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BlackBerry. You know, for kids!

January 26, 2010. Posted by johnf

I’m a gigantic fan of the NFL and my Sundays are spent in front of the television, seldom moving and never changing the channel for fear of missing a big play.

This year, you couldn’t watch 10 minutes of football without seeing a BlackBerry commercial, and in case you’re not a football fan, I’ll describe them: imagine a substandard cover of The Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” accompanying a video of young people trying, failing, and then overcoming a creative obstacle.

There’s one version that features two Asian women trying to make it as fashion designers; another has a group of young white men trying to find success as a band; and another that focuses on a woman trying to learn to break dance.

Yes, the videos tell a detailed, tight story. But the music – and the message – is wrong.


Think about it. If you’re trying to reach 20 somethings, how many of them know the Beatles and their body of work? And if they do know what the song is really about, don’t you think their Irony Meters would be going off like howler monkeys in the jungle?

It’s obvious BlackBerry wants to sell their phones to consumes who make up the younger market. These millenials are already carrying iPhones or other smart phones that don’t have the suit and tie image linked directly to BlackBerry.

Gaining market share means growth – but trying to change your brand can cause irreparable damage.

It’s not like The Beatles ever decided they could make movies. Oh, wait. . .

Dealing With Difficult People, Beatings, & Tropical Heat

January 18, 2010. Posted by johnf

The Bridge on the River Kwai lands squarely in the FrizzeraInk Top 5 World War II Movies. Patton occupies the first spot – talk about a motivator.

I recently watched Bridge and was amazed by the dedication of the Japanese, the stiff upper lip of the Brits and the “go to hell” attitude of the Americans. Stereotypical? Maybe.

Every time I watch this movie, I feel bad for Colonel Saito, the Japanese leader. Consider this: he’s got his superiors breathing down his neck, a timetable to complete, and not enough labor, supplies or food to get the job done.

If he pushes his labor, they break down from sickness and death. If he goes too easy, the job doesn’t get done. Alec Guinness’s’ character has a similar challenge. He’s been raised to get the job done, but what do you do when your boss has the personality of an angry asp and is packing heat? His solution represents a classic example of getting the job done, but for all of the wrong reasons.

Watch the movie and take note of Alec Guinness’s’ character. He struggles with his beliefs, his responsibilities to his men, and the job at hand. As the movie progresses he learns how best to deal with Saito, and balance those dealings with his conscience. Meanwhile, he continues to manage his managers and inspire his men to work under conditions that are hellish, at best.

The end of the movie is a classic commentary on the three cultures: the Japanese have suffered and bled for their emperor, never questioning, only doing. The British keep their collective stiff upper lip, and complete the task – only to realize too late what they’ve done. Finally, the Americans blow it all to hell because they are all about RESULTS.

You probably will never be asked to build a bridge in a sweltering jungle for your sworn enemy, but chances are you might one day have to work on a team with people you can’t stand. When it happens, queue up The Bridge on the River Kwaii to the number one slot in your Netflix account. You’ll be inspired by the story, amazed at the acting, and you might even pick up a tip about how to get the most out of your workers.

One thing I do guarantee: you’ll never get that whistling song out of your head. (For the trivia minded, it’s called “The Colonel Bogey March.”

Why You Must Continue to Rock

January 6, 2010. Posted by johnf

Anvil: The Story of Anvil is a documentary about a Canadian heavy metal band that has been working towards the goal of making it big – for more than 25 years.

Called by many famous acts – Metallica, Slayer, Motorhead, etc. – as the harbingers of metal, Anvil didn’t catch on the way other giants in the music industry did.

But no one ever told them that.

The original members are lead singer Steve “Lips” Kudlow and drummer Robb Reiner. Friends since the age of 14, the two work desperately to ignore the fact that time is running out. Their quest for one more shot at success is riveting, and brutal, to watch.

Kudlow and Reiner serve as perfect sounding boards to each other – the lead singer is passionate, emotional and given to outbursts that only divas can stage properly. Reiner’s cool, calculated stoner personality hides the frenetic drummer below the surface – and believe me, this guy can hammer the skins.

Even if heavy metal doesn’t do it for you, this documentary shows what a lot of hard work, and looking at the glass as eternally half full, can accomplish. Even if you’re 50 and still looking for your first big break.

Getting a Marketing Message Rejected – From a 5 Year Old

January 4, 2010. Posted by johnf

The other night as we drove home from a holiday party, my son looked through the car window and asked me, “Why is the moon following me?”

I flexed my imagination and explained that he had “Lunar Power,” which caused the moon to follow him at night. This was a rare power and he should be happy that he had it. “Not bad,” I thought to myself as my wife laughed to herself.

He was quiet for a moment and then said, “Dad, that doesn’t sound right at all.”


What went wrong?

For starters, I under estimated my audience, the child is sharp for his age (and that’s not a proud papa talking.) Science is one of his favorite subjects, along with football.

Maybe the message was too unbelievable. Remember the adage: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Marketing messages, like any other idea, need to be polished – when they’re created under duress, you rarely find success.

Think about this example and you can probably develop a few more reasons.

I realize that telling stories to a 5 year old is vastly different from creating a marketing message and a campaign – but practice never hurt anyone.

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