U2 gets an A+

A few days ago I wrote about the live webcast of U2's Rose Bowl concert in California. Did you watch it last night? I did. And, for almost three hours the world felt a little smallera little closer.

I watched the Twitter scroll on YouTube and saw comments from fans around the globe. People tweeting in different languages, from faraway lands. I also went to Twitter directly, where 33 percent of the trending topics were U2 related. People who were up in the middle of the night on the other side of Earth, watching and tweeting during this spectacular, free concert. Folks who shared something in common; the universal language of music.

Generally big name entertainers see the opportunity to make loads of easy cash by allowing fans to "attend" these mega-events via outrageously-priced, cable pay-per-view shows. But, U2 has never been your run of the mill rock band. Bono continues to push the envelope in such new and exciting ways that it no longer even resembles an envelope.

U2 is a band that practices what it preaches. It's all about inclusion, change, enlightenment, philanthropy, and heart. The webcast was yet another example of that. U2 embodies everything that rock stars should be. Everything that any rock band could be, if they cared a little more about the music and the missionand less about the moola.

Thanks for a great evening, guys.

Use your unique skills to benefit others

Saturday is National Make a Difference Day. Now, many people recognize this day by performing one day of service: cleaning a beach, reading to children at the hospital, or working at a soup kitchen. However, there is a very easy way to volunteer on a regular basis by doing something that is uniquely you.

As someone in the professional world, you undoubtedly possess skills that have taken you years to learn and hone. Accountants, IT wizards, marketing pros, and ad folks all have talents that the general public does not. Why not offer your valuable and unique skills to benefit a local charity?

In the past, I've offered my services to a few nonprofits to assist in ways that most of their volunteers could not. I've written press releases, brochures, and other collateral materials for groups that provide community services that I value. If an organization is large, they probably have someone on staff to provide these skills. However, the small, local groups can use all the help they can get.

So, why not find a local nonprofit that supports a cause that resonates with you and see if the folks there can utilize your professional skills. Do they have a computer that needs repair? Do they need help designing an ad? Could they benefit from some guidance on their taxes? Do they need someone to set up a Twitter or Facebook page for them to raise awareness? Since it's your area of expertise, you'll be able to do it better and faster than they ever could.

And, remember the great quote by the famous philosopher and writer Henry David Thoreau, "One is not born into the world to do everything, but to do something." Now, go forth and serve.

Free U2 concert

Can't make it to U2's concert at the Rose Bowl this Sunday? I've got the next best thing for you. YouTube will be streaming the concert live! U2 fans in 16 countries, including the US, UK, and Australia, will be able to enjoy the music of one of rock's biggest actsfor free. (Click HERE for YouTube channel and showtimes.)

Although YouTube has streamed live before in the past, this event has some nice touches that make it unique. During the show, viewers will be able to chat live with one another on the site (via Twitter) and can also donate to Bono's RED charity by means of a "Donate Now" button on the screen.

In 1997, U2 streamed a live Boston concert from its PopMart tour on MSN, but this one incorporates the interactive experience and the philanthropic angle that was lacking back then.

So, set your DVR for your favorite Sunday shows and get comfy in front of your computer. It promises to be a legendary experience.

Coffee fiends: ideas wanted

I'm not much of a coffee drinker, so maybe I'm late to the party on this one. However, for those of you who were in the dark like me, you might find this interesting.

Did you know that Starbucks has a site exclusively for collecting customer suggestions? My Starbucks Idea is pretty cool in that it isn't just an online form you complete and submit, but it's a more interactive experience. You can share your ideas, vote on other people's suggestions, comment on items, and even see which proposals Starbucks has decided to implement.

If you spend time at your local Starbucks, why not sound off and help shape your experience? Your local coffee buddies might thank you!

No nap time for these crazy babies!

The #1 spot of the Viral Video Chart this week goes to the great ad by Evian water. The product's new tagline, Live Young, launched this summer and lays the groundwork for a fun and memorable commercial which features rollerskating toddlers. Kind of like Anne Geddes babies on steroids.

Check it out below (and go get yourself some Evian; everyone needs to have this much energy!):

Are you a Facebook addict?

This is just something fun for a Friday. The comic says it all, no need for commentary.

Oh, and hey, subscribe to Dan Piraro's blog to see all his great Bizarro stuff. A very talented cartoonist with a heart of gold.

Bud is for buddies

Budweiser will start airing its new series of TV commercials tonight during the Major League Baseball series. Trying to reconnect with consumers, the new spots are all about camaraderie. From how guys greet one another (e.g. the chest bump to the fist tapping guy hug) to how they razz each other (including the great line "Even Europe thinks your pants are too tight."), the campaign is geared to bring an emotional connection back to the brand.

The spot below highlights the many creative ways to carry Bud back for your buds. To see the other two, click here and here.

Dog lovers can now hit the road in style

The new, dog-friendly Honda Element is almost here. It should be arriving at dealerships any day now and Fido can hardly wait!

As you may recall, the 2010 pet-focused vehicle was introduced this Spring at the New York Auto Show. It's Dog Friendly™ Pet Accommodation Package only costs $995 and boasts an extendable ramp for easy entry, spill resistant bowl, cushioned pet bed, dedicated fan, rubber floor mats with a doggy bone pattern (this design can also be extended to the second row of passenger seats), and nylon webbing to keep Lassie safely confined in the back.

For those who like to bring their dogs with them on trips, the new option is a little slice of Heaven. Ah, make that a little slice of Snausage.

Doing business with the Sharks

If you haven't watched Shark Tank on ABC yet, then you need to tune in tonight. For those of you who own your own business, or those who are entrepreneurs, this is definitely time well spent. For the rest of you, I promise that it's just good TV.

The premise is that five top moneymakers listen to pitches from ordinary business people. If they like the idea; they invest. The Sharks are pretty cutthroat, hence the name, but if you pay attention you'll undoubtedly learn something about how investors are likely to see your business. If you're new to the show, you'll quickly glean that Kevin O. is pretty unlikeable—the Simon Cowell of the group, if you will. And Barbara is a soft touch, but she turned a $1,000 loan into an empire so she knows her stuff. Personally, Robert is my favorite Shark (a nice combination of business sense and compassion).

I was an early fan of Shark Tank and started watching over the summer. Apparently, others liked it, too, because it was given a permanent spot on the Fall schedule. And, for those of you who need more convincing, it's a Mark Burnett show (of Survivor and The Apprentice fame) so you know it's good reality TV.

Check out the video below to get the full scoop on Shark Tank. I promise you won't be disappointed.

Be a hero by just watching TV

Tonight is the 22nd season premiere of America's Most Wanted on FOX. During its run, AMW has been responsible for the apprehension of 1,090 criminals worldwide. Fifty missing children have also found their way home due to the tireless efforts of John Walsh and his team.

This show is such an amazing public service. It provides hope to the parents of missing children, justice for the victims of violent crimes, and gives us all the power to make a difference in our communities.

When this show was cancelled back in 1996, public outrage and a massive backlash from law enforcement and government officials reinstated the show. Since then, the combo block of COPS and America's Most Wanted on Saturday evenings has remained unchanged (and is the longest, unchanged primetime schedule on American television to date).

AMW is a show that should be mandatory viewing for every American. Keeping our cities and our families safe should be all of our responsibilities. So, do your part tonight and turn on the TV. Support a show that makes a difference; be a person who makes a difference.

"Evil flourishes when good men do nothing.” - Edmund Burke

Blue-haired beauty takes it off

Although The Simpsons got snubbed at the Emmy's, Marge isn't letting that get her down. In fact, she's upping her exposureliterally. In the November issue of Playboy, due out on October 16, she'll be taking it all off for The Heff (not to be confused with The Hoff). Supposedly it's tastefully done, but we'll have to be the judge of that.

Marge, what will Maggie think?

Do you ask for it in the can?

I love words, I love puns, and I love clever writing. What I don't love so much is catering to the lowest common denominator. Yes, potty humor has an audience, but I guess I'm just not in that crowd.

The latest commercial from Bud Light Lime is all about word play. And you don't have to have a dirty mind to immediately appreciate the innuendo.

Play the commercial below and see what you think. Is it funny? Or tacky? I need some objective opinions.

Glamour ups the nude factor

Today, the November issue of Glamour hits newsstands. The best part: seven nude women in their birthday suits, fat rolls and all.

As your may recall, in September, plus-size model Lizzy Miller posed nude for the magazine. Her pot belly out there for everyone to see. The response was overwhelmingly positive, especially from women who had grown tired of looking at stick figures with breasts.

To keep the positive momentum going, Glamour scheduled yet another photo shoot. This one, a group of nude, plus-size women showing off what their mamas gave 'em. Now, for men who don't know any better, keep in mind that "plus-size" is really only a size 12, the average size for women in America. (To hear from the models and Glamour's editor-in-chief about what this all means for the future of women's modeling and fashion, check out the video from their appearance on The Ellen Show.)

Now, I doubt men will be cheering about seeing overweight women shed their skivvies for the camera, but it is such a huge step for women. We're not perfect; we're real. We have flaws and few of us look like Victoria's Secret fashion models.

And, here's the beauty part. If more average-shaped women are shown in the media, maybe, just maybe, our daughters won't grow up in a world where they're ashamed of being real. Now that, my friends, is something to cheer about.

Smokey the Bear turns 65

Shortly after the last round of fires in Los Angeles, a PSA went up on the bus shelter down the street: Smokey the Bear. Just as recognizable as Ronald McDonald or Spongebob Squarepants, but Smokey has a laudable mission. He's the one who reminds us all to be responsible with matches and fire. To remember that we must all do our part to keep our communities safe. Unfortunately, Smokey's job seems to be getting harder instead of easier.

I grew up with Smokey, although back then he warned against forest fires. That's because fires were usually in remote wilderness areas, started by a campfire that wasn't completely doused or a cigarette flicked out the window by a careless motorist. Now, however, Smokey uses the word wildfires. I guess that's because urban sprawl has gotten out of hand over the years. What was once open land is now home to McMansions. Forest fires are now in our backyards.

In any case, I started to think about how this public service campaign is just as crucial today as it was when it started 65 years agoperhaps even more so. Humans are still careless and, unfortunately, fires have become an annual occurrence in many cities and towns. People lose their homes, animals lose their habitat, and most of the time the fire is a result of human carelessness.

If you visit Smokey's website, you can find lots of interesting information (e.g. resources for teachers, activities for kids, and fire safety information). However, what I found the most fascinating is how Smokey's marketing efforts have evolved over time. There is an interesting archive, broken down by decade, that features posters, promotional materials for schools, radio PSAs, videos, collectibles (e.g. bobbleheads, stuffed animals, comic books, etc.), and other such items that bear Smokey's message.

A 1940s poster has "Death" on a horse, riding through trees and flames with the message: Death rides the forest when man is careless. Artwork from a 1990s poster beautifully depicts the faces of woodland creatures with the tagline: Our family depends on your family. Only you can prevent forest fires. And, a wonderfully simple black and white photograph from 2001 has a bird nest with three eggs that says: The only fire protection this home has is YOU.

If you enjoy history and marketing, I think you'll find Smokey's archive worth a look. On one hand, I am so glad that Smokey is still going strong with his message of responsibility and accountability. On the other hand, I'm sorry he has to keep telling us something we should already know by now.

Do you tweet?

As I was clicking around cyberspace this morning, I happened to come across a great little piece. The 46 Stages of Twitter is a very accurate synopsis of many people's love/hate relationship with this newest form of media. If you're a Twitter hound, you simply must check it out.

I, however, never went through all 46 stages. I've stuck with it since day one, and now have three different Twitter accounts (partially for different interests/audiences and partially as an experiment). It's amazing how much information is out there. It's true, Facebook is about who you know; Twitter is about what you know.

Once you've achieved #27 on the list, embraced #39, overcome #42, and have comfortably landed on #46, you can officially call yourself a devotee of Twitter.

Oh, and by the way, follow me okay?
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