Are Consumers Becoming Too Touchy?

It's back to school season and the advertising has begun. Kids need school supplies and new clothes to start the year and every business wants your bucks. But, will JCPenney be left out in the cold because of the backlash on their latest back to school ad?

This week, consumers cried foul as a television spot insinuated that not wearing the brands that JCP carries could make or break your year. The ad then cuts to all the kids disappearing and one young boy by himself. If you haven't seen the spot, check it out here:

* Can't see the video? Click here.

Frankly, I think the uproar is ridiculous. I'm sorry, but no matter how politically correct our world becomes, kids are kids and school is school. Children will always notice other kids' folders, lunchboxes, backpacks, and clothes. It's how kids are.

When I was growing up, if you had a Trapper Keeper you were cool. That sound of Velcro as you got your homework assignment out constantly reminder the other kids that you had one. It was the must-have item. I remember when I got a lunchbox that I was really excited about and the feeling it gave me when another kid said she liked it. I also remember the horrible year that my mom got me a hideous backpack and how I'd try to hid it coming and going from school. Boy, I hated that thing. The year I got my first pair of Nike's just like all the other kids had was a landmark. Were they amazing shoes? No. But all the other kids had them and the reality is that kids like to fit in (something as a grown-up I try to avoid at all costs).

As adults, most of use know better than to judge people based on the clothing they wear. This is something that comes with age, experience, and maturity. And, as much as we can try to teach our kids not to judge others based on superficial things like the jeans they wear, the fact is that school is a universe unto itself.

I'm not making excuses for bad behavior, but the critics who are saying the JCPenney ad promotes bullying are just silly. It does no such thing. It simply is reminding parents how important back to school purchases are to our kids. No kid will ever say they want the knock-off instead of the name brand. That's just not how kids are. And, although, not every parent will be able to buy their child ever item they'd prefer (I know my mom couldn't afford to), don't think that what your kid wears or takes to school doesn't matter to them. It does.

So, cut JCPenney some slack. There's nothing wrong with their ad in the least. It just depicts the world as it is. Don't like that world? Change it.

The Value of Giving Yourself Options in an Online World

Nothing good comes from waiting. That's especially the case when it comes to creating a social media presence.

When I first started all this social media stuff six years ago, I invested a lot of time creating my professional online footprint. I knew I couldn't do everything, so I just focused on what I thought I could do well and what would yield the most relevant results. For me, that meant creating this blog and using Twitter and Facebook to promote it and my professional services.

Although the creation of Words Done Write was to market myself, I had another pet project that was simply for pleasure. Even though I started it back in 2009, I didn't mention it publicly because it was just something I wanted to do for myself.

A few weeks ago, I decided to take this project more seriously. I set up a Facebook page for it and it's slow going. I can't help but to think where I'd be if I had only created a Facebook presence for that project five years ago. But, my mindset was that it was for fun; not to grow. That was shortsighted.

No matter what you're doing online, whether it's personal or professional, set yourself up to have options.
  • Buy the domain. If years pass and you don't use it, go ahead and let it expire. But by buying it, you'll have the ability to do something with it should you choose to. 

  • I had to make a slight modification to the desired URL for my pet project because, even though the domain I wanted was available when I looked several times over the years, when I actually chose to purchase it, it was gone. I thought it would be there when I finally decided to buy it, but I waited too long.  
  • Claim the Facebook URL. I set up a Facebook page for Words Done Write back in 2009 and that's what I chose to focus on. But, how hard would it have been to at least set up a Facebook page for my pet project back then, too? Maybe I wouldn't have put the time into growing it, but if I had it perhaps I would have thought about growing it sooner. 
I've spent the last several years online focusing on the professional me and I made a conscious decision to not have my various worlds collide. But, all of us have more than one side. We all have professional interests and personal hobbies, causes, or passions. I'd venture to say some of you reading this probably even have more than one blog or Facebook page.

Perhaps you'll find you want to do more than one thing online, or maybe you'll find that you start with one project but let it fall by the wayside because you feel more passionate about another. No matter what you ultimately do, be sure you set yourself up for success by giving yourself options for the future: buy the domain name, claim the Facebook page, set up the Twitter account, and identify any other social media platform that may be relevant to your project.

Although that fun project you do just for yourself may not be something you want to grow now, wouldn't it be nice to have everything in place in case there comes a time you want to take it to the next level?
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