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Opinion Editorials

Kmart ad promotes produts and ridiculous grammar

Kmart has launched a new music video by some insanely talented kids, but I have to roll my eyes at the ridiculous grammar littering the lyrics.




Kmart commercials entertain and appall

Last year, Minnesota-based child stars, Y.N.RichKids lit up the web with their viral hit, “Hot Cheetos and Takis,” and have now rebranded as Da Rich Kidzz and are getting mainstream visibility through Kmart’s new commercial, “My Limo.” The video has been divided into 30 second bits for television, but has already made the rounds online. The production was developed by DraftFCB Chicago, the same team behind the controversial (and perfectly hilarious) Kmart commercials “Big Gas Savings” and “Ship My Pants,” which had people in a giant tizzy over their offensiveness.

Take a look at their newest music video commercial:
[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”aTpb37WY0eA”]

Interesting observations

Did you notice that the focus is on going back to school? Did you also notice that grammar was murdered in cold blood through the lyrics? You see the irony, don’t you? Go back to school, kids, but please worry more about what color your shirt is than grammar – books are for nerds.

The nearest Kmart is nearly an hour and a half away from where I live, I wasn’t going to shop there in the first place, and I thought the formerly controversial commercials were hilarious. Additionally, I am a lifelong rap fan – the more bass and cuss words, the better – I failed a paper in middle school for asserting in detail that Tupac was a poet. I think these kids have amazing skills and I think they are destined for a few years of limelight and I’m betting at least one of them will be big time in a few years.

So why the fuss? Why say grammar is lying dead on the floor? Who cares, right? I care. Kmart is using children to sell to children and the focus is on going back to school, which happens to be the home of education, of self improvement, of rising above, and this video’s insistence on remaining authentic to the genre and using phrases like “the first day be kind of whack” and “right quick” along with multiple painful instances of “ain’t no” reiterate to children that these phrases they have learned socially are correct – why else would it be on tv on a commercial produced by non-rap adults? “Chauffeur, you know fo sho” is perfectly acceptable because it is slang, it still has the bones of proper grammar, but why so many double negatives, Kmart?!

When one of our kids was in middle school, they insisted “I seen” was correct and “I had seen” was incorrect – our child is extremely smart, but it just hadn’t come up in school before and she seen it on the news with us (coming out of the mouth of a cable news guest), so assumed she wasn’t making a mistake.

This isn’t a call to boycott Kmart, and certainly not a commentary on the hard work of these kids, but more of an eye roll that a commercial aimed at kids going to school would utilize improper grammar. With a few tweaks, this could have been an amazing way to promote a kiddie rap group to other kids, but instead it reinforced bad grammar habits. Kmart, you can do better. Please don’t reinforce bad grammar behavior in my children when marketing to them, please.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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  1. Donald Harris

    August 5, 2013 at 6:34 pm

    So, I get your concern for grammar. It makes me nervous to even type this up, because I know I will drop a comma or use poor grammar myself. However, I still disagree with you on this. I think this commercial is using the “rap form” as an entertaining way to reach kids. Yes, it has bad grammar and yes, it focuses on looks over actual education. But, all I see are young children showing a positive interest in going back to school. This commercial will reach children who are fans of rap and for once it will be a rap song that is not glorifying violence or drug use. Do you remember past commercials where they hired actors to “rap” and it was painful watch and listen to? And furthermore, their message was lost in translation. I am glad they didn’t do that here. These kids are authentic and their message will land on ears that will listen. I would love more of this please. Now the question is: in the future can they make a rap with better grammar? Probably so, just make sure it sounds good.

    • Lani Rosales

      August 5, 2013 at 9:39 pm

      @donaldharris:disqus you’ve made some VERY excellent points (and I share your nervousness about grammar missteps when addressing grammar). You’ve touched on something that I hadn’t put deep thought into (enthusiasm about school), so thank you for that and thank you for taking the time to read, digest, and comment meaningfully.

      I don’t expect a future of rap with proper grammar, because the genre typically leans heavily on (a) rhyming and (b) slang, both of which tend to place grammar second. I would never ask rappers to change their craft because I love the art.

      I do maintain, however, that it is obnoxiously ironic that they are promoting to my kids by using kids that are using poor grammar. In the kids’ Cheetos and Takis rap video, it didn’t even impact me one bit that the grammar was questionable – it was nothing more than a music video… but Kmart uses an agency and the ad goes through endless editing and tweaking – it wouldn’t have been difficult to clean up the double negatives (at least clean that up, gah!).

      Want to know the saddest part that I didn’t even address? Many teachers are not even correcting these mistakes, many committing them themselves.


      • Donald Harris

        August 5, 2013 at 11:24 pm

        Heh, back in the day I used to actually work the social media scene between Dell Inc and K12 teachers. One of the more eye opening things is what a real teacher is as well as their real dedication 🙂 But yes back to the topic you are right it is super ironic that its a back to school commercial with poor grammar 🙂

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Opinion Editorials

The actual reasons people choose to work at startups

(EDITORIAL) Startups have a lot going for them, environment, communication, visible growth. But why else would you work for one?



Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Startups are perpetually viewed as the quintessential millennial paradise with all of the accompanying perks: Flexible hours, in-house table tennis, and long holidays. With this reputation so massively ingrained in the popular perception of startups, is it foolish to think that their employees actually care about the work that startup companies accomplish?

Well, yes and no.

The average startup has a few benefits that traditional business models can’t touch. These benefits often include things like open communication, a relaxed social hierarchy, and proximity to the startup’s mission. That last one is especially important: While larger businesses keep several degrees of separation between their employees and their end goals, startups put the stakes out in the open, allowing employees to find personal motivation to succeed.

When employees find themselves personally fulfilled by their work, that work reaps many of the benefits in the employee’s dedication, which in turn helps the startup propagate. Many aspiring startup employees know this and are eager to “find themselves” through their work.

Nevertheless, the allure of your average startup doesn’t always come from the opportunity to work on “something that matters.”

Tiffany Philippou touches on this concept by pointing out that “People come to work for you because they need money to live… [s]tartups actually offer pretty decent salaries these days.”

It’s true that many employees in their early to late twenties will likely take any available job, so assuming that your startup’s 25-and-under employee base is as committed to finding new uses for plastic as you are may be a bit naïve—indeed, this is a notion that holds true for any business, regardless of size or persuasion.

However, startup experience can color a young employee’s perception of their own self-worth. This allows them to pursue more personally tailored employment opportunities down the road—and that’s not a bad legacy to have.

Additionally, startups often offer—and even encourage—a level of personal connection and interactivity that employees simply won’t find in larger, more established workplaces. That isn’t symptomatic of startups being too laid-back or operating under loosely defined parameters. Instead, it’s a clue that work environments that facilitate personalities rather than rote productivity may stand to get more out of their employees.

Finally, your average startup has a limited number of spots, each of which has a clearly defined role and a possibility for massive growth. An employee of a startup doesn’t typically have to question their purpose in the company—it’s laid out for them; who are we to question their dedication to fulfilling it?

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Opinion Editorials

How Peloton has developed a cult-following

(OPINION EDITORIALS) How has Peloton gotten so popular? Turns out there are some clear takeaways from the bike company’s wildly successful model.



Man riding Peloton bike with instructor pointing encouragingly during workout.

Peloton is certainly not the first company to gain a cult-like following–in the past we’ve talked about other brands with similar levels of devotion, like Crossfit and Yeti. Now, full disclosure: I’m not an exercise buff, so while I’d vaguely heard of Peloton–a company that sells stationary bikes–I had no idea it was such a big deal.

I mean, it’s not really surprising that an at-home bike that offers the option for cycling classes has grown so much during the pandemic era (a sales growth of 172% to be exact). But Peloton has been highly popular within its fanbase for years now. So, what gives? A few factors, actually.

Vertical Integration

If your company really wants to guarantee the vision and quality you’re aiming for, one of the best ways to enact it is through vertical integration, where a company owns or controls more than one part of its supply chain. Take Netflix, for example, which not only distributes media, but creates original media. Vertical integration lets companies bypass areas that are otherwise left to chance with third-party suppliers.

Peloton uses vertical integration–everything from the bike to its Wi-Fi connected tablet to the classes taught are created by Peloton. Although this may have made the bike more expensive than other at-home exercise bikes, it has also allowed Peloton to create higher quality products. And it’s worked. Many people who start on a Peloton bike comment on how the machine itself is well-built.

Takeaway: Are there any parts of your business process that you can improve in-house, rather than outsourcing?

Going Live

But with people also shelling out $40 a month for access to the training regimen Peloton provides, there’s more going on than simply high-quality craftsmanship.

Hey, plenty of cults have charismatic leaders, and Peloton is no exception. Okay, joking about the cult leader part, but really, people love their trainers. Just listen to this blogger chat about some of her favorites; people are connecting with this very human element of training. So much so that many people face blowback when suggesting they might like training without the trainers!

The trainers are only part of this puzzle though–attending live classes is a large draw. Well, as live as something can be when streamed into your house. Still, with classmate usernames and stats available while you ride, and teachers able to respond in real time to your “class,” this can simulate an in-person class without the struggle of a commute.

Takeaway: People want to see the human side of a business! Are there any ways your company could go live and provide that connection?

Getting Competitive

Pandemic aside, you can get a decent bike and workout class at an actual gym. But the folks at Peloton have one other major trick up their sleeve: Competition. Whether you’re attending a live session or catching up on a pre-recorded ride, you’re constantly competing against each other and your own records.

These leaderboards provide a constant stream of goals while you’re working out. Small accomplishments like these can help boost your dopamine, which can be the burst of good feeling you need while your legs are burning mid-workout. With this in mind, it’s no wonder why Peloton fans might be into it.

Takeaway: Is there a way to cater to your audience’s competitive side?


At the end of the day, of course, Peloton also has the advantage of taking a unique idea (live-streamed cycle classes built into your at-home bike) and doing it first. Plus, they just happened to be poised to succeed during a quarantine. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what Peloton is doing right to build your own community of fanatics. There are plenty of people out there just waiting to get excited about a brand like yours!

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Opinion Editorials

How a simple period in your text message might be misinterpreted: Tips to improve your virtual communication

(OPINION/EDITORIAL) Text, email, and IM messages may be received differently depending on your communication style and who you’re communicating with. Here’s some ways to be more mindful.



Black woman smiling in communication talking on phone and laptop in front of her.

Life is full of decisions, learning, hopefully some adventure, and “growth opportunities” through our careers and work. One that some of us may have never considered is how our text, email or IM communication comes across to the receiver – thus providing us a growth opportunity to take a look at our own personal communication styles.

It may have never occurred to us that others would take it a different way. After all, we know ourselves, we can hear our voices in our heads. We know when we are joking, being sarcastic, or simply making a statement. The way we communicate is built upon how we were raised, what our English teachers stressed, and even what we’ve been taught through our generational lens.

NPR put out an article recently, “Are Your Texts Passive-Aggressive? The Answer May Lie in Your Punctuation”. This article discussed what to consider in regards to your punctuation in text.

“But in text messaging — at least for younger adults — periods do more than just end a sentence: They also can set a tone.” Gretchen McCulloch, a linguist and author of the book Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language, told NPR’s All Things Considered last year that when it comes to text messaging,”the period has lost its original purpose. Rather than needing a symbol to indicate the end of a sentence, you can simply hit send on your message.”

While it may seem silly that the receiver would think you are mad at them because you used a period, here are some things to consider in our virtual communication now that we are all much more digital:

  • There are no facial expressions in a text except for emojis (which, even then, could be left up to misinterpretation)
  • There’s no sound of voice or inflection to indicate tone
  • We are emailing, texting, and sending instant messages at an alarming rate now that we are not having as many in-person interactions with our colleagues

Gen Z (b. 1995 – 2015), who are the most recent generation to enter the workplace, grew up with much quicker forms of communication with their earlier access to tech. They’ve had a different speed of stimulation via YouTube videos, games, and apps. They may have never experienced the internet speed via a dial-up modem so they are used to instantaneous results.

They also have quickly adapted and evolved through their use of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and now TikTok. The last two platforms are designed for pretty brief attention spans, which indicates our adaptation to fast communication.

Generational shaming is out and uncomfortable but necessary conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion are in (which includes ageism). You can’t just chalk it up as “those kids” don’t understand you, or that they need to learn and “pay their dues”.

So if you are of an older generation and even a manager, here are some considerations that you can take regarding your virtual communications:

1. Consider having yourself and your team take a DiSC assessment.

“The DiSC® model provides a common language that people can use to better understand themselves and to adapt their behaviors with others — within a work team, a sales relationship, a leadership position, or other relationships.

DiSC profiles help you and your team:

  • Increase your self-knowledge: How you respond to conflict, what motivates you, what causes you stress, and how you solve problems
  • Improve working relationships by recognizing the communication needs of team members
  • Facilitate better teamwork and teach productive conflict
  • Develop stronger sales skills by identifying and responding to customer styles
  • Manage more effectively by understanding the dispositions and priorities of employees and team members

This quiz is designed to help you identify your main communication style. It helps you to be more conscious of how your style may come across to others. Does it builds relationships, or create silent conflicts? It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change, but you can adapt your style to best fit your team.

2. Always ask your direct reports about their preferred method of communication (call, text, email, IM, meeting).

Retain this information and do your best to meet them where they are. It would also be helpful to share your preferred method with them and ask them to do their best to meet you where you are.

3. Consider putting composed emails in your drafts if you are fired up, frustrated, or down right angry with your team.

You may feel like you are being direct. But since tone will be lost virtually, your message may not come across the way you mean it, and it may be de-motivating to the receiver. Let it sit in drafts and come back to it a little bit later. Does your draft say all you need to say, or could it be edited to be a little less harsh? Would this be better as a meeting (whether video or phone) over a written communication? Now the receiver has a chance to see you and have a conversation rather than feeling put on blast.

And finally, be curious.

Check out Lindsey Pollak’s books or podcast on the best ways to work with a variety of generations in your organization. Lindsey is a Multigenerational Work Expert and she does a great job explaining her research to drive multigenerational workplace success. She gives ideas on what all employees, managers, and even corporations should consider as we experience so many generations and communication styles in the workplace at the same time.

You may laugh that your children or employees think you are mad at them when you use a period in a text. But there’s a lot more behind it to consider. It may take adaptation on all sides as communication styles and the “future of work” continue to evolve.

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