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Archive for Business – Page 3

Super Savings

There are certain aspects of Super Bowl Sunday considered sacred. Buffalo wings. Prop-bets on wacky in-game scenarios. Critiquing the halftime performance like you could have done it better.

But among the facets of the Super Bowl considered holy by Americana, save for the game – it’s the ads. And along with the demise of Denver’s championship aspirations, on Sunday we may have witnessed the death-rattle of Super Bowl advertising.

The Super Bowl is the only event where viewers actively tune-in to the commercial programming, as corporations dump massive portions of their annual marketing budgets and best ideas into producing top-tier advertising spots. The cost can be monumental, as the going-rate for a 2014 Super Bowl commercial was as high as $4 million for 30-seconds. As such, many companies have attempted to stretch their mileage by releasing them up to a week early on YouTube – which eliminates much of the mystique of the Super Bowl ad-watching experience.

The move is understandable from a business-standpoint, as the economy is still grinding toward a full-recovery, companies are searching for any way to stretch their dollars – especially in the advertising sector. But for your average Super Bowl partygoer, it amounts to sacrilege. The anticipation of the unknown is as ingrained in Super Bowl Sunday as wings and beer, and the ability to view ad spots in advance can ruin the joy of watching.

Things have gotten so expensive that some companies have turned the price-tag into a unique marketing ploy. Esurance ran a commercial after the game’s completion, touting the fact that by purchasing ad-time after the fourth-quarter, they saved $1.5 million dollars – and considering they pride themselves on saving their customers money, by using the hashtag ‘esurancesave30’ they are giving away their savings to one lucky Twitter user.   

So what do you think? Do you side with corporate executives attempting to get the most bang for their buck, or do advances of commercials hurt Super Bowl viewership?

NOFX Demonstrates Longevity


Tonight I’m going to see NOFX, the seminal Southern California punk band that is celebrating thirty-years in existence. Yes, the guys that wrote such ageless tunes as “The Separation of Church and Skate” and “Hobophobic (Scared of Bums)” are all pushing 50, and although they tout their perennial laziness regarding touring and recording – show no signs of slowing down. NOFX has achieved a level of longevity that many envision but relatively few achieve. Sure, guys like Eddie Money can cut sketchy commercials and perform for county fair attendees bent on draught-beer and deep-fried Twinkies, but this isn’t the type of longevity that most aspire to. A career of sustained-success involves a few factors, a few of which are mentioned below.

Maintaining the Message

The fastest way to end up in professional purgatory is straying too far from the path. Message consistency is essential to giving yourself the strongest shot at prolonged success.

Taking Reasoned Risks

This point may seem counter to the former, but it is right in line with a formula for longevity. Any endeavor requires a level of risk to be assumed; the key is the word ‘reasoned.’ In the early-nineties, Garth Brooks was one of the biggest musicians on the planet, and then he decided to adopt an alter-ego and release a rock album under the moniker ‘Chris Gaines.’ This was not reasonable, and prompted fans to wonder if he’d lost his mind. A reasoned risk involves banking on your knowledge and expertise, not assuming another reality in some kind of odd performance art in an effort to provide something ‘new.’

Understanding Your Audience and Their Expectations

If I walked into the concert venue tonight and NOFX began playing Steely Dan covers, I would walk – no, run – out. Your target audience has a perception of you and your topic/style/delivery, and adhering to and satisfying those expectations gives you the best shot at maintaining them over the course of a career.

Providing a Quality Product

This shouldn’t have to be mentioned, but unfortunately there are some individuals who think that name-value should move units alone. If what you’re pushing doesn’t live up to standards, that word will quickly spread, and your career will begin to trend southward.

So tonight I will be watching one of my favorite bands that are still performing their craft at the apex of their ability, and are an example of longevity in the face of mounting odds. While enduring success at this level is usually the exception and not the rule, by following the above steps you can give yourself the best shot at achieving it.

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s…Books.

amazonI’ve got an extreme fascination with futuristic scenarios. Blame it on my introduction to Skynet in the early ‘90s, far too young to have viewed the carnage in The Terminator, but it was Arnold Schwarzenegger night in our household and I managed to finagle a seat on the couch. Through countless sci-fi and cyberpunk novels and films this interest in advanced society has only continued to grow, but reality has yet to catch up to fiction: until now. Sunday on “60 Minutes,” CEO of Amazon Jeff Bezos unveiled the future of business-to-customer delivery systems: drones.


Bezos explained the concept behind the drone delivery technology, citing a 30-minute delivery capability from online purchase within a ten-mile radius. Pending FAA approval and any potential functionality hiccups, we should see the aptly-named “octocopters” buzzing above our heads as soon as 2015.

The adoption of robotic distribution has the potential to revolutionize the online-shopping industry by providing what all virtual-shoppers want: immediate gratification. No more toiling over the arrival of the mail guy, no more Christmas-present-opening delayed due to a late-arrival; but the implications of Amazon’s brainchild reach far-beyond the realm of consumer-centric purposes. If Amazon sets the tone for civilian drone-usage, you may well begin seeing them in sectors such as international aid transport, wildlife monitoring or at-home dining.

Instant pizza anyone?

But this type of revolutionary technology does have its drawbacks. In an economy slowly crawling back from the brink of total collapse, delivery and courier positions are in demand, with an abundance of individuals eager to fill them. Will the role of B2C transport now be filled by trained drone-operators or automated computer systems? Will Saul Berenson be flying my Homeland DVDs directly to my doorstep?

Also, lest we not forget the looming dread of the robot apocalypse.

We may not have the capability to time-travel yet, but with Amazon’s debut of its drone-system, we will soon be able to receive our online-wares in no time flat. What’s your take on this new delivery system? Is this technology a step in the right customer-service direction, or another revolution in the slow churn toward a society dominated by computers and robotics?


Orlando’s New Stadium (And Identity)

Cities rely heavily on their identity and reputations, as their potential revenue streams depend on them. Any negative press directed at an entire location, such as a spot on an annual crime-per-capita list or widely recognized lack of infrastructure or industry severely limits a city’s ability to draw in tourist dollars that can flow back into their local economies. Orlando, PR/PR’s home-base, has been long-overdue for a reputational overhaul, but not for any of the aforementioned reasons: Orlando simply suffers from a lack of identity, and today, that may change.

This afternoon, the Orange County Commission will vote to potentially approve tourist-tax funding for a shiny new stadium downtown, and effectively rubberstamping a Major League Soccer expansion franchise for the City of Orlando. The prospective vote will make Orlando the only MLS team in the southeast, establish the second major sports organization in the city, and create hundreds of jobs and provide a boon to the local economy. But more importantly, a vote of approval will help The City Beautiful begin to emerge from the fugue-state it’s endured since Walt Disney and Co. came to town in 1971.

Orlando’s national reputation is one of a Formica-formed cartoon town, awash with vomit-inducing rotating teacups and motels fashioned in the theme of dwarves and tree-dwelling forest creatures. These things exist, but not in the City of Orlando. The theme-park invasion that began with Walt Disney World in the seventies contributed to the city’s standing as a tourist destination and little more, but all of the mouse ear sales and overpriced turkey leg consumption take place about thirty miles south, in Kissimmee. Orlando obviously appreciates this tourist-driven economic windfall, but many residents will be quick to point out the societal divide that exists over that thirty mile buffer.

Wanting to separate from this national image, the city has made many effective strides in the last few years to shed its cultural malaise, from the influx of food trucks that have taken root in Orlando, to the recent naming of individual downtown ‘districts;’ but a new Major League Soccer franchise would be the most monumental move thus far.

By nature, Orlando is a transient-city with very few lifelong residents, and as such, sports allegiances are firmly entrenched elsewhere. A brand new team, especially in a sport experiencing such exponential popularity growth as soccer, would put the national spotlight on Orlando, and generate the camaraderie and sense of pride that only exists when rooting for your local club (not to mention the revenue created by vacationers who choose to attend an Orlando City game).

Coming from someone who was raised on Atlanta Braves baseball and denied the international soccer hype-machine for years, the Orange County Commission would be foolish not to vote to approve a new soccer stadium and subsequent MLS franchise. Orlando has much more to offer than theme parks and attractions, and getting behind a homegrown sports franchise is the best way to give the city’s longstanding identity crisis the boot.

-Carter Breazeale

Billion Dollar Baby: Yahoo Acquires Tumblr


The stereotypical male midlife crisis usually includes one or more of the following: a candy apple red Corvette, ill-fitting and ill-advised attire, or perhaps a Kevin Spacey workout routine. When you’re a stalwart Silicon Valley cyber-conglomerate, however, the price-tag for feeling hip is a bit higher: $1.1 billion higher.

In an attempt to regain a foothold on the younger demographic of the search-engine market currently dominated by the likes of Google, Yahoo acquired Tumblr last Monday. A recent survey conducted by Survata revealed that Tumblr is far and away the most popular social media site for teens, and such is always the case when the elders start acting fashionable, there’s the inherent worry that they’ll ruin it for everyone. CEO Marissa Mayer addressed these fears head-on, vowing that Yahoo would not ‘screw up’ the popular blogging site or stray from the model that made it popular in the first place.

But this sweet talk may not be enough to allay the fears of Tumblr’s users. There’s been blog chatter expressing dismay that Dad’s joining the party, and if you’ve ever experienced the buzz-kill of finding the parents at the punchbowl, you’ll know just how they feel about Yahoo’s acquisition.

While Yahoo is still shy of 20 years old, the aging rate of Internet outlets may as well be dog-years on growth enhancers – things just happen faster in the technology landscape, and that includes sharp declines in popularity. In 2003 Myspace was the social networking outlet, and despite all of Justin Timberlake’s recent efforts and star-power backing, it’s still the online equivalent of Siberia. A marketplace filled with cutting-edge competitors has forced Yahoo to make unorthodox moves to remain relevant, such as purchasing Geocities and Flickr, both of which went over like lead balloons.

Will Yahoo’s billion-dollar-baby thrust the graying search engine back into profitability and prominence, or will Tumblr be the latest in their line of acquisition failures? If other outlets purchased by big-time companies, such as Instagram and YouTube, can be used as measuring sticks – all signs point to Tumblr’s continued success and a boost to Yahoo’s reputation as a stout search-engine presence. This all hinges on the promise that they stick to the formula, and like the elder statesman of the Internet that they are, use their accumulated wisdom to acknowledge their limitations, and continue doing what they do well.

-Carter Breazeale