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Original articles from Len Kornblau.
A Few Snarky Interview Answers
Don’t you wish you could give interviewers the answers they deserve for some really dumb questions? Here are some of my favorites.
Tell me a little about yourself.
There’s nothing little about me.
Is this a first date?

Why Revel Failed
Revel Casino in Atlantic City, the $2 billion-plus white elephant that was supposed to bring more gamblers back to the shore, has declared bankruptcy and is likely to close this summer. Was it a bad idea to invest so much money in a casino/hotel in an area that has been losing casino business to neighboring states for years? Maybe. Maybe not.

Amusing Odds and Ends in Advertising
I am always amused when: Agencies claim they fired the client. Clients claim they weren’t fired. New CMOs rehire an old agency after a few months. (You know, The Fling!) Agencies and clients insist there were philosophical differences. Agencies and clients don’t interview neighborhood candidates. (Not really amused at all!)

The CIA Joins Twitter
The CIA has joined the FBI on Twitter. In a week it gained 50,000 followers. Wonder how many were from outside the USA? The FBI has over 750,000 followers on Twitter. Same question. On one hand, it could be a great way to advertise American values...

Famous Dave's Adds a McTwist
Famous Dave's has appointed former McDonald's USA President Ed Rensi to be its CEO, dropping the "interim" tag. But we all know every CEO is really interim. Ed is a really good restaurant guy and took the heat for a McDisaster with the McLean Deluxe, the low-fat burger that really had insufficient taste to be successful. But it WAS a good idea!

Recycled Execs
With dissident shareholders (read: Investment Groups) unhappy with the proposed sale of Red Lobster for a paltry $2.1 Billion, a move is afoot to replace the entire Board of Directors of parent company Darden. The replacements would include many former executives of other restaurant chains.

A Sirius Problem
It’s often said that monopolies provide the worst customer service because they really don't have to provide good service. After all, what are your alternatives? SiriusXM falls into that category. Since there are no satellite alternatives, you can opt for traditional radio or put up with horrible customer service from SiriusXM. Eventually, more and more folks will drop the increasingly costly SiriusXM...

Mega-Split: Publicis and Omnicom
It had to happen, right? The mega-merger between Publicis and Ominicom is now a mega-split. It’s the biggest split since...whom or what? Desi and Lucy? Jen and Brad? AT&T and the Baby Bells? But where would all those egos fit? Is there an office big enough?

Dog Days of Spring
You might think this was a blog about dog food. Wrong! Hot dogs? Maybe! We have gone from winter (grudgingly) to what is supposed to be spring. But we have really gone from cold and wet to less cold and wet, and soon to hot and wet. Two seasons for sure, perhaps three, but hardly four.

SAM in my Pants
POISE is a feminine leakage protection product. It's the product idea from which Guards for men was created. Former NFL star and sideline analyst Tony Siragusa is the spokesman for Guards. The POISE product focuses on Super Absorbent Material (SAM) as a Unique Selling Proposition, hence “SAM in my pants!” Both are great ways to advertise undesirable products...

Doritos Mystery Flavors
A tantalizing or perhaps “taste-lelizing” promotion/test has been created by Frito-Lay for their Doritos brand. Three secret flavors of Doritos “Jacked” have been wrapped in silver packaging without a description. Customers are invited to guess the flavor online with a chance to win $1,000. The most popular mystery flavor will be introduced and unveiled in the fall.

Advertising's Favorite Show Returns
Yes, it’s that time again. A terrific series about our favorite industry is back on the air. And with it comes a veritable plethora of “could have been” ads. Fortunately, they never saw the light of day. If they had, Sterling Cooper would have been out of business in season one.

Letterman, Leno, and the Baby Boomers
So, in another year, David Letterman will join Jay Leno off the air. He is retiring, but Leno is not. Jay will do stand-up as always. But where does that leave advertisers who still want to reach Baby Boomers more so than Gen X or Millennials? Good question. Does CBS go the youth route like NBC?

Adult Internships
The hottest new recruitment trick, er, ah, tool, is adult internships. That’s where agencies hire experienced people currently unemployed or significantly underemployed and train them in new media. They pay them nothing or next to nothing. And may not hire them when the internship is done. And no one else will either. It’s called age discrimination.

Advertising for Weed
A look at the impact of marijuana law changes on advertising

Quiznos: A Failed Brand
Quiznos has filed for Chapter 11. It’s gone from “toasty” to just plain toast! Could advertising have saved it? They did lots of couponing, which we know is advertising. But, live by the coupon, die by the coupon. The TV spots rarely created a point of difference.

Honey Maid Snacks Steps Into Reality
I love the new Honey Maid Snacks commercial featuring gay dads, metalhead parents, and diverse families. It’s about time. And it’s about reality. And it’s about “in your face” to all those who claim offense, but buy the products anyway. It’s the 21st Century. We have an African American President.

Not Your Grandfather's Cadillac
Cadillac ads were once all about luxury. And rarely seen outside telecasts of The Masters Golf Classic. Now, the ads are about attitude and are showing up on The Oscars and other high-profile events as well. The ads feature actor Neal McDonough, from shows like Band of Brothers...

Coke's Sales Slump
Recent reports are saying sales of Coca-Cola are slumping. Cold winters can do that. Not enough folks headed to where it's warm or hot. Perhaps it’s time to change the advertising message. “Open happiness” doesn't do much when it’s zero degrees with plenty of snow on the ground. And the polar bears aren’t so cute when customers feel just like them.

Random Ad Thoughts
Because it’s cold and still snowy in the Northeast… Did anyone really buy a heart-shaped pizza? Would anyone in his or her right mind buy a heart-shaped pizza? Does the son in the new IKEA ads really wonder more about his room than how his parents could possibly assemble the kitchen parts? Is Coke jubilant that the Olympic Nordic skiers are wearing short sleeves and need a cold drink at the finish line? What was NBC thinking when they put the USA vs. Russia hockey game on its cable NBC Sports Network...

What Was Radio Shack Thinking?
Radio Shack spent $4 million on media plus production costs for a very cool Super Bowl ad to remind us they are still in business. A day later they announced they were closing 500 stores. Why didn't the Super Bowl spot just announce a Going Out of Business at 500 locations? That would have been more noteworthy than a retro spot.

Super Bowl Bores
First my condolences to advertisers who chose to run spots in the fourth quarter. You wasted your money. Why did Frito Lay choose to run a Doritos spot so late? You should be thinking snacks early, not late in the game, regardless of the score. So, open for your debate are my reactions to the spots.

Reports are indicating McDonald's January sales will be down and Wall Street is panicking. Have they noticed the weather this month? All over the USA, snow and cold. Lots of school cancellations. Lots of offices and businesses closed. Lots of folks stayed home. This is hardly a doomsday scenario. Even by Wall Street standards. Of course many franchisees are unhappy. So they blame marketing for the effects of weather.

Moms Get Creepy in New 'Old Spice' Ads
The new Old Spice spots certainly aren’t your dad’s or granddad’s Old Spice spots. They aren’t even the Isaiah Mustafa or Ray Lewis Old Spice spots. They definitely have the Wieden+Kennedy look and feel. They could almost be ESPN SportsCenter spots. But they are creepy. And moms rarely buy Old Spice for their sons. Unless it’s on their shopping list!

Can The Original Miller Lite Can Make People Care?
Miller Lite’s new TV ads tout a limited time return to its original can label. Who cares? The product is just 40 years old. It wasn't around before Prohibition. It’s not an old familiar beer brand like National, Stroh’s, Schmidt’s, Ballantine, or Piels’ that bring back memories. It’s not Coke or Pepsi.

Pizza Wars
It’s bad enough the pizzas don't look as good coming out of the box as they do going in, at least on the TV spots. Now we have stale concepts before we get to those tempting beauty shots. The most recent Papa John's spots have Peyton and Papa heading to the location of the original Papa John’s.

Best and Worst of 2013
A look at 2013's ads: the winners and losers.

E Trade Baby Grows Out of the Super Bowl
OK, so the fabulous E-Trade baby won’t be entertaining us on Super Bowl Sunday. And the usual gaggle of pundits is upset about this. You know the ones who hardly, if ever, worked for an ad agency or client. Let’s get real here. For one spot it’s $4 million. Add in production costs and you have to weigh that cost versus the impact against the TARGET AUDIENCE!

Santa Ads: Just Too Many?
I love ads with Santa. Don’t you? How could we not? I have a cousin who looks just like him. Doesn’t everyone? Almost everyone? The problem is the poor fellow is overused on TV ads. We know his connection to Coca-Cola, hence the red suit and white beard. But can there really be a viable connection to other brands? Chevy uses him sans suit as a salesperson at a dealership. How many folks get Chevys for holiday gifts? How many even WANT Chevys as holiday gifts? And let’s not forget the implied gift of Lexus cars with bows on them. I might be happy to receive a Lexus as a holiday gift, but the big red bow kills it for me. Santa really should be for kids only and not tied to a particular gift or brand.

Melissa McCarthy: Ad Star
Melissa McCarthy has done it again! From TV star to movie star to ad star. The Trifecta! And deservedly so! She is terrific! Unlike Will Ferrell as Ron Burgundy, who really aren't the target audience for Chrysler, Melissa’s character is perfect for Old Navy. She plays an average customer reacting the way any average person would or should when disappointed on a game show. The characters Melissa plays on screen are all different and believable. They have quirks that her talents highlight but don’t overplay.

Good Ads Bring Customers...Just Once
Kmart's clever 'Joe' ad with the male dance troop proves a long-standing advertising adage. “How can you kill a bad product or brand?” The answer is: with great advertising! Kmart will surely attract shoppers with awareness built by this edgy spot, and that is the primary objective.

Papa John's Delivers a Goodbye to Zimmerman Advertising
Papa John's announced last week that they are reviewing their creative account and parting ways with Zimmerman Advertising. So much for Zimmerman having the inside track after hiring away the Papa John’s Chief Marketing Officer. Was it the continued overuse of Peyton Manning, whose wife is now a franchisee in Denver?

No Bling for the BK King
Burger King has reissued the latest version of its “Big Mac Killer,” The BK King. They should have left it in the test kitchen. The latest installment now has three slices of bread so it even looks somewhat like its target. But, it has chopped instead of shredded lettuce and sliced instead of diced onions. Advantage: McD.

Why Didn't Advertisers Get Behind the NYC Marathon?
Sunday was the New York City Marathon. No, I did not run in it. I was on the Cross Country team in high school and college, but those races were only two to five miles, not 26.2. For many years, ABC televised the race end to end. Not any more. Seems it lost viewers as the Sunday 1 PM kickoff time approached. And really, what were the chances of seeing your loved one back in the pack during the race?

Arby's Agency Review
Arby’s recently changed Chief Marketing Officers. What a surprise! The Franchise Association was unhappy with the last CMO because they weren’t given enough time to meet and approve him. What a surprise! He fired the existing agency and hired one with whom he had worked recently. What a surprise! Now the new CMO is conducting an agency review to replace that one. What a surprise! And the winner will either be an agency with people he knows or one that knocks his socks off with their creative. What a surprise! You’d think the Arby’s CMO and Franchise Association would want to focus on Q, S, C, and V...

Catch Jeremy: T-Mobile's Latest Campaign Win
T-Mobile has launched a very clever IMC campaign featuring TV spot(s), a website, tweets, et al to illustrate international smartphone plans. The combination of elements works because it hits the target head on via media they use and keep constantly at hand. But it all starts with a great TV ad featuring Jeremy’s parents using “selfies” or Facetime or Skype to the audience.

Ron Burgundy: Dodge Pitchman
Will Ferrell pitching Dodge Durango trucks as Anchorman Ron Burgundy is so typically cool of the creative minds of Wieden + Kennedy that it just might work. Then again, will consumers see the ads as Dodge ads or trailers or promos for the new Ron Burgundy movie? That’s a big roll of the dice for Chrysler LLC.

Barilla, You Can't Fix Stupid
Advertising often can go a long way in recouping bad consumer attitudes of brands that go astray. Take BP, for example. A disaster of epic proportions was followed by a series of executive PR gaffes. But then the company did the right things, and TV ads told the stories.

Gimme Some 'Tude'
What makes the Geico Hump Day TV spot so fabulous is not the Emmy-caliber acting of Caleb the Camel. Many camels could walk through a set and munch on leaves when available. The secret is in the casting. Chris Sullivan, a New York area actor with credits from Broadway to TV to movies, makes it work. Chris gives Caleb some attitude. He makes Caleb the office clown. Caleb is the guy who doesn’t want to work and bothers everyone else so they can’t. He’s in exactly on time and gone exactly on time.

The fabulous GEICO Hump day TV spot not only has become iconic, it routinely gets tons of hits on You Tube on, you guessed it, Wednesday. We could really have an ad own each day of the week. Like Valium for Mondays. Perhaps some sort of moist towelettes for Terrible Towel Tuesdays.

Revel in This
Things must be really bad for Atlantic City’s Revel Casino. Their latest ads offer 600 FREE cruises for players who visit in the short term. They are actually providing a reward of staying away, and gambling on the ship instead. Usually, chasing away customers means things are going well. Even too well. Here, it looks like things are really bad; maybe awful.

Ma Bell, Oh Where Have You Gone?
Seems like forever since AT&T was known as “Ma Bell” since it owned long distance and local service, as well as equipment. And that equipment was indestructible. Once our government decided we would be financially better off with a broken apart AT&T, the “Baby Bells” eventually ate each other up like Pac Man. Now Verizon, the foremost “baby” of the Bells, is the chief competitor of its mother, dear ol’ AT&T.

BANK on This!
Bank ads have come a long, long way. Remember the guys with the phony smiles and three last names followed by III hoping to become your “personal banker"? Then, thanks to Hal Riney’s great creation for Crocker Bank, using then-unknown songwriter Paul Williams to create “We’ve Only Just Begun"...

Insurance Ads: What's So Funny?
Prior to about 15 years ago, no insurance ads were funny. There was nothing funny about reminding folks insurance is a bet they can never win. So, we had the very serious “Good Hands People” and a guy with white hair in a suit.

Agency Titles: Where Have the Names Gone?
There was a time when most if not all advertising agencies went by the names of their founders; Ogilvy and Mather, J Walter Thompson, Doyle Dane Bernbach. Then, of course, folks shortened the names to mere initials: O&M, DDB, JWT. Now we have all but jettisoned names and initials for catchy monikers. But why?


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