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Original articles from Jeff Louis.
 
Why Is Content King? Fragmentation.
The concept of a "captive audience" that permeated the 1980s and early 1990s is dead, and so are their attention spans; the complacent herd has evolved, shifting from blank to animated, docile to active, turning the sought into seekers.

'I Want to Work in Advertising' Spoof Still Resonates
As the advertising industry continues to navigate an increasingly unsteady sea filled with treacherous, bankrupt clients, unpaid invoices, and budget reductions, it's high time we remember the noble profession we chose (or that chose us) and salute creativity at its finest. Agency peeps are often the best sources of self-ridicule, for they see the business as it truly is.

Application Aims to Help Socialites Save Face
There's no question that drinking excessive amounts of alcohol is the bane of our society. Think of all of the dollars spent to prevent us from killing ourselves -- and others -- after imbibing spirits. From police roadblocks and sobriety checks to awareness campaigns across the nation, drunken behavior, while tolerated, is under the national microscope, and entities from local and state governments, corporate America, and even the White House continue to disparage what was once simply "having a few too many."

Spending Will Make You Stronger
Is it good business practice to reduce or eliminate marketing expenditures during a recession? The logical answer would be yes, as the revenue stream reduces to a trickle. History, however, has shown this practice to be counterproductive, even detrimental, to long-term success. Weathering the storm is certainly a priority, but the objective is to get back to port safely after the storm abates.

O2, Placecast Erect a Geo-fence to Herd Consumers
O2, a leading communications company for consumers and businesses in the United Kingdom, and Placecast, a pioneer in mobile applications for location-based media, launched the first location-based mobile marketing campaign across the pond. Brands using the O2/Placecast service soon will have the ability to deliver targeted, relevant, and effective SMS and MMS messages to users. Two early adopters, Starbucks and L’Oréal, have agreed to a six-month trial period.

PBS Documents Advertising's Mad Men and Women
Advertising industry fans of AMC's 1960s-era hit, "Mad Men," realize the show is a historical portrayal of fictitious characters loosely based on a real conglomeration of execs from top U.S. advertising agencies mainly clustered in New York City on Madison Avenue. In fact, "Madison Avenue" is an interchangeable term for U.S. ad agencies.

Google TV Invades the 'Digital Living Room'
Google's first foray into broadcast TV advertising probably didn't get a spot on the trophy wall below their search algorithm and Ad Words interface. In fact, many advertisers aren't even aware of the fact that Google offers national TV spot buying services through Ad Words. When Google introduced the broadcast service, critics shook their heads.

Senate Sounds Off, Silences TV Spots
The U.S. Senate acted in unison to pass the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation Act, or CALM, an act that requires stations to mitigate the sound level that some advertisers use to blast across your living room set. Under the act, the commercials will have to air at programming volume levels. We've all experienced those moments between TV shows -- or in the midst of them -- when sound levels rise so much that normal conversation becomes impossible without adjusting the volume. According to sponsors, the bill will cut out a problem that has been annoying to many viewers.

Ale's Marketing Efforts Prove Stale
Anheuser-Busch, brewer of the once-popular Budweiser brand, is handing out free samples of Bud in an effort to help revamp the brand's "aleing" image. Brand Bud has suffered from lagging sales due to low-calorie light beers, flavored-beer products, and micro-brews that are popular among those who fall in the under-30 demographic. According to an article in USA Today, sales were down nine percent in 2009, and this year's sales are no better.

How Far Would You Go for a Job?
With the economy still uncertain, or slowly beginning to rise out of the ashes, many Americans still are unemployed. Although there seem to be more jobs available, the trickle down of two straight quarters of gain hasn't cut into the nine percent unemployment rate still prevalent in many major cities. For many who have been out of work for a year or more, these are truly desperate times and begs the question: How far would you go to keep your current job or land a new one?

Buns Intended: KFC Calls on Coeds
Remember that fried chicken sandwich KFC introduced over the summer? The KFC Double Down is two original recipe chicken breasts with two pieces of bacon and two slices of Monterey Jack and Pepper Jack cheese, plus some of the Colonel's Special Sauce. It seemed to stray from KFC's foray into healthier chicken offerings, namely the baked chicken breast that made headlines when Oprah Winfrey offered a free one to, well, everyone.

Optimism Returns as Ad Spending Increases
Optimism is returning to the advertising industry following two straight quarters of increasing revenue and estimates that third quarter 2010 is on pace for growth. Expenditures are up by 5.7 percent thus far in 2010 compared to a year ago and show a 5.4 percent gain in second quarter.

Committee Craves to Curb Heart Disease
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research, has fast-food restaurants in their crosshairs. The organization's latest goal is to draw public attention to the consumption habitants of Washington, D.C. in an effort to curb heart disease-related deaths.

Pepsi Returns, Kicks Off Super Bowl Campaign
For 23 years, PepsiCo sodas were part of America's top sporting event before ending their presence last year to focus on interactive advertising. Pepsi will return this year with their Doritos brand's fifth anniversary of Crash the Bowl advertising contest. Pepsi Max and Doritos have booked six slots for Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6, 2011. This year's Doritos "Crash the Bowl" contest is the most elaborate thus far, booking six 30-second Super Bowl ads for the contest and inviting contributors from avid fans to creative consumers to submit their spots in an effort to take the top spots on the USA Today Ad Meter.

Things We Lost in the Downturn
Going without free coffee. Cutting back on car service. Being on time. Working eight-hour days. Instituting a client-centric focus. The economy has been tough on agencies and media companies -- industries known for creative solutions and critical foresight -- causing them to remove perks associated with working in the industry.

Brand Google Launches Display Ad Campaign
Brand Google doesn't advertise their products in a traditional sense very often. Googlers (Google employees) reveal flashes of creative genius when marketing Google's many "product lines" online. However, Google's many innovations and creativity don't reach consumers who aren't tied to the Internet via an IV. Online penetration in the United States is over 77 percent (according to Internet World Statistics), but it seems that people consume media using other sources.

KFC Asks Artists to Revive Colonel Sanders
During the past couple of years, KFC (formerly Kentucky Fried Chicken) has struggled with their brand's image. Fried chicken or baked? KFC or Kentucky Fried Chicken? Colonel or no colonel? Some of the company's recent efforts made headlines, while well-intentioned, KFC found themselves on the negative side of public sentiment after their coupon deal with Oprah went over too well. Although memorable, it's in the past. To a certain extent, the famous restaurant chain's past is being rejuvenated. Colonel Harland Sanders, the man who founded the world's largest chicken chain at 65, is long gone.

Sex Pill Starts Saudi Scandal
A deep-voiced man arrives home after a long day at work to find his wife and children gathered around a table. Ah, the family. He greets and exchanges a few words in Arabic with his wife and then asks about the children. She replies: "They’ve finished all their chores, and you, Abu Faisel, don't forget your chore."

Newspaper Advertising Rates Fail to Deliver
Ad spending is on the mend following two years of falling revenues, according to a press release from SNL Kagan. The research firm cites spending in all categories -- with the exceptions of direct mail and newspapers -- is growing; tracking indicates that at the current rate, 2010 will see a 2.8 percent increase for total ad spending. Despite warnings that the United States’ economic woes aren’t over -- including predictions of a double-dip recession (when gross domestic product growth recovers successively for a short before declining again) -- advertisers are promoting their products and services tenuously. It’s a welcome change. Revenues will eclipse $210 billion in 2010 after dropping 5.5 percent in 2008 and 15.6 percent in 2009. Automakers and related businesses have returned, and heated gubernatorial and mayoral races promise to fuel a busy fourth quarter for TV, radio, and cable providers.

American Express Expands 'Booming' Campaign
American Express recently announced their "Booming" campaign, a salute to -- and aid for -- American business owners. The concept highlights inspiring real-life stories of large and small business owners who differentiate themselves through innovation and their ability to adapt to and adopt business practices to the fluctuating economy.

Microsoft's Latest Ad Leaves Viewers Seeing Double
Remember the "Double Rainbow Guy"? If you saw him, how could you forget? Basically, the video's premise is that some hiker is walking through a wooded area in Yosemite National Park and comes across a stretch where he can see for miles. Lo and behold, a rainbow paints the sky over the hilly, mountainous terrain. The man, who has his trusty video camera with him, films one of nature's spectacular sights, only to find that there's not one, but two rainbows. Excited, the man -- one Paul Vasquez -- wonders aloud what the double rainbow means and begins to cry.

Will MySpace Take Note and Rebrand?
“You don’t get to 500 million friends without making a few,” notes the website promoting one of the most discussed movies of the fall, “The Social Network." Based on Mark Zuckerberg and the rise of Facebook, the movie debuts in theaters Oct. 1. As Xerox with photocopy, Facebook has become synonymous with social network for many Americans. Just a couple years ago, Facebook made headlines as MySpace’s strongest competitor. Last year, Facebook catapulted to the top spot, and MySpace disappeared from view, becoming an also-ran.

Facebook Grows Older and Older
It's not news to most that social networking is growing up. In fact, the strongest-growing demographic for social media is adults between the ages of 50 and 64. Use by adults in this age group grew 88 percent, according to a Pew Research study, and adults 64 and older grew 100 percent. In comparison, the increase for users between the ages of 18 and 29 increased by 13 percent over the same period from April 2009 to May 2010. Despite the fact that social media's early adopters are college-age students and young professionals, advertisers realize that older adults set on a career path tend to have more disposable income.

Outdoor Industry's Growth a Sight for More Eyes
A recently released report from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA) indicates that revenues increased year over year for the first time since 2008, marking a 3.6 percent rise to $1.88 billion in the second quarter this year. It marks the largest bump since 2007, when the medium saw a 6 percent spike.

Best Buy's Deal a Sign of the Times
Best Buy made their first move into naming rights for an entertainment-related venue, contracting with AEG for a multiyear agreement that will rename the Times Square Nokia Theater the Best Buy Theater. The new name will shine across the 85-feet high marquee beginning in September. The opportunity for naming rights was left open when Nokia decided not to renew their contract, focusing instead on "reaching customers where they consume content" -- online. According to Drew Panayiotou, Best Buy's marketing chief, it's a great match for the company because Times Square is known for communication and entertainment, key elements of their brand.

Tourism Campaigns Travel Different Paths
Like every major city, Chicagoans tend to see a lot of tourism-based advertising; however, it feels as if every state is scrambling for tourism dollars. I’m well aware of the reasons behind tourism campaigns and their impact on local economies, but it feels as the nation still is locked in a cost-conscious mode.

PETA Goes Bananas Over Dodge's Latest Spot
Corporations that use animals in their ads attract PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) attention, and the ensuing complaints and protests usually result in pulled or revised advertisements. For some reason, reporters from the Los Angeles Times decided to get involved in a seemingly innocuous commercial Wieden+Kennedy (W+K) created for Dodge in July.

Charmin's Campaign Put to the Test
Charmin toilet paper, one of the many consumer goods manufacturers housed under the auspices of Procter & Gamble, released a new chapter in the long-running Charmin Bear ad series earlier this year. The animated commercial series, which first hit TV screens in 2000, depicts a family of bears going about their "business" in the woods.

Gulf Spill Might Kill BP's Brand
Like the Exxon Valdez, the Deepwater Horizon will be marked in history forever, primarily because it's the largest oil spill attributed to the petroleum industry and ranks as the most damaging environmental disaster in the United States. Sadly, the long-term consequences for Gulf-area residents, irreversible damage to the environment, and impact on marine life may never be fully understood. Numerous other items characterize the spill: three months of fascinating film footage of a wellhead spewing crude, BP's efforts to cap the well, and the beleaguered oil company's request for ideas on mop-up methods

Durex Unwraps Marketing Campaign at College Campus
What is 70 feet long, six feet tall, and can hold 50 college students all at once? No, not jail. The answer is a condom. Yes, a condom. In an effort to point out that the AIDS epidemic continues to be a crisis and major concern for millions -- although buried under international news -- Durex took the condom on the road and unwrapped it at Tel Aviv University. The giant condom was filled with air, and as the crowd gathered round, 50 male and female students were chosen to enter the condom. They removed everything but their undergarments. Packed in like sardines, they soon began to push on the walls and jump around; the crowd applauded their efforts.

Islamic Ad Sparks Debate
A pro-Islam campaign launched in Chicago two years ago still echoes, much like Ralph Waldo Emerson's "shot heard 'round the world.” The Islamic organization GainPeace.com launched the original campaign in 2008, and Atlas Shrugs founder Pamela Geller recently parodied it.

A Campaign to Discover Secret Booty in New York City
We don't know who is behind it, or what, if anything, they're promoting or trying to prove. The only thing we know -- or most likely care -- about is that allegedly a chest full of money is buried somewhere in New York City. According to the unknown parties responsible for the mystery, $10,000 is waiting to be found.

The FBI's Frivolous Fight Against Wikipedia
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) isn't only fighting crime but Wikipedia. In a July 22 letter, the FBI claims that Wikipedia is using the government agency's seal without authorization. Specifically, the FBI's general counsel, the author of the letter, wrote: "The FBI has not authorized use of the FBI seal on Wikipedia. The inclusion of a high quality graphic of the FBI seal on Wikipedia is particularly problematic, because it facilitates both deliberate and unwitting violations of these restrictions by Wikipedia users." The FBI also is threatening legal action against the online encyclopedia if their seal isn't removed from the site.

Pepsi's New Ad Fails to Hit the Spot
Remember the days when Coke and Pepsi went head-to-head and were unashamed and unafraid to show the other's brand in a commercial? Ah, the Cola Wars. They featured an endless tide of celebrity spokespeople -- Tina Turner, David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Madonna, Paula Abdul, Elton John, and others -- choosing one brand over the other.

Proposed Mosque Fuels Advertising Debate
September 11, 2001 remains unforgettable. Like the attack on Pear Harbor, it is "a date which will live in infamy." We'll never forget because we can't. It affected everyone. The United States then began the war on terrorism, with the main focus on Muslim extremists who practiced radical Islam.

GM Introduces a 'Treasured Horse' to China
General Motors recently announced the introduction of a new brand for the Chinese market: Bao Jun. It translates as "treasured horse" and falls under the U.S. automaker's joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation Group and Wuling (SGMW). GM entered the partnership in 2002 to market vehicles to China's growing population -- one of the fastest growing auto markets in the world. The U.S. automaker owns 34 percent of the joint venture, which has been China's top-selling brand for the past four years.

PETA Continues to Cause Controversy With Latest Campaign
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) isn’t one of those middle-of-the-road organizations in thought, deed, or action. Self-proclaimed animal activists Ingrid Newkirk and Alex Pacheco founded it in Norfolk, Virginia in 1980. Newkirk was Washington D.C.’s first female poundmaster, and Pacheco was a crewman for the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS).

American Express Credits, Celebrates Small Businesses
Booming is a word with multiple meanings. In 1851, San Francisco was booming, due to the swarms of people in the area searching for gold. The loud car stereo next to you at a stoplight is booming. American Express recently launched a nationwide ad campaign that revolves around the slogan, “Start Booming.”

Eco-Activists, Execs Engage in a Battle for the Brand
Brands are under extreme pressure these days. There is Internal strife that stems from inconsistent creative executions that don’t exude brand essence. There is the brand's image and how it affects everyone in the company. Plus, there is always brand equity to worry about. These concerns often lead to talk of and disagreements over a rebranding effort. It’s enough to cause a bleeding ulcer, and the pain is constant. While the internal pain is bad, the extreme pressure from external sources proves excruciating. Everyone -- from journalists and bloggers to government offices to watchdog groups -- attempts to determine a brand's future. Let’s not forget about the eco-activists.

Miraclebody Jeans Find the Perfect Fit
Miraclebody Jeans recently ran a contest in search of the “Women who shape our lives.” It began in April and ended in mid-May and highlighted how "the woman next door" may be making remarkable differences in the lives of others. Made by the same company as Miraclesuit, the top brand designer of control swim wear that makes women look shapelier, Miraclebody Jeans follows suit and provides women of all shapes and sizes with form-flattering control apparel that includes jeans, tops, skirts, and leggings.

A Marketing Mix Heralding Equal Parts Quality and Affordability
In 1997, billionaire Sidney Frank may have had the best branding idea ever. Frank’s idea was to create a premium vodka for the American market. Based on the success of French wine throughout the world, Frank priced it above Belvedere, Absolut, Stoli, and other top-shelf competitors.

Why the YMCA Rebranded as 'the Y'
For as long as I can remember, "the Y" meant one thing: the YMCA. In fact, casual conversation disjointed when someone used its full name. After 166 years of being known as “the Y” by anyone and everyone who used the facility for health, wellness, or a place to sleep, the YMCA has rebranded to just “the Y." Why? According to Katie Coleman, the Y's senior vice president and chief marketing officer,“It’s a way of being warmer, more genuine, more welcoming, when you call yourself what everyone else calls you.” The non-profit organization seems endemically American, but George Williams founded it in London with the goal to develop "a healthy spirit, mind, and body."

The Envelope, Please
For those who haven't seen Fox’s comedic musical TV show, “Glee,” you might want take note. It grabbed top honors with 19 nominations for this year’s Emmy Awards, which Jimmy Fallon hosts Aug. 29. ABC’s “Modern Family” ran a close second with 15 Emmy nods and will compete with "Glee" for “Outstanding Comedy Series."

Lessons Learned From Reality TV
I’m no big fan of "The Real Housewives of New York City," but lately I’ve seen a couple of the episodes and its spin-off "Bethenny Getting Married?" and the wrap where Bravo brings the housewives together to discuss the season. Basically, it's a bloodletting. Again, I'm not a fan, but I’ve seen them all. Go figure. (Don’t bother to watch the show unless you love Bethenny Frankel and enjoy how she bitches continually about everything. She's a prize.)

Facebook’s U.S. Growth Stalls
Inside Facebook’s recently released report shows that its U.S. growth may be leveling. In fact, for both the 18-to-25 and 35-to-44 age demographics, the report shows a decrease in monthly active users. CNET noted that Facebook acquired “a jaw-dropping 7.8 million new monthly active users in the U.S. in May” but only gained 320,800 new users a month later. If this is a sign that traffic is actually slowing, realize that it had to come at some point.

Don't Touch That Dial: Creative Spots Signal Resurgence
There’s little buzz about radio online these days. With flashy YouTube videos and killer graphic executions, radio ads just don’t seem to “play” online. This is interesting and comes in light of PricewaterhouseCoopers' recent Global Entertainment & Media Outlook report that predicts terrestrial radio spending will rise in 2010, partially due to political campaigns and a resurgence in automotive spending.

The Measure of a Brand's Essence
What constitutes a strong brand? How do we, as advertisers, measure an intangible asset such as brand essence? Why is Google’s brand more valuable than Yahoo’s? The advertising industry is more science than business. In business, beans are quantifiable: profit, loss, employees, taxes, sales, revenue, and spending.

Starbucks Deftly Delivers Brand Benefits
Starbucks' "big announcement" came earlier this week: Beginning in July, the world’s largest coffee chain will offer free Wi-Fi access as part of their menu. Two-hour time limits and online access fees will soon be dead, hopefully, never to return. I quit Starbucks a few years ago, a direct result of having to pay for online access. Depending on coffee choice, a visit to my local Starbucks ran between $5 and $10, not to mention the two-hour time limit. Feeling violated, I likened it to a bar charging to use the bathroom. After drinking Starbucks for years, my only thought is too late.

Pakistan Targets Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg may be facing the most serious threat of his young career, an unforeseen culmination of events that have nothing to do with user complaints, privacy settings, or U.S. court actions. Pakistani police began an investigation of Zuckerberg for the charge of blaspheming the Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s holy founder. The penalty is life imprisonment or death. News of the investigation originated with BBC Urdu and was later verified.

The Effie Goes To ...
SuperMedia and TM Advertising were recognized at the North American Effie Awards with a Bronze 2010 Effie in the Media Companies category for their work on the SuperGuarantee program, according to a SuperMedia press release. The Effie Awards honor significant marketing and advertising achievements by recognizing efforts that contribute to a brand’s success.

Companies Connect, Create Crowdsourcing Competition
Two popular crowdsourcing companies, GeniusRocket and 99designs, want the wisdom of the crowd to help them rename "crowdsourcing." The term, if unfamiliar, is "the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call."

A Service Designated to Drive Home Some Sense
Here's a sobering statistic: In 2008, 32 percent of all traffic accidents involved drunk drivers. Every 45 seconds marked the death of an American due to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and the total number of deaths reached 11,773. In an effort to add perspective, as well as mock society, the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan entered its tenth year. Angry protesters, in opposition to our evil regime, scream that American solders dying in battle accounts for too high a price, as one soldier's death is one too many. Combat fatalities in Afghanistan have reached 1,084. I respect human life, and agree that it's a big number.

Tracking Brand Nike's Run to Iconic Status
Blue Ribbon Sports was founded in Oregon of all places. That's not to say anything negative about the state. I remember Oregon with a single word: green. I think it must rain every day unless it snows, and the trees are huge. Most Americans wouldn't think of Oregon as being the birthplace of an athletic shoe company, but that's what happened. When I think of Oregon and exercise, images of scaling mountains, skiing, and tree-felling contests come to mind.

YouTube: Five Years of Digital Documentation
Five years ago this month, YouTube made its debut. It's hard to believe, considering that it seems like YouTube's been around forever. Nonetheless, May 2005 saw Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim launch the online video site from a small room in San Mateo, CA. In the half decade that followed, YouTube leaped from beta stage to phenomenon and changed the world around us forever. Today the site receives 24 hours of video footage per minute, playing more than 2 billion videos per day.

Is a Social Media Scandal Afoot?
One of the best qualities of The Wall Street Journal is investigative accuracy. Although the paper has been subject to some scrutiny, it has been an accurate, reliable source since Fair.org wrote "20 Reasons Not to Trust the Journal Editorial Page." Many of the paper's articles affected society and went on to win a multitude of awards before transforming into bestsellers that tackled the fall of RJR Nabisco ("Barbarians at the Gate"), the practice of insider trading ("Den of Thieves"), and the financial rape of Enron ("24 Days"). The Wall Street Journal recently broke a story on social-networking sites, that despite their claims to the contrary, send data to advertising companies.

Craftsman's Online Buzz is Music to the Ears
I wrote a post in February about Craftsman covering their initial push into social media with an interactive video campaign that featured product "stress tests" on their premier tool line. Videos like "Hammer Golf Experiment" and "Power Drill Daredevil" are reminiscent of early David Letterman stunts. Their most recent video is of the musical variety, like "Stomp" with tools as instruments. The video is available on the Craftsman YouTube page.

A Creative Means to an End
It's been said nothing is certain but death and taxes. Taxes, though, have loopholes, and nobody escapes death. Unprejudiced in its selection, death pays a visit to all in the end: rich or poor, good or bad, and religious or agnostic. According to a hilarious new novel, even fictional characters "deserve" this date with death. The book, "Mr. Ed: Dead: And Other Obituaries of the Most Famous People Who Never Lived," humorously explains the deaths of hundreds of fictional characters that range from Snow White to Forrest Gump. The book's premise is advertising mascots and fictional TV characters have fictional lives; therefore, they deserve creative deaths. Presented in scrapbook form with clippings of news stories, ads, and police reports, "Mr. Ed: Dead" covers these characters' rise and ultimate fall.

Branding's a Part of Human Nature
I believe in brands. I also adhere to the principal that the success of any endeavor -- business, charity, personal, or otherwise -- depends solely on perception, or how others see, think, and feel about said endeavor. Look at branding from a personal level. Do you care how you look? Do you brush your teeth? Do you shower? Do you put on makeup? Do you brush your hair? Do you wear clothes that fit? Do you have friends who hold similar beliefs and ideals? Conversely, how do you see others? Do you befriend those who are opposite or alike? Do you label? Are you aware of other’s habits, hygiene, and behavior? The answers don’t matter, nor does it matter if you agree or disagree with the premise that we, as humans, shape the perceptions of how others view us in an effort to fit in somewhere.

Proof Positive: Social Media Increases Sales
I yearned to confront him with data to prove him wrong but needed stronger information -- something to show a direct link between social media and sales.

Digital Downer: Facebook's Privacy Crisis
In April, Mark Zuckerberg announced via a third party he doesn't believe in personal privacy online. In their efforts to keep the public aware of a growing Facebook privacy crisis, online sources slammed the company's open "devil-may-care" attitude over privacy issues and recent hacks. Users, once enjoying a degree of control over their Facebook accounts, now are faced with the fact that their "like" preferences are public by default.

New Marketing Efforts Bring Out Seattle's Best
Known best for their association with Borders's, Seattle's Best Coffee, a Starbuck's brand, recently launched a major re-branding effort. It includes new rewards for brand fans and an updated logo, Web site, and Facebook page. The coffee company, purchased by Starbucks in 2003, is part of a bold strategy to redefine the coffee category, allowing consumers easier access to premium coffee through the association with popular retail outlets. According to Starbucks, Seattle's Best is available through 3,000 retail distribution points and will be increased to 10 times that many by year's end.

Get Juiced With AMP's New Offerings
Most are familiar with AMP Energy (or "AMP"). It started life as a Mountain Dew product but soon became a brand unto itself. AMP is an energy drink infused with nutrients and endorsed by sports figures, most notably NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt. Launched in 2001 to compete with Red Bull, PepsiCo has extended the AMP's offerings to include a new morning alternative to coffee: AMP Energy Juice.

Yahoo! Launches Ads as Traffic Plunges
Do you Yahoo!? Congratulations if you answered in the affirmative; you're a member of an elite group. While Yahoo! users aren't anywhere near an endangered-species list, the search engine/online portal's traffic has fallen steadily. Ironically, I posted an article recently after Yahoo!'s CEO Carol Bartz decided to give Google some business advice. In an interview with the BBC, Bartz noted Google was too focused on search, as 99 percent of that company's revenue came from search.

Publicis Takes on Challenges of Chevy's Creative Campaign
In mid-April, Ed Whitacre, Chairman and CEO of General Motors, appeared in a commercial to announce the automaker had repaid their Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) loan in full with interest -- five years ahead of schedule. It came as exciting news for a nation that witnessed some of its most prolific industries (finance and manufacturing) fall to ruin over a two-year period. Perhaps this was a sign that the once-dominant GM was back, reinvigorated and ready for global competition.

Porn Piracy PSAs: A Sure Sign of Economic Struggles
The Adult Entertainment Trade Association, a branch of the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), recently reported falling profits, and according to Wired, piracy robs the adult-film trade of one-third of their profits. In an effort to combat piracy, the FSC's home page is dedicated solely to two recently produced PSAs, "FSC All-Star Anti-Piracy PSA" and "Turn a Frown Upside Down." Joanne Cachapero, the FSC's membership director, outlined the strategy behind the PSAs.

FedEx Proves Overzealous in Protecting Brand
Corporate brands aren't new to enhancing brand image via iconic "celebrity athlete" sponsorships. In fact, many marketing platforms rest on one or more professional athletes. The majority of these sponsorships are likely to be initiated in competitive, one-to-one sporting contests, like NASCAR, Pro Bowling, Tennis, and Golf. Sponsorship agreements between company and celebrity athletes increase high-end brand exposure for corporate brands in exchange for monetary payment to the athlete. In some instances, the sponsor also supplies equipment, sportswear, and other branded items in addition to a dollar amount. In exchange, the athlete agrees to wear corporate logos, use sports equipment manufactured or provided by their sponsor, appear in TV spots, and attend events held by the sponsor.

Twitter Spreads Its Wings Among Social Media Users
Twitter's phenomenal growth and cautious moves toward monetization have been the subjects of studies, blogs, articles, and even criticism. However slow to make money, the social media site is making huge percentage increases yearly in registered users. According to a recent study by Edison Research, "Twitter Usage in America: 2010," 87 percent of Americans are aware of Twitter.

Don't Write Branding's Eulogy Just Yet
In the face of a recessionary economy, many "brand experts" have questioned the efficacy of maintaining a brand's image when, according to them, consumers, all things equal, buy on price only. I've countered these "expert assumptions" in other posts because I'm a firm advocate of branding. It is a no-brainer; either you determine your brand and take ownership or others will do it for you.

Sex in Advertising: Testosterone-Driven Marketing
When you write articles that cover the advertising and marketing industry, one perk is that CEOs or marketing executives often contact you with information on their latest and greatest campaigns, ideas, or endeavors. Although this can be overwhelming, I welcome the opportunity because I don't always have the time to filter the mass amount of information available for the next post. While some PR departments simply send their releases to all bloggers hyping "news" that isn't news, the companies that understand social media reach out and offer interviews or views on the industry that prove interesting and worthwhile. This brings me to the BRAND X Group, a California firm that describes themselves as "a brand management firm whose focus lies on a comprehensive approach to the marketing side of business growth."

Magnum Condoms' Marketing Magic Moves to Hip-Hop
Trojan Condoms and its brand extension, Magnum Condoms, "owns" the condom market. The company's market share is a whopping 75 percent, and Trojan's biggest competitor, Durex, is a distant second place, totaling just 14 percent of the overall share. Magnum accounted for $51 million in sales over a year period.

Y&R Chicago Targets Violence With Humor
Violence in Chicago is nothing new to its residents. Since 1990, the number of murders per year has averaged one a day, ranging from 442 in 2007 to 943 in 1993. Just 117 days into 2010, the city looks to be on track to meet this brutal trend with 106 murders to date.

Pepsi, Anheuser-Busch Begin In-House Media Buying
In October 2009, PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch entered into to a joint-purchasing agreement. It came as an effort to lower prices on business-related items like office supplies, travel, transportation services, and travel expenses. As of early April, the two companies announced this agreement would extend to include marketing and advertising efforts. According to Kantar Media, A-B and PepsiCo spent close to $1.2 billion on measured media in the U.S. last year. By category, the spending works out to be approximately $490 million on network TV, $182 million on cable, $194 million in magazines, and $70 million on out-of-home.

Facebook, Privacy, and Compromise
If you work for Facebook, the world is your oyster. The Facebook Developers Conference went well, a joint Facebook/Nielsen study shows that Facebook ads aid brand recall, you're working for the largest online Web site community and online destination in history, and the site's future seems limitless. Your founder, Mark Zuckerberg, and various news sources believe a chance exists the site will "take over" the Internet.

Cigarettes Move to Visual Brand Identity
New branding regulations have been instituted on tobacco companies, forcing them to remove descriptors like "light," "ultra-light," and "mild" due to -- of all things -- false advertising. According to public health advocates, there's no such thing as a "light" when referring to smokes. The regulation, which was passed last year, goes into effect nationwide in June. If you're a smoker, start preparing yourself now.

Content-Rich Behavioral Television
During one week of programming on NBC, detectives on "Law and Order" checked out a scam, a nurse on "Mercy" organized a charity bike ride, and both "30 Rock" and "The Office" sent out messages on recycling. While product placement within shows and ad scheduling within pods is nothing new, NBC Universal is testing "behavior placement" within the content of some of its shows. According to the The Wall Street Journal, NBC is creating programming with a message in an effort to gain advertising dollars by matching the show's content with an advertiser's products.

KFC's Sales Slip Despite Marketing Moves
The Colonel and his restaurant chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken have pulled out all the stops to prevent the struggling QSR's sliding sales. However, the remedies they've employed may be too little, too late. The once-booming restaurant switched their name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to just "KFC" (again), involved Oprah in a coupon debacle, sent Colonel Sanders "secretly" to the United Nations for photo ops with a top official, and recently launched the Double Down sandwich, a fried chicken breast sandwich -- sans bread -- filled with bacon and cheese.

Frontier's Brand Survives, but Midwest's Influence Remains
Ever have one of those moment of panic when you thought that you were boarding the wrong flight? It's not as common now as in past years, but I remember a trip where I made my arrangements to fly Alaska Airlines but did a double take upon entering one flight because the tail of the Dash-8 I was boarding was emblazoned with "Horizon" and not the familiar fur-wrapped Eskimo I'd come to associate with Alaska Airlines.

Beware the Harbingers of Branding's Doom
While social media has its useful purposes, it also brings us unneeded baggage, or what I refer to as "the harbingers of doom." We're exposed to inane daily headlines that remind me of tabloid headlines espousing things like alien abductions. I realize that formulaic blogging sets the expectation in the headline, and part of the headline's purpose is to draw attention to the article, which explains the abundance of lists.

Ning's New Direction Could Prove Costly
Ning, according to former co-founder and CEO Gina Bianchini, is the Chinese word for "peace." It is also a social-networking platform that allows users to create networks around their personal interests. Currently, Ning is not feeling any peace. The first sign of trouble occurred in March when the company's COO, Jason Rosenthal, replaced Bianchini. Ning then cut 40 percent of its staff. After a month of taking a "hard look" at Ning's business services, Rosenthal cited the company's intentions moving forward.

Ads to Win the Hearts and Minds in Afghanistan?
While PR and advertising efforts during military conflict aren't a new idea -- most are familiar with U.S. War Bond efforts, "Rosy the Riveter," and dropping leaflets from aircraft -- this effort is unique in that Lt. Colonel Allen McCormick tapped an in-country advertising agency. His hope is to win the hearts and minds of the people via outdoor, TV, and radio ads using Afghani cultural insights to reach Afghani citizens in the name of peace. Although there weren't many agencies from which to choose, McCormick chose Lapis, a Kabul-based agency that could develop strategy and ads "with Afghan consumer insight and be true to Afghan culture and norms." McCormick and Lapis have a long road in front of them, especially in a war-ravaged country with strict religious boundaries. The move of an Afghani citizen that conflicts with the Koran often results in death. Despite the country's violent past and bleak future, McCormick believes that positive messages will be more effective at reaching the people.

Thankfully, the Bahamas' Advertising Campaign Doesn't Hide Creativity
Destination branding is both an entertaining and competitive facet of the tourism industry. In fact, some projections show that by 2020, tourism will be the largest global industry. Some countries or states already have tourism to thank as being the largest contributor to their gross national product. Across the advertising spectrum, from TV and radio to out-of-home and digital media, music-laced images of white sand beaches, snow-topped mountains, and picturesque sunsets vie for our attention and dollars, promising the perfect escape from the doldrums of day-to-day life.

Will Twitter's New Ad Platform Turn the Tables?
According to a study conducted by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and Financial Insite Inc., a Seattle-based research firm, the Fortune 500's use of social media is on the rise, with Twitter the leading choice of social vehicles in 2009. The fact that Twitter is growing should surprise no one, for the site has provided application developers plenty of monetizing opportunities without making moves to cash in for themselves. Until now. Twitter recently explained their plans for developing an advertising platform. One of Twitter's main financial backers, Fred Wilson, of Union Square Ventures, challenged Twitter's application developers to "develop killer apps."

Unvarnished Allows Users to Rate Boss, Co-Workers
While many companies strive to keep information internal by instituting social media policies, a new site moves in the opposite direction. A combination of LinkedIn and Yelp, the beta version of Unvarnished is a tell-all online resource for "building, managing, and researching professional reputation, using community-contributed, professional reviews." To protect employees from being fired or reprimanded as a result of publishing personal opinions, Unvarnished obscures a reviewer's identity.

Your Brand Wasn't Built in a Day
Brands, like companies, are ground-up projects. They begin as remarkable ideas, build strong foundations, and grow, guided by a promise to consumers and a commitment to fulfill this promise. Brands are somewhat human in nature: They're nurtured, fed, led, and directed. Some deliver on their promise, are sought by consumers, become household names, and extend their offerings into other goods and services. Branding, we're told, is a process, though some brands seem to be overnight-success stories.

South Africa, FIFA Fight Ambush Marketing Attempts
In roughly two months, the 2010 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup Soccer -- or "football" for everyone outside the U.S. and the sake of this writing -- matches kick off in South Africa. While not entirely familiar with football due to my sheltered-Yank upbringing, I know it's the most popular sport in the world, making the World Cup a huge opportunity for advertisers, as it draws bigger crowds and more viewers than the Super Bowl.

It's Time to Tee Off on Tiger Woods and Nike
The Masters begins today, and like everything in the past year, from health care reform in the United States to the ravaging earthquake in Haiti, Tiger Wood's expected afternoon tee time is already being labeled as "historic." You'd think golfers have returned after having an affair (or multiple affairs), so while I'm not entirely convinced that this is one for the history books, the news media thinks it is; therefore, it is. Everything on TV is real. This includes the new Nike Tiger Woods' spot that is a bit unreal, puzzling, and disturbing, not to mention irrelevant. The spot began airing yesterday, and it's admittedly creepy.

Crocs' Advertising Campaign Bites
I hate to admit it, but I'm not much of a fashionista. In fact, other than knowing that jeans go with everything, my fashion sense is non-existent. Truthfully, I base my clothing decisions on what my family or friends buy me as gifts. If it's a polo shirt, then I assume they are still good to go. However, I'm not a total moron. If someone bought me a checkered suit, it would hit the return pile quickly. I may not pay attention to the fashion world, but I do know what's ridiculous. The ridiculous category includes Spankx for men, those stupid women's blouses with absolutely no back to them, and Crocs.

Facebook, Targeting, Recency, and You
Have you ever come across an ad on Facebook and wonder why it was targeted at you? Some of my favorites include various vixens who have been -- without my knowledge -- searching for me. I don't know why, because I'm pretty sure we have not met. I'd remember. The ads, while ridiculous, must return some sort of numbers because they're still running.

Houston, You Have an Image Problem
I've lived in Texas a couple of times, and if you've not been there, I suggest you go. Texas, like Alaska and Hawaii, seems to be a "country within a nation." From the hill country to the Gulf Coast, Texas covers a wide expanse that encompasses several states. From San Antonio to Houston and Port Arthur to Sabine Pass, I've spent about seven years in the largest state in the contiguous United States.

Do Games Keep Brands From Boring Consumers?
In an ideal world, everything involving product and brand interaction would be carefree and fun; rubbing up against a brand would leave consumers with some degree of satisfaction following brand contact. This is the theory behind sites like Foursquare. Our thirst for entertainment seems unquenchable; games come standard on most cell phones, MP3 players, and computers. Constant entertainment is an obsession that's become an accepted part of our culture. Our cars come with DVD players, satellite radio, and built-in mobile hotspots. People share electronic-based games, whether on cell phone or iPod. They buy cigarettes and bottles of cola hoping to win an award for loyalty. Frequent-flyer miles, loyalty points, punch cards, customer discounts, scratch tickets, cereal box prizes, social media games, quizzes, contests, and newspaper treasure hunts are all aiming to attract then keep consumers.

CNN Continues Ratings Tailspin
Cable News Network's (CNN) ratings slide continues, according to newly released ratings for March. Unlike the economy, CNN's numbers are getting worse. CNN will celebrate its 30th anniversary in June, but there won't be cause to celebrate. Nearly half of the broadcaster's audience has fled elsewhere.

Pepsi Learns From Branding Mistakes
Pepsi's CEO Indray Nooyi admitted PepsiCo made some mistakes when the company released a new branded look for their beverage lines in 2009. According to AdAge, Nooryi "is ready to close the book on the difficulties" the beverage business has met over the past year and looks to improve. Sounds like something a college student in Branding 101 would say; she's the CEO of Pepsi. If the company's marketing director voiced these same words, he or she would be looking for a new job. When the words come from the company's CEO, you have to wonder how much longer she will hold Pepsi's top post.

Agencies: Beware of the Boucher Bill
Rep. Rick Boucher of Virginia is positioning for an online consumer privacy bill that could cost the industry $25 billion. Under the veil of "consumer protection," the bill would give the federal government the ability to theoretically target suspicious advertisers and data-collection services.

Garanimals Outfits Kids With Confidence
In 1972, Garan, Incorporated introduced Garanimals, a children's clothing line of matching separates that soon rivaled the popularity of Toughskins jeans. Every piece of clothing had a tag with an image of an animal on it, so kids had a system to match tops and bottoms that was infallible with "color-keyed mix-and-match animal tags and hangers." Before the release of Garanimals, Garan was "the nation's leading manufacturer of men's and boys' knitted sport shirts."

Cupertino's Internet Irregularity Calls for Fiber
Cupertino hopes to attract its neighbor Google (in Mountain View, CA, a 13-minute drive to the north) with the launch of a "Got Fiber" campaign that asks, "Tired of Internet Irregularity?" It's an attempt to woo the search engine into testing their high-speed beta Internet service. Google opened their search to cities that range from 50,000 residents to 500,000 residents. Google's project is aptly named, "Fiber for Communities," and the deadline is March 26.

Ford Boosts Brand, Exhibits Character and Relevance
You have to admire Ford Motor Company. Those behind the wheel have made some smart decisions, especially when it comes to keeping the Ford brand from tarnish. The fact Ford has a spine is evident in the light that out of the Big Three automakers, only Ford resisted federal bailout money, a move that shows while they may not have a lot of capital, they are brimming with character. Add to that the fact they've been strongly aligned to one of the hottest TV shows on the air. Ford is now relevant.

Blockbuster Braces for the Bubble to Burst
Blockbuster, Inc., once a video-rental powerhouse, released news they may need to file for financial protection. This marks the second time in a year a big-name brand has released a statement warning of a pending bankruptcy filing, according to The Wall Street Journal. The video-rental superstore is struggling from fierce competition.

John Deere's Campaign Cultivates Creative Lawn Mowing
The agriculture-equipment manufacturer's campaign features real customers who use their creativity to design lawn art to inspire "topiary masters" to express themselves using their John Deere equipment and a love for all things outdoors. John Deere asks, "What Will You Create?" Brand loyalists can upload their masterpieces at JohnDeere.com, which has been totally reworked to reflect the campaign. Although Deere products appear everywhere, the campaign focuses on the stories, including that of Pearl Fryar, a Bishopville, South Carolina man who has spent over 1,200 hours on his John Deere tractor.

Twitter's Move to Monetize
Twitter was only able to take it so long. After all, you can't make money on a site without offering advertising. While it was fun while it lasted, the mega-popular micro-blogging site is rolling out its first ad vehicle. Boogey Man. Now the only question remaining is when. According to Media Post, the platform was a month away on Feb. 23. Now, The Wall Street Journal's blog, AllThingsD, predicts the ad platform's launch won't happen until April, and possibly not until "the first half of 2010." (By the way, the chance of rain is 50-50.) While "when" is still in question, we do know "how" Twitter plans to monetize.

Small Businesses Still Slow to Recover
While the experts disagree as to whether the recession has ended, or if it's simply leveled off, reports from small businesses show that conditions were worse at the end of 2009 than they were at the end of 2008. In case you don't remember, the media surmised 2008 was possibly the worst year ever for Wall Street, the Fortune 500, newspapers, and even movies. It was the year where everything sucked. For many, however, the effects of 2008 weren't realized until 2009. Small businesses bore the scars of a rough 2008, but the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) reports 2009 was worse for small business than 2008.

The Most Valuable Retail Brands
Interbrand, a division of Omnicom and a branding consultancy, released their list of the top 50 U.S. retail brands yesterday in a company press release. The list, compiled by Interbrand Design Forum, finds Walmart at the top of the heap, followed by Target and Best Buy. Interbrand ranks retailers based on brand value by according to a number of factors, including financial forecasts, percent sales and profits attributed to the brand name, and the brand's inherent strength.

Lindsay Lohan's Lawsuit a Losing Effort
Earlier this week, I wrote about Jimmy Johnson's alignment of his personal brand with ExtenZe, the "natural male enhancement pill. " I wondered if Jimmy needed the money, as I thought it a risky decision for someone whose personal reputation was of greater value than a brand with which he was to align. Now comes word Lindsay Lohan is suing E*Trade because they used the words "Lindsay" and "milkaholic" in their recent Super Bowl ad; Lohan believes the ads targeted her. I have a prediction for Lindsay Lohan on how this story ends: You will lose. I have often defended Lohan because I believe she has been maligned repeatedly for being a messed up kid/teen/adult who is singled out because she's (in)famous. I actually feel for her at times due to her inability to make a single move.

Study Finds Binge Drinking PSAs Might be Ineffective
The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois will release a study that shows PSAs discussing binge drinking may actually lead to higher incidence of binge drinking. The study is to be printed in the Journal of Marketing Research later this year. The study is based on interviews with undergraduate students who were shown anti-alcohol ads similar to those which ran in Canada during an awareness campaign. The study is reported to show that the PSAs, which rely on guilt and shame, actually have the opposite effect. According to the report, the target audience already feels guilty about their behavior and resists advertisements that play on this emotion. The study suggests these feelings cause the audience to disassociate themselves from the problem.

Yahoo! 'Drowning in Data'
Yahoo, once considered a Web contender, is now known for Flickr, Yahoo! Search, and the Yahoo! Directory. The company just turned 15; it's hard to believe they've been around that long. Online space is tricky (like K-Mart owning Sears and can fool hard-core analysts. If you'd told me AOL would outlive Netscape 15 years ago, I would've thought you were crazy.

Enhancing a Personal Brand
Early morning television found me watching a terrible vampire series from 10 years ago while I got ready for the day ahead. Coffee wasn't cutting through the morning fog, but a TV commercial featuring Jimmy Johnson woke me up. It seems that Johnson, former NFL coach and current Fox NFL commentator, is the spokesman for ExtenZe, the "natural male enhancement pill."

Paris in Brazil: Too Sexy for a Beer Commerical
The country responsible for the micro-bikini, topless beaches, and the dreaded Brazilian wax has determined Paris Hilton just might be too sexy for a beer commercial. While it seems a bit suspicious that Brazil would complain about Hilton, truth is stranger than fiction. At least Hilton is not resting on her laurels. In fact, I'm proud the hotel heiress has moved past her reality TV days to do something with more substance. Granted, it's only advertising, but it's a step. The spotlight shines on Hilton in a 60-second beer commercial by the Devassa brand, one of many beers produced by beverage company Schincariol. The campaign started with on online-and-TV tease, hyping a "mysterious" (Bem Misteriosa) blonde we later find out is Paris.

Denny's Raises the Ire of the Irish
You may have read about Denny's botched Twitter launch last week. Well, it seems that Denny's has made the headlines once again for the wrong reasons, as the chain unveiled a campaign late last week centered around the Irish, St. Patrick's Day, and the Great Famine. The commercial failed before getting off the ground; it seems the restaurant chain offended the Irish-American community with a spot that "celebrated" the end of Ireland's Great Famine

Cooliris: The Infinite Image Wall
Cooliris, Inc. began in January 2006 with the thought, "Think beyond the browser." Thus far, Cooliris is set-up for Chrome, IE, and Safari. I've been using Chrome as my browser, and Cooliris is simple to add as an extension, as everything gets handled automatically. While I haven't tried it with other browsers, the extension definitely adds zip and zest to sites like Flickr, Facebook, MySpace, Google, and Bing.

The Top 10 Consumer Brands
While the top trusted brands in the United States were mainly household goods, Amazon.com claimed the top spot for the "most trusted and recognized" brand names. Millward Brown, one of the world’s leading research companies, released the study in BrandWeek yesterday. The household goods that dominated the top of the list were Downy, Huggies, Tide, and Tylenol, ranking from third to sixth. FedEx occupied the no. 2 spot, and their main competitor, UPS, made it into the final spot, while surprisingly, Toyota was ranked at no. 7. However, Toyota's current brand woes weren't brought to light until January 2010. Other than Amazon, the only online brand to make the list was WebMD.

Craftsman Gathers the Tools Necessary for Social Media Push
Craftsman has made its initial push into social media with an interactive video campaign featuring "stress tests" on premier tools from its tool line. Everyone who has ever picked up a hammer, shopped at Sears, or watched NASCAR knows the Craftsman name.

Print Publications Face a No-Win Situation
Advertising, as with many industries, remains in the midst of a recession despite the White House's statements regarding signs of recovery. January's unemployment rate remained virtually unchanged from December, decreasing .03% of a percent. However, it still hovers close to 10 percent, and both agencies and media outlets are feeling the weight of the recession as they lose viewers, subscribers, and advertisers. Several newspapers have ceased publication, opting to continue their operations online. Some magazines have not been as fortunate. Several produced by Condé Nast went under in 2009: Gourmet, Cookie, Elegant Bride, and Modern Bride. Overall, 428 publications ceased printing during the year. In 2008, 525 magazine titles closed their doors.

MySpace CEO Steps Down
MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta, plucked from Facebook in 2009, has stepped down from the top position according to a News Corp. press release. News Corp., headed by Rupert Murdoch, hired Van Atta for the position nine months ago. Van Atta is to be replaced by co-presidents Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn. Van Atta was hired to to turn the company around. Once the most popular social media destination, Myspace has lost both members and ad revenues over the past few years.

Playboy Casts Models Online
Playboy, the Hugh Hefner-created magazine empire known for its bunnies, mansion, and reality TV show (E's "The Girls Next Door") has either figured out an ingenious strategy to recruit and photograph new bunnies in a cost-effect manner, or they've crossed the boundary into creepy. Depending on your comfort level, I'll let you weigh in and decide. Playboy's Brazilian office introduced a means for young women with big aspirations to easily slip between the magazine's covers -- or on its cover -- via an Internet photo shoot. Women who feel they've been blessed with the physical-and-personality traits that Playboy desires are encouraged to visit the Playboy Brazil site.

Top 11 Super Bowl Ads of the 21st Century
With the big game just days away, I'm getting a little antsy as I wait for the show to begin. Super Bowl XLIV, the showdown between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints, promises to be a good game, but many viewers, such as myself, tune in to watch advertising's creative talent go head-to-head. While working with an agency in the Midwest, I became fascinated with Super Bowl commercials.

Shedding Some Light on 'Beamvertising'
Everyone has seen creative out-of-home executions: Larger-than-life billboards that reach out to us in 3-D, mobile advertising vehicles that combine sight and sound with motion, and digital displays so clear they're capable of showing images as vividly as a television set. Undoubtedly, we have stumbled upon captivating guerrilla-marketing techniques that have snatched our attention, whether it is sidewalk art, 3-D-like images painted on stairs, or collateral advertising on items.

How to Refine Your Résumé and Influence People
Although I write on a daily basis, when it comes to writing about me or tweaking my résumé, I agonize over every sentence and each bullet point. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written -- and revised -- my executive profile. This has always been the case, but now it is due to the tight job market. I revise my résumé for every available position to demonstrate how I can help solve a particular company's problem, whatever it may be.

Sony Improves Their Brand Value by Upcycling
As advertisers and marketers know, brands are precious entities requiring nurturing, maintenance, and attention. Smart marketers spend more time ensuring their brand's health than on individual products, realizing that no matter what they sell, it is the all-encompassing brand image that determines how companies will weather the long term. Recently, Sony teamed with Hakuhodo Kettle to come up with Recycle Project Jeans, an "upcycling" effort.

How the Mighty Have Fallen
How does that old saying go? "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned," or as we misquote it: "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned." William Congreve wrote it in 1697 to convey rejecting a woman in love is very risky proposition, to put it mildly. Charles E. Phillips, president of Oracle Corporation, must have missed that saying growing up. The former managing director of Morgan Stanley, captain in the Marine Corps, and member of Barack Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board was outed by his former mistress and one-time co-worker at Morgan Stanley.

Life in Russell Glass' House
Transparency is all the rage these days, especially considering the means for disseminating messages has done a 180-degree turn. Rather than broadcast one to many, messages are being narrow-casted to a highly targeted few.

As Print Fades, Remorse Grows
In case you hadn't noticed, print advertising is wasting away, starving from lack of revenue. The bony spine of magazines and lack of inserts in newspapers displays how thin some have become. It was painful to witness until I remembered dealing with print publications that held me, and the clients I represented, over a barrel, squeezing us for every last dollar.

Diesel's New Campaign Redefines Stupid
Stupid isn't an attribute you'd want people to associate with you after reading your résumé. Face it: The word has a bad rep. As children, we’re taught not to call anyone stupid. It’s one of those words that just isn't nice. Thus, when Diesel's PR department let me know about a campaign that revolved around redefining stupid, my first thought was they clearly don't know me very well.

Toyota Finally Reacts and Halts Production
Toyota, the world's largest automaker, finally reacted to a safety issue that came at the expense of many lives. Toyota owners in the United States have been subjected to an accelerator malfunction that causes some models to surge forward suddenly, often reaching 100 miles per hour. Those who have lived through these harrowing moments claim once the car accelerated, the brake didn't work. Today, Toyota announced they were ceasing production and sales of eight popular models, including the top-selling Camry.

10 Organizations That Pummeled Their Own Brand
Living in the past is the sign of someone who hasn't quite grown up. While this is probably true for me, I do realize most of you consider yourselves healthy. Although this is another look back at 2009, aka "Year of the Suck," I promise it will be my last post on the subject. The following information, gleaned from Bnet, proved just too good to squander. While the the site makes reading the information extremely difficult, the research had already been completed. At times, I am all for lazy.

Sun Life Scores Naming Rights to Super Bowl Stadium
Sun Life Financial, a Canadian insurance and financial services company, has purchased the naming rights to the stadium where XLIV Super Bowl will be played on Sunday, Feb. 7.

Fact or Fiction: An Anonymous Facebook Employee Speaks
I came across a recent interview with an anonymous Facebook employee and felt to ignore it would be a mistake. The interview, "Conversations About the Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee," was published on Jan. 1 on The Rumpus. While it seems questionable at times due to the fact that clues left by the anonymous employee would surely doom her, the interview doesn't touch on areas one might consider top secret, though it could be willful misguidance on the part of the interviewer. In any event, the information, if true, is quite interesting

The Skinny on Structured-Settlement Spots
Working from home has its benefits. One such benefit is being able to see the horrible TV ads that run during the morning newscasts. While I don't tend to watch, the TV is usually on and serves as background noise. The worst offenders have to be the lump-sum-payment-for-structured-settlement spots. What, you may ask, is a structured-settlement commercial? It's my money, and I need it now!" Yes, the J.G. Wentworth, Stone Street Capital, and Peachtree Financial ads.

Conan Leaves With a Bang
The war is finally over, and no matter which camp you're in, NBC and its viewers are the real losers. Following NBC's experimental shenanigans with late-night talk shows, Conan O'Brien's short-lived stint as the host of "The Tonight Show" will end tonight as both sides have agreed to a deal. Jay Leno will move back into his old time spot following the news. After final negotiations, O'Brien opted to leave NBC with a lot of money and severance packages for his employees but none of the intellectual property used during his stint with NBC, which began in 1993 when he took over David Letterman's spot on "Late Night." Thus ends two weeks of NBC being being pummeled by late-night comedians from every network, including their own.

Talent Zoo's Amy Hoover Discusses the Industry, the Company, and the Future of Both
Talent Zoo touts themselves at the top site for advertising, marketing, and digital professionals, and according to Google, they're right: The site is the top-listed inorganic search result in an industry known for extreme competition.

Google and China Square Off in a Battle of Wills
Google and China have been in a battle of wills. Google has been operating in China since 2006 when they launched Google.cn, but they may be pulling out of China following a cyber attack from the communist country. While not stated directly, various online publications point to the Chinese government as the culprit. The attackers used Internet Explorer to hack Gmail in an effort to gain information on human right's activists in China.

Is NBC's Excruciating Olympic Countdown Necessary?
Has anyone else become annoyed with NBC's Olympic countdown? Everyday, I am reminded how many days remain until the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. This isn't really that far of a stretch for a TV campaign -- until you consider that the advertisements and coverage began on Nov. 4, 2009, 100 days prior to the start of the games. NBC's total coverage, including Universal Sports, The Weather Channel, MSNBC, and CNBC will broadcast over 1,250 hours of coverage before the Olympics, not including the segments that will be broadcast on the "Today" show. The emphasis NBC's placed behind their promotional efforts is due to the network's $5.7 billion dollar investment to secure broadcast rights from 2000 to 2012.

Super Bowl Ad Rates Drop is Largest Ever
The Super Bowl is so close I can almost taste it: the food, the drinks, the commercials -- it's my favorite American tradition. In all honesty, I couldn't give a crap about the game unless the Kansas City Chiefs are playing. Don't get me wrong; I still watch the game, but I don't yell at the TV.

Mind Your Social Media Manners!
The biggest problem with social media is that it's too damn social. Our daily routine calls for us to be polite and courteous lest we be seen as unapproachable, rude, or slovenly. The virtual world was once an escape from showing our good sides, as the first online communities were anonymous to a certain extent. Thus, manners weren't required in chat rooms. Social media, beginning with MySpace, started to infringe on this anonymity, and it's become a growing trend. Truthfully, our online lives are a catch-22 or pay-to-play situation, requiring us to forgo certain freedoms for access. Such is the tightrope we warily tread. Social media users are well aware there are certain rules (avoiding the use of profanity and posting inappropriate content) imposed by the community or site of which they're members.

Ogilvy Recycles 50-Year-Old Campaign
Advertising campaigns, or at least some of the ideas behind them, tend to be recycled. Agencies specializing in one or two fields (like car dealers or casinos) will pitch a campaign or spec creative to one client and then to a second client if it's bypassed. Sometimes campaigns will sit on the shelf for years before being resurrected, at times very successfully. Everything old is new again, or so it seems.

YouTube Disses 8-Year-Old Boy
Have you heard the tale about poor Luke Taylor, aka Lukeywes1234, and his run-in with YouTube? If not, let me fill you in on some ripe online drama. Luke is a typical 8 year old, who like others his age, ejoys watching TV, playing online games, and playing with his friends. He also likes to make YouTube videos in which he talks about his various interests. A couple weeks ago, Lukeywes1234 had 11 followers of his YouTube Channel. That was until members of group call 4Chan got involved.

The Census Counts, Too
Another decade has ended, so flee or be counted! Yes, it's time once more to be numbered, and the U.S. Census (Department of Commerce) is "counting" on an advertising campaign to accurately determine the makeup of America. The first phase of the $340 million campaign kicked off this week, launching a road tour of vehicles crossing the United States to promote the Census Bureau's decennial tallying of the masses. The tour, officially known as the "2010 Census Portrait of America Road Tour," will be promoted with media not available during the 2000 census.

Ford's the First to Get 'Wired'
According to the U.S. Census, 308,440,586 people live in the United States, and of those, 74.1% are Internet users, which equates to 227,719,000 Internet users. While the total household penetration in the United States hasn't reached 100% yet, Ford Motor Company has introduced the "wired" automobile.

Rebranding Drunk Driving
If you've never driven under the influence of alcohol, you're too young to drive, a liar, or an extremely rare individual. According to Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner's book "SuperFreakenomics," one out of every 140 miles in the United States is driven drunk. In 2008, an estimated 11,773 people died in drunk-driving crashes involving a driver with an illegal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or greater.

Doritos Offers Creatives a Chance to Crash the Party
As NBC counts down to the 2010 Olympics, a much bigger contest looms on the American horizon: the Super Bowl. While I don't really care who wins as I'm Chiefs' fan living in Chicago, I watch the game with rabid intensity every year just to see the ads. In fact, unless my team is in the game, that's the only reason I watch. Maybe I'm a Super Bowl geek. That's fine with me. I'm in good company, as two geeks from Indiana won a million bucks last year because they were more concerned with the game's advertising and not the game itself.

History Moves to the Future
The History Channel has an image problem. Well, that's not necessarily the truth because the History Channel is known simply as History™ now, dropping "Channel" in early 2008. The image problem stems from the fact that the entire world, especially the United States, looks toward the future. History is, after all, the past, evoking images of black and white, poor television reception, and uninteresting news casts. It's a channel for the parents or grandparents. That was so 2000! History has a new look, new programming, and tag line: "History Made Every Day," communicating the fact the network is changing.

We Will RockYou
The year 2009 saw leaps in technology. It was also a year that saw a lot of tech fumbles, data breaches, and outright missteps by tech providers when it came to user safety. Passwords were given away, applications were hacked, and even the video feeds of U.S. Drones were swiped in mid air. In their efforts to make us more social, the social networks were the among largest offenders, compromising user security then revising online security measures, promising our data would be safe. The problem was, the more we sought interaction, the less safe we became. At least that's the way it seemed. I would bet that right now you're less protected on Facebook than you've ever been if you didn't take the steps that Facebook outlined to secure your profile.

Making Sense of Online Ads
While traditional-media costs show declines due to the economy and lack of willing buyers, online ad rates have remained steady, or even increased, despite the slow economy. Online-advertising costs are computed using a couple of different methods. The easiest is the Cost Per Thousand model (CPM), when an online ad seller charges X dollars for 1000 impressions or views.

The Tracy's: The Best of the Worst
With a few notable exceptions (the Snuggie), bad advertising can be more detrimental to a product or business than no advertising. However, if it happens to be a series of ads singled out as being bad, that's another thing entirely. One bad ad can spoil your day. A series of them may ruin your future. Plainly, if you played a role in bringing an ad to life that was highlighted as one of the best of the worst, you may have some career challenges in your future. Not to worry! As advertising moves forward, other bad ads will come to take the place of your bad ad (or series), and you will soon be forgotten -- or so you can hope.

Iranian Cyber Army Hacks Twitter
On the heels of news reports stating our Predator drones' data feeds were hacked by hostile forces in Iraq, Twitter, the micro-blogging Web site, was reportedly taken over by the Iranian Cyber Army. While the news of Predator drones was very alarming, I find the news of Twitter being taken over disturbing. Why? Because the enemy is within our midst.

In Support of Tiger Woods?
While the news media weighs in on Tiger Woods, simultaneously stating they are tired of the controversy that has led the news with stories on the beleagured golfer, brands that have built their marketing platforms upon Woods, or used him in their advertising efforts, struggle with the decision to keep or drop Woods.

What Were They Thinking? The Worst Ad of 2009
As 2009 comes to a close, the "best-of" and "worst-of" lists are making their way to Internet sites. While these lists are usually the product of each writer's personal taste, there is at least one that is, without a doubt, the most tasteless, unappealing, and poorly thought-out advertising campaign/ad ever made. Yes, it's the World Wildlife Fund's Tsunami campaign.

Honesty Among Facebook Users?
The research conducted by a team of researchers in the United States and Germany uses a base of 236 profiles of college-aged individuals on social networks Facebook (U.S.), StudiVZ, and SchuelerVZ (Germany). The research points to online social networks as being a means of communication and interaction rather than a means to make oneself look more important, richer, better, etc. The research was gathered using a set of questionnaires to assess a profile owner's true personality and ideal personality versus what they listed on the social site.

Agencies Continue to Cut Jobs
As I watched President Obama give a short speech to receive a Nobel Peace Prize he did not earn in Oslo, Norway, I wondered why he didn't show much concern over the loss of jobs in the ad industry. Maybe he does care, but he just doesn't have time to address it. That's just like a politician. It' so easy to forget our advertising friends once we've been elected. After all, didn't advertising and message management help put him into office?

Wondershare Enables Bloggers to Create Flash Content
Unless you are a programmer-cum-blogger, you probably haven't had the opportunity to use Flash in your blog(s) or on your social media site(s). This is a drawback for many bloggers, for while they're able to write compelling content, they lack engaging visual content. Up until now, few options existed: One could have a friend create a Flash video or gallery, learn how to program Flash, or stick to videos and images. Since blogging is an industry that can provide substantial rewards, you can benefit by using more tools. f you are serious about blogging or just enjoy creating engaging visual slideshows and/or videos, a "plug and play" option is available from Wondershare.

Coke and Coke Zero Search for Online Matches
Coca-Cola wants you to know that while different, Coke Zero and Coca-Cola Classic have the same syrup flowing through its veins. To help illustrate this commonality, Coca-Cola Classic launched a Facebook application to introduce you to your online look alike, or in their terms, doppelganger (German for a double). The application, the Facial Profiler, launched Dec. 3, allowing members to upload their photos and find their twin. Users submit their images to help stock the database with enough photos so that online likenesses are easily found.

The Great Ice-Cream Conspiracy
If you’re like most, ice cream is a rare treat only to be consumed on special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, or hot summer nights. Peer pressure and our own personal guilt probably keep us from enjoying ice cream more. Before a couple of months ago, I would guess I had not purchased ice cream for roughly five years. When my brothers and I were wee sprouts, ice cream was a nightly treat delivered if, and only if, our plates were cleared, and that meant lima beans, liver, or any other horrid fare we were “blessed with.”

Virtual Crime Carries Real Prison Time
In the last few years, we've seen some incredible and incredibly strange stories come out of virtual worlds. The incredible includes the story of a woman who, in 2006, became the first virtual millionaire. Selling virtual goods to virtual characters in a virtual world, Ailin Graef took her initial investment of $9.95 and amassed well over a million "Linden Dollars," which converts to actual dollars. It is actually estimated that she's worth more. Proving the adage, "Where there's a will, there's a way," she hit the million-dollar mark in about two-and-a-half years. Then there was the Japanese woman who was arrested in 2008 for breaking into her virtual husband's account on the interactive game "MapleStory" and killing his avatar. Currently, she faces a fine and prison sentence of up to five years.

Revenge is Best Served Cold, Not Frozen
The great ice-cream rip-off started in 2003. The premium makers, like Ben & Jerry's, Blue Bunny, Häagen-Dazs, Breyers, and Edy’s cut the size but kept the price constant. According to the June 13, 2008 USA Today, this was due to the dairy crisis. "We did not in any way try to hide this," Tim Kahn, CEO of Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, which also makes -- and has shrunk -- Edy's. "The package size change couldn't be any more visible." What a weasel!

Changing Brand Perception Using Color
Without realizing it, we make decisions every single day about color and how it affects us. Many of our decisions regarding products and brands revolve around color. Does black make me look sexy? Is blue cool or cold? Do brown pants make me look fat? Most men won't carry a pink phone, and many would balk at wearing a pink shirt. Wedding dresses, for the most part, are white. Green is the color of money. Red could mean sex, or it could mean stop. Color, physically, envelops our lives and affects our decisions. Our sense of sight is actually a powerful tool used by companies to sell us products and services.

JobAngels Everywhere
If you have a Twitter account, hopefully you've heard about @jJobAngels. For that matter, since I first started writing this post six months ago, if you're on Facebook or LinkedIn, JobAngels have begun their great work of helping others find jobs from those sites, as well. It started as a great idea: human compassion for others and an extremely motivated group of followers. This seems to be the right combination to begin a viral groundswell that is part pay-it -forward, part social media, and part hiring agency.

Yodle's Rise: Local Search Provider Still Kicking Local A$$
Silicone Alley Insider listed Yodle as one of the hottest start-ups for 2009. While Yodle isn't at the top of the list, they stepped over some well-known names for their debut appearance.

The Comet and the Dinosaurs: Microsoft and News Corp. to Fight Google
So it begins. If you haven’t noticed already, certain newspaper sites require a subscription to view their online content. The ones I’ve noticed have been News Corp. properties. Unfortunately for News Corp., other news entities publish the content for free. Rupert Murdoch, owner of News Corp., is rumored to be in discussion with Microsoft in an effort to “un-list” their newspaper content on Google.

Crowdsourcing on Cloud Nine: GeniusRocket Breaks the Mold
GeniusRocket is unique for a couple of reasons. First, they harness the power of the crowd while providing the service of an agency. Second, GeniusRocket just announced the launch of Genius Rocket Select. GR Select takes the crowdsourcing/agency model one step further by catering to bigger brands seeking a more personalized experience and offers clients direct communication at every level of the creative process.

When Silence Kills: Chicago's TXT2TIP
Chicago is known for its professional sports teams, political shenanigans, architecture, the Chicago Fire, the Willis Tower, pizza and, unfortunately, its crime rate, which often skyrockets to bestow the sad distinction of murder capital of the U.S. upon the city. Like many big cities, Chicago is plagued by gangs, causing high murder statistics for a youthful population. The code of street justice, often depicted in movies and television, is a reality here: Don’t talk to the cops, or you’ll face street justice.

Alibi By Facebook
It seems like this one of those questions that there's no hope in answering: "Where were you on Tuesday the 3rd at 10pm?" Thinking...thinking...thinking...do I tell these guys that I don't know where I was this morning, let alone three weeks ago on a Tuesday? No, they'd just think I was being sarcastic. They would be be right. It would seem to me that in 2009, the alibi question, accounting for your whereabouts at such and such at time, would be a thing of the past. Way past. Technology has brought us to the point where we can split an atom, yet we'll still consider someone a suspect if they can't provide information.

A Good Campaign: There's No App for That
Standing out from the crowd is what advertising is all about. In a world of "me-too" products and services, how can we lift our product, our brand, above the throng? Strategy? Creativity? A great tagline or goofy jingle? Maybe. Although there's never a guarantee, one way to stand out is to cut across the grain; if everyone is moving in one direction, move in the opposite. It's a risky strategy that, if executed properly, can pay off in the long run.

Dude Wears Your Shirt...For a Living
His name is Jason Novo. And? And, if you send him a shirt, he'll put it on and wear it all day long. It'll cost you some smack, but it is the entire day. No, he is not part of the fine products that comprise the "As Seen On TV" marketing juggernaut; yet, in my extremely humble opinion, this is the best idea and execution of the idea that I've seen during this dark and hostile time. Hands down, he will be notified that he’s won the prestigious "Innovation During Economic Uncertainty Award" that I just made up. Earlier this year, I challenged agencies to step up with ideas that were not only brave and bold, but also economically feasible.

FreeCreditReport.com: Just Another Scam
FreeCreditReport.com has been pounding the airwaves, especially in non-prime areas, with their 30-second TV spots depicting "credit guy" and his numerous run-ins with bad credit. He and two of his musician friends tell stories of how bad credit has left them in a pinch with no way out.

Twitter Whores
Beware the Twitter Whores, because they are starting to show up on local Twitter pages. By accident, I met one of them last night. She showed up in my Inbox boasting promises. If you have a sharp eye, you can usually tell the Twitter Whores from the rest of the pack because their Tweets, Followers, and Following numbers look mismatched. Yet, there was a logo, which is one step Twitter Whores don't usually take, opting instead for the standard bird.

Unsure of Compromising Your Reputation? WISK-IT™
Do you spend hours scouring social media sites searching for any and all questionable images from your social media pages- and those of your friends and family- and then lock-down your privacy options, or do you simply let the chips fall as they may? If you are truly worried about your online image, of which we should at least be minimally aware, take heart because..... Wisk laundry detergent is here!

Our Little Facebook is Growing Up, Part II
Young as Facebook is, they've had fisticuffs with churches, irate parents, and even the ACLU. Surprisingly, the little Facebook That Could has fought some big lawsuits and walked away unscathed, emerging from lawsuits over privacy, freedom of speech, breast feeding, and data compromises to find that they'd gone on growing.

Our Little Facebook is Growing Up, Part I
"You've come a long way, baby" would be an apt way to discuss Facebook's evolution. Reminds me of the Virginia Slims my mother smoked. I spent a good portion of Sunday night reading everything I possibly could re: Google and Facebook. My prediction is that these two sites are positioning themselves to take the other out, or at the least, steal market share. Google, my favorite brand of the here and now, in my estimation, would lose the battle; I predict this particular outcome for one reason, and that is that Facebook is further on reconciling search than Google is at making the search engine social.

Even Idiots Use Social Media
For some inexplicable reason, I’ve been under the impression that social media users are smarter than non-users. This is possibly because I associated social media with college campuses due to Facebook’s beginnings, but I really don’t know if that’s true or not. What I do know is that it’s not been scientifically proven, although a Scottish Psychologist is doing her best to back me up. According to a Mashable post from a month ago, Dr. Alloway is testing a “working memory training” program for children who are slower learners than their classmates.

Google Music Search: Amazing
Insights for Search, a Google Beta application, shows that two of every ten search queries in the United States relate to music. Thus, Google, the company that seems to be involved with everything, rolled out yet another application yesterday that allows users to search for music by artist, song, or album. No big deal, except now the results will include a link to one of Google's search partners, MySpace, iLike, or Lala, which in turn connects you with the music.

Measuring Ad Success in Eight Days or Less
The recession has either changed the way advertisers do business or has forced us to reevaluate the ways in which we do business. The focus has shifted to the effectiveness and efficiency of an ad campaign rather than stressing the campaign or ad variables such as reach and effective frequency.

Social Media Addict
How many times each day do you check in to your Facebook, Twitter, send texts, or visit other social media accounts? Five times per day? Ten? More? Do you feel guilty when you haven't updated followers on links, news, or your daily plans? Do you feel frustrated when you're not able to log in and keep up?

White House Attacks Fox News
It must be slow in the Capital these days; it seems that although our world is going crazy, the president and his staff have taken time out to wage a media attack on Fox News, making the rounds on all the Sunday morning talk shows, with one glaring exception: Fox.

Virtually Ridiculous: US Virtual Goods is a Billion Dollar Industry
When I first learned about virtual worlds, my first thought was "big deal." I wasn't impressed, and I thought that there was a limited life expectancy for these online communities. Virtual Goods are non-physical objects that are purchased and exchanged on the Internet. They have no "real world" value and items or gifts sent to others on social networks, via instant messaging, and those purchased in virtual communities, such as Second Life. The more complex the Virtual Good, the more it costs.

Pepsi's iPhone App Arouses Women's Ire
Pepsi's new application in support of its AMP energy drink seems to be upsetting women... a lot of them. Maybe with good reason. The application, named "AMP Up Before You Score" is described on App Shopper as: ....a roadmap to success with your favorite kinds of women—24, in all. Is she an Artist? Quote some Picasso. Indie Rocker? Here are her favorite songs. Sorority Girl? Good thing you know the Greek alphabet. Know what makes her tick before you open your mouth, so she’ll like what she hears when you do.

Boobs in the Media: Walking a Fine Line
Life just keeps getting weirder and weirder. One day, boobs are good; the next, they're banned in Britain on billboards for their portrayal of headlamps. Britain is the last place you would think the girls would be put away. Britain is (in)famous for its portrayal of plunging-cleavage shots on TV shows such as "Benny Hill" and "Ab Fab" ("Absolutely Fabulous"), but is also the same country that publishes topless women weekly in newspapers, notably, The Sun's "Page 3 Girls," and the Daily Star's "Babes"

Olympic Bid Split Chicago, Local Agency
In case you were unaware, the competition for the 2016 Olympics host city has ended, and the waiting is over. It was a controversial ride, but Chicago got knocked out immediately, and Rio de Janeiro was bestowed the honor, marking the first time a South American country has been chosen to host an Olympic Games. The news is bittersweet in Chicago: According to recent polls, the city was divided almost equally, as 54% supported the bid, and 46% did not.

New Color Palette Engages Product Differentiation
Many of you may have read Jack Trout's book, Differentiate or Die, published in 2000, which is based on the premise that survival, from a business perspective, is ensuring you are distinguished from your competitors. As the book's title suggests, it's either that or face eventual death. When competition is heavy and there are numerous, indistinguishable products, one must separate from similar competitors. It's vital.

Jobs and Accountability for All. Except HR?
I have been applying to various agencies, consulting firms, digital design houses, and the like, and one of the so-called Human Resources' policies has moved on my "corporate irritation scale" from irk'd off to pissed off. For the sake of this writing, I include only the personnel departments at advertising, marketing, online agencies, vendors, and companies as the places I've been focusing upon.

B-52's, Headlights, or Jugs: Breast Cancer Org's Target Men
This post covers two of my favorite topics: Breasts and advertising. When they're grouped together, it usually means a 30-minute Girls Gone Wild infomercial. However, this post actually covers a couple advertising efforts behind breast cancer awareness, which is nothing to joke about. While humor is used in writing, and can be seen in the TV spots, no disrespect, implied or otherwise, is intended. My prayers go out to all those who have been affected by breast cancer. All men love breasts. Some love them secretly. Others wear t-shirts that shout out that they are "breast men." Even men that don't dig women are drawn to a woman's chest...not sexually, but out of curiosity. (It's a cruel society that labels a straight man as a stalker for staring at a woman's assets for too long while a gay man has free reign to reach right out and grab a woman's chest in public...)

Social Media: The 'It' Planning Medium for 2010?
Once upon a time, TV basked in the spotlight as the "must-have" advertising medium needed on every "it" media plan. If you weren't on TV, then you weren't really advertising. Then, as the costs of advertising on television became prohibitive for many advertisers, media planners had to formulate creative media mix solutions to maintain top-of-mind awareness while keeping costs low. Still, if you could afford TV, it was considered as a premium option. This isn't the case anymore. While TV remains a force with which to be reckoned, the new darling in the media-planning world is social media.

Crème de la Crap: The Tracy Awards for Worst Advertising
Just how many advertising messages are we exposed to on a daily basis? In Data Smog, author David Skenk writes that the average American's exposure to advertising has grown from "560 daily advertising messages in 1971. By 1997, that number had increased to over 3,000 per day." While the figures are controversial due to the definition of the word "advertising," even 200 hundred messages a day is more than we'll remember. Be thankful for that, because most of them are crap that shouldn't have made it past the concept stage.

Facebook's Feeling Shaky
Facebook, the hugely successful social media site, is one of those companies that made some mistakes when starting out, righted itself, and plowed forward. To its credit, it did not make many mistakes. But something is cracking in the social media powerhouse's facade, whether it's the competition, the fact that it stands out in front and will soon be butting heads with Google, or that it seems to be tiring. Facebook is much like Google: it doesn't tend to half-ass anything, and that usually means mistake-free work.

Facebook Adds @Tags
Facebook announced that it would be incorporating a "new" feature today: @tagging, or @tags. Facebook users will soon have the option to tag friends while updating their status messages by using the @ symbol along with their friend's username. It will be a different method than that used by both Twitter and FriendFeed (a recent Facebook purchase). Twitter and FriendFeed use "@" plus username to initiate or respond to a conversation. Thursday's Facebook Blog announced the new feature and defined how the @tag feature will work on Facebook:

Got a Minute? Watch a Movie!
Imagine telling an extremely intricate story in a few minutes, something like War and Peace (560,000 words, or approximately 1,400 pages in paperback). Better yet, condense the events of your Labor Day weekend into three tweets on Twitter (420 characters including spaces). Neither of these tasks seems plausible. What about telling an interesting, coherent, and compelling story on film in exactly one minute? The odds don't sound any better, do they?

Tequila and Timberlake: The Perfect Combination
Justin Timberlake is not one to let the grass grow under his feet. The extremely popular solo artist has launched several “brand extensions” of himself that have been well received by critics and fans. His first new venture was Tennman Records, which began in 2007. Then, in February of 2009, he and best friend Trace Ayala announced William Rast, a clothing line that “is an extension of you.” William Rast not only gained notice, but also received praise from the fashionistas. His latest venture? 901 Silver Tequila.

Social Media Use #457: Get Corporations to Respond
While it could be "just another airport story" replete with grisly details regarding passengers left on the tarmac for 12 hours with nowhere to go to the bathroom, this one has a bit of a twist. A singer/songwriter's $3,500 guitar is trashed on a flight from Chicago in the spring of 2008. To add insult to injury, it takes the man 10 months to get a final response from the airline, and it's not a good one. United will not pay for the damages. That is its final answer. Well, not really. Disgruntled, the singer decides he is going to make three videos regarding his treatment by United and post them on YouTube.

Social Media: Don't Get Stuck in the Quagmire
If you work with social media in any capacity, you've probably realized that social media can be overwhelming at times. There is a lot to keep track of, and the presence of applications means that it is important to keep track of what's being sent where and to whom. Great content means zilch if it's not relevant to the audience. A while back I came across a post on Focus that advocated the "50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs A Presence On," and my first thought was, "No effin' way!" That is the most ridiculous piece of advice I've read on establishing a social media presence. Nonetheless, the author walked through each site, one at a time, until all fifty have been reviewed.

Interview with Founder of Bajibot: Vince Mei Sets Creative Benchmark
A visit to Bajibot's website is like going into another world. It is so rich with visuals and 3D animation that it's almost like a video game... you just keep wanting more. I connected with New Business Director Martin Fernando and he put me in touch with Vince Mei, founder of Bajibot. Due to their hectic schedule, I sent my interview questions to them via email. The response came back in half a day, so thank you Martin and Vince for your time -- I know you guys are busy.

Internet Addiction Disorder: Symptoms, Criteria, and Solution
I've had a few run-ins with various addictions working as a weekend counselor at a recovery house, but they've been mainly of the substance-variety. There are, of course, other types of addiction (gambling, sexual, etc.), but to be quite honest, I had never heard of Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD). Internet Addiction Disorder has not been classified as a "true" addiction according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th. Edition (DSM-IV), which is basically the Bible for classification and treatment of addictions.

Rachel Nasvik, Pirates, and Hand Bags (Oh My!)
In June, Beyond Madison Avenue ran a post about designer Rachel Nasvik, a New York City designer famous for chic, custom-made handbags, and the "scavenger hunt" in New York City where consumers followed clues published on social media sites to find hidden handbags. The campaign was a great success and displayed a great use of social media as well as a natural knack for getting noticed. Well, Rachel Nasvik has again taken it to the streets, but in an entirely different manner.

Corporations Accept Social Media (Slowly)
It's been quite a year for Facebook. Not only has the social networking site taken the top spot as the largest social media site in the world (gliding past MySpace with nary a wave), but it has pro-actively faced the future by implementing real-time search and acquiring rival company FriendFeed.

Clearly demonstrated by the graph below, Facebook shows no signs of slowing.


Vegemite: Kraft's Relaunch Leads to Top Global Brand Affinity
Sometimes the past is filled with wonderful memories of friends, music, good times and lots of laughter. Or, the past should remain exactly where it is, especially when remembering you sense of fashion, your bodily piercings, and that mullet with the spiked top that would never go out of style. If you remember the mullet, do you recall these lyrics? Buying bread from a man in Brussels He was six foot four and full of muscles I said, "Do you speak-a my language?" He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich"

Converting Leads: President of MarketingAnd Offers Solutions
A scheduled twenty minute interview with MarketingAnd President and CEO, Sammy James, ended up lasting an hour. This is what happens you speak with an expert and a true believer of innovative tools for online marketing. As the interview continued, I began to recognize how various online businesses could benefit from its approach. Thank you, Mr. James, for your extra time and attention. MarketingAnd is an eclectic mixture of product and service -- part software-developer, part consultancy, part provider, and part business partner. It is capable of working within an established agency-client relationship and can also provide its own expertise to clients.

Hartle Media Takes Online Approach to Print
Over the past decade, online media sites have increased readership and ad sales while magazine and newspaper sales have suffered declining circulation and falling ad revenue. In 2008, a total of 525 magazines shut down and the first month of 2009 recorded the closing of 40 publications. Well-known titles such as Vibe, Portfolio, Playgirl, PC Mag, and Domino have either shuttered or moved to online-only formats. Newspapers have fared no better, with titles such as The Christian Science Monitor, The Rocky Mountain News, and The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ceasing their print operations.

Google Inches Closer to Local Search
Can you feel it? The World Wide Web is creeping closer, inching its way into your backyard. Interestingly, as the World Wide Web focuses on the more finite, or local search, it actually expands. It's just one of those mysteries... Geotagging has become the latest "it" buzzword, and if unfamiliar with the term, it's defined as: Geotagging, (sometimes referred to as Geocoding), is the process of adding geographical identification metadata to various media such as websites, RSS feeds, or images.

Google Voice Pre-Launch; Forbes Seems "Google-Confused"
Despite the fact that Newsweek boldly claimed that the recession was over, it's really not. On July 31st, Verizon Wireless reported a 21% decline in profits, which, as we all know by now, means massive lay-offs. In this case, 8,000 more employees were let go, the largest lay-off since the GM debacle. And just to keep things on the up-and-up, Verizon has already cut 8,000 jobs in 2009. It's my guess that Verizon employees are thinking that the recession lives on... So, not only must we disseminate information gathered from online sources, it would seem that we must do the same for magazines, newspapers, and TV newscasts. Nothing can be taken at face-value.

Google Voice Pre-Launch; Forbes Seems "Google-Confused"
Despite the fact that Newsweek boldly claimed that the recession was over, it's really not. On July 31st, Verizon Wireless reported a 21% decline in profits, which, as we all know by now, means massive lay-offs. In this case, 8,000 more employees were let go, the largest lay-off since the GM debacle. And just to keep things on the up-and-up, Verizon has already cut 8,000 jobs in 2009. It's my guess that Verizon employees are thinking that the recession lives on... So, not only must we disseminate information gathered from online sources, it would seem that we must do the same for magazines, newspapers, and TV newscasts. Nothing can be taken at face-value.

Cellufun: First Ever Mobile PSA
As technological capabilities expand, so do ideas... or vice versa. In either case, we seem to witness ideas that break the traditional mold on a regular basis. Cellufun, a mobile social gaming community, is launching the first public service announcement (PSA) campaign over a mobile network. It is an idea that breaks conceptual boundaries. Known as "The World's Mobile Playground," Cellufun is a virtual world where people can meet, play games, and shop... all via cellular phone.

LinkedIn Improves Company Profile Offering
Since joining LinkedIn, I've always been perplexed by the fact that company pages are not customizable, or even attractive. Personal users are able to add slide shows, badges, pictures, and HTML while companies aren't given much but logo space, number of locations and employees, and a few other factoids. The other part that troubles me is that many companies don't even bother to have a company page, not only bypassing the opportunity to attract top talent at no charge, but dismissing a free branding opportunity.

Brands and Products So Smelly They're Priceless
Approximately 80% of a corporate, or brand, identity is defined by either sight or sound. Yet, out of the five senses, these are but two. Although debatable, smell may be our most powerful sense (others argue that it's sight). Without smell, our sense of taste is diminished because smell and taste combine to define flavor. Smell is invaluable for detecting danger such as a fire, or easing into a state of calm such as aromatherapy. The sense of smell is so powerful that memories long-past are instantly recalled when a particular odor is encountered

Yodle's CEO Explains How to Kick Local A$$
For the first time in nearly a decade, online spending was reported to be 5% lower in Q1 of 2009 than Q1 of 2008. Although losses were not specified by category, it's clear that online advertising is not recession-proof. Yet, glimmers of success are still found among gloomy reports and forecasts. Yodle, an online advertising provider that specializes on small businesses in local markets, has repeatedly shown dramatic increases in year-over-year revenue gains over the past two years.

Tagged and Facebook Invade Privacy; Twitter Gets Hacked
Recent social media news is of the bad-- or even dangerous-- sort, generally highlighting the fact that we have little-to-no guarantee of any privacy online, especially when assessing social networks. Although social media sites state that we, as users, will be protected, evidence proves this to be far from the truth. Last week, the self-proclaimed "third largest" social media network, Tagged, was named in a lawsuit filed by New York's Attorney General, Mario Cuomo. The suit alleges that Tagged invaded the privacy of 60 million of its own users, stole names from their address books, and then sent out spam to those addresses, stating that they were tagged in pictures on the site.

Media Consumption Patterns: Reaching Teens
Did you hear the one about the 15-year-old who decided to run his own study on the media consumption patterns of teenagers? It's quite the research... er... story... lesson. Ben Kellogg of Group SJR forwarded me the article after we had spoken about an entirely unrelated subject. To be quite honest, I didn't jump right on it... my laptop had died, losing files, email contacts, and programs. I just kept resetting the email reminder. Until today.

Losing Money to Keep Relationships
I am going to use an example involving polar bears to start out this conversation on agency/client relationships. It may seem like non-converging subjects, but it will come around. I like polar bears. I don't want to own one or anything, and I'm not part of the PETA-Elite, but as bears go, they seem like simple animals to me... and I like simple. For example, we have documented evidence that polar bears attack and kill humans. My simple advice? Steer clear of polar bears, even the ones at the the zoo.

Bad Facebook! Browser Hijacking Hijinks Are No-No's!
This is the second of the two posts regarding Facebook (FB), with the first (The State of Facebook) being posted yesterday. Why? The site is a cultural outlier. I'm intrigued by the site's growth as well as its ability to alter world events. The bulk of Facebook's users reside outside the United States. Moreover, some countries are experiencing growth rates over 3000%. This is an actual global community... something humanity has never witnessed before. The true reason I follow and write about Facebook is the controversy. Global access opens up a world of moral and ethical issues that we, as a society, must sort out. To complicate matters, each of these countries has its own set of standards. It is truly an intricate path, full of potential pitfalls.

The State of Facebook: Is Older Better?
Facebook is a no-charge social networking site that began in February, 2004 at Harvard for Harvard students. However, as the word regarding Facebook spread, so did Facebook... to Stanford, The Ivy League, and other Boston-area colleges. [Facebook] later expanded further to include any university student, then high school students, and, finally, to anyone aged 13 and over. The website currently has more than 200 million active users worldwide.

Don't Sell Just Sell It, Noit It!
Can you feel it? It's much like the spin of the Earth. E-v-e-r s-o s-l-o-w-l-y, we're being herded by unseen forces swirling about; price, comfort, security, and laziness. Why fight the crowds or the traffic when it can be done from home? If you don't have to leave the house, don't. Massive online sites such as Ebay and Amazon make shopping online simple. Prepare to add another couch magnet to your arsenal: NoitWorld.com. Before you ask:

Google vs. Microsoft - a New Vigor in the OS Marketplace
Nine months ago, Google entered the browser battle with Chrome, basically a no-frills, speedy browser. It is the direct opposite of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), which is choked with features. Google goes on the offensive yet again with the announcement of an operating system under the Chrome name, called Chrome OS. In its press release, Google states that the new Chrome OS is built in the same context as the Chrome browser -- light and speedy.

Stickercards: Simple Change May Change Biz Card Industry
As most know, I've been writing about innovation in the face of adversity; our industry's changing, the economy's sucking the breath out of good companies, and, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the bubble won't break until at least 2013. That's four years of this. Tired of the bad news, we thought that we would task this highly creative industry to either show us your stuff, or keep your mouth shut. Talking the talk is easy. Prove to us, and the industry, that you've got the creative mojo and win some free publicity.

Socially Inept: Tips to Organize Your Social Presence
I have been Socially "aware" for about two years, and the most difficult aspect of using Social Media for your, and your readers', best interests is organization. If you are anything like me, you write for a blog, or blogs, you have a Facebook account, a LinkedIn account, a Twitter account, a Digg account, and several others that pertain to your business. Thus, I have an InSocialMedia.com account, and AdGabber.com account, and an Adholes.com account. There are others... (The whole reason that this began in earnest was to keep up with industry news, and then, when I was "econonomized," to aid in my job search. It's become a job in its own right.)

Advertising is Irrelevant?
AdWeek and Harris recently released a poll asking those not involved in the advertising trade what they thought of advertising's "relevancy." The results show that most find that our jobs, as a whole, are rather irrelevant. Advertising's down, no doubt, and now Adweek's heaping salt on the wound! Well, Mr. and Mrs. America, let's look at a life without advertising. A life of relevance.

Required: One BS Detector
The rapid changes in technology, advertising, and social media have brought along their baggage: jargon, political-correctness, new terminology, "cutesy" names, and phrases that just are not understandable. At least once a week I find it necessary to search for meaning on "new" words. When I spell-check posts or documents, many of the words that I read on a regular basis show up as misspelled. Along with these new words, we seem to be using more words to say less, working in keywords along with key points into our blogs, press releases, and online articles.

Digital Television... Buzz to Bust
Much anticipated, the switch to Digital Television, or DTV, finally took place on June 12, 2009. Despite over 1.5 years of warning, many found themselves with no programmings that fateful day. The original switch date of February 17, 2009 was pushed back due to the "lack of preparedness" of over 10% of US households. The whole effort to switch to DTV, according to the Federal Communications Commission, began on January 23, 2001. Eight years of planning, $10 billion dollars invested, and you're now looking at it. Whew! Glad that's over. Reminds me of Y2K.

Internet Explorer, Projectile Vomiting, and Feeding America?
It doesn't require much imagination to surmise that Microsoft probably employs some of the world's biggest brains. Although Microsoft is known for its PCs, the Seattle-based company provides the computing strength that runs universities, businesses, governments, and other "unknown" entities. The amount of human and digital brain matters flying around those offices must be tremendous, and you'd think this would prevent Microsoft from missing the simple things picked up instantly by consumers. But it just doesn't work that way.

Tweets Blow U2 Song Line-Up
So, there I was, following @U2Gigs on Twitter when the U2 crew (or someone in the corporation that has become U2) started tweeting the details of the songs that were being played at the dress rehearsal. No big deal on such a beautiful day, but in this case, it was the entire line-up of songs for the upcoming tour. Spoilers much? In the long run, it probably doesn't matter. Getting tickets will most likely be close to impossible.

Teen Does Back Flip in WheelChair: HowStuffWorks.com
How does White Collar crime work? What if the safety harness on the roller coaster broke? What are 10 inventions we use daily that were first used at NASA? How does WiFi operate? Who is Aaron Fotheringham? Aaron Fotheringham is the seventeen year-old athlete featured in HowStuffWorks.com's online and television ad campaign in support of the popular website. The spots have been released on YouTube and will also be seen on TV starting this week. And, it's not who Aaron is; it's what he does:

Take a Vacation and Let Chevron Take Care of the Gas... or the Car
Last summer, the price of gas skyrocketed. At one point, in Chicago, the cost to fill up my little car was $4.60 per gallon for premium. Thankfully, the price cooled down as the recession heated up, leaving lower prices for gasoline and less buying power for the dollar. Hmm. Although prices have risen somewhat this summer (at least here in Chicago), it doesn't seem to have had quite the same impact. This is partly due to the absence of media coverage that pounded the cost of gas into our heads every day, just to let us us know how bad the situation had become (and I'd like to thank the media for that). This year, the media has moved on to focus on the economy, Iran, Obama, and other "newsworthy" items.

Googler's Defense: "We're Not That Big"
Google, the leader in Search Engine technology, handles approximately 66% of all search engine traffic. So much, in fact, that when Michael Jackson died and his name spiked, Google thought that it was a coordinated attack. Much like AT&T did two decades ago, Google is fighting back over anti-trust allegations although no formal investigation is underway. Dana Wagner, the Googler known as "senior competition counsel" explains in the New York Times that "competition is just a click away."

Catching the Eye While Missing the Mark
I first stumbled across the displayed ad in Washington D.C. on the side of a bus stop. Struck by the image of George Bush, I stopped to survey it. Even as a Bush critic I was somewhat taken aback. Taking one of the most memorable images which represents a sliver of the ultimate failure of the previous administration seems brilliant on the surface. The ad and its organization, changeAidsobama.org, are certainly achieving the type of alluring controversy it intended. However, is the ad successful? Despite its stop-you-in-your-tracks appeal, does the ad effectively communicate the negligence of government (more largely, the country) towards the AIDS crisis in D.C.? In my opinion, no.

Below The Radar: Active International
What do you call a company with agency capabilities that is not an agency, but only offers "agency services" as part of a whole range of other services? Enter Active International, a "Corporate Trading Company." If your company happens to be within the Forbes Top 1000, you may know it by name. Not me. While talking to them on the phone, I felt like a complete idiot. Active International has made significant media buys, ranking them with, or close to, the top media spenders in the industry. Not only did I not know what it is, I had not the slightest bit of familiarity with its business model.

My Ad Ran Next to WHAT?!
Savvy clients usually require their media buying arm or vendors to provide notification of when and where the clients' ads will run. Television stations and cable systems have the ability to provide rather exact spot times such as date, time, program, pod (if you require it) and will do their best to keep competitive spots from running back-to-back. Radio is not as exact, but within a 15-minute window. Print positions are usually negotiated, or placed near content. Manly ads near manly articles, etc.

Habitat Furniture Cashes in on Iran Crisis
There is capitalism, then there are those that use shady business practices to further their objectives; in this case, a European furniture company named Habitat. The store has been described as a high-end Ikea, or similar to Pier One. The stores have been in business for thirty years, founded by a man named Terence Conran. It seems that the furniture seller, on Twitter as @HabitatUK, used the highest trending traffic #hashtags to have people sign up for its database. None of the tweets had anything to do with furniture, shopping, sales, or its business. Pete Cashmore at Mashable stated:

Large Breasted Women: Sleep Well Tonight
And now, from the lighter side of advertising... Kush Support is a company that manufactures and markets what they call "breast supports." These are not your surgically prepped and sterile packets of silicone or saline installed at the local cosmetic body shop. Nor are they fitted items of clothing meant to hold everything in place during duress. No, the supports were developed to help pregnant women, women with implants or large breasts, and women with wrinkles in the bust area get a full night's rest. The inspiration behind the Kush came when founder, Cathinka Chandler,

Evolution of a Revolution: Iran's Election and Social Media
After watching the Iranian revolution fall into the hands of "We, The People" on a global scale, a somber air of seriousness has settled across the online pages of Twitter, Facebook, blogs, MySpace, YouTube, Hulu, TwitPic, and a plethora of similar social media sites. It's almost the same as the days following 9/11, when the imagery, stories, and video shocked the American people into stunned, introspective silence. The footage making its way from the country once known as Persia is both brutal and graphic, threatening to rend your heart in grief. For the first time since before Iran shifted power in 1979 to Ayatollah Khomeini, there seems to be a tenuous kinship between the people of the two nations rather than the fear and hatred that once permeated the air.

Is the CEO "Fit for TV?"
It's one of those tough predicaments: your client wants to be the spokesperson for your new TV spots...well, his new spots. He's the man driving the company-the brand-no matter how much time you've put into it. A very charismatic and charming man, unfortunately he's "got a face for radio," standing 5' 5" tall with wispy hair that seems to start in his ears and wind it's away around the back of his bald head. From the looks of it, the ears have never seen a trim. (Yummy...) You weigh the options; he's definitely not stupid, so the whole "we need a perfect fit for the brand persona" BS angle is dead. In his mind he's part of the brand's image, and he is to an extent, just not the TV extent. If you tell him that, the account won't be in jeopardy, but the relationship will be strained.

Microsoft Spots? So-So. Feeding the Hungry? Bravo!
Microsoft launched two "Hulu-esque" online TV spots this week that star Dean Cain, the actor known as Superman from the TV series "Lois & Clark." The spots are a bit surreal, much like the Hulu commercials that have were released earlier this year. The two spots, named F.O.M.S. (Fear Of Missing Something) and S.H.Y.N.E.S.S. (Sharing Heavily Yet Not Enough Sharing Still), are in support of Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), released in its final version on March 19th of 2009. It's unclear if Microsoft is experiencing low download rates for IE8, or are simply running the spots to support the new software in a more competitive environment.

A Really Goode Job is a Phenomenal Campaign (Murphy-Goode)
Beyond Madison Avenue requested submissions on progressive action in trying times, and the response thus far has been respectable. There really isn't a choice left to agencies; stealing the title from a book by Timothy Labadie, it's time to Evolve or Die Truth be told, the industry may never recover. This week, the PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2009-2013 report was released. It states that PwC doesn't foresee ad spending returning to last year's levels until 2013 (still $15 billion down), and although the levels may return, the media mix is likely to look a lot different.

The Cricket Theory
They don't have a cool name, like Razor Burn, Cloud Nyne, or inVisible. In fact, they sound like an accounting firm. Thankfully, they're not into accounting. What they are into is corporate survival, and other things that will make your accountant giddy. Atlanta-based Nolen & Associates is proof-positive that contempt prior to investigation is foolish. Judged solely by name, they'd never be classified as an agency that is boldly progressive, unafraid of saying "no." Yet, that's exactly what they are, and they have a simple message: Market through the tough times and emerge stronger.

Who Stole My Facebook URL?
All a-twitter, I went to grab my new Facebook URL. When you sign up, Facebook provides you with options, such as Jeff1Louis, Jeff.Louis, or JeffLouis1, in case someone already had the URL. Well, no one would have mine...I was going to be fancy and use an ID that I had been using for years. Excitedly, I began to type: w...w...w...dot...f...a...c...and, Enter! Facebook returned a "ABC1234 is Not Available" message. I couldn't believe it.

Do You Subscribe to "No News is Good News" as a Rule?
Is no news truly good news? A common phrase, it reportedly stems from King James I of England, according to Dictionary.com. The phrase, by definition, means, "Having no information means that bad developments are unlikely, as in I haven't heard from them in a month, but no news is good news." Or, it could mean they were eaten by lions. Today, no news is better than most news, especially for the ad industry. The current trade news has been built on lay-offs, agency closings, and executive shake-ups

Beyond Madison Avenue's Jeff Louis Asks: "Are You Creative Enough?"
Beyond Madison Avenue: The site's title could double as our mission statement, as it's not just the headlines we look for, but that which lies beyond. Or, better yet, it's the news that the others missed. Talent Zoo is the only site of its kind on the Internet. It's unique and yet friendly. It carries an air of superiority, but is humble. Why? Talent Zoo plays a part in an important decision: where will you find a great job? Or, where will you learn the most and contribute to the team? (Realize though, that when applying, it's all about them, but secretly, in your deepest heart, you know it's about you. And they do too.)

Does the Ad Industry Need a Scandal, Too?
INTRO For the 2008/2009 Year in Advertising Review (if there were such a thing), most of the pages would be filled with stories on Social Media Marketing, lay-offs, the automotive industry's effect on the ad industry, and the economy. With much of the hard news skewing negative, now is not the best time to face a scandal, albeit a small one. Based on a story released in The St. Petersburg Times (Florida), as well as their website TampaBay.com, it is been reported that a scandal is nearing hurricane force in the Sunshine State. Worse yet, it's a political scandal. Finally, to top it all off, it involves a prominent Tampa Bay ad agency, a federal inquiry, and the FBI.

"Right Brain Design (NY)" Creative in All Aspects
"Are you right or left 'brained'?" (Not sure? Take a test to find out.) The right brain/left brain theory was pioneered by psychobiologist Roger Sperry in the 1960s. His research postulated that the right eye and right hand were connected to the left brain (actually, the left lobe), and vice versa. Each lobe interprets information in a different manner; the right lobe is visual, processing information intuitively, while the left lobe is an analytic, sequential processor. Although unproven, testing has shown that visually creative people tend to be "right-brainers." Right Brain Design, located in New York, is much like any other Madison Avenue ad shop, with one major exception: The agency does not physically exist.

A Designer, Some Bags, and Fantastic Advertising
One of major benefits of working in the ad industry is witnessing creative campaigns and innovative ideas come to fruition. Once the hard work has been completed and the hours tallied up, there's not much to do but wait and see if the strategy pays off. When it does, the best reward is knowing that the strategy was solid, the tactics were on-target, and the execution was flawless. In pursuit of this excellence, more posts will be dedicated to the agencies and clients that aren't talking, but listening. Companies that realize "yesterdays" are the past, and longingly look toward tomorrow, in search of the next coup.

Social Media Explodes; Twitter Grows 3,712% YOY
Mon·e·ti·za·tion ˌmä-nə-tə-ˈzā-shən also ˌmə- noun: to utilize (something of value) as a source of profit. For online purposes, it means a predetermined method to generate an income from items posted on the World Wide Web. Much has been made of site value within the past months, mainly due to the quick rise of Twitter. Rumors have circulated widely that Google was at one point, in "talks" with Twitter. Yet, Twitter still stands alone. And why is this relevant?

Self-fulfilling Economy?
As Americans, there is a love/hate relationship that exists with the media due to one of two things: over portrayal (senseless beating to death of a subject) or non-portrayal (glossing over a story to move on) of news. Both tend to upset the news-hungry public, but over portrayal nears that point where news becomes culture for a short time. A couple of examples: Octo-Mom, Jon & Kate Gosselin, LiLo's drug rehab, relapse, rehab, and relapse.

Craigslist Battling Image Nightmare
Secretly, did America realize that there was a seedy underbelly flowing just below the surface of craigslist? Certainly, in major metropolitan areas, some of the advertising was suspect, especially in the "Erotic Services" section. Plus, there were the third-page stories of good folk getting ripped off by advertisers. But there was no real cause for major safety concern. That's changed in the last couple of weeks as the online classified service has fallen under both public and judicial scrutiny. Is this a case of karma finally catching up to the site, or is craigslist simply having a bad couple of weeks?

LinkedIn: A Fantastic Ad Choice?
This morning, perusing LinkedIn for opportunities, promotions, and other general knowledge, I was getting ready to log out when I came across a banner ad on LinkedIn. Surprised, I thought about it for a second: Had I ever seen one on the network before? No. Did I even realize that they sold advertising? Yes, in some small nook of my brain, I believe that I had researched it for a client. Yet, there it was, before me. A text ad and a banner ad, on the same page. Why Choose LinkedIn? The targeting offered by LinkedIn is the most important reason for choosing this site's network. Targeting data is provided by professionals that are members, making the information exquisitely accurate due to it's importance in the community:

That's Just (Grape) Nuts!
With the tagline "That Takes Grape Nuts," Post Cereal has gone and targeted men in its latest campaign for the tooth-busting cereal. (It is interesting to note that the cereal contains neither grapes nor nuts, but is made of something much heartier: pebbles, bits of glass, and peach pits.) The campaign is based on fifty web "shows" playing on TheGuysManual.msn.com that depict scenes of men making mistakes and getting coached on how to get out of them. Tips include how to deal with beating your boss at golf, dealing with a co-worker/girlfriend's success at work, and what to do when babysitting your boss’s kids. The advice could be seen as helpful, and somewhat funny, but it will never surpass the advice spewed by Jimmy and Adam on "The Man Show."

Boone Oakley Advertising: Creativity Isn't Words - It's Action
I've written a couple times on Beyond Madison Avenue about the difference between agencies that talked about being creative, or social, or cutting edge, and then comparing them with those that actually are. There are certain errors that will keep me from visiting your site, your blog, or your agency ever again. Number One: You state that you're a large creative muckity-muck. I go to your site, and it is under construction. Nothing works. Number Two: Misspellings. One every once in a while is tolerable. One on your homepage, in an ad, or on your resume is where we part ways.

It Ain't Crosby
Bing was on last night, and no, it's not Bing Crosby. Microsoft, tired of watching Google cash in on the search engine game, has been testing their super secret search engine for some months now under the ultra-secret name, Kumo. (It is hard to believe that these people make money, isn't it?) Along with the huge product release comes the equally huge budget, rumored to be upwards of $80 Million, although Microsoft would not confirm. "We'll have what I would call a big budget -- big enough that I had to gulp when I approved the budget," said Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, who unveiled Bing at a technology conference in Carlsbad, California, run by the All Things Digital tech blog.

Bad News Is Still News
The conflicting information that comes out of the ad industry is indicative of the great spinners that exist: one day a company is done, and the next it is top of the heap. And it's not all the 'media;' a good portion of the chaos is simply due to the fact that all of the players are twirling from one extreme to another. The clearest indicator? The daily newspaper. In one story, the industry is ensconced in secret meetings regarding the monetization of free information; the next story shows how out of the black they have fallen. Blood Red. After a week of flurried activity regarding the newspaper corps, silence. And perhaps that is the real news.

AIDS Rate in DC Rises, Campaign Begins
Like or dislike President Obama, there is one thing certain: his plate is FULL. Dealing with two wars, Gitmo, health care reform, a recession, and the largest corporations in the US filing for bankruptcy on a weekly basis, it is doubtful that the President will notice another crisis until it hits him in the face. The Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) will launch a public service campaign this week comparing the extremely high rate of AIDS in Washington, DC, with the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. The number of cases from last year to this have increased by 40%, a fact that has not been addressed by the media or the government. The AHF has used a series of print ads, a 30-second television spot, bus kiosk ads, and a website, ChangeAidsObama.org as part of the month-long campaign. Sixty bus shelters are slated for the new effort.

This Recession Will End
There are some pretty unbelievable resources available online at no cost. Everything from whitepapers to completed slide shows, covering any topic imaginable. Some of the better ones are put out by professional groups in support of advertising agencies and efforts. These include the Advertising Media Internet Center (AMIC), the 4A's, and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.These organizations also fund and run many of the Public Service Announcements. On May 5th, the OAAA's public service campaign was a shot in the arm to all worrying where the next paycheck will be coming from, or if there is a next paycheck.

Sense of Humor Refreshing
Boost Mobile , the prepaid division of Sprint Nextel, is unleashing a series of spots that play off of the the "Unwronged" spots featuring Danica Patrick. I am so glad that some advertisers still have a sense of humor because I am about tired of hearing how all of these companies that were started during the Great Depression want to comfort us. Not that we don't need a pick-me-up every once in a while, but enough is enough. The creative is aimed at supporting a new $50 a month, "Monthly" Unlimited' offering from Boost. The commercial features the Motorola Clutch i465, Boost Mobile's first phone with a computer keypad. The creative was developed by Boost's advertising agency of record, 180LA.

Is There A Future For Advertising?
A research study was sanctioned late last year regarding the "crisis" in advertising. With the invention of the DVR, were consumers still viewing television? Was word-of-mouth the only advertising that worked? What unforeseen problems would crop up when the newspapers went out of business? Were we, unknowingly, the last defenders of Babylon? The Wharton School, in cooperation with the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF), launched an exhaustive study that culminated in 21 papers that will be published in the ARF Journal in June 2009. The study, aptly named "The Future of Advertising Project," was launched to refute what ARF Chief Research Officer called:

Simon Sez "Follow!"
U2 sang about it (walk away, walk away, I will follow). REM sang about it. Follow Me, don't follow me, I've got my spine I've got my... Now we have FollowFriday. 25 Best people to follow. 100 Twitter Authors You Should be Following. Tips on the correct way to gain followers. Tips on adding followers. How to provide better content so that more people will follow you on Twitter. Follow is THE penultimate word for 2009. I used to look on my faithful followers and think that it was so sad that more people weren't listening to me.

Newspapers Hope Secrecy Breeds Success
Psst. You. Yeah, you. Keep it down, this is a secret...In Chicago last week, newspaper management-types from several different mastheads met to work out details on what will most likely turn out to be the most difficult monetization of any of the mediums. Unlike social sites that need to determine the best strategy, newspapers are starting with negative yardage. Their challenge? Charging for something that was free.And that is a challenge at which many would balk. In essence, the papers are trying to figure out how they can charge people for news on the Internet after largely giving it to them for the past 10-15 years. They have to do this so they don’t have to shut down when print advertising revenue gets so low that they can’t afford to stay in business anymore.

Do Atheists Believe in Advertising?
Once upon a time, I thought that I was an Atheist (deities do not exist). But, I was confused: I was an Agnostic (there is no verifiable proof of God). Now, I think that I'm simply a believer. This all came flooding back today as I drove through the Loop on my way to lunch. I had just left a meeting outside the city, trying to pay attention while driving without much luck. It's illegal to use a cell phone while driving in the city, so there went half my entertainment. The other half, the radio, was already playing. Bored, I started people-watching while caught in stop/go traffic. They scurried about as I rudely cut off an angry cabbie edging in between my car and a bus. It was then that I noticed the banner on the side of the bus, and thought "Huh. I wonder what they are advertising." After a couple of minutes of thought, it hit me:

Twitter To TV?
Twitter is proposing a TV competition series, depending on your source. The social-networking service said Monday it has teamed with Reveille productions and Brillstein Entertainment Partners to develop an unscripted series based on the site, which invites 140-character postings from members around the world. The show would harness Twitter to put players on the trail of celebrities in an interactive, competitive format. Twitter will not only be our "amazing" communication forum, but also our favorite reality TV show!

Levi Strauss Takes A Stance
Across the country, after celebrating Memorial Day, Levi's is once again breaking out their white clothing line. It is now officially OK to wear white shoes, white pants, and even a white belt, if necessary. However, to some Levi's stores, not only does white symbolize Memorial Day, "the correct day" to begin wearing white, "the white knot," symbolizing solidarity for gay marriage, is also on display in many stores across the US. Developed by Frank Voci as a response to Proposition 8’s passage last November, the White Knot for Equality is a white ribbon looped into a knot.

Marketing Agency Poses as Coppers on Twitter
A marketing agency in Australia has posed as a police department, namely the New South Wales (NSW) Police, and set up a Twitter account to join the conversation. Now, there have been times when we've all had ideas about acting like authorities on the phone to play a practical joke. Unfortunately, though, if the joke is convincing enough, the real police actually get involved and bad stuff happens. So Mentally Friendly (because mental friends really are the best) decided to tweet in the name of the New South Wales police, which was an interesting thing to do save for the fact that an increasingly large number of people thought it really was written by the New South Wales police.

My Ad Can Kick Your Ad's Ass!
With the Summer heating up and the economy moving like sluggish sewage in July, Advertising Age reports that the Summer of 2009 is going to be "cruel." Reminds me of Bananarama. According to Adage.com: Attack ads have been on the rise for the past year, but comparisons are getting sharper, responses are growing testier, and an increasing number of ad battles are ending up in court. Just don't expect a letup, because they're also working.

Yahoo's Gotta A Bad Picker
When it comes to purchasing companies to expand their online empire, Yahoo! has a track-record equal to teams that just never showed up for the game. So, when Yahoo's Chief Technology Officer announced that the company was looking at purchasing a couple social media start-ups, everyone ducked for cover. Especially due to the fact that their 2006 purchase of Jumpcut has been unsuccessful and will be shutdown in June 2009. Some of the bigger losses Yahoo! has sustained? Broadcast.com was purchased for 5.7 billion dollars, and GeoCities cost Yahoo!

Ideas & Ingenuity Overcome $$
"No one is buying right now. Business will come back in Q4. It'll get better. Our clients aren't spending at the moment." Is that what you are hearing from agencies? Is that what management is saying? That's like me stating that I can't get a job because no one is hiring. But companies are hiring, and businesses are making money. The reason that your clients aren't spending ad dollars is because they're scared. Scared brings out their conservative side. Fear, unless it's for your life, is not the best basis for decision-making. Fear is an anxious state. Think back on the all the right decisions you've made and determine how many were based on fear. Probably not many.

The Holiest Man On Facebook (No, Not Steve Jobs)
No, it's not a mistake. Regarded as the "holiest" man on Earth by the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict now has a Facebook application called "The Pope wants to meet you at Facebook." (Why didn't they give it a fun name like PopeMeUp, or ItsPopuree2Me?) The application was added to Facebook in conjunction with Vatican City website www.pope2you.net that went live late last week. In addition to the FB application, the faithful masses can follow the Pontiff's speeches using their iPhone or an iPod.

Priceless My Ass
The newest "Priceless" ad shows a young father and his son doing what young father's and sons do: spending quality time together. It begins with the boy filling up a water glass for his father (no bottled water here) and walks through how the boy helps his father become a better man by showing him how to save the environment by purchasing low-wattage light bulbs and choosing paper over plastic at the grocery store. Honestly, I have always enjoyed the ads, (and the parodies) feeling that the campaign was well thought-out and made an impact. Until now. Below is a picture of my actual credit card letter that came in the mail prior to President Obama's "reform" of the industry.But it doesn't matter anyway...the whole reform is a scam:

Not The Snuggy!
"Well," he said, " at least the economy looks to be turning around." I nearly spit up...luckily the cat was still asleep. What? Who was this guy? Ahh-just another analyst on late night TV. One of the ones that don't make it to Evening News. Credible at times, totally off-kilter at others. Think "Ross Perot." The economy is in such a state that when the market closes "up" at any point during the week, it's breaking news. "We're sorry to interrupt this program, but the Dow has just closed at it's highest point this week, and the S&P shows signs of breaking even. Tune in to Channel 6 News tonight to hear about this exciting historic development." Unfortunately, with the economy, or lack thereof, many advertisers have been forced to reduce their spending, which means only one thing: More Informercials.

Danica Patrick Slaps Sticker On Her Car...er, Twitter Page
Welcome to my first post on Digital Pivot! I know that you have been waiting for me to eeek over, and finally, after loads of red tape, some small bribes, and a few weekends spent doing labor, here I be. I am kidding, of course. All it took was an email... Why Didn't I Think of That? Believe it or not, it took Danica Patrick and her image/PR agency, Sports Media Challenge, to come up with an idea of having a corporate-sponsored Twitter page.

Microsoft Really Did Bite Apple
One month ago, I posted a column regarding Microsoft finally taking a crack at Apple (after two years) in the "I'm a PC, I'm a Mac" war waging on TV. I did take some comments from Apple users regarding how "stupid" PC users were, which is to be expected. I suppose it either shows fierce brand loyalty or that Apple owners need to take some time off. The agencies for which I have worked used both...a testament to the strengths of each platform. I do applaud Apple for putting the smackdown on Microsoft regarding customer service.

When The Going Gets Tough, Go Guerrilla
If you're anything like me, you think "change" is a word that has been overused of late. Well, unfortunately, it's going to happen again: Change. Change. CHANGE! Change the way you think. Change the way you act. Look at your client from another angle. Ask someone else what they see. Don't rely on what you think you know, go and find out what others know. Our industry beat the phrase "think outside the box" into the ground, but now-really-it's time to think outside the box.

Lexus: Savvy Marketer + Sweet Car = Success?
Today Lexus debuted the 2010 Lexus IS C convertible hardtop, a high anticipated brand extension to the IS line. To launch the sweet new ride, the company is kicking off an integrated marketing campaign to reach consumers looking for thrills. As the rest of the industry ponders their respective fates, Lexus has decided not to take a back seat, rocketing forward with both a car and campaign that are meant to reveal it's "dynamic and playful side."

Careerbuilder Surprises "AdLand"
First, Current TV put it's RFP out to everyone on Twitter. Now, CareerBuilder (CB), a company with no fewer than five Super Bowl ad appearances, has dumped its agency and gone "public." Wieden-Kennedy, CB's most recent agency, did not lose the account to another agency, but instead to the general public. CB is asking for the creative 25-second spots via a promotional drive that will be on their website. The winning spot will air in the upcoming Super Bowl (February of 2010). "For a brand like CareerBuilder, which is about helping people get to their next great position, this made sense for us, and with the situation [the country is] in economically," says Richard Castellini, the company's chief marketing officer.

Rupert, Rupert, Rupert
No More Free Online Content? So says Rupert Murdoch, owner of Media News Group, the publisher of 54 daily papers that include The Denver Post and the Detroit News states that although details have not been determined, newspaper websites will no longer be free. Newspapers across the country are facing bankruptcy and closures, and publishers are struggling to modify their business models in a way that will bring in enough additional revenue to survive and thrive. Zenith Optimedia predicts that newspaper ad revenue will fall 12% this year.

Some CEO's Don't Like Being Pointed Out
Searching for the often controversial, but always relevant subjects to use for BMA.com, sometimes you find a gem. As you may have seen (depending on your market), Jet Blue has been taking very directed shots at CEOs using several snappy commercials are truthful AND funny. This is what is commonly known as "Sarcasm." I have been accused of being sarcastic before...by family, friends, coworkers, teachers, etc. So, I thought I'd better know what the word meant. Anyway, I decided to see if the aviation industry, especially CEOs that chartered or took company/ private jets for their air travel found the ads humorous.

Craigslist Steps Up--Kind of...
Craigslist is dropping the "erotic services" portion of it's site due to pressure from impending lawsuits and a murder linked to the site. Unfortunately, the fix is nothing more than lip service. The category will simply be renamed and Craigslist will charge an additional fee for its use. Additionally, Craigslist employees will monitor posts before they appear online, something for which Craigslist has been criticized since adult advertising on the site started. Police in numerous states have used Craigslist as a tool to set up prostitution "stings" and the fact that sex is available on Craigslist is well-known.

Bicultural? Um...Maybe.
Dr. Pepper has kicked off a program known as Vida23, celebrating la vida23, "a flavorful, bicultural life to the 23rd power." A mobile dance club/studio and arcade, plus a new song written for the program, will be touring American cities. "Just like the unique 23 flavors Dr Pepper, Vida23 is designed to give consumers more out of every day," said Monica Morales, Dr Pepper brand manager, Hispanic market. "Hispanic young adults are living the best of both worlds - they're bicultural and bilingual. Unlike previous generations, today's young Latinos literally have one foot in each culture and Vida23 celebrates their way of life."

Nielsen Ratings for the TV? Can they be Trusted?
A Brief History Being from the media world, it is easy to forget that not everyone knows what media-philes talk about when they say things like CPP, CPM, Impressions, etc. Likewise, it's fair to assume that not everyone understands what Nielsen does, or why they do it. So, here is a quick definition: "Nielsen Ratings are audience measurement systems developed by Nielsen Media Research, in an effort to determine the audience size and composition of television programming in the United States." There are two methods for obtaining the information; the first is automatic and uses a device hooked to your TV. The second is what is known as the diary method...exactly what it sounds like.

Health Care For Everyone
In the United States, there are currently more than 44 million people with no health insurance. HealthJustice is introducing five TV spots featuring B.J. Hunicutt (Mike Farrell) of the hit television series M*A*S*H. Mr. Farrell has graduated from TV doctor to author and activist. HealthJustice produced a series of five ads with B.J. speaking to doctors and nurses about "Single Payer" health care. What is Single Payer Health Care? Single-payer healthcare is the payment of doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers from a single fund and is one of the systems used to provide Universal Healthcare.

Google Takes To Broadcast, Touts Chrome
Google, Google, Everywhere... There's probably not a day in our lives for the last five years that we have not come in to contact with Google in some way or another; a very charismatic and sticky brand, here is where we daily find Google: from trade pubs (IT, Advertising, and Marketing) to our home and work computers, Google has become a brand that has become a staple of our day to day online interactions. There are, of course, purists out there that use other search engines simply because they are not Google...but they are few and far between.

Sex Easy To Find On Craigslist
Craigslist may face criminal action in South Carolina unless the online classifieds service stops running ads the state says promote prostitution and pornography, the state attorney general's office said Thursday. Craigslist CEO Jim Buckmaster probably never guessed that his name would be involved with murder, a sociopath, and angry Americans. After all, he simply ran a classified ad website...what kind of trouble could he get into?

Not Feeling Screwed? You Should Be.

Truth in Advertising
Truth in advertising is, by some, considered an oxymoron. Like "deafening silence" or "clean coal." Yet, each day commercials run that make outrageous claims, but nothing seems to be done about them. For instance, the ShamWow: the announcer pours a can of cola out on the table in a big pool. The camera cuts to the announcer as he asks, "Are you catching this camera-guy?" The scene cuts back to the table and half of the mess is mysteriously missing. The government agency in charge of false advertising is the Federal Trade Commission, and there are several pages on their website dedicated on spelling out what are, and are not, deceptive practices :

It's No Depression, But I'm Gettin' One....
I have a love/hate relationship with the aggregators that provide the news feeds to my laptop. I've been using two...one that is on my desk top that is on pretty much all the time. It works well, but some of the sites that I want feeds from don't load correctly. I also have my feeds set up on iGoogle and Google Reader. Actually, looking at it in a new light, it's not the aggregators, it's the state of the advertising industry that has my panties bunched up in a wad. To give you an idea of what we as an industry face, I went back in time and pulled some of the juicier headlines from the last couple months: TV Revs to Decline 21% in Two Years

If You Had $100 Million?
This is an excerpt of an early 2009 interview with a McDonald's Coffee-Banger Street Lieutentant who asked to be kept off the record. I asked him what he would do with $100 Million... "A hundred million? We'd use it to knock Starbucks the *&^% out! Yeah! We're tired of that punk chain hanging around. Don't they know who we are? We are Mac-Don-Olds! MacD. Or Big Mac, to our friends. And that Starbucks been runnin things for too long. I thougAwright man, so here's the story. Starbucks been cornerin the coffee business for a while now, you know?

Newspaper Begs for Customers-Says No Digital Sundays!
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) has launched a campaign begging consumers to have a digital-free Sunday. The paper, owned by Cox enterprises, rolled out the over $1 million campaign this week with the tagline "Unplug. It's Sunday." The campaign is to promote the Sunday newspaper as a way to escape the ringing of cell phones, e-mail notifications, IM, and all of the other digital devices that "clutter" our work weeks. Instead of reading the news on an RSS Feed, we can lug out the seven pound paper and spend some quality time getting newsprint on our fingers. Nice. The campaign is slated to run for the remainder of the year.

Thou Shalt Not Twitter!
I've come to the conclusion that although I think I am radical, the truth is that I must be pretty conservative. It is most likely a product of aging, but that's only a small percentage of why I think I am a conservative. (I did like George Bush for a while...but it was only months) I don't take huge risks. Plus, I think that Twittering in church is ridiculous. But, Time reported that churches are indeed embracing Twitter: Voelz and David McDonald, the other senior pastor at Westwinds Community Church in Jackson, Mich., spent two weeks educating their congregation about Twitter, the microblogging site that challenges users to communicate in 140 characters or less.

Marketer: Brand Thyself
I’m part of a great movement, a swelling tide of humanity that Like-it-or-Not has become un-engaged with that thing called work. Another unwashed, unkempt food line patron, or the bearded man begging for change. I’ve been labeled by the media: UN-EM-PLOYED. I am not complaining, rather, explaining an “awakening” (whatev!). Unemployment is humbling and life altering, one day a contributor, the next, not so much.

Life Is A Rock, But The Radio Rolled Me
Some people never learn. They're in hot water today for the same reasons that earned them a seat in principals office every week as kids: Saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Most have erred at one time or another, but this is post-1984, significant only because George Orwell miscalculated: “Big Brother” is not the government, but is, "We The People." Americans seem relatively tense, and there is not much forgiveness for calculated or accidental misstep, most likely due to several coinciding events: big business mistrust (banking, housing, automotive), scam artists (Bernie Madoff), and a struggling economy.

Don't Miss This Press Release!
Are you tired of dating games? Does developing a healthy partnership seem impossible? Are all the best ones already taken, or playing for the “wrong” team? Do you find yourself awake in the middle of the night, alone with a cat you don’t remember buying and your favorite late night TV, with one question burning in your mind? “If I’m so successful, good-looking and smart, why am I still and lonely?”

Stop Watching Me!
Remember that song, "I always feel like, somebody's watching me, and I get no privacy...?" Well, stop inviting people to watch you and maybe they will. George Orwell's 1984 has gotten a little too close for comfort these days, except that big brother is not the government or the media, it's "We, the People." Think before you write, do, or say anything in the public eye(s)...and that includes on your computer. You can be social, just not too sociable: What you say can and will be used against you in the courtroom of life.

Coke to Agencies: Earn It!
Coca Cola Co. adopted a new strategy to save on media budgets and hold agencies responsible for providing performance. Under the “pay for performance” plan, Coke guarantees to reimburse only what an agency has expends unless said agency can prove performance based on predetermined success measures. We, as advertisers and marketers are notorious for speaking in ROI terminology, but the proving part is a different matter altogether. Agencies currently serving the soft drink giant will not profit without delivering. If Coke successfully demonstrates this value-based model, look for other companies to soon implement the same type of programs.

Dear Ad Agency Principals:
Did you get the RFP? Did you receive Current's RFP? The cable network is in search of an agency to "...formulate a brand/ad strategy that communicates who Current is through compelling, inspiring, and even controversial advertising." Sounds like a client that would be great for your roster, right? One that would challenge the creative department's expertise, and possibly land your agency on the front page of Creativity.

Make Mine Stirred...
One of the best perks about writing for (or with) the advertising industry is that there is always enough news to regurgitate without beating a story into the pavement. Especially during these economic times when many companies find themselves struggling to stay in the black. There are new campaigns launched every week, agency shake-ups, ethical questions to answer-it's like having a gold mine of RSS data-feeds loaded in the Google Reader. This morning, over 2000 stories had come in over RSS since yesterday.

Coke: Is it the Deadly Thing?
Coca Cola, invented in the late 19th century and marketed as a "cure-all" for diseases like morphine addiction, dyspepsia, neurasthenia, headache, and impotence has come a long way in a century. A friend once told me that Coke’s special formula used cocaine. Which is true, although at the time I called him a "lying pooh-pooh head." In fact, a single glass of Coke contained nine milligrams of blow. The nice thing? No crusty white boogers or mirror checks before going outside. ‘Cola’ was spawned from the Kola nut, which added caffeine to the mix. It's a wonder Ritalin wasn’t invented sooner.

Presses Grinding to a Halt
The Chicago Tribune reduced its news staff once again on Wednesday, due to restructuring and ...the economic downturn and changes in the media business that Editor Gerould Kern said "will focus us more clearly on our core mission" going forward. Nationally, newspaper circulation has been in freefall since 1987, and the parachute never deployed. The industry has been victimized by lifestyle changes, emerging technologies (cable TV, satellite TV, and the Internet), and other news sources, such as online TV and radio sites, and social media outlets

So, Now You're Social; Got Personality?
Whether a casual user, raving addict, or total agnostic, you've come into contact with Social Media (SM) sites and are aware of their influence on our daily lives: We can be hired, fired, or even jailed as a result of Social Media use. We can find lost loves, ruin current relationships, and even fix relationships…all in the social media space. There are SM experts, gurus, and enthusiasts. And of course, there are even SM celebritites. Not to mention those few of us that use Social Media for business (imagine that!). But, please realize this, oh SM narcissists: Even though you have 1500 Facebook "friends" and 40,000 followers on Twitter “being social ? having personality.”

Too Much Recycling?
Silk Soft is "rumored" to be a toilet paper that is 100% recycled: Rather than launching a campaign extolling the benefits of using recycled butt wipe to consumers, Silk Soft's agency, "By Far," let the creative do the talking, adding stickers to public toilet paper dispensers in and around Copenhagen. And, the unsettling picture does get the point across... This is truly a pure form of consumer engagement. Unfortunately, neither the brand, nor the agency, has been substantiated as being authentic. Thus, it is most likely a farce. Yet, for innovative creativity, I still give it a TEN.

AdWeek's Fluffy State of the Industry
Have you ever diligently searched for some information, or at least several sources, and come up empty handed? Happens to me all the time...I'll get a "great" idea and try to substantiate it, only to find that there is no accessible data. It is frustrating and a bit degrading. Recently, I wanted some hard numbers on the state of the Ad Industry, and wasn't coming up with much besides geusstimates and hype: I wanted data on damage done to date; total layoffs, shops that closed, account spending cuts, etc. Enter AdWeek. Usually a good source; not one that I would consider as a supplier of inane (lacking sense, significance, void) information. AdWeek usually does a decent job covering the industry, and when I saw a piece done by Mark Dolliver, "How Will Downturn Impact Advertising?" I almost peed in my pants. Finally! I excitedly dug in, expecting some hard-hitting insights from a professional publication and journalist that would leave me much better for reading it.

Sponges, Kings & Disparate Things
"He likes big butts and he cannot lie," and, the spooky King of fast food has grabbed more press this week than all his competitors, combined. This time, the creepy King has teamed with popular Bikini Bottom star and actor, SpongeBob SquarePants (of Nickelodeon fame) to promote a 99-cent BK Kids Meal. They released a new 30-second spot this week, and it's a banging hit, ranking third for viral video views according to Visible Measures. This disparate pair has our attention! Yet, the duo has gained unwanted scrutiny from the activist group Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an organization made up of educators, healthcare practitioners, activists, parents, and authors. A portion of their Mission Statement reads:

FTC to Regulate Blogging
Most of us just happily blog-along, with no worries, really. We try to do our best, tell the truth, and use correct punctuation. We don't try to misquote, and do work to give credit where credit is due. These practices, however, will most likely be changing in the near future as the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) looks at plans to regulate viral marketing and blogs. As part of its review of its advertising guidelines, the FTC is proposing that word-of-mouth marketers and bloggers, as well as people on social-media sites such as Facebook, be held liable for any false statements they make about a product they're promoting, along with the product's marketer. This could present a significant issue for marketers, including the likes of Microsoft, Ford, and Pepsi, who spend billions on word-of-mouth and social media. PQ Media projects that marketers will spend $3.7 billion on word-of-mouth marketing in 2011.

"I NEVER Lose My Google Hits..."
LiLo, the charming Disney redhead that never gained a foothold in reality: Another child-star on the brink of losing everything? Not according to her best PR move to date. Beleaguered Lindsay Lohan released a mock E-Harmony video yesterday on FunnyOrDie (1.7MM views) that takes sharp jabs at herself: She's single (lonely), reportedly broke, and probably alcoholic. But, she has her good qualitities as well, promising Mr. Right: "...at the end of the date, I promise you that I never lose my Google hits, just my underwear." Gotta love a woman that has clear priorities!

"Little Spicy Mexican" Offends Mexico
Mexico, offended by this Burger King Whopper spot (click on Read More), cites that the world community is given "a bad impression" of the country. The spot, which ran in Spain and Europe, has been pulled by Burger King Corporation, who obviously didn't get it "Their Way." Mexico believes the spot portrays Americans as superior to Mexicans, and took exception to, “The taste of Texas with a little spicy Mexican," The newspaper La Jornada ran a front-page story under the headline "Denigrating advertising," and said the ads "show Mexicans as notably inferior to all Americans."

Saving Faces...Taking Names?
A couple years ago Mini Cooper rolled out a test campaign in four or five major markets to inspire brand loyalty among Mini owners and infuse a sense of community. Don't remember it? Not a big deal, I didn't either. It wasn't an earth-shattering idea. Basically, Mini Cooper owners were given special key fobs equipped with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) transmitters that would activate messages on digital billboards when Mini drivers were 500 feet away. The "community" part was addressed via the use of personalized messages, like, "Hey Bobby, Happy Birthday! Lookin' Good." It was slightly innovative and engaging, but expensive (considering that the target already owned a Mini Cooper) and so 2007.

Storm of Controversy; Content is King
Fighting for (or against) a cause amid the ever-shifting social media landscape is the one of the greatest benefits of having a social voice: the accessibility to use it. If you bitch, someone's listening. If you praise, someone's listening. If you need to get the "word" out, someone's there to help. Yet, as with any "voice" others may hear, prudence cautions us to: "Use your voice wisely." Why? The "Three I's:" Impropriety, Inequality, and Injustice. A threat to the "I's," real or perceived, will ignite a flame of backlash that will cross the synapses of cyberspace at light speed. The message, like a painful Internet toothache will rouse the sleeping giant of "violated rights" to respond, repel, and, yes, retaliate.

Twit'in Ass & Takin' Names
Have you ever had one of those days where everything seemed out of control, and you weren't getting anything completed? Then, when you finally realized that you made some progress, an itch in your brain was nagging you, saying that you missed something important. You think, "If I could only remember...I just wish I knew wha...It hits you. Mine was that I had forgotten my "blogging time." Maybe that's why I'm in such a crappy mood. I dig writing...

Want to Help Your Clients? Be Unmerciful.
Have you seen that AdAge Series, PLAN B? It is an ongoing dialog about the state of our industry, and it's as enlightening as it is scary. If you have not read it, do so when you have a chance. After I did, I started looking for someone, anyone to blame. All those bad decisions...who could I blame? Then, for some odd reason, I decided to look inside for a culprit. Where did I go wrong in this mess? It is something I suggest we all do. We can blame our industry's situation on the economy, big business, or the government, but the truth is that it's our fault. We are the innovators and the creators. We build brands and lead the way. We determine the direction. We construct the future.

Blogging for the Big Bucks
Never underestimate the power of a star. Not the ones high in the sky, but the other ones, dimmer, out at night in Hollywood. It's been long-rumored that company's with "celebrity spokespeople" are so yesterday, but they still keep on popping up, getting endorsements then smokin' dope and losing endorsements. I guess we need someone to look up to...Madison Avenue says so. But, stars are important to products, to companys, and even to people. Stars can make us money, or totally ignore us. I asked for Lindsay Lohan to be my friend on Twitter. No reply. (bitch) Enter Mario Armando Lavandeira, a man with stars in his eyes, as well. He's someone that we love to hate, or hate to love. He lives a life of relative ease in Los Angeles, hanging out with Hollywood's famous, or infamous, celebrities. He had a show on VH1 for a while, has been featured in the NYTimes at least twice, and has appeared on the Kathy Griffin Show, Nightline, The View, MTV, and others.

TwoogliTube? When Google Speaks...
Google and Twitter, rumored to be meeting late last week, were huddling to discuss: a) new applications, b) mergers, c) acquisition, d) monetizing strategies, or, e) "We didn't huddle, we didn't even talk!" The answer, much to our curiosity's disappointment, was "none of the above," and we were left, yearning, with no juicy story. Until that is, we looked a little deeper: There it was, a story, neatly nestled inside the rumor...our dusky jewel, ripe for choosing. Whether Google buys Twitter, doesn't

GM Says America Needs A Comeback?
Hearken back to the days of yore, when America was Built Ford Tough and Chevy had launched what was the start of An American Revolution, became The Heartbeat of America, and grew strong, Like a Rock. At the same time, Buick offered consumers The Spirit of American Style. The cars and the ads were inspiring...making us want to love America more than we already did. Yep, the good 'ol days, how we miss 'em. Thus, it's fantastic news to hear that GM is gonna bring 'em back! Will they be able to pull it off? GM would like us to think so, counting on their new "Total Confidence Plan (TCP)," announced by several new TV spots meant to inspire America.

Windy City Woes: JWT Chicago to Close
Late today, JWT announced that it's Chicago office was ceasing operation and would be soon closing their doors. The shocking news, published in AdAge and The Chicago Tribune, notes that JWT had been a landmark Chicago agency since 1891 (prior to the World's Fair), and was once heralded as the world's largest agency network. Breaking the news to the remaining Chicago employees during a meeting, JWT's North America President, Rosemarie Ryan, stated that keeping the office open was "Not an affordable proposition." JWT's Chicago office was the creative juice behind innovative campaigns that transcended advertising to play a part in American culture. Most of us have had the Oscar Mayer tune, "My bologna has a first name," stuck in our heads. JWT also masterminded "Snap, Crackle, and Pop" for Rice Krispies, as well as branding 7UP as the "Uncola."

Offensive Ad? You Decide.
Most of us have vices, those haunting addictions or habits that are unhealthy, uncool, unapproved, against the law, or absurdly annoying. From eating too much red meat to knuckle-cracking, there is something you do that is bad for you. For me, it's waking up, but I'm trying to stop. We have habits that offend others, those that offend our bodies, and some that do both. The poster-child for the "both" category has got to be smoking. Not only is it terrible for you, it's terrible for others, and in many places, against the law. Efforts to get people to stop smoking have ranged from protests and ad campaigns to changing laws and levying huge tax increases.

Raw Engagement: AdWalkers
Your company's brand(s) are not as important to your customer as they are to you. It's cold and hard, that truth. But it is honest, and unmericless. I could lie to you...tell you that your dress fits nicely and you look fantastic. It doesn't. And you don't. But, the rule is that the closer we get to something or someone, the less likely we are to notice flaws. This is the power behind the word Engagement. Enter AdWalker, a company that uses human billboards that look like androids, complete with interactive digital displays on their chests and equipment packs wrapped around them.

Ford's "Advantage" Plan
Yesterday I began to blog about the auto industry, and how pissed off I was that these "Captains of Manufacturing" were upset that the White House was taking a tough stance on the industry. As GM's head rolled, the other auto execs actually had the gall to be upset about it! Well boo-friggin-hoo. Chafed, I changed topics. When I woke today, they were still there...painfully stuck in my throat like uncoated aspirin...slowly burning as they dissolved. A caustic memory lingered in my mouth. These men are our best and brightest, leaders of America's most famous (now infamous) industry!

Dismal Economy's Bright Spot
Today, as I was feverishly submitting resumes and simultaneously reading about the economy (multi-tasking for all you would-be employers), I came across "Ten Winners in the Recession" on Yahoo!, nestled nicely on the Personal Finance page. Although there weren't a whole lot of suprises, a few made me scratch my head. Some of the better listees included: Resume Writers & Editors, Condom Manufacturers (we're poor, but safe!), At Home Coffee Brews, and...(drum roll, please) Career Development Websites!

Microsoft Bites Apple
Are you a PC? Not are you PC, but are you a PC? IE, do you use a PC rather than an Apple? We've all been witness to the battle played out over TV, online, and in print...Microsoft vs. Apple, Apple vs. Microsoft. This is no David and Goliath altercation, but the two biggest bullies meeting on the corner to pound the crap out of one another. Yet, deep inside, they realize that they need one another...with most of Apple's apps available on a PC, and Microsofts' apps available on Apple, it's a struggle for dominance where each concedes that the other has some really good qualities.

YouTube Raises $10K in a Day
YouTube, under public scrutiny lately for removing videos due to copyright infringement, raised $10,000 in a single day using their little-publicized non-proft partnership program. The YouTube Non-Profit Organization allows not-for-profit's to upload and run compelling videos, harnessing the power of sight, sound, and motion. If your organization has a compelling story to tell, YouTube can help. Check out their Non Profit Channel page(s). There's even an overlay "Call to Action" available, leading viewers to your website to make a donation or for more information.

Yahoo! Pays for Search on Google
Searching the web this morning for fun advertising news (using Google), I groggily checked out the advertisers that were vying for the top paid slots as was my usual habit. What I saw nearly made me spit out my coffee, and will be burned into the back of my brain forever: The number one paid slot on my Google search for "advertising" was none other than Yahoo! Sponsored Search?! Disbelieving my own eyes, I refreshed the page. Same result. Now fully awake, I ran the search again. No change. This was no fluke...this was real...Yahoo was paying for search on Google! I thought about all of the people that I should call to alert, but couldn't think of a single one. So, I sat back and thought about it for a second.

US Census Counts on Ad Campaign
The US Census announced this week that it is launching a $250 Million ad campaign aimed at reaching low-income, urban minorities, urging them to fill out 2010 US Census forms. More than half of the dollars will be spent on traditional and social media, and a quarter of the dollars will be devoted to Asian, black, and Hispanic media outlets. Minorities have been hard to reach, according to Civilrights.org, due to "distrust or suspicion of government, leading to a fear that census responses may be used by immigration or law enforcement officials to deport or incarcerate or may disqualify (them) from social welfare programs."

Starbucks: Take a Lesson From Mr. Mom
During these trying economic times, I would just like to say, "Thank Heaven for Starbucks." Arguably one of the most expensive cups of coffee currently available on your local street corner, Starbucks has stepped up to the plate and is now offering all of their delectable products at half price! (No, not really.) No, what the Seattle-based coffee giant is planning to do is launch an advertising campaign to convince consumers that their products are not as expensive as we think they are...their coffee is not a luxury, but just a plain 'ol cup of Joe.

Twitter Me This, Twitter Me That
I will be the first to admit that Twitter is not my fave social site...I understand how it works and what it's for, and I realize that it is in "real time," but for me, it is a tad bit...well...boring. I have followed some Tweets (after some difficulty) and basically have gotten it, well, sort-of figured out. However, I must be in the minority, because Twitter is adding scads of users weekly. So, if you like following tweets like; "just got back from the store" and, "what did you buy" then, "nothing" followed by, "oh" then you will be ecstatic about Twitters latest triumph. Today marks a historic day...write it down. Today, March 25, 2009, was the first day that Twitter made a profit from advertising revenues! (CNNMoney.com)

New Media Implementation--Lead, Follow, or Fail
There has been a lot of chatter regarding emerging media, new media, and how Web 2.0/Web 3.0 will change the world, let alone the practice of advertising as we know it. I am certain that the world, and conventional advertising, will definitely be affected...once effective methods to monetize these new media platforms are determined. If you keep up at all with the trades, you are certainly aware that Google's purchase of YouTube has been terribly unprofitable, to say the least. And it remains to be seen if YouTube will ever provide profits for Google. There is also the constant buzz regarding Twitter: Is Twitter for sale? Are they working on a new business model? Or, is Twitter but a passing fancy?

New Media Prompts Online Planning and Buying Solutions
In February, Myadbuyer.com launched an online media planning and buying tool in the hopes of eliminating costs accrued during the media planning and buying process. Available in 35 major markets, a would-be advertiser can log into Myadbuyer.com to search their database for local media resources, including; newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, out of home, online, and direct mail.

The Trump Network
The "Donald," business capo of both successful, and failed, business ventures has formed his own network. Actually, the network was pre-launched in June 2009 and October '09 saw the full launch. Who knew? As someone that scans the online news daily, I am a bit disappointed that I missed it...

The Tracy

Florida Doesn't Have an APP (DUPE BMA)
Standing out from the crowd is all about not fitting in...if everyone has an "App for that," then maybe you shouldn't...

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