Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Reality TV, Social Media and the Big Crunch

By Aaron Whitaker, MZD Sr. Copywriter

The other day while driving to work, I was thinking about the recent buzz around Twitter and the “social media boom” and the popularity of reality TV shows like American Idol and Survivor and how it’s all related and how it’s nothing new in this world.
Is this “history repeating itself” or “the big bang theory”? Will this be the “new bubble burst” or “the big crunch”? Since the dawn of time, man has conversed. We’ve talked with each other in the streets, in the market, at the coliseum before the lions killed the gladiators, in the coffee shops, and the front porches. Humans have always been social animals. We have always crowded into cities to live on top of each other. We, for the most part, have feared isolation and silence.

But over the past century, something happened called “technology”.
Technology in the form of automobiles allowed people to move further away from each other. Then radio and TV took the role of neighbors and friends as people stayed home listening and watching fictional shows, their eyes glued to light-emitting tubes of glorious wonderment. Technology, while not exactly a bad thing, has been very bad for the social side of human existence. We have slowly become more isolated from each other and with the dawn of the internet in the 90’s, we became even more isolated. And then the Big Crunch came to an end. The Big Crunch is the idea that space eventually stops expanding and reverses and collapses, ultimately leading to another Big Bang. So if we think of technology as the beginning of the Big Crunch of socialization. Slowly over the pat century we have become even more isolated from each other and talked less to each other until that one fateful day we became so isolated from each other that we all blew up.

The Big Bang happened.

And it happened in the form of Reality TV and social media. Reality TV allowed us to become a part of other people’s lives. We rooted for reality TV stars, we voted for them and these reality TV stars became part of our household and part of our dinner table conversation. They started the ball rolling. But for the most part, TV is a one way conversation which is why social media was created. Around the same time that Survivor started the Reality TV Big Bang (yes, there have been other Reality TV shows before then, but Survivor was the beginning of the now boom in Reality TV); Friendster started the Social Media Big Bang or boom. And then came Myspace, American Idol, Facebook, Top Chef, Twitter, Rock of Love and about a hundred more shows and social media tools.

We are now in the first phases of the Big Bang of socialization. Every day, there are news ways to talk and converse with other people. We have gone beyond the idea of talking with neighbors, friends and family; we are now talking with complete strangers and people around the world. We can tell and share with the world anything and everything. Some of us are at the point where we are sharing too much (seriously, I don’t care if you just went to the grocery store to pick up milk). And one day, maybe soon, maybe hundreds even thousands of years later, we will slowly reverse back and experience a new Big Crunch of socialization.
Whether it’s history repeating itself, the cyclical nature of the universe, the big bang/big crunch theory or some other theory or idea, it’s definitely an interesting point in time we are all facing and experiencing right now. Technology has been turned on its side and has now connected the world in one conversation.

Where do we go from here? What will cause the next Big Crunch? Will it be technology, war, disease, natural disasters or will it be Google going down for more than just three hours? (I thought I’d never survive the Google Fail of May 14, 2009.)

Who knows, who disagrees, who cares, who wants to talk about it?

Friday, May 15, 2009

Papa John's, Tony Dungy and The Giant Check

May 12 - On behalf of Papa John's, MZD Advertising presents former Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Tony Dungy with a check for $15,000 for the Carson Scholars Fund. The fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity founded in 1994, by Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeon, Dr. Benjamin Carson and his wife, Candy, to recognize and reward students in grades 4-11 who strive for academic excellence (3.75 GPA or higher) and demonstrate a strong commitment to their community.

Last Fall, pizza lovers were invited to try the Colts Special, a large, two-topping pizza with breadsticks for $15.99. A portion of the proceeds from all 55 Central Indiana Papa John’s stores were donated to the Carson Scholars Fund through the promotion.

The MZD Papa John’s marketing and PR teams, joined Dungy at the Indiana Farm Bureau Football Center for the press conference, where MZD CEO and Papa John’s Franchisee Allan Zukerman presented Dungy with a ceremonial “giant check".

Rich Lunseth, MZD creative director, was also on hand to present Dungy with a unique “thank you” gift from the Papa John’s crew: a Colts Special pizza box with a digital picture frame containing still shots and video from the television commercial starring Coach Dungy.

Coach Dungy repeatedly expressed how important the Carson Scholars Fund is to him, which is apparent, as this commercial with MZD is only the second he has ever done in his career.

Since retiring from coaching, Dungy has been involved with numerous ministries including All Pro Dads and Abe Brown Ministries, a prison outreach. Following up on the success of the biographical “Quiet Strength,” which reached No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, Dungy released “Uncommon” in January.

Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, Papa John’s International, Inc. (NASDAQ: PIZZA) is the world’s third-largest pizza company. For nine years running, consumers have rated Papa John’s No.1 in customer satisfaction among all national pizza chains in the highly regarded American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). Papa John’s also ranks first among pizza companies in the 2008 Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, was honored by restaurants & Institutions Magazine (R&I) with the 2008 Silver Award for Consumers’ Choice in Chains in the pizza segment, and was named 2007 Pizza Today Chain of the Year. For more information about the company or the order pizza online, visit Papa John’s at

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Gist of Social Media or "Don’t Make a Mountain out of a Molehill"

by Aaron Whitaker
MZD Senior Copywriter

The front porch, the fence, the coffee shop, the local bar, the water cooler.

These are all places where we go to converse with other people. To share stories, to tell jokes, to talk business, to make friends.

Twitter, Facebook, Friendfeed, blogs, Digg, Linkedin.

These are all places where we go to converse with other people. To share stories, to tell jokes, to talk business, to make friends. These places are the online coffee shop, the online water cooler, the online bar. This is what social media is.

This is social media.

Social media gives you a great opportunity to get out there online and talk with (not talk to) thousands of people as a friend and fellow human being first and as a business, product and/or brand second.

People trust those they know. Those they like.

Tell jokes, reply to questions, share something funny that happened on the way to work; the more you converse, the more the people will get to know you and hopefully like you as a friend and as their future sheriff.

The other side of the coin.

People will talk bad about you, false accusations will be written about you. People will praise you. They’ll spread the love, they’ll spread the hate. People will talk about your competition. The key is to know about it as it happens and respond accordingly. The key is to listen. This is social monitoring.

Listen first, talk second.

Social monitoring is probably the most important part of any social marketing effort. The idea is to listen to what is being said about you and your competition and be able to take action. Whether it is a comment on a blog, a Twitter post, a remark on Facebook, a video, or a picture; you need to have the right listening tools to respond in an efficient and timely manner.

Get out there and talk.

That’s the gist of social media and social monitoring. It’s a big, complex world that changing every day, but the core, fundamental idea of it all is talking, conversing and listening. So get out there and talk with your fellow human as they get to know you, your company and/or your brand better.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Did You Know?

Since 2003, the number of American users FREQUENTING online video destinations has increased 339%.

In the past year, time spent on social networking sites has surged 73%.

In February 2009, social network usage exceeded Web-based e-mail usage for the first time ever.

(Source: The Center for Media Research,