My Black Friday Miracle at the DMV: A Tale of Relevance

I’m not a fan of Black Friday crowds. So this year, to avoid never-ending lines and the general hassle that goes along with “door buster” sales, I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to have my license renewed.

Yes, you read that correctly. I went to the DMV to avoid lines and hassles.

And it worked. I breezed through the check-in line and was assigned a case number within three minutes. A mere 17 minutes later I was face-to-face with Jean, a cheerful DMV associate.

A 20-minute wait at the DMV? Best Black Friday deal ever.

As Jean sorted through my paperwork, she looked up over the rims of her bright blue bifocals and asked if I would like my license verified. “I’m not sure what that means,” I whispered back with more than a hint of confusion in my voice. I’d assumed that any license issued by the DMV was a verified document.

Turns out, they’re not. According to Jean (and the REAL ID Act), beginning in 2017 air travelers may need to present a “verified” license – obtained by presenting extra identity documents during the license application or renewal process – as a proper form of ID to board a commercial flight, international or domestic. “Even if you’re just going to Philadelphia,” Jean added with a shake of her silver hair.

I told Jean I’d never heard about that, to which she responded: “It’s been all over the news…you just haven’t been looking for it.” And there it was…my very own Black Friday door buster: The spirit of Relevance Marketing is alive and well at the DMV. For Jean, whose job will change dramatically because of the new legislation, news of the REAL ID Act seems to be everywhere. However, for someone like me, who rarely boards a plane and didn’t need to renew my license until now, the news had been as good as invisible because it wasn’t relevant.

But now, as I stood face-to-face with Jean at the DMV counter, the news became suddenly – and painfully – relevant. It meant that I would have to come back to the DMV – not in six years when my soon-to-be-new but run-of-the mill license would expire, but within the next two years to get a verified license. Or I would need to remember to pack my passport next time I fly to Philadelphia. (Or Boston. Or Los Angeles. Or anywhere.)

And with that simple threat of personal inconvenience, the news had my attention. Not only did I hear the message from Jean, but because its relevance struck such a nerve, I grabbed my iPhone and started passing the news immediately and feverishly along to family and friends who travel frequently.

Within a minute or two, another Black Friday bonus snapped me out of my social networking blitz: Jean’s colleague at the photo station called my name before Jean had finished processing my documents. They were actually ahead of themselves, which meant zero more minutes of waiting for me. I started to wonder if the Black Friday DMV experience might just be the answer to World Peace.

Jean completed my paperwork and I proceeded to the camera station. As I stood in front of the blue sheet trying desperately not to blink, I reflected on Jean’s words…“It’s been all over the news…you just haven’t been looking for it.” She had perfectly articulated why Relevance Marketing works: By delivering the right message at the right time through the right channel to the right target, it’s more likely that the right people will hear that message. And not only will they hear it, but they’ll also internalize it, act on it and carry it forward; as I did within seconds of Jean telling me about the REAL ID Act.

So while I didn’t set foot in a retail store this Black Friday, I was caught up in the spirit of giving – giving a heads up to anyone who might need to renew a license in the next few months, and spreading the gift of relevance.

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I just watched 5 minutes of ads…by choice





That is the sound of this cynical Creative Director offering up a humble golf clap to a brand who hoodwinked me into watching a collective 5 minutes of advertising across two different spots.

Well played Newcastle…well played.


You heavy-handedly introduced your new product to me. And I kept watching.

Not only did you overtly set up a product shot, but you actually called out the fact that you set up said product shot. And I kept watching.

You told me about your brand’s history, about how this product was made, and you even told me how great it was. And still I kept watching.

In fact, when the first 2+ minute video ended, I couldn’t hit play on the second 2+ minute video fast enough. And this got me to asking, “why?”

Well, the easy answer to that is, “it’s on the internet.” And yes, that certainly factors into it. I have the attention span of a gnat. On the off chance that I’m watching live TV, the second the hint of an ad presents itself, I Pavlovianly (yep, that’s a word) go for the SKIP button on my remote control. Of course, the irony in all of that is that while I’m watching those very same TV shows and fiddling with the remote to skip the ads, I am more than likely consuming very ad-like content on any of the 2-3 other devices that my face is buried behind. So again, this got me asking, “why?”


Maybe the reason why more and more brands are taking to the interwebs to share the content that 20 years ago would have been TV advertising is because of the freedom that comes with it.

There’s freedom for the brands and their agencies. For instance, Wil Wheaton revels in the fact that he can drink his beloved Newcastle Scotch Ale on camera —something that couldn’t legally air within a traditional TV spot.

But more importantly, there’s freedom for the viewer. When a traditional 30-second spot airs during tonight’s episode of Sons of Anarchy, I can’t skip it. I can begrudgingly agree to watch it, or I can change the channel. Of course, if I do change the channel, I risk missing Jax’s next moment of vengeance-filled rage…and we know that’s not happening. So I turn to my devices. I find content that I do want to watch, from brands that I like (or think I might like). And if it’s good, I keep watching. And if it’s not, I keep looking. And therein lies the point.

Viewers (or “users” for all you digital folks out there) choosing what they want to watch has created a veritable creative Darwinism for today’s brands. The great creative wins…and in this case winning means engagement.

Any media agency worth its salt can buy you the impressions you think will impress your CMO, but engagement…that comes from great creative. Because while you bought my eyeballs with that 10-11pm slot on FX, the joke’s on you…I was watching a Newcastle ad…on my iPad…because I thought it was funny and I WANTED TO!

Which “ads” that aren’t TV ads are you watching? I’d love to hear about them (because I need to have something to watch when I’m not watching the spots running during my favorite TV shows).

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By George, Will & Kate are Part of Gen Duo!

With the arrival of the Royal Baby, we wanted to ask Gen Duo couples how they make decisions about baby-care. Here’s the latest intelligence from our Gen Duo panel, a beta forum made up of couples who share in decisions in the home. Our panel is growing and open for membership. If you’d like to join or know someone who would, email Let us know what you think about how Gen Duo couples feel about baby-care – from the big decisions to the small.


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Please Don’t Call Me Mommy

Yes, I am a blogger. And yes, I am a mother. And yes, I occasionally blog about my children. But please don’t call me a mommy blogger.

Many mothers who blog find the term “mommy blogger” insulting and too familiar. Mommy is a term of endearment. It’s personal. If I didn’t give birth to you then why would you call me mommy? I bet you can count on no more than one finger the number of people you’d refer to as Daddy. Why should mommy be any different?

Besides, what is a mommy blogger? A food blogger writes about food. A fashion blogger writes about fashion. A political blogger writes about politics. The writer you’ve been referring to as a mommy blogger probably doesn’t post about mommies.

Sometimes labels are helpful; I understand that. There is a legion of mothers blogging and they wield a tremendous amount of influence. But too often marketers are quick to lump female bloggers into one “mommy blogger” category. Women with children are blogging about much more than diapers. They’re blogging about politics, policy, food, health, the environment, sports, religion and a host of other topics.

Bloggers are an important gateway to women – and men – with purchasing power. Marketers who fail to understand the blogging landscape will miss out on making this critical connection and will risk alienating a powerful online force. Remember, when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

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Alpha Dads are the New Dads of Gen Duo

Businessweek recently published an article on “Alpha Dads” – those who are “as serious about their parenting as they are about making partner.” A read like this showcases the work-life balance many dads – particularly newer generations of dads – are contemplating as they enter the family realm whilst already entrenched in the work one.

A quote from a sociology professor at Stony Brook University says it all: “If you listen to the best young male workers, the ones coming out of the top business schools, they all talk about wanting to be really involved fathers, expecting and assuming that their wives are going to be committed to their careers.”

While the article’s focus is on how dads manage through this conundrum in the corporate world (the creation of the Deloitte Dads club as one example), it continues to paint the picture of how Gen X and Gen Y couples, and likely generations to come after them, are changing family dynamics.

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Are Gay Couples the Ultimate Examples of Gen Duo?

The Atlantic recently published a fascinating article exploring same-sex unions – how they are often happier and more democratic than heterosexual ones – and what heterosexual couples might learn from them.

Due to a number of factors, same-sex couples are illustrative of what Gen Duo is all about. This is primarily because those relationships don’t typically rely on preconceived gender roles and stereotypes. Instead, household duties, purchase influence, parenting, and so on, are more subject to discussions rather than easily assumed, entrenched behaviors.

There are a few studies worth noting that the article calls out:

  • In American Couples: Money, Work, Sex, the authors explore how same-sex couples fight. It is typically a much fairer conversation than heterosexual couples.
  • In a Vermont-based study done in 2000, it’s shown that same-sex couples are more likely to divide household chores evenly.
  • In a new article in Child Development, we see that same-sex couples are happier, more compatible and intimate.

As we continue to grow the Gen Duo panel, this will continue to be a line of inquiry: What percent of Gen Duo couples are same-sex?

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How Gen Duo Makes Travel Decisions

Here’s a look into the latest intelligence from our Gen Duo panel, a beta forum made up of couples who share in decisions in the home. Our panel is growing and open for membership. If you’d like to join or know someone who would, email Let us know what you think about how Gen Duo couples feel about travel – from the big decisions to the small.


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