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7 Sep

I received the following story this morning in one of those “forward to 10 people and something good will happen to you” emails. After reading it I realized that this story needed to be shared with way more than 10 people. Feel free to share it with your friends, the message really moved me.











In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man (above) with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
  After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent – without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged USD 200 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito (not being recognised) in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

  • In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? 
  • If so, do we stop to appreciate it? 
  • Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made . . .

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

I Heart Product Placement ♥

23 Jun

Apple cashes in on some prime product placement in ABC's Modern Family where the iPad is featured multiple times.

I have this weird interest with mainstream TV shows and their increased use of product placement. In many shows and movies advertising has become so seamless that most people don’t even realize they’re being fed advertisements. Some shows on the other hand are not so great at subtly working products in their script and it becomes very obvious. Thought I’d take a look at some current product placement and some ideas, facts and thoughts surrounding it.

Here is a good explaination of product placement for anyone who is unfamiliar with it, exactly what it is, and the reason for it:

Product placement is a form of advertising, where branded goods or services are placed in a context usually devoid of ads, such as movies, the story line of tv shows, or news programs. The product placement is often not disclosed at the time that the good or service is featured. In April 2006, Broadcasting & Cable reported, “Two thirds of advertisers employ ‘branded entertainment’ – product placement – with the vast majority (80%) in commercial TV programing.” The story, based on a survey by the Association of National Advertisers, added, “Reasons for using in-show plugs varied from ‘stronger emotional connection’ to better dovetailing with relevant content, to targetting a specific group.”

A classic example of product placement is James Bond and his Aston Martin. Or Seinfeld and the Junior Mints, Ray Ban sunglasses from Risky Business, and Reese’s Pieces in ET (Reese’s Pieces sales went up 65% after being featured in ET). Business week says about product placement:

In the generically minded film world of a generation ago, an on-screen soda bottle was simply labeled “root beer” and a tennis shoe was — well, any old shoe. Nowadays, the movie and TV industries are molding products, logos, and slogans into the very building blocks of popular culture — often without audiences realizing it.

In a world where we are being overloaded and bombarded with ads almost every second, companies are doing everything they can to stand out amongst the rest. The invention of TiVo has not only revolutionized the way we watch TV, but also forced the advertisers to change they way they reach their audiences. If you’re fast forwarding through the commercials their message isn’t reaching you – it’s not worth it for them to invest $175,000 for a 30 second ad if you’re not going to see it (which is the average cost on ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX). So instead they incorporate their product into the show it’s self.  It is estimated that the product placement industry is reaching $1 billion a year. Critics say that, “Blurring the line between art and commerce is ‘stealth advertising,” and they want is stopped.”It is inherently deceptive if people don’t realize that ads are ads,” said Gary Ruskin, executive director of Commercial Alert. However, Dave Harkness, senior VP for strategy and development for the VNU Media Measurement & Information Group says, ” . . . A TV program with no branded products would be unreal.” writes:

But some viewers may not be aware that the reason lowly forensic civil servants on CBS’s “CSI: Miami” drive $55,000 Hummers is that General Motors donated the vehicles, just to keep them in the public eye. Product placement also explains those lingering camera shots of folks weeping for joy over Kenmore washing machines on ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” The footage is shot at the request of Sears, which reportedly paid $1 million for the first season of commercials plus verbal and visual references to its products in every episode. Volkswagen will spend $200 million over three to five years to place its cars in Universal movies and in TV shows and ads on NBC, Bravo, Sci Fi, and USA.

There are plenty of people out there who are opposed to product placement, claiming that advertisers are “tricking” viewers. But personally, I believe a good way to think about it, is by relating it to fashion. When celebrities and other public figures start to wear a certain type of clothing, it all of a sudden starts showing up in our local lifes. Remember Uggs? They were being manufactured and worn in Australia well before 1978. But it wasn’t until they got a huge boost in the US from women like Kate Moss, Eva Longoria, Jennifer Aniston, and even Oprah who spent more than $50,000 to buy them for her staff and featured them on her show as one of her “favorite things” in 2000, that they actually started being a must-have item for us Americans. Or what about the return of headbands and their appearance on Gossip Girl. says:

With the popularity of the teen drama comes the popularity of the headband—yes, Blair Waldorf just might be the most influential trendsetter of 2008, beating out Sienna Miller and the Olsen twins for the spot.

So – just like fashion trends, our advertisements are becoming ever so seamlessly melded with our entertainment and from the looks of it – there’s no turning back. Honestly, I love it. I love when a show perfectly writes the perfect script for the perfect product that can make it an instant “have-to-have” product. Even if it just serves as product recognition, I think it’s great. Also, I’d rather get my ads along side my shows than have to watch 30-60 second spots about the product.

Basically – it’s not something we can change. Product placement is a billion dollar industry that causes a lot of money to change hands. However, we can become more aware of it. Keep your eyes open for the next time they try to slip a good product placement by you in your favorite TV show. Watching for them is something I love doing and get so excited when I spot one! Here are some new and old examples that you may or may not have noticed.

Yes, even in True Blood Hoyt's mom is seen playing Wii.

Harry Potter - Converse Shoes. Considering this story takes place in a fantasy world, it was an unlikely place for product placement. But a teen audience is a perfect place for some things and converse capitalized on that.

American Idol - Coca Cola. This one needs no explanation.

Desperate Housewives - Buick. GM supplies, at no cost, the show's set with a fleet of vehicles. Buick, which did not pay for the product placement, has some of the show's characters driving the new Buicks in the episodes.

Pretty Little Liars - Every time anyone of the girls sends a text you get an oh-so-not subtle shot or mention about The Kin.

Gossip Girl - Vitamin Water - On the premier of the second season they all attended a Vitamin Water Party and the colorful bottles made an appearance in every shot possible. Chuck Bass at the Vitamin Water White Party.

Even thought it's not a branded product we can't forget about Blair and her headbands.

Spread The Word

23 Jun

Here are some stories that I found interesting and wanted to share.

Unapologetic Fat People Coming Soon to Your Living Room
Finally a TV show that looks like they’re making a serious attempt to break the mold. Pretty excited about the new show!

Feminism of the Future Relies on Men
Myth #1: Feminists are man haters. The last frontier of women’s liberation may well be men’s liberation.

Texas GOP Platform Advocates Criminalizing Gay marriage, Banning Strip Clubs, and Pornography
I think those big cowboy hats are cutting off the circulation to their brains. Hopefully no one is taking this platform seriously.

Reproductive Rights are Human Rights
The Obama administration is taking the focus on human rights very seriously. For the first time, the US is participating in the UN’s Universal Periodic Review, which allows the UN to review the human rights records of all its member states.

Eminem Supports Gay Marriage
Despite his old gay bashing lyrics, he now believes that love is love, no matter what your gender is. “Everyone should have a chance to be equally miserable, if they want.”

Cammi Granato, Angela James, and Dino Ciccarelli inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame
The first two women EVER! The HHOF is no longer just for men.

Child Genital Cutting at Cornell University
I don’t care who you are – this is terrible. Shocked that any board would approve this kind of research.

Man Throws Acid on his Wife to Show ‘Ghairat’
The man permanently scared his wife’s face by throwing acid on her  while she was sleeping in attempt to preserve his honor cause he “SUSPECTED” she was having an affair. The worst part – the woman was too scared to prosecute him because her husband and his family were threatening to hurt her and her children. Major WTF moment!?!

One Girls, One Dress, One Year – The Uniform Project

10 Jun

Sheena and the basic black dress.

I really admire people who want to make a difference in the world and have the guts and courage to try and make that change happen. I’m always inspired by stories like this. Starting in May 2009 one girl pledged to wear one dress for one year as an exercise in sustainable fashion. She had 7 identical dresses, one for each day of the week. Every day she dressed up the dress with different layers, jewelry, vintage, handmade and hand-me-down goodies.

Think of it as wearing a daily uniform with enough creative license to make it look like I just crawled out of the Marquis de Sade’s boudoir.

The Uniform Project was inspired by a girl who was schooled in India where uniforms were a mandate in most public school. She says:

Despite the imposed conformity, kids always found a way to bend the rules and flaunt a little personality. Boys rolled up their sleeves, wore over-sized swatches, and hiked up their pants to show off their high-tops. Girls obsessed over bangles, bindis and bad hairdos. Peaking through the sea of uniforms were the idiosyncrasies of teen style and individual flare. I now want to put the same rules to test again, only this time I’m trading in the catholic school fervor for an eBay addiction and relocating the school walls to this wonderful place called the internet.

The Uniform Project was a year-long fundraiser for the Akanksha Foundation, a grassroots movement that is revolutionizing education in India. The project has recently ended and all the contributions have been donated to Akanksha’s School Project to fund uniforms and other educational expenses for children living in Indian slums.

After 365 days of wearing the same dress, Sheena raised $95,258. Which ultimately helped put 264 kids in school. That’s almost 1 kid per day. Can you imagine how great our world would be if we all put this much effort into making a difference?

Cats – They Never Fail to Put a Smile on my Face

6 Jun

This will definitely make you laugh – or at least make you smile. My cats drink from the faucet all the time, but never like this. Hilarious!