Monday, February 28, 2005

As if I know what I'm talking about

A few days ago, I said Jeff Gordon looks like a generic golf pro. I stand by that statement but I do not mean to discount his now-obvious greatness. If people hate achievement, they love their pre-conceptions: New Yorkers will never build a Wal-Mart and Southerners will never love Gordon.

When does a company lose its vision?

For Iams dog food, it might be right here. "Gravy" may sell a ton. It may be the first step in making Iams into a true Procter powerhouse brand. But introducing a dog food product just because it appeals to humans seems to conflict with Iams' own mission statement.

Sweeps ya off your feet

The NYTimes ponders the end of sweeps, a possibility thanks to Nielson Local People Meters, the new TV-audience gauge I've already confessed love for.

If LPMs mean the end of Channel 11's icky restaurant inspections, I'm for 'em. But I'm not for the end of national TV events like the Oscars, the foremost Sweeps-timed broadcast. Like the Super Bowl, American Idol final or the last episode of Friends, TV events give us all something to talk about the next day at work. You can discuss the Super Bowl with anyone. You don't have to know about football and you don't have to worry about offending anyone's political sensibilities. Isn't that nice? And after you're done talking, you can plug into your iPod and go back to ignoring everyone.

A few years ago, interactive agencies made much over the report that 500,000 Sims players kissed online on New Year's Eve. This, they said, was the first hint of the unifying power of online media and games. Maybe so. But I think we still need and love the big, national TV event. At least once every Sweeps period.

Please, I beg you, no more Anthony Fedorov

If the sappy ballads performed with an extra serving of syrup aren't reason enough to end his Idol run, these pictures are.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

'Bout time

Two of the three CBS Memogate employees have finally resigned. Of course, no one's revealing how much money they were paid to leave without bringing lawsuits. It's an unfair but unchangeable fact of life that after you reach a certain level in corporate culture, there is no failure -- only the question of settlement amount.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

And Parker Posey added what exactly?

Except for a pointless appearance by the indie actress, last night's Project Runway conclusion was perfectly entertaining. Jay won with a collection that I didn't think I'd like at first, then really loved. Completely. Kara said her collection was "aviation meets technology" and that it was very "today" when in fact she had only emptied out Jean Harlowe's closet. And Wendy Pepper is already putting her designs up for sale.

Last night further convinced me that the producers had a deal with Wendy Pepper -- protection in exchange for drama. She obviously delivered the conflict and confrontations ("You f---ing hated Kevin!" is a particularly delicious example). I wonder if the producers also thought her older, suburban mom image and her modest, more wearable designs would have a greater mass appeal than any other designer.

A wonderful ending to a show that celebrated talent and intelligence and even, in the end, niceness. Congratulations Jay!

Much more cussing and discussing here.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

They're for dogs

I meant to say something last week about the "We're for dogs" TV spot from Pedigree. It's so beautifully shot and beautifully written. Almost every other pet food, retailer or product manufacturer is trying to say the same thing (they all really, truly understand how much you love your pet--honest!) and they all look inauthentic at worst, clumsy at best. I bow to the greatness of the agency (which I think is TBWA) and the client.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

More Scarlett, Pepper

If you just can't get enough Project Runway, there's this and this.

I bite back

NYTimes Executive Editor Bill Keller on blog readers:“'There is a pressure to feel well informed without ever confronting an opinion that confronts your prejudices,' he said of blog readers." That pressure exists alright and it's most evident in the editorial pages of The NY Times.

Bill needs to get out more in the blogosphere. Or at least do a focus group of blog readers.


Two advertising agency executives were found guilty today of bilking a government client out of as much as $3 million. On a $1 billion account. No word yet if taxpayers can expect a refund check in the mail.

The trial centered around faked timesheets, which should be motivation for some agency somewhere to find a better process for measuring staff time and resources. But don't hold your breath.

UPDATE: The NYPost story contains this delightful bit: "'It's a lousy time to be a financial officer in corporate America,' said Early's attorney," who presumably meant that it's a lousy time to be a lying, cheating, and thieving financial officer in corporate America.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Did Paris expose herself?

It's bad publicity for T-Mobile that Paris Hilton's Sidekick was hacked, but of course not for her. One could wonder if she was the one who did it. Nothing about the hacked info is embarrassing for her -- even new nude Paris photos really isn't news. T-Mobile says in a statement that their investigation "includes the possibility that someone had access to one of Ms. Hilton's devices and/or knew her account password." Accidental crotch shots, homemade sex videos, hacked cell's amazing, isn't it, that a girl could be so constantly victimized.

It was also good publicity for the B-list celebrities whose numbers were exposed. Mark Cuban changed his phone message to an advertisement and all of a sudden, people who've never been to a NYC club suddenly know who Amy Sacco is.

Not that Paris needs money, but when she starts to program her friends' numbers into her next phone, she really ought to charge them.

Dumb excuses

Are ADD and hyperactivity considered learning disabilities? A Texas athlete claims they are and that he was unfairly tossed off the UT baseball team for bad grades. But he might have given himself away when he said: "I'm not going to lie and say I was in class every day and did my assignments a hundred percent and studied eight hours for every test...But it was hard for me to believe the hard work that I put in there at the end wasn't going to pay off."

"There at the end?" You mean, like, the night before the final?

Post gives Pepper props

NYPost's Adam Buckman is "praying" Wendy Pepper wins it all on Project Runway this week.

We'll see about that. But after the Runway-a-thon yesterday, I'd say that when it comes to backstabbing and trickery, Wendy Pepper talked a good game and that's all. Her actions were never as evil as she described them. Her only scheme was to position herself -- or allow the producers to portray her -- as the villain from the beginning. An admitted fan of reality shows, she knew villains get attention (a la Omarosa) and may even enjoy a protected status by producers wanting conflict and plotline. Maybe the only real shocker is that no other contestant on the show had the same idea.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

And he was nice to look at too

I know you're wondering why I haven't commented on Project Runway in, like, 30 hours. Well, that's because I've been watching the re-runs all day on Bravo. But now I feel compelled to say that the nicest, most decent and thoroughly likeable person all along was Robert.

I almost forgot

Happy NASCAR Day. Jeff Gordon won but he still looks like a generic professional golfer.

Not a good answer

Good article in the Dallas Morning News about a vicious gang made up of ex-soldiers from the Mexican Army. It gets more troubling: "Gil Cerda, a spokesman for the Dallas Police Department narcotics division, said he had personally not heard of the group and could not comment."

Let's hope that's just a head fake.

All hail the drive-thru Caesar

Which US food service company buys the most fresh apples? Why McDonald's of course. With salads and apple slices, McDonald's new menus items are having a lot of impact.

But there are doubters. Enter the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a group of cranks and nags the media always turns to for the tut-tutting that passes for balanced reporting. "'Nearly all the entree choices at McDonald's...are still all of poor nutritional value,' said Margo Wootan, director of nutritional policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest." So, don't dare enjoy those salads guilt-free.

Look, moms don't always have time to assemble meals that would meet Ms. Wootan's approval. McDonald's enables these women to make good choices for their kids and themselves. While turning a profit. That's key because this is the dirty secret of consumer research: "a lot of McDonald's customers say in focus groups that they want healthy food, but less than 10 percent actually buy the salads." It's often ignored by overeager consumer (and political) researchers, but people tend to say what they think you want to hear. Not all those people polled before election day are truly "likely voters," and not all "healthy eaters" actually choose fruit over fries. But McDonald's has made it genuinely easy to eat better. And that ain't small potatoes.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

The germ

I just discovered that in the TTLB blogosphere ecosystem, I'm an Insignificant Microbe. That is so eerie because in high school I was actually voted "Most Likely to Become an Insignificant Microbe."

Blockbuster thought

I have no love for Blockbuster, in part because their "No more late fees" ad campaign was so repugnantly self-congratulatory. But I wonder if New Jersey's Attorney General is just an Eliot Spitzer wannabe.

Call them TiVocates

Via Lost Remote, a good article about TiVo. Stunning factoid: "the average TiVo user shows the product to seven people and persuades two of them to buy one for themselves."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Nothing can come between me and my PowerBook G4

Never. (But follow the PSFK link because it's a humorous little blurb featuring more linkable goodness!)

Run for your professional lives

If this is true, I only have one thing to say to employees of Fox, NYPost et al: update your resumes. McKinsey will introduce your senior management to "rank and yank" and other practices that worked so well at, oh, Enron for example. Then, when you think you've survived that, one of their youthful consultants will be hired by your company -- as your replacement. On the bright side, it could be Chelsea Clinton.

Of course, this is just my opinion is all.

Relax, this post is unsponsored

Fast Company's bloggers first celebrate the sponsor-free purity of The Gates then somewhat bemoan the waning government eagerness to fund Amtrak and PBS. One could almost draw anti-capitalist conclusions from this.

Just for balance, here's a look at how donations from American Express and Hewlett-Packard helped create a cool new tool for London's National Gallery. And just for grins, here's someone who feels differently about PBS.

A dose of pure snark

Even if you don't watch Project Runway but you enjoy witnessing gaudy displays of stupidity, go here.

A whole latte love

I haven't run the numbers yet but I'm pretty sure that if Starbucks offered home delivery, they could turn a profit on my purchases alone.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Texas media gets more honest

At least when it comes to ad rates in Dallas and Houston. Nielson's Local People Meter -- the new device that's resulting in more accurate measurement of TV viewers -- will hit Dallas this year. Good news for advertisers, but not for broadcasters. Since LPMs have been used in the top 5 US media markets, ratings have dropped "slightly to significantly," meaning old ways of gauging audiences were overstating the numbers and overcharging advertisers. And because LPMs record year-round, it could mean the end of Sweeps.

In radio, Arbitron challenger Navigauge is coming to Houston. But this is creepy: "Navigauge gathers information about the radio-listening habits of people in their cars by using a device...that monitors all radio activity in the vehicles. That information is combined with a GPS locator system that tracks the route of cars and can be used to determine if a driver visited a retailer or restaurant after it was advertised on the radio. The company sells the information to radio station operators and advertisers." Creepy and just a little gimmicky.

Now if only someone could come up with a device for newspapers....

The lonely king of beers

In all the P&G-Gillette/Verizon-MCI/ATT-whoever hoopla, it's easy to forget all the beer mergers and buyouts of last year. (Miller Beer, not American anymore? That is so hard to process.) Now as beer sales continue to slide, someone wonders what's to become of Anheuser-Busch.

More fashion talk

JCPenney, trying to jumpstart apparel sales, debuted new fashions by Nicole Miller. Much was made in Monday's WSJ about the consumer research that went into this new line and the fact that Miller would likely tone down her own style for the older, more casual, suburban-dwelling JCPenney shopper. Just to remind everyone that the focus is definitely on 'older,' the media event to launch the line featured retired supermodels. But guess which model didn't really grasp the concept:

Nikki Taylor: “I love JCPenney for picking up her line,”
Carol Alt: "what an amazing idea, it’s great for Nicole and it’s great for JCPenney.”
Frederique: "... it’s a start, but I think there is room for [Miller] to be more honest with her own style.”

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I can't believe I'm defending her

Less than an hour before Project Runway and I'm watching the re-run of last week's episode. That's when designer Wendy Pepper became the focus of so much controversy. Again. But I gotta say this: in a small way, Wendy is inspiring. A little frumpy in a looks-obsessed business, and 40 -- older than most of the other contestants -- she's the ultimate outsider. At an age when most people are settling into their careers and sensing where they'll top out, Wendy decided she wanted more for herself. And she pushed herself. I mean, if you can set aside the fact she threw so many other contestants under the bus, Wendy is, in a very small way, kinda brave.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I'm ready for a strong mayor in Dallas

Inexplicably popular former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk has now come out against the Strong Mayor Charter. But that's not the news. The shocker is that current Mayor Laura Miller said something I agree with. She favors the current charter proposal instead of vague future negotiations because "she didn't think members of the City Council would ever agree to give the mayor more power....they are much more likely to seek changes giving themselves more authority."

Jim Schutze wrote that this proposal is being framed (by the Mayor) as the good Mayor Miller vs. the evil City Council. True. But ever since the day John Wiley Price picketed in front of Miller's home, it's her opponents who do the best job of demonizing themselves.

News bulletin: women buy stuff too

Did you know women outspent men on technology last year? MSNBC reports that this is shaking up the normally male-oriented industry. Stores in particular are doing some re-thinking since "three-quarters of women surveyed...complained about being ignored, patronized or offended by sales people when shopping for electronics....Forty percent of the women said they were treated better when accompanied by a man." It's also influencing product design so look for those new powder-blue laptops. Seriously.

But women have even been ignored by retailers who you'd think would know better. Yesterday's WSJ (the print edition -- yes! I still read it on paper) featured an article about JCPenney's new effort to attract the "middle" shopper -- middle-aged suburban moms who can't find proper clothes at Target or Neiman-Marcus.

Supermarket brands know these women inside and out and are constantly refining research on them. But what happened to other retailers and manufacturers? They evidently never imagined these women might shop anywhere other than a grocery store for anything other than detergent.

Marketing people. They really need to get out more.

Monday, February 14, 2005

Quick, another Diet Coke for Ms. Abdul

More and more ad agencies are forming their own product placement divisions. We've come a long way since E.T. and Reese's Pieces huh? A very long way, since "one of the roles of these units will be to come up with development ideas...that they can take to the networks and studios on behalf of their clients."

This is actually an old idea, reincarnated from the Golden Age of Radio (and early TV) when ad agencies and their copy writers created programming. Why is it making a comeback? You can blame everyone who's ever forwarded through a taped or TiVo'd commercial. Or you can blame every agency who's ever produced a commercial you wanted to forward through.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

The wonderful world of reading

Just got Disney War, James B. Stewart's new book detailing the tumultuous Eisner reign at Disney. Judging by the prologue alone, it's going to be incredibly absorbing.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Trial and tribulation

I just couldn't resist commenting on the latest development in the Ogilvy & Mather trial (begin mantra-like recitation) where two agency execs are accused of bilking millions out of a government account (end mantra). The defense began their case yesterday. Their argument? That the auditor -- the one who noticed the faked timesheets in the first place -- well, he's just a jerk.


In praise of BB Dunnem

In one of my very first posts, I bowed to the greatness that is the OfficeMax Rubberband Man TV campaign. But that post was nothing next to Steeplechaser, a blog devoted to the Rubberband Man and Eddie Steeples who plays him. Silly? Could have been, but it's actually a perceptive and thoughtful blog, which is especially evident in posts like this.

Well done.

Are you lovin' it?

McDonald's is teaming with MTV to produce a monthly program featuring musical acts and of course, McDonalds images. NotBillable is intrigued. Also, we're amused: "The campaign...features what McDonald's calls an audio trademark, which it renders in print as 'ba-da-ba-ba-ba'." Ba-da-ba-ba-ba? You know. That's the sound you hear before you click the remote. Which is another reason the MTV idea just might, well, rock. (Sorry.)


On the eve of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, where beagles are scandalously ignored year after year, comes two timely stories. First, we're spending more on our pets than anyone ever could have imagined. And at New York's Fashion Week, there was a runway show just for dogs.

At NotBillable, we approve.

Can't we all just get along?

Eisner says Pixar films are "pretty pathetic." Jobs says Eisner is "a loose cannon." Eisner says "I know you are but what am I?"

Walt spins.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

While no one's watching

Can local news accomplish what network and cable execs only dream of -- namely, get guys 18-34 to watch TV? Cory Bergman at Lost Remote makes an impressive attempt and starts a lively conversation.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

So it was Austin

Austin Scarlet got eliminated from Project Runway tonight. Although there seems to be confusion here and here among people actually attending Fashion Week (thanks to The Manolo for the links). The judges felt Austin was too inflexibly glamorous. I feel he could be the next Oscar de la Renta.

As great as the show is, I enjoy the site much more. In particular, Tim's Takes are the most informative little riffs on design and aesthetics you can read. Why don't we see stuff that good in fashion magazines?

What's bad for a woman may good for all women

Over at Fast Company's blog, they can't decide if Carly Fiorina's firing is good or bad for women.

Shouldn't be hard to figure out: Fiorina was hired as Hewlett-Packard CEO because of things she accomplished. Then she got fired because of things she failed to accomplish. When women get hired and fired based solely on their record of accomplishments, that's good. That's equality. And that's what women want, right?

Jose sells a book

I've always thought that for a large number of people, Pete Rose's real crime was not betting on baseball so much as having bad taste. Wrestlemania, bad haircuts, the QVC appearances, a truly horrific trophy wife -- tacky, tacky, tacky and oh yeah his wagering tampered with the fabric of the game.

But through it all Pete Rose never sold out his teammates or dragged other players down with him. Doing so would have meant admitting his own guilt, but it is still something to his credit. In fact, this week, Pete Rose looks downright honorable, thanks to Jose Canseco and his vile new book.

Blame Canada

Wal-Mart shuts down a store in Canada rather than give in to union demands. Note that the store's employees had already been granted union status. Trouble began when the union demanded that the store hire more workers. There are workers who really needed their store jobs, who abstained from union votes and now face unemployment because some of their co-workers insisted on making a point.

Many see these union efforts in Canadian Wal-Marts as the first step in a grand plan to unionize Wal-Mart's USA employees. I wouldn't bet on that happening. How effective are the unions here at getting anyone elected to political office? Not very. Unions are a mixed bag, image-wise.

And given the choice between low prices or a union presence, it seems Americans have already expressed a preference.

You must be so proud

How can you have a job title like “worldwide director of global strategy” and not be embarrassed by the fact that it sounds like something straight out of the Third Reich?

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Idol chit-chat

Ann Althouse thinks American Idol overdubbed performances AND staged Marlea's withdrawl. Serious charges, indeed.

Judy, Judy, Judy

I never heard of Judith Regan until she hosted a Saturday night talkshow on the Fox News Channel. That didn't last long. She popped up again during the Bernie Kerik mess. And today she appears in two, yes two gossip columns, neither of them flattering. But these aren't just any two columnists -- they're both employed by the same parent company that owns Regan's publishing business. So is it coincidence, clever PR or a foreboding message to Regan from the bosses? I'm betting PR. Whatever the answer, she is, however, becoming annoying.

Mice, vision and amusement

Roy Disney turns up the heat on Disney's board to find a replacement (fast!) for the human meltdown that is Michael Eisner. I admire Roy Disney who's fighting for the soul -- and the future -- of his uncle's company.

Literally just the other day, I was at Walt Disney World and visited One Man's Dream, a multi-media history lesson about Walt Disney's career. Even though he appears in part of it, Eisner is probably unaware of how damning the presentation is for him personally, for in every way his record at Disney divurges from the philosophy and path of Walt. Much of Disney's approach to his business -- the technical innovation, the drive to train and educate a new class of animators, the desire for entertainment that would be meaningful for both children and adults -- has been abandoned. I know I've said it before, but Pixar seems to be Disney's true heirs. I now believe that more strongly after re-reading this and even this. And I'm unimpressed with Disney's just-announced attempt to build its own version of Pixar.

The thing is, I don't consider myself a Disney devotee nor even a fan of animation. But I am a fan of companies that remain true to their original vision. It's difficult. So let's wish Roy Disney good luck and "a magical day."

Strong mayor, weak candidates

Brian D. Sweany breaks the news that Beth Ann Blackwood will not run for Dallas City Council. Good move. She can now take credit for getting the strong-mayor proposal off the ground with her petition drive. And she can avoid all those questions about finances.


ADWEEK continues their excellect coverage of the Ogilvy & Mather trial -- where it's clear the agency padded timesheets to get more money out of a government account. Yesterday's development: prosecutors surprised their own witness by producing email evidence that she led an effort to bilk a second client out of money.

It'd be funny if so many lives weren't being ruined.

Happy Fastnacht Day

Here in the South, Shrove Tuesday is given over to Mardi Gras traditions. So there'll be a King Cake and beads at the the office today. But I am from a different part of the country and my people make Fastnachts. I never saw the word spelled out until I was in my 30s. I grew up thinking it was "Frost Knots" because as my Grandmother made them, they were sugar-coated fried knots of dough. Mmm. Fried dough.

Anyway, confess and feast for tomorrow it is Lent.

Pantone Inc.

If you work in design or printing, you can't get through a day without consulting the Pantone color chip book. So this article about the Pantone company is particularly interesting. Turns out to be a smallish family-owned company.

Bob Parsons enters his 16th minute

MSNBC and the NYTimes have more about the kerfuffle. Most unintentionally hilarious comment? From an executive of the agency who created the spot: "we poked fun at censorship and guess what? We were censored. It's kind of scary."

Might wanna tap the brake there.

But the best line comes from ADWEEK's Barbara Lippert who writes, "When I read in our own pages that company founder Bob Parsons told The AdStore's Paul Cappelli that he'd 'love to have a beautiful woman with a nice ample chest with my company name across her shirt,' I could not believe he had said it in earnest, that such a successful entrepreneur could sound like such a doofus."


I just realized that all my posts yesterday were so cranky and negative. In my defense, it WAS a Monday. But enough. We're upbeat here at NotBillable. No more crankiness!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Fine print

A few days ago, the NYTimes ran an article on Conde Nast's campaign to promote the power of print advertising. The publisher is spending millions to convince ad buyers that people really do read -- or as they say "engage with" -- magazines. The article quotes a "senior vice president and managing director for print and convergence" (is that title for real and does it fit on a card?) as saying, "When marketers buy media, ultimately it's about the quality of the engagement with consumers." But when it comes to print, it's measuring that quality that is so problematic. Especially now that newspapers have been caught inflating circulation numbers.

Ad buys in magazines are dropping because they can't measure readers and behavior the way other media can. Newsosaur makes the point about newspapers but it applies to magazines too: publications seem unable to meet the new needs of their advertisers. Glitzy PR and freebie golf tournaments can't hide that.

Hey! I wanna play!

America's longest-running favorite parlor game is guessing who Deep Throat is. Now we hear the mystery man is sick. Hmmm. My guess: Bob Dole.

UPDATE: Dallas radio guy Kevin McCarthy thinks it's Chief Justice Rehnquist.

The $2.5 million refund

Most discussions of Super Bowl ads drain my life force, but this is interesting. paid to have their spot run twice during the game but it got pulled after the first airing. The NFL was so appalled after seeing the spot's first appearance, they called FOX and convinced the network not to run it again. didn't find out about it until after the game.

This makes no sense. The spot was being talked about for weeks leading up to the game, as company founder Bob Parsons breathlessly recounts on his blog. Why didn't the NFL react sooner? Why didn't Fox -- who had already rejected questionable ads -- react sooner?

The spot was stupid and although Parsons claims otherwise, it didn't always impress viewers. But the company did buy two slots and up to game time, had every reason to believe they were good to go. Seems awfully dodgy, then, on the league's part and on Fox's part to be shocked, shocked by the spot.

UPDATE: Daniel Drezner has more. I'll only add that I don't think it's unreasonable for Fox or the NFL to reject ads. The NFL was livid that a Las Vegas tourism spot ran during last year's Super Bowl -- reasonable, given that a pro sport never wants to be associated with gambling. But to not have pre-screened the spot when it got so much pre-game hype was egregiously lazy on the part of the NFL.

innw: ugh

With inexplicably ugly teaser ads and billboards, Doritos launches a promotion built around text messaging. Not well-received here or here but that may be a limited sampling.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

I'm tired of the cry-baby retiring athlete

From ESPN: "Breaking down in tears and grasping his beloved Dallas Cowboys helmet, Smith retired Thursday after a 15-year career" and dearly, dearly hoped that no one would recall that he once referred to his old team as "poo-poo."

Time to talk about Wal-Mart again

Why are manufacturers adopting expensive new RFID technology when they're not even sure of its benefits? Because Wal-Mart told 'em to. The new radio-frequency ID tags will let Wal-Mart track inventory easily and cheaply, make sure products are displayed on the right shelves and prevent theft. It's that last part that might be genius. In a Tuesday Wall Street Journal article about P&G-Gillette, it was revealed that Wal-Mart recently called P&G and several other manufacturers -- on a weekend -- ordering them to do something about their most-shoplifted products. The brands were forced to redesign packaging and store displays with theft-prevention in mind.

Given how poorly other retailers address shoplifting, you have to admire Wal-Mart. They're serious.

Every man my age is thinking of his favorite Wormer quote right now

John Vernon, the actor who played Dean Wormer in Animal House, has died.

A post only slightly related to Bob Schieffer news

I love D Magazine’s FrontBurner. It's a daily, dishy Dallas must-read -- unlike Dallas Morning News' blog which has never held my attention. D Magazine's blog is also what got me to re-discover the magazine. But last month's print version of D Magazine kinda left me scratching my head. That issue featured a Tracy Rowlett interview with Bob Schieffer that was incomplete – for the whole interview, the reader was directed online. That’s right. I paid for a magazine but had to go online to get content that was, at that time, free to everyone.

This isn’t creating “synergy” with online content or building “awareness” for your site. This is creating irritation – for consumers who bought your product. To read the once-free interview online now, you'll have to pay, a situation Newsosaur may not approve of If D Magazine were tracking readers driven to the site by the magazine, I'd understand but that wasn't the case. So what's up? I dunno. I’m an ad person, not an editor or publisher. Most of all, though, I’m just a slightly annoyed consumer.

Things you never wanted to see

Pavarotti in a swimsuit.

When $1 billion isn't enough

ADWEEK is posting daily reports from the Ogilvy & Mather trial where two agency execs are accused of bilking the government out of millions of dollars. No one is disputing the agency intentionally overbilled the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The only question is who was the mastermind?

Things don't look good for the accused. Seemingly everyone else in the agency has been given plea deals to testify against them. Which means the defendents must have steadfastly lied to investigators, refused to plead guilty to a lesser plea and/or decided to take their chances on a trial. Because, you know, that worked out so well for Martha.

Oh yeah -- the account was worth $1 billion. Of your tax dollars. And that still wasn't enough for the folks at O&M.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Martin Frost Drops Out

The former Texas Congressman abandoned his bid for the DNC chairmanship after the AFL-CIO support he was counting on evaporated. The contest is now between Dean and lil' Donnie Fowler.

Fowler's from South Carolina but lives in California. (Hmm. Nancy Pelosi is from California...and she fears Dean's extremism but hates Frost from their House days together.) The Democrats may regret Frost's exit. He was moderate and truly southern. And what do Democrats need to be in the next election? But hey. Maybe they CAN win the White House while completely conceding the South. If they wish really, really hard. Or just scream really, really loud.

Because Dallas is so well-known for compromise

The Dallas Citizens Council is often credited/blamed for much of what happens in Dallas. But do they support the new charter calling for a stronger mayoral role in city government? Well, yes and no according to this. They want to propose their own version. And they are delusional. Have they ever watched a City Council meeting? When do they think all the stately compromise is going to occur? In between charges of neo-Nazism?

Yep, just as we thought

While agencies like Omnicom talk a good game about the P&G-Gillette merger, an industry analyst tells the truth: "I don't think this is great for the ad industry. Companies will be looking for scale on media and agency relationships. New clients create new opportunities. Consolidations create the opposite of that." Agreed.

Mickey Mouse operation

Disney's latest earnings were better than expected largely due to the strength of ESPN and attendance at Walt Disney World.

Still, if you're a shareholder -- especially if you're a fan of Disney -- you can't feel too good. Testimony at the shareholder lawsuit was a scandal. And the January 11 New Yorker article was even worse.

While everyone is caught up in the Eisner vs. Ovitz soap opera, the damage has been done to Disney's heart and soul. Time magazine once characterized Mickey Mouse as having an "unconquerably chipper American spirit" and I think this is true of everything Walt Disney created. It's hard to recognize any of that today at Disney. The closest thing may be Pixar and Eisner has already driven them away.