Browsing articles in "Branding"
Nov 15, 2012

Whiner and PTSD Sufferer Piss Off President

Road blocking the American people

Testosterone is alive and evil (as always) in Washington.  And the President is ready for a beef.  And former dignified, funny and intelligent PTSD sufferer John McCain and Lindsey-the-whiner Graham are up for a smack down.

I’m betting on the President.  In the same way that he did not sacrifice Elizabeth Warren to the bought-and-paid-for Republicans by naming her to head the consumer protection agency she created, he won’t sacrifice Susan Rice to a filibuster and a couple of real buttheads.

McCain and Graham must have overdosed on Viagra.  Their childish back-at-you tweets and Senate-floor-BS are proof that for some reason, they are more interested in making the President look bad than in helping the country.  Having embarrassed himself by choosing Sarah Palin as his VP, McCain has lost his credibility in the area of judging intelligence.  Susan Rice not very bright?  John McCain, come into the light.

Barack Obama is THE PRESIDENT.   Stop acting like you are in some high school debate and get with the program.  John McCain…you coulda become one of those rare elder statesmen.  What has gotten into you?  And you, Lindsey Graham, as my Dad would say:  straighten up and fly right.  You guys have really lost it.

The country is sick of this.   That’s but one reason that Romney and Ryan did not win the White House.   Start treating the President with the respect he deserves.  Start treating yourselves with some respect, too.

Nov 9, 2012

Why I Hate Small Business Saturday

In just a week from tomorrow it will be American Express’ Small Business Saturday.  Sandwiched between Black (big business) Friday and Internet Monday.  In others words, Goliath might as well step on David.   American Express commercials talk about “taking back mainstreet” as if we only have to do it on one day a year.  On the day after everyone has spent all their money, except the money they will charge online on Monday.  I find it offensive.  Big business is not on “main street,” anyway, so taking back the street that no big business wants to be on is really not that big a deal.

American Express has a website named  It tells you how to “rally your community” so that there will be an army of shoppers shopping small on Small Business Saturday.  American Express has registered both shop small and Small Business Saturday.  I don’t mean to be ungrateful, but it’s a joke.

If there is one thing American Express doesn’t know, it’s what it feels like to be a small business.  That goes for other credit card issuers and the banks.  Most small businesses hope to get large one day and so shopping small has little appeal.  It’s not clever.  It doesn’t carry the day.

Small business owners work dawn to dusk to keep their businesses alive on “Main Street.”  They can’t afford to give the discounts big business does even if they could afford to advertise them.

This year, greedy big business is starting early.   Wal-Mart has announced that they will start two hours earlier than last year, and they have broken down their departments by hours (sales in the electronic section start at 10 p.m.).  Sears just announced that it will start Black Friday five days early.

Why not make every Saturday Small Business Saturday.  Why tell us that we have but one day to rule the retail world?  Why not get the banks to join you in a year round advertising campaign for small business?

We accept your credit cards and pay your bills.  Small Business Saturday?  Take back Main Street?  Really?

Make sure you shop really small.

So American Express, thank you for thinking small.

Nov 7, 2012

A Nation Divided Cannot Stand

Super Pac Money.

President Obama is wrong.  We are a nation divided.  We are no longer the UNITED States of America.  Owning up to this, to me, is going to be as hard as it was to own up to racism and to the way we treat women.  But eventually we will have to own it, or we will have no chance of being the force for good that we have the potential to be.

In the Republican primary and in the selection of Paul Ryan we DID hear a call to return to the mores of the 1950s.  It is stupefying to see the way the Republican party embraced the lunatic fringe.  I wouldn’t want Romney to be president, but had he ignored them, he might have won.

When are we going to keep the vocal minorities from running good people out of office?  Sane people have been shaking their heads and becoming more and more uninvolved.  I think Rush Limbaugh is evil; a “friend” told my son that Rachel Maddow “makes up everything she says.”

Both parties want more government ~ just different kinds of government.  The Republicans want to meddle in our personal lives, telling us what to do with our bodies.  The Democrats want to meddle in our businesses, telling us we have to offer healthcare to our employees.   It all really depends on what kind of big government you want and where your values lie.

This election brought the contrast between parties into stark relief.  As a Democrat who believes in being my brother’s keeper, I watched friends sell out their relatives by casting their vote for Romney.  Thank God he didn’t win.  I am shocked that it isn’t obvious that we need to look out for each other, that we need to fight for peace and not wage war. that we need to stay out of each other’s personal lives and demonstrate our values, not demand others adopt them.

As our citizenry moves to legalize gay marriage and marijuana, to decry policies that hurt people (e.g. Don’t ask, don’t tell) ,to say no to personhood bills, the idiots who are running for office (as well as those in office) seek to turn back the hands of time in this “free” country of ours.

The best thing to come out of this election was that big,anonymous money didn’t win the day.  The inbred-looking Koch brothers, the waxen-faced Karl Rove and the ghoulish Sheldon Adelson  threw away a lot of money.  The Kochs had been laying the groundwork for a big money conservative take over of the country since they funded the “grassroots” tea-party effort.  The rest of us didn’t think the country would take the tea party seriously.

It is interesting, and telling, the the percentage of white men who voted for Romney was greater by far than in any previous race.

One good thing:  no matter how hard they tried to keep it from happening, this probably really was the white white man’s last stand.

Nov 3, 2012

Lunch in A Shoe

by infografik for Honolulu Weekly

(Gloria) Garvey + (Brook) Gramann, The Smartest People Hawai`i, officially started their business in 1991.  Between them, they had more than 30 years in the advertising business and they had lots of tricks up their sleeves.  After all, they were The Smartest People in Hawai`i.  They had worked at Hawai`i’s largest advertising agencies, they were strong, opinionated and more often right than wrong (at least they thought so).  As their friend Brian Gallagher wrote in the promotional piece he created for them:  ” Garvey + Gramann … two bitches who know their s**t…they’ll tell you your business plan is wrong, they’ll tell you your employees are dumb, they will even tell you that you’re married to the wrong person.”

Alas, for reasons unknown to this day, they decided to ignore everything they had learned, forgetting that they were well known and respected in “the business.”  It could have been the fact that they were working out of an office attached to Gloria’s garage.  It could have been that they were taken aback by all of the rude people who asked “when are you going to get a real job?”  It could have been, and most likely was, their shock and awe at not having healthcare, automobile allowances and parking.  WTF?  they might have written.

They were early adopters of green living, always driving around together (saving on emissions) and basically joined at the hip.  Jeff Hungerford referred to them as “the garage lesbians.”  Their first paycheck was $250.

A nasty complaint to the president of Island Insurance resulted in their first “real job” and a ten year relationship with the company.  Wayne Arakaki was one of the few executives in Hawai`i who was able to see how one could to turn criticism into opportunity.  God bless you Wayne.  We never could have done it without you.

Forgetting that they were high level marketing operators, Garvey + Gramann baked cookies for every one of the 350 employees of Island Insurance for Christmas.  There is no explaining this, so I won’t even try.

They sent promotional postcards on every holiday, featuring cartoons about marketing and two little girls who definitely knew their s**t.   When the business was five years old, they sent movie tickets to their best clients as a thank you.

Because they spent so much time together, and called on their growing list of clients “in town,” they had to find a place to have lunch every day.  After many years (the business lasted 20)they had eaten at every restaurant in Honolulu and environs  many, many times.  Eventually, “where do you want to have lunch?” became “where do YOU want to have lunch” and “I chose yesterday, you should choose today.”  Unable to decide, they wrote down the names of their favorite restaurants on small pieces of paper and put them in Gloria’s shoe.  The shoe-drawing method for lunch locations became a regular routine that was never revealed to the general public … until now.   We highly recommend it.


Oct 28, 2012

We Guerilla’d His Marketing

A youthful Oren QTang

When Brook and I were wearing t-shirts that said “Garvey+ Gramann / The Smartest People in Hawai`i” (actually I am the only one who wore it), we were smart and really funny.  As is our habit, we opened our business in the middle of a recession and on day one forgot everything we had learned at Hawai`i’s biggest agencies.  I suspect we were overcompensating for having an office (tricked out though it was) in my garage.  We even got an article in some early computer magazine showing how we worked with our clients through the net.  It was 1991.  Yeah.  We worked with our clients through the net.

One of our best efforts was a brilliant prank that showcased why we were the smartest people in Hawai`i.  The Hawai`i  Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business office had invited Jay Conrad Levinson to Hawai`i to hold a seminar on his alleged invention “Guerilla Marketing.”  At Garvey+ Gramann, we seized on an idea that would have several interactions with the public and model exactly what Jay Conrad Levinson was coming to tell Hawai`i about.  A demonstration is worth 1,000,000 words.

We bought tickets to the event under the name Oren Q. Tang.  We rented a gorilla suit.  We issued press releases trumpeting the hiring of our new V.P. for Guerilla Marketing, Oren Q. Tang.    At least at the time most agency people were not interested in research, so we were the only ones who really knew about guerilla marketing.  We created giant, oversized business cards for our V.P.

To deliver the press releases, Eric Carlson donned the gorilla suit and Ian Garvey passed out the releases as we appeared in-gorilla at the Advertiser and Star Bulletin, Pacific Business News and all the TV Stations.  Luckily, the editor of PBN, Rod Smith, had a sense of humor and was photographed with Eric the gorilla sitting on his lap.  We knew they would run the story.

The news was getting around that our VP of Guerilla Marketing was going to the event, and the Chamber was getting worried.  Small business guy Jim Tollefson had someone call us to see what was up.  “We know you are sending Oren Schlieman to the event dressed as a gorilla.”  okay.

On the day of the event, Eric was in school, so Dave suited up in the gorilla suit and we outfitted Dave’s visiting Dad with a porkpie hat which said “Press” and a giant camera around his neck.  The oversized business cards fit nicely in a brief case.  At the top of the escalator at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Dave-gorilla was told to leave.  Ever enterprising, he stood at the end of the escalator handing out business cards until Tollefson et al got really annoyed.

Where was Jay Conrad Levinson in all of this?  Eric-gorilla had dropped off a press packet at the front desk.  We knew he had it.  We never saw him, but it was clear he didn’t want to be upstagged — even by someone who was modeling his alleged invention.  Boo. Hiss. Boo.

After the event was over, we had a feud with the Chamber, documented in Dave Donnelly’s column, about whether or not they would give our money back — since our VP of Guerilla Marketing was thrown out of the event.  They did eventually give our money back.

This is a true story.  No names have been changed.  Eric-gorilla is now a partner in Revolusun.  Ian is now growing herbs and tomatoes aquaponically. Dave’s Dad is alive and well in Beardstown, Illinois.  Dave is working miracles with people’s computers.  Brook and Gloria co-own Lanikai Bath and Body.  Rod Smith is gone. Dave Donnelly is dead.  Jim Tollefseon has ascended to sit on the right hand of the Chairman of the Hawai`i Chamber.  Oren Schlieman and his wife Fran have a great graphic design business and were never involved in any way in the Chamber’s event.   Jay Conrad Levinson is still peddling guerilla marketing and in all likelihood doesn’t understand it any better than he did back then.



Gloria. Circa 1955.

Gloria. Circa 2012.

Other than working for the American Red Cross in Korea for two years, Gloria Garvey has lived in Hawai`i since 1971. Her opinion and other writing has appeared in: The American Philatelist. Honolulu Weekly, The Honolulu Advertiser, The Honolulu Star Bulletin, The Star Advertiser, Hawai`i Reporter, Pacific Business News, Island Scene, The Design Management Journal.

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