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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Mistakes? We don't make mistakes.

Remember that scene in Brazil when Jonathan Pryce is driving to work? Yeah? Well, most people considered his car to be yet another gloomy visual clue to the de-humanizing oppression that surrounded him. Most people, that is, except Daimler.

I believe DealBreaker sums it up best.

We want healthy children and we want them to stay the hell away from us

Starbucks sells drinks that kids may like and, in one article, all the disparate pet causes of society's privileged factions collide.

It hurts when I do this

Not to dog-pile because I'd hate to be that mean -- really! -- but tell me again why consumers can't be trusted to judge pharmaceutical marketing messages but doctors can:

"Around the country, doctors in private practice have set up tax-exempt charities into which drug companies and medical device makers are, with little fanfare, pouring donations — money that adds up to millions of dollars a year....the tax-exempt organizations represent what some other doctors, as well as regulators and industry consultants, say is a growing conduit for industry money. The payments, they say, can bias the treatment decisions of physicians, may lead to suspect research findings and at times may even risk running afoul of anti-kickback laws."

I'm waiting for the AMA to call for a moratorium on all this. Waiting. Still waiting.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

I'm pretty sure Hell will feel like a flight that doesn't ever land

Etiquette? They oughta be laws.


For that alone, heads should have rolled at Kraft. Now other issues -- revenue, competition, blah blah blah -- have sped things up so PepsiCo's Irene Rosenfeld will be taking over.

I believe you're familiar with Ms. Rosenfeld's work. Baked Cheetohs. Zero trans fats. Two short years but so many, many press releases. Out in Plano, they must find a way to bravely carry on.

Monday, June 26, 2006

You just shut up, mediabistro!

He's the love of my life and nothing you say is going to change that!

Is this helpful?

In every brainstorming session, we are told there are no bad ideas. In the real world, oh honey. Just look at Home Depot's decision to reward clerks for doing a good job. Sounds laudable but: "industry experts question whether offering employees as much as $2,000 extra a month and $10,000 a quarter is enough to overcome what they say is a shortage of salespeople in the aisles....'The problem [with the plan] is that it doesn't solve the basic, core problem of having knowledgeable people working in your stores,' said George Whalin, founder of Retail Management Consultants. 'In recent years, Home Depot has spent very little educating people.'"

Turns out Home Depot's full of ideas. "[I]n attempting to cut costs, Home Depot's management had effectively replaced its more knowledgeable and experienced store staff with less seasoned employees, plunging many of its stores into relative disarray." But not to worry. The guys at corporate are getting taken care of. Really taken care of.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Flummoxed. I'm flummoxed.

In what may be the oddest answer an advice columnist has ever given, Steve Strauss actually encourages a small business owner to start an in-house ad agency. Evidently, it's as easy as printing up new letterhead! It will save so much money! And your bookkeeper has always wanted to get into TV!

Remember: it's easy to be funny in France. Just ask Jerry Lewis.

I dunno. Maybe Martin Sorrell's attempt at comedy won't go over so well with some people.

Happiness in the workplace

Really, shouldn't OSHA demand that every cube in America come equipped with a set of these?

Dallas history is different than regular history

An old theater-turned-nightclub that changed concepts every 6 months burned yesterday and Dallas is mourning the historic loss. Also lost in the fire were several small businesses: "Wednesday was the first day of summer, a start to economic boom times in the entertainment and shopping area. Angie Wood was working at Condom Sense when a stranger ran inside. 'Your building's on fire,' he said."

A condom store employee named Wood. Genius IS in the details.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On the bright side

Mark Cuban will be honored by the Gotham Awards for "'bringing independent cinema to mainstream America'" and for having "'introduced exciting and new distribution models.'"

Kinda makes up for that whole parade thing.

The enduring power of the Royale With Cheese

But I thought they hated us: "even as protesters sought to cast McDonald's as the embodiment of all that is wrong with fast food and American culture, the French never stopped eating its hamburgers. Indeed, for all the attacks on the company, McDonald's operating profit in France last year was second only to that of McDonald's in the United States."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

My one and only live-blogging post

The Mavs player intros? My recommendation would have been to dispense with the over-wrought team video and just wheel out a cartful of 250,000 one dollar bills. Deal with that, weird flag-waving guy!

11:15PM UPDATE: Um. Yeah.

Pauline Kael lives, apparently edits new magazine

So what's with all the business magazines all of a sudden? And why the focus on women? tries to answer. And just like a Mardi Gras King Cake, there's a little something special baked into this post:

"[Conde Nast's Portfolio Editor in Chief Joanne] Lipmann said, 'Blogs? I don't know why anyone reads them. It's like listening to the crazy guy on the subway rant!'"

Explains so much, doesn't it?

Monday, June 19, 2006

The whole world has gone Golden Palace

Did you see it? "Wright entered the ring in clever attire, wearing a gray business suit, complete with shirt and tie, over his trunks." It was genuinely funny. Although when he turned around to reveal the poker site logo on his back, I thought it compromised the artistic integrity a bit.

Then 12 hours later, I re-considered. When it comes to walking advertisements, fighters are, comparatively speaking, too restrained.

The Fanta dancers rawk!

This may mean it's time to add to your Netflix cue: "Cinema advertising revenue again jumped more than 20% last year to pass the half-billion-dollar mark for the first time."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Quote of the day

This: '"it's important that hats are witty, but not dumb. The British seem to appreciate that.... A kooky hat is part of their culture.'" Ya think?

And just a side note: I would have thought being a milliner in this day and age would be a bit of a struggle but if it means you get to lounge around on an opium bed, I'm interested.

A question mark forms directly above my head

JWT promotes itself on the Huffington Post.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Mmm. Mmm. Hmm.

The Chunky Soup curse. You can't argue the facts!

Living the God Complex cliche

*You just aren't smart enough, OK? It may be your body and your suffering but there is no way you -- a mere patient -- can know what you want. So stop asking questions. And stop syphoning off the marketing dollars that should instead be spent on cruises for us.*

There. I thought I'd save everyone valuable time and simply re-cap this AMA announcement for you. Because while the AMA pleads for a moratorium on drug ads aimed at consumers, what they're really admitting is that doctors can't or won't educate themselves about new drugs and don't want to be exposed as ignorant when you come in to ask questions. I'm not being harsh. The AMA president-elect says so: "'Physicians will have the opportunity to become better educated on the pros and cons of prescription drug uses before prescribing them, and will be better able to determine when they are best suited for their patients' medical needs.'"

But ask yourself: how do physicians become educated about new drugs and treatments? Yeah, that's how. They don't want to stop the marketing of prescription drugs. They just don't want you in on the action.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Go watch the Nike-Tiger Woods Father's Day spot. It really is wonderful.

How creative is Michaels?

Are you keeping a scrapbook of all the latest Micheals developments? Me too! I was just about to cut up a few dollar bills to make photo borders when I came across this bit: "Three groups of well-heeled buyout firms are pursuing arts-and-crafts retailer Michaels Stores despite the company's admission last week of possible problems with its stock-options program."

I'm so relieved. The last few pages I made weren't so cute.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A little irony, a little hubris, a little seltzer down your pants

Can a speech given two years ago to a libertarian audience get you in trouble with regulators? Even if you're the CEO of Whole Foods?

MySpace and your movie

Aside from all those exposes written to scare the crap out of parents, are there any good articles about MySpace? Yes, yes there are. Especially if you want to learn how it's being used to sell movies:

"'We work with studios coming to the site to help them build their brands and establish a presence in the market. They have a limited period of time to do it. The media dollars come and go. But the site and fans stay through the DVD release and sequels. That's a huge prequalified audience. We help them to create a platform that serves as an extension of their overall strategy, to create a message. All the content is integrated into an interactive profile. The studios are pushing the envelope creatively with us.'"

Best of all: every dollar spent on MySpace marketing means, apparently, one less freebie perk for Tom Cruise.

Made my day.

Bravo will do its whoring artfully or not at all

Not just anyone can get in on Project Runway product placement: "A fourth brand had also been in negotiations to hit 'Runway,' said to be Unilever's All Small and Mighty detergent. But the deal fell through at the last minute, according to an executive at Bravo. The reason: Producers couldn't figure out a creative way to integrate the product without it standing out too much and looking like a commercial."

Friday, June 09, 2006

Meet me at the Zodiac Room to celebrate!

I know you were worried but it turns out that we can all just relax: Neiman-Marcus sales are still strong! "Irving-based Neiman Marcus Direct, the company's online and catalog operation, had a 16.5 percent sales increase in the quarter on top of a 17 percent increase last year." Not too shabby.

And here's something: "The company's Bergdorf Goodman site has had surprising reach, Mr. Tansky said. 'We've had orders from all 50 states, which shows us what a powerful brand it is.' The Manhattan store's site was launched 18 months ago, he said, and at the time, 'we assumed all the business would be from the three-state New York area.' But about 67 percent of the site's sales are from outside that region." Hmm. How did that happen?

Quick! Someone write a chick lit book about Pier 1. It's the only way, I tell ya!

Thursday, June 08, 2006


I just gotta say it. Jetta's stereotype campaign -- especially the hiking spot -- makes me proud to be in advertising.

The lederhosen = genius.

Stan is too old to put up with your bullshit

Oh, those creative differences: "Less than a month after winning the business in a review, independent The Richards Group and 21st Century Insurance are parting ways....The consulting company that led the process, Select Resources International of Santa Monica, Calif., characterized the client as 'difficult' in the request for information materials sent to shops....Agency relationships with 21st Century have been short-lived recently."

But like those women who become romantic penpals with death-row inmates, there's an agency out there somewhere who'll take the account. Good luck!

Hey, thanks for funding those city slogans

Maybe all that branding work is just a jobs program for ad people.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Gap: giving up on edgy, will settle for competent

Gap's new plans. Bright side: they're doing TV! And hoodies! But apparently Pressler couldn't be bothered to comment. Then again, his scripts did need updating.

Will Paul Harvey have the rest of the story?

The NYTimes devotes 1000 or so words to Netflix and you might be tempted to hope for some actual news. But no. It's like David Leonhardt cliffsnoted the BusinessWeek article, then threw in some mail-house logistics to make everything look fresh.

Or maybe it's just me. Doesn't download talk already seem like hype? A little "ready, fire, aim?"

To my ad brain (which I keep in a jar in the bottom right drawer of my desk), Netflix is interesting for one simple reason: they know the customer and that's an advantage that Blockbuster and the studios don't have: "Netflix uses data to make decisions moguls make by gut. The average user rates more than 200 films, and Netflix crunches consumers' rental history and film ratings to predict what they'll like." That info guides everything Netflix does -- even new partnerships with independent filmmakers.

Isn't that a big deal? As much money as studios spend on test-screenings, re-shooting and promotions, doesn't it still amaze you that they can be so wrong? I mean: Poseidon. People who love movies -- people who are in business to serve people who love movies -- wouldn't have wasted our time.

Thinking solidly inside the box

To break out of their slump, Bombay Co. hires an ex-Blockbuster guy to be the new CEO. It's OK though. One of the boardmembers used to work with him -- at Blockbuster.

Good one!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

That's it sports fans

Does this sound excessively rosy to you: "Sports content offers wireless providers and media outlets an opportunity to reach some of the most desirable subscribers in any market, as well as a chance to grow the overall number of wireless users, industry experts said Monday. Sports are one of the most potent ways to reach young men in both the 18-to-34 and the 18-to-49 demographic, groups that are coveted by advertisers."

Yeah. It seemed like a wild over-simplification to me too. Especially when the current execution and anecdotal evidence haven't been so hot.

You're with me, desperate advertiser!

Uomo laws

As someone who likes Peroni, I was sorta horrified to learn that Miller is launching a "campaign today in New York City that promotes Peroni as the world's most fashionable beer." Is that something a beer should shoot for?

On the other hand, stuff like this genuinely makes me laugh: "The image makeover of Peroni beer began in earnest last year when the company opened a spare 'nonshop shop' on Sloan Street in central London, which was so exclusive that no one was permitted inside. But people passing by could peer in the showcase window to see a white room dominated by a single bottle of Peroni's premium brand." Now that's funny. Maybe only if the intention is ironic.

And if such efforts represent "a trend that worries health organizations because of the inherent difficulties of monitoring such unconventional advertising," then the libertarian chamber of my heart is truly warmed.

I really can't wait to see how this plays out. In the meantime, well, Moretti's much better anyway.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Suddenly there's purpose to my life

Project Runway's third season starts next month! Thank God. Something to occupy my mind while I wonder who's getting killed on Battlestar Galactica.

They are called "bowls" aren't they?

The new KFC bowls are inspiring rather violent reactions. Really violent reactions. And while some take this as a sign that we need more activism or government oversight -- because they know what's best for people who make less than they do! -- I'm only astounded that everyone is missing the obvious target audience here. After all, a franchise-based operation like KFC doesn't just trot out new products and hope for the best. No, my skinny little friends. Actual people in actual focus groups and actual test markets had to lap this stuff up. Somebody's excited about it.

Never forget: stoners have needs too.

The lost generation

It seems like every 2-3 years, someone writes an exhaustive article asking why, exactly, young African-American men do not want to play baseball. This one's different. Now major league players are getting involved:

"[Twins centerfielder Tobii] Hunter, 30, and other African-American players have grown tired of waiting. They are contributing $10,000 each to launch an urban Little League program, ... inviting players of all races and nationalities to contribute. It is designed to sway youth toward baseball, providing equipment and transportation and upgrading facilities. 'We know people have been trying, but it's time to take things in our own hands,' Hunter says. 'I don't see more inner-city kids playing baseball. It seems like it's just getting worse. So we want to do it ourselves. ... No advertising people. No one from the commissioner's office. ... We, as players, are going to see what we can do about it.'"

And if you tend to be a little emotional about your baseball, this breaks your heart: "'This is exactly what baseball needs,' Toronto Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi says....'We're losing almost all of the inner-city athletes to basketball and football. And that's sad. Here's a game that prides itself on Hank Aaron and Willie Mays and Jackie Robinson, and we can't get the next generation to even play.'"

Maybe the star power of Hunter and Jeter and Griffey is exactly what's needed. Because it can't be simple economics: baseball camps are no more expensive than basketball camps. Football? Even the most suck-ass major league pitcher makes more per year than most football players -- who tend to have shorter careers. And those Dominican kids grow up poor as dirt but still do OK. So yeah, baseball needs financial support but also it needs glamour. Less of The Clear, more Cribs. Maybe.

Taylor Hicks: not the clueless bastard you thought he was

This news really makes my week: via TVTattle, we find out that Taylor Hicks' seemingly seizure-like whoops and "Soul Patrol" fist pumps were just his way of getting you drunk. I may love him.

So many questions

"Finishing Sauces," huh? Is that code for "gravy?" Is it supposed to make me forget about the fat drippings and flour? And couldn't someone have found a better, less porn-sounding name?

Who can we blame for this?

Explosive news: people use their personal blogs to express critical opinions and -- and! -- ads can sometimes make less than truthful claims.

I know. I'm pretty worked about it too.


Working their press release writers to the bone -- or silicone, whichever's harder -- CinemaNow introduces Warner Bros downloads in addition to their Disney offerings announced yesterday. And because it's all been designed to please the studios more than the consumers, "all content [is] copy protected by Microsoft’s digital rights management software." So there.

Is that permanent? At a conference on the future of DVDs, industry insiders speculated that "downloadable hit movies that can be burned on a DVD playable in any DVD player are in the near future." Really? I mean, seriously? I'm consulting my psychic friends right this minute just to make sure. (If I'm honest, though, I wonder if my purchase and ownership expectations are defined by my generation. I grew up thinking that when you bought a book, magazine, CD or DVD, it was yours to use as often as you want, yours to loan to friends and yours to sell to Half Price Books when the rent was due. Maybe to a 14-year old, that's not so important.)

But more to the point, where does all this leave NetFlex? Apparently, they'll have their own downloads thanks to partnerships with indie filmmakers. That's pretty brilliant. Just the kind of thing you like to hear from a company started by and for movie lovers.

AND: yes, I finally became a NetFlix customer. The amazing part? Even though friends have told me for some time how cool NetFlix is, I was still impressed. According to my email, I'll be watching Fight Club tonight. Ooh! I get all melty inside when Tyler says, "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need."