Join Independent We Stand and enter to win a getaway to the locally-owned, independent Lago Mar Resort and Club! Just recommend your favorite locally-owned business for your chance to win a 3-day, 2-night stay for two at the fabulous Lago Mar Resort and Club in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The more times you recommend a business, the better chances you have of winning.

Click here to enter!


Check out some of this year’s most bizarre ads here. Many of them European. My faves are Hasselhoff’s and  Utah State Fair. What’s yours?


Ok, most of us first looked a Fb as a way to stay connected to our friends and the world and as a business opportunity as well. We also know that traditional media is losing share on a daily basis but half-heartily attempting to adjust to the digital age.

Here’s my real life experience with the two:

While visiting Eastern Pennsylvania for the holidays we knew it was critical for my wife to get back to Virginia Beach on Sunday evening, December 26, for a walk-through on Monday morning for a real estate closing scheduled for Tuesday. We also knew that a blizzard was headed to the Hampton Roads area on Sunday. We were constantly monitoring both and the local television station known for their accurate weather forecasting – WVEC13. Christmas night we were both checking these sites on our mobile devices, as well as others to determine our travel plans. We decided we would depart Pennsylvania no later than 6am on Sunday. I woke up at 4am to go to visit my Father in the hospital before we left. I checked both Virginian Pilot’s and WVEC’s mobile  sites around midnight; Pilotonline had a headline that there was no white Christmas for SE Virginia. Minutes before I went to bed I checked Fb and there was a picture of a snowman that was built in Virginia Beach at 12:07am. When I woke up at 4am, Pilotonline still had the same headline and WVEC’s last update was at midnight. Lucky for us, our friends were posting away about the weather conditions and snow. If traditional media is not going to wake up to the fact that 24/7 is 24/7, they are going to go the way of the dinosaurs sooner rather than later and Fb just might find themselves the leader in the news category as well. JT


Occasionally, we like to toot our own horn, and this month we have the pleasure of announcing that Launch’s very own president, Elizabeth Lester, is receiving the 2010 Women in Business Achievement Award from Inside Business. For the past eight years, Inside Business has been recognizing women in Hampton Roads for their business acumen. It’s an effort to honor their achievements and encourage other women to trust in their abilities, strengthen their self-confidence and actively participate in the economic growth of the community. The award ceremony will be held on December 13th and a special report will be included in Inside Business that week.


I was disappointed to read this morning that Havana Restaurant at Red Mill closed two weeks ago. This casual yet fine dining eatery was one of the best we had in Southern Virginia Beach. Obviously people just don’t think when they are making their purchasing decisions. Thousands drove past Havana every day on their way to Outback, Olive Garden and other national chains.

Please read the owners closing comments  then go to  and think the next time you go to spend your hard earned money.


Us Meridian Groupies are still reeling from Sunday’s season 4 Mad Men finale. Without giving away any spoilers we can say that we’ve noticed every season, dark though certain episodes may be, ends on a hopeful note.

The last few seasons, we’ve seen Don Draper grow in the finale, from his baptismal moment in California to the exciting start of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce in a crowded hotel suite. This season, Don prepares for another fresh start – one with exciting possibilities.

Which reminds us – even when the economy is tough, even when clients come and go, there is always something to look forward to on the horizon. This year, Meridian Group is excited about some of the work we’ve produced for clients like Independent We Stand, Wounded Warrior Project, The Roosevelt NY and CI Travel and getting poised to make a few more big announcements. We’re ready for our next season!


Epic spot from W+K London/Amsterdam for this year’s World Cup. One can only imagine the nightmarish logistics involved, big kudos to Director/Producer Alejandro G. Iñarritu.


Meridian Group worked with CBS Evening News on a very special Father’s Day segment for our client Wounded Warrior Project. The feature piece highlighted the stories of two wounded warriors who are also fathers. Both men were injured in the line of duty and are thankful each year to be able to celebrate Father’s Day with their families. We salute all the wounded warrior fathers out there! 

To learn more or donate to Wounded Warrior Project, visit

■ 14 June 2010 | 12:02 PM

Perfect BBQ ribs . . . and a wad of cash, too!

I’ve long had this fantasy that The Bossman strolls over to my desk, smiles and says, “Lorraine, we’d like for you to take the rest of the day off. Just go and relax and enjoy yourself.

“And when you get back tomorrow, we’ll give you a raise.”

Over at The Meridian Group, a Virginia Beach advertising agency, The Bossman kinda does that. Each year, Joe Takach invites his staff to take a certain summer day off – with pay – and join him over at his place, poolside, for a barbecue cook-off with actual cash prizes, and a margarita machine, too!

I was honored to be a judge for Friday’s “Eighth Annual Q,” and I can vouch that pool and margarita machine aside, these people are not slackers.

Five teams competed and they rolled out fondue, crab cakes, Brussels sprouts with bacon and cranberries, slaw, sliders, bison and succulent pork bbq ribs. Team Sugar Coated even concocted a bacon martini, mixed with home-made bacon-infused vodka.

Like at any great party, it wasn’t enough to serve memorable food. Participants also imagineered presentations – the judges favorite were these “Mad (Wo)Men,” a play on the “Mad Men” series, dressed in their best hostess aprons. And the prizes? Up to 500 bucks, plus a copper pig trophy for the grand prize winners.

Now that’s a party!

Anyway, if you’d like some of the recipes, click here for The Meridian Group’s website and blog. And you might want to forward the link to this blog post to your own bossman or bosslady to give them some ideas.


For the past eight years I have hosted a barbecue cooking competition at my home for all of our employees. There are a lot of components of the competition including the development of a logo and T-Shirt design each year, how the teams are structured and even the categories which are unique each year. All in all the annual investment is approximately $3,000 including category and grand prize awards, production of T-shirts, food, a keg of beer and everyone’s favorite; the margarita machine.

So, why do we host this annual event and what is the true value to the agency and our employees? We are in a creative business that is very competitive and requires a great deal of teamwork. Everything about this event supports our core values as a company while allowing everyone to let their hair down a little.

CREATIVITY: This is not your run of the mill BBQ competition that you might see on Food Network. People use every creative cell in their body to win, place or show. Not everyone is a culinary genius so they use online resources to come up with something unique. Others really do have the talent and expertise to create unique and crowd pleasing dishes that people would pay good money to experience. At yesterday’s event the judges commented that if local restaurants served this level of cuisine they would never have to write a negative review. Who would think that these amateur chefs would create items like baby back ribs that were dry rubbed then finished off by tossing them in a buffalo sauce or scallop and bacon lollipops, tofu sliders and brussel sprouts with bacon and  cranberries. And how many people do you know that would stay up half the night infusing vodka with fresh bacon. These are all perfect examples of creativity and passion, the same talents we need to succeed in the marketing world.

COMPETITION: I often get negative feedback from some members of the agency that nine out of ten of our recreational events involve some sort of competition. Guess what? This is our life. If we want to succeed and keep moving the needle we must be prepared to compete at the highest level. That doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Competition is fun if you put your heart and soul into it. For this year’s Q, I was told that some people didn’t like to present their dishes to the judges so we had the judges visit each station, which was fine but I feel like we compromised to a certain degree. It was kind of like doing a new business presentation and asking the prospect to come to us or e-mailing concepts instead of presenting them in person. We also take the competition to a new level by inviting some of the most respected food industry professionals in the area to judge. Lorraine Eaton and Judy Crowling from Virginian Pilot, Patrick Evans-Hylton from HR Monthly, Debi Gray from Johnson & Wales, Sam and Cindy McGann, Jennie Capps from CBWC, Yiannis and John Milleson. Every year the judges are blown away by the quality of the event and promise to steal or “borrow” a few nuggets to share with the world.

TEAMWORK: If you are going to take home any money from the Q, you better work as a team. We do not reveal the teams or the categories until late afternoon the day before the event. Each team is comprised of people from teams that they don’t necessarily work with every day. They have less than 24 hours to develop a menu, determine responsibilities and action plans and to execute the dishes in a four hour period the day of the event. Some people prefer to work in a vacuum but over my 30 years in this business they never reach the top unless they know how to play in the sandbox. This is typically the result at the Q as well.

So, call it what you will – an excuse not to work, a blatant waste of company money, a good excuse to imbibe in the middle of the afternoon. I call it an exercise in life that will help us be a better agency.

We will post many of the recipes and photos from this year’s event on Monday.