Category: Kelly Owens

Alchemy | Kelly Owens Technical Writing Material Excerpt

In an effort to maintain the confidentiality of client work product while offering an example of my background developing company style guides and teaching technical writing, I offer this excerpt from class presentation materials with the client’s name “redacted.” It seems the most ethical way to convey my skill and experience while respecting that the work product is published and taught internally for the company’s 600+ employees across 18 offices in eight states. tech writing class excerpt

All of the Good Ones are Taken

Them Crooked Vultures
One of the more recent bizarre band names; this one's a supergroup, no less.

And no, I’m not actually quoting Ian Drury (Mott the Hoople); I’m quote the Wall Street Journal and an article about the fact that bands are having a really hard time coming up with names — kind of like copywriters with the task of coming up with a new headline for an old product. It’s awfully fun to read about Them Crooked Vultures (John Paul Jones — Led Zeppelin, Dave Grohl — Nirvana and Foo Fighters, and Josh Homme — Queens of the Stone Age) picking a name that means absolutely nothing, and the lengths to which bands nowadays have to go to be original when literally any musician with a MySpace page can claim a name and make a case for it. What makes music so exciting these days makes giving your band a name a lengthy exercise in existentialism. And an often amusing dose of creativity.

Luka Mineral Cosmetics Ready for a Bit of Alchemy

Alchemy Communications Group is proud to announce our newest client: Luka Mineral Cosmetics, founded by Palm Beach makeup artist Katherine McDonald.

Luka Mineral Cosmetics by Katherine McDonald

ACG will be creating a new brand identity, packaging, website, marketing materials and a social media campaign through the rest of the year. We’re excited about her products because they are beautifully textured and in high-glamour colors, yet non-irritating, long-lasting and natural, containing anti-aging ingredients such as Calendula, Chamomile, Green Tea, Vitamin E, Cornflower, Linden,  Aloe, and St. Johns Wort , among others. In addition – or perhaps subtraction, if you’re reading the average ingredients in a cream-to-powder or loose mineral foundation – there is no bismuth oxychloride, no animal testing, no parabens, no talc and no artificial dyes or fragrance.

Katherine’s line is now sold in plastic surgeons and dermatologists offices becuase they are perfect for post-operative and post-procedure skin, as well as at Cosmo & Company, where she is the resident makeup artist. Alchemy will be taking Luka and Katherine to a much bigger stage in carefully planned steps.

First work has started and none of us could be more excited.

Balancing Balls with the First Amendment

Yep, I said “balls.” Because that’s what it takes to grab a picture of a sitting president wearing your coat from the AP, pay them a license fee for use, but never obtain permission or a release from the subject of the photo. Yes, that would be THE PRESIDENT. Then, you plaster this advertisement — because that’s what it is — on a huge Times Square billboard and add it to your website, absolutely implying the endorsement of President Obama for your apparel.

Obama NOT endorsing Weatherproof jackets
Obama NOT endorsing Weatherproof jackets, courtesy of New York Times

And in case that isn’t ballsy enough, here’s what you say to the New York Times:  

“Is it a calculated risk? Not being an attorney — I’m being, really, a designer, merchandiser guy in the apparel business — I would leave that to the attorneys or whatever. We’re not saying President Obama endorses Weatherproof apparel.”

This is the same logic used frequently by my 15-year-old son. Way to go, Freddie Stollmack, the garment company’s president. I’m not going to mention the manufacturer’s name, since they’re generating plenty of publicity by sending out press releases and trying to place the image into ads in major newspapers (all of whom turned it down). As a publicity stunt, it was a reasonably calculated risk. And a slippery, slighty queasy slither around ethics.

Even PR people (and I have been one since 2004), whom many in the media regard as an annoyingly necessary evil, might find this one doesn’t quite hammer the round peg of “controversy” into the square hole “any publicity is good publicity.” I’m just saying.

‘Wall Street Journal’ Vindicates My Bad Habit. Cool.

Today, I love the Wall Street Journal. Why? Because of this article: Good News in the Daily Grind. I may rarely agree with the venerable paper’s take on politics and other incendiary topics, but I sure have a fondness for its Life & Style section and bloggers.

coffee in cup
Source: Flickr -- Coffee is my sunshine

But back to coffee.

Coffee is good for many things, says the WSJ; some of them trump the bad things coffee does to me. Since coffee is my mistress, this is like getting a blessing from above to keep on seeing her and behaving exactly as I have. Kinda like Berlusconi without the astronomically high ick factor on every level.

Just wanted to spread the good news to all my overly caffienated friends in journalism and advertising (it being nectar of the gods in any decent agency or publishing house), and let my mother know she can quit scolding.

Aim High, Buy Low

Lagerfeld Designs for discount reatiler H+M
Lagerfeld Joins other designers with moderately priced lines at discount retailers like H+M


According to a study recently published in Marketing Weekly News, consumers are still shopping for the top, high-price brands, but doing so at mass retailers.”Electronics and department stores continue to see the largest loss of shoppers and have the worst conversion rate with about half of shoppers leaving without making a purchase. 

“Mass market retailers such as Walmart and Target are showing a five point increase in shoppers visiting them more often, from previous months, and have the best conversion rate with nine out of ten shoppers leaving the store having made a purchase.” 

No one REALLY wants to give up their favorite name brands, whether it’s a  Sony flat-screen TV or Frederic Fekkai hair products, but consumers are buying them at Wal-Mart and Target, respectively. We Americans have a love for brands, and the cache that brand name is perceived to carry, so this trend will no doubt continue well beyond the holidays. 

The study also showed that consumers are beginning to define value differently. Today, more often consumers are attributing value to price, where the past couple months it was defined as an equal balance between quality and price. So if  Target can keep up its trend of enticing high-end designers like Rodarte and Devi Kroll, and H+M  the likes of Karl Lagerfeld and Stella McCartney, and you can find Marc Jacobs, Giuseppe Zanotti and Prada shoes at DSW, most of us are going to shop discount. It’s a brilliant win-win for the retailers, designers and the consumer with designer tastes and discount budgets.    

Story Source: “Study Shows Consumers Will Purchase Top Value Brands at Mass Retail.” Marketing Weekly News. 2009. HighBeam Research. (December 21, 2009).

A Wink at blinc

You have to hand it to blinc inc. This maverick makeup and skincare company is dedicated to innovation, and continues to come out with really great products. It’s the 10th anniversary of their landmark product, blinc mascara — once know as Kiss Me — which was the first mascara to use the technology to create tubes around the eyelashes instead of brushing on traditional mascara. The tubes stay in place, no matter whether you rub your eyes, swim in it, sleep in it. It takes warm water and friction to slide the tubes off your eyelashes.

blinc inc mascara
No more racoon eyes with blinc mascara

Since then, blinc has introduced an eyeliner with the same qualities and technology, a conditioning lash primer, a heated eyelash curler, microdermabrasion sticks that are the best thing I’ve used since I heard the word “exfoliation”, and two new products: a 3-in-1 eyebrow product called “Fountain of Youthful Color Eyebrow Mousse” invented to give enhancing, water-resistant and moisturizing color to your brows with anti-aging benefits for the underlying skin, replacing the need to use powders, pencils and sealants. The other product is blinc fountain of youthful color™ eye shadow phase one, an eye shadow base invented to keep your shadow on as long as you want, while providing your skin with anti-aging benefits at the same time. Once applied, blinc eye shadow phase one conceals and fills existing fine lines, providing a smooth lid for ease of powder shadow application.

I love this company, I admire their credo, and I think that if you wear makeup, you ought to give the stuff a try. Great packaging (important to us creative types), delivers what it promises, and very , very cool website.

GNC Adds ‘Pretty Pills” to Attract Females

pastel pills, source: Flickr
Source: Flickr

Upfront confession: I come from a family of health nuts, way before it was cool, and my mother is a walking naturopathic encyclopedia of herbal, supplement and homeopathic remedies; five of us hold licenses as massage therapists, and we have a rather expansive exposure to the newest, latest and most interesting and/or repulsive developments in alternative health.

GNC, to the committed “crunchy granola type” as my friends have called me, is like Forever 21 to someone who regularly shops Saks. In yesterday’s New York Times ad column, titled “A Brand Favored by Muscle Men Wants to Appeal to More Women,” I commend GNC for recognizing it was missing a rather substantive audience, instead appealing mostly to those guys at the gym that have all their body hair shaved off and whose massively developed lats and quads wear their clothes out in funny places.

But does the market research really show that women are more apt to take a pretty,  delicately flavored pill than a supplement that might do some demonstrative good? Admittedly, I am not their target audience, but as a card-carrying woman, I somewhat resent that my ad brethren think it has to be pink or marketed as anti-aging to get my attention. We are all responsible for our own health, and if pastel vitamins induce an otherwise less-than-healthy woman to commit to better nutrition, we can all live with that outcome.

So, pop a lavender supplement, have an Activia, and be glad the guys on Mad Ave have started paying attention to you.

A Girdle by Any Other Name

The girdle
Source: Flickr

I cannot repress my smirk as I read in The Wall Street Journal that, “Shapewear has Women Bent Out of Shape.” First, that I’m actually reading about foundation garments in the WSJ, and second because it only recently came to my attention that Spanx, Yummie Tummie  and the like are being worn constantly by people I know. It never even crossed my 45-year-old mind that I could avoid a dreaded “muffin top” by investing in something that looks like my grandmother’s old girdle, albeit in a sleek, “sexy” black.

The darn things really work, and whilst I am basically telling the world that all my time in the gym and at fitness classes can’t seem to get rid of that lovely baby pooch I earned 15 years ago, the foundation garment biz is booming and no matter how uncomfortable or awkward — thank God I’m married and my husband finds my Spanx application and removal a source of extreme hysteria — there’s a simple bottom line (no pun intended). They work, and they’re likely to improve in comfort and ability to squoosh everything into the proper position, as we women keep snapping them up.


Using Lechery as a Way to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness: Good Idea?

Source: Flickr
Source: Flickr

In Tuesday’s Los Angles Times, an article appeared titled, “Breast cancer ads use lechery for good.”

As a pragmatist when it comes to the really big stuff, I think these ads will bring more attention to the cause, and that’s what we all want, right? The stats are appalling, and if one woman gets tested or one man encourages his significant other to get to get a mammogram, where’s the harm? This is a very female-centric issue, yet men are in women’s lives and should be paying just as much attention.

Sure, it’s the equivalent of a beer ad about breast cancer, but we should always be looking for the outcome, not the narrowing the path to it.

Do you find them offensive? We’d be interested in your opinion.