Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Max vs. Bally Total Fitness

So, one of my coworkers has had some trouble ending his gym membership. I thought it was worth sharing.

The Gym Jam

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

AT&T Makes a Good Ad, Finally

Verizon and T-mobile have piled on AT&T over the last year. The brand has been battered and bruised, for good reason mind you. After dropping the Cingular brand and going back to AT&T the “Raising the Bar” campaign just didn’t work as well. Then came the map wars, which Verizon won. They became the nation’s largest wireless carrier because it was the perfect time to attack.

I had low hopes for AT&T’s ads over the last few months. The early iterations of “Rethink Possible” said – at best – if you don’t have AT&T you will never father the 57th president of the United States or the starting quarterback of a fictional pro football team.

These ads were pure schmaltz. It didn’t make me feel glad to be an AT&T customer, and wouldn’t make me want to switch if I were on another carrier.

So, it came with great surprise to see AT&T attempting to go for humor, and even more surprisingly succeeding.

Why does this ad work? It’s really simple, people can relate to it. Most of us with office jobs feel like we’re out of the loop all the time. It’s basically high school with paychecks. This spot is pitch perfect.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Year In Horribleness

It’s been long while since I have written a real post, but it doesn’t mean that I wasn’t thinking about you out there.

As usual, this year has been filled terrible, god-awful, and downright crappy advertising campaigns of all shapes and colors. Let’s have a look at a few of the worst things that came across my radar this year.

McDonald’s “Not Before I Had My Coffee”

This was a pretty good year for McDonald’s overall. Their smoothie campaign in the spring and summer was beautiful, refreshing, and successful to the point that they were attributed as the reason for a quarterly sales bump. (See story here.)

As someone who goes out of his to see as many ads as he can, I can honestly say that if this person existed in real life I would not miss him should he be in a terrible accident and wiped away from existence. If I were the girl behind the counter I would have thrown the coffee in his face.

What were the people at DDB and McDonald’s thinking?

To me the message is simple: McDonald’s coffee is so good it will soften up the worst of assholes. But, I don’t want to drink coffee for assholes. That’s why I don’t go to Starbucks.

I Hate Julia Roberts

Sorry kids, I never liked her and I never will.

It cost them $1.5 million bucks to get her in this spot. My skull is caving in.

The Psycho Target Mom Black Friday Spots

This year Target either hit a homerun or struck out with their advertising; there was no in-between. During the Lost series finale, we saw them at their best with brand and product tie-ins to popular images from the television show. When Black Friday began to close in upon us we got the crazy, emaciated gift-shopping mother.

It’s okay to absurd in creative. In fact, it’s my preferred style of humor. While the “Montage” spot echoes of Rocky IV and all its idiotic glory, I cannot help but cringe at this spot. (Plus, it would have been cool if there was an Ivan Drago character to juxtapose against the current one.) This woman is the exact opposite of likable. Had they recast the ad with an actress who didn’t look like she was munching on amphetamines all day, maybe it would have been better received.

LeBron Rise

It was a tough year for Nike. First they has to try and rehabilitate their Tiger Woods related branding, and then came “The Decision.” Hoping a little humor might ease the tension, the producers the spot never really gets to the point.

What should you do LeBron? You should not have announced your departure on national television in a fit of masturbatory self-importance. You should have done it in a press release and left town quietly. Now, LeBron, you need to win. Steal a page from the Kobe Bryant image recovery and do nothing but focus on your game, and maybe people will start to forget what a jerk you were.

Oh well, at least we got South Park to mock his horrendous exit.

Miller Lite – Man Up

I can see the conversation at DraftFCB going like this:

Account Manager: How can we hammer home the middle-class, blue-collar success that we had with the High Life campaign?

Creative: Well the simple answer is create an anti-douche-bag meme.

Account Manager: Yeah, but this is Miller Lite; we need hot chicks without being mysogenists.

Creative: (Sarcastically) Well we could have a hot chick as the middle-class, down-to-earth character dissing every bad trend in male fashion.

Account Manager: Brilliant! Let’s run with it!

Every 5 Hour Energy Spot

Oh where to begin? The actors who cannot act? The shoddy video production? Not since the introduction of Head On has any one product made such a large media buy with ads that cost less than used 1987 Nissan sedan.

Every Side Ad on Facebook

FB is getting smarter with each passing day, but, for the life of me, I cannot stop being pelted with asinine ads that someone purchased for my demographic. As much as I would love to have a career as a videogame tester or have a whiter smile, these ads are a waste.

It’s not FB’s fault. Advertisers need to get smarter and they need to leverage the sophisticated targeting tools that FB offers. The give you a jackhammer and advertisers try to use it to put a nail in the wall.

Tim James for Alabama Governor

I don’t have too much to say about this ad. It’s just flat-out racist. This man should be ashamed of himself, and we – as Americans – should be ashamed of ourselves for allowing our society to become so uniformed that people believe this argument in this context.

Every Insurance Spokesperson Spot (Except Mayhem)

Whether it’s Flo or the Creepy State Farm guy or the Nationwide Greatest Spokesperson, this year was filled with too many crappy, uninformative campaigns in the insurance industry. Every company is looking for their own Aflac Duck or Geico Gecko/Cave Man and it’s not going to work.

What’s really said is the fact that my wife had Progressive Auto Insurance a few years ago, and when she had an accident they were on the scene and helpful from the get-go. Those are the stories that consumers want to hear about their insurance company, which is why the Mayhem spots work so well. By personifying the negative things that eventually happen to our cars, they humorously express the need for their product.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GM Says Thank You

After TARP and the bailouts Corporate America was silent. It seemed to people like you and me, people on the outside, people who had nothing to do with the financial collapse, that we were never going to hear anything different from these companies. They were going to do nothing but do business in the same manner that got us in this mess with no public recognition that they had done everything wrong.

Cynicism set in. The congress that helped keep this country afloat during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression was voted out of office. (That was really their own fault for not communicating what they had done, and the blame cannot be placed on the companies and banks that were bailed out for their fates.) Nevertheless, their silence spoke volumes to the arrogance of the “Haves” and how little they appreciate the “Have-Littles.”

So, it was with great surprise that I saw GM take a stab at going against the grain of hubris and attempt to thank the American people – their largest shareholder – on the eve of their IPO.

The Goodby Silverstein produced spot is nothing remarkable in and of itself. It’s just a montage of inspirational clips, along with filmed footage of a boxer getting pummeled, with a tinge of humor in the form of Animal House clips.

What is remarkable is that they say, “Thank You.” Almost three years after the start of the financial crisis, someone stepped up and attempted to act like an adult. They don’t say what they did wrong, they don’t say why they did it or what they were thinking. However, the simple gesture of saying something was enough for me at this moment.

Will this spark a new trend? No. We will never see Goldman Sachs, AIG (now known as Chartis), Citigroup and anyone else who received our tax dollars commit the simple gesture of saying thanks.

And, I say that without cynicism. It’s not in their DNA. GM at least showed that they are a part of the tangible America that the every day consumer interacts with a daily basis. They don’t make exotic financial products that few of us comprehend.

Sorry to get preachy on you all, but maybe this shows we are at our best as a nation when our industries work to create things that we need. Of course, that’s assuming that GM learned their lesson.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

GSK Takes On Tobacco Companies

When it comes to smoking there are two truths. 1) People are always going to smoke. 2) People are always going to hate smoking. Of course, science is on the side of those who hate smoking. They have pushed it out of restaurants, workplaces, and even some public spaces.

For the smokers out there, the tobacco companies have developed alternative, smokeless products for their customers to get their nicotine fix. Up to a few years ago, those alternatives were less than glamorous, dip and chew. Today we have tobacco lozenges, like the Camel Orbs seen above.

As the WSJ points out today, GSK wants these off the shelf and for good reason.

Critics call them tobacco candy for kids. GlaxoSmithKline, makers of Nicorette, view it exactly as a cheaper alternative to their smoking cessation products. A box of brand name Nicorette can run around $40 and Orbs are the price of a pack of cigarettes. The thrifty and uninformed consumer who is eager to quit smoking could easily say, “Why buy the gum, when I could get this for so much less?”

Despite the fact that I am not the biggest fan of drug companies, I do believe that they are in the right on this one. Maybe the tobacco companies would have been better off saying that these were designed to lure in kids; that way they could openly deal with a familiar opponent.

Monday, September 27, 2010


This weekend my football viewing was tainted by the debut of the Nike “Boom” ad, which features none other than Tim Tebow watching a Manny Pacquiao fight with Ndamukong Suh – a player I actually like – at a tailor.

I understand the appeal of Tebow to all the religious zealots out there. After all, nearly every single athlete attributes his success to the big man upstairs, but Tebow lives it. At least, that’s what they all tell me.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

David Pogue Destroys the Vulkano

I really have nothing to add to this video. I think he hits it right on the head.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

New Addition To The List of Things I want

If George Lucas could stop ruining his old movies and start doing more synergy marketing like this to fill his coiffeurs, then I would be totally cool with him.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A bunch of short thoughts

Because I’ve been way too busy to write this blog and stay up on the trades, here’s a bunch of thoughts on a few things that have crossed my radar since my last post.

Android Is Now The Leading Smartphone OS

1) Does this mean that Google will stop paying carriers to use Android over other software?
2) This pretty much makes Google the Microsoft of smartphones. Congratulations! Or, congratulations?
3) This is fine and dandy but the reality is that even here in the States, smartphones make up about 25% of the market with the expectation to beat feature phones by Q3 of next year. But, that’s being very optimistic. Will your grandmother really want one? Feature phones can easily cross the digital divide, but smartphone adoption among quasi-luddites is another story.

No Matter How Friendly They Make Ray Lewis Look I Am Still Scared of Him

The McGarryBowen Verizon Campaign Is A Non-Starter

First of all, when I heard that the new campaign was going to be called “Rule the Air” I instantly thought that the account which McGarry was going to take Verizon’s move over AT&T and empower their customers. Well, they went way too soft. And, by soft I mean inspirational soft.
My biggest problem with the campaign is the ad below. Being able to complete a conversation over a cell phone is not a reason to feel like we have reached gender equality. Plus, this is coming from a company that lists 16 senior executives and officers on their website with only two of them being women. I think the air at Verizon headquarters has not caught up to the air in their ads.

McGarry and Verizon should have stuck to making consumers feel good about switching to their service like they have with this lovely spot that came out after the launch.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Tiffany Creates A Potential Monster

When I was in college, the must-have, baseline item for young women to say, “Yes, I am better than you” was the Tiffany heart necklace. I can remember a friend of mine lamenting that his girlfriend was less than hinting that she wanted one. From my ethnographic point of view, they were worn as badges of honor, a simplistic yet powerful status symbol.

Today, the WSJ ran a story announcing that Tiffany will be releasing a series of handbags this September ranging from a $395 tote to a $17,000 megabag.

Every bone in my body is telling me that this will be the thing to own for every woman age 12 to 25 this holiday season. I don’t know which design will be the most popular, but this “Bracelet Bag” in Tiffany blue looks like the one.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Adidas "Mega Diner" Spot = Nope

Right before the World Cup launch, the TBWA produced Adidas Originals campaign released the Star Wars Cantina spot, which featured the likes of Daft Punk, Snoop Dogg, David Beckham, and the Gallagher brothers. In effect, the ad emphasized the cultural permeation and malleability of the Adidas brand and products. In other words, everyone – no matter what corner of galaxy they may come from - finds it cool to wear Adidas.

Now that the World Cup is over and we have all retreated to our respective corners of the globe, Adidas launched the next generation of the Originals campaign, the “Mega Diner.”

Despite the catchy song in the background, which I think is from B.O.B who plays the cook in the ad, the actor placing the order has the worst accent and voice combination that I have heard on television.  (I have since been informed that the actor plays kid with a huge dong on an MTV show about a kid who has a huge dong.)  He sounds both snobby and puerile, like some prep school kid complaining that his parents won’t pick him up in their Bentley so can he flaunt their wealth to his friends.  Maybe he reminds me of too many people that I didn’t like in my youth, but this spot is just bad.

It’s a real shame too because the microsite built to accompany the campaign is much better.  Maybe, it's that the spot is too busy or the backdrop of the diner is too complicated to showcase a full line of products, but at least the microsite proves that the diner concept can work if you are showcasing a single design at a time.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

This Dove Ad ___________

1) ... pissed me off. While my soon-to-be-wife and I were watching the most recent episode of Mad Men, I went into the other room during the commercial break. When she yelled, "It's back!" I dropped what I was doing and ran back to the room only to discover half way through the spot that it had nothing to do with the program and we had been duped.

2) ... is sort of well done. They got the style down perfectly, which is impressive. Then again SNL also had their Mad Men spoof which was great.

3) ... misses the mark. Pop culture guru Chuck Klosterman was the most recent guest on Bill Simmons' podcast and neither remembered the product. Yes, it's good that two of more technologically connected opinion makers are talking about the spot, but only the fact that it disrupted the expected flow of entertainment. They had no recollection that it was Dove. So, I would have to say that the spot does not fulfill its true intent.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

When Cheeky Bastards Get Too Cheeky

Thank goodness for the Brits. Over the last few months it feels like there just hasn’t been much happening on this side of the Atlantic.  Now, we have this from Campaign.
Lean Mean Fighting Machine could lose Coke after Dr Pepper Facebook fiasco
by Joe Thomas, 20 July 2010, 09:21 am
Lean Mean Fighting Machine is in danger of losing the digital advertising accounts for Dr Pepper and Coke Zero after a Facebook status hi-jack promotion went wrong.
Coca-Cola, owner of the Dr Pepper brand, launched the May promotion which resulted in a 14-year-old girl's status update being hi-jacked and a reference to a pornographic movie appearing on her page.
The offending status update pretended the 14-year-old had watched a movie on YouTube called '2 Girls 1 Cup'. The message stated: "I watched 2 girls one cup and felt hungry afterwards".
The girl's mother said her daughter searched for the movie after reading the update, but was blocked by the child filter.
Lean Mean Fighting Machine was awarded the account in April but a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola said an investigation had been launched and the soft drinks giant would be reviewing its relationship with the agency.
As revealed today (20 July), Lean Mean Fighting Machine has picked up the digital ad account for Coca-Cola's Coke Zero brand. Coca-Cola confirmed that the investigation could also affect this appointment as the relationship was being reviewed in its entirety.
The spokeswoman said: "It has been brought to our attention that the Dr Pepper promotion on Facebook posted an offensive status update.
"We apologise for any offence caused. As soon as we became aware of this we took immediate action and removed the status update from the application.
"We have also taken the decision to end the promotion. We were unaware of the meaning of this line when the promotion was approved and have launched an investigation into why it was included.
"We take full responsibility and will be reviewing our promotional procedures. We will take all steps necessary to ensure this does not happen again."
The Facebook app gave consumers the chance to win £1,000 if they allowed Dr Pepper to take control of their status updates.
The updates were chosen at random from a bank of options including "Lost my special blankie. How will I go sleepies?" and "what's wrong with peeing in the shower?" to "never heard of it described as 'cute' before".
The activity formed part of a continuation of the 'What's the Worst that Could Happen?' creative.
Dr Pepper is no stranger to flirting with controversy. For April Fool's Day the brand launched activity on Chatroulette, playing with the idea that male teens use the site to flirt with girls.
It showed an American-styled cheerleader dancing for the viewer. As the dance developed she encouraged the viewer to interact and perform embarrassing tasks before an elderly man dressed as a cheerleader appeared.
While it's nice to see that parental outrage knows no borders, I really don't have a problem with the strategy that the agency implemented.  Blaming the agency for "pushing the limits of decency" is like blaming a match company for arson.

First and foremost, the client had to sign off on this program.  Did they know that this app would reference a horrible video?  Maybe they did, maybe they didn't.  Odds are that the agency presented the client with plenty of examples of what was going to go up on Facebook, and they liked the idea of embarrassing individuals in a contest format to accentuate the playful image of the Dr. Pepper brand.

Second, parents need to step into their children's digital lives before shit hits the fan.  It's great that they had filters up to protect them from the horribleness that lurks in the dark corners of the internet, but no matter how "mature" they think their kids are there are plenty of immature people and advertisers out there.

Third, Facebook needs to step up and pay more attention to the horrible ads running on their site.  There's a reason consumers are not satisfied with the site, and this is going to continue if they keep allowing anyone and their mother to put up an ad.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fox, You Are Ridiculous

Once again, Fox has banned an episode of Family Guy. The last time an episode of the button-pushing cartoon was banned from the network that gave us such fine programs as Temptation Island, Man vs. Beast and Herman’s Head, they opted to cancel it rather than face criticism.

According to the NYT, this episode is about abortion and Fox – looking to squeeze money out of it – will be selling a DVD of the banned episode, and here’s where I have a problem. At the beginning of each television season, Fox and the other TV networks sell their breaks to advertisers. When a network bans the broadcast of an episode the advertisers are getting screwed. Even if the network gives the advertisers a discount, budgets are thrown completely out of whack. (Yeah, I know, boohoo.)

My real problem is the fact that Fox is manufacturing controversy around what is probably going to be a tame episode in a weak attempt to garner more revenue for the News Corporation bottom line. Or, at least, cover the paychecks of Sarah Palin and Glen Beck who undoubtedly bitch and moan about it on Fox News.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Now I am Sure I Don’t Want To See The Facebook Movie

I sort of thought it was a joke that David Fincher, director of Fight Club, was going to be making a movie about Facebook. Well, unfortunately for all of us, this wasn’t a joke.

In fact, this could be my reason to join the FB exodus.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Slightly Disturbing Ad From Norton

It's good to see that Norton has a sense of humor about their product, but I am not too keen on this spot.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Allstate, Bringer of Mayhem Destroyer of Cars

For the last seven years, the folks at Leo Burnett have effectively used actor Dennis Haysbert as the pitchman for Allstate. They’ve done a reasonably good job at keeping it fresh with some occasional good copy and side campaigns that run during football season.

Click here to view their recession ad, which I thought was genuinely good, despite the fact that they have disabled embedding.

As reported in the NYT, Allstate and Leo Burnett are introducing a new meme to their campaign with spots featuring actor Dean Winters. Let’s have a look at what has been posted thus far:

All in all, I like the theme of the campaign. To me, it is a great mystery as to why more ads do not communicate, “shit happens so buy insurance” more often. Lately, carriers are more concerned with positioning their products based on price (E-surance, GEICO and Progressive) rather than service, which tends to drive the value of brands down. So, it’s refreshing to see someone attempt to remind the public why we buy these things in the first place.

I was not too thrilled with the teenage girl spot though. If I am not mistaken, teenage males are more likely to get in accidents than females. While I wouldn’t categorize the ad as misogynist, I do think it’s unfairly capitalizing on an incorrect stereotype and Allstate should reconsider airing it again in the future.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Time To Use My Powers For Good

Last season on NBC’s Parks and Recreation they introduced to the world to an organization called KaBOOM!, which builds entire playgrounds for children in one day.

Much to my surprise, KaBOOM! is real and they are trying to build a playground for the elementary school that is being opened at my fiancĂ©’s school in the fall. Here’s where you come in:

1. Go to the link: http://playspacefinder.kaboom.org/playspaces/92984-kipp-infinity-elementary-i-s-195

2. Click on “Become a Fan” and register with an email address. KaBOOM! will send you a confirmation email.
3. Open the confirmation email and click on the link to become a fan of KIPP.
4. Make sure you scroll down and click “Done”. (You do not have to write anything, but make sure you click “Done”)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More thoughts on the AdWeek’s Ad of the Day

A boatload of people tuned in to the finale of Lost on Sunday. Unfortunately for me, I am two seasons behind so I’ll be playing catch up at some point in the near future. Anyway, I agree with the review (which you can read here); however, I think it may be good to expand upon how cool it is to integrate the content of the program to the ad without making product placements.

This is not the first time in recent history this has been done.

To me, this is the kind of creativity we need in major network TV advertising. By creating ads featuring actors and memes from the program an individual is watching, an advertiser probably has a better chance of keeping the broadcast audience engaged and the DVR audience from fast-forwarding instantly.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Why Are You Leaving Facebook?

People keep complaining about Facebook and its “privacy issues.” Personally, the things you really want to keep private like your bank account and credit info are just as available as that picture of you standing on a table drinking beer in a gigantic glass boot at your birthday party.

To a certain extent I can understand the privacy arguments. According to various news outlets, it takes something like a 150 clicks to get to optimal privacy levels where your information is only accessible to people on your network and that does really suck. It’s grossly inconvenient and Facebook should have taken that into consideration in their last update.

Every other argument, on the other hand, I am not too keen on and here’s why.

No such thing as a free lunch

Not to be an FB defender, but they gave you a place to communicate with your friends and waste a lot of time. If Wikipedia created FB maybe I would be crazy over the fact that they are collecting data to sell to their advertisers, but they didn’t. A person who wanted to make money off of it created it.

How many other things have you opted of because of privacy issues?

As I said earlier, I – yes, little old me - can buy your credit information right now. I can know your monthly rent, your student loan debt, whether or not you like to pay your bills on time, and lots of other fun stuff. But, do you still have a credit card? On the mountain of issues you have with maintaining your “privacy,” I would think this would be more important than the number of friends who saw your duck on Farmville.

That smartphone you have is also a great way to get extra information on you. Let’s say you search for something on Google on your iPhone on the AT&T network. One simple search for the nearest McDonald’s tells four gigantic corporations that you’re a total fatty. Do you still have a smartphone?

Even the things you do to avoid ads are helping advertisers find out information about you

If you own a DVR for the sole purpose of avoiding commercials, then you’re actually helping out the enemy. First, us advertisers are investing more in product placement on your favorite shows. That’s right you can’t avoid us. Second, your cable company and Tivo tell us what you record and what you skip. If there is an off chance that you sit through an ad, we want to know why. That’s the type of information we really like to get our hands on.

In conclusion…

Seriously people, please pick your battles. The people who are really out to screw us are doing a much better job of digging into our private lives, and not letting us know.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The App-Less Smartphone

Last week, I went to a Business Marketing Association event here in New York where a panel discussed the future of B2B marketing in the mobile space. While the crux of the argument is that mobile B2B is real and that we can get good data to use to serve ads, that wasn’t really the most interesting thing I learned that day.

What really interested me that morning was a glimpse into the not-so-distant future, when a few of the panelists mentioned that apps will not be that important as the browsers improve on smartphones. The topic was quickly changed, but that got me thinking for the rest of the weekend what that was all about.

So here’s what I came up with: 4G will change everything.

The apps on your smartphone right now are not that complex, and most of the content – whether a game, pizza-ordering app or translator – doesn’t take up that much space on your phone compared to your photos and music. Everything that’s on your phone can easily be run on a web page when accessed by a computer with a broadband connetion. 4G is a heck of a lot faster than 3G, so much more in fact that all that web based content will be easily accessible (at least in theory). Therefore, most of us smartphone users will really have more of a homepage with links to our favorites than a home-screen with a bunch of apps.

What will this do for marketers?

Technically, it will make the world a better place for marketers and developers. Today, developers have to worry about the differences in programming languages in the different phone operating systems. This raises the cost for everyone. A completely web-based smartphone system will continue to bring the cost of mobile advertising down.

In addition, marketers will be able to have greater access to phones in that apps generated to promote specific products and services will no longer have to go through the approval process of places like the Apple App store. Of course, this is a double edged sword for the consumers because it eliminates an integral element of quality control. Say what you want about Apple, but at least there is a base level for apps.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Words I Never Thought I Would See A Sentence: Yahoo, Scientist, and Kardashian

Yesterday, Ad Age ran the following headline: Yahoo Scientist Questions ROI of Kardashian's Sponsored Tweets. Then my brain exploded.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Net Neutrality Gets Kicked In The Junk

Congratulations former Alaska Senator Ted Stevens, the Internet might be a tube after all! How did this happen? Well, yesterday an appellate court said that the FCC can’t tell Comcast that they can’t prioritize the data that goes across their network.

One more time without the double negative: the government cannot stop service providers from prioritizing what data moves across their network.

So what does this mean in the grand scheme of things?

1) The Internet Does Not Belong To The Public

People always make jokes about who owns the Internet, but now we know at least one group that doesn’t own it: you and me. Prior to this decision, one could have argued that the Information Super Highway was sort of like a regular highway in that we all pay for it and we all get to use it.

Now, according to this ruling, the Internet is more like a complex toll road. Comcast said they built it and they maintain it; thus, they have the right to say what happens on their network. Not only are they the traffic cop, they are able to decide what is more important how fast you and I can get there.

2) Destination Paradox

So, what’s going to be slowed down? Comcast and the other Internet service providers (ISP) keep telling the public that all this illegal file sharing moving across their network is slowing down their “good users” who are just trying to get the latest podcasts and watch a clip on YouTube. Of course, that’s really about 1% of the situation.

The reality is that the content on the Internet directly competes with most of the cable company’s product offerings and they now have a license to act like the Chinese Government and block what they don’t like. Let’s look at Skype as an example. About 5 years ago your cable company started offering phone service over their network. While they do a very good job of bundling phone service with their other products, people are not using it as much as they like. What are they using instead? Primarily, they’re using their cell phones. Secondarily, they are using Skype. And why not? It can be free, and it has video chat, which the cable companies do not have. Of course, things like video chat are huge bandwidth hogs on the ISP’s network.

So, here’s the deal. Now that an ISP can decide what is more important, they can say scram to Skype and put it and its users in the slow lane and render it useless. They are then hoping that in the short term this will force people to use the phone lines they bought from them (instant revenue) and in the long term use a Skype like service that the ISP will SELL TO THEIR USERS.

Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. Your Internet is competing with their cable TV programming too much. Say goodbye to YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix streaming. They sold you a DVR to watch what you want when you want, and now they want you to use it. They need you to watch TV and see the ads that they sell time for. They don’t want you to go on Netflix when you can subscribe to HBO or get an OnDemand movie. Yes, you give them at least $100 bucks a month for Internet and cable, but that’s not enough for them. They spend a lot of money to make shitty commercials shittier.

Can it get any worse? YES IT CAN! ISPs are mad that you use Gmail, Yahoo, or MSN for your email and not their service. Their customers are denying them their much-deserved revenue. So, those are going to be throttled back too.

But, how can they slow down email, isn’t it mostly text? Actually, email is the primary file-sharing venue. You may not use it to get music and movies, but you do send things like photos. You send so many photos that the number of photos shared over email exponentially dwarfs that of photo sharing sites like Picasa, Flickr and even Snapfish. Plus, if you’re an idiot like me and signed up for a ton of newsletters, you get tons of rich media emails and this stuff adds to the congestion.

The cable company’s solution is simple: use our email system and get it nice and fast. Oh, by the way, they will charge us for this too.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

YUCK! Why did I try this?!

I am always down for trying a new coffee alternative, but this Amp Energy Juice was terrible.

Don't buy it.  Don't even look at it.  How could Pepsi do this to us?

Does The New Advertising Age Logo Miss The Mark?

Let me start by saying that I read Ad Age way too much, and – as a result – I was a tad shocked by the introduction of a new logo.

It comes from Laura Fallon, a second-year art direction at VCU Brandcenter. She told us the insight driving the design was the "importance of starting conversations with Advertising. Whatever we do or create as advertising people, is nothing unless it can spur a conversation. Also, Ad Age is full of constant conversations of what's happening now, what different agencies are up to, articles and opinions from many different people. Being constantly engaged in conversations is crucial to creating work that is meaningful to people."
- Ad Age

To a certain extent I agree with Ms. Fallon because the conversation is a key element to creating not only a campaign but also a movement. However, the conversation is not the only element.

Plus, is the editorial theme of the publication purely about starting a conversation?

When I ask that question, I feel that the logo diminishes the meaning of publication as a piece of journalism. Yes, Ad Age is “full of conversations” but it does not cover only conversations. Moreover, the acceptance of the logo by the publishers illustrates the point that they may by more eager to let this magazine become another digital forum where idiots like me can wax philosophic on minor issues that no important human being would or should really care about.

I, for one, don’t need that. One of the important elements of having a trade publication is having a place to gain information across the industry (about new trends, new ideas, competitors, etc.). Believing that Ad Age is just a forum will lock anyone working in the industry down even more as everything we do is covered in NDAs.

Am I making too much about this? Of course. Am I going to cancel my subscription? No. Am I going to read the comments at the bottom of each story? (Time to answer a question with a question.) Why start now?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Somebody's Getting Fired

One of the general rules of writing public statements is to avoid using colloquialisms. Why? Because there is always going to be one smartass out there who will go to great lengths to make you look extremely foolish.

In this week’s edition of “Somebody’s Getting Fired” I would like to introduce you all to the nameless people who let this gem of a letter slip through the cracks of the Carly Fiorina for Senate campaign in California:

Carly for California

Passover is a time of remembrance and thanks. This festival provides us all — Jewish, Christian and all faiths — an opportunity to reflect on the challenges we have faced and the triumphs we have achieved together. It is also a reminder of the resilient spirit that has carried people through trials of every kind through every generation.

This week, as we break bread and spend time with our families and friends, I hope we also take a moment to say a word of thanks for our freedom and for those who have given their lives in freedom’s name. Let us also look ahead with hope to the opportunities to come. Best wishes for a safe and happy holiday.


Carly Fiorina

In case you were unaware, we Jews don’t eat bread during Passover. So, we really can’t break bread. Now, I know what they were trying to do, and it’s very nice to see that Carly wants us to have a nice Passover.

But seriously, if you’re running a campaign and you want to make yourself look pious and loving of religious diversity you might not want to skimp on the copyediting. The use of the colloquialism “break bread” just makes the Fiorina machine look out of touch with potential donors.

So, welcome to the unemployment line nameless Fiorina campaign worker.
Big ups to Politico.com where I go this letter.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I Could Not Agree More With Roger Ebert

As a marketer, I am all about using creative strategies and tactics to get people to your product. But, entertainment – specifically film – marketing has taken a turn for the worse in recent years.

Things were looking so good too…

Just two years ago the marketing for Nine Inch Nails “Year Zero” album and the blockbuster “The Dark Knight” implemented alternate reality games for fan-boys and girls to nerd out on and get the buzz going.

The implementation of these campaigns was both astounding and epic. It seemed as though we were entering a renaissance of buzz generation. Unfortunately, this turned out to not be the case.

What went wrong?

Well, as we all know, Hollywood has less of an incentive to make a good product than a money-making one. Thus, when good films that were produced to be in immersive and beautiful 3D worlds (like Coraline and Avatar), it gave studios the impression that the increased success of these films must be attributed solely to the fact that were in 3D. Not because they were technological marvels of filmmaking.

Plus, there’s the fact that they can now charge a higher ticket price for the .03 cent plastic glasses that they need to hand out.

The return of 3D as a marketing device!

I might be the only person who remembers this movie and will still admit to seeing it in the theater but back in the 90s there was a Joe Dante movie called Matinee. Never heard of it? IMDB TIME! A huckster (John Goodman) introduces a small coastal town to a unique movie experience and capitalizes on the Cuban Missile crisis hysteria with a kitschy horror extravaganza combining film effects, stage props and actors in rubber suits in this salute to the B-movie.

The movie was nothing fantastic, but it showed how people could be lured to see a piece of junk movie when a few gimmicks are thrown into the mix, which is what Hollywood is doing to us now with all these 3D schlockfests.

So what can we do?

Nothing really. We’re going to have to wait until this craze fades away. Part of me was hoping that studios would say, “Gee Avatar was great and we’re never going to top it, so let’s do something else.” Of course, they’ve basically replicated the same thinking that’s destroyed any hopes of consistently good products. That model: milk something that was successful until it is not.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Heineken Case Study

As someone who writes case studies rather often, I found this to be pretty funny.

Now, all jokes aside, this was a brilliant move for the folks at Heineken. UEFA is much like NASCAR here in the United States, overbranded yet obligatory to participate. No self respecting CPG and serveco (my word for service company, please start passing it on) would ever be left out of the mix for fear of losing ground.

This well executed prank did what few have been able to do, get their brand recognized above all the others. Usually the winning brand is the company that shelled out the massive amount of cash to get on the jersey, this time Heineken completely stole the (I should also add that this really sucks for online casino Bwin.com who owns the spots on both AC Milan and Real Madrid.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

State of the Union Hoopla!

I could talk about the president's speech but I am more intrigued by the Republican response.  The fact that they are doing it in front of an audience is very smart.  It makes it look important. 

But, the smartness stopped there...

Too bad that these are probably all staff members and operatives.  Not to mention the racial cherry picking that both parties do.

Anyway, this speech lacked substance; it was bland and invited me and you and everyone else to go on Facebook and Twitter and scream into the digital void.