McDonald’s, Stahp

If you’ve read a book on branding lately (I mean, who hasn’t?) you’ll notice that they probably have McDonald’s listed as the “DON’T” example. Unlike certain “branding experts” who may have popular blogs that assault you with truly offensive pop-ups, and live off the 10th percentile of their subscribers, we’re not confusing brand recognition with brand integrity up in here.

McDonald’s brand promise is supposed to be quality. For the past 40 years, their brand delivery has been consistency at the cost of quality. Which is a thing a brand can promise. It’s just not what McDonald’s promises. Everywhere you go, you get the exact same kind of terrible food product at McDonald’s. Even more reliably than other, similar fast food joints. That global uniformity is admirable, it must take a massive mobilization of manpower. But it’s not quality, and the fact that some of us confuse one for the other speaks to the abysmal state of our public education system.

Credit: Redditor remihoh
Credit: Redditor remihoh

I’m saying all this because I think it may be the reason McDonald’s is having such a hard time with their social media. They famously made someone’s mom think they were about to kill themselves with their “Pay with Lovn'” promotion, and now they’re ambushing terrified 20-somethings in their neighborhoods and workplaces in order to force feed them Chicken Selects.

That ad makes it seem like maybe this guy is used to weirdos following him to the park and giving him cold fast food. The other one, which I can not find, is of a terrified white girl in biz. cas. taking a bite out of the chicken select like it was the severed finger of a fellow hostage. Believe me, I’m keeping an eye out, and you will have it as soon as I do because that shit is amazing.

This is a brand that has been living in a vacuum-sealed bunker, surrounded by their own butt-stink for too long. They tell their B to C marketing guys that they’re a part of their customer’s family, that they’re a friendly face, someone the market can love! This is the collision of brand-fantasy and brand-reality. People who love McDonald’s food are ashamed of that fact. When I have to throw away my bag of McDonald’s, I feel dead-hooker levels of shame at what I have done. At no point are the golden arches anything but a monument to the depths of my self-hate.

McDonald’s is trying, not to re-brand, but to realign with their brand, at least on paper and in the media. These embarrassing “fuck ups” may be, if not calculated, designed to fail gracefully, for lack of a better word. They’re one of the most visible companies in the world. If they get something a little wrong it can only serve to humanize the company we associate with anything but humanity lately.

Don’t be fooled. If the clown’s inhumanity to man didn’t jibe with our experience, it wouldn’t stick. Remember when Starbucks got accused of racism for their ill-thought out #RaceTogether campaign? Probably not, even though it happened just last week. Despite their fuck-up, it’s out of our minds in an instant. And most of the buzz about it has to do with Starbucks being misguided, rather than evil.

But that pink sludge everybody says is chicken nugget paste despite massive marketing to the contrary by McDonald’s Corporate has stuck around. Not because it’s true, but because it feels true. A company this out of touch with real humanity would feed us motor oil if it could turn a profit.

That’s the difference between brand recognition and brand integrity.

The Joy of Storytelling with Justin Lazaro

I know you guys like it when I interview authors, especially those who are new to the market, so today I have newly self-published writer Justin Lazaro on the blog to talk about his first novel, the writing process, and his ideal life.

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Justin Lazaro, author of The Blue Dejou

First, what are your books and where can we buy them?

The Blue Dejou is a coming of age work of fiction with a pinch of magical realism. I tend to enjoy stories with extraordinary ideas in an otherwise normal world. It’s an ebook that you could buy on Amazon.

What would you say was the beginning of your journey to being published?

My journey started in 2010 when I was working in a non-profit credit counseling company in San Francisco. One of my close co-workers was going to graduate school for creative writing. During coffee breaks I would tell her ideas for books I would love to write. I always dreamed of writing a book and getting it published but my strict asian parents always taught me to be more practical than idealistic. After a little bit of coaxing from my friend, I began scribbling notes on company scratch paper during my free time, and the rest is history.

Did you self-publish Blue Dejou? Can you talk about that process?

Yes, I self-published The Blue Dejou. Originally I wanted to go the traditional route. I wrote query letters and e-mailed literary agents. One literary agent told me she thought my story was interesting, but the fiction market is hard to break into. Additionally, a lot of publishers are looking for authors that already have a following. After a couple of months of lukewarm responses, I decided to take matters into my own hands. So far it’s been great.

How did you prepare for the launch of the new book? What kind of marketing or community building do you do?

My preparation was more mental than physical. Being judged for a work of art that you have devoted a large chunk of your life to writing is nerve-wracking. Once it was up, I posted the book to internet communities that I knew would be interested in my novel. Some of them include: pug lovers, residents of Sacramento, the LGBTQ community, etc…

In your novel The Blue Dejou, your main character is kind of butch, maybe something of a gaybro. Why did you choose to go that direction?

The character I consider a gaybro was based off of one of my best friends. He’s a decorated military veteran that swears like a sailor, is a self-proclaimed redneck, and has more pride in his little pinky than a gay parade (I’m gay just in case that comment seems to come from left-field). He’s a complex character who is like no one I’ve ever met before. I had to write him into the book.

Now that you have your first book under your belt, what would you have done differently if you had it to do again?

I would believe in myself more. There were countless moments that I doubted myself while writing my book. In a time where we are surrounded by incredible authors, it can be very difficult for someone to even dream about writing a book. My book may not be the best but I know there are people out there that love it as much as I do.

What’s the one thing you wish people knew about writing?

There are countless hours of thought and decision-making to create that story. That book you thought was boring and written horribly, still required months or even years for an author to put together. One aisle at your Barnes and Noble bookstore might have required more collective effort to write than what it took to build the Great Wall of China! I have so much more respect for the art of story-telling now that I have went through the process.

Do you consider yourself a sci-fi writer?

Not really. Other than this fantastic bean that does the opposite of coffee, there are no other sci-fi elements to The Blue Dejou. I like to create stories that are relatable and realistic. For this book, I wanted the reader to feel as if they could just drive to their nearest Blue Dejou and order their favorite flavored joozoo drink to help them fall asleep at night.

What question do you wish an interviewer would ask you and what’s the answer?

Q: What does your ideal life look like?
A: In my Ideal life I am able to create stories full-time. As an introvert by nature, my mornings and afternoons would be spent writing and thinking of ideas for my next book. I’m happiest when I’m brainstorming ideas. I have close friends and family that I don’t have to schedule weeks in advance to see. Dinners are loud and boisterous full of both meaningful and trivial conversation. Life is uncomplicated and sleep is easy.

Thanks again to Justin for taking my interview request. You can buy The Blue Dejou on Amazon for $2.99!

The Perfect House

It’s been over a year since we moved to Portland, and the housing market is hot right now. A lot of Portland developers like to build these massive fake-craftsman houses in tiney city lots that have a single foot of yard between the house and the fence.

Who in the fuck needs a 5,000 square foot house? Are you starting a crime family?

The perfect house has at least twice as much outside room as it has inside.

The perfect house has wood floors everywhere, except the kitchen and bathrooms, where it has tile.

The perfect house is in a friendly neighborhood with a street that has a decent amount of foot traffic through it. People will complain about dog poop and people putting stuff into our trash cans, but the truth is that we’ll have far less robberies than infrequently trafficked neighborhoods.

The perfect house will be walking distance from the store, and filled with hand-made things.

But more important than what the house looks like, where it is, or even what it has inside it, is who it has inside it. And it better not have the kind of jerks who build a three-story house on 90% of the available land.

I Call It “Pop Deco”

You can usually tell how busy and overwhelmed I am based on how jacked up my nails are. It took me three weeks to finally paint these bad boys.

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That Maybelline Color Show is awful, but I’ve never had a white polish that isn’t bad. The only way to get a good solid white manicure is to put down alternating layers of white and matte top coat until it looks normal.

What Should I Blog About?

So you’re suffering from writer’s block. I am here to help. And none of those shit “talk about your first kiss” topics everybody always suggests. Here is a list of wacky crazy, unique narratives for your next blog. All I ask is that you give me a shout out, either here or on social media (like Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram)

1. If you grew a second head what would you name it and what kind of shit would it say?

2. Write a thank you letter to your first pet.

3. If you had to live your life with only the things that are a. within reach and b. able to fit in your pockets and/or whatever carrying device you can fashion from the shit within reach, how long would you survive and how wretched would you be?

4. Call out someone who should be fired from their job. Use their full name.

5. What kind of super-villain would your father be if he were super-villain?

6. If you could poison anybody on the planet right now, who would it be and what would you use? No backing out and saying you wouldn’t poison anybody. You have to pick someone who is both real and alive right now.

7. When you were a kid, how did you think periods worked?

8. Write a space opera starring Tardigrades.

9. Which historical figures would you fuck, and what positions would you do? Get detailed. Don’t hold back.

Female Ambition

I am so fucking tired of people mentioning how shit it is that high-achieving women are bitches in the same situations where high-achieving men are celebrated, but then they get all yippy when a woman demands a place at the table.

You can’t have it both ways, fuckheads.

Chronically ambitions people can be annoying. For the sake of my own sanity, I’ve had to get a handle my own apple polishing, because it turns out I’m not happy when my worth comes from working. But, I’ve had it mansplained to me a lot how I should be somehow radically different from who I fucking am and I am damn sick of that shit. Equal treatment is not an unrealistic ambition. Stop telling the women in your life to “tone down” anything.

If you can’t handle the heat, get out of my cunt.

Eat dicks everybody who feels uncomfortable with woman’s drive to be the best, but doesn’t seem to mind when a dude does the same thing. If your lady friend is “too extreme” for you, fine. Find some other bitch to boss after, and let that poor woman be free.

Newsflash, misogynists: You are nobody’s miracle.

And for all you lovely men who read this and think some kind of way. Good. I’ve said it before, write your own blog, bro.

If God Actually Loved You, He Wouldn’t Have Made You So Ugly

creflowdolalrThis goofy looking weirdo wants a new jet. And you know what he’s doing to acquire it? He’s asking for his ministry to provide it to him. A million billion bobble-heads that follow his reverse-toothsome ass around the world and pay for his multiple hideous mansions.

Don’t you think that if God loved this fool, he’d already have a new jet? Isn’t that the whole point of Creflo Fucking Dollar? God blesses his followers with money in Creflo’s church. But God didn’t stop him from choking the shit out of his 15-year old daughter, did he? And the truth of the matter is that God doesn’t really bless Creflo’s followers with money so much as he blesses Creflo with money. And mansions. And kids to choke.

And a herd of amazing followers who will buy his ass a jet.

Creflo Dollar, I hope you get cancer. I hope God gives you a gift you will never recover from. You con-man-ass motherfucker. Just like any low life criminal, you prey on these people’s insecurities, and you turn them against any values they may have had towards the unending pursuit of the one thing that will never make them happy: useless, empty money.

Money didn’t buy you a good enough jet. Money didn’t make you not choke your kid out in the middle of the family room of your oversized compensation of a house. Money didn’t keep congress from investigating your slovenly, whinging ass.

Creflo Dollar, you weren’t smart enough to be a CEO, so you fleeced these good people another way, didn’t you? Creflo Dollar, what did your parents do to you that made the kind of self-centered narcissist who would make a 6 minute begging video staring, among others, the President of Liberia.

Creflo Dollar, If God our father already made your current jet crashe twice, don’t you think you should take the hint?!

If the all-knowing, all-seeing God you claim to speak for truly loved you, you wouldn’t be so unhappy right now, Creflo Dollar. If one mansion doesn’t fix what’s wrong with you, two isn’t going to do it. Three certainly isn’t, as you know because you recently sold your $3.75 million Manhattan apartment.

If God really loved you, life wouldn’t be this way at all. Would it?