Found Art, Found Music, Found Brand

Found art relies upon an artist utilizing the happenstance of available materials to create something visual.

I found this video last night by pure happenstance. It features artist Andrew Huang creating a musical celebration of jeans. With jeans. And aside from his fondness for thong underwear, it’s a rather enthralling piece.

Of course, in researching this video and then this artist, I discovered a brand: M Jeans, and it’s “dedicated to the taller man” 6′ 6″ founder Mark Seeger. He tells an interesting, long-tailed story about not being able to find jeans that fit his inseam which led to his founding of this long-legged brand of denim.

Which, as a lankier fellow myself, I just found and ordered. Thanks to found art. Of found music. Through found video content.

Sometimes, the interwebs just…work.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


A Holiday Repeat: The Mayonnaise Jar and Two Beers Story


Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingRight before this Holiday weekend, the ever-charming and effortlessly natty Greg Heinemann, Olson’s CMO, passed along this email which has been floating around the internet for the past few years.  I couldn’t find any background on this anonymous professor in the story and can’t confirm if this is a true story but either way, it offers nice perspective on the definition of full for a day off from work.  Enjoy, won’t you?

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

The Definition of Full

When things in your life seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the two beers.
A professor stood before his philosophy class with some items on his podium.

When class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls…

He then asked the students if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls.

He then asked the students again if the jar was full.
They agreed it was.

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else.

He asked once more if the jar was full.
The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

Then the professor pulled two beers from under the table and poured them both into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

“Now,” said the professor as the laughter subsided, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.

The golf balls are the important things—your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would be full.

The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—the small stuff.”

He continued, “If you put the sand into the jar first, there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first—the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented.

The professor smiled and said, “I’m glad you asked.  The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.”

Some Friday Video Awesome: The Sound of Rain

Back in 1982, the band Toto released the single “Africa” which quickly became their biggest hit. Coming as it did at the tail end of one of the nadirs of American pop music, few musical organizations reach back to those big-haired days for musical inspiration.  Luckily, Eastern Europeans do.

Perpetuum Jazzile is an a cappella Slovenian choir that interprets and performs both jazz and popular music (find their website here--it’s great if you’re literate in Slovenian).  In this video, they open their “Africa” piece by simulating a rainstorm entirely with their hands.  This merits headphones: in less than two minutes, a rainstorm approaches, builds and crescendoes with thunderous power before subsiding again.  It is a wonderfully inventive re-imagining.

Happy Friday — and may this be the only rain of this Memorial Day weekend.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson



Arianna Huffington: Canned Commentary at the CMA National Convention

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingSo early on this wet Toronto morning, in one of the cavernous convention halls of the Westin Harbour Castle, the Canadian Marketing Association presented its opening speaker–Arianna Huffington.  We were all really looking forward to it–she’s very smart and one of the early and best drivers of new media since launching her very successful Huffington Post in 1995. Her keynote topic was “Where Is New Media Going?” and she spoke for nearly an hour but in all candor, the best part of her presentation was trying to place her remarkably non-specific accent. She is very likable, warming up the Canadian crowd with hockey jokes, but nothing was funnier than how she pronounced “Canucks”.  Somehow she made it three syllables long and worked a ‘y’ into the middle.

But despite her charm and obvious leadership position in the industry, her comments tread well trod ground: the key to everything is engagement, blogging and Wiki editing has taken off because self expression is the new entertainment. And trust is the new black, with a reference to the hysteria around Balloon Boy.

She added some facts: we send 140 million tweets and watch two million YouTube videos everyday, and every month, we spend a staggering 700 billion minutes on Facebook.

All true, but all rather familiar.  And from someone who introduced a whole new media platform based on curating the latest and best content, oddly ironic.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Jell-O As Art. Yes, Art.

This is beautiful high speed photography running at a stunning, stock-burning 6200 frames per second.  The ruby translucence, the wobbly gelatinousness, the perfect lighting; all this combines to create poetry in motion. It’s something the naked eye could never capture on its own. It’s just missing a soundtrack…

Seriously. Jell-O. Who knew?


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Magically Ridiculous, and Available on Amazon

By this point, we’ve all noticed how Amazon has long expanded far beyond mere books, stealthily adding every conceivable product to its warehouse of offerings. If you don’t believe me, type “Lucky Charms Marshmallows Only” into their search bar and watch what comes back.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingThat’s right, you can buy a twenty pound bag of cereal marshmallows for $89.99 plus shipping.  Of course, they contract that particular item through the obsessive compulsive Montanans at, so what they are really selling in this, and a huge percentage of their offerings, is convenience, trust and good user experience. That’s been their unique path to dominance in online retailing and it’s hard to fault them for it.

But no, I haven’t ordered a bag of this colorful dietary pornography for myself. There isn’t enough insulin in an Eli Lilly boxcar…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Keeping a Brand Relevant In Changing Times: The NCAA

Every now and then you get one of those over-simplistic, heavily-forwarded group emails that nevertheless contains a scintilla of truth.  Under the heading “Remind Me Again: Which Two Teams Played in the Big East Hoops Championship Game?  Oh, Yeah, Louisville and Connecticut” , this particular email lists Big East graduation rates in basketball, as pulled from the NCAA Database.

  • Marquette 100
  • Notre Dame 100
  • Villanova 92
  • Georgetown 82
  • Providence 77
  • Pittsburgh 75
  • Rutgers 70
  • St. John’s 60
  • Syracuse 55
  • Cincinnati 53
  • Seton Hall 53
  • DePaul 46
  • West Virginia 44
  • South Florida 44
  • Louisville 38
  • Connecticut 27

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonThe snarky point being that the two most successful teams graduated far fewer players than a student-athlete organization like the NCAA would ever want to admit. This came across my laptop as I watched the singular Derrick Rose struggling to lead the Bulls in Game Three of the NBA Conference Finals: he of the single year with the University of Memphis and the since invalidated SAT entrance scores.

When sports serve as extracurricular activities, the scholar athlete notion makes plausible sense. But today, as sports have grown into sprawling, big money corporate machines whose talent development path still depends on the college level, that notion seems quaint and dated. Perhaps not for fencing and crew, but certainly for basketball and football.

And yet we continue to rely on a non-profit organization to play traffic cop. When you think about it, isn’t that kinda like using a Palm Pilot and a beeper to plan your day?


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Selling the Apocalypse: The Challenge of the Morning After

It’s becoming a common storyline.  First, you introduce the unthinkable (“A mother of a child beauty pageant contestant injected her own eight year old daughter with Botox!”).  Next, various news organizations run with this sensational story, assembling a cadre of experts to comment on how this reflects modern society’s moral degradation/overstimulated digital centrism/ever declining civility.

But oftentimes, there’s also the coda—balloon boy is found hiding in the attic, Y2K wasn’t so nasty afterall, the Botox Mom story was a set up by a UK tabloid.  And so this coda provides a platform for yet another round of handwringing, often around those exact same themes of modern society’s moral degradation/overstimulated digital centrism/ever declining civility.

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingAnd that is the question I have for the hysterical alarmists behind the Rapture™, presently scheduled to commence with global earthquakes tomorrow because, as the headline reads, “God Is No Respecter of Persons.”  (Apparently the Almighty is also not particularly adept with English language prose, but that’s a side issue: it’s hard to blame a deity forced to communicate through such simple-minded vessels.) The marketing department at has been spending enormous sums running full page newspaper ads in USA Today.  No doubt their purchasing department was savvy enough to hedge by making these investments on credit, but still—they are spending a lot of money.

If you can force yourself through their three columns of long, digressive copy, they source their prophecy in Harold Camping’s book 1994? which you may have already surmised predicted these end times would hit seven years ago.  But this ad has an answer for that and why the second part of The Great Tribulation™ skipped that appointment: “Critics ignore the “?” in the title and the fact that Mr. Camping was quite clear in his book that 2011 was an alternative year for the end of the world.” Ohh, right–that clears things up nicely, thanks.

Somewhere in the files of USAToday, a layout exists that references Mr. Camping’s new book “Time Has An End” which explains how critics also ignore the ongoing truth that indeed Time does have an end, it just wasn’t May 21, 2011.

So after this lovely weekend, we have that to look forward to. Let’s all make a point of reading it together. Happy Friday.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Disney Might Like To Sell You a SEAL Team 6 Snow Globe

Within two days of the Navy Seals’ successful mission against Osama Bin Laden, Disney showed up at the trademark office.  Specifically, they have applied to trademark “SEAL Team 6” for three uses:

  1. Clothing, footwear, headwear
  2. Entertainment and education services
  3. Toys, games and playthings, including Christmas tree ornaments and snowglobes

Dennis Ryan, Olson, AdvertisingEvidently, they plan to develop a TV series based on real-life military stories and want to protect that name from other third parties. Since so much of trademark litigation boils down to who gets there first, Disney’s forty-eight hour turnaround shows an almost SEAL-like efficiency from a business standpoint.

People will find plenty of moral and ethical aspects of this to debate, particularly regarding the ever cozier relationship between government and big corporations, but that is almost beside the point. We love good stories, we hunger for heroes, we fantasize about accomplishing nearly super human achievements.  And all that makes Disney’s much-discussed action all but inevitable.

But that said, if they put the producers of “Wizards of Waverly Place” on this, the mouse’s head will roll…


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson


Arnold Schwarzenegger Should Be Ashamed

Oh sure, he should be ashamed about his much publicized marital misbehavior, no doubt. But that is a private matter, a painful reality that a father and husband must deal with as he struggles to preserve any semblance of the family life that he jeopardized through his careless and boneheaded behavior.

No, instead  I’m thinking about this commercial below for a product that apparently, has no English translation. This is the kind of offshore commercial endorsement that big American stars accept, confident that it will never make its way to these shores. But of course, the web is world wide. And so everything travels. Including this unfortunateness…

I don’t care how much they paid him, it wasn’t enough. As the incredibly talented director Pam Thomas might put it, this is ‘schmacting’…and that’s never a good thing.


By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson