Extolling the Virtues of Beautifully Crafted Copy aka Ads I Like

I was thinking today of my relationship with running and my inability to commit to “The Big Race”.  More on that in another post.  For now though, the thought trail led me down memory lane and I remembered New Balance’s love/hate advertising campaign.

I can identify with this ad.  I’m sure most runners can.  Mmm, warm blankets, sleep, zzzzzz vs Ugh, cold running clothes, windchill, yowza, I’m awake!  Legs feel like lead vs I’m ALIVE!

It’s been a while since advertising campaigns have really grabbed my attention.  It may seem quite trivial to discuss the impact marketing/advertising can have in your life but really – take a look around you – commercialism is everywhere.  Of course it would have an impact on anyone. 

When I think of popular campaigns, I remember Nike.  Just Do It.  Bo Knows.  And let us not forget Nike’s whole Women campaign from the 1990’s.  That campaign spoke volumes to me. That was a truly beautiful campaign.

If you walked into my dorm room, you would have been greeted by a centrefold of Bo Jackson in a bathtub (soooo wish I had a scan of that to plop in here – If any readers have a jpg of this ad, feel free to share!) surrounded by a wall of Nike adverts with that all-too-familiar font.  Nike was wordy back then.  That suited me well.  It made things stick.  The words gave me inspiration from which to draw motivation.  In researching this post (sifting through pages on the internet seeking out the old ads), I learned that the creative genius behind the Nike Women campaign that affected me so, was Janet Champ.  Her attitude of empowerment was flashed in my face when I was in my early 20s, trying to figure out who I was, who I wanted to be and what I could do.  I was ripe for the picking and their perfect consumer.

I fell in love with Janet’s copy.  I believed there was no stopping me.  I believed I could be anything I wanted to be and do anything I wanted to.  It may sound silly but if you look at the impact their campaign had and the response to it, you’ll know that I’m not alone in my sentiments.  You may even be just like me and have felt similarly upon reading their ads.  The art and copy wasn’t just a promotional tool.  They were pieces of art.  To that end, some ads from this campaign are actually displayed in the Smithsonian.  Part of me wishes I still had those dog-eared bits of paper.  I would show them to my daughter.  I wonder what her reaction would be and if she would draw energy from that beautifully crafted copy. Would those words inspire her and re-enforce that she is strong, capable and unstoppable?

Did these beautifully crafted words make me a better person and shape who I am today? Who knows. I do know that in those turbulent years of my early 20’s, when I was creating the person I would become, in times of indecision, I would look at my postered walls, pick up my gym shoes and Just Do It. (The shoes weren’t Nike btw, so the ads spurred me to action but not the purchasing kind of action.)

It’s International Women’s Day and therefore fitting that I post some of the ads from the Nike Women Campaign.  I threw in the Bo Knows commercial just for fun.  That and “I’m Not a Runner” – more current but one of my faves.

(Click on the ads to read the text.)

Nike: Measure of a Woman

Nike: 40 yr old woman

I so wish I had the ad that contained this brilliant copy:

You were born a daughter. You looked up to your mother. You looked up to your father. You looked up at everyone. You wanted to be a princess. You thought you were a princess. You wanted to own a horse. You wanted to be a horse. You wanted your brother to be a horse. You wanted to wear pink. You never wanted to wear pink. You wanted to be a Veterinarian. You wanted to be President. You wanted to be the President’s Veterinarian. You were picked last for the team. You were the best one on the team. You refused to be on the team. You wanted to be good in algebra. You hid during algebra. You wanted the boys to notice you. You were afraid the boys would notice you. You started to get acne. You started to get breasts. You started to get acne that was bigger than your breasts. You wouldn’t wear a bra. You couldn’t wait to wear a bra. You couldn’t fit into a bra. You didn’t like the way you looked. You didn’t like the way your parents looked. You didn’t want to grow up. You had your first best friend. You had your first date. You had your second best friend. You had your second first date. You spent hours on the telephone. You got kissed. You got to kiss back. You went to the prom. You didn’t go to the prom. You went to the prom with the wrong person. You spent hours on the telephone. You fell in love. You fell in love. You fell in love. You lost your best friend. You lost your other best friend. You really fell in love. You became a steady girlfriend. You became a significant other. YOU BECAME SIGNIFICANT TO YOURSELF. Sooner or later, you start taking yourself seriously. You know when you need a break. You know when you need a rest. You know what to get worked up about and what to get rid of. And you know when it’s time to take care of yourself, for yourself. To do something that makes you stronger, faster, more complete. Because you know it’s never too late to have a life. And never too late to change one. JUST DO IT.

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Oscar, Oscar! What’s an Oscar party without food?

Oscar night is approaching.  I’ve often entertained the thought of hosting an Oscar party but alas, I haven’t been able to ditch that “you don’t go out on a school night” mentality and as a result, my grand plans have never materialized.

If you have successfully shed the parent-induced guilt that was laid down on you in your teen years and you’re hosting a gala soiree but have no idea what to serve your guests (or even just yourself!), here are some ideas, based loosely on the Best Picture Nominees:

The King’s Speech

  • Scones with jam
  • Cucumber sandwiches
  • Pinwheel sandwiches (tuna, egg salad, PB & J even!)

Black Swan

A plate of carrots.  Anyone who eats them must immediately perform some sort of cardio for an hour afterwords, to burn off the calories they just consumed.  In keeping with the body image problems identified in the movie, only allow one carrot per guest 😉

The Social Network

  • Beer
  • Chips
  • Pizza and anything else you ate/drank when you were in University/College

Fighter

  • Irish stew
  • Guinness

Inception

The Kids Are All Right

  • Wine
  • Organic veggies and dip

127 Hours

  • Energy Bars (ie. Cliff Bars, Lara Bars)
  • Apple juice (if you have to ask why I included this, you don’t want to know)
  • Water

Toy Story 3

  • Baked Potatoes
  • Any kind of Pork (Represent Slinky Dog and Pig in one shot by serving pork wieners!)

True Grit

  • Baked beans (mash Toy Story 3 together with True Grit and serve pork and beans!)
  • Whiskey

Winter’s Bone

  • Squirrel
  • If you’re averse to squirrel, try City Chicken.  There are a million recipes out there.  My grandmother used to make it when I was little. All I remember was really thick, stubby skewers and she used veal cubes that were breaded and really unhealthy.  Of course, it was delish!

Whatever you choose to do/eat, enjoy the show!

App Review: RunKeeper Pro (Get it Free while you can!)

RunKeeper Pro is an iPhone app that tracks your activities, mileage, coaches you and provides reports. The app bills itself as having similar functionality to a GPS training device such as a Garmin. Since I don’t have a Garmin but I do have an iPhone, I’ve been putting this app to good use.

Features include:

  • Distance tracking (included)
  • Activity tracking (included)
  • Fitness Classes (plans have to be purchased; bummer!)
  • Coaching (included)
  • Graphs (included; makes our inner excel geek happy!)
  • Street Team (included)

My favourite feature to date is the coaching feature.  I choose my options for audio cues: distance and average pace. Options include time, average speed, current pace, current speed, current split pace and current split speed.  I do love options. This really is a user’s dream. You are presented with choices for almost every setting.

A few screen shots to salivate over, including Audio Cue Settings, Interval Coaching Options and the Activity Log.

Activity LogSettingsInterval Coaching

I love this app for it’s simplicity.  I have multiple activities that I can choose from.  The audio cues are easy to hear  and the battery life on my phone isn’t rapidly drained by the GPS.  Have I mentioned that you can also set up a playlist to listen to while you’re running/exercising?  Even with your iPod running, the battery meter only drops by approximately 10% over an hour long run which means I could easily get through a marathon with this app.  There is also an option to manually record activities.   You can share your workouts via Twitter and/or Facebook.  One option I particularly like is that you can turn off the map display.  You friends/followers will know you ran and how far you went but they won’t know where you were if you don’t want them to.  All of your workouts are synchronized between your phone and your online account so you have your complete history at your fingertips.  If you’re the spreadsheet type (aren’t all runners number crunchers at heart?), fitness reports detailing your mileage highs (and lows) are available online.

So, what’s not to love?  For starters, only basic reporting options are available to you.  If you want to compare anything but the defaults, you have to become an Elite member and pay the Elite fee ($20/yr or $5/month).  I love the audio cues but after a while, listening to a voice say “you are X seconds behind your target pace” after stating what my pace is, is a little annoying and there is no option to turn this part of the cue off, without silencing the entire pace cue.  At the same time that I complain about this though, I should say that it’s nearly impossible to do math when you’re running.*   So, maybe on those long runs I will come to appreciate the gentle prodding and the +/- pace cues.  Additionally, the GPS doesn’t work indoors.  This is the first winter that I’m attempting to run through without the use of a treadmill.  That means indoor tracks and outdoor ice/snow.  If you forget that the GPS doesn’t work indoors and you have your social network settings turned on, be prepared for lots of ribbing from friends when they see you’ve run 0.00 km in 60 minutes.  Not that I’m speaking from experience… 😳  It’s my understanding that all GPS devices normally don’t work indoors, even Garmin devices so I don’t believe this to be a fault of the app but if you’re counting on training indoors, you should be aware of this.

Finally my biggest issue with the app isn’t really with the app at all, but rather with the iPhone.  Carrying a phone with you while you run can be tricky.  Adjusting gloves and opening jackets to access inner pockets when it’s -25°C, just to start an app so you can an accurate distance/time isn’t the most convenient.  To add to the inconvenience, when I’m taking my phone with me on a run, I keep it in a resealable plastic bag to keep moisture out so I have to get into that too.  Because it is winter I’m running with clothing that allows me to stash my phone on my person.  When summer/spring hits, I am not sure where I’m going to put my phone.  I’ve tried a few belts/armbands but not found any of them to be particularly comfortable when running long distances.  That is definitely something to think about, if you haven’t already.  If you have thought about it and you have the perfect solution, please share!

Is this a replacement for a Garmin?  Not when you add the aforementioned accessibility issue.  Other than that, I think it’s pretty close.

As noted in the title of this post, the app is currently free; the regular price is $9.99.  Get it while you can folks; I have no idea when the price is going back up and for free, this is definitely a great deal!

Happy running!

* A note about running and math..

If you’ve ever tried performing mental math while running,  you know that your abilities can easily be reduced to those of a Grade 2 student.  Those endorphins get flowing, your brain goes to La La Land and suddenly subtracting 6:16 from 6:44 becomes a monumental challenge, especially when you start multiplying times and distances and trying to convert pace (min/km) to speed (km/hr).  Suddenly you’re freaking out, thinking your 10K race is going to take you 90 minutes only to come home, plug your data into a calculator and see you’re actually going to finish in 57 mins, right where you want to.  Whew!

Smoothie Recipe: Don’t try this at home.

I’ve been experimenting with smoothies recipes lately.  The key word there is “experimenting”.

Today I thought I would try to re-create the flavor of my Blueberry Banana Blaster muffins. How hard could it be? Blueberries, bananas, and bran were the easy part.  I opted to use orange juice for liquid.  I had All Bran Buds so I used them.

The result? It was really thick. The first few mouthfuls were intriguing enough that I thought I liked it.  It was mildly flavoured with just a little sweetness.  I proceeded to drink half of it and then it hit me:  Ew.  Not good!  I tidied up my mess and when I went to dispose of the remains down the drain, the leftovers plopped into the sink in a congealed mass that had the imprint of the cup in it (like really thick yogurt).  My guess is that the bran swelled which caused the consistency to change.  The thought of that made my gut swell, I swear!  Here’s the recipe below, just so you know what not to make!
1/4 cup all bran buds
1/2 cup blueberries
1/4 cup orange juice
1 banana

Looks pretty good eh?  Yeah, just remember: looks can be deceiving!

Human Cheese aka Recycling Breast Milk

Human Cheese.  Cheese made from breast milk.  Read that again.  Say it out loud.  What do you think?  Do you cringe?  Wrinkle your nose?  Smile?  Maybe you wonder what it tastes like.

When I first heard of making cheese from human breast milk I shook my head and dismissed it as a chef’s experimental fancy.  I didn’t really have a visceral reaction to it.  I read this post on the Globe‘s website and the thought of human milk as a sustainable food source brought out a much stronger response.

Eating human cheese.  My initial reaction to this was:  No way.  Gross.  Ewww.  That’s just wrong.

Evolution being what it is, my brain kept working.

Why though?  Why would it be wrong?  Because there’s something cannibalistic about it.  But wait.  I nursed both my kids.  Does that make them cannibals?  No.  Okay so that string of logic isn’t so logical.  Why is it so easy to accept the idea of eating cow’s milk products and so difficult to warm to the idea of human milk products?

After a few days thought and a handful of conversations about human cheese, I’ve given up trying to explain my aversion to the notion of eating the ultimate in all natural organic cheese.  What I’ve become more fascinated by is the marketplace that has developed for the sale/purchase of breast milk.  A quick search uncovers several websites devoted to classified ads where an ounce of milk sells for anywhere from $1 to $3.  One company has already been created to re-sell the milk.  They pasteurize it and test it for disease/bacteria and then turn around and sell it at a mark-up.  I’m more averse to this commercialization of breast milk than I am to the idea of eating human cheese.

Food for thought.

Recipe: Post-Run Smoothie (Robcoat)

I was cold this morning when I returned from my run.  I was also hungry and sweaty.  I felt an urgent need to eat/shower/get warm simultaneously.  My solution?  Make a smoothie and drink most of it on my way up to the shower.  This one hit the spot  so I thought I would share.

Robcoat smoothie

(get it? Rasberries, Orange juice, Banana, Cranberry, OATmeal.  Lame, I know.  But trust me, you’ll remember it!)

1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup cranberry juice
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 banana
1/4 cup oatmeal (uncooked!)

I tossed it all into the container that came with my Braun hand mixer, gave it a few pulses and voila: breakfast in a jiffy.

For all the nutrient-oriented readers out there, here’s the scoop on this:

Total Calories: 307

  • Fat = 3 g
  • Protein= 8 g
  • Carbohydrates = 63 g
  • Fibre = 9 g
  • Sugar = 3 g
  • Calcium = 55 mg
  • Iron = 3 mg
  • Sodium = 6 mg

Nutrient analysis performed using AccuChef Software

Gear Review: Sugoi Firewall 220 Zip Jacket

Sugoi Firewall 220 Zip

Sugoi Firewall 220 Zip

I was the fortunate recipient of a Sugoi Firewall 220 Zip jacket for my birthday. Lucky for me, my birthday is in January so I was able to don that baby and try it out almost immediately.  Being me, I had to eat my birthday cake first.

We’ve been blessed with very cold temperatures lately and it’s provided ample sample temperatures to test out the Zip. I’ve used it in temps ranging from -2°C to a -17°C windchill. The only complaint so far? I’ve been too warm!

Features

Extra long sleeves: At first, I thought the jacket was made for someone with gorilla length arms. The sleeves actually extend past the length of my fingertips. A few questions and answers later and I’m told that Sugoi designed the sleeves this length because of the number of cyclists who use this model jacket. They pull the sleeves over their hands to add warmth when they ride.

Reflective Trim: Sleeves have a small band of it.  There’s a  Sugoi pattern on the back plus a band across the back.  It’s not a lot but it is enough to draw attention to you.

Pockets: Two external pockets that have seam-sealed zippers to keep rain/snow out.  Two internal pockets that don’t zip.   They’re basically made from the construction of the zippered pockets.

Fabric: The front, sleeves, shoulders and a piece at the back are constructed with the Firewall material.  That means water and wind repellent.  The remainder of the jacket is constructed with breathable fleece.

It’s winter and I live in Canada so I’ve been layering under the jacket.  Lately I’ve been wearing a Polar-tec turtleneck with one other layer, either a fleece or a dry-tech shirt.  For the -17°C windchill run (-12°C without the wind), I just wore the tneck and a vneck adidas long sleeve tech shirt.  The run was 6k and by the 3k mark, I had my jacket open and was feeling very warm.  Of course, the wind was at my back so that helped 🙂  The windproof fabric of the Firewall was appreciated on the return trip, with the wind hitting head-on.

At first, I thought the sleeve length would be a real problem.  They are THAT long.  I thought the bunching that occurs from pushing the sleeves up would be a problem but again, it hasn’t. Truth be told, I haven’t noticed them at all, other than to pull them down partway to add to the layers covering my hands.

The jacket has a fair amount of give to it; it’s quite stretchy.  That’s helpful if you bulk up with a lot of layers underneath it.  Be warned though.  If you do add a lot of layers, you’ll find out pretty quickly that you don’t need them.

I’m looking forward to a few really cold runs to see how this jacket performs.  Based on my experience with Sugoi tights (mid-zero and sub-zero), I’m sure I’ll be warm and toasty.

Here’s the tech speak for the fabric:

Sugoi S3+ Protection – a combination of layers that provide superior protection under the harshest of winter conditions.
· S1 Next to skin layer for moisture transfer
· S2 Ensures warmth in cold conditions
· S3 Provides protection against the elements
Fabric: Body 100% Polyester / Polyurethane Laminate, Contrast 88% Polyester, 12% Spandex

Fit: Relaxed

Features & Benefits:

Waterproof and windproof triple-layer fabric to protect you from the winter elements
Outer layer – high-gauge knit instead of a woven, which provides supple and quiet performance, no uncomfortable crunchy feel
Middle layer – extremely waterproof and windproof durable polyurethane film that breathes well while keeping you dry, warm and protected
Inner layer – honeycomb knit fabric which allows moisture to wick away from the body
Two front zip pockets to stow essentials
Full front zip, waterproof, with zip-guard to avoid chafing
Reflective detail thanks to 3M Scotchlite so you are visible in car headlights
Shaped longer at the back to keep you covered whilst on the move
Ergonomically shaped sleeve for great fit
Dual adjustable elastic cord to gather at the waist for your perfect fit

Update: Another run completed on a cold morning (-°C20/-26°C with the windchill) and again, I was toasty in my Firewall 220 Zip.  My face on the other hand, could have used a balaclava!

Sugoi Firewall 220 Zip in Action

Warm Torso, Cold Face!

Brie, again.

I found these fantastic little dishes called “Brie Bakers” at a recent sale.  It’s basically a ceramic dish with a lid, that you bake brie in. I thought they were so brilliant that I scooped up a few of them to give as gifts.  Since that time, I’ve seen ads for them everywhere.

I love brie.  I rarely have it.  Having said that, I’ve served it twice in the past 3 weeks.  The first was the Brie with Caramelized Apples.  The second was a recipe that came with this handy little Brie Baker.  It called for slivered almonds, dried cranberries and a splash of maple syrup.  Pop it into the oven (the directions state “hot oven”; I set the temp for 275 F) and voila – 15 mins later you’ve got another delicious (artery-clogging, cholesterol-raising) appetizer.

If you’re interested in picking up one of these marvels, check out the following retail links:

Kitchen Stuff Plus
Cayne’s
Golda’s Kitchen
Amazon.com

Life: It’s about clean lines

I’ve been painting a bedroom and as it was a large room, I had much time to think while I worked. I drew several parallels between painting and life.

It turns out that everything I needed to know, I learned from Bob the Builder. There’s a Bob the Builder song called “Right Tool for the Job”. If you’ve got the right tools, your job is easier. It doesn’t matter if you’re painting, managing a project or planning a party. With the right tools (resources/people/technology), you can get the job done and get it done right. If your tools are people, make sure they’re coached and supported adequately.

Ask for advice even if you’ve done the job previously. Consult anyone else who has performed a similar task or your neighbourly subject matter expert. You’ve done this task so efficiently you could do it in your sleep. Why ask anyone else what their experience has been like? Because you might learn something and it might be useful/make your job easier.  You might even find out (gasp!) that you’ve been doing it the hard way.

Clean lines take lots of preparation. You can just jump in and start painting but it’s always a good idea to minimize risk in whatever you do. Put down your drop cloths. Move furniture out of the way. Get the ladder that is the right height for you to reach comfortably. Imagine any venture that isn’t planned.  Since the holiday season is here, imagine a holiday party without planning.  Don’t invite me.  I’ll expect food and drink and you won’t have planned for any.

Clean lines take patience. Go too fast and you might end up crooked. Good work takes a reasonable amount of time.

Clean lines take humility. Don’t get cocky. If you get arrogant about your line, karma will visit before you’re finished and you’ll end up with a smear or a jag. Everyone likes to celebrate your successes with you; no one likes to hear you brag about them though.

Revisit your work. You’ve just finished writing a document; now what? Put it aside and then revisit it and edit it. Touch ups are worth it.

Finally, check the bottoms of your feet before you leave the room.  If you’ve stepped in something, clean it up before you track it all over the place.  Hopefully, if you did step in something and track it everywhere, you’ll notice it before anyone else does.  If anyone else does see it?  Take responsibility for your actions, clean it up and move on.

Kids and Running Part Deux: Races that include kids

Your little one has decided he wants to tag along on your runs.  You let her join you and watch as she sprints to the end of the street and announces the run is over. Eventually, he expresses an interest in running a race because you are running a race.  Where do you find a race that includes your offspring?  Here:

Walk+Roll Peel (Brampton, Ont.) – 1Km kids course.  Usually held in October.

Oasis ZooRun (Toronto, Ont.) – Cub Run is less than 1 km long.  Lots of fun.  Everyone gets a bib with the number 1 on it plus a tshirt and other assorted goodies in the race kit.  Free admission to the zoo for the day is included.  Usually held in October.

Where’s Franktown (Franktown, Ont.) – Family Run that is approx. 1 km long.  Kids receive a certificate for completing the race. Usually held in May.

Mudrun (Toronto, Ont.) – 1.5 km Kids Mud Run.  Part of me thinks this sounds awesome.  Bet the kids would love it!  Usually held in June.

Taylor Creek Park Fun Run
(Scarborough, Ont.) – 2 km Kids Run.  Usually held in July.

Longboat Toronto Island 10K and 1K Kids Fun Run (Toronto, Ont.) – 1 km Kids Run.  Usually held in September.

Whitby 10 Miler, Santa is Back in Town (Whitby, Ont.) – Each run has a 1 km kids race.  The 10 Miler is held in November; the Santa race is held in December.

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