Monday, September 25, 2017

To Kneel or Not to Kneel, One Thing is for Sure – Both Provoked Emotion

This past weekend, many of the NFL players went to "war" with President Trump over his remarks made Friday at a rally in Alabama. In addition, they carried it out to the field by kneeling, or not kneeling during the National Anthem.

This action on the part of the players is technically in violation of a league rule regarding the conduct of players during the Anthem. But, considering how the league responded last year with the Kaepernick protest, the players knew that no penalty would be forthcoming.

We like to think that as our creative social media agency trademark promises, “We Evoke Emotion.”

However, it occurred to me this past weekend and to many Americans, be they be football fans or not, that the growing controversy around kneeling, or not for the National Anthem is unwittingly sparking a passionate debate about each of our own interpretation of patriotism.

But as compared to our “evoke” trademark, kneeling or not kneeling is “provoking” emotion.  That's an important difference. And more than anything else, it’s a sign of the times.

It’s a bit ironic that the new Ken Burns documentary about the Vietnam War hopes to give each of us “an opportunity to have a better position to understand what’s going on [today].  He doesn’t stop there.  According to the Washington Post, “The filmmaker wants his new documentary, “The Vietnam War,” to bring the country together.”

I’m not sure how that’s remotely possible, in this or any other political climate.

As compared to other forms of government, ours technically has 3 separate but equal branches of government, the executive, the legislative and the judicial.  And since Jefferson, it’s always had at least 2 dominant political parties.  A loyal opposition, if you will that requires compromise.

However, one takeaway from the recent Burns documentary, between then and now is that the domestic fight took place on college campuses.  Today, with all-volunteer armed forces, it’s highly improbable our educational institutions will be the “field of play” again, at least on this latest provocative issue.

So, for better or worse, the war is being waged in our nation’s sports arenas.  One could make a case, going back to the legendary (violent) days of the Roman Coliseum that this type of public space is uniquely made for this.

Certainly, sports have always been an iconic type of activity that political views seeped on to the field.  But what makes this new tussle different, is that it surrounds our national anthem and the first Amendment, right of freedom of speech.

In the last two elections, social media acted as the field of play between our nation’s feelings about each candidate.  We also learned last week that Russia, a 3rd party outside both our government, our media and our country also had joined the Facebook fight.

According to Lincoln, our government “of the people, by the people, for the people” doesn’t necessarily include sports leagues, which have their own forms of government.

Across the league, there is division among the players what actions, if any, should be taken. Generally, most teams had a mix of standing and kneeling (or sitting) while the National Anthem was played or sung.

Even the owners of respective teams are divided on what actions would or would not be taken against the players for violating league and team rules. 

Madison Avenue Social isn't taking sides in this discussion, but we are highlighting how responses over a social media comment, or a stance, can become emotional and foster a real discussion, over that comment, or over an action taken in protest to said comment.

We are in the first quarter of this patriotist game.  In the end, the fans may or may not speak their support or displeasure for or against the players' position by TV ratings and by "cheeks in the seats".

Until the networks complain about how much money they are losing, or stadium concession revenue drops significantly, the NFL may remain silent on the actions of the players. Too early to tell.  Until then, be assured that this will be an emotional issue for the fans and the players in 2017. 

But make no mistake. Each side is no doubt “provoking,” not “evoking” the other. 

Frank McHale is the Chief Operations Officer of Madison Avenue Social

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Personal Story on Disruption

I have done much reading over the last several months about disruption, and how it transcends many industries. For example, bitcoin has made a huge impact in the financial world, so much so, that Jamie Dimon has gone out on a limb in defending his beloved banking industry to say it is fraud. Or, how about digital wallets like Venmo, Zelle and Square looking to compete with banks by offering debit cards through Visa and MasterCard.

How about the disruption in the transportation industry with Lyft and Uber as these companies are being challenged by Waymo in the development of autonomous, self-driving vehicles? Or, the heavy competition in food delivery services between GrubHub, Seamless, UberEATS, and others.

There is disruption even among the big search engines, Google and Facebook, and ancillary disruption among other sites, especially as it relates to advertising, brand placement and other marketing strategies.

Then, there is the disruption in the most basic “commodity” of all, groceries. For years, we have relied on our local grocer to offer good quality and great service for a fair and reasonable price. Soon enough, wholesale warehouses, like Costco and BJ’s, began offering groceries as part of their inventory. The only caveat was that you had to buy in bulk. So, what happened? Walmart and other big boxes jumped onto the grocery bandwagon and tried to undercut your local grocer. Those who could not compete are now gone and the rest have become bigger.

Silently watching this was another entity named for a large river in South America (not really) who pounced this year on the largest health and organic food chain, Whole Foods. Many were concerned that groceries would become competitive, much like all the other cool stuff you could buy at Amazon.

But wait! Amazon is NOT the disruption force in the grocery business. Instead, two German companies, Lidl and Aldi, have made huge inroads in the grocery industry over the last year by offering quality products across all product staples, including cereals, paper goods, snack foods, fresh vegetables, dairy and meat, at greatly reduced prices.

There are several things I noticed when I went to my local Aldi which were not like other retail outlets: I rented a wagon for a quarter, and when I returned it, my quarter was returned. So no lot boy or girl running around getting carts. When you went inside, it was fairly utilitarian and sterile, with no extraneous signage or d├ęcor to distract you from your mission. The foods sold instore were not national brands and were produced to be distributed by Aldi, much like a store brand, for about 25% to 30% of the national brand price, and about 50% of a retail grocery store brand price. And I even saw organic items on the shelves.

There was someone nearby in each section of the store to assist customers with their purchases, or could at least explain why the product was not available. In addition, there was even a small section for non-grocery items, like basic tools and some toys for the kiddies. Of course, everyone knows that impulse-buy items have the highest mark ups, or as retailers like to say, IMU.

Then, when I checked out, the cashier packed my groceries in the bags I provided, cold or frozen packed together, with no frozen items packed with jars or boxes. There was no plastic bag rack or paper bags laying around at the counter. There were boxes strategically located in the store for convenience and a couple of racks where you could buy reusable bags for future purchases. Oh, and no lottery machines or other objects blocking your way out.

When I got home, I actually made something for dinner using the products I just purchased. And it was delicious. It tasted just like anything I would have purchased at Stop and Shop or Shoprite, or even the big box stores. In the end, it was food. And it was more than affordable.

There is a lesson here to be learned by your local grocer, the warehouse clubs and big boxes. And even by Amazon/Whole Foods. Disruption can be good when it benefits the consumer, not the industry. People are not stupid; they are tired of being taken advantage.

We are all looking for good quality, great service at fair and reasonable prices. Looks like Aldi has finally mastered that for the rest of the grocery industry to learn from.

Happy shopping!

Frank McHale is Chief Operations Officer at Madison Avenue Social  #WeEvokeEmotion

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


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Written by Tim McHale, Chief Media Officer of Madison Avenue Social. #WeEvokeEmotion

Forgive me friends, but this question came up from a post I did on LinkedIn’s Pulse over the weekend, listed here for quick reference,
However, the larger issue is that … “Tangentially, we also witnessed the introduction last week of the iPhoneX, which skipped numbers 8 and even John Lennon’s favorite # 9.”
It got me and a friend thinking.
Wonder what Jobs would have thought about that, since he was the ultimate Lennon fan, even more so that Jann Wenner, if that’s possible.
Like, when he replicated Lennon’s record company name to be his own, & then “borrowed” the Beatles, “White Album” record cover style (which is a package) to package all of “Apple’s” products and finally, tried to look like him, when he picked the exact same style of glasses (like many of us did at some point) that Lennon wore as well.
For better or worse, unless John Lennon or Steve Jobs somehow intervenes from up above (or wherever they are, if anywhere) and/or unless some of us stoke popular sentiment to arrise from this indignity – so much so – like when the world brought back “Classic Coke,” there will never be an “iPhone 9.”
Tsk, tsk…
What’s the popular sentiment out there on this issue?
As detailed in the selected image, someone is banking on the demand for selling the  domain on Godaddy to the “tune” of almost $12 large and whoever has  ain’t interested in selling it at all.
If you forget how important #9 was, here’s a short clip from the Beatles White Album Number 9 Backmasking –
Am I wasting both your time and mine on this one? Pray tell…

October 9th is coming up soon… Should we Fab Four / iPhone fans plan to co-author an open letter to Tim Cook that day?
All that said, there was this “leak” from this past May that says the iPhone 9 will be out next year, in 2018 –
Fake News? Stupid Bloody Tuesday is all I can say…:–))

Friday, March 10, 2017

Lying Hypocrites - The Story of Paul and Chuck, and Their Minions

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Tell you what... since We the People, not we the lemmings, are paying for Paul Ryan and Chuck Schumer's health plan, I think it is time we get the same type of policy.

For too long, there has been bipartisan disdain by the Members of Congress (MC) from both Houses for the people of this country. They feel annoyed, actually, that we would dare to question their motives, as they have rewarded themselves with perks that they decry CEO's of big businesses and banks from having.

For example: 

Did you know that once someone becomes a MC, his or her retirement plan payout is the same as their annual salary? Raise your hand if you enjoy THAT perk.

Did you know that MC have free health care, and by free, I mean they pay no premiums or have deductibles? With everything covered? And so do their staffs? I bet you pay dearly for YOUR health care.

Did you know that they have free lifetime membership in the House gym? How is your gym membership working for you? I pick things up and put them down.

Did you know that a MC works roughly 135 days a year, if that? I know, they go back to their districts and see what the people want and need. Right. For about two or three hours a week

Did you know that we pay for their DC staff AND their home district staffs, AND their salaries plus benefits? Plus office space? And mailings, and cell phones, and office supplies and on and on and on. If you were in business, YOU would be paying for ALL of that. I know, because I did.

So, don't think Paulie, or Chuckie, or Lizzie or Mitch give a $#!+ about you. They don't. If they did, they would be enjoying your benefits and pensions and gym memberships. But, if course, how dare we think they would lower themselves to a subservient standard?

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Oh, and one more tidbit of hypocrisy. If you are a disgraced MC who was forced to resign for committing sex crimes with minors, like, uhm, say, Anthony Weiner, you don't go to jail like a lemming as you or I would. Nope. You get to live your life on the outside and get to enjoy all your perks like any other MC. And even run for another office.

It doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, a Trump supporter or Hillary supporter. You should be as pissed off as I am. On this, we should ALL be in agreement. Enough with the perks.

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Trust me. It is all a show, smoke and mirrors, pani e circi, to entertain the masses, to keep us quiet. And even the useless media goes along. 

Lying Hypocrites, indeed.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The (Non) State of the Union Address

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I know it has been a while since my last post, but I have been trying to stay out of the fray as President Trump puts together an Administration which will be responsive to ALL American's wants and needs, while enlisting the help and cooperation of the #NeverTrump people and the Democrats in the Congress

Too bad Senator Chuckie did not find this event to be the opportunity to swallow his pride and figuratively stand next to the President, showing a little bi-partisan support that he babbled about so much during the Obama years. Instead, it was evident that he doesn't have the guts to be the man we all need the leader of the loyal opposition to have. He has shown that he is truly a petulant wuss, who wants to pick up his marbles and go home. 

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As far as Granny Pelosi is concerned, she really needs to start thinking about staying home to play with her grandchildren. She is a real embarrassment to the Democrats who felt she was the best choice among all the Democrats in the House. Her time has passed.


And what was with the white jackets and blue buttons? Did TJ Maxx have a sale that only Democrat women heard about? It looked so foolish.

Last night, Donald Trump finally proved why he was elected President. He was strong, forthright, clear and reasoned. I thought for a moment Ronald Reagan or John F. Kennedy was addressing the Congress. For me, these men were the last great Republican and the last great Democrat to be elected and serve as out President. I know it was only one speech, but President Trump hit all buttons and all topics, some of which should have had Democrats cheering as loudly as the Republicans were

But, of course, they chose to continue to lick their wounds. And the way they raced out of the House chambers looked eerily like the way some people race out of the Church during the Communion. Was the meter running? Was there a one hour sale at Walmart? Or did they have to return those hideous jackets and stupid buttons by 10:30 or be charged another days' fee?

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I think JFK prophesied this speech so well in 1961, when he said: "Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future." That seemed to be the overall message and tone of the President's message last night. At least that was how I heard it. I also heard a bit of Reagan's Inaugural address from 1981, where he said, "Government is not the solution to the problem; government IS the problem."

The President seemed to channel these great men last night. And I found it refreshing.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Observations By a Jets Fan

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I have to preface that I am a long-time, long-suffering Jets fan, since they were the Titans playing in the old Polo Grounds in 1961. The Boston, and now, New England Patriots have been a nemesis since then.

Having says this, there are several observations I would like to make. 

Newsday, the paper of record for Long Island, demanded in Sunday's paper that Tom Brady had to "Prove It" (it's headline and story) that he was the greatest quarterback ever by winning the Super Bowl. If he did not, the implication was that he was all fluff.

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Bill Belichick has proven that even in the most ignominious, lopsided score, he didn't give up as so many other coaches, who are in the HOF by the way, have done because it was an embarrassment to them. Instead, he looked at his playbook and found an epiphany waiting for him. At this point, he can do no more to earn his spot in the HOF.

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Roger Goodell needs to apologize to Brady, Belichick, Robert Kraft and to the American people for thinking his opinions count for anything and just go away. He is wrong for this game. He is nothing more than a circus clown, which I despise, in a $600 suit

And finally, congratulations are in order to the New England Patriots, who faced a world of adversity at the beginning of the season, a 28 to 3 third quarter deficit and made history by mounting the greatest comeback ever in post season and Super Bowl history with a 34 to 28, first time ever, overtime win

It really can't be any sweeter than that.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Marking Time to Spring and Warm

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Today, I am taking a break from writing a political commentary, even though there are so many issues I could comment on. As much as you, sometimes I need a break from the subjects which have made us a polarized society and country.

In addition, today is the Big Day, the mid-winter classic, the game thirty-two teams looked to play in back in July when they assembled for training camp, in the heat of the summer. The Super Bowl is down to two, the upstart Atlanta Falcons and the perennial contestant, the New England Patriots. 
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And yet, even as a die-hard football fan, while I will be watching, (as a Jets fan, I am rooting against the Patriots, although they will win, 27-24, late) I am not writing about this either. 

Instead, I am writing about one of my markers which gets me through the winter, Pitchers and Catchers. Ah, yes, a marker which marks time to warmer weather, leaves on trees and no snow or cold to deal with.

A week from today, my Mets are expected to report to Port Saint Lucie, their winter home, where the palm trees blow and the expectations are so exciting. Can't you just feel it

I know that many of you are not Mets fans, and that's just fine with me. But you are just as excited for your team, whether they train in Scottsdale, Tampa, West Palm Beach or Fort Myers. And you can feel the sensation of the warm, even if only inside you, as you think about Spring Training. Go ahead, admit it.

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The truck carrying all the equipment, uniforms and other supplies left Citifield on Friday, to a big fanfare, as many loyal fans of the Orange and Blue assembled at the ballpark to see it off. It is such an exciting event, with players, coaches and management all present for the big sendoff. And everyone was talking about the big expectations we all have for our beloved Amazin's for this season and the seasons to come.

Resigning Cespedes and Walker and Salas and Blevins were key moves made by the team to ensure a return to the playoffs and of course, to the World Series. Even the moves not made will be pluses. But there are no guarantees; on paper they will contend, but the reality is that the games must be played and won.

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That, too, is the excitement of this week, knowing that in seven days, that marker leads to the next one, which is Daylight Savings and then the next, which is Opening Day. It is all just so perfect how quickly winter disappears after Christmas as we mark time to warm weather.

So, today as you go to your Super Bowl party, eating the cool foods you would NEVER ingest at any other time, drinking your favorite beverage, whether a soft drink or hard, celebrating the Other Day that ALL Americans cherish, like Thanksgiving, just remember that the cold is almost gone. Soon enough, there will be beaches and picnics and long summer nights to enjoy. 

Finally, just remember what Garret Morris, aka Chico Escuela, used to say back in the day: "Baseball has been very, very good to me." And yes, it is still our National Pastime

Because a week from today, Pitchers and Catchers will report to camp.