Hopefully it will be constantly evolving.

Do I have a name for this entity yet?  I do.  Here’s a hint: it has to do with a fruit.

More details to come!

chiquita-ladyPicture Source: The Brain Police

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