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EXCURSIONS IN LATERAL THINKING FROM

AMHERST, MASSACHUSETTS AND THE PIONEER VALLEY








Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: A Title of Uncommon Stickiness




The [just published] Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer sports a title that sets viscosity records in mental stickiness. It reminds us by example that titles are much more than accessories or afterthoughts. Would I have opened the book, Heroic Librarians Save the Day down Sub-Sahara Way? Probably not.  

A title—bad-ass or otherwise—contributes disproportionately to a book’s identity. And it wields added weight via the Primacy Effect, which skews the impact of messages positioned up front.
The above title succeeds on multiple fronts. Each of its components—i.e., bad-ass librarians; Timbuktu—evokes concrete images. And their juxtaposition is amusingly anomalous. You just might  open the book to find out why.

Preserving Culture


What’s more, the title’s got rhythm. Individually and in combination, its components aid and abet percussive, polyrhythmic cadences. On first and subsequent hearings, the title’s 11-syllable play-out seemed vaguely familiar. Then I remembered the Owl and the Pussycat:



The Bad-Ass            Librarians of                            Timbuktu

The     Owl               and the pussy cat                    went to sea

My only misgiving with all this is that in lending the title dominance on the book’s cover/dust jacket, the publisher has diminished clarity by deploying a stylized fancy-ass cursive (sse first graphic). By the way, the book is a gracefully written deep dive into Mali's beautiful literary and musical heritage—a culture (among others) that is at risk at the hands of bad-asses (not the librarians) who infuse their transcendent aims with testosterone poisoning.



Monday, April 18, 2016

Ambush Marketing on Twitter



A note to Twitter habitu├ęs: There’s a name for the practice where advertisers follow you on Twitter solely for marketing's sake. Known in the ad trade as Ambush Marketing, it is one of many tactics in the creative repertoire of Guerrilla Marketing.

Avoiding sponsorship and other fees, ambush marketers position their own brands to ride the coattails of events and other brands (including the “brand” that is you) while imparting their own self-interested messages. A Wikipedia entry on the subject identifies predatory, coattail, values-based, insurgent, parallel property, unintentional, and saturation ambushes. There’s also ambush marketing by degree, association, distraction, and trademark/likeness infringement.

Multinational sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup earn big bucks from “official” advertising licensing fees. They also spend big bucks in policing “unofficial” advertisers who attempt to ride the “official” event’s coattails.

Here’s an iconic example of ambush marketing at its most memorable:  The Quebec-based home improvement chain Rona advertised its paint recycling services by positioning its own banner seamlessly beneath a billboard for the iPod Nano.



On Twitter, my own blog--Wig & Pen--has attracted followers who earn a living selling wigs. I have given them all permanent haircuts, but have resurrected two of them (reluctantly) for this article:


The takeaway: good grooming can work wonders for hair and in curating unloved followers.

Inspiration from the Life Sciences

Symbiotic biological relationships can shed light on the motives and machinations of overly self-serving followers. By and large, my own tango with followers exemplifies mutualism, where both they and I benefit (and follow each other). The rest--most of whom I block--involve parasitism or commensalism. Downsizing parasites needs no explanation, but I allow a few others   of the commensal persuasion like GourmetItalian.com to remain followers. The benefit flows one-way (toward them), but they do no harm via invidious products, services, or causes.

They are the white egrets to my muskox.

 Commensal or Mutualist? Only their hairdresser knows for sure.