May 05

Krispy Kreme is pleased to announce we’ll be awarding special prizes to any runners suffering strokes or heart attacks during today’s run

Polls_KrispyKremeCake2_1755_385816_answer_3_xlargeThere’s gross. There’s negligent. There’s just plain stupid. And, then there’s the Norcross High  School Relay for Life.

Intended to raise money for charity (which is always a good, wise and noble thing), this particular race is underwritten by Krispy Kreme doughnuts. And, if there’s one foodstuff that makes a Big Mac seem healthy in comparison, it has to be a Krispy Kreme doughnut. In fact, I have to believe the average KK doughnut packs more calories than an AK-47 does bullets. And, I can only imagine the immediate and profound damage inhaling one, if not six, of these caloric-laden mounds of mush must have on the cardiovascular system.

But, why should a runner’s health, nutrition and wellness concerns stop Norcross High School and Krispy Kreme from staging a race that requires competitors to eat a half dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts halfway through!  Are they serious? Never mind the long-term damage. Ever try running on a full stomach? It’s not fun. Ever see The Office episode in which Dwight and Michael conspire to ensure the latter wins the Dundler-Mifflin 5k race by having Michael load up on carbohydrates by consuming a plate of pasta just before race time? It wasn’t pretty.

Krispy Kreme’s race sponsorship deserves immediate enshrinement in the Repman Marketing Hall of Shame. It also belongs on Letterman’s Stupid Human Tricks segment (if such a segment existed).

On the other hand, if Krispy Kreme can sponsor runs, why can’t Lucky Strike cigarettes sponsor long-distance cycling races? And, how about Absolut Vodka awarding cash prizes to mountaineers who can consume a fifth of vodka en route to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro? The possibilities are endless.

So, how about it, Rep readers. Gimme some of your suggestions on corporate sponsorship ideas from hell. We did well with the recent soy industry re-positioning taglines. But, that was a walk in the park compared to this atrocity. So, let’s have at it. And, if possible, please consume six doughnuts before posting your ideas. Distended stomachs can produce a lot of hot air.

And  a big starter’s gun shoutout to Greg Schmalz for this post idea.

Apr 25

Dear Prudence

A recently published book entitled, The Longevity Project puts the lie to conventional wisdom  about the keys to a long and healthy life. Authors Howard S. Friedman and Leslie R. Martin, picked up on an original study that began in 1921 with 1,528 San Francisco 11-year-olds and analyzed what personality traits and lifestyle choices made some members of the original cohort far outlive their peers.

Happy-old-folksGuess what? Things such as optimism, happiness, a good marriage and the ability to handle stress didn’t rate very highly. Instead, the “…best childhood personality predictor of longevity was conscientiousness. The qualities of a prudent, persistent, well-organized person wins out every time.” And, that has to be very bad news for those of you who double and triple book meetings and/or maintain sloppy cubicles.

he exhaustive study also confirmed what I’d always read and believed: “Genes constitute about one-third of the factors leading to a long life. The other two-thirds have to do with lifestyle and chance.”

When one looks beneath the surface, it’s easy to see why prudence and persistence are so important to longevity say the authors. Conscientious people are more likely to live healthy lifestyles, to not smoke or drink to excess, wear seat belts and follow doctors’ orders. Prudent and persistent people also tend to find themselves in healthier, happier workplaces and personal relationships. They also understand the importance of stress. “There’s a misconception about stress,” says Dr., Friedman. “People think everyone should take it easy. Rather, he says, “a hard job that is also stressful, but which enables people to eventually succeed, leads to a longer life.” So much for retiring to Del Boca Vista and playing golf every day.

One finding really struck home with me. Optimism has a huge downside. “If you’re cheerful, very optimistic, especially in the face of illness and recovery, if you don’t consider the possibility that you might have setbacks, than those setbacks are harder to deal with.” says Dr. Martin. “If you’re one of those people who think everything’s fine–the stress of failure, because you haven’t been more careful, is harmful. You almost set yourself up for more problems.”

I may die tomorrow, but I have to say The longevity Project made me smile for a number of reasons. First, because by recognizing that I was working in a toxic environment in the mid-1990s, I walked away from it and, along with Ed, created a workplace I knew I’d enjoy. Second, and this sentence is aimed directly at our firm’s management committee, I have always considered myself a ‘realist’ when it comes to such things as new business presentations, employee issues, economic downturns or other fundamental challenges.  As a result, I never expect to win a big, new piece of business, retain an important employee who’s being wooed away by a competitor or change the mindset of a clique within Peppercom who take exception to a particular management decision. My peers call me a pessimist. Rather, I’m doing exactly what the authors suggest is a key ingredient to longevity: I’m not setting myself up for more problems by being overly optimistic.

Anyway, that’s my take on The Longevity Project. What’s yours? Sorry, but I’ve got to run. I have another 40 years to live.

Mar 17

Hey Mick! Ready to do four miles?

I start nearly every Saturday and Sunday with a five-mile run. Then, to prep for upcoming  climbs,   I don a 50-lb weighted vest and take my dog, Mick, for a four-mile walk.

If you think my fitness routine is excessive, think again. A new survey shows that dog walkers are much more active overall than people who don't have dogs.

Mick runningAccording to a Michigan State University study of 5,900 people (2,170 of whom were dog owners), pooch people had higher overall levels of both moderate and vigorous physical activity than the other subjects, and they were more likely to take part in other leisure-time physical activities as well. On average, dog walkers exercised about 30 minutes more a week than people who didn't have dogs.

There's no doubt in my mind that my 'value add' walk with Mick has only heightened my fitness levels. And, check this cat lovers, a different study showed that dog owners were 60 percent more likely to walk for leisure than people who owned cats (put that in your kitty litter and smoke it!).

All this positive pet news has sparked an idea. Why don't McDonald's and other purveyors of empty, calorie-laden fast food partner with local rescue shelters? That way, as soon as a Mickey D patron packs on, say, 1,200 unneeded calories, he or she can burn them off by taking a brisk walk with Fido. And, who knows, maybe man and canine will bond along the way and, voila, there will be one less homeless dog in the world. They could call the program McRescue. (This has Silver Anvil Award written all over it.)

But, enough free ideas for the empty calorie folks. Mick's giving me that look again. He knows his Saturday walk is just hours away. Soon enough, he and his master will be panting away.

Mar 07

Boy, you’re going to carry that weight a (short) time

Article-0-0D776455000005DC-938_468x392It came as no surprise to me that Blair River, the 29-year-old, 575-pound spokesman for the  Heart Attack Grill died last week of '…complications caused by pneumonia.'

I first blogged about the Heart Attack Grill www.HeartAttackGrill.com a few years back. At that time, I was simultaneously appalled and attracted by their bald-faced campaign.

I was appalled for all the obvious reasons: The Heart Attack Grill featured dishes such as the Triple Bypass Burger that were served up by waitresses dressed as scantily-clad nurses. They also had multiple stretchers and gurneys on hand and an ambulance waiting in the parking should any patron actually suffer a heart attack. And, The Heart Attack Grill promised free meals to any patron who weighed more than 300 pounds.

Disgusting, yes? But, but it's also as transparent and authentic a marketing campaign as I've ever seen. Unlike so many other organizations, the Heart Attack Grill didn't serve up a set of false promises in its marketing only to disappoint customers with the actual experience. On the contrary, The Heart Attack Grill is THE poster child for properly aligning its brand and marketing messages with what we communications types call the 'end user experience.'

While I may detest everything the Heart Attack Grill stands for, and lament the loss of their 29-year-old spokesman, I applaud their honesty. The branding folks at BP, Toyota and The Catholic Church could learn a thing or two about transparency from the Arizona eatery's diabolically direct messaging. It's as simple and stark as, well, a heart attack.

Tip o' RepMan's hat (and a large order of fries) to Jimmy Moock for suggesting this post topic.

Feb 03

Sorry kids. But, you can’t blame genes for those tight jeans

A just-released study conducted by the University of Michigan of some 1,000 sixth graders in Obese_boy the state showed proper diet, regular exercise and less television viewing had a dramatic effect on lessening childhood obesity. The study is among the first to prove that even if obesity is linked to one's genetics, it can be combated with a little common sense. In other words, obese kids and their parents will need to find other excuses to explain their bulging waistlines.

Michigan is faring poorly in its battle of the bulge. The state ranks 41st in the nation for highest childhood obesity rates, and a staggering 21 percent of Detroit's kids qualify as obese. That means one in five is likely to suffer weight-related health problems, placing a further strain on our nation's already beleaguered health care system.

U.S. childhood obesity also reinforces a global perspective that America is a lazy, bloated, self-centered superpower whose best days are past.

We still have time to change our wanton ways, though:

– First, we need to stop blaming obesity on genetics. Statements such as: “Why bother dieting and exercising when my DNA has already determined I'll be morbidly obese by the age of 21?” should be countered with the Michigan study facts.

– Second, the government needs to push our nation's public schools to do a better job of educating kids about the importance of exercise and diet.

– Third, parents need to step up to the plate (figuratively, not literally) and better manage their kids' lifestyles (two hours a day sitting in front of a television or computer screen is unacceptable).

– Last, and certainly not least, fast food makers need to stop marketing their mega-whopper, calorie-laden, artery-clogging meals in friendly, wholesome ways (replete with smiling clowns). I think the surgeon general should insist these bacchanalian feasts carry warning labels to the effect: 'This Happy Meal will make you and your body unhappy. It will add empty calories, help raise cholesterol levels and lead to a host of diseases, including diabetes.'

It pains me to see what's happening to our nation's youth. At least, they no longer have the genes/jeans excuse. I guess that's a step in the right direction. Now, kids, it's time to put down the Cheetos, turn off the tube and start getting the old ticker pumping away. You may be saving your own, and the nation's, health and well-being in the process.

Jan 03

A different type of New Year’s resolution

DSCN5007 'Tis the season for resolutions, so I figured I'd share mine.

Unlike many, I have no need to quit smoking, lose weight or tackle new physical challenges. Ice climbing, long distance cycling and stand-up comedy fill those ‘voids’ very nicely, thank you.

My resolution is more of an emotional one. I resolve not to let professional and personal setbacks upset me to the degree they have in the past.

If a significant client cuts us loose, so be it. If a close friend decides to cut me off, c'est la vie. And, if the Mets continue to cut a wide swath through the N.L. East's cellar, that'll be ok, too.

I won't these other pet peeves bother me either:

– The Lexus 'December to Remember' TV commercials. Is there ANYTHING more obnoxious?
– PR awards' programs that allow large agencies to submit countless entries and dominate each and every category.
– Endless NJ Transit train delays.
– New Jersey's horrible image. The real armpit of the tri-state area is Wrong Island.
– Sarah Palin's nonsensical, moronic statements.
– Politicians who refuse to work with one another to solve our nation's ills.
– PR Week's hagiographic cover profiles of chief communications officers (the only thing missing are the halos).
– The latest transgression by a Catholic priest.
– Yet another heating or air conditioning glitch from the fine folks at 470 Park Avenue South.
– Unsolicited e-mails from new business rainmakers, database management experts and a certain Mr. Brown from Nigeria who needs my banking information in order to transfer some $7 million into my account.

So, bring on the New Year and its challenges. I pledge not to overreact to disloyal clients and friends or rude and uncommunicative NJ Transit train conductors.

If I should find myself slipping though, I know I need only schedule a few days of ice or rock climbing with Art Mooney (www.mooneymountainguides.com). It's the single best cure for what ails me and the best way for me to assure I deliver on my 2011 resolutions.

So, how about you? What are your 2011 resolutions?

Dec 01

Instant Recess is gonna get you

Two completely different articles have reinforced something I already knew: the vast majority of 1190 Americans are in horrific physical condition.

The first piece was an Advertising Age article reporting that our nation's kids “…overwhelmingly chose McDonald's as their favorite fast-food restaurant (37 percent picked Mickey D's, 10 percent liked Subway and a mere eight percent opted for Burger King).”

McDonald's is so successful with kids, says one industry analyst, because of its Happy Meals. Eric Giandelone of Mintel says the calorie-laden meals make going to McDonald's “…fun for kids.” I'll bet the trips they make later in life to obesity clinics won't be as much fun.

McDonald's disturbing success with our nation's youth dovetailed neatly with an excellent Jane E. Brody column in a recent New York Times Health Section. In it, Brody profiles Dr. Toni Yancey, a professor of health services at UCLA, who says, “Being sedentary is the norm in America.”  Ninety-five percent of Americans, says Yancey, “…spend most of our waking time sitting, reclining or lying down.' Let me repeat that statistic: 95 percent of us do nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. A Happy Meal legacy, perhaps?

Dr. Yancey has a name for America's inertia. She calls it “sedentary behavior disorder.” I call it laziness.

She has a solution for SBD and has even written a book about it called “Instant Recess.” Unlike the recess we remember from grade school however, this newer, adult version consists of “two, 10-minute breaks of enjoyable community activity as part of people's everyday lives.” Yancey suggests brisk group walks wherever people gather: workplaces, day care centers, conferences, etc. She says instant recess beats structured exercise since most people “get tired when they exert themselves just a little bit, which of course discourages them from exercising.” I'd call that laziness as well.

I'm all for Dr. Toni Yancey's instant recess strategy. I just hope the group walks don't pass by a McDonald's. I can just see one of the members suggesting an instant recess from the instant recess.

Nov 30

The Hercules of Hackensack

Thomas Jefferson was wrong when he wrote, “All men are created equal.” They aren't. Some can Article-1241060-07C9E3B1000005DC-34_634x382 jump higher. Others can run faster. And, some simply don't feel the cold like mere mortals.

I was struck by the inequality among my fellow man at the New Jersey Transit train station the other day. While huddled inside a makeshift windbreak waiting for 'Old Unreliable', I spied a few fellow commuters strolling along the platform sans topcoats. I was appalled. The temperature was 24 degrees and the wind chill had to be in the teens. Yet, these machismo types padded along the platform as if it were a pleasant Spring day.

Women don't do this. They feel the cold like most men. So, how come there's a certain class of guys who disdain warmth? It has to go beyond mere testosterone. And, it has to be more than mere narcissism. These deep-freeze defying denizens of December MUST have other reasons for encouraging a cold blast of arctic air to shoot up their pant legs. Could it be:

– A missing brain synapse that doesn't registers sensitivity to heat or cold?
– A desperate need to attract attention (“Hey, check me out! Am I the Hercules of Hackensack? The Samson of South Amboy? The Paul Bunyan of New Brunswick? Man, am I rugged, or what?”).
– A weather version of the Dennis Kozlowski/Jeff Skilling/Elliot Spitzer attitude that says: “Hey, normal rules simply don't apply to me.”

Whatever the motivation of the sans topcoat troupe, I think it's an ill-advised, if subliminal, image move. Not only do these guys repel me, I think their Summer in Winter wardrobe merely reinforces society's perception of men as bumbling Neanderthals.

In fact, I'm surprised Hollywood screenwriters and TV commercial producers haven't seized on this obvious folly to once again remind viewers that men are the inferior gender.

Oct 20

The ‘Other’ Big C

I'm in the midst of flipping through Jon Stewart's laugh out loud coffee table book, Earth. It's   TMCQuentinMeaseCroppedRGB written for aliens who have stumbled across planet earth long after we humans have annihilated ourselves. In it, Stewart provides his P.O.V. on the who, what, when, where, why and how humanity got itself into the mess that is life in the year 2010.

As is the case with all of Stewart's humor, the text is decidedly tongue-in-cheek. One section, entitled ‘The Phases of Man’ is both hilarious and insightful.

The middle-age section naturally hit home with me. It features a photograph of a portly, balding middle-aged guy rocking a Hawaiian shirt, mandals, a couple of tats and an earring. Various arrows point to the man's anatomy and contain captions such as this one about his visible chest hair, “Men of a certain age were eager to show the world not all of their hairlines were receding.” Another arrow pointing to the man's sagging chest reads, “Decreased metabolism manifested itself in the form of love handles, spare tires, saddle bags, walrus knees, beluga back and manteats.”

Stewart describes middle age as the period of time between 45 and 60 (Phew! I still qualify). He then goes on to say that middle age varied greatly due to changing life expectancies. “For instance,” he writes, “victims of midlife crisis during the Dark Ages would comfort themselves with the thought that 20 is the new 16.”

Tuesday's New York Times Science section neatly complemented Stewart's wisdom on middle age with an in-depth analysis of how and why centenarians make it to 100 years of age and beyond. There are now 96,548 humans 100 years of age, or older (there were only 38,300 in 1990). That's enough oldsters to fill the Rose Bowl! Of course, they'd fall asleep before halftime, but still…

According to the article, which cites findings of a New England Centenarian Study at Boston University, there's a direct link between longevity and people who are extroverts, have a healthy dose of self-esteem and strong ties to family and community (note: two out of three ain't bad). It also reports on a University of Pittsburgh study that followed 97,000 women for eight years and said those 'deemed optimistic' were significantly less likely to die from heart disease than were pessimistic women, which the study described as “cynically hostile.” (Note: I've had more than one cynically hostile client over the years). Pessimists were also more likely to be overweight, smoke cigarettes and avoid exercise.

Here's the kicker, though. A Swedish study of identical twins separated at birth and reared apart concluded that only about 20 to 30 percent of longevity is genetically determined. That's huge. That means we can play a major role in determining how long we live and whether we can make it to the 'other’ Big C.

My game plan to reach 100 is two-fold:

– Challenge my body with intense physical exercise such as this past weekend's rock climbing in New Hampshire  , the Tour de Pink charity ride and other seemingly nonsensical middle-age pursuits.
– Challenge my mind with daily blogs, bi-monthly podcasts, performing stand-up comedy and trying to devise new service offerings for Peppercom. I find battling with Ed also keeps my mind fresh. I may die before this blog is even posted, but I've got a ‘Big C Plan’ that I'm implementing. What about you? Are you thinking of making it to the other Big C? If so, share your game plan. Lifelong learning is another key ingredient in the lives of centenarians portrayed in the Times article. And, I'm all ears (minus the eDSCN4689arring, of course).IMAG0066 (2)

Oct 04

Tour de Pink II: The Sequel

Peppercommers Matt Purdue, Trish Taylor and this blogger joined 200 other cyclists this past IMAG0066 weekend to battle flooded roads, steep hills and aching muscles to successfully complete the 230-mile Tour de Pink charity fundraising ride.

Click here to see a video of Matt being interviewed by FoxNews at the end of the ride in New York City.

Tour de Pink 2009 was an amazing experience for me- some of my readers may recall my "post ride" post from last year. This year was even more extraordinary

Created six years ago by Matt and a few other pioneering souls, the Tour's goal is to raise awareness of and monetary support for the Young Survival Coalition. This is an amazing group that, unlike Susan G. Komen and other high profile breast cancer charities, has had to depend on Matt and his circle of friends to make a difference. And, what a difference they've made. In just six years, Matt & Co. have elevated the tour from an initial event that raised just $30,000 to this year's Woodstock-like experience that has already put some $550,000 in the YSC coffers. The event’s lead sponsor, The Hershey Company (cultivated by Matt and his committee), also donated $300,000 and sent nearly 40 riders to the tour.

But, the event is about much more than the much-needed moola. It's an emotional, physical, mental and spiritual roller coaster that pushes riders to the max. In many ways, it reminds me of the demands of climbing Kilimanjaro, Elbrus or other 14,000-plus foot peaks. Cyclists, like climbers, bond immediately. We push each other through the pain. We urge each other to go just one more mile, or stagger in to just one more rest stop.

There's no hype, no false pretense and, above all, no mind games. When a rider says she has your back, she means it. When one rider falls (and, unfortunately, three cyclists suffered broken collar bones the first day), we all stop to provide whatever support we can.

You won't find that type of individual riding Matt Purdue's Tour de Pink. Many of Matt's riders begin the three days as complete strangers and end up BFFs. The exact same things holds true for climbing.

So, before ending, I wanted to send a few shoutouts:

– To all my friends, family and co-workers who contributed money. Thank you.
– To the Tour de Pink support staff who had PBJ sandwiches, bananas and Advil waiting at every rest stop.
– To the three riders who broke their collar bones on day one, but traveled with the group for the rest of the tour.
– To my most excellent assistant, Dandy Stevenson, who handled all of my personal logistics so that I could concentrate on the matter at hand
– To Matt Purdue, who lost his partner, Randi, to breast cancer this past February. This one was for you, Matt.

Although I've exceeded my $3,000 fundraising goal, I can accept donations on my fundraising page through December 31st. And, to further help Matt and YSC, we'll once again be hosting a charity comedy event this coming Saturday night, October 9th, at 8pm at the New York Comedy Club. I promise that, too, will be a special experience.

So, if the spirit so moves you, help Matt, Trish and me raise the awareness of the Young Survivors Coalition. And, if you think your legs, beck, back and lower extremities can take it, join us for next year's Tour de Pink. I've done it twice now and cannot wait for a threepeat.

If you do decide to join us, I guarantee it'll be one of the best experiences of your life.