Thursday, December 13, 2007

VOICES OF HOPE LAUNCHES 2 VIDEOS FOR NONPROFIT GROUPS

Voices of Hope Production has had a busy 4th quarter.

Working with New Jersey Community Capital we directed and produced Invest in Change, recently screened at their 20th Anniversary event held at the Newark Museum in October. New Jersey Community Capital (NJCC) is a community development financial institution (CDFI) that invests in communities throughout New Jersey by providing loans to Non profit organizations, small businesses and Charter schools. They provide capital for affordable housing, education, as well as cultural and health services in low income communities that are in need of development funding. This short film serves to educate individuals, foundations, non profit organizations, NGOs, faith-based groups and corporations about how to invest in the state, get back a rate of return on their investment, as well as how to become a socially responsible investor. The video is being used as part of a larger strategy to encourage more people to invest in change in New Jersey. Download NJCC's Annual Report to learn about social investing.




Voices of Hope Productions also worked with NCADD-NJ and Parent to Parent to develop a grassroots video of a rally held in southern New Jersey. Parent to Parent Moms, some of whom have had their children die of addiction because of treatment limits imposed by health insurers, rallied outside Speaker Joe Roberts legislative district office. They delivered a letter urging mental health and parity legislation be posted for a vote and that no amendments be included that would compromise the coverage and protections the bill provides for. This grassroots video illustrates the importance of ordinary citizens getting their message out to elected officials and then using the media tools available today to get wider coverage than they if they relied only on traditional news media. The video and the news coverage was emailed to over 10,000 people, including all the legislators in New Jersey, and is also posted on Youtube.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

JUST FOR FUN

Zippo would like you to buy something on their website, but I think this game is addictive and one may not get to shop. Just like the old show "Concentration," game you can now play it online, but with Zippo designs as the place cards. I only played once and my time probably wasn't great at 198 seconds, but all-in-all a great idea. The only glitch I had was that after the game was over and I tried to hit the shop button--it didn't take me shopping. OOPS! Hopefully they'll figure that out before the site closes down on Dec 16. Worth a look-see. Don't cheat. I've given you over 1/3 of the answers...

A STORY THAT SHOULD NOT GO UNREAD

Freddy Mutanguha is an 18 year old Rwandan genocide survivor. He loved his mother more than anything in the world. His family was a happy one. His father was quiet, but tolerant. His mother once said, “It’s not good to be selfish, you should always share with others.” Freddy's parents and 4 sisters killed during the genocide in 1994. He tells of the night they were killed:

"We couldn’t see it happening, but we could hear them screaming… They took Mum far away to kill her. Later at night, I went with another boy to find her body. We rushed there and buried her.We simply covered her with soil. So I saw my Mum’s body, but not the rest of the family. I just heard my sisters being killed. I didn’t see my father killed – people told me about it later."

Over 20 years later Freddy envisions the future, "I dream of a developed Rwanda and I’m determined to fight all genocidal ideologies. I want to see us build our nation. We can only do that if we consider the younger generations and work to remove all bad ideologies from their minds."

Read Freddy's very moving story.

Read other survivor testimony.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Monday, November 05, 2007

HOW DO STUDENTS LEARN TODAY?

A Vision of Students Today--This is an interesting video from a Kansas State University class on college students and education. I have seen firsthand how students act in class. They are all on Facebook during the learning experience. Socializing has always been more interesting than learning. Now that there are computers in the classroom they can do both at the same time.

Friday, November 02, 2007

VOICES SELECT | FILM | DARFUR NOW

Change starts with ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

DARFUR NOW is a story of hope in the midst of one of humanity's darkest hours – a call to action for people everywhere to end the catastrophe unfolding in Darfur, Sudan. In this documentary, the struggles and achievements of six different individuals from inside Darfur and around the world bring to light the tragedy in Sudan and show how the actions of one person can make a difference to millions.


Written and directed by Ted Braun, the film explores the Darfur conflict through the first-hand experiences of Don Cheadle, Hejewa Adam, Pablo Recalde, Ahmed Mohammed Abakar, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, and Adam Sterling. Executive Produced by Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Omar Amanat, Matt Palmieri, Gary Greenebaum and Dean Schramm. Produced by Cathy Schulman, Don Cheadle and Mark Jonathan Harris.
Here are examples of just 2 of the people highlighted in the film:
  • At 24 years old, Adam Sterling is just of one of many young people involved in the fight to help the people of Darfur. A UCLA student whose Jewish grandmother fled Nazi Germany, Adam learned about the situation in Darfur and felt he had to do something. Despite his youth and inexperience in the political arena, he works to get a bill passed that will keep California’s State funds out of Sudan. Amazingly, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signs the bill.
  • Hejewa Adam had been a mother who dreamt of going back to school until her West Darfur village was attacked and destroyed by Janjaweed militias and government forces. When she fled, her three-month-old son was beaten to death as he clung to her back. She faces two choices – abandon her home forever or join the rebels to bring justice and peace back to Sudan. Determined to help defend the Fur people of Western Darfur, Hejewa joins the rebels.
In addition to these six people, the film also features His Excellency Abldalmahmood Abdalhaleem Mohamad, Sudan’s Ambassador to the United Nations in New York. A career diplomat, His Excellency articulates Sudan’s position on the Darfur crisis from the perspective of a government that feels it has not been fairly characterized by the world’s media. The struggles of each these individuals outlines a different facet of the ongoing crisis in Darfur – but they all point to the need for immediate action. Each story is an inspiration for ordinary individuals to become involved to resolve the conflict and bring hope and peace to the people of Darfur.

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

OPENS TODAY - See the Movie and Spread the Word.


Showtimes and Locations

Lincoln Plaza Center, 1886 Broadway, between 62nd and 63rd
The Angelika Film Center, 18 W. Houston St. at Mercer St.

CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATOR
Tell your lawmaker that you want the genocide to stop. Call 1-800-genocide and connect instantly with your lawmaker.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

NOW FOR SOMETHING QUIRKY

Having just moved I became curious about a rarely considered accessory in nearly every bathroom—the toilet brush. Unless you have purchased a completely enclosed toilet brush, then this is generally not one of those items that gets packed and moved. Instead it is left behind for the new owner. A lovely present, really. Although come to think of it the sellers of our house took theirs with them.

Ikea has decent, basic toilet brushes for 99 cents, so we bought two. But suddenly I started observing toilet brushes in every bathroom I visited. Actually it really hit me when I saw a brush at a non-profit organization that was simply balancing on the corner of 2 walls in the stall. Most toilet brushes come in their own little holder. Even the 99 cent one did. I began to wonder, who invented the toilet brush and is it really effective?

In the age of “Googling” I thought it would be very easy to find
information about the history of our cute cultural icon, but not so. Apparently this little tool has worked so well in the last-- I don’t know how many years (how much time do I really have to search this stuff out?) that there haven’t been any significant refinements made. What I did find out from about.com was that the Addis Brush Company made their first fake Christmas tree using the same machinery that made their toilet brushes! Hello capitalism!

But of course, leave it to this activist to find the toilet brush used for something altogether different. Ever hear of the Amnesty Brush-Off? Apparently the toilet brush was also used last year as an advocacy icon against the LA Mayor when he made a comment that could loosely be perceived that most Americans have immigrants cleaning their toilets. Only in America can we have one side fighting for immigration and another side protesting that they know how to use their toilet brush and then turn it into a campaign!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

WENDY'S TV AD DEPICTS PEOPLE HUFFING HELIUM

The ad: Wendy's commercial shows people lined up to inhale helium, showing how their voices change. We've seen it before on sitcoms too. People are floating on the ceiling and and the voiceover says, “Filling up with just anything, that's wrong. ” Well apparently Wendy's and their ad agency think there's nothing wrong with filling up on helium.

Wendy's, well-known for its old and highly effective Where's the Beef ? ads, are now running a TV ad depicting people breathing in, also known as "huffing" helium. Here's a company whose slogan is "Wendy's is Committed to
Doing What's Right" apparently unaware of the potential harm of the inappropriate “message” they are delivering to young people and adults--that it is ok and fun to intentionally inhale helium and, by extension, other chemicals and gases. Helium is an inert gas under pressure in its canister that displaces oxygen in the lungs and consequently deprives the brain of oxygen when sniffed or "huffed. " This can lead to lightheadedness, disorientation and possible loss of consciousness. This is a dangerous message to be sending. Hopefully consumer advocates will convince Wendy’s to reconsider airing this commercial.

Here's who to contact:
Corporate Office: Wendy’s One Dave Thomas BoulevardDublin, Ohio 43017 614/764 – 3100 (Ms.) Kerrii B. Anderson, Chief Executive Officer & President Denny Lynch, Senior VP, Communications Ph: 614/764 – 3553; Fax: 614/764 – 6707Bob Bertini, Director, Communications Ph: 614/764 – 3327 Fax: 614/766 - 3946

On another note...
There's a new Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA) report, The Importance of Family Dinners IV, finds that compared to teens who have frequent family dinners (five or more per week), those who have infrequent family dinners (two or fewer) are three and a half times likelier to have abused prescription drugs; three and a half times likelier to have used an illegal drug other than marijuana or prescription drugs; three times likelier to have used marijuana; more than two and a half times likelier to have used tobacco; and one and a half times likelier to have drunk alcohol
.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

VOICES SELECT | GREATER GOOD MAGAZINE: NEW SOURCES OF HOPE

Hillary and I have been looking for a great magazine of real giving and I think Greater Good might just fill the bill. I usually don't look at or read what I perceive as junk direct mail campaigns. This time I opened up the bright sunny package and began reading the appeal, "For too long studies of human emotion have focused on the roots of violence, aggression, and selfishness rather than kindness, compassion, and love. Scientists have charted the "fight or flight" portion of our nervous systems, but they're just starting to map out the pro-social brain. We know more about anger than compassion, more about causes for divorce than what makes long-term intimacy."

I was immediately compelled to further investigate the magazine and what I found is that it's from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. According to Co-editors, Jason Marsh and Dr. Dacher Keltner, the Greater Good, "fuses ground-breaking research with inspiring stories...on human happiness, virtue and well-being." Here's the best part, "it explains how to convert the research into action." Greater Good is tailor-made for my interests and clearly speaks to me.

They are now on their 7th issue and the website is terrific, with podcasts and a lot of great information.

Monday, September 10, 2007

SEEDS OF PEACE: ANNUAL CONCERT OF PEACE

On Tuesday, September 11, 2007, at 7:30 pm Musicians 4 Harmony is hosting their Sixth Annual Concert for Peace at the Symphony Space (95th Street at Broadway) in New York City. This year, Musicians 4 Harmony has elected to donate the proceeds from this concert to Seeds of Peace. The concert will include performances by legendary pianist Claude Frank and master Chinese pipa player Wu Man, in addition to many other talented musicians who will appear in this special event.

Seeds of Peace develops and empowers young leaders from regions of conflict to work towards peace through coexistence and conflict resolution. Since 1993, Seeds of Peace has graduated over 3,000 teenagers and young adults from several regions of conflict and has reached several thousand more in their communities through initiatives such as the International Camp in Maine.

Tickets are on sale now ($35, $75, $125 including reception afterwards) at 212-864-5400 and all sales will go to Seeds of Peace.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

CITIZEN ACTIVISM GETS A LIFT FROM BILL CLINTON

I'm not big on promoting political figures, but I certainly think Bill Clinton's Foundation website offers a nice way to read and share a "giving story". Clinton's new book, "Giving--How Each of Us Can Change the World" is just getting launched this week with solid media backing and although I haven't seen nor read the book, of course, I think it's a great way to perpetuate action and change in our society. According to the Boston Globe Clinton's book, although scattered and dry, may be an effective resource for giving. I sure hope so.

I like the idea of giving time, money and skills to help others in need. I've been doing it myself for many years. Each of us really does have the power to change the world. Now if only more of us would truly believe it...

Clinton's book is in step with Time Magazine which features The Case for National Service. Included in the report is a commentary by Caroline Kennedy on "Making a Difference at Home," as well as another place to share how you serve the community. I've written in the past about the US Public Service Academy and they too are featured in the article. Listen to the podcast

Saturday, August 25, 2007

HOW TO FUND A MILLION DOLLAR DOCUMENTARY iDEA

Well I have to say some people are very creative fund raisers. And there aren't many of them around. It took me some time to read and understand what Nirvan Mullick is doing with his 1-Second Film and this young guy is pure genius. Let me boil down what he's doing. First, Nirvan is a social entrepreneur. He's great with technology and he came up with an idea on how to create a social network that's interested in using art, technology and film to give back.

Now here's the genius part. While living in LA he began hitting the streets to pitch his 1-Second film. His pitch: for just $1 anyone could be a producer of his film. What's the film you ask? 1 Second of large-scale art murals that had been created at an event at CalArts in 2001, with 90 minutes of credits. The credits will include the story of the making of the collaborative effort and all the money donated will go to the Global Fund for Women.


My guess --it wasn't easy because most people would say 'What?-No!" or ignore him and just plain walk away. How different was he than a bum on the street? But then he ran across George Clooney and 1-Second Film history was made. Using well known advertising and sales techniques and lots of roll-up your sleeves attitude, apparently Nirvan lit the ground afire and starting pitching celebrities at places like Sundance. Meanwhile it might help to be at Sundance and win an award which can than give you the credibility to even talk to all these celebs. The celebs laughed at his idea, but some chalked up 100 bucks and more! And on camera to boot! So Nirvan now has a Foundation, he's made over $170,000 and he's raising money for a bus and road trip to pitch to Oprah.


The best part is that this is a huge coalition collaboration. Every person who gives a dollar gets to have a "Producers" profile on the website and there's now over 7000 of them. If you're feeling ambitious you can also submit your own film, create art, etc.

Back to the genius part. Website, 7000 people, $170,000, each producer can raise money on the site, rub elbows with celebrities and feel like they're part of something great and BIG.
The only thing odd is that the charity doesn't have any reference to the project on their website. There's also 5 phases so this kind of social networking fun/fund raising could go on forever and gains momentum every day.

All I can say is "Geez why didn't I think of that?"

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

THE PROMISE OF THE REAL NEWS

I have been a member and paying subscriber of the Real News Network for over a year while they are ramping up to launch the REAL NEWS—hopefully uncompromising news.



Find out more about their "News Solutions for Change" and become a member.

We need alternatives.
They offer just that.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

VOICES | SELECT| QUOTE

I recently come across a film and an article on the topic of religion. Religion has always interested me, yet I am not religious. September's issue of National Geographic has a very good article about Pakistan and it's people. The article entitled "Struggle for the Soul of Pakistan" talks about an incredible 79 year old man, Abdul Sattar Edhi who has been tending to the dead bodies which sadly litter the streets of Pakistan. He apparently built up an international foundation with a fleet of over 1000 ambulances and thousands of volunteers. Whenever terror and violence takes over the streets of Pakistan he or one of his volunteers comes forward to the scene. He is quoted saying something that strikes me to the bone,

"I'm a Muslim, but my true religion is human rights."

I really believe as important as religion seems to be in the lives of many, we should respect each other, not for our religious values, but for our human ones.

A friend recently sent me a link to what I believe is a controversial film on religion called Zeitgeist that's worth watching. As we become more globally aware of our religious differences we need to recognize how the world is becoming more polarized around extremes, both politically and religiously. That could end up being very dangerous and it's certainly something to contemplate and to find a solution to. Perhaps we should take heed of Edhi's "enlightened moderation". We can not continue to live with all the violence.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

STREET ARTISTS TAKE 2!: AWESOME ANIMATION

You gotta love the web. Dig a little deeper on a subject and you find real gems. What a wonderful world we share with artists...The artist is Blu and I believe he is a genius!

VOICES SELECT | WOOSTER COLLECTIVE

Istanbul, Turkey

I just got around to looking at my July issue of Communication Arts magazine and there's a great article about street art and graffiti. It reminded me of how much I love street art.

Venice Beach, California

Ephemeral art speaks volumes about our culture. No matter what state in the US or country I go to I am always drawn to photograph art I find on walls, buildings and surfaces of utilities.

Avignon, France

Last year when I drove through Venice California, unfortunately I was unable to shoot some of the best examples that I saw there.

Hollywood, California

There's a marvelous blog, called the Wooster Collective with some of the finest street art I've ever seen and some of the very best street artists are literally in our backyard--NYC.

Bodrum, Turkey

The Wooster Collective is a must see. Definitely bookmark it.

Santa Monica, California

The art at the Wooster Collective is truly mesmerizing...


Saturday, August 04, 2007

US PUBLIC SERVICE ACADEMY FEATURED ON NPR

Last year Voices of Hope Productions interviewed Dr. Chris Myers Asch about an idea of a U.S. Public Service Academy. Asch, and his colleague, Shawn Raymond, have been building support with policy-makers to establish and fund a civilian leadership university modeled after the nation's military service academies. Much like the Peace Corps, the United States Public Service Academy is dedicated to creating a corps of passionate and patriotic civilian leaders willing to devote themselves to the pursuit of academic excellence, civic engagement, and leadership through public service.

Asch says, "There's a diminished sense of public service and what we can do in this country. People don't seem to want to think big anymore. We mock federal bureaucrats and people who dedicate their lives to public service—developing a cynicism about public institutions, but we really need them. That actually inspires us. We can revolutionize the way we see this country. Why not make it happen?"


Now Sen. Hillary Clinton has put these two partners and the U.S. Public Service Academy in the spotlight. Listen to what they have to say in their interview with
Melissa Brock from NPR.

Read the Voices of Hope Interview with Dr. Asch


See who else endorses the idea

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

WHAT DOES PEACE MEAN TO YOU?

Brighton, a fashion accessories company has created a special bracelet for the Give Peace a Chance Campaign during the month of July. Certainly Brighton with their high quality product line is interested in corporate philanthropy and giving back and they seem to have a good track record. Since 2005 they have donated nearly $814,000 for the American Heart Association’s Go Red campaign. They also created a hope and encouragement bracelet to help rid the world of breast cancer and contributed over $1.7 million from the sales of those bracelets.



When you purchase the Peace bracelet, $5 from your $50 purchase goes to one of the participating charities of your choice. The charities include: Seeds of Peace, Women for Women, US Cares and Action Against Hunger.

I purchased my bracelet at lovely store called Necessities for the Heart and love it! Brighton accessories are well-designed, and high quality wearable works of art. Find participating retailers.

Monday, July 09, 2007

MANY NEW JERSEYANS UNAWARE OF GANGS

Youth and gang violence is seen as serious and growing problem by many New Jerseyans. A majority of state residents say that gangs are either active in their town now or likely to become active in the next 5 years, although a sizable number have a blind spot about gang activity, especially in the suburbs. The latest Monmouth University Poll also found that most NJ residents feel news coverage of youth violence does more to exacerbate rather than help the problem.

What Causes Gang Activity?
Substance use (87%), the breakdown of families (86%), the availability of weapons (82%), and the presence of gangs (81%) lead the list of causes of youth violence. Socio-economic issues such as poverty (74%), lack of recreational or mentoring opportunities (62%) and lack of jobs (58%) are also important factors. The amount of violence in the popular media is considered a major factor by 51% of state residents.

The public feels the news media does little to help the problem:
* 54% say the news media tend to sensationalize its reporting of youth violence;
* 41% feel the media make the problem appear bigger than it actually is, while 26% feel that the problem is under-reported by the media;
* 57% say that media coverage of violent acts encourages others to do the same; and
* 70% say the media do not devote enough coverage to stories about the causes of youth violence.

The Role of the News Media
The news media plays an important role in informing the public about youth violence. However, NJ residents give newspapers, radio and TV news generally negative reviews in how they handle this function. A majority of 54% believe that the media tends to sensationalize its reporting of youth violence episodes, compared to only 37% who feel they report these events objectively.

Furthermore, residents are split on whether the media’s overall coverage of the youth violence issue accurately portrays the extent of the problem. A plurality of 41% feel that the media make it appear that youth violence and gang activity is a bigger problem than it actually is, compared to 26% who feel that the problem is under-reported by the media. Only 21% feel the news media accurately portrays the extent of the problem.

New Jerseyans also feel that current news reporting on youth violence tends to do more harm than good. Specifically, 57% feel that media coverage of violent acts encourages others to do the same as a way to gain notoriety among their peers. Only 40% disagree with this view.

Residents would like to see the media spend more time covering stories that counter typical images of youth violence. Specifically, overwhelming majorities say the media does not devote enough coverage to stories about urban youth who do positive things in their communities (84%), stories about people and programs that help prevent violence and gangs (83%), and stories about the causes of youth violence (70%).

51% of parents asked never talked about gangs with their kids.

Friday, July 06, 2007

VOICES | SELECT | HBO's FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS

One of the funniest and the most creative shows I've seen in a long time is HBO's Flight of the Conchords. It merges sitcom humor with MTV style music video together in one—and it's just great. The show is about two New Zealand musicians who along with their agent try to get gigs to make it in the Big City. Their fan base consists of one married groupie who follows them when they leave the house. When they get mugged they just break into a song. There's only 4 episodes so far, but I'm looking forward to seeing more. Would love to get their music. Really terrific.


Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Bratz Movie. Fishnet Stockings and Feather Boas?


The big-headed, big lipped, wide-eyed and sexy (some call slutty) Bratz dolls, a new generation of dolls developed in 2001 are making their way to the large screen this summer. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) "Bratz dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas ... It is worrisome when dolls designed specifically for 4- to 8-year-olds are associated with an objectified adult sexuality." The APA created a Task force on the Sexualization of Girls.

Bratz dolls offer an extraordinary case study for “Passion for Fashion” doll branding and media in the U.S. They are well represented in Wikipedia with their development and multi-media history—wonder how their entry got there. The team at the toy company has been very sharp at promoting these dolls with 2D animation movies and continuing to come up with new figures including boyfriends for the dolls. Ok, so how’s this all different than Barbie and Ken? It’s really not. Competition is healthy and Bratz is using an entire arsenal of media ventures to promote the brand. No different than any other consumer product.

But let’s get back to the movie. So now Bratz dolls are turning real. The Bratz movie is all about being anything you want to be—not being in a clique. Perhaps that’s oversimplifying. Oh--they also want to win a talent contest. The movie has Angelie Jolie’s father, Jon Voight as the school Principal and American Idol’s Paula Abdul. Of course there’s a soundtrack, including a Black Eyed Peas song, Express Yourself. According to the producer, Avi Arad "There's nothing in the movie you wouldn't want your 5-year-old to see, there are a lot of great life lessons." It all happens August 3rd. According to Chelsea Staub, 18, a Hollywood newcomer, "I think parents will be impressed." Hmm. I wonder.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

WHAT'S THE BEST STUFF IN THE WORLD?

Two web developers in Melbourne, Australia are passionate about making stuff. So they created an open ended social-opinion-wiki web so that people can share their opinions on what "they think is the best stuff in the world." It's a cross between social networking, Martha Stewart's "Good Thing" and the Million Dollar Home Page concept that a college student came up with to pay for his tuition. If Best Stuff in the World can really get consumer participation it offers good corporate marketing and advertising possibilities in the future. For now, add your own "Best Stuff," and watch while this site grows.

1673 people think Firefox is the best thing in the world
209 people think finding money in a trouser pocket is the best thing in the world
165 people think a smile is the best thing in the world
92 people think IKEA is the best thing in the world
10 people, plus myself think a kiss is the best thing in the world

What do you think?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

VOICES SELECT| THEATER



I've wanted to write about
Spring Awakening ever since I heard Duncan Sheik interviewed on NPR a week ago. Mind you I haven't seen the play personally, but I love the story and concept. Then I was reminded again when I watched the first hour of the Tony Awards and it was winning left and right. I didn't watch to the end, but this play won 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical. I’m not at all surprised.


Spring Awakening takes its inspiration from one of literature’s most controversial masterpieces – a work so daring in its depiction of teenage self-discovery, it was banned from the stage and not performed in its complete form in English for nearly 100 years.


This story is about 2 teen lovers, living in a repressed society. It speaks about taboo subjects like suicide, abuse and abortion and is performed to contemporary, hip music. It reminds me of the tone in RENT which I have seen three times and have the soundtrack on my iPod and on CD. I favor theater, art and media that speak to youth in original and modern ways. Spring Awakening appears to ‘fit-the-bill’ -- fresh and innovative, and I think we can all applaud that, especially when there are so many remakes of old works. It is truly refreshing to see theatrical Producers and Directors taking on more original pieces rather than rehashing the tried-and-true productions. Those certainly have their place, but artists should be responsible to show the present culture--our time-frame, or at least adopt/adapt the art within our modern culture. That is all we have to leave behind for future generations to visualize the place we are in now-- ten years into the Millennium.



Adapting old stories so that they resonate contemporaneously is difficult and risky business. But with originality, creative producers can serve up entertainment and inspiration to people of all ages. Maybe they will even go one step further and offer solutions. I’m sure Spring Awakenings is well worth the ticket to a few hours of fun and enjoyment.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

VOICES SELECT | TECHNOLOGY COMMENTARY

Susan Ellis of Energize Inc. has put together a great little article on how Non-profit's can use technology. The benefits of Flickr, podcasting, blogging and the use of social networking spaces are well encapsulated in one article. Well worth the read.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

PSAs PROMOTE CIVIC ENGAGEMENT

According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) during the last twenty-five years there has been a dramatic decrease in voter turnout among 18-24 year-olds. In addition, a 2002 report conducted by The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement found that 57 percent of American youth aged 15-25 are completely disengaged from civic life and politics. Furthermore, adults who began volunteering as youth are twice as likely to volunteer as those who did not volunteer when they were younger, according to a 2001 report from the Independent Sector and Youth Service America.

New survey reveals that 95 percent of young adults believe that..."What goes around comes around.


The PSAs aim to encourage young adults to become involved in their communities in any way they can, including voting in local elections, volunteering in their spare time or reading the newspaper and discussing current events with friends. The television, radio, print, outdoor and Web ads humorously show audiences what happens to people when they are not civically engaged and encourage them to "get good karma."

The campaign uses humor to communicate to young adults that acting on what is important to them will protect them from having "bad karma," or negative consequences. All of the PSAs end with the tagline "Stay on the universe's good side. Volunteer. Vote. Get involved." The PSAs direct audiences to visit www.GetGoodKarma.org, a new interactive website, for tips on how to become civically engaged.

Friday, May 11, 2007

VOICES SELECT | FILM | MOTHERHOOD MANIFESTO

Women shouldn't be discriminated against simply because they are mothers... but they are! Hear about true experiences of American mothers, and learn how shared problems can be solved. MomsRising’s intent is to engage millions of women and other caregivers, to educate the public about the problems facing mothers and families, and to provide avenues for civic engagement, as well as common-sense solutions to shared issues.


"Despite all the rhetoric about being family-friendly, we have structured a society that is decidedly unfriendly... What's missing now is a movement. What's missing now is an organization. That's why MomsRising is so important." -- Senator Barack Obama, 9/28/06

“Today, two-thirds of all moms also work outside the home…and government must take your side.” --President George Bush

Find out more about Mom'sRising, the grassroots organization mobilizing mothers across the country. Order the video

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

BRING PEACE HOME

What You Can Do For Peace Today--

Every so often, the right message comes along at just the right time. At a point in history when the world has never needed more peace, comes a book whose message is both ageless and urgently relevant. Where Peace Lives, by Debbie Robins, is a book for all ages about an angel named Peace who’s been locked in a glass box and can’t get out. It’s about the journey to find the Three Keys that will set Peace free. The characters are inspired by the peace teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, Buddha, Gandhi, Christ, Moses and the Prophet Muhammad.

When you click to BRING PEACE HOME, you will also bring home some extraordinary gifts, hand-picked for you by some of the most influential voices for peace of our time. The value of this unprecedented opportunity: gifts of peace in your own life and in the world.

Treat yourself to PEACE.


“....the coolest ride with pearls of wisdom.”

“....a beautiful invitation to practice peace.”

“....a magical fable to delight, inspire and educate.”

“....a roadmap to the soul.”

Order now

Monday, May 07, 2007

MOTHER'S DAY FOR PEACE

Did you know that originally, way back in 1870, Mother's Day was envisioned as a time for women to come together and unite for peace?

The Brave New Foundation launched a new short viral video in honor of Mother’s Day featuring actresses Felicity Huffman, Vanessa Williams, Alfre Woodward, Christine Lahti and feminist icon Gloria Steinem. The video celebrates the original meaning of Mother’s Day, founded during the Civil War as a call upon women to unite for peace in the name children everywhere.


The film features the celebrities and two Muslim women reading the original Mother’s Day Proclamation and sharing their thoughts on the meaning of Mother’s Day. “I’m not only parenting Mavis and Duncan,” says Alfre Woodward in the video, “but I am responsible for every child.” Actress Christine Lahti states, “Mother’s Day to me means a global notion of Motherhood, of course I think about my children and my mother ... but I can’t help think about the mothers of all the Iraqi civilians and soldiers who are dying every single day, I can’t help think about our own soldiers who are being killed every day, I think Mother’s Day is a day to bring violence against our children to an end.”





The film gives viewers a chance to honor the original meaning of Mother’s Day after watching the three minute video at
www.mothersdayforpeace.com, by purchasing an e-card for their mothers. All proceeds from e-cards will benefit No More Victims, a non-profit organization which brings war-injured Iraqi children to the United States for medical treatment. Contributions made through the site will go to help bring Salee, a ten-year-old girl who lost both of her legs in the Iraq war, to Greenville, South Carolina where she will receive surgical treatment and prosthetics.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

NIKE - THANK YOU IGNORANCE AD

Going back about 15 years ago I tried to get a client to make socio-political comments in their advertising. They thought it was great and creative, but clearly they wanted to sell outerwear and went with the traditional guy standing on a colored background. A few weeks ago Nike ran an ad in the New York Times thanking 'ignorance' for starting a conversation and drew attention to the positive accomplishments of the Rutger's women's basketball team. I like Nike's idea for the ad, but is it a tad self-serving? I wish it didn't take an 'event' of slander to get corporations to develop socially conscious advertising. I must be dreaming. The above-mentioned outerwear company is now defunct.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Virginia Tech, Killer's 'Media Manifesto' Broadcasted

I am absolutely flabbergasted—although I know I shouldn't be—that NBC is broadcasting to the world the words, video and images of a killer. When I watched the broadcast last night, the first thing that came to mind were very brief broadcasts I've seen of Al-Qaeda members when they've captured people. We only see about 10 seconds of that. Why does this merit who knows how long of discussion and critique? Ok...ok..I know free speech, but we're talking about a dead person who killed 32 people on a idyllic college campus in the US. I could see NBC broadcasting a few photographs (like the mail package) and quoting some of his words, but to show his video—YouTube style? I think it's a very bad idea.

Why should we be educating the masses on what it's like to get inside the mind of a 'madman'? Why do we need to see and hear those images? It only perpetrates more violence. Enough already. In the age of developing content for the Internet we need not encourage more violent acts to show up for viewing to teach our youth about 'how-to' become a killer.

In my opinion, by broadcasting the words and images of a killer under the auspices of 'understanding' we give the power back to the violator and minimize the stories of the people (victims) most affected by this horrible turn of events. This violent student killer's (I don't even want to memorialize his name) story takes away the power of the victim's stories and sensationalizes the problem, making him appear as a hero-villain. Not a good message. Instead, we need to hear many more of the victim's stories which offer a powerful, pertinent learning lesson and understanding of violent experiences.

And, if we are going to try to start a reality-TV-style discussion about the Virginia Tech shooting, why don't we take a lead from last week's 'big story' with Imus and the Rutgers Women's Basketball team and at least get the discussion going about the right issues. Isn't this more about how easy it is to get guns in this country? Is a high school or college campus more sacred than our communities? Since Columbine, some high schools have constructed expensive metal detectors to retrieve the guns and violent tools that kids carry with them. Taking them away does nothing. They can get them again down-the-block at the local pawn shop and 'big boxes'.

I can only hope that enough people are incensed by this terrible tragedy to do something more than what we have become accustomed to seeing at these times-- symbols, candles, grave markers, letters, flowers and memorabilia posted to fences. I recognize these are healing devices. But we need to get beyond that. If we really want to support and heal the large numbers of people left behind in the wake of violence on campuses and in our communities, then we need to confront the real problem.

Guns and ammunition.

We need to do something to stop the easy access to these resources. The discussion this nation has about the Virginia Tech massacre needs to begin to focus on easy access to guns and ammunition. That would make all this nonsense we see in the media more palatable-hopeful-promising. Acting on what's really important to deal with these types of problems. Confront them. Solve Them. Otherwise we will continue this terrible cycle of violence, death and grieving, but never get to the most important level. Fixing it. That's a message that requires local, state national and global attention. Even if an entire economy revolves around it. We owe it to ourselves, our friends, our family and we owe it to humanity.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Recognize Volunteers During National Volunteer Week


"Everyone can be great because anyone can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t even have to make your subject and and your verb agree to serve… You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

During National Volunteer Week, April 15-23, thousands of volunteers nationwide will receive presidential recognition for their service through the President’s Volunteer Service Award – the most prestigious volunteer award currently associated with the White House. Like National Volunteer Week, this award seeks to inspire by example, honoring the service of our country’s most committed volunteers and sharing their achievements to encourage more Americans to volunteer.

If not this year, consider getting involved in National Volunteer Week in the future and thank your volunteers with a prestigious President's Volunteer Award. But remember—appreciating the work, spirit and generosity of volunteers should happen every day.


Future Dates for National Volunteer Week:
2008 - April 27 – May 3
2009 - April 19 – April 25
2010 - April 18 – April 24


The Points of Light Foundation & Volunteer Center National Network supports the vital work of millions of volunteers, who are helping to solve serious social problems in thousands of communities nationwide. To be connected to a local Volunteer Center and learn more about the volunteer opportunities in your community, call 1-800-Volunteer or visit www.1-800-Volunteer.org.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

PODCAMP NYC- THE NEW MEDIA UNCONFERENCE


New York City, April 6 & 7, 2007—If you’re wondering how podcasting, videocasting, and other social media can improve your business and life, pack your bags and head to The New Yorker Hotel in Manhattan, April 6-7 for PodcampNYC. Podcamp NYC is part of the growing “unconference” movement that fosters networking and learning in a participatory, “all are welcome” environment. There are no keynotes here—session leaders simply sign up to speak and the “law of two feet” governs who attends. Plus: admission is free.

New Media “Unconference” encourages Participation and Community

What's an "unconference?" An unConference means that the participants are also the experts. Audio and video podcasters, enthusiasts, businesspeople, hobbyists, musicians, promoters, marketers, and people who generally want to understand more about the new media space. The power of an unconference is you get FREE ACCESS to ideas, thoughts, best practices, and the true "wisdom of crowds" simply by registering and attending.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

VOICES | SELECT | FILM

Starting tonight, on Home Box Office, the documentary film "ADDICTION" will be previewed, and will be broadcast numerous times throughout the month. Some cable broadcasters will also be participating with a free HBO weekend starting on March 17th. HBO, in conjunction with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, has put together a campaign to educate Americans on drug and alcohol addiction. The campaign highlights the understanding of drug and alcohol addiction as a disease of the brain. The campaign centers on the 90-minute documentary and will proceed to broadcast a series of interviews with leading addiction experts throughout March.

OWN THE HBO SERIES ON DVD AND HOST A HOUSE PARTY ANYTIME

The four-disc set includes topics such as The Adolescent Addict, The Science of Relapse, Parents of Opiate-Addicted Children, The CRAFT Approach to treatment and Brain Imaging are explored to show the complexities of both addiction and recovery. Three discs of additional content are provided that will not premiere on the network. An interactive Addiction: Communities Take Action website will arm communities with tools, including a hosting toolkit and viewer's guide, to support their efforts. Purchase your DVD for year-round screenings and community gatherings with family, friends, neighbors and colleagues.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dolce & Gabbana Reluctantly Pulls Controversial Ad from Spain

Dolce & Gabbana are probably one of the best fashion design teams of our day, but why did they make such a poor and irresponsible business and advertising decison to produce and distribute an ad that looks to portray gang violence against a women? How insensitive were the decision makers who produced the ad? Dolce & Gabbana, the fashion designers and owners, the art director, photographer, stylists, hair and makeup artists--all--were a part of the shoot and no one had the nerve to say this was out of line? I've art directed fashion shoots myself. I know everyone looked at the images on the computer screen and thought they were sensational and congratulated each other on another work of art.


According to Brandweek, Stefano Gabbana, a partner in Dolce & Gabbana, indicated that the image represented an erotic dream or sexual game. Apparently the ad ran in Spain, but was withdrawn from the magazines when Spain's Women's Institute advocated for it's removal. Spain's Women's Institute, a branch of the labor ministry, said the ad "not only reduces women to a sexual object but the image sends the message that the use of force as a means to achieve subjugation is admissible."

More disturbing is that Gabbana said he would only pull the ad in Spain, because "they have shown themselves to be a bit backward," he was quoted as saying in the La Vanguardia newspaper.
According to the newspaper, Dolce & Gabbana defended the campaign as art "What has an artistic photo got to do with a real act? You would have to burn museums like the Louvre or the paintings of Caravaggio." Isn't he getting that a bit backward himself? These ads are not hanging in a museum. They may set out to create art, I surely can relate to that. But, they are still selling products and an image. Neither gang violence against women, nor an erotic sex dream should have a place in the global marketing of products, even though it often does. If a company has consumer groups and activists stating an ad looks to be promoting violence against women, perhaps it might be wise to remove the ad, minus the prima-dona attitude and discriminating commentary. A "we're sorry" might be better a business management tactic.

Spain's not the only country that wants the ad pulled. 13 Italian Senators demanded that the offensive ad be pulled as well. Sad thing though is that this ad is still getting plenty of free publicity and mileage, and Dolce & Gabbana are running other violent images in Britain. As long as violence sells movies, the nightly news, and products it will keep coming at us. Don't like it? Complain and don't buy it!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE GIRL SCOUTS?

The Girl Scouts are going digital with website promotion for their annual cookie drive. Here's the perfect example of how a Non-profit organization can wield the power of the Internet to reach their audience, drive traffic and make money for programs. The Girl Scouts have created a website girlscoutcookies.org and have used YouTube, MySpace and Friendster to reach out to people who want to purchase Girl Scout cookies. They've even created a little cookie movie from old archived commercials. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the Girl Scouts are also operating cookie academies, where girls 11 and older are learning how to create business plans, manage money and attract larger customers for bulk orders. One Girl Scout said it really helped her to better understand business practices. And that’s exactly what it should do, according to Katherine Cloninger, the Girl Scouts chief executive, who says cookie selling fosters independence, self-esteem and confidence.

Anyone for just one thin mint? Search by zipcode to find where you can
get your box.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH

Since I'm attending The New School for interdisciplinary studies this MovieMaker magazine interview is quite fitting. Jennifer Wood interviews Annie Howell and I especially like this quote from her:

"
I believe documentary is the interdisciplinary discipline. In addition to spanning academic fields—film studies, anthropology, sociology, to name a few—good documentary engages with both form and content; hopefully content that has real relevance in peoples’ lives. Documentary films allow us to experience situations, meet individuals and understand issues in a personal, emotional or intellectual way that is simply unique, and that tends to have appeal across mediums, fields of study and professions. At The New School, documentary study and practice have always thrived. Institutionally, there is an emphasis on making change in the world as well as on developing a serious art practice within a social and historical context."

I couldn't agree more with Annie Howell's assessment and it's precisely why I decided to return to study media, documentaries and advocacy, and especially why I chose The New School.

Read the Interview

Thursday, February 08, 2007

4th ANNUAL GRASSROOTS MEDIA CONFERENCE

Event Date: February 24, 2007 | This year, the NYC Grassroots Media Conference seeks to ask: What are the common threads inherent in our global struggles for social change and how does the media contribute to our understanding of the root causes of injustice faced by world communities? From educating ourselves and our government leaders to spreading our messages and recruiting broader and more diverse constituencies into our campaigns, media is central to the struggle for social justice. Therefore, the fight for better access to and representation in the media is essential for advancing peace and justice both at home and abroad.

Join the 4th annual NYC Grassroots Media Conference to explore these connections and strategies, and come together to demand a media system that will link our diverse communities, connect local and international struggles, and fight for social justice across boundaries and beyond borders. Register Today.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

SUPERBOWL SUNDAY—SO FAR—SNICKERS TAKES BEST AD

Ok, I'm watching the game. I don't really follow football all that closely, but this is a great game. I was reminded of the opportunity I had to buy a Romeo Britta painting of a cat 15 years ago, but Cirq de Soleil was just ok. Maybe you had to see them in person. I never realized exactly how entertaining watching grown men scrambling for a wet ball in the pouring rain could be. Downright sexy. Prince? Oh he's always great. The commercials? So far, too much violence. They lack creativity. Coke's are not bad—I wasn't all that crazy on the take-off on Grand Theft Auto, but at least they're conceptualized and well executed. The best so far? Snickers. Original!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

WHAT REMAINS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF SALLY MANN


I find it so interesting to observe the things that inspire me to write and those that don't. I really love technology and the Internet and all the opportunities it offers to become inspired. Sometimes I collect on a memory in an instant, and it can be so circuitous. That’s what happened today.

I was trying to find a particular series on HBO and came upon an upcoming documentary about the photographer Sally Mann. That triggered my memory. I met Sally Mann briefly about 15 years ago when I worked at the Black Book. At the time she may have been interested in getting more work as a commercial photographer. She showed me black and white photos of kids; I believe some made with a box camera. I remember thinking her work was very original. I had met literally hundreds of photographers over the years and her work stood out. She has a unique point of view and I can’t wait to see the documentary about her work.

I Googled her and found a provocative essay that was written about a book of hers, Intimate Family and went on to read her response to the essay. This is truly a scintillating dialogue between artists and opinions. I highly recommend reading Noelle Oxenhandler’s essay, Mann’s response and watching the documentary. 15 years ago Sally Mann struck me as a pioneer for the life of an artist who pushes her way through what at one glance may be a taboo subject and on another glance a simple artistic.

I consider myself lucky in many ways. One--15 years ago, for only an hour or two, I was in the presence of what I perceived to be a pioneer, someone who I wanted to emulate as an artist. An artist who helps people make the leap to think deeply, analyze, learn and make great art. That memory and mission is still with me and going strong.

Synopsis of WHAT REMAINS: THE LIFE AND WORK OF SALLY MANN

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

MEDIA CULTURE -- DID YOU KNOW?

MotherJones Magazine has a terrific column called Ad Nauseum and in it's January/February 2007 issue they highlight some unbelievable media statistics including the following:

In 2005, there were 108,000 instances of product placement in television programming—up 30% from 2004.

he 2005 season of nbc's reality show The Contender had 7,502 instances of product placement—adding up to 11 hours and 57 minutes of screen time.

Placing ads inside video games is expected to be a $1 billion industry by 2010.

When Dateline NBC recently asked children to choose between a banana and a rock with a Scooby-Doo sticker on it for breakfast, nearly all chose the rock.

A recent Broadway production of Sweet Charity was rewritten to plug Gran Centenario tequila. José Cuervo described the change as "elegant, organic, not forced."

Advertisers spend more than $12 billion a year marketing to kids. The average American child is exposed to 40,000 ads per year.

References to "a killer coat of Lipslicks" and other Cover Girl products were worked into Cathy's Book, a novel for 12- to 17-year-old girls published in October.

Great Moments in Product Placement

1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas is conceptualized and sponsored by Coke.

2000 FedEx says of its supporting role in Castaway, "We're a character in this movie."

2005 Target buys all ad space in the August 22 New Yorker; its logo appears tore than 1,200 times in the issue.

Read them all

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

SPAM/SCAM | Cry for Help: 36 Scam Emails from Africa

There's nothing I dislike more than SPAM. We all know what SPAM is and I'm not talking about that delicious delicacy in a can that Monty Python referred to that became ingrained into our pop culture. No, it's a different icon of culture -- SPAM/SCAM email-- we either trash it or curiously look through the SPAM filtering software available in our email browsers to make sure we haven't missed a 'real' email. Those pesky spammers are smart and creative! They figure out how to rig forms and Opt-Ins, and create special software to fish for free email addresses. I just wish software developers could come up with a better filtering system so as not to catch 'real' email. Some spammers actually know what business you're in and create specialized content to fit that business.

Illustrator Henning Wagenbreth recently created a book Cry for Help: 36 SCAM Emails from Africa, in which he compiled and illustrated the bizarre 'Nigerian' SCAM email letters that asked for our help in making a fortune in lucrative business propositions. Wagenbreth explains "The deception with SCAM-mails works in the following way: first the scammers locate appropriate e-mail address suppliers and buy thousands of addresses of people all over the world, especially those people from rich, industrial nations. Enticing letters are then written and sent as mass e-mails. The author asserts that he has come upon too much money either through legitimate inheritance, political unrest, a tragic accident or through simple theft. In telling his plausible story, he slips into one of various roles decorated with rich detail. Sometimes it’s the helpless child by his parent’s deathbed who’s received millions of dollars and doesn’t know what to do with it all. Another time he may pose as the government official who is manipulating the state budget or embezzling state funds and is in search of someone to help launder the money. Or he pretends to be the relative of a deposed dictator and authoritatively demands immediate assistance with a foreign currency transfer."

While I'm on the subject, here's a particularly fascinating subject header of a SPAM email I just received while writing this post. Dad: My daughter killed my wife.news just come. I peer through my preview pane it's a press release with a stock tip. We've all gotten them. When will this SPAM/SCAM end? Perhaps we should all start archiving the SPAM/SCAM we get. There are some humorous SPAM/SCAM annotations out there, that's for sure.

Monday, January 22, 2007

MEDIA REFORM CONFERENCE UPDATE

Watch video of the speakers including: Bill Moyers, Jesse Jackson, Jane Fonda, Congressman Ed Markey, Gina Davis, Amy Goodman and Robert McChesney. Be sure to watch "5 words" from Conference Participants.

Friday, January 12, 2007

JOIN THE NATIONAL CONFERENCE FOR MEDIA REFORM--ONLINE

The National Conference for Media Reform is for anyone who is concerned about the state of our media and committed to working for change. This energizing weekend from January 12-14, presents ideas and strategies for winning the fight for better media and connects you with thousands of media reformers from across the country. The conference opens today with 3000 people who have traveled to Memphis to listen to over 250 speakers and attend their choice of 100 panels and workshops. If you care about media and can't leave your desk or office log on and watch streaming live video of the opening plenaries with Bill Moyers and Jesse Jackson, and closing plenary with Jane Fonda. You can also view the keynote session with Congressman Ed Markey who introduced the Net Neutrality bill and chairs the Subcommittee on Telecom and the Internet, actress Gina Davis and FreePress founder Robert McChesney. Tonight watch the Memphis Music Concert and rally streamed live on the Internet. Be sure to check out their blog over the weekend as well.

Be sure to take advantage of :

Downloadable audio of hundreds of panels and workshops
Live Blogging
Photographs of Conference on Flickr
YouTube footage of Conference taken by participants

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

USER GENERATED COMMERCIALS TOUT DORITOS AS "SNACK STRONG PRODUCTIONS"

User-generated content has become mainstream in the past few years with the development of blogging and social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube. Corporations have been scrambling with how to profit from this new media content revolution and they seem to have hit on something big that could also be quite powerful, creative and interactive. But it goes beyond that— it’s also cheap and they are wired right into their target audience. We are experiencing a paradigm shift in the way media and advertising business is done and I have some concerns.

Doritos has launched a web based contest where users create a 30 second spot to be judged by consumers and aired on the most watched event of the year in the US—Super Bowl Sunday. As of January 5th there were 1066 “Crash the Super Bowl” user created commercials uploaded and the top 5 winners were viewed over 676,000 times. They’ve created the contest on a fabulous beta site called Jumpcut where video can be edited online. People are commenting, hitting “I love it” buttons, and coming back to the site to vote for their favorite commercial. The winner gets $10,000 and a trip to the Super Bowl. Frito-Lay will have already gotten all those eyeballs and website traffic prior to the commercial actually being aired. That’s getting away cheap—very cheap in Madison Avenue terms. Then on Super Sunday there will be free PR with everyone talking about the ad. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. What company could ask for more from its advertising? It’s sure to result in a surge of Doritos sales.

Ok, so I hate to be the naysayer here, but let’s not forget that in the past I enjoyed many an hour developing advertising concepts and design for large corporations. Frito-Lay completely bypassed its advertising agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners in favor of letting the masses create their ad campaign. I have no problem with this. But, how will ad agencies compete with this incredible new user created concept? Frito-Lay is not the only brand to tap into the masses. This is just the beginning. But here’s what I don’t like. They are paying these young creators practically nothing for their ideas, and if successful they will use them into perpetuity without the originator getting any additional compensation. I really hate to include the small print of their “contract” but someone has to point it out:


“irrevocably grants to Contest Parties and their affiliates, legal representatives, assigns, agents and licensees, the unconditional and perpetual right and permission to copyright (as appropriate), reproduce, encode, store, copy, transmit, publish, post, broadcast, display, publicly perform, adapt, exhibit and/or otherwise use or reuse (without limitation as to when or to the number of times used), the Entrant's name, address, image, voice, likeness, statements, biographical material and Submission, including, but not limited to, the video or digital recording and performances contained in any of the above items (in each case, as submitted or as edited/modified in any way by the Contest Parties, in the Contest Parties' sole discretion), as well as any additional photographic images, video images, portraits, interviews or other materials relating to the Entrant and arising out of his/her participation in this Contest (with or without using the Entrant's name) (collectively, the "Additional Materials") in any media throughout the world for any purpose, without limitation, and without additional review, compensation, or approval from the Entrant or any other party."

Isn’t that a mouthful?

What does this mean for the future of advertising? How about the young creators who are not only signing their creative rights away for pennies, but are also helping to push products by word-of-mouth, as well as buying and consuming them too? Who really wins with this model and is it a good economic one? I’m not so sure. I think user created content is great, but many of the young people who are participating in these projects may not realize exactly what they are getting themselves into.

Someone put on a critical thinking cap, please.