Why I’m not an Apple fangirl.

It’s been over ten years since I was first converted to the fruity side. I remember it well; after my embarrassing use of an old Compaq desktop PC my entire freshman year of college, a good friend pulled me aside and told me it was time to buy an Apple.

“Apple? the computer my dad bought in the 80s?”

“No, Apple: the brand new iBook line that will help you pursue your graphic designer dreams.”

It went something like that, anyway. I bought the steeply-priced iBook G3 and began living my new Mac life.

And then, something went wrong. The iBook line I had purchased from had an inherent flaw that only became apparent around the time the warranty ran out. It was a universal issue – I think the graphics card – and Apple had to add to the warranty and offered to fix it for free within the time frame.

Except the damage kept coming back (blank screen) and the laptop was essentially fucked. The customer service channel wasn’t very sympathetic and it was a pain to keep sending in the broken computer. I scoured internet forums to figure out ways to get around it, or find out how others were dealing with it, but everyone was complaining into a cyber black hole. These were the years before social media, my friends. The years before companies had no choice but to pay attention. Incidentally, also the years before Steve Jobs became a tech celebrity. (Yes, I’m a bit old).

By 2004 it was so bad I was operating in a tech-ghetto, and I finally broke down and gave up in 2005.

Why did it take me so long? Why am I still angry about it?

  1. I’m that freakin loyal of a customer. It’s not even funny how loyal of a customer I am. I have bought more expensive flights because I felt loyal to one particular airline (it’s El Al, whatever, don’t judge until you travel with kids). I have bought four consecutive Canon cameras because that’s just how I feel about the company. I’m a marketing professional, I like to help people, and I talk about things I love. A lot. So don’t cross me, brand.
  2. I expected more from Apple. Back then, Apple was making a comeback. And it was going for artsy designer types and students. And I was both. I thought I’d be taken care of – you invest me, I’ll invest you.
  3. Apple messed up. Why did I have to pay? Not literally; I bought a flawed product before they knew it was flawed. They were trying to make that better by extending the warranty a little and sending me boxes to ship it back and forth. But that’s not the kind of product experience I signed up for. Wouldn’t a supplemental voucher for a better model have done more?
  4. I don’t care for the snobbishness. As Apple rode the success of its iPod genius, one couldn’t help but notice – especially if you didn’t care much for iPod genius – the marketing voice of the company. Apple seemed to want to attract the people I hated. And I hated everybody, to be sure, but yuppie, hipstery, elitist, well, Apple fanboys, were not who I identified with. Ok, so everyone in my world owns an iPod or Mac or iPhone, but whatever.

Disclaimer: I do own an iPad that was a gift. And a gifted iPod Shuffle that I broke down and chose this year since I recognized it’s truly the most convenient for what I needed.

Yes, Apple, you are a creative marketing and product genius. There. Happy? I never thought otherwise, but it’s time to let go of the anger. Maybe your customer service has improved. Maybe all the people with MacBooks at cafes wanted them because they are high quality computers and not because they are cool factor.

Maybe Apple fanboys and girls have independent brainpower and the hivemind is all my own crazy skepticism.

Maybe not.

My next phone will still be an Android though. And my next laptop… we’ll see. I’m currently taking recommendations.

UPDATE: I’m a huge Louis CK fan. Turns out he’s not a big iPhone fan either. h/t @simonyag

Toilet puppies.

I want a late night show or Saturday Night Live to do a fake infomercial advertising my latest great idea.

So, you go to the supermarket, and you’re looking for the essentials, i.e., toilet paper, and you’re standing there in the aisle staring at your choices… The brand with the soft puppy on it, the brand with the soft bunnies flopped on top of each other, the brand with the soft teddy bear smiling at you creepily. I don’t remember the brands’ names, I only remember that they represent themselves with the softest things they can think of.

Happy things.

Fluffy things.

Youthful things.

Things that, frankly, you should not be wiping your ass with.

Well, I want to sell a package of puppies with a picture of a toilet paper roll on it. “As soft as toilet paper!” the label would boast.

“Like the softest thing you can think of, which is not actually toilet paper – it’s puppies – so why aren’t you using puppies on your bum?”

It would go something like this: “Puppy paper. Soft like toilet paper.”

Also, what’s the deal with spa-edition toilet paper marketing? Do puppies go to spas? Do puppies relax in tea cups? Do puppies light scented candles?

Do puppies use toilet paper?


Disclaimer: If I get fired from my marketing job for this, I’m blaming the innermost creases of my brain wherein the weirdness is nourished.

The manliest men are in Israel.

Home, sweet Israel. Koala and I arrived back from my work trip to the States in two pieces.

Soon to be five years here and, oh, how the tables have turned.

Anyway, nothing says ‘welcome home to Israel, immigrant!’ like an Israeli marketing campaign.

Bezeq Parrot, eat your heart out:

Because the manliest men carry a tin of gum in their man-purses.

Yalla, Balagan! I really don’t know what else to say, Party Boy, except that your gum is really masculine. Must be the Men Collection.

Good old fashion chutzpah.

Looks like Israeli Santa brought me a present this Chanukah, in the form of some tradional and terrible Israeli marketing tactics – one minor and one major. Allow me to share them with you: 

Learn how to communicate with your potential customers

This morning, I wake up to the buzzing of my phone, a call at 8:50 am from an 02 number I don’t recognize. I let it go, cursing out whoever calls me before 9 am on a Friday. Ten minutes later, the phone rings again, and my husband picks up. He tells me, ”It’s Batya.” I mouth back, “Who’s Batya?”

I pick up and the woman named Batya starts speaking and I realize this is a telemarketing call. My first thought is, poor thing has to do this work on a Friday morning, and my second thought is, are you freaking serious?

She gave me her shpiel and mentioned somewhere in there that a friend of mine had offered my number because she signed up for a membership and thought I’d be interested. Before I answered anything else, I asked, “Which friend?” She didn’t seem to understand the question, so I repeated: “Which friend gave you my number?” Of course, she said she didn’t have the name on her. She started giving me another shpiel and I blurted out, “Not a good time. I’m pregnant.” I could sense her brain freezing at what kind of comment to offer in return so I said goodbye and hung up.

Now I wish I had asked: What possesses a company’s marketing department to make these kinds of calls at this very time? Do you not realize, as a gym, that people who are not already at the gym early on a Friday morning are probably not gym-going types of people who don’t want to be woken up… by gyms?

The funniest thing about the whole story is that I  never heard the name of the gym, so I can’t even do a little ‘viral marketing’ for them and repeat it here.

UPDATE: Turns out, it was a woman from a gym I had actually given my number to a few days earlier. I take back the angst, but I think calling after 9 still would have been nice since I’m not a member (yet?). 

Learn how to communicate with your outgoing customers

Our stone, third-floor apartment in Tzur Hadassah is consistently colder than it is outside. Last night we went to turn on the gas heating and found that the thing would just shut off after three seconds. My husband thought it might have been broken, but I had just used it the night before. We realized maybe the gas had been shut off… but why? Downstairs, we checked that the gas stove top wasn’t working either and then we knew for sure.

After checking with the neighbors, we understood it wasn’t just us or them – it was our entire block. Here’s some background: To switch to a new gas company, you have to get a whole block to petition for it and then you can disconnect from one and join a new one, collectively. My block had decided to switch from פזגז ירושלים (PazGaz), one of the leading Israeli gas companies, to גז יגל (Gaz Yegel), a smaller company, because we were paying about double what others pay. The switch was set for Sunday: PazGas would come and disconnect, and then Gaz Yegel would come and connect on the same day. 

Last night, PazGas decided to end their terms just a little bit earlier – on a Thursday, in fact, so the weekend had started and there would be nothing we can do until Sunday anyway. They came and shut off the gas, silently leaving letters scattered by our doors addressed from the Manager of Customer Service, עליזה אוחיון. The letter fascinated me, with it’s overly sweet apologies for the ending of our relationship, with the law being kept in mind by the company the whole way. And somewhere that translates into screwing us by shutting off the gas early.

However – a Chanukah miracle! We woke up this morning to find that our gas had been returned to us. Turns out Gaz Yegel had actually come by late last night and connected us when they were contacted by neighbors about what PazGaz did. For what it’s worth, they said this is not the first time this company has been screwed by PazGaz into rescuing switched-over companies because they shut off the gas early.

Yesterday and the day before have been (or at least felt like) the coldest days so far. This is a residential area with babies and kids everywhere. How could a gas company do that? What kind of message does that send? That you’re a sore loser when participating in a free, open market? That you can’t take undercutting by the competition in a mature and business-smart way? 

Gaz Yegel advised us it wasn’t worth a lawsuit. I wasn’t really even thinking lawsuit, I was thinking bad publicity. I think the customer service in this country is so terrible because consumers don’t complain after the fact; there’s no feedback. Lawsuits are becoming more popular, but that’s not the best way – or only way – to make a point. Sure, Israelis will complain during the bad times, and they’ll work at finding a solution as quickly as possible… But once it’s gone down, where’s the feedback? I could sit back and be happy the new company came to the rescue, but how will everyone else find out about why this all started in the first place?

Well, all I can really ask is that all  my friends out there doing Israeli MBAs this year keep these kinds of stories in mind, and go off and become Marketing Directors or consultants, and help these companies work on strategies and tactics that are not based on the wonderful Jewish tradition of chutzpah.

An *enlightening* discovery.

They say lightening never strikes twice, but that is simply untrue when it comes to the palms of Oren Zarif’s hands.

A while back I brought him up when I discovered the Mizrachi healer’s website.

Then, a couple weeks ago, I was walking through Talpiot when from the corner of my eye I spotted the signature lightening bolt and constipated look in the eye…

Oh no! He’s not posing for an advertisement for… a lighting store! And that’s not just a flash of lightening in his palms – it’s a flourescent lightbulb. What an electrifying way to make an extra buck on the side when the healing thing is not what it used to be.

But starting at nine shekel for a flourescent bulb. That’s not bad.

Welcome home, me.

I’m back, I’m jetlagged, I’m trying to catch up with work. I get a phone call.

Israeli marketing guy: Is this Mishpachat G—-?

Me: Yes.

Israeli marketing guy: Are you the wife?

Me: Yes.

Israeli marketing guy: I’m calling from Makor Rishon, a dati leumi newspaper and we’d like you to join our readership, bla bla…

Me: Thanks, but we don’t need that right now.

Israeli marketing guy: We don’t need you, either. We are looking for dati leumi families to join this network of Makor Rishon… bla bla… You are dati, aren’t you?

Me: Sort of. Still don’t need it. Bye.

I missed Israel so bad… right?

That Bezeq parrot invaded my Facebook.

The Bezeq parrot is back, trying to get at me with it’s creepy feathers via my Facebook account. I found this ad on there today:

Well, at least the Bezeq marketing plan includes social networking sites. Even if that means crazy alcoholic parrots.

Doesn’t he kind of look like Ehud Olmert from the neck up?

Another genius Israeli marketing campaign.

It’s so brilliant, my husband didn’t even get it at first. That’s how brilliant it was. When I laid eyes on it, I knew the time had come to switch from doing American marketing campaigns to Israel marketing campaigns. Plus, it made me want to buy all the clothes in the shop, because god knows I wanna be…