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 deal...is that each sheet on the roll was actually shortened. The company managed to do away with 300 inches."