Author: Alicia

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Groupthink for Loners

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012 by Alicia Springer

The New Yorker recently featured an article by Jonah Lehrer called “Groupthink,” subtitled “The brainstorming myth.” To some, it will come as no surprise to learn “It doesn’t work.” That’s the pronouncement from academia (Yale, Washington U, Northwestern, Berkeley, Harvard), which has studied the classic good-vibes-only brainstorm technique originated by Alex Osborn, a partner in […]

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Appropriated* Word of the Month: Velleity

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012 by Alicia Springer

Ever since I won the weekly Vocabulary Bee four weeks running in fourth grade, I’ve been pretty smug about my conversance with lexical arcana. So, I was impressed when *Thinkmap Visual Thesaurus introduced me to a new and tasty word, velleity: Wishy-Washy Word of the Day: velleity You know all those things that you’ve always […]

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Word of the Season: Tradition (as in: Ramos Gin Fizz)

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011 by Alicia Springer

You can’t swing a dead sprig of mistletoe these days without coming across a witty disquisition on holiday-season language (my favorite so far: see below*, but only after you’ve read mine). Never one to compete with the experts, I am taking, instead, very broad aim at a very broad term: tradition. And then, because nobody […]

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My Mother the Pop Icon

Monday, November 28th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

My Mom is hanging in the Museum of Modern Art: the Monica Lane story from publicity glossies to Pop Art.

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Spider Season

Friday, October 21st, 2011 by Alicia Springer

Seasonality is a big deal in Northern California. We greedily anticipate the first Gravenstein apples, the olive crush, the almond blossoms, the salmon runs, the chanterelles under the oaks. Perhaps because there’s not all that much of a change of seasons around the San Francisco Bay, we fetishize the farmer’s market as our connection to […]

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A Stranglehold on Mindshare, with Compound Interest

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

Business-speak seems to spawn imaginative metaphorical meanings for compound words. We have turnkey solutions to bandwidth issues and roadmaps to implementing backend gateways; we have sales pipelines and streamlined workflows and software toolkits and downstream upsells. Lately, we have been seeing some compound word metaphors that leave even Content Bureau eggheads with a bit of a headache…

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So a Copywriter, a Carpenter, and a Chiropractor Walk Into a Bar…

Friday, July 15th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

Is it a stretch to see parallels between shingling a wall and writing copy? You be the judge.

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Word of the Season: Gimlet

Friday, June 24th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

The summer solstice is upon us, and I am in drippy, humid New York City, visiting family. My nephew’s cologne sits on the bathroom sink, begging to be spritzed. Weekend by Burberry: it smells of cut grass and grapefruit and vodka tonics. Or is it vodka gimlets? I cast a gimlet eye on 21-year-olds feeling […]

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Lundberg Rice: From Flooded Fields to the Chip Aisle

Friday, May 20th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

  How does the most elemental of foods become the stuff of specialty markets? A thriving California family farm has thoughtfully plotted that course for the past 75 years. “Rice has a very long history of supporting humanity,” says Grant Lundberg, third-generation rice farmer in northern California’s Sacramento Valley and CEO of Lundberg Family Farms. […]

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Waitin’ on the Levee

Friday, May 13th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

Everybody who follows the news knows what a “levee” is nowadays, between Hurricane Katrina and the current flooding on the Mississippi, but it was once a prime example of regional language.

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When a Thesaurus is Not Just a Thesaurus

Friday, April 22nd, 2011 by Alicia Springer

A good thesaurus not only helps you find the right word, it helps you navigate your train of thought. Here’s a great online thesaurus that a word lover could get lost in.

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Overused But Indispensable

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

Word lovers from various fields–marcomm, design, philanthropy, venture capital, and entertainment PR–tell us about the overused words they can’t live without, no matter how much they’d like to.

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Gizmo Alert—Take a Smartpen to the Conference

Friday, March 25th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

Now I know what I’ve been missing all these years–a Smartpen to help me take notes.

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The Word Lover’s File

Friday, February 25th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

I thought about calling this new monthly CB blog column “The Lexiphiliac Gazette.” Lexiphiliac is a cool word, and maybe even a real word (not in my Webster’s*, but plenty of bloggers seem to like it). It runs afoul, however, of The Writer’s Golden Rule: don’t use a fancy big word when a plain little […]

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New Study Proves That Success is Exciting, Contagious

Friday, February 4th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

One of our job perks is occasionally to be swept up in “coattails excitement.” Our clients often call on us for help when they’ve got big things brewing—they’re launching a new product, expanding into a new market, or presenting a new idea that’s tricky to explain (or all of the above, as in the case […]

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Stop Me If You’ve Already Heard This Joke, Quip, Jest, Drollery

Monday, January 24th, 2011 by Alicia Springer

The Atlantic‘s blog recently ran a post on the genesis of a joke that’s making the rounds in a big way. We may be behind the curve on this one, but this joke hits so close to our hearts that we just have to help viral-ize it: Twitter’s Best Joke: An SEO Copywriter Walks Into a […]

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More Lab Coats, Less Tie-Dye! Branding in Academia

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010 by Alicia Springer

My alma mater, Wesleyan University, is experiencing a branding identity crisis that’s way more amusing than the Gap logo flap (and way more substantive: private-school tuition is a heck of a lot bigger consumer decision than jeans and tees, after all). The alumni network is lapping it up. Rather than recap, I’ll let the principal […]

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How I Poisoned My Family

Thursday, November 11th, 2010 by Alicia Springer

The rains have come to Northern California—and that means mushroom season. It means stealthy dawn hunts along promising trails. Squinting through first light at the prizes that came up in the night. Getting ‘em fresh and new—because mushrooms grow incredibly fast, and they get old, slimy, maggoty, dried up, or just plain picked by somebody […]

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Crash-up on the Highway to Helvetica: the Gap Logo Flap

Friday, October 15th, 2010 by Alicia Springer

Helvetica is the hip font. So why was it such a crime when the Gap tried to eat lunch with the cool kids?

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Microniche or Macromarket? Choose Your Irony

Thursday, August 12th, 2010 by Alicia Springer

Here’s a story that can be interpreted either as a doom-and-gloom report on the demise of two beloved forms of communication—newspaper journalism and indie movies—or as an optimistic rah-rah for innovative marketing. As optimistic marketers, let’s go with the latter.

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The Ultimate Whiteboard Chart

Thursday, June 24th, 2010 by Alicia Springer

We tip our caps to a master of the visual interpretation of data, Tom Wujek of Autodesk, who manned the whiteboard at the ultra-brainy Singularity futurism conference in the spring of 2010.

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Take Me to Zee Casbah, and Let Me Write Your Newsletter

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 by Alicia Springer

If copywriters were actors, we’d be the sort who love rococo accents and false noses, like Laurence Olivier or Meryl Streep. We at the Content Bureau take pride in our ability to switch writerly guises and voices from one assignment to the next—heads-down white-paper financialese one week, eco-minded web copy for a sustainability initiative the […]

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The Mystique of “The Trades”

Friday, April 9th, 2010 by Alicia Springer

Every subculture needs its holy scriptures. Business executives feel more like business executives when they read The Harvard Business Review. Marketers replenish their chops with Brandweek, start-ups with Entrepreneur. And so on. From The Mining Journal (founded in 1835) to Fish Farming International, name a specialty, and there’s a specialty publication that confers at least wannabe-insider status on its readers.

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Ideas Without Words—or Pie Charts

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010 by Alicia Springer

Sometimes we copywriter people need to be put in our place. INFORMATION IS BEAUTIFUL does it.

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Lives by the Column Inch

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 by Alicia Springer

Newspaper obits describe the fabulous lives of uncelebrated people.

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A Passion for Prolixity

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009 by Alicia Springer

Copywriters value clarity and concision. Short, pithy, unambiguous—that’s the way we like our verbiage. We count words and lop clauses. On our own time, though, maybe curled up in our favorite cozy chair with a nice steamy cup of tea and the latest issue of Puffball Gazetteer, or maybe catching up on email (even though […]

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