March 2007

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Gordon Ramsey, of TV’s Hell’s Kitchen, may have a nasty streak but he’s doing a nice little reclamation project in my home town of Babylon, NY this week. He is filming an episode for Fox in which he brings a restaurant back from the brink.

 

If I knew how to load pictures on my blog I’d put up a camera phone shot of Gordon and my son. Hopefully, I wouldn’t get sued. Certainly my son can’t sue, he signed a waiver — as did the rest of the school kids and teachers. Why? Because as part of the episode Gordon threw a picnic on the football field and should any of the kids or teachers likenesses be aired, the network needs signed releases.

 

As an added bonus, the school band was asked to perform at the picnic. However, at the 11th hour the band had to go back to school and learn a new song, because the initial song they had prepared and practiced was “rights protected.” (Something from the Beatles catalog, I wonder?)  Off they went to find a song that was royalty-free. They didn’t have much time to practice, the new song just “okay,” and their collective 15 minutes of fame tarnished. When will this madness stop?

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The Flavor of TV

It’s heartening to know that one of the reasons for the growth of social networking is the surfeit of drivel emanating from the TVs across America. TV today is so bad for teens and Gen Y that they watch reruns almost as much as original programming. How many times can you watch New York wave her hands in Flavor Flav’s face?
 
This epiphany came to me while reading a Facebook blog about how its log-ons tank as soon at Grey’s Anatomy goes on air. 
 
Why do kids like Flav? Because he’s entertaining. His antics, even the third time, are better than the teen psycho-dramas of prime time television. 
 
Let’s improve the programming and I bet the TV numbers come back up for the young demo. Pretty simple.
 

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FoxSpace

At a recent PSFK conference ad pundit George Parker mentioned that Rupert Murdoch was about to “f” up MySpace by covering it in Fox content.  Well, there was a link in the MediaPost today suggesting that MySpace has plans to add a news channel to MySpace.  

Jesus! MySpace already owns the “middle” of the social networking space now they want to add professional news content?  They would be better off adding a channel called people’s news, where regular people report what they see, a la, “there’s a traffic accident on Route 80.” Or, “there’s a hold-up underway in the 7-11 in Bumpus Mills.
 
News Corp is getting overly greedy and trying to spread its seed in too many places. This will end up being a mistake for them and will dilute their powerful MySpace franchise. 

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The Gap Spot.

Okay, so I went to the Gap Web site and found the Boyfriend Trousers spot said I couldn’t wait to see. Ouch.  Ethel Merman singing “Anything I can do?” It’s a fun song, I reckon, but what a let down. The tone is completely different from the print work I described yesterday, which by the way, had Kyra Sedgewick and Malgosia Bela as models.
 
The TV was derivative of old Gap TV, with dance and lots of seamless. They needed a way to show off the khakis, the fashion, and the “drape,” in a way that made you hungry to buy khakis. Instead, the TV made me hungry for good, contemporary music.  A little Rage anyone?     
 

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Gap comeback.


Poor Gap. They have been taking so much heat lately in the press for lack of vision and leadership and for being out of touch with today’s consumer. That said, Gap is a strong American brand that over the years has had some great advertising and should be able to make a come back.

 

That comeback started today.

 

Gap ran a wonderful spread ad today in the New York Times showing 4 young ladies in various states of drape.  Draped baggy shirts, draped and tucked hair, rumpled khaki pants pulled up, pulled down. We are made privy to wonderfully sexy silhouettes thanks to exceptional art direction. The cropping of the models on the page, their poses and the color – a khaki patina that is so, well, khaki.

 

Huge breasts are not a distraction, no booty pictures, just semi- androgynous, tough but confident women wearing “the boyfriend” trouser. Even the headline and product name tell a story. Mark my words, these babies (the pants) and accompanying white shirts are going to fly off the shelves. I can wait for the TV.

 

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The new ‘um.

I just wanted to sort of let you know that perhaps we as modern marketers, marketing agents and pundits, kind of equivocate more than previous generations.  Why is that?   I can only speak for the advertising and marketing community, but I think it has to do with the lack of science in our business.  So subjective is what we do, that people are afraid to commit to a position or point of view. 
 
Yesterday, while attended a conference on trends and ideas hosted by PSFK (www.psfk.com) in NYC, I had the pleasure of listening to many speakers and panelists.  It was then that I realized “sort of” is the new “um.”
 
In my first visit to a Freudian therapist a long time ago and I remember remarking “I kind of had feelings of anxiety.” These feelings were accompanied, by the way, by dizziness, near fainting and heart palpitations, but I “kind of” felt anxious. Sigmund said to me “KIND OF?” Let’s start there.”
 
So, for today’s marketers, planners and business people, let’s lose the “sort of” and be more definite.  At least until proven wrong.  It’s okay to commit to a point of view. It’s okay to be wrong and learn from it.  And I don’t mean sort of.

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Size Matters

Can anyone venture a guess as to why television sets are getting bigger? And flatter. And plasmatic (sorry Wendy O).  And surround sounded. Is it because our family rooms are getting bigger and we are sitting farther away from the screens? Is it because boomers are getting older and can’t see and hear as well? Is it because it allows manufacturers to extract larger margins? 
 
Nope. Nope. Nope.
 
It’s because we can now watch Grey’s Anatomy and other TV shows streaming on our computers making “size” and comfort the only real differentiators for TV. Size, I guess, does matter.
 

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Wow!

There is much to admire about Microsoft as a marketer, but it’s also kind of fun to pick on them and they really left the door open for the latter with today’s Vista spread ad. The headline “100 reasons why everyone’s so speechless.” promises to take us through all of these features. My guess is the media buy won’t be done until we’ve all been exposed to each reason at least 4 times. Today’s ad offers up 7. Can’t wait.
 
The campaign, which launched with lethargic fractional teaser ads, revolved around the idea  “The wow starts now,” but the advertising is anything but.  When was the last time you were wowed by a recitation of 100 anythings.  Wait a minute, I think #22 really wowed me. Or was that #32?
 
This effort is classic design by committee and it’s lazy. If this is the work of McCann Erickson, they should be ashamed. Jonathan Cranin are you listening?    

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