Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why NOT to Ditch Your Crappy Old Smart Phone

Like many people out there, I was pumped when I got my first flashy, sleek, touch-screen-having smartphone.  A Samsung Acclaim was my entry level purchase.  The "new phone" haze soon wore off as I realized this was a bulky, slow, laggy beast of a device.  The UI was so laggy, there were times I almost missed calls from not being able to swipe the answer button.  I pity the soul who would need to use this phone for an emergency call.  Imagine my glee when my cell phone carrier accidentaly put me in the system for a new phone 6 months early.

Rather than sell the old phone on ebay or craigslist, I put the battery vampire back in its little coffin-box where it could torture me no more. The only reason I let it lurk in storage was incase I took my shiny new phone for a swim, or accidently gave it a good cement bashing.  Usually the phone would sit there for a few years until I retired my current phone, then I'd throw it away.  This all changed a few weeks ago.

I was asked by my mother-in-law to fix up an old Dell.  She wanted a laptop for her new coffee shop to play Pandora.  After a few hours of messing with DSL, and trying to configure wireless drivers, I decided ressurecting the dinosaur of a laptop was just not worth the effort.  As I went to skip the song I was listening to on Pandora (on my shiny new phone), I was hit with a brilliant idea.  Why not let her use my the old Acclaim for a Pandora / Slacker Radio / Twitter device?  It has wifi capability, so no service plan needed!  I loaded up her account on the old phone.  The UI was even more slugishly painful to use now that I was used to my new phone.  After downloading Pandora, Slacker Radio, and Twitter, I was rocking away to "Alan Parsons Radio" in no time (take that Gotye).

Since I have two of these monsters (my wife had one too), I gave one to my mother-in-law, and decided to put the other to work for me.  Now I can listen to Pandora without being interupted by emails and phone calls, and  I don't use up bandwidth on my dataplan.  There also does not appear to be a "Yes I'm still listening." feature on the version of Pandora the old phone uses (bonus!). I could use the Roku, but then I'd have to go through my TV (I don't have a receiver.)

Here are some new devices your old phone can become:
-Awesome Internet Radio Device
-Good Roku Remote (Many free apps for this).
-Crappy Storage Device
-Crappy Camera (Transfering by bluetooth is nice though.)
-IPod Wannabe (Not as good, but it does the job.)

So, now I send you on a quest:
-Send me an email detailing your recycled uses for an old smart phone. (At least 1 pic needed.)
-I'll do a follow up post in 2 weeks with the best submissions!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead: The Most Genius Infomercial Ever Created

Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead: The Most Genius Infomercial Ever Created
By Andrew Glassman

A Brevielle Juicer
It's 3:30am, the late run of Die Hard has come to a conclusion, and John McClane comes out victor once again.  Next up on the schedule, "Paid Programming".  It's the crack-cocaine of late night television, the infomercial.  The testimonials are fake, the products are cheap, and when you wake up at noon the next day you wonder what you're doing with your life.  I was expecting more of the same when I flipped on 'Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead' from the Netfilx Documentary section (this section is a guilty pleasure of many). The premise of the film is to follow Joe Cross, a middle aged Australian, on a road trip across America. Along the way, he participates in a juice fast. He consumes no food, only naturally created juice for 60 days.  At the end, we see Joe 100 pounds lighter, and looking healthier than a vegan training for an Ironman. Oh by the way, he only uses a Breville juicer.  At the end of the flick, you feel motivated to be healthy, inspired, ready to make changes in your life... if only you knew where to start (Hint: You won't want to be jucing 3 meals a day by hand!).  You my friend, have just been mind ninja'd by Joe Cross, the producer, writer, and star of the most genius infomercial ever.  Let's break down how Joe and Breville have managed to sell you a juicer, without you even realizing you've just sat through a 76mim sales pitch.

1) Joe sells you on buying a juicer, by not ever pitching a juicer.  The main motive of a sales pitch is to get the target customer to think they have a need for the product. Joe does this not by pitching the product, but by showing how his health has improved over the time span of the movie.  By focusing on the juice, and not the juicer, you don't feel like Joe is anything but a genuine guy who wants to help you.  Joe's approach differs from normal infomercials such as a Bow Flex, or Gazelle Freestyle.  Those types of infomercials focus on the product, and throw in a few body builders who wouldn't be caught dead using them in their daily routine.  Showing someone’s genuine journey to success with the product ever-present in the background I think is a juicy recipe for success!

2) Another sneaky but effective tactic used is how Joe mentions the  "Reboot" plan a few times.  It is said in such a way that you aren't sure if he is referring to a process, or a product. Upon visiting the website ""  you see a large image linking you to "".  Visit the website and there is a large picture of Joe smiling and juicing away!  Also a large image with the text "Ready to start juicing? Get the Breville" is right there for easy clicking.  They even let you sign up to get free juice plans.  They sell juicers, and juicer accessories.  Using the "Reboot" terminology seemed to be a way for Joe to do some branding, without overtly stating Reboot was even a brand!

3) There are many shots in the movie of Joe juicing many assorted fruits and veggies.  At no point does he overtly tell you how he easy it is, but it is apparent that it is a breeze to juice anything.  There is no cheesy "It's as easy as 1,2,3!" to be found in this film. It is interesting how you never see him clean it.  I bought a juicer and it is a chore to clean, it’s messy, and takes up a lot of space.

3) There are also testimonials within the film, aside from Joe's main journey for health.  There is one where a trucker loses a massive amount of weight, probably a few hundred pounds.  You actually are rooting for the guy in the testimonial.  When he triumphs this really solidifies the idea in the audiences mind that a juice fast is some kind of miracle diet.  Meanwhile,  Joe’s brother does not follow the diet and has a heart attack.  While this is all real life, it makes you wonder if the heart attack could have been avoided if only he had started the juice fast.

So if I had to write an infomercial for a new product, here are the points I'd borrow from Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead
1) Don't pitch the product, pitch the story of how your product will help the customer.
2) Don't focus on the product. Again, sell the story, but make sure your product is ever present.  Make sure your product appears easy to use, and hide the messy parts.
3) Let people who will actually use your product sell it.  Don't hire paid actors, or use people who wouldn't use your product normally.  If you don't make the testimonials believable, viewers may think your product is fake, or a hoax.
4) Casually brand your product throughout the infomercial.  Don't make it obvious what you are doing.
5) IMPORTANT: Make it insanely easy to find your product online.  This is where you can start selling the actual product by its brand name that was casually used in the infomercial.

At its core, "Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead" is an infomercial with all the annoying parts stripped out and thrown up on a web site.  This is an amazing idea that few have executed this well.  The stories are so genuine and honest, yet it plays so well in directing viewers to channels to buy a Breville juicer or Reboot products.  Even if a person starts juicing and doesn't buy their products, they will point their friends to the film, and they may become a potential customer.  Bottom line is that “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” is the most genius and entertaining infomercial I’ve seen in a long time.  If "Paid Programming" learns anything from Joe I'll be in for some more long nights.