Saturday, December 30, 2006

New Year's at my place: the French 75

A shot of gin, half-shot of lemon juice, half-shot of simple syrup, all topped off with champagne. It's my favorite and I'll be serving them up all evening so be sure to drop by. Who doesn't love a little "hydro-pneumatic recoil?"

Friday, December 29, 2006

What was Norm Clarke thinking?

Jared Fogel gets a mention in my favorite gossip column and suddenly I yearn for the days when we were all talking about Britney Spears' crotch. Things can't be that slow in Las Vegas, can they?

Cinco de me

Oh I know. If I were cool, I'd hate getting tagged. I'd find a way to gently mock the entire process and only half-heartedly play along. But there's something fun about summarizing your likes/dislikes, dreams, hopes and interests. When you think about it, it's a privilege typically reserved only for Playboy centerfolds and the subjects of American Express print ads. So I'm excited! Here's my list:

- I absolutely excel at euchre.

- I'll watch anything if the opening credits include Edith Head.

- You know how when Micky Ward used to fight, he had that tic where he'd always adjust his trunks after each round? Yeah? Well: that always did a little something for me.

- I can't stop buying dishes or kitchen gadgets.

- Tammy Wynette, Sammy Davis Jr, Cecilia Bartoli, Buddy Rich, LeRoi Brothers, Victor Borge, Don Rickles and Ella Fitzgerald -- of all the people I've seen perform live, these are my favorites.

There. Wow. I really feel like this exercise has brought us closer together, don't you? Hmm? Where'd you go? Great. Who's gonna tell Lori, HighJive -- yes! -- and Amy that I've chosen them?

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A very automotive Christmas

Right this very minute I'm listening to one of my Firestone Christmas albums. You know it -- 1967: Roberta Peters and Jack Jones? With the Firestone Orchestra, Irwin Kostal conductor? C'mon! It's the one audio-directed by Phil Ramone. Yeah, that one. It's great, isn't it?

Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm worried for all my little Battlestar Galactica friends

Wasn't it brutal enough to lose both Kat and Ellen? Ronald D. Moore says no -- but don't click until you've seen tonight's finale. Really!

Think how I'd feel if I had ever actually worked on a pharma account

It's perfectly understandable that physicians would detest pharma advertising. After all, wouldn't that media money be better spent providing them with cruises, topless dancers or "research" funds? Besides, it must be hard to concentrate what with patients always talking, always asking their pesky little questions.

But when regular people complain -- I don't know. Is that just the common tendency to suspect any big industry? Or is it patronizing and a little cold-hearted?

I only ask because this article seems to give voice to the very people who are almost never heard from in this debate: the sufferers -- and you don't have to be at death's door to truly, noticeably suffer. If you have a good health plan, if you have a trusted doctor, drug ads may be lost on you. But for others, a TV spot may be the only way they learn of a life-changing drug -- and this shouldn't make them less deserving of treatment.

Don't let his glad expression give you the wrong impression

Now I regret never giving much thought to the Pillsbury Doughboy: "We can only imagine him alone at night, his day’s work done, trying to shape dough into the form of a companion, and breathing into its mouth. Failure; every time, failure. He wept small clear perfect tears, and they tasted like beer."

Does Holly M. Sanders understand her own writing?

No one has commented on the Post's Omnicom article from yesterday and I can only assume that's because shareholder lawsuits lack a certain something -- sex, let's say -- to hold anyone's interest.

Oh, Chris Byron: where are you?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Monday, December 11, 2006

Giving up on the human drama of athletic competition

It takes true verve to work this many mixed metaphors and labored references into just two sentences: "In a knockout punch that would do Jake La Motta proud, the Tribeca Film Festival just gave rival fests another reason to rage. The sponsorship champ has teamed up with ESPN to create the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Film Festival, with a lineup of indie sports films on marketing steroids."

But if AdFreak is geniunely excited -- and not merely doing a send-up of really bad PR writing -- I can't share their joy. I liked ESPN better back when they aired actual sports, not intellectually dishonest specials, MTV-wannabe shows or new festival films meant to make everyone forget those earlier efforts.

I once went to a David Maister seminar and I want those 8 hours back

David Maister makes a case for firing people via email, no doubt leading to hours of high fiving among Radio Shack executives.

Fortunately Maister's readers are fully formed humans and thus wiser and more decent.

"I'm not even sure whose [lap] it was, but if there was [a picture], it was completely innocuous."

Best Adweek quote ever.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Burnt orange? I had no idea Gropius was a UT alum.

Even I, a fan of the all-text presentation, would have appreciated a photo or two of the renovated Bauhaus: "The sombre black-and-white colours of the post-war years have yielded to subtle streaks of burnt orange, acid-lemon, deep blue, pink and red - giving the building an enhanced quality of warmth and space just in time for its 80th anniversary celebrations....The Bauhaus is one of modernism's more sacred shrines, but what do you do with a famous name that inspired artists for decades, but which now might seem somewhat remote to younger people?"

Again, let me recommend photos. Maybe even moving pictures.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

It's like a listicle, only more so

The brilliantly named and its happy backstory. I'll admit it: I'm interested.


I'd like to thank MarketWatch for naming Robert Iger CEO of The Year and thus confirming my Pixar Karma Theory.

I don't often formulate theories -- too much work, too little chance of being right -- but once I decided to go with the stunningly obvious, I've met with great success!

"The love that I've acquired"

T.O.'s birthday party. First, a confession: I wasn't REALLY on the list but I went ahead and wasted that bitch's time. And second, there's something sad and adolescent about T.O. at around 48 seconds in, as if he really does believe all those famous people are his friends.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Not a good time to be a Russian

Like there's ever a good time. But now if the poison doesn't get you, your $650,000 sports car will: "Published reports said that Kerimov's clothes were on fire as he jumped out of the Ferrari and that his face was the most severely burned area."

His face, huh? Interesting. Possibly ingenious.

You felt insulted? By an ad? Tell me more.

Will pet charms save Zales? Hope so. Because it seems their holiday ad campaign might not be all that popular.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Because I know you care: a Greyhound PR progress check

Far be it from me to tell anyone how to do their job -- as you know, I tend to be completely positive and nonjudgmental -- but I have to wonder about Greyhound. Sure, they got a good start on the holiday season. Local papers picked up their press releases and spit out that list of new upgrades almost verbatim: "New signage, a few plasma televisions, refurbished buses, cellphone charger stations and coloring books....even a greeter in a red vest....'We even have laptop charger stations.'" Great work!

But let's hope there's also a video news release. As controversial as that practice may be, I'd give anything if tonight's news led with something other than an airport live shot. I think if you're a news director and you ever show an airport terminal on Thanksgiving, a post office on the evening of April 15, or a DWI checkpoint on New Year's Eve, you need to lose your job. And I mean that in the most positive and nonjudgmental way possible.

Also: Greyhound might want to get a handle on that whole driver situation.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Now they've gone too far

Who are you more disappointed in -- Douglas Coupland for appearing in a Blackberry ad or Jimmy Johnson for bastardizing "How 'bout them Cowboys!" to sell some beer?

It's gotta be Jimmy, right?

Saturday, November 18, 2006

I thought oenophiles had to register with authorities

Let's meet for drinks later, want to? I know the perfect place. Sotheby's is auctioning off 50 cases of the mythic 1982 Chateau Mouton Rothschild tonight. And since experts say the lot will likely "fetch $600,000 to $1.2 million," we could split the tab.

This will, though, force us once again to consider the peculiar language favored by connoisseurs. "'It tastes like -- just think about your first kiss,' Smith said on the telephone. 'You never forget that. Fruit and balance and structure were unbelievable. This had a two-minute aftertaste. You keep swallowing and swallowing and swallowing. It's monumental. It's one of those few things in life where perfection was obtained.'"

Mr. Smith, please: too much information!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

All Dallas, all day. Or until something else distracts me.

Is this, truly, a smart move for Blockbuster? "The Weinstein Company has entered an unusual deal with Blockbuster that will make the vidtailer the exclusive rental outlet for all Weinstein Company releases. As part of the four-year pact, TWC will not make available any titles through competing rental outlets -- including Blockbuster rivals Netflix and Movie Gallery."

First, there's gotta be a price: "Execs familiar with the deal also said that Blockbuster will guarantee payments that amount to a certain percentage of box office." Sweet for the Weinstein boys. And sweet for a moviemaker who has crap-titles that Wal-Mart isn't interested in selling as a loss leader: "studios have no wish to see the vidtailer file for bankruptcy. For one thing, Blockbuster is still a major customer of the studios and owes most of them money....Blockbuster also a key place to studios look[ing] to monetize their B and C pics, which might not find shelf space at mass merchants as easily. Plus, Wal-Mart's muscle scares them."

Of course you can still buy Weinstein movies anywhere and at a time when DVDs seem downright disposable, this might not help Blockbuster at all. Poor John Antioco. Imagine how much more money he'd make if he could come up with good ideas!

I'd really like to get to know you better before we, you know, look at your phone

Research has "found that in social situations men actively display their phones and its capabilities in a bid to look important and popular. The research suggests that this is done primarily to attract females but also used to show off and gain status with other men in their peer group."

Tsk tsk Dallas fashionistas

I'm so embarrassed for my city.

When does that whole "emphasizing local news" thing kick in?

The NYPost -- again -- provides the latest DFW business news, although the Ft. Worth paper did fill in some interesting background details. Still, questions remain: What kind of businessman makes Iceland his base of operation? Is the next Pier 1 celebrity endorser destined to be Bjork? How do you pronounce Jysk?

The Dallas Morning News, meanwhile, chewed over a company press release and burped something out. Guess those newsroom assets are still being aligned.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Wait. There's a woman who actually agreed to have sex with Gordon Ramsay?

The really amazing thing is, she doesn't look psycho.

Wherein I try, again, to convince you that it's not a bad thing

See who's watching: "At Skillz Salon, a barbershop in West Plano where black professional athletes get their hair cut, the talk these days is all about No. 22. But guess what? It has nothing to do with football. 'He's been doing really well. He's a phenomenal dancer,' says barber Sedrick Fort, 32. Mr. Fort and the Skillz Salon clientele love to discuss Emmitt Smith's...spectacular showing on Dancing With the Stars."

Ain't no controversy like an art world controversy

This morning, my career advice to you is to stay in advertising and give up, once and for all, your secret dream of becoming an opera house conductor. Change is wreaking havoc in that world too: "No maestro worth his baton would settle for less power in a house he had ruled for a decade. Gatti, one of the most gifted interpreters of his generation, is exiting with rueful dignity."

"Exiting with rueful dignity" -- not only do I wish I had written that, I think it has excellent potential as an epitaph.

Friday, November 10, 2006

45 minutes until BSG

Yard work. Errands. Two X chromosomes. Yeah, there's a lot of reasons I shouldn't even consider attending a sci-fi convention. Then again: CHIEF!

ADDED: Three things. First, whaddaya gonna do about Helo? So gorgeous, so dumb; a real space himbo. Second, if you go back and watch the original mini-series, Apollo addresses Laura Roslin as "sir," the show's term of respect for all superiors regardless of sex. Since when did he start calling her "ma'am?" And finally, Hot Dog is a real-life Olmos? And Howard Keel's grandson? Fascinating.

The Target Christmas catalog: I'm going to go ahead and call it beautiful

In fact, I thought it was some variation of the Neiman's catalog before I saw the little red bullseye. Yay for Tord Boontje! Yay for Target stunts pulled in cities where there's no Target store!


WalMart sees your Happy Holidays and raises you a virgin birth.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Awaiting shareholder reaction

Usually, news of DirecTV can be a source of the most piquant language. That's why it's rather disappointing that today they explained their better-than-expected performance with a bland "'we increased the number of higher-quality subscribers.'" I mean, would it've hurt them to come right out and call former customers a bunch of deadbeats? C'mon! Does Rupert Murdoch have to do everything?

Confession: I voted twice

I just felt that strongly about it.

Slacks and the slacking slackers who hate 'em

Haggar gives me a reason to watch the Best Damn Sport Show, even as AdFreak readers continue to argue. But any campaign that inspires one commentor to tell another, "Your Dad should've beat you more often" -- that's gotta have some merit, right?

Monday, November 06, 2006

The most magical of days

Know what? Today I found this year's Winter Welcome down at the Central Market. Know what else? It's now sold in light-shielding brown bottles, a long-overdue development sure to please beer snobs everywhere.

And by "snobs," I of course mean "pornographers" because, honestly, who else writes like this: "A lusciously caramel-laden malt flavor extends seasons greetings to my palate, leaving gifts of hops, bitterness, and a hugely spicy hop flavor. It's a beer with a full, buxom body, with softness at every curve....The finish is dry with a light pepper-like spicy tang."


Can anyone be the new Best Buy?

With holiday sales figures at stake, this obviously is no time for retailers to pursue anything so reckless as original thinking. No. This is the season to stand out by solidly copying someone else's formula for success. Last year that meant all campaigns looked just like Target's. This year, it means all store experiences will feel just like Best Buy. So enjoy the new Toys "R" Us whose strategy is "not to compete head on with Wal-Mart, but to be 'the toy authority,' much the way Best Buy is considered an expert when it comes to consumer electronics." Well, why not try to be the new Best Buy? Even Best Buy competitors are becoming the new Best Buy.

Just be careful. Best Buy does some things very well. But turning their own press releases into a neutral and accurate Wikipedia entry is evidently not one of them.

Friday, November 03, 2006

So it begins

Last month's clothing sales were just kinda so-so. Of all the reasons given, the article shockingly fails to consider skinny jeans or the fact that everyone's sewing at home.

Oh well. Even without proper credit, her influence is undeniable.

Like magic

Because the DMN writing is so pitiably odd, I can't tell whether this is something to make fun of or get in on: "Mr. Cohen's new book, Follow the Other Hand: A Remarkable Fable That Will Energize Your Business, Profits and Life, comes with a deck of cards and instructions for several low-talent tricks that are designed to get you in a creative mode. It began as a collaborative effort with Stan Rapp, founder of Rapp Collins Worldwide.... 'I have seen Andy perform his sleight of hand to the mystification and delight of audiences,' Mr. Rapp said. 'But more importantly, I've seen him deliver amazing results for some of my clients here in the USA and South America.' Last month, Slingshot LLC, an advertising agency in the West End, hired Mr. Cohen to come speak. He performed mind-expanding exercises for Slingshot's advertising staff and clients."

Hell, who am I kidding? If Rapp's involved, let the mocking begin!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Dead guys are hot, hot, hot

Nothing says you've arrived like buying a de Kooning at this season's art auctions; just be prepared for plenty of competition from young American billlionaires -- the ones who aren't facing pervy sex charges -- and Russian financiers -- the ones who don't happen to be in jail. The tension! The riches! "Two years ago financial analysts predicted that the art market was on the brink of topping out, but it has defied economic indicators." And never mind why so much art is up for sale ("the '3 Ds' — debt, divorce and death — bring art to the market"). Just concentrate on the sudden status you'll enjoy. And for God's sake, be careful.

Or, if you're trying to stick to your budget this month, there's always eBay. As a Murketing commentor writes, "the combination of art and commerence always has unexpected results," which is, coincidentally, EXACTLY what that guy on Harry Hines told me when I bought the elephant statue out of the back of his van.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

My Monday Night Football message of hope. Or doom. I dunno.

When you name your sports blog "AwfulAnnouncing," you've amply demonstrated both an ability to get to the heart of matters and an understandable propensity for dispair. Indeed, it's surprising that this USAToday column wasn't the final push off the ledge:

"Whether it's hyping Dancing...or having Disney-employed celebs drop by the booth, they aren't catering to the just-give-me-the-game crowd. Those people will watch anyway*: ESPN's game Monday, as a sports-themed TV show accessible to lots of people who've never heard of Billy Kilmer, drew the most households in cable TV history....To all who just want SportsCenter to give scores without catchphrases and games without sideshows, forget it."

Well, shit. "Those people will watch anyway" makes it sound so hopeless. So "Thiesman forever!"

But haven't we heard this kind of talk before? Where was it? Oh yeah: "In the August 5, 1996, issue of the New Yorker, David Remnick interviewed Dick Ebersol, president of NBC Sports, and Nicholas Schiavone, NBC director of research, and explored the psychological underpinnings of NBC's intricate strategy to capture the female audience. Remnick cites what he calls Schiavone's programming 'creed'--five principles for a kinder, gentler Olympics--describing it as 'a highly artificial construct, designed for maximum sentiment and ratings.' The results...indicate that, while men will watch the games no matter what, women, who make up 51 percent of the viewing audience, need stories."

Well, bullshit. Because ten years later, "NBC aired hundreds of hours of prime time coverage of this year's Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, but saw the lowest overall ratings since the 1992 games." Women turned to American Idol for their "stories." And men didn't watch "no matter what." The Olympics are now no longer an automatic ratings and advertising winner. Thank you, Mr Schiavone!

Even if ESPN isn't working off exactly the same brief, I think they face similar results. Aren't they taking a ratings gimme and, with the same blind commitment to an ill-advised "strategy," fucking it up for a future generation? It's Monday Night Football -- an institution! -- and in a few years, no one will sit through a Tirico-Hank Williams Jr interview. I think as soon as you start to assume people will watch "no matter what," you've already lost them. It happened to the Olympics. It can happen to football. Unless the NFL steps in.

* All emphasis mine and added to make it look like I had a point. This marks the first such bolding of type on NotBillable and while it's fun to change things up a bit, I'm never -- never -- going to make things more inviting and readable with a photo or two. Yeah I'm off the hydrocodone. Why do you ask?

The "focus is on the fine print rather than the headline"

What kind of cuckoo, off-kilter world do we live in when marketers start to hide important facts: "The worst offender? Scott toilet paper, which has long boasted 1,000 sheets per roll. The real that each sheet on the roll was actually shortened. The company managed to do away with 300 inches."

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The colon: overused?

Yes. But it's my favorite punctuation mark.

Career potential: writer on a furniture account

For this brilliantly worded description: "a highly graphic couch."

Scary words: "revenue growth remains disappointing"

Yeah. Why hasn't Kodak ever been able to make good on all that turnaround talk?

Advertising costumes: original but funny to about 3 people

Bypassing the gory and the outright slutty, I like to choose costumes that have some personal meaning to me. So this year, I've dressed as Mary Wells Lawrence. No, not the go-go, ground-breaking Pucci girl of the 60s -- too obvious! too much leg! -- but the Mustique-residing, Mick-Jagger-cup-of-sugar-borrowing, legend-preserving grand dame of today. Several dozen colleagues have agreed to go as my personal servants, we'll pass out "A Big Life In Advertising" (stacks of which were rescued from the Borders bargain books shelf) and, when there's a spare minute or so, I'll patiently explain to anyone who will listen how I'm still emotionally in touch with the regular consumer.

Friday, October 27, 2006

So how's that new guy working out?

He's into online initiatives and he certainly knows how to use email, but is the RadioShack CEO clear on that whole "public company" concept? "[S]ome analysts and observers said the lack of answers about the company's turnaround plans since the arrival of new CEO Julian Day has been an ongoing source of frustration and concern....The executives assembled by Day have refused all media interviews. They've also stopped holding conference calls with analysts during quarterly earnings reports, a common practice among publicly traded companies."

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thanks. I'll be here all week.

After the debacle that was Monday night, wasn't it nice that we as Cowboy fans could rally around Emmitt Smith's mambo? He was perfect! Although, to be honest, it seemed awkward to have his partner Cheryl start the dance with Drew Bledsoe then switch to Emmitt half-way through. Hi-oooh!

Is Seth Godin calling me lazy? I think he is!

In a post that was way too long for me to read closely, Seth Godin writes, "You're busy trying to sell a service or a product or an idea to lazy people in a hurry....We don't have to like it, we just have to acknowledge it." Whatever.

I was much more interested in these guys: "Current Energy is different because it offers electricity pricing plans from three companies, and it sells energy-efficient products from lots of vendors....'Most people are really uncomfortable about the idea of energy efficiency,' Mr. Harberg said....They try to keep things simple and hands-on. Mr. Harberg said he thinks part of the reason that only about a third of Texans have switched electricity providers is too many choices and too much information."

A nit? We never have too many choices. We have too many choices that look alike.

Friday, October 20, 2006

NotBillable trendwatch: boobs

First, James gets distracted.

Then there's this.

Gosh, one more example -- wherever will we find that? -- and it could officially be a trend.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Does this make me a bad person?

I really enjoy watching New York baseball teams lose.

Yes, if only it were up to him

The wonderfully named Dallas columnist Steve Blow continues to be at the forefront of cultural trends. Today he discovers the mobile billboard truck and promptly calls for a legal ban. Because he alone knows what's good for this city, the environment and business in general.

Shhh. Don't tell him about the Internet -- why, that thing's just full of banners and pop-unders!

Details magazine: the perfect place to dispel all those gay rumors

Sometimes you run across a news account that's repugnant on every possible level. Animal cruelty stories, to give but one example. Another: recaps of Hennessey promotional events. Simply put, it hurts me deeply every time affluent people score free drinks. So wrong! 500 models? So expected! And then there is the participation of Lance Armstrong.

I never thought I'd say this but the more Armstrong lives a fun-filled, cocktail-drinking, Matthew McConaughey-befriending, Sheryl Crow-abandoning, Details cover-worthy life -- a life he has certainly earned -- the more his appeal seems to fade. He was simply more likeable when he was on a bike. And it may already be evident in his fund-raising efforts: "his self-proclaimed war on cancer remains a struggle. Since he threw himself behind the cause, no significant financial progress has been made. Fund-raising dinners, fancy rubber bands, and rousing speeches net millions, but what Armstrong needs in order to make a difference is counted in the billions. He’s used to getting what he wants. But now that he’s a mortal again, he has to reacquaint himself with words like no and wait."

Of course, it's peculiar to label an ability to "net millions" as "a struggle." But I think we like our heroes best when they're in the midst of a great battle, as opposed to having won it and enjoying the spoils. Or maybe it's just that McConaughey has a knack for damaging everything he touches.

Catharsis denied

Let us speak no more of Jeffrey and the deliciously life-affirming disqualification that never was. Instead, let's put on some red lipstick, polish up our sternums and hope -- dearly hope -- for a Laura Bennett line.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Order restored to Texas stereotypes

Maybe we're not so afraid of those naked lady statues. (I mean, have you seen the Adolphus?) Maybe we just have a bad -- albeit media-savvy -- teacher.

Order restored to the universe

I was just happy to find Halloween Hip Barbie -- only $9.99 down at the Piggly Wiggly! -- but this news is even better: "Latest rankings in the doll wars also show Barbie regaining her No. 1 spot as the holiday season unfolds, pulling ahead of the rival Bratz dolls." I think we all know the reason why.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Also, Uli revealed that our nation's greatest secret weapon is Miami Vice

Tuesday, October 10: Nobel Prize-winning economist Edmund S. Phelps writes in the WSJ that "capitalism is the injustice of depriving entrepreneurial types (as well as other creative people) of opportunities for their self-expression."

Wednesday, October 11: Uli reflects on her East German childhood, prepares for her Bryant Park show and declares the American Dream to be "wreal."


ADDED MUCH LATER: After viewing the Project Runway finale countless times, I realize that Uli never in fact says "wreal." Rather, she says that in America, dreams can come "twue." I should have corrected this earlier but could not bring myself to do so. There's simply no way you can hear a German woman say "twue" and not think of Madeline Kahn. Am I right?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Here's a thing I really like about Battlestar Galactica: part 3

"It's ALL hands-on here, Captain."

(The new season is only three days away.)

Root canal Wednesday: a jaw-dropping development

The tooth couldn't be fixed so: extraction! That's a first for me. Hydrocodone intake has been stepped up and publicists are standing by.

Welcome to root canal Wednesday. Refreshments and hydrocodone are being served in the foyer.

Isn't it about time we re-name the root canal procedure? Just off the top of my head, something like "neural nullification" or "bridge aversion therapy" would be far preferable to anything with the word "canal" in it. Agreed? Yeah? Then meet me at that place off Quorum Drive and let's focus-group some alternatives. We'll order dinner. It'll be great.

Meanwhile, until the nitrous oxide takes full effect:

-Look! Barbie!

-I can't say which is the bigger crime here -- owning a Bedazzler or rooting for Mario Lopez.

-Just as I began to wonder about Amy's knitting blog -- Where'd she go? Is she OK? Did she finish those socks? -- it's all answered with one masterfully composed photo.

-The Texas Star is my favorite sight at the State Fair. Its full beauty is evidently so pure and magical that no camera has yet captured it. Other State Fair favorites: Elsie the Cow, pie-baking contest day, Hall of State and the German food tent (best for shade, seating and beer selection). Yay!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Maybe Patricia Dunn was just concerned about their recycling habits

I know. Congressional sex scandals are fun (FUN!) and can make us feel so comparatively sane. Still I can't figure out why the Hewlett-Packard story only inspires what Dealbreaker calls "scandal fatigue." Look at this: "Surveillance, [included] a 'sting' operation and digging through spy on directors, two employees and nine reporters."

Of course nobody cares about directors and maybe that's why no one cares about this. But employees? Doesn't that alarm you just a little? It's one thing to accept that your employer monitors your at-work email and Internet activity. But how alarmed would you be to discover that your company searches your home garbage? Or does background checks on your relatives? Or tracks your friends' calls? HP did all that. To uncover an activity that is not illegal. So yes, I want an ugly, embarrassing Mark Hurd resignation. Now. It might be the only outcome scary enough to discourage any other executive from spying on employees. And because honestly, I'm tired of always having to explain all these empties.

Here's a thing I really like about Battlestar Galactica: part 2

Not since Das Boot has a story given me such a suffocating sense of claustrophobia. No wonder everybody wanted to settle on New Caprica. Mud and huts do seem attractive compared to cramped ships and the darkness of space.

(The new season is only four days away.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Here's a thing I really like about Battlestar Galactica: part 1

All officers, male and female, are addressed as "sir."

(The new season is only five days away.)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

We can agree that it's a step up from Sammy Davis Jr

Have you seen the new commercials for Applebee's? Good news: the singing guys are gone. As are the dead guys. Odd news: Tyler Florence has taken their place and he's introducing his newest creations, four tasty dishes only available at Applebee's.

Yeah. That Tyler Florence.

Impressive. Applebee's is trying to do for their restaurant what Target and KMart have done for retailing. Who knows if it can work? And while you may wonder why a chef with such an enviable resume would participate, well, he has products to sell too. I'm certainly not complaining. Tyler Florence is a handsome man. If his face is going to be plastered on every sign, package label and TV screen within sight, this really will be a better world.

Friday, September 29, 2006

We need to talk about your fee

Should agencies invest in brands and products? MDC Partners CEO Miles Nadal says yes: "Facing shrinking fees and fed-up clients, Nadal is not the first to suggest changes in the way ad agencies get paid. More shops are working out revenue-sharing deals or taking equity stakes in lieu of the fees they normally charge. Crispin, for instance, received a small equity stake in clothing company Haggar as part of its pay for providing marketing services. But Nadal is more ambitious in that he wants MDC to court the private-equity firms that are snapping up troubled brands right and left and, in many cases, turning them around."

Interesting. Still, it makes me long for the older, simpler times when you could just fudge your timesheets for 15-20 years then retire to the south of France. Oh well. There's always those government contracts!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Laura Bennett just made me feel sorta fabulously glamorous

I don't think you have to be a gay man to admire Laura Bennett but it evidently helps. Me? I love the woman. And that's even before she made this comment: "The only thing I ever wanted to be besides an architect was -- I loved commercials and advertising and logos and I loved the idea of capturing an audience in 30 seconds with one tiny sentence. So advertising was the only other career that I ever considered besides architecture."

ADDED: The notgaynotthattheresanythingwrongwiththat American Copywriter comments, "I'll be honest, I would like for her to teach me in the ways of love." See? There's no limit to this woman's appeal!

And I can't believe I forgot to include this quote from an Angela interview: "Laura said something I will never forget: 'You have to have an original design idea, and every single piece must refer back to that design idea.'" Proof that Laura Bennett would have been a fabulous creative director.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

It's hard out here for a CEO

If you haven't been fired by overly fearful directors, you're missing out on the year's biggest trend!

Of course Ron Perelman has no use for old women

Looks like that whole Vital Radiance thing didn't work out so well. Other than odd, late-night direct-response spots, did this brand ever advertise? Oh yeah? Well huh.

Now that Christie Brinkley's Cover Girl campaign has disappeared, it just seems like no one wants to talk about wrinkles except Olay.

ADDED: OK. I just saw a Diane Keaton L'Oreal spot and, gosh, she's lovely. Just lovely.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Prince would now like you to party like it's 1899

Ever since they stopped serving Cristal at 40/40, I've been at a complete loss as to what to order. You too? I thought so by the way you're holding that Courvoisier but of course I didn't want to say anything. I'm not rude!

Now there might be good news. I've recently seen -- in two separate gossip columns -- reports that Prince drinks port wine. These were not simply Prince sightings, but accounts so scrupulous they included beverage choice. Doesn't this mean there's a PR person working hard somewhere? I just never would have guessed it was all for port.

(Wait. Did everyone know this but me? Embarrassing! I'm headed to the Ghost Bar right now to ask about the Bishop of Gloucester.)

NEXT DAY UPDATE: Today, Norm Clarke adds this sighting: "Prince, ordering 40 shots of Patron tequila and a veggie burger at Tao (The Venetian) after showing up at 2:30 a.m. Saturday." Now I'm just confused.

Are we laughing at Wonder Bread or with Wonder Bread?

The brand did not have to pay a dime to be part of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.

Some achieve icon status; others have icon status thrust upon them.

Always the optimist, I foresee the end of those Joe Buck commercials

Expect this to be every bit as fun and authentic as that Cheers bar at McCarron Airport: "Aiming to reach younger business travelers, Holiday Inns and Resorts...has teamed with the Sporting News, a venerable sports media brand, to create a prototype sports bar at the Holiday Inn Select at Dallas Love Field."

Can't be sure but I think by "venerable," the writer here means "not really doing all that well."

I wonder if this sports theme is one reason why Joe Buck was inexplicably forced into an otherwise likeable Holiday Inn campaign. But I have hope. Buck is a Fox announcer. Could his appearance be considered a conflict with Fox Sports Grills? Oh please, please, please. Then we can at least have 30 Joe Buck-free seconds each Sunday and maybe Holiday Inn can look into other, more deserving sports announcers.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

"Vibrant" for some. For others, not so much.

What's a Danish guy gonna do with all those Pier 1 shares? "Investors have speculated that Jacobsen may be interested in acquiring U.S.-based retailing operations at a discount in order to build up his foothold in this country's vibrant consumer market." Oh. I see.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

America's dancer

Since, clearly, I will defend to the death an NFL player's right to cha-cha, of course I'm watching Emmitt Smith on Dancing With The Stars. So far: cute! In fact, somehow, dancing Emmitt seems a little more likeable and fan-friendly than running Emmitt.

But it never hurts to get an expert opinion. Ed Bark, over to you: "Emmitt Smith gamely juked his way to another solid 24 score on Tuesday's Dancing with the Stars, which there's a MAN LAW against watching. So I watched it in a dress, heavy makeup and high heels." Well at least one person has an open mind.

If you still think reality shows demean stars and legends, just remember: Charo's likeable Geico spot is a direct result of The Surreal Life and Vera Wang's guest appearances on Project Runway conveniently coincided with a brand new product line. It's possible they don't feel that demeaned right now.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What, when you buy a hat like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh?

Oh, it looks good on you though.

Counterintuitive season's greetings

It's that magical time of year when everyone talks about holiday sales, which is why it's helpful to read Dealbreaker: "The more cynical among us might even describe it as Economic Fallacy Season, as reporters buy hook, line, and sinker the idea that consumer spending is good for the economy. Never mind the fact that credit card debt only contributes to our savings problem. Never mind the fact that people don't get as much utility out of gifts as they get out of products they buy for themselves. And never mind the fact that the Holiday causes a major disruption to industrial output. And then there's all of the economic friction associated with temporary employment, parking, headaches, family fights, stores shutting down, etc."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Go ahead. Focus on Katie Couric's PR photos. It will help you forget that there's no money in network news.

Jon Friedman -- who recently offered up the earth-shaking opinion that Tim Russert is the best interviewer on TV -- now all too eagerly tells us that Katie Couric has failed. He even shockingly posits that she may be too cute.

That was fast. And, because it is Friedman, predictable.

Much more delicious is Mickey Kaus' theory that "Couric was hired by CBS solely to screw NBC's highly-profitable Today Show!" Now that's how you keep things lively in media punditry. Funditry, if you will.

A really interesting question: would a Couric failure save the future of the CBS news division? If Jeff Jarvis and John Ellis are right, hiring Couric was simply the first step in a CBS plan to ultimately sell its new division to, say, Time Warner, a group who can -- unlike CBS -- turn a profit on a news operation. "[I]t is not hard to imagine that Ms. Couric will lead CBS News into a more competitive stance. At which point, the value of the asset can be realized in a deal. Katie Couric is, metaphorically, the transitional figure between a once-great broadcast news organization and what will almost certainly be the first news division ever sold off by a broadcast network."

In that case, her own colleagues would of course root against Couric's success, wouldn't they?

The mancation: kill me now

It's for real: "The Regent South among businesses nationwide targeting guys vacationing - or as they like to say, mancationing - with friends. They are offering everything from poker parties to hand-rolled cigars, buckets of beer to sports tickets, all in hopes of tapping a growing market. 'These trips are about a group of people that most likely met in college and are sort of just extending their yesterdays,' said Josh Lesnick, president of I'm in!, a business founded last year that helps organize trips for groups of men."

What's the female equivalent of this? Is there one? And does it, too, end in hangovers and gambling debts?

What a tangled web

I can't decide if this is unintended comedy or pure, balls-out brio but in a story about Hewlett-Packard's illegal attempts to quash leakers, the NYTimes gives us this: "Those speaking about the company’s review would do so only if they were not identified."

Naturally. But Patricia Dunn already knows who they are.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

The bold and the beautiful. Sorta.

These are the newest faces of MAC cosmetics: Dita Von Teese, Lisa Marie Presley, Eve and Debbie Harry. They're part of what MAC president John Dempsey calls an effort to "cut through the clutter" and they join the already successfully controversial Sandra Bernhard as brand spokespeople.

And behold! They all pop up today in Lloyd Grove's column. But wouldn't a Page Six mention have been far, far preferable? I mean Mariah's fake tan beat them out, a sure sign that MAC's choices may not be truly top-notch provocateurs. How could that be? Oh yeah: MAC is an Estee Lauder brand. These are just the kind of women Aerin Lauder would think of as "edgy." Maybe she's right. They sure seem to excel at the terrorism jokes. That's clutter-cutting!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Oddly, you can't read all about it

The Dallas Morning News buyout list includes every Dallas Morning News writer I can name. You'd think the long-time columnists would be the ones with a subscription-paying following. Still, I'm eager to see those re-deployed "human and financial assets", aren't you?

Your boss is not optimistic about the future. Please don't let that affect your morale or productivity.

According to a new survey, your CEO may need a hug right now. Or something. But there's good news for compulsive over-achievers: "executives indicated they are most worried about hiring and retaining qualified employees. One-third of respondents said finding qualified workers was their top concern." Sumner Redstone can so relate.

Why yes, an oversized pill would be ideal for sore throats

In medical news, crystal meth DayQuil is still preferable to the present formula. And don't even try the gel caps, unless you have a bolus gun close by.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Somewhere, Texas Dolly sheds a tear

Sometimes, you have to look to Norm Clarke, everyone's favorite eyepatch-wearing Vegas gossip columnist, for the real Texas news: "San Antonio police last week raided the home of Richard Lee, who won $2.8 million as the sixth-place finisher in the World Series of Poker's main event." Really? Is there more? "Police also said they found a person of interest at a computer looking at an illegal gambling Web site." Whew. Close one.

Evidently, raiding poker games is now all the rage here. Which seems kind of odd, really. You take up a respectable hobby, one involving books, Bravo shows, cute, little accessories -- even art -- and suddenly: coppers all over your great room. Where's the fun in that?

But fantasy football and March Madness brackets -- those are still OK right?

It is time, once again, to honor Ronald D. Moore

New Battlestar Galactica webisodes? Why, this is just the thing to fill the My Size Barbie-shaped void created by Robert Best's Project Runway departure. The television IS our friend! Even when it's not, you know, on TV.

Friday, September 01, 2006

September first

Reasons why September is already better than August: holiday weekend, college football and State Fair talk -- which this year includes scary germ warnings but soon will focus almost solely on Fried Coke.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Quote of the day

For one of the world's handsomest, manliest men, this probably seemed true: "Statistics show that there are more women in the world than anything else. Except insects."

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Are you telling me there won't be cocktail recipes?

Yesterday I bought Body + Soul just to see if Martha Stewart Apprentice winner Dawna really did end up working there. And sure enough, she pops up on page 50 to answer questions about her own everyday diet: "They asked me about my beverage choices. 'Mostly water. A few cups of green tea a day. An occasional decaf soy latte. And lots of herbal tea: I love dandelion especially.'"

Immediately I regretted that Jim hadn't won.

Oh well. That's all in the cancelled past. Now: on to Celebrity Duets!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

From the city of famous oilmen. Like Perot, Hicks and Cuban.

If you're like me, when you want a fresh and unexpected take on the Dallas fashion scene, you turn immediately to the New York Times. And as you'd hope, they totally avoid the cliches:

"Texas style is not all cowboy boots and big hair. Just ask Brian Bolke and Shelly Musselman, the proprietors of Forty Five Ten, a ranch-size but boutique-minded clothing-and-home-furnishings store."

I really don't understand why some people hate the Times. It's not like the paper's tone is condescending or predictable or anything.

Still, when I read that "Even the oil-rich need to tighten their belts sometimes," I have to wonder. Do Times fashion writers ever read the business section? Because oil is sorta doing OK right now. And Dallas has always been home to plenty of wealthy people who made their money in business not oil. Besides, the rich here never tighten their belts. They just go off-shore.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Every time you don't buy a house, someone in Ft Worth cries

Home sales drop so no one needs all that Pottery Barn furniture anymore.

It has to be that, right? It can't be a style thing, right? "'[I]n mid-July, we believed that the softness we were seeing was specific to the execution of our Pottery Barn summer merchandising strategy,' Lester said in a statement. 'Today, however, after five weeks in home with our new Pottery Barn fall catalog, we believe there is a greater macro-economic issue also affecting this business.'"

Cling to the macro. It makes things so much scarier for a struggling competitor like, oh, Pier 1. But the good news: "sales at stores open at least a year, have gone up for...Pottery Barn the second quarter...Pottery Barn Kids' increased by 8.1 percent, up from a 4.1 percent jump last year."

Pier 1, your response? Well, OK then.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Aw, they're calling it "Cuddleweave"

In what AdAge calls a "neck-and-neck" race -- really AdAge: do you see the missed opportunity there? -- diaper manufacturers keep trying to win over the breeders with the same old new-and-improved product innovations.

Well, innovate all you want. If it's true that retailers often sell diapers as a loss leader, then price is still the most important feature here, isn't it? And what more can you do with a diaper? Doesn't it say something that Kimberly-Clark's most recent diaper-selling success wasn't a diaper at all but SunSignals, sunburn-sensing skin patches that were included in each pack of swim pants?

So good luck with all the new stuff. Sounds like it will dramatically improve the quality of life for mom and baby alike. As long as it's cheap.

Carrying on without Robert Best: how? why? what's the use?

As you can imagine, I'm clutching my Malibu Barbie -- and her super mellow best-friend Malibu PJ -- just a little more tightly this morning. A reality show world without my favorite Mattel designer is too cruel to contemplate.

But I am thankful for one thing. I feel blessed that my mom had enough confidence to discipline me when I was young. This has, I've now decided, spared me the grownup ordeals of a neck tat and heroin addiction. Seriously. Could Jeffrey be any more fucked up? And is there anything more tiresome than someone who uses their own sad personal history as an excuse to be a jerk? The world is full of Jeffreys and it's not compelling or even fresh to see them on TV. What would be great is to see Jeffrey fail spectacularly. I'd feel bad for his mother but the Greeks understood the importance of catharsis.

Looking on the bright side: yay! Robert Best is reunited with Barbie!

Unfortunately the Dallas Morning News theater critic will not be present

I think when the stage-play version of this article hits the Dallas Summer Musicals, the part of Tribune will be played by Belo. And CLTV and the WB will be replaced by CueCat and TXCN, respectively. Gotta play to the locals.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Know your audience

If your target includes private jet owners who make $9 million a year, this is for you. Highlights: they're not nearly as boozy as you'd think and they don't open their own mail. So you know, cut it out with that dimensional mailer shit.

Well now there's a new angle

Next time an awkward silence threatens to spoil an important gathering, get the conversation going again with this simple question: could you, in a court of law, identify a photo of your own naked crotch?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Does this boot-mark make my ass look big?

The new Radio Shack guy sure does like his old KMart buddies. Happens. But when your employer says of your departure, "There are no plans to fill her positions," that has to sting a little, right?


Is it uneventful in here or is it just me? It's me, isn't it?

I KNEW it.

In my defense, it really is too hot to work up a decent opinion about anything. And I don't know how to keep going when I can't think, when there's no ad news and when the world allows both Paris Hilton and Kevin Federline to launch recording careers.

So I don't know. This might just suck for awhile. I'll try to work through it. And I'll always remember that the most important thing is not to get discouraged.

I just went gay all of a sudden

Being able to quote old movies is only the beginning.

But instead of asking if there are enough gay characters on TV, maybe we should instead consider if there are enough non-demeaning gay characters on TV. And by "characters," I of course mean real people. Sometimes all too real. Or maybe all these questions are simply irrelevant.

Now if you're asking whether or not gay characters make commercials more watchable, the answer is -- wait, let me think about that for 35 seconds -- yes.

Friday, August 18, 2006

The immeasureable damage wrought by Bloomberg Television

When I can't sleep I usually like to watch Bloomberg TV because it's live and the screen -- with a ticker, news crawl, quotes, clock and talking head -- can sometimes hypnotize me. And that feels like sleep. But if you're under 40, I don't recommend it. Between the overly earnest commercial for erectile dysfunction treatments and the age-concealing lipstick infomercial (apparently for all the thin-lipped Republican women MAC has just pissed off) -- and yeah, there could be a brilliant correlation in there somewhere but I really don't want to think about it -- you can start to feel a little insecure. And that can only lead to one thing: the Home Shopping Network.

Damn you, Bloomberg!

I'm this close to running NotBillable blind items

Alison was sweet and always looked like the underfed little sister of Jayne Mansfield but her EW interview seems oddly ungracious. Enough so, anyway, to make you wonder who could have planted today's Gatecrasher blind item.

Calling Dr Bombay

Amid all the bad news at Bombay Co, the new CEO manages to find a silver-plated lining: "So far, he's found that Bombay 'has leadership positions' in several product lines, especially occasional tables, jewelry boxes and decorative accessories."

Well, that's something. Right? No?


Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson? Tito Ortiz and Jenna Jameson? TITO ORTIZ AND JENNA JAMESON?

Welcome to the End Times!

Aerin Lauder thinks you need to moisturize, clean your desk

Why aren't you buying Estee Lauder anymore? Is it Aerin Lauder? She creep you out? Yeah, thought so. I mean, talk about your off-putting ubiquity. Just when you assumed that Oscars dress ruined her, she shows up in Domino magazine last month telling you how to organize your office. Antique chairs -- practical!

So when the CEO William Lauder says, "'what we do best: creating excitement for our brands and products,'" I'm a little confused. Aerin's publicity people do an impressive job but, you know, it's not working.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

But the acoustics are so much better in my bedroom

This idea amuses me, even if things can go slightly awry:

Jont Whittington is "offering to play your living room - for free. His tour will hopscotch private homes that have signed up as venues through his Web site, 'It's a cross between a house party and a gig,' he told us. Except the tour got off to a rocky start in Boston Friday, when the young hostess neglected to invite anyone but herself. 'I think she hoped it would turn into a date,' says a pal. Mr. Whittington now politely requests an audience of at least 40."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Good times with the former Mrs Xavier Cugat

The Geico Charo spot? I could watch it all day long.

Shit. Another Barbie post.

Since there is little love for Robert Best on the internets lately -- so very little love -- I feel compelled to stick up for the boy. First, never forget: silkstones. C'mon! Without the talent and vision of Robert Best, I'd have to fill my shelves with books or something.

But for true fashion insight, there's Diane von Furstenberg (or Mrs. Barry Diller when addressing all social correspondence. Does that fuck with your mind? Mine too!). Observe how she goes totally Lloyd Benson while judging Robert Best's Jackie O design:

"On the runway...we had an interesting dialogue with all the judges, with the exception of Diane, saying ‘Jackie would never wear this!’...Robert, to his credit, said with sincerity, ‘Well, I believe she would have. Jackie is a serious fashion icon, and I understand her and her point of view, and I really did this for her!’ [Judges:] ‘Well we don’t—it’s not very believable.’ Diane said, ‘Well, you know something? I knew Jackie, and I knew her very well. And she would wear this.’"

So there. Barbie guy apparently does know what he's doing. And the re-sale value of my collection is safe. Whew!

ADDED: Yeah, I just used Benson's old JFK reference to characterize a modern-day designer's defense of a Jacqueline Kennedy image-update. Questions? Concerns?

Fun for the whole Omnicom family

First Martha Stewart, then Dennis Kozlowski. Now John Wren receives the decidedly unpleasant Chris Byron treatment. If you can't make it through the long sentences and buyback definitions, here are my notes:

"conglomerateur's bag of tricks"

"bog of financial razzle-dazzle"

and: "desperate gambler on a losing streak."

Somehow, I feel all this could have been avoided if Wren had just returned a phonecall.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Amazon knows us better than we know ourselves

Funny/har-har or funny/scary?

Looking out across the night time

Arnold creates the Department of Human Nature "to focus on how human nature and the environment affect people's choices in a time-crunched and information-loaded world."

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bob Arum shocked to learn that Mr Gorbachev tore down that wall

Professional boxing has many problems: sketchy personalities, questionable decisions, and what has to be the oddest promotional strategies known to man. Why would you use Soviet-era political rhetoric to sell an upcoming heavyweight fight? Especially when your target demo may not be old enough to remember? Especially when both fighters are, as it turns out, Americans:

"Maskaev can't understand or accept the theme that Bob Arum, Rahman's promoter, has taken with regard to the match. 'I don't understand why Rahman's team is saying this is the last line of defense for America,' Maskaev said. 'I'm an American citizen, too. I'm a resident of Staten Island. If I win, then an American will hold the title.'"

August sucks, doesn't it?

Even if you're well-adjusted, air-conditioned and high on life, isn't August always the worst month of the year?

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A most unhelpful article

Slate tries to explain why I don't have a Mac TV in my living room: "most homes are consolidating around a two-hub model. A PC (or Mac) with some multimedia features anchors the home office, while a TV with some computerized gear—think TiVo, not desktop computer—owns the living room. Tech marketers talk about the '2-foot interface' of the PC versus the '10-foot interface' of the TV. When you use a computer, you want to lean forward and engage with the thing, typing and clicking and multitasking. When you watch Lost, you want to sit back and put your feet up on the couch."

I first heard that reasoning 8 years ago and I still don't think it's quite right. Don't Slate writers have laptops or iPods? Aren't they--hey, what's this? Boxers. In the cushions of my Barcalounger. Huh. What was I talking about? Right. I don't always use my computer like a workstation, I don't always watch TV passively and Slate's article just didn't seem all that informative.

That's former boxer and nightclub singer Mitch Albom

I'm kinda sick of Mitch Albom and it's not just because he tends to punch up his columns with things that never, in fact, happened. But Starbucks likes him: "Beginning Oct. 3, a week after the book becomes available in traditional retail stores, Starbucks will begin selling 'For One More Day' at stores nationwide. Albom will make appearances at stores in eight cities...and take part in a video conversation that will be available online. On Oct. 26, Starbucks will host customer-led discussion groups at 25 stores nationwide."

Maybe that makes sense. Albom has come to represent a certain spirit of community involvement and charity that fits with the Starbucks image. Also, Albom's writing can be the perfect antidote for overcaffeination. Still, you have to wonder: will all the kids like him?

Friday, August 04, 2006

Not the baseball player, the friendly one

Since no other topic is really making my socks roll up and down (I don't even know what that means), let's take a moment to meet Dallas copywriter Will Clarke, king of all he surveys. Or at least, author of several favorably reviewed, soon-to-be-made-into-a-movie books. Yay!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

It's only good writing if it re-inforces my feelings of moral superiority

I don't see how anyone can possibly rank the top business writers without at least giving honorable mention to Chris Byron. A mastery of the language, always a solid command of the facts -- truly, who else could have delivered such a shocking and powerful crotch-kick to Revlon's Ron Perelman:

"This is a performance the world has seen more than once from the Ronster, who might want to ask himself why he tends to become publicly entangled in diverting and ultimately destructive relationships with women at precisely the moments when his attention should be focused most intensely on the management of his business affairs.

"Maybe Perelman should consider bringing the subject up with his newest arm piece, a standard-issue looker named Anna Chapman, who materialized at his side this spring, mere weeks after his fourth marriage, to actress Ellen Barkin, fell apart.

"As it happens, his new gal turns out to be a psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of panic disorders....Unfortunately, there may not be enough time left for Dr. Chapman to help Rutting Ron rid himself of his libidinous demons. This time around, the warnings about Revlon look real."

Then it gets better! See the genius? Business writing like that could almost make a Star magazine editor envious. Yeah, that's more like it.

"EDS employees have been through several years of nearly continuous job cuts."

It's always the same story out of Plano. But I can't help feeling this latest Dallas Morning News article was at least partially written by George Orwell: "With sales on the rise, Electronic Data Systems Corp. is taking the opportunity to accelerate job cuts."

UPDATE: OK. Now they're just fucking with us. Starbucks jumps on the Orwellian bandwagon and blames recent poor sales on the popularity of their summer drinks. That's right. Sales are down because of too many sales. Read it and see if your head doesn't explode.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lady In The Downward Career Arc

Before Mel Gibson shared his world views with us this past weekend, didn't it seem like M. Night Shyamalan was fast becoming Hollywood's favorite guy to savage? Is everyone pissed that Shyamalan still lives in Pennsylvania? Are they jealous about that Amex spot? Hard to tell, but I like this, a very different take on Shyamalan's new movie: "Better to fail gloriously than succeed at something plenty of others can do."

(I know. It can be so disorienting to follow a link only to find the exact same Blogger template. But sometimes it simply can't be helped. See?)

Robert Best: reaching out, making friends

Via BPR comes proof that Mattel's designer is, aside from being cute as a button, so quotable: "Barbie rocks my world. She’s awesome. One thing I have found interesting working on Barbie is how many opinions people have about her. She can be a love or hate thing for people. You hear how she’s caused people to have eating disorders. I think those people are whiners and they should shut the fuck up. Stop blaming a doll for your problems. It’s amazing that she’s a fashion icon and a legend. I think I’ve reached more people designing for Barbie than I ever did when I was working in high fashion."

He's exactly right. Which may prove that Barbie's still a successful brand. At least among non-eating-disorder-affected women and gay men.

Monday, July 31, 2006

It's good to be rich, connected

When the owner of the Rangers and the Stars starts a new sports marketing interest, you have to take notice. What's he doing? What's the goal? Why does he need a separate company to do what his teams' staff should already be doing?

And then, you get to the last sentence: junior needed a job.

How will this affect your in-home date?

Fire at Quebecor's Dallas press.

The good news: no one seems to be seriously injured. Bad news: 100 people were working at 4am just to make sure your mailbox will be filled with Christmas catalogs.

Southwestern Ohio: chic!

It's still shocking to realize that Procter & Gamble owns a fashion house. It must be shocking for them too because now they're shuttin' it down. Oh, they'll keep Escada and Anna Sui fragrances but the cash-burning dressmakers have been jettisoned. Too bad. So many French-designer-underarm-deodorant-cross-promotional ideas, lost forever. Oh well. Best now to concentrate on razors.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Except for socially, you're my role model

One reason why Lisa de Moraes is my favorite writer: "Vittorio -- he aspires to be one of those celebrities whose first name alone is enough, like Cher -- started out studying and performing opera; PBS says he was nicknamed Il Pavarottino, 'Little Pavarotti,' by The Man himself. At some point, however Vittorio decided to chase the money and now goes in for popera....Vittorio makes great eye contact with female critics, wives of male critics, and female PBS publicists."

OK, now that Strahan divorce trial is just getting ugly

From the Post of course: "NIKE might want to cut down on celebrity pitchman Michael Strahan's swag allowance. 'They give you a certain amount [in merchandise credits], and if you don't use it by the end of the year, you lose it,' the Giants great said last week as he was testifying at his divorce trial about how much he spends on clothing. Strahan said he's been giving thousands of dollars in sneakers and clothes to his kids, his parents and pals because he can't possibly wear it all. 'After a while,' the sack king said, 'you get a little worn out by the Swoosh.'"

Friday, July 28, 2006

"We listened to consumers who said they want to eat fresh fruit, but apparently they lied."

Wha? People aren't honest in focus groups? But they're getting paid!

Suzanne Kapner remains unimpressed with Paul Pressler's offerings

The New York Post continues its Gap-bashing apace: "Analysts who have spent the last few weeks visiting stores generally give the clothes high marks for delivering a more focused message - in line with the tagline from the new ad campaign, 'keep it simple,' but worry that the merchandise lacks a 'wow' factor." And, surprisingly, three out of three Post gofers agree!

Still, there's some good news. Gap executives sure can spot their shoplifters.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

No one wanted this: the Weinsteins and Rupert Murdoch, in bed together

I won't tell you what I thought about Clerks 2 until we've all seen it and can talk about it together. But I will say I was just as entertained by the credits as I was by the movie itself. There's a reason for that: "The Weinstein Company is boasting about creating a unique partnership between Clerks 2 and MySpace whereby the first 10,000 people who linked a designated page to their friends list would be permanently added to the ending credits of the film." Nikki Finke does not approve!

But I think once she sees that Jersey Girl reference, she might change her mind.

ADDED: Kevin Smith -- who's all too happy to have a public feud these days -- asks Finke: "since when are the credits sacrosanct anyway?" And that's really the point here. If caterers, assistants and personal trainers can be included, why not 10,000 of your most devoted fans? It's fun! Lighten up!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A carton of unintended consequences, please

Self-checkout is killing the impulse buy.

Since this probably means you missed Star Magazine's explosive revelations about Johnny Depp's secret double life, I offer you this re-cap: Depp sure was engaged a lot. Now he's got kids, whom he loves. Oh, and he looks like this.

Damn trends. It's getting so a company just can't keep up.

At least the problem has been diagnosed: "RadioShack noted that consumer awareness of its status as a dealer for Cingular, the leading U.S. wireless provider, is low. The company said other trends are working against it as well...." With detailed analysis like that -- along with their remarkable customer service -- it really is a wonder they're doing so poorly!

Racking up credit card debt will make those 71 days fly by

Until the series returns, there's the Battlestar Galactica MasterCard! But please be careful. If you use it to purchase clearance-priced Star Wars figures, the universe WILL collapse upon itself.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Now this is just unseemly

Subway franchisees sue the parent company over ad funds. Is it really a matter of money? Or do they just want to eliminate Lovitz?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I am inconsolable

Alas poor Breton.

ADDED: Following the very excellent example of Tim Gunn, I will now call everything that's even remotely distasteful to me a "hot mess," and I will pronounce it "hawt messss" because that's how he says it and it sounds kinda dirty that way.

Asking the tough advertising questions: part two

Do famous athletes owe it to us to do PSAs? And if they appear in TV spots, do they owe it to us to be STD-free?

Quote of the day

Brilliant: "I blog because I got tired of the sunburns and mosquito bites I got while standing on the highway overpass and screaming at the passing cars."

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Asking the tough advertising questions

Should we all keep buying CoverGirl to show solidarity with Christie? Or stop buying it because the shit might not work?

I'm thinking buy. But I'm sentimental that way.

Too much information

In a post that I was too fatigued to actually read, Virginia Postrel seems to argue for less blogging.

Wherein I come to Rachael Ray's defense

I just want to ponder this Gawker note for a minute: "'I'm grossly unqualified for every job I ever had,' chirps Ray, happily demonstrating and celebrating the fact that once you've been on TV for one thing, you can be on TV for anything else."

Qualification talk? From the current editor of Gawker? Now somehow, that's just funny.

Evidently no one else gets much work done either

100 million?

Monday, July 17, 2006

Barbara Millicent Roberts is a tad nervous these days

Did I ever tell you that I went to a Barbie convention once?

Hello? You still with me?

I know. I can see how people would think it's strange but if you can't spend your adult years overpaying for the toys that you abused and destroyed as a child, then really, how can you ever expect to be able to love?

These days, though, I fear for Barbie's future. While movie tie-ins are saving their other divisions, Mattel just might give up on original thinking and stick us with a Bratz clone. Because 4-year-olds need something to play with as they recite the lyrics to 'Promiscuous."

Happily, there is better news -- news that, in fact, has now given my life meaning and direction. Robert Best is a contestant on the new Project Runway. Yes, Barbie Collectibles designer Robert Best. Y'all! This is exactly what I hope Mattel can somehow be made to understand. Good things truly do come to those who honor Barbie.


It's Mary Kay week in Dallas!

How many shows can Rachael Ray host without developing a chemical dependency?

Just when I start to think I can't possibly be interested in Rachael Ray's new talkshow she has to go and say this: "'I'm really tired of seeing makeovers and date things and everyone is 20.'"

Now I'll have to watch. Woman's obviously a genius.

Friday, July 14, 2006

The waiting IS the hardest part

"Hello, weekend? It's me, Irene. We met about 4-5 days ago. Yeah, that was me. I hope things didn't get too crazy for you.

Oh good. I don't remember a lot of it either. Like I said: crazy! But look, I'd really like to see you again. Yeah. Is there any way you can get here before 5? I could make some drinks--

No? It's gotta be 5, huh?

OK. Sure. I understand. See ya."


Thursday, July 13, 2006

Joe Buck and Tim McCarver will continue to ruin baseball for years to come

The ratings are in and Fox's all-star game earned "the top ratings in viewership, households and the adults 18-49 demographic." That's an audience increase of 15% over last year. Not too shabby.

Still, not everyone enjoyed the game. It is, after all, difficult to watch Tim McCarver's public battle with idiocy. But I blame myself. Or more precisely, my chosen profession. Because even though advertisers lined up for the event, no one ran a fun, standout spot. Yeah, Holiday Inn worked Joe Buck into their existing campaign and Steve Hall probably liked it but: a spot that lionizes the announcer? And not even a legendary, Harry Caray-like announcer? Joe Buck. That's we got? Sigh. Is there really no, you know, player worth creating a campaign around? None?

Bo Jackson, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

"Having sex on the Ferris wheel"

Clearly Six Flags executives aren't enjoying their parks nearly as much as the teenagers are.

Personal productivity numbers will suffer!

Even though I believe a July run is a mistake of Apprentice-like proportions, I will still diligently prepare for tonight's show by visiting Blogging Project Runway every 2-3 minutes today. Then again, I might simply call in sick.

No one has job security except Pressler

Gap fires another top executive -- the Old Navy president -- and this one doesn't even get the courtesy of the "to spend time with family" lie. Just so long and thanks for all the Morgan Fairchild ads!

That's just so gay

Unlike Ozzie Guillen -- who will be there out of a sincere wish to make amends -- Gay Games sponsors might be in it for the money: "Companies are also realizing just how good a demographic they can reach by going after the gay market, which represents more than $600 billion in annual purchasing power, according to some estimates."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

This belongs in the octagon

In news that will shock G4, large racks are not what's saving Spike TV. Instead, it's the UFC. And you know what's interesting? I mean other than Stephan Bonnar? UFC pay-per-view events evidently draw around 480,000 buyers, the same as professional wrestling. I think only boxing's biggest star -- Oscar De La Hoya -- significantly beats that.

So: learn your submission holds. It's the only way to advertise to the young male demo!

Let us pause now to admire Johnny Depp's intellect

As you well know, James Lipton is the creepiest motherfucker presently on TV. Almost unwatchable. When his guest was Johnny Depp, the sheer number of awkward pauses and non sequiturs damn near shattered my satellite dish. But this exchange was interesting:

"JL: Are there any of your movies that you've never seen in a theater?

JD: There's quite a few.

JL: Or even in a screening room?

JD: There are some that I haven't seen a frame of. Yeah.

JL: Really?

JD: Yeah. And that's no disrespect to the filmmakers or the people involved, but once my job is done, once they say, you know, 'you're wrapped,' at that point it's really none of my business what they do with it, so I just prefer to walk away."

Such a shocking confession naturally prompted Lipton's alien-brain to immediately ask about Martin Landau. But wouldn't you, a normal person, have wanted to know why -- exactly -- Johnny Depp is so disinterested in the finished product? It's as if he doesn't always share everyone else's vision. As if he's shunning organization-wide goals and focusing instead on the only factors he can control. As if approaching it any other way would make him crazy(er).

Johnny Depp: he's just like us! Except for the sordid secret double life! Oh wait.

Marketing conundrum or simple karma?

Ron Perelman dumps Ellen Barkin for something younger and Revlon's new age-defying Vital Radiance tanks. Of all the reasons -- "'it was a very competitive environment in the marketplace'" (mean, nasty competition!); "'Our efforts to create awareness were not having the total impact that we had thought'" (mean, ineffectual ad agency!) -- no one states the obvious.

The Olay brand managers must be happily married.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Are citronella candles the biggest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people?


But: styrofoam coolers are still the best thing ever. Bonus points if there's a beer logo on the side.

King of the hill, top of the heap

Everywhere you look an ad? New Yorkers are so lucky.

Friday, June 30, 2006


On The Waterfront!

It's on right now on TCM! OMG! OMG!

"You're in the CHURCH if I need you?" That's a girl with pluck!

And: an early Herman Munster sighting!

Damn you Flomax!

I'll argue all day long that prescription drugs should be able to advertise to consumers but I swear on all that's holy: hearing the term "weak stream" almost makes me re-think the whole thing.

Not only why, but kay why

If you read Lloyd Grove today and made it to the last item, then congratulations on your Kreskin-like powers of concentration! Also, you're probably a little embarrassed for Johnson & Johnson. And relieved to have missed out on that particular ideation session.

Really, brand managers, I'm appalled at this kind of crass commercialization. If patriotic holiday sex isn't sacred, what is?

Cincinnati: the obvious place to warm up for Hollywood

No matter where you stand on the all-important Finke-Gawker blow-up, the Deadline Hollywood Daily blog is incredibly informative. And now Finke makes a great argument for why Disney needs a P&G guy. Consumer insights matter when you sell detergent. I don't know for sure, but I bet they're helpful if you want to sell movies too.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Stan Richards is 74 freaking years old and still in this business

Does it surprise anyone else that Stan Richards is buying Rives Carlberg? This isn't usually how he does things, is it? And why does a Dallas agency, that just happens to have an international reputation, need a 38-person shop to gain "a significant presence in Houston?"

One thing's clear though. In the real world, everyone's still unable to explain what advertising people do. Here he is, Stan Richards -- the man who started the country's largest independent agency, a man who's been honored by the AIGA, WSJ and Inc Magazine, a man whose creative vision still guides us, a man whose turtlenecks will always be far more expensive than your turtlenecks -- and this is how his hometown Dallas Business Journal explains him to their readers: "Stan Richards of The Richards Group -- the mastermind behind the popular Chick-fil-A ads."

Life's work, summed up nicely.