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Honoring the Fallen

In the United States, a traditional honor available to veterans, police officers and firefighters who have passed, is to have the flag draped over the casket at their memorial or funeral services ceremoniously folded and presented to their next of kin.

When the US Military honors those who have fallen in the line of duty, the US flag draped over the casket is folded twelve times by six honor guards, three on each side of the casket.

As the flag is folded, the red and white stripes are wrapped into the blue, symbolizing how day folds into night. The blue portion of the flag symbolizes honor, and leaving the stars visible on the folded flag represents the 50 states our veterans served. This particular Funeral Held For Vietnam War Veteran Killed In Hurricane Sandycustom of special folding is reserved for the United States Flag.

After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it is reminiscent of a tri-cornered hat, which serves to remind Americans of the colonial soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and Marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones.

An honor guard from one of the United States Armed Forces presents the flag to the fallen service member’s next of kin or designated family member. The person presenting the flag kneels in front of his or her chair to present the folded flag, with the straight edge facing the recipient. The presenter then recites:

On behalf of the President of the United States, the United States (Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force or Coast Guard), and a grateful nation, please accept this flag as a symbol of our appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.

12906261454531448249615The family receiving the flag will often display it in a place of honor in their home, representing the service of their family member who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

We at Gemini honor those that have fallen in service to our country. We thank them and their families for their sacrifice.

The spin doctor will see you now

Miriam Webster defines a spin doctor as a person (such as a political aide) whose job involves trying to control the way something (such as an important event) is described to the public in order to influence what people think about it. Considering the number of spin doctors that currently preside on both sides of the political isle – who knows what to believe?

kscn3545_hiI recently read an article about the one year anniversary of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and I then checked a few other sources to compare statistics, claims and facts. According to one source, the taxes on marijuana that Colorado made in one year was 76 million, another source had it at 40 million and still another, a meager 30 million. Any way you grow it, that’s a lot of weed … but how can these writers obtain such divergent statistics? Is anyone fact checking anymore? Or is this an example of selective spin in spite of the facts.

After Rolling Stone published an article on a campus fraternity gang rape that literally tore up families at the University of Virginia and enraged a lot of women, it was discovered that this event never even happened. The publisher was forced to officially retract the piece and apologize to its readers. My question – how do we as readers differentiate between spin doctors and journalists? What is the truth and how do we recognize it? It used to be that news stations and newspapers investigated, fact checked, then reported and/or published the news. Now it seems that stations or publishers have their own political and economic agendas and they report (and I use the term loosely) whatever they like – spinning information to heights that support those agendas. So now what?

After the events in Ferguson, Missouri last summer there were apparently questionable reports that the media ran which resulted not only in race riots, heavy damage to small businesses and angry residents, but a countrywide racism debate that grew pretty heated. Then, when the trial of Michael Brown actually happened and the truth was reported, it was nothing like the media reports. I imagine we can thank those in the Al Sharpton camp for inflammatory speech that swept up angry young people and their families along the way. So what is the answer?

For me – I shall pay attention to the spin surrounding all sides of an issue, especially during the season of political campaigning. Then, in gathering as much information as I can across the full spectrum of perspectives, I’ll decide the truth for myself. *rolls eyes*

Follow the leader: the strategy behind Influence Marketing

Tyson Christmas NuggetsTyson Foods had unprecedented sales of chicken nuggets by Christmas, selling out their stock completely in just a few weeks. This was not the result of a new print, online, or commercial campaign. Rather, it was because they decorated nuggets like Christmas cookies and shared the idea with key Mommy bloggers who then shared the images on their social networks. The decorated nuggets resulted in over eight million impressions on Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube – and surpassed the company’s goal by 70%!

It’s a whole new world, with brand new targets to identify — a world where encouraging key social influencers to share experiences across social media channels is an emerging path to marketing success.

Why did marketing to the Mommy bloggers, Tweeters and Facebookers lead to such a successful campaign? Because these people directly influence the buying decisions of their followers. They are the influencers. Once key influencers are identified for a specific market, they are who brands should be marketed to. Having key influencers tout a product or service is the best way to have a brand stand out in the vast sea of digital noise.

Statistics show that when email content is distributed to an audience of millions of people, the click-through rate is half of one percent. But content sent to the top 50 influencers in a market results in a click-through rate closer to 9.5 to 10 percent.

How is this possible? Because the influencers are passionate about sharing information within their social media circles. The influencers’ goals are to be relevant in their communities, not just one of the crowd. Once a marketer can identify the influencers and provide them with desired content, the influencer will respect and build a relationship with the provider. The result: he or she will share the content with the targeted community.

Building a relationship with key influencers in old fashioned terms can be key. Instead of e-blasts and direct mail campaigns, key influencers are being courted via event invitations, phone contact and personal emails. It’s a combination of new ideas meeting traditional relationship building. According to a recent report in Forbes magazine, “targeted influencer marketing in targeted niches drives 16 times more engagement than paid or owned media”.

No wonder top marketers and brands are utilizing this powerful new marketing method. Chicken nuggets, anyone?

Internet of Things

So have you heard about this -The Internet of Things (IoT)? Pretty remarkable stuff, I’d say, although certainly not unexpected. Let me explain.

IoTRight now it’s possible to unlock your house, turn on your heat and watch your nanny cam from your Smartphone … this use of remote technology is how IoT rolls. You know … running your “things” using the internet. So, at the next cocktail party you attend … casually drop the term and see who bites or who excuses themselves to grab a cosmo. The actual definition (i.e. what Sheldon from Big Bang Theory would say) is “the interconnection of uniquely identifiable computing devices within the existing internet infrastructure.” The simple story is we will be able to monitor, control and program a large number of devices from the palm of our hand.

Interestingly enough, the concept of a network of smart devices was discussed as early as 1982, with a modified Coke machine at Carnegie Mellon University becoming the first internet connected appliance, able to report its inventory and whether newly loaded drinks were cold. Who knew?

Fast forward to 2014 where the Internet of Things has evolved due to a convergence of multiple technologies, ranging from wireless communication to the Internet and from embedded systems  to micro-electromechanical systems  (MEMS). This means that the contributions of traditional fields of embedded systems, wireless sensor networks, automation (including home and building automation), and others all are enablers of the Internet of Things.

Some research estimates more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things (that would make it the Internet of Everything) by 2020!  As per a recent survey and study done by Pew Research Internet Project, a large majority of the technology experts and engaged Internet users who responded—83 percent—agreed with the notion that the Internet/Cloud of Things and embedded and wearable computing will have widespread effects by 2025. That’s means a whole lot of bandwith for a whole host of benefits. Think I’ll have a cosmo now.

Political jargon …


Ok … I’m guilty. I listen to political talk radio and television way too much. Hey, I’m practically having relationships with pundits and news anchors. And goodness knows I love a rousing debate. What I also find pretty interesting is what I call politispeak … the jargon of politics. Do any of these sound familiar?

“At the end of the day
Geez… everyone seems to know what will happen at the end of the day – the proverbial “wrap-up” phrase which I find to be hilarious. Know what actually happens at the end of my day? A really good cocktail.DemocraticLogo

“The fact of the matter”
Oh this is good. What fact are they referring to exactly? This expression often precedes a diatribe from one side or the other which covers talking points and serious partisan rhetoric about that darn matter. Maybe it’s just time filler… a breath catcher, if you will.

“Fundamentally flawed”
This is a big favorite since I love alliteration and this expression says “Your idea sucks” in such a polite way.

“The American People want”
Now there is a broad brush expression if I ever heard one, and it’s one that many people use. The fact of the matter is (sorry, I couldn’t resist but this is true) we are seriously divided as to what we want … and no one side can claim to know what The American People really want unless some bipartisan legislation has a 70-80% approval rate (I highly doubt it).

“The war on …”
Apparently we are always fighting a war on or about something … women, race, taxes, religion, drugs, 16 oz soft drinks. Pick your noun and head for the bunker as a war may very well be declared on it.

“With all due respect”
This one is very entertaining and generally precedes a real clear insult to the opposing side. After all,  one can hardly say “I’m going to be disrespectful to you and your ridiculous p.o.v. right now”, so one uses the disclaimer to sugar coat the diss. Then pow!     *rolls eyes*

Does this really mean one is about to be candid or honest?

“The folks”
Ah yes, we are often referred to as folks. Is this a warm and fuzzy colloquialism for the American people? Or is it referring to commoners? Because in my world “folks” means my parents. I’m just sayin’.

Let’s see. We had the auto bailout, the bank bailout and the Mac and Mae bailout. Since when did a term associated with doing (or not doing) jail time become synonymous with government lending paid for by the taxpayers?

“Too big to fail”
This is the ever famous theory which asserts that certain corporations, particularly financial institutions, are so large and so interconnected that their failure would be disastrous to the greater economic system, and they therefore must be supported by government when they face potential failure. Oy vey.

In my view, we are currently experiencing the most polarized political debate in decades, with rhetoric on both sides of the political aisle (ah…another interesting term) at an all time fever pitch. I can only hope things will calm down so the changes that this nation so desperately needs can actually get accomplished. As “the folks” used to say, actions speak louder than words.

(Laughs … instead of cries)

Are you really a Frank Perdue?

Many companies have attempted, but few have succeeded, in making their owner, CEO or founder the face of the brand.  Frank Perdue did manage to become the face of the brand in his family chicken business … but as the story goes, he also frank perduebelieved in the power of a talented advertising agency and did his diligence when he set out to hire one.  And with that, Frank’s relationship with Scali, McCabe, Sloves began.  As told in Esquire Magazine, Ed McCabe, the copywriter who eventually made Frank famous said, “You know, Frank, I’m not even sure I want your account any more because you’re such a pain in the ass.” Unperturbed, Frank agreed with McCabe and just went right on asking questions and making comments. In the end, the iconic platform line “It takes a tough man to make a tender chicken” was introduced. By appearing in more than 200 commercials beginning in the 1970s, Frank Perdue became the face, voice and name of the chicken industry. His TV appearances created remarkable name recognition for his company, Perdue Farms. Frank Perdue died in 2005 at age 84. That year, his company achieved over $2.5 billion in sales.

BRANDS-popupDave Thomas, The founder of Wendy’s was a regular in the hamburger chain’s commercials and appeared in over 800 TV spots from 1989 until his death in 2002. Alas, they were never to reach the popularity of the 1984 spot “Where’s the beef?”

Entrepreneurs and business leaders at all stages of their company’s successes have been tempted to put themselves in the spotlight but there are some considerations on such a choice. When Men’s Warehouse changed hands there was something missing in their advertising and that was the voice of George Zimmer, the founder, whose voice was deeply connected with the brand for 25 years. “You’re going to like the way you look, I guarantee it” was not a campaign they would be able to use again without that signature voice.

Other successful CEOs and founders have been able to make this formula work, among them,  Orville Redenbacher, Roger Riney, (Scott-Trade), Charles Schwab, Lee Iacocca and famously successful, Martha Stewart.

That being said, there are many more CEOs, owners and founders that do a poor job of becoming the face of their brands. I often see local advertising for medical procedures, dental offices, law and plastic surgery practices that feature the faces of the practitioners, and I’m not at all sure what they are going for.

Becoming the “face” of a brand can work IF you have the right fit, a strong agency, a sound strategy and a reason to believe.  Not every face is ready for prime time … just sayin’.