Saturday, February 27, 2010

Saturday morning coffee

- The ageless one, Tom Petty, is returning to the Sprint Center in Kansas City. Petty and his Heartbreakers will roll into town in July.

- Did you see that rumors are flying that Ellen DeGeneres has demanded a clothing allowance for her stint on American Idol? Celebrity blogger Perez Hilton is reporting that DeGeneres thinks it's only fair given that previous judge, Paula Abdul, had such an allowance.

- By the way, is it just me or is this year's field of contestants in Idol the worst ever?

- I'm not sure how this one slipped by me (no pun intended) earlier this month. In Minnesota, a farmer created a half-mile heart out of cow manure as a Valentine's Day gift for his wife. The wife called the heart the "biggest and most original" Valentine she's ever received. Indeed...

- If you need further proof that the world of airline travel continues to change dramatically, American Airlines has quietly instituted a policy of charging $8 for blankets on board their flights.

- And, on the topic of air travel, I'm not too sympathetic to director Kevin Smith's public campaign against Southwest Airlines. Smith was booted off a recent Southwest flight because the pilot thought Smith was too big to occupy a single seat. (Smith had apparently booked a flight, buying two seats, but then flew standby and had only one seat on his new flight.) I know it's politically incorrect, but what of the traveler, or travelers, sitting next to Smith? Do they get a refund or discount on their seat, of which they are now not 100% occupying?

- Finally, happy birthday to the most loved actress of her generation, Elizabeth Taylor. Taylor, who turns 78 today, is the standard for any definition of "movie star." Taylor starred in such films as Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, Cleopatra, Butterfield 8 and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, winning Oscars for the latter two films. Her off-screen life was the stuff of pop culture legend, having married seven times including her tempestuous love affair with Richard Burton. Interestingly Taylor has a regional connection as both of her parents were from Arkansas City, Kansas.

Here is a video tribute to Taylor:

Friday, February 26, 2010

Most Tweeted brands

I previously reported about the collaboration between Advertising Age and What The Trend, a social media trend-analytics service, to come up with a list of most Tweeted brands each week.

Here is the latest list and, once again, my personal favorite, Justin Bieber, tops the list. (What the...!?)

1. Justin Bieber (Canadian R&B/pop singer)
2. Olympics (Hot topics have included hockey, ice skating/dancing and NBC's broadcast schedule)
3. Jonas Brothers
4. Shutter Island (The latest collaboration between Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio)
5. Tiger Woods
6. Super Junior (A band from South Korea who has a very strong Twitter fan base)
7. Twitter
8. American Idol (FOX)
9. Health Care Summit (The summit is being held in Washington, D.C.)
10. IHOP (The restaurant chain had a free-pancakes-for-charity promotion this past Tuesday)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

One-year anniversary

It's been a little over a year since I started this blog and the journey has been, to say the least, adventurous. What started as a bit of a lark turned into a desire to fill these spaces with thoughts, insights, opinions and general musings which not only would entertain but would--perhaps--provoke a reconsideration by the reader or a reaction of "I didn't know that!"

I continue to be surprised by those who will tell me or write me and mention the blog. For that, I say "thank you" as it keeps me inspired and provides affirmation that somebody is paying attention.

When I started this blog in February 2009 a fellow writer and friend said, "your challenge will be feeding the beast," meaning it would be a challenge to create content for this space. He was right. However, my powers of observation have become more keen and I find myself reading more and more in order to find the little nuggets which, hopefully, turn into topics that "feed" that "beast."

Thanks for being here over the course of these past 12 months. Let's keep it going, shall we?

Sinatra biopic

As reported in this space last year, a biopic on the life of Frank Sinatra appears to be on its way to the big screen. And now, the entertainment blog, Showbiz 411, is reporting that Leonardo DiCaprio will indeed play the role of Sinatra.

Martin Scorsese will direct the film thus making this one more pairing of DiCaprio as lead and Scorsese as his director. And, it'll be the second biopic for the two--the duo collaborated on The Aviator, the 2004 film on the life of Howard Hughes.

There's no word on when filming will begin but this project has been discussed for the past 15 years--that's how long Scorsese has been in conversations with the family of Ol' Blue Eyes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The most successful basketball coach?

It's hard to watch a televised college basketball game without hearing one of the announcers talking about this coach or that coach as "arguably, the best coach in America."

So, who is the best coach in the U.S.? If defined by consistent success, the answer may be the guy right down the road from here.

This season will be Kansas coach Bill Self's 11th consecutive season with single digit losses. For comparison, here all such Division 1 streaks of at least two years (prior to 2010) by coaches who have not lost at least 10 games this season.

1. Bill Self - 10 (Tulsa 2000, Illinois 2001-2003, Kansas; one loss in 2010)
2t. Dave Rose - 4 (BYU; three losses in 2010)
2t. John Calipari - 4 (Memphis 2006-2009, Kentucky; one loss in 2010)
4t. Mike Krzyzewski - 2 (Duke; four losses in 2010)
4t. Tom Izzo - 2 (Michigan State; seven losses in 2010)
4t. Brad Stevens - 2 (Butler; four losses in 2010)
4t. Mark Few - 2 (Gonzaga; five losses in 2010)
4t. Randy Bennett - 2 (Saint Mary's; five losses in 2010)

For consecutive seasons just in major conferences, Self stands out even more:

1. Self - 9 (Illinois and Kansas)
2t. Krzyzewski - 2 (Duke)
2t. Izzo - 2 (Michigan State)

Consistency is hard to maintain in college hoops--the fact that Self has done it in such dominant fashion is nothing short of amazing.

The next Olympic sport

Just as soon as I dogged ice dancing for being an Olympic sport come reports of the latest "sport" to ask for consideration in these quadrennial games.

The new entrant is--get this--pole dancing. I kid you not...

The New York Daily News reported today that a pole dancer from England, and others from around the globe, are circulating a petition for pole dancing to be a test event at the 2012 Olympics. Thus far, 4,000 signatures have been gathered on the petition.

The story in the Daily News pointed out that pole dancing has indeed moved from strip clubs to sports club where fitness classes in the, ahem, "sport" are provided. Pole dancing has even been featured on Oprah, further proof of its gaining mainstream appeal.

Hong Kong had a pole dancing competition in 2007 and other countries have since hosted similar competitions.

There's no word yet on whether pole dancing would be considered for the Winter Olympics or the Summer Olympics. And, since this is a "family-oriented" blog, let's just leave the commentary at that.


There was a story this morning on about Heineken USA's sales in 2009, which fell nearly 11%. Overall, the total imported beer segment declined 9.8% last year.

However, as has been written here before, that trend was bucked by one Heineken brand--Dos Equis.

The Dos Equis brand, sold at a similar price point to Heineken, had a sales increase of 20% in 2009. Increased distribution is one cause for the increase as is one of the best campaigns of the past year--"The Most Interesting Man Alive," created by Euro RSCG.

In a category of marketing communications sameness, "The Most Interesting Man Alive" campaign truly stands out.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Things which make you go "hmm" about the Winter Olympics

You know you've been watching too much of the Winter Olympics when you can gin up the attached list of questions:

- What does the second person in the two-man bobsled do, other than help push off? If they are the "brake man," how do they know when to brake since they're hunched down the whole way?

- Is there really any difference between the luge and the skeleton?

- Doesn't curling kinda remind you of that shuffleboard game you find in bars?

- What is up with those USA uniforms that just have stars on them? (They look like pajamas...)

- What do you really think they talk about in the kiss-and-cry box at the ice skating rink after a performer, or pair, has skated?

- Who came up with the idea to put four skiers out on a winding course and have them ski against each other? It's sorta like skiing meets stock car racing...

- Likewise, does short track speed skating remind you of roller derby?

- Why are select competitors, in skating, called "medal contenders?" It basically indicates that there is no Cinderella story in ice skating, a la the NCAA Tournament, because if you're not dubbed a "contender," you can't win.

- Is there an American analog to Canada losing against the USA in Mens Hockey on Sunday night? Is it like the Super Bowl champ New Orleans Saints losing to Manchester United in American football?

- Does Dick Button age? The guy is the Dick Clark of U.S. figure skating broadcasting.

- Speaking of aging, is it just me or does Bob Costas look like he's perpetually 24 years old?

- What kid suddenly decides one day to be a speed skater? I'm not denigrating the sport--I just wonder when that moment of wonderment occurs in a young lad's or lass' life.

- Is there some rule for male skaters that says "thou shall wear frilly shirts?"

- Ice dancing = sport? Really!?

- And, finally, on the sport of every other major sport there have been radical improvements in footwear equipment over time. But, in skating, the skaters are still wearing the same, leather boot skates which have been worn for years and years. Why is that?

Don't worry--these questions aren't keeping me up at night but they do make you go "hmm."

Your body...and probably more than you wanted to know

The Wall Street Journal today published a story about our bodies and how evolution can be blamed for some of today's health problems. In the story, it cites the 44% of Americans, per a Gallup poll, who believe that God created humans in their present form. But most scientists see today's human body as a "collection of compromises, jury-rigged by evolution as our ancestors adapted to changing conditions."

To wit, did you know that 80% of Asians carry a gene for dry earwax? Neither did I...and neither do I particularly care. Another fun fact is that a gene for coarse hair is spreading throughout Asia--reasons unknown. (What the heck is going on in Asia anyway!? Dry earwax? Coarse hair? There must be some sort of health-and-beauty aid opportunity there somewhere.)

Less continent-specific is the fact that the brain has shrunk 10% in the past 5,000 years, again for reasons unknown. At that rate, by the year 47,010, no human will have a brain!

Finally, this gem...and back on the ears. Twenty percent of humans can wiggle their ears, a holdover from the time when primate ears turned toward sound. And, 10% have a Darwin's point, a "thickening in the upper back of the outer ear where primates once had pointed ears."

The story concludes by saying that some anthropologists contend the world's populations are becoming more diverse which will mean more gene variations in the years to come. Others say the opposite--that evolution moved quickly when people lived in smaller, isolated communities. Now, world travel, trade and intermarriage are making us much more homogeneous.

"The bigger the population, the less likely it is to change in any one direction," said Ian Tattersall, a curator for the American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY. "I don't see anything that will stop that from happening--unless we get hit by an asteroid."

Now, there's a pleasant thought...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Leno's guest list

Jay Leno isn't getting quite the guest star power for night #1 next Monday, March 1, when he returns to The Tonight Show chair. If you recall, Leno corralled Jerry Seinfeld as his opening night guest when he began his ill-fated, daily prime time show last fall.

Guests for the first night are Jamie Foxx and Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn. Brad Paisley will supply the musical entertainment. So, while these opening night guests are certainly no slouches, things will heat up on night #2 when Sarah Palin makes an appearance on the show along with Olympic gold medal snowboarder, Shaun White.

Over the course of the opening two weeks, other guests will include American Idol host Simon Cowell, Apolo Anton Ohno, Jason Reitman and Matthew McConaughey.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Sunday morning slush

- Seriously, is this the longest, grayest winter in recent memory? Ugh...

- Quote of the day: "You have to play until you frickin' die," said University of North Carolina head basketball coach Roy Williams after another loss yesterday--this time to Boston College. Williams was upset with his point guard, Larry Drew, looking over at the bench after a turnover and saying "my fault."

- On this date in 1948, NASCAR was incorporated. The sport, now over 60 years old, today begins the rigor of its post-Daytona schedule--drivers and teams competed in Daytona Beach, FL last week and today are in Fontana (suburban Los Angeles), CA. This is one of the tougher weeks on the schedule given the distance from east Florida to L.A.

- U.S. Olympian Scotty Lago headed home after photos appeared on of a woman kneeling below his waist to kiss his bronze medal. The U.S. Olympic Committee has worked hard to ensure proper behavior by its athletes at these games, given incidents which occurred in Turin at the last Winter Games, and suggested that Lago's move was the right one--that he was "policing himself" given the compromising photo.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Saturday morning coffee

- Anyone coming to this site to look for commentary on the Tiger Woods apology of yesterday should move along...nothing to see here. Seriously, what can be said/editorialized/opined about with Tiger's public appearance which hasn't already been dissected?

- Let's throw out props this morning to Bill Marrolt, head of the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association. Marrolt's gang is tearing it up at the Winter Olympics with more medal possibilities to come.

- Evgeni Plushenko is doing his personal best to take us back to the days of high U.S.-Russian tension. Plushenko continues to lobby that his performance in the Mens Figure Skating should have won him the gold versus U.S. skater Evan Lysacek. Plushenko's beef is that Lysacek did not perform a quadruple toe loop. What Plushenko fails to mention is that Lysacek's overall performance was close to flawless.

- Birthday greetings go out today to Ivana Trump, former wife of mogul Donald Trump. My favorite New York Post headline of all time was when Ivana went public with her desire to leave "The Donald"--the front page of the Post blared, "IVANA DIVORCE!" Now that's quality journalism...

- Today is also the birthday of the late Robert Altman. Altman was born here in Kansas City, MO, and became one of the great American filmakers, directing such films at Nashville, MASH, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, A Wedding, and The Player. Altman received an Academy Award in 2006 for his overall body of work. He, like other notable Hollywood directors and actors, received many Oscar nominations but never won for Best Director.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Sign of the apocalype

Advertising Age and What the Trend, a social media analytics service, have started to measure the most tweeted brands each week.

So, the Winter Olympics would likely be the most tweeted brand this week, right? Wrong!! The most tweeted "brand" is...Justin Bieber.

The Olympics picks up the silver medal at #2 followed by the NBA at #3. The rest of the top ten tweeted brands are:

- Google Buzz

- BRITs (biggest music award show in the U.K.)

- We Are the World

- Windows Phone 7

- MNIK (Bollywood film My Name Is Khan)

- #becauseofnickiminaj (People are explaining/blaming things that are now acceptable to do because of @NICKIMINAJ--rap's new bad girl, Nicki Minaj, known for her hardcore lyrics about sex, money, drugs and female empowerment)

- iPad

But...Justin Bieber. Seriously!?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Mid-week musings

- After three months of silence and ensuring speculation and media frenzy, Tiger Woods announced that he will finally speak to the media on Friday. The plan is for Woods to speak to a small group of media at 11:00 a.m. ET--the press conference will take place at the TPC Sawgrass in Ponte Vedra, FL, the headquarters for the PGA Tour. Is it coincidence that Woods' first appearance since Thanksgiving is on the same weekend as the Accenture Match Play tournament in Arizona? Maybe, but I doubt it--the cynic in me thinks that this is a way for Woods to fire back at the first sponsor which dropped him after news of his infidelity. When asked about the overlap, Woods' agent said "It's a matter of timing." You bet it is! Let's take bets now on the focus and visibility of Woods' appearance versus the television audience for Accenture's tournament.

- "Deep Throat" is 85 today. Hal Holbrook, who played the famous character of "Deep Throat" in All the President's Men, the story of the Washington Post's coverage of the Watergate scandal, has a birthday today.

- Do you realize that the biggest game this season in Big 12 basketball will not be on national TV? The March 3 Kansas-Kansas State game, pitting the current #1 team in the land versus the current #7, will be shown on the Big 12 Network. Oh joy--we'll get to hear Dave "Wow" Armstrong doing play-by-play.

- Sarah Palin attended last Sunday's Daytona 500. Palin attended the drivers' meeting, which is a place where any celebs and captains of industry in attendance are introduced to drivers before a race. Palin's appearance apparently caused quite the photo-taking scene at the end of the meeting--reportedly more of a frenzy than that caused by other famous folks who have been with the drivers before a race.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Brent and Bob

Two aged ones are being employed by the Worldwide Leader to broadcast the Big Monday Big 12 games. And basketball fans across the nation, and particularly this region, are suffering through a horrid viewing experience as a result.

ESPN, for some inexplicable reason, has placed longtime broadcaster Brent Musburger as the Big Monday play-by-play guy with Bob Knight, the winningest college coach ever, at his side. Sounds like a terrific match, right? Wrong!!!

Musburger is, in a word, horrible as a play-by-play guy. He makes mistake after mistake each Monday, many of which are basic ones, e.g., suggesting that Texas had a return match-up with Kansas this season. Uh, no, Brent--Texas is in the South Division of the Big 12, Kansas is in the North, and thus they play each other only once per Big 12 basketball season. Musburger also must not meet with the schools' Sports Information Directors before a game--he last night insisted on calling Texas A&M coach Mark Turg-ON. (Dude, it's "Turg-in.") I'm sure A&M's SID would have loved to have helped Musburger with pre-game preparation.

Knight offers glimpses of the color commentator he could be by providing insightful analysis--sometimes. Wrapped around the occasional insights are head-scratchers like last night's revelation that the home team typically has the advantage in a game. Really!?

It's so bad that a local sports talk radio station has started a petition to try to get ESPN to reconsider re-hiring Musburger and Knight. If you're interested, you can go to the following link to attach your name to the petition:

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Today's "Great American Race" has turned out to be a marathon. NASCAR has had to deal with one 1.5 hour delay coupled now with a second delay due to a hole which formed on the track. The first effort at patching the hole did not last so race officials are at it again.

Imagine the Super Bowl being delayed due to some sort of playing field issue--that's what is going on here. Millions of viewers have likely turned elsewhere and now it appears, given the time of day in Florida, that some fans are exiting as well.

Here's hoping that the race can finish under the green flag and not in another shortened race, like 2009, when rain forced an early checkered flag.

It's racin' season

Any lack of clarity about NASCAR's marketing approach this season was quickly cleared up during the pre-race show on FOX prior to today's Daytona 500. The opening video segment was all about "back to the roots," the announcers talked up the racing changes this season (e.g., allowing bump drafting), and the pre-race entertainment was country star Tim McGraw.

NASCAR is concerned that their racing has become a bit vanilla. And, they're hopeful that the changes make it easier for other marquee drivers (can you say Dale Earnhardt Jr.) to compete more effectively with four-time Cup winner Jimmie Johnson.

One other needed wrinkle is that races will now start at one of three consistent times--1:00, 3:00 or 7:30 p.m. Eastern. Over the past three or so years, race start times have varied from week-to-week.

The changes will help but the biggest attraction for NASCAR right now is driving on the junior circuit--Nationwide Series driver Danica Patrick. The sooner that Patrick gets behind the wheel of a Cup car, the better for NASCAR viewership and expanded consumer interest.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Saturday morning coffee

- John Mayer redux: For those seeing Mayer next month at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, don't expect the John Mayer Trio to perform. Drummer Steve Jordan is part of Mayer's current touring band but bassist Pino Palladino is not. (Palladino was part of The Who's band last Sunday on the Super Bowl halftime show.) Mayer's tour is getting reasonable reviews but is apparently hampered by the overabundance of songs played from the latest album, Battle Studies, which is more pop-like than some of Mayer's earlier, and better, work.

- If you're a fan of Alfred Hitchcock, the actress from one of his most famous movies, Kim Novak, turns 77 today. Novak starred in the 1958 romantic suspense classic, Vertigo, alongside Jimmy Stewart. Said Hitchcock of Novak, "You think you're getting a lot, but you're not." Hitchcock never seemed to say anything positive about his actors and actresses but he clearly was not high on Novak's performance.

Here's the trailer for the movie. (And, yes, that's a very young Barbara Bel Geddes in the movie as well. Bel Geddes played Ellie Ewing--mother of J.R. and Bobby--in the 1980's prime-time soap, Dallas.)

- The continuing story out of Vancouver and the Winter Olympics is that it doesn't feel much like winter. The outdoor venues are in desperate need of snow and don't stand to get any in the immediate future. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 40's and even 50's in the week ahead. Why is it that the rest of North America seems pummeled by snow and the place that really needs it has none?

- Is there anyone out there who isn't supportive of the movement to get NBC to sign Betty White to guest host Saturday Night Live? What a hoot...

- Back on the Winter Olympics--last night's Opening Ceremonies were impressive, even with the mechanical snafu during the Olympic flame-lighting ceremony. But, the best part of the telecast, for me, were the beauty shots of one of the most photogenic cities in the world--Vancouver.

- There was an article this week in The New York Times which suggested that Ellen DeGeneres was on the verge of eclipsing Oprah Winfrey in daytime popularity. Researchers from Smith Geiger, a firm hired to assess talk shows, found that The Ellen DeGeneres Show was on par recently with The Oprah Winfrey Show in the minds of viewers. This research was the impetus for NBC announcing, on Wednesday, that their owned-and-operated stations would keep broadcasting DeGeneres through 2014. According to the research, DeGeneres' show is seen as upbeat and inspirational, she is relaxed and relatable, and DeGeneres is now seen as more likable than Winfrey. No argument here...

- The "Great American Race" takes place tomorrow in Daytona. My prediction? I think Tony Stewart wins his first Daytona 500 in a duel with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. It would be a great story for NASCAR to have "Smoke" win.

- And, speaking of Daytona, what will be especially interesting is to see the television ratings for today's telecast (ESPN2) of the Nationwide Series race from the Speedway. Danica Patrick, who debuted last week, gets her first real immersion into the sport, racing today against the likes of Earnhardt, Stewart, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Quote of the day

John Mayer's interview in Playboy has caused quite a stir. Not only have his comments about not desiring inter-racial sex been deemed racist by some but his comment about former companion, Jessica Simpson, is also rather dramatic.

Said Mayer about his relationship with Simpson, "It was was like sexual napalm."

Given that napalm is a sticky jelly used in incendiary items, I'll let you draw your own conclusions as to the true meaning of Mayer's quote about Simpson.

Undercover CEO

Last Sunday, the new Undercover CEO show on CBS profiled Larry O'Donnell's surreptitious employment in four different jobs for his company, Waste Management, Inc. O'Donnell worked on a garbage truck, cleaned out port-a-johns, and picked up litter in a public park. All the while, Waste Management employees working alongside had no idea this was their President and COO.

It was engaging television, particularly in the way it showed the genuine understanding gained by O'Donnell for the situations of his various employees. In one case, O'Donnell learned that female garbage truck employees have no toilet breaks during their eight-hour day.

Imagine my surprise when I saw O'Donnell board our Southwest flight, from Oakland to Los Angeles, earlier today. Not only was O'Donnell flying with us commoners but he boarded with the "C" group, thus settling for a middle seat.

It's refreshing to see the head of a major company exposing himself (or herself) in order to gain a greater understanding of his workforce. It's even more refreshing seeing a senior executive in circumstances like my encounter with O'Donnell. When I introduced myself and complimented him on his appearance, he was genuinely taken aback and thankful, admitting that he "learned a lot" by going undercover.

If you missed the show, tune in this Sunday evening to see the head of Hooter's going undercover...and calling out a restaurant manager, who is abusing his employees, in the process. It's good television.

Quote of the day follow-up: Roy Williams apologizes

Our "quote of the day" honoree yesterday, Roy Williams, has since apologized for his remarks where he drew the comparison of Haiti to his present situation:

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Quote of the day: Roy Williams

Let me apply the caveat that I like Roy Williams and have the utmost respect for what he accomplished at the University of Kansas and then at North Carolina. But, Ol' Roy continues to be his own worst enemy--thin-skinned and very much about "me" in this current season which continues to spiral downward.

Roy's latest odd public comment was at a press conference prior to last night's game against Duke.

Here's Williams:

"Our massage therapist told me, 'You know, coach, what happened in Haiti is a catastrophe. What you're having is a disappointment," Williams said. "I told her that depends on what chair you're sitting. It does feel like a catastrophe to me, because it's my life."

Wow, at least Roy didn't say that the people in Haiti didn't have the right amount of "wont to." Seriously, making any sort of comparison of a basketball season to a natural disaster of this magnitude is downright insensitive.


Looking for a hot new mobile app? Check out Foursquare (see link below.) Foursquare is yet another social media tool designed to help you, and your friends, better explore your city.

You can get the app on your Android, Palm Pre, Blackberry or iPhone. The app uses GPS to show you a list of nearby places--users can check in from bars, restaurants, clubs, parks, etc. A user can earn points, unlock badges, and if you frequent a certain venue you get dubbed "the Mayor" of that locale.

Foursquare recently announced a deal with The New York Times where they will collaborate on special badges and reports from the upcoming Winter Olympics--recommendations will be offered to Foursquare users for the towns of Vancouver, Whistler and Squamish.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Business observations

Are you ever at home, after another day at the office, and have your spouse look at you and ask "what did you say!?" Chances are, you've reverted back to some business-speak from your place of employment. Which begs the question, why do we speak, act and do things differently at work?

After more years in business than I care to admit, here are a few observations of what goes on in the business world--thoughts that just make me go "hmm..."

- Those who are, by nature, talkative are also, more often than not, prone to being late to meetings.

- The person in the room who speaks the least is the one who most often is listened to most when he/she does speak.

- It didn't take long for "business casual" to be translated to attire which is weekend wear, at best.

- E-mail and text have bred poor writing skills.

- The most misused word in business is "compliment," when the right use is "complement."

- The worker who makes "errors of commission" is more often promoted/recognized than the worker who makes "errors of omission."

- There are phrases which I hear frequently in the business world which I either still don't understand...or understand why they're use. For example, "the long pole in the tent." Huh? Or, "sleeves off the vest." The last time I checked, a vest didn't have sleeves. What about, "we'll activate it in the October timeframe." Why don't you just say "we'll activate it in October." Then, there's the word "de-select." Or, "let's take it offline." Uh, we're having a conversation, thus we're really not online.

You get the idea...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl ratings - all-time high

As predicted, last night's Super Bowl was not only the highest rated sporting event of all time, it was also the highest rated television event of all time.

The New Orleans Saints' defeat of the Indianapolis Colts, on CBS, drew 106.5 million viewers. The previous record was held by the season finale of MASH, in 1983, which had 106 million viewers.

The game had a 45.0 rating, up 7% from last year's 42.0 rating for the Pittsburgh Steelers-Arizona Cardinals match-up. It's the highest-rated Super Bowl since 1996 and the Cowboys-Steelers, which had a 46.0 rating. (There are more viewers this year even though the rating was higher in '96.)

Last night's telecast peaked at a 48.5 rating between 9:00-9:30 p.m. ET. The game was seen in all or part by an estimated 153.4 million viewers, all of whom treated to a good game...and sub-par advertising.

The Who redux

I know I'm not very objective when it comes to The Who, so I checked out what others were saying, per an online article on

Who would you like to see perform at halftime of next year's Super Bowl? Take our poll (see right hand column.)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl wrap-up


- Drew Brees holding his son after the game...and getting emotional about the moment.

- An onside kick in a Super Bowl which didn't occur in the final couple of minutes.

- The "Who Dat" Nation out in full force.

- The Who, one of the best live rock-and-roll acts ever, rockin' it at halftime.

- The Dove for Men, Audi "Green Police" and Dave/Oprah/Jay commercials.

- A beautiful night in south Florida.


- A low, low lowlight--the advertising. You have to really question the investments being made by brands on advertising which isn't even funny and entertaining, much less a compelling message. This year's theme seemed to be "lets show men in their tighty whitey underwear."

- Dropped passes by the usually reliable Pierre Garcon and Reggie Wayne of the Indianapolis Colts.

- Did I say the advertising?

- The CBS halftime crew. One, there are too many guys talking over one another. And, Shannon Sharpe is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

- The "much adieu about nothing" hubbub about the Tim Tebow spot for Focus On the Family. The words "abortion," "pro-life," or "God" were not included anywhere in the commercial, although the spot did direct viewers to the Focus On the Family website.

- And, one more time--the advertising. Yuck!

Did you know...

- ...that Super Bowl Sunday is the second largest food consumption day of the year in the U.S.? The largest food consumption day is Thanksgiving.

- ...that today's Super Bowl is expected to be the most highly viewed U.S. sporting event of all time?

- ...that Miami has hosted more Super Bowls--10--than any other city. Today's game will be the fifth played in Joe Robbie/Pro Player/Dophins/Sun Life Stadium. There were five played in the Orange Bowl.

- ...that today's telecast marks the 17th time that the Super Bowl has been broadcast on CBS. NBC has broadcast the game 16 times.

- ...that more take-out pizzas are sold today than any other day of the year?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Brands in trouble

How would you like to be Toyota and AT&T right now?

The latter brand was included as part of Apple's mega-announcement last week, unveiling the iPad. And, when it was announced that AT&T would supply the 3G network for the new iPad, there were audible groans from attendees in the auditorium. Wow...

The source of AT&T's troubles are the highly publicized issues with its network caused by heavy data usage on the iPhone. Many speculated that the iPad would use another telco's network, thus the audible disappointment at the event last week.

As for Toyota, the automaker's brand health is in free fall after acknowledging acceleration issues with its autos. What has recently been considered a quality car that is economically priced is now the butt of jokes and comments which equates Toyota to the classic lemons of the 1970s--the AMC Pacer, the AMC Gremlin and the Ford Pinto.

Can either brand right the ship? AT&T is trying, going head on with Verizon in the current "map wars" advertising battle. But, the key for AT&T will be reversing the troubles encountered by iPhone users so that a good number of those 21 million consumers are feeling more positive about the network.

How about Toyota? Other brands have crafted turnaround stories out of crisis situations. The quicker Toyota fixes the mechanical problems, the better. And, the more forthright they are about their problems, in media relations activity and paid communications, the more apt consumers will be to forgive them.

Saturday morning coffee

- Sade returns to the music scene with their first CD in ten years. Lead singer Sade Adu's voice is, as usual, the star. Yet, the band takes chances with the cuts I listened to--"Soldier of Love," the title track, uses a military drum candence; "Babyfather" has reggae influences; while "Be That Easy" has country twinges. The new work will be released on Tuesday.

- I know it's been written about everywhere, but how cool is it that the team for which Archie Manning played is in the Super Bowl...facing the team quarterbacked by his MVP son, Peyton? The Manning family are truly New Orleans royalty, yet to their credit have said there's no hesitation in their loyalties for Sunday--they are rooting for Peyton and the Colts to win their second Super Bowl. It's a great storyline for the NFL.

- Los Cabos, another K.C. Hopps establishment, is opening on the east side of Mission Farms. The best feature of the restaurant may be its patio overlooking the small lake in this burgeoning community just north of I-435 on Mission Road. Los Cabos joins Zest, Room 39, Blanc and Blue Koi as the restaurant scene at Mission Farms continues to grow.

- In the "where are they now?" category, singer Rick Astley turns 44 today. Remember Astley? He was a mainstay of the 1980s music scene and had the smash single, "Never Gonna Give You Up," in 1987. Astley still holds the record for being the only male solo artist to have his first eight singles reach the top 10 in the U.K. Astley vanished from public view in the 1990s but made a comeback of sorts in 2007. During that year, his video for "Never Gonna Give You Up," became part of a popular internet meme known as "rickrolling." (The term "internet meme" is use to describe a catchphrase, or concept, which spreads quickly from person to person on the internet.) He consequently was voted by internet users as the "Best Act Ever" at the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2008.

Here's the video--pay close attention to the 'do and sunglasses:

Friday, February 5, 2010

Are NFL team members overworked?

In today's Wall Street Journal, writer Reed Albergotti outlines what a typical NFL team goes through in a given season, chronicling that the average team spends more labor time in a given season than in any other professional sport.

Here's an amazing statistic from the story, citing a study by the Boston Consulting Group:

- The typical NFL season requires 514,000 hours of labor per team. That's about eight times the effort it took to create, build and market Apple's i-Pod. And, if both the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints--this year's combatants in the Super Bowl--dedicated themselves to construction rather than football, their members would have built the Empire State Building in seven seasons.

There is no collective bargaining agreement in place past the 2011 Super Bowl. And, while long hours aren't at the center of the likely labor dispute--money is, of course--perhaps there should be discussion on the long, long hours required to succeed in this most physically grueling of team sports.

Brand Bowl 2010

It had to happen.

Twitter is now being used as a mechanism to allow fans to talk about their favorite Super Bowl commercials from this Sunday’s game. You can go to to vote—there you’ll find a one-page site which allows you to tweet about the various commercials as well as read real-time reactions to the spots from other consumers.

The site will rank the brands—not the individual ads—running during the game within minutes of their air time.

In years past, advertisers would wait anxiously to read the next day’s USA Today Ad Meter story on the Super Bowl advertising winners and losers. And, other media forums would weigh in with the same consumer and/or opinion data. With, there’s no need to wait—advertisers, the press and consumers will know, real time, reactions to this advertising and the millions of dollars invested to make it happen.

It's G!

Rumor has it that execs at PepsiCo Inc. aren't thrilled with the work that TBWA\Chiat\Day is doing on their behalf for G (Gatorade.)

Really? Last time I checked, Chiat Day weren't the ones responsible for the questionable (that's being kind) decision to change the branding from Gatorade to G.

And, in other Gatorade news, local agency VML recently picked up all of the beverage marketer's digital business.

T.G.I.F. musings

- What's the over-under on how many songs The Who will play on Sunday at the Super Bowl halftime show? The band has 12 minutes of performance time, so my prediction is that they'll start with "I Can't Explain," their usual concert opener, followed by "Who Are You" and end with "Won't Get Fooled Again." Look for "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Riley" or perhaps a little "My Generation" (my upset pick) as the fourth song of the set. It'll have to be a medley similar to what we've seen recently from Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers.

- Is it just coincidence that The Who, whose songs appear on the CSI franchise, are appearing on a Super Bowl broadcast by CBS? Yes, the CSI shows are also shown on CBS.

- And, speaking of Super Bowl halftime acts, much is being written about the octogenarian twosome of Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey following fellow classic rockers Springsteen, Petty, the Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney as headliners at the Super Bowl since the 2004 "wardrobe malfunction" incident. Even Prince, in 2007, is pushing the aging rocker/R&B-er envelope. So, my question is, who, of more recent vintage, is worthy of Super Bowl halftime status? The Black Eyed Peas? The Peas opened this past summer for U2--the same U2 who played the Super Bowl back in 2002. And, Fergie and company headlined this season's kickoff show for the NFL, affirming that the Peas aren't quite SB halftime worthy just yet. How about the Dave Matthews Band? Not a bad pick but I'm not sure that DMB has the verve, or broad appeal, to get a halftime crowd, at America's biggest annual sporting event, juiced up. Lady GaGa? Uh, really? I'm not sure how the Lady would appeal to the corporate suits who frequent the SB. Let's face it--classic rockers will likely continue to be the choice given their ability to appeal to a broad audience, even if a portion of the audience only knows their work as background for high viewership television shows.

- In case you missed it, Samantha Harris, co-host of Dancing With the Stars, has announced that she is leaving the show to focus on other projects. In an online poll, viewers were asked to name an ex-contestant who would do a good job succeeding Harris. Kelly Osbourne won the straw poll followed by Shawn Johnson and Lisa Rinna. Really? Have people quickly forgotten...Brooke Burke!?

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

New McDonald's Super Bowl spot

Remember the classic commercial for McDonald's starring Michael Jordan and Larry Bird? This spot is always on any "best Super Bowl commercials" list given its entertainment value in pairing the two NBA superstars.

The fast food marketer is at it again, joining together LeBron James and Dwight Howard--two modern-day NBA stars--in its latest Super Bowl offering, which will air in the Sunday pre-game show on CBS. However, the road to get to this commercial has been circuitous, at best.

In 2007, rumor had it that McDonalds was in talks with James and fellow star Dwayne Wade to appear in the spot together. And, CMO Bill Lamar engaged with TBWA\Chiat\Day and creative guru Lee Clow on how best to brand and produce the new spot.

Fast forward three years, and a new CMO, ad agency and NBA co-star later, McDonalds finally has its next version of the iconic spot.

Here's a sneak peek:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Public feuds

It's been a busy few days for public feuds which, in some cases, have caused backtracking by those involved:

- University of Kentucky basketball phenom John Wall stated he wasn't "having any fun" after UK's big win over Vanderbilt this past weekend. He also stated he "tried not to listen" to head coach John Calipari. Wall has since recanted his statements, saying he was misquoted and that he "loves" his head coach.

- Scott McCarron said that he thinks it's cheating for Phil Mickelson, or any other PGA Tour golfer, to use Ping Eye 2 wedges (with square grooves) at tour events. McCarron now says that he stands by his statement but that he didn't say that "Mickelson cheats." Splitting hairs or not, Mickelson says he was "publicly slandered" and suggests that he may pursue legal action, if the PGA Tour does not respond to McCarron's charges.

- Andrew Young, former aide to John Edwards, has been a ubiquitous presence on ABC news programs over the past few days, promoting his book and throwing Edwards under the news media bus in the process.

- Taylor Swift performed on one too many awards shows. Critics are now--finally--calling her out after her performance with Stevie Nicks on the Sunday night telecast of The Grammy Awards. Kansas City Star critic, Timothy Finn, wrote, "her (Swift's) performance...was worse than bad karaoke."

- Conan versus Jay versus Dave. I won't even begin to recount the litany of jokes, jibes and overall snarky behavior which has been pervasive in late night television over the past few weeks.

CBS reports a Super Bowl sellout

All of CBS' advertising units for the Super Bowl this Sunday are sold, according to the network.

In 2007, CBS' last time with the Super Bowl, the advertising time wasn't sold out until a couple of days prior to kickoff, so network executives are pleased with this year's results.

The U.S. economy has a huge impact on the success of network sales efforts. In 2008, FOX was sold out of Super Bowl inventory by October 2007. The advance sales were indicative of a strong economy. For 2009, NBC started out strong but ended up having to practically beg advertisers to participate given the economic downturn which hit a few weeks prior to last year's Super Bowl.

CBS' approach, over the past several months, of trying to create customized packages for advertisers has paid off. Rather than go out with an announced firm price, CBS chose to publicly state its desire to work with advertisers on the right package and price. (As previously reported, CBS has been seeking $2.5-3.0 million for a 30-second commercial in the game broadcast.)

If you're still interested, CBS does acknowledge having pre-game inventory still up for sale. However, many of the half-hour blocks leading up to the game have title sponsors, thus causing hesitancy among some advertisers who may still be interested.

Monday, February 1, 2010


Once again, for as terrific as 24 can be, we have the goofy storyline which invades the main core of the overall story. This year it's the CTU agent, at headquarters, who has the mysterious past about to be revealed by her ex-boyfriend/partner in crime who has tracked her down in New York.

Past seasons have, more often than not, had Jack Bauer's daughter, Kim, at the center of the off-kilter story angle. This year, it's something new...but, keep the faith dear viewers--Kim was a part of the first episode this year and could return at any time.

Taylor Swift redux

Finally, someone who is owning up to the fact that Taylor Swift's live performances leave much to be desired:

Sign of the recovery?

Power & Motoryacht magazine had a 42.9% increase in advertising pages, February 2010 to February 2009. People must be buying yachts and high-end boats, right?

Before you get too excited that this is a leading indicator of an economic recovery, contrast the fact that Yachting magazine is down 19.1%, year over year, and Cruising World is down 17.5%.

Taylor Swift

I've watched her win award after award, whether at the American Music Awards, the Country Music Association awards, or at last night's Grammy Awards. And, finally, I'm going to just say it--I don't get the fascination with Taylor Swift.

Yes, she seems like a very nice young lady--someone who is genuine and, at least on the surface, not jaded by her recent success and recognition. I also can understand why she thus gets plenty of fan-awarded recognition. I understand that she became a darling of the American public after being victimized, on stage, by Kanye West. But, the critical acclaim? Why?

Swift's voice is, candidly, not good. Her Grammy duet with rock icon Stevie Nicks last night was downright embarrassing. Say what you want about Nicks--the witchcraft thing, the soap-operatic life as a member of Fleetwood Mac--but the woman can sing. Nicks has a voice that was distinctive as a 20-something and is distinctive now. Swift, on the other hand, sounds like a high school singer trying to use her too soft, breathy voice on a stage where it can't compete.

As a lyricist, Swift writes songs which appeal to a youngish female audience. But, again, I'm hard-pressed to understand why critics find these lyrics so worthy of acclaim when compared to lyrics from others in her genre.

I'm freely admitting that "I don't get it" and am looking for guidance by those who do. What's the big deal here?