Open Your Eyes

May 11, 2018

What Are You Saying?

What Are You SayingYou see it all the time, adverts or messaging online and via traditional media for free websites for your business. And while some of them certainly may be a great deal, I’ve found myself wondering if businesses that are actually using such gimmicky services are really getting anything out of it? Back in the mid sixties, philosopher and communications theorist Marshall McLuhan penned the phrase “the medium is the message”. And if your medium of contact to your customer base is a cookie-cutter template of a website using mediocre stock images to visualize your message, are you really saying anything important about your company?

See Also: 3 Things Your Web Developer Should Be Telling You About SEO

You Know It’s Important

You Know Its ImportantYour business is certainly important to you – the services or products you provide your customers are how your company grows and improves not just your bottom line, but your entire brand. Your message is a big part of your brand, and it has to communicate to your client not only textually in the form of the data you show them, but visually as well. The imagery used to enhance your message plays a big part in how it is perceived by your audience. So while stock images may have some use in certain circumstances, when you’re focusing your message on the core points of what you’re trying to communicate to your customers, the visual components you’re using should be as specific to your business as possible. If you’re selling a great new innovative shovel, show your actual product, not just line-based clip art of a generic shovel.

You Get What You Pay For

You Get What You Pay ForAs a developer I tend to spend most of my time immersed in code, sorting out the nuts and bolts of how a website has to work to bring our client’s message to their customers. But by that time in our development process, our team has already dug deep with the client to ensure that the visual side of things is not just supporting, but elevating the message and goals of the client. And to me, that’s a significant difference from a “free website” that you’ve put no real thought or effort into. Grabbing a template out of a box and slapping on some stock photos doesn’t do your business much good. And just as you’ve surely invested time and effort into your products and customers, and seen the benefits from doing so, a similar investment with a marketing partner can help to create a website that will bring additional benefits down the road!

See Also: What’s a Brand?

Fair Use Content: When is it Okay to Use Copyrighted Material in Your Video?

April 25, 2018

For many commercial content creators, the urge to use someone else’s content can be a powerful one. Maybe it’s a track of music from an obscure indie band, or that breathtaking time lapse you found on YouTube. One voice in your head says: go ahead use it, your client will think you’re brilliant, and nobody will ever know that it’s stolen. The other voice in your head says: don’t do it, why risk it?

Let me reinforce the voice that says: Don’t do it! Today video is circulated through a vast number of outlets and you never know where it could end up. That obscure music track from the indie band could be topping the charts six months from now. Think about it, what if your client gets a take down notice from YouTube or Vimeo? Or worse, what if someone goes after your client for copyright infringement? Yeah, pretty embarrassing on your part, huh? Especially when they entrusted you with their brand and their good name. If those things aren’t bad enough, ask yourself how you’d feel if someone, without your permission, used your work for their own interest? Maybe they even used it for a political, economic or social cause that you’re totally opposed to? I’m guessing it would probably make you pretty angry, and rightfully so.

Using-Copywrited-MaterialsSo what are the rules for using copyrighted materials?

Well, there is no easy way to answer that question. The Fair Use Doctrine is part of the United States copyright law and it allows creators to incorporate copyrighted material into their work, without obtaining the permission of the copyright owner, when “certain” conditions are met. But even still, the distinction between what’s considered Fair Use and Copyright Infringement is not easily defined.

Define-Your-VideoThe first thing you should do is define your video as commercial or non-commercial.

Non-commercial videos have a lot more “fair use” leeway than commercial videos. If you define your video as commercial, your options for using copyrighted material narrows dramatically. A commercial video is defined as anything that seeks to make money or promote a product or brand. These would include corporate videos for the sales and marketing of a particular company (or products or services that the company provides) – including training, product launches, product demonstrations, etc.

Fair-Use-Copywrite-StatuteThe Fair Use copyright statute gives us four factors to apply on a case-by-case basis.

Vimeo – an online video platform similar to YouTube – defines these four conditions as follows. By the way, I am not a lawyer… please seek legal advice for situations where you need it.

1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature, or is for nonprofit educational purposes.
In other words, does your video alter the original work to give it a new meaning or shed new light on it? Uses that directly appraise or comment on the original work are more likely to be transformative because they add a new meaning or message. On the other hand, are you using the material because you needed to put something in a particular scene, and the copyrighted work happens to fit? Such uses will probably point away from fair use.

2. The nature of the copyrighted work.
What type of copyrighted work are you using? This factor focuses on the content that is being re-used. It weighs against fair use if the original work is highly creative (like a song, movie, or TV show), and will weigh toward fair use if the original work is less creative (like a phone directory, scientific data, or quotes from a historical record).

3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole.
How much of the copyrighted work are you using? Is the portion you are using the “heart” of the original work?

Generally speaking, using a great deal of the copyrighted work weighs against fair use. Less extensive use generally weighs in favor of fair use. What is considered extensive depends on the total size of the copyrighted work at issue. There are no clear percentages or calculations that decide how much is too much or where fair use ends and copyright infringement begins. In addition, even relatively small uses can point against fair use if that small use is the “heart” of the work, such as a famous riff in a song or the climactic ending of a film.

4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.
Can your use of the copyrighted work stand as a potential substitute for the original?

Uses that might negatively affect the market for the original work strongly weigh against fair use. Uses that have little to no effect will generally weigh in favor of fair use.

​If people could watch your video instead of the original work, this factor is less likely to favor you. The point of fair use is to encourage the creation of more and better works of art, not to enable you to profit from works of others.

As you can see, there’s still a great deal of grey area with regard to commercial video. I find the best and safest way to create content for corporate video is to create it myself. A little imagination and the right gear, and you can create something completely original. But for those times when you absolutely must use copywriten materials, you have a couple of choices.

  1. You can get written permission from the copyright holder, but unless you’re a real sweet talker, this option can be cost prohibitive.
  2. Another resource is Creative Commons. Its combination of search tools and users offers a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed and built upon all within the boundaries of copyright law. I use Creative Commons all the time. 

If you’d like more information about fair use and copyright laws, check out the U.S. Government’s official word on the subject. Stanford University also offers a pretty comprehensive overview that’s worth a look.

In my next blog I’ll be talking about how to navigate through the vast amount of Creative Common content, and some creative techniques for transforming them into compelling content.

Star Wars and Lightsabers… What’s That Gotta Do With Me?

April 10, 2018

I love the Star Wars universe! What I love most is the Jedi Order. The Jedi are the peacekeepers of the galaxy. Jedi start their journey at a young age as Padawan learners. A crucial part of Jedi training is building their Lightsaber, the trademark weapon of a Jedi. Padawans travel to the caves of Ilum, where they find unique crystals encrusted in the cave rocks to power the Lightsabers. At the cave they carefully assemble their weapon with a unique blade color and hilt design… a reflection of the Padawan’s individuality. This weapon becomes the Jedi’s most trusted companion.

Like Padawans, you’re on a journey, both personally and professionally. In your professional journey you might have been handed certain curveballs that are out of your control (being laid-off, a salary cut, no room for growth). However, you have a great deal of control and influence over your professional future. You spend a third of your day working… maybe more. Your work situation can steal from or add to your overall happiness in a big way. So start building a lightsaber career path that’s right for you.

How To Build A Lightsaber Dream Career

Take inventory of what you’ve been givenTake inventory of what you’ve been given, the cards you’ve been dealt, and where you stand right now professionally. Learn from your past mistakes, make amends where possible, and move forward. Let go of any fear, self-doubt, regret, and shame that anchor you to your past. Focus on skills and traits that are positive, constructive, and will help you build something better… those are your starting pieces.

Now do some soul-searching to identify your passionNow do some soul-searching to identify your passion. What’s that one thing you’d like to offer the world… that thing you would do without even being paid to do it? Doing something you’re passionate about is essential to a fulfilling career. There’s your crystal… the essential piece of a Lightsaber.

Is there anyone currently doing what you love for a livingIs there anyone currently doing what you love for a living? Can you call them? Email them? Tweet them? Do they have a blog you can follow? Have they written anything about their own journey? Can you seek a mentor in that arena? Don’t hesitate to follow someone who’s already walked the path you’re embarking on. Every Padawan needs a Jedi Master to learn from.

Find the elements youre missingFind the elements you’re missing to start building your dream. Need further education or training? Need to build a portfolio? What conventions or meet-ups can you attend? Any books you can read? Blogs you can subscribe to? Jobs you can apply for? Find your missing pieces.

Do, Or Do Not… There Is No Try

Do Or Do NotAnd finally, take the time to build the dang thing. Retreat for a weekend if it helps. Dream, strategize, and create a plan, a timeline. Take your first step. Assemble the first piece. Some Lightsabers take longer than others to build… but this isn’t a race, it’s a journey… your journey. So move at your pace, but make sure you’re building.

Take the pieces you’ve got now, add on the pieces you’re missing, identify your crystal, and start building your dream career… one piece at a time.

May the Force be with you!

See Also: Characteristics of a Great Account Executive

Spring Cleaning Is In the Air!

March 28, 2018

March 20th marked the first day of spring this year. As a marketing company based in Florida, this didn’t mean much for us, since we hopped right into our predicted high 80s humid weather. But what spring did connote to us is, spring cleaning! What? Not as excited as we are? You should be! This practice allows you to get organized from all that holiday madness and be more efficient in your daily workflow. Here are a few work tips for franchise employees and owners alike to follow.

Tip #1: Organize that Computer Desktop

Has it been a few months since you’ve seen your desktop image? Do you even remember what it looks like? Now is the time to start organizing all those files into folders. These folders can be labeled in a way that makes the most sense to you and your workflow, but if you’re looking for suggestions, we recommend labeling them by client, project number, or franchise location. This allows you to group similar files together and find them in a jiffy!

Expert Status: You could even go a few steps further and organize them into sub-folders. Here’s a great example:

Good File Structure

Tip #2: Clean-off Your REAL Desktop Area

If you don’t print documents, you probably have a decently clean desk. But for the rest of you, it is time to go through those piles and purge. In order to start clearing out those papers, ask yourself, “does this live online somewhere?” “Will I need to frequently reference this document?” Or, “can this be filed into a corresponding folder?” You will be amazed at how much actually gets tossed and what you don’t end up printing in the future because of this.

Expert Status: Your papers are gone, but how about cleaning out your drawers, disposing of those dead pens, and dusting your picture frames and other desk items? If your desk has never met Clorox wipes, it might be time to make the introduction! (Just think of all the germs that have collected on your phone and computer-eew!)

Tip #3: Update Your Contact Lists

Whether it is your email address book or v-card program, update it! Clear out the old numbers and email addresses, and start adding in all those business cards you’ve been collecting and, ahem, stacking on your desk.

Expert Status: This also can include unsubscribing to various newsletters and emails that you receive and always say you’ll make the time to read, but never do.

Other cleaning and organization ides:
-Rearrange your office. Give it an updated look!
-Buy a spring scent air freshener or scent diffuser to signal an office well-cleaned to your nose.
-Invest in devising an organization plan. Here are some ideas to help get you started.

With all these tips in mind, do yourself a favor and schedule some time to get yourself organized for the rest of the year! If anything, your mother will be proud.

Bicycling: This is How I Unstress

February 28, 2018

If you’re a business owner, work in marketing, or both, you understand the pressures and stresses that go with the territory. Even the most passionate practitioners need avenues to relieve stress.

Bicycling is my stress reliever. There is great satisfaction in a recreational activity that invigorates you mentally and physically, and always brings you back for more.

For the Physical fitnessLet me explain why I love bicycling:

  • For the Physical fitness
  • Huge calorie burner – Burn 2,000+ calories in less than 3 hours
  • Cardio builder – this is great for expanding your lung capacity
  • The biker’s high (AKA the runner’s high) – the euphoric feeling induced by a ride

For the Adventure of DiscoveryFor the Adventure of Discovery

  • New and old, familiar routes- it’s an adventure which gets you into the communities and places you rarely or never see in a car: The PinellasTrail – St Petersburg to Tarpon Springs, or Bayshore through South Tampa to Davis Island, through Downtown Tampa, through Seminole Heights.

 

See Also: When We Met Herb Young

For the Thrill of NavigatingFor the Thrill of Navigating among the 2,000 Pound Beasts

  • Know the rules of the road – If you don’t, you’re a traffic statistic
  • Danger exists – riding in urban traffic and sharing the road with cars, trucks and buses requires you to ride uber aware, be smart, and constantly communicate with your ride group
  • Be visible – that’s why we love wearing the colorful biking jerseys

For the Love of Your BikeFor the Love of Your Bike

I appreciate the beauty in the efficiency, performance and durability designed into my road bike. It’s like a sports car with a super lightweight aluminum frame and carbon fork which dampen road vibration to reduce rider fatigue. A carbon air pump and all important water bottle cage mount to the lower frame. The saddle is sleek to cut more weight, provide firmness, control and comfort and firmly mounted on a carbon stem. The bike rolls on 130 psi road tires, and it’s a delight to flawlessly shift through the 18 speed gear range. It’s a highly functional and self sufficient means of transportation, and the “trunk” is a compact under-seat bag which carries an extra tube, tire levers, tire patches, metric Allen wrench to make road repairs.

Planning your ridePlanning Your Ride Is a Great Exercise to Help You Get Mentally and Physically Prepared

  • Who are you riding with … fast, serious riders or casual, social riders?
  • What’s the day’s route … high traffic, urban downtown Tampa or scenic trails to country paths that were made for human and bicycle traffic?
  • What will the weather conditions be … what riding gear will you be wearing that day to deal with the cold, the heat, the rain?
  • How long is the ride … it may be a typical 25 mile ride with a single stop or a longer 40 – 50 mile ride with several planned stops.
  • The right food and stop breaks can add greatly to the pain or joy in the ride.

Last and not least, it’s fun to see people in cars with A/C on full blast in the middle of a Florida summer, staring out at you as if you’re a lunatic and finishing that 3-hour ride in 90-degree heat, drenched in sweat and somehow feeling cleansed.

How do you relieve stress?

Herb Photos

 See Also: Fun In The Workplace – How Fun Equals Profits

Divide and Conquer: The Design of Two Websites From One

February 22, 2018

When Madico, Inc., one of the world’s leading manufacturers of laminating and coating solutions, acquired the ClearPlex brand, it also inherited the company’s website. The site showcased two unique, yet disparate products: ClearPlex® Windshield Protection Film for vehicles and ProtectionPro® On-demand Device Protection. 

Featuring two distinctly different products on one site meant neither had a commanding presence. Marketing In Color seized the opportunity to help our client of 20+ years by creating two separate websites.

No Such Thing as Separation Anxiety

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no such thing as separation anxiety clearplex protectionpro The old site was a full e-commerce site built at Shopify, and chock full of outdated phones, tablets, and other devices for the ProtectionPro audience. The site looked like it had been cobbled together; with different type sizes within the same body of text, multiple “Oops” pages, pages with no images and long, meandering copy, non-existent calls-to-action, and repetitive information. The ClearPlex product seemed like an afterthought. 

Were we up to the challenge to design two sites simultaneously? We rolled up our sleeves and got to work. 

ProtectionPro by Madico: Keeping it Simple

keep it simple protection proProtectionPro is a one-of-a-kind system. So we set out to convince the end user that it was in their best interest to invest in ProtectionPro as their primary provider for customized screen protectors.

The copy accomplished this by describing the product and its features in simple yet persuasive terms, detailing the financial benefits of becoming a ProtectionPro retailer. It provided resources for existing retailers as well as peace of mind for potential retailers on how Madico will support them.

Behind the design

The design aesthetic was cutting-edge, modern, bold while stylish, clean, organized, and professional. The color palette offered a good balance of dark and light tones as well as two accent colors to bring attention to specific elements such as calls-to-action, dividers, headings, etc. And the home page grabbed attention with a background video of the product being made. Subtle and cool. 

Every image and copy was placed based on the level of importance. The hierarchy provided a visual map to guide users through the content and direct them to make a decision by offering a call-to-action on every page on the site. 

The previous ClearPlex website separates into two distinct websites: ClearPlex and ProtectionPro

ClearPlex Windshield Protection: Outing the Brand

outlining the brand clearplexClearPlex Windshield Protection Film is a high-end product but you would never know that from the original website. There was no uniformity in look, feel, and style and its brand was practically hidden. With ClearPlex now part of Madico, the e-commerce component of the site was no longer necessary. The site now needed to be an informational and promotional tool about the ClearPlex brand and its products.

Targeting the audience

MIC created a sophisticated site that spoke to its target audience of luxury and classic car owners, fleets, and construction equipment owners, as well as dealers and distributors. We made separate pages for each audience and used imagery that was vivid and appealing. Navigation was made more clear and to the point, so whether you are a dealer, distributor, or consumer, you know exactly where to go from the beginning. 

Bringing it to life

On the home page, a video served as the header, which made an immediate impact by showing exactly what ClearPlex is about. The video brought the product to life—the old website had nothing like that. Throughout the site we made sure the brand came across as crisp and clear, using Madico colors and typography, and accent colors for the calls-to-action.

Finally, we built the site for scalability. As case studies, reviews, testimonials, and FAQs are gathered, the site will grow as the ClearPlex business grows. 

On Point with Branding

On Point with BrandingThe new ProtectionPro and ClearPlex websites intuitively reflected the branding of its parent company, Madico, and communicated each product’s features and benefits in a compelling, user-friendly, and appealing way. 

The ProtectionPro website launched September 1, 2017, followed by ClearPlex two months later on November 1. We would love for you to check them out.

Website Overhaul for The Villages Health

February 12, 2018

The Villages Health opened its doors in 2012 to deliver world-class healthcare primarily to residents of The Villages®, a master-planned age-restricted community of over 157,000 older adults. Marketing In Color (MIC) and The Villages have a long, trusted relationship, so working with The Villages Health was a natural fit. When MIC suggested it was time for a complete website overhaul, it didn’t take much convincing.

What’s the Problem?

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TVH-Website-Redesign---Icon-In-Text-Image-ProblemThe old website looked dated, wasn’t mobile-friendly, and was virtually invisible to search engines. Perhaps most important, the old site didn’t provide maximum value to its users, The Villages Health Care Center patients. From a content standpoint, it was too much science, not enough heart. So, we needed to make the website look better, run better, and feel better. Piece of cake right? We thought so.  

Better Content, Better Website

TVH-Website-Redesign---Icon-In-Text-Image-BetterContentThe website was to center around user experience. What did we want that experience to be like? Fun, friendly, and informative. First, we rewrote a majority of the copy. Out was some of the drier, more tedious medical jargon. In was heartfelt and informative storytelling. We also loaded the site with testimonials and patients sharing their positive experiences. Quality content is king in today’s SEO landscape, so we made sure ours was the gold standard.

Image is Everything

TVH-Website-Redesign---Icon-In-Text-Image-ImageWe took a ton of new photography, replacing stock photos with shots of real patients and staff. We also implemented a stunning interactive 3D walkthrough of an entire care center. It’s way cool. Our goal was to immerse our online guests in the world of The Villages Health and to make a visit to the site feel as comforting and familiar as a visit to a care center. Mission accomplished.

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 Simplifying the Platform

With the new site centered around being user-friendly, it was important for it to be client-friendly as well. For that reason, we built it in WordPress. Powering the website through WordPress has many advantages. Chief among them, it allows clients to make easy updates with no HTML editing or FTP software required. Google search also loves sites built in WordPress. Which is nice. 

Bells and Whistles

A new, clean, responsive theme was created with usability for older adults, the target demo, in mind. Among other slick, new additions: a ‘locations’ plugin to allow for each care center to be better managed; a ‘forms’ plugin to better manage and store information patients send through the site; and a ‘calendar’ plugin to find classes to attend or reserve event tickets. All additions had to answer one simple question: does this feature make our guest’s life easier? 

Bridging the Gap

Friendlier, smarter, more immersive. In redesigning The Villages Health website, we did more than just make it look better. A lot more. We took a solid, practical business tool and turned it into a captivating, compelling business hub. With the new website, we were able to bridge a gap that existed between The Villages Health patients and caregivers in a friendly, useful manner. The end result: happy customers, happy clients. Here at MIC, that’s what we call a win-win. 

Seeing is believing. Take a tour of the full website here.

Gasparilla: Time to Let yer Jolly Roger Flag Fly

February 6, 2018

This year, National Talk Like a Pirate Day falls on September 19. But here in Tampa, we start our Jack Sparrow speak-and-swagger much earlier – right after the New Year. That’s when our annual Gasparilla season begins, and for three months we get to dress, behave, and party like pirates. If you’ve never put on a Blackbeard outfit or experienced the grog-friendly hijinks of Gasparilla, here’s a primer for all you scallywags.

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Aargh! But first, a little history

Gasparilla-Time-to-Let-yer-Jolly-Roger-Flag-Fly-Block-In-Text-Image

Gasparilla is named after a mythic pirate named Jose Gaspar, aka “the last buccaneer,” who plunged and pillaged Florida’s waters from the late 18th to early 19th centuries. It’s been said that when he died, he left a trove of buried treasure somewhere along the coast of Florida.

Fortunately, Gaspar’s legacy did not get buried with his bounty of gold. In 1904, the Society Editor of the local newspaper and the city’s Customs Director merged the pirate’s folklore with elements of Mardi Gras – and Tampa’s “Gasparilla Invasion” was born. Today, it’s known as Gasparilla Pirate Fest.

Toss me some beads, mateys! 

Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla was the first private club established, and members have been the exclusive organizers of Pirate Fest ever since. The Krewe boards a fully-rigged ship and sails into downtown Tampa, guns and canons afire, re-enacting Gaspar’s legendary invasion. Following is a flotilla of other Krewes and boats. The parade takes place on Tampa’s famous Bayshore Boulevard, with hundreds of pirates on floats tossing beads and souvenirs to screaming onlookers. The typically raucous celebration draws about 300,000 paradegoers, but in 2018, the NHL All-Star weekend  in downtown Tampa coincided with Pirate Fest, boosting attendance even more.

Initially, Gasparilla was held on the first Monday of February, and was an official holiday in Tampa, with schools and businesses closed. It was moved to the first Saturday in February in 1988, then to the last Saturday in January in 2005.

In total, there are three parades during Gasparilla season. The Children’s Parade, also on Bayshore Boulevard, is the official kickoff to Gasparilla, and occurs a week before Pirate Fest. The third, Sant’ Yago Knight Parade, takes place a week after Pirate Fest, and occurs in Tampa’s historic Latin district, Ybor City. Three parades, hundreds of thousands of beads for the tossing and grabbing. If you walk away empty-handed, it’s your own fault. Aargh! 

Gasparilla-Time-to-Let-yer-Jolly-Roger-Flag-Fly-Block-In-Text-Image2

Avast ye! There’s more fun to be had

 Yo ho ho! Think it’s all about parades? Ah, shiver me timbers and walk the plank! There are plenty of other ways to get your pirate on. 

Gasparilla Distance Classic

In February, runners of every level take to the streets of Bayshore and downtown Tampa at this global event that started in 1978. From 15k, 8k, 5K, half marathon, walks, stroller races, and other challenges, athletes run for booty – and their booties off – to benefit charitable organizations. 

Gasparilla Festival of the Arts

Since 1970, Gasparilla Festival of the Arts has been one of the most sought-after competitions by artists and one of the toughest to get accepted. Held outdoors in early March at Curtis Hixon Park, along Riverwalk and the Hillsborough River, the event attracts hundreds of thousands of fine art enthusiasts from around the world. Even better? It’s free.

Gasparilla-Time-to-Let-yer-Jolly-Roger-Flag-Fly-Block-In-Text-Image3

Gasparilla Music Festival

Only in its sixth year, the Gasparilla Music Festival in mid-March showcases both local and national acts on four stages and a drool-worthy lineup of Tampa’s most popular eateries. Held over two days in mid-March in downtown Tampa, the festival is a must-attend for any music lover. 

Gasparilla International Film Festival

Gasparilla season comes to a close in March –  with a bang and applause – at this international film festival, held at various locations around Tampa Bay. With the intent to inspire and support the local film industry, GIFF is a non-profit organization that features events year-round. 

Aye! Aye! So, there you have it, me hearties. If you ever find yourself in Tampa right after the holidays, surrender to the legacy of Jose Gaspar. Put on yer corsets, britches, boots, feathered hats, and eye patches, and brush up on yer slurry speech. For one unforgettable weekend – or season – it’s a pirate’s life for you.