Clay Shelburn & Zac Stokes- Walmart Rockstars - Pride and Joy

Why Stores May Want to Permit Video Recording

Sure, there are downsides to letting customers roam your store with a camera (I’ve certainly been spanked on that front, like when I shot “Mall Pranks.”

Roaming customer cameras can reveal something that creates bad press (like employees showing poor customer support), and it probably makes other shoppers uncomfortable.

Clay Shelburn & Zac Stokes- Walmart Rockstars - Pride and Joy

Clay Shelburn & Zac Stokes- Walmart Rockstars – Pride and Joy

But there are cases where it’s good to give the store some judgement. And here’s one that’s going a bit viral… Two guys cranking the blues at Walmart with kids instruments.

Meet Clay Shelburn & Zac Stokes, self proclaimed “Walmart Rockstars” singing “Pride and Joy.

 

I believe the Dennis Quaid "Dopey the Dick" rant is real.

Is Dennis Quaid “Dopey the Dick” Rant Real? Yes.

I believe the Dennis Quaid "Dopey the Dick" rant is real.

I believe the Dennis Quaid “Dopey the Dick” rant is real.

Is the Dennis Quaid “Dopey the Dick” rant a viral stunt or authentic rage moment? Today’s video shows a rage that rivals Christian Bale’s temper tantrum from 2008.

So it’s time for another “is it real or not” analysis on a “candid” or “staged” video. I’m only right 84.5% of the time, but I’m going with REAL.  What follows are the highlights, why you think it’s real, and 5 reasons why I don’t.

For a spontaneous rant, it’s some damned good scripting. Here are the highlights:

  • DOPEY the DICK starts whispering in your ear
  • Don’t fucking “Dennis” me!
  • This is the most unprofessional set I have ever been on
  • This is horse shit
  • Zombies over here that I have to look at
  • a bunch of pussies staring at me
  • and this fucking baby

Here’s why people may think it’s fake:

  • We’re increasingly skeptical of these impromptu moments.
  • He’s allegedly filming a movie about a slimy auction houses so it could be a promotion stunt.
  • The camera is very visible. You would expect someone on the set to be WAY more discrete about capturing a moment this sensitive.
  • Quaid is an actor, and he’s done little stunts with Ellen. It’s always possible it’s a Jimmy Kimmel twerk trick of 2013.

But I still think it’s real. And here’s why:

  1. The video starts late and gets dropped at just the right time. There’s a fierceness to his rage that seems sincere
  2. His voice cadence is not dynamic, and the volume comes from his chest, neck and mouth rather than abdomen. I would expect an actor to project from his diaphragm and would provide more range in delivery.
  3. He’s not THAT good of an actor (two words: Parent Trap).
  4. He and his agent would not likely agree to a stunt like this because even if it’s a hoax it harms his reputation.
  5. If it was a stunt, it would be “leaked” closer to the release date of the film.

Apparently Quaid isn’t commenting about it. What do you think?

Which smart-home system offers the best flexibility at the best price?

Idiot & Cheapskate’s Guide to Automating Your House (DIY SmartHome Hubs Controlled via Phone)

When I was a kid, I had this vision for my home that included automated everything — from lighting to blinds. Until last night, it was theoretical. Now I can turn off lamps from various rooms… from an Android or iPhone, even when I’m not in the house. It’s a start. And this morning when I got to work, I had the joy of toggling the lights from my phone to freak out WifeofNalts.

Let me warn you that we’re in an odd point of home-automation maturity. We’re moving beyond the era where it was reserved for the wealthy or techno elite. But it’s definitely not ready for prime time, and requires more patience and experimentation than I’d like… but such is the cost of being an early adopter, right?

My entry into “Smart Home Land” set me back only about $125: just $50 for a Wink hub (less if you buy it with add-ons) and about $75 for a bunch of GE Link lightbulbs (get the six pack). And I’ve got a plan for growing into additional functionality like remote monitors, appliance device on/off, security/alarms and broader control of lighting without doing the nightly sweep of 50 light switches. I can’t yet spring for the Nest, which is the connected thermostat that is the best-selling in its class. Honeywell and Lux fell asleep at the wheel.

Let me cut to wide shot and tell you about your options to entering “Smart Home Land.” Home automation was once reserved to the elite and wealthy, and required a special contractor and installation. Now you can pick up a hub and some $50-$150 add-ons and do-it-yourself quickly. I’m not going to get into the really nerdy hacks, but there are plenty of forums that can teach you to customize these beyond what the manufacturers specify or even offer.

There are too many options and a shake-down is looming. There’s Belkin Wemo, Phillips Hue, Quirky Wink, GE Link, Staples Connect, Harmony, Insteon, Lutron, Revolv, Smart Things. Overwhelmed yet? Here’s a review of some of them if you want to get into the weeds.

Let’s cut to your basic entry options, and then I’ll tell you why I started with the cheap, flawed but Swiss Army Knife option called Wink… note that I’m favoring options that don’t require ugly remotes or special displays. We’ll use our iPhones and Androids, thank you very much.

Which smart-home system offers the best flexibility at the best price?

Which smart-home system offers the best flexibility at the best price?

  1. Belkin has a Wemo switch that is a best-seller on Amazon and an easy place to dabble since it’s only $40. It uses your wifi and allows you to control any appliance via your Android/iPhone (just plug appliance into the Wemo, and the Wemo into your outlet. You can add on lots of additional options via Amazon or Home Depot. And if you’re all about lighting, you can get a Belkin Wemo starter kit for $85 that comes with a little hub and two lights… nice dorm room gift for that college techno kid. But I don’t see Wemo as a serious player.
  2. Then there are the lighting-specific solutions: Phillips answer to lighting customization: the Phillips Hue, which comes with a ton of different lighting options. The starter kit will set you back $188 and the individual lights get pretty expensive. Phillips Hue is generally cost-prohibitive except for those elite wealthy who might as well higher a contractor. But Home Depot has a decent spread of expensive lights so I imagine Phillips will be a formidable player. For those without excessive cash, the GE Links are better (you can also get these at Home Depot).
  3. There are a few other hubs that I didn’t look at closely. A cool-looking Revolv smart-home automation system (now part of Nest, the Google thermostat). Haven’t seen Revolv as a player yet. There’s Staples Connect (with Linksys), which is decent player and one that will likely survive the consolidation because Linksys and Staples are serious individual players. And the Smart Things Starter kit, which seems fairly comprehensive and has the best Amazon ratings… but is $300.
  4. And there are loads of home security devices, but I’m not writing about those.
  5. And the winner/wiener is… Wink hub despite some seriously negative reviews (including my own). Setup is torture (40 minutes of trial/error), but adding GE Link bulbs was as easy as screwing in bulbs and naming them. I can’t speak yet to the pain/joy of adding things beyond GE Link bulbs, but that alone made it worth the trivial entry cost of $50.

 

wink compatible products

Wink’s interface allows you to connect with a bunch of devices from other manufacturers

Wink is the buggy but poor-man’s Switzerland of all these home automation standards and devices. It has built-in support for Bluetooth LE, Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-Wave, Lutron ClearConnect, and Kidde. It also handles Phillips Hue (with some limitations) and works like a breeze with GE Link bulbs. I also like that Wink is a product of Quirky/GE, which gives inventors a chance to manufacturer ideas.

Once you have a hub and suffer through setup, you can add all kinds of things: alarms (Kidde/Nest), blinds (Bali/Lutron/ZWave), cameras (Dropcam), weird things from Quirky, garage doors (Chamberlain and Quirky/GE), heating and cooling (Honeywell, Nest, Zwave, Quirky/GE), lawn/patio, kitchen, door and window locks, and general appliances via a power plug that accommodates two different plugs that can be controlled separately (the other two are just plain extension plugs). Warning- that power plug got absolutely hosed on Amazon comments and it’s clearly flawed.

We’re still a few years before this stuff becomes more mainstream, but it’s nice that it’s become somewhat affordable and I like that you can experiment with different components to see what’s worthwhile.

Have you tried any of these? Would love your experience and “watch outs.”

Models doing ice bucket challenge

Why Did ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Go Viral? 7 Good Reasons.

Models doing ice bucket challenge

Models doing ice bucket challenge

At this moment, marketers around the world are trying to replicate what has happened with the ALS ice-bucket challenge. See the ALS Association website (news) if you’ve somehow missed this unplanned viral campaign that’s exploding from celebrities and your community.

First some context. Few knew until now, but ALS stands for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, which is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It was brought to attention by major league baseball player Lou Gerhig (whose name is synonymous with the disease). I’m happy for ALS because it’s getting the awareness and discussion otherwise reserved for breast cancer.

The ice-bucket challenge isn’t new, but the ALS angle seems to originate as follows: a golf trainer challenged a Sarasota NY professional golfer, Chris Kennedy, to dump a bucket of ice water on his head AND choose a charity to support. In mid-July he took the offer, and chose the ALS because his wife’s cousin has it.

So how did it go viral?

Based on my experience as a “Viral Video Genius,” I’ll now outline seven of the reasons this ALS cold-water challenge has caught fire. Let me confess that while I’m thrilled for ALS awareness, I’m also burnt out on the ice-bucket challenge. I kinda throw up in my mouth when I hear “I nominate…” soon followed by a giggling scream. But please feel free to enjoy the blooper reel: ALS ice-bucket fail compilation video I created. It’s been seen about 75,000 times.

I’ve also provided some examples below to underscore my theories, which are, of course, highly credible since I’m a viral author. So now you’ll sound very sophisticated when you analyze the ice-bucket campaign at work, home and with friends.

  1. als, viral, challenge, secret, why, how

    Why did the ALS ice-bucket, cold water challenge go viral? Easy, timebound, personalized, exponential and charitable.

    It’s one-to-one and exponential. Each person names 3 people they know, so if just half (1.5) of those people respond, it spreads extremely quickly. “Tagging” a person in a video has worked before. Remember naked vlog tag from 2008

  2. Let's just hope that other charitable efforts don't reuse the "ice bucket" like they did with Livestrong bracelets

    Let’s just hope that other charitable efforts don’t reuse the “ice bucket” like they did with Livestrong bracelets

    It’s charitable not commercial. Of course it doesn’t matter what charity has benefited, because it’s unlikely that the majority of this was motivated by a personal connection to ALS. Charitable efforts go viral because they appeal to our generosity (and our desire for recognition of said generosity). Think about the explosive impact of the Hank and John Green (Vlogbrothers) Project for Awesome. If it was breast cancer, we’d have seen this go further. Of course it can’t work for another charity now. Find something new, folks. Don’t pull a “Livestrong Rip” on this.

  3. It’s time bound. The “24 hour” plea is a vital ingredient. That forces the recipient to act or not act. And guilt prevents the latter. These things need to be fast to work, and we know quickly if it’s a success. Think Kony 2012 (Feb 2012 through April 2012), which lasted about 3 months and was forgotten.
  4. Participation is formulaic. People like to join these types of games if the assignment is easy. That’s why the Harlem Shake took off… it was a very short, simple formula that almost anyone could replicate. Do you remember the Chicken Soup dance? Same idea.
  5. It’s easy. With the proliferation of video-enabled smart phones, no editing is required. That factor isn’t exclusive to this challenge, but certainly enables participation by the unwashed masses (instead of elite web or online-video junkies). It’s like a video meme we can all join.
  6. It’s a visceral, visual stunt. Same idea as Gangnam Style, but you don’t need skills.
  7. We like modest pain. It shows our courage and discipline. Remember the cinnamon challenge? I did a “double dog dare” with eating worms, but it unsurprisingly didn’t catch fire. We seem to have a strange fascination especially with getting iced. But most don’t have the conviction to do the “polar bear plunge.” Although frankly, I’d do the plunge to end this campaign.

There is actually an eighth reason that has something to do with wet t-shirts, but I’m not going to count that one.

Native advertising is crap

How Native Advertising is Tricking You

Native advertising is crap

Native advertising is crap

I started my career as a journalist. Warren Rogers, my editor and a well-known Washington D.C reporter, created a literal wall between the Georgetown Courier’s editorial department and the advertising team… it was wooden and about 4 feet tall. He taught me the importance of not having editorial pander to the needs of advertising. No lofty reviews of restaurants that took full-page ads out in our newspaper.

Sure the newspaper folded in about 6 months. And sure I now work in advertising. I still have a pet peeve about “native advertising,” which is basically advertisements that masquerade as content. You’ve seen them:

  • An apparent news story on a website that’s actually an ad for some diet product
  • A section of a magazine that, on closer inspection, is actually “advertorial” content (sponsored)
  • A tweet or Facebook post that’s paid content even though it’s designed to look like a post from a friend

We need to know when a commercial interest is impacting our news or entertainment. And it’s not often obvious. I don’t like search-engine results that are ads pretending to be organic. I don’t like product placement without credit/transparency. And I don’t like hitting a news website expecting to read an article, but it’s a poorly veiled attempt to pitch some crap.

Ads can do their job even when we know they’re ads. But news and entertainment cannot do their jobs when we have to worry about whether they’re ads or not.

So I took some pleasure in John Oliver (Last Week Tonight) absolutely ripping “native advertising” a second asshole. Enjoy…

David Spade as Jeff Foxworthy: You Just May Be the Ebola Virus

david spade jeff foxworthy

“You just might be the Ebola virus”

As the Ebola virus takes the national-news stage, I thought it was time to revisit and old classic. David Spade on Saturday Night Live impersonating Jeff Foxworthy’s “You May Just Be a Redneck.” The bit, prompted by Outcast’s debut, appeared on SNL’s Weekend Update with Norm McDonald. I wish I could find the actual video…

“You Just May Be the Ebola Virus.”

Norm MacDonald (source):

The #2 movie this week, “Outbreak,” continues to make news. It’s the story of a virus that gets out of control, causing death and widespread panic. It’s based on the true story of the Ebola Virus. Because most viewers don’t exactly understand what the Ebola Virus is, we’ve asked comedian Jeff Foxworthy, author of “You May Be A Redneck,” to help explain it. Jeff? 

Jeff Foxworthy (David Spade): Thank yew, Norm! Thank yew! Okay!

  • If yer a small bacterial virus that travels through the air or blood, and kills 9 out of 10 people infected within 24 hours of contact – then yew may be.. the Ebola Virus. 
  • If, on yer W2 tax form, yew list as yer primary residence, the bloodstream of an African Zuzu monkey – by that fact alone, yew could be ID’ed as the Ebola Virus. 
  • If the only time people can relax around yew, is when they’re wearing a Biosafety Level 4 Hazardous Ebola Virus-proof spacesuit – then yew’ve nominated yerself as a potential candidate to be elected the Ebola Virus. 
  • If yer a Playboy centerfold and list as yer turn-ons: making people vomit uncontrollably and bleed out of their eyes and anus – then all arrows point to yew.. being the E. 
  • If yew walk into a room, and everyone sez, “Oh, no! It’s the Ebola Virus!” Then, perchance, there’s a blah blah! 
  • If your driver's license photo looks like this, you just may be the Ebola virus.

    If your driver’s license photo looks like this, you just may be the Ebola virus.

    If yer driver’s license photo looks like this.. [ holds up cartoon drawing of the Ebola Virus ] ..there’s a bleep-blop E Virus. 

  • If yew find yerself feelin’ jealous because the AIDS Virus gets more press than yew – then, maybe the Ebola Virus. 

If people see yew and run! 

Rob Cantor’s “Perfect” Song Was Hoax: 29 Impressions Weren’t Him

Celebrity Impression SongRob Cantor’s video of his original “Perfect” song went viral in the past 10 days, racking up more than 7 million views. My family probably watched it 20 times, marveling at the impressions — from Randy Newman and Jack Black to Adam Sandler. The most amazing parts were his “impressions” of female singers like Gwen Stefani, Cher, Britney Spears and Billie Holliday.

Cantor appears to nail the impressions even of folks we haven’t likely hear sing — like Christopher Walken, Ray Romano and Steve Buscemi.

But as his “behind the scenes” video revealed, he had some help from some accomplished male and female impressionists.

The full voiceover cast is below, and includes Piotr Michael from “The Impression Guys.” And the cast from “The Impressions Guys” had their own response: a very funny deprecating parody where the voices are clearly dubbed. Check out the “Impression Guys” if you haven’t seen it, and season two starts soon.

I’m usually pretty good about detecting fakes, but I convinced myself it was real based on some nice tricks:

  • The lip synching was near flawless
  • Cantor’s facial expressions reinforced the  impersonations
  • Cantor continued looking at his phone, as if he needed help recalling the next impression (of course the vocals had been prerecorded by pros).
  • The video seemed informal and low-budget — a bit out of focus and compressed, and lighting was good but not “perfect”
  • Small details helped, including a squeaky chair and some alterations of the audio to give it an amateur echoed sound

Did you fall for it? I did!

CAST (in alphabetical order):
BROCK BAKER: Jack Black, Kermit the Frog, Smeagol / Gollum, Peter Griffin, Adam Sandler, Patrick Warburton, Jon Lovitz
GILBERT GAUTHIER: Frank Sinatra
AMANDA GARI: Cher, Flipper
REAGAN JAMES: Gwen Stefani
BORA KARACA: Whistle
ANDREW LAURICH: Christopher Walken
ANDY McCLOUD: Bono
PIOTR MICHAEL: Christopher Lloyd, Steve Buscemi, Gilbert Gottfried, Ray Romano, Ian McKellan, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Dylan
MISSY MODELL: Shakira
MARK SIPKA: Randy Newman, Louis Armstrong, Willie Nelson, Billie Holiday
GABE STEINER: Trumpet
MELISSA VILLASEÑOR: Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Bjork

 

24 hours of Happy stole her video

Did Pharrell Williams Plagiarize Happy Video?

Did Pharrell Williams Happy music video plagiarize Anne Marsen‘s dancing video as seen on Vimeo in 2011?

Happy is almost a shot-for-shot reproduction of this dancer's 2011 video "Girl Walk All Day"

Happy is almost a shot-for-shot reproduction of this dancer’s 2011 video “Girl Walk All Day”

 

In this video, the dancer shows how Happy was almost a shot-by-shot reproduction of Marsen’s 2011 video titled “Girl Walk // All Day.” Her video showing the theft is titled “Pharrell Likes My Work.” But it’s so close, it seems like she has a decent case for copyright infringement. Or at least warrants a public apology or acknowledgement by Pharrell and Yoann Lemoine, the creative director of Happy’s music video.

Pharrell Loves My Work from Anne Marsen on Vimeo.

 

 

YouTubers Get Love from Yahoo, Google and Disney

Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.

Yahoo, Disney and Google are proving that being popular on YouTube matters.

It’s a good time to be a YouTuber… or at least own a popular YouTube channel. We’re seeing the online-video landscape mature, and start to resemble how networks and studios connect. The networks (Disney, Yahoo, YouTube) are working with studios (online-video studios and some individual partners/channels) in some interesting ways….

What’s interesting about these big moves is how markedly different this is from the past behavior of these companies.

  • We saw Disney making some early bets with its own home-grown online-video content. Remember Stage 9?
  • Yahoo contacted me and other YouTubers around 2008 to discuss potential revenue-sharing deals. They were considering exclusivity at the time, and that’s a deal breaker for YouTubers that won’t give up their primary audience.
  • And Google? It hasn’t even marketed itself well, much less its partners. And who would ever imagined the tech-engineering company would advertise YouTube partners on TV, print or outdoor? They’re doing it, but you know it pains them.

So what’s all this mean?

  • These events don’t impact your typical YouTuber, but the winners of the Yahoo/Google efforts will be the YouTube creators with large audience and studio representation by one of the online-video networks. That’s because Yahoo and Google will have to deal with the complexities of Discovery to get to Revision3 content, and Disney to get to Maker channels/creators.
  • But watch for partnerships between Yahoo and smaller studios like Fullscreen, BigFrame and Collective. 
  • And what about Google’s efforts to promote YouTubers beyond the YouTube regulars? I would expect to see “the rich get richer,” because it’s most likely to promote the proven content with top views. So like a marathon’s second half, we’ll see an increasing distance between the leaders and the rest.
  • There will surely be some more attempts to lock creators and studios to “exclusive” arrangements, although Yahoo won’t get anywhere requiring that of popular YouTubers. But it makes sense. TV shows don’t get to broadcast on every channel. The networks pick the shows, and promote them to “their” audience. We’ll see that happening with top YouTube channels in coming months and years, which is why YouTube will have to work harder to cultivate relationships and keep stars/channels.

What’s your take? And where is the Global Online Video Association in all of this? How about a POV, Kontonis?

 

Online-Video Marketing