Thursday, March 31, 2005

Yobs: the trend that shouldn't cross the pond

Ah, the British. So civilized, so cultured, so...violent and drunk. Really drunk. Now politicians are declaring a new war on boozy, brawling yobs. In fact, yob culture is a sort of national obsession. Could you be a yob? To find out, take this quiz. And shake yourself. Because as Americans learned 25 years ago: fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

Idol revelations

Scott was once arrested for threatening his baby's mama. And Jessica and Nadia are actually rejects from an old CBS talent show. Just keeping ya up to date on the important stuff.

We now turn toward an unnamed agency and bow

Part of the marketing campaign for the new Harry Potter book will include "a Harry Potter-specific crossword puzzle in the Sunday edition" of the New York Times. Isn't that genius? Couldn't you just weep?

Fast-forward to your next concept

It's not enough for a TV spot to be funny or interesting or charming. Now it has to look good when it's being fast-forwarded too. A brilliant point for the TiVo Age.

Of course, there are other reasons to love the Burger King spot, including a cameo by, yes, the Subservient Chicken.

Talking back to your TV

Ya mean I can bet on horseraces with my TV remote and nobody told me? More about interactive TV programming here. Warning: the article takes forever to get to the fun facts and loses points for using this detestable cliche: "[new technology] will allow content providers to bake interactivity into programs from the start." Baked in -- at the end of the day, the net-net is that business people use too many cliches which is never a win-win but we can talk more about it offline.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Would they have preferred Sony?

Some Congressmen called on ABC to drop Wal-Mart as a segment sponsor on Good Morning America. ABC said no. The segment is called "Only In America" and the Congressmen felt that Wal-Mart's way of doing business isn't American enough. So they shouldn't be allowed to advertise. How American.

From a show to a brand

A fashion label. A line of furniture. A fragrance. All from American Idol. It could happen. USA Today reports on the producers' plans to "'create a brand that exists outside of the show.'"

Which brings up this question: if 20-30 million people are calling (and IMing) to vote each week, is there any way that AI could be collecting data on those callers? I ask because I don't know. But wouldn't you love to know who actually votes?


Is this proof that Converse is a pioneering marketer or is it just a sign that the agency's creative team wants other people to do their work for them? Or both?

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


When I clicked on a headline at the Dallas Morning News site, I got a 3-sentence story that concluded with this statement: "Read more of this story in tomorrow's Dallas Morning New or at"

I'm at Being told to read more at Later.

I bring this up because today, a new survey showed that in Dallas -- where Belo owns both the only daily newspaper and the local ABC affiliate, combining the content at -- the newspaper site is in a serious fight for eyeballs with the NBC affiliate's site.

I dunno. I'm not in the news business. But is it too much to ask that when publishers try to create synergy between their print and online product, that they not waste my time with teasers and re-directs? When I've purchased the paper product, I've chosen that format for a reason (like reading material on the bus or plane). I know you have a site and I don't need to constantly be teased about online-only content. When I'm at your site, reward me for clicking through to a story -- with the info that I've expressed a desire to read, not an ad for tomorrow's edition. That's how you create a good experience for the consumer. Or maybe we all just need a new working definition of synergy.

The Sunday funnies

Not the comic strips, the ads -- when reviewed by James Lileks.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Put on hold: the iPod phone

This month, Motorola was supposed to launch a new cell phone that could play iTunes downloaded from Apple. It never happened. Why? Because everyone wants a piece of the profits. Content, distribution, rights and royalties -- these issues determine what kind of gadgets we can buy and how we can use them. (Follow the link to read why Verizon disabled a Bluetooth function on phones they sold.) Mark Cuban thinks the debate over these issues even has the potential to discourage technological innovations and that's why he's helping Grokster fight MGM.

A Cowboys TV timeout

NFL owners have told Jerry Jones to shut down his Cowboys TV channel. Not that a lot of people here will notice. Since the channel debuted last Fall, only 500,000 Comcast-subscribing Dallasites could get it. But Jerry appears to have won a key concession: "teams will get items for local use from the networks." NFL rights was always the barrier to the Cowboys Channel having anything exciting to show anyway. Now, if I understand the AP story right, Jerry can make a very sweet deal for himself by offering (selling) local broadcast or radio stations access to exclusive NFL game film and NFL Channel events like Hall of Fame announcements. Jerry's a genius. Now if he can only find a quarterback.

UPDATE: No one really knows what this news means. From Tuesday's Dallas Morning News: "'potential options include designated windows of exclusive Cowboys programming on the NFL Network and full-time access to video on demand options through Comcast.'" The current channel may not shut down immediately. No one's saying. So there ya go.

It's an all-music Monday!

Rapper Fabulous has released the first UK single that "lets listeners isolate any part of the song and load it onto their phones" for a truly personalized ringtone. No more settling for clips pre-selected by the record company -- which, face it, has stifled individual creativity for far too long.

And there's this: McDonald's wants to pay rappers for a mention in their lyrics. Keepin' it real.

The Dap-Kings may, in fact, rule

A few days ago I said I'm not familiar with most music recorded after 1967. That's not entirely true. Sometimes I do check out new music but only if it sounds old. Daptone Records is an example. Check it out and tell me if you don't instantly picture yourself humming along while driving this. Happy!

Is this a lie?

Q&A with Seth Godin, whose newest book is titled "All Marketers Are Liars." Interesting point: "The Web is particularly bad at the vernacular of solidity and trust. You can't do with pixels what you can easily do with marble and pillars and arches. On the other hand, when the Web connects one human to another, it's quite powerful." In other words, the Web is performance-based and all about the one-to-one conversation. It seems basic but actually is almost always forgotten when it's time to write the creative brief.

Over at Seth's Blog, he discusses the power of being nice as it relates to lawyers and their obnoxious cease-and-desist letters. It's extremely useful advice for everyone, but I hope that Steve Jobs in particular takes it to heart.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Still buzzing

It was only after I blathered on about viral advertising that I saw this Adrant post. Why aren't more clients producing fun stuff? "[T]he answer is, bluntly, marketers can't help but fuck it up. Slapping a logo on a funny TV commercial does not pass as a viral ad. Sticking a 'Send to a Friend' button on a website doesn't really cut it either."

So marketing people -- because they're people -- don't always make good decisions. What else is new? "The only thing that will compel further distribution of a viral ad is its entertainment value....This is the one medium in which creativity should be given full reign [sic]." Agreed. But I also think you need to give clients more to go on, more reasons to hand over those reins. Like, is it right for their audience? (Will women really send each other email from the Brawny Man?) What's a reasonable expectation -- merely to create a happy-funtime impression? For some marketers, that's a good goal to have. Can it be measured? How can it be sustained? And finally, is that all?

The award goes to

I know it's still early and I don't mean to go all political on your ass, but the funniest line of the day might be this: "if Bush liberates one more country and flips it into a democracy, I think he'll just be showing off."

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

The buzz about buzz

Wired has the story about an upcoming conference devoted to viral marketing. Organizers have "three goals in mind: to propagate ethical guidelines for word-of-mouth marketers, to establish industry measurements and to teach best practices so marketers can learn how to do it."

The most famous case of viral marketing is Burger King's Subservient Chicken. Recently ADWEEK, in a great case study, asked: "aside from Web traffic, did the campaign actually drive customers into stores to buy the sandwich?....the company has seen 'double-digit' growth of awareness of the TenderCrisp Chicken Sandwich and 'significantly increased' chicken sandwich sales." So the client seems pleased. The site is still up and still fun. The lone dissenting voice is, as can be expected, that of a franchisee: '"I'm more of a traditionalist. I like to see the food.'" That guy -- what a buzz kill.

UPDATE: Steeplechaser has more.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Memogate: The Sequel?

Powerline asks some good questions.

There's 1352 guitar pickers in Nashville

Who's more likely to have a successful recording career -- American Idol winners or third-place finishers from Nashville Star? The NYTimes has a surprising take. I'll have to believe them since I tend not to be familiar with anything recorded after 1967, which is why I want to see more of this guy.

A matter of taste

More and more people are choosing wine and cocktails over beer these days, so how can brewers fight back? I mean, other than trying to make a beer-version of "Sideways." Budweiser and InBev think the answer is no-aftertaste beers. And they think it'll appeal to women.

But not to me. In my experience, a beer that has no aftertaste is often a beer that has no taste to begin with.

And now for something completely personal

Here's the thing. Since I started blogging, I've actually become re-energized about what I do for a living. And that's something because I was mighty cynical, a little burned out and somewhat content to be isolated in a little world that spins on the axis of the latest deadline. I've always been a news junkie but blogging has me reading more than ever. Not just about advertising and marketing. So here, until I do a real blogroll, are just a few ad and non-ad sites that keep me info-tained:

Decent Marketing: a bloggress who doesn't "like the way companies fool themselves with marketing speak about creating relationships with people when the truth is most of the time they really don't care as much as they say they do."

Cup of Java: hopped up, link-rich and newsy

Rants on Modern Marketing: a shiny new blog

AdFreak: it's Adweek, gotta read it

Television Without Pity Commercial thread: I dunno, it's just funny to read everyone's opinions

Steeplechaser: a joyful blog devoted to all things Eddie Steeples

Jossip: sorta Gawkerlite

NewEagle: moderate libertarians always have the best blogs

Frontburner: a good, good goody

There's more of course, but whew, are my linking muscles tired.

TiVocates Part 2

TiVo has offered journalists a discount on new purchases. Given that TiVo users are the product's most effective sellers, you can see the logic. And given the hand-wringing, selectively ethics-obsessed nature of journalists, you can see the flaws too. TiVo's real foolishness is in thinking journalists are influencers. Some of the best advocates for TiVo could be law professors -- for serious and not-so-serious reasons.

And no, I'm not trying to provide yet another angle in the "should bloggers be considered journalists?" debate. We all have better things to do. Like read more blogs.

Come over to the dark side

The plan is working: "Thanks to the phenomenal success of its digital-music player, Apple could soon control 5 percent of the desktop computer market, says Morgan Stanley, which polled 400 iPod users and found that 19 percent expect to convert from PC to Macintosh."

Game time

Electronic Arts harshed everyone's mellow late yesterday when they cut their quarterly earnings prediction. Their tired old games just aren't selling as well as GTA or Halo 2. It may not "'bode well for the rest of the sector,'" but it can't be all bad for EA. They just signed a new $200 million deal with the NBA.

Monday, March 21, 2005

eBay as a media tool

Don't like Pepsi One? Try Coke Zero, set to debut in June with a conventional media plan. With one exception. In the run-up to the launch, Coke will sell sample packs on eBay for charity.

Young but not stupid

A few days ago, Virginia Postrel linked to these Suzanne Shu posts that explore the upside and downside of consumer choice. In short, with low-cost items of little importance, lots of choices are good (Starbucks); on expensive products whose performance is less immediately obvious, choice is a beating (retirement accounts). But is that true for all consumers? PSFK offers us this observation: "more and more companies are offering customisation options....Young people want more than just purchasing power, they want to influence, shape, dictate and impact...[L]eading brands will be the ones who use this need to its advantage. Young people are getting smarter and more powerful with a higher level of brand and image literacy than ever before." These younger consumers are more adept at sifting through all forms of technology, advertising and choice; they in fact thrive at this.

Take the use of search engines. This study found that "only one in six search users can distinguish between unpaid and sponsored results." But "younger Internet more often and consider themselves confident and successful in their searching." They don't care about sponsored links -- good news because these are also the consumers least likely to be watching TV, a fact which is already shaping new campaigns. No one knows if this will always be, but I think that all this is really a whole lot of fun.

Fashion disasters

LA Fashion Week is actually an exercise in flawless self-parody: "As popular spoken-word poet Sekou the Misfit ranted passionately about topics ranging from love to the pressures of male beauty, the increasingly drunken crowd looked by turns curious, inspired and bored. Dressed in a t-shirt depicting the face of famous political activist Angela Davis, the poet seemed more in line with a slam competition than a fashion week kick-off bash. 'I don't care much for him,' said Desperate Housewives heartthrob Jesse Metcalfe, wearing a hip black leather jacket and surrounded by a coterie of male friends. Of fashion savvy hostess Cindy Crawford, the 26-year-old said, 'She still looks hot. She's aging well.'"

And Project Runway gets a second season which I don't expect to be anywhere near as great as the first.

Is it my imagination?

Or do famous European women tend to look like drag queens?

It's iPod night!

The Register takes a few shots at a Dell executive while reporting on bars that allow customers to plug their iPods into the house music system and guest-DJ for a few minutes. Fun! But there could be a potential downside: "a discouraging iDork Blogging aspect hovers around this concept. Each person, playing their own music - trying to prove how unique they are."

Rommel's revenge?

Parts of the arid Nevada desert are now home to thriving non-native grasses -- potentially creating fuel for wild fires. How did stuff like red brome and camel thorn get there? "[F]rom World War II-era tanks that were used in North Africa and returned to military installations in Southern California. Remnants of camel thorn in dirt hitched their rides on tank tracks."

Sunday, March 20, 2005

"We wanted to really revolutionize and change the entire bathroom-cleaning process"

Well, everyone's gotta have a dream, don't they? Procter & Gamble put their big brains together and came up with Mr. Clean MagicReach, a new product whose name sounds vaguely pornish. Unless I'm missing something, it's not so much a revolution as just a tricked-up Swifter.

Be sure to stay tuned to NotBillable as we continue to cover this breaking story.

UPDATE: While reflecting on what a lame post this was, I realized what really bothered me. The NYTimes devoted an entire article to the MagicReach and presented P&G's consumer insight -- that people wear special clothes for housecleaning -- as a revelation. Next: the NYTimes is surprised to learn that people put special thingies on their feet to water-ski.

Subtraction by addition

DFW-based American Airlines comes in for richly deserved ridicule in a new campaign from United Airlines. "These new ads show passengers in contorted positions because of close seating. One has an unhappy man folded into a square over the headline, 'Fly American, and you could kick yourself. Literally.' ...American for several years boasted more legroom, but has begun adding seats to all if its planes." Or more accurately, addings seats and pissing away goodwill.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

The gang's all here, sorta

The Dallas Morning News reports that one of the arrests in the Mara Salvatrucha 13 roundup occurred in nearby Irving. "Law enforcement officials...estimate there are 90 MS-13 members in the Dallas area." What the DMN didn't note is that MS-13's leader had been arrested right here in Texas in February.

The Irving MS-13 arrest was overshadowed by the triple shooting in Dallas. In that case, police have made one arrest -- in Irving too -- but it wasn't the gunman. They also "can't establish any official gang affiliation." Apparently, 21-year-old fruit vendors regularly drive Jaguars with SKS rifles in the backseat. And keep pit bulls just for companionship. But the neighbors know: "Mr. Armijo said...'It's the type of car people like us can't afford.'" The criminals could afford that car because they're likely involved in, I don't know, an illegal, cash-intensive business? A business often conducted by gangs?

This I'll take as good news: "a new era may be dawning in the fight against gangs, as police departments like Los Angeles's share street intelligence with the federal authorities. 'You think an immigrant Hispanic family who is here illegally would mind if we targeted the violent criminal?' Capt. Michael Downing, commander of the Hollywood precinct, asked. 'I don't.'"

Friday, March 18, 2005

Who is Robert Sillerman?

And why is he buying everything?

IPG: uh-oh

The world's third-largest agency company can't get its accounting act together and Standard & Poor's has downgraded the stock. Today there's more bad news. Would now be a good time to panic?

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Media, schmedia?

Caffeine Goddess ponders what new media options mean to advertisers and makes the excellent point that crap is crap: "if you're putting out advertising that is at the same boring, uncreative level as the TV advertising which people are turning away from, then what's the point?"

But new media options have potential that the 30-second TV spot can never have. Case in point: Manolo's Shoe Blog. As the Philadelphia Inquirer points out, The Manolo "wraps commerce in entertainment. But he does it so seamlessly that many fans never notice the sales pitch." Blogging is the only media tool that allows for this special blend of artistry, intelligence and selling. It wouldn't work in a magazine ad or on TV. And the thing is, people seek out The Manolo. Unlike traditional advertising, this is a case where if you don't want to be exposed to it, you don't have to be.

So there are unique new opportunities. The good news is they place an even higher premium on great creative.

"It's getting closer to home for a lot of people in the bubble"

More details about Tuesday's triple murder including reaction from Park Cities residents who assumed crime was limited to other people in other neighborhoods.

Roid rage

Ya think any good will come of the Congressional hearings into steriod use in baseball? Me neither. I cringe at the thought of all the pompous speeches and evasive answers we're about to hear. Maybe there's an upside. I think the greatest deterrent to steroid use among athletes would be to out the users. If players faced the loss of popularity -- marketability and endorsement money -- through publicizing who failed their tests, then maybe they'd be discouraged from injecting. MLB won't do that on its own. These hearings could have done that if Congress had offered immunity to witnesses. Instead, they're content with a meaningless media circus. But we'll see.

"He is a modest man with a lot to be modest about."

Stanley Gold and Roy Disney are not happy with Robert Iger heading up Walt Disney Co. "To judge from the headline on their Web site this week—WICKED WITCH MELTED, WINGED MONKEY TAKES MANTLE—Roy and Stanley aren’t ready to lay down their swords just yet." I'm glad these two guys are such fighters. It's just gravy that they also have a flair for Churchillian insults.

Laura Miller's opponents shoot themselves in foot

Channel 11 ran a story last night about provocative t-shirts produced by local businesses protesting the Strong Mayor charter change. They're not against a strong mayor though. They're just against Laura Miller. C'mon fellas, think long-term. We won't get a second chance to change the stagnant cesspool that is our city government -- despite everyone and their brother claiming to have a better plan.

And those t-shirts? They read "Defend Dallas Against Laura Miller." And feature a picture of a rifle. As John Wiley Price knows, that kinda stuff just makes people sympathize more with Laura Miller.

Via con Dios Viacom

Late yesterday, Sumner Redstone floated the idea of splitting up Viacom. He didn't set a date. He didn't announce a definite plan. He was just sayin'. And overnight, Viacom share prices perked up. That Redstone -- such a stock-tease.

A breakup means Viacom can jettison its slow-growth businesses -- radio and outdoor advertising. Radio? Yeah, radio.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Pepsi One: Kinda like Army of One but less of a commitment

Have you seen the new Pepsi One TV spot? No? That's because there isn't one. The NYTimes has the details of a strategy to reach young men with "offbeat alternatives that include promotional events, online films, posters put up on construction sites, even trading cards" along with the refusal to call a diet soda "diet" because that would sound too girly. Instead the centerpiece of the campaign is this site.

So yeah, advertisers are continuing to struggle with the same problem girls have always had -- how to make young men pay attention.

Maybe this'll work

With a new campaign, Fort Worth-based Pier 1 has ditched yet another celebrity spokesperson. Presumably Kirstie Alley got too fat and who knows what was wrong with Queer Eye's Thom Filicia. Or maybe Pier 1 just realized celebs have to be carefully chosen to be worth the investment. Instead, that money is now being used on a bigger media buy. As their sales slide, Pier 1 has to make something happen: "'We have really high expectations and really believe it is going to help the turnaround of our business.'" Really?

Live, local and broken

It's always interesting to watch as a popular product loses goodwill among consumers. Here's an example. People used to trust their local TV news more than their local paper. But according to this, the two are now even. Not a good sign for local anchors. The study also found that viewers think their local TV news is less biased than papers, but this is easily explained. Local TV news has simply quit covering politics. How can you detect a political agenda in an uninterrupted parade of consumer awareness stories? The constant presence of knitted-brow reporters solemnly investigating the pros and cons of botox probably has something to do with the loss of credibility too.

Which brings me to Channel 11's Bennett Cunningham. Each sweeps period, he shows us every filthy restaurant in the city. This week, he introduced us to a woman whose hair fell out after a visit to a styling school. The man clearly believes that the purpose of every report is to make viewers hurl. Stop it!

Stories behind the story

Maybe I'm just getting old but sometimes I really do think Dallas is going to hell. Yesterday's triple homicide offers some confirmation: "a man stood up through the sunroof of the Jaguar with a high-powered rifle...and opened fire on the other car." Talk about painting a picture with words.

The shooting apparently resulted from a bar fight. The bar, Jack's Pub, was the site of 125 police calls last year. "In comparison, the Across the Street Bar, across from Jack's Pub, had one offense report in 2004...A northwest Dallas business that city attorneys sued over security problems – Club DMX on Spangler Road – had 86 incident reports."

That's quite a revelation by the Dallas Morning News. So why has the city let Jack's slide and did the News likewise ignore the problem? DMX is located in a no man's land west-side industrial park; Jack's is just off popular Greenville Avenue, across the highway from SMU and Highland Park. Going after DMX probably was easy pickin's for the city. But it made them look tough. Jack's would have been trickier. And it might have reminded slumbering North Dallas residents that crime really isn't limited to neighborhoods south of I-30.

Meanwhile, it's a good bet the killer is already in Mexico.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Congratulations on your new job, you're being sued for $3 million

If you quit your job, do you have a right to take a new one? Well, OK this Saatchi case is not that simple but it'll be interesting to watch. My prediction: IPG will gladly pay off Saatchi on behalf of their new staffers and consider it all a very, very good business investment.

What Amazon knows

Most e-tailers use your data in ways that make shopping more convenient for you (and profitable for them). Now some worry that Amazon has plans that border on creepy -- gleaning info from reviews you write and piecing together details about people you send gifts to. My guess is that Amazon will use the data so skillfully as to seem to be providing additional customer service. And my hope is that they are equally as skillful at security.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

A cure for blogger's block?

Along with other advice that I have regrettably ignored.

Nikko's back in

I liked him better than Mario anyway.

She was made for a mission

I just watched CNN replay Ashley Smith's press statement about her ordeal with Atlanta killer Brian Nichols. Wow. Watch the whole thing if you can because it's heart-breaking and at the same time life-affirming -- mostly because she is a woman of awesome faith. At one point she even read Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life to Nichols.

So after such a riveting account -- much of it focused on faith -- the CNN anchor and reporter start discussing Smith. And never mention faith. At one point they mention "she thought it was destiny" that she was involved. Actually, I believe what she said was it was God's will and she wanted to do God's will. I'm not saying CNN is anti-religious, but I think their on-air personalities don't feel comfortable even touching on that theme. For whatever reason. Then again, maybe they don't need to. Ashley Scott's statement was a testimony. No embellishment necessary.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Mid-seventies sports references I don't enjoy

Someone named Matthew Felling compares Dan Rather to the great Woody Hayes. It's shocking, really, to see a person so openly demonstrate his own ignorance, but no surprise it's a Michigan paper that lets him do it.

Now that's good writin'

I don't know which I'm addicted to more, American Idol or Zap2It's coverage of American Idol. Lisa de Moraes seems to get all the attention when it comes to chatty, cheeky TV writing, but I think Daniel Feinberg is a genius and this line proves it: "I must warn anybody who voted for Constantine over Ozzie Smith's kid that they will now suffer the Wrath of Kuhn."

Or maybe I just enjoy mid-70s baseball references too much.

The accidental mummy

The big news was King Tut's CAT scan, which I thought would have spurred Steve Martin to record a new song. There was also the related story of this mummy, who was found quite by accident and whose beaded burial mask was remarkably intact. You really have to see the photo. There's something downright scary about such Marvel-Comic colored beading held in place by black linen strips. I think I can safely say that if I had been the first modern Westerner to have cracked open the tomb and seen that face, I would have wet my pants.

Listen to yourselves

Worldwide Chief Creative Officer sounds like someone appointed by the UN to traverse the globe in hopes of throwing your ass in jail for messy scrapbooking.

My dear colleagues, let's re-think our job titles.

Monday, March 07, 2005

What he said

Via TVNewser, a most interesting article about Fox News. Or at least, an article that contains the most accurate explanation (from Major Garrett) of why I like Fox News: "we can see the herd running in one direction. People start to ask: Why do all these stories sound the same? Then all we have to do is play it straight down the middle."

Yep. He said "middle." That's opposed to the CNN insider who says it's "crap." To each, his own. But as long as that insider keeps thinking it's crap, he'll keep getting pummelled in the ratings.

Be honest: you just don't want to listen to the list of side effects

A debate (complete with hand-wringing) over pharmaceutical commercials. TV spots in this category are seldom riveting to watch. Some, in fact, blow. But creative quality has never been a good enough reason to ban an entire product category from advertising. If we agree that patients need to be educated about their own health care and medicines, then I would argue that advertising can play a small part. TV spots for prescription drugs reach people who don't read med journals (who reads med journals?). These spots can even, at times, raise awareness for legitimate medical conditions people might not realize they have or spur someone to seek medical attention who otherwise wouldn't go to a doctor. (How would direct mail reach those people?) Even though you may discount some conditions, these drugs do improve the quality of life for many people.

There is another important factor. Drug companies have invested millions of dollars in developing these drugs. It's crucial that they market and sell the product to recoup their investment, allowing them to re-invest in the development of more drugs. Whether they spend their marketing money wisely or unwisely is another issue. And one that cannot be resolved by banning them from TV.

But were they members of the mile-high club?

I just watched Neil Cavuto interview two Boeing executives about the resignation of CEO Harry Stonecipher over an affair with a female colleague. It's an interesting tightrope they're walking at Boeing, declaring that it's not the extramarital affair that got Stonecipher fired, rather "issues of poor judgment." Well, however you want to parse it guys, I applaud your decision. A CEO of a company with government and military contracts really oughtn't to engage in behavior for which he could be blackmailed.

And -- this is just me, going out on a limb here -- maybe a married man should, like, try to keep his vows.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

The grocery store runway

Procter & Gamble owns a small, boutique-y fashion label headed by a designer who's set to expand to acessories and more. Odd, huh? Smalltown-based P&G has actually been part of the fashion scene for some time as the parent of several fragrance brands and via past sponsorships of NY Fashion Week. Now there's this news: "falloff in celebrity heat has gone a long way to weaken the circulations of the bigger, older teen mags - YM folded late last year....Meanwhile, increased competition has come Teen Vogue...." Fashion is the new celebrity even for very young girls. Does that mean P&G's far-flung interests are in fact perfectly meshed cogs in one huge synergistic selling-machine? The world of fashion is filled with names that can lend instant cache to supermarket shampoos and cosmetics. Unlike the Vidal Sassoon debacle which was $ettled out of court, P&G seems to have figured out how to do it right. These fashion-focused teens can already turn to Phillip Bloch (Jada Pinkett's stylist! Can you believe it!) for advice at When they're in college, Olivier Theyskens might be IMing them with Pantene-related fashion tips. Or somethin'.

Maybe what they say about P&G is true. Maybe they really are evil geniuses.

It got weird didn't it?

Sex may or may not sell, but weirdness does get attention. Slate has the story of the Oooooo woman (she's German) and Adweek wonders about the dancing girl in the Mistubishi car commercial -- which I had actually thought was a special effect.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

What women watch

More women watched the Super Bowl than the Oscars. This does not bode well. What will it do to the mood at your Super Bowl party if Huggies commercials outnumber ones from Budweiser?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Commercial breaks

Proving that the Oscars ain't the Super Bowl, Fast Company asks for everybody's favorite Oscar night commercial and only gets three votes. Olay Regenerist is rightly raked over the coals for their horrid class reunion spot.

Tonight, I saw the JCPenney spot for their new Nicole Miller line. About 30 minutes later, I saw a spot for Kohl's department store. The two are identical, which should make JCPenney decidedly uncomfortable.

Newspapers, Section B

Advertisers are ignoring newspapers because readers are ignoring newspapers. Is it content or just the mode of delivery? I don't think newspaper people themselve know. From the Washington Post omsbudman: "So I, too, worry about the future of newspapers. They are central to an informed citizenry, and their special role cannot be filled by competing media....But this decline....may signal a growing public disengagement from more in-depth news, or perhaps that more and more people prefer not to be confronted with reporting or commentary that challenges their views."

About that last bit: blaming your consumer may be comforting, but it's hardly a good way to build readership. I would also argue that many NYTimes readers are not exactly having their world views challenged by the likes of Maureen Dowd.

But that's a content issue. What about the package? Which brings us to that first part: I think newspapers are NOT central to an informed citizenry. They're part of the mix. Newspaper people are like milkmen 40 years ago. They're faced with consumers who can get the product themselves -- buying how much they need, when they need it -- instead of waiting for some guy to deliver it to them on his schedule. What to do? Newsosaur (a blog!) suggests "media-agnostic" upheaval, (taking the paper out of newspapers?) and leveraging newspapers' "brands." But precious few newspapers are true "brands" anymore.

There are people who know a little something about brands and media-agnostic approaches to attracting consumers. They're called ad people. They're already in the TV programming business so could they possibly help -- naw. Forget it. I'm just talking crazy talk now. Besides, newspapers just love those folks from McKinsey.

Newspapers, Section A

Newsosaur tells us what the May-Federated store merger means to newspapers. Not good. Well, mergers are never good for people who depend on advertising money. Beyond consolidating ad budgets, an AP report hints that the merger also means "shoppers will also be able to reap the benefits of a national loyalty program." Another card to carry! Such programs are in fact a greater benefit to the retailer, who can gather rich data on their best customers. So much data that newspaper advertising becomes increasingly unnecessary. With a database of customer names, a retailer can announce sales and talk to customers via email and mail much more cost-efficiently than newspaper ads -- which is already Home Depot's strategy according tothis Newsosaur post. A few weeks before everyone started buying everyone else out, someone said that "all the growth potential for advertising at newspapers comes from local -- and not national -- advertising." Then the real question is, do local advertisers have the kind of ad volume or budgets that can sustain their city's newspaper? Hmmm. And in a paper less overwhelmed with big department store ads, could a local business's ad stand out more? Hmmm again.

One other thing. James Lileks often asserts that papers should dispense with national and international news -- you've already seen it on TV or online -- to concentrate on local and regional reporting. Imagine a truly local paper, filled with in-depth metro reporting and loaded with ad messages from the quirky little shops and services around town. Would it be compelling? Or just an alternative tabloid filled with escort service ads? Triple hmmm. But I know this: I'd buy it.

An extremely good name

LostRemote calls it "extreme publicity." That's brilliant. And I'm glad to see someone else suspects it's all part of a plan.