Friday, March 31, 2006

PC cell

London Underground has gone all horribly political correct and pulled a poster promoting a new FX show because it has the word Muslim in it. Just the word. What next?

OK, the word is being used to promote a new show about Al-Qaeda terrorists, but the Muslim on the poster is a good guy, it has nothing to do with 7/7, he's portrayed in a positive light. That has to be a good thing.


 
The drama 'Sleeper Cell' tells the story of his infiltration of an Al-Qaeda cell planning to blow up LA (that sounds kind of -- Jack Bauer -- familiar).

Why would your average Muslim be offended by that? There are no cartoons present, as far as I could see. Are programme makers and advertisers not allowed to reflect the reality of the world we live in?

Banning the poster draws far more attention to the issue than letting it run and go unnoticed, pretty much like FX, which is only available to Sky customers. It sounds like a sub-'24' drama, we'll probably never hear of it again.

Looks like Britain's newest political party might agree. Johannes Shanmugam, a former Sri Lankan, refugee, has started an anti-political correctness party, according to The Times.

Radio Moyles

Chris Moyles at it again, slagging off the Daily Star's gossip column and challenging its editor to a fight before promptly doing a runner.

The Daily Star's Hot columnist Joe Mott was ready to go head to head with mouthy Moyles, but the Radio 1 breakfast DJ quickly scooted from the studio avoiding... oh wait, a Daily Star Publicity stunt.


 
But hey publicity stunt or not, rival DJs were quick to offer their views of Moyles big talk and no action radio antics. Moyles rival Virgin's Christian O'Connell had this to say: "Chris is like Nelson Munce in 'The Simpsons', all mouth and no trousers". While Johnny Vaughan, who Moyles has previously dubbed Johnny Yawn, called him a "big fat coward".

Moyles, of course, is well known for talking first and thinking later, and ran into trouble for comments about wanting to lead Charlotte Church "through the forest of sexuality" and recently for calling phone-in contestants children "f***ing brats".

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Branson in sex romp viral

Exactly how do you launch a home loan product these days? Well there is the way most corporations would do it and then there is Richard Branson's way, which naturally involves three models in a hot tub.

In a bizarre new viral from the world's wackiest billionaire, Branson is seen sitting in a hot tub with his arms around two models while sipping champagne to promote the launch of Virgin Money loans in Australia.


 
While its almost impossible to hear what there are saying (Branson has the bubbles turned right up, of course) one of the models takes a call for the entrepreneur from a Ming like emperor. Branson tells the model he's rather too busy to talk just now.

Wrong answer. Branson is zapped by a Flash Gordon-like beam of death. It is only at this point we realise why he was so busy. A third model bobs up from under water.

Boy oh boy. Branson takes one for the team. Who came up with the idea? Was it Branson? You can imagine that it might well have been.

No one else in the world would do this. It is up there with his dressing as a woman and many many other crazy antics, but then he seems to know what he's doing and having a rather good time at it as he does.

The viral is intended for the Australian market only. Take a look for yourself.

Hat tip: Wellington

Love Marmite
DDB London has triumphed with the new Marmite squeezy jar TV ad, which is a pure piece of slapstick joy.


 
I don't even think you have to love Marmite to enjoy this one, but if you do it only makes the whole spot that bit more entertaining. Who hasn't spent valuable time scrapping away the very last dregs from the Marmite jar, which always makes the option of buying a plastic tub of industrial sized Marmite seem like an attractive option.

I found myself offering out advice to the poor guy with his arm in plaster cast as he tried to access his favourite spread. If you haven't seen the perfectly titled "when love turns to hate" spot you can watch it here. It's Brand Republic's ad of the week and rightly so.

MacKenzie plays BBC ball

Kelvin MacKenzie on the BBC? Oh how the mighty have fallen, but it’s true. The former Sun editor is to appear as part of BBC Radio Five Live's World Cup offering.

In his pretty recent days as chairman of TalkSPORT owner the Wireless Group, MacKenzie was, of course, better known for railing against all things BBC.

However, it seems since having sold TalkSPORT to Ulster Television and losing a bundle on publishing disaster Highbury House, MacKenzie has tempered his views.

The man behing Gotcha will kickstart BBC Radio Five Live's World Cup offering with a wry look at the players and the managers who have courted notoriety, in ‘World Cup Scandals’.

MacKenzie is to appear on two programmes looking at scandals that have surrounded past World Cups including allegations about shoplifting and Bobby Moore in 1970 to Maradona's dramatic exit at the USA tournament in 1994.

Five Live controller Bob Shennan hits the nail on the head when he best describes the former Sun editor’s skills: "He's a superb story teller and I'm sure this will make for a great listen."

As for Kelvin he's delighted about the opportunity: "They will be a fascinating romp through the bungs, boozing and bonking that have tarnished the reputation of so many players and tournaments. How could I resist?"

No doubt he will not be railing against his fee for the programme being a waste of licence-payer’s money.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Cutprice freebie

How are things going for You magazine, you know, the magazine that comes free with the Mail on Sunday...that you can now buy for a £1?

Not that well, it seems. Forgetting the logic, for a second, of trying to flog something that you also give away as part of a £1.30 newspaper package, Associated Newspapers is running a cut-price promotion this week with ads in the Standard.

So now, if you happened to be a Standard reader you can get a token entitling you to get the women's magazine that's free on Sundays for 50p. I hope you're following this.

The hybrid launch of You magazine as a standalone onto the newsstand always seemed like an interesting, if half-arsed, effort at trying to break into women's magazines, but without the effort of having to launch a new magazine.

What would be interesting to see is whether Associated, or The Observer for that matter with its well-produced Observer Woman, will ever make the leap the to selling exclusively on the newsstand.

Update For anyone who didn't see Campaign this morning looks like the news is worse than expected for Associated. They sold just 28,000 copies on the newsstand. Count them, it won't take that long. Full story here.

Barrymore's back

Can this really be a good idea? Channel 4 is to hire Michael Barrymore to front a new show.

No news exactly on what this show might be, but Barrymore, who apparently likes a good pool party, is heading back from New Zealand to front it.

Better news still, the deal was negotiated by his agency Mr Cowell. No, not Simon Cowell, but his brother. Tony. I know now there are two of them... when did that happen? This kind of multiplication can't be a good thing.

The Channel 4 deal follows on from his crazy antics on 'Celebrity Big Brother'. You know, that cringeworthy experience where he lapped up the seal-clapping crowd like he were the prodigal son and then went on to seemingly lose his mind ranting and raving inside the house.

His best friend inside the house was fellow self obsessive George "Gorgeous" Galloway.

It’s sure to be a car crash of a spectacle too hideous to turn away from. Surely, the only explanation why Channel 4 are throwing money at someone like Barrymore.

Edmonds rant

Noel 'Blobby' Edmonds was nominated for a Bafta earlier this week and now not only is he suing the Daily Mail, but he hates Chris Moyles.

Edmonds' comeback was sealed earlier this week by a Bafta nomination for his tea-time hit 'Deal or No Deal', which although I've seen at least five minutes of I have no idea what it's about, apart from the fact that people say "no deal".

I get the impression that it's sort of like Channel 4's former staple 'Fifteen to One', but with the educational element being replaced by cash.

He's suing the Daily Mail for libel this week and although I would love to repeat what the dodgy sweater wearer has called in the lawyers for I can't, because it would be an expensive affair.

Not content with laying into everyone's favourite slice of middle England, he's laid into Moyles and branded him coarse and offensive, like it's a news flash.

"I just wish he wasn't so coarse. I find a lot of what he says offensive ¾ and I don’t think it's my age. I just think it's not appropriate, particularly on the BBC."

Obviously the whole country knows that Moyles, loved only by angry blokes in white vans, is coarse and offensive, but somehow you don't want to be told it by Mr Blobby's best friend Edmonds, who Channel 4 have inexplicably paid £3m to ensure 'Deal Or No Deal' doesn't go away anytime soon.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fag burns

Big Brother bosses are reportedly considering banning smoking in the new series of Big Brother. Say it ain't so. Booze-filled antics in clouds of smoke are part of what we've all come to…enjoy? Or something.

Anti-smoking campaign group Ash have been putting pressure on Channel 4 bosses for the contestants to stub out.

An ASH spokesman said that they wanted a full ban. Apparently the Australian version of the show has already banned fags. Damn those clean living Australians. Nadia almost walked out of the house when she ran out of fags. That would have been a tragic loss to the world…wait, what ever happened to Nadia?

Apparently ASH are worried that it glamorises smoking. Are they serious? Have they been watching the Z-List greenhouse? Have they seen Pete Burns and his oversized lips puffing away on a cigarette? It's so far from glamour with psychotic instances and fisticuffs.

Next they'll want to ban booze. At the sad point the sad realisation will finally hit Channel 4 bosses that if they can't show drunk people falling around making fools of themselves on TV then no one will watch.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Desperate games

'Desperate Housewives' the game? As if the series wasn't a yawn enough, you can now play the videogame. Seriously.

I don' t know about you, but if I can't blow it up then really I'm not interested when it comes to videogames. I know I should get out more.

Somehow the joy of wandering down Wysteria Lane isn't quite enough to persuade me to part with my cash.

The game is set to be based on The Sims series and allows you to take on the role of a new housewife who sets up home in Wisteria Lane. You'll get to do all the fun things a Wysteria housewife does, you know, take over the finances and life… wait a second that doesn't sound at all like escapism more like everyday realism. And the point is, exactly?

I must be missing something, but in the show very little seems to happen other than some rolling in the sack with the gardener and the plumber, with the odd dead body turning up.

The 'Desperate Housewives' game joins the growing array of show spin-off products such as the soon-to-be-launched Desperate Housewives perfume. Novelty perfume? Who knows.

Down the Arsenal

In the post this morning arrives a copy of 'Great Brand Stories Arsenal'. It must have seemed like a good idea when fans John & Matt Simmons started the book, which is subtitled "Wining together: the story of the Arsenal brand", but languishing sixth in the league with a so so 50 points, and no qualification for Europe looking likely, there's been less of the winning this year so you have to laugh. Okay, if you're an Arsenal fan its probably less amusing. Anyway, one copy going spare to the first email that arrives.

Party on BBC

The BBC knows how to shoot itself in the foot. As thousands get ready to lose their jobs in swingeing cuts, BBC Radio 2 blew £23,000 on a Christmas party at the Piccadilly Criterion.

Must be great booking the Christmas party at the BBC when money is no object, making a Marco Pierre White restaurant a natural choice and £238 a head no problem.

According to the Criterion's general manager, Jerome Liger (seriously) said that the night the BBC came to town was a wonderful evening with wine and champagne flowing. Well at £238 a head you would hope there were bubbles.

Obviously, we'd all like to have our Christmas parties at his restaurants, if only we could find someone to write the cheque, which usually we can't.

Should the BBC really be wasting such large sums (or 205 licence fee contributions) on booze and food? Well it invested another £4m on art, which I suppose really belongs to the licence payer as well.

It does makes you wonder what other money-wasting horrors lurk within the BBC as 3,700 staff face losing their job. Oh yeah, Davina.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Sweet 16 porn gamblers

Possibly the tackiest publicity-seeking effort we've seen in a long time. Online pool betting operation ThePool.com has launched a campaign this week featuring some near porn images to get the message across that 16-year-olds can bet. Take a look for yourself.

The ads are bound for Zoo and Nuts, (apparently Metro as well, but have they actually seen them?) and are trying to get the message across that pool gambling and sex are, contrary to public opinion, legal for 16-year-olds. That has to be great news.


 
Obviously it's a difficult creative challenge. But it’s not provocative, as it’s supposed to be, it’s just explicit and exploitative. That the team behind it must have thought long and hard about it before coming up with this created for and sure-to-be banned trio of ads.

Apparently a complementary radio campaign on TalkSport employs bleeps and white noise to obscure the parts of ThePool.com's message that fall foul of the censors.

The campaign was produced by thefamilylondon.com.

While some campaigns that are created with a chance of being banned (like Trevor Beattie's recent stylish kickboxing women spot for French Connection, which we liked) are stylish others like this are simply base.

Bloody hell mate

One to watch. An amusing spoof of the Tourism Australia "Where the bloody hell are you?" campaign, which has kicked up headlines around the world, has just hit the web.

Created by Australian new media outfit Downwind.Media, it lampoons the beautiful beaches and girls in bikinis seen in the M&C Saatchi ad. Instead we have lines like "We've got the Ethnics off the beach" with a shot of a man running being chased by racist Aussie thugs and a smiling blonde tells us "we got you some free accommodation" as the camera reveals a guarded immigration centre poking fun at Australia's illegal immigrants policy.


 
The dingos are also well feed, as a warden feeds a baby doll to a dog, recalling the dingo baby scandal in the 1980s. There are more laughs to be had – check out the viral here.

Update:- Disappointing to see that Tourism Australia lost its sense of humour after seeing this spoof, which has spread like wildfire.

Get a grip. The campaign has been massively successful you've even got Tony Blair quoting it.

"And here I am, in the Australian parliament building at what I think is something like four o'clock in the morning in the UK. And so I'm thinking, so where the bloody hell am I?" he said.

Getting a prime minister quoting your ad campaign is some achievement.

Sex lies and college

There’s a new 'controversial' series airing in the States this week, 'The Bedford Diaries', with the emphasis being on the bed. Think 'Sex Lies & Videotape' with undergraduates.

Starring Matthew Modine ('The Real Blonde') and an attractive young cast, 'The Bedford Diaries', which is airing on the soon-to-be-defunct WB network, that's due to merge with UPN to form CW, follows a group of students in New York City who are on a course in human sexuality. Seriously, it must be like media studies for the zeros.


 
As part of their course, the students have to keep a video diary of their sex lives. The racy title sequence created by New York design studio Adolescent (a perfect gig for them) tells you exactly what the show is going to be like with its feeling of voyeurism and videocam shots, which you can watch here.

Sounds like it’s going to be pretty racy, though how racy can you get on US network TV, and will no doubt cause a powder puff of controversy, guaranteeing some early ratings, which in the quick to cancel world of US TV seems like a must.

The WB network are obviously a little worried about the content themselves.

According an article in the New York Times WB has censored next week's episode over the objections of the programme's creator because of fears that it might be fined by the Federal Communications Commission, which recently slapped CBS with a $3.6m (£2.06m) fine for screening a programme featuring group sex scenes.

The scenes that got the chop was one that showed two girls kissing in a bar on a dare and another of a girl unbuttoning her jeans.

No word on where it might end up in the UK, but it seems like shoe in for Five or Living TV.

Superhuman stereotypes

In the wake of all the hoo-ha about the prophet Mohammed cartoons, the Cartoon Network has just begun airing a clever new superhero series called 'Minoriteam' where all the characters are extreme racial stereotypes. Someone is bound to get their knickers in a twist.

With touches of 70s cop shows the Minoriteam are like Marvel superheroes, but instead of Spider-man and Silver Surfer you get Non-Stop, an Indian convenience store owner so named because of his long hours. He's immune to all forms of live ammunition having absorbed so much lead in store hold-ups.


 
Other characters on the show are the leader Dr Wang, the Chinese Human Calculator who, like Professor X in the X-Men, is also wheelchair-bound. He of course also owns and operates a laundrette.

There's Fasto, an African-American man who is known as "the fastest man that ever was". He has great sexual prowess and in one scene satisfies a whole room full of Thai hookers in seconds. In real life he is a professor of women's studies.

Then there's the Jewish guy. Known as Jewcano, a man with the powers of the Jewish faith and a volcano. He gets his special powers from chasing a special nickel. In real-life he dates tall black women and loves soul food.

It has a ring of 'South Park' about it, but, you know, with superheroes, so there is bound to be trouble.

As yet there is no Muslim character, but you could imagine it would be, alongside the Jew and African American, a tempting target to poke fun at. Some people started getting hot under the collar when they mistakenly identified convenience store loving Non-Stop character as Middle Eastern and there for possibly Muslim. Non-stop, simply wouldn't have the time for all the praying. Joke.

For conspiracy theorists the bad guy is the White Shadow, leader of a clan of supervillains whose head in the shape of the Illuminati Pyramid that also appears on the back of $1 bills.

It's a really fun idea that seems to be as someone put it out to save the world from bigotry one joke at a time. Sounds like a job for superheroes.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Leo Burnett suffers fast food withdrawal

It's been a bad week for Leo Burnett. Having not made the best effort of launching McDonald’s Salads Plus product, it has now lost out on the McDonald's health brief to TBWA\London.

Leo Burnett started the week by parting company with Fiat, following the car maker's decision last year to reorganise the way it runs pitches for pan-European campaigns.

Today Campaign broke the story of TBWA\London picking up its first McDonald's UK advertising brief after a pitch. Ouch.

It's going to be an important brief for TBWA. With McDonald's under fire, healthy is its major focus going forward. The brief is said to include getting across McDonald's health credential and the nutritional value of its food (that won't take long then, will it?) and the ethical stance it takes on sourcing ingredients (again, quick job).

This should have been a bit of business that walked straight through Burnetts door, but the poor showing of the Salads Plus launch seems to have hit its standing with an important client.

If TBWA gets this right, will it get a bite of something bigger? TBWA and DDB handle McDonald's in other markets.

Near miss of the TV titans

The Daily Star got very excited today, splashing its front cover with the story that 'Big Brother' and the 'Celebrity X-Factor' are set to go head to head.

It's exclusive front-page story talks of a ratings war, with ITV throwing the first punch with 'Celebrity X-Factor' set to launch on bank holiday Monday, clashing with the first week of 'Big Brother 7'.


 
Hang on a second? Doesn't 'X-Factor' run on Saturday night's and 'Big Brother' every weeknight, with its ratings puller on Friday night?

But then "ITV and C4 reality TV shows not to clash in schedules" makes less of a headline. Maybe that's why the full story was moved to page 23 of the Daily Star, which seems to be generally fulfilling its mission of taking the news out of news.

And not the final score

Slightly confused yesterday watching the BBC ‘Six O'Clock News’ as it appeared that despite having won the third test, England's hopes of victory were still in the balance.

I'd been expecting to see Flintoff and victory celebrations, maybe it was true that after years of struggling to understand cricket and the intricacies of test matches, follow-ons and one day internationals I still somehow didn't get it.

Were we actually about to play another match having apparently won? No, presenter George Alagiah dutiful explained: "Apologies, we had the wrong report there."

Nothing like yesterday's news to confuse.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Sportsman

So the waiting is over and a new national newspaper is born today in the form of The Sportsman. Has anyone actually seen it?

Not sure I like the cover, but it's a difficult thing to tell looking at a smallish digital image. One thing's for sure the logo is showing the Daily Telegraph roots of its founders.


 
It's a tough market with huge amounts of competition and you have to believe that it's going to be a tough slog for the Sportsman to succeed.

On its side the paper has a great management team in Charlie Methven and Max Aitken and former Telegraph chief executive Jeremy Deedes, who is the Sportsman's chairman.

It's a shame the paper just missed the Cheltenham Festival last week, but it has a busy sporting calendar to look forward to.

With a modest 40,000 breakeven circulation needed it has to have more than a fighting chance. Trinity Mirror certainly seems to think so they've been putting cash into the Racing Post. It's going to be interesting to see how much the Sportsman can shave off of the Post's ABC circulation of 75,908.

Fatmanwalking

Touching story that, about the guy who is walking across America. Literally. What began as an exercise in weightloss has become a story in self discovery. He's been offered, among other things, a deal to advertise weight loss pills, which kind of misses the point.

In what is partly being seen as an indictment on our fast food society, Steve Vaught, who ballooned to 30 stone, is walking acorss the US, losing weight and gaining everywhere else. His story has sparked a mass of media and human interest and his Fatmanwalking.com website has been inundated with traffic and more than 80,000 emails.


 
He's been interviewed by Ophra and there are talk of TV deals, among other media interest. Like 'Fast Food Nation' before his 3,000 mile journey has focused attention again on the way people live and what they eat. In one stretch of four-mile road he passed 21 fast food restaurants. Count them.

"I thought when I got out into the country I'd leave all that behind. But I've walked through the Mid West, the breadbasket, and it is one of the most unhealthy places on earth.

"You have all these rolling acres of farmland, and you can't even buy fresh fruit and veg. The last apple I ate came from South America -- and it looked like it had rolled here."

He has apparently been offered deals to promote everything from shampoo, vitamins, smoking patches, as well as a reported $5m to advertise a weight-loss pill. You have to hope he turns it down.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Virgin O'Connell

We were big fans of Christian O'Connell at Brand Republic. His breakfast show was by far and away the best morning listen in our humble opinion...

Sadly, no one here has made the switch from Xfm to Virgin Radio. The answer as to why is pretty simple: the music's rubbish and they play too many ads. Pretty sure that's not just us, they really do seem to. Sadly, the Xfm breakfast show is not what it once was with blonde ladette Lauren Laverne who is carved firmly in the Zoe Ball/Sarah Cox mould. Saving grace is Friday's when she hands over the breakfast slot to morning show presenter Shaun Keaveny. Now why didn't Xfm give him the job? Answers on a postcard.

But just in case you were wondering how Christian O'Connell was doing. The answer seems to be very well and to show just how important he is to Virgin, this morning chief executive Fru Hazlitt was up at the crack of dawn serving tea and toast.


 
O'Connell seems to have on his best 'oo-err missus' face on. Sadly, for Christian its just a one off in support of Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Back to the Shop Floor initiative, sponsored by Persimmon.

March 2006 is the 20th Anniversary of Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Great Daffodil Appeal, the charity’s flagship annual fundraising appeal, which aims to raise £4m. For more info, visit mariecurie.org.uk.

Who the Doherty

Peter Doherty was in Manchester yesterday to shoot an ad. He met up with a possible new role model...Mike Tyson who, of course, knows a thing or two about going off the rails. An ad?

The question is who would pay Baby Shambles singer and former Libertine to front an ad campaign for them?

So far the only brands that spring to mind are blindingly obvious. He would, of course, be ideal for Special Brew of Kestrel Lager. He likes a bit of a smoke as well so Rizla is always an option.

He's also a great ad for his lawyer who gets him off time after time. Surely that must be the answer. For whoever does represent car-crashing, drugs-carrying and fist-flying Doherty is surely a legal genius.

If anyone does really know, be sure to let us know.

We love TV crime

What is it with TV stations and crime? Not content with endless hours of crime dramas, Five wants to take it all a step further and link up with real criminals – to help them with their driving skills...

That's the idea of a new show featuring former F1 boss Eddie Jordan, who is going to be working with some young offenders.

Not just young offenders, of course, but eight car criminals. The five shows see Jordan giving them expert coaching in motoring and mechanical skills. You have to ask if that's really a good idea. This kids can already steal cars, now Five is going to help them fine-tune their skills.

Maybe someone at Five (home of all things 'CSI', 'Prison Break' and sticking with the car theme 'Britain's Worst Celebrity Driver: live') saw the Derren Brown bank robbery show on Channel 4. You know, the one where Brown showed that all of us have the skills to rob banks, which is certainly something I had never considered before.

On a more serious note, we understand that former car salesman Eddie's heart is in the right place, he just wants to understand joyriding a little better.

"I am deeply committed to exploring the issue of joy riding. We need to understand that social deprivation, lack of family structure and the boys’ failure to engage in the traditional education system can leave them with little positive choices in life,"
Jordan said.

Jordan is hoping to help the kids to see that there is an alternative career to that of crime and get work in the motor industry. The best on the show could win a place on Honda's award-winning three-year apprentice technician programme.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Lord Birt limbers up

You can imagine that the BBC is looking for forward to this one. Lord Birt, the closest thing on earth to a living "croak-voiced Dalek", is lined up to give evidence to the BBC Charter Review Select Committee this week. He never has been much of a fan of the BBC even when he was its director-general.

Birt, who has become one of Tony Blair's blue (pie in the) sky thinkers, is best known most recently for wanting to give some of the BBC's licence fee away to other broadcasters.

Fortunately for the BBC, his "top-slicing" proposal of giving a certain amount of the BBC's funding to other commercial broadcasters was not favoured by beleagured media secretary Tessa Jowell because she believed it would undermine public support and its independence. Quite right.

Birt, who has a long-standing animosity with now BBC chairman Michael Grade, will no doubt use the occasion to put the boot in.

Birt never quite got the public service bit about the BBC. During his time at the corporation, of which he became director general of in 1992, he spent his time writing off personal expenses against tax (including secretarial services of his wife).

He introduced a myriad of confusing internal market reforms (great ideas such as various bits of the BBC cross-charging each other) and was disliked by much of the organisation, which his successor Greg Dyke dismantled. Better still, of course, Dennis Potter dubbed him the "croak-voiced Dalek" which is the only thing worth remembering from his time at the BBC.

Let the million year battle commence

"So, Scientology, you may have won THIS battle, but the million-year war for earth has just begun," is the message in an ad in Variety from 'South Park' creators after Comedy Central dropped the Tom Cruise hides in a closet episode.

It's tough being a cranky religion beloved of Hollywood types, but it looks like war. Tom Cruise is thought to have applied pressure to Comedy Central owners Paramount to pull the episode otherwise he would pull his services from promoting 'Mission Impossible 3', made by, er, Paramount.

None of this can be doing any good to Cruise's increasingly flaky persona. Besides if Cruise has nothing to hide why is he worried about the episode where his character hides in a closet. What doesn't Cruise like about the closet? Who knows?

Trey Parker and Matt Stone are really shaping up for the battle with the Scientologists, getting into character and everything. Scientology, of course, was dreamed up by L Ron Hubbard who wrote bad science fiction novels and whose followers are always offering passersby free personality tests.

"Temporarily anozinizing our episode will NOT stop us from keeping Thetans forever trapped in your pitiful man-bodies. Curses and drat! You have obstructed us for now, but your feeble bid to save humanity will fail! Hail Xenu," the pair add.

Instead of the offending closet episode, Comedy Central reran tribute episodes to the Chef, voiced by another Scientology Church member Isaac Hayes, who it was revealed was leaving the show last week over the episode.

Cruise's people are denying he had anything to do with getting the episode pulled. Well they would say that, wouldn't they?

Paramount on the other hand don't want anything to upset the cash cow that is 'Mission: Impossible'. The first two movies combined pulled in almost $1bn worldwide.

See what all the fuss is about and watch the closet episode here.

Everybody loves Chris

Five looks to be onto a winner with its new sitcom 'Everybody hates Chris', which is just the kind of thing you would have, at one time, guaranteed to be on Channel 4.

The show, loosely based on US comedian Chris Rock's life growing up in Brooklyn, has already won critical praise in the US and it's easy to see why. It turns political correctness on its head with jokes about guns and gang bangers coming thick and fast.

As well as the young Rock, his parents in the form of his fierce ghetto-snob mother and huge, but nervous, penny-pinching father comes to life. A promised trip to McDonald's means one kid gets the burger, another the fries and the last the drink. One time, Rock only gets the ice cubes.

You can easily see the pitch "it's like the Wonder Years, but with black kids" and with the added benefit of being set in the early 80s, which seems to be riding an all-conquering wave of nostalgia.

Although you could expect the writers to pump some of their best material into the opening, the jokes came consistently throughout whether it was the one about school shootings being another thing that whites stole from black people or that being the only black kid on the bus no one would sit next to him.

It's better than 'My Name is Earl', which started well, but seems to have run out of steam pretty quickly, which leaves Five with some of the best comedy on the box. Except for 'Joey', obviously.

The good news for Five was that it managed to beat Channel 4's action free alien invasion show 'Invasion' with 1.7 million viewers.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A long time ago in a suburban cinema

A snippet of news from George Lucas and co about the upcoming 'Star Wars' television show, which is apparently due to run for at least 100 episodes or five years in US TV speak.

I know that at some stage I should really stop myself being excited by news relating to 'Star Wars', but this hasn't quite happened yet.

The show is going to fill in the missing years between 'Star Wars Episode III Revenge of the Sith' and original 1977 movie 'Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope'. It's going to span a total of 20 years, which means among other things it will take in Luke Skywalker's mystery early days with scenes depicting the young Aryan looking Jedi Knight to be flying his "T-16 through Beggar's Canyon bullseyeing womp rats", which of course turned out to be just excellent training for taking out the Death Star.


Go we must onto the small screen Posted by Picasa

The series will also focus on the rise of Darth Vader (thankfully sans Hayden Christensen) and will feature Brit actor Anthony Daniels back again as C3P0. It should also mean a return as Frank Oz voicing Yoda, which can only be a good thing. Come on it can't only be me who is endlessly amused by a small green puppet talking sort of backwards.

Hopefully this will mean a bidding war between the BBC and ITV to show the series, which should survive the fate of most TV sci-fi and escape being relegated to the grave yard slot on Channel 4 or Five.

Star Wars producer Rick McCullum is promising the TV show will be much darker than anything seen before. This possibly means Vader will be cutting a bit of a light sabre swathe. Darker can only be good. Darker, of course, being the new TV black and in recent times has given us the best sci-fi show to grace the TV screen in the form of the reimagined 'Battlestar Galactica'.

No, seriously, I'm not kidding. Forget the camp 1970s Star Wars wannabe affair. This time around they've come up with possibly the best show of its kind although the only place to see it sadly is a small corner of Sky One.

 I swear that this has nothing to do with some of the new bad guy Cylons looking like runway models, but everything to do with its mix of darkness, great writing and a reassuringly unfuturistic...future. Think telephones wires and 1980s IBM looking computers all crammed into something modelled on an old British aircraft carrier.

It's just been recommissioned for a third season in the US, but I imagine unlikely ever to make it to terrestrial TV in the UK anytime soon (someone should buy it), in which case you should test run the four hour mini-series that kicked the new series off. Its yours for a fiver. 

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Gawker lives up to its name

Gossip website Gawker is finally living up to its name with its latest celebrity stalker site, which puts the crazies and celebs on an intercept course.

This is how it works: readers send in their celebrity sightings and in as little as 15 minutes these are published as maps in detail down to the street corner, using Google Maps, on the Gawker Stalker website, giving the crazies, students and the unemployed enough time to jump in the stalker-mobile and roll on to the celebrity location.

You have to be quick though... celebrities are a nervous bunch and are prone to move around a fair bit, but with the number of Blackberries and other mobile devices, its pretty much happening in some cases in real time.

  We are talking major league celebs here, with sightings having included Julia Roberts, Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz. Coldplay's Chris Martin was also recently spotted and was said to be looking nervous. Or maybe he was just looking over his shoulder.

Typical entries go like this: "Just saw Adam Sandler heading into the Reebok Sports Club, Upper West Side, on 67th and Columbus Ave...ready to work out in sweats...

Or "We spied Mark Ruffalo with a natural-looking red-head woman at Le Pain Quotidien waiting for their coffee or perhaps just coming in from the cold. He is shorter than I thought but they both looked like total New Yorkers."

See? It's kind of fun...for at least five minutes. Gawker Stalker for more sightings.

The stalker site, as you might have expected, seems to have backfired with stars complaining that Gawker is putting stars in danger.

Ken Sunshine, who reps for the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Timberlake and Ben Affleck, is not a happy man.

"It invites weirdos, if not dangerous weirdos, to physically come in contact with anybody they choose to expose on this site," Sunshine said.

In its defence, Gawker editor Jessica Coen says that if people are intent on doing some sort of sick harm to a certain celebrity "that information for finding them is already out there".

Although she doesn't exactly say where.

It's the Simpsons

I saw this the other night and was quite impressed. Don't know who did it, but the faithful real life recreation of 'The Simpsons' opening credits was remarkably well done.

 All the way done to the live action version's of Bart, writing lines on the school blackboard and skate boarding antics, and Maggie honking her toy horn in time with Marge as the family makes its way to its familiar resting place: the couch.

If you haven't seen it, its definitely worth a look. Posted by Picasa

Maitlis news boob

What a cracking start to her career as a BBC 'Newsnight' presenter for Emily Maitlis. She's managed to get herself into just about very national newspaper with her boob disaster dress.

 The initial assumption was that the dress had as they say in the business "malfunctioned", like Janet Jackson's did at the Super Bowl, but no, nothing was broken. That is actually how the dress is supposed to look, you know, if you happened to be a size eight rather than something a little fuller.

It could it be that the BBC is looking to pull in a few extra viewers for its late night news show, which Maitlis will occasionally present. To be fair, it's not a bad strategy as long as Maitlis doesn't have as much trouble reading the autocue as she does the dress label.

It's not the first time that Maitlis has flashed the flesh. She's well known for showing a little leg on while presenting on BBC's regional London news programme. Posted by Picasa

Grovelling apologies in time for kick-off

With the World Cup looming and The Sun wondering how it is going to get access to the England team, a grovelling apology (plus large cheque, of course) looks likely to be winging its way to Arsenal and England star Ashley Cole after The Daily Star started the ball rolling yesterday.

It's somehow nice to see that it works both ways. That chequebooks first pay for stories…and then pay again when things go wrong.

The Daily Star, which also ran with the story, admitted yesterday that it got it wrong last month when it named him as one of three men allegedly involved in a gay sex orgy.

"The Daily Star entirely accepts that Ashley Cole was not involved in any way in this kind of conduct. The stories about him were entirely without foundation. We sincerely apologise to Ashley for the distress which he suffered," The Star wrote.

News International has already paid out to the Beckhams over its News of the World story and looks like the chequebook will be coming out again for Cole. He's about to tie the knot with Girl's Aloud bruiser Cheryl Tweedy, so a hefty pile of cash can only be welcomed. These OK! celeb weddings do not come cheap.

The Sun, of course, didn't name him, but it might as well have because it printed a doctored picture of him alongside a Choice FM DJ, the real version of which was then uncovered by gay news website PinkNews. Oh how News International must love those guys at Pink for exposing their conceit.

Love them so much in fact that News International's lawyers are warning PinkNews.co.uk that they could find themselves being sued. That seems harsh. All they did was expose the News of the World and the Sun and lay them open to a libel case from Cole's lawyers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Oh my god

Looks like 'Celebrity Big Brother' winner Chantelle is well on her way to her first million. In the short weeks since leaving the house, the Channel 4 fake celebrity has racked up £750,000 in earnings, including two ad campaigns for Motorola and M&S.

Sure it might last, but at this rate Chantelle, best known for saying "oh my god" over and over… and not much else, can well expect to pass the £1m mark and as long as she doesn't split with Ordinary Boys singer Preston we can guarantee the celebrity mags will allow their attention-deficit-disorder suffering cameras to linger a little longer.

 She's picked up £50,000 for her Motorola ad and as much as £150,000 for an M&S campaign. Not quite sure where M&S are going with that. Answers on a postcard please.

Bigger bucks though could be on the way from ITV. It's being reported that ITV is trying to get the former Paris Hilton look-alike to appear in the next series of 'Celebrity Love Island'. We're not sure how that works because you're supposed to be single to appear on the show. Possibly only a minor stumbling block on the road to C-list royalty.

If she does make it onto the show she can expect to share the decking with serial love rat and 'Strictly Come Dancing' star Brendan Cole, who has been offered a reported £80,000 to work his cha-cha charms on women in the next series of 'Celebrity Love Island'. Posted by Picasa

Dirty dealings in the sand

Speculation as to why Sunday Telegraph editor Sarah Sands found herself getting the boot so quickly is centring on Guy Black, the former spokesman for departed Tory leader Michael Howard and now Telegraph PR chief.

According to Private Eye this week, not long before Sands was sacked, the Sunday Telegraph ran a full-page story about Prince Charles's former spin doctor Mark Bolland. The story on February 26 said that while many admired Bolland others, including the Queen, considered him a "double-dealing manipulative schemer".

Ouch. Those are just the kind of words that might get under a man's skin.

Bolland is, of course, the civil partner of Black who, since parting company with Howard, resurfaced as the Telegraph Group's corporate affairs director where he advises Telegraph chief executive Murdoch MacLennan.

Did Black bend MacLennan's ear a little about the piece Sands ran on Bolland? Some seem to think so, because two weeks after her paper slammed Black's other half out she went.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Jowell mortgages the BBC

Things are getting bad for the BBC. Rumour has it that not only will the BBC not get what they want in terms of an inflation busting licence fee increase, but it is likely to find itself sold off.

The groundwork has already been laid, apparently it has all been something of an accident, but this is what happened. Her husband David Mills (currently on media sabbatical after "Minister chooses to spend more time with her government" shocker) put some papers in front of her and that's where it all started to go wrong.

 The minister of state for culture, media and sport thought it was more crap about the BBC charter review, but it turns out that it was a bill of sale for the entire BBC, which will now become part of Silvio Berlusconi's media empire.

On the plus side, Berlusconi has guaranteed in return to furnish Mills and Co with as many mortgage deals as they like for the rest of their lives as they seem to love taking out mortgages and paying them swiftly off. You know as you do. Whoever said a mortgage was for life… oh wait, it was the bank and they might have only said it to me.

What do you mean you don't believe that a grown woman would actual read a piece of paper she was signing that said in big letters at the top "this is from your bank you dozy so and so".

PS we are joking, by the way. Posted by Picasa

The chef has left the canteen

Sad news from 'South Park'. Looks like all those digs at Scientology have pushed Isaac Hayes, the voice of Chef since 1997 over the edge. He's handing in his apron.

We love Scientologist as much as the next cranky religion made up by the writer of bad sci-fi novels…wait that's not strictly true, but moving swiftly on. Hayes, as well as being dubbed the "soul man", is also a Scientologist and last straw was an episode that poked fun at Scientology cheerleader number one (also known as Tom Cruise) called 'Trapped in the Closet'.

 For those who haven't heard about it (you may not have seen it as the Paramount Comedy Channel pulled it from the UK – apparently Cruise control is litigious) it’s the one where Cruise gets stuck in a closet and is urged to by police "to come out of the closet". I have not one idea what they could possibly be referring to. All sounds like innocent fun to me.

Hayes, forever known as the Chef from now on says 'South Park' has gone beyond satire: "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry towards religious beliefs of others begins. Religious beliefs are sacred to people."

Hasn't he seen 'Battlefield Earth'? Oh wait, no one saw that. Of course, his decision has nothing to do with bigotry. 'South Park' is democratic in its targets, sparing no one, which is part of its fun.

Matt Stone, who co-created 'South Park', had this to say: "This has nothing to do with intolerance and bigotry and everything to do with the fact that Isaac Hayes is a Scientologist and that we recently featured Scientology in an episode of 'South Park'. In 10 years and over 150 episodes Isaac never had a problem making fun of Christians, Muslims, Mormons and Jews."

Watch Tom as he is urged to leave the closet. Posted by Picasa

Wintry decline

Procter & Gamble must be smiling this morning after Asda pulled Sunny D from its shelves. That it managed to sell that brand on and that someone bought it is one of the great feats of product dumping.

Asda pulled the once all-conquering Sunny D after what it said was a dramatic slump in sales. Mums used to love Sunny D, feeding it to their increasingly fluorescent kids by the gallon.

It was the great product launch of the 1990s, winning all kinds of plaudits for its growth and then, almost it seems overnight, everything unravelled as the world went sort of healthy and the fact that Sunny was mostly sugar and very little fruit spelled the beginning of the end.

Attempts to revive it floundered, changing its name from Sunny Delight to Sunny D, variations with stupid names were launched (Light Sunny Delight? Oh come on that's just plain confusing, it doesn't even scan), but nothing worked.

If only someone hadn't mentioned what was in it. Of course, if kids had their own budgets what was in it wouldn't really be the problem, but sadly for food marketers targeting kids this is not the case.

Damning words from Asda which yesterday said: "Our analysis and customer feedback shows Sunny D is in long-term decline."

If only someone had told JW Childs Associates, the private equity group that bought Sunny D from P&G, what were they thinking.

Monday, March 13, 2006

We really got you

The Kinks are advertising's biggest band by a long way. Really big, to the tune of £6m racked up last year selling anything from the likes of Kohl, Saab and GMs to IBM and… Abbott Laboratories.

I like the odd Kinks tune as much as anyone who likes guitar music, but I'm not a fan. Just as well. The Kinks have plundered their entire back catalogue to sell all kinds of products. And you know what it's like, suddenly rather than memories of snogging at the school disco for the first time the memory would suddenly be appropriated for associations with IBM servers or worse medical products from Abbott Labs.

Right behind The Kinks come the likes of Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, who have all made a few million each out of licensing their music. Again, I don't care for any of those bands, but I can't help wondering why they do it, you know, make the move from selling music to selling out.

In the case of the Stones, they can't come close to needing the money unless ex-wives really do cost he earth.

Maybe all bands succumb and it was sad recently to see Oasis license 'All Around the World' to AT&T after they had publicly said they would not license their music and had publicly lambasted The White Stripes for penning a song for Coca Cola. Though a cautionary tale comes in in the form of Hurricane #1 who let their 'Only the Strongest will Survive' song be used in an ad for The Sun in 1999. There was a backlash from fans and the band disappeared shortly after.

Maybe most bands offered the chance of big bucks will in the end succumb, although so far there's no sign that personal favourites Radiohead will or that Nirvana are ever likely to and somehow, while it's difficult to like them, it is easier to respect Coldplay's decision to turn down a huge ad deal.

The Daily Diana

Another day another front page Daily Express story about Princess Diana. Is it just us or is the Express's obsession with Diana getting out of hand?

 I get that there is an enquiry and endless amount of conspiracy theories to report about, but do they really need to put the woman who has been dead for nine years (count them) on its front page several times a week. Please someone stop them

You would think that there was nothing else happening in the world when if the Daily Express would only pop their head into the news room of sister title th Daily Star they would see there was more happening out there like the fact that a person with Tourette's Syndrome will be on the next series of Big Brother. Apparently Channel 4 bosses have waved him through the final stages of auditions for the next series that kicks off in May.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Webster was a genius...but

Apparently this comment was passed in a Soho House the other night by a well known adman.

"Webster was a genius. It's a shame he wasted it in advertising. Ads are short lived and easily forgotten. If he'd gone into TV or film he'd been a Nick Parks or a Woody Allen. He'd have left us all with a greater legacy. Instead he left just advertising with one."

Lowe, the 'unique asset'

Michael Roth, the Interpublic chief executive, was on fine form at ISBA yesterday talking about the link between agency compensation and performance, but what we really wanted to hear about on this perfectly timed London visit was Lowe London and Garry Lace.

 Sadly, Roth was keeping his lips pretty much tightly sealed when we did put the question to him all that he would say was that Lowe London was a "unique asset".

Sadly, Roth was keeping his lips pretty much tightly sealed when we did put the question to him all that he would say about Lowe London was this:

"Brand Republic's where I usually get my updates. I think Lowe is a unique asset to Interpublic... in many ways" [he got the laughs from the audience he wanted with that] We are adding resources to Lowe."

Obviously we like to keep Roth informed, but the "unique asset" line is one we're definitely going to use ourselves. What a diplomat. In future when we talk about agencies with few clients and short of a few senior directors, we'll be sure to refer to them as unique assets.

It's Friday again, of course, so if anyone knows who the suspended Lowe London chief executive Garry Lace is dining with and where, of course we'd love to know.

Machismo gets its comeuppance

Sex dolls are taking over TV in Mexico, home of the hombres, in an effort to educate Mexican men about sexual harassment. This from the country where its president recently joked that most homes in Mexico "have a washing machine, and not the kind with two hands or two legs".

Whatever could he have been talking about? Unless he was talking about a particular Mexican variety of service wash.

 With a solemn voice, a man, possibly sounding sad about the news, tells viewers: "No woman should be treated like an object," before adding "Sexual harassment is not just demeaning, it's a crime."

You have to try these things, although president Vicente Fox, the man who cracked the washing machine joke, is not exactly sounding optimistic: "Our society still has a long way to go in overcoming holdovers from the past, eradicating prejudice and changing habits."

The ads featuring show the inflatable sex dolls dressed as office workers sitting at desks or photocopiers as men leer at them or try to grope them. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Davina laid to rest

It seems no one likes Davina McCall. Even the BBC's own online news service has wasted no time in jumping in with the latest damning figures for the 'Big Brother' presenter's viewer-light primetime chatshow.

BBC News Online has the story up first thing this morning, sparing no one's blushes at BBC One as the audience for the new midweek chat show fell to a new low of 2.5m. That's down from 3.5m.

'Davina' was beaten by old ITV1 stalwart 'The Bill' with even Kirstie and Phil on 'Relocation, Relocation' stuffing Davina with 1.2m more viewers over on Channel 4.

 It's not all that surprising really. The guests on last nights show were Eamonn Holmes, Jordan and Girls Aloud. If that's the best she can do, maybe it's time for a bit of channel relocation to a station more reflective of her viewing numbers – like BBC Three.

The good news is that there are only another four outings before it ends its run, although with next week's show bumped to an earlier slot to make way for football looks like a new low could be on the way.

You'd think the chances of a second series of another series would be slim, but unlike commercial networks the BBC displays a dogged ability to preserve with certain types of fodder. That can be the only excuse for 'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps'. Posted by Picasa

Two for a Lace lunch

Garry Lace's Ivy lunching partner last Friday has been revealed as none other than Neil Simpson, the global brand director of Vodafone. What do you think they were talking about?

Simpson is one of those being tipped to take over from Vodafone's chief marketing officer, Peter Bamford who was ousted yesterday from his job with a £7m compensation package.

 Simpson is possibly up againsst David Wheldon, global director of brands.

Maybe Simpson will be looking to build his team if he gets the top job. Having tried the agency side with something of a hit-and-miss record, it could be time for Lace to go client side.

Cole's lawyers turn online

Possibly a first. Ashley Cole's lawyers are asking visitors to a gay news website Pinknews.co.uk to take part in a survey on the Arsenal star's reputation, which could then be used as evidence in the libel case against the News of the World and The Sun.

It looks like the News International titles are going to take a big hit in the case after printing the picture identifying "Player A" as one of the Premiership players involved in a gay sex orgy.

"Player A" turned out to be Ashley Cole, who is not gay, which presents the News International with a bit of a problem. Pinknews.co.uk ran the two pictures showing how the original had been poorly doctored in Photoshop.

Take a look at the Photoshop tricky for yourself. Here's the picture printed by the News of the World and the original picture of Cole and a Choice FM DJ:

 


It's me Ashley Cole Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Extreme Living

Living TV is already home to all things "extreme" and has kindly given us everything from 'Extreme Makeovers', dieting and, of course, extremely gay comedy in 'Will & Grace', but its latest schedule includes a new extreme variant: 'Extreme: Skinny Celebrities'. Apparently there is an epidemic of super-skinny celebs.

 Lucky for us, the extreme channel is ready with its cameras and promises a full investigation in this "documentary" into their dieting habits and where the "awful truth" about the long-term physical costs, which if you're interested include the possibility of premature death. Eek.

Apparently, there will be a list of "famous friends", dieticians, doctors and pundits offering insights into the stars' eating habits and "extreme" exercise regimes. It seems only natural that extreme dieters would have extreme exercise regimes.

The best bit sounds like the CGI technology that the show will used to predict what certain celebrities will look like in later life. My guess is that they will look a little like Skeletor from 'He Man', but possibly less blue. I could be wrong, it's been known. Posted by Picasa

Smelling of desperation

Who ever came up with this one? Cosmetics giant Coty is to launch a 'Desperate Housewives' scent? OK, I get that the stars are a generally attractive bunch, but the smell of desperation? Would you really want to be taking that home to your nearest and dearest?

Apparently the new scent, giving you a whiff of Wisteria Lane, will hit stores in the States later this year. There is an explanation though.

"The Desperate Housewives scent is guaranteed to be a hit with women everywhere, connecting them in a very personal way to this popular series," a spokesman for the show says.

A personal connection to desperation? Sign yourself up. Somehow, it strikes me as one of the lamest new products yet dreamed up, but what do I know.

French stitch-up

It's best never to write about the opposition, but I saw a headline this morning about France Telecom's £200m with the words 'French Stitch-up' in the headline and really couldn't resist.

If you cast your mind back to last Friday when we covered this story, you'll remember that after much searching, the French telecoms giant handed its business Publicis Groupe and Havas agencies.

A stitch-up? Is the Pope a Catholic (actually I'm not entirely sure, but I do know what he has on his iPod).

Of course it was, really surely no one really expected otherwise. In France that's how business is done. It's not a bad thing, but the French way of doing things.

Isn't that why British group WPP gave up the ghost on the pitch, seeing how it was likely to go, and pulled out, citing reasons of client conflict.

'French Stitch-up' was in this morning's Marketing Week in case you were wondering, and goes on to quote some angry, but of course unnamed, executives at Orange who are unhappy.

The story finishes with a spokesman for France Telecom putting fears at rest by denying the French stitch-up claims and pointing out that the pitch was conducted in English. Well, that's all right then.

Darkly humorous

Sometimes it's refreshing to see what you can get away with. People have been complaining to the ASA about a poster for a show on Sky One called 'Bones'. It's a little bloody, literally, but really it's darkly funny and just a little subversive. It also has a very good copy.

 Okay, well it made me laugh. I've often wondered who complains to the Advertising Standards Authority. Complaints for this poster objected that the ad was disturbing, offensive and inappropriate for public display on a billboard. Several people also complained that they were concerned that the poster was harmful to children.

That's quite a collection of complaints. Do they get together for group viewings or something? I've often thought that this was the case.

Sky's response is quite amusing. It said the poster was intended to represent the content of 'Bones' in a "reasonably sensitive manner". Bloody legs are not sensitive, they're just not, but they're not offensive either.

Apparently 'Bones' is quite good, inspired as it is by the life and writing of Kathy Reichs, a renowned forensic anthropologist and best-selling novelist. Each episode a different murder is investigated. It's sort of like 'CSI', but with humour and with the guy who used to be in 'Angel'.

Sky wasn't worried about the kids either. Having an understanding of our deteriorating educational system, Sky was sure that it was harmful to children who "would not be able to understand the meaning of words such as decomposing, corpse and homicide victim". Thank god for stupid kids. Posted by Picasa

Lowest common denominator

Dance magazine Mixmag is to relaunch and get rid of its laddish image. Oh dear. With little or no dance scene, the gratuitous front covers of women in states of undress were probably the only thing helping to shift copies.

Emap must have sighed relief when they offloaded it last year to Mark Ellen and Dave Hepworth's Development Hell.

 Circulation-wise, Mixmag is in dire straits having gone down year after year falling from 106,111 copies in 2000 to just to 42,234 in the latest ABC. This even after IPC closed rival dance music title Musik.

Development Hell are planning a less laddish revamp with more fashion and travel content. It seems like an odd move for a title that's about dance music, when people on music forums are already complaining that Mixmag… is not a good source of news about dance.

"I don't regard Mixmag as being a good source of dance music information. They have way too many articles about lifestyle and fashion, and not enough on the actual music itself. You can find out far more about dance music on the net than you can through Mixmag," according to one punter.

Bets please on Mixmag making it until the end of the year. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sands of time

Kim Fletcher, the former editorial director of the Telegraph must be kicking himself. He had to stand down from his job in June last year when his wife, Sarah Sands, was named editor of the Sunday Telegraph.

Less than year later after Sands steered the paper through a nosedive of a relaunch (down from 714,992 to 682,739) she finds herself out the door and replaced by The Times' business editor Patience Wheatcroft.

 Ouch. Now Fletcher writes a yawn of a column for Media Guardian and Sands is jobless. No one's going to be happy in that house.

Dominic Lawson is probably having a laugh at least. He will enjoy seeing his replacement dumped so unceremoniously after less than a year.

Meanwhile, The Times is probably kicking itself. Wheatcroft had been tipped as a future editor of the paper, but at 54 she wasn't going to hang around to be asked for ever. Posted by Picasa

Maxim desperation

With Maxim magazine having suffered dismal figures in the recent ABCs, falling 16.2% to 190,438, publisher Dennis has come up with a great way to boost circulation -- give the thing away. Well, almost.

How much do you believe a copy of Maxim is actually worth? Dennis thinks that its magazine, which retails at £3.40, is worth about 41p. Although personally I think that might be overpricing it a little.

 Subscriptions to Maxim are currently being offered to members of the auction website QXL for £9.99 for the next two years. That's right 24, issues for £10 or a £2.99 discount on every issue of the lamentable men's mag.

Who knows how much media agencies are paying to book a page in the magazine, but with Dennis pricing it at less than a copy of Zoo or Nuts we hope it's not too much. Posted by Picasa

Guns don't kill rappers Big Brother does

Sad news from Wales. Looks like Maggot's appearance on 'Celebrity Big Brother' was not enough to save the Welsh rappers Goldie Lookin' Chain from the chop. The band have been dropped by their record label Atlantic after failing to get any sales uplift from the show.

Unlike Preston, whose band The Ordinary Boys did fabulously well out of the show with their single 'Boys Will Be Boys' shooting up the charts and sales of their album 'Brassbound' really taking off, Goldie Lookin' Chain have not fared so well.

The rappers best known for their hit 'Guns Don't Kill People, Rappers Do' are not giving up. The 20-strong outfit are forming their own label Gold Dust and the band's first single on Gold Dust will be called 'Maggot at Midnight'.

"We now have artistic freedom to do what we want. We won’t be working under any restraints and won’t have to tone down the act," the band said.

If only Maggot had pulled Chantelle, then he could be riding the wave of publicity and being snapped with the blonde Paris Hilton look alike at every opportunity. Wait, maybe getting dropped wasn't so bad after all.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Repeat after me: Eat more KFC

How desperate are you for a KFC burger? I didn't think so. ABC, the US TV network, doesn't think its viewers fancy one that much either. It has just pulled an ad for the fast food chain that contains a subliminal message.

To be fair to KFC (hang on a second...), while the words are secretly placed, the ad does tell viewers that the words are there. That's part of the point because it asks people to play the ad again slowly, using TiVo or a VCR, in order to read the hidden message and win the chance to get a free Buffalo Snacker chicken burger…worth 99 cents. Seriously who has the time?

ABC rejected it because of the network's longstanding policy against subliminal advertising. Fair enough.

KFC says the ad is part of its effort to defy the rise of digital-recording technology that enables viewers to skip ads, which is fine but really in the context makes no apparent sense.

The people who are ad skipping… will have skipped and those that actually have to watch KFC's offering… probably wish they could skip not rewind the ad and watch it in slo-mo.

That said, KFC is reporting that more than 70,000 people have entered to receive the freebie coupons on the chain's website.

I get that ad agencies are looking for ways to combat ad avoidance, but I can not imagine at which crazy stage this idea seemed like a good one. Really, I've tried and I can't.

Max Clifford: is lying justified?

This was in PRWeek last week under the above headline. It was a piece about Max Clifford throwing down the gauntlet to debate his style of PR.

"Come and have a go at me – in person – and let's establish just how far removed I am from the real professionals working in the industry," he said.

This all comes after a series of letters in PRWeek triggered by what Clifford described as "off-the-cuff" remarks in an analysis. The article asked how PR people could advise stars concerned about possible media reaction to their sexuality.

As if you had been in any doubt, this is how it's done:

"If an editor came to me with a rentboy selling his story, I'd provide a stunning woman and make it look like a threesome."

Kate Moss takes drugs

Another day another Kate Moss takes cocaine exclusive. This time The Sun devotes its entire front-page to the latest scandal…which took place in 1998, but hey -- it’s the scandal that counts, right?

Alongside the headline "Coke Fiend" and with a picture of a clearly "happy" Moss and at least four cut lines of cocaine, one of Moss's inner circle blows the lid on how she took drugs when on a trip with other models to meet then-South African president Nelson Mandela.

 Over a double-page spread, the paper goes into details about Moss's now well documented drug habit.

This will no doubt spark fresh media questions about Moss and her career as a spokeswoman for major fashion brands.

But these pictures and this latest story is almost a decade old. It seems likely she will again be able to shrug off these revelations unless The Sun has anything, you know, from this century to tell us.

The brands that were going to dump her already have and those that are sticking by her seem to love the fact that she is a gorgeous looking model and is rather edgy to boot. As Rimmel London demonstrated very recently when it as much as played up her busy lifestyle in its latest TV adPosted by Picasa

Friday, March 03, 2006

Lace lunch

If you were Garry Lace where would you go this lunchtime? Of course the Ivy would have to be your destination, and that's where Lace was this afternoon. Possibly just to show the industry that he was not hiding away… or maybe just because it's Friday.

Lace was just a tantalising two tables along with a mystery guest.

When I sat down, my lunch partner was sort of tipping his head slightly as I started to talk, possibly too loudly (it's been known), about our Lowe/Lace story this morning, before I clocked Lace chatting two tables along to our left.

We both sat there for a while, scratching our combined industry contact book, trying to work out who he was with, but sadly no luck.

Lace's lunch guest looked like an ad man. He definitely wasn't a lawyer, the no tie and slightly ruffled hair decided that, but quite who he was exactly we couldn’t decide.

There was the small hope that Lace would stop by and say hello to my lunch time contact on his way out, introducing his dinning partner at the same time, but he was still there after we left.

I'd like to say that I spotted him drowning his sorrows, but as far as I could tell he was drinking water. What is the ad industry coming to.

Carry on Lace

I feel we should have somehow seen it coming. Intrigue, legal letters flying, a £45m ad account and a start-up agency… of course, Garry Lace was going to get himself in trouble. As if losing one chief executive job wasn't enough.

I'm jumping the gun. There's every reason to believe that Lace will be found innocent and hold on to his job and still get his name above the door. It just seems more unlikely.

 Sadly, Lowe is saying it will not be updating the press as its investigation proceeds. This is a real shame.

At Grey, as the story unfolded in 2004 after an email was sent "anonymously" exposing a supposed new loyalty scheme Lace was involved in launching with Drew Thomson (the Air Miles managing director), it provided great copy in a kind of 'Carry On Advertising' agency way. There was the CCTV tapes from an internet café and one supposes lots of creeping around, but sadly the culprit was never found.

All this and Lace, who has always been tipped as one of the best ad men of his generation, became the comeback kid and given the chance to run another London agency.

So what on earth was he thinking about when he supposedly met with Sir Frank Lowe in December just as Tesco moved its £45m account from Lowe to the veteran ad man and his team?

Is Lace heading up The Red Brick Road? Posted by Picasa