Why So Much of the Same Ads?

If TV this month is any indication then I’d say that clearly:

1. We all need new car insurance (and haven’t decided on who to buy it from)


2. We’re all potential voters that are “undecided” at the moment


Really?  That many of us haven’t decided?


My theory is that advertising agencies and their “inside” men and women are doing a phenomenal job – a phenomenal job of convincing their clients that we the people haven’t decided yet and that another 100 or so viewing “impressions” (industry term) of that “reptile” each week will make the difference (Geico’s The Martin Agency does a good job too).

They’re slinging what the industry calls FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) at their own clients and it’s working.

So people, brace yourselves for lots and lots more Flo, Gecko, the deep-voice actor guy, the guy that played Brenda’s boss on The Closer, Aaron “Discount Double Check” Rodgers and, oh yeah, Barack and Mitt because the agency guys are gooooood.
On the bright side at least I get to see more of Ronald using karaoke to get his “profile” out there and save money on online dating (it is so popular btw that they released an extended version on YouTube for Ronald’s fans)
Apparently Ron’s “hairline is receding, but (he’s) getting a weave”

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Why Do We Expect a Scorpion Not to Sting?

Why do we expect the NFL to care about player safety and the integrity of the game when we know all they really care about is money?

Why do we expect a new CMO to only fix what’s broken when we know they’re 100% predisposed to do a flashy branding/rebranding exercise?

Why do we forget “The Frog and Scorpion” Tale?

Why do we expect politicians to do what’s best for their constituents when we know they’ll always do what’s best for themselves?

Why do we expect our favorite team to replace a fired coach with the best candidate when we know they’ll hire the “safest” option who is the most opposite of the last guy?

Why do we expect universities to use that billion dollar+ endowment to keep/make college affordable when we know they’ll use it all to grow bigger? {And why do we keep donating money to that university when we know the above is true?}

Why do we believe TV networks will obey the “commercials will never be louder than the program” regulations?

Why do we expect business leaders to really lead with the long term in mind when we know they’ll mortgage the future to make the number this quarter?

Why do we expect that this particular scorpion won’t sting that innocent, unlucky “target”?

Is it the hope that better things are just ahead?  Drinking-related memory issues perhaps?  Insanity?  Cockeyed optimism?  Well, why do we check the coin slot to see if a quarter is in there?…  Because sometimes there is a quarter in there and last time, I found a Sacajawea dollar coin.  That’s why-



When Scandal = Opportunity

The latest scandal related to “the royals” in jolly old England has plenty of important people hopping mad and many more annoyed that telephoto photography technology isn’t better than it is.  It seems the newest princess (Princess Kate), was photographed sunbathing topless at a Chateau in the South of France last week and the grainy photos have been published in magazines in at least 3 Euro countries.

The attractive and extremely popular young princess and her family are angry and trying to fight back and contain the damage caused by this invasion of privacy perpetrated from over a half mile away by a magazine photographer (reportedly from a French magazine!), on assignment.

How is this latest scandal an opportunity?  Well, my Brit friends and colleagues have been complaining for years that adopting the Euro as their currency would be a huge mistake for Great Britain and would saddle (or is that “straddle” Joe? 😉 ), their economy with the negative effects of unstable and careless Euro countries (Greece, France, etc.), who economies are tanking (and/or are on the edge of doing so).   Perhaps this Euro-scandal plus the promise of a better, more artful British currency will be enough to ensure (for good), that the powerful government and other forces pushing the UK toward the Euro never succeed and that Brits everywhere can always savor their beloved pound notes.   For those who love tradition (and art), I believe the choice is obvious.

The “New” Old Currency in England?



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Social Media = Domesticating a Wild Animal?

All organizations now have some sort of a digital strategy and “social media marketing” as part of their plan.

It seems like a no-brainer – Facebook and Twitter accounts are free and we can use the interns and “young employees” along with a few extra cycles from the PR guy.  It’s Win-Win.  Free advertising.  No foreseeable downside, right?

Example For Your Review: A major college football program (Arizona State), and their conference which generates more than a quarter of a billion dollars per season (The Pac 12), learned the hard way that it isn’t always “Win-Win” with no downside.  The program recently had its pre-season “Pac 12 Media Days” and scheduled press conferences with Q&A for each team’s head coach, including ASU’s new leader Todd Graham.  “Use that interweb social media stuff to promote the event!” was the likely command from the 60+ year old university leadership to the underpaid 22 year-old running social media for the school, along with, “Do your Tweeter thing and get us some new viewers!”   The young social marketer thought it would be a great idea to get fans involved in the Q&A by allowing them to tweet questions directly to the coachvia the #AskASU hashtag during the televised event in front of a room full of media.  Well, what occurred was what is known as a “hijacking” – In this case, fans of ASU’s new coach’s previous team (the Pitt Panthers), took this opportunity to ask their former leader a “few” questions about the circumstances of his abrupt and unexpected departure last December.

You see, less than a year after being hired to a 5-year contract by Pitt (and unbeknownst to his employers), Graham took another job to coach the Arizona State University football team.  He informed his team and Pitt via a text forwarded to a Pitt football administrator.  Graham took a lot of heat in the national media, especially in football-crazy Pittsburgh.  Ridiculed during his 1-year Pitt tenure for his use of football platitudes like “high-octane offense” and panned for throwing his players under the figurative bus, there was no love lost between the coach and the Steel City.  He also called ASU his “dream job” after saying the exact same thing about his previous employer 12 months earlier.

The Twitter “question” queue was completely dominated by Pitt tweets and included:

Coach when you mentioned speed speed speed, were you then hinting at how fast you would be leaving Pitt? #AskASU

Coach G, you do realize that allowing transfers without penalty is only a privilege for Penn State students, right? #AskASU

#AskASU coach, what are your thoughts on having more wins than Joe Pa last year? Will you use that for your next dream job?

What genius catchphrase will you invent this year that’s bound to be taken so seriously by the students in Tempe? #AskASU

Coach, would you leave Penni if an opportunity for a “dream” wife came along? #AskASU

#AskASU so how do you feel about email breakups

Coach Graham, I know what it feels like to be unfairly vilified. You have my support. #AskASU #PennState#Misunderstood [Eds. note: That’s a fake Mike McQueary account.]

#AskASU Coach,aren’t you glad you don’t have those pesky Steelers hanging around YOUR cafeteria

Have you put your house on the market yet? #AskASU

Hey Todd, my grandmas cat passed away, can you text her the bad news. I dont have the heart. #AskASU

Coach Graham- How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop…or do you just quit licking and leave half-way? #AskASU


Todd (aka Fraud) Graham: Did social media help get him labeled as “the devil himself?”

-Win-win?  No downside?  Maybe not.  This hijacking was so thorough that news outlets saw how high it was trending and wrote stories about it and the coach in question.  His status as a pariah and example of what’s wrong with college sports is now complete.

Trying to use social media to promote your company or organization is a little like trying to domesticate a chimpanzee or tiger… it’s a only a matter of when you’ll get bitten so think about the risks and prepare for the good and the bad that comes with this “free” marketing/PR.



Saving the world one plastic bag at a time – PLEASE!!!!

I’m angry at the blatant hypocrisy of the anti plastic bag brigade. We are lead to believe that by charging us for a plastic bag at the supermarket the world is being saved from a millennia of landfills, and it of course is a total lie.

When we go to the supermarket apples are packed in polystyrene (Styrofoam to some) and then covered in cellophane (clear plastic) and then labeled. Toothpaste comes in a plastic tube, and is covered by a cardboard box. Cheese is covered in plastic, nappies (Diapers) come in a mix of plastic, paper and cardboard. In fact the amount of packaging we end up taking home from a trip to the local supermarket often exceeds the mass of the items we want to buy.

Yet the plastic bag is held up at the most vile of all items! That must be eliminated at all costs. Why, well the plastic bag is the only packaging that actually has a further use after the trip home. I use these bags to store garbage, and if the supermarket no longer provides them, then like you I am forced to purchase a roll of bin liners.

The only reason why the poor plastic bag has been singled out at the only packaging that must be removed from the ecosystem of shopping is that it is the only packing item that can be eliminated and allow the supermarket to both reduce their costs and increase their revenue.

We are being scammed! Lets see the supermarkets face regulations that demand they take back all packaging that that push on the consumer. All of a sudden I suspect they will find numerous ways to reduce the crap they push.

And lets take in one step further, make it the responsibility of the manufactures to take back their packaging from the supermarkets.

Lets face it we can buy apples from a bin and not require any packaging, we do it from farmers markets, and the world keeps turning, so we can do it from the supermarket.

If the world needs an end to packaging, lets not start with the useful plastic bag, but instead everything that goes inside it.


“Donations” and Other Former “Free”-bies

Has anyone else had enough of secret fees, extra charges for things that were free last year (or last week), and “mandatory donations?”

Having to pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for the right to pay full price for season sports tickets???  e.g.: Duke basketball fans can buy 4 season tickets at full price with a yearly donation of $15,000-$58,500.  That sure is a nice reward for your best customers, isn’t it?

A delivery charge from Domino’s Pizza accompanied by a reminder to tip the delivery guy???  Where does the delivery charge go Mr. Pizza Boss? – New laces for the sneakers he wears when he walks 2 blocks to deliver my pie perhaps???

Coming to your next flight?

My bank (ironically billed as “America’s Most Convenient Bank”), charged me 50 cents to check the balance on one of my other accounts at their in-bank ATM this week.  Really?  Yes, really-

And don’t get me started on the airlines – I fully expect pay toilets and an extra charge to recline my seat any f#%*ing day now!!!

This kind of bait and switch crap is really pissing me off and I’m putting all the young Harvard MBAs who thought this crap up on notice: Clean up your act and trade in your “Carny Scams” manual for “The Essential Peter Drucker” or I’ll find you and make you wish you had!

The Carny/Harvard MBA: “Princes Among Men” ?

Gotta run now, I see a young man in a suit taking notes at the “Pop the Balloon, Win Big Prize!” carnival booth-

Note: Museums with a specific “suggested donation” aren’t any better than these Harvard carnies’ and their scams… A “$5 Suggested Donation” sign in front of some old battle axe woman who gives you the stink-eye until you pony up is extortion, not a gentle suggestion. (23)


Hall of Shame for Bloomberg, #1 Restaurant

Take a guess as to the #1 restaurant east of Las Vegas last year; do you know it?  Joe’s Stone Crab (I had to look it up too btw).

I used to know what it was; I knew what it was in 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, an on and on-  The answer?  Tavern on the Green.

Tavern on the Green in NYC’s Central Park along Central Park West.  Revenue in 2007?  $38M!  Number of diners per year?  Half a million!  Taxes and fees paid to NYC and NY state? A buttload!  Number of employees?  400!  400 good paying jobs at a $38M/year business that had been successful for decades.

Since 2009?  Zero. Zip. Bubkes on all fronts.  Why?  Well, the restaurant sits on city land so they are in effect, the landlords.  The city’s “experts” essentially decided to end the long successful partnership with the family that ran Tavern because they thought they could get a “better deal” for the city.  Better deal???  This is perhaps the biggest waste in New York since the ill-fated Hamptons Subway system was built and never used.

The restaurant experts presiding over this mess (and responsible for making the decision to boot the group that ran it for decades)?  The Parks Department of course.  Yes, the NYC Parks Department!

Mayor Bloomberg’s restaurant experts

Flash forward to today… going on 3 years and counting of all zeros at the former #1 independent restaurant in the world.  All this was done as NYC was (and is), struggling with the impacts of a crushing recession, including high unemployment and budget troubles.  The latest update?   Parks officials, for their part, say only that “the selection process is still ongoing.”

The NYC Parks Department???   Really?   Clearly Uncle Leo’s son Jeffrey has been promoted and now runs the Department.  Hey Mayor Bloomberg: message to you and your Parks Department and Cousin Jeffrey…, “Hello!!!”


“Uncle Leo” – Proud father to Parks Dept.’s Jeffrey



Where’s My Awesome Stuff???

I’m angry because I feel I’ve been cheated.  Shortchanged. Bait and Switched.  Overpromised and “Underdelivered to.”

Hoverboards, flying cars (or at least aqua cars), wristwatch TV/phone, holographic 3-D chess and much, much, more were “promised” to me as a child and now it’s 2012 they’re not here (iPhones and Droids don’t count btw – too big and Siri has a big voice recognition problem).

So to all of you involved in making me long for these things I say, “Shame on you and all the people that failed to make them happen!”

The Big Tease From Bergdorf Goodman

OK, I’ll survive.  I’ll be fine and I can live without those things for now; they’re just gadgets really.  But what about my “Monkey Butler?”  Weren’t we all really led to believe we’d each have a smartly dressed, exquisitely-trained monkey servant by now?  I certainly was and I’m ready to take delivery now.  Is he ready?  Well, the Bergdorf-Goodman department store (as well as a shop on Lexington Ave.), teased me a few years back by featuring Monkey Butlers in their 5th Avenue windows and I thought maybe the time had finally come… but alas, it hadn’t.

Michael Jackson had Bubbles, Homer Simpson had Mojo the Helper Monkey, Stacee Jaxx has one named “Hey Man” in the new Rock of Ages movie.  Even that schlub Ross had Marcel in TV’s “Friends,” so where’s mine?  Indiana Jones had an evil one, but he was still cool (right up until his “bad date”).

Famous “Monkey Butler-Man” duos in history.

Look, I know me having a Monkey Butler will eventually lead to the demise of the human race (see Monkey Shines, Outbreak, and of course Apes, Planet of), but that’s a while off and I really want one!  Making my co-workers/employees act like one just isn’t cutting it anymore (but I do appreciate the effort David).

“Planet of the Apes: The Musical” – Now playing at the Springfield Theater

I don’t want to be angry with the monkeys but I’m afraid I may start to blame them for not stepping up.  My favorite 70’s show “Lancelot Link: Secret Chimp” shows us they can easily do the job and Downton Abby (if not the original Hobson from Arthur) shows that there should be no shame in having the job of butler, so it’s not that.  I’m just worried that if I don’t get my own real Monkey Butler soon it’ll be me, not Troy McClure from “Planet of the Apes: The Musical,” scream-singing the sad refrain, “I hate every ape I see, from chimpan A to chimpan…Z!

The Elusive Monkey Butler Store?


I hate profiteering

When I grew up the people who influenced my childhood had lived through one and in some cases two world wars. My parents were born around the Second World War, and my grandparents and everyone in the age groups in-between had experience of war time living. One thing that all these generations had in common was an understanding of how evil it was to profit during times of war. The term war profiteer was given to the people, who were the lowest of the low, those without a shred of decency or any form of backbone or ethical code.

The concept that you would make a fortune out of others misery was considered disgusting. That is not to say that industry wouldn’t build the machinery needed to meet the need, just that the companies who build things and those who were involved in the distribution of goods understood the importance of their work, and the importance of not bleeding the country dry in the process.

That sense of decency and morality seems to have disappeared. Now wars are looked upon as a fantastic way of moving money from the majority to the ultra rich, and there are no limits on how much profit can be made. Taxes are not even levied to cover the costs of war, instead no-bid contracts are given to the friends of those in power, who have no issue in charging top price for their goods and services.

The concept of war profiteering, now that it is not considered disgusting has been extended. Now huge companies feel no pangs of guilt changing maximum prices for agriculture, fuel and even medical supplies and services.

More recently it has been seen as reasonable to move work to places in the world that offer the cheapest labor. Even though these low cost places offer so little support for their people as to be considered slave labor.

And now we see that the ultra rich are also being sneaky and using devices to create laws that allow them to move their money to places where they don’t have to return a reasonable level to the societies that live in to pay for basic services (taxes).

People, who run companies, generally are smart and hard working, and the ones that found companies are normally grounded in a very strong ethical code. It seems the children of these pioneers of industry and commerce lost some of this ethical base. Lets hope that the next generation of capitalists remembers.


“The Weatherman” – Scam or Sham?

As I recently zipped through the city on yet another beautiful, sunny day in which people are carrying umbrellas and wearing rain gear I realize that I’m still angry about the sham (or is it scam?), that is “the Weatherman.”  This includes the Weatherwoman, Weathergirl, Doppler 3000 Weatherputer and all the rest.  You’re failing!
There are just as many days where throngs of umbrella-less Weather Report watching faithful are fighting in the downpour for the feeble number of taxicab drivers who showed up for work (because taxi drivers listen to the “forecast” as well).  Failure!

Extended forecasts?… 5 Day Forecast, 7 Day Forecast, 10 Day Forecast!  Come on now, you can’t get tomorrow right half the time and I’m supposed to make plans for next week based on your “expertise.”  A blindfolded monkey with a pencil in his mouth is just as likely to get it right as you guys.  I mean that.  I’d wager that the printed-once-a-year Farmer’s Almanac and the damn Groundhog (Phil to his friends), have better performance records than you air-brushed, teeth-capped, surgically-altered, always smiling “weather experts.”  Why are you smiling btw?  It certainly can’t be pride in performance.  

Sham or scam is my only question.  Do you really know that you and all your meteorological tables and tech have no clue what the weather will be, but are pretending you do (scam)? Or do you genuinely think you can predict the weather but are just wrong more than half of the time (sham)?  Either way, you’re essentially stealing money if you get paid more than a Carnival Guesser.

The only accurate human Weatherman was WKRP’s Les Nessman in Cincinnati who did up to the minute “Eyewitness Weather” reports based on looking around outside and “witnessing” the weather… and you Mr. Weatherman are no Les Nessman.