Wednesday, January 24, 2007


MotherJones Magazine has a terrific column called Ad Nauseum and in it's January/February 2007 issue they highlight some unbelievable media statistics including the following:

In 2005, there were 108,000 instances of product placement in television programming—up 30% from 2004.

he 2005 season of nbc's reality show The Contender had 7,502 instances of product placement—adding up to 11 hours and 57 minutes of screen time.

Placing ads inside video games is expected to be a $1 billion industry by 2010.

When Dateline NBC recently asked children to choose between a banana and a rock with a Scooby-Doo sticker on it for breakfast, nearly all chose the rock.

A recent Broadway production of Sweet Charity was rewritten to plug Gran Centenario tequila. José Cuervo described the change as "elegant, organic, not forced."

Advertisers spend more than $12 billion a year marketing to kids. The average American child is exposed to 40,000 ads per year.

References to "a killer coat of Lipslicks" and other Cover Girl products were worked into Cathy's Book, a novel for 12- to 17-year-old girls published in October.

Great Moments in Product Placement

1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas is conceptualized and sponsored by Coke.

2000 FedEx says of its supporting role in Castaway, "We're a character in this movie."

2005 Target buys all ad space in the August 22 New Yorker; its logo appears tore than 1,200 times in the issue.

Read them all

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

SPAM/SCAM | Cry for Help: 36 Scam Emails from Africa

There's nothing I dislike more than SPAM. We all know what SPAM is and I'm not talking about that delicious delicacy in a can that Monty Python referred to that became ingrained into our pop culture. No, it's a different icon of culture -- SPAM/SCAM email-- we either trash it or curiously look through the SPAM filtering software available in our email browsers to make sure we haven't missed a 'real' email. Those pesky spammers are smart and creative! They figure out how to rig forms and Opt-Ins, and create special software to fish for free email addresses. I just wish software developers could come up with a better filtering system so as not to catch 'real' email. Some spammers actually know what business you're in and create specialized content to fit that business.

Illustrator Henning Wagenbreth recently created a book Cry for Help: 36 SCAM Emails from Africa, in which he compiled and illustrated the bizarre 'Nigerian' SCAM email letters that asked for our help in making a fortune in lucrative business propositions. Wagenbreth explains "The deception with SCAM-mails works in the following way: first the scammers locate appropriate e-mail address suppliers and buy thousands of addresses of people all over the world, especially those people from rich, industrial nations. Enticing letters are then written and sent as mass e-mails. The author asserts that he has come upon too much money either through legitimate inheritance, political unrest, a tragic accident or through simple theft. In telling his plausible story, he slips into one of various roles decorated with rich detail. Sometimes it’s the helpless child by his parent’s deathbed who’s received millions of dollars and doesn’t know what to do with it all. Another time he may pose as the government official who is manipulating the state budget or embezzling state funds and is in search of someone to help launder the money. Or he pretends to be the relative of a deposed dictator and authoritatively demands immediate assistance with a foreign currency transfer."

While I'm on the subject, here's a particularly fascinating subject header of a SPAM email I just received while writing this post. Dad: My daughter killed my just come. I peer through my preview pane it's a press release with a stock tip. We've all gotten them. When will this SPAM/SCAM end? Perhaps we should all start archiving the SPAM/SCAM we get. There are some humorous SPAM/SCAM annotations out there, that's for sure.

Monday, January 22, 2007


Watch video of the speakers including: Bill Moyers, Jesse Jackson, Jane Fonda, Congressman Ed Markey, Gina Davis, Amy Goodman and Robert McChesney. Be sure to watch "5 words" from Conference Participants.

Friday, January 12, 2007


The National Conference for Media Reform is for anyone who is concerned about the state of our media and committed to working for change. This energizing weekend from January 12-14, presents ideas and strategies for winning the fight for better media and connects you with thousands of media reformers from across the country. The conference opens today with 3000 people who have traveled to Memphis to listen to over 250 speakers and attend their choice of 100 panels and workshops. If you care about media and can't leave your desk or office log on and watch streaming live video of the opening plenaries with Bill Moyers and Jesse Jackson, and closing plenary with Jane Fonda. You can also view the keynote session with Congressman Ed Markey who introduced the Net Neutrality bill and chairs the Subcommittee on Telecom and the Internet, actress Gina Davis and FreePress founder Robert McChesney. Tonight watch the Memphis Music Concert and rally streamed live on the Internet. Be sure to check out their blog over the weekend as well.

Be sure to take advantage of :

Downloadable audio of hundreds of panels and workshops
Live Blogging
Photographs of Conference on Flickr
YouTube footage of Conference taken by participants

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


User-generated content has become mainstream in the past few years with the development of blogging and social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube. Corporations have been scrambling with how to profit from this new media content revolution and they seem to have hit on something big that could also be quite powerful, creative and interactive. But it goes beyond that— it’s also cheap and they are wired right into their target audience. We are experiencing a paradigm shift in the way media and advertising business is done and I have some concerns.

Doritos has launched a web based contest where users create a 30 second spot to be judged by consumers and aired on the most watched event of the year in the US—Super Bowl Sunday. As of January 5th there were 1066 “Crash the Super Bowl” user created commercials uploaded and the top 5 winners were viewed over 676,000 times. They’ve created the contest on a fabulous beta site called Jumpcut where video can be edited online. People are commenting, hitting “I love it” buttons, and coming back to the site to vote for their favorite commercial. The winner gets $10,000 and a trip to the Super Bowl. Frito-Lay will have already gotten all those eyeballs and website traffic prior to the commercial actually being aired. That’s getting away cheap—very cheap in Madison Avenue terms. Then on Super Sunday there will be free PR with everyone talking about the ad. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. What company could ask for more from its advertising? It’s sure to result in a surge of Doritos sales.

Ok, so I hate to be the naysayer here, but let’s not forget that in the past I enjoyed many an hour developing advertising concepts and design for large corporations. Frito-Lay completely bypassed its advertising agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners in favor of letting the masses create their ad campaign. I have no problem with this. But, how will ad agencies compete with this incredible new user created concept? Frito-Lay is not the only brand to tap into the masses. This is just the beginning. But here’s what I don’t like. They are paying these young creators practically nothing for their ideas, and if successful they will use them into perpetuity without the originator getting any additional compensation. I really hate to include the small print of their “contract” but someone has to point it out:

“irrevocably grants to Contest Parties and their affiliates, legal representatives, assigns, agents and licensees, the unconditional and perpetual right and permission to copyright (as appropriate), reproduce, encode, store, copy, transmit, publish, post, broadcast, display, publicly perform, adapt, exhibit and/or otherwise use or reuse (without limitation as to when or to the number of times used), the Entrant's name, address, image, voice, likeness, statements, biographical material and Submission, including, but not limited to, the video or digital recording and performances contained in any of the above items (in each case, as submitted or as edited/modified in any way by the Contest Parties, in the Contest Parties' sole discretion), as well as any additional photographic images, video images, portraits, interviews or other materials relating to the Entrant and arising out of his/her participation in this Contest (with or without using the Entrant's name) (collectively, the "Additional Materials") in any media throughout the world for any purpose, without limitation, and without additional review, compensation, or approval from the Entrant or any other party."

Isn’t that a mouthful?

What does this mean for the future of advertising? How about the young creators who are not only signing their creative rights away for pennies, but are also helping to push products by word-of-mouth, as well as buying and consuming them too? Who really wins with this model and is it a good economic one? I’m not so sure. I think user created content is great, but many of the young people who are participating in these projects may not realize exactly what they are getting themselves into.

Someone put on a critical thinking cap, please.