I can’t believe how low I’ve fallen! I’m just a Copywriter! And yet, more than 40 years ago I was Head of the Earth.
“What,” you say, “that’s impossible!” You doubt I was Head of the Earth!
Well, it’s true. As the Readers of my blog, 10 Minutes of Brilliance know, I actually was the Head of the Earth. And it wasn’t just the business cards with my title that proved it. I even had the written backing of the United Nations.
Before I explain this further, would someone please tell Millennials, Echo Boomers and Generation Why what “business cards” were.
All right, no one ‘s going to explain it to them. Then I will.
Back in the day, my young friends, business cards were non-digital thin sheets of material manufactured from the pulp of wood or other fibrous substances creating an end product we called “paper.”
Long before texting, LinkedIn, What’s App or Facetime, business people printed their name, title and company on a “piece of paper” and then physically handed them to another person in a sort of ritual dance. The person on the receiving end then handed back his own title and company-identifying piece of paper.
STAN: There he goes again, Harriet. Goldman never seems to reach a conclusion. It’s already the 8th paragraph and he has yet to explain how he was Head of the Earth.
HARRIET: Give Jack time, Stan. Sure, he may take a circuitous route, but he always reaches his destination.
Where was I? Oh, hey, let’s go feed the animals!
Sorry, my ADHD just kicked in.
Now, I remember, in 1972, I formed a company called Earthday and I launched International Earth Day.
As far as I know, I was the first person to suggest that Earth Day should be an International event. One of my first public service ads was, “The Earth is a Mother!” Another was, “It’s your Planet. Keep it clean. There is no Plan-et B!”
Up front, I’m not claiming I came up with the idea for the first official Earth Day. U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson is credited with raising the environmental consciousness on Planet Earth.
The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970, and it was a huge success.
A year later, in 1971, an even more successful Earth Day was held, although not everyone who showed up on Earth that day attended the event.
The problem, as I saw it, was that by 1972 many people were already getting tired of hearing about the environment. They viewed the twin Earth Days as a “Been there, done That twice” kind of deal.
However, I didn’t want the cries of “OK, next subject” reverberating through the endangered wilderness. As I figured it, we still had a lot to do to tidy up the planet and put everything back where we found it.
So, I did the only thing a sane, sensible and caring person could do. I appointed myself Head of the Earth. I had business cards printed, stationary, the whole 43 million yards* (*circumference of the Earth x yards in a mile).
You might question who gave me the authority to become Head of the Earth. Well, the position was open. And there were no other applicants.
Besides, I was young and figured it would look great on my resume.
Next I carefully studied the field to learn all I could about the Earth, endangered species, plant life, pollution, green marketing, population control, water and energy conservation, recycling and the myriad efforts needed to Save Our Planet.
An hour later, I started to work on business cards and stationery for my new company, Earthday. While I joke about my accomplishments now, in 1972, I was serious about helping Mother Earth. (One of my favorite ads was “The Earth is a Mother.”
I got radio stations across the country to tell listeners about “The 100 Things You Can Do to Save Planet Earth.”
I convinced governors to announce Earth Day proclamations, citizen groups to hold Earth Day Awareness events and even got The Today Show to interview an expert on the continued importance of the environment.
I told them all, “Hey, I’m Head of the Earth, you breathe the air. We need your help.”
My stationary was on recycled paper, so they must have figured I was for real.
But my biggest accomplishment was getting the support of the United Nations. I remember my first phone call. It went something like this.
“Is this Whitman Bassow from the United Nations?”
“Yes, it is,” he said.
“I’m Jack Goldenberg, Head of the Earth. We need to talk.”
Without questioning my authority, Whitman Bassow laughed and said, “You’re Head of the Earth? Wonderful! When would you like to come by?
I can understand why you might not believe that this actually happened. But I still have the letter from the U.N. from 1972 to prove it.
The U.N. gave me permission to use their name and logo and slogan from their “Only One Earth” Conference on my “Tickets of Admission to the Earth.”
I wanted to charge people for coming to the Earth on Earth Day. A dollar for adults and 50¢ for children 12 and under.
As I saw it, while it wasn’t mandatory to have an Earth Ticket to show up on Earth on April 22, 1972, but it sure would be a nice gesture. And also a cool way to donate to top environmental causes.
Was my campaign for International Earth Day successful? Well, yes and no. The Earth is still here and the once-a-year fervor to care for Mother Earth has been institutionalized, commercialized and co-opted by big business. And that’s a good thing.
A few years later I wanted to proclaim myself “Master of the Universe.” But some damn toy company beat me to it.
Thanks for stopping by. To hire the only Head of the Earth Copywriter, send an email to: email@example.com
Today’s blog covers:
This happened a few years ago, but it’s worth revisiting. You may not remember it, but the world was supposed to end on May 21, 2011. Spoiler Alert! It didn’t actually happen.
Back then, I was judging a national advertising competition and the semi-finals were held in Alabama. Or Arkansas. I can’t remember which state, but I do remember someone saying, “Look, Bob, a Jew.” So, it might have been Tennessee.
Anyway, I was on way to the competition listening to a local radio station when I heard a bizarre report:
I was positive it was a joke until I drove past two signs. One announced the “End of the World” event and the other promised a Bikini Contest.
I always thought God had a strange sense of humor, how else to explain Bush’s second term?
Still, I felt compelled to knock on the door where the signs were posted, hoping I wouldn’t again hear, “Look, Bob, a Jew.”
A sweet looking, elderly priest (or a man dressed as a sweet looking, elderly priest) answered the door. I told him about the radio report and the strange coincidence of seeing those two signs.
He said, “ Yes, my son, it’s true. God works in mysterious ways. He cancelled the End of the World and instead announced a bikini contest.”
I asked him how that was possible and he said, “God just likes bikinis, so He cancelled the End of the World.”
That made sense to me because, after all, I was in Alabama. Or maybe it was Arkansas.
STAN: Ha, ha. That’s so funny.
HARRIET: What’s so funny?
STAN: Goldberg. He made a stupid mistake. His headline says,”How stupid are America?” I’m telling you, Goldstein really goofed this time. He should have written, “How stupid am America?”
HARRIET: Stan, like I’ve always said, if anybody knows Stupid, it’s you.
STAN: Thanks, Harriet, Me and Stupid are on a first name basis.
HARRIET: I don’t doubt it for a second, Stan. Sometimes I have trouble telling the two of you apart.
I know we like to think Americans are the best and the brightest, but that just may not be the case. The National Science Foundation surveyed over 2,000 Americans recently with a nine-question quiz about science and 25% of the respondents didn’t know the Earth orbits around the Sun.
Not surprisingly, less than half the American questioned believed humans evolved from other species of animals.
Well, I guess you can blame the Tea Party and the Creationists for that little misconception. But really, it’s amazing that 25% of our fellow countrymen don’t know one of the most basic facts about the Universe–that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Some of those people are so stupid, I wouldn’t be surprised if they fell off the end of the Earth.
Is it any wonder we continue to elect the same do-nothing jerks to Congress election after election? It sounds to me like the Universe is very equitable and we’re getting the politicians we deserve.
When companies reformulate food and beverage products, they usually advertise it to world. But sometimes advertising “New and Improved” is the kiss of death. Remember New Coke? Thirty years ago, on April 23, 1985, Coca Cola announced it was discontinuing its 99-year old tradition of never altering its legendary formula. And on that fateful day they introduced “New Coke.”
Well, they didn’t actually call it New Coke, that’s what consumers dubbed it. Consumers also said it tasted “vile,” “sludge filled,” and “totally undrinkable.” And those were the ones who liked it!
Less than 4 months after newly reformulated Coke was introduced, it was summarily discontinued. “You’re fired,” as future US President Donald Trump (GOD FORBID!) would say.
Lesson learned? Well, no, not actually. In 1992, Coke tried their failed strategy again. Coke II wasn’t quite the instant devastation that New Coke was. It took Coca-Cola executives 10 years of lackluster sales to finally kill that product, too.
STAN: He’s at it again, Harriet. Goldberger just can’t seem to get to the point.
HARRIET: I wouldn’t complain if I were you, Stan. After all, you’re not real, you’re imaginary. Jack writes everything you.
STAN: Same old song, Harriet. Same old song. I’ve heard it all before. I’m telling you I’m real and Goldenstein is the fractional character.
HARRIET: You mean fictional?
STAN: Whatever. Look, Harriet, I don’t have to take this. I can get a job on another blog.
STAN: Yeah. Or if Trump is elected President…
HARRIET: We’re all moving to Canada?
STAN: No. No. If Trump is elected President, I could be his Minister of Bombasity.
HARRIET: Sorry, Stan, that job’s already taken. Now, shut your pie hole and let Jack continue.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Kraft Heinz was determined not to make the same mistake Coke made with its legendary Mac and Cheese. For three years food scientists, nutritionists and quality control experts labored to reformulate the World’s #1 mac and cheese.
They removed artificial preservatives and swapped out artificial dyes for a combination of paprika, annatto (an orange red condiment often used as a food dye) and turmeric. But when news leaked out on social media that Kraft might change its much loved formula for Mac and Cheese, consumers assumed the product would taste different. And they revolted online and in public.
When you love the way a product tastes, “New and Improved” is greeted with great skepticism by consumers who prefer “Original and Unchanged.”
So rather than announcing Kraft Mac and Cheese had changed its formula, they shut up about it! No ad campaign, no press releases, no tweets, no Instagram or Vine posts, no need to rally brand ambassadors to tout the change.
They just produced the reformulated product and shut up about any changes!
Fifty million boxes of Mac and Cheese later, Kraft’s non-announcement is being hailed as pure marketing genius. Mac and Cheese fans loved the new product because they thought it was the old product.
So now they’re announcing the fact that they never announced the reformulation! Former Daily Show host Craig Kilborn appears in an online and TV campaign that announces, “Kraft Mac and Cheese. It’s changed. But it hasn’t.”
Of course, that won’t stop some new management recruit from failing to heed the lessons of history by probing on her first day on the job, “Say, anybody ever thought of changing the blue box?”
Here are a few Moments of Zen I captured right in my own backyard (Spoiler Alert: I was on the Internet.)
Well, that’s all for today, Readers. Thanks for stopping by. We have a pretty loyal following. More that 20,000 strong. And unlike Stan, most of you are quite brilliant.
STAN: Hey, I resemble that!
HARRIET: Yes, you do. Now say goodnight, Stan.
STAN: Goodnight, Stan.
HARRIET: Good night, all.
You usually have to wait until the end of the year for the nation’s reviewers, reporters, and Internet bloggers to release their respective Top 10 lists. That’s fine for the Top 10 movies or albums, but if you have to wait until December to find out what toys your kids are hoping for, well, you’ll be out of luck. And stores will be out of the most wanted toys.
There’s only one way to predict what “Toys will be Hot and What Toys will be Not” 10 months before you have to wrap and deliver them. We went to the source, the once-a-year annual extravaganza called Toy Fair.
A few of these toys are already in-store and online. But most are the hopeful offerings of the world’s toy makers who are betting that their play value will be the “It toy” of their respective categories.
Even though Toy Fair is a 4-day affair, it’s impossible to accurately cover all 100,000 toys manufacturers are showing off. So for the first time ever, I worked the aisles of Toy Fair with an associate and co-writer, Josh Rothman, a bright, young (well, compared to me) tech and marketing savvy writer, researcher and confidant and together we compiled a list of what we expect will be the Top 11 Toys for Christmas 2016.
That’s right, Top 11. There were so many cool new toys that our usual Top 10 list had to be expanded. And at the end of today’s post, we’ve even included a gallery of toys that almost made our yearly Toy Fair Best of Show list.
So now, here’s the inside scoop of what will be thrilling kids of all ages this December.
First, let’s run down the categories
Let’s dive right in with our first award:
When it comes to building block toys, Lego is the King of the mountain, but if you’re looking for a something different and fun in building toys, try Magformers! Magformers are a fun-filled magnetic building toy that subtly teaches kids about shapes and geometry.
Magformers come in simple geometric shapes that can be used to create 3D structures or flat 2D ones. Or kids can simply enjoy joining the pieces, pulling them apart, and learning about magnetism. It was fun to watch the construction of Magformers, and my co-writer and researcher Josh even guessed that a 3D star was being built before his eyes.
Here’s what kids will love about Magformers: There’s no wrong way to play! Thanks to special magnets inside each piece, they will always join together.
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Kids learn about magnetism, shapes, and develop their creativity. Magnets are secured inside each piece so there’s no risk of swallowing. When playtime is over, their magnetic powers make it easy to stack and store them.
Kids love blowing bubbles and chasing them down. But what if they could also eat them? With Candylicious Bubbles by Little Kids, they can! Candylicious Bubbles come in cherry, grape, bubble gum, and tutti frutti flavors.
This fun toy also features the adorable Bubble Ninja character who swiftly gobbles up all the bubbles! Bubble Ninja sits on top of the included bubble wand, and when kids squeeze him, he sticks out his tongue and catches bubbles! We had a fun time chasing after Candylicious Bubbles and an even better time catching and eating them!
Here’s what kids will love about Candylicious Bubbles: Tasty bubbles to chase down and share with the Bubble Ninja!
Here’s what parents will appreciate: A new way for kids to play, and no more worries about eating bubbles!
Exploding bombs and terrorism may not seem like an appropriate play scenario for kids, but there is therapeutic value when kids deal with their fears in a non-threatening way. Chrono Bomb by Play Monster, is a super secret spy mission where kids use the included clamps and 27 ½’ string to create a “laser” field to crawl through.
At the end of the maze is the bomb, counting down before it explodes! So, kids have to hurry carefully, and defuse the bomb before it goes off! They can play over and over again, building new courses each time or trying to beat each other’s times! Chrono Bomb uses a very simple concept in a fun, new way. What kid wouldn’t want to slink their way through laser fields to save the day?
Here’s what kids will love about Chrono Bomb: It allows kids to live out their action movie fantasies with this fun, physical and challenging game!
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Encourages creativity, agility, and friendly competition in a safe environment (no lasers or bombs here)!
Tucker Toys has once again reinvented the classics. Last year they won our Best of Show Toy Fair 2105 Award for re-inventing summer. Their ultra cool E-Z Grip Ball is fun to throw and catch, but what made it so incredible is that it bounces on water, grass and sand! They also took home a Best of Show Award for their Crush It Bat that redefined backyard and playground fun!
Now, for the first time, Tucker has become our first repeat winner with back-to-back Best Of Show Awards. They improved upon their already popular Phlat Ball with the Phlat Ball AeroFlyt! The newest Phlat Ball is lightweight and durable with a unique protruding grip.
Of course, the magic of Phlat Ball Aero-Flyt and its predecessor Phlat Ball is that when you throw them, they don’t start out as a ball, they resemble, in a way, a Frisbee-like disc. They float through the air like a disc, hover, then magically transform into a ball kids can catch. The toy geniuses at Tucker have even improved Phlat Ball AeroFlyt’s airtime performance, gliding longer than any previous Phlat Ball.
The time-release transformation of the Phlat Ball AeroFlyt is mesmerizing and constantly entertaining! It’s simple, fun, and exciting every time you pick it up and flip it!
Here’s what kids will love about Phlast Ball AeroFlyt: Transforms from a flying disc to a ball when thrown, flies farther than ever, and rarely gets stuck on roofs or other high places thanks to the time delay transformation from disc to ball.
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Encourages active play, and the fun transformation feature will keep kids occupied for hours!
It wasn’t going to be easy to top or even equal the success of last year’s Toy Fair Best of Show Winner for girls, Goldie Blox, the Best Building Toy for Girls. This year’s Best of Show Award, Middle School Moguls, tech savvy dolls with a purpose, is sort of a “building toy” in that the dolls, story line and play function build self-esteem and confidence, They empower girls to take on the tech world and forge their own entrepreneurial success!
It’s refreshing to see toy makers embrace broader play possibilities for girls, and no one does it better than iBesties. Their Middle School Moguls line of dolls are tech savvy, smart, and dressed for success!
Choose between McKenna the Business Boss, Sunny the Coding Queen, Jada the Graphics Guru, Ryleigh the Gadget Girl, and Izzy the Digital Diva! Each Mogul comes with a rich backstory, and there’s tons of extra content like games and coding tools on the iBesties website. Middle School Mogul proves that entrepreneurial business, computers, and gadgets aren’t just for boys! It’s gratifying to see toys that reinforce this and gets young girls thinking about the limitless possibilities of their future!
Watch out Silicon Valley, the Middle School Moguls have arrived!
Here’s what kids will love about Middle School Moguls: Fun, cool dolls that empower girls to say, “I’m a techie too!”
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Sets a positive example for girls to aspire towards, while providing fun, education and self-empowerment.
I know. I know. Kids spend waaaaay too much time texting, but now you can turn their digital addiction into a fun, creative, social game. Emoji Cards by Spicy Doodles unleashes kids creativity by challenging them to communicate pop culture clues using only Emoji icons and their own body language!
The game is similar to Charades. It has a set of clue cards, and a set of icon cards that kids use to gesture. They select cards featuring the emojis they know and love attempting to get teammates to guess the clue.
The results are crazy creativity, non-stop laughs, and a game kids will want to play again and again! Spicy Doodles Emoji Cards is keeping pace with our ever-evolving communication methods and it turns Emojis into a face-to-face social experience.
Here’s what kids will love about Emoji Cards: Kids finally get to put their knowledge of Emojis and texting abilities to good use in a fun social setting.
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Gets the kids away from their smart phones and playing with friends!
Josh and I were floored by the inventiveness of the Pinbox 3000, a tabletop pinball system made of recycled cardboard. Laser cut parts and customizable play boards allow kids to have a fun pinball experience without leaving the house!
They’ll also have a great time assembling the PinBox 3000 from punch out sheets, plastic rivets, and rubber bands, though they may need a little help from Mom and Dad. Pinball machines may be harder to find these days, but PinBox 3000 reminds the latest generation of kids that they, too, can be pinball wizards.
Here’s what kids will love: Great fun in assembling the Pinbox 3000, then hours of play! No quarters required! Kids can customize the play board as outrageously as they want!
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Reintroduces an old classic, and stimulates creativity in the assembly and customization process.
StikBot brings the magic of green screen film making (like your local weather reporter uses) and stop motion animation (Think Pixar!) to your kid’s fingertips! StikBots are highly articulated figures that mimic human motion; kids pose them to create all kinds of fun and zany films.
StikBots are the first social media sharing toy with the ability to shape kids’ imagination into endless possibilities. Kids can create mini animated and live action movies with their StikBots and share them with friends.
We’ll try to describe how StikBots works, but be warned, today’s tech aware, Internet generation kids will pick this up and create their own command performances long before adults have finished reading the instructions!
Using the included green screen and an app that can be download, kids can “key out” the background any substitute any scene they choose: undersea scenes, starry nights, London, France, or even their favorite TV show. The background can be live action or just a photo they choose.
Then they pose their StickBots in various positions and take stop-motion shots with a smart phone creating their own imaginative story line.
This toy makes it super easy to share all their creative films using social media platforms. (Why, even an adult could do it. Maybe!) StikBots are great not only for their clever, imaginative play value, they also teach kids basic film making techniques early on, whether they’re interested in a future film career or just making films for fun!
Here’s what kids will love: Hollywood grade technology in the palm of their hands! Nothing is off limits!
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Encourages creativity, storytelling, and collaboration with the growing StikBot community of young film makers.
Has your child ever dreamed of becoming an author and seeing their name in print? With Write Brain Authors Kits, their dreams will come true! The Write Brain Author’s Kit has everything a young person needs to become an author of their own original children’s book which is published and shipped to the new author’s door! It’s an exciting, imagination generating experience that makes kids WANT to write!
Each kit comes with an illustrated, wordless book. Aspiring authors create their own original story and hand write it into the book. There’s no wrong way to tell the tale and the imaginative illustrations fuel young minds and help budding young authors get their story started.
From there, authors can choose to type up their book on the Write Brain website and order as many hard cover copies as they want! When the finished, professional story arrives at their door, they’ll get a great feeling of publishing their first book! We can’t say enough about how great this product is at stimulating creativity and encouraging writing skills.
Here’s what kids will love: Writing their own story and getting their name in print, with the freedom to write any story they want!
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Gets kids excited about writing, hones their skills, and boosts their confidence that they could one day become an author!
There’s no denying kids love playing video games. It’s an industry fact video games have siphoned off huge amounts of time and money that used to be spent on the toy industry. One strategically clever toy company, Pixel Press Technology, figured out, “Why fight ‘em when you can join ‘em.” They created a toy that turns any kid into a video game developer.
Using a 13” x 13” grid, plastic colored blocks, and an understanding of classic video games, with Bloxels kids can create their own video games, complete with game levels, characters, enemies, and more.
Each plastic block represents one pixel, allowing kids to create detailed artwork for their heroes, villains, power-ups, and even map out their game levels block by block! Once they’ve arranged their blocks the way they want them, they take a picture of their masterpiece using the included app, and start combining elements and animating their game.
The power of this toy is amazing, and game play is jammed into a simple and easy to understand concept. Bloxels encourage creativity and removes the barrier of artistic ability by giving kids a grid upon which to build their worlds. And if pixel art isn’t their thing, aspiring video game designers can use one of many prefabricated characters to populate a world they create from scratch.
Here’s what kids will love: Finally and easy way to create their own video games! Kids can customize as much or as little as they want, and really have an opportunity to shine!
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Turns a sedentary pastime into a learning experience which encourages imagination, and subtle focus on math vis a vis the grid system kids use to create their world.
Makey Makey is deceptively simple, but has infinite possibilities. This invention kit in a box connects to your computer and allows kids to substitute objects in the real world for keys on their keyboard. Makey Makey’s most iconic application is its banana piano, but the ingeniousness of Makey Makey is that kids can “make anything out of anything.”
Other cool applications include a banana cowbell, a watermelon bass drum, and a crash cymbal sound when kids high-five their friends!
Makey Makey uses electrical conductivity (don’t worry, no one is getting shocked here), alligator clips and connects directly to your computer using a USB cable. Then it’s off to the digital races as kids experiment with different objects, discovering the conductive properties of each one. And there’s an entire community of Makey Makey inventors who post creative videos online all the time to ignite your young inventor’s creative juices.
Here’s what kids will love: It’s instant! Kids become inventors right away! The instructions are easy to follow, the results are immediate and the fun is contagious!
Here’s what parents will appreciate: Challenges kids to think outside the box and develops their creative problems solving skills.
We like to be complementary here at 10 Minutes of Brilliance and reveal the most imaginative toys kids will be clamoring for each year at Christmas, but we owe it to our Readers to shine a light on toys that are downright unimaginative, dangerous and have very little play value.
That’s why in 2014 and 2015 we gave a Worst of Show Award to the 4,500 lb. Jacob K. Javitz action figure (bronze chair sold separately). The damn thing just sits there, well, like a statue. It has zero play value! Of the 100,000 toy buyers who attend Toy Fair each year, not one has purchased the Javitz action figure for their local customers.
We ere all set to award the Javitz action figure the first Three-peat for our Worst of Show honors, until we came up this dangerous monstrosity, the cleverly named Ultimate Power toy. All of the toys we’ve highlighted here will bring kids our and hours of fun. With the Ultimate Power toy, kids can only play with it once. Shocking, I know!
Well, that’s it for today, Readers, thanks for stopping by. We currently have over 20,000 monthly subscribers although I suspect most of them are foreigners who have no idea they’re reading English.
I’ve listed my associate for our annual Toy Fair Best of Show Awards, Josh Rothman as my co-writer, but much of the credit goes to him. He is thorough, smart and thoroughly fun to work with.
I’ll be back again soon with my old cast of characters, including STAN and HARRIET, and there’s a good chance Ted Williams’ head, Brer Rabbit and Bill Shakespeare will be making an appearance, too.