Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What do you watch if you don't watch the Super Bowl?

You really can't go wrong with Animal Planet's PuppyBowl but honestly it's BBC America who's been promoting the most unexpected lineup so far. (Good news! I have the 32DD square in our office pool!).

No matter what though I'm definitely switching to Oxygen's Deion Sanders show at half-time. C'mon! It's from Prosper, Texas! It's Deion! Alge Crumpler oh my gawd!

Monday, January 28, 2008

If I were a guy, I'd be filled with civic pride about now

Of the Top Ten Most Macklicious Quarterbacks in NFL History, three of them have close ties to Dallas. Yay?

Why we should care

Stuart Weitzman is suing JCPenney for copying his shoes and I think his explanation is important to note:

"Our customers get a lot of success out of our shoes. They almost feel that it's our obligation to protect them for spending their money on our products."

Isn't that sort of smart? He's not suing to protect his business. It's not about him. I think he might be the first designer to frame a discussion about patent infringement in terms of a consumer benefit. It's about his shopper, her purchase and her need for status symbols. He's doing it for her.

Even though if he wins, he'll get JCPenney's profits.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

When did you first notice that the word "branding" no longer had meaning?

The New York Observer tries to figure out what Kate Schelter does for a living and never really comes up with an answer.

Here's how she describes it: "'Let’s face it, a brand is no longer signage and packaging,' Ms. Schelter said. 'Brands are living, walking, talking personalities and entities....I was always interested in fashion, but not, like, making clothes. Now I can see it would be called marketing, branding.'"

At first all her "branding" talk reminded me, for some reason, of Chance Gardiner's political advice. But that's not quite right. Or fair. It's probably closer to Rob Walker's observation that "'the brand,' as an idea, has entered the rarified sphere of metaphors that everyone understands, and can be applied to anything." But that's not quite right either because Kate Schelter is applying the word "brand" to everything and the result is that no one understands anything.

So. My takeaway is that if I ran a smallish agency, I'd probably want to find a way to talk about branding without using the word "branding." Unless I didn't know what I was talking about. Then I'd be sure to use it a lot.

Career day

Fortune lists the best employers in Texas. None of them is an ad agency. None of them is "self."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I didn't even know Dollar Tree sold magazines

Confirmation that when Wal-Mart dropped Better Homes & Gardens, it really was a matter of payback: "The publisher, whose titles include Better Homes & Gardens and Ladies Home Journal, has a licensing deal with Wal-Mart to attach the Better Homes & Gardens name to products sold in Wal-Mart's home department, where copies of Better Homes & Gardens can be sold....While all major publishers were hit by Wal- Mart's cuts, Meredith might have gotten it worse because the retailer learned Meredith was selling extra copies of its titles through Dollar Tree, a national discount chain for $1 apiece."

$1? What other magazines are they selling there? $1? Where's the nearest Dollar Tree around here?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

I'm confused, old

Gawker's Nick Douglas seems amused that kids today "love to stick it to the man, and they love the freedom of information." And yes, it is easy to laugh when the target is Scientology. But how do kids decide who the man is? What's the criteria? Isn't Gawker itself sorta the man? (New York magazine, n+1 and the NYTimes say yes).

And if kids have this kind of power, could they be the man too?

Talk about a bellwether

Dealbreaker—usually so contrarian and steadfastly upbeat—begins today's posting with "Two words: car nage."

Celebrating the 4th of July

There weren't lots of surprises in this study of Chicago prostitutes. Just that our nation's Independence Day is a busy one so there are no bargains: "In response to a predictable demand shock associated with the 4th of July holiday, the supply of prostitutes proves to be fairly elastic. Total quantity increases by 60 percent that week...The price increase associated with the 4th of July demand shock is 30%."

But every other day: "There is substantial price variation along observable dimensions of customer characteristics. Black customers pay less on average than whites or Hispanics, all else equal. Repeat clients (especially when they are black) pay less on average than do new customers."

Sunday, January 20, 2008

TV watching: a habit from childhood

Probably the first children's show I have any memory of is Hot Dog with Woody Allen and Jonathan Winters but I only remember Joanne Worley. Woody Allen and children's programming—seems unwise now doesn't it? His stories of growing up, though, are very funny.

I recall exactly two segments: making brooms and printing t-shirts. I missed the one about baseball gloves and would now like to point out that the Reds cap Jonathan Winters is wearing wouldn't have been up-to-date even in the 70s. It must have been his own personal cap from a few years earlier.

Couldn't you watch Winters all day long? Aren't people from Dayton the best? Yeah they are!


Possibly need?

[via Instapundit]

Good questions

Steve Portigal was the victim of a phishing scam and now his flickr account has been deleted. All of it. "5000 photos are gone....all the people I’ve linked to are gone (I’ve spent a few hours trying to reconnect with those I can remember). Anyone who watched my photos via their contacts has lost me (and I’ve lost much of my audience)." On and on.

And here's the thing: "the whole social media movement that we can’t ever stop hearing about is asking us to contribute content to their websites; we’re building the value for them. YouTube wouldn’t sell for $1.65 billion without our videos. Flickr has our photos. LiveJournal has our stories and pictures. But is it ours? Do we know who owns it?....if the data is on someone else’s site, how can I keep a copy of it?"

The pigeons in Paris

Poop too much: "Paris is installing pigeon lofts throughout the city in its latest attempt to control the population of the birds that leave their droppings on the French capital's monuments." Here's how it works: "Employees of Srep, a pest control company based in suburban Paris, will enter each pigeon house at least once a week when the birds are out feeding, and will sterilize all but one of each couple's eggs. A vigorous shake is enough to kill the embryo, Contassot said. The eggs will be put back in place so as not to alert the mother." They do this because animal rights activists have protested other methods. But wouldn't a shotgun blast be kinder?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Your guide to who's starring in which Super Bowl spot


Just watch out for this sentence: "Even dead celebrities are in style this year. Along with Marilyn Monroe, Sunsilk will feature images of Madonna and Shakira to appeal to the growing number of female fans." I was confused there for a minute.

Wal-Mart generates "more than 20 percent of all retail magazine sales in the US"

Interesting because I'd guess that 99% of the people who work for those magazines wouldn't be caught dead in a Wal-Mart.

Now Wal-Mart "is tossing more than 1,000 magazines from the racks in its stores, sending yet another shock wave through the battered publishing industry." Go ahead and giggle about the Robb Report getting cut—so did Boar Hunter!—but this is the surprise to me: "One of the biggest corporate losers appears to be Meredith Publishing. Its flagship Better Homes & Gardens is out."

Meredith Publishing? Aren't they a success? Didn't BHG just win AdAge magazine of the year? Don't Wal-Mart and BHG have a licensing deal for a BHG product line? They do! What happened?

ADDED: Of everything I've read, Gawker commenter OBIETRICE is the only person who actually tries to explain: Meredith "took off-sale copies and sold them at discount retailers, violating Wal-Mart's decree that they get the lowest prices on all their products. Now it's payback time!"

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Which would you wear?

A toile dinner jacket? Or a toile dinner jacket t-shirt?

The Dallas Morning News gets to the heart of it

About the American Idol Dallas auditions: "How did we come across as a people? The overwhelming verdict: Nice. Very nice."

Also? Very blonde.

AND? Virginal.

Martha! Martha! Martha!

The most entertaining bit of news here is that "Still to come: a line of Martha Stewart wines to be introduced later this year in partnership with E. & J. Gallo winery."

I always thought Martha was more of a vodka girl.

But can Martha Stewart's company create Martha-like success for someone who's not Martha? "'At the end of the day...Martha doesn't want to share the spotlight with anyone.'"

ADDED: This afternoon, I bought the Jan-Feb issue of Blueprint—its last—and it occurred to me that the magazine is a lot like Jonathan Adler and Cynthia Rowley themselves. It's not so youngish but it is fun, bright and quirky. And that might not be the formula for mass Martha-like success just yet.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The American Idol viewing experience

Succinctly and accurately described: "They go away. They hibernate — they estivate and they hibernate — until the following January, when you will have forgotten what a pain it was to follow the show week after unrewarding week, and you'll be able to feel excited by the return of the boinging theme music, and the old panel of judges, who will file in wearily and act pained that they have to sit through it all again."

It does feel like a slog. Until Fantasia sings "Summertime" and you start crying and email all your gay friends to see if they were crying too. They were! Reward!

ADDED: The Dallas auditions are tonight and I'm crossing my fingers that maybe we get to see someone who's kinda like eccentric and funny at first but then when you see how the person lives, it looks a little sad and finally when the person auditions, he or she is so terrible that all 3 judges are pretty critical maybe even cruel and that person ends up CUSSING and GESTURING and CUSSING some more for the cameras. That's my hope anyway.

Sorry to get all questiony

Roger Friedman: "On the picket line near Warner Bros. in Burbank, I heard plenty of conflicting opinions the other day. Older writers are in it for the long haul. They have enough savings, and they know how important it is to get the new media payments sorted out. Younger writers are not so sure. They’re just starting out, and they’re not so well-paid in the first place. Impatient to earn a living and sell some projects, the new generation doesn’t care much about the Internet. It’s ironic, because you’d think they would understand its grasp all the more."

Question: since some of those "younger writers" have—maybe, probably, just saying—once or twice downloaded a song illegally, would that influence their thinking too?

But back to Friedman: "One thing’s for certain, though. If the writers give on new media, just as Apple announces movie downloading and Amazon revs up its own site, the movie and TV businesses could end up like the music business: dead."

Another question: is the music business dead because songwriters didn't get a proper cut of download profits? Really?

Is this really an insult?

"'The food at the wedding was like Dallas BBQ.'"

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Zale's new rallying cry: we're closing 60 stores in 90 days!

Is it enough to satisfy Richard Breedin?

Isaac Mizrahi for Liz Claiborne?

Hmmm. I was hoping for someone—what's the word I'm looking for? oh yeah—smart. Did the whole online thing not work out?

You can buy the Keith Haring work but you cannot move it

A long-lost mural: "'It was like discovering an Egyptian tomb,' says [architect Todd] Ernst. Within a week, they’d found a wall of those famous chunky curlicues, hidden behind a closet used for coats and AV gear. 'The fact that it actually survived is amazing,' says Ernst. 'It’s next to a sprinkler pipe and it’s made of shoe polish and alcohol, and it’s water soluble.'"

It can't be removed and no one knows how to preserve it so if you buy the loft, good luck.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Here to help with Valentine's gift ideas

From Jeff Bercovici: "For the space of nine pages, Esquire stops being Esquire and becomes a piece of Victoria's Secret's marketing strategy, indistinguishable from the catalogs and commercials these same models appear in, wearing the very same lace demi push-up bras and come-hither expressions. The whole thing is reminiscent of what happened in 2003, when Harper's Bazaar put Madonna, who was at that time modeling for the Gap, on the cover. Not only was she wearing Gap clothes, but the image used was an outtake from a Gap advertising shoot." So February 2008? All Adriana Lima, all the time.

If Bercovici's right, though, and this is the same quid pro quo arrangement, let's hope it works out better for Victoria's Secret than it has for Gap.

New evidence emerges

Faith Popcorn IS Carrot Top!

Curse you, MediaCart Holdings! Or maybe bless you, MediaCart Holdings.

This starts out awful-sounding then gets slightly benefitty: "Microsoft Corp. is bringing digital advertising to the grocery cart. The software maker spent four years working with Plano, Texas-based MediaCart Holdings Inc. on a grocery cart-mounted console that helps shoppers find products in the store then scan and pay for their items without waiting in the checkout line."

Remember though: "'This is not all necessarily about bombarding consumers, about targeting advertising,' said Scott Ferris, general manager of Microsoft's Advertiser and Publisher Solutions group. 'It's about also making the shopping experience better for the consumer.'"

Saturday, January 12, 2008


"There's something in the air"—what is Steve Jobs trying to tell us? O! The weekend before Macworld is always a time of excruciating anticipation. And is a partnership with Blockbuster really possible? Blockbuster seems so not Mac-worthy. Then again, I thought the exact same thing about at&t.

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Stock Show is here!

And this year, you can see Whiplash the Riding Monkey! Or Bull's Night Out, which—admit it—is a wonderful and funny event name.

And if you still call it the Fat Stock Show, I think that's perfectly OK. Old habits die hard.

Things I'm not ready for

A return to 70s men's fashion: "Hordes of fashionistas descended yesterday on Pitti Uomo in Florence, the world's most important menswear trade show, to discover what the key trends will be in 2009.The answer, it seems, is tight, unbuttoned shirts, medallions, checked safari jackets and even Nehru collars."

And here I thought that whole Penney's catalog email was just a joke.

"It's a fine monument to you, sir"

Via Virginia Postrel, a look at flag design. Gambia, you win!

Honestly, though, can you discuss this topic without mentioning General Garcia? No. You cannot. "If it wasn't for the church, this flag would be flying at the U.N right now. But no . . . they stand in the way, THEY STAND IN THE WAY!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Whatcha call it

Remember last year when the NFL, having long ago trademarked "Super Bowl," was about to trademark the phrase "the big game" too? Did they? I can't find anything about it but I have started hearing radio spots that call it "the game in Arizona." Which is really pretty odd.

"The work itself is not glamorous. It's repetitive, and it's a lot closer to factory work than art"

Anthony Bourdain: "I was sitting backstage a while back with two chefs whom I really admire—really accomplished chefs who are far more talented than I ever was in the kitchen—and they're talking about how Olive Garden is offering this, and this airline is offering that, and not even blinking. And I asked them 'Come on, wouldn't you feel embarrassed if you woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror and saw the chef who endorses Olive Garden?' They looked at me like I was an idiot. And I'm beginning to think that it's just vanity that's kept me from selling out....Yeah, I've been offered cookware lines....The usual endorsements. I don't know. Maybe it goes back to the heroin thing. I know what it's like to wake up in the morning and feel ashamed of what you did yesterday. I'm just having a hard time crossing that line. I'd like to sell out. I really would!"

I didn't know he knew Tyler Florence. But it's not vanity that keeps Bourdain away from endorsements. Being the guy who hasn't sold out enables Bourdain to successfully sell himself. It's smart self-promotion.

Anyway. The minute Bourdain puts his name on a pot, some smart-ass is bound to drag out a copy of Kitchen Confidential and point to page 79: "Stockpots, saucepans, thick-bottomed saute pans are nice things to have, and there's no reason to buy new and no reason to pay a lot."

[via TVtattle]

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

What will be my new favorite show?

Even though I love Project Runway challenges that involve dealing with clients—turning every little designer into a fashion-world Larry Tate—I'm distraught. Kevin and his King Leonidas good looks are gone. Now I don't care who wins.

Unless it's Chris.

ADDED: "Mud masks cracked in shock and anger." Yes! "Honestly, we can't recall a contestant that got so consistently screwed over by the judges as Kevin did this season. He has done nothing but commendable work all season long and they treated him like he wasn't even there."

I try to make nice

That last post was mean, wasn't it? I'm sorry. It's just that sometimes I feel like those D Home bloggers blog begrudgingly. You know? Like they'd really rather be at a photo shoot or lunch with a realtor or shopping and besides what does all this have to do with getting a magazine out anyway?

On the bright side, I did enjoy this funny little anecdote about The Experience Economy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Is this what Stephen Drucker was talking about?

There's something about this D Home sentence that seems so--I don't know?--anti-House Beautiful to me:

"Farrow and Ball’s new book 'The Art of Color' promises to be the ultimate last word on using color au courent."

The misspelled French? The coup de grece!

"It's possible that 'every single one [of Zale's directors] can and will be replaced'"

Again, the best way to keep track of Dallas-Ft Worth business is to read the New York papers. A rebel investor! That's so totally Star Wars! Help them Richard Breeden, you're their only hope.

OK. Maybe I was wrong about the local papers. There's this Star-Telegram piece about RadioShack's new vp of store operations—it's complete with signing bonus figures which I think total over $1 million when you include stock options. The guy's from Blockbuster. Is that a good move? Quick, go ask someone at Bombay Company. Oh wait. Like millions of voices, suddenly silenced.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Wasn't that a surprising result?

Can you believe it was the Playboy Playmate who got kicked off last night's Celebrity Apprentice? What an upset! So historic! Who can say what it all means?

Oh. I kid of course.

I couldn't watch and the reason is this: all the women, in their own way, were too creepy to look at. I mean it. Aside from Omarosa and, well, Nadia, all these women have been so obviously shaped by surgery, injections and eyelash extensions. They don't look right. Their faces are so plumped up and don't move like faces should. I had to switch back to political coverage where everyone, by comparison, seems completely natural. Except: I think Shep Smith has a spray-on tan. Not sure.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Not Elisa!

Last night they took away our sylph, our Texas Ex, our haiku-of-a-cut designer and left us all alone with not even a yoga mat to soften the blow.

But hey. Speaking of Project Runway: does this patent leather necklace at all remind you of Uli's necklace for the black-and-white challenge? Well it should!

Joe Buck ruins everything

Baseball broadcasts, the Dude campaign.

What's the use of a sleek flat-screen TV if you have to have 5 or 6 boxes stacked up beside it?

Netflix's new idea: "The mail order DVD company rolled out plans Thursday that would allow users to download movies and view them on their televisions, without using a computer. Netflix said it hopes to roll out a set-top box made by South Korea’s LG Electronics in the second half of this year....The companies didn’t say how much the box would cost, but Reuters reports that LG may be looking to embed a Netflix receiver in its $799 dual-DVD player."


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

For a minute there, Elle Decor made me feel cool

I can only find the photos online but this month's Elle Decor devotes a whole 7 pages of words and pictures to Dallas. We are evidently a "forward-looking city," "the queen of the Southwest."

The highlight for me is the Collage mention and then this sentence: "Tucked inside [the Dallas Museum of Art] is a mini-museum made up of five rooms reproduced from Coco Chanel's South of France villa, jammed with antiques and Impressionist paintings collected by a later owner of the house, Wendy Reves...." There's something funny about Mrs Reves, despite all her best efforts and headbands, being relegated to secondary status behind Chanel.