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Thursday, February 15, 2018

Rhythm Nation

Okay, so where am I?

I took a break from the org chart and strategic planning to try and get some Taylor Swift concert tickets for the kid's graduation. It seems to a traditional to send the kid and her BFF to a Taylor Swift concert during graduation season. Last time is was at Staples Center and the capacity was only only 18,000. This time around it's at the Rose Bowl and its 100,000 seats. I think my chances are good.

All of this reminded me how I used to get concert tickets. Back in 1990, Janet Jackson's Rhythm Nation 1814 Tour was all the rage covering 113 shows in Japan, Europe, and North America. Getting tickets then wasn't so simple. In order for you to have had the privilege of plunking down your money to purchase your tickets, you had to wait in a long line at Ticketmaster that was situated inside a record store (or was it TicketTron back then?) for several hours, often even overnight.

"What's a record store?" you ask. Well, that's a story for another day...

Yes, before the Internet and technology did everything but spoon-fed you dessert, small villages of music fans materialized the day before tickets for a major artist or group went on sale in your city. Imagine that? The scenes were like little pop-up Woodstocks. People brought lawn chairs and sleeping bags. Some brought guitars and boomboxes dotted the line. There was a strong likelihood that the smell of illegal cannabis would fill the air. Stories were trade and lies were told.

Now, you don't have to wait in these lines and you can still get lousy tickets even if you buy them a minute or two after they go on sale if you don't have your special AMEX or Citibank code to get the good tickets. However, most of the time it's Tap-tap-tap and you're all set, taking the easy way out in the process along the way.

Don't get me wrong, the convenience of buying online is unmatched and if you strike out at Ticketmaster, you can always go to StubHub (or another third-party ticket broker) and get the ticket of your choice, sometimes cheaper than buying them from the source. But convenience comes at a cost.

Yes, we had to endure the overnight cold and line cutters, but if you were close enough to the front of the line, there was a legitimate shot you would leave with some really great seats, marching triumphantly with your tickets already in hand. These weren't just any tickets you could print off in plain bond paper from your laserjet, but real perforated tickets with your event, venue, seat location engraved right there into the paper.

Sometimes you were booed out of jealousy by those still waiting in line and sometimes you were slow-clapped out of the door...the sound of hands supplying the fuel to lift your sleep-deprived legs to your car.

The camaraderie shared by music fans was something to treasure. All of us united with a unified taste and love of the same artist. This is lost today in the soulless, robotic online transaction. But on the bright side, I was about to get my kid her tickets without throwing down with the Swifties telling me that the haters are going to hate, hate, hate.

Back in 1990, my Janet Jackson tickets cost $22 each and what a lovely, enlightening date that turned out to be. Worth every penny. Twenty-eight years later, the tickets were five times that plus a hefty convenience fee charge. But once I see those pictures posted on my kid's Facebook, it will be all worth it.

----

Not that anyone cares, but here was the set list of songs played April 21, 1990:

1. Control
2. Nasty
3. What Have You Done for Me Lately
4. When I Think of You
5. The Pleasure Principle
6. Let's Wait Awhile

Intermission

7. State of The World
8. Black Cat
9. Alright
10. The Knowledge
11. Escapade

Encore:
12. Miss You Much
13. Rhythm Nation

Monday, February 5, 2018

Dilly Dilly: Trying to Not to Punch the TV during the Super Bowl Commercials


Okay, so where am I?

I'm digesting the numbers from the Super Bowl and it looks like over 100 million people watched the big game again. I'm pretty happy because the taking the Philadelphia Eagles and plus six points was the steal of the year (uhhhhhm, hypothetically, because I would never gamble, of course). I have the DVR on fast forward trying to look at the commercials again and making sure I hear that Ram Trucks commercial properly.

I mean, was that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. stumping for the truckmaker? Was the good doctors speech about about the value of service really being used as a voiceover to sell trucks? Really? Remember when MLK said "I have a dream that one day a recording of a speech I gave about redefining greatness as a function of your readiness to serve your fellow man will be licensed by my descendants for Ram to use in an offensive truck commercial.”

Wait? Whaaaaat? He didn’t?

In a season marked by President Trump battling the National Football League over kneeling during the national anthem, you would think that using MLK to sell trucks is the the wrong mistake. And given everything that is going on in the country right now centering on race, it seems that there too much emotion to go there. In previous years, this high-risk move might have worked. Today? Not so much.

Needless to say, Twitter was set on fire with criticism of the ad...here's a handful of sarcasm from the Net:
A little checking discovered that Ram Trucks did not release this spot ahead of time like many of the other companies who spent $5 million for thirty seconds of air time. They were clearly looking for the surprise element, but now they potentially have a big problem with people being irked, the King Center for one:
Fiat Chrysler said in a statement, “We worked closely with the representatives of the MLK's estate to receive the necessary approvals, and estate representatives were a very important part of the creative process every step of the way.”

Eric D. Tidwell, the managing director of the firm managing King's intellectual property, Intellectual Properties Management, said, “Once the final creative was presented for approval, it was reviewed to ensure it met our standard integrity clearances. We found that the overall message of the ad embodied Dr. King’s philosophy that true greatness is achieved by serving others.”

What actually occurred was that the night’s most tone-deaf and abhorrent ad was born and the perhaps THE moral leader of the 20th century is made to shill for Dodge.

What you don't hear in all of this critical white noise is that Ram Trucks resonated with their base using the MLK voiceover. It's a well-known fact in advertising agencies serving the automobile industry that African-Americans do not buy trucks at the same levels that Caucasian-American do. So, the message selling trucks is almost always geared towards white Americans. 

Sorry for the truth here, so don't shoot the messenger...

Onto some of the other spots:

Toyota leads off its Super Bowl ad buy with a spot featuring Lauren Woolstencroft, a Paralympic skier, who has won eight gold medals. While I am pleased that Woolstencroft earned some publicity—her perseverance and determination are very inspiring—but again it makes me cringe on what and whom are used are used to sell cars. Seriously, it doesn’t any perseverance or determination to lease or purchase a Toyota...it takes somewhere between $199 and $499 a month for 36 months, plus drive off fees...


Wendy’s—unofficial corporate motto: “Our Food Is Meh, but at Least We’re Jerks on Twitter”—takes a page from Avis trying harder with direct shot at McDonald’s: “The iceberg that sank the Titanic was frozen, too,” says the ad. In your face, Mickey D's! I love a good fast-food feud as much as anyone, but I feel like Wendy’s would do well to mind that Old World proverb: “Restaurants that sell weird square hamburgers shouldn’t throw stones.”


Easily my favorite ad as Peter Dinklage lip-dubs a Busta Rhymes song for Doritos, and then is immediately bookended by Morgan Freeman lip-dubbing a Missy Elliott song in an ad for Mountain Dew


In my Class of 2017 Media Guy Hall of Shame Inductees column I took aim at T-Mobile for their endless and annoying audio cues. Now Bud Light is doing it with this “Dilly Dilly” nonsense. Don't get me wrong, because I'm not so ignorant to understand that this catchphrase is something of a phenomenon. These inexplicably popular ads also leave me inexplicably wanting to punch my TV as well.


Diet Coke Tasted Mango...I can hear the execs sitting around in the concept room. 
"We need to show everyone that it’s not just for your colleagues in accounting anymore!"
"How about we put a dictionary-definition millennial in front of a yellow brick wall and she can hold a can of Diet Coke Twisted Mango, dance awkwardly, and mumble to herself?"
"We can let the music play for 30 seconds over her inane mumbling and $5 million well spent! Right?!" 
I guess it did its job...I am now painfully aware that Diet Coke comes in mango. 


Here's what the real MLK speech sounded like on February 4, 1964:


Friday, February 2, 2018

LEAKED: Your Guide to the Super Bowl Commercials and Betting Props

Okay, so where am I?

Before I get to the top Super Bowl commercials leaked before Sunday, I just want to say that I feel a huge measure of vindication. "Why?" you ask? Because of stories like this from Variety:
Madison Avenue Hopes Super Bowl Ads Won’t Get Trumped by Politics
Analysis: Big Game. Small Ads?
Madison Avenue heavyweights say they don't want their ads to play off politics or social issues in Super Bowl LII. Will the commercials be as memorable as in years past?
Last year, post-Super Bowl, I said to "Blame Trump" for all of the misguided ads built for the game to combat the President and his perceived (or not-so-perceived agenda). The ads may have resonated for the snowflakes, but those of us who spend money in big quantity on consumer goods were appalled. True be told, I am still a little salty at my colleagues in the advertising world who let these ads push forward. I'll run down the winners and losers (mostly the losers) next week after I digest them in the moment.

Currently, I'm scouring the prop bets for the Super Bowl on Sunday and pretty thankful I placed a few dollars on the Eagles early and got six points back (the current line as of posting is the Patriots -4). What does that mean? I means the New England Patriots can win by five points and I can still win my bet. I'm feeling good about this since the the Patriots have won five of these recently, all by less than five points. Easy money? Ha! Only Las Vegas, offshore books, and local bookies make money on the big game.

Back to the prop bets, I'm considering a few:

-The coin toss is a fun prop that even the most casual bettor can embrace. This bet is slightly more advanced than picking heads or tails, but I like it more as there are some fun trends to note and wager on. Regardless of which side of the coin is called on Sunday—and for the record heads has come out 24 times and tails 27 times throughout the history of the Super Bowl—the NFC has found a way to consistently win the toss over the last two decades. The team representing the conference has won 18 of the last 20 coin tosses. My Pick? The Team That Wins Coin Toss Wins Game: No (-103).

-Color of Bill Belichick hoodie (must wear hoodie for action)
  • Grey +120
  • Blue +140
  • Red +500
-Will winning team visit White House?
  • Yes -200
  • No +150
Total number of Donald Trump tweets during game?
  • Over 5.5 (-115)
  • Under 5.5 (-115)
I mean you can bet on anything, even the halftime show:
Click here for the complete Super Bowl LII Prop Betting List...but before you do, watch the Top 15 Leaked Super Bowl LII Commercials:




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Flammenwerfer: To Buy or Not to Buy?

Okay, so where am I?

I'm contemplating buying one of Elon Musk's $500 flamethrowers. I mean, really, who DOESN’T want a flamethrower?


Full disclosure...The long awaited (especially by me) Media Guy television pilot has several mentions of the protagonist Alex Logan shining a flamethrower for his retiring agency boss before things go off the rails. There's even a flamethrower back story supplied by Alex's sexy assistant (why? because every television sitcom set in the office has a petite, sexy assistant, that's why!):
"You know, flame throwing devices date back to the Byzantine era. The modern version came from Germany. It’s translated from the German word Flammenwerfer and was invented by Richard Fiedler at the turn of the 20th century. It projected a jet of fire and enormous clouds of smoke twenty yards long, the way Peter does when he’s upset."
Today, it appears that the Media Guy wouldn't have to go down to his local Army-Navy store to pick up some dusty, decommissioned flamethrower. Now he can dial up Musk's The Boring Company and pick out a new street-legal model. For those of you who don't not Musk, he is the founder of SpaceX, the brains behind Tesla Inc., co-chairman of OpenAI and the CEO of Neuralink.

Media Guy Pilot Script from 2013
“Mark this down as one of the promises Elon delivers on,” The Verge writes, “apparently, because it looks like the Boring Company flamethrower is here. Redditors in a few SpaceX, Boring Company, and Musk-related subreddits noticed earlier this week that [a company] URL started redirecting to a page with a password box. And at least one user was able to guess the original password, too: “flame.”

It is still unclear how the flamethrower functions and I already have so many questions and the $500 needed is already earmarked for cigars:
  • How far will the flame stretch? 
  • What will fuel it? 
  • How much fuel with its tank hold? 
  • Where is its tank? 

For now, I have very little to go on with the image looking like a Nerf gun with a small section of hose at the back. But I do know one thing, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want a flamethrower. It would could almost be the perfect question for a lie detector test.
Guy Giving a Lie Detector Test: “Do you want a flame thrower?”
Guy Taking the Lie Detector Test: “No...”Guy Giving a Lie Detector Test: “I’m sorry sir, you just failed the lie detector test”.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

H&M: You Should Have Called The Media Guy!

Okay, so where am I?

I'm on phone watch hoping Karl-Johan Persson, the CEO and president of Hennes & Mauritz, aka H&M, stops monkeying around and dials me up so we can discuss their ridiculous Monkey hoodie and subsequent lame apology. Maybe before I rant and rave and tell you how a simple pre-release phone call to the Media Guy can save companies millions of dollars, perhaps I should show you the source of my consternation:

H&M: What were you thinking?
Uhhhhhhh...I'd be speechless in this case, but, you know, I'm never speechless.

In previous columns, I have expressed empathy for the CEOs of these organizations for not calling because I felt people in the marketing and advertising department would lose their jobs. But in reality, nothing happens. They just go about their days and weeks issuing lame apologies and react to the situation they caused, rather than respond to them.

In case you missed it, the term "monkey" has been used as a racial slur toward African-Americans. Just look at the picture above. In the ad, the African-American is a "monkey" and the Caucasian kid is a "survival expert." Ugh!

The "monkey" sweatshirt fiasco is yet another miserable reminder of how much more work lies ahead when it comes educating corporations about the consequences of using certain images and messaging. The Swedish clothing giant is learning that lesson firsthand.

A barrage of comments ensued, including multi-platinum recording artist The Weeknd who ended his partnership with H&M:
It didn't end there. A barrage of comments ensued, with celebs from Questlove and Snoop Dogg to LeBron James and Diddy raucously protesting (and, in some cases, redesigning) the tone-deaf ad via Twitter and Instagram. H&M also lost rapper G-Eazy who also terminated his agreement in advance of the March 1 launch of his H&M collection.

In true cover your ass mode, H&M released a statement saying it had withdrawn the hoodie from sale and would "thoroughly investigate" to make sure there is not a repeat of the incident.
As my colleagues have noted over the years, the "whitest guy in the room" should take a backseat when it comes to being outspoken about racial matters. Having spent my formative years growing up in Inglewood, Compton, Hawthorne, I know what sets a crowd off and how institutional stereotypes screws everything up.

From where I sit, it's painfully obvious that no one of color is involved with the H&M creative teams. Further their apology seems like a reluctant task rather than a duty to the communities they are hoping to retain favor with...


H&M is a huge brand among people of color. What other actionable moves is H&M going to make? They’ve supported so many popular and up-and-coming artists including Lana Del Rey, Chance the Rapper, Amason, Florrie, and Lykke Li. If H&M addresses the issue honestly and explains how they’re going to rectify it then of course it will all blow over. As we know, talent is forgiving, especially when a payday rolls around. A year from now, few will remember.

I guess what bothers me is that all of this could have been stopped with one call to me. If they would have shown me this ad series, I could have solved it all by just switching the sweatshirts from one kid to another. It could have been done in post-production with a few hours of Photoshop.

In the coming days and weeks, it will be fascinating to see what the ensuing fallout will be for H&M. Will other music artists resist associating with the multi-billion-dollar chain? What additional steps will the firm take to recalibrate its in-house attention to cultural detail?

Will they call the Media Guy?

Karl-Johan...remember this: one call to me will save could you millions of dollars...words to consider strongly.

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Previous "You Should Have Called the Media Guy" Columns:

The American Red Cross
Pepsi
Kellogg's
Anaheim Ducks
T-Mobile, Dove, and McDonald's

Monday, January 8, 2018

Eavesdropping at the 2018 Golden Globes

Okay, so where am I?

I'm at The Beverly Hilton on the red carpet soaking in the madness on the red carpet of the 75th Golden Globes Awards. Honestly, I don't know how and why I continue to be asked to cover this event. But, I am so thankful, because the organized chaos of an awards show held at a hotel (instead of a traditional theatre venue) is something you should experience at least once. What's it like? Take a look...


Most of you already know that the red carpet was painted black in a fashion sea of protests and Oprah practically announced her presidential candidacy with her powerful speech and Time's Up was the theme of the politically charged night. But, as you know, all of the real fun happens off camera, including Tom Hanks making sure the martinis were served on point and over $20 million of jewelry and watches were worn last night.

Hanks, the four-time Golden Globe winner, impressively played waiter for his crew, delivering a tray of martinis while winding his way through the crowd.


As always there is a no-photo rule in the International Ballroom, but the Rock arrived and everyone wanted to smell what he was cooking. Dwayne Johnson, whose sixteen-year-old daughter Simone Garcia Johnson was this year’s Golden Globes Ambassador, had a posse of followers eager to breaks the photo rule. Looking extra handsome with his salt-and-pepper goatee and super white teeth obliged all.

The Rock with his daughter, Simone Garcia Johnson, and Thor (Chris Hemsworth)
If you saw the sea of black on the red carpet you know that most of the actresses in attendance signed on to the Time’s Up initiative. Their unity hit the forefront away from the cameras after Natalie Portman announced “the all-male nominees” for best director. Kerry Washington pumped her arms and gave a high-five to Eva Longoria who was sitting right next to her. Speaking of which...

Kerry Washington vamps at the after parties while Debra Messing and Eva Longoria look on.
Yes, it was a tough night to be a guy at the 75th Golden Globes. Women were abundantly vocal about harassment and their fight for gender parity*, however men were mostly quiet. Host Seth Meyers was a noteworthy exception, acknowledging that a white man may not have been the perfect host for the movement but filling his monologue with enough self-deprecation and righteous barbs to ease any concerns – or maybe he had some smart writers. Otherwise, mum was the word for men about the subject, with their biggest statements made in the form of fashionable lapel pins.
(*) I mean multiple Academy Award nominee Michelle Williams received less than 1% of Mark Wahlberg's paycheck for reshoots of their film All the Money in the World. Yikes!


"I want to give room to the women that don't normally have voices to talk about their sexual assault and rape and I'm listening. They need to know that it's not their fault and they're not dirty and that's my message tonight." --Viola Davis


The Feud Continues? When Jennifer Aniston appeared onstage, all eyes were on the Friends icon. Well, all except two, it seems. Seated at a table near the stage, Angelina Jolie appeared to look down and ignore Aniston as she presented an award. Super Awkward. 

Past Media Guy Golden Globes Columns: 

Golden Globes Gallery

Alexi Ashe with hubby Seth Meyers on the carpet.
Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer have a Help reunion.
Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel retained their throne a Hollywood's Royal Couple.
Backstage, us writers in the press room had access to buckets of beer on ice.
Obi-Wan, er, Ewan McGregor, won for his role in Fargo.
Elisabeth Moss won for The Handmaid's Tale while Connie Britton wore a $380 "Poverty is Sexist" sweater.
Penelope Cruz always dazzles.
Michelle Williams (right) with civil rights advocate Tarana Burke who started the #MeToo movement.
My tix to the show!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Class of 2017 Media Guy Hall of Shame Inductees

I've always said "either be unique or great...or both."

So you're probably asking, why am I saying that now? Well, while doing some research for an upcoming university project, I came across a section on a college website which highlighted how much it likes “diversity and inclusivity."

First off, congrats on being proud of your very high standards that most colleges and companies couldn’t possibly reach, even with a brilliantly-written mission and diversity statement. Really, it makes then very exclusive (the opposite of inclusive, duh!).

And yeah, it’s great that you’re attracting more minorities and people of color, but at the same time, your faculty gets more and more liberal, with conservatives being increasingly rare birds.

What the heck am I speaking about? you ask...

It means that you  like diversity when it’s about stuff that shouldn’t matter (gender, skin color, sexual preferences), but less so when it affects something that should (intellectual and political diversity).

But of course, the university can’t admit this, or else there’d be all kinds of trouble. It’s such a rabbit hole, I doubt anyone could avoid the land mines  he said, shamelessly mixing his metaphors.

Maybe the university would be better off valuing “uniqueness” rather than “diversity”?

Just thinking out loud.

Speaking of thinking out loud, in 2016, I introduced my "You Should Have Called the Media Guy" column where I call out tone-deaf advertisers who would have been wise to call me before running some of their ill-fated ads. So far, I've tackled:

The American Red Cross
Pepsi
Kellogg's
Anaheim Ducks

I write these columns opening wondering how advertising like this could have possibly made it past their high-paid teams teams of creatives and then when they do, they double down by spending millions of dollars in ad space to brag how clueless their ads are, tarnishing their brands along the way.

Despite my soapbox pontification, companies from McDonald's to Dove to Pepsi produced some tasteless advertising decisions last year. I mean, really? A simple phone call and a small consulting check made out to yours truly could have saved all of these companies a lot of bank.

And no, I am not always the smartest guy in the room, but yes, I AM somewhat of a savant as to why your silly commercial will or won't work. So, like the classic 1970s Fram Oil Filter commercial told us, "you can pay me now or, pay me later":


A small five-figure check to the Media Guy will save you seven figures down the road...yet I digress.

Bottom line of all of this? Don’t do what they did! So while I covered some bad campaigns already, here are three of my newest inductees into the Media Guy Hall of Shame:

T-Mobile

I hated this commercial so much, that I cannot believe I'm actually putting this in my column and subjecting myself to potential hearing the signature T-Mobile audio cues again, and again, and again. Serious, it's great that new T-Mobile users could now access Netflix as part of their subscription. But telling me again and again, and again? I just wanted to punch my TV:


Model and John Legend worshipper Chrissy Teigen may have said it best, "The T-Mobile commercial with alternating Netflix and T-mobile sounds puts me into an anxiety inducing personal hell.” On a side note, I cannot believe I am using a Chrissy Teigen quote to validate my hatred for this ad.

Dove

How in the world would you pay money to put an ad on television that could best be described as "racially insensitive" and at worst be cased "downright racist'? Dove did just that in October. The soap company posted an ad on its Facebook page that featured a black woman taking off a shirt similar to her skin tone to reveal that she had turned into a white woman wearing a shirt similar to her skin tone. What? Whaaaaaaaat?


Dove quickly pulled the ad and apologized: “In an image we posted this week, we missed the mark in thoughtfully representing women of color and we deeply regret the offense that it has caused. The feedback that has been shared is important to us, and we’ll use it to guide us in the future.”

Regardless of their ghost-written apology, hashtags like #DoneWithDove and #DoveIsRacist have gained traction. Such a shame. One call to the Media Guy would have solved their problem. In 2017-18, you don't take chances with people thinking you aren't diversity inclusive.

McDonald’s

In May, McDonald’s U.K. "Dad" spot shows a boy asking his mum what his dad was like. After a series of anecdotes and walking around the English countryside, the duo arrive at their local McDonald’s where it’s revealed the son and father both shared a love for Filet-O-Fish.


I'm sure you noticed that that the boy is clearly hoping one of the descriptions will line up with something that would describe himself. Alas, the boy and his dad seemingly had nothing in common, except that fish sandwich.

After the harsh criticism of the ad, McDonald’s yanked the spot and apologized. Sigh...