Ok, I’ll admit it: I was never a huge fan of the ABC reality show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. I would catch it from time to time, but my Sunday evenings used to revolve around Desperate Housewives and the Kardashians.

That all changed a couple of months ago when I got a chance to get a firsthand look at the making of the show. How? Extreme Makeover: Home Edition came to Fayetteville, and I was lucky enough to head up the media team on behalf of our client, the Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau. I got to see for myself what goes on behind-the-scenes to produce a 60-minute show that airs on primetime television. We’re talking about months and months of advance planning, lots of which has to take place under a veil of secrecy before the show even announces it’s coming to town. Then, once the official announcement is made, there’s lots more work to be done before the recipient family is announced: volunteer coordination, special event planning, sponsor and donor coordination, marketing and promotions, fundraising, and media outreach of course. If you think things calm down once the family is announced, you’re wrong: that’s when things really get cranked up to full speed. The week of the build is a whirlwind of 24-hour-a-day activity on every front you can imagine. And don’t forget temperatures in Fayetteville hovered around 100 degrees during that entire week!

You would think a grueling schedule and tough conditions like this would all get to be a bit much for the cast and crew of the show. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Everyone on the Extreme team had a permanent smile on their face. They almost always had a minute to speak to an adoring fan or a member of the media. And when they talked about Barbara Marshall and the Jubilee House, the recipients of the new house, it was obvious that they do what they do because they love it. Their passion and dedication drives them to work faster, longer and harder than most people probably dream of doing. It drives them to not mind that they haven’t showered in days and to not remember that they haven’t had on a clean set of clothes in days. It drives them to view what they do on a daily basis as far more than just a job.

The Extreme team truly is changing lives and communities one home at a time. I’m honored that I had the chance to play a small part in that for a brief time this summer.

So now, come Sunday night, you better believe I’ll be curled up on my couch watching my new favorite reality show.

by Leah Knepper Brand Futurist Rubberneck Propaganda Specialist

Photo Credit: Charles Howard via Extreme Makeover: Home Edition


While browsing Advertising Age, I came across an article that reminded me a bit too much of a certain George Orwell novel.

BMW Germany has recently developed a “flash projection” technology that temporarily forces viewers to see the BMW logo burned on the inside of their eyelids after watching a BMW ad. Although there is no logo visible during the actual ad, a voice asks the audience to close their eyes after they witness a blinding flash, similar to that of a photograph. If they close their eyes, as they are told, the viewer would see “BMW” imprinted on the inside of their eyes.

The flash projection project apparently “leaves a lasting impression,” but I think that’s just a nice way to put it. A more honest way would be to say that it forces one. True, the flash is harmless physically- but ethically? Usually, if a consumer does not approve of what they see on a screen, they are welcome to change the channel or close their eyes to it. But what happens when this is no longer an option? Are we pushing the bounds of morality by forcing people to see this logo? Or is this what brands need to do now in order to break away from the clutter?

Perhaps I am being oversensitive. For many people see this new “flash projection” technique as an innovative way to grab attention and allow consumers to actively engage with the brand. After all, “BMW” only appears on your eyelids for a second. And it’s really no different from conventional advertising, except for the fact that it takes away your free will. But really, who needs that?

I guess the moral of this story is keep your eyes wide open, because if you aren’t safe in your own head, you aren’t safe anywhere.

make up your own mind:

by Francis George Brand Futurist the Republik Commander Creative Ops


Insert Thunderbird joke here _____________.
Insert Mad Dog 20/20 joke here _____________.

All right. Now that that’s out of the way, let me just say, it’s about time! What a brilliant revenue stream. You buy cheap wine from 7-Eleven, and when you get the munchies, go back and stock up on microwave burritos.

Although I think they messed up one part – the name. The wine is called Yosemite Road. To me, Yosemite Road sounds like every other winery out there.

To me, half the fun would be arriving at a party with a bottle of Slurrrper(R) or The Really Big Gulp(R), or some other franchised name. People would ask, “Where did you get that? 7-Eleven?” And that’s how the marketing buzz begins.

Pun intended.

Read more here.

by Marisa LaVallee Brand Futurist The Republik Corporal Strategic Ops

Photo Credit: Väsk via Wikimedia Commons – Licensed CC-BY-NC-SA


For the last 40 years, famous brander Al Ries has been pounding the idea that line extensions are a bad idea. Tell him you use Arm & Hammer toothpaste, and he’ll give you a dirty look hot enough to ignite your Ralph Lauren Polo curtains.

And we believe him. We’ve seen lots of crashes from poorly-executed line extensions. (And please don’t take away the cases and cases of Pepsi Max we got on sale at Costco). But Disney making eggs? Poor old Walt is probably turning in his liquid-nitrogen-filled cryonic chamber.

Then again, we kind of like the mouse-shaped eggs sunny-side up. It’ll go great with our Acura orange juice.

by Mike Randall Brand Futurist The Republik Captain Strategic Ops


Peta Offers $1 Million Prize For “Commercially Viable” Test Tube Meat
PETA is calling on all “tissue engineers” to create a meat product that can be grown in a test tube. More affectionately known as “schmeat” is grown from a cell culture, not from a live animal. These harvested cells are taken from an animal, such as a pig, and placed in a “nutrient-rich medium” that mimics blood. Once the cells multiply they are attached to a spongy scaffold or sheet (sheet + meat = shmeat) that has been soaked with nutrients and stretched to increase cell size and protein content. This shmeat could, in theory, be harvested in vast quantities and used in minced meat products: burgers, nuggety things, or potted meat-food products, etc. While scientists (they call themselves “tissue engineers”) admit that growing a pork chop with a bone without a real pig attached is not likely, they say also that affordable, palatable minced shmeat might be available at a grocery store near you within a decade.

Read more here

“Would you eat shmeat? If the technology is viable and tasty, I think it’s a great idea. Anything that can cut down on animal suffering, the resources to raise them and animal disease all at the same time is jim-dandy with me. Otherwise, PETA’s just beating its shmeat.”

by David Smith The Republik

Photo Credit: © PETA


People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is asking ice cream makers to begin using human breast milk in its products instead of cow’s milk, saying it would reduce the suffering of cows and give ice cream lovers a healthier product.

“As a mother, who breastfed two babies, you couldn’t pay me to eat ice cream made with another mom’s milk. You couldn’t pay me to eat ice cream made with my own breast milk. What a disgusting idea.”

by Jacqueline Stevenson Brand Futurist The Republik Corporal Strategic Ops

Photo Credit:
Stuart Conway via The Telegraph | Telegraph Media Group Limited