She Put That $#*% on Everything

CamphoPhenique

To quote the legendary Jim Anchower: “Hola, Amigos. I know it’s been a long time since I wrapped at ya.” But I had a few changes since last I dropped in on this space over five months ago.

I’ve grown a beard and shaved it off. I got a new laser printer. Cara and I moved to Bay Ridge from Park Slope. We miss the Slope and the commute. And we’re still renting. But now instead of a 700-square foot (if that) two bedroom, we’re in a four-bedroom house, which means we can throw stuff all over the floors and have it take a little while before things look really messy.

Oh, and it’s no coincidence I quit blogging right around the same time I became editor of Advertising Age. Turns out that even after working there for over 15 years and being managing editor — which involved a lot of backseat driving and Monday-morning quarterbacking — the job has been a challenge. Hell, it might be the first time I’ve found a job challenging since my first gig as a reporter at Suffolk Life Newspapers back in 95 or whenever that was. But back then I was 22 years old and too cocky and stupid to realize I was being challenged.

Challenged, of course, does not mean bad. It just means different and, thankfully, not boring. (And they also pay more for the challenging part, so that’s nice.)

I was going to write an entire post about limited time and limited mental bandwidth, how between the commute and the job and the this and the that, I hadn’t been writing here or working on my most recent novel (especially frustrating since I finishing an entire rough draft). But then I realized it sounded like so much whining, the ultimate in first-world problems and something that, if I took a step back, would sound like humble bragging of the worst sort. “Oh, I got a promotion and my beautiful wife and I moved into a much bigger place, but the commute is annoying and I don’t have time to blog for my 16 followers or work on my precious fourth novel.”

Yeah, that dude needs to rub some dirt on it and keep moving.

Or better yet, some Campho-Phenique. I’m not quite sure what prompted this blast from the past, but it’s been on my mind recently. Perhaps the smell of Biofreeze or Tiger Balm dislodged a memory about the wonder drug Campho-Phenique.

Yes. You’ll see on its home page that it’s for cold sores and bug bites.

But for a certain demographic in certain regions of America (poor and Southern among them), Campho-Phenique was a wonder drug that was used to treat the following: cuts, scratches, scrapes, bruises, bites (mosquito, ant, spider, squirrel, dog and cousin), burns, burning grass nettles, stings, gashes, bashes, lashes, hurt feelings, puncture wounds, chicken attacks, pink eye, ring worm, tractor rash, rabies, tetanus, and broken and severed limbs up to and including decapitation.

It might not always work, but it was going to be applied. Campho-Phenique was Neosporin for a tougher generation.

Seriously, when we were at Mawmaw’s house and one of us went down in action, we knew the funny-smelling stuff in the green bottle with the yellow label was going to be called into play. In fact, it often made us hesitate to run into the house crying (we weren’t allowed in the house during daylight hours unless there was a hurricane or something). Because Campho-Phenique, much like rubbing alcohol, burned — especially on open wounds and, well, burns.

Hell, I had an entire blog post in my head about Campho-Phenique, too. But it turns out that everyone from Jeff Foxworthy to this blogger, who’s even got a photo of the classic bottle sitting right next to — what else — a jar of Vicks VapoRub. Which is funny because aside from consistency, they are pretty much the EXACT. SAME. THING. Camphor and eucalyptus oil. (Though the Phenique in Campho-Phenique means it’s got carbolic acid as well, something they used to advertise right on the bottle. Because if it’s got acid you know it will just burn away the germs and infection.)

Jeff Foxworthy literally said, “You might be a redneck if you think Campho-Phenique is a miracle drug.” In another of his bits, he says “I remember when I was a kid, there were two medicines: aspirin and Campho-Phenique, that was it.” (And that’s sort of funny because Campho-Phenique is owned by Bayer.)

Now, technically, Mawmaw wasn’t a redneck. We were Cajuns. But that’s mostly a difference of accent and religion. And even in matters of faith, both groups apparently put a lot of stock in good ol’ Campho-Phenique.

So, to sum up, I was going to sit down and write a post completely consisting of whining, and then I thought about doing a bit about Campho-Phenique, but found it had already been done numerous times. I still managed a few hundred words. Because that’s how talented I am. (Or that’s how intent I am on procrastinating about diving into this damn novel.)

But if you have young children today, you should totally invest in Campho-Phenique. Does it work? Who knows? Does it burn? Hell yes. But it will provide your children with a clear olfactory memory that will anchor their childhood and bond them to you.

Also, Phenique would make a great stripper name.

Time Once Again to Fight Cancer!

Epitome of style and grace

Epitome of style and grace

I’m doing the Team in Training thing again, raising money to kill cancer dead.

In fact, I’m sweating from a run as I type this message. But it was a good day for a run. In the 70s and little humidity — unlike Sunday when I ran in Louisiana and it almost killed me. I don’t know how people train in Louisiana.

This year the team and I are running the Brooklyn Rock n Roll Half. I’m hoping to PR (at the age of 40-something) and I’m also hoping to bust some fundraising records, too.

So I’ll need your help. Whether it’s five bucks or a hundred, every little bit helps.

It takes more than one person to make up a team and that’s why I’m asking you to donate to my TNT fundraising page for TNT!

In the six years that Ad Age and Crain Communications employees have been fielding a Team in Training team, we’ve raised over $135,000 to help The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society find cures and more effective treatments for leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s and myeloma.

Since it’s beginning in 1988, more than 600,000 participants have helped TNT and LLS raise more than $1.4 billion.

Your donation will help fund treatments that save lives every day; like immunotherapies that use a person’s own immune system to kill cancer.

Patients need these cures and they need your support.

Please make a donation in support of my efforts with Team In Training and help get us all closer to a world without blood cancers.

Video: Our Robot Overlords Now Know How to Jump

Thanks, Boston Dynamics (and Google). Thanks MIT. Thanks a lot.

Already Sick of the 2016 Election? Have I Got a Proposal for You!

Election ads have already begun. This is horrible news for the country. I love political ads because, while they’re full of lies, they’re among the most honest ads out there in that they show the marketers involved as sniveling, cutthroats who’ll do or say anything to gain or maintain power! But I don’t live in a swing state, so I’m not subjected to political ads from now until next November. NEXT November.

So, in my most recent column for Ad Age, I’m proposing Abigael’s Law, named after the little girl above, driven to tears by the last election.

The law I’m proposing is fairly simple. During the general election season, you can’t advertise on TV or radio at all until 60 days prior to the election. For primaries, it will be 30 days out from the election in that particular state.

We’re going to avoid all the confusing distinctions between candidate and party and advocacy advertising made by regulators in other countries, if for no other reason than to curtail cries that we’re violating First Amendment rights of faceless political groups bankrolled by downtrodden billionaires. Everyone can advertise! And everyone can spend as much as he or she wants!

But there are a few caveats — and a few more jokes — in the full piece. Go read it.

WON’T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!?!

On the Unbearable Hysteria of Tech World

To the overwhelming majority of Americans, the words periscope and meerkat refer to periscopes and meerkats. In certain demographics, though, they’re Periscope and Meerkat and they’re going to change the way you experience reality! And because of that, every marketer should be rushing to Periscope and Meerkat immediately. Because there’s nothing people using a new service love more than a bunch of fucking commercials (sorry, native content) cluttering it up.

With a serious face, some people will actually let the following words come out of their mouths: C’mon Marketers! Why Aren’t You Periscoping Your Meerkat Sessions Yet? (The subtext is that marketers should be paying these people for their expert consulting. How someone becomes an expert on a one-month old technology is something they never explain.)

“It’s video. On your phone. So what?” you might say, if you were a rational human being, rather than an insane person carrying a sack stuffed with $1.5 million that you were going to hand to the first person you ran across at SXSW.

And then someone, either the insane guy with the $1.5 million in a sack or one of the people desperately hoping to run into him, would have said to you, “But it streams video, you see. Live video.”

Read the whole thing.

From Zero to 270 (Smoker): Trial Run

In the course of getting married, Cara brought up the subject of wedding gifts for each other. I’m sure most men out there could spend a good half an hour ranting about this need women have to exchange gifts for every occasion, and often multiple times for the same occasion. This can get particularly crazy when the Wedding Industrial Complex is involved. Many a man might even think of saying, “Isn’t getting married to me gift enough?”

Continue reading

Nothing to Worry About: Your Data Is Perfectly Anonymous

If you follow technology and marketing news, I have to question your life decisions. But if you do, you probably notice that the tech and marketing worlds are in love with the promises of Big Data — and small data and your data. Every time they make an announcement about an awesome new advancement in tracking consumers’ behavior, purchasing habits or favorite color and targeting ads and sales pitches to them, they always make sure to point out that there’s nothing to worry about, though, in terms of privacy and security, because the data’s been anonymized.

My latest column in Ad Age tackles the topic:

Data anonymization is a load of horseshit. Data anonymization is also a clever bit of technical and verbal misdirection used by marketers and tech people to keep regulators at bay.

What data anonymization decidedly isn’t, by any meaningful definition that has to do with reality, is making consumers and/or their data truly anonymous to marketers and tech people.

Read the rest here.

Or go back to dumping tons of personal information into Facebook and then whining about your privacy later.