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The Ever Evolving Shark Week Brand

If you like sharks, television, or social media buzz, odds are you watched at least a little bit of Discovery Channel’s 27th annual Shark Week. 2014’s ocean outing was hosted by Rob Lowe and ran from August 10th to August 16th, drawing 42 million viewers over the week. While that’s a remarkable number for a week of shark-based programming, it’s actually down from 2013’s record setting 53.1 million viewers.

So how did such a simple idea erupt into a pop-culture phenomenon, earning shout outs from 30 Rock’s Tracy Jordan and Stephen Colbert? As far as nature-themed programming goes, Shark Week is certainly the most popular brand in and out of the ocean – 2014’s viewers dipped slightly, but there was a 110% increase over 2013’s social media buzz.

At the end of the day, it’s been clear for nearly 30 years that people love sharks.

Since its inception, Shark Week has been a tremendously successful piece of marketing. It made its debut in the summer of 1988, immediately doubling Discovery’s normal prime time ratings. And that’s with only 10 programs in the week-long lineup. The brand has only grown and evolved in the years since, solidifying its status as one of summer’s most popular events.

The idea for Shark Week was first scribbled on a cocktail napkin, filed away as a sensible bid to “[take] advantage of the August beach time.” Not only are sharks more likely to be on the minds of viewers during the waning summer months, but August entertainment is traditionally less competitive. This time of year is often referred to as the Dog Days of Summer, which makes staying home and binge-watching educational programs about Sharks a pleasant, even preferred way to spend your evenings.

Discovery’s marketing blitz found its footing over the first two years, building an audience while figuring out the next link in the evolutionary chain. After Shark Week maintained its strong ratings, Discovery began investing heavily in this new brand, creating unique content to feed the masses.

The bite Shark Week took out of the market only grew bigger as the years progressed, proving that attention and financing can make a big difference. Discovery Channel put their money into a new product that they not only believed in, but had already shown early signs of success. Shark Week has come under fire in the last few years, but Discovery’s dexterity should still be applauded.

Just like a shark must keep swimming in order to survive, Shark Week has remained a fluid brand that is constantly experimenting with new styles of programming. Shark Week’s earliest originals even helped shape the scientific perception of sharks. In 2001, Discovery used high speed Phantom cameras to capture footage of sharks breaching while they hunt. This footage was then compiled in a program titled Air Jaws. Other Shark Week programs have continued to provide new images and information about these mysterious creatures’ habits.

Shark Week has been trawling these familiar waters for over 25 years, netting millions of viewers with each return voyage. But the most recent sign of success has been in the social sphere, yet another new area of attack for Discovery: in 2013, Shark Week was crowned king of that year’s social sea “with 4.3 million @SharkWeek tweets, nearly 3.4 million discovery.com Shark Week video streams, and 21.8 million people discussing Shark Week via Facebook.”

So what allows for Shark Week’s continual success as a brand? For one thing, there’s the formula. When Brooke Runnette became Shark Week’s showrunner in 2010, she was given one crucial note: “Don’t mess it up.” In an interview with The Atlantic, Runnette explains that formula is the key to avoid any…messes. It’s helpful to note that the Shark Week formula is specific enough to keep this massive machine focussed on their product, but broad enough to allow flexibility and evolution – the same should be true for your brand.

“The shark is the star. Just keep showing that. Don’t give too much reason to worry. Make sure we stay outside, because it’s summertime, and everybody wants to see the colors and the light outside. You don’t want to be inside talking to people; if anything, you want to be outside talking to people. Just be in the water, with the shark; or be out on the boat, with the shark.”

It’s that easy. Viewers come for the sharks, so you’d better give them sharks. Earlier in her interview, Runnette explains the appeal of sharks and the Shark Week brand:

“The Earth is covered by water, and sharks are in almost every bit of that water. And yet, we know so little about them. Especially the great whites. When we do see them, we’re like, ‘You’re bigger than me, and more powerful. You’re the product of 450 million years of evolution, and you are, as sharks go, perfect. You win.”

And the Shark Week brand continues to win as well, driven steadily forward by its credible formula. Another integral part of Shark Week? Fun. Runnette and company have taken a successful brand to the next level by hearkening back to the bar conversation that inaugurated this holiday: “What would be the most fun?”

But Shark Week is increasingly less fun for the scientific community. In the brand’s attempt to stay fresh and preserve its popularity, Shark Week has eschewed scientific discovery for a more click-baity, pure entertainment approach. This represents a major change for the brand, and the biggest issue is that viewers were never made aware of the shift. After building their brand on scientific accuracy, viewers see Shark Week as the gospel truth, believing anything shown under the brand’s umbrella.

Which makes Discovery’s more exaggerated programs problematic for marine biologists and shark advocates. This trend began in 2013 with the Snuffy the Seal News Broadcast.

The short video ends with a very obvious Shark Week advertisement which states “It’s a bad week to be a seal.” Unfortunately, it’s also a bad week to be a gullible viewer. While Snuffy the Seal is more blatant in its identity as a marketing ploy, recent stunts are meant to seem entirely real.

Take this YouTube video from July 10, 2014, titled “Shark in LAKE ONTARIO!!”

The glimpse of the shark is quick and questionable, but the locals of Lake Ontario were genuinely worried. Christie Wilcox at Discover Magazine wrote a piece called “Fraud, Deception and Lies: How Discovery’s Shark Week Became the Greatest Show on Earth” in which she explores these clandestine attempts at marketing.

“On July 10th, a video began circulating showing a suspected bull shark stealing fish off a line in Lake Ontario. That video went viral (with over 500,000 views, and counting), spreading through the media and seeding fear throughout Ontario. The Natural Resources Minister, Bill Mauro, even urged citizens to be on the lookout. “They should report any sightings of this animal and then we can take whatever steps we think are necessary,” he said Wednesday. “If there is a shark in Lake Ontario we need to know about it.” But, it turns out, the whole thing was just a big publicity stunt by Discovery’s Shark Week.”

Discovery was forced to come clean, but some viewers are less than diligent in their critical approach to the video. As of late August, commenters on the YouTube page are still arguing that the shark is real, even with a large button on the video that says “See Extended Director’s Cut Version.” What viral video has a director’s cut? Especially one this jaunty and self-aware?

This follow up video is obviously a calculated rebuttal to outrage over the hoax, but it’s done in good spirit. Unfortunately, it’s sitting around 4,000 views while the initial video is well over 600,000.

Locals familiar with marine life were faced with terrified neighbors, despite their claims that the video was fake. Many more are adamant that it was unethical. From Christie Wilcox’ piece again:

“There’s no way around it: this video was posted with the intent to deceive,” says Janet Stemwedel, an ethicist and associate professor of philosophy at San Jose State University. “Discovery willfully deceived members of the public—members of its intended and actual audience—which is really hard to reconcile with its claim to be the #1 non-fiction media company. The lie itself, released into the world, damages trust.”

It’s impossible to say whether the outrage would have reached this level if the video wasn’t affiliated with Discovery Channel, but scientists would have plenty of ammunition without it. Among the most popular series from 2013 was a faux-documentary about the behemoth Megalodon, a long-extinct shark. Time Magazine revealed that after viewing Megalodon: The Monster Shark That Lives, “79 percent of respondents…believed the megalodon is still alive after watching the documentary. Only 27 percent said they thought the shark was extinct and ‘the scientists are right.’”

No matter where you look, media outlets are criticizing Discovery for this irresponsible shift in branding. NPR published a piece about the physical dangers these programs pose to sharks, and about how Shark Week increases demand for shark consumption in restaurants. iO9 explored how Discovery lies to scientists so they’ll appear in “documentaries.”

It’s fascinating to look at the Shark Week brand as they produce more broadly entertaining segments. Discovery is finding continual success, even as the scientific community tries to discredit them. The Shark Week brand is so embedded in modern culture that the public doesn’t seem to care about the reality (or lack thereof) of these programs.

So while brand transparency is always preferred, Discovery is certainly giving the market the product they want. It may be questionable ethically, but it is solid brand management. And it is easy to get swept away by the outrage and overlook the fact that Shark Week still includes educational programming.

Even scientists hope to reinstate credibility. The relationship between science and Shark Week was once a huge asset for both, and it could return to that status quo. In her piece, Christy Wilcox talks with scientists who are hopeful.

“I think it’s extremely important to keep trying,” said Victoria Vásquez, Deputy Director at Ocean Research Foundation. “Nothing reaches that sort of audience for sharks, the ocean or any other wildlife. Consequently, I think it’s important to be vocal and consistent with what we want out of Discovery and take every opportunity to change it.”

Even Kristine Stump, a disgruntled scientist featured in the iO9 piece, remains optimistic. “When we can’t control the editing, we can control what we say on-camera,” she said. “By being involved, I could have the opportunity to be a voice of real science amid an otherwise sensationalist line-up. If we want to make a difference in Shark Week, then be the difference.”

So what do you guys think? Where should Discovery’s Shark Week brand go from here?

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Downfalls on the Day of Your Event & How to Fix Them

We know how it is; you spend hours and hours putting your heart and soul into planning an event. The day finally arrives, and then something goes wrong. While it’s hard to anticipate every disaster that is going to happen, there are some ways that you can prepare for them and fix them in the moment. Here are some of the top downfalls on the day of your event and how you can avoid them.

The Weather is Terrible

Unexpected weather issues truly can ruin any event that is being held outdoors or requires lots of transportation. It might be obvious, but check the weather ahead of time, and if there is any chance of rain, snow, or other disaster, plan your event indoors. If lots of traveling is involved to get to the event, you might want to consider changing locations to somewhere easily accessible. This way your guests won’t get caught in a storm on their way and not be able to make it.

Your Vendors Do Not Arrive

Although you’ve done your best to plan everything, accidents can still happen. Vendors may get sick or encounter some sort of problem that leaves them unable to show up. Make sure you create a backup plan for what you will do if a vendor does not show up. For example, if your entertainment doesn’t arrive, have an iPod and speakers on hand. If your catering does not arrive (or arrives late), have some sort of backup plan ready for how you will feed your guests. Make sure you get a signed contract beforehand to prove that your vendors have broken it.

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Your Vendors are Unprofessional

Although there may not be much that you can do about this on the day of your event, there are certainly steps you can take to avoid it. Do as much research as you can beforehand on the different options out there and narrow them down to the few best vendors. Then contact each one and meet with them in person if possible. If you are looking for a caterer, try their food beforehand. This will help you not only figure out which options provide the best services, but also which ones are the most professional.

No One Shows Up

One of the worst things that could happen is you spend lots of time and money planning a big event, and then nobody shows up. Make sure you do some research before you decide when to hold your event. Don’t plan it on the same day as another big event that the people you are inviting may want to attend. Ask around and figure out when the best day and time would be to hold the event. Then, do your marketing. Make sure you give everyone enough notice so that they can plan ahead on attending the event. It is best to be able to give at least a couple months notice if it is a big event. Continue to follow up with people to find out if they are coming.

Another reason why people may not show up, or may show up late, is because they were not given clear directions on how to get there. There may also be traffic, road construction, or no parking. Make sure you research these things beforehand to find out if they will be an issue, figure out a solution, and notify those who will be attending.

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Your Equipment Doesn’t Work

Technology never seems to work when we need it most. While you can’t always prevent this, there are some things you can do to make it less likely. Make sure you test out any equipment or technology you will be using beforehand to make sure it runs smoothly. Even if it does work, you will still want to have a backup plan. Have extra batteries, chargers, wireless microphones, and anything else that may be helpful to you in case of an emergency.

Although we can’t take care of all of these emergencies for you, we can ensure that you will have all of the personalized materials and products you need for your event. We can provide you with all of the banners, lanyards, name tags, canopies, and clothing that you need. You can also use our Swag Calculator to find out just how much you’ll need to bring–avoiding another downfall that could ruin the day you’ve been so invested in.

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Things You Didn’t Know About Event Planning

The desire to host an event is the first step in making it happen. You’ve got the idea, the vision, all you need is the execution. Even if you’re the type of person who believes it’s all in the details, you’re still going to have to brace yourself for the fact that there are bound to be arising issues you originally did not anticipate. At Namify, we know that your event is the result of extended hours; countless phone calls, emails, and text messages; plenty of expenses that come out of your own pocket; and the added anxiety associated with planning any event. The key to running a successful event is to be as prepared as possible. Here are some things that you did not know about event planning and that will better prepare you for your next event:

Give Yourself Time to Plan

If you think you can throw together an event people will remember within a short period of time, you’ll be in for a world of surprise. This isn’t like baking a cake for a few guests at a typical birthday party. Ideally, you should give yourself anywhere between 6-12 months to plan. You are going to be spending most of your time making phones calls, exchanging emails, signing contracts, getting bids, and more. To get what you want, it takes time, and hiring others that far in advance will help you get exactly who you want to provide music, flowers, catering, centerpieces, etc. These people sometimes are booked for months in advance, so the sooner you hire them the better.

Venue Fees

Be sure you are aware of all fees associated with your venue contract. Some venues may charge extra fees for open bars and other amenities that you may not consider when you first sign the contract. Communicate with your venue all that you plan to have with your event so that there are no surprise fees when it comes to the day.

Allow Your Guests to Socialize

This is particularly important if you’re hosting a family or business related event. When you host a business event, many attend for the opportunity to network with others in a related field. If you have too much scheduled that no one is allowed to socialize, then guests can quickly get a sour taste in their mouth that will linger after they leave.

Security

If you’re hosting a large event, especially if there is alcohol available, security is a must. You need peace and order in case one or more individuals get carried away with making a scene. Security can also help with protecting rented equipment and help prevent theft. Having security will also protect you from some liability involving insurance and other contracts.

Hire A Runner

No, not a marathon or track runner, though that may help, but someone who will do whatever task you assign them. The days leading up to the event can pile on a lot of stress, and some things will probably go wrong. It is the runner’s job to get whatever you need, pick up anything not picked up, or deliver messages to others involved in your event. A runner will be your lifesaver.

Budget For More

Even if you have all your bids, fees, and contracts lined up and covered, always plan for extra expenditures. You just never know what else you may need. It could be something as simple as duct tape or something as big as paying for an overflow parking lot.

Who Will Clean Up?

The easy and free way is to have volunteers help clean up afterwards, but volunteers often are unreliable when the time comes. You and your team will be exhausted by the end of the event and cleaning up will be the last thing you want to do. If you can afford it, it may be wise to hire a cleaning agency to take care of the mess your event created. They are reliable and you can finally relax.

There are literally dozens of things to consider when planning your event. Cover your bases, give yourself a lot of planning time, and save more money than you’re expecting. Communicate clearly with all involved, and your event should run quite smoothly.

 

SOURCES:

http://blog.attend.com/things-that-can-ruin-the-event-experience

http://www.trixstar.com/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-event-planning-and-event-management/

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Hidden Meanings in Famous Logos

We see logos everyday. Stores, schools, companies, restaurants, brands, and athletic teams all have logos, some of which have been carefully designed to fully represent the company. Some of these designs are so subtle, you may not notice them upon the first look or even on your hundredth look. If such an important detail is so easily overlooked it might be easy to ask, “What’s the point?” But in our opinion, if the detail is so subtle that it is often missed, then we say, “Bravo!” Let’s take a closer look at some well-known logos to see if there is actually something else there we normally do not see.

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This one may be a little easier to crack, but we’re just getting started. You may have noticed that the yellow arrow is also in the shape of a smile, but pay attention to the letters. The arrow starts with the letter “a” and points to “z,” suggesting that Amazon has everything from A to Z.

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The famous ice cream shop has been around for years, and this logo may just appear to be a clever blend of its two signature colors, but look at the “BR” portion of the logo, the pinkish purple colors highlight the number 31 within the “B” and R,” which represents the 31 different flavors of ice cream that Baskin Robbins is known for.

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The popular shipping company has a fairly simple logo, but one that is recognized by all. Take a closer look at the negative white space between the “E” and the “X.” Can you see the white arrow? This was no accident. The arrow represents the speed and efficiency of the company. Simple, yet effective.

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The delicious Swiss chocolate proudly displays a graphic design of the famous Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, but look at the blank space in the center of the mountain…a standing bear can be seen.

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This logo is beautifully simplistic, but perfectly represents the city and the zoo. If you look at the white space between the legs of the giraffes you can see the city landscape. Ingenious.

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One of the most simplistic logos that exists. It makes sense that a company named Apple would have an apple as its logo, but it doesn’t necessarily make sense that a computer company chose a fruit for its name and logo until you know the meaning behind it. The apple represents the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge as told in the Biblical story of Adam & Eve. Suddenly, it all makes sense.

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It’s not too hard to see the “V” that sits on top of the “W” in the logo, but what might be less known to Americans is that in German, “volks” means people while “wagen” means car. Volkswagen is the car for the people.

 

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LG’s logo seems simple enough. The “L” is encompassed by a larger “G,” but did you realize that one of gaming’s most iconic characters is hidden in the logo? It’s Pac-Man himself!

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The logo for the NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons, presents the bird of prey as a formidable opponent, but also faintly resembles the letter “F.”

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The MLB team simply has the outline of a baseball glove catching a baseball, but look closely and you’ll see that the letters “M” and “B” make up the outline of the glove, standing for Milwaukee Brewers, of course.

 

SOURCES:

http://smashinghub.com/27-popular-logos-with-hidden-meanings.htm

http://stocklogos.com/topic/fantastic-logos-hidden-meaning

http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/finance-hiddenlogomeanings/toblerone/

http://www.lifebuzz.com/logos/

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The Importance of a Voice Behind a Brand

One of the most emotionally rewarding movie scenes I’ve seen happens at the end of 1952’s Singin’ In the Rain. Lina Lamont, a bratty, entitled beauty stands on the stage, lip syncing into a microphone for a large crowd of people. Behind the curtain, however, is the film’s heroine, Kathy Selden, a sweet gal with the voice of an angel. In this scene – and for the fictional film at the center of Singin’ in the Rain – Kathy is lending her voice to Lina’s performance, since Lina’s own voice is, well, less than appealing.

In the film, Lina Lamont’s beauty catapulted her to Silent Film star royalty, but everything changed once sound was introduced. Lina’s voice didn’t jive with her refined exterior, but the studio heads still wanted to use her Star Power to attract audiences.

So, in a way, this switcharoo with Kathy was an effort to maintain Lina’s brand. “Customers” loved her, and would turn away if her voice didn’t reflect her brand’s image.

Naturally, this is exactly what happens. The curtain is lifted in the middle of Lina’s lip-syncing charade and the truth is revealed. As Gene Kelly’s character quickly points out, Kathy’s is the voice “[the audience] loved and heard tonight! She’s the real star of the picture!”

If this scene from Singin’ In the Rain proves anything, it’s that there’s real power in a voice and how it communicates with the audience. This is true for the characters in the film, and it’s even more true for your brand.

Audience members gravitate towards voices we relate to, voices that appeal to us. As we’re bombarded by brands and advertisements, a unique and relatable voice can act as a lighthouse amid the fog of competition. This is true in print, on TV, even Social Media.

Only when your brand finds a voice that speaks to your customers, a voice that’s “the real star of the picture,” will you be able to strike up a meaningful discussion with your audience.

What We Mean by Voice:

A brand’s voice is obviously different than an individual’s voice, but they’re both modes of communication. Think about a party: how do individuals interact? Are they wallflowering it up in a corner or deep in conversation? Are they asking questions, telling stories, listening and trying their best to be relatable?

It’s not hard to decide which option you’d rather spend the evening with and it shouldn’t be hard to decide which direction you’d like your brand to take.

When your brand lacks a unique voice it lacks an identity. Author and activist Justine Musk wrote a great piece about the importance of a personal, individual Voice but many of her points apply perfectly to a brand’s voice as well.

Here’s Musk: “When you are a presence that lacks a voice, you create an empty space that another voice – a dominating voice that knows no boundaries – is only too happy to fill.” Often times this void is filled by your customers and their assumptions. Your voice drives them to make decisions and unless you assert your identity their decision will be that you’re unnoticeable and unworthy of their patronage. “Silence is not a neutral position, whatever your intentions.”

“Online, your voice is who you are. Readers take that voice and construct their sense of your identity around it. If you show your inner life and it connects with their inner lives, it creates emotional resonance (what we’re all hungry for), and they will follow you wherever you lead them.”

In the business world, this priceless connection is absolute success.

Make It Meaningful:

Len Stein from Visibility Magazine has some really great insight about why a meaningful voice is so critical. He says:

“With the meaning of a brand wide open to public interpretation and prone to hyperbole and misconceptions, corporate managers must thread a thicket of sticky challenges to successfully communicate brand mission, values, and philosophy.

“Moreover, as a brands become the publishers of their own unfolding stories, they need intelligent editors who can provide stakeholders with a stream of high-value content that is packed with utility, seeded with inspiration, and that is honestly empathetic. Anything less will not suffice in a world where consumers can simply click away or spin around the ount a web-wide counter-attack on brands that refuse to walk their talk.”

So what does this mean?

It goes back to content, which shouldn’t be a surprise – so much of your brand’s success comes down to creating content that people are actually interested in and want to share. But it digs deeper than that, relating to the voice that conveys your content. At the end of the day or the end of an article, content is but a means to an end; it should be a way to open a channel of communication and strengthen the relationship you have with your audience.

It needs to tell your story. What makes your brand different than your competitors and, more importantly, what voice are you using to communicate this? Humor? Genuine, helpful emotion?

No matter what story your brand settles on, the voice needs to be relatable. In the end, this interaction is just humans talking to humans. Brands should be approachable contemporaries for their audience, not pompous kings hiding away in a corporate castle.

Here’s Stein again: “The more people can relate to the brand as a distinctive, trust-worthy personality (read: individual), the more approachable it will become and the deeper the customer relationship (loyalty and engagement) will develop.”

Language and Medium:

To be successful, your brand needs to master both Language and Medium. After deciding who your audience is and what to say to them, the next step is determining the “How.” This is where your brand’s voice becomes most important.

For language, this is as simple as the vocabulary you use, whether it be big words, short phrases, or lots of jokes. Your audience will learn to appreciate a pattern, as long as you give them something consistent to latch on to.

Before diving in, make sure you do your research; find your target audience and study how they communicate amongst each other. If they talk about the good or service your brand provides, see what light your competitors are painted in. Whatever your findings are, that voice is how you want to posture yourself. It’s the best way to slide right in.

And if you can’t find anyone discussing your good or service online, consider a different medium. Don’t settle for squeezing your voice into a medium that isn’t suitable. Find greener pastures, as it were. For example, Andy Warhol didn’t do much sculpting because he used mass production to comment on an increasingly capitalist world. It’s hard to replicate thousands of sculptures.

Let’s take this same principle back to Singin’ In the Rain – essentially, Lina Lamont couldn’t learn the language audiences wanted to hear. They wanted to hear a sweet melody when her voice was more of the nails-on-a-chalkboard variety. The sound medium didn’t suit her either; while she flourished as a silent star, her life would have been much easier if she stayed there.

Team Kathy

Don’t be a Lina Lamont. Make sure that you find not only the right voice for your brand, but the best way and place to communicate with your audience. More and more brands are turning to social media, but maybe you find your audience gravitates more towards TV Ads or Printed One-Sheets. Regardless, do your research and use a unique voice to make your content relatable.

Then we’ll all be Singin’ In the Rain.

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Best Brands of San Diego Comic-Con 2014

San Diego Comic Con Logo

Every year, the San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) takes over both downtown San Diego and the minds of pop-culture fans around the world by bringing together stars, press, and countless cosplayers and fans. Most are here for fun, camaraderie, scoops on upcoming films, or to score some exclusive swag from the exhibit floor (in fact, The Wrap already compiled a list of the most expensive SDCC 2014 exclusives on eBay).

But the fans have to be fanatic about something, otherwise they wouldn’t make the pilgrimage by the tens of thousands. In short, fans need to love a brand. These brands and properties flock to San Diego in swarms that rival the actual visitors, hoping to build enthusiasm about the next stage of their brand’s evolution.

Yes, I know many come for the “experience,” but this just means they’re interested in the SDCC Brand; which, I might add, is always one of the biggest brands in attendance. It was reported after 2013’s Con that SDCC brings in over $163 Million / year for the city of San Diego.

Comic-Con 2014 just wrapped things up and it was another whopping success. San Diego is sure getting good at this thing.

To celebrate, we’ve collected a list of 10 brands that really stood out this year. Brands are all competing for attendees’ time and eyeballs, and these brands certainly made the most of their trip…there’s a lot of fish in this sea of people (many of them masked), and odds are those on this list were able to snag at least a few new customers.

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Assassin’s Creed

Assassin’s Creed Unity comes out on October 28th, and Ubisoft worked hard to make sure that as many of SDCC’s 130,000+ visitors realized their presence. For the second year in a row, the wildly popular game teamed with Schick Razors to give convention-goers something no one else thought of offering: A close shave.

Last year – to team up with their pirate-centric Black Flag – these ritual shavings took place on an actual pirate ship that was docked in the nearby harbor. The Assassin’s Creed Unity game takes place during the French Revolution, so while Schick’s Hydro blade will be shaving your face, you’ll be surrounded by branded guillotines. Morbid, but accurate.

Comic Con Schick Hydro Shave

Wolverine stopped by for a shave. Notice the branded guillotines.

Both men and women waited up to an hour in line for their chance at the chopping block, but they had some other branded content to help the time pass faster.

The Freerunning course.

Perhaps more than any other brand, the Assassin’s Creed franchise has succeeded in integrating the recent “freerunning” or “parkour” craze into their gameplay. And now, thanks to Comic-Con, into the actual lives of fans.

Ubisoft teamed with yet another brand, the Tempest Freerunning Academy, to install a parkour course (parkourse?) just outside the convention center. As Chief Parkour Officer Michael Zernow explains in the announcement video, it’s “the biggest event in Assassin’s Creed history.”

It certainly seems that way. Guests run through a complicated obstacle course that culminates in “the leap of faith,” a 25 foot free fall onto a safety mat below. According to Zernow, “the course is designed to challenge people but to also motivate them. It gives you a real feeling of accomplishment to be able to finish a course like this.”

Marc Graser, Senior Editor for Variety, praised Ubisoft’s strategy: “The highly visible promotion is sure to stand out for Ubisoft not only for the sheer size of the course — and vicinity to the central hub of activity for Comic-Con — but also its clever but simplistic way in entertaining fans of the franchise while educating newcomers about the series.”

More than anything, the course is the perfect way to add a level of relatability to the upcoming game…at least as much as a game featuring superhuman feats allows. “A lot of times people who play this game would like to see how far they could get in the game in real life and this course can give them a taste of it,” said Zernow.

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Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max: Fury Road

San Diego Comic-Con has always been a great place for major film studios to make big announcements about future releases. This year, Warner Brothers teased some footage from the highly anticipated (depending on who you ask) Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and the crowd was predictably enthused.

What no one saw coming, however, was the gangbusters reaction to Warner’s Mad Max: Fury Road trailer. After a discussion with director George Miller – who was dragged back to the series after 30 years by a story that “just wouldn’t go away” – the trailer hit the screen. And, by all accounts, hit the entire crowd right in whatever part of the brain controls excitement.

It’s usually difficult to determine a “winner” of Comic-Con, but Mad Max is the promising underdog of the fight. Excitement for the 2015 film was tickled in early July by photos published by Entertainment Weekly, but Fury Road remained a skeptical wild card at best.

George Miller interviewed by Chris Hardwick

The reception of the Comic-Con trailer, and its subsequent release on the internet, shows that a respected but outdated brand can come back in a big way – as long as the actual product is good enough.

Mad Max Poster

Past films have been met by wild enthusiasm at the Convention only to flounder in the Box Office (Scott Pilgrim, anyone?), but Mad Max feels like a winner. Its charm, as grim and dangerous as it appears, is built on successful formulas rather than quirk and directorial reputation. The “visually focused film” is essentially one long chase film whose gas-tank is low on dialog but apparently overflowing with adrenaline.

Mad Max SDCC

Do yourself a favor and watch the trailer HERE – it’s certainly worth your time. Some enthusiastic fans have even dug into the trailer on an “obsessive” level for clues about the film’s secrets.

If you hadn’t heard about the Mad Max brand before 2014’s SDCC, odds are you’ll be red-lining your engine by the time it hits on May 15, 2015.

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The Hunger Games: Mockingjay

Waiting in Line Mockingjay

One of SDCC’s big surprises was the absence of a Hunger Games panel. Mockingjay, the third film in the successful series, hits theaters on November 21st, exactly one year after Catching Fire’s theatrical debut. Lionsgate brought Catching Fire to 2013’s Comic-Con in a big way, but decided to take a different route this year, likely because the film is already a guaranteed success.

Capital Couture meet the Samsung Galaxy

To satiate fans and begin the buzz-building trail to November 21st, Lionsgate teamed with Samsung to provide a more immersive experience of the Hunger Games world. Fans first entered the Capitol Gallery, a swanky art gallery populated with artwork from the film, actors posed in their Capitol Couture finest, and menacing Peacekeeper troops. There was also “Peeta’s Bakery” a small exhibit that gave out real cupcakes and pastries.

As opposed to Mad Max, Mockingjay wasn’t worried about getting their first trailer out to as many people as possible. In a symbolic gesture that echoes the actions of the fictional Capitol, Lionsgate gave fans at the Con a chance to be the fan-elite and watch the trailer before anyone else.

The Blue Room SDCC

Attendees poured into an eerie blue room where they would watch the trailer on a Samsung device while sitting in a futuristic chair. This event immediately turned guests into brand ambassadors who would leave and immediately spew their reactions into the social media sphere.

Almost as a reward for viewing, guests would continue through the artificial Capitol where they could pose with hologram versions of the film’s stars and design t-shirts for themselves.

Mockingjay holograms brought to you by Samsung

It’s interesting to consider that, like Mad Max, Lionsgate soon made this Comic-Con “exclusive” available to the public. You can watch the new trailer HERE.

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Outlander

Outlander

After making a big impression at 2013’s Convention, television program Starz returned to tease their upcoming series Outlander. Their booth was located in the Exhibition Hall, which meant it was a little smaller than something like the Assassin’s Creed experience.

Smaller, but not necessarily less influential.

As Professional Fangirls points out, the Outlander experience was among the best of the convention, despite its simplicity.

Outlander follows a 1940s Combat Nurse as she is swept back in time to 1750s Scotland. Starz’ interactive booth similarly began in the 1940s with actors donning period attire, before allowing guests to tour a large Scottish castle. Clearly, Starz was determined to announce Outlander in a big way and wouldn’t be limited by their indoor space. It’s hard to ignore an unfamiliar brand when they’ve constructed a castle in front of you.

Outlander posing with men from every era

As guests walked through the castle, they could pose with strapping, kilted men or see actual props from the series. If they weren’t too distracted by tangible items, they could watch exclusive footage on TVs spread throughout the exhibit.

It’s too bad free kilts weren’t given away as swag.

Outlander is based on a series of novels, so it’s easy to assume that a booth like this would be catered towards established fans. However, the massive structure and informative layout seems to have been successful at attracting newcomers as well.

This booth was paired with a successful panel and multiple appearances by the series’ author, the executive producers behind the show, and cast members.

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Walking Dead

Terminus...safety at last?

Not all TV shows need to make such an entry. Some, like The Walking Dead, were already the No. 1 show of the 2012 – 2013 season among adults from 18-49…which, coincidentally, is also the demographic most likely to attend San Diego Comic-Con.

Terminus Walking Dead

Still, AMC’s Walking Dead team didn’t shuffle contentedly around the exhibit hall like, well, a bunch of zombies. They maintained their legacy of bringing fun and tantalizing booths to the convention floor, giving fans the perfect chance for a photo op (this was another booth included on Professional Fan Girls’ Comic-Con Roundup). Free swag is always great, but there’s nothing like snapping pictures next to real Walking Dead zombies, of both the animatronic and actor-in-makeup variety, to take home to the family.

Zombies in Cages

Season 4 left off in the mysterious “safe haven” of Terminus, and the exhibit allowed you to pose near the very tracks that lead to this area. The popularity of the show meant there was a constant line to pose near a half-buried walker, an eerie map, or some walkers in cages.

This exhibit was paired with another successful Walking Dead panel which teased footage and built buzz for the October premiere of Season 5.

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Lego

Lego Exclusives

After a few years of poor performance (they “had lost money four out of seven years from 1998 through 2004,” according to Strategy&), The Lego Group is currently riding high on a huge wave of popularity and goodwill. After successfully reviving its brand, releasing a critically acclaimed and financially successful Lego Movie and countless Lego Video Games,the Group landed in San Diego in a big way.

Guardians of the Galaxy Legos

TMNT Shredder

Several major film properties, such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Guardians of the Galaxy, were teased at the Con and Lego was able to incorporate this co-branded enthusiasm into their own products. They had life-sized Lego versions of TMNT’s villain Shredder and a truly remarkable recreation of Guardians’ Rocket Racoon riding atop the tree-man Groot.

These larger than life models were visible from across the Convention Hall, but some of the most popular Lego merchandise was a little harder to spot. Lego released rare minifigures like the Batman of Zur-en-Arrh (???) and showed off the Mixels, a new line of adorable kits.

Mixel Legos

Legos? Wtf?

The multi-platformed Lego Group also released the trailer for their buzzed about video game Lego Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, the latest iteration of an already-beloved series. The game allows a new level of versatility by letting players become past Batman characters like the 1960s version of Batman and Robin. Adam West, the original Batman actor, is even a playable character.

And if you’re interested, here’s a video of Lego Master Builders creating the wonderful Groot and Rocket Racoon statue.

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Guardians of the Galaxy

Rocket's Ship

The presence of Guardians of the Galaxy wasn’t contained to Lego’s giant model, not by a long shot. With the US release date landing so close to the actual Convention, Guardians characters (particularly Rocket Racoon, who was once considered the wildcard of the film) were visible around every corner, in countless different mediums. Exclusive posters? Check. Giant Funko figures? Check. Props from the upcoming film were even visible at an exhibit booth.

Props from Guardians of the Galaxy

In fact, during their Comic-Con panel, Marvel revealed that “Guardians of the Galaxy content is coming to Xbox LIVE, Minecraft, Marvel Heroes, and other games.” Early reviews of the film are championing it as the new Star Wars, and Disney / Marvel is doing their best to reach this level of popularity; in addition to the gaming side of things, a Guardians of the Galaxy animation series previewed a “literally explosive 1-minute” clip.

Guardians of the Galaxy Video Game

But perhaps the biggest announcement was that the sequel is already on its way. Director James Gunn and star Chris Pratt informed the Hall H audience that the Guardians will be returning on July 28th, 2017. Mark your calendars accordingly.

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Guardians are among Marvel’s more obscure properties, but it’s safe to say that their bubble is about to burst.

It was recently announced that Fandango has Guardians tracking to be the highest grossing August release of all time. It’s impossible to tell how much of this came from Comic-Con buzz, but the brand is certainly going for widespread saturation. And it looks like it’s going to pay off in a big way. I mean, you’ve probably already seen the film by the time you’re reading this article.

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The Oculus Rift

New brands aren’t the only ones making the trek to San Diego.

Sometimes new technologies take the plunge as well.

You guys have heard of Virtual Reality, right? Then you shouldn’t be surprised that a VR company is using one of the world’s largest gatherings of gaming and pop culture fans to tease their product.

Jaeger Pilot

The company is Oculus Rift, and they actually teamed up with multiple brands to give a lucky few Comic-Con attendees (300 / day, 150 at each booth) a chance to try it out. The brands Oculus teamed up with couldn’t have been better, either – they had a presence at both a Pacific Rim, Jaeger driving experience and an X-Men Cerebro experience.

Reports for each were extremely positive.

Once users are wearing the Oculus headset, a pre-recorded video plays. Billed as “experiences” rather than “games,” both the Jaeger ride and the Cerebro test offered little interactivity, but really put fans in the world of these brands.

And I can’t wait for the Oculus Rift to expand further.

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Vikings

History Channel's Vikings

The History Channel’s popular and surprisingly good medieval series Vikings went the Assassin’s Creed route and set up a large fan experience outside of the actual Convention Center. But instead of an obstacle course, Vikings gave fans an entire on-set experience.

Warrior Women Vikings

Business Insider listed their exhibit as one of the “15 Coolest Things at the San Diego Comic-Con” and Social Media was buzzing with pictures of fans getting the most out of their visit. According to BleedingCool, Vikings On the Set “experience is very detailed and immersive for participants. They get to be treated to a full Vikings makeover individually and then have a custom video made of themselves to share on social media.”

Now that’s quite the souvenir. Even better, it’s quite the brand exposure. You see your friends wielding swords, shields, and some awesome dreadlocks and you’re bound to be intrigued.

Vikings Blood Legacy

But The History Channel wasn’t content with just an “experience.” What good is a visit to SDCC if you don’t come home with some nice swag?

At their exhibit, they were also giving out a free Vikings Comic Book emblazoned with a large History “H.” It’s a fun medium to give fans some backstory about their favorite characters, and something awesome to show off when they get home.

Vikings Drinking Horn

Drinking Horn sold for $80.00 (drinks not included)

The real Vikings prize, at least in my opinion, was a different piece of swag: a Vikings drinking horn. It’s a cool, and surprisingly realistic replica of the props used in the show, but it actually served a purpose. In a very clever bit of cross-branding, Vikings teamed up with several local San Diego bars to give half-off beers (and sometimes free chips) to any visitors proudly wearing their drinking horn.

Vikings drink at a discount

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TMNT Pizza Thrower

Sometimes brands have to be creative to find an appropriate co-brand, and sometimes it’s the most natural thing in the world. Like peanut butter and jelly.

Or like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Pizza Hut.

The Turtles have already become the official mascot for Pizza Hut’s new Cheesy Bite Pizza (you can even have your pizza sliced Katana Style, in 4 large, Turtle sized slices), but this made-in-heaven relationship offered both brands to show off a new toy at this year’s SDCC.

Paramount is making a big push for August’s live action TMNT film, and what better way to do that than with a life sized Pizza Thrower, ripped right from the Character’s past?

TMNT Comic Con 2014

After receiving free slices of pizza, served on special plates illustrated by artist Scott Derby, and taking a seat in Pizza-Hut Pizza Box furniture, guests could climb aboard this modified Toyota Tacoma and shoot cardboard pizzas at a series of villainous Shredder targets.

TMNT Furniture

Here’s an LA Times video on the Pizza-Throwing vehicle.

This vehicle isn’t a joke, either. It was 12 feet tall, 9 feet wide, and capable of driving 75 miles / hour. The only question left is what’s happened to it now that the Convention is over? I’ve got a free space on my block.

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With hundreds of brands showing up and showing off at this years San Diego Comic-Con, you’re almost guaranteed to have found a brand that really stood out to you. Let us know what we missed by commenting below!

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The Three Rules for Building Your Brand on Facebook

As the most popular social media platform for both businesses and the public (all of which are potential customers), Facebook should be the first place you take your business and brand when hitting the social sphere.

When done correctly (and the following article should give you a hand in this department), a branded Facebook page gives you an unparalleled reach, influence, and engagement with your audience. It’s the best place to get interaction with your customers in both fun and serious ways, and can really boost your brand in the eyes of potential clients.

But before the results, comes the planning and considerations. Remember when we said Facebook was popular for businesses as well? The competition is certainly stiff, but not insurmountable. By keeping your Facebook page consistent, approachable, and relevant, you’ll become a trustworthy source of information and feedback. More likes will always come, and every Thumbs Up you get will be one more person open to your brand.

Facebook Thumbs Ups your brand

Stay Consistent

The importance of consistency shouldn’t be a secret for your brand. Ideally, you’ve already shaped your personality into something recognizable that is easily transferred to a Facebook page. But the fun doesn’t stop there:

Visual Consistency is key for all your social media platforms, including Facebook. If you’ve adopted a color scheme and logo for your website or other platforms, it’s crucial that that pattern continue on your Facebook. If you have a particular avatar (profile picture) for Twitter or G+, make sure that ends up on your Facebook as well.

And what about the information conveyed on your Facebook? Is it similar (or even identical) to what’s advertised elsewhere? Customers shouldn’t have to piece together brand information from your website and all your social media platforms. It’s not a scavenger hunt. Each of these options should act as a one-stop shop for all of your brand’s immediate information. Your official website will obviously be more detailed than your Facebook page, but make sure your social profile hits all of the important points.

The best place to convey the majority of this info is Facebook’s “About Me” section. Fill it out completely and in a tone that matches your brand’s established voice. Hopefully this isn’t something you’d easily forget, but make sure you link to your actual website from your Facebook page, and include a link to your Facebook from your website. A click of a button is far easier than having to do any digging to navigate amongst your online digs.

Once your visual motifs are cemented in the websphere and information is easy to find, it’s time to turn your focus to the actual content posted on your Facebook page. Your page needs to seem alive, which means having a consistent posting schedule. Don’t flood your Facebook with ten posts in a day and then go off the grid for a week. There are several web extensions that make this easy, but it’s always a good idea to log into your actual Facebook so you can monitor feedback and field questions.

Stay Approachable

In fact, monitoring feedback and fielding questions is one of the best things Facebook can do for your brand. It’s a public forum, a “social” form of media, which means it’s a two-way street. Facebook gives you unprecedented access to current and potential clientele, but it also allows them to get in contact with you, a formerly unapproachable company they support. Now they’re expecting someone, anyone to be there to answer questions and address complaints, as well as providing brand-related content.

But your brand should be approachable at all times, not just when people have questions. In fact, Facebook can encourage customer participation in unparalleled ways through contests, content, and simple questions.

For example, Skype often asks it’s more than 30 million fans for ideas on what they’d like to see in future updates. With 30 million fans, there’s going to be a few duds, but you’d be surprised at how genuine and appreciative most of the contributors are. Other brands like Red Bull and Wal-Mart use a strong call to action to ask followers to “like” or “share” their posts to show support or learn about new brand developments. Judging by the amount of likes their pages have (43 million / 34 million respectively), it works.

Stay Relevant

Doing your part to stay approachable is great, but it works best when there’s an audience on the receiving end. Herein lies social media’s greatest paradox: it’s easy to build an audience when you have an audience, but never easy when starting out. Yet one thing’s for sure — the first step is and should always be relevancy. What’s your brand’s target audience and what do they care about? How can your content be relevant to their interests?

A big part of this is keeping the blatant advertisements to a minimum. The common approach is to follow a 70 / 20 / 10 posting pattern. This means that 70% of your posts should be relevant information about your brand, in an appropriate voice. Are you a mattress company? Post about anything from sleeping tips to the history of mattresses, just make sure it’s relevant and actually builds your brand by being useful. 20% of your posts should be content shared from other profiles, and 10% can be blatantly self-promotional.

10% isn’t a typo. It’s a low number, but it keeps your Facebook looking like an asset, not an opt-in commercial. No one wants you to show up and demand that they value your service — treat this engagement like a first date, or rather a series of dates. Be charming, be informative, and you may just end up on a second date. If you look at Monster Energy’s Facebook you don’t see a flood of energy drink photos. Instead you see a series of thrilling, engaging photos featuring the activities Monster has spent time associating itself with.

If your overall brand personality doesn’t jive with your target audience, you’ve either chosen the wrong audience or it’s time to try on a new tone. One thing’s for sure, humor and absurdity always seem to sell (just think Old Spice or Skittles). If levity suits your brand, don’t be afraid to give it a shot! This can be a great way to stir excitement, engagement, and participation.

The Wrap Up

Hopefully this sparks your own creativity as you look to optimize your brand’s Facebook presence. It’s not a list of “dos” and “do-nots,” because social media is often far too volatile for any one approach.

It takes an understanding of your audience and a willingness to experiment. Just remember, regardless of your ultimate voice and approach, to stay consistent, approachable, and relevant.

 

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Extravagant Parties That May Be Over the Top

Event planning is always a really big job. It takes months of planning, organizing, and patience to get the work load finished in time. The day of the event itself may be the most stressful time in an event planners life, and that’s just for your average Joe’s event. What happens when it becomes a massively extravagant event? Welcome to the craziest parties you may have ever heard of.

The show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills demonstrates just how willing some of these families are to spend money on parties for their own pleasure. One example comes from Adrienne, she threw a spa party in her own home that cost somewhere in the ballpark of $100,000. This event included the use of a laser machine, spray tanning booths, hydro-facials, 2 manicurists, 3 masseurs, 3 waiters, and a personal chef. Each guest was also given a personal red velvet cake that had edible gold dust sprinkled on top, because sprinkles just wouldn’t be enough.

In another episode, Taylor Armstrong threw a party for her 4-year-old daughter, Kennedy. She forked out $60,000 total to include a lavish set up of decorations, mocktails and cocktails, a live band to perform a song for the 4-year-old, and diamond barbie necklaces as party favors to all the children.

The craziness doesn’t stop there though, another reality TV show called My Super Sweet 16 highlights teens’ excessive 16th birthdays and what all it takes to make their “dreams” come true. One such party was a Moulin Rouge themed party that cost nearly $180,000. It took 4 weeks of intense preparation to organize the shin-dig. The cake alone cost $1,500, her friends were each picked up by limousines, and she was announced and walked out to can-can dancers. Her birthday gift that evening was a BMW X3.

Another episode featured Aaron Reid’s birthday in which he rented out the 40/40 club that is owned by Jay-Z. His invitations were portable music players with a recorded invite as one of the tracks. That night, P-Diddy and Kanye West attended for the entire night; the cost to have Kanye for an entire night alone is $3 million.

To highlight a few other episodes: Natalie had diamonds set into her manicured nails for her party which cost $800, and Sierra had people dress in white and drive in limos to the homes of her friends to hand deliver her invitations. With each invitation came a miniature Louis Vuitton cake and a letter informing them of all the gifts she would like to acquire.

While these $60,000 – $100,00 parties are impressive, celebrity weddings can top them all! Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston spent $1 million on their wedding that included 50,000 flowers and a special fireworks show at the end of the night.

When Khloe Kardashian married Lamar Odom they too spent $1 million; it was held in Beverly Hills and Khloe wore a custom Vera Wang dress.

Christina Aguilera and Jordan Bratman spent $2 million on their wedding; they rented out a private vineyard and the ceremony included a 14-piece orchestra. Christina wore a designer gown, and the couple partied with their friends until 5 a.m.

Chelsea Clinton married Marc Mezvinsky and they spent $4.8 million total. $750,000 went to catering, $11,000 for the cake, $250,000 on jewelry, $600,000 for their air-conditioned tents, and $500,000 in flowers.

Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas spent $1.5 on their nuptials. Their invitations were written in invisible ink, the reception was in the New York plaza hotel, and they used 50 rent-a-cops for security.

So while the event you’re planning may seem like a nightmare, just think of how nightmarish it must have been to plan one of these doozies of a party.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.kidzworld.com/article/6626-my-super-sweet-16-tv-show-facts

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20439804,00.html

http://www.imbringingbloggingback.com/2011/10/25/real-housewives-of-beverly-hills-adriennes-spa-party-costs-more-than-you-your-children-and-your-childrens-children-will-ever-make-in-16-lifetimes/

http://www.buddytv.com/articles/the-real-housewives-of-beverly-hills/big-ticket-birthdays-on-the-re-38571.aspx

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Win an OGIO Travel Bag from Namify!

Win an OGIO travel bag from Namify

Want to win this awesome travel bag from OGIO? Here’s how:

1. Browse our blog and find your favorite post: namify.com/blog
2. Tweet it out with ‪#‎namify‬
3. Boom – you entered
4. WIN!!!!

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Deion Branders: What Your Brand Can Learn From “Prime Time.”

I’m willing to bet you’re familiar with Deion Sanders, but where you know him from is a complete shot in the dark. After becoming a star of Florida State University’s football, baseball, even track team, Sanders began his equally impressive career in the NFL, MLB, and PBL.

Deion Sanders fully branded

PBL, of course, stands for “Personal Branding League” and I just made it up. Despite Sanders’ resounding success in professional sports, his greatest legacy may be how he elevated himself from “talented collegiate athlete” to a “multi-faceted entertainment personality with the on-the-field talent to back up any and all bravura.”

Deion Sanders is already in the NFL and College Football Hall of Fames, but he’d have an entire wing devoted to his exploits if a hall of fame existed for Personal Branding. While still enrolled at FSU, Sanders began thinking seriously about his future. He saw money, he saw success, and he began creating a vehicle that would allow him to reach the wealth and fame he felt he was destined for.

The vehicle? He turned himself into “Prime Time” or “Neon Deion,” and became what may be the most recognizable sports personality of all time.

Deion Sanders as "Prime Time"

Here’s some obvious context about brands: They inspire loyalty and provide designations amongst similar products. When dozens of brands are selling toothpaste, for instance, consumers need to have a way to decide between their options. Enter Brands, stage left, with their accompanying loyalty and trust in tow.

19 year old Deion Sanders looked around and saw a plethora of similarly priced, indistinguishable tubes of toothpaste all waiting for the Major Leagues to pluck them off the shelf. This didn’t work for the man destined to become Prime Time.

According to longstanding FSU Head Coach Bobby Bowden, Deion Sanders knew that “You could make a lot of money if you sell yourself.”

So he did. Deion Sanders effectively became Prime Time and donned gold chains, giant rings, and cruised around Florida State in his brand new convertible. In the inaugural episode of FOX Sports Net’s Beyond the Glory, Sanders’ mother smiles affectionately as she says that he “created a monster.” An extremely hungry one at that.

Your brand should be equally hungry and equally driven. You should have all the bravura and skills necessary to make a name for yourself and create a loyal, excited fan-base.

Thankfully, Neon Deion’s remarkable trajectory contains some valuable lessons:

1. Look to Your Idols

Deion Sanders curated his public persona carefully. Any brashness or perceived sloppiness was deliberate and helped build his Prime Time character. And this “monster” was solidified in no time, complete with high-stepping touchdowns and an ecstatic fan-base.

The Prime Time character worked so well because Deion Sanders was passionate about it. It was a persona he actually enjoyed, one that was honest to who he was. But if the only input was Sanders’ own personality it hardly counts as a character — instead, he pulled from four of his sports idols.

Deion Sanders' Prime Time personality

Prime Time learned his brashness from Muhammad Ali, but also his confidence. Muhammad Ali was cocky, but he had the skills and success to back it up. Hank Aaron provided the perseverance to endure any trials that Sanders would face. Sanders has found near universal success, but his autobiography Power, Money & Sex: How Success Almost Ruined My Life outlines some of the troubled waters he overcame.

O.J. Simpson’s legacy has been all but destroyed, but he was once respected for his prowess on the football field. Deion Sanders claims that he learned team loyalty and care from Simpson because he “always took care of his linemen and they took care of him.” I don’t think it’s a stretch to apply this mentality to Sanders’ later philanthropic ventures, including founding a Preparatory Academy to help High School students make it to college.

Prime Time’s fourth influence was Julius Irving’s “constant professionalism” and flair. Irving’s professional impact may seem counter-intuitive since Prime Time spent his early days driving his custom “PRIME TIME” license plates around town talking on a giant cell phone, but as cartoonish as that sounds, Sanders approached it all as a job, just like Julius Irving.

It’s worth noting that Neon Deion’s idols literally came from different fields. All four men are athletes, sure, but that’s just like your brand turning to other brands, even if they’re in different markets. If you love a particular campaign from Coca-Cola, give it a shot. An approach from DiGiorno pizza catches your eye? Done. Menchie’s frozen yogurt? Don’t be shy, make it yours.

As long as your influences are a natural fit to the brand you create, they can come from anywhere. It all comes down to the attitude you project and as long as it’s a cohesive brand you’re in the clear.

2. Be Recognizable

Prime Time became a success because he stood out and made a name for himself. Whether it be a bold marketing campaign, an exciting new product, or a fresh approach to social media, your brand needs to make sure it stands out as well. Deion Sanders understood this burden — For him, success meant “I gotta high step, I gotta throw my arms in the air…I gotta make sure the attention is on me!”

Deion Sanders with his "Prime Time" jacket

Sanders kept his brand close to his chest, wearing his Prime Time leather jacket to training camps and working hard to advertise his versatility. He was known for his prowess in both the NFL and the MLB and was able to use that arm of his brand to score commercial gigs like this one:

Your brand should strive to create an equally recognizable persona. As a company full of individual employees, make sure that everyone is aware of your voice, your character.

When Deion Sanders intercepted an end-zone pass on the last play of his final college football game (you can’t plan this sort of thing) the announcers screamed “Picked off by Prime Time! Neon Deion!” Prime Time hosted Saturday Night Live shortly after winning his first Super Bowl with the San Francisco 49ers and even his opening monologue, while not particularly funny, is fully aware of the Prime Time brand.

This is the complete acceptance you want for your brand. When people think of your target market or product, your brand should be the first thing out of their mouth.

3. Have the Quality to Back It Up

Simply standing out wouldn’t have been enough for Deion Sanders, and it’s not enough for your brand. You need to make sure you have the quality needed to be taken seriously — for Prime Time this meant being an extremely talented player on the field, for you it means putting out a product that never disappoints.

Deion Sanders playing football for Florida State

On a lesser athlete, the Prime Time persona would have been a crude, aggravating disaster. For Deion Sanders it was a whopping success. No one is going to challenge your personal behavior when thousands of fans are screaming your name and you’re setting all kinds of league records.

For example, Prime Time hit a Major League home run and scored an NFL touchdown in the same week. The touchdown happened the very first time he touched a football in the NFL, and after initially botching the catch. That’s a legacy you can’t contradict.

4. A Legacy that Lasts

Deion Sanders has since retired from sports, and while he’s no longer flaunting the Prime Time character he’s certainly worked hard to maintain Neon Deion’s relevance. He’s a frequent NFL Analyst, he coached a Women’s NBA Team and he’s always quick to apply sports related lessons to life in motivational speeches and interviews.

When speaking about his new reality TV show, Sanders said “I want you to know me as the best father that ever lived!” The man, regardless of what character he’s presenting, has an insatiable thirst to be the best.

Can the same be said about your brand?

Deion Sanders as Leon Sandcastle

For a great example of how the Deion Sanders brand has managed to stay relevant, look no further than his series of Leon Sandcastle videos he did in 2012 for the NFL Network. In the series, Deion Sanders reapplies to the NFL as Leon Sandcastle and takes the sport by storm.

And this might be the best lesson brands can learn from Prime Time…he never stops working hard to stay in the conversation, even if it means a sort of meta-commentary on his own brand / life or a complete reinvention.

What other lessons have you learned from professional athletes?

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