Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Practicing safe television

Sure we're all excited about this tonight, but how we will feel in the morning?

They threw the book at me

The high, holy Caffeine Goddess has tagged me for true book confession hour. This could be embarrassing. I'm a watcher, not a reader.

Total number of books owned: about 300 -- 400 if you count cookbooks.

The last book I bought: Disney Wars by James Stewart.

The last book I read: Luke. OK. I know. Technically, it's part of a much larger book but I don't read that much and it WAS on paper. Work with me.

5 books that mean a lot to me: Cry Me A River by T.R. Pearson. I didn't know people could still get away with writing like that. Wow. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, which should be required reading for every young person. I mean it. Jane is a smart, self-respecting, hard-working little witch who kicks ass. Love her. You Know Me Al by Ring Lardner. Genius. Betty Baxter Anderson's Nancy Blake, Copywriter, the heartwarming tale of a girl who sacrifices her college money for a polio-stricken little sister, saves her country from Nazi spies and writes darned good ads! My copy belonged to my Aunt Jean and I'm not making this up. Finally, American Tabloid by James Ellroy. It's just so damn macho.

5 people now tagged: SuzanH at My Sad Little World, Will Clarke, Chris Gloede at Rants On Modern Marketing, Marketing Diva and Barb'ra B. Dunnem at Steeplechaser. I woulda tagged this guy but he looked too busy.

The war on drug advertising

USAToday looks at how the FDA regulates pharmaceutical advertising. I had to grab a binky and hold on to my security blanket really tight because it was so scary.

But then there's stuff like this: "most complaints come from rival drugmakers."

And this: "Drugmakers often voluntarily give the FDA promotional materials before they run, so the FDA can raise red flags. That precaution doesn't necessarily prevent later citations. The FDA may take so long to review a promotion that the companies, for competitive reasons, don't wait. Or the FDA may pass a promotion only to have another drugmaker point out a problem later."

Even when given the chance to prevent misleading claims beforehand, the FDA can't do it. So why would the USAToday write that "lawmakers, consumer advocates and even former FDA officials say the FDA needs more resolve and resources" -- especially if it's the drug industry itself that catches questionable claims? Seems like the FDA is most effective in the role of an after-the-fact wrist slapper. Which is what it's doing. Which means things are working. Unless I'm wrong.

Monday, May 30, 2005

If you only knew the power of the dark side

Become a Sith. Or just look like one.

From Mad Dog to Henn Dog

When Sideways made wine look fun, you could almost hear vintners squeal with girlish excitement. Last year's news that red wine is healthy was like an extravagant present on Christmas morn. But a whole movie? Santa Claus must love winemakers extra, extra hard. And well he does: wine sales are climbing at all price points but especially for wines around $11 or more.

Even champagne consumption is up. Same goes for cognac. But these grape growers have a very different group to thank: rappers.

This is all kinda amazing. We've been persuaded to cast aside something as familiar and available as beer for something more expensive and less widely advertised. And maybe that's part of the attraction. Maybe we've all grown tired of how sophmoric beer ad imagery has become.

Or is that just me?

Business mags go belly up

No one's reading business magazines anymore. So of course no one's advertising in them. Instead, investment services, telecoms and others are buying ads online "where many of their potential customers live....a Forbes executive said the digital version of the storied brand will produce more revenue than the print version within the next two years." While the NYTimes article seems to indicate that readers just aren't hungry for business news, you have to ask: is it the content or the print format that is failing to engage people? After all, business shows on cable are doing well and when it comes to personal finance advice, "there's a growing market for this kind of information" on TV and radio.

One thing is certain. The future looks brutal for Fast Company. "Fast Company, always more of an idea than an actual magazine, is probably gone for good" -- something surely hinted at in this letter from the Editor posted on the FCNow blog.

Ad guy escapes Dallas

For a book tour -- his first.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Quote of the day

This, in honor of Eddie Albert: "Joe, we can't go running around town with a hot princess!"

It might be a woman's job

Linda Kaplan Thaler is more accomplished, talented, caring and far smarter than I am. I know because it says so right here. Today she appeared on Kudlow & Company to say that if pretty little Danica Patrick wins at Indy this weekend, it'll so revolutionize our culture that we'll all go out and elect a woman president in 2008.

That's an easy prediction to make all of a sudden, isn't it?

An equally easy prediction from Kaplan Thaler: if Patrick wins, she'll instantly be everywhere, selling us everything. A trickier question is if Patrick can sell everyone on Indy racing. ABC's trying hard but the commentors at Lost Remote are unimpressed. Maybe a woman is just what they need.

DAY AFTER UPDATE: Patrick didn't win but she did get people to watch. Ratings were up 40% over last year. Of course, it remains to be seen how this will affect the presidential election.

Extreme Makeover

Geek edition.

Let's compare paychecks

Rupert Murdoch made $17 million last year and I'm inclined to think he's underpaid. After all, a so-so shortstop for the Yankees can make $25 million. Tom Cruise is paid $25 million per movie -- plus points! -- even though his acting skills are so iffy, no one's buying that whole Katie Holmes thing. Other CEOs pull in 7 figures just for retiring. So in light of the enviable cable ratings and a sweeps win that included dominating the final night, I'd say Murdoch is a modern-day rarity: an executive who is actually worth his compensation.

New twist: editor placement

Product placement is proving to be so hot that magazines want in on the action. So watch for the editor of Brides on an upcoming episode of All My Children.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

I'm honored. I'm horrified. I'm honorrified.

NotBillable has been nominated for a MarketingSherpa Reader's Choice Blog Award. I know: I can't explain it either. And when you see who else is nominated, it's clear that I'm the Scott Savol in this Bo-Vonzell-Carrie line-up.

There are 9 categories with links to lots of great blogs. Check 'em all out. I'll stay here and give thanks that even if I lose, no one will send me back to Cleveland.

Not so happy hour

The makers of Jack Daniel's just reported a nice and healthy quarterly profit. But not everyone feels like toasting their success. At least, not at Miller or Anheuser-Busch. All that whiskey drinkin' is starting to cut into their profits. Worse: beer is just not sexy.

So now that liquor and wine consumption is catching up with beer, will spirits advertise even more on TV? And if they do, will they still bother with magazine ads? And are magazines at all nervous about that? Am I asking too many questions?

Our next governor could be Kinky

Not that our present governor isn't! But the 2006 governor's race could include the always good-for-an-interview Kinky Friedman. He might win too. He's got a blog. He's hired a serious ad guy. And what can be dug up about him that hasn't already been detailed in song, onstage, or in any of his 17 books? Fun!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Medical question

You know, you can't drive five miles anywhere in Dallas without passing a doctor's office that calls itself a Sports Medicine Clinic. Or Sports Medicine Center. Or Center for Sports Medicine. Is this some kinda medical marketing schtick? If it's called "Sports Medicine," are aging but vain baby boomers more amenable to knee-replacement surgery? I think they are! After all, at a Sports Medicine Center, what used to be a sign of old age can be conveniently termed a sports injury and flatteringly blamed on a lifetime of self-challenge and discipline. And wah-lah, you've sold an expensive procedure.

Is "flatteringly" a word?

How did I miss this trend?

I must not be living right because I've never been to a designer resort. A Versace temperature-controlled beach in Dubai? A Bulgari Bali hideaway? I'm so there. But not if they put me in a room next to Angelina. I'm a light sleeper.

"Gutsy" is writing about a show you've never watched

From the AP re-cap of last night's Idol finals: "[Bice] later sang 'Inside Your Heaven,' a song Underwood had performed only minutes earlier. It was a gutsy choice, giving voters a chance to compare him directly with his competitor on the same song." That's from the AP Television writer. The writer. Who covers television. For the AP. But he doesn't know that both contestants always perform the same song -- specially written for the Finals -- because it will be the winner's first single. Not a big deal. Except that Idol's the one reason Fox will win sweeps.

Do not be afraid

Thanks to one of their readers, Adrants thinks they've sniffed out a fake Panera's fan blog. You know, I'm just not all that worked up about this. If the Panera blog is a boring and hard-salesy piece of advertising, no one will read it and it will die a slow, unnotable death. Or worse: it will become a case-study of clumsy execution. And if it's really someone's blog, it might evolve into something charming and authentic like this guy's. Either way, I think we're all safe.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Quote of the day

From this: "Tune in I did, but sadly, 'moderate Senators' had to interrupt my chimp carnage."

Braking, merging, spellchecking

Some cities have made it illegal to hold a cellphone while driving. But what about editing a Word document on a Mac Mini while driving? That's still legal, right?

"Kids" is a state of mind

For the second day in a row, USAToday beats up on Burger King. It seems a parental advocacy group is now offended that Burger King's Star Wars promotion includes kids meals, thus exposing children to PG-13 violence. I think everyone can relax. All those kids meals are in fact purchased by geeky 27-year olds seeking to add to their toy, I mean action figure, collection.

Nice try

NYDaily News tries hard to harsh our Idol mania but totally blows it in the very last paragraph by criticizing Carrie's performance of a song actually sung by Vonzell.

Monday, May 23, 2005

It's OK to show your Wienermobile in public

An advertising icon avoids being banned in its own hometown.

Have it your way

USAToday puts Burger King commercials through their Ad Track poll and claims to get mixed results. But wait. If you make it all the way to the end of the article, USAToday finally admits the spots do quite well with the audience they're intended for: "young people, particularly guys, are prime consumers of fast food. Overall, men like the spots more than women do: 17% vs. 11%. And the ads score highest in likability and effectiveness with 18- to 24-year-olds." Maybe that's why sales have climbed every month for the last 16 months.

And maybe that's why Burger King's agency was just signed by Fox to develop programming. Some may wring their hands about it, but if a TV show is as entertaining as this or this, who cares who creates it? And really, isn't that the lesson of new media in general -- no one cares about the source so long as the news/advertising/visuals/programming/music is compelling?

Allstate to big agencies: snap

The NYTimes profiles Allstate's Chief Marketing Officer and it really is worth reading. Maybe for this quote alone: "Now you spend less and less time with your general agency and a whole lot more time with other folks, like your interactive agency, your direct marketing agency, your public relations agency, your sponsorship agency."

Coincidentally -- or not -- Omnicom announces re-alignment plans. Something about strategic alliances, customer-centric models, blah, blah, blah.

Women over 30 shop for clothes? Who knew?

Maybe they regret firing Sarah Jessica Parker for turning 40. Maybe they're jealous that JCPenney's profits surged after introducing fashions for suburban moms. No telling. But The Gap suddenly has plans for women who do not look or live like bulimic 14-year-olds. They gotta do somethin' because The Gap and its other stores, Old Navy and Banana Republic, are not having a good year.

So: "At Old Navy, designers are paying closer attention to customer feedback, offering bikinis with two-way stretch fabric and relatively conservative 'tankini' cuts....The 12-year-old brand will also try to strike a better balance between appealing to fashion-conscious young adults and value-oriented families with more diverse needs, including plus and maternity sizes." And this: "The company...announced last month it would launch a new retail concept called 'Forth & Towne.' Stores will open in the fall and focus on women over age 35, whose spending power accounts for about 39 percent of women's total apparel expenditures." I just hope that's not "Forth" as in "Fourth Decade of Your Life."

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Dallas announces special wealth-redistribution plan

If someone steals your stuff in Dallas, the police may or may not respond when you call. From today's DMN: "Police officials hope that by not sending officers to investigate some noncritical thefts and lost-property reports they can lower response times for more life-threatening calls....people would report such incidents at the police station, by phone or, in the future, via the Internet." The article never says so outright but the message is clear. If the police can't make it out to the scene of a crime when it's reported, they have no intention of actually investigating the crime. Ever. Oh, it'll be duly noted and thank you very much for coming down to the station. But the truth has just been announced to criminals: help yourself because no one's ever going to go to jail for stealing in Dallas.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Quote of the day

It's British so you know it will be eloquent: "...it's about time we hailed those celebrity stars who, when they run for a bus, their jugs run with them." (As inspired by this.)

Jib Jab gets a job

The guys who gave us "This Land Is Your Land" are now hawking Budweiser. See what you think.

Fun with cable news

TV Newser goes all Page Six on us. Better yet, he supplies names.

Ad guys, tramps and thieves

Jossip links to this Boston Herald story about allegations that new Boston Commonwealth magazine stole a competitor's advertising database. I don't know what's more damning for Boston Commonwealth -- the evidence as it is or their staffers' laughable denials. But it's safe to say that those are the last impromptu remarks we'll see from employees. Only legally vetted written statements from now on.

I WAS SO WRONG: Astoundingly, Jason Binn comments before claiming he can't comment.

The science of alienating your customer

Researchers are looking at ways to use RFID tags to limit how you use your DVDs. So you can't lend it to a friend, give it to Goodwill or sell it to Half-Price Books. Oh, but it gets better: you'll have to buy a special DVD player to read the RFID.

Sounds like a hit.

Belly up to the bar

PSFK didn't like one of the ads on their site. So they asked readers to re-do it -- without checking with the advertiser first. Eeenteresting. The competition ends 5:30 EST today.

UPDATE: They've extended the deadline to 9am EST Monday. This never happens in real life.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

From 'ooh' to 'uh-oh'

A Shockware-powered outdoor ad experiences technical difficulties.

A person worth honoring

You're in a highly technical, specialized business that no one thinks you're smart enough for. Your spouse has unexpectedly died. And your job is about to be eliminated. What do you do next? Marianne Sensale-Guerin just kept going and now she's the National Small Business Person of the Year. I really do love stories like this.

Ad campaign collides with the campaign for governor

Time Warner Cable will pay fines and refunds for questionable advertising in upstate New York, thanks to state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. It would be cynical to suggest that going after Time Warner was in any way motivated by the fact that everyone hates cable companies or that a gubernatorial win would depend on votes from upstate New York. No. Spitzer's driven by a genuine concern for the little guy. Honest.

Selling your soul for a Morgan Stanley ad

Attention local Ford dealers: here's how Morgan Stanley avoids unfavorable press coverage. It'll be part of their ad contract. Maybe Instyle has the right idea. If ad bucks is all you want, just run makeup reviews, recipes and gossipy bits about where Nicky Hilton shops for hair products. Even for respected publications, it's a proven hit.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Checking messages

Already this week, we've heard that cellphones will overtake iPods, that phones are the new cable and that mental instability might be the result of ringtones. I think we can all agree on that last point, but how do we know what else to believe? Turns out, it's easy. Just follow the pervs.

Quick. While it's still free.

The NYTimes reports on an advertising conference in Bermuda. Most spit-take-inducing passage: "more clients are insisting their accounts be handled by agencies that hire and keep employees who are representative of the consumers who buy their products." Ooooh-kay. But progress will actually begin only when clients pledge to do the same. It might come as a shock to them, but most consumers aren't 25-year-old business school grads pulling down a $100K salary. Just sayin'.

Suspicious minds

FrontBurner notices that the Dallas Morning News just planted a wet kiss on Troy Aikman's new Ford dealership and wonders if it has anything to do with Channel 8's controversial expose. Only time and altered media plans will tell.

Can you turn that into a chamber of commerce ad?

Virginia Postrel discovers this city's greatest features: "Dallas is in the middle of the country and on Central Time."

Which is another way of saying "don't ask about the schools or crime."

Pet food claims that are hard to swallow

In an article about the growing pet care industry Adweek reports, "pet-food makers are shifting ad focus from value and nutrients to the more emotional side of pet ownership." TBWA's Pedigree campaign is offered as proof. "Dog food advertising is usually 'all about science and the rational benefits of the food,' said Chris Adams, copywriter for the campaign. 'People love dogs like their own children, and no pet food company was really nailing that.'" Then Adweek rolls over so TBWA can scratch its belly.

Even I -- someone who has effused over the Pedigree campaign -- am put off by how ADWEEK so obediently accepts the TBWA claim here. Ever hear of Purina One? Hill's maybe? There must be some consumers who still value "nutrients" and "science." Could it be -- just thinking out loud here -- that Pedigree plays up the "emotions" story because they have no "rational benefits" story? That their consumer insight is less a breakthrough and more a necessity? Just a thought. Chew on it for a minute.

Dodgy behavior from North Texas Ford dealers

From the FrontBurner: "Last week, Channel 8 aired an investigative report about 'sudden acceleration' in Ford Explorers....the investigation so angered local and regional Ford dealers that they pulled $2.8 million in advertising from Channel 8 for the rest of the year. Shame, shame, shame on you, Ford dealers."

Well advertisers have that right and it must be fun to kick Belo while they're down. The downside is that such a move seems mean and a bit evasive -- not qualities you want in a car dealer. That, and now they're totally absent on a popular ABC affiliate.

But shame on Channel 8 for pulling the story from their site. Isn't that the journalistic equivalent of rolling back the odometer?

Monday, May 16, 2005

TV is not dead

It's alive and walking. And in a truly inspired move, it also taunts NYC club scene losers. Fun!

The Limited loses their shirt

Kinda. The retailer's first-quarter profits were off 76%. But don't worry. They have a plan to fix things: "While pants sales were strong, the company must offer better shirts, said Express President Paul Raffin, who took over in February. 'We got fashion wrong, we drifted older, we drifted more expensive, and in fact alienated a large percent of our total customers,' he said."

Listen. Hear that? It's the sound of hundreds, nay thousands, of fashion merchandising graduates being lashed in a small central Ohio warehouse.

Must (whoosh-snap!) offer better (whoosh-snap!) shirts. Must stop (whoosh-snap!) trying to be Banana Republic (whoosh-suh-nap!).

The business of being Tiger

Tiger Woods missed a cut but it's Dallas businesses who might be heartbroken. Attendance at this year's Byron Nelson Tournament was down 25,000 (according to today's Dallas Morning News print edition). The biggest drop came on Saturday when Dallasites stepped out of their Mystic Tan booths only to realize Tiger wouldn't be playing. Why go?

Shirts to promote, TV ratings to pump up, Pavilion margaritas to sell -- Tiger has a lot to do. When will he ever find the time to catch this guy?

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Why I feel old

I've seen Brady Bunch episodes before they were re-runs.
I never used a microwave until I was in high school.
E-tickets: first I think Disney rides, THEN I think airline travel.
The original Earth shoes? Had 'em.
The first three agencies I worked for didn't have office email.
Pong: yes. XboX: no.

Why I don't feel old

No husband, no kids.
I think it's funny to quote whole scenes from Napoleon Dynamite.
When I go to Target, I still stop at the Barbie aisle.
What’s so bad about flavored lip gloss?
I've never owned a lawn mower.
My love for American Idol is without irony.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Friday, May 13, 2005

The Europeans are so much more refined, no?

Remember: If you humiliate a homeless man by dumping a magnum of champagne over his head at a public gathering, try to set things right by offering him your Mont Blanc pen.

Behind the curve, again

It used to be that when I went out to nice places in Dallas, I'd worry about being underdressed. Now I worry about being under-enhanced.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Quote of the day

Has to be this: "She's got the gay gun-nut demographic sewn up."

How do ya feel about product placement?

Fresh off last night's puzzling, yet prominent mention of the Marquis Jet Card in the middle of American Idol, Adjab notices a new variation of product placement called "Ailment Placement." The possibilities are, well, nauseating.

The story of tilapia

Just last week, a friend and I went to dinner. He ordered tilapia. I asked him what that was. All he knew was that it was fish so I claimed that "tilapia" was in fact the Spanish word for plankton. Brows furrowed. Worried silence ensued. He was pretty sure I was joking but neither of us could be sure I was wrong. Now we know I was both kidding and wrong.

Bigger is better

It's a bad sign when a news executive starts talking about the quality of his channel's viewers instead of the quantity. It's NBC's strategy now and it was CNN's strategy back in January 2002 when everyone thought Fox News' ratings coup was just a fluke. CNN hasn't been back on top since. Advertisers tend to care about stuff like that.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Quote of the day

Is this: "I have no bumperstickers, for the same reason I do not paste editorials with which I agree on the seat of my pants."

Times Square goes swoosh

More proof that Nike has been cooler longer than any other brand. And nice use of the term "well-heeled."

Tone-deaf at Yahoo, dumb at Warner

Yahoo gets in on the online music subscription action. I'm not optimistic for them. I just don't believe in the rent-a-tune business model because I don't believe people want to spend time and money downloading songs only to lose them at some point in the future.

What's interesting is that the subscription approach is being pushed by record companies. With a subscription, "consumers are more likely to sample songs from relatively unknown artists, a phenomenon that helps the industry create more moneymaking stars...[and] the record labels might gain more negotiating leverage to pressure Apple into renting songs instead of simply selling them." That's right. It's all about re-making the iTunes store. Record labels are helping push a method of music distribution that consumers really haven't asked for so they can change a service consumers really do want. Yeah. That'll work.

Meanwhile, Warner Music dropped its initial public offering price then saw their stock slide more during first-day trading. Seems investors aren't eager to hand Warner $500 million when the company has already announced that only $7 million of it will actually go to promoting and growing the business. Hmm. I guess THAT'S the way to create more moneymaking stars!

TiVo learns that it's all in the delivery

For Mother's Day, TiVo gave away free units to new moms at a local hospital. This could have been a brilliant move for TiVo. You know the family's going to be house-bound for awhile so you've got an ideal customer. Judging from comments at Lost Remote alone, it makes a popular giveaway. And most important, TiVo users so love the product that they usually convince two other people to buy their own.

There was just one glitch.

TiVo chose Parkland, an inner city hospital; "the company showed up with certificates printed only in English. Most of Parkland's maternity patients are fluent only in Spanish....the women also were confused. Maria Ramirez, a 26-year-old Mesquite woman, juggled her crying 2-day-old daughter as a Spanish translator explained that she was now a proud TiVo owner. 'Is it for babies?' Ms. Ramirez asked."

Oh well. A for concept. D for execution.

Wherein I presume to advise Lord & Taylor

While Conde Nast spends millions on a campaign to convince marketers that people really do engage with print advertising, its employees go and undermine the whole damn thing. From today's Page Six: "Lord & Taylor department store chain recently sent the publishing empire cases of coupons...which were supposed to be inserted in magazines. While the boxes have been declared missing by Condé Nast, employees of the publishing house have shown up at the Fifth Avenue flagship store to use fistfuls of the coupons on major purchases. An insider said, 'And there's nothing Lord & Taylor can do.'"

Actually there's quite a lot Lord & Taylor can do. The leak to The Post was a start. Also consider a threat to re-evaluate some media buys. Then have a close look to see how those PID numbers match up with the purchaser info (you did use PID numbers, right?) and reveal suspicious purchasers to Conde Nast. Because in an age when magazines are fighting to stay alive, any employee who cheats a faithful advertiser should be shitcanned.

And yes, I said "shitcanned!"

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

What we know and what we should know

Another person finds that the NYTimes sometimes gets it all wrong. Lucky for us, Seth Godin responds to snideness with an invaluable list of things good marketers should know. Example: "If you are marketing from a fairly static annual budget, you’re viewing marketing as an expense. Good marketers realize that it is an investment."

As long as there is junk mail, bland products, and clueless salespeople, there is a need for Seth Godin to write books. If the NYTimes were right and Godin's only reinforcing what we all know, then there's a lot of marketers with some 'splaining to do.

Like Teresa Brewer, all we want is music, music, music

A few months ago, I wanted to post something about the Samsonite Spinners TV spot. I was mesmerized by its Sergio Mendes-like music and circa-1971 movie look (you know -- those movies that were always about heiresses who wear really sheer, form-fitting blouses and have doomed affairs with Italian Formula One racecar drivers -- you know) but I couldn't find any info on it. Today I crawled out from under my rock and noticed that Slate featured something on Samsonite last month, complete with details about the music (it's original) and the color of the luggage (red, to appeal to women). Reading about that spot just makes me want to watch it over and over. And over. It's the samba-est!

Samsonite's musical choice is especially brilliant considering there are times when a commercial can nearly kill a song. (Warning: anecdote-y, non-substantiated evidence to follow). DJs who work receptions now say that the song appearing most on their Do Not Play lists is "You Look Wonderful Tonight" -- a song that had been a perennial favorite at weddings. Why? Because SBC Yahoo!'s media buy in some markets is just running the hell out of a single Eric Clapton TV spot. So, for most people, the song can no longer have a personal meaning. It's as soul-stirring as "uh-oh Spaghetti-ohs."

And because I do live under a rock -- one that is tucked away in a cave that itself is tucked away on a deserted island -- I never know what music is used in which commercials. Thank goodness for Adtunes.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Two things about Kingdom of Heaven

Perhaps a more apt title would have been "Hell of a Mess." And when it comes to staging seige tower warfare, not even Sir Ridley Scott can top the War Lord.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Spitzer is just warming up

After the vein in my forehead stopped visibly throbbing and I reflected further on my post about Eliot Spitzer, I began to wonder if I had been too forgiving of Intermix, the agency Spitzer has sued for illegal spyware use. Then I read this, an article enchantingly titled "Who Will Eliot Spitzer Sue Next?" (reg. req.) In it, author Mark Naples reveals that Spitzer is not really so concerned about your privacy after all:

"[T]his is not a privacy lawsuit...It's more of a disclosure lawsuit, which is why so many people in the privacy community have been scratching their heads about it. See, Intermix's disclosure language is almost identical to the disclosure language of just about every other company in their space. So, why go after Intermix? If the attack is on spyware, why not go after a range of companies that have similar business practices? 'It's a warning shot across the bow to the entire industry,' said Eric Howes of Spyware Warrior....'What he's doing here is more about establishing his authority.'"

Spitzer, a consumer rights poseur? That's hardly surprising. But this might be:

"[T]ake a moment to discern who his office will be targeting next. Some industry-watchers are speculating that it could be Yahoo!, since many adware companies leverage what used to be Overture keyword buys. After all, what Spitzer's office calls 'affirmative consent' is what people in our industry used to call 'opt-out.'"

A battle with Yahoo! is just the thing to keep the pre-gubernatorial hype going. All while making online commerce not safer, only more cumbersome. Can I move to New York just to vote against this guy?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Meet me at the lifestyle center, okay?

After this year, Nike will no longer sell their shoes at Sears. For a marketer like Nike, who wants to sell an experience as well as a product, the Sears-Kmart environment just isn't cool enough. "'Advertisers are learning that where they sell their products has tremendous effects,'" says one analyst. What's needed is a place "'where your product values are reinforced by the venue.'"

In fact, malls aren't cool enough. More and more retailers are seeking out lifestyle centers (go ahead, cringe at the term. I do.) described as "small, convenient, open-air retailing complexes...laid out to evoke the small-town shopping districts." Translation: no teenagers, mall walkers or parking garages. And for the second post in a row, I'm reminded of Jennifer Rice's remark that people want to belong -- in this case, people want to belong somewhere cool. So no Orange Julius!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Outside In

In a post about the value of bringing an outsider's perspective to your business, the Fast Company blog offers this quote by a dead media critic: "'I don't know who discovered water, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't a fish.'" Pithy. But isn't there a more timely illustration of this point? Why yes there is. And it happens to be discussed at length in today's New York Sun: "The idea of Pajamas Media is to use an extensive network of globally affiliated blogs to provide first-person, in-depth coverage of most major news events." People outside the news media are spearheading an exciting new approach to news media because so few people in news media saw a need. And what's truly amazing is that, as far as I know, none of the people behind Pajamas Media is a McKinsey consultant.

Well, people outside advertising sometimes create the most talked-about ads. And people outside the music industry can still break through. So if you're in these industries -- if this is what you've spent years training for -- are you hosed?

Maybe not. When Jennifer Rice talks about "co-creation," it's easy to think her advice is just for brands. But it's for everyone in the communication, entertainment and service fields. When she writes "a basic human need -- belonging -- is no longer being met. And over the years, consumers stopped having a voice and companies stopped listening," it blends nicely with this point by Newsosaur: "[today's journalists] have lost the common touch that once connected us viscerally with our readers." So yes, bring in the outsider. Preferably before they overtake you. Because when your training or work routine or world view start to isolate or insulate you, others now have the tools to work around you. Sing it with me children, "Reach out and touch somebody's hand. Make your world a better place, if you can."

They lied about the decoder rings

Once, we were told secret powers lay in Super Man's secret compartment ring and Dick Tracy's radio watch. But that was not to be. The only accessory that's a necessity (a necessory?) is our cell phone. In fact, there's no reason at all to wear a watch nowadays. Unless, that is, kids download so many costly ringtones that their parents take their cell phones away. Nah. Why not just sue instead?

Monday, May 02, 2005

The client made us do it

A new blog that critiques ads from a client's perspective. Interesting. But personally, I think their logo should be bigger.

Dear Mr. Jobs, I'm sorry I got mad about that whole book banning thing...

That is so in the past. Now PSFK links to this AP interview with trendier-than-thou Marc Ecko who says, "In order for a brand to exist and survive and be relevant you must exist in multiple space....Music, movies, video games, cellphones, clothing....Apple is the brand of the future....If Apple opened a hotel today I would stay in an Apple hotel. Their products are instantly gratifying, they empower people and they do it through design."