Friday, March 30, 2007
According to CNN, Dobson has challenged Fred Thompson (former Watergate lawyer, Tennessee senator, and current Law and Order actor) to prove his Christianity. And this brings to mind several questions:
1) What gives James freaking Dobson the right to ask Thompson this question? Seriously, does Dobson think he speaks for all the Christians in America to be able to ask this?
2) Has Dobson used his position of apparently the spokesman for Christians to challenge the other candidates similarly? Both Republican and Democrat?
3) For a man who claims his organization to be unpolitical, why is he getting so involved? Does he really think that the Democrats getting elected is such a horrible thing and so he must get the Republicans back in office?
4) Interestingly enough, Thompson was baptized into the Church of Christ. Hopefully, if he becomes president, he'll address such important issues as instrumental music and the influence of liberals in the church.
5) Is talking this much about Dobson just giving him the plugging he wants? Why should I care what some guy who has decided he has the importance to challenge possible presidential candidates thinks? Is Dobson really that influential?
Thursday, March 29, 2007
I've known that meth was a bad problem in the US, particularly in rural areas. What I didn't know was that it was as bad as it was in Montana. According to Not Even Once:
* 52% of children in foster care are there due to Meth. Cost to the state: $12 million a year.
* 50% of adults in prison are there due to Meth-releated crime. Cost to the state: $45 million a year.
* 20% of adults in treatment are there for Meth addiction. Cost to the state: $12 million a year.
That's staggering to me. So, to try and combat this and to educate the public, Montana started the Not Even Once program. And a part of that were a series of commercials. The first series talked about the cost to a person him or herself. The second series is directed by Darren Aronofsky, the director of The Fountain that came out last year and Requiem for a Dream, that apparently is as unflinching a look at drug addiction as you will find in the movies. His focus on the cost to the people around the meth user.
Here are the 4 30-second videos he did.
And the two that just make me want to weep each time I watch them.
I've got to say that my first reaction is to never ever let my kids out of my sight again. Ever.
My second reaction is the waste of life this causes. Maybe not in the sense of a war or natural disaster, but the conscious choice someone makes to do a drug as hardcore as meth. My mind just cannot wrap itself around that mindset. Is it boredom? Is it a bad homelife? Boyfriend dumping you? It just looks cool?
And what do the followers of Jesus have to say about this? What's our position?
Thankfully, drugs have never been a temptation for me. But I know that there is a possibility if not a certainty that Kinsey and Connor will be exposed to them. I hope Sheryl and I can instill enough self confidence and self worth in them to reject them.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Also, this morning, Kinsey work up and I noticed that her right eye looked a little puffier and redder than normal. She said it itched some, and while we thought it was pink eye, we weren't sure. Sheryl took her to school and told the teacher, who said to leave her but call the doctor. We did, Sheryl ran her down, and yes it's conjunctivitis. Pinkeye. So another medicine to give.
I'm generally grateful that we have such healthy kids and we do. It's just kind of funny when they both get sick at the same time.
Last weekend, we took a trip down to the gulf coast of Florida to visit Sheryl's brother and his wife. Here's some pictures.
Sheryl, Kinsey, Connor, Paul and Sarah at the beach.
Connor enjoying a good laugh.
Kinsey, feeding sand to the waves.
Kinsey looking cute in very cold water.
Thankfully, Paul has an engineering mind to grade the sand properly for construction.
Sarah and Connor, trying to stay warm
Connor getting sleepy.
And my favorite one...
Monday, March 26, 2007
Seriously, don't read this if you haven't watched Battlestar Galactica from last night night.
Ron Moore, I apologize. A month ago, I compared Battlestar Galactica to Lost. And not in a good way. But last night, you dropped so many bombshells in the show that to list them might take away from the effect of them, but I'm doing it anyway.
- Acquitting Baltar of his crimes against humanity. OK, out of all of them, I think this one took the most cajones. People hate Baltar. He's a smarmy coward, who looks after his own self interest over all others. Even in the face of others dying. Getting Baltar off on the charges was bold and opens up a LOT of possibilities. I especially liked how people reacted to Baltar when he was acquitted as he was walking through the halls. I guess getting what you wanted didn't exactly give you what you thought, did it, Doctor? Oh, and I think Admiral Adama voting for acquittal is going to stop whatever... side benefits he was having with the president.
- Starbuck is back. It seems that the intertubes exploded with fury when Moore killed Starbuck. She was loved by all the fanboys and fangirls and killing her apparently killed part of their souls as well. But now, she's back (somehow), she's been to earth (somehow), and she's going to lead the fleet there (somehow), while hopefully getting rid of the Cylon fleet that just jumped in behind them. So now, not only is she the best pilot out there, she's also going to have a Messiah complex. I'm sure that'll make her character much more likable . However, it does expand the plot nicely.
- And finally... Anders is a Cylon (!), so is Tory (!), who Anders is sleeping with (to get over Starbuck?). The Chief is a Cylon (I guess Brother Cavil wasn't invited to the final 5 meetings), and Colonel Tigh is a Cylon?!?!?! I guess he was the defective model, because he was wonderfully screwed up. Several things... 1) That still leaves one more to be revealed. And I seem to remember Leoben whispering to Laura that Adama is a Cylon. Bill or Lee? Interesting possibilities abound there, if Leoben wasn't lying. 2) I loved how they all decided that being Cylons didn't make them automatically evil and they went back to their jobs. Of course, we have to hope that they don't have sleeper programming, like Boomer did. 3) Loved the use of All Along the Watchtower. Really plays into the "All of this has happened before that we haven't heard much of recently. So are they in the future and hearing something from their past or are we in their future and hearing something from our past? Or is it the collective Jungian soul playing out.
Now, how much longer until Heroes starts back up?
Friday, March 23, 2007
That got me thinking about the nature of forgiveness, and while it's something that I've pondered before, where it got me thinking this time is the nature of God and forgiveness.
Now, I warning before I get into this: I'm snorkeling through pretty deep waters here. I'm no practiced and studied theologian, so I just offer that for perspective.
In Matthew 18, Jesus is talking a lot about people's relationships with each other, when in the context of Jesus talking about how to deal with a brother or sister who sins against you, Peter comes up and asks, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" The meaning, as I've seen it understood, is that Peter is being a good Jew here. He's coming up and showing how willing he is to forgive the seven times necessary.
However, Jesus responds, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times." And the intent here is to not show a hard number, but symbolic. It's to say that you can't quantify forgiveness. That forgiveness must always be extended. And this is what got me thinking about God and forgiveness.
In some ways, I feel like Christians have treated forgiveness like a cause and effect cycle. God forgives me after I repent. I have to make the first step towards Him before He extends His grace to me, and I think that's really missing the mark. Because here's the idea that's messing with me.... If we are asked to never stop extending forgiveness to those who need it, is that same principle not applicable to God? Does God only extend forgiveness for a certain amount of time and then pull it back and say, "Nope, sorry, just a limited time offer." That would really play into the Jonathan Edwards' sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God mindset which strikes me as really dangerous.
If forgiveness is real and it's from God, then forgiveness is forever. So the question is, what does that mean? Is forgiveness always there and we just have to access it? If so, is that any different from the previous mindset of having to ask before we get it? Is God's forgiveness accessible without having to ask it? Is it then a matter of choosing to act like we are forgiven and participants in the Kingdom of God? How quickly does this slide down the slippery slope to universalism?
I'm really interested in hearing people's ideas. These are some ideas that are giving me pause to think these days.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
At any rate, I think this is one of the coolest uses of YouTube and I would hope that more of those nostalgic artists would put their stuff up there and not be so anal about their stuff showing up there. One of my guiltiest pleasures from the 80s was the group Wang Chung which apparently had no Asian members but a very Asian name. They basically had two hits: Dance Hall Days which if you listen to the lyrics make no sense at all.
Their other big hit was one of the roll down the windows on the car and turn it way, way up songs, Everybody Have Fun Tonight. And the video was some stop action thing that is hard to turn off, but probably not something to watch if you have epilepsy. And it with the song is a ton of fun.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
One of the things that I enjoyed about the travel was the fact that our route took us directly along Highway 331 in Alabama. I am a big fan of highway travel. I feel like there's something about interstate driving that separates you from the area you're traveling through. It's great for getting from one place to another extremely quickly and I'm grateful for interstates every morning when I go to work in 30 minutes rather than an hour, but I just love driving highways on trips. I love driving through these little off the beaten path towns, as opposed to exit ramps off of interstates. I love seeing the houses and farms and the rural-ness of it all, which is especially true in Lower Alabama.
It also makes me a bit sad too, because it shows me the way that life has changed. In many of the towns we drove through yesterday, many of the shops on the main streets were closed up, probably victims of the big box stores, like Wal-Mart. Places that at one point must have been the center of the town were just not any more. It's one of those beautiful tragedies that seem to encapsulate so much of life.
So what about you? Got any favorite highways to travel that I can take the kids on five years and bore them with?
Monday, March 19, 2007
Friday, March 16, 2007
RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) -- A man who sexually assaulted a University of Virginia student in 1984 and apologized to her two decades later as part of the Alcoholics Anonymous program was sentenced to 18 months in prison Thursday.
William Beebe, 42, pleaded guilty in November to one count of aggravated sexual battery for his attack on Liz Seccuro.
Charlottesville Circuit Court Judge Edward Hogshire ordered a 10-year prison sentence with all but 18 months suspended, as long as Beebe performs 500 hours of community service related to issues of sexual assault and alcohol abuse on college campuses. Prosecutors had recommended two years.
"I'm not trying to excuse my behavior, but I was a different person then," Beebe said. "I have a purpose, and that gives life meaning. I didn't have that then."
The case was revived in 2005 after Beebe wrote Seccuro a letter of apology in an attempt to make amends for the assault as part of AA's recovery program. The program's ninth step calls on alcoholics to make amends to those they have harmed -- unless doing so would cause further injury. In an exchange of e-mails that ensued, Beebe wrote: "I want to make clear that I'm not intentionally minimizing the fact of having raped you. I did."
Seccuro, 40, of Greenwich, Connecticut, was given a drink at a party that made her feel strange, and she later passed out, leaving her memory hazy. She said she vividly recalls being attacked by Beebe, but always had a vague impression she'd been assaulted by additional members of the fraternity.
Beebe, of Las Vegas, originally was charged with rape and object sexual penetration and could have faced a sentence of life in prison if convicted. But in November, he entered into a plea deal after investigators uncovered new information suggesting Seccuro was attacked by more than one person that night.
Seccuro eventually called Charlottesville police to report what had happened. There is no statute of limitations on felonies in Virginia, and Beebe was arrested in Las Vegas.
Seccuro said that she reported the assault to university officials in 1984 but that a dean and the campus police treated her dismissively.
Seccuro, who says she has forgiven Beebe for assaulting her, said an apology is not a substitute for punishment. The attack changed her life dramatically, she said, and she deserves to finally see justice served.
Several people testifying on Beebe's behalf Thursday said he is a kind and generous friend who often helped other recovering substance abuse addicts.
"Will didn't tell me what to do, he showed me," said William Daniel Griggs Jr. of Richmond, who credited Beebe with helping in his recovery. He also said that Beebe helped care for his sick son several years ago.
Seccuro sat grimly through the testimony of Beebe's supporters. At one point she put a hand on the shoulder of her visibly agitated husband.
Prosecutor Claude Worrell described Beebe's decision to apologize as selfish, and said it traumatized Seccuro all over again. Defense attorney Rhonda Quagliana responded that it was "sad and tragic" that Beebe's apology was depicted that way, and said Securro made a choice to respond to his letter.
Securro, visibly shaken, left the courtroom. Later, Worrell shot back, "As it relates to mister Beebe, Elizabeth Seccuro has never had a choice."
Seccuro went public with her name and story, hoping to lead other sexual assault survivors to seek help. She launched STARS -- Sisters Together Assisting Rape Survivors -- to raise money for rape victims and their families.
Hogshire clearly struggled with the sentence, saying what Seccuro went through was horrific, but that Beebe went on to be a leader in the recovery community.
"Is he remorseful?" the judge asked. "I think so."
I think this was a very interesting article for a lot of reasons. The most obvious one is the aspect of forgiveness. The victim of the rape said that she does forgive her rapist. So forgiveness has happened her, but she obviously feels that forgiveness does not equal the negation of the consequences of his actions. And I can see the viewpoint on that. I've not been raped or been a rapist, but I can only imagine the psychological consequences of being victimized like that, and that those emotions would stay with you for your entire life, particularly when confronted by a sexual situation.
I also find it interesting that the rapist is willingly accepting his punishment. He realizes that what he did was wrong and perhaps even more, evil. He made a decision (after deep consideration) to get in touch with his victim and try to make amends.
So one level I want to think about this for this week and then one next week. For the past couple of months, my friend Preston Shipp has been teaching a class at a women's prison here in Nashville about the justice system (you can read about it here). One of the things they've thought about is what the purpose of prison is. Is prison intended to be punishment or rehabilitative? If prison is truly about justice and restorative justice at that, then prison has to be rehabilitative. And if prison is about being rehabilitated, does goes to prison do any good for the rapist. From the article, it seems that there is genuine remorse and desire to make amends for what happened, but it also seems that the rapist going to prison is only for punishment and I'm not sure it would make him feel any worse about what he did.
Now, of course, this is a very sticky situation because I certainly don't want to imply that there shouldn't be any consequence for what this man did because there should be. But maybe what is going on here isn't so much a desire for justice as it is for revenge and unfortunately it has become way too easy to confuse the two.
Next week... in what ways does this situation mirror how we think about eternal punishment/Hell and if we are called to forgive 70x7, is God exempt from that? Where does punishment for sin fit into our theology?
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
First Round Picks
- Old Dominion
- Georgia Tech
- Virginia Tech
- Holy Cross
Wright State Indiana Weber State
Eastern Kentucky Marquette Arkansas Texas
Washington State Tech Texas Belmont
A&M Texas Nevada North Texas
Second Round Winners
Miami-OH Texas A&M-CC
- Holy Cross
- Eastern Kentucky
Ohio State Tennessee Texas A&M North Texas
Sweet Sixteen Winners
Florida Texas A&M
- Holy Cross
Texas North Texas
Elite Eight Winners
Florida Holy Cross Texas North Texas
Final Four Winners
First Round Winners
Florida Arizona Butler Maryland
- Notre Dame
- Virginia Tech
Washington State Tech Texas Georgetown
Tennessee Virginia Louisville A&M Texas Nevada Memphis
Second Round Winners
- Southern Illinois
- Washington State
Ohio State Tennessee Louisville Memphis
Sweet Sixteen Winners
UNC Washington State
Ohio State Memphis
Elite Eight Winners
Florida Kansas UNC Ohio State
Final Four Winners
Kansas Ohio State
So here you go. The full field rundown of the Wilson family picks for the Final Four Tournament. I'll put them in separate posts to keep it from being too long.
First Round Winners
- Old Dominion
- Notre Dame
- Georgia Tech
- Virgina Tech
- Holy Cross
- Washington State
- Boston College
- Ohio State
- Long Beach State
- Texas A&M
- Old Dominion
- Virginia Tech
- Ohio State
- Ohio State
- Ohio State
- Ohio State
- Ohio State
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Also, I feel kind of bad putting this one up, but it's kind of funny in an America's Funniest Home Video way: looks bad, but he was ok.
Yes, I turned the camera off immediately and picked him up. Fortunately, babies are made of rubber and bounce right back.
This is such a fun age. He's just a blast right now.
Monday, March 12, 2007
However, as I've started to work with it some, I've run into some things that Blogger seems to do better.
- Formatting of pictures in Wordpress is really awful. I've tried and tried and tried to do "captions" to pictures below them, as I do here on Blogger and it's just plain bad in Wordpress. And I've found no way to fix it.
- I'm not happy with what you can in the sidebar in Wordpress. I love in Blogger that can have multiple link categories, which you can also do in Wordpress, but the process seems more complex in Wordpress than in Blogger. Also, Wordpress doesn't really allow me move the link categories around. Well, maybe it does, but I've not really been able to figure it out. Also, Wordpress doesn't really allow me enter my Statcounter code very cleanly into it.
Friday, March 09, 2007
One guy who was on the roster didn't show up and hadn't returned the organizer's calls and we didn't know who he was, so we figured he wasn't going to show up. He was doing a comedy act and it's wasn't going to be a huge loss, especially considering that we had 27 other acts. Well, at the 6 o'clock call for performers, here he comes. He's an older guy, probably in his 80s. It ends up he does some janitorial service for the church and saw the requests for acts and signed up. Well, his time came up and he went out on stage, and proceeded to be very funny, but I'm sure gave our organizer what I can only call "sphincter-clinching moments" (patent pending).
Here are some examples of jokes.
- What's the difference between an alcoholic and a drunk? A drunk goes to a lot less meetings.
- I went to the Social Security office last week to pick up my check and there was a new clerk there. She looked at me and said that I wasn't old enough to be getting Social Security. I said that I was and she said I'd have to prove it. Well, I didn't my ID so I asked her what I could do and she said to pull up my shirt and show the gray hairs on my chest. So I did and got my check. I went home to my wife and she asked how I got my check without my ID and I said that I pulled up my shirt and showed her the gray hairs on my chest. My wife says, "Well, if you'd pulled down your pants, you would have gotten disability."
Acts were only supposed to last for five minutes and this one was getting precariously close to seven, so he was about to get pulled, both for length and content when he finished himself. The other two guys in the tech booth with me were laughing very hard, both at the jokes and the sense of uncomfortableness that we were sure the organizers were feeling.
At the end of the show (2 and a half hours later[!]), we were cleaning it up and talking about some of the acts and of course that act came up. We were all getting a good chuckle about it and its inappropriateness for church. Well, one of my guys that's kind of my left arm on the tech team, Pat Ford, made a comment that stuck with me. The comedian does not go to Otter Creek and apparently isn't a Christian. Pat's question was why should we expect him to know what was acceptable and what wasn't. He saw a request for acts for a talent show and did his talent, which was telling slightly off color jokes.
Pat's point, which I think is excellent, is that if we are serious about being Jesus to the world, then we are going to encounter people who don't think, act, or talk like the majority of people at Otter Creek Church of Christ, which means they won't be upper middle to upper class and mainly Caucasian. And if we are serious about inviting people like that into community, there are going to be bumps in the road where we learn to adapt to each other. And those are only the obvious cases. For instance, some people might not know that one of the acts at the show is a recovering drug addict and homosexual. And there have been bumps in that road. The thing is that those bumps have a tendency to be sphincter clenching but if we are serious about developing an open community where people can explore faith (and even perhaps not coming to faith), then we have to accept those bumps and that church won't be the safe place or sanctuary that people might think it is supposed to be.
And we might hear a few off-color jokes.
But the people that come in might experience the Holy God, either miraculously or through the service of His people.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Ok. So it's 7 weeks until the next Heroes, and you see that cliff? That's me hanging off it. Don't read if you haven't watched.
- HRG (Mr. Bennet) - Oh, man. The whole Bennet storyline is becoming extremely tragic. I thought we'd get a couple of weeks of HRG searching for Claire without knowing he was the one that had sent her away. However, I liked the twist of Mrs. Bennet knowing because he told her, but I hated the way it ended with the new "hero," um... powered human, or I guess just villain selling him out. I don't like where that story is going.
- Claire - I like this one too. Not much exciting happened until the end when we found out that Mama Petrelli (!) was the one who was orchestrating the Hatian (who really needs a name). I'm really shocked by that and interested to see the direction this is going and why she was doing it.
- Greg Parkman - Not much to him this week, but he's obviously being held and working for the OWI (Organization without Initials). I wonder what his wife thinks about him being gone, but not enough to want to see her again.
- Niki/Jessica - So... Niki can control herself when Jessica is asleep? Not a bad twist, especially with her informing Nathan about Linderman knowing he's working with the FBI, but it does remind me a lot of an old 80s movie with Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin called All of Me.
- DL/Micah - Again not much here, but DL's face after he confronted Jessica about the picture shows that he knows more than he's revealing.
- Hiro - I'm glad he's finally got the frakkin' sword. This storyline stretched out much longer than it needed to. I thought it was nice of Ando to knock out the curator (who dropped a Princess Bride reference). However, the future that Hero saw was very interesting. He and Ando ended up on the Devaux building (the one that Simone's father owned and where HRG got Baby Claire and Claude kept his birds and worked out with Peter). Also did anyone notice the building in the foreground when Hiro and Ando were looking over post nuclear New York? Didn't it look like it was being constructed?
- Isaac - So they mess with his head by showing him Simone again and then did he shoot up to paint the future? It looked like he was looking for his heroin stash again. And then did he paint himself being Sylar-ed?
- Nathan Petrelli - So he's not as slimy as we originally thought and actually working with the FBI. Well, was until Jessica gunned them down. And he's met with the big guy himself with a chance to take him out. But when Linderman promised him a ticket to the White House two years from now. Maybe he is still slimy.
- Peter Petrelli - So he Claude's himself into Peter's office and goes looking for Mohinder. Oops, because...
- Mohinder Suresh - Well, he figured out that Sylar wasn't Zane. Nice touch on the tea knocking him out, but then Sylar caught him monologuing. I kept saying to Sheryl that Mohinder needed to go ahead and shoot Sylar and was glad when he pulled the trigger, but had a "Cool... Oh crap" moment when Sylar stopped it. And for his trouble, Mohinder got stuck to the ceiling. And then in walks Peter, who gets an unexpected haircut and possibly the scar that FutureHiro mentioned on the train.
Do I have theories about what's coming next? No actually, I don't. I really, really don't know where the producers are going to take any of this, because where they ended up on Monday night was so different from what I thought might have happened. Like HRG for instance. No idea what the OWI is going to do to him. None. And Claire, what's next? She's found her grandmother, but is she going to keep Claire from the rest of the family? No idea. None.
And that's kind of a fun place to be.
At any rate, if you missed it, here's the trailer they showed at the end of the show.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
- Wednesday. Woke up at 5:15 am to get to the airport at 6 to fly to DC for a business trip. Left at 8. Did the meeting until 6 that night (eastern). Went to dinner with the group and then walked to the White House, the World War 2 Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial. Bed at midnight Eastern.
- Thursday, up at 6 Eastern, into the office at 7:30. Met all day, left the office at 5 to get to Reagen National and fly out at 7. Slept through some really bad turbulence apparently. Got home at 9 Central. Got to talk to Matt and Adam for a while and kiss my kids goodnight.
- Friday. Worked from home. Took Kinsey to school. Went back at 11 to have lunch with her (as a surprise). Friday night, went out with Matt and Adam and the family to the Loveless Cafe for some rib stickin' good food. Then home.
- Saturday, up at 7am to get to the church building at 8:15 to start getting set up for the Otter Limits talent show and sound check at 9. Run through parts of the acts and did a lot of work with the musicians. Left at noon to have lunch with the family, Matt, Adam, and Adam's family as they prepared to head back to the home of West Virginiology. (How did you get that chicken and harmonica to mate?) Went shopping with Sheryl and the kids. Back to the building at 4 to get ready for the 6:30 start time. Show ended at 9:20... Yes, 2 hours and 50 minutes. 28 acts. Some of which were actually good. Got everything broken down and set up for the Sunday morning service by 10. Home at 10:20...
- Sunday. Up at 7 to leave at 7:45 to be at church for the sound check at 8:15. Had to put together the MediaShout presentation for the class time. Didn't get the sermon presentation until 9:50, ten minutes before service began. Not fun. Lunch with friends. Home to get Kinsey ready to go swimming at the Y with her cousin. Picked up cousin. Dropped girls off to swim at 2:30. Connor and I go Kroger shopping. Home at 4 to get ready for parents' birthday party at our house at 5. Party. Everyone leaves by 8:30. Finally sit down to watch Amazing Race and Battlestar Galactica (btw, um... did what I think happened on that show actually happen?) Now, writing blog, getting ready to go to sleep. To sleep, perchance to dream....
Friday, March 02, 2007
DOUGLAS ATKIN, Merkley and Partners Advertising: When I was a brand manager at Proctor & Gamble, my job was basically to make sure the product was good, develop new advertising copy, design the pack. Now a brand manager has an entirely different kind of responsibility. In fact, they have more responsibility. Their job now is to create and maintain a whole meaning system for people, through which they get identity and understanding of the world. Their job now is to be a community leader.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: Ad strategist Douglas Atkin, an expert on the relationship between consumers and brands, says he had a eureka moment one night during a focus group.
DOUGLAS ATKIN: I was in a research facility watching eight people rhapsodize about a sneaker. And I thought, "Where is this coming from? This is, at the end of the day, a piece of footwear." But the terms they were using were evangelical. So I thought, if these people are expressing cult-like devotion, then why not study cults? Why not study the original? Find out why people join cults and apply that knowledge to brands.
FALUN GONG MEMBER: I'm loyal to this practice because it's done so much for me.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: If Atkin could find what pushed a person from mere fan to devoted disciple, perhaps he could market that knowledge.
WRESTLING FAN: Most of the people I discuss the WWF with know that it's not a sport, you know, it's a masculine ballet.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: So he compared dozens of groups he considered cults with so called "cult brands," from Hare Krishna to Harley Davidson–
VW BEETLE OWNER: If you're smart and kind of individual, that's what you drive.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: –from Falun Gong to Mac.
MACINTOSH USER: I think there's something about Mac users. Like, they get it.
DEADHEAD: We just had discovered something.
LINUX USER: They realized there are other people like them, and they cooperate on certain projects, and it's part of belonging to the tribe.
DOUGLAS ATKIN: And the conclusion was this, is that people, whether they're joining a cult or joining a brand, do so for exactly the same reasons. They need to belong, and they want to make meaning. We need to figure out what the world is all about, and we need the company of others. It's simply that.
Saturn is a really good example. It's a mass cult brand. For example, 45,000 people turned up to spend their holiday vacation time at the factory in Tennessee instead of going to Disney World or the Grand Canyon. Now, why would they do that? It's because they wanted to meet other people who own Saturns. They wanted to meet the rest of the Saturn family. They wanted to meet the people who made the car. The people who made the car wanted to meet them. And the people who ran the Saturn business knew that.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: They not only knew it, they turned it into an ad, which only brought more people into the "Saturn family."
[television commercial] We called it the Saturn homecoming. They could see where the idea for a new kind of car company had taken shape, and we could thank them for believing we could do it.
DOUGLAS ATKIN: They created a great meaning system for Saturn in those fantastic commercials. Their meaning system was based on old-time values of community. It was a kind of an icon that America yearned for but couldn't find anymore.
DOUGLAS RUSHKOFF: And that's the object of emotional branding: to fill the empty places where non-commercial institutions, like schools and churches, (emphasis mine) might once have done the job. Brands become more than just a mark of quality, they become an invitation to a longed-for lifestyle, a ready-made identity.
KEITH REINHARD, Chairman, DDB Worldwide: The campaign for iPod is remarkable. When I see the poster as I'm passing by, when I go on the Web site and it comes to life and I hear the music track going, and then when I put my little iPod ear-pods on and I see the white cords against my black jacket, I'm in that poster, and the poster is me! And then the music, my music, comes over my iPod, and it's a brand experience.NAOMI KLEIN: When you listen to brand managers talk, you can get quite carried away in this idea that they actually are fulfilling these needs that we have for community and narrative and transcendence. But in the end, it is, you know, a laptop and a pair of running shoes. And they might be great, but they're not actually going to fulfill those needs, but which serves them very well because, of course, that means that you have to go shopping again.
So what does this say to us? It seems to me that there are a couple of things.
1) There is a lot of thought going into getting us to buy things.
2) What advertisers and companies are figuring out is that there is a lack of community that people are feeling and by tapping into that, they create brands that people really have this burning desire to buy. In other words, they've figured out how to get us to replace God in our lives with stuff and to not even miss God.
This might be why Lee Camp associates marketing with prostitution.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Isn't it amazing the career revival Shatner has had? He somehow has completed the circle from relevant and cool to cheesy and irrelevant to relevant and cheesy and cool. It's pretty astounding when you think about it.