Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Winners and losers: Fall television premieres

Comedy has made a comeback, if network television ratings are any indication. In the recent fall television premiere ratings contest, nine of the top 10 rated shows, among the highly coveted young adult segment, are sitcoms.

The winners: Two and a Half Men, Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, The Simpsons, The Middle, 2 Broke Girls.

The losers: X Factor (a disappointment given a premiere which netted about half the audience of American Idol), Terra Nova (just nine million viewers), Playboy Club, Free Agents.

Too soon to tell: Revenge, Pan Am.

Past hits with disappointing numbers thus far: The Good Wife, Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives.

(Source: USA Today)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Saturday morning coffee

- Week one of the fall television premieres is almost complete and no show, which I watched, truly stood out. Modern Family's first episode was a miss as they made little use of the obvious material available to them in the dude ranch setting. The follow-up show, to fill out the hour, was much closer to the mark. As for Glee, the first show was okay, establishing some of the new story lines for this season. The much anticipated Playboy Club started out with an implausible storyline and main character Eddie Cibrian doing his best poor man's Don Draper (Mad Men) imitation. (Cibrian even tried to affect Draper's speech cadence.) A Gifted Man, debuting last night, showed promise. Still on the DVR are Charlie's Angels and Grey's Anatomy and still to come, on Sunday night, are the opening episodes of The Good Wife, Pan Am and season two of Boardwalk Empire on HBO.

- In the reality show genre, The X Factor opened with a whimper. The show has little positive word-of-mouth and will have a hard time matching the "appeal equity" of American Idol.

- This falls in the "that's a special date on the calendar" category. A couple in Cincinnati was married on September 9--a date which happened to be the 50th wedding anniversary of the bride's grandparents, the 75th anniversary of her late great-grandparents, and the 100th anniversary of her late great-great-grandparents.

- Catalina Robayo, the Miss Universe contestant from Colombia, received a unique warning during the recent competition. Robayo was, shall we say, going commando and was warned by judges to stop wearing tiny skirts with nothing underneath. The judges were fearful of what audiences and photographers were "viewing."

- In the crassly commercial product placement category, Tony Bennett and Carrie Underwood appeared together on last night's premiere episode of Blue Bloods, the police drama starring Tom Selleck. Bennett and Underwood were woven into the storyline, singing together, and just happened to be singing a tune from Bennett's new album, Duets. A special commercial then followed, promoting the album which is being sold exclusively at Target.

- I'm having a hard time dealing with the break-up of Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly. Just sayin'...

- Stat of the day: 46% of Americans don't care about the gender of their boss. Of those who do, 32% say they prefer a male boss to 22% who prefer a female boss.

- And finally, a perhaps sad sign-of-the-times is the fact that lottery sales across the U.S. have increased. In 17 states, record numbers of tickets have been sold in the past fiscal year.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

My report from the couch: The Emmys

Looks great: Sofia Vergara, Rob Lowe, Timothy Olyphant, Kate Winslet, Mark Wahlberg, Minka Kelly.

Looks questionable: Laura Linney, Steve Buscemi, Juliana Margulies, Diana Agron and Amy Poehler. And, Ashton Kutcher--cut the hair, dude.

What were they thinking!?: Gwyneth Paltrow--bare midriff? C'mon! Plus, the hair looks like a photo out of a 1970's high school yearbook. Katie Holmes...really!? And, Julie Bowen, did you really think that gown front looked attractive? (As my wife said, "Put on a bra and eat something!")

Red, red, red: Red gowns were sported by Kate Winslett, Sofia Vergara (okay, alright--it was "coral"), Lea Michele and Nancy O'Dell, among others.

Where did you find these people?: The FOX red-carpet interviewers, with the exception of Nancy O'Dell, were horrid. And, what was up with the female talent's Princess Lea hairdo?

Really!?: Verizon's product placement in the opening number by Jane Lynch.

Emcee: In the most thankless job in television, Lynch assumed emcee honors for the Emmys. And, she did a passable, while not great, job.

SO deserving: Margo Martindale won Best Supporting Actress in a Drama for Justified. It's about time that stellar show (on FX) got recognized. Mad Men won--again--in a year when they were truly deserving given how season four got back on track after a meandering season three. And, FINALLY--Kyle Chandler wins Best Actor-Drama for Friday Night Lights. Too little, too late, however, for that fine show...

Overrated: Don't get me wrong, I love Modern Family. But, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell were not the most deserving nominees from that comedy.

Disappointment: Elisabeth Moss was outstanding during this past season of Mad Men, opening up a new side of Peggy Olson each week during season four. Julianna Margulies is really good in The Good Wife but Moss was the most deserving in the Best Actress-Drama category.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Emmys: Who should win

There are few, if any, awards show where the most deserving nominees wins. So, with that in mind, let's talk about who should win on Sunday night when the Emmy trophies are handed out in Hollywood.

Best Actor in a Drama: Sentiment is with Kyle Chandler for Friday Night Lights and that fine show's final season, Steve Buscemi proved that he could move from a supporting role to leading man with his turn on Boardwalk Empire, and many pundits are selecting Hugh Laurie for House. My pick is Timothy Olyphant for Justified, an underrated drama on FX which shines due to Olyphant's portrayal of a Federal Marshal in Harlan County, KY.

Best Actress in a Drama: Mireille Enos from The Killing is the leader in the clubhouse for this award and, like Chandler, Connie Britton deserves strong consideration for Friday Night Lights. But, if Elizabeth Moss does not win for her stellar season on Mad Men, it'll be one of the biggest mistakes ever by Emmy voters.

Best Actor in a Comedy: Steve Carrell has never won an Emmy for The Office--that will change on Sunday night.

Best Actress in a Comedy: Tina Fey is the darling of Emmy voters but Amy Poehler deserves to win in this category for her work on Parks and Recreation.

Best Comedy: Modern Family and Glee get all the publicity in this category given their popular appeal. But, don't be surprised to see Parks and Recreation win, if voters truly vote on which comedy deserves the trophy based on original writing and first-rate acting.

Best Drama: This category is loaded--Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones from HBO, Mad Men, Dexter, Friday Night Lights and The Good Wife. While I expect one of the HBO shows to win, the most deserving show here is The Good Wife. Yeah, I know, it's not a cable program but, guess what--that's all the more reason why this show shined. The CBS drama had twice the number of episodes than did Boardwalk Empire and it provides quality adult drama with much tougher restraints than those of cable networks.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

9/11/11 tribute advertising

In an interesting bit of online debating, published a story this morning which included comments from several "in the business" who took to task those companies who aired commercials themed to the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, e.g., State Farm, Budweiser and Verizon.

In case you missed it, here is Budweiser's spot--a replay of the spot which aired ten years ago around the time of the tragic attack on the U.S.

This afternoon, published a story which summarized consumer attitudes about the advertising. And, perhaps not surprisingly, the consumers felt much more positive about the effort, and the work, than did those who commented from within the advertising sector.

Ace Metrix, which polled 500 adults, found that "by and large, they (those surveyed) rated the ads very favorably."

The favorite spot was Budweiser's tribute spot, above, which also included a call-to-action for viewers to donate to the 9/11 memorial. The famous Clydesdales beat out State Farm's spot, directed by Spike Lee, and a series of Chevy ads which aired during the Discover Channel's "Rising Rebuilding Ground Zero" program.

Not only did Budweiser's spot win among those brands who tied in to the 10-year anniversary of 9/11, but it also tallied one of the highest beer ad scores for this quarter--a 665 on the Ace Metrix scale versus the category average of 478.

Perhaps we marketers should continue to remember who really counts in this debate--the consumers.

You just can't make this stuff up

- Beth Krohn caught quite a surprise on her summer vacation on Lake Ida in Alexandria, MN. Krohn hooked something heavy and discovered, once she got it near the boat, that she didn't have a lunker on her line but an artificial leg. She was successful at finally finding the owner, Pam Riley, who had lost the leg while swimming in the lake three years ago. Krohn and Riley met in a Wal-Mart parking lot in order to return the prosthetic appendage.

- An Illinois appeals court recently dismissed a lawsuit by two grown children who had sued their mother for "bad mothering." The two claimed that she failed to buy them enough toys and sent a birthday card that the son didn't like.

- If you thought the Kardashian-Humphries nuptials were excessive, listen to this--billionaire heiress Petra Ecclestone wore a $130,000 Vera Wang wedding gown and hired Eric Clapton and the Black Eyed Peas to entertain at her recent wedding reception.

- A flight from Moscow to London returned to the airport shortly after takeoff due to a female passenger who rose from her seat and performed, ahem, erotic dances in the aisle. Russian officials who detained the woman said that she "was in a state of insobriety." No kidding...

- More than 450,000 people have joined a Facebook group called "I Hate Reading." A rival group called "I Love Reading" was formed but their efforts have garnered fewer than 45,000 members.

- And, locally, a Kansas City, KS man was charged with running down a police officer who was directing traffic Sunday after the Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium. The perp faces felony counts of assault of a police officer while intoxicated and leaving the scene of an accident. The officer was not seriously hurt and police were able to detain the car and driver about four blocks away. There was no word whether the Chiefs' poor play caused the club to be named in the suit as reason for the intoxication and reckless driving.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten years after

I sit this morning, watching on television as the remembrance activities for 9/11 take place in New York and elsewhere. A tear rolls down my cheek as I remember that fateful day of ten years ago.

I think of a friend who was supposed to be on the flight which ended up crashing in Shanksville, PA, thankfully canceling his trip late the night before. I remember the business associate who came into my office that Tuesday morning and said "turn on your television--they said on radio that a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center." I remember my office flooding with people, coming in to watch as the events unfolded that morning. And, I remember my anxious call and conversation with my daughter who we'd just dropped off at college, 600 miles away from home.

I, like millions of Americans, walked out of my home that September morning only to have my life forever changed by the events in New York, Washington, D.C. and somewhere over Pennsylvania on United flight 93.

I remember.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hits and misses

Miss: Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz was fired over the phone yesterday by the company's Chairman of the Board.

Hit: San Francisco City Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation requiring that nudists in the city put something under their "bottoms" if they take a seat in public and that they "cover up" when in a restaurant. (No, I'm not making this up.)

Miss: It's apparently quite easy for a business to be reported as closed in Google Places, the company's online version of the local Yellow Pages. In recent months, dozens of thriving businesses across the U.S. have been reported as closed--sometimes just for a matter of hours but at other times for weeks.

Hit: The Super Bowl remains a hot forum for brands willing to dish out big bucks for massive, one-time exposure. According to NBC, the broadcast network for this season's big game, only five 30-second ad slots remain. The cost? A record $3.5 million each...

Miss: Emmanuelle Chriqui is the actress who plays Sloan McQuewick on HBO's Entourage. The daughter of Moroccan immigrants, Chriqui had this to say about last year's Vanity Fair cover which featured only white actresses, which she says symbolizes her struggle to get quality acting roles: "They were all white girls--and I mean white. It's frustrating. I'm a little too exotic, or I just don't match the family. I'm constantly up against it." Have the publishers of VF seen this woman!?

Hit: Jennifer Lopez will return as a judge on American Idol.

Miss: Robin Roberts, who I respect greatly, is interviewing the Kardashian sisters on Good Morning America today. Puh-lease...

Hit: It ended up being a big summer at the theater box office. From May 1 through August 18, box office revenues are up 5% over summer 2010 and attendance is up 3%.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Things that can get you fired

It's not often that I venture into the self-help space with this blog but I was intrigued by an article I read recently on The Wall Street Journal's online site titled "Ten things that can get you fired."

Much of what they suggested was spot-on but there were a few points on which I disagreed or felt even more strongly about than the WSJ writer.

Here is the list and my accompanying comments:

1. Get conveniently sick. This may seem like a no-brainer but it's always amazing how many workers take a sick day, when they're not really sick, then do it again, and again...and again. If the sick days happen to occur consistently on a Monday, then you're really exposed. The right approach? Only take a sick day when you're really sick.

2. Lie on your job application. One may think that companies don't really check out job applications and resume information, but they do. Don't lie.

3. Be disgusting.
The WSJ writer suggested that improper hygiene could put one in harm's way, i.e., the "firing" line. While I agree that disgusting body odor and personal care habits are, well, disgusting, it's hard to suggest that they are grounds for firing. The key point here is to never underestimate the impact of how you look, how you groom, and how you dress. As the saying goes, better to over-do in those departments than to cut corners.

4. Stay anonymous. I once had a colleague who suggested "blend in--be nice." While the latter is important, the "blend in" part makes you no different than all the others who are trying to fly under the radar.

5. Never compromise. Standing up for what you believe is one thing. Knowing the importance of picking your battles is another. Be careful about never compromising.

6. Be ungrateful. The impact of saying "thank you" and showing gratitude for a promotion, that special assignment, or recognition from your boss is very, very important.

7. Don't respect the chain of command. Reporting structures aren't put into place to be bureaucratic--they are there to increase efficiency. Sure, layered organizations can become unwieldy and slow but always respect that you should first go to your direct-line supervisor with any issue--not a level or two above that manager.

8. Spend time with the complainers, non-performers and gossips. This is a trap easy to fall into so, take the advice you would give your children--don't hang with the wrong crowd. These folks may be nice people but they are easily labeled for what they are and who needs guilt by association?

9. Never take responsibility when things go wrong. You are more apt to be rewarded by saying "I screwed up" versus doing everything possible to shirk responsibility for the mistake. Most managers want any errors to be errors of commission, thus acknowledging that mistakes do happen.

10. Take credit for other peoples' work. No one likes the co-worker who consistently takes credit for something they didn't do, or were involved with peripherally. Don't be that guy--your manager will soon figure it out.