Billy Mays vs. Shamwow

So you know your advertising is effective if your 4 year old child gets it. I can't tell you how many times my 4 year old, Madeline, has told me that if you want to get a stain out, you have to use OxiClean. No joke. The kid is constantly asking me if I bought OxiClean (btw, they advertise during Spongebob--what a way to eat at a parent. Not only do I have to listen to this stuff when I watch TV, but now I have it coming at me from my kid).

So, if you've seen the OxiClean commercial, you're familiar with Billy Mays. The guy with the bad haircut and impossibly neat beard screaming at you to "GET YOUR STAINS OUT WITH OXICLEAN!!! Spilled wine is NO PROBLEM!!!" Billy Mays hocks several products on TV (his wikipedia entry states: "His high-energy approach to pitching an array of products has gained Mays a substantial amount of recognition." Yeah huh.) But one of the newer products he's out there selling is Zorbeez, the "MOST AMAZING MATERIAL I'VE EVER USED!!!"

However, if you're up and up on your super absorbent microfiber cloths, than you may be aware that Zorbeez has a competitor: Shamwow (God, I wish I could make stuff like this up!). BUT, Shamwow does not have Billy Mays--Shamwow has some cheesy guy--Vince--in a headset. The commercials are so eerily similar, Mattio though Shamwow was a spoof commercial; actually, he said he kept waiting for the Geico logo to come up at the end.

Quite frankly, I didn't think the world was big enough for 2 super absorbent products--but who knew? Oh, and if you're wondering... Zorbeez looks like the better deal.



I had a potential new client call me up the last week, and, as I do right after (or before, if they leave me a message) I speak with a potential new client (PNC), I checked out their web presence. A lot of PNCs don't have anything (hence the phone call to me), but some do, and are looking to upgrade/update what they have.

Now, on a lot of sites I design, my clients, as a courtesy to me, allow me a small link at the bottom advertising that I indeed designed that site. This is not uncommon. I'm a sucker for these links--I'm always curious to see what the competition is.

So this particular PNC had a website, and there was one of those "designed by" links at the bottom. I click, and--oh, eew. I'm taken to this run of the mill, website "factory." I say factory, because the designs, well, they look like they came out of one. And when I checked out their pricing page (oh come on, you would too), it seems they charge for every. little. thing.

Sure, smaller sites start cheap. But guess what? Custom graphics cost extra (and sorry, but this really confused me. Why would custom graphics--such as oh, I don't know, a menu bar--cost extra??! When you "design" a site, don't you kind of create those when you're designing?). Need some animation? Sure, that'll cost you too--and 1 hour's minimum, by the way (which is a little obscene. What kind of animators do they have there that can do their work in under an hour?).

So you're really not getting the great price you thought you were. At the end of the day, you may be way over what you had budgeted. And then what? Cut the custom graphics? Why, so your site could look like every other bad site this place has designed?

Sneaky sneaky, bad web design factory. Sneaky, sneaky.


Random Tuesday

So last week I finished up a little collaboration with ImageMark--we worked together on a site called AtmosAir. It was a quick project, about 15 days to design and develop a small site. Which, as pressing as it was, I loved; there was not time for idling, no time to change one's mind for the umpteenth time... this site HAD to be up by last week, and we made it work.

Don't get me wrong, I don't not love projects that go on for a while... this was just a refreshing (quick) change of pace.

Oh, one more thing... would somebody, anybody, please, please please go to Gibbs College? I don't care what you major in--just go. Their ads seem to be taking over the TV...


Hello, Lovah

Not because I need it, but because it's pretty freakin' cool. The smaller screen size is a bit impractical for me--but hello? It's pretty awesome.

Also on the "OMG-I-have-to-have-this" list: Time Capsule (automatic backup for all your macs!). Oh, and I ain't foolin around with gigs--I'll take the 1 terabyte version, thankyouverymuch.


Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens...

I love magazines like Real Simple, Martha Stewart and Blueprint: they give me such inspiration (and only inspiration, never much follow through) to be a little more organized. Not that I'm completely disorganized--don't forget one of my new year's resolutions was to get more organized--but I always aim to aspire to their organizational levels (of course, Martha doesn't have 3 kids running around her house--which is probably why it looks the way it does).

This month, in Real Simple, they devote most the issue to products that don't disappoint: 218 of the "smartest, most useful products for home, fashion, cooking, beauty [and] health" (to quote the cover line). But in the editor's letter, the editor goes on to describe her list of "people and things that don't ever disappoint." It's really inspiring, so much so that I've come up with a list of my own (in no particular order):

--My KitchenAid mixer: Cookie dough, mashed potatoes, you name it: if it needs to be mixed, I gladly lug this heavyweight out of the pantry. It is my favorite kitchen appliance, and it always, always does me well.

--My leopard-print boots: They are my smart, sexy, go-with-anything boots, and I always get complimented on them.

--My husband: He's attentive, caring, and a great sounding board to bounce ideas off of. While I don't always listen to it, I value his opinion. We're very opposite, but the kind of opposite that compliments each other, which I think is what makes our relationship so great.

--My PowerBook: This baby is 3 years old, and (knock wood) I've never had a problem. Every project that I've worked on has come from this computer, and it will be a sad, sad day when I have to replace it (which hopefully won't be for a very long time!)

--Bliss Plum Plum Body Butter: This is the world's best lotion. And it's discontinued (the scent, anyway). I tried for months and months to find another lotion that smelled just as good, with no luck whatsoever. And then, lo and behold, I found some Plum Plum at a Saks outlet in Clinton. I bought every tube they had, and I hope by the day I use the last tube, Bliss will come to their senses and reintroduce it.

--Antonia's Flowers perfume: The best. perfume. ever. My friend turned me on to it years ago; and while I've bought and used other perfumes, I always come back to this one. It's classic.

That's just my partial list... I could go on and on and on. I encourage you all to come up with some sort of list of your own... it makes you feel good, and appreciate the items on your list that much more.


I love this ad

(for American Express) because there are many, many days where I feel like this. Oh, and I totally heart Tina Fey (not in a girl-crush way, but because she's actually really funny).



For those who know me, know that I worship at the altar of kate spade. Handbags, shoes, sunglasses... it's quite an addiction (a rather expensive one, if you ask Mattio). So I consider myself very familiar with the kate spade symbol, as they refer to it, the noel mark:

As a designer, I actually love it--the pattern; well, and the purse. It's an awesome graphic pattern that--right off the bat--one wouldn't associate with the preppy chic that is kate spade; however, I think it's so complimentary to that brand. And, hello? It's kate spade.

So today, I'm at the gym, flipping through Blueprint magazine, when I came across an article on snowboarding. And in true Martha Stewart fashion, the article goes on to coordinate an outfit for a day on the slopes. And in coordinating that outfit, they also pick out a snowboard. This snowboard, as a matter of fact:

So, of course, my first thought is, "OMG! kate spade makes snowboards (of course Martha Stewart would uncover that)!" But then I take a closer look at the pattern. Wait a minute... that's not the classic noel mark... that's a knockoff!

Check it out, the 2 patterns are awfully similar. The slight difference in the K (kate's is more rounded) and the fact that only the K's repeat in the K2 pattern are what separates the two.

Actually, it looks like it could be a kate spode--that's what Mattio and I refer to as a kate spade knockoff. Hmmm... I might just have to head on down to Chinatown to investigate :)


The vicious circle

There is SO MUCH I want to do lately... now it's just a matter of trying to fit it all in! I really have to update my website--I think my portfolio page could function better--and I really want to make an effort to update the home page more often (which was my intent when I redesigned the site!). I also have an awesome idea for marketing myself--which is going to take some time to put together. And then--oh yeah--there's actual, paying work. Which, in order to get more, I need to market myself and drive people to my website, where they can see recent work. But I don't have a ton of time, because of the actual, paying work. What a vicious, vicious circle.


And we're off!

In my somewhat limited reading today (consisting of a small handful of blogs and the Arts section of the Times--and I haven't yet made it to the puzzle), I came across this gem of a book: Taking Things Seriously: 75 Objects with Unexpected Significance. The premise of the book can be found here, but to sum it up, it basically takes a look at 75 objects, tacky as they may be, "that hadn't been over-designed and focus-grouped to death."

I am so putting this on my reading list--as a matter of fact, I may just have to go out and get it tomorrow. Mattio has a glass clown that falls into this category--it's pretty ugly, and has been on his desk since I have known him. We tried putting it in Madeline's room, but she was scared of it, so back onto Mattio's desk it went. I'm not sure what the significance of it is, but there's got to be something there for him to hang on to it for so long. We also have a Dwight Schrutte bobblehead, it's standing right next to the clown. I love Dwight; Mattio gave it to me as an early birthday gift last year, when I was really bumming.

Also, I think all of our TV room furniture falls into this category :)