Baked & Wired.

DC has more cupcake specialty shops than I’ve ever seen anywhere. It’s kind of ridiculous. The coworker who sits next to me decided to look up how many cupcake purveyors there were within a 2 mile radius of our office. Turns out there are 12. And only 4 of those are bakeries that do more than just cupcakes… the rest are considered to do nothing BUT cupcakes.

I can’t help but wonder if the fad is about to jump the shark with openings of cupcake megachains Crumbs and Sprinkles.

When I first started at AKQA, everyone raved about Baked & Wired. They put down Georgetown Cupcake as though it was baked with sawdust and broken glass.

Admittedly, I fell in love with Baked and Wired almost immediately. The strawberry cupcake is one of their bestsellers for a reason. A big, golden cupcake laden with chunks of berry, topped with a fat mound of pink buttercream. Pure heaven.

Then, I tried a couple others. And then I hit a couple strawberry cupcakes that weren’t that fruity. Or the gold cake in it was somewhat dry or flavorless on a bad day.

I plugged up my ears and ventured off to the tourist hell that has become Georgetown Cupcake. The first time I went, I didn’t have to stand in the notorious long line of giggly tourist girls who are so excited to finally eat a treat featured on their favorite cable TV show (DC Cupcakes).

I went in and ordered a Peanut Butter and Chocolate cupcake, and a caramel apple cupcake. Both were glorious.

I’d found the first time I’d had a chocolate cupcake from baked and wired, I could barely taste the chocolate. It was clear from the first bite of both Georgetown cupcakes that the quality of the ingredients were consistently high. No shortage of intense chocolate flavor popping in my mouth. The caramel core in the Caramel Apple cupcake oozed out and coated all the teeth in my lower jaw.

Gooey heaven.

I recently called off my cupcake obsessions and abstained from the cupcake madness for a few weeks. Then, I went back to Georgetown Cupcake again with the coworker who’d done the original cupcake location research.

Today, I got a Vanilla Birthday cupcake and a Chocolate Lava. I started with the Vanilla. I knew from that first bite, from the first moment I eyed a few specks of Madagascar vanilla bean, that this was a superior cupcake. And I never thought their buttercream would beat out Baked and Wired’s… but it did. This is what a cupcake should taste like.

So, now, I have cupcake guilt. While I adore the staff and so very much about the cupcakes at Baked and Wired, I’m on the verge of changing my allegiance. For $3.75/cupcake, Baked and Wired needs to wow me with the intensity of their chocolate and how many berries they’re able to pack into a single strawberry cupcake. Right now… I feel like they’ve lost sight of their craft.

Georgetown Cupcake.

Meanwhile, there are 10 other places to try in that 2 mile radius. We’re tempted to put them all to the test. As soon as we get some stretchy pants and extra cash.


Call it a rant. Call it a manifesto. Maybe what I’m about to say is something that many of us ad-people believe, but hey. Here goes nuthin’.

After 5 years in advertising and 30 years of being a female, I have come to a few conclusions about how advertising can better speak to women.

When I first entered this business, I worked on unisex-type products. A website. Cars. A restaurant. A soft drink. Etc. I never thought I’d have to work on a “chick product,” and honestly, didn’t really want to. I didn’t even have many girl-friends until later in college. I was never a tomboy, but I just had lots of guy friends. I was that girl at the mall who wanted to hit Best Buy instead of Banana Republic. I didn’t dig the cattiness and drama of teenage girldom. So, I waited it out.

Since I was never too great at chatting it up with other gals (I never had a celebrity crush, had my own uninfluenced sense of fashion, and didn’t really think so-and-so’s baby was very cute), I really didn’t want to work on women’s products in advertising.

Then I worked on a couple of fitness brands geared towards women. And a couple packaged goods geared towards moms. Frankly, I cringed at each assignment. In my mind, advertising to women meant doing ads like this:

(By the way… why are they eating YOGURT at a WEDDING?)

But, I learned a lot working on women’s brands. If there’s any ONE piece of advice that you take from these ramblings, walk away with this: Stop talking to women as though they’re women.

When you write to women, write to people — who just happen to be women. It’s that simple.

We don’t just laugh at jokes about men and bad clothes.

We don’t all go craaazy for puppies, weddings, gossip, romantic comedies, and strawberry daiquiris (mmm… daiquiris…)

Many of us like bacon and fart jokes and politics and sports.

Even the girly-girls.

Even the sentimental new moms.

Even the spoiled divas.

Yes, fart jokes.

Knowing that some products can’t avoid being related to things that are super feminine and girly (feminine products, cosmetics, etc), some brands have done a great job of poking fun at stereotypes. I like these:

But — and if you’re still reading this, mazel tov — here’s a fun test:

Are you a dude? Did you laugh at those ads?

Guess what. So did I.

And most women of the women I know did too.

And we’re the ones who are supposed to buy those products.

I say, now that we’ve addressed all the crappy female stereotypes and made fun of them, let’s just move on. Let’s just write some ads that stop saying “hey – you’re a woman, so you’ll laugh at this” and just write ads that say “hey — you’ll laugh at this.”

Personally, I’d love to see some more physical humor in female-targeted ads. And yes. Maybe even a fart joke.

I’m baaaaaack.

April 7, 2010

Ok. So, over a year later… I’m finally back to the blog. I’m sure most of you have been checking back daily for the past 14 mos, weeping into your half-empty cups of coffee, wondering “why is there no copywronging for me to read today? And today? And today? And today?…”

Well, it took this little story from the Huffington Post to get me pick up my broken pencil.

So, the French version of Marie Claire has come out with a special edition with absolutely NO retouching. Not a single stroke of an airbrush in the whole publication (ads excluded, I’m sure).

And this is a huge frigging deal.

::Dramatic Pause::

WHY should this have to be such a huge frigging deal?!?!  Why can’t someone just make a magazine ALL the time that promises 0% airbrushing 100% of the time??

Wouldn’t the happy medium be to have a magazine full of normal-to-thin models with no airbrushing? No wonder thin women with cellulite are losing their minds. They being shown that all women in the media are perfect.

The fact is, great-looking women have scars, cellulite, wrinkles, and liver spots. They just DO.

For years, publishers ridiculed about featuring skinny models. Then, some tried featuring full-figured models and that didn’t make women feel any better. It’s more about the airbrushing.

I challenge the publishers in this country to create a beauty magazine that’s full of the same fashion, sex, and celeb crap that all beauty mags have… but no airbrushing.

Because, ultimately… not only would an airbrush-free magazine make us all feel a little more natural and a little less lied-to, but publishers would save MILLIONS in production costs every year. And what Editor-in-Chief wouldn’t like the sound of that..?

This is where I get to say “cat people are CRAZY” and back up my claim with unarguable proof.

Check out Kitty Wigs. Yes. Wigs for cats. Not big, blanket-like wigs of fake fur for those poor cats who suffer from mange. No no. These are wigs that make your cat look like… well… a slut.

Frankly, my favorite one is the pink Charlie’s Angels-style wig. It’s just the most insane of the bunch.

Oh, and if you’re pissed off that they don’t have wigs for your little doggie, worry not. They’ll have (hua = short for Chihuahua) up this year. GAG!

Total Girl Moment.

December 7, 2007

This morning, I watched the preview for the Sex & the City movie. It was the girliest thing I’ve done all week. Made me feel like squealing like a pig-tailed schoolgirl when I saw it had finally been posted online.

You can watch it here

Pretty soon, I’m gonna be working on some pretty lady-centric ads for one of my clients. The client really wants to focus in on women.

I say awesome. That’s great.

My worry? We can’t talk to women like they’re women.

Like, “hey ladies! Let’s go get hot and go running and do yoga. It will totally make us feel good.”

No no no.

Think about it – you could never take that same message and flip it for men: hey dudes! Let’s go get hot and go running and do yoga. It will totally make us feel good.”

It just… wouldn’t resonate with men. And honestly, the first example doesn’t do a hell of a lot to resonate with women. It just makes women feel like they’re being spoken to. Like… some brand out there is sooooo sure they have them all figured out.

I definitely have some ideas about how to approach our upcoming assignments. I just hope to God that our client doesn’t want us to pink yoga crap. There’s so much more to us women and what we’ll respond to. Perhaps it’s time for us to do something completely new and unexpected.

Like… NOT talk “to” women.

Ad Boys

December 12, 2006

A quick anecdote.

The other day, my friend Lisa asked if there were any cute boys in advertising.

“Cute boys? Sure. Cute men? No.”