Monday, January 31, 2011

Glee bests Beatles

The hit television show, Glee, is only in season two but already the series has produced more Billboard Top 100 hits than the Beatles. In its two-year history, Glee has charted more than 90 songs on the Top 100 compared to the 71 by the Beatles--a mark which took three decades to construct.

Now, in fairness, the Fab Four have sold 600 million records versus the 6.5 million for Glee, plus the cast's 17 million singles.

Tune in on Sunday night, after the Super Bowl, when Season Two of Glee continues. The episode will feature Katie Couric and should pull down a monster rating given the time slot after the big game.

Monday morning coffee

Greetings from drizzly Kansas City, where roads are icy and Snow-mageddon is on the way.

- By now you've likely heard about the Mom who used hot sauce down the throat of her adopted child as punishment. The revelation appeared on Dr. Phil's "Mom Confessions" when the offending mother sent in a video of her exploits. She's now been charged with child abuse. Her lawyer has publicly defended her saying "if a Mom puts hot sauce on her child's Mexican food, is that abuse?" Wow...that's an interesting legal angle, huh?

- In Germany, a dentist bought low-cut dresses for her and her nurses so as to distract the patients. The dentist contends that the cleavage distracts the patients, thus making them less aware of the pain. (You just can't make this stuff up...)

- It's rather amazing that the unrest in Greece started through the force of social media. Young people, using Facebook and other viral methods, are the ones who rallied those in opposition of President Hosni Mubarak.

- There are now more millionaires in the world than there are those living in Australia.

- Now is the time of year when various cable networks air past movies which garnered Academy Awards. Included in the mix this week is Wings, which will air on TCM on Sunday, February 6. The movie stars Charles "Buddy" Rogers who was born in Olathe and attended the University of Kansas.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Super Bowl advertising retrospective

In another week, the biggest television event of the year will arrive when millions gather around their flat screens to watch Pittsburgh take on Green Bay in Super Bowl XLV. And, of late, the action on the field has almost seemed secondary to the action which occurs in the two or three minute commercial break pods.

There is no specific year when Super Bowl advertising became Super Bowl advertising. Most will point to the now famous 1984 commercial from Apple in, yes, 1984. Others suggest the Coke commercial featuring Pittsburgh's Mean Joe Greene in 1980. The bottom line is that as the game evolved and increased in audience viewership, so too did the advertising which aired on and before the game.

Let's look at some of the highlights, which were outlined in a recent edition of ADWEEK magazine.

1967 - The first game--a Packers' victory over the Kansas City Chiefs--included advertising from Winston cigarettes. Yes, kids, at one time cigarette advertising did appear on television.

1970 - A celebrity endorser, Dick Butkus, helped pitch Prestone anti-freeze.

1973 - Pop culture icons Joe Namath and Farrah Fawcett combine to pitch Noxzema shave cream with Namath's famous line, "I'm about to get creamed."

1975 - McDonald's first Super Bowl ad appeared. The fast food chain would go on to become a regular player in the Super Bowl ad wars.

1977 - Remember Brother Dominic, who found an easier way to duplicate documents? Xerox's well-known television spot debuted at this Super Bowl.

1984 - The most famous commercial in television history airs for Apple.

1987 - Michael J. Fox starred in a Diet Pepsi commercial, needing to quickly fetch a soda for the pretty neighbor.

1992 - Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan do battle in "Hare Jordan" (Nike.)

1993 - Jordan stars again, this time alongside Larry Bird, in the McDonald's spot which featured an absurd game of "HORSE."

1995 - One of my favorite all-time commercials was the one for Nissan which had animated, doll-like figures going for a ride in the new 300ZX.

1996 - The Budweiser Clydesdales play football.

2000 - The "Whassup" campaign for Budweiser debuts.

2003 - Linebacker Terry Tate delivers office justice for Reebok.

2005 - CareerBuilder enlists chimps to deliver their message.

2009 - Troy Polamalu reprises the Mean Joe Greene commercial, this time for Coke Zero.

What will 2011 bring? Will any ad stand out in a way that it makes this list in the years to come? Tune in next Sunday to see which brands shelled out approximately $2.9 million for their 30-second shot at advertising fame.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Wrapping up the work week

- Let's give a shout-out to my parents who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary today.

- Did you see that Taco Bell took out a full-page ad, in major dailies, with the basic tone of "c'mon--sue us!" The fast-food chain is using a consumer's complaint as an opportunity to turn the story into, hopefully, a positive one by implementing paid and social media to get out the story about the quality of their product.

- Here's an interesting statistic--in 2010, the entertainment dollar held steady versus other income outlays. The average U.S. consumer (head of household) spent $2,693 on entertainment--about 5.5% of their total annual spending. Housing and transportation spending were down, in comparison, with other expenses flat to slightly up. (Source: Consumer Expenditure Survey, U.S. Department of Labor 2010)

- On this day in 1986, the Challenger space shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff, killing all members aboard. This is one of those moments where seemingly everyone remembers where they were at when the tragedy occurred. I was headed into a client's office, in their building, when I received the news.

- Interested in knowing how a Wang Burger is made? Well, check out ESPN's College GameDay tomorrow, broadcast from Lawrence, KS, to find out. Hint: The Wang Burger is the special concoction grilled up at The Wagon Wheel Cafe, a k a The Wheel, just off campus at the University of Kansas.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Mid-week stops and starts

- Someone is suing Taco Bell because their food doesn't contain enough true meat? Seriously!? What's newsworthy about that...?

- Marketers talk about mobile devices but are all truly mobile versus, say, "portable?" For example, your wireless phone goes with you everywhere, thus it's truly mobile. The new tablets--your iPad, if you have one--go most places with you but not everywhere, thus making them portable. Make sense?

- The NFL has made a major move away from the Boomer/Classic Rock formats of past Super Bowl halftime shows and national anthem performers. The Black Eyed Peas, as had been announced some time ago, will perform at halftime. The national anthem will be performed by Christina Aguilera. I'm still a bit surprised that the big game, being played in Cowboys Stadium (a k a "Jerry World"), isn't showcasing more of a mainstream Country approach, e.g., George Strait or Kenny Chesney singing the anthem.

- On the topic of Super Bowl, Best Buy announced that Justin Bieber will appear in the retailer's first Super Bowl commercial ever. Bieber will appear in the spot with none other than Ozzy Osbourne. Hopefully, Osbourne doesn't have a speaking role...

- How long has it been since we've had a slate of Academy Award nominees which have been this accessible? The nominees for Best Picture include True Grit, Inception, The Kids Are All Right, The Social Network, Toy Story 3, The King's Speech, The Fighter and Black Swan. The only nominees this year which haven't drawn wide viewing are Winter's Bone and 127 Hours.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The wacky world of movies

- In case you missed it, the Razzie Awards announced their nominations for this past movie season's least quality moments. And, not surprisingly, at the head of the pack was the horrid Sex and the City 2, nominated for Worst Picture, and with all four lead actresses nominated for Worst Actress.

- Relax, 24 fans--shooting on the 24 movie will begin in eight months, according to Kiefer Sutherland.

- Independence Day II is due out this March and there are rumors that a third movie, also a sequel, will be made, thus forming an Independence Day trilogy. Will Bill Pullman reprise his role as President Thomas Whitmore? If not, who will give the equivalent of Whitmore's stirring speech in the original movie? Stay tuned...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Quote of the day

Even though this comes from an interview of a couple of months ago, the following from Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is topical given the recent Golden Globe awarded to The Social Network for Best Picture.

Zuckerberg was interviewed by Mashable and wouldn't say whether he liked the movie or not, but did intimate that the film's audience size was small compared to Facebook: "We build products that 500 million people see. If five million people see a movie, it doesn’t really matter that much.”

Snowy Sunday afternoon

Here's what's going on around Musings, Notes & Quotes on this cold, snowy Sunday afternoon:

- It had to happen--for the first time, Anheuser-Busch (InBev) will plug an import brew, Stella Artois, during the Super Bowl. Thankfully for those of us who have come to expect it, the remainder of A-B's ad buy on the Super Bowl will be very familiar. The Clydesdales will return, in a 60-second spot for Budweiser, as will Bud Light advertising continuing the "Here We Go" campaign.

- Pei Wei Asian Diner, one of my favorites--a fast-casual restaurant owned by P.F. Chang's China Bistro, is sending a writer with two of its executive chefs to blog about cuisine in Thailand, Vietnam, China and Korea. The writer, Alice Shin, is a copywriter at Sapient/Nitro in Miami and was chosen out of numerous entrants for this assignment. Shin's posts will be featured on BlogAsia, Pei Wei's blog, and are intended to raise awareness for the culture, ingredients, and inspiration behind the dishes served at Pei Wei.

- Aaron Sorkin, the screenwriter for The Social Network and Golden Globe winner, has a cameo in the movie. It's also now rumored that Sorkin may team up with Keith Olbermann, recently departed from MSNBC, on a new television show called Social Network. The proposed series would be about a cable news show.

- When the heck does Glee begin again with new episodes?

- Here's another for our growing list of "sign of the apocalypse:" A middle school student in Washington was recently sent home for wearing the "wrong" NFL jersey. It seems that Grendon Bailie wore a Pittsburgh Steelers jersey on a day when the school allowed students to wear Seattle Seahawks garb. (The school has an official uniform, thus the importance of this special day for wearing something else.) Bailie was told to change or be suspended. His response? "Not everyone is a Seahawks fan."

- Today is the 25th anniversary of the first members inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH. The first group included Little Richard, Chuck Berry, James Brown, Ray Charles, Fats Domino, the Everly Brothers, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Winners and losers

Winners: WalMart announced a plan to start offering healthier foods and received an endorsement from none other than the First Lady, Michelle Obama, an outspoken advocate in the national fight against childhood obesity. Mrs. Obama joined WalMart execs, who made their announcement in Washington, D.C.

Losers: It was a bad day for the Mafia yesterday--both the real as well as the fictional variety. Federal agents in New York led the biggest one-day bust of Mafia bad guys in U.S. history--127 wiseguys were held in a Brooklyn armory after the sweep. The round-up included nabbing senior leaders, capos, soldiers, and known associates from the five families--the Genovese, Gambino, Colombo, Luchese and Bonanno clans. The busts also included the DeCavalcante family, based in New Jersey and said to be the inspiration for The Sopranos, the long-running hit series on HBO, which is now in syndication. Speaking of The Sopranos, former star Vincent Pastore, who played "Big Pussy" Bonpensiero on the show, got into a name-calling scuffle with rapper Tony Testa when Pastore demanded a limousine and top credits on a video shoot for Testa's new CD. The video also included Joe Gannascoli, who played closet gay Vito Spatafore, Sr., on the series.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Wrapping up the work week

- In honor of Steve Jobs, who is on a medical leave of absence from Apple, we give you the quote of the week. Right before the iPad went on sale last year, Jobs was showing off Apple's newest hot product to a small group of journalists. One of the media folks asked Jobs what consumer and market research Apple had implemented to provide guidance on the tablet. Jobs replied, " isn't the consumer's job to know what they want."

- Could the cooking craze be on the decline? The ratings from food shows certainly are falling. In the fourth quarter of 2010 the Food Network posted a 10.3% drop among viewers 25 to 54. And, that drop was on top of quarterly declines throughout the year. HGTV had a decline of 6.1% in Q4. The speculation among media insiders is that viewers are gravitating towards the more reality-based and competitive cooking shows.

- The NFL's final four teams in the playoffs is the equivalent of an NCAA Final Four with Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina and UCLA. The four teams who will do battle on Sunday have a combined 11 Super Bowl championships, plus numerous league, conference and division championships. And, while the NFL and FOX are likely coveting a New York-Chicago matchup in the Super Bowl, all four teams deliver large TV markets and/or a national following.

- Slash apparently rejected a request from the producers of Glee to use Guns N' Roses material in an episode of the series. Slash told Entertainment Weekly that "Glee is worse than Grease and Grease is bad enough." It's too bad--I wouldn't mind seeing the Glee kids rockin' it to Paradise City.

- Well, that didn't take long--Jesse James, the former Mr. Sandra Bullock, is officially engaged to new girlfriend Kat Von D. Speaking of Bullock, what was up with the dark locks and long bangs she was sportin' on the red carpet at The Golden Globes?

American Idol debuts to good reviews...but smaller audience

The new, improved American Idol--at least, according to FOX--debuted last night with much anticipation given the exit of noted critic Simon Cowell and the on-boarding of new judges Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. And, based upon TV critic feedback, the new, improved Idol is just that.

Here is a sampling of what the critics had to say, the vast majority of which was positive:

- Linda Stasi in the New York Post wrote, "They came, they saw, they slammed it. Welcome the hell back, American Idol! It's been a long journey there, and now that it's back, with all the fun-stealing demons exorcised, we can all find reason to stay home again. Heck, last night's made-over Idol was so good, I may never go out again."

- In USA Today, Brian Mansfield said, "Unlike the past couple of seasons, where the judges often appeared awkward together--almost as if they were working at cross purposes--this crew seems to genuinely get along, even if they're a softer touch than previous panels, much more willing to send somebody through on their personality."

- AP writer David Bauder noted, "The first, two-hour episode accentuated the positive, an indication that producers are setting a different tone."

- Billboard's Monica Herrera's review said, "Viewers won't know for sure how Tyler and Lopez will ultimately fare as Idol judges until the live episodes begin to air in March. Tyler...was a pleasant surprise throughout the show, offering cogent critique." However, Herrera also wrote, "Without Cowell on the panel--and with Randy Jackson taking the role of senior judge--the critiques overall lacked teeth."

Now, for the less than positive news--television ratings for the opening episode were down 13% from a year ago among total viewers and 18% in the so, so important 18-49 year old demographic, according to Nielsen. Last night's much-hyped debut of Tyler and Lopez was seen by 26.1 million viewers compared to 29.9 million in 2010 and 30.4 million in 2009. Overall, the franchise has been declining since the 2007 season when the premiere attracted a high of 37.4 million viewers.

While most any other program covets a viewership of this magnitude, the opening night ratings do cause concern for FOX execs who were anxiously awaiting the impact of the new judges and slightly revamped format. It will be interesting to see if the audience numbers improve as word-of-mouth buzz builds, or if the decline reflects the public's growing apathy about the show.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Odds 'n' ends

- Well, you sure don't want to cross TomKat, huh? The London Daily Mail reported that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are boycotting the upcoming Academy Awards. Why? Apparently the couple is miffed about co-host Anne Hathaway's recent Saturday Night Live spoof of Holmes, complete with breathy voice and lots of hair twirling.

- The cross-eyed opossum, Heidi, is becoming a star. The marsupial was recently installed in a German zoo and has since accumulated 70,000 fans on Facebook and is the subject of a YouTube video.

- Don Kirshner, the host of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert in the early 1970's, died Monday of heart failure at the age of 76. Kirshner was a songwriter, manager, publisher and music executive, but is best known for his television concert series where he hosted in a straightfaced style which became a comedy bit, by none other than David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer, on the early year shows of Saturday Night Live. The list of artists who appeared on Kirshner's show runs the gamut from The Eagles to Sly and the Family Stone to Todd Rundgren to Kiss to many, many others. He was instrumental in the careers of major acts like Neil Diamond, Bobby Darin, Neil Sedaka, Carole King, The Monkees, Kansas and The Archies.

- Another sign of the apocalypse: The season premiere of The Jersey Shore on MTV drew an audience of 8.45 million people--more than the average audiences for network news broadcasts on ABC and CBS.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Kennedys...without a home

The much-anticipated mini-series, The Kennedys, currently has no home, at least here in the United States.

The History Channel was prepared to air the mini-series about the life of President John F. Kennedy and his family, but pulled plans for the program once concerns were raised about the historical authenticity of the contents.

The History Channel brought in two noted historians, Robert Dallek and Steven M. Gillon, to assist once concerns about the facts, or lack thereof, were raised by those involved with the project. (Dallek authored An Unfinished Life: John F. Kennedy, 1917-1963, a book I recommend for anyone interested in the Kennedy presidency and legacy.)

Dallek's and Gillon's concerns, as they read the screenplays, ultimately raised enough red flags that the plug was pulled, not only by History but by other networks who were approached about the mini-series.

The show will air in 30 countries, including Canada and Britain. However, the only chance of U.S. consumers seeing the series will be if DirecTV, a subscription satellite service, agrees to air the show.

In a story on this topic in today's New York Times, Gary Lico, chief executive of CableU, a research firm that tracks cable television, said, "I don't think it's (a certain amount of fictionalization) unique to television; talk to me about Social Network," referencing the Golden Globe winning Best Picture, a fictionalized account of the creation of Facebook.

Personally, it's a disappointment that a topic with so much material and promise has died a programming death because the creators felt the need to be too aggressive with their artistic liberties. I applaud The History Channel for conducting its due diligence, and then saying "no."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Golden Globe winners and losers

Ah, yes, the awards season--our time to over-evaluate dresses, hair and jewelry on the women, and boorish behavior among the men. Here then, for major awards show number one of 2011, are Musings, Notes & Quotes' winners-and-losers.


Glee. Not only was the show a winner, but so were its stars. Jane Lynch and Chris Colfer won individual hardware and the ensemble cast did a good job of rockin' the red carpet.

Halle Berry. We loved the 'do, the dress, the jewelry and, of course, Halle herself is quite the beautiful woman.

Boardwalk Empire. Yes, this is a good show and yes, Steve Buscemi is one terrific actor.

Aaron Sorkin. Sorkin won for Best Screenplay for The Social Network, and the movie won Best Motion Picture, Drama.

Brangelina. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie looked like a classic Hollywood couple.

Natalie Portman. I thought Portman's dress was perfect for the expectant actress and her acceptance speech for Best Actress (Black Swan) was heartfelt and articulate.

Michael Douglas. Douglas' cancer is in remission; he looked good last night in receiving a standing ovation from the crowd.

Anne Hathaway. Hathaway may have had the dress of the night and her hair was perfect for the total look.

Robert Downey, Jr. and Johnny Depp. Are there two cooler dudes in Hollywood?


January Jones. This girl does not know how to pick out a red carpet outfit. So gorgeous, yet so fashion-challenged...

Sylvester Stallone. Was that a real human being or some sort of robotic character whose head was too big for his body?

Michele Williams. Williams looked like a little girl with a bad prom dress.

Helena Bonham Carter. What was up with the dress and hair? Seriously, did you look in a mirror? This is where the publicist needs to step up and say, "really, you're wearing that!?"

Ricky Gervais. Alright, I know that Gervais is edgy and cutting but the vast majority of last night's comments were downright mean. Let Gervais do stand up and get a more appropriate emcee to this gig.

Robert DeNiro. What was up with Bob's acceptance speech after receiving the lifetime achievement award? The whole "speech" rambled and the comment about the Hollywood Foreign Press and deportation was downright offensive.

Heidi Klum. Heidi, Heidi, Heidi...that dress was, um, a disaster.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mobile stats of the day

- Number of apps: Men, on average, have more apps on their wireless phones than do women. An average male has 31 apps on his phone and an average female has 26.

- App usage: On average, app users use 12 apps at least once per week.

- Free: 44% of all app users indicate that all or nearly all of their apps were free.

- Top ten favorite apps for males: In order--Google Maps, Facebook, Pandora, Weather, ESPN, Angry Birds, Words with Friends, Shazzam, Yahoo, Twitter, Yelp. (Isn't it funny that maps is the number one male app given the propensity of men to never ask for directions?)

- Top ten favorite apps for females: In order--Facebook, Google Maps, Weather, Pandora, Twitter, Google/Search, Words with Friends, Shazzam, Solitaire, Bank of America, Calendar.

(Source: Moose Tracker Mobile App Check)

Hey Gleeks...a Glee reality show is coming

The news has been confirmed that Glee creator, Ryan Murphy, will be involved in a series of Glee reality specials which will air on the Oxygen network. While the details of these shows has not been announced, the speculation is that it will revolve around young singers competing for spots on the popular series on FOX.

Murphy and executive producer Dante Di Loreto had previously stated a desire to remain focused on the main show but recently relented, thus paving the way for this reality programming. The likely timing for the reality contest is in June.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Winding down the work week

- This is new news? It's being reported that U.S. high school students are more and more reluctant to shower at school after gym class and sports activities. The reason? Students apparently are more and more aware of the general invasion of privacy which comes from the Internet and mobile devices, meaning they are less likely to strip in a locker room. Instead, a quick dose of body spray and a shower at home appears to be the solution.

- Our quote of the week goes to Mick Jagger, who had this to say about the institution of marriage: "If you've studied or have even a passing knowledge of animal behavior, it's hard to see how our rules and regulations fit in."

- The recent heavy snowfall in New York City had an unintended consequence, yet a good outcome. Vangelis Kapatos jumped from a ninth story window in an attempt to commit suicide but landed on a pile of uncollected garbage. The garbage bags were piled much higher than usual given the inability to haul them away, due to the snow, thus breaking Kapatos' fall and saving his life.

- In what I find to be a sobering statistic, 70% of Americans say religion is losing influence on American life. And, 61% say that they are a member of a synagogue or church, the lowest percentage ever recorded in this Gallup poll.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2010 movie revenue

What's the way to make big bucks in movies these days? The answer is to aim your film at teenagers and younger children. All of the top 20 films of 2010 were rated PG, PG-13 or, in the case of Toy Story: 3, G. The highest grossing R movie was Shutter Island at #19.

We all know that Avatar cleaned up last year as the biggest box-office hit. What other films made big numbers? Here you go:

Avatar = $547.8 million
Toy Story: 3 = $415 million
Alice in Wonderland = $334.2 million
Iron Man 2 = $312.1 million
Twilight Saga: Eclipse = $300.5 million
Inception = $292.5 million
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 = $273 million
Despicable Me = $250.8 million
Shrek Forever After = $238.4 million
How to Train Your Dragon = $217.4 million

Odds 'n' ends

- Peter Yates, who directed the 1968 classic Bullitt, died yesterday at the age of 82. Yates also directed Breaking Away (1979), one of the better but less known sports dramas.

- Colin Farrell will star in the remake of Total Recall, directed by Len Wiseman. The original starred, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger and was directed by Paul Verhoeven.

- We apparently have an inter-tour match-up going on off the links--LPGA Tour pro Natalie Gulbis confirmed that she's dating PGA Tour golfer Dustin Johnson. This isn't Gulbis' first turn with a fellow professional athlete as she previously dated Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

- Lost in the focus on non-BCS conference powers such as TCU and Boise State was the year had by Nevada. The Wolfpack capped off a 13-1 season with their Fight Hunger Bowl win last night over Boston College.

- Wow, Hugh Hefner has had a busy couple of weeks. First, the 84-year old gets engaged to his 24-year old sweetheart, and now has completed a deal to buy back control of Playboy from his stockholders. Word is that Hef paid $207 million to make the buy out and plans to pass control of the media empire over to his two sons.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Quote of the week

In the continuing saga of whether Aerosmith has a future, new American Idol judge Steven Tyler had this to say: "I'm trying to rally the guys together. We're having trouble getting Joe (Perry.) I don't know where he is, but just come down to L.A. at the end of January sometime. I've had enough downtime."

Saturday morning coffee

- There is a rather provocative article in this morning's Wall Street Journal titled "Why Chinese mothers are better." It's an interesting read, particularly for anyone who is a parent.

- Speaking of The Wall Street Journal, I still am not used to getting a free-standing insert in my Saturday edition of the Journal--that just seems weird to me.

- I absolutely love that someone invested in digital billboards in Columbus, OH, calling attention to and congratulating TCU on their Rose Bowl win, signed "Little Sisters of the Poor." The reference, of course, is to Ohio State University president Gordon Gee's foot-in-mouth comments about TCU and Boise State not deserving BCS title consideration.

- If you can't get enough of this blog, you may want to check out my new entry, The View from Section 10. Exclusively devoted to all things sports, this new blog can be found at

- Be sure and check out Onion SportsDome, which begins on Comedy Central on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. CT. The show, written and produced by those who bring you The Onion website, will take on the world of sports coverage and commentary. Later
in the month, on January 21 at 9:00 p.m. CT, the Onion News Network will launch.

- Sorry, Chiefs fan...Ravens 17, Chiefs 14.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The amazing impact of Facebook

Did you know...

- 24.2% of all web page views in the U.S., in November, took place on Facebook. That's 3.8 times the volume of the number two site, YouTube. (Source: Hitwise)

- Facebook has surpassed Google in traffic volume.

- Facebook reached 151.1 million unique users in October.

- The U.S. revenue projection for Facebook was $835 million in 2010 and will top the billion mark in 2011--$1,060 billion. (Source: eMarketer)

The first brand identity move of 2011

We're only six days into the new year and already we have a brand identity change--and this one is a doozy.

Starbucks announced that they are removing the words "Starbucks coffee" from the company's logo as part of their effort to build their consumer packaged goods business. The old logo featured the Starbucks mermaid with the words "Starbucks Coffee" ringing the visual. The new logo features the mermaid, still in circle format, but with no wording or copy.

The move was announced by Chief Executive Howard Schultz yesterday. Schultz noted that Starbucks is and will always be a coffee company and retailer, but that this move provides greater flexibility to introduce products which are not coffee-related.

We can only hope that the brands which change identity in 2011 are more successful than the notable missteps from 2010, e.g., Gap, Pepsico's Tropicana, and the Big Ten's "Legends and Leaders" divisions. Personally, I think Starbucks' decision is a sound one given the business strategy behind the move coupled with the changing face of Starbucks' business. And, the move mirrors a decision made years ago by another notable brand--anyone remember the shift from the swoosh coupled with "Nike" to the swoosh only? That brand has managed to be relevant, successful and, most importantly, identified by consumers even with its minimalist approach to its brand I.D.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

En-Gen Revolution begins

Faith Popcorn is a futurist. And, yes, "Faith Popcorn" is her name and she is, indeed, very real.

Popcorn's latest predictions spells trouble for we men--especially we of the middle-aged variety. For Popcorn, on her Brain Reserve website, suggests that 2011 will usher in an "unprecedented period marked by the end of our traditional gender divide," i.e., En-Gen. She writes that women are becoming more powerful and influential while men are becoming more "sensitive, collaborative and connected."

Consider the numbers which Popcorn cites:

- Women hold 51% of managerial and professional jobs.
- Four in ten mothers are primary breadwinners; working wives are coming close to bringing in half of household income.
- Single, childless women under 30 earn 8% more than their male peers.

And, women are even taking on health burdens, as a result:

- The American Heart Association reports that women in jobs with strict deadlines and little time to relax increase the chance of a heart attack by 88%. Further, high-pressured women were 43% more likely to have heart surgery.
- The stay-at-home Dad is becoming more prevalent--the U.S. Census in 2008 indicates a 62% increase since 2003.
- And, there's been a 40% increase in male time devoted to household chores, and a 3x increase in average male time spent cooking.

What's this all mean? It means that traditional roles are rapidly changing. Popcorn writes, "Male-dominated fields like construction and manufacturing will shrivel, and predominantly female sectors--education, healthcare, social services--will expand. Men, confused, unemployed and undereducated, will be forced to adapt to this woman-friendly world."

Popcorn lists the following "gender turning points" to watch:

1. The merger of artistry and technology. The new norm is Apple--simple, elegant, En-Gen design that pays attention to every detail, yet is modest.

2. Beyond the Bento box. Men and women will be liberated to experiment with interests and ideas normally associated with the opposite sex. As an example, in Japan, more and more men are arranging flowers--a classically female activity.

3. Electric shock. The electric vehicle combines the female's concern for the world with the male's love of technology.

4. Recession lift. Men who are 45+ years old will be more prone to seek out plastic surgery.

5. Veganomics. Vegan (or "green") values will emerge--food, fashion, home furnishings.

6. Robot frenzy. This genderless technology will become more prevalent.

To find out more about this upcoming gender bender year, visit

Sprint's HTC EVO 4G

The HTC EVO, the first 4G phone exclusively offered from Sprint, has been recognized as one of Good Housekeeping's top 10 gadgets for 2010:

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Bachelor

I have a confession to make--yes, I watched last night's premiere episode of Season 15 of The Bachelor. I also have to confess that it was hard to watch as this show has moved from a voyeuristic curiosity to embarrassing television. And, the embarrassment isn't ABC's--it's embarrassing for those playing out this reality drama in front of our viewing eyes.

This season we have Brad Womack as our bachelor--a fellow who participated in the show four seasons ago and, egads, rejected both of the final female contestants. Womack returns this year to try again and confessed to host Chris Harrison last night that he's undergone counseling for his decision and the hurt he caused the contestants. Well, wouldn't you know it but here come the two rejected young women from Season 11, trotted out on air by ABC to confront Womack before the current season, and the unveiling of the 30 female contestants, even gets underway.

The drama then shifted to the chosen 30--who are they, where are they from and what are they like? Well, we were treated to a lineup where every contestant tried to one-up the other upon the first meeting with Womack. We had the Radio City Rockette who pranced out of the limo with high kicks, we had the girl from Kansas wearing her version of Dorothy's ruby red slippers, we had the one who immediately said to Womack "I want to get married," we had the gal who made Womack get on one knee to rehearse "will you marry me?", and we finally met the freak who actually had her teeth filed into fangs, given her infatuation with all things vampire. Seriously...!?

Indeed, let's try to get serious for a moment. This show revolves around women who have agreed to go on air to chase (there's no other word for it) a man--one whom they know little about and are asked to get acquainted with over the course of a few dates, some of which are group affairs. All of these women would be considered attractive and most are pretty with occupations which typically indicate a consistent form of income and personal stature. Granted, it's not all about looks nor is it about income but it begs the question, "why do these women feel the need to go on television to publicly hunt for their forever mate?"

Let's face it--everyone who participates on this show has an agenda. Some are very overt about it and we've seen that played out on both The Bachelor as well as The Bachelorette. Some act more sincere about their intentions but, again, they're on television competing for one guy/gal!

It's embarrassing--it's embarrassing that these women feel the need to do this and it's embarrassing that Womack allowed himself to be subjected to the grabbing, pawing and attention-getting antics of many of the 30. He was noticeably uncomfortable throughout the show.

Last night's premiere was the second lowest opening for this show ever. Next week that group of non-viewers will include one more in its ranks--I have to turn my eyes away from this train wreck.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday morning musings

- This week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the annual candy store for geeks and consumer electronics nuts, begins later this week and for the first time will have a keynote address from the world of advertising. A Friday panel will include Sir Martin Sorrell, head of the WPP Group; Michael Roth, head of Interpublic; and Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing Officer for Coca-Cola.

- The Kansas City Chiefs did themselves no favors by losing yesterday to Oakland. The Chiefs now have to face Baltimore in the AFC Playoffs instead of the New York Jets--the preferred opponent. The Ravens, though, are banged up heading into Sunday's game--Michael Oher (he of Blind Side fame), Josh Wilson and Ed Reed are all injured. The key to this game will be Kansas City's ability to get the lead and then run the ball.

- The Bachelor starts up again tonight. Oh boy, howdy--you all know how I enjoy watching train wrecks.

- The best 20 minutes of Kansas basketball in this still young season was played in the first half last night against Miami (Ohio.)

- It doesn't rival what many thought might happen during Y2K, but the Apple iPhone had a significant glitch which impacted thousands who rely upon the phone's alarm feature. The alarm didn't work correctly when the new year changed over. For those misguided readers who may be carrying an iPhone, you can go to the support page at Apple's website where you'll be told to set the alarm to "recurring" mode to fix the problem.

- The Wall Street Journal reported today on what to expect in the world of advertising in 2011. Their predictions, as well as what they gained from those in the business who they polled, are: improved ("souped up") mobile advertising, virtual product demonstrations, TV apps, lifestyle tie-ins (e.g., running, triathlons, yoga), long-form advertising, major government legislation/regulation, brands becoming more open and honest about their products, a "return to the 1980's" with more use of acting talent from that decade, and--I can hardly wait--a renewed use of jingles.

- Finally, a birthday shout-out to classic rocker Stephen Stills. Stills turns 66 today.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

More things that make you go "hmm..."

There's been plenty of activity in the first couple of days of the new year in the advertising world which makes me go "hmm..."

For example,

- Why are the Pajama Jeans advertised so frequently on ESPNU? It's a product aimed at females but advertised during college mens' basketball. Sure, I know females watch college hoops too but, c'mon, that's not the place to advertise this hybrid product which, by the way, looks incredibly dorky.

- How come the Lexus "December to Remember" is still advertised in January? And, why does every auto manufacturer think that they need to brand their late-in-the-year sale--"Toyotathon," Nissan's "Year-End Sales Event," Acura's "Season of Reason."

- Are New Year's Resolutions truly a sincere enough endeavor that advertising for weight loss programs, smoking cessation programs, and fitness clubs make sense early in a new year?

- Back on automotive advertising, I get why local dealers advertised so heavily late in December in an attempt to make year-end numbers. Why then are those same ads appearing now on January 1 and 2?

- Why does Geico use the iconic gecko yet also run wacky stuff like the "hey you dang woodchucks-quit chucking my wood!" Hmm...

In the world of sports, it's been an interesting week or two with plenty of activity which made me think "hmm...:"

- Why is a salute deserving of a celebration penalty in college football when, in other bowl games, players made slashing motions, Jay Z's hand gesture, and generally celebrated in a far more demonstrative way than did the Kansas State receiver who got flagged late in the Pinstripe Bowl?

- Is it just me or does Brett Favre's retirement announcement seem like it might have been part of the resolution discussed (read "negotiated") with the NFL as part of the whole sexting scandal?

Finally, I was struck, in the week between Christmas and New Year's, by how much media attention was on food and drink to serve on New Year's Eve, what to wear to that New Year's Eve Party you're attending, and how to handle that morning after hangover. Really? I know of only one couple that was attending a party--most were staying at home, some were catching dinner and a movie, but no one seemed worked up about their social activities on December 31.

All in all, lots of stuff to make you go "hmm..."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The new look "Musings, Notes & Quotes"

Loyal readers, you're still on the right bookmark--it's the new look Musings, Notes & Quotes.

It's a new year and a new look for your favorite blog. My production staff and I decided to lighten up the look, taking away the dark backgrounds and shading which highlighted the previous two years of this blog.

Enjoy, and let us know what you think.

Big 12 basketball preview

The second season of the college hoops schedule is about to begin and thus it's time to break down the Big 12 performance to date and speculate on what's to come in conference play. It was an eventful first season, non-conference schedule for the conference with five teams performing well enough to now reside in the top 25 and two others getting votes from the Associated Press. Yet, the overall RPI of Big 12 teams is currently low, even though Kansas is the #1 team in the land, according to the important RPI ratings.

Let's break it down, shall we?


- The surprise of the conference has to be Iowa State, now coached by former Cyclone great Fred Hoiberg. Iowa State is 12-2 with quality wins at Iowa and at Virginia. They have five players averaging in double figures yet don't shoot a high FG percentage--their strength has been on defense.

- Missouri is 13-1, ranked 10th, and has only lost in overtime to Georgetown in a game that they admittedly gave away. (Georgetown, by the way, is the #2 RPI team in the country.) The MVP of the Tigers is Marcus Denmon and he is surrounded by a deep team of players who know their roles. The Tigers are susceptible to good rebounding teams and teams disciplined enough to attack the basket once they've beaten the press. Their current RPI is #32.

- Down in Austin, Texas fans are disappointed in the lack of a college bowl game yet in that other sport played at this time of year, the hoops team is 11-2. Texas has three quality wins--Illinois, North Carolina and Michigan State, and only lost to Pitt by two. The other loss was to USC by 17. Freshmen Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph are the real deals and Jordan Hamilton is a stud. The Longhorn's current RPI is #36.

- Texas A&M was picked to finish in the middle of the Big 12 pack but is currently 18th in the country, 12-1, and owning quality wins over Washington and Arkansas. The Aggies play tough defense with no team scoring more than 65 points against them to date. They, however, are a weak rebounding squad. Current RPI - #31.

Performing as expected:

- This may be a bit unfair, given the suspension of prized recruit Josh Selby for nine games, but Kansas has done what most expected, up to this point. Bill Self has a list of issues which need to be solved if this KU team is considered a true Final Four team--interior defense, a point guard who had two horrid outings back-to-back, finding a rebounder other than Thomas Robinson, and blending Selby into the rotation. The good news in conference play is that KU faces Texas at home. Current RPI - #1.

- Colorado is 9-4, has two guys (Alec Burks and Cory Higgins) who are legit all-conference performers, yet likely will finish eighth in the conference--right as predicted.

- Oklahoma State is 11-2 with quality wins over Alabama and Stanford. Current RPI - #42.

- Nebraska's final season in the Big 12 has started with a 10-2 record.


- This list has to start with Kansas State, picked by most to be a top five team and Big 12 conference champ. Those predictions failed to comprehend the impact of losing PG Denis Clemente. Additionally, Curtis Kelly was a disappointment this year, even prior to his suspension. Current RPI - #25.

- Some picked Baylor as high as second in the conference--they've not played that way to date. The Bears have lost to Gonzaga, Washington State and Florida State on their way to an 8-3 record thus far, with the only quality win being over Arizona State. Current RPI - #153.

- Oklahoma is 7-6 and will battle Texas Tech, 6-7, for last place in the conference. It's amazing to see how OU's program has fallen since the days of not too long ago with Blake Griffin and Willie Warren. In Lubbock, it's hard to imagine Pat Knight lasting past this season.

Conference and post-season predictions:

1. Kansas - I trust that Self will mold his talent such that everyone knows their roles and, in Selby, KU has a talent which can take over a game. He's behind, given the nine games out, but the potential was on full display against USC and California. A seventh-straight championship, in this conference, is an amazing achievement and Self isn't given enough credit for that consistency. In the NCAA, Kansas will go all the way to the Final Four.

2. Texas - The Longhorns have numerous weapons, are road-proven, and are playing as well as anybody right now. NCAA: Elite Eight.

3. Kansas State - I suspect that Kelly and Jacob Pullen will get their heads screwed on straight but this is a team which misses the speed, leadership and toughness of Clemente. NCAA: Win one game.

4. Missouri - The Tigers could sneak up to the three spot if Kansas State continues to falter but they have to go on the road to play Texas A&M and Texas, and have a final four conference games of Baylor, at Kansas State, at Nebraska and back home against Kansas. NCAA: Sweet 16.

5. Baylor - The Bears' very low RPI signals that they have plenty of work to do. Baylor's zone defense is a pain for teams and the Bears have a couple of battle-tested vets in LaceDarius Dunn and Quincy Acy--I expect them to get their act together yet finish just outside the top four in the Big 12. NCAA: Win one game.

6. Texas A&M - I like Mark Turgeon's team and I like how he coaches defense. NCAA: Lose in R1.

7. Oklahoma State - Marshall Moses is having an all-conference season to date. NCAA: Lose in R1.

8. Colorado - Burks and Higgins are currently accounting for 36 points per game. NIT.

9. Nebraska - The Huskers have nine guys averaging between 5-10.5 points per game. NIT.

10. Iowa State - The excitement returns to Hilton Coliseum, given the guy in charge. But, can he recruit? No postseason play.

11. Texas Tech - The only quality win to date for Tech is against Oral Roberts. No postseason.

12. Oklahoma - The Sooners have gone from having the Player of the Year in the conference to a 13-18 record last year (4-12 in the league) to this. Obviously, no postseason awaits OU.