Saturday, February 28, 2009

Quick Hits

- Welcome to K.C., Matt Cassel!
- Does anyone feel bad that Warren Buffett lost $11B last year? I wouldn't mind having that 9.6% loss. By the way, that 10% loss was his worst in 40 years. Not a bad track record for the Buffster.
- Congrats to Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius, the new Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration.
- Let's give it up to Blake Griffin for his hustling play in today's game versus Texas Tech. Griffin, coming back from a concussion, dove across the scorer's table during the game trying to get a loose ball. The kid is tenacious...
- I miss Joe's Bakery.

Dog owners/foster homes needed

Our friends at No More Homeless Pets need your help. An influx of dogs from a Missouri breeder are now at this shelter and others and are in need of homes. Check it out...

http://www.kansascity.com/637/story/1059518.html

To entertain...or NOT entertain?

Count the corporate hospitality/entertainment industry as one of the casualties of the current economic crisis and the focus on corporate mis-use of government funding.

The following article appeared in today's Weekend Edition of the Wall Street Journal.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123577656810997247.html

Corporate hospitality has been a key component of selling and retention efforts by corporations for years. And, golf has been a sport that lends itself to corporate entertainment. Typically corporations will bring customers and prospects in for a long weekend of golf playing, golf viewing, and food and drink.

The current dilemma--do corporations continue this kind of activity? Can entertaining, at the corporate level, be rationalized...or does it go away in light of the scrutiny?

"You've got to let businesses do what they know how to do best to make money," a quote reads in the article. The question--are we willing to trust those companies who are receiving federal monies?

One of the problems is the appearance of lavish spending which are the optics of any corporate entertainment. Other marketing expenditures (e.g., advertising) aren't under the same scrutiny--or so it appears-- for those who receive relief funding.

It's a thorny problem and one that is affecting the golf industry and those businesses linked with corporate entertaining. It will be interesting to see how it affects those companies who have used corporate entertainment as a key strategy to win business...and keep customers.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Kansas-Missouri preview

The "Border War" tomorrow between Kansas and Missouri will pit the #15 hoops team in the country against the #11 team. It is also the 261st meeting between the two bitter rivals.



Series history:
- Kansas leads the overall series 166-94.
- Kansas leads the series in Lawrence 85-33.
- Kansas leads the series in Allen Fieldhouse 38-14. The last Missouri win in Lawrence was in 1999.

Keys to victory:
- Turnovers: If Kansas has 16 or fewer turnovers, expect a Jayhawk win. In the first game, Kansas had 26 turnovers, 12 of which were committed by starting guards Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor.
- Guard play: KU fans must hope that Taylor's game against Oklahoma on Monday was a preview of what to expect on Sunday. Kansas must also get solid efforts from Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed.
- The Kansas crowd: Expect the Jayhawks to jump out to a quick lead. It's what happens next, after the 12 minute mark in the first half, that will be critical for Missouri.
- MU's big men: The Tigers have a deep bench and fouls to give against Cole Aldrich. Kansas will need a solid effort from one of the Morris twins and there would be no better game for Mario Little to come out of his recent funk.
- J.T. Tiller: The likely defensive player of the year in the Big 12 only scored three points in the first game. But, he had four steals and constantly seemed to be disrupting Kansas' offense. KU's guards must find a way to withstand Tiller's quick hands and length.
- History: The last time the Tigers swept the season series was in 1994. (In other words, it hasn't happened very often...)

Intangibles:
- When is the last time that Kansas has lost a game when a jersey has been retired at halftime? This Sunday, Kirk Hinrich's jersey will be retired.
- Both teams are playing not only for the conference crown, but for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Currently, Joe Lunardi of ESPN has Kansas as a two seed and Missouri as a three seed.
- Kansas has had time to prepare--their last game was the Big Monday contest against Oklahoma. Missouri played on Wednesday night, at home, against Kansas State.

Prediction:
Kansas 82, Missouri 71

Trisha

Check out a very young Trisha Yearwood, Matthew McConaughey, and Don Henley on Yearwood's "Walkaway Joe."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djdvgAzqRy8

Trisha was the featured guest on The Chris Isaak Hour last night on Bio. The song, "Breaking Apart," that she sings with Isaak on his new album is definitely worth downloading.

R.I.P.: Rocky Mountain News

Today is the last day that the Rocky Mountain News will publish. Long a two-newspaper town, Denver now officially has only the Denver Post.

The closing of the Rocky Mountain News continues a depressing string of similar stories of other major metropolitan dailies.

Attached is a link to a story which appeared in Advertising Age along with a video on the closing of the News. It's worth viewing...

http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=134921

For those on Facebook who are newspaper readers, you might consider joining the group, How Can We Save Newspapers?

Hinrich's jersey to be retired

Kirk Hinrich, a guard on two University of Kansas Final Four basketball teams, will join his good friend and teammate Nick Collison when Hinrich's jersey is raised to the rafters in Allen Fieldhouse on Sunday. (Collison's jersey was retired in 2004.)

Hinrich was one of my favorite players at KU who, together with Collison and Drew Gooden, formed the nucleus of one of Roy William's best, and most productive, recruiting classes. The trio carried Kansas to the NCAA Final Four in 2002, then Hinrich and Collison duplicated the feat in 2003, going all the way to the National Championship game before losing to Syracuse.

My favorite Hinrich moment was in that 2003 run to the Final Four when he blocked Jason Gardner's shot in the final moments of Kansas' regional final win over Arizona.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

U2 album arrives Tuesday

U2's new release, out on Tuesday next week, garnered a 5-star review at Rolling Stone.

http://www.rollingstone.com/reviews/album/26079033/review/26212378/no_line_on_the_horizon

52 million watch President Obama

The combined hope of the new administration and concern about the future was the catalyst for 52 million watching President Barack Obama's first address to a joint session of Congress. The viewership was an increase of almost 40% over the number of people who watched former President George Bush's last State of the Union speech in 2008. In fact, the viewership was higher than even the post-September 11 State of the Union address.

So, which network scored best when it came to network-by-network viewership? Final data is not yet in but NBC was watched most by those in the 18-49 demographic. ABC was second, following by CBS and then FOX.

Tiger's back!

A long layoff didn't seem to hurt Tiger Woods too much yesterday as he started birdie-eagle on the first two holes and dominated in his first match of the WCG-Match Play tournament.

I wonder if his fellow pros truly felt like the portrayal in the attached commercial from Nike. Funny stuff...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YuF80kgIsE

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Paula - 20 years later

Guess who had the best-selling single on February 23, 1989? Paula Abdul with "Straight Up."

Twenty years later, Paula is #1 again with American Idol, the highest rated television show of the past week.

So, who were Paula's music competitors back in '89, when hair was big and music was questionable? None other than stalwarts like Debbie Gibson ("Lost In Your Eyes"), Tone Loc ("Wild Thing"), Sheena Easton ("The Lover In Me"), Rick Astley ("She Wants to Dance With Me"), Edie Brickell and the New Bohemians ("What I Am"), Mike and the Mechanics ("The Living Years") and Information Society ("Walking Away.")

The one act in the top 10 in 1989 that has hung on quite well is Bon Jovi, who had the #5 single with "Born to Be My Baby."

What was YOUR first concert?

At a business meeting a couple of weeks ago, we had a large group so an icebreaker was employed to get the group better acquainted. The question that everyone had to answer was "what was your first concert?" The answers ranged from Bruce Springsteen to Depeche Mode to Motley Crue to Menudo.

Mine was Chicago. As I quickly pointed out, it was the pre-power ballad Chicago, with the original group, including Terry Kath, master guitarist who later died of an accidental gunshot wound. I attended with several friends and the concert was at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, KS.

What was your first concert? E-mail me or post your experiences and we'll include them here.

Speaker of the House

Was it just me, or did Nancy Pelosi seem like she was sitting on one of those chairs that springs you up out of it at last night's Presidential Address in the Senate chamber? I don't know that President Obama finished one sentence where she wasn't jumping up and clapping. I half expected Vice President Biden to grab her are at some point and tell her to "sit down."

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Quote of the Day Part III

"We're not rebuilding...we're just playin'."

- Sherron Collins, Kansas point guard, after the Jayhawks' 87-78 road win against Oklahoma to take sole possession of first place in the Big 12

Quote of the Day Part II

"Get some facts and come back and see me."

- Jim Calhoun, head coach, University of Connecticut mens basketball

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xokthY5zuPU

Quote of the Day

"I'm humbled by it."

- Pete Carroll, head coach of the University of Southern California football team, when told he is the highest paid private university employee. Carroll's compensation is $4.4 million. In second place is a clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University at $4.3 million. In his current role as head football coach, Carroll makes approximately four times that of the university president at USC.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar ratings

My earlier post about the Oscar ratings and audience delivery did not play out.

I suggested a couple of days ago that the viewership of the Oscars might fall to the 25-30 million mark, down from last year's low of 32 million. The overnight ratings indicate that last night's viewership was actually up about 6% to an audience of approximately 34 million.

This still is dwarfed by ratings and viewership in 1998 when 57 million tuned in, and the nominated movies included favorites like Titanic (the eventual winner), L.A. Confidential and Good Will Hunting.

Perhaps this year only proved that people were curious about Slumdog Millionaire and whether Heath Ledger would win a posthumous Oscar. Or, maybe the promise of a revitalized ceremony, plus having Hugh Jackman as host, did actually make viewership grow.

All in all, it was a good show although devoid of much drama. The Kodak Theater looked great, Jackman did a good job with a hard role and the red carpet once again was filled with beautiful people...but also its share of "glamour don'ts."

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar observations

Looking good:

- Natalie Portman--Beautiful in pink.

- Robert Downey, Jr.--Great tux, Ironman.

- Anne Hathaway--Pretty dress; not so sure about the hair.

- Sean Penn and Robert Wright Penn--Great to see Spicoli and Jenny (Forrest Gump) back together.

- Evan Rachel Wood--Whoa...

- Brangelina--Thank goodness Brad ditched the porn star moustache look.

- Taraji Henson--Great dress, beautiful necklace...and, goodness, is the girl perky!

- Daniel Craig--But, he looks just like he did in the Bond movies, huh? (Dude can fill out a tux...)



Looking questionable:

- Mickey Rourke--Not sure what to make of the outfit, but it fits the Rourke persona.

- Ron Howard--It's too bad he can't wear a ball cap with his tux.

- Jessica Biel--Girlfriend, did you run a brush through that hair?

- Kate Winslet--Grey and black?

- Amy Adams--Bad dress color, weird necklace...



Looking awful:

- Beyonce--Hard to say Beyonce didn't look good, but c'mon...what is with the dress!?

- Phillip Seymour Hoffman--Dude...the skull cap?

- Penelope Cruz--Who would have thought she'd make a "looking awful" list but the dress and hair...not flattering.

- Danny Boyle--Where does one go to get a haircut like that?

- The Price Waterhouse Coopers accountants--Just kidding...not awful, but they did look like accountants.



And:

- Interesting to see Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick on the red carpet together, given the rumors.
- How did the Angie-Jen rumble turn out? I didn't hear but understand that Jen was feeling very confident since she had her man on her arm and could defiantly look Brangelina in the
eye(s.)
- Ben Stiller doing his best Joaquin Phoenix impression was hysterical.

Quick Hits

- Question: Who has the most Oscar nominations all-time? Answer: Walt Disney

- Quote of the Week: "I knew we weren't taking Tic Tacs." Alex Rodriguez

- U2 on the way: The new album by the boys from Ireland is released on Tuesday, March 3. They will play five straight nights on The Late Show With David Letterman next week.

- The New York Times had a story on Jane Fonda today. She's 71...71! Wow...

Innovative Agencies

Here's an interesting list, from one blogger's perspective, on innovative companies and agencies working in the advertising space.

http://marketear.blogspot.com/2009/02/most-innovative-companies-in.html

Note our friends at Goodby, Silverstein & Partners checking in at #8.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Whatever happened to Sundays?

Is it just me or has Sunday become too much like any other day? Sure, we don't officially work but how many of us find ourselves online, particularly on Sunday night, in order to prepare for Monday and the work week ahead? How many of us use Sunday to go to the grocery store, to Target, or to run other "errands?" How many of us have athletic events for our children? Even going to church has changed in that Sunday now can contain church committee meetings, choir practice and other activity.

Are we missing what Sunday used to be--a true day of rest? We couldn't run to the store because stores weren't open. Athletic leagues knew better than to schedule games on Sunday. And, churches seemed to understand that Sunday afternoons were meant for family activity--usually a family dinner where extended families and friends gathered in fellowship.

I miss the old Sundays.

Can Irving Azoff Save Rock and Roll?

The attached story appeared in today's weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. It is a fascinating account of the current state of rock-and-roll--of the relationship between corporate behemoths like Ticketmaster, Live Nation and Front Line Management and the intertwining of ticket sales to tour promotion to artist management.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123517105948436743.html?mod=todays_us_nonsub_page_one

For those who don't know, Irving Azoff is the long-time manager of The Eagles. Under his guidance, and negotiation, The Eagles not only became a top touring act but a top album-selling act as well. He negotiated a record-selling royalty for Hotel California, one of the top-selling albums of all time. More recently, Azoff negotiated the groundbreaking deal between The Eagles and Wal Mart for Long Road Out of Eden, an album deal which cut the record labels out of the process and allowed the group to receive approximately $50 million versus about $10 million, which they would have received in a traditional record deal.

On a personal note, Shelli Azoff, Irving's wife, worked with me on a couple of contract deals during the days of World Cup USA 1994. Shelli represented several soccer stars, including Marcelo Balboa. In one of our conversations, I mentioned that my wife and I were going to attend a Dan Fogelberg concert. She said, "Oh, Danny--he sang at our wedding." As the story here notes, Fogelberg was Azoff's roommate and first client.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Zest

We went to Zest for dinner tonight.  Zest is located in the Mission Farms development in Leawood.

The space is well done, feels upscale and quite large but not overwhelming.  There are three primary rooms or areas.  We sat in the back-most room but did not feel placed outside of the buzz of the restaurant.  In fact, our area was loud but likely not as loud as the main dining room.

The menu is very comfort-food based.  There is a quarter-pound hot dog on the menu as well as a burger, several steak entrees, chicken and meatloaf.  There is also salmon, spaghetti and meatballs, three pizzas and a chicken-and-dumplings dish.

Our server was attentive but too much so--I felt rushed through the meal.  We were dining with another couple but were given little time to get settled before appetizers were being pushed, specials outlined, and orders requested.  

We started with the fried calamari which came with a special dipping sauce.  It didn't last long at the table.

I ordered Grandma's spaghetti and meatballs and Bobbi ordered the salmon.  In neither case were we asked if we wanted a salad or soup.

Bobbi liked the salmon which was served with a pesto sauce.  It was cooked to perfection.  My spaghetti was good but a bit bland.  Two large meatballs complemented the red sauce and pasta and was well-coated with parmesan.  But, unlike most restaurants, no additional fresh parmesan was offered.

For dessert, Bobbi had the bread pudding and I had the cheesecake.  The cheesecake was the creamy variety and had a very small sampling of raspberry sauce along with three blueberries.  It was a pretty pedestrian version of the dessert staple.

The wine list was thorough and included a decent sampling of wines.

Overall, our meal was $122, which included a bottle of Frei Brothers Pinot Noir.  So, with tip, our meal was about $150.  The value is good at this new restaurant entry in this development, which also includes Room 39 and Blue Koi.  The bar scene was hopping which makes me think this venue will stay hot given the value in this tight economy.

The restaurant is co-owned by Joe Digiovanni, former owner of Joe D's Wine Bar in Brookside.

Pipes making a comeback

The Wall Street Journal reported today that pipes are making a comeback on college campuses. And, no, not THAT kind of pipe--the old-fashioned kind that actually has tobacco in the bowl.

There is a Facebook page, the Collegiate Gentlemen's Pipe Smoking League, that boasts over 1,500 members. And today, of all days, is International Pipe-Smoking Day.

So, celebrate all you closet pipe smokers or ex-smokers. It's time to bring back the old prank telephone call to tobacco stores and drugstores:

Caller - "Do you have Prince Albert in a can?"
Answer - "Yes."
Caller - "Well, shouldn't you let him out!?"

Yuk, yuk...nothing like 1960's humor.

Super Bowl for Women?

The Oscars have historically been dubbed "the Super Bowl for women." The point being that the Oscars telecast has delivered a heavy female, upscale audience which has been alluring for brands trying to reach that segment. Many brands targeting females have used the Oscars for product launches, new campaign introductions, and event tie-ins.

It appears the Oscars delivery of this audience may be waning due to the Academy Awards' reliance upon small audience films as award finalists.

One example is Frost/Nixon. Critics loved the film. But, its box office take to date is a paltry $17M. Contrast that to The Dark Knight, the second highest grossing film of all time but aced out of Oscar contention, with the exception of Heath Ledger's nomination.

In 1998, Titanic won Best Picture versus other well-attended films like L.A. Confidential, Good Will Hunting, and As Good As It Gets. Consequently, ratings for the Oscars broadcast were high with 57 million plus people tuning in.

Last year, nominated films included There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, Michael Clayton and Juno. All told, the nominated films had only $356 million in domestic grosses. The TV result? Only 31.76 million viewers watched last year's telecast.

Don't expect a large audience this year given the aforementioned Frost/Nixon plus films like Slumdog Millionaire, Milk and The Reader up for Best Picture. The combined gross of all Best Picture nominees is only $275 million.

Stay tuned to this blog--we'll track viewership but it could very easily fall around or below 25 million this weekend. That would mean that the audience delivery of the Oscars is roughly 25-30% of that delivered by the Super Bowl--this years Pittsburgh-Arizona game was watched by 95.4 million people.

Oops! Roy says the F-word

Former Kansas coach, long known for his vocabulary ("frickin'", "dadgum," "wont to") let that classic naughty word slip in a recent press conference, only to quickly catch himself and let the assembled media know he meant to say "frickin'."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wh4phpsvxMI

Dadgummit, Roy!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chris Isaak's back!

Check out Chris Isaak's new single, "We Let Her Down," the first song to be released from his new album "Lucky." It is Isaak's first effort in seven years.

I caught Isaak at The Fillmore West last fall--the dude is a great entertainer. He has a new show, The Chris Isaak Hour, which will start soon on the Biography Channel.

Top Facebook Apps

The top Facebook app is the "We're Related" function.

http://www.appdata.com/facebook/weekgainers/redirect/category/all/mau/1/group_by/1/page/1/sort/gain

A question--whatever happened to family dysfunction? Does this app try to make families more functional? Or, is family dysfunction now going to find its way to the digital space?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"We're Kansas"

"I'm a little bit surprised, but it's what we're supposed to do--we're Kansas." Sherron Collins on the Jayhawks' somewhat surprising success thus far in what was to be a rebuilding year.

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2009/basketball/ncaa/02/17/Kansas.rebuilding.ap/index.html

The Decline of Men

Guy Garcia has written a new book, The Decline of Men: How the American Male is Tuning Out, Giving Up and Flipping Off His Future.

Garcia contends that Barack Obama is a new kind of man. He says, "Does his tendency toward negotiation over aggression, communication over silence and compassion over ruthless ambition point the way to a more humane and sustainable form of masculinity? So far, the answer is yes. Most Americans, male and female, have accepted him as the new model for the world's most powerful man--and, by implication, all men. That is a big change, and a reason for hope."

Garcia is the CEO of Mentametrix, a research and marketing consultancy based in New York.

Bill rebuffed by Hillary

Ouch! Nothing like your wife publicly turning the other cheek, so to speak...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8ivS4N6Dak

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Show me the money, Sonny!

University of Kansas alum Don Johnson is in the news. Johnson, who played a cop on Nash Bridges, claims he's been screwed out of several hundred million dollars in a lawsuit filed today in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Johnson says he's entitled to 50% of the profits--over $300 million in revenues and over $150 million in syndication--but has received nothing.

Nash Bridges aired from 1996-2001. And Johnson, of course, is probably best remembered for his role as Sonny Crockett in the TV series, Miami Vice.

Stimulus package

Does anyone else think it weird that the economic stimulus package bill was signed in Denver...and that the President and Vice President flew separate jet airliners to get there?

Yeah, I get that the Prez and Veep can't fly together but I also know that there were probably dozens of others who traveled away from D.C. to make this happen. I find this ironic in light of the focus on corporate excess, e.g., the use of corporate aircraft by CEOs.

This just seems odd to me...

One Googler's view on the future of the internet

Here is a very interesting read from the Senior Vice President of Product Management at Google regarding the future of the internet. It's pretty intriguing...

http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/from-height-of-this-place.html

Quick Hits

- A birthday shout-out to Denise Richards, who turns 38 today.  Richards is in the line-up of celebs for the upcoming season of Dancing With the Stars on ABC and has her own reality show, Denise Richards:  It's Complicated, on the E! Channel.  It must be complicated given Richards' very public and messy divorce from actor Charlie Sheen and then her liaison(s) with Richie Sambora, husband of acknowledged close friend Heather Locklear.  A career highlight for Richards had to be her casting as nuclear physicist Christmas Jones in the 1999 James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough.  "Physicist" is not a word seen too frequently in proximity to Richards' name.

- Several Daytona 500 attendees noted the interesting chain of events which brought both Keith Urban and Tom Cruise to the race on Sunday.  Urban was the pre-race entertainment; Cruise was spotted at the drivers' meeting and then driver introductions on stage.  The former is, of course, the current Mr. Nicole Kidman; the latter relinquished that role in 2001.  It's rumored that a sequel to Days of Thunder, Cruise's movie about NASCAR, may be in the works.  Interestingly, it was on the set of that movie in 1990 where Cruise and Kidman first met.  No word on whether Cruise would be re-cast in the part of Cole Trickle.

Clemente-gate continues

"I don't think Tyrel Reed or Brady Morningstar were the ones out there chatting." (Kansas head basketball coach Bill Self when asked about the "talking" which went on during KU's victory over Kansas State on Saturday.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Clemente redux

Well, Clemente-gate after Saturday's Kansas-Kansas State game is getting more intriguing.

We now have evidence that Clemente threw a mild roundhouse at Tyrell Reed at the end of the game, as shown here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_X-yQtWUj_o

There is also an internet report out of Manhattan that "racist remarks" were yelled at Clemente by players on the Kansas bench during the game. Bill Self would not comment but said "I did not hear anything inappropriate at all."

For what it's worth, the "writer" of this report on the racist remarks is the same person who broke the "Gary Patterson to KSU" story when Ron Prince was let go at Kansas State.

Happy 25th Anniversary

"This is Spinal Tap," the rockumentary that follows this fictional group, turns 25 this year. There are rumors that the power trio of David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls, and Nigel Tufnel are planning a reunion tour, "Unplugged," for later this year.

If the boys go acoustic we unfortunately will lose the line "it goes to 11...," my favorite part of the original movie.

USA Today Ad Tracker

From Monday's USA Today...


Q: Help me understand the Sprint Wireless Revolution black-and-white ads with Dan Hesse. I don't get the look and feel of the ads. They are cold and depressing. What gives?—Dan Navarro, Lewisville, Texas

A: Sprint began airing those ads nearly a year ago, and CEO Dan Hesse has appeared in five. The newest was set to begin Sunday. In the ads, he promotes the company's Simply Everything plan that provides unlimited phone and data services for $99. The mood of the ads is intended to convey a serious tone that helps differentiate the brand amid ad clutter.
"One of the reasons why we went with black and white was that we wanted the ads to stand out as elegant and different. Most importantly, we wanted the focus to be on Dan and what he had to say," says Mike Goff, Sprint's vice president of national advertising.
Sprint says the campaign by Goodby Silverstein & Partners has helped raise awareness. But it appears that the campaign has done little to stem the loss of customers. In the third quarter, the company had a net loss of 1.3 million subscribers. Fourth-quarter results will be announced Thursday.

Sully

Captain Chesley Sullenberger III.  Not exactly the name that one would expect of a hero.  Perhaps that's why his nickname of "Sully" fit so aptly with the person we were introduced to on January 15.

Sullenberger, of course, was the captain of US Airways flight 1549, bound from New York's LaGuardia airport to Charlotte on a normal Thursday afternoon route for this relatively short flight.  But, as we all know, the flight didn't make it to Charlotte--it ended up in the Hudson River and Sully and  his crew became American heroes because they saved a flight full of people and, in the process, saved those travelers' families from becoming widows, widowers, children without parents, and children lost.

Sullenberger was recently asked about being a hero.  His quote said much about him, and perhaps about the state of our country right now.  Sully said, "At first it was very hard to accept.  It took a crew of five to accomplish this, and we were doing the job we were trained for.  At the same time I don't want to diminish people's gifts of thanks to me."

Perhaps it's because lately we have more fallen heroes than those who stay right side up--Alex Rodriguez being the latest example.  Maybe we are yearning for something to hold on to in the midst of an economic climate the likes of which we have not seen in generations.  Maybe it's because many of us travel and have now been reminded that our lives are in the hands of a pilot, co-pilot and crew when we cinch up our seatbelt on an airline.

Sullenberger is a reluctant hero but he seems to have grasped that many need him to be a 
hero--to give hope, to show that the stoic, unassuming guy "just doing his job" is something we see too little of in today's society.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

KU Hoops Stat of the Weekend

Marcus Morris' line, coming off the bench in yesterday's 85-74 win over Kansas State:

4-7 FG, 1-1 3-pointers, 7 total rebounds (3 offensive), 4 assists, 3 steals, 1 turnover in 28 minutes of action.

Happy Birthday, Facebook!

Facebook turned five this month. But, I'm unfortunately being reminded by TIME magazine that Facebook is now for "old fogies." That's harsh!

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1879169,00.html

Quote of the Day

Dennis Clemente, Kansas State guard, after the Wildcat's 85-74 loss to Kansas on Saturday, said, "This is my house. I'll punch you back...I have my respect."

This, of course, came as a result of Clemente's skirmish with KU's Brady Morningstar. Clemente claimed that Morningstar elbowed him, thus the retaliation. Network replays on ABC yesterday didn't pick up on any Morningstar elbow--only Clemente's elbowing of Morningstar in the back. The incident was followed by two Kansas made free throws and 3-pointers by Tyrell Reed and Sherron Collins, pushing a close two-point game out to a 10-point Kansas lead.

The loss by Kansas State pushed this rivalry to 176-90 all-time in favor of Kansas. Of course, the Jayhawks have only lost twice in the past 40 games between the two schools.

Hard to call that a rivalry...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

KU Gets Crucial Win in Manhattan

After a tough loss on Monday in Columbia, MO, Kansas faced a red-hot in-state rival, who had won six straight, in today's game in Manhattan, KS. And early, Kansas appeared to be suffering the same turnover disease that plagued them on Monday when they had 27 TO's.

I thought that Tyrone Appleton, Quintrell Thomas and Marcus Morris were the kids off the bench who steadied the slide in the first half. The Jayhawks then went on a run to pull within one at halftime.

In the second half, KSU started well early but Kansas went on a run and began regularly feeding Cole Aldrich in the post. KU went from a three point deficit at the 15:53 mark to a four point advantage with 14 minutes to play. They never trailed after that even though Kansas State cut the lead to two.

Marcus Morris was Kansas' player of the game. After the critical technical foul in the MU game, Morris responded with his most active game of the year. He had 15 points, 7 rebounds and was an important 6 of 8 in free throws.

Brady Morningstar was also huge for Kansas. He was 4 of 4 from 3-point land as KU buried 8 of 12 from behind the arc.

This win, obviously, was important--a split of the two away games on rival courts was critical to keep pace in the league race. Lose both and Oklahoma would be hard to catch for the conference championship.

Kansas now has home games against Iowa State and Nebraska before the February 23 Big Monday match-up in Norman against the Sooners.

New Sprint NASCAR commercial

Debuting tomorrow on the FOX broadcast of the Daytona 500, this is a continuation of Sprint's NASCAR "Monsters" campaign which aired last season. The original spots, directed by Michael Mann (Heat, Miami Vice), connected the personality of NASCAR's star drivers with their machines. This year's spot brings one of the "monsters" to life.


Check it out...



video

Greatest Love Songs Ever?

On a day devoted to love, what are your favorite love songs? Here's a few worth considering:

-Unchained Melody, Righteous Brothers (and later performed by U2)
-Layla, Derek and the Dominoes
-Have I Told You Lately, Van Morrison
-The Way You Look Tonight, Frank Sinatra
-Wonderful Tonight, Eric Clapton

Let me know your faves list...

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine's Day one and all...

As a quick primer, Valentine's Day is an occasion celebrated on February 14...and is celebrated by many throughout the world. It is the traditional day when lovers express their love for one another by sending or exchanging cards, sending flowers, or gifting chocolates or other sweets. (For those in the greeting card business, it is second only to Christmas in sales volume.) It is also a day when the pressure on men to please their female companion is at a very high level.

The "holiday" is named after two early Christian martyrs named Valentine. Interesting, isn't it, that the day known for expressing love and affection is named after two people who died in support of their beliefs?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Joaquin redux

A couple of days after Phoenix's troublesome appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman, he is profiled in USA Today.

http://www.usatoday.com/life/people/2009-02-12-joaquin-phoenix_N.htm

I can't wait, can you, for JP's hip-hop act? I mean, once you've done Johnny Cash in Walk The Line, then hip-hop just seems like the natural progression.

ANA Survey

The Association of National Advertisers just released the findings of a survey commissioned with their membership that measured planned actions in light of the current recession.

Not surprisingly, advertisers indicated plans to reduce media budgets, production budgets, and challenge agencies to reduce costs.

However, the number one planned action—by 87% of the respondents--was to reduce travel and departmental expenses.

Quick Hits

- A congratulatory shout out to Jamie Gallo, agency friend just named President of TBWA\Chiat Day, New York.

- Is there a better depiction of "real" family life than the Taylor family on Friday Night Lights?

- What is up with the Dancing With the Stars lineup for this season? Lil' Kim? Denise Richards? Lawrence Taylor? Where's Andre Rison when you need someone to fill out the dance card?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Derek & the Dominoes

One of my younger colleagues had a blank look on her face today when I mentioned Derek & the Dominoes. Egad!

For those who don't know, Derek & the Dominoes was a group formed by Eric Clapton--one of the many late 1960's/early 1970's so-called "super groups." Band members included Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, Jim Gordon and Clapton. It combined the guitar virtuosity of Clapton and Allman, he of The Allman Brothers, one of the great blues/southern rock groups of all time. Allman is still considered one of the best slide guitarists ever.

The group published one album in 1970 but it wasn't until 1972, when the single "Layla" was released, that the album received the attention it deserved. To many rock critics, the Derek & the Dominoes album was the defining moment of Clapton's long and illustrious career. And, it was Allman who pushed Clapton to great heights.

The rap on Clapton was that he would sometimes get sloppy with his playing but Allman, while a close friend, pushed Eric as they recorded such great songs such as "Little Wing," "Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad," and, of course, the uber-classic, "Layla." (Allman contributed the opening notes to this all-time great rock anthem.)

Sadly, Allman died an untimely death in a motorcycle accident in 1971. And, other band members had their share of personal problems as well. Clapton, of course, had a very famous and long battle with chemical and alcohol dependency. Radle died in 1980 from complications of a kidney disease caused by alcohol and drug problems. And, Gordon, an undiagnosed schizophrenic, killed his mother with a hammer and was institutionalized.

Random Fact - Leavenworth

I grew up in Leavenworth, Kansas--home to five prisons and the oldest fort west of the Mississippi. Interestingly, there is a Leavenworth Street in San Francisco...but the two are not related in any way.

Leavenworth--the town--was named after Colonel Henry Leavenworth, who established Fort Leavenworth in 1827. Fort Leavenworth remains the oldest active army post west of the Mississippi.

Leavenworth--the street--was named for Reverend Thaddeus M. Leavenworth, an Episcopalian minister and phyisician. He arrived in San Francisco in 1847 as chaplain of Stevenson's First New York Volunteer Regiment. He served as alcalde in 1848-1849.

Thus endeth the history lesson...

Quote of the day

"It's too bad you couldn't be with us, Joaquin." (David Letterman)

http://www.cbs.com/late_show/video/video.php?cid=446418043&pid=TOnYWLFIAq4k8vA0Me2lpEWu5ovWrJzB&play=true&cc=1

We probably should have known that Phoenix had issues, given his troubling (yet terrific) performance in Gladiator. In an appearance last night on The Late Show, a surprisingly gracious David Letterman had several funny moments at Phoenix's expense.

An Academy Award nominee, Phoenix is leaving acting, he says, for a career in hip-hop. One more sign that the apocalypse is upon us...

Quick Hits

- Finally, a hotel in New York that has some personality, decent rooms, and a nice vibe! The Bowery is a great place that combines a bit of Shutters (Santa Monica) with an old-world European boutique hotel. I stayed there two weeks ago and will try to go back.
- Restaurant recommendation: Room 39 at Mission Farms in Leawood. Nice, small room with good atmosphere and decent bar, good wine list, and very good food. We split the filet and scallops and both were very well-prepared and presented.
- Restaurant non-recommendation: I can't in good conscience call this a "restaurant" but the pizza and salad from Zepi's Pizza, a new establishment at 130th and State Line, was flat-out horrible. What's the over-under on how long that place will stay open?
- If you're a foodie, check out this blog: http://nosaladasmeal.com/. It's written by Christian Haas, creative director at Goodby Silverstein & Partners. Be sure and read the review of The French Laundry--probably the best restaurant in the U.S. Christian's favorable review of another Thomas Keller restaurant allowed him to snap a coveted reservation at The French Laundry in Yountville, CA.
- TV recommendation: Catch "Trust Me" on TNT starring Tom Cavanaugh and Eric McCormack. The episode on "Do Thumbthing" was hysterical. It hits very close to home given the fictional client is a wireless company. It's the comical side of advertising compared to Mad Men's version of the ad world in the 1960's.

Internet access on airplanes

Southwest announced that they have started testing wireless Internet access on their jets with plans to expand the test next month. This will allow flyers to log in on their laptop or smartphone.

Thankfully, there is no move afoot to have cellular technology work on-board which would allow phone conversations from wireless devices. Can you imagine the guy who gets on board, talking too loudly into his device, carrying on that conversation while IN flight? My hypothesis would be that incidents of airline passenger "incidents" would go up exponentially.

Internet access = good; wireless voice calling access = please...don't do it!

Enduring campaigns

The recent Super Bowl once again elevated the discussion around what makes great advertising. Unfortunately, the Super Bowl has become the standard for advertising by the general public--in other words, if a spot appears on the Super Bowl then it immediately gets scrutinized by millions of eyeballs and "judged." That judgment too often is totally based upon entertainment value and whether or not the spot elicits a belly laugh.

Advertising may be better analyzed as to those that endure. What campaigns can you point to that have been in market for some time but still appear fresh?

Two that immediately come to mind for me are the "Priceless" campaign by Mastercard and the "Mac versus PC" campaign from Apple. The former has been on for years yet still seems fresh. Mastercard has extended the campaign into online where they solicit "priceless" stories from consumers.

The Apple campaign has not been in market as long as Mastercard's yet has done an excellent job of pointing out the shortcomings of the PC, particularly when compared to Apple's product. The Apple work even caused rival Microsoft to fire back with it's own "I'm a PC" campaign--perhaps the sincerest form of flattery in that the bigger rival (if measured by market capitalization) answers the rival's messaging.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

24

Once again, 24 started out with crackling action and intrigue. Yet, once again, we are treated to an improbable story line that diverts attention from Jack saving the nation. Could the First Gentleman really gain access, without detection, to a major apartment complex in Washington, D.C. to see his dead son's former lover? I won't share more for those catching up on DVR but...c'mon!

The Grammy's

The Grammy's seem hell-bent on mashing together "old" acts with "new" acts. This year's example was the improbable matching up of Stevie Wonder with the Jonas Brothers. I'm not sure I understand the connection.

Other thoughts:
- Carrie Underwood played to her strengths--her voice and her looks--in her performance. But, the poor girl continues to battle a lack of stage charisma.
- Any show that opens with U2 is starting from a position of power but has nowhere but down to go.
- T.I. and J.T. rocked. How impressive a talent is Timberlake?
- Jennifer Hudson followed up on her incredible Super Bowl national anthem performance with another knockout showcasing of her talents. She looked great too!

What's up with "G?"

Is anyone else having a hard time understanding Gatorade's decision to re-brand to "G?" Far be it for me to criticize someone else's branding strategy--Lord knows it's happened to me way too frequently. But, why would the category leader--with a brand name synonymous with the category--decide to focus more on "G" than the name "Gatorade?"