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.