Intro by Freddy J. Nager: I read too many academic journal articles — the literary equivalent of cold oatmeal. Chew on this excerpt:

“Many of these concepts come directly from a semiotic discursive territory —see, for example, the long tradition of semiotic reflections on “intertextuality” (Bakhtin, 1968, 1981; Todorov, 1981) or “multimodality” (Kress & van Leeuwen, 2001; Ventola, Cassil & Kaltenbacher, 2004) — while concepts like “transmedial worlds” are very close to it. In this semantic reflection on TS, the “intertext” concept — another complex expression widely discussed in semiotics and media studies (Agger, 1999) — will not be considered in order to focus on “multimodality.”

keep reading

Don’t Believe a Word (of Mouth): Black Milk’s 100% Deceptive Case Study

Case Studies
Shopify stupefies.

“How to Build a Multi-Million Dollar Ecommerce Business
With $0 Marketing Budget”

No, that’s not the subject line of an email in your spam box. That’s the actual headline of a “case study” on Black Milk Clothing, as published on the Shopify blog. keep reading

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango LLC + Guy Who’s Extremely Allergic To Snake Oil

Snake Oil

Today he’s a “guru” who speaks at social media conferences.

“Snake oil” originally described the fake medicine that con men sold across 19th century America. The worthless ointments and lotions supposedly cured everything from basic pains to baldness, when the only thing they consistently cured was “heavy wallet syndrome.” Scientific American describes how these faux experts worked:

 “…the ‘doctor’ was aided by a shill in the crowd who would, at the appropriate moment, call out that this medicament, ointment or tincture had solved his woes. Once the unsuspecting public had purchased the con artists’ wares, both would quickly depart before the townspeople discovered the worthlessness of the claims…”

Sound familiar? keep reading

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango LLC + Guy Who Questions the Answers

So authentic and transparent, right?

So authentic and transparent, right? Well, at least transparent…

Haven’t blogged in a while because I’ve been neck-deep in grading papers and writing proposals. Not sure which is more painful. I can’t wait to get back to actual teaching and creating, but every party has its clean-up duty.

That said, a recent class discussion brought up one of my core tenets: the need to question everything in the market… keep reading

After years of robbing trains, he decided he was ready to become an online entrepreneur.

After years of robbing trains, he decided he was ready to become an online entrepreneur.

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of the one and only Atomic Tango LLC (at least for now)

There was nothing to set off my usually hypersensitive B.S. detector.

The email landed in my business inbox with the subject line, “Confirm: About “atomictango” registration.” I didn’t recognize the sender’s name, Gerry Gu from, but emails from strangers are common in business, so I opened it and the message seemed friendly enough… keep reading

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango LLC + Writer Who Loves To Read

And unto the Gods the art directors did offer the copywriter's first born...

And unto the Gods the art directors did offer the copywriter’s first born…

“The most important factor in selecting type is its readability. Type should be clear, easy on the eye, friendly, and inviting. Style is important — the choice of font is one of many elements that contributes to the image conveyed by the ad — but readability always comes first. Always… Never do anything to make the copy difficult to read. Type should be set in black against a clear white background – not a tint, not white on black, not in color.” – Robert Bly, The Copywriter’s Handbook

“In a recent issue of a magazine I found 47 advertisements with the copy set in reverse — white type on a black background. It is almost impossible to read.” – David Ogilvy, Ogilvy on Advertising

I love art directors….

  • I love them as vivacious characters who live and breathe creativity.
  • I love how they can turn my pedestrian ideas into mouthwatering cornea candy.
  • And I love commiserating with them over drinks about all the conservative clients who want to bore the world into a coma.

I just wish they always loved words as much as I do… keep reading

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango + No Relation To Right Said Fred

Inbound-Permission Marketing Office

Call Me… Maybe… Not: After waiting all day for the phone to ring, the inbound-permission marketers realize that they hadn’t given anyone their number.

Inbound and permission marketers must be the sexiest people on earth.

(Mis)led by their guru Seth Godin, they abhor ads and other marketing promos that “interrupt” consumers. Rather, they simply build websites and social media profiles, then passively wait for customers to find them and give them “permission” to do marketing. Makes you all hot and bothered just thinking about it, huh? keep reading

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango LLC + Car Fanatic

Remember when Honda could do no wrong? Back in the ’90s and the ’00s, it seemed like every other person in L.A. was driving a Honda, and they’d never have to take their car into a mechanic for repairs or to the dealer for recalls. Indeed, my buddy is still driving his Civic nearly 20 years and over 200,000 miles later.

What the hell happened? keep reading

by Freddy J. Nager, Founder of Atomic Tango LLC + Guy Who Admittedly Doesn’t Know Everything But At Least He’s Gotten His Hands Dirty

Anyone who teaches or writes about business should have actually run a business, or at least worked in one. (And consultancies don’t count.)

Makes sense, right? Would you study surgery with a professor who had never performed one? Or learn a language from a linguist who’s never spoken it? Or copied hamburger recipes from a lifelong vegetarian? Yet in business schools — and on the Internet — lack of experience is the NORM. Oh, beware, my students!

I’ve ranted against inexperienced “experts” frequently, starting when I had to endure Ivory Tower zeroes in business school: classes taught by wonks so out of touch with reality, they’d struggle to sell fudge brownies to potheads. My MBA “Marketing Strategy” class was the worst: a running gag of silly ill-thought formulas that never added up. Now, I should credit that class for driving me to research and interview real business people, who confirmed that my professor was shoveling a load of elephant effluent.

These days, whenever I miss business school (which is about as often as I miss the last Bush presidency), I gravitate to the Harvard Business Review blog. There you’ll find more posers than in the fashion spreads of Vogue magazine. I’ve mocked HBR on a few occasions:

And I’m sorry, I can’t help it, I have to comment on another… keep reading

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