Ode to Feeling Better

December 18, 2008

I’ve been searching for a blog topic all day when the lovely Becca handed me this month’s copy of Ode Magazine.  For those not familiar, Ode is a relatively new publication focused on the community of “intelligent optimists” who strive to make the world a better place.  Idealistic?  You bet.  But as I scanned the pages, I stumbled across the feature article – “In Praise of Intelligent Optimists” written by Jurriaan Kamp.  (I searched for this article online but it looks like their website is still featuring the December issue articles.)  As I scanned the article, it is this paragraph that struck me

It’s at times like these that optimism is more essential than ever.  It’s easy to be an optimist when things are going fine.  But optimism is a quality anyone can practice in every circumstance, especially during difficult times.  Optimism isn’t about denying reality; it’s about creating a better reality than you’re facing….The Intelligent Optimist knows a half-empty glass is also half full.  And she knows more can be gained by focusing on what she has than by focusing on what she’s missing.  Intelligent Optimists know that for every problem there is (at least the beginning of) a solution, and that the search for that solution can be inspirational in itself.  At the same time, they’re not afraid of negative thoughts, which they realize help them stay realistic.

The truth is, we are facing a very troublesome time.  It’s hard to escape the bad news – it’s truly everywhere.  You have to dig for a ray of hope or a glimmer of a positive announcement in every newspaper, magazine and online publication.  So what do you do?  It is easy to be a pessimist.  A pessimist never has to take risks or be afraid of failure because essentially, the inevitability of failure is their M.O.  But to be optimistic despite facing terrible, terrible odds?  That takes true courage.

I like to think of myself as an idealist but even I’ve been having trouble finding the bright side.  But I know I need to because progress?  Well, it never comes from thinking failure is inevitable.

Tomorrow is the last day of our food drive.  I wanted to do something, anything, for the people who can’t afford to feed their families during the holidays because as bad as you might think you have it, someone always has it worse.  So on Monday, I’ll drive to the Food Bank in Providence and know that our donations won’t fix everything.  But it’s a start to fixing something.  It’s a start to being optimistic in a very pessimistic time.

Posted by: Ashley / ashleyatcaster on Twitter

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Would you like fries with that?

April 25, 2008

In London, Burger King is about to offer a burger for £85. That’s $167.45 US dollars. As part of a strategy to boost their premium market, the burger we’ve come to know will now likely contain wagyu beef and foie gras.

To make it fancy.

The driving force behind the initiative is two-fold: to convince diners that Burger King is not just a one-stop shop for grease, fat and carbs, but to also prove they are more high-scale than McDonald’s. In addition to the burger that costs more than I would ever spend on shoes (and I love shoes), plans for a number of exotic burgers using ingredients such as tiger prawns, steak and guacamole are in the works.

But McDonald’s is fighting back. UK execs have hired design legend Bruce Oldfield (he has designed for Princess Diana and Sienna Miller, among others) to revamp the uniforms you know and love. The goal? To reflect a more affluent, sophisticated image.

This means that bright colors will be replaced with muted blacks, beiges and browns and female management and front of house will wear high heels, pencil skirts and scarves. Men will wear suits.

Are you laughing yet?

The Chief People Officer for McDonald’s said, “The new uniform reflects how there is now a more up-market feel to the business. You still have the value meals but there are also the premium ones, and these uniforms give a more premium feel.”

Still laughing? Me too. Because working for an agency that caters to an affluent market, I feel like I need to send these UK fast food chains a message:

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

Just as I would never pitch high-end electronics to a publication looking for design on a dime, these restaurants should know that their “clients” want the food they know and love — quick, easy, familiar and affordable.

Know your demographic. Can Burger King customers afford a burger with such a hefty price tag? Perhaps some, but all? No way.  Seems to me like this PR team was standing a little too close to the frialator.

As for me, I don’t think I’ll be frequenting either establishment. I’m much more of a Wendy’s girl.

Posted by: Molly