Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Rare Moment, Indeed

It is with a fair amount of humility that I confess I was completely and abjectly wrong in my prognositication regarding the finalé of Dancing With The Stars. You likely caught my commentary and predictions in the comments to the previous post regarding the departure of our wooden cowboy friend from the competition.
A Mr. Bruce Campbell (surely not the Bruce Campbell?) asked for my thoughts, and I was more than happy to provide them. Sadly, I now must eat the proverbial crow.

My presumptive ordering was exactly the inverse of the final results. Thrilling though the dancing was, the "fans" who made the final determination seemed to enjoy the girlish antics of our erstwhile Olympic sweetheart far more than did I. (I would like to emphasize that in predicting the reverse order of finish, I did - in fact! - get the second-place finisher exactly right!)

My prediction had been that Melissa would win, followed by Gilles, with Shawn taking the bronze [as it were!]. My preference would have been to reverse those top two, placing Gilles in first place and Melissa second. But it was not to be.
Confounding my expectations, Melissa was the first one called out - as the third-place finisher. Next came the obligatory tension-building session of commentary from the delightful Tom Bergeron and the nearly-delicious Samantha Harris. And build tension it did.

Imagine my surprise (and no small measure of chagrin - no small measure at all!) when Shawn's name was called as the new champion. Another victory for the Olympians among us (as if they needed more), and a strong commentary that this nation no longer abhors short people [Randy Newman notwithstanding].

Ah well, on to the next season. Now let the speculation begin: will there be another computer industry "star" in the mix? How about a marketing professional? It's already got me tingling like Chris Matthews at an Obama speech!


Friday, May 15, 2009

Well, so much for the wooden dancer ...

After surviving far longer than anyone thought was reasonable (especially Li'l Kim, one might think!), our rodeo friend has finally been bucked off the stage [as it were!] by dint of everyone else's being better dancers than he.

Still, as noted in a previous "post" on this "blog," Ty's performance simply exposes the feet of clay of a certain "monkey-dance" poseur at Micro-Soft. Had M. Ballmer had the cojones (as our erstwhile near-finalist might have put it) to hoof it over at ABC along with Woz, his software giant (read de facto monopoly) might be looking forward to years of growth.
As it is, few will care that Steve "Fester" Ballmer might have been a contender, but chose to hide in Redmond instead.

Sad, that - sad indeed!

At any rate, one can only hope that the finale this coming week will be as spectacular as in seasons past, and that the next season will bring yet new surprises to the small screen.
Who knows, might there be a place for a master marketer to "bust" a move on the federally chartered all-digital airwaves? One can but hope and dream.


Tuesday, May 05, 2009

No "Adios" Yet

Well, shock was all around the audience this evening. Certainly I had no inkling that Lil Kim would be leaving Dancing With The Stars this early.
While the "junk in her trunk" as Len put it so Britishly did little for me, Ty's steady, yet mechanical dance style seemed over-ripe for plucking, as it were.

Perhaps the folks at home were mesmerized by his cowboy charms, perhaps the judges were tiring of Kim's gyrating glutei, perhaps we'll never know.

Still, it shows how important this program has become to America and Americans - if only Steve Ballmer had "sucked it up" [so to speak!] and entered the fray this season he wouldn't have had to lay off all those MicroSofties this week.

Ah, me, the vagaries and exigencies of marketing in the modern world.

So, five, six, seven, eight, Excelsior!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Marketing Ostriches

Wishing won't make it so, my friends;

no, I'm afraid that it simply won't.

Oh dear, they're at it again. Perhaps I'm getting an inkling of what our infamous, erstwhile Vice President experience when he felt compelled to upbraid those "nattering nabobs of negativism" in his famous address.

Would that it were as simple as combating a bevy of journalists on jeremiads – alas, it's far worse than that. Once again the “trades” are full of excoria, purporting to be expert advice regarding the practice of marketing and maintaining brands – and these by self-proclaimed practitioners of the craft.

And what [dare we wonder?] do these “experts” prescribe? Nothing less than the death of brands as we have come to know them. Yes, these experts resemble no one more than the fabled Dr. Kevorkian of suicide machine fame. As an aside, one wonders – where is the good doctor these days, in prison? Writing a book on marketing? The mind fairly boggles, no?

Surely you exaggerate!” I hear you cry, and perhaps I do – but I very much doubt it; for once again the siren call of “Your Brands are what everyone else says they are” is heard throughout the land. Yes, and your résumé means precisely what I think it means, and not what you had intended, right?

And so it goes.

When will we get past this cult of the mediocritocracy? Perhaps this all goes back the Jean Paul Sartre and his French existentialist ilk. The whole idea that “you are who others think you are” seems to be the basis for today's rampant brand surrenders.

One must assume that they've missed the basic point of Sartre's play, Huis Clos (or No Exit, to you and me!), which was that Hell is Other People.

If we let our brands be defined by “other people,” we've consigned them [and ourselves!] to Marketing Hell. Hardly the stuff of which dreams are made, let alone profits.

All the while this drivel [yes, drivel!] is being promulgated, we also receive information that strong corporate brands continue to grow – despite the economic downturn. Clearly, a fickle, shifting public defining of these brands is no-where to be seen – growing brands are strong because they're nurtured by wise marketing professionals, not by being blown thither and yon by the vagaries of public opinion.

In a related blast of cognitive dissonance (if you'll pardon the “technical” term!), I read that there are now more Americans making their respective livings as professional bloggers (?!) than there are fire-fighters or even computer programmers [sadly, there are still more lawyers than bloggers].

Where's the dissonance?” you ask. Well, just as my mind was being boggled by reading this statistic, I discovered that one of my three favorite bloggers is hanging up his keyboard, as it were.

Whenever I wanted to catch up on the goings on in the “Motor” City [that's Detroit to you and me!], I would steer my trusty browser straight to the Detroit Media Guy blog on the internet. Seldom [if ever!] would I be disappointed by the posts and the comments. Yes, it's quite a testament to the readership that DMG (as his cyber-friends seemed to call him quite regularly) was able to attract that the comments to his musings and postings were often as well-written (and as well read!) as those posts themselves.

Perhaps it's time for a mini-series of newsletters covering my favorite bloggers – before they're all victims of bit-rot or right-sizing or perhaps not.

It might be instructive to gather a list of your favorites and mine, so that we all might share in the cyber-bounty of thoughts and counter-arguments that make up the blogosphere [and no, Jody, that as nothing to do with that rascally erstwhile Governor of Illinois!].

As a start, my top three, in no particular order (thank you, Tom Bergeron!) are:

Detroit Media Guy,
Random Rantings, and
The Lonely CEO

[feel free to follow the links cleverly embedded in the preceding text to sample these fabulous blogs!].

We here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC look forward to compiling and disseminating a list of our joint favorites in the weeks to come.

Excelsior! and RIP DMG.

Last time, Jay wrote about the death of newspapers and paper routes:
R. Scott "Randy" Hearst responded:
"Jay, you've either got your tongue stuck in your cheek, or you're woefully ignorant of the real workings of the paper-delivery system in this great nation of ours.
I notice that you don't distribute a printed version of your newsletter, so you don't have to deal with finding a stable of stinky young brats with bicycles to pedal through urbia and suburbia delivering the sweat of your brow - now firmly printed on pulp. If you had ever had to substitute at 4AM in the cold for some rotten brat just because he had strep throat or pneumonia, you wouldn't ..."

I'm going to stop you right there, "Randy," before it gets too personal. Once you've calmed down a bit, I'd appreciate a less deprecating and more thoughtful commentary. Any chance of that?

-- Jay

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Demise of News[papers]?

Beaten to a Pulp? What will fishmongers and bird owners do?

Denver, Seattle, Detroit … the itinerary of death for pulp nonfiction wends its way across our land. While our sub-head [please pardon the technical term, won't you?] may seem a bit frivolous [but clever!], the topic most certainly is not.

Most articles – or screeds, if you will – which one reads on this topic are predictable in their tone and focus. “Oh, dear,” moans the editorialist, “American civilization is doomed to collapse as precipitously as the circulation of [insert major metropolitan newspaper here]! If citizens don't read newspapers, they'll vote for the politician with the whitest teeth or cleanest collar. Without the journalistic class to protect the masses, they'll follow someone else's lead instead.

This musing is different. Frankly, we here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC don't see that the journalistic class has done all that much good for us as a nation [especially lately!], nor that it's necessarily a bad thing to give someone else a turn at leading the gullible to the public trough to be fattened for slaughter and exploitation. Well, granted that is necessarily a bad thing, but not necessarily a worse thing.

At any rate, this musing is different, in that it purports to concern itself with the long-term effects of this sea-change in information distribution modes on more important matters – marketing and advertising. Think about it; how many of us grew up as workers and entrepreneurs by starting with the [no longer, alas] ubiquitous paper route as a first job? The virtual overflow of our in-box here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC is largely due to a plethora of messages on just the topic broached above – where will decent employees be found in the future, when there are no newspaper delivery routes to hone their sense of responsibility?

Sadly, the answer seems to be: “Sorry, haven't a clue, please move on to the next topic.” Of course, that's only the first brush at an answer, but it seems to be held quite nearly universally. It has been estimated elsewhere that of the [nearly!] 10% unemployment we see in these United States, somewhere between 3 and 7 points are directly attributable to employers hesitation to hire new workers who are seen as potential slackers at best, and certain dead-beat lay-abouts at worst.

Of course, the Mumbai Times [or whatever the Bombay Post is now called – why do these cities keep changing their names? I still want to visit Constantinople, my friends, but I'm thwarted at every turn.] simply couldn't have employed the teeming multitudes of that fabled metropolis in its delivery ranks, and companies here are discovering that a slacker in Mumbai, India is not really much less expensive than one in, say, Merchantville, New Jersey – and the phone charges are actually [generally!] much lower when employing the domestic variety.

"Well and good," I hear you moan, "but what does this all mean for me as a marketer or advertiser?" and well you should ask that. Consider this thought experiment, won't you?

  • Newsprint, the "paper" part of these news-papers, is a renewable resource, admirably administered by our friends in the timber and pulp-wood industries. Should the need for said product "dry up" or decline, there will be fewer of those rugged lumber-jacks chopping down trees and eating their respective lunches.
  • Next, and perhaps more importantly, there will be less "virgin" [pardon the expression] newsprint available for recycling.
    "Get on with it, Jay!" you say, and so I shall - but be warned, this next bit is hardly for the squeamish among you.
  • With less fresh paper available to be put into recycled paper and cardboard for packaging, our clients and marketing partners will find it more and more difficult to – truthfully – label their packaging as being comprised of large percentages of post-consumer recycled products.
  • Frighteningly, just at the juncture where it is essentially essential to be seen as "green" or Earth "friendly" by the consumer, their own changing habits will stick a monkey-wrench, wooden-shoe-like, into the very mechanism to which they have sent us.

Well, I'm sure that having read the foregoing, each of you, dear readers, has reached the inevitable conclusion that our own employees will hate us for refusing to be "green" by using recycled paper products, the raw materials of which they have refused to supply by refusing to read newspapers. Of course, these very employees, having missed out on the training and in-doctrination normally supplied by working a paper route, will drag our companies' productivity down to the levels of those in Hungary, Canada, and other third-world nations.

We here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC are nothing if not optimists, but soon we may be nothing.

Your comments and commiseration are welcome, as always.

Last time, Jay wrote about entertaining clients and subtance abuse:
Bill Wilson responded:
"Jay, I think your thumbnail hits this picture right between the eyes. I remember when I started in advertising, and it was nothing for us to down three or four cocktails before lunch, and then have a few more when we got to the restaurant. Of course, it didn't really affect the work we did, nor do I think I have a problem with ..."

Bill, I think it's time to move out of Egypt, and away from de-nial, my friend. Please, seek competent help while you can still count to twelve!

-- Jay

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Entertaining Clients

Are there lines which one ought not to cross?
Some pit-falls and prat-falls of T&E

We were having lunch at Michael's a week or so ago. I believe I saw Jack Myers there with an attractive woman who must have some position in an up-and-coming, off-the-wall new media company.
"Aren't you having a drink today, Jay? Are you feeling OK?" queried my guest.
"Yes, I'm feeling fine, thanks, but no, I'm not drinking today. This is my way of showing solidarity and lending some moral support to my erstwhile partner, Pat."

Some background may be in order here. What a long, strange trip it's been....
Perhaps I ought not to have been surprised, but I must admit that I was completely gob-smacked when I received the call from Dr. Rodney.
The good doctor was calling from the Casper-Harvey Clinic to tell me that Pat had “checked himself in” for treatment.
After hanging up – and informing certain of the staff here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC – I had a long conversation with Morgan and Jody about the dangers of our way of life – viz. how entertaining clients can be a quick road to liver damage and other problems. Morgan – perspicacious as ever – opined that this might help to explain Pat's behavior back when he had announced my death to the readership of this newsletter and blog. I have a feeling that Morgan is correct.
In fact, I have been out in the great (!) Pacific Northwest® these past two months, lending to Pat what support I could in his efforts to de-tox his body and to re-start his life.
At first, I was almost more concerned for myself than for Pat, as I – for perhaps the first time! - noted just how much of the distiller's art I routinely quaff. Still, as the weeks went by, and I began sleeping more soundly than I had in years, I found myself almost thanking Pat for his “fall” from grace - as it were! - which showed me just how closely behind him I was poised (metaphorically speaking, in the main).

But ... back to my lunch at Michael's. My co-diner [but not co-winer!] was somewhat non-plussed at the fact that I was forgoing the traditional adult beverage. While not nearly as prevalent as it once was [alas, the days pass much too quickly], the consumption of alcoholic beverages as part of the business T&E tango goes on a-pace.
One wonders if there will ever come a time when the after-lunch brandy, the "House Chardonnay" with the entrée, or the pint of Guinness [for strength!] with a plate of fish and chips will be as unwelcome in polite society as is the Camel "straight" or the post-meal cigar in this day and age. I - for one! - dread any such developments as not only counter-productive, but also de-civilizing.

Still, I come back to that scene where I had to fess-up, as it were, to the fact that I was drying out in order to show support for a friend who was also being dessicated - and this for his own good, mind you.
There really isn't much more to put in this issue of our once-regular newsletter apart from this: We here at Jay Standish, Inc. LLC look forward - and most eagerly, let me assure you - to hearing your thoughts on this topic. Is there really a new era about to dawn on the consciousnesses of this generation of marketing professionals? What will a fully tea-totalling workforce mean to productivity measures? What of the workers at the breweries, distilleries, and wineries of this fine nation [and beyond!]? Think of the children! When will they learn the difference between an ale and a lager, a Pinot Noir and a Shiraz, or a true Bourbon and simple Tennessee sippin' whiskey?

We anxiously await your replies.

Last time, Jay wrote about long-distance relationships:
John Dvorak responded:
"I've been a true road warrior for as long as the term has meant something other than a wrestler or Mel Gibson wannabe, and let me tell you one thing. My relationships have been just as satisfying from a distance as they are up close In fact...."

Let me stop you there, John, before you reveal more than you perhaps truly intended.
As you may be able to discern from this issue's text, things are going, while not swimmingly, at least they are going.

-- Jay

Monday, February 09, 2009

More Bad News for Micro-Soft?

Yes, it looks as though Steve "Monkey Dance" Ballmer has once again flubbed the only opportunity he has to be a significant mover and or shaker in the world of high technology - viz that he was not included in the cast of the upcoming eighth fabulous season of Dancing With the Stars.

To make matters worse - if that were possible! - co-founder of arch-nemesis Apple, Steve Wozniak is the sole representative of geekdom on the program. One imagines this may be a chance for Apple to segue from Jobs to Woz, should the health of the former not improve adequately.

As before, please remember that you read all this here first!