Monthly Archives: June 2004

Thanks, Bob Garfield

At least Bob Garfield decided to take a look at my review of his review in Advertising Age.

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Posted by on June 29, 2004 in Advertising


Journalist Blogger scoops media.

B.L. Ochman, on her blog, posted this story of how BBC producer, Stuart Hughes scooped the rest of the media with this audio blog on the Iraq handover –the advanced event on Monday June 28, 2004.

Interesting how this Hughes’ Beyond Northern Iraq blog is not endorsed by his employer.

His disclaimer reads:

“Stuart Hughes works for BBC News, but this is a personal website not affiliated with, endorsed by, or funded by the BBC.”

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Posted by on June 29, 2004 in Miscellaneous


Information: a release valve?

GlaxoSmithkline PLC, now says it will post results from drug trials on the Web, The GSK Clinical Trial Register will be available to physicians and the public.

In a similar vein, the White House has released previously classified Defense Department memos on prison interrogation techniques. USA Today said in a 06/24/04 news item that an official had told the paper how the only way “to end the daily damage from news stories” about prisoner abuse incidents in Abu Ghraib prison, was to “get all the information out.”

And the definition of “all the information” may be a bit surprising. This Memo, for instance, is an example of the new PR approach.

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Posted by on June 28, 2004 in Miscellaneous


PR and Storytelling

This is the second time in a month I’ve come across the connection between PR and storytelling. Earlier in the month, at the IABC conference, master storyteller Salman Rushdie told communicators never to underestimate the power of storytelling in their jobs.

In the recent edition of CW Bulletin, the online magazine of Communication World (for IABC members only) Robbie Vorhaus observes (in an article titled “Storytelling and PR: A Novel Way of Telling Your Tale.” that PR is a form of classic storytelling, refined for business.

“It is pure non-fiction—truth—told in the exact same context as any other story form, such as movies, novels, advertising and journalism. Essentially, storytelling, and that includes PR, is having a point of view or theme, focusing on one person or thing (the hero) and taking your audience on that hero’s journey through trials and tribulations to arrive at some new point. It doesn’t matter if you’re promoting a country, company, product, person or cause; if you tell the story with the same structure, elements, archetypes and path of all great stories, your message will be heard and acted on. And, in business, whoever tells the best story wins.”

It’s so refreshing to hear this, in a market-saturated world where we have almost been made to believe that “whoever CRAFTS the best story wins.”

Asked where does one acquire storytelling skills, Vorhaus advises:

”First, stop trying to sell. Learn how to engage an audience, not manipulate it…”

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Posted by on June 25, 2004 in Miscellaneous apologized? ran full-page ads in Advertising Age magazine featuring what looked like a ten-year old girl who had just beaten up several boys her age. They lay in an alley, bloodied and motionless, while she sat outside, looking smug. The product was called Tomboy.

Readers were outraged, and the next issue (May 24th 04) of Ad Age featured an apology by Pointroll CEO, Jules Garner who said that the ad “was intended not to shock but to dramatize.” But in that same issue, the ad featured the same girl outside a burned out building among a pile of papers next to a cauldron with fire. Stencilled on the cauldron were the words “metrics to burn”. Problem is, the building behind her is sill smoldering, with fire licking the windows. So is this ‘tomboy’ character an arsonist, as opposed to a boy basher? Or more importantly, what’s the point of the apology?

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Posted by on June 24, 2004 in Advertising


Book Burnings And Bad PR

RushYou’d think Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity should be snubbing Clinton’s book, My Life, by not commenting on it –you know, pretending it doesn’t ruffle their feathers.

But the architects of Presidential Buzz Marketing know that drawing attention to Bill and Hillary may be a useful tactic that makes Kerry look terribly uncharismatic. So they pummel the book every day, and if you look at their recent handling of books they deem wacko or left wing, these modern day ‘book burnings’ are themselves a great way to deflect bad buzz. Iraq definitely doesn’t help the president’s election campaign. So anything is better than stories about leaked memos and Geneva convention. What would the echo chamber do without the Al Frankens, the Richard Clarkes and Paul O’Neills of this world!

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Posted by on June 22, 2004 in Miscellaneous


Integrated Marketing and Microsoft?

Microsoft, appears to want Ad agencies to push the envelope, as was reported in Adverblog.

The press release from Redmont talks of “the paint, canvas, and technical support” it will lend to Creative Directors of agencies who want to use “sight, sound, motion and interactivity” to reach customers via integrated marketing campaigns.

To make that possible, MSN launched what it called a ‘Creative Connection Program’ involving the tools and talent of MSN, plus an accountability study, and a media tour to showcase the work.

Buried in the release is a quote from Kathy Delaney, managing partner and executive creative director for Deutsch NY, who strikes an interesting note. “Our connection with MSN allows us to do it without any handcuffs,” Delaney is quoted as saying. That’s almost like saying that Microsoft initiatives typically DO have strings attached!

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Posted by on June 21, 2004 in Longer Articles


‘Creativity’ does not equal ‘anything goes.’

I’ve worked within the bowels of advertising, and often taunt people who don’t push the envelope. So I naturally empathize with marketers who are stuck trying to defend ‘edgy’ creative work.

But there are some tactics that advertisers should never adopt, if only because they attract far too much negative attention. Here is my partial list of Ideas You Should Not Touch With A Ten-Foot Pole Even If Your Ad Agency Says So:

1. Take out a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal, and call it “An open letter to…”
This month in the WSJ, there was just such an ad by True Beginnings chairman Herb West, writing to chairman Barry Diller, saying “I will meet your challenges in the court room, if you insist; however I propose a more productive solution…” I can suggest one ‘more productive solution’ and it involves a measly $0.35. If only the ad agency could have told Mr. West to write a real letter to Mr. Diller. No artwork charges. No media commission (darn!) No public brawl.

2. Get too creative when selling drugs.
Paxil. Advertising.Type these two words in your search engine, and you’ll know what I mean. The Paxil TV commercial features people wearing name tags that conveniently extend the product segment –and the disorders– that Paxil is approved for.

3. Market cigarettes to kids.
You would have thought that tobacco companies would have learned something from the case of using of cartoons (that got Camel into hot water many years ago.) New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has ordered Brown & Williamson to halt the promotion of Kool Mixx packs featuring deejays and party scenes. They also used hip-hop music. A B&W spokesperson said this of the choice of music: “adult consumers do like hip-hop.” Yeah, right! And my 83 year-old dad listens to Cold Play.

4. Name calling on expensive TV spots.
Bud and Miller marketing has broken out into inane name calling. Bud calls Miller Lite the ‘queen of carbs’, because Miller named itself the ‘President of Beers’ –a swipe at the ‘King of Beers.’

What beer drinker would base his choice of a brand he would not drink on such stupid name calling? Bud also went on and on about Miller being owned by a South African Brewery. (Apparently it was aptly called the “Unleash the Dawgs” campaign!) The courts ordered them to stop, but they continued, through their famous spokes-lizards, to talk of the ‘foreign brewery’ connection.

This list can fill up rapidly. If you are interested in adding to it, please do. Email me with your suggestions and comments.

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Posted by on June 18, 2004 in Advertising


Is there an undelete button in PR?

How do you stop someone or a company from using your product or service long after you have successfully launched it? More important, does it belong to you, once you’ve unleashed it on the public?

We are all used to being in control of branding and brand messages. Who would have imagined we would see a headline like this:

“Tobacco makers want cigarettes cut from films.”

It’s true. The Wall Street Journal (June 14, 2004) reported that tobacco companies are asking movie studios to delete the cigarettes making appearances in scenes, without the approval of the company. They quote one letter from R.J. Reynolds lawyer that says, “You do not have permission to mention or depict our brands in your films.”

I would imagine that like cigarettes, Ebay, or iPods, some products and services, once launched take on a new life as ’ideas.’

There’s no such thing as ‘product-unplacement’ after that!

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Posted by on June 17, 2004 in Advertising


Ripples in the Pond

Yesterday’s quote was picked from a Shell document. That Shell? You bet.
The discussion of the ‘new medievalism’ and an ‘interconnected meritocracy’ they refer to, is found in this 51-page document called “People and Connections”, on “Global Scenarios to 2020.”

Reason I link to this doc, is I will dip into it during Global PR Blog Week in July.

Another quote:

“It’s like a rock hitting a pond.
And the ripples spread pretty far. The Internet is a great new tool for that.”

Nothing we didn’t know, except for the fact that it’s being said by Maverick Media’s Mark McKinnon. He may not be as famous as Saatchi & Saatchi’s Kevin Robert’s, but you gotta take note of what he’s doing. Why? Maverick Media is the ad agency for the Bush campaign! Also, I think he’s referring to sending ripples through peer-to-peer networks.

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Posted by on June 16, 2004 in Miscellaneous


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