Opinion: Marriage equality and the face of change

I’m really proud of my President this week. In a bold political move, Obama finally took a vocalized stance on his 18 month “evolving” position on same-sex marriage. His advocacy for equality under the law and in society for “every single American” is now an integral part of his campaign platform. Despite his period of ambiguity, he was considered the best chance supporters of same-sex marriage had for change. Now, he’s the face of that change.

As much we would like to believe the President’s endorsement of same-sex marriage will directly lead to legislative change on a federal level, we must keep our feet on grounded in reality. The fight for the equality of all Americans will continue to be a painstaking, arduous process. As this is currently an issue left to the states, Obama’s authority is deeply limited in this matter. Likely more influential to this issue is our nation’s Supreme Court. A ruling in the courtroom establishing the constitutional protection of the LGBT community’s civil rights and liberties will garner the expansive change sought by LGBT equality activists.

Obama may not be the one-and-done solution many of us same-sex marriage supporters wish for, but he is an instrumental piece to the movement. By finally verbally advocating for marriage equality, the President is now a veritable beacon of hope for the LGBT community and its supporters; a prominent leader in the political sphere which is something the LGBT civil rights movement has lacked to this point – centralized, national leadership.

The myriad LGBT civil rights groups and individual activists whose assiduous work has led to significant progression on the marriage equality front now have headship with the first standing presidential backing in history. You can say Obama’s move was calculated, but he instilled unprecedented inspiration among the LGBT community and supporters, and united inspiration in all states regardless of same-sex legality, which mobilized the discussion around same-sex marriage equality more aggressively than anything to date.

It’s our president’s job to lead in the face of adversity, and now that his stance on same-sex marriage equality is manifested, his attention will shift to other important issues that challenge our country, as his attentiveness should. His support is uplifting and moving, and shows us how powerful national leadership can be.

From all the media coverage and the public discourse surrounding Obama’s “evolution,” I hope we see an activist, or many, emerge as nationally recognized leaders in the LGBT civil rights movement while the President focuses on his re-election. Obama will still be an integral constituent to the movement, but a leader outside of the political realm could be advantageous not only to work as “key” to the president’s “lock” for legislative changes down the road, but also for distancing a particular party affiliation to the movement. It’s important this does not become a political chess piece – this movement is about the equality of all Americans, both liberal and conservative.

Attributing a face to change is imperative to progress for any movement of any kind: a person can accept responsibility for progression, a leader can inspire the hopeless and a president can set a precedent. Obama sparked the torch of united inspiration, but it’s our job as supporters of same-sex marriage to carry it and keep it lit. This united inspiration is a testament of the convictions of the LGBT civil rights movement – a birth of revolution. Our responsibility now is to leverage his leadership the best we can through education on the issue, contributing to public discourse and by taking peaceful physical action.

Obama reminds us that we are present in a time of historical change. In the words of Elizabeth Warren, “We must decide what kind of people we are and what kind of nation we are going to build.”

Fairytale Marketing: Coke gives customers a happy ending

Marketing is about telling great stories. And this is the story of how Coca-Cola’s ingenuity touched the lives of Gen Y students. This is the story of how the world’s number one brand launched a global mission to spread the happiness of Coke.

As the Indian proverb goes, “Tell me a fact and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth and I’ll believe. But tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever”. We human beings process information much more efficiently when it’s presented in the form of a story, and we’re therefore more likely to remember it.

Stories are also an incredibly important element in creating ideas that stick and thrive. Thus, storytelling should be embedded in the spirit of marketing because it helps consumers understand, recall, and retell a brand’s message.

Now, without further ado, here is one of the best modern examples of marketing storytelling in action:


The Goal

Coke is about enjoying life’s pleasures, creating connections between individuals, and pursuing happiness. The challenge was: how can this brand experience be brought to life? More specifically, how can Coke become a player in the age of new marketing and deepen their relationship with the alluring, social media worshipping, digitally geeky, tantrum throwing, information and opinion overloaded generation who lives online and, when wooed properly, becomes influential brand evangelists?

The answer: craft a story that engages millennials and spreads in today’s sharing economy.

The Plot

When you’re a multi-billion dollar corporation like Coca-Cola, you don’t just use marketing to sell – you entertain and create an experiential platform that earns the love of your customers.

So, Coke created the story of a magical vending machine that became a viral sensation. It cost them approximately $50,000 to set-up and the company left the machine in the cafeteria ofSt. John’sUniversity (New York) for two days.

On January 12, 2010, Coca-Cola uploaded the video to YouTube and announced it with a single, intriguing Facebook status update.

The video went viral. After 10 days, it had been seen 1 million times. Currently, it has over 4 million views. Coke also monitored the ad’s spread through blogs, focus groups, and re-posts and found that 95-98% of the comments were positive.

Coke’s Recipe for Storytelling Success

Structure. There is a chronological flow from beginning, middle, to end. The beginning captivates us and sets the scene. The cliff-hanger climax leaves us wondering.

Protagonist. The main character in this ad is the Gen Y customer because they take the journey from the boredom of routine student life to the happy ending Coke delivers.

Humor. People like to laugh and be amused. Funny is fun.

Authenticity. No actors, no special effects tricks. They didn’t fake it! This ad is about real people like you and me – and that makes this story very relatable and credible.

Unexpected.  Everything from the innovative transformation of a vending machine to the surprises it pops out is supremely creative and unique for each button presser. This is the delightfully employed, attention-grabbing theme of mystery.

Emotion.  “A brand that creates emotional joy is a rare thing,” says Pierre Chandon, a professor of marketing at INSEAD. Yet this is exactly what Coke does; it generates happiness. Every emotion from shock to excitement in the video is pure and engaging.

Social.  Happiness is contagious. As A.J. Brustein, a senior brand manager at Coke explains, “We wanted to keep the happiness flowing.” Indeed, the video shows students sharing the machine’s rewards. Moreover, this video spread like fire across social media networks because it’s a good story and good stories spark conversations.

What the Story Is All About

Storytelling helps us learn, remember, and retell. Stories are the currency of human contact and communication. When the marketer becomes a storyteller, they gain the power to inspire and mould behavior.

What are some other great examples of marketing storytelling in action?

Thrift Like a Pro With Pinterest

Pinterest is the rising star of social media. Everyone is talking about the social pinboard network, speculating whether it heralds the switch from searchtodiscovery, what its popularityamongwomen means for Internet marketing, how it may potentially change ourpurchasinghabits, and debating digitalcopyright.

The major brands are hoping to use Pinterest to influence your purchases through sleek integration of their products, but the network is also the best tool for buying and consuming less. Before hitting the local thrift store or a swap meet here’s how you can use Pinterest to thrift shop like a pro, save money, and live a little greener in the process.

1) Start a Personal Style Board

The first step is simple: create a personal style board where you pin anything and everything that feels related to your own style. When you finally decide to hit the thrift store circuit you will know exactly what you want. Not sure what your style is? Just start browsing and figure it out as you pin.  

2) Follow, Follow, Follow

Following a lot of users is essential for figuring out what you like. You may be inspired by the traditional outlets on Pinterest—like LuckyMag and KateSpade—or want to pin specific spring 2012 trends. Following popular style blogs like Refinery 28 or ShopSweetThings may be more your thing. Or perhaps the ever popular craft site Etsy is where you inspiration lies. There are also a great deal of unlikely boards for style inspiration, like TheNewYorkPublicArtandPicturecollection which features a great board dedicated to the MadMenera, the atmospheric textile designer AmySia, or curated vintageandhistoricalephemera.  Inspiration for style comes from a wide range of people, places, and things. So follow, pin, repeat.

3) Pin High, Buy Low

The best motto is to pin what you’d imagine wearing, not what you’d actually buy. You’re going to be buying second-hand anyway, so who cares if these items cost more than your rent? You might fixate on a pair of pricey brightgreenshoes or a one-of-a-kind geometricprintdress, but of course you aren’t going to buy them, so each item becomes a visual cues in terms of color, design, and print when you’re actually browsing through your favorite second-hand store. Forget the price tags, pin what you find visually stimulating, and remember what qualities draws you. That way when you’re lost in the racks, you know exactly what you’re looking for.

4) Crafts and D.I.Y.

Pinterest is a Mecca for craft tutorials and do-it-yourself guides, both of which are perfect for learning how to alter a wardrobe. Now you can learn how to maketshirtyarnoutofoldtshirts, sewingjeansintoskinnyjeans, or turning a mensshirtintoadress. Knowing how to do it yourself may be what you need to take the items you already own or the things you’ve picked up into perfect items for you. Plus, you get to learn some new skills in the process.

Haute and Dangerous: The Day to Night Essential List

So you’ve got spin class at the crack of dawn with barely enough time to gulp down a venti skinny soy latte with three shots of espresso before it’s time to dash to your 9:00 meeting. The rest of your day is a blur. Come 4:30 you’re sitting at your desk fantasizing about your couch and the all-new episode of Dance Moms Miami when you get a text from that girlfriend with a glitzy PR job. “Wanna come to a thing with me? Dress up –SisQuo‘s gonna be there!” What? What’s he been doing? Better yet, what are you gonna do… about what you’re gonna wear?

In a world where we have too much to do with not enough time (or caffeine), what’s a stylish girl to do trying to make that transition between crispy cool day and spicy hot night? Get your shopping lists ready, because here are the essential pieces you need to make the transition between day and night look effortlessly chic:

Master the smokey eye

What’s this nonsense with the smokey eye? Why is everyone so obsessed with it? Three reasons:

  1. It looks good on everyone
  2. You can use any colors, not just blacks and charcoals (the orignals). Use browns, greens, and my personal favorite… purples!
  3. It’s all about layerings. This is the reason the smokey eye is essential for the day to night look. It all comes down to layers, so you simply build over your daytime make up to make your look a bit more dramatic. And once you nail down the basics, it’s very, very hard to screw it up (the key is to blend your face off).

So next time you’re in Sephora, grab some brushes and some fun colors (I personally recommend their nifty kits, which have all the colors and break it down into super simple steps), watch a few tutorials, then lock yourself in the bathroom for the night with a bunch of eye makeup remover and practice until you’re a pro.

A great blazer

The perfect blazer is essential because once you find the right one, it covers all manner of sins. Perfectly tailored to every curve in a breathable fabric (and a great color — you don’t always have to do black!), the right jacket will take you from career cool in the day and give you that sophisticated, mysterious look at night (paired with that seductive smokey eye you mastered last weekend while watching a Golden Girls marathon and drinking an entire box of Franzia), while covering up any “problem areas” you might think you have. Oh, and it tends to get a bit chilly at night, so there goes that problem too!

The one thing about blazers is that they’re a lot like jeans and boys. You have to try a whole bunch before you find the right one for you. If you tend to carry your weight in your stomach (apple shaped) you might opt for something cut a little longer and not as fitted (boyfriend blazer), but make sure it hits you right at your waist, otherwise you’ll look like your swimming in it. Also make sure it fits through the arms and shoulders or the jig is up. Don’t be afraid to spend a bit more on a really great, high quality blazer, and sink a bit more into some tailoring because a great blazer is something you’ll be able to wear forever.

Statement Jewelry

“With a fierce necklace there’s nothing you can’t accomplish.”


While I can’t prove he said that, it doesn’t make it any less true. Nothing kicks professional (coughboringcoughcough) clothes into high gear like a nice piece of statement jewelry. Some chunky bangles say “I’m a boho kind of girl, but I’m still able to hold down a job!” Some elegant, dangly earrings say, “I’m a lady in the street, but a freak in the bed!” (Yeah, earrings quote Ludacris. I was surprised, too.) A bold collar necklace says, “I’m smart, but also sexy… and expensive,” while a completely over-the-top cocktail ring says, “I’m good with my hands… now talk to my face!”

Note: You typically only need one piece of statement jewelry per outfit, unless you’re embracing the Samantha Jones aesthetic, in which case you can probably pull it off.

A Bold Lip

It’s called a bold lip because you have to have a bold (read: confident) personality to pull it off. But when you find the right shade and know how to apply it without getting it all over your face and pristine monochromatic white outfit, there are very few things more beautiful.

A word to the wise: unless you want to look like a *ahem* lady of the night, choose dramatic eyes or dramatic lips, not both.

Great Shoes

Why do I have to explain this one?

Invest in that bag you’ve been wanting

No, seriously. It’s not too expensive and you deserve it. A high quality bag with the capacity to hold lots and lots of stuff that you just absolutely adore is always worth it because you’ll use it for everything, forever. Where else are you going to put all these new day to night essentials?

Oh, and check out my Day to Night Springpad for more ideas….

Musical Artists Wanted: Dead or Alive?

It’s a booming spectacle all over the Internet: The infamous rapper, late Tupac Shakur, took the stage in digital form at Coachella this year to perform “Hail Mary” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted” with Snoop Dogg. While some lauded the holographic performance, many devout 2Pac fans regarded the resurrection as disrespectful and in bad taste. Amidst the controversy, it has everyone thinking the same thing: are holograms the future of past musical legends?

The possibilities are endless. Whether it is talented artists like 2Pac who passed away prematurely, or iconic artists and groups that had longer, fulfilling careers, the thought of what their posthumous shows would be like is undeniably intriguing. Although Dr. Dre, the visionary behind Makaveli’s digital return, asserts the hologram “was strictly for Coachella” and “not done for a tour,” it is difficult to believe that four months of work and a price tag of $100,000 to $400,000 would be wasted on only a debut appearance. It seems far more likely that the rest of us who missed the 2Pac hologram at Coachella will have the opportunity to see if for ourselves in some kind of future tour. Even if Dre doesn’t take the virtual Pac on tour, other artists will certainly be eager to play around with this technology and create a hologram of their own.

And to be technical, 2Pac’s hologram is not actually a hologram. It is an example of the Pepper’s ghost technique utilized by the Musion Eyeliner system.  From the audience at stage level, 2Pac appears to be 3D, but actually the illusion is created through a 2D image. His image was projected onto a piece of glass at a 45 degree angle on the ground, which reflected the projection of the image onto a customized 302 by 132 screen on the Coachella stage, giving 2Pac the three-dimensional appearance.

Almost regrettably, the opportunities for holographic performances don’t end with the departed. Bands, groups and duos that are still alive but have broken up, have a deceased member, or have retired from the industry could reunite for die-hard fans that have never given up faith. Our favorite current artists who are alive and well today could potentially harness this technology. Touring is immensely strenuous work; when artists experience personal or health related issues while touring and are forced to cancel a sold-out show at the last minute, could a hologram performance of the artist be enough to satiate fans and keep the ‘show on the road’? At a discounted price, would you pay to go to a hologram concert of your favorite musical artist in lieu of the real deal? It makes one wonder how far this technology will take us, and if society accepts it, will we be settling for smoke and mirrors in place of raw unadulterated talent.

All postulating aside, it is evident we are turning a corner in musical innovation. Do you think holograms of artists should be embraced as the future of the music industry or does the potential power of this technology threaten everything music stands for?

The Landscape of Tumblr

 If you haven’t heard of Tumblr in the last year, chances are you don’t have a computer. 500 million page views go through Tumblr every single day with 40k requests added each second at Tumblr’s peak usage hours.

But why? It’s just another blogging platform with nice UX right?

The beauty of Tumblr isn’t the design. It’s the content and community that has flourished there. Whether you’re looking for inspiration or entertainment or connection.

So what does the Tumblr Landscape look like?

Like any blogging platform, there are those who use their Tumblrs as personal blogs. They record their day, interact with other Tumblrs, share things they like and write out their shopping lists. But many have taken it much further than that.

Some use them to document their creativity and projects. Such as showing off their fashion, like Nicole Loher or using it to contain their poetry, like Warsan Shire. These two in particular have gained a level of fame in the Tumblr-sphere and are well know, but there are many who do similar projects with a smaller group of fans. Other Tumblrs are personal projects, like this one to capture the best neon lights of NYC.

Then there are Tumblrs that people create as a lifestyle blog or to show their taste such as Young Folk’s Society or Only Cool Stuff. While there are one off Tumblrs of other lifestyles, for the most part in this category the hipster reigns supreme, and there’s an upper echelon of Tumblrs that all interact in a public social forum.

There are motivational tumblrs filled with thought provoking and generally upbeat “love thyself” messages that give the user a feeling of connection and support. Unlike the hipster lifestyle Tumblrs, these connect with all levels of users.

Others have been created for entertainment or to ponder the universe or to educate future generations.

Other Tumblrs are places where people aggregate information on a certain topic. These gained speed with the Fuck Yeah [InsertSubjectHere] Tumblers, with subjects ranging from nail art to sharks to beards to cilantro. In the realm of topical Tumblrs there is everything from science to street art to architecture.

And then there are meme tumblrs such as Maddie the Coonhound who likes to stand on things or planking. These exist at all times, and go through highs and lows of popularity.

The best part is that through the variety of types and categories of Tumblr it turns out that there is (at least) one for everyone. Ranging from DJs to fans of Ryan Gosling (though to be fair, Ryan Gosling has many many many many Tumblrs).

Do you have any favorite Tumblrs? Think I missed a piece of the landscape?

Haute and Dangerous: Best of Internet Videos that Make Fun of the Fashion Industry

What could be better than the glamorous, fast-paced, prescription-drug riddled existence of a fashion industry hot shot? I’ll tell you what — sitting on your couch in your snuggie, watching internet videos that viciously satirize every aspect of the fashion industry whilst you scarf down a pizza. It’s all about what makes you feel alive. So live a little, whydoncha? Proudly presenting the Haute and Dangerous Best of Internet Videos that Make Fun of the Fashion Industry:

“Une Fille Comme Les Autres” (A Girl Like any Other) – Jalouse Magazine

Une Fille Comme Les Autres from Jalouse blog on Vimeo.

This short film, directed by Matthew Frost for the French fashion magazine Jalouse (which translates to “jealous”) – would be exactly like every other piece of promotional material produced by the fashion industry in the last 10 years where it not for the hilariously spot-on narration, which effectively lampoons the entire project frame by frame. It’s fresh, in-your-face, and so much fun you just might have to watch it what, like… a few hundred times? Who says the French take themselves too seriously?

Quotable: “She’s smart, you know? And we see her in a bookstore, you know, with all these books, and then she gets cruised by a hipster with a beard, you know… and… and… and… she’s into it, you know?” 

“Presentation 2″ – Very Mary Kate

It’s not like any of us were ever fooled. When you and your equally blonde, boney, and beautiful twin sister each form one half of a billion dollar business empire by the time you hit the big 1-8, it’s hard to believe that either of the Olsen twins ever really had a firm grip on what the peasants call, “reality.” Enter Elaine Carroll, creator of “Very Mary Kate,” a weekly web-series which does the impossible by packing even more hyperbole into the larger-than-life existence of the pint-sized enigma (she’s got two first names!) that is Mary Kate Olsen, and it’s exactly how we (ok, me) imagine the real MK. Here’s the skinny (pun intended!!!) on the so-called “unofficial biography” of the Real Mary Kate: the layer-loving, perpetually tired, pocket-sized blonde skulks around Manhattan with her long-suffering bodyguard,”Bodyguard,” in haute pursuit of her “The Bachelor” degree at NYU, where she majors in ponies, inhales copious amounts of drugs, and torments her so-called “fat (normal-sized) professor.” I dare you to just watch one.

See also: “Presentation,” “Moving Day,” “Back to School.”

Quotable: “Will you do me a favsies and get me my Vera Wang snuggie, it’s burrr…”


This short film shows so-called “real” (read: older than 18 and not anorexic) women mimicking haute couture poses in public places while confused onlookers debate whether they should call the police and/or an ambulance. Meanwhile, a woman’s breathy confession, “I’ve always wanted to be a model.” loops over and over with a nostalgic twinge. Avante garde, no? Artist Yolanda Dominguez, created “Poses” as “a direct criticism of the absurd and artificial world of glamour and of fashion that magazines present.” While I certainly won’t be canceling my subscription to Vogue, this instillation delivers a good giggle and a reminder to think twice before you upload all 52 photos of your latest “high fashion” iPhotoshoot to Facebook….

Quotable: “I’ve always wanted to be a model….

Chloë – Spring

There, I saved the best for last. This pee-your-Proenza Schouler pantalones youtube series makes the pretentiousness of perpetual “it-girl” Chloë Sevigny almost bearable. I said almost.

See also: “Comedy,” “Toast,” “Birthdays.” 

Quotable: “It’s come to my attention that I love schpringgg!”

Who’s on First? The Week in Sports

Summitt stepping down

Women’s college basketball is a sport frequently overshadowed by its male counterpart, but it’s also a sport that has its fair share of basketball legends. One of those legends is Pat Summitt, who has coached the women’s basketball team at the University of Tennessee for 38 years, racked up 1,098 career wins, and won eight national championships. Summitt is Tennessee women’s basketball, which makes Wednesday’s announcement all the more shocking: Summitt is stepping down from the position she’s held for almost four decades due to a debilitating medical condition, and instead will assume a “head coach emeritus” role that will be less “hands on” but will still allow her to mentor players.

Back in August, 59-year-old Summitt revealed that she had been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease, and that condition deteriorated over the course of this past season, to the point where, according to The Tennessean, she had to be directed down the sideline to shake the hand of an opposing coach after a game, “an act she had done more than 1,300 times” over the course of her career. Longtime assistant Holly Warlick will assume head coaching duties, undoubtedly using what she learned under Summitt to continue to steer the Lady Volunteers in the right direction.

Ugly start to NHL playoffs

At their best, NHL playoff games are among the most exciting sporting events in the world: the speed is high, the battles are intense, and the thrill of sudden-death victory is immeasurable. However, this year’s playoffs, just a week old, have looked more like something out of Fight Club than the peak of the “coolest game on Earth.” The NHL has been rocked by dirty misdeeds, horrific hits, and dangerous stick play since the playoffs began last Wednesday, creating a stream of hard-to-watch highlights that has been pretty much non-stop.

The carnage started with Nashville’s Shea Weber slamming the face of Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg off the glass as time expired in Game 1 of their series, a WWE-style move that earned Weber a $2,500 fine. The shenanigans continued from there: the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators got into a street fight; Carl Hagelin of the Rangers elbowed Ottawa’s Daniel Alfredsson in the head; Chicago’s Andrew Shaw ran over Phoenix goalie Mike Smith; Arron Asham of Pittsburgh tried to decapitate the Philadelphia Flyers’ Brayden Schenn; Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom crosschecked Boston’s Rich Peverley in the face; and, most recently, Raffi Torres of the Phoenix Coyotes, a chronic cheapshot artist, left his feet to hit Chicago’s Marian Hossa last night, knocking the Slovakian winger out and sending him off the ice on a stretcher.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, there have been 804 penalty minutes, eleven game misconducts, eight suspensions, and two fines in just 22 total games so far in these playoffs. All of these antics have some worrying that the NHL is earning itself a “Wild Wild West” reputation, garnering media attention of the wrong kind. So how does the NHL put a stop to these gruesome plays? Some fear it will take a player being killed or paralyzed for the NHL to wake up, while others feel harsher penalties and a stronger backbone from those in charge of the league will help clean up the dirty play.

NFL schedule released

Spring has sprung, the weather is getting warmer, and summer will be here soon. Obviously that means it’s time to start planning for…football? Pigskin fans rejoiced on Tuesday night as the NFL unveiled its full schedule for the 2012 season, some five months before the games will begin. The 2012 campaign will kick off with the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants hosting the Dallas Cowboys in a rematch of the last game of the 2011 regular season, one that saw the Giants eliminate the rival Cowboys from playoff contention. There are plenty of interesting match-ups to watch for in Week 1 as well: Peyton Manning will make his Denver debut when the Broncos host the Steelers at Mile High Stadium; Manning’s old team, the Indianapolis Colts, will (in all likelihood) kick off the “Andrew Luck era” with a visit to Chicago; and the San Francisco 49ers will travel to Lambeau Field to face the Green Bay Packers in a battle of NFC heavyweights.

Other games of note include a playoff rematch between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens in Week 3, a six-team showcase on Thanksgiving Day, and a rematch between the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions in Week 2, the teams’ first meeting since the near-brawl between their respective coaches a few months back. According to the Hartford Courant, the Giants will have the toughest schedule in the league, while the Broncos will have the second-toughest (based on opponents’ records in 2011). The league will also hold two games outside of the United States again this year: the Patriots and St. Louis Rams will play in London on Oct. 28, while the Buffalo Bills and Seattle Seahawks will play in Toronto on Dec. 16.