Church Launches World’s Largest Chalk Painting ‘Skyvertisement’

April 19th, 2014 by Chris Silver Smith

I’ve mentioned before how my church, Fellowship Church, has leveraged their position directly in the landing path zone near DFW Airport to promote themselves through the use of a huge logo painted directly on their roof — a form of ‘Roofvertising‘, as it were. They’ve now done yet another type of “Skyvertising” by painting a huge chalk portrait of Jesus on the church parking lot:

Fellowship Church's Chalk Portrait of Jesus

Fellowship’s Chalk portrait of Jesus. The chalk portrait coincides with the week leading up to Easter holiday weekend, and the chalk painting is a form of skyvertising. Aerial Photo Credit: WFAA

While this is clearly more of a novelty and a PR ploy to remind people that this is Easter weekend (many people only attend church twice per year — Easter Weekend and Christmas services), roofvertising and skyvertising are actually serious forms of marketing that can often reach a great many people who are exposed to the promotions when they fly over them or see them when browsing through satellite imagery and aerial photos in Google Maps, Bing Maps, Mapquest, and other mapping applications. KFC’s “Space Ad” — an image of their iconic “Colonel” mascot/logo built at large scale out in the desert of Nevada — was probably the most famous example of this type of marketing.

Fellowship’s chalk portrait of Jesus certainly allowed them to abruptly stand out from the crowd of other churches all vying for attendees this weekend. Many churches do little more to promote themselves at Easter than to hang a large banner outside. Read the rest of this entry »

Snowpiercer Delayed Distribution Driving Up Piracy & Malware

April 10th, 2014 by Chris Silver Smith

I’ve been waiting quite some time for the SF flick, Snowpiercer, to appear in U.S. theatres or for the DVD to be available. Apparently, I’m not alone. I noticed this week that if you search for “snowpiercer download”, you can find about 11 DMCA takedown notices removing 21 results from the listings in Google:

Snowpiercer DMCA and piracy in Google search results - Snowpiercer Download

Snowpiercer, is based on a graphic novel from France named Le Transperceneige,” authored by Jacques Lob and Benjamin Legrand, and illustrated by Jean-Marc Rochette. The novel set in a dystopian future where there was apparently some failed attempt to halt global warming that instead resulted in a new Ice Age that kills off all life on Earth except for a group that lives on a train called “Snow Piercer”, which runs around the planet, powered by some sort of perpetual-motion engine. Over time, a class-segregated society develops on the ever-zooming railroad, and the story focuses upon how a struggles emerges between the rich/advantaged who live at the front of the train versus the poor at the back.

The concept sounds fairly unbelievable, but the visuals in the trailer along with a compelling cast that includes Chris Evans, Tilda Swinton and Ed Harris have made me want to see it. The kookiness of the concept also attracts me to it!

Since I frequently work along with various attorneys on reputation management cases, I’m accustomed to seeing takedown notices at the bottom of search results — Google and Bing have very kindly taken down materials that can be proven to be defamatory or otherwise illegal, such as in the case of copyright infringements covered by DMCA. But, I don’t recall running across a search results page with quite so many notices at once.

It’s also interesting that there appears to be no official website for the film as of yet — and provision of one would further displace secondary pirate sites, most likely, rendering them marginally less visible to consumers.

What’s further interesting about this is that I think the slowness to distribute in the U.S. has perhaps driven a lot more piracy and copyright infringement than it needed to. Many SciFi film buffs and comic book enthusiasts are interested in viewing the film, and are frustrated to be unable to get access (I count myself in this set). Read the rest of this entry »

The 12th Man

February 4th, 2014 by Chris Silver Smith
12th Man Logo

The logo of the 12th Man Foundation, designed by Chris Silver Smith

The recent Super Bowl hoopla brought the Seahawks 12th Man to national attention, but I wonder how many realize that this fan support concept was founded by Texas A&M University? Most of my friends and acquaintances are unfamiliar with my past ties to the A&M organization and its iconography as well. Shortly after college, I worked for TAMU as a scientific illustrator, mapmaker and graphic designer. While in that capacity, I designed the 12th Man’s iconic logo.

If you’ve driven around the state of Texas for any length of time, chances are good that you’ve seen this logo on decals on the back windows of a great many vehicles. I think it’s probably the most widely visible thing I’ve ever designed.

So, how did the 12th Man itself come to be associated with the Seahawks, way up in Seattle, Washington? Read the rest of this entry »

Google Treasure Maps

April 1st, 2013 by Chris Silver Smith

Have you tried out Google Maps in “Treasure Mode” today?

Google Maps in Treasure Mode

Google Treasure Map of Dallas

I just noticed it late in the day. On the left side is a box for more information about the new beta program: Read the rest of this entry »

Ever Wonder Where Santa Claus’s Home Is Located?

December 4th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Ever wonder where Santa Claus’s north pole home is actually located? Well, Rovaniemi, Finland makes a pretty credible case, claiming themselves as the official home to Santa.

Rovaniemi's tourism website - home of Santa Clause

Homepage of Rovaniemi's tourism website featuring Santa Claus

A number of characteristics of our Santa myths (a.k.a. “Father Christmas”) appear to’ve been adopted from Sápmi (a region of Norway, Sweden, Finland and part of Russia often referred to as “Lapland”) and its indigenous people, the Saami. Rovaniemi is well within the Sápmi lands. Read the rest of this entry »

LinkedIn Ad Casts Me As Google Employee

December 2nd, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

LinkedIn’s ads which autopopulate people’s profile information into the ad can be jarring. Here’s one which gave me a shudder — it portrays me as a Googler!

Personalized Ad on LinkedIn

I don’t see myself as an employee of a huge, publicly-traded company since I was with Verizon years ago, so the ad was pretty disturbing to me! I just wasn’t ready to see that! It’s possible that Read the rest of this entry »

Google Local Is Now A Train Wreck

November 30th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Mike Blumenthal posted earlier this week that Google Local is now a veritable train wreck, and I don’t think his statement is hyperbole.

Google Plus Local Page Business Problems

For some time now, Google Local (originally just referred to as “Google Maps”, then called “Google Local”, then called “Google Places”) has had some problems in how it handles how local businesses can manage their own data. All local data providers struggle with the process of how to verify whether someone has the right to change a business’s information — and Google’s phone call / post card verification process is no exception. So, it’s had that problem from the beginning, although it doesn’t seem to’ve gotten any smoother in the meantime.

Then there’s the changing nomenclature — they just don’t keep consistently using the same brandnames and terminology to refer to the data display, versus the interfaces that businesses use to manage their own data. Google Local Business Center became Google Places — where you could login to manage your Google Place Pages (your business profile pages that would appear in Google).

Now, along comes Google+ (aka “Google Plus”). Which has personal profiles for people to use in interacting socially, and then they allowed companies to set up profile pages for businesses — “Brand Pages”. Then the real sh*t hit the fan when they then smashed Google Places into Google Plus, and started referring to THOSE as “Google Plus Local” or “Google+ Local” pages.

But, what of those companies that had set up “Brand Pages” already?!?  The advent of Google+ Local pages essentially Read the rest of this entry »

Google’s Dracula Logo

November 8th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

I can’t resist mentioning Google’s Dracula themed logo today celebrating the 165th birthday of Bram Stoker!

Google Dracula Vampires Logo

Google Logo - Bram Stoker Customized Search Results Page

Sponsored search results associated with Google's Bram Stoker logo. (Click to enlarge.)

The logo presents scenes from Stoker’s Dracula uber-famous vampire book, done up in a woodcut-illustration style very reminiscent of the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, from the same time period. Dracula was published in 1897.

What may be more significant for search marketers, however, is the special search results page the logo is linked-to, which features Bram Stoker-related books, the Sponsored “shop for” sidebar box and the Wikipedia entry highlights box, along with the usual Universal Search items peppered through the search results listings: news search, author-tagged posts, video and image search results.

This logo and associated search results treatment seems to be specifically designed to help propel featured sponsor ad clicks, as well as to promote Google’s robust search results features.

It calls to question — will Google continue to specifically try to monetize their future Google Doodle logos in a similar fashion?

Double Bankruptcy Required for Dex One / SuperMedia Yellow Pages Merger?!?

October 25th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

In nothing short of earth-shattering news, it was reported that the Dex One – SuperMedia yellow pages companies merger is apparently on the rocks due to the companies’ creditors being unwilling to accept financial terms. Worse yet, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission filing states that the companies might have to restructure under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to make the merger deal work!

Quoted from the Form 8-K filed by Dex One:

In light of the current negotiations, however, Dex One recognizes that the parties may not be able to obtain sufficient approval from the senior secured lenders to any proposed amendments to the parties’ respective credit agreements. Therefore, possible alternatives to the current transaction structure to effect the Merger are under consideration, including a “prepackaged” restructuring of the parties’ senior secured indebtedness through proceedings instituted under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code to implement possible amendments that may garner sufficient, though not unanimous, support from the parties’ respective lenders, while otherwise maintaining the basic economic terms of the Merger Agreement.  However, there can be no assurance that Dex One and SuperMedia can effect a transaction through an alternative structure, that the necessary consents will be obtained, or that the Merger will be consummated.

SuperDex! Dex One - SuperMedia MergerIf you haven’t kept up with recent years’ history, the surreal part of this is that both companies already emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring not that long ago. In June of 2009, R. H. Donnelley Company filed for bankruptcy, and Dex One rose from its ashes in February of 2010. Idearc Media, earlier known as Verizon Information Services, had been spun off from Verizon with an irresponsibly high debt load, and as a result filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March of 2009, later to emerge from the rubble as SuperMedia in December of 2009.

The Triangle Business Journal headline reports that bankruptcy is a possibility for Dex One, perhaps because the filing states that “Dex One recognizes…”. However, the wording is such that it clearly states that possible Read the rest of this entry »

Bain Capital & Mitt Romney’s Involvement with Italy’s Yellow Pages Debacle

August 6th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith

Bain Capital, Mitt Romney, and Seat Pagine Gialle - Italy Yellow PagesMy attention was drawn to this Bloomberg article today, “Romney Persona Non Grata in Italy for Bain’s Deal Skirting Taxes“, brought to my attention by a Tweet from Greg Sterling.

Let me note upfront that I’m politically a moderate and a non-partisan, so my interest in this article is primarily from the perspective of the business and historical aspects involving the Yellow Pages industry, which I’ve written about from time-to-time.

The article outlines a possible reason why Romney’s trip through Europe didn’t include a stop in Italy, one of the G8 countries: some years back, Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s company, purchased a major stake in Italy’s Yellow Pages, Seat Pagine Gialle, and then they later resold their portion during the height of the Internet bubble for a very hefty profit, in the process circumventing taxes that could have benefited Italy. Subsequent to the Internet bubble, though, the Italian Yellow Pages declined very sharply in value at the expense of company shareholders (many of whom were possibly Italians) and the devaluation probably negatively impacted the service provided in Italy which could be said to affect virtually all Italians, one way or another. Read the rest of this entry »