While it's known the producers of The Apprentice get sadistic pleasure out of editing contestants into idiots, it was still embarrassing to see a fellow industry professional get chopped up and fed to the nation as another twisted, reality show moron. In last night's season premier, Boston-based POPstick Chairman and CEO Danny Kastner was the buffoon of the episode, painted into a caricature not unlike a circus clown. Of course Kastner didn't help matters by dressing in distracting, oh-so-cool ad-wear, leading his team in a feel-good kumbaya campfire-like moral building exercise and, worse, failing miserably at his assigned task.
In the episode, the two teams, college grads versus highschool grads, had to develop a new burger for Burger King and sell as many as they could. The highschool team, with a much better sense of the fast food environment, of course, won. The college grads, Kastner's team, lost.
Kastner's job was to put together a marketing program to get people into the restaurant. As part of his plan, he came up with a freak sidewalk show, replete with his horrible guitar playing and some kind of carnival-like ring toss. Oddly, the stunt seemed to get people into the restaurant but the so-called college smarties were clueless behind the cash registers making for a cluster fuck of customer service.
In the boardroom, Kastner was slammed by Caroline who simply couldn't believe what he had done in the name of promotion. While he wasn't fired (his team leader was), Kastner degraded the perception of the advertising profession which, today, is already in tough shape. We know we're sometimes a bunch of weirdos with our own incomprehensible language and odd characteristics but Kaster's performance on the show exposed our worst side.
GM has launched a unique national outdoor campaign that reveals a new, one word billboard each day. On January 31, when all 17 boards are revealed, a sentence will be formed. The campaign includes a website called findthemessage which reveals each day's word and places it in proper order, provides message boards for people across the nation, prior to January 31, to work together towards solving the puzzle and allows visitors to enter a sweepstakes to win 100 daily prizes along with one grand prize consisting of a choice between eight new 2005 GM cars. So far, 6 of the 17 words have been revealed. The 17th word appears to simply be a period leaving 10 more words to be revealed.
However, all the words are readily available in the source code of the findthemessage website. One programming-literate literate sole on the message boards claims the sentence is, "This is the last time you will ever have to feel alone on our nation's highways.," pointing to the possibility GM will offer OnStar in all of its vehicles and to the source code of the website's Flash file (text of file here) easily visible to those who have the technological know-how. Oops.
Either the site's creators embedded the answer on purpose to throw people off or GM spent a ton of money only to have the fun taken out of the campaign. Just as we're assured of hearing "You're Fired" on tonight's The Apprentice debut, we're certain to hear the same words screamed by an angered GM marketing executive very soon.
UPDATE: MarketingVOX suggests that GM act quickly and, working with the already revealed words, change the sentence to one reflecting the true outcome of this campaign: "This campaign costs big bucks; you will surely have higher car payments on this nation's car lots."
Along with the Adrants Network, another new social network for those in the ad industry has seen rapid growth. Adholes, launched at the beginning of November by Marc Lefton, a freelance advertising creative, and Mary Crosse, a project manager at Euro RSCG Worldwide, now has 1,000 members.
Much like social networking sites Myspace or Friendster, AdHoles, like the Adrants Network, is a niche advertising industry targeted social networking website that allows advertising professionals to keep track of their current contacts and meet new ones from independent and major agencies. Additionally, users can post blogs on industry topics, which spur comments from members of the site, forming a very collaborative and information rich environment.
Doane College in Nebraska found itself apologizing after it sent out a post card mailing to 13,500 California high school students that featured the image of a male student surrounded by women with copy that encouraged students to play the field.
University of Nebraska, facing enrollment declines, allowed Motley Crue's Tommy Lee to film his "Tommy Lee Goes to College" reality show on campus. Of course, complaints arose surrounding his jail term for kicking his former wife, Pam Anderson.
Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA took a less racy but equally alternative approach to recruitment by inviting applicants to an all expenses paid weekend ski getaway. Small college Centre College in Danville, KY sends highschool seniors personalized birthday cards and makes birthday phone calls.
Whether or not it's an inside job, Volkwagen is planning legal action against the creators of the Suicide Bomber Volkswagen Polo viral ad that has been making rounds this week. While it's not clear in the New York Post article, the likely recipients of Volkswagen's legal weight will be creative shop Lee and Dan who have admitted to creating the ad. Planned or unplanned, VW is getting some precious, free publicity this week.
Actress Susan Sarandon has joined the growing list of Hollywood celebrities featured in Revlon's ongoing ad campaign. Ad featuring Sarandon will debut Monday, January 24. Other celebrities having appeared in the campaign are Julianne Moore, Halle Barry, James King and Eva Mendes.
Commenting on the Revlon's desire to hire her, Sarandon said, "It was so unusual for a cosmetics company to hire somebody instead of fire somebody even younger than I am."
CooperKatz Public Relations VP Steve Rubel, writing on his weblog, Micro Persuasion, slams PR firm Delahaye for conducting a webinar designed to help PR professionals "deal with" weblogs which Delahaye calls "unfiltered channels of communication. According to Rubel, the seminar, entitled "Surviving Blogs: Monitoring and Analyzing Blogs to Protect and Direct Public Relations Strategy," treats weblogs as an enemy versus a phenomenon to be embraced. Calling blog content "conversations" which should be joined rather than managed, Rubel says Delahaye is just trying to sell its monitoring services and points out those running the seminar don't even have weblogs. Spending a bit of time on the Delahaye website brings back many strategic concepting session nightmares in which fancy marketing babble was developed instead of clear language to describe what a company does. Delahaye does media monitoring for clients. They should clearly state that on their website. This insanity exists in the ad agency world too. For years, agencies have used thousands of variations of "we're not an ad agency" language to try to differentiate themselves from other agencies. It's true the face of advertising is changing, as are the methods of commercial conversation, but if a company whose purpose is to create something for another company that is designed to be seen/heard/experienced/etc. by an individual with the purpose of getting that individual to buy something, they are an ad agency. And forget that "we're building a brand" babble. No one builds a brand for fun. A brand is built so people will pay money for a piece of that brand.
BMW is launching a mobile-centered campaign to promote the launch of its new 3 series. The campaign begins with a mobile phone number that will be distributed from the automaker's website, at autoshows and at other promotional events. The number, 703-286-BMW3, returns a text message to the caller's phone providing a link to a mobile-enabled website containing information about the new vehicle and a gallery of past models. The campaign also provides a notification service which will send an additional text message when the car nears availability.
The campaign, created by Boomerang Mobile Media, was crafted to open dialog with people when they are in an automotive mindset. Boomerang Mobile Media Chairman Lou Schultz explained saying, "It's tapping a consumer when they're in a frame of mind where they want to know more.
If you're watching traditional advertising, and you see an ad and it calls for interaction, you might go to the Web, and you might not. But here's a way to create something different that the consumer can tie into."
Unfortunately, the campaign and the URL aren't friendly to non web-enabled phones. Granted, most phones are web enabled but our LG VX4400 isn't though we are definitely in the target audience for the 3 series.
While Emmis Chairman and CEO Jeff Smulyan thinks satellite won't be a threat to terrestrial radio, he does feel the iPod, and likely all other MP3 players, are a bigger threat. Writing on the Emmis website, Smulyan said, "Despite the buzz surrounding satellite radio, I believe iPods are a bigger threat, because you have a larger number of people with an alternative source of music. That said, I can remember when people were predicting the death of radio after 8-tracks came out. Despite continually evolving technologies, nothing has replaced the local information and local personalities we give our audiences. We know our communities, and we respond to their needs. Over the holiday season alone, Emmis radio stations raised $500,000 for charitable causes in their local communities - I dont see how satellite radio can match that reach. Sirius and XM may or may not be viable businesses, but the reality is that two of Emmis' stations reach more people then the entire satellite industry, and those satellite subscribers still spend much of their listening time with terrestrial radio."
Either this is a bit of realistic common sense regarding the excitement over satellite radio or it will be looked back upon as another clueless comment from a company that doesn't get it. As they say, time will tell and with it, bring a brutal reality for some and a rosy future for others.
Riverside Marketing Strategies Principal Heidi Cohen, writing on ClickZ, offers some hints and guidelines to maximize the effectiveness of online sponsorships. From specific content to contests to blogs to interactive photo galleries, Cohen provides practical advice for those looking for online sponsorship ideas.
An article on the website of The Church of Critical Thinking, which is not a religious organization, comments on left-wing Air America Radio's commercial breaks. While the article is a bit longer than our ADD-addled brain is use to, the writer, who likens Air America to his spam folder, does put forth a concise commentary on how the network's advertisers all seem to be a bunch of low-life, get-rich-quick, save-your-sole hucksters. While we don't listen to Air America, upon reading the lengthy dissertation, the situation doesn't sound all that different Howard Stern and his merry band of advertisers.
UPDATE: Air America co-founder Sheldon Drobny responds.