Category Archives: Spin Williams

Love Storm, Revisited

This morning at 9am, my good friend Mike Pengra will re-air the final broadcast of MPR’s Morning Show on Radio Heartland, recorded 6 years ago today.

Such a kind gesture from a true gentleman!

Since it’s only good manners to bring a gift of some sort to a party, I’ll offer this – a post from the old “Trail Balloon” blog that immediately followed the event itself:

Our final Morning Show broadcast was an immense hug and a truly beautiful thing thanks to the waves of faithful listeners who flowed to and through the Fitzgerald Theater and St. Paul’s Central Presbyterian Church. The size of the crowd went well beyond our expectations (I wagered 1500) and their warmth was off the charts.

As a lifelong radio guy, I am naturally timid at the thought of facing a live audience, but this group was as comfort-inducing as any collection of 2000 souls can be. What’s the opposite of an unruly mob? A ruly mob, I guess. That’s what we had.

All the heartfelt words of praise for our Morning Show were oh so welcome, but after awhile I did begin to feel a bit guilty. Let’s face it, everybody works hard and the stress of day-to-day living takes a toll. Who wouldn’t get a boost from having a gaggle of admiring people asking for your autograph? I confess I enjoyed it tremendously, but I recognize that most people deserve a kind word and a pat on the back for the good things they do every day, and do they get it? You know the answer. Sorry Jim Ed and I hogged the love storm, but what could we do? It blew down the doors.

The Morning Show is done. It was a long-running and sometimes confounding radio gymnastics routine with plenty of twists and flourishes and it looked like we would come crashing down a couple of times, but our spotters were there for us and gravity gave us some lucky breaks, and the dismount was incredible.

When have you finished well?

DNA – Y = UH OH

For a long time we have had plenty of strong health-related arguments to support the idea that smoking is hazardous, but some people persist in lighting up regardless.

Now comes a new bit of information for men that might convince even hardcore smokers that there is a price to pay in lighting up – the loss (in men) of the Y chromosome.

So what, you ask? Women don’t have a Y chromosome and they get along just fine with their two X’s.

Indeed they do, but that’s the point, since women tend to live longer than men. Guys, these researchers think smoking away your “Y” may leave you exposed to cancer.

Which, in a weird way, is good news if you remember the following Trail Baboon post from almost exactly a year ago. It’s one of the most popular articles on this site, and it still resonates, especially now that men’s disparaged “Y” seems to finally have some value.

The post comes from marketing whiz Spin Williams, a wheeler-dealer who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

I’m not at liberty to say who made the offer, but  we heard from a very well-known genes manufacturer who was shopping around the famous Y chromosome for a possible takeover.

x_and_y_chromosomes

Naturally, we considered it. The Y is a well known brand name in the chromosome industry, making up a significant portion of all the chromosomes out there. It comes in second only to the X chromosome, which is the runaway market leader. In fact, the X is so reliable and effective, it has a 100% market penetration. Some people love the X chromosome so much, they have two! But there is a foothold – around half the population has at least one X and a Y. It was a bit disappointing to us to learn that very few people have two Y chromosomes, and we noted that as a possible marketing goal, should we decide to do the deal.

Doing our due diligence, we discovered that the Y was for sale because its maker has come to the realization that the chromosome is almost worthless, having been shown through scientific studies to contribute very little to any sense of individual well-being or overall usefulness. Most organizations considering a takeover would have walked away at this point, but my experience has shown me that marketing is more powerful than science. As proof, I offer the fact the we still have a tobacco industry! The value of any particular thing is in the eye of the beholder, and there is solid survey information to indicate that most Y chromosome users love and defend it simply because they already have one, and not because of any inherent benefits it may bring to the table.

And there’s a sizable portion of the chromosome-consuming public that doesn’t understand the product and doesn’t know which brand it prefers.

So in spite of the Y chromosome being inferior, we felt certain we could develop a marketing plan that would boost brand loyalty and make the Y seem more fresh and hip than it does today. Whether we would get to a point where X-only consumers might actually feel some envy for those with a Y was hotly debated at the meeting, with one side expressing certainty that such envy was impractical and impossible, and the other group adamant that Y envy pretty much drives all decision making by X’s. It turns out one of the side effects of having a Y is an outsized enthusiasm for the supposed benefits of Y-ness that X’ers don’t generally seem to share.

Similarly, it was the Y-friendly crowd that was all Gung-ho for immediately pulling the trigger on this deal and sorting out the consequences later. The double-X’s in the room were feeling less impulsive, constantly asking ‘How do we monetize this?’, ‘Where’s the benefit?’ and other fun-stifling questions like that.

Because there was no getting around this fundamental conflict, we walked away from the deal. First, though, we made a surprise bid for the X chromosome, thinking a seller in the mood to divest one of His low-performing properties might take the bait on an unexpected left-field offer for the most popular genetic product in the world.

That was a non-starter, but we all had a good laugh over it.

What is your most prized genetic trait?

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Finger Business

Today’s post comes from marketing genius Spin Williams, who is always engaged in The Meeting That Never Ends.

At The Meeting That Never Ends last night we all looked at a photo that’s all over Twitter – a middle aged woman is standing next to a young man. The two of them are gesturing towards each other in that jokey way people do when they want the picture to be about the fact that they are in the same frame with THIS person.

We all thought it was charming, but the ensuing kerfuffle over Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, KSTP-TV, and #Pointergate raises an important question about your fingers.

Who owns pointing?

KSTP and some folks connected with the Minneapolis Police Department would have us believe that when you raise your thumb and direct your index finger at the person standing on the side of your body opposite that  hand, you are pledging allegiance to a group of selfish, scared, violent bullies who have taken over complete cultural control of that gesture.

No, not a media corporation. A neighborhood gang!

What got us excited was the potential of it all. What if a Minneapolis gang DOES own cross-body pointing? That would be an awesome marketing opportunity! And what about all the other gestures and multiple ways of arranging body parts? There would be a sudden “hand rush” to buy up all the possibilities. Why would anyone go to the trouble of dealing drugs and murdering if they could sue people instead over the way they arrange their fingers?

We asked our staff lawyer, Britta Mandamus, to look into it. She focused on her phone for 30 seconds and then came back with this conclusion – “You can’t trademark a hand gesture. The Internet says ‘No’.

That settled, we calmed down and moved on to other business but a minute later Britta interrupted to say “The Internet is contradicting itself – maybe you can.”

That got our juices flowing again! Immediately we started talking about taking steps to gain control of gestures and postures like that “thumbs up” and “peace”, along with that fingers-spinning-around-the-ears “crazy” signal everybody loves, and my personal favorite, arms akimbo.

We even talked about how much finger business we’d have to do before we could file a copyright infringement suit against The Pointer Sisters and the Poynter Institute.

But in the middle of that hopeful conversation Britta dashed our dreams with the news that you have to turn your gesture into a printed logo before you can protect it.

In other words, the photo that got us all excited at the marketing possibilities of hand gestures would have to be put on an “I’m with Stupid” t-shirt before we could make any money.

If you had seen our slumped postures, downcast eyes and frowny expressions in that moment, you would have wished you could trademark all of them, for they spoke volumes.

Sadly, not every day brings a victory.

Yours in Marketing,
Spin

What gesture is your trademark?

Do The Locomotion

Today’s post comes from marketing wizard and dealmaker Spin Williams, who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

Because we’re interested in collecting piles of money, we’re always on the lookout for the next big weight loss fad!

Telling other people how to drop pounds off their frame is one of the great growth industries of our time, which is both true and ironic!

And there are thousands of ways to (supposedly) do it. You can use mechanical devices or take pills or buy a CD or watch a show or adopt a diet with ready-made food in carefully measured helpings.

Fortunes have been won with each of these.

But at The Meeting That Never Ends, we took on what I think is the most difficult weight loss / marketing challenge out there – figuring out how to make money off of simple walking. Because if you don’t sell high-end shoes (and we don’t), there isn’t a lot of equipment needed to go out for a stroll.

At first we thought we’d buy a company that sells electronic step-counters. This works especially well on people who have  bought in to the idea that taking 10,000 steps a day is all you need to do to become thin and sexy.

The problem is there’s very little sexy-time left in your schedule when you have to walk 10,000 steps a day, especially if you’ve spent all that time counting quietly in your head. Sex requires a lot of imagination and the fanciful part of your brain takes a bit of a holiday when you have to count up to 10,000.

But that’s where the step-counting devices come in!

And the sky’s the limit on price point – because people will pay a lot for a thing if they think it will dramatically improve their chances of getting lucky.

We were all set to go but then a bunch of killjoy researchers came along and said 10,000 steps is too much and you can get the same effect with only 6,000 steps. Suddenly our Pricey Love Pedometers were looking less necessary! And then some other prudish lab rats weighed in with the idea that walking won’t help you lose weight at all. All it does is improve your strength, mobility, mood, sleep and overall health.

But what good is that if there’s nothing to sell as part of the bargain?

Fortunately, a lightning bolt struck and I think we’ve stumbled on the next big exercise fad! It happened when I read this article about prehistoric kangaroos. It turns out ancient kangaroos walked around on two legs pretty much like we do. They were big, and the bigger they got, the less hopping they did until they got so huge they had to give up hopping completely!

So in the kangaroo world, walking is what biggies do and hopping is for little cuties. See?

But hopping is complicated. That’s why we’re just about to go to market with wearable kangaroo tails that will provide a counter-weight and balance for body-conscious people who are going to start jumping their way to work, or to the store, or just around the neighborhood for recreation!

Look for it. It’s going to happen! We think getting smaller through hopping is going to be huge.

Again, ironic.

Yours in marketing,
Spin

What makes you jump?

Gilt By Association

Today’s post comes from marketing genius and idea man Spin Williams, who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

Somebody asked me the other day why it’s so hard to solve the problem of poverty, and the thought that came to mind immediately was this – “There’s no money in it.”

And isn’t that obvious? I mean, if we could find a way for people who already have a lot of money to make a profit out of ending poverty, it would be gone overnight!

I brought this brainstorm up to my colleagues at The Meeting That Never Ends, and everyone agreed it would be pretty great if we could get even richer by un-poorifying chronically impoverished people. Unfortunately, we couldn’t think of a way to do it that didn’t involve us just handing them bundles of cash, which would make us feel like chumps and cut into our profit margins pretty severely.

Then somebody brought up this article from the New York Times that talks about the benefits of early intervention in child rearing. Apparently “everybody knows” this is the right thing to do.

The writer, Nicholas Kristof, had an interesting suggestion -

We wish more donors would endow not just professorships but also the jobs of nurses who visit at-risk parents; we wish tycoons would seek naming opportunities not only at concert halls and museum wings but also in nursery schools.

That last one really caught fire at The Meeting.

The idea seems to be that helping young children thrive would be a great PR move for rich people, a notion we would endorse if tycoons wanted great publicity. But I know my tycoons, and when it comes to slapping their name on things, it’s not publicity they’re after, it’s immortality! So the nursery schools they named would have to be stadium-sized, or as tall as skyscrapers.

Then we thought – what if we could match up some black-hearted corporations that really NEED a little shimmer of do-gooder gold on their surface with the people who empower very young children?

So we Googled two lists – one of creative preschool names and another that named U.S. Defense Contractors, and  started to mix and match.  Suddenly the puzzle pieces fell into place! Look for some of these great new institutions to pop up soon!

  • Alliant Techsystems Journey School
  • Halliburton Baby Stars
  • Cradle to Ceradyne
  • Just For Kids Pinnacle Armor Preschool
  • Peter Pan Man Tech Early Learning Center
  • Navistar R Kids
  • Concurrent Technologies Country Day School
  • Raytheon Pumpkin Patch
  • Hybricon Toddler House
  • First Steps General Dynamics Whee!

I love the sound of it.

Not only do these institutions come off as  incredibly advanced, they’ll look great on that first line of your resume. Assuming you want to blow things up for a living!

See? Marketing solves problems!

Your pal,
Spin

What’s the most impressive school on your resume?

Head Slap Moment

Today’s post comes from idea man and dealmaker Spin Williams, who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

I’m really excited to be alive today and grateful that I’ve never had a concussion!

I work primarily with my brain and my mouth. If either one becomes damaged or disabled, even for a little while, I’m out of business for sure. It’s a good thing I’ve managed to stay healthy, and an even better thing that people in corporate meetings who want to have the attention of the whole group typically don’t run at the person who’s talking, grab at the microphone with their fingernails and with pounding biceps and flailing elbows do everything in their power to claw away the PowerPoint clicker.

But of course for N.F.L. players that scenario describes what is simply another day on the job. And sometimes they pay the price for it with terribly jangled brains.

At The Meeting That Never Ends, we found these new concussion statistics appalling – and we responded by immediately doubling our bets on last Sunday’s games because it all suddenly became crystal clear what is about to happen. The key signs are there and it all adds up.

  1. The cost of providing the product is outpacing the ability of customers to pay for it.
  2. Yet fans are showing an inexplicable appreciation of on and off-field mayhem and an unshakeable loyalty to certain nicknames and color schemes.
  3. Technology is quickly developing new capabilities lead us to wonder why it’s necessary to use human labor at all.

That’s why we believe the day is drawing near when all N.F.L. games will be played by robots!

Don’t believe me? It took 10 seconds to find this compelling bit of evidence on You Tube.

Once there is a robot model that can run, jump, throw, catch, spit, swear, and pat the behinds of the other robots on the sidelines, people will be completely removed from the equation and the machines will be sent in to battle it out. In fact, we predict the N.F.L. will dress the robots in throwback gear and old-style helmets, just to humanize them a bit.

Thats why our group just bought a leather hat manufacturer!

The Coming Thing
The Coming Thing

Now we realize that some fans will resist this advance, arguing that the physiological and mental differences between individuals is what keeps the game interesting. But don’t you worry – in the world we envision, each mechanized player will still have a human operator on the sideline, or in a Star Box or someplace where we can watch them push buttons and twiddle joysticks to control their alter ego out on the field.

That way we’re convinced the N.F.L. will be able to maintain professional football’s reputation as a game played by human jackasses!

In my business, you win by figuring out how things will change just a little bit before everyone else gets it.   In this case, we at The Meeting That Never Ends were so sure we called this one correctly, we sent our mechanized avatars out on the town to have a drunken celebration!

A few of them did get arrested, but what a party!

Your foresighted fanboy,
Spin

When have you correctly predicted the future?

Windmill Tattoo

Today’s post comes from marketing wiz and idea generator Spin Williams, who is always at The Meeting That Never Ends.

Today is a great day to be alive!

Why? Innovation and technology!

I’m constantly amazed at the exciting new technical possibilities that just keep on emerging in a never-ending stream of inspiration – like sweat pouring from the brow of a long-distance runner.

No, literally!

There’s a new bit of research out there that demonstrates how to generate a small amount of electric current from the lactate in the sweat of people who are exercising strenuously.

This caused quite a bit of excitement at The Meeting That Never Ends, because we’re always looking to capitalize on the next big thing, and also we sit around a lot.

But that would change pretty quickly if technology created systems and techniques that could turn every person on the planet into a bio-battery. The researchers used special enzyme imprinted on a temporary tattoo to create a reaction that delivers the charge. The amount of electricity produced is very small right now, but wait a few years.

I mean literally – don’t do anything right now!

Save your strength for later, when it will pay. Imagine it – your sweat could provide the fuel to run your phone, or your watch. Or, you could sell your current to the electric utility by plugging your tattoo into a socket.

Amazing!

And here’s the best part – there is a kind of lazy man’s justice in the way this works. The more out of shape you are, the more electricity your exercise creates! That means there will be lots of efficiency-enthralled guys like me who will be doing the same numeric calculation in the name of trying to stay just broken down enough to be a top producer of juice. Young people – figure this into your future.

The day is coming when your armpits will do the very same work as nuclear reactors!

I love the future. If I could patent the whole thing, I would!

Your energetic optimist,
Spin

To become a bio-power plant, you’ll have to get a tattoo.
What does yours look like?