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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Advertising with cats: 'Catvertising'

"Mr. Kitty" photo by Paula Slade

“Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a purpose.” ~ Garrison Keillor ~

Whether you call it categorically correct, or a purrfect passion for the pulse of the populace, a very bright creative team of advertising professionals known as John St. have tapped into something very unique in terms of making products memorable, including their own firm.

Based in Toronto, John St.’s mottos is, “We exist to make our clients’ brands unignorable,” and in doing so they count some pretty impressive companies as clients, from corporations such as Tetley Tea and Kraft Foods, to Mitsubishi Motors and Moosehead.

On November 10, 2011, John St. uploaded a video on their YouTube Channel, which has become a viral sensation with almost 1,500,000 page views – it’s titled: “Catvertising.”

According to John St., the video was created, “To stay on top of the ever-changing advertising landscape,” and in their effort to deliver on that promise, they declared that they had, “opened the world's first cat video division. With production, filming and seeding all in-house.”

There’s no denying the worldwide popularity of Felis silvestris catus, better known as the domesticated cat.  One has only to look no further than the runaway success of Lolcats, and Nyan Cats, along with the number of cat videos that are constantly uploaded to YouTube.

IMHO, John St.’s video is certainly humorous, albeit with an ever so slight, tongue-in-cheek delivery.  However, it definitely promotes what was promised.  Even if it’s a spoof,  “Catvertising” has put their name on the map in an “unignorable” way.

Thanks to John St. for this delightful infomercial.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Being a kid again with Debbie and Friends

Jake Morrison Deutsch, an honorary member of Debbie and Friends

“The most sophisticated people I know - inside they are all children.” ~ Jim Henson ~

On Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012 in Brookline, Massachusetts, at the venerable Coolidge Corner Theatre, I bore witness to Henson’s famous quote in action, during a packed-house, live performance of Debbie and Friends.

An extraordinary group of polished musicians, Debbie and Friends takes children’s entertainment to joyful levels, where even parents, grandparents and care givers sing-along, play-along, stomp their feet and clap in time – myself included in that 440 seat interactive audience.

Right from the start of the opening number “I’m Glad You’re Here,” and all the way through to the closing song there was no time for little ones getting restless or whining, as Debbie Cavalier and her band seamlessly delivered an engaging performance that kept the multiple generations mesmerized and involved. At times, it was difficult to discern who was having more fun, the musicians or the audience.

(L-R) Rory McKenzie, bass; Mike Carrera, vocals; Debbie Cavalier, keys and vocals; Bill D'Agostino, drums and vocals; and Eric Saulnier, guitar.
Cavalier, a music educator and author with over 20 years experience, also serves as Dean of Continuing Education at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music. She has worked with some of the legends of children’s musical entertainment, which includes such greats as Sesame Street’s famed music teacher Bob McGrath, Buffalo Bob Smith of Howdy Doody, and the beloved Shari Lewis.

Along with being treated to various genres of music, playing a song-version of “Simon Says,” and calling out rhymes with “Rosie,” we watched three of Cavalier’s signature storybook cartoons, helping a rather humorous “Big Bad Wolf” puppet (character voiced by Mike Carrera) blow down piggy houses in “Three Pigs and a Wolf “.

Jake at age 3

A surprise highlight of the morning was the special guest appearance of 10-year old Jake Morrison Deutsch, who as an “honorary” member of the band, played saxophone right along with the accomplished musicians in a number called “Opposite.”

Cavalier explains Jake’s history with the group: “When he was 3, Jake said the intro phrase "Three Little Pigs" at the start of the recording on our Story Songs and Sing Alongs CD. He and his brother and sister (Joshua and Riley) sang along with the chorus parts on that song as well.”

Jake, age 10

Jake took up the saxophone just three months ago, and IMHO his poise and ear for music are quite amazing – a definite name to keep an entertainment eye on in years to come.

Debbie and Friends’ DVD and CDs have won an astounding 18 National Awards, and most recently, have provided a powerful song “Walk Away”, which is performed on an anti-bullying compilation album, All About Bullies Big And Small. The album is one of five Grammy nominees for Best Children’s Album of 2011. The winner will be announced at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards Ceremony on Feb. 12.

The next performance stop for Debbie and Friends will be at the legendary McCabes in Santa Monica, California on January 22, and then back to the East coast. To keep up with their ever-evolving performance schedule, simply follow this link.

Thanks to Debbie Cavalier and Friends for helping me find my “inner child” again, and thanks to their YouTube Channel for this delightful music video cartoon of “Cinderella,” which emphasizes self-esteem, and is part of their Story Songs and Sing-Alongs DVD.