Friday, June 30, 2006

Clerks credit

Have you ever wanted to see you see your name in lights? If even very small ones? Kevin Smith might be able to help you out via Myspace.

Kevin Smith is offering you the chance to be in his new movie 'Clerks II', the sequel to his 1994 indie hit.

OK, be in it might be stretching it, but you can be in the credits, and really sitting in the theatre until you've seen thousands of names flow past is what it’s all about.

Smith, who has also made 'Chasing Amy' and 'Dogma’, has become, like a lot of people slightly obsessed with MySpace.

The first 10,000 (count them) MySpace members will get the chance to have their names immortalised onscreen if they add ‘Mooby's Presents: Clerks II’ webpage to their Friends list. The promotion is being done by interactive web agency Deep Focus.

According to Smith: "I've been a total MySpace junkie since March of this year, and have given up countless hours to the ten-at-a-time art of friend-approving. For MySpace to let 'Clerks II' into their Top 8, so to speak, is not only a major coup for the movie -- it's like being able to say that I know (MySpace co-founder and automatic 'friend') Tom (Anderson) personally. Even though, y'know, I don't.”

It's a cheap and nice bit of guerrilla marketing. Harvey Weinstein might be giving Smith the money to make 'Clerks II', but he isn't exactly planning to splash out on the marketing budget.

The original 'Clerks', a story of Randall, Dante Jay and Silent Bob and the Quick Stop convenience store, was a cult hit, which has grown in statue over the years with its 10th anniversary 'Clerks X' DVD release.

The new film delivers more of the same with most of the original cast back for the second outing of dick and fart jokes and mid-life crises.

'Clerks II' is out later this summer and really someone else can have my spot as while I have signed up to Myspace I find that rather like Charlie Brooker in the Guardian that despite being pretty damn geeky at times the whole social networking thing is really not something I personally want to get very involved in. I just don't care, you know, other than taking a professional business and journalistic interest.

Not even our office twenty somethings have signed up. It's for teenagers...and of course bands and movie promoters looking to spread the word.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Nobody move or Tinky Winky gets it

I fear for the life of Tinky Winky. Iran has bought the BBC money spinner that is ‘Teletubbies’.

The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting is currently dubbing the whole thing into Farsi. Apparently it's taking a long time.

Will handbag-toting, gay icon Tinky Winky take a trip to a football stadium? Maybe not, but of course, homosexual acts are a capital crime in Iran and those found guilty are given a choice of death by hanging, stoning, halved by a sword, or dropped from the highest perch.

You have to love the choice.

The deal obviously comes as Iran faces pressure over its nuclear programme. Now, I think about it, the Teletubby house is underground and a bit cold war bunker like. Are the Iranians sending us a message?

Lesbians in Advertising

Apparently there are still too few of them. I saw this headline this morning while Googling for stories about the French Connection court case relating to whether is FCUK immoral. It's not, in case you were wondering, a judge said so.

It was the top headline on Google, chiefly because, of course, of Trevor Beattie and his recent kung fu-fighting lesbian kissing models, which we covered extensively on Brand Republic.

While Beattie's ad might have done nothing for French Connection in terms of sales – the retailer issued its third profits warning in the last 18 months last month, with like-for-like sales across UK and Europe falling by 2% since the end of January, it did kick up a storm (127 plus complaints) and seems to have resulted in Beattie McGuinness Bungay losing work. Campaign reported last week that French Connection is in talks with Yellow Door, a specialist retail ad agency, about a brief for an upcoming campaign, signalling the first time the fashion retailer has stepped outside of the long-standing relationship between its chairman, Stephen Marks, and Beattie.

It was a great fun ad, but did it say anything about the brand? Mmm, possibly not and there was the small thing that it resulted in French Connection being accused of “ripping off” a music video by Groovecutters. It emerged that the ad was a shot-for-shot copy of the video for its top 40 hit 'We Close Our Eyes', which was released in January last year.

Back to lesbian advertising, according to (you remember the sort of funnyish, but not really funny US comedy ‘Ellen’ that ran for ever until Ellen DeGeneres came out of the closet) there is an archive of lesbian and gay themed ads -- the Commercial Closet, which holds just over 100 North American television commercials featuring lesbians, compared to more than 300 for men.

Gay men seem to get it better in TV ads. Not sure why that could be. And last year there were just 19 lesbian-themed national commercials that ran in the US.

It lists some of the biggest ads in recent US TV history including a 2000 spot starring Martina Navratilova who was featured along with other female athletes in a Subaru commercial, where she delivers the line, "What do we know? We're just girls".

Subaru even pulled off an endorsement-within-an-endorsement when it agreed to a product placement on The L Word in 2004 and was depicted as the corporate sponsor of a tennis player.

In 2003, however, Melissa Etheridge and Tammy Lynn Michaels appeared in a Cartier ad holding hands and smiling at each other. Apparently they wear locking bracelets that "symbolize everlasting love and attachment". So now you know.

I make it just one in the UK, but it did have some Wushu as well, so surely extra points for that.

There's lots more on lesbian advertising, should you have the time or the inclination.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Boys own

The front cover of Nuts this week has the coverline 'Grace strips off' followed by 'When breasts escape', but that isn't pornographic, is it?

Labour MP Claire Curtis-Thomas wants to push legislation through Parliament that could banish lads' Zoo, Nuts and FHM to the top shelf in newsagents.

The Periodical Publisher's Association, and the industry's, defence is that these magazines are not top-shelf magazines.

Curtis-Thomas argues some of these magazines, which are currently overseen by a voluntary deal, are degrading to and objectify women.

Curtis-Thomas wants a new regulatory body to oversee the sale of sexually explicit magazines, which are not "top shelf". Nuts and Zoo are certainly sexually explicit.

The PPA argues that lads magazines "do not contain pornographic material".

So no problem with this week's Zoo: headlined "World Cup Babes", and subtitled "Kit-Off Special. 15 Pages of End to End Lady Action" or Grace, heaven forbid, getting her kit off as she eeks out her five minutes of post ‘Big Brother’ fame.

So what is pornographic? There is nothing in Zoo, Nuts and FHM apart from a few jokes and endless pages of women with clothes, with a few clothes and without them.

If Nuts and Zoo didn't have semi naked girls on the front cover they would be out of business.

As magazines go, they make a lot of cash, but really they are just extended magazine versions of The Sun's Page 3 and nothing much to be particularly proud of.

One recent issue of Zoo magazine included descriptions of sexual acts in the Dictionary of Porn, which the MP described as being "so graphic and repulsive I am prevented from quoting it on the floor of the House of Commons".

Everyone knows that Nuts and Zoo are read by schoolboys and teenagers. You see them on the bus gathered in groups of two or three. It's possibly no surprise the magazines are sold alongside the Beano and other kids magazines and the publishers know this. Even Viz, the paragon of bad taste, carries a warning to newsagents that it is not for sale to children.

So there is a question as to whether there should be unrestricted access to such magazines by kids.

Maybe a trip to the top shelf or just below it should be forced on publishers. Zoo and Nuts make Playboy look tame by comparison., and it seems to lack end to end action these days. Maybe after a move up the newsagents’ walls, they would produce something less approaching hardcore.

No one is advocating censorship, but Curtis-Thomas is right in talking about safeguards. It isn't censorship.

Surely, there must be a market for a mass market men's magazine that doesn't rely on acres of naked flesh? Seriously there must be, although finding that sellable formula is proving tricky, just look at the fate of Jack.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

No dead bodies

Could the Financial Times finally be sold off? Possibly, as news of talks with Dow Jones emerge.

Reports have surfaced of a potential tie-up between The Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones and the Financial Times-owning Pearson.

The two papers each try to straddle the globe, with each doing better in its home markets.

A combination of the two (in printing and the back office) could save as much as £170m, with the FT withdrawing in much of America (other than New York) and the WSJ doing the same in Europe.

They might be rivals, but on a day-to-day level each is so dominant in its home market as to make the other something of an irrelevance.

The FT has never cracked America beyond its East Coast beachhead where it remains a second read.

Likewise, the WSJ journal is no feature in London and lags behind the FT in Europe.

The two already work together in Russia and the news will only add to talk that Pearson plans to sell the FT, despite opposition from Pearson chief executive Marjorie Scardino, who said it would happen "over my dead body".

It would still be a wrench for many to see the “pink paper” sold to an American company, but if not Dow Jones then another American media gaint..

Rupert Murdoch, News Corp chairman, is known for a long time to have coveted the FT. The paper already works with the Murdoch-owned The Australian down under.

There's the New York Times Company as well, which made an approach to Pearson offering to buy the paper several years ago.

The New York Times, with its ownership of the International Herald Tribune, would make another fine partner. The two would also be able to save cash via combining printing and back offices.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bravia hole

What a shocker. Nothing for Sony Bravia at Cannes after being tipped for the big prize, which was surprisingly taken by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO for Guinness.

Fallon London's "balls" spot for Sony Bravia had been talked of as a possible winner of the Film Grand Prix on Saturday at the 2006 Cannes Lions, but in the end not even a consolation Gold, Silver or Bronze. Nothing at all.

Shame, I really liked that, it was a visual feast with a great score. It was one of those ads that you could quite easily watch time after time and not tire of it.

I know opinion was divided (failing to win at the British Television Advertising Awards or the US One Show and Clios), that some were indifferent to its charms, clearly more so than first imagined.

The Guinness spot on the over hand, while a nice ad, wasn't a Grand Prix winner. It was the safe and easy choice. An ad that came from a long line of outstanding work, but wasn't outstanding itself.

Still shouldn't grumble. A good win for the UK market with Golds for the Wieden&Kennedy's Honda 'Choir' ad and Lowe's ice skating priests for Stella Artois and silver for AMV work for Wrigley’s.

Some people, it seems, really don't like their balls.


It was only a matter of time after linking up with NTL that Telewest took on some of the characteristics of its one-time rival: namely shoddy service.

Telewest left 100,000 customers without any pictures for the whole of England's World Cup clash yesterday.

Admittedly they were in Bristol, Bath and the Cotswolds, but other customers suffered as well.

Apparently there was panic on the streets of various the west of England towns as people jumped in their cars to find a place to watch the match.

Telewest problem's in London meant that the interactive red button service failed to work for the entire game.

No surprise that the Telewest "help line" disappeared and was... er... of no help whatsoever.

Sadly, the red button failure meant no Radio 5 Live commentary and instead meant that I had to put up with John Motson's tedious commentary, coupled with leaden sidekick Mark Lawrenson whose interest in the game seems to be absent.

Oh the pain. All the two of them seem to do is read out the names of the players, which gave us one moment during yesterday's match when the two came out with a high pitched "Ashley Cole" one after the other, I'm not sure if they were alluding to anything.

Talking of Ashley Cole, what a great result. You've away in Germany playing in the tournament of your life and your lawyers work out a nice extra week's spending money for you.

Admittedly, £100,000 doesn't mean a great deal to a premiership footballer, but it's better than a kick in the shins.

The case was probably the first libel case where the internet really showed how well it can screw you over.

Google was asked during the case, which wrongly alleged Cole was involved in a gay orgy with a mobile phone, to disclose why the word 'gay' is being linked to the player's name when his name is typed into the internet search engine.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Abi Titmuss gets LBC show

My only question is this: does she know people can't see her on the radio? I'm not sure that she does.

Don't ask me why, I don't know, but LBC have taken it upon themselves to give former nurse and lad's mag pin-up, 'Celebrity Love Island' contestant and latterly Lee Sharp's ex-girlfriend a two-hour show.

LBC has had some top-notch guests before. OK, they've had Tony Blair, which makes it a sort of leader to amoeba.

It's a one-off, but it might catch on. LBC describes her as the "outspoken ex-nurse". I didn't know that speaking was part of her remit.

Before you say anything, I'm sure she's very bright, but she makes her money smiling inanely at the camera and taking her clothes off. Talking doesn't come into it.

"It's quite scary because there's only going to be a seven-second delay between what I say and what will come out of the radio but I'm really excited. I just hope that the listeners will enjoy chatting with me as much as I'll enjoy speaking to them."

When asked how he would advise Titmuss, talkshow host Paul Ross wasted no time in plumbing the depths.

"Abi doesn’t need any advice from me, she’s a bright spark and top bird. We’ve interviewed her many times on the weekend breakfast show and take it from me, she always gives great tongue."

Boom boom!

Weirdly at the end of the press release LBC says:

"Tony Blair’s office declined to comment on the recent signing of Abi Titmuss."

And why would it? If only to say Number 10 regretted Blair's appearance on a show that stoops to this.

Lost TV

I must be defective. I can't get excited about watching TV on the internet.

Channel 4 has said today that its going to broadcast everything on the internet. 'Richard & Judy' and Noel Edmunds' 'Deal or No Deal'. That's two good reasons to say away from your PC.

I like the idea of watching the odd clips, ads and virals, we've all been doing that for years, but who is going to regularly watch hours of programming even if it is 'Desperate Housewives' and 'Lost'?

I want to watch them on a big screen, not burning my balls with my lap top or slouched at my desktop.

Who knows, maybe when the service is up and running people will be flocking to their PCs to watch programming, but I can't help thinking that like programming for mobile devices (other than short clips), it's all something of a dead-end.

It's small and can't you sit back in a jellified state on your couch taking in your huge flat screen TV (okay, I don't have a huge flat screen, but I want one). That could just be me.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Top of the what?

So farewell 'Top of the Pops'. I can't remember when I watched it last. It clashed, at least I think it did, with the 'NME Chartshow' on MTV2, which has the added benefit of not being presented by Fearne Cotton.

Fearne Cotton is annoying in that production-line, BBC yoof presenter kind of way. Isn't she always banging on about fancying various members of Razorlight [insert other skinny indie band here].

She's a bit like Kate Thornton, although probably less talented. Wait... that isn't actually possibly.

I digress, was anyone actually watching 'Top of the Pops' at the end? It was hard to keep track of it as it moved from Thursday to Fridays to finally to the graveyard that is Sunday evening.

'Top of the Pops' has been irrelevant for a long time with its focus on the charts, which only require artists sell, oh a handful of singles, to get to number one.

The general consensus seems to be that the rise of music TV killed it off. That's probably so, but it is I think because of the rise of so many music TV channels that there is still a place for an appointment-to-view music show on terrestrial TV.

There's just one proviso. It has to be good. Channel 4 has done gone work with the Album Chart show.

The BBC needs to do something of the same.

Nike under fire

Personally, I love the Wayne Rooney Cross of St George Nike poster in all its visceral glory, but others it seems are less impressed.

You must have seen it by now, Rooney white as a snowman, arms outstretched, painted in a bloody red cross. It's angry and striking, something primeval about it.

But already numerous complaints have come in about the Wieden & Kennedy-created ad.

Spoilsport peacenik Labour MP Stephen Pound has called the ad "truly horrible".

"This is such a horrible image and is so horribly war-like that it can only be described as Nike being crass, offensive and insensitive as they try to hitch poor old Rooney to their commercial bandwagon."

Some of that might be true, but sometime just accept that a striking image is what it is: a great ad.

In a World Cup that that has produced a sea of sameness in terms of advertising, the Rooney ad is one that stands out..

Anyway Pounds, parliamentary private secretary to Hazel Blears, is known as some thing of a rent-a-quote, but according to The Times today that belittles his talent in this area: he is at least Lease-a-Quote.

Bizarrely, Pounds go on to say that Rooney should be wearing Adidas (what’s he talking about, Umbro supplies the England kit). Not sure what that's about, but Pounds also does the obvious and links it to the crucifixion. Oh yawn.

Pound is, of course, not the only one. Various religious figures have thrown their change into the mix.

Reverend Rod Thomas of the Church of England evangelical reform group calls it disturbing and again calls up its similarity to the crucifixion. They're might be a case for that, but Rooney is head up and mouth open shouting. It's all defiance and no submission and the point is that is how he celebrates scoring. Maybe Pounds should watch the odd game. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dirty Des goes to New York

Richard Desmond has gone to New York and he's having a go at everybody. He's even calling Sir Martin Sorrell short.

Desmond is surely one of those men who never just has a bee in his bonnet, but an entire hive.

As well as gratuitously laying into Sorrell (the two had a bit of a bust-up in February with legal papers flying back and forth as WPP sought £5.7m payment for work done on the launch of OK! in the US with Desmond counter-suing) with the rude but obvious, Desmond has been picking his targets as they come into range.

American Media (tabloid publisher of The Star, et cetera) chief David Pecker? Oh he's "shifty".

In an interview with Advertising Age, Desmond accused Time Warner of "putting out a lot of shit" about OK! in its defence of rival magazine People magazine.

Desmond is feeling a little sensitive that sales of OK! in the US are going to be a little below expectation. So what about that?

"You can tell all those wankers to fuck off because these are the figures."

As for the advertisers OK! is attracting, they should thank their lucky stars.

"The people who are advertising with us, which there aren't many, are getting the bargain of a fucking lifetime."

Ad man does marriage propossal

A New York copywriter wants to get married, what does he do? He gets writing, of course.

Creative director and copywriter Grant Smith at BBDO NYC has posted his intentions. Actually quite a few of them. Luckily for him, Leigh Fuchs, a senior producer at Berlin Cameron United accepted. It's a nice story, we like it.


Those parents, whatever happens don't tell them that you proposed and she turned them down. They will give you a very look. Actually not so funny.


And really Grant it's only a small thing, but Dickensonian? You might be a copywriter, but who says that. Dickensian, but other wise nice job and good luck.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Dutch drop 'em

Ambush marketing it might be, but asking Dutch fans to drop their (branded) trousers is farcical.

Thousands of Dutch fans turned up for their team's game against the Ivory Coast wearing lederhosen provided by Bavaria beer. They've become a must-wear in the world of Dutch fashion. OK, those last two words aren't a natural fit, but I doubt the lederhosen were either.

Fifa was not amused, the Dutch brewer is not an official sponsor of the World Cup like Budweiser so naturally asked fans... to take off their trousers.

Some fans ended up wearing their boxer shorts to watch Holland beat the Ivory Coast 2-1. I know it’s pretty hot at the moment, but really the idea of watching football in your skinnies is lunacy.

Fans had to dump their trousers in the bin.

Fifa said that the supporters could get them back afterwards, but few people got them back and remained trouserless.

What a bunch of bureaucrats. Fans suffer so that Fifa fat cats can protect their lucrative sponsorship deal.

It is only going to get worse with the power of the sponsor growing and growing. Fans are an inconvenience. Fifa gave sponsors 14% of all tickets, with national football associations like the FA only getting 8%.

Just listen to Nigel Currie, chairman of the European Sponsorship Association -- he comes across like a bit a local warlord.

"My view is that if there is a deliberate attempt to ambush an event, it should be stamped on."

Stamped on? That's a red card offence isn't it? Get off the pitch Currie.

One fan told The Guardian just how bad it is: "It's ridiculous, I queued for 25 minutes to get in. When I reached the front, an official told me: 'You're not getting in like that'. I took my trousers off. I managed to chuck them over the fence to some friends. But another official spotted them and took them away.

"I watched the game in my pants. Fortunately I had quite a long T-shirt."

There are other reports that England fans had to hand over Nike clothing at last Thursday's Trinidad and Tobago because Adidas is the official sponsor. How far does it go?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Powergen shuts Indian call centres

Good to see Powergen closing its Indian call centre, bringing 450 call centre jobs back to the UK.

Having spent what seems like days on the phone to Indian call centres mostly for techie problems relating to Dell and Netgear, I'd do pretty much anything to avoid the experience.

Indian call centre staff are nice and try to be helpful, but it’s never a satisfying experience.

Calls seem to last longer and be that bit more painful than they already are. I think it is actually worth asking these days where a company locates its call centres. If they are in India and you think you might be calling, consider going elsewhere.

I spent half an hour online the line last week to Netgear (they make wireless routers among other things) and I just hung up in the end.

It was a bad line, I had trouble getting everything that was being said and it was on an 0870 number. Talk about Con India.

Despite having shifted its call centres to the sub-continent five years ago, Powergen's managing director Nick Horler said that while offshore call centres "may have their place for certain industries", Powergen can best "achieve industry-leading customer service by operating solely in the UK. When customers contact us they need to be confident that their query will be fully resolved quickly".

Other companies have already switched back to the UK, but many more hang on, believing that the costs they save on low Indian wages makes it worthwhile.

But like Apple earlier this week with its China work camps, this stuff always comes back to bite you on the ass.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Not much of a Rose

I've been hooked by the revamp of 'Doctor Who', the BBC has done a great job, but have always found Billie Piper completely annoying, so the news today that she is being killed off is great news.

Nothing against Piper apart from the fact she's a short podgy blonde with an over-sized mouth, a gormless grin and acting skills that pull the whole show down... oh wait I do have something against her.

It's not that I'm harking back to assistants from days gone by, but she was certainly put into the shade in the recent episode that featured the return of Sarah Jane Smith (played by Elizabeth Sladden). So did K9 for that matter and he's a rusty tin can. Or he was until he got blown up and rebuilt.

Although shockingly in a BBC poll, Piper seems to be pulling in the votes. Personally, I bet she's sitting on her laptop voting away like a member of George Bush's family on holiday in Florida.

If you're going to pick an assistant why not someone useful rather than an emotionally scarred overgrown teenager from a council estate. Some cool nuclear scientist or physicist or a Scully-like FBI agent. Piper's main qualities were looking bad in dungarees. Wait, that doesn't actually count as a quality.

Piper will go out in what the BBC says will be a nail-biting series two finale.

Back on Earth (yet again) the human race rejoices as the ghosts of loved ones return home. Apparently no one thinks this is odd.

But as the David Tennant's Doctor, Rose and her mother Jackie (Camille Coduri) investigate Torchwood Tower, a trap is being sprung -- an almighty invasion is being put into motion which is set to destroy the whole of modern-day Earth. Yikes.

Please Mr Russell T Davies, let’s have someone cool. Whoever gets the gig we'll know soon enough -- the third series of 'Doctor Who' starts filming again later this summer and returns to our screens with a Christmas special and another series of 13 episodes for 2007.

Update: Sadly no Rosamund Pike, but someone called Freema Agyeman to replace piper. Apparently she used to be in axed soap 'Cross Roads'. Not exactly quality, but hey she'll help the Doc take on the Cybermen again so not all bad.

This is all according to the Sun. Others linked to role were former 'Easter Ender' Michelle Ryan (Zoe).

Apple ethics

Apple, it turns out, is a bit like Nike. Very shiny, but if you look under the hood you find it’s all made in sweat shop camps in China and it’s not a very pleasant business.

iPods are made in a plant housing 200,000 workers in a five-storey factory secured by police officers. That's bigger than Newcastle. They are made by factory workers in China's huge no-go "enterprise zones" earning as little as £27 a month, doing 15-hour shifts, living in dormitories housing making the MP3 player.

Some wags have said that if they save for 10 months they'll be able to afford to buy one. This is true, but of course it will take another year to buy the PC needed to upload the songs.

Frankly, these reports about Apple are all a huge relief. I want to say, I told you so, I can't help myself.

Apple is one of those companies that bugs me. It has for so long been revered by geeks, nerds and techies, who have always held it up to be a company apart. A sort of rebel corporation among a sea of sameness.

You bought Apple as it said something. You know like "Hey, I'm not a PC Clone!".

Think different? Right? Well that's what the ads told the geeks and Mac heads to do, but that's just a cool marketing trick that helped to sell that idea that Apple is more decent than other corporations.

And ever more so now that Apple has gone all Intel and capable of running Windows.

When it's not. The iPod, which pretty much saved the company, has shown this in so many ways. It might be a nicely designed piece of technology, but that's pretty much it. It's also over-priced, with a poor feature set, totally unreliable and with a poor battery life.

Should you have a problem with it, good luck. It seems to me that Apple don't really want to help you. They want you to buy another one, which is what people do rather than endure poor customer care and a six-month wait.

I digress sort of. I've had two iPods. I know, it's all my own fault. I would never buy an Apple Mac, but I fell for the hype. I'm such a sucker, I feel bad.

To be fair, I only fell for the cool design and the Me2ness of it all. I wasn't under any illusion that Apple was somehow an ethical right-on company. I never saw it as any different to a Microsoft or Big Blue and the stories coming out of China this week demonstrate this quite clearly.

You know why Apple likes China. It's the low wages, long hours and China's industrial secrecy. The Chinese love police and security.

It should say so on the back of all its products with a big smiley face.

Instead, all it says on the back of your iPod should you take a look is this: "Designed in California, Made in China".

But then maybe it doesn't need to, everyone can read between the lines these days.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

It's all over Motty

I've been hitting the red button and been joining the John Motson backlash and I don't feel at all bad.

I never meant to, but he does sort of get on your nerves and finally, after Gary Lineker telling me to press the red button I finally did. I usually ignore all entreaties to push the thing, mostly because previous experience has been that my Telewest box crashes like a piece of junk as soon as I do.

Not this time. Instead of listening to Motson, I can instead listen to Five Live. It's totally the future. The BBC has got the advantage on this over ITV, where the red button appears to have been forgotten.

Listening to Alan Green and the Five Live team is much the better experience. I know some people love Motty, but it’s the combination of him and Mark "total lack of insight" Lawrenson. They don't work together.

With so many dull games in the opening stages, the last thing you need is a pair of dullards adding to the boring football.

I know Motty can come up with some great lines of sage commentary ("The unexpected is always likely to happen" "And that's England's finest victory over the Germans since the war), but it’s not worth the wait.

The other upside is that the red button means no more Garth Crooks officially the world's most useless interviewer, whose stupid and inane questions make me want to shout a the screen. Many things do this, but the former Spurs striker Crooks is as leaden with a microphone as he was on the pitch. The key technique to his interviewing style is this: "don't listen", which gives us great waste of TV moments such as this:

Sven: "No, we were not happy with our performance".
Garth: "So Sven, were you happy with your performance.


Sven: "Of course, I think we can do better in future games"
Garth: "Can England do better?"

Red button please.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Big Brother pickle

Channel 4 seems to have got into a spot of bother with its ‘Big Brother’ Golden Ticket competition and now it's being investigated by Ofom.

At first you have to wonder if Ofcom doesn't have anything better to do. It can't be that serious can it? Well if it's all a big con, it could be, which is why the media watchdog is giving it the time of day.

An Ofcom spokesman said: "We have received complaints. We are taking everything seriously and will investigate them."

It could also mean trouble for Nestle and Kit Kat. It was supposed to be running a competition and it could find itself on the wrong end of legal action. Ouch.

The Sun is alleging that new Golden Ticket housemate Suzie winning the competition was a fix.

It has unearthed what it says is various bits of evidence (most coincidence and speculation) that the 43-year-old stripper was always set to enter the house, having tried several times to get in before.

Today, it has picture of her in a former trial ‘Big Brother’ house joking around with Cockney geezer Maxwell, who himself was invited back as a contestant for a later series.

There are a few strange things about it to be sure. Davina McCall claimed Susie and her tycoon husband bought thousands of pounds worth of Kit Kat bars. According to The Sun, her husband paid someone £4,000 for their ticket.

Suzie knew four of the housemates, but ‘Big Brother’ bosses told her not to mention it. As if no one would find out.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Big Brother fix

What a sham. The whole Big Brother Golden Ticket competition looks to me like a fix. Just the kind of manipulation one would expect from an Orwellian invention.

New entrant Suzie has auditioned for the show before, she was a guinea pig trial contestant in Big Brother 5, she was in the final auditions for this year's show and she already knew four of the contestants -- although Channel 4 asked her to keep quiet about this.

I have to admit I watched it on Friday. As Aisleyne picked a ball from a lottery machine it virtually flew into her hands. Lucky number 14 was Suzie's number and, surprise surprise, she is another boob-enhanced, reality-TV wannabe.

Big Brother has descended into theatre, with contestants auditioning and being invited back by producers. They knew all about Suzie and seemed to want her to play some kind of role in the house.

I wonder if all the balls in the lottery machine had number 14 on them, they were spinning so much it was hard to see. Luckily, the 43-year-old who strips for fun in pubs (why oh why?) found that on entering the house the golden clothes fitted her. How handy is that?

She wasted no time in stirring it up, inviting half the house to dinner but leaving out Grace, Imogen, Nikki and Lisa who started to lay into her.

Grace, best known for wearing little and snogging the empty vessel that is Mikey, complained that about Suzie's work as a promotions model: "They just stand around in bikinis and have men ogling at them."

She had a point, but really someone should acquaint her with the whole pot/kettle black thing.

No one is saying if KitKat got its money worth. That all depends on how much it paid, but it does seem (even if it's not the case) that the competition which at the outset was billed as something rather fun and unpredictable with all the overtones of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory failed to live up to its promise.

It's almost too much to believe that someone already part of the "Big Brother family" turns out to be the Golden Ticket winner, but in Channel 4's defence who else but a fake boobed media wannabe would want to be on the show?

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Wooden replacement

Sky One has found a replacement for Liz (touch wood) Hurley on 'Project Catwalk'. Kelly Osbourne. No seriously.

According to Sky, the "feisty style princess (Feisty style princess? Did I miss something?" will host the second series after Liz Hurley proved to be as good at presenting as er... Kelly Brook whose major talent was... er looking really good?

Osbourne has major advantages over Hurley she's... er... she's cheap and she will make the models look good.

I'm sure the would-be models will appreciate it. With Hurley, watching her you knew she wanted shout out "but I'm the prettiest one here, pick me", that could just be my interpretation.

Bizarrely, Osbourne says she has been on the receiving end of "many fabulous offers of television work over the last year".

Who would have guessed? The opportunities that cable television have brought us all knows no end.

Sky says Osbourne is the perfect presenter for 'Project Catwalk' -- risque (er badly dressed), opinionated (loud and foul mouthed) and original (well connected).

Wow it's a tough job deciphering all this stuff.

The good news is that Sky says that "Kelly is just the first of many twists that's going to make the second season even more addictive than the first."

Farewell CHJM

What relief. Claydon Heeley Jones Mason has rebranded as Claydon Heeley. We can't tell you how pleased we were to hear this one.

One of the things about writing about the agency world is that you often spend what seems like hours typing the elongated agency names.

Granted, that Claydon Heeley Jones Mason wasn't quite the sadly renamed Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, but it was close. Just another merger was all it would have taken.

To save time, we would always shorten the agency to CHJM. The agency would always complain.

"We're not know as CHJM…we're Claydon Heeley Jones Mason."
"But your initials are CHJM?"
"We're not known as CHJM."

Cut down to a more manageable Claydon Heeley, that's a massive two word saving a day.

It's a big relief to all those covering the industry that the new agency name trend opts for the trendy one word monikers such as Mother and Naked.

Now if Miles Calcraft Briginshaw Duffy could just lose a couple of words that would be perfect.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

DM now!

There have been suggestions that I don't write enough about DM. Quite true, so here's this.

Something Dan got sent. Really you could see this upsetting a few people. This is why I don't write about DM.

 Posted by Picasa

If you want to see the message the charity was actually trying to get across you'll see the rest of the mailer on Dan's site.

Sorrell soaring

What to say about a £3.3m pay packet? Other than lunch is on Sir Martin Sorrell.

Sorrell has come under intense fire in the past for the size of the bonuses he and his top executives are paid at WPP. That's probably not a surprise -- they are large. He is on course to earn an extra £44m in bonuses if the WPP share price hits certain targets.

When talking about sums that large it all becomes a bit meaningless. A million here a million there. Who knows if he deserves it?

If you're basing it on the fact that from next to nothing (or shopping basket firm Wire Paper & Plastics), using some of his own cash, putting his money where his mouth is so to speak, he built WPP into the world's second largest advertising holding company then it's difficult to argue with. How much is that worth exactly?

His salary, bonuses and perks are quite a feat, but so is what he has achieved at WPP. It isn't for nothing that the whole industry waits on his bated breath for his next utterance.

A bathtub you say? It more like a plughole to me, but what do I know.

WPP is near the top of its game and its clearly its chief is as well. This could be another big year for WPP. Having already swallowed Y&R and Grey Global in recent years, it could be set to take a bite out of Aegis.

Not that Sorrell appears to be going anywhere anytime soon, but the big question, one which was rattling around last year and is sure to emerge again, is who will step into Sorrell's big bonus boots.

No one appears to have emerged. As others have said it's going to be like replacing Sir Richard Branson at Virgin. You just can't imagine anyone else doing it.

Still, he is only a youthful 61, and let’s face it Ed Meyer, dubbed "immortal" by Sorrell, is still at Grey Global and he's 79.

Brands they're... there for you

Talk about backing as many horses as possible. A host of international brands are showing their true colours... and they are precisely the colours of what ever country you happen to be from.

It's only when tournaments like the World Cup come around you can see how truly fickle brands are.

Their love for your country [insert name here] is not exactly constant.

Hyundai for instance is backing England all the way, but clearly it has a little love to spare is and is also backing Australia and South Korean too.

Among many more, there's also Mastercard. It promises that the World Cup final will be a another St George's Day (actually does that mean we ignore it and don't get a public holiday? I'm not liking the sound of that), complete with St George's cross, lance and football - and the tagline "Priceless".

Mastercard is promising similar things to Argentina and Australia. That's just so mean.

It's the same for Umbro. Its “One Love” campaign backing England is obviously much appreciated. Sadly when England play Sweden on June 20 they'll find that loved has been spread around the field. Umbro is Sweden's official sponsor.

Nothing probably worse, however, than the kid who won the Mcdonald's competition thinking he would get to meet Steven Gerrard and led England out onto the pitch only to find that he'll be leading...Germany.

There's more on the BBC website.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Marketing ploy

It's D-Day, or rather national 6.06.06 marketing ploy day.

I'm disappointed by how few examples I've been able to find so far of companies using the quirky date format that happily comes around every hundred years.

There is, of course, the remake of scary devil child movie 'The Omen', which its makers have been relentlessly pushing for the last couple of months hoping that the fortuitous number of the beast date will make up for the total lack of ideas in the shot-by-shot remake of the 70s hokum.

Audi has added a couple of extra sixes to a press ad for its Audi S6. Oh to be a copywriter.

So far possibly the lamest press release of the day to shameless cash in on 666:

Press Release: Day of Biblical Proportions Has Finally Arrived June 6, 2006: D Day

Monday June 5, 6:59 pm ET

A Day to Announce the Coming of…ONCOR Entertainment's Battle Against Autism''

OK... the battle with autism. Quite shameless.

Eurovision winners Finnish metal band Lordi, who surely won for their costumes and nothing else, release their -winning song 'Hard Rock Hallelujah' today although sadly the group claims they have "no links whatsoever" with Satanism.

Luckily for them, their marketing people do.

In the States, right-winger Ann Coulter uses today to release her latest book, ‘Godless: The Church of Liberalism’. I know those liberals with their touchy feely pluralism and...

Not to be left out, bookmakers are offering odds of 100,000 to 1 that the world will end on "Apocalypse Tuesday", although I'm not sure how you will collect on that one exactly.

On a non-marketing front it is also the 62nd anniversary of D-Day and the start of the battle to liberate Europe. So if you've donated nothing to charity this year head over to the Royal British Legion, which has jut launched its 2006 Poppy Support Campaign.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Crossing the line

Oh I know it's all in the spirit of fun (OK mass marketing), but the new Kit Kat ad is nonsense.

I know some people like it, but when I saw it I could hardly stop myself yawning. Not only was it one of those ads that tries to be clever and fails, but it had the look of an idea that had been done to death. It promises much, but it's all oversell, and delivers little.

That isn't my main problem (OK, I might be having a sense of humour failure here, so stand well back), but it's the way it plays around with the whole 1966 World Cup winning performance.

The new ad is based on Geoff Hurst's goal that helped England to go on to secure victory over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final.

I know it was a controversial goal because every time you see Hurst's name and the word “goal”, the word “controversial” is also featured.

In the Kit Kat spot, they go one further using real footage of the game and the moment that the referee turned to Russian linesman, Tofik Bakhramov, to determine whether the ball crossed the line.

In 1966 Bakhramov gave the goal. In the ad with a bit of editing of the original footage with new footage by Kit Kat, we see that at the time in question the Russian linesman wasn't watching the game he was "having a break". A quick break, geddit?

Somehow as England go to the World Cup, with their best chance of winning since 1966 and Kit Kat, which is launching a major (66,000 1966 shirts) promotion has an ad that rather than being celebratory and exciting is lame.

It doesn't celebrate "one of England’s greatest sporting moments", it slyly knocks it and falls flat in the process.

OK that could just be me, but if you haven't see it, take a look. Posted by Picasa

Hotel Maxim

Hotel California it's not. Trashy lads magazine Maxim is going to Vegas where it is going to get its own hotel and casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

According to a story in the New York Times today Dennis Publishing, which owns Maxim, is set to announce a that it has signed a deal with a real estate developer, Concord Wilshire Partners, to build the Maxim Hotel and Casino.

Seriously, someone obviously saw the girls on the front cover, the frat boy humour, and naturally concluded "that's Vegas baby", let’s build a hotel.

The Maxim hotel will be a $1.2bn development with 2,300 rooms and a 60,000-square-foot casino that is to open in 2010.

As well as all the elements with a hotel you might come to expect (er, you know like rooms) there will be branded elements from Dennis's magazines.

So, a Maxim Lounge which will be collaboration with the nightlife impresarios Rande and Scott Gerber.

There will be music as well from the Dennis-owned Blender magazine for outdoor and indoor gigs.

Unlike Maxim in the UK (with its falling ABC of 190,438, down over 18%) the US version is a big hit, selling 2.5m copies and dwarfing the rest of the men's market. How it did this is impossible to tell... oh wait girls and frat boy humour, OK not so impossible.

The deal is set to prove a lucrative one for Dennis -- Concord Wilshire is paying it an upfront fee in the middle-seven figures.

Seems like all the talk back in April of Felix Dennis preparing to sell the US division of Dennis Publishing for around $250m has been quietly forgotten.

It's not the first time Dennis has gone to Las Vegas, earlier this year the magazine put a really big picture of Eva Longoria in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Clearly, just staking out its turf.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Steps acting

There's good news and bad news. H from Steps is making his acting debut on the BBC Asian Network's daily soap.

So yes, he is going to act but it's on radio and it's on a nice quiet corner of digital radio where he is unlikely to offend too many. Fingers crossed.

I'm not sure how he got the work. He is supposed to be playing the role of someone called Dave - a survival skills expert who runs adventure weeks for inner-city youths in the Welsh countryside.

Well I guess he was always pretty camp.

But more seriously, since leaving Steps, who gave us such tunes as ‘5,6,7, 8’ and ‘Tragedy’, H retrained as an actor at the Royal Academy of Music and in New York.

Well it’s paid off. Today BBC Asian Network's daily soap, and tomorrow? Let’s not think about tomorrow.


Opinions differ on how things will pan out for Interpublic’s merger of Draft and FCB, but you have to feel for Steve Blamer.

He waits for months to join FCB and after a short run at the top he finds his network dissolved and himself a casualty. Maybe Grey will take him back.

It really is the case of the old man of advertising, 130-plus-year-old FCB, being snapped up by the young DM whippersnapper – okay a 28-year-old whippersnapper, but you get the drift.

You can guarantee that many above-the-line creative types have greeted the DM takeover with something less than jubilation.

Interpublic chairman and CEO Michael Roth is, of course, right with all of his sound-bite comments. Like, totally right:

"This is a modern offering, a total offering."


"This is what clients are looking for.”

Opinion is divided if it’s the right move, with Credit Suisse analyst Debra Schwartz telling the New York Times:

"We believe the key to the story is IPG's ability to return to growth, and initiatives like this give us confidence it is making progress."

But not all are so convinced, with another analyst, Lauren Rich Fine of Merrill Lynch, being quoted in the paper pointing out the risks of client conflict and the loss of top staff (see you Steve).

"We are not averse to IPG's attempt to rationalize its agency brands, but recognize the significant risks near term while the upside would take time to materialize."

It looks like there was an effort to keep Blamer, but either they had nothing quite tempting enough to offer him or they didn't try very hard. Personally, I reckon it’s the former. Blamer wants an agency to run.

The NY Times quotes from a memo to FCB staff where Blamer says he had discussed posts inside Interpublic with Roth but decided to move on.

"I run agencies; I'm an operations guy," Mr. Blamer said. "I'm not a staff guy, a headquarters guy."

Ultimately Blamer lost out to a more powerful Howard Draft. Draft wanted one merged agency and Blamer wanted to keep the FCB brand under the Draft umbrella, but looks like Draft wasn't expecting rain.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Bully Sharon

Boy oh boy. I feel sorry for Rebecca Loos. All that sleeping with David Beckham and selling the story clearly isn't worth the flak she has been taking from a mean-spirited Sharon Osbourne.

Osbourne (famously a friend of the Beckhams) has taken a private fight into the public arena and turned into a big, old-fashioned bully. It's not smart and its not clever. Grow up.

Last night, she refused to comment on Loos's performance. Sat there in silence. Frankly, an improvement on what she usually has to say and, while we're on the subject, what are Sharon Osbourne's qualifications for judging the musical efforts of others on our screens?

Oh that's right, she's married to and manages a heavy metal act. Have you ever listened to Ozzy?

Loos might have come to fame by sleeping with a footballer (pretty much a national pastime) and is variously derided as a "loose" woman, but no one deserves to be on the receiving end of the kind of behaviour that Sharon Osbourne is dishing out.

Sharon probably thinks we should give Becks a round of applause for his swordsmanship.

Granted Loos is awful, but now she's the underdog (no pun intended, honest), you kind of want her to win. It's either that or Chris Moyles... who is now saying by the end of the show "I should be better than Robbie". Save us.

Dallas meets 24?

There's a bidding war breaking out for a new US series called 'Vanished', which is being described as a cross between '24' and 'Dallas'.

I'm trying hard to imagine what it might be like. Terrorists with Stetsons? Shenanigans with some gun play and Ford 4x4's? Or maybe it means Jack's wife is coming back from the dead because, you know, it was all like a bad dream.

'Vanished' is being made by 20th Century Fox, which of course already gave us '24', and Channel 4, Five, Sky and Flextech are all interested. It sounds like it might good.

It hasn't even aired in the US where it is due to be paired with 'Prison Break', which people say is really good if a bit silly, although I have completely failed to catch this due to the ludicrously late time it is broadcast by Five.

Like 'Prison Break' which has been a break-out hit in the States, 'Vanished' is set to be one of only a few hits for the coming season.

According to Broadcast, another show being chased is yet another legal drama 'Shark', which ITV, Channel 4, Five, Sky and Hallmark are chasing.

ITV1 could with some decent US drama, although if it does get it maybe it could air it at a decent time.

There seems to be some crazy disease when it comes to airing US shows, with the BBC being particularly bad. I have to own up to watching over the bank holiday 'Triangle' on BBC One. Pure hokum that started out well before revealing itself to be a rehash of an 80s sci-fi movie ('The Philadelphia Experiment') and so not worth the wait.

After 'Joey' was justifiably put to the sword not a moment too soon, 'Friends' co-creator David Craner is back with a new comedy called 'The Class' although I don't think (sadly) it has anything to do with the Andrew McCarthy and Rob Lowe brat packer from the 80s (also starring Jacqueline Bisset).

Again ITV, Channel 4 and Sky are in the running for this. Also being hotly fought over is Aaron Sorkin's new comedy drama 'Studio 60', which if it is half as good as his (sadly departed) 'The West Wing' creation will be well worth the investment.

'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip' stars teams 'The West Wing''s Bradley Whitford (the West Wing's Josh Lyman) with Matthew Perry.

Perry guested on 'The West Wing' a couple of times as a Republican lawyer and worked really well playing a straight man to Whitford's wise cracking Josh.

NBC is pushing 'Studio 60' hard and with its two leads it could go the distance, but Sorkin could be setting himself up for something of a fall. The show is hard it is to produce a hit in the TV business.