Sunday, October 30, 2011

Sunday morning coffee

- YouTube is launching new video channels which will feature content producers like Shaquille O'Neal, Madonna and Modern Family's Sofia Vergara. More than 100 new channels will be launched with most of the celebrities/content producers using their own production companies.

- Among the thousands of apps in the Android catalog is one called "I'm Getting Arrested." The app lets users press a single on-screen icon to notify family and friends that they're being hauled off to the pokey.

- In the category of "you can't make this 'stuff' up," a champion goat at the Colorado State Fair lost his title after failing a drug test. The goat had been crowned Grand Champion for his size--83 pounds--and general condition. Yet, subsequent urine tests showed the presence of ractopamine, a banned additive used in hogs. The owner suggested that the goat had been "sabotaged."

- Speaking of urine (sorry--I couldn't resist), officials at Evergreen Park High School in Illinois put into place a policy that only allows students to leave class three times per semester to go to the bathroom. Those who have to "go" more often will have to make up class time after school.

- From Time magazine: 54% of Americans have a positive view of the Occupy Wall Street movement while 23% have a negative view. Conversely, only 27% have a positive view of the Tea Party while 65% say that the movement has had a negative impact on politics.

- Looking for a good thriller to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon? You may want to tune in TCM at 2:00 p.m. ET for Alfred Hitchcock's classic Dial M for Murder. The movie stars Ray Milland and an always beautiful Grace Kelly.

-And finally, for all of you out there wondering just how long to keep that pillow and running shoes, I pass along the following from Men's Health on when to replace certain household and personal items: Pillow - one year; Toothbrush - three months; Running Shoes - seven months; Razor Blades - two to four weeks; Smoke Alarms - eight to 10 years; Bedsheets - wash every one to two weeks; Vitamins - three years; Passwords - every 30 to 90 days.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The cost of television advertising

The NFL is vying with music as the programming which gets the most eyeballs on network programming.

In information reported on today by AdvertisingAge, NBC's Sunday Night Football is challenging FOX's American Idol for supremacy as the costliest prime-time show on this year's schedule.

The average 30-second spot on Idol costs $468,100-$502,900, according to AdAge's survey, while the average 30-second spot on Sunday Night Football is $512,367. Keep in mind that Idol's costs go up as the show reaches its finale--some spots in that program fetch as high as a $640,000 price tag.

These results emphasize one other viewing phenomenon--the shows most in demand are those that viewers tend to watch live versus after the fact via DVR or video-on-demand.

Here are some other prices for 30-second commercials in current and former premium programs:

- Grey's Anatomy, ABC = $203,078, down from an average price of $419,000 in 2007-2008.

- Desperate Housewives, ABC = $149,556 versus an average price of $394,000 in 2006.

- X Factor, FOX = $320,000 average price on Wednesday nights and $283,034 on Thursday nights.

- Glee, FOX = $267,141

- Two and a Half Men, CBS = $252,418

- Modern Family, ABC = $249,388

Monday, October 17, 2011

You just can't make this "stuff" up

- Those loonies over at Westboro Baptist Church, Topeka, KS, recently said that Steve Jobs was going to hell and called for a protest of his funeral. Interestingly, the church tweeted for the protest and had a "via Twitter for iPhone" at the bottom of that message. When asked for an explanation, a church spokesperson said "God created the iPhone," not Steve Jobs. So, I'm guessing we should now ask God why Apple didn't release an iPhone 5?

- A woman is suing Texas police, claiming that after her arrest she was forced to listen to Rush Limbaugh. The woman--an African-American--says that she was unjustly arrested and then handcuffed and placed in the police car. It was there that she had to listen to the conservative radio host "make derogatory comments about black people."

- Continuing in the litigation category, a Michigan woman is suing the distributors of Drive, claiming that the movie contains less driving than the trailer would suggest.

- Columbia University researchers found that single women consider overweight men more attractive if they are wealthy. (Can I get a "duh!") For each 10% increase in body mass, a single man must a 2% raise in salary to stay in the same "dating pool."

- A 27-year old woman recently completed a full marathon...while 39 weeks pregnant! She then gave birth to a healthy baby girl only a few hours after completing the run.

- And finally, down Alabama way, a company is turning the ashes of deceased folks into ammunition. The reason? The company is marketing the ammo as a "final tribute" to honor those who have passed. The firm packs the deceased's ashes into shotgun shells or rifle cartridges, which can then be shot into the air or at targets. Said the company's owner, "We know how strange it sounds to people who aren't comfortable around guns. But, for those who are, it's not weird at all."

Friday, October 14, 2011

Design Stars

Who are the American companies that "get it"--who understand the value of design as a valuable competitive advantage?

According to Fast Company magazine, the following companies top the list.

Icons of design:

- Herman Miller (office furniture)
- Apple ("Style, specs and sophistication...")
- Burton (snowboards)
- Viking (cooking appliances)
- Oxo (kitchen tools)
- JetBlue (airline)
- Nike ("...bringing art and fashion to sport")
- Kohler (fixtures)
- Target ("Where designers go to sell...")
- Starbucks (coffee culture)


- The Container Store ("unexpectedly attractive products")
- McDonald's ("systems-design upgrade")
- Black and Decker (tools)
- WalMart ("greening the supply chain")
- Crown (forklifts)
- Whirlpool ("can appliances by sexy?")
- Johnson & Johnson ("functional, sustainable design")
- Interface (carpet maker)
- GE
- 3M


- Gilt Groupe (fashion website)
- Flipboard (real-time virtual magazines)
- Jawbone (headsets and speakers)
- Method (cleaning products)
- Fitbit (health data monitoring)
- Tesla (sleek electric sports cars)
- Fuego (outdoor grill company)
- InCase ("the most stylish maker of Apple accessories")
- Twitter (easy-to-use interface)
- LiveScribe (smartpen)

Any others that are out there which didn't make this list? For me, Beats by Dre would be on this list as well as Hitpad, yet another stylish iPad app.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's tough working in broadcast TV

Perhaps we should place "Network programming manager" on the list of tougheset jobs in the U.S. If recent data is any indication, it's becoming harder and harder for the television networks to break through with programming which reaches a critical mass and effectively competes with other media outlets.

The current broadcast season has already seen the cancellation of a heavily promoted show like The Playboy Club. And, other shows are in line to follow.

Overall, network viewership among adults younger than 50 is down 4.1% from a year ago. Conversely, viewership on advertising-supported cable channels, among this same viewing audience, is up 4% year over year.

The coming weeks are the time when networks analyze the viewership data of the new shows which have premiered and decide whether to pull the plug or keep the show for a second season. If the initial data is any indication, look for some pretty significant cancellations.

(Sources: Nielsen, Wall Street Journal)

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Pop Thermometer

What's hot and what's not? What's trending in the world of social media and online chatter? Take a look at some of the interesting findings from Advertising Age.

Celebrity designers: Trending - Jennifer Lopez for Kohl's; Trailing - Sofia Vergara for Kmart; Tired - Kardashian sisters for Sears.

TV genre: Trending - Retro; Trailing - Song and dance realilty; Tired - Procedurals (take that, CSI.)

Marketable quarterback: Trending - Aaron Rodgers; Trailing - Peyton Manning; Tired - Tim Tebow.

Dessert-flavored vodka: Trending - Whipped cream; Trailing - Chocolate; Tired - Vanilla.

Must-Have photo app: Trending - PopBooth; Trailing - Instagram; Tired - Hipstamatic.

Video delivery: Trending - Vudu; Trailing - Netflix; Tired - Blockbuster.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Secular Prophet

The Wall Street Journal has an op-ed piece, in today's edition, on Steve Jobs titled "The Secular Prophet." It's required reading for all those intrigued by the magic of Jobs' impact on consumer behavior and our society:

In the piece, the writer, Andy Crouch, picked up the following excerpt from Jobs' acclaimed commencement piece at Stanford in 2005. This is what Jobs had to say about death, knowing of his initial cancer diagnosis in 2003:

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It's life's change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you. But someday, not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it's quite true. Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become."

As Crouch went on to write, Jobs' was not the first to articulate this vision of a meaningful life. What Jobs did was to give us hope in the cold comfort of technology and, in the process, kept hope alive. Need proof? Look no further than the outpouring of affection (see all of the public sentiments voiced on Facebook) for a man that few knew personally, but all knew through the impact that he'd had on their lives.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Throwin' it around in the middle of the week

- It's a sad day given today's announcement of the passing of Steve Jobs. Name another person, in the world, who has changed consumer behavior like Jobs. His impact cut across personal computing, music, video and mobile communications.

- I watched the premiere episode of Homeland last Sunday evening on Showtime and I am hooked. The espionage thriller stars Damian Winters (Band of Brothers) and Claire Danes.

- Thank goodness these fish don't live in New York: A recent study found that ornamental fish kept in tanks are more apt to bite, murder and cannibalize each other far more often than those in the wild. The reason? Apparently they don't like living in cramped, confined spaces.

- In the category of "you just can't make this 'stuff' up" is news about Jane Fonda's dog, Tulea. Fonda's pet has achieved the unofficial mantel of "most spoiled dog in Hollywood." The owner always warms the dog's blanket in a dryer "to make sure Tulea feels extra snug when she's relaxing on her cushion." When the dog gets her weekly massage, Fonda has two tables set up so that she can get her own rubdown along her canine. (Like I said "you just can't make this 'stuff' up.")

- Stat of the day: The iPod currently accounts for only eight percent of Apple's revenues. In 2006, the music player's sales accounted for 56% of revenues.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sunday morning coffee

- Why do we have driveways at our homes but you never ever really "drive" on that patch of concrete or asphalt?

- In the "you can't make this stuff up" category, Ronald Wade applied for a job as a jailer in Warren County, MS. During his background check, the police found that Warren was wanted for DUI manslaughter in Florida. He was subsequently arrested and jailed--in the jail where he wanted to work.

- The American Royal Barbecue was not the place for the non-meat eating faint-of-heart. Many cows' and pigs' lives were taken in the feeding of the masses on Friday and Saturday here in the ol' cowtown. Good times...

- The latest market data shows that people 24 years and under now send an average of 110 texts per day. Let's face it--we're becoming a society who doesn't talk to one another any more.

- In Florida, a vice cop creatively bypassed a law which says undercover police cannot expose themselves to prostitutes during sting operations. The creative cop displayed a "rubber replica of a penis." The hooker was impressed enough to offer her services, thus ending in her arrest. (Is this where we insert the legal language "don't try this at home?")

- It's been a bad few weeks for New York Yankee love connections. First, Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly break up and now we learn that Alex Rodriguez and Cameron Diaz have called it quits--again.

- Did you know that the average SAT score for reading, for the graduating class of 2011, was 497--the lowest mark since 1972?

- Quick, name the most popular national political figure in the U.S. Yes, I know that's almost an oxymoron but who do you think would be chosen as the most popular? In a Bloomberg poll, Hillary Clinton had the highest percentage of "very favorable" or "mostly favorable" marks.