Friday, July 31, 2009

Reggie and Kim - splitsville

Let's see if we can make any sense of this latest development in the world of NFL stars and their very visible actress lady friends. In case you had not caught the news, the New Orleans Saints' Reggie Bush and Kim Kardashian of Keeping Up with the Kardashians have split.

First, Tony and Jessica split. And now we have Reggie and Kim calling it quits. Perhaps it was the opening of training camps and the desire of these two football stars to focus...but I doubt it.

No, it appears that Bush and Kardashian went their separate ways because (a) no ring had yet been proffered from Reggie and (b) "Kim's brand is much bigger than it was last season." Now, I don't make this stuff up--that quote came directly from a Fox News "source" on the relationship problems between the two stars.

I guess we can now accuse Bush of not "keeping up..."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Best coaches ever

The Sporting News released its list of all-time best coaches, across all major sports--professional and college--in its online edition today. The list of 50 was selected by a blue-chip panel of coaches, athletic administrators and even a team owner or two.

The top two are not surprising--John Wooden, former UCLA basketball head coach, and Vince Lombardi, coach of the NFL Green Bay Packers. Wooden, as we all know, had 10 national championships and a career winning percentage of .806. Lombardi won five NFL titles and did it only coaching a total of nine years.

After these two, the top five are Bear Bryant (Alabama football), Phil Jackson (NBA Bulls and Lakers) and Don Shula (Baltimore Colts and Miami Dolphins.) Of these, Jackson will probably be the one which elicits the most argument but the guy has won an NBA record 10 championships. Yes, he had Michael, Scottie, Shaq and Kobe during his tenure at the two franchises, but he also had guys like Cartwright, Kerr, Paxson, Fisher and others who aren't exactly household hoops names.

Of local interest are:

#8 - Dean Smith, North Carolina basketball (played at Kansas)
#16 - Bob Knight, Indiana and Texas Tech basketball
#19 - Mike Krzyzewski, Duke basketball
#21 - Adolph Rupp, Kentucky basketball (played at Kansas)
#29 - Bud Wilkinson, Oklahoma football
#34 - Tom Osborne, Nebraska football
#47 - Henry Iba, Oklahoma State basketball

The magazine did not list the criteria used for selecting the coaches but a high premium was obviously placed on number of national titles or professional championships.

There are, as with any list of this type, notables who did not make the cut. Near and dear to my heart is Phog Allen of Kansas--the acknowledged "father of basketball coaching" did not make the list even though he won national titles in 1922, 1923 and 1952, and was instrumental in getting basketball to be accepted as an Olympic sport.

The late Herb Brooks made the list at #50. At first glance, this seems like a sentimental pick as Brooks will always be remembered as the guy who masterminded the United States' monumental upset of Russia in Olympic hockey in 1980. Yet, Brooks did have success in the sport--his three national titles at the University of Minnesota prior to coaching the '80 Olympic team. Brooks was one of five hockey coaches who made the list--Scotty Bowman was the highest at #7.

One woman made her way onto the list--Pat Summitt of Tennessee was voted #11. Summitt was very deserving of the honor given her eight national championships and the fact that in the 28-year history of the NCAA Womens Tournament, Summitt's Vols have been to the Final Four 18 times!

In all, the Top 50 break down as follows:
- College football = 11
- NFL = 10
- MLB = 10
- College basketball = 9
- NBA = 5
- NHL = 5

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quick Hits

- Sign of the apocalypse: An ex-con from New York has started a business teaching Wall Street executives and other white-collar criminals how to survive jail. Steven Oberfest, 41, charges $200 per hour and teaches the convicted how to act in jail--the etiquette, the lingo, how to stay sane and how to defend oneself behind bars.

- Quote of the week: Jillian, from The Bachelorette, "Ed better not (bleep)ing disappoint me."

- The Model Lounge opened in New York. And, no, it's not open to the general public--only to female professional models. It's a place the models say they can relax without being hit upon by creepy guys and glared at by jealous women.

- Congratulations to Robert Redford. The Sundance Kid, at the age of 71, married his long-time girlfriend, Sibylle Szaggars. Redford's first marriage ended in 1985.

- Last week we celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 space mission to the moon. Neil Armstrong, part of the crew of Apollo 11 and the first man to walk on the moon, lays claim to the most valuable autograph in the U.S. Armstrong's signature, on a check he wrote before the Apollo 11 moon mission, fetched $27,350 recently, according to The Boston Globe.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Bachelorette chooses...

...and the winner, er chosen one, is (alert--turn your eyes away now if you DVRed last night's final episode and do not yet know the winner.)

Let's see, our Bachelorette ends up with the guy who left the show earlier in the season to tend to his job but then came back begging forgiveness, who was "too tired" on the big night when he could get amorous with his lass...and was a bit of a fashion disaster to boot. Gee, sounds like most males in most marriages, huh ladies? Maybe that bodes well for our bachelorette, Jillian Harris, and Ed Swiderski, the one who won Jillian's heart over 19 other contestants/guys.

In the end, we think Jillian chose wisely...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Tone it down, Tiger

I used to throw my golf clubs on the course. Not often...but enough. Then, I began playing regularly with my son, knowing that I was helping him learn not only the game but how to conduct himself on a golf course. My club throwing, for the most part, stopped. I must admit, that I--on a now rare occasion--will throw a club. And, as soon as I do it I feel embarrassed.

That's why I'm glad Rick Reilly wrote the attached column on

Dive of the week

We're starting a new feature here at Musings, Notes & Quotes--our "dive of the week." While we may not have enough material to actually fill up a weekly post about our favorite "dives," defined as joints which serve great food that may be a tad on the, shall we say, unhealthy side, we'll do our best. And, we want your feedback on great dives you've encountered so that we can spotlight these venues long on flavor and perhaps short on the accoutrements.

(In case you're wondering, yes, my inspiration for this is the Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," hosted by Guy Fieri.)

Our first spotlighted dive this week is The Peanut at 5000 Main, Kansas City, MO. This local establishment bills itself as the "oldest bar in Kansas City." And, while there are other locations within the metropolitan area, this one stands out--the food is terrific, the service apathetic and the place looks like it hasn't been dusted since 1957.

The spirit of late owner Rich Kenney still lingers in the joint which appeals to its regular, neighborhood clientele as well as the business types from the Plaza area who grab BLTs or wings over lunch.

The star here is the city's best bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich, topped with sliced onions and sliced cheese. The single provides a lot of bacon but if you are into a salt overdose, order the triple. The bar's wings are also top-notch.

So, our dive of the week--The Peanut at 50th and Main, just south of the Country Club Plaza.

Marketing to women

The blogging conference BlogHer is the largest gathering of its type for female bloggers in North America. And, a recent survey of those registered at BlogHer had some interesting findings for marketers who are trying to better market to the female segment.

The survey, conducted by Ketchum Communications, found that four in 10 female bloggers have provided information or feedback collected on their blogs to marketers to help them better market to women or mothers. An even larger percentage (53%) indicated that they would do so if asked, meaning this is a fruitful place for marketers to focus as they consider how best to reach women.

Not surprisingly, the research also pointed out some warnings to marketers as they try to tap into this profitable segment:

- Take the time to read the blogs and understand the areas of focus.

- Don’t assume that all female bloggers are “mommy bloggers.”

- Know that female bloggers are “more than their blog”—they have other roles in their lives other than being a mom or a blogger, including jobs outside the home.

Respondents also pointed out their dislike of how consumer technology products are marketed to women. The most common mistake cited is “patronizing language”—33% said that this turns them off to the brand being marketed. “Stereotypes” was also cited, by 28%, as a turn-off. Other feedback included “not being clear on product benefits” (15%), “using too much jargon” (11%) and “making products that appeal to men” (7%.)

Ketchum and BlogHer collaborated on the research, which was administered online by BlogHer in late June 2009.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Closing out the week

- Have those in Kansas City noticed the new Kansas City Chiefs ticket commercials featuring country singer Trace Adkins? The words "discipline" and "integrity" are used as attributes of the Chiefs' 50-year history. How about "winning?" Can we work on that one?

- Mick Jagger turns 66 today. All jokes aside, he and his band colleagues can still rock it out.

- The parking lots around local restaurants still appear full, even with the down economy. But, there are sure more "dinner deals" to be had at upscale eateries. The Bristol has a $29 prix fixe, four-course meal and Sullivan's is advertising dinner for two for $69.

- Speaking of Adkins, he and fellow country stud, Toby Keith, invade Sprint Center in Kansas City on Friday night this week.

- The Sprint Center is getting a return date from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band on October 26. Maybe The Boss will start the concert on time this visit--his Kansas City concert late last year started over an hour after the announced start time.

40 years

1969. Google it and see what you find. Forty years ago we experienced a 12-month period which would be hard to top for the number of impactful events which occurred--some of which could be labeled once-in-a-lifetime.

Just a quick list would be: man walking on the Moon, the gathering of hundred of thousands of people at the Woodstock Music & Arts Festival; Charles Manson; the New York Jets beating the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl, thus becoming the first AFL team to win this football championship; Rod Laver winning the calendar-year tennis Grand Slam; the birth of Sesame Street; the release of notable albums like Led Zeppelin I and The Beatles' Abbey Road and the incorporation of Wal-Mart.

In the world of sports, we not only had Laver and the Jets, we had the Amazin' Mets winning the World Series, the aging Boston Celtics winning their 11th NBA title in 13 years, Mario Andretti winning the Indianapolis 500, a guy named Orville Moody winning the U.S. Open--his only major title ever, and Michigan upsetting #1 Ohio State. In college hoops, John Wooden's UCLA Bruins won their third straight national title led by a guy named Lew Alcindor (later becoming Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) and in college football, #1 Texas beat #2 Arkansas 15-14 in the "college football game of the century," according to the Southwest Conference. Yes, that's the same Southwest Conference which no longer exists and the same Texas, who's now in the Big 12 and Arkansas, who's now in the Southeastern Conference.

Forty years from now we'll celebrate the year 2049. On what will we look back and reminisce? The death of Michael Jackson? Jon & Kate? President Obama's health-care initiative? Tom Watson's "almost" British Open victory? The release of the new Wilco album? The beginning of a long run by Conan O'Brien as host of The Tonight Show? The start of a long, national political career by Sarah Palin?

Color me skeptical--it's going to be hard to top '69...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Apple complaint causes Microsoft to alter ad

The "laptop hunters" campaign from Microsoft has done a very good job of spotlighting the cost of Apple laptops compared to those utilizing Microsoft operating systems. But now, Apple's drop in laptop pricing has caused Microsoft to alter at least one of the television spots.

The ad in question features a college student shopping for a new laptop with the help of her mother. The commercial formerly had the student saying, "This Mac is $2,000 and that's before I add anything." "Why would you pay twice the price?" asks the Mom in reply.

In the latest version of the ad, that scene has been edited out. The re-edited version has the student saying, "It seems like you're paying a lot for the brand."

The campaign was created by Crispin, Porter & Bogusky.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Erin Andrews-gate

In case you've somehow missed it, ESPN reporter Erin Andrews was recently videotaped in her hotel room--nude, ironing her clothes and curling her hair. The video has been around for awhile but gained stature this week when the website Deadspin reported on the situation.

Now, the whole affair threatens to blow up to into a pop culture "news" event. ESPN is upset at the New York Post for running photos of Andrews. The entertainment media are reporting on the situation. And, the latest twist is this Tweet from USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan, "I also would suggest to her...that she rely on her talent and brains and not succumb to the lowest common denominator in sports media by playing to the frat house."

Andrews is a very pretty woman. She's also a very good sideline reporter. Neither, though, are important to the bottom line here--Andrews was spied upon...she was violated. That is a crime whether your name is Erin Andrews of ESPN or Erin Andrews of Anytown, USA.

I personally cannot believe Brennan's post, given that it came from a columnist who has a long history of supporting women's athletics and equality of women in sports--whether as a participant or in the business of sports. I'm saddened that Brennan intimated that Andrews brought this upon herself in some way. That's just wrong...

G...Gatorade sales slipping

The Wall Street Journal reports today that weak sales of Gatorade contributed to a 6% drop in second quarter volume for Pepsi's American beverages unit.

What's notable about this news in the branding world is the timing--it was in January that Gatorade ditched it's familiar branding and went to "G", announced by a "What's G?" campaign. The purported objective was to make the brand "cool again," according to the Journal's report, but instead consumers became confused.

This slip is the second major branding dilemma for Pepsi in 2009. In February, the company moved back to familiar packaging for Tropicana juice after consumers revolted against the generic, undifferentiated packaging which had taken its place.

According to today's report, Pepsi will move Gatorade back to a focus on its core audience--"the sweating masses."

"What's G?" Apparently, that question went unanswered by too many consumers.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

GOP is "running on empty"

Do you remember the controversy during the 2008 Presidential campaign with the Republican Party's use of "Running On Empty" by Jackson Browne? The GOP is apparently going to apologize to Browne for using the song, in an unauthorized manner, in a Republican Party advertisement on behalf of candidate John McCain.

What would you give up?

The USA Today "Snapshot" information box on the front page today asked the question, "What would you give up to save the environment?" The answers provide their own snapshot into the priorities of American consumers.

iPod - 42%
Dishwasher - 38%
Microwave - 28%
Cellphone -23%
Air conditioning - 16%
TV -14%
Computer - 8%

Think about the findings for a moment--more people are willing to do without an appliance which washes their dishes versus a mobile device which makes calls, texts and checks e-mail. And, more people are willing to live without air conditioning versus having a computer!

In sum, the takeaway is that the personal computer is the most important device in the home these days. That means that a technology which only became "personal" in the mid-1980s--some 25 years ago--has surpassed televisions, microwaves and dishwashers as a "must have" item. Amazing...

(Source: Shelton Group for Eco Pulse, online survey of 1,006 adults, April 17-May 1)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Apple retail experience

I will warn you that this post will be a semi-rant so Apple loyalists may want to turn away now.

I've gone into the local Apple store twice over the past three days and can relate that the experience was both stunning, in observing the energy and interest of the consumers in the store coupled with the Apple "genius" associates, yet very troubling in the specifics of what I encountered.

Our family owns six Apple products--two laptops and four i-Pod/i-Touch devices. We love Apple products but aren't the types who place the Apple decal on the window of our car. A healthy respect for the brand and the quality of the product is how I would portray our opinions about Apple.

So, it's with a bit of disappointment but also a lot of irritation that I report on my interactions at the Apple store recently. One of our i-Pods no longer holds a charge. My wife took the device in a month ago and had it "restored." That restoration did not fix the problem. So, when I went in Sunday to explain that the problem was still there, my expectation was that we'd get a new device or, at minimum, a replaced battery.

Guess what? I had to make an Apple Genius appointment. Now, it was always my understanding that the Genius bar in the Apple stores were for those who wanted tutelage in the art of mastering the Apple operating system. I mean, c'mon, I have to make an appointment for someone to even look at my i-Pod? Yep, that's the deal.

So, I go in today for my "Genius" appointment. A bright, likable young man--an acolyte that one typically encounters at Apple--helped me out. He checked the device, checked the customer service notes and said "we need to get you a new battery." I said, "OK, let's do it." Well, said acolyte informed me, "we don't have that item in stock--we'll have to order it." I was told that they would call me and that I could come back and bypass making an appointment in order to make it "convenient" for me.

Let me get this straight--the local Apple store does not stock a component which powers a device which is sold at high volume. And, I had to have an appointment--about five minutes in total length--to even make this discovery!

The visit pointed out to me the strength of the Apple brand--that Apple, in effect, almost gets a "pass" from consumers because the quality of the products and the shopping experience seems to overcome the negative feelings engendered by this handling of service and repair issues.

The Apple brand continues to be the model to which other brands aspire. Personally, I think the company has to be careful that, with its success does not come a lack of appreciation for handling those few consumers who actually do need repair on an Apple product.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Tom--the day after...

I like what Jason Gay wrote this morning in the Wall Street Journal about Tom Watson's failed attempt yesterday to win the British Open.

Gary wrote, "As magnificent as Mr. Watson was, we couldn't help but crack up at all the pandering over his age, as if he were an ossified relic puttering up the fairway upon a cherry-red Rascal. This was a fit, athletic man who'd won eight majors in his career. As he himself noted, he felt capable of playing excellent golf on a course like Turnberry, which rewards dexterity and intelligence as much as muscle fiber.

But, who was not inspired by his sprightly surge? Starting on Thursday, Mr.Watson stunned the tournament with a three-day trip through a time portal to his puffy-haired 1980's heyday. And, he'd done it with a gentlemanly mien and a charming sense of self-deprecation...Let that twinkle and spunk, and not the playoff immolation, be the memory of Mr. Watson's weekend."

First blogola

In the 1950's, payola scandals rocked radio when it was discovered that disc jockeys were accepting payoffs to play singles by artists whose management had paid the radio personalities. Now, it's blogola.

Elisa Camahort Page, COO of, an online female community which logs 15 million unique visitors per month, said merely disclosing that a blogger is accepting money, freebies or perks to include product mentions isn't enough to solve the problem.

Watch for this issue to grow in visibility given the influence of bloggers on consumer opinion.

Apollo 11

Forty years ago today, the U.S. achieved its goal of putting a man on the Moon. Not surprisingly, many of the quotes from the day quickly made their way into popular culture. All capture the enormity of the moment.

Here are a few:

- Michael Collins, NASA astronaut, when the Eagle, the name given for the lunar module, undocked from the command module Columbia, “Okay, Eagle…you guys take care.”

- Charlie Duke, NASA astronaut at NASA headquarters in Houston, when the lunar module sensors confirmed landing on the Moon, “We copy you down, Eagle.”

- Neil Armstrong, “Houston…Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

- The late, great Walter Cronkite, “Oh, boy.” Cronkite uttered the words after hearing that Neil Armstrong had successfully navigated the lunar module to the Moon’s surface.

- Armstrong, “That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.” The first man on the moon supposedly intended to say “that’s one small step for a man” but forgot the “a” during the excitement of the moment.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Honorary quote of the day

More from the late Walter Cronkite:

"I think we've got a bunch of thugs here, Dan." Cronkite said this on CBS on August 27, 1968, while broadcasting live from the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Cronkite was reacting to Dan Rather, who had been punched in the stomach by a security guard while on the convention floor.


Tom Watson was the story in sports this weekend. And, as he's been throughout his career, Tom was and is “ours.”

To Kansas Citians, Watson has long been our third professional franchise—and, to many, he’s been the #1 franchise versus the up-and-down feelings of the locals for the Chiefs and the Royals. Watson was raised in Kansas City, learned the game here from his father and local teaching pro Stan Thirsk and, after becoming a PGA Tour pro, stayed in Kansas City when his contemporaries migrated to warm-weather climes to hone their games.

Watson has unabashedly been a fan of the Royals and the Chiefs, has worked hard to get a Champions Tour event located in Kansas City, has designed two notable golf courses in this area and, perhaps most importantly to Kansas Citians, stood up to a local country club when they denied membership to a prominent Jewish businessman.

Today, around this city, activities stopped to take in the spectacle of Watson--he of age close to 60 and the newly replaced hip--striding around the links of Turnberry doing battle with men half his age and younger. Watson, written off early when he bogeyed two of the first three holes, hung tough, showed the mental fortitude that he was known for in his prime, and held the lead alone heading into the 18th hole. And, while those watching will say it was the putt for the win that betrayed him, it was actually his shot #275 of the tournament which did him in. Watson chose to hit an 8-iron and absolutely smoked a gorgeous shot which hit in front of the green and headed towards the flagstick. What Watson hadn't calculated was the firmness of the ground around the green as it kept going and going--past the hole, past the fringe and settling ever-so-slightly into the rough. That bit of bad luck, as if the Gods of Turnberry were saying "not this year, Toom" in their Scottish accent, caused Watson to putt from the fringe, beginning a pair of poorly struck putts which cost him the tournament.

Hearts sank across this town--it was hard to watch our hero fail after flirting with one, final improbable major title. Yet, in the sadness came the realization that Watson had provided us with the local sports story of the summer...that once again, he was "our" story which was being shared internationally given the magnitude of the Open Championship.

"Our" Tom Watson...epitomized by this personal story from several years ago. I was attending a PGA Tour event and encountered another Kansas Citian who immediately asked “How’s our boy doing?” I knew right away who he met—he was talking about Watson...“our” Tom Watson.

Thanks, Tom, for reviving so many great memories this weekend…and for being “ours.”

Sunday morning coffee

- The television clips this morning of Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus, at Turnberry in 1977 and then playing together at St. Andrews during Jack's final tournament there, stirred up emotions of two great champions who dueled one another often and then became great friends. Watson's efforts during this weekend's British Open were enough to cause Nicklaus to send his first text message ever, to wish his good friend luck during the final round.

- You know you're a redneck when: 10,000 people attended the annual "Redneck Games" in Duluth, GA, which featured competitions like bobbing for pig's feet, spitting watermelon seeds, belly-flopping into a giant mud pit and making farting noises with your armpit.

- To all you Megan Fox fans out there (guys, this means you), she thinks you're "weak." Fox had this to say about the men who fawn over her. "Weak, ridiculous, retards--so pathetic."

- Quote of the day: In honor of tomorrow's 40th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the moon, and Neil Armstrong's first steps on the lunar surface, we give you this from President John Kennedy--"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." (May 25, 1961)

- USA Today reports that the average man owns seven pairs of shoes. The average woman? She owns 15. So, after you count the three sets of beat-up sneakers, the flip-flops, the golf shoes and the work boots, the average man has one set of dress shoes, right?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Honorary quote of the day

In honor of Walter Cronkite, who passed away yesterday at age 92, we use one of his more famous quotes as our honorary quote of the day. In 1968, after a fact-finding trip to Vietnam, Cronkite said on-air at the CBS Evening News, "It is increasingly clear to this reporter that the only rational way out...will be to negotiate with the North Vietnamese."

Rest in peace, Mr. Cronkite.

Friday, July 17, 2009


- The Emmy nominations were released yesterday. And, of course, in reviewing the list of nominees there is reaction on those rightfully recognized and those ignored. Thankfully, Cherry Jones was nominated for her role as the president in this past season of 24 even though the series did not garner recognition for Best Drama Series. And, does Thirty Rock really deserve 22 nominations?

- Starbucks is testing a concept to deal with slower sales during the evening hours. The coffeehouse chain will try out beer and wine sales at one of its Seattle stores. The idea is to sell a half-dozen or so varieties of beer and wine—all with ties to the Northwest. The price point will be between $4-$7 per drink. Former Starbuck’s Chief Marketing Officer Scott Bedbury had a great quote about the concept, “The reason Starbucks became the number one place to go for blind dates is because women are comfortable there…and the men aren’t drunk.”

- David Letterman has overtaken Conan O’Brien. Last week The Late Show with David Letterman scored higher viewership than The Tonight Show, propelled by the appearance of Paul McCartney on Wednesday evening. While The Tonight Show still draw higher viewership among young adults, Letterman has made inroads into that audience as well.

- Comings and goings: Shout outs go to our friends, Ron Bess and Tom Hansen. Bess was named President of Euro RSCG North America. Hansen left his post as President of TM in Dallas to become CEO at Heelys, Inc.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sprint garners Emmy nomination

Sprint's "Wedding" television commercial for its Nextel brand has received an Emmy nomination, it was announced today. The spot, from ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, follows on the Gold Lion which Sprint recently won for its "Now" campaign at the Cannes Advertising Festival.

Other advertisers and agencies nominated for Emmys in the "best commercial" category are:

"Airport Lounge"
American Express/Platinum Card
Ogilvy & Mather

"Alec in Hollywood"
Crispin Porter + Bogusky

"Bottled Courage"
Wieden & Kennedy

Anheuser-Busch Budweiser
DDB Chicago

Wieden & Kennedy

"Magazine Buyer"
Anheuser-Busch Bud Light
DDB Chicago

Career Builder

Finally--good beer advertising

Euro RSCG has proven that a unique and interesting advertising campaign still can be produced for major beer brands. In a category where advertising has seemingly lost its way--I mean, brands are advertising about the beer flow from their cans--Heineken Brands has a winning campaign for Dos Equis--the "most interesting man in the world" work.

The campaign has driven double-digit gains for the brand and consumers are using lines from the advertising in bars and conversations. The work is finding its way into popular culture.

Here's the story from today's

The Open Championship

There's something about the score 65 and Tom Watson when he plays at Turnberry. The 59-year old Kansas Citian put up a 65 today in the first round of the British Open and, as of this writing, is in the lead at this third major of the golfing season. Watson put up scores of 65 on the final two days of this same tournament at Turnberry in 1977 when he dueled Jack Nicklaus, mano a mano, down the stretch to win the coveted claret jug that year.

It's always fun to watch this tournament if for no other reason than to get the vocal stylings of BBC commentator, Peter Allis. My favorite from this morning, "Oh, that was cruel," uttered after a shot from Padraig Harrington met with an unfortunate result.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bad day for sports fans

The Wall Street Journal pointed out that today is one of the worst days of the year for sports fans. Why? Today is the day after the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, meaning no regular season games are being played. And, there are no basketball, football or hockey games scheduled either. Throw in no golf or tennis and it is a very, very dry sports day.

What's a dude to do? Well, there's always Top Chef Masters over on Bravo.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Comings and goings

- This just in--Tony Romo, quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, has dumped his girlfriend, Jessica Simpson. Fans of the Cowboys, most of whom felt that Simpson was a bad influence on their QB, can rest easy and find a new target for their ire.

- Ryan Seacrest has signed a new three-year deal to remain as host of American Idol as well as pursue new projects. Seacrest's agreement is with 19 Entertainment, managed by Simon Fuller, the creator of Idol. The multi-year deal will pay Seacrest $30 million for the next three seasons as well as a $7.5 million signing bonus. Now that Seacrest has re-upped, attention will focus to last year's experiment with four judges on Idol and whether that will continue in the upcoming season.

"Mad Men" teams with Banana Republic

The third season of Mad Men, the 1960's-era drama set in a New York advertising agency, begins next month. And, leading up to that premiere, AMC, the cable network which carries the series, announced a partnership last week with Banana Republic. The partnership affirms the growing popularity of the cable series and also the impact the show is having on current-day fashion.

The partnership will include an in-store Mad Men promotion in Banana's 400 locations. The promotion will use imagery and character profiles to show off the clothing retailer's take on dressing for the 1960's workplace. Banana Republic will also co-sponsor a contest for customers to win a walk-on role in a season three Mad Men episode along with a $1,000 store gift card.

Last year, Mad Men teamed with Bloomingdale's for a partnership which was so successful that it more than doubled its limited run of featured window displays in Bloomingdale's stores.

The season two DVD set of Mad Men was released today and the packaging carries the fashion tie-in as well--Don Draper's signature crisp white dress shirt with tie is on the cover of the boxed set.

The season one DVD set was a top ten seller for the TV category last year, according to Lionsgate Home Entertainment, and similar success is predicted for today's release of season two.

The third season of Mad Men begins on August 16.

Amazon courting Netflix?

Your first reaction may be "this makes no sense--an online retailer going after a company which rents DVDs?" But, the speculation is prevalent enough on Wall Street to have sent Netflix shares up 7% yesterday.

Here, apparently, is the logic--most believe the DVD rental business is a dying one and will be replaced by online streaming of full-length movies and TV shows. Both Amazon and Netflix are already streaming programming but Netflix has 10 million subscribers to its mail-order, rental business. All 10 million of those consumers are candidates for converting over to streaming.

Amazon currently has about 40,000 titles it can stream to customers. In Netflix, it would gain a company with 12,000 titles and some 100,000 DVD titles. The benefit to Amazon is the increased customer base plus the relationships that Netflix has with studios who own the movies and TV shows.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Even the best need help

The New York Times reports today on professional golfers and the relationships they have with the companies who clothe them.

Another example of social media's power

The rise of social media heightens the impact that a riled-up consumer can have on a brand. Take, for instance, the attached video where a United Airlines passenger had some issues with how his luggage was handled. One YouTube video and 2.4+ million hits later, United Airlines is forced to take action--and action which, obviously, is much too late.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sign of the apocalypse

Ron Artest, now of the Los Angeles Lakers, decided to pick the number 37 for his uniform at his new team. The reason? Apparently, a fan told him that Michael Jackson's "Thriller" spent 37 weeks as the number one-selling album. Thus, Artest chose 37 because "I feel like I'm number one in my life."

Tom versus Jack at Turnberry

In 1977, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus staged one of the classic duels in golf history at the famed course at Turnberry, site of this week's British Open.

The match, in which Watson shot successive 65 scores on the last two days of the tournament, is documented in the attached story in today's New York Times. What is best remembered about the duel is Watson's 60-foot putt on 15 which evened the match during the last round of play. He then birdied 17 to go up by one on Nicklaus, still considered the best golfer ever (or at least until Tiger Woods breaks Nicklaus' record number of wins in majors.) But, in a forgotten piece of the drama, Nicklaus birdied 18 from 40 feet away putting pressure on Watson to make his two-footer for par. He calmly knocked it in and the Open championship was in the hands of the 27-year old from Kansas City.,%20One%20Great%20Moment&st=cse

The great Nicklaus and Watson squared off often during this era in golf--the 1977 Masters, the 1992 U.S. Open, and the classic at Turnberry. Reminiscing about these head-to-head duels is why we thirst for a consistent threat to Wood's dominance on today's PGA Tour.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Saturday morning coffee

- Happy birthday to former Sprint pitch-woman, Sela Ward, who turns 53 today. Wonder what Sela is up to these days?

- Also with a birthday today is Richie Sambora, 50, of Bon Jovi--he of the Heather Locklear/Denise Richards romantic triangle of two years ago. (Sambora and Locklear divorced in 2007.)

- Surgeons recently completed a successful eight-way kidney transplant involving 16 people in four U.S. states--a record for so-called domino transplants. The effort took place over three weeks in Baltimore, St. Louis, Oklahoma City and Detroit.

- It's official--Mad Men will begin season three on AMC on August 16.

- Talk about no-frills flying. A low-cost European airline asked Boeing to design a plane with standing room so that they could pack in more passengers. Those standing would fly with a belt buckling them to a metal pole.

- Here's an interesting cocktail--authorities in Malaysia confiscated 900 boxes of coffee laced with Viagra. The distributor claimed that the mixture would "provide an energy boost." No foolin'...

- It was hard to miss the numerous television shots and photographs, over the past week, of the gold casket at Michael Jackson's funeral. The casket was a custom-built model, fashioned from bronze, plated with 14-carat gold and lined with plush velvet. According to the New York Daily News, Jackson was impressed by the casket at "The Godfather of Soul," James Brown's, funeral service three years ago and promptly ordered a casket for himself. Cost: $25,000.

- Britney Spears' and her ex, Kevin Federline's, physiques are headed the opposite directions. While Spears has regained most of her former, toned body, Federline has ballooned in weight by nearly 100 pounds since his divorce from Brit. K-Fed now checks in at a non-svelte 235 versus his former dancing weight of 150.

- Who are these people? Three percent of Americans say there hasn't been enough coverage of Michael Jackson's death, according to Pew Research.

- And, to close, for all you weekend golfers, here is the quote of the day from PGA Tour player Padraig Harrington, who has missed five straight cuts at tour events. Harrington said, of his driving woes, "My driver is an office club at the moment. It works 9 to 5 and never on weekends."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Interesting stats

- So, do you think the poor economy has bottomed out or not? According to Gallup, U.S. Investor optimism tumbled in June. The Index of Investor Optimism--a broad measure of investor perceptions--fell 20 points to -21 in June, giving up gains in May and returning the index to where it was in April. Yet, the Index has improved by 43 points from February's -64 reading--its lowest level since inception (October 1996.)

- Here's an odd one--nearly four in 10 Americans say their views have grown more conservative. (Source: Gallup) Despite the results of the 2008 election, Americans, by a 2-to-1 margin, say their political views in recent years have become more conservative--39% say they are more conservative than a few years ago and 18% say they are more liberal, with 42% saying their views have not changed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

I was just thinkin'...

- I miss the Kia Soul spots with the hamsters groovin' in the car to Marz.

- has a poll asking "will the New York Times make it past 2012?" Sad...yes, the newspaper is having financial issues but the thought of losing our nation's best-known newspaper is depressing.

- Either Wes on The Bachelorette was a heckuva actor or Jillian had the worst intuition and discernment of any female on reality programming.

- Mad Men can't get here quick enough. Is it August yet?

- It was great to see The Sporting News rank Kauffman Stadium #6 out of all Major League Baseball ballparks. Number one was, no surprise, Boston's Fenway Park followed by PNC Park, Pittsburgh; Wrigley Field, Chicago; Camden Yard, Baltimore; and AT&T Park, San Francisco.

- One consequence of the number of retailers who are closing doors is that the vacant real estate is one of the hottest new advertising venues. Advertisers are using the empty storefronts for ad messages and, in some cases, more immersive experiences with consumers. For commercial real estate companies, it's better than an empty space not pulling in any revenue.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Kindle ready for the beach?

A dilemma facing Kindle owners is whether the electronic reader from Amazon is beach-ready. Think about it--sand, saltwater, sun...not exactly a recipe for keeping any electronics device in good shape during the summertime beach season.

In case you've missed it, the Kindle is the small notebook-sized device, sold by Amazon ($489 for the new Kindle DX), which holds thousands of books, periodicals and magazines. And, while the Kindle has had successful sales--estimated by one analyst at 500,000 in 2008 and 300,000 in the first quarter of 2009--overall only one in every 400 Americans or so has the device. Amazon does report that sales of books for the Kindle are already 35% of those for print, a data point which hints at the growth path for the readers.

But, has the Kindle met its match at the beach, or even the pool? Much like the i-Pod, beach and pool goers will have to reckon with the elements when they consider taking their Kindle...or a good, old-fashioned hardback or paperback.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday morning musings

- It was a good day yesterday for Gillette. Endorsers of the mens' products brand won both the Mens Final at Wimbledon and the PGA AT&T National Tournament in Bethesda, MD. The endorsers are, of course, tennis great Roger Federer and golfer Tiger Woods.

- Speaking of Federer, I feel really, really badly for Andy Roddick. The guy played the match of his life only to lose to the best tennis player ever in an epic match yesterday. Interestingly, a "Congratulations Andy" ad by Lacoste, the brand endorsed by Roddick, appears today on the back page of The New York Times' sports section. A similar full-page, congratulatory ad for Federer, by Gillette, appears inside the same section. At least Roddick beat Federer today on the advertising placement front.

- Public Enemies opened this past long weekend with a not-too-bad take of $26.2 million. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen both took in $42.5 million. Enemies cost about $100 million to make and has also received a lot of marketing support behind the launch of the film. It will be interesting to see how the movie continues to fare--do summertime movie-goers want serious, shoot-'em-up cinema?

- Sylvester Stallone turns 63 today. Was it really 1976--33 years ago--when Rocky became a film sensation, eventually winning an Academy Award for Best Picture? The film, by the way, was produced for $1.1 million.

- The New York Times reports today that the median age of viewers of The Tonight Show has dropped from 55 to 45 in the month since Conan O'Brien has assumed hosting duties. That's an amazing shift in viewership demographics in that short a time.

- Casey Kasem is stepping down. The 77-year old disc jockey is calling it quits after 39 years broadcasting American Top 40, the franchise he founded in 1970.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Wrapping up a wacky week

- A woman in Colorado was evicted for leaving up her Easter decorations too long. The woman admitted that she adorned her apartment door with Easter eggs, plastic grass, Peeps (the marshmallow candies) and other paraphernalia, and that she did resist taking down the decorations when asked to do so by apartment management. Her lawyer says her constitutional rights were violated, "An Easter decoration is a religious statement and should be protected, even if it is just bunnies."

- I wonder which gig model she had? A London teen survived a 30,000 volt lightning strike only because it was diverted by an iPod wire.

- The city of Toronto, Canada admitted that it photoshopped an African-American male into the family on its cover of its new Fun Guide. The city was trying to show its multicultural diversity.

- Utah is being invaded by grasshoppers. One estimate had up to 2,000 of the critters swarming over a single square foot of ground.

- And finally, a New York man was arrested after allegedly dressing in drag as his dead mother in order to collect her benefit checks. The assistant District Attorney asserted that the man had been conducting the fraud for six years. How was he caught? According to the assistant D.A., "he had rather large hands."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day musings

- It's pretty cool to see an all-U.S. Womens Final at Wimbledon on Independence Day as well as the Bryan brothers playing in the Mens Doubles Final today. And, let's not forget Andy Roddick against the great Roger Federer tomorrow at the All-England Club.

- Isn't it amazing that two of our country's key Founding Fathers, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, both died on July 4th--Independence Day--in 1826?

- On this day 15 years ago, I attended the U.S. Mens Soccer team loss to eventual champion Brazil in the World Cup. The match, at Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, CA, reinforced how far the U.S. still had to go in global soccer even though the team had advanced to the round of 16 after an upset win over Colombia, a tie against Switzerland and a loss to Romania. Last week's loss to Brazil in the finals of the Conferederation Cup, the first FIFA final ever for the U.S., was certainly a sign of our progress since that game in the '94 World Cup.

- There aren't many good Independence Day-themed movies. One of the best is The Patriot, the film which launched Heath Ledger's career. Ledger is on the cover of the latest Vanity Fair.

- Fifty years ago, Alaska was admitted into the United States and on this day in 1959, the 49-star U.S. flag debuted in Philadelphia. Ironic then, that 50 years later that state is in the news after the announcement yesterday of Governor Sarah Palin's resignation.

- Did you know the Bomb Pop was invented in Kansas City? The red, white and blue version of the summertime treat was always a favorite but I was most partial to the banana-flavored Bomb Pop. Now, that was good eatin'.

- Famous people with a July 4 birthday: Calvin Coolidge, Rube Goldberg, Meyer Lansky, Eva Marie Saint, Floyd Little and Geraldo Rivera.

A simpler time

My fondest memories of Independence Day were the family get-togethers which would always happen on this holiday.

My grandmother and grandfather and uncle and aunt all lived within five houses of us out in “the country.” (“Country,” in this case, indicated the larger lots which we had while all around us were farms of significant size.)

My grandfather owned the ice plant in town—the place where townspeople would come during the time when “ice box” was the kitchen appliance which evolved into today’s refrigerator. He also sold cold beverages and summer fruits out of this huge, walk-in cooler which held the coldest bottled soda in town.

Each year, grandpa would come to our family gathering after working a long day at the plant on what typically would be his busiest day of the year. When he arrived he usually had two ice-cold, sweet-as-sugar watermelons under each arm, grinning and chuckling as he walked up to our outdoor barbecue and picnic.

One year, my dad and uncle ordered a huge box of fireworks from a mail-order place. This was before ordering online and even toll-free numbers. Dad and my uncle mailed in their form for a huge box of sparklers, firecrackers, bottle rockets, Roman candles and fountains. We had all waited in anticipation, knowing that this would be the best fireworks display ever. Eventually, the two brothers were setting off fireworks simultaneously--they had not calculated on the volume of fireworks that they would receive coupled with the short attention spans of all of us.

Time seemed so simple then. A sweet watermelon, my grandmother's fried chicken, a warm summer night and fireworks which were allowed in backyards. I miss those times but relish those memories.

Friday, July 3, 2009

"Don't leave home..."

It's been an eventful week for advertising spokesfigures. Earlier in the week, well-known pitchman Billy Mays passed away. Smokey the Bear celebrated his 65th birthday this week. And, this past Wednesday, acclaimed actor Karl Malden died at age 97.

Malden had starring roles in major movies like Patton, On the Waterfront and How the West Was Won. He was also well-known as Lt. Mike Stone in the TV series Streets of San Francisco where he starred alongside a young Michael Douglas. But, it was his uttering one of the best-known advertising lines ever, "Don't leave home without them," which gained Malden significant, consistent screen-time.

The phrase, of course, was on behalf of American Express Travelers Cheques. Malden served as on-screen talent for AMEX during the 1970's and 1980's in a campaign which spanned 25 years and became one of the best-known in advertising history. As with all good, long-running advertising, it became a pop culture phrase--Malden's involvement was mimicked by comedians, including a well-known bit by Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, and was used by the children's show, Sesame Street.

The American Express campaign was devised by Ogilvy and Mather and legendary ad man, David Ogilvy. While perhaps not the first famous spokesperson on behalf of a brand, Malden's success set the stage for many others who would follow on behalf of American Express, including Jerry Seinfeld, Kate Winslet, Robert DeNiro, Tina Fey, Ellen DeGeneres, Tiger Woods and Martin Scorcese.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Public Enemies

Michael Mann's Public Enemies opened across the U.S. yesterday. Here are some thoughts after seeing the movie last night:

- Christian Bale is no Al Pacino to Johnny Depp's Robert DeNiro. Having those two stars on camera, although sharing very little screen time together, is what made Heat a classic.
- Depp is clearly this generation's Pacino.
- The scene at the Little Bohemia Resort is classic Mann. I know, it's not the shoot-out scene from Heat, but it's terrific movie-making.
- Marion Cotillard and Depp sizzle in their scenes together.
- As one who is fascinated by this period in American history, the movie is pretty true to the facts. The biggest artistic liberty is Baby Face Nelson's death being chronologically out-of-order.
- Billy Crudup is very good as a very creepy J. Edgar Hoover.
- We've come a long way from Bonnie & Clyde, the 1967 film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, which was best-known for the bloody scene where the two get killed. Mann's movie is violent but not gratuitous in its display of the killing and bloodiness of this era in crime, and crime-fighting.

The King's last victory

In the world of racing, there is no one more revered than Richard Petty. And, it was 25 years ago this week that The King achieved career victory number 200 at the Firecracker 400 in Daytona Beach, FL.

In 1984, NASCAR had not yet reached the unprecedented levels of fan and sponsor involvement as that of the current decade. Yet, the sport drew a rabid following, particularly in the Southeast, the true home of stock-car racing. As affirmation of the sport’s growing impact, then President Ronald Reagan became the first sitting president to attend a NASCAR race when he showed up at the superspeedway in Daytona.

The ’84 race featured a stirring finish matching Petty with another star driver, Cale Yarborough. Both dueled into turn four and down the stretch, trading paint, sparks flying until Petty nudged ahead to clip Yarborough at the finish. It was The King’s 200th—and final—win in a distinguished and still unmatched racing career. Having Reagan there made it only more special for Petty and his followers.

The famous #43 Dodge, used by Petty in this race, was sent to The Smithsonian and was displayed there until 2001. Most recently, the car was sent to the Richard Petty Museum in Randleman, N.C., adjacent to the original Petty home.

Congratulations to The King on the 25th anniversary of his final victory.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

"Stay thirsty, my friend..."

One of the best current campaigns on air...

An advertising icon turns 65

Happy Birthday to Smokey Bear! Smokey is celebrating his 65th birthday this week around the Independence Day holiday. A series of public service announcements will air this week urging safety by those lighting campfires, barbecuing and setting off fireworks around the holiday.

Smokey has been a recognized symbol for conservation and the protection of America's forests since his "birth" in 1944. The Ad Council estimates that his message has helped to reduce the number of acres burned annually by wildfires by about 22 million in 1944 to an average 7 million today. The Council also notes that Smokey is second only to Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus as a recognizable figure in the U.S.