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Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Media Guy Grabs His Sack

The Media Guy grabs his sack of mail...Well, I resisted and resisted; but no longer. The mailbox is full and alas, people need answers. So, without fanfare, here are genuine emails from my irreverent readers.
Q: My wife and I spent the last three weeks trying to figure out which airline you flew that would only have one passenger in business class and not upgrade the rest of economy so the meals wouldn’t go to waste. I observed that Daniella, dressed in that green scarf, looked like a career runway model that could still bring the heat. After much discussion, we created a game: Most Probable Professions for Flight Girl Daniella if She Hadn't Become a Flight Attendant. After discussing some possibilities (most likely: Heather Locklear’s advertising executive nemesis in the third reboot of Melrose Place), we decided on "First Grade Teacher." Our minds went wild at the thought of FG Daniella bitching and moaning about not getting paid for parent conferences before 8:00 A.M. because she doesn’t get paid before the first bell and her classroom doors are still open, then berating the class about the time it takes her to pour milk at snack time. But dear God, FG Daniella gets the ultimate pass because as my wife, the librarian, said “I bet she’s up for kissing me.”
—Jay M., Las Vegas, NV

Adam Ant's Librarian
MG: Do you have any idea how many sleepless nights that Jay M. from Sin City caused me? Too many, that’s how many. Why? Because I just spent the last three days imagining the Adam Ant librarian aka Jay’s wife and Daniella locking lips in business class. Then, I imagined her and Heather Locklear in a typical Melrose catfight. However you slice it, I’m bringing this to my agent next week for script development.

Q: I really can’t explain why J.C. Penney decided to go with Ron Johnson as their CEO, robbing America of the almighty orgasmic pleasures of the Super Sunday Sales. It’s almost as if he were a plant from Penney’s competitors designed to bring down the retail giant. Half the fun of shopping there was rolling out with 22 coupons and mixing and matching them just to “save” $31 dollars. How did he go this long without being on Retail Magazine’s most hated list? They need to bring back the coupons and the sales. This must be on your to-do list in your first month as the Ambassador of Sanity for J.C. Penney’s corporate headquarters.
—Salma Q., Torrance, CA

MG: Although Penney’s hasn't bothered to pick up the phone yet, I think you hit on something because Corporate Ambassador of Sanity sounds like a fantastic consulting road show. I could cruise from city to city, company to company listening to their brilliant marketing and media ideas for 2013 and 2014. Have you seen some of the bright ideas that flew past us during the last twelve months? The London Olympic Games logo? Quiznos’ disfigured, singing rodents campaign? Sony's synergy campaign? Sprint featuring CEO Dan Hesse in their TV ads? All of these companies need an Ambassador of Sanity. Yeah, I’m getting excited already.

Q: I’m wondering how Chris Brown keeps getting chance after chance with a suddenly forgiving media who is dying to give him a pass for beating on Rihanna and women in general with his insane actions. Is it because she’s a party animal that can’t seem to get out of her own way socially or is there really something redeeming?
—Samantha J., Kansas City, MO

MG: First and foremost, everyone simply loves a train wreck. Chris Brown certainly qualifies for that. He also certainly meets rule #2 in the Media Guy Mandates for a Great Story: HARM. Harm includes violence, damage, dying, scandals and blood/guts. Perhaps the real reason rests in the Fear Factor rule whereby the media is afraid a Chris-Brown-type will show up at their front door to pick up one of their daughters for a nice evening on the town. This is where you already want to know what a maniac-in-sheep’s-clothing looks like while he’s promising to get her home well before curfew. Experience means everything!

Q: There's no more underestimated story line in 2013 than hypersensitivity. Coca-Cola is racist. Ikea is has (trans)gender issues. Just a little while back we were patting ourselves on the back about racial and gender equality and everyone getting along. Everyone thought political incorrectness was washed up, but all of the sudden it made a comeback and the media has been all over it. Are we desperate for stories or should we be worried?
—Jordan Smith, Kansas City

MG: Holy mackerel, I didn’t realize how many groups were in an uproar about the media game already in 2013. The IKEA ad features a Thai man and his girlfriend shopping. But when she sees pillows sale and get excited, her decidedly female voice goes soprano on us sending her shocked boyfriend off running. The ad has riled a Thai transgender group, who calls the ad "negative and stereotypical" and sprinkled in "a gross violation of human rights" for good measure. A Thai transgender group seems pretty niche in the grand scheme of things but then again, I missed sensitivity training for this particular segment of the population which mosts likely totals 0.0000001% of the world’s population.

The new Coca-Cola Super Bowl ad has angered Arab-Americans because it features an Arab leading a camel caravan through the desert.

Warren David, president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, says "Why is it that Arabs are always shown as either oil-rich sheiks, terrorists or belly dancers?" Coke says the ad characters are a "nod to movies of the past." 

My take? 

I’ve worked with David in the past and he is right, because the shepherds leading the caravans look something like this:

True story: I took these pictures in Oman a few years back. The shepherd in the truck was angrier than those lecturing Coca-Cola about their perceived racism. Why? Because I drove in between his line of camels and messed up their forward progression. Later, we burned some Frankincense at the Salalah Hilton and all was better. Perhaps Coke should call me to be the shepherd actor next time.

So what’s the lesson to be learned? Better focus test your commercial to the groups you are showcasing in your ads because you want their stamp of approval before the fit hits the shan. Then again, perhaps all of the extra publicity Coke and IKEA are getting from these spots is worth the hassle to offend underserved ethnic and gender groups. All I know if that this meets rule #3 in the Media Guy Mandates for a Great Story: CONTROVERSY. Where there’s controversy, there’s a reporter looking to file a last minute news story. When you can dream up a controversy, you can virtually guarantee some juicy buzz in the media.

Twinkies: Yippie-keye-ay!
Q: Not since Reginald VelJohnson rattled off Twinkies’ to John McClane in Die Hard [sugar-enriched flour, partially hydrogenated vegetable oil...polysorbate 60... and yellow dye number five] have I longed for a late night tastes of the golden crème-filled cakes. Will they ever grace the shelves at Winn-Dixie again?
—Emily-Mae L., Auburn, AL

Q:  Sometimes I wake up in a cold sweat with Ghostbusters’ Dr. Egon Spengler  explaining the enormity of the threat facing New York: "Let's say this Twinkie represents the normal amount of psycho-kinetic energy in the New York area; according to this morning's sample, it would be a Twinkie 35 feet long weighing approximately 600 pounds"… What would this analogy be without the mighty Twinkie? Sign my petition to bring them back.
—Robert H., Anaheim, CA

How about that 600 pounder?
Q: I feel like Woody Harrelson in Zombieland, searching for the last Twinkie on Earth. I guess they did have an expiration date. Help!
—Brenda J., Istanbul, Turkey

MG: Never fear, Hostess has let the robber barons into their bakery nest. Hostess has picked a joint offer from two investment firms — Metropoulos & Co. and Apollo Global Management LLC — as the lead bid to bring back the Twinkies and its other snack cakes in a $410 million bid. According to MSN Money, Twinkies pulled in about $76.2 million, Hostess Donuts brought in $384.6 million and CupCakes brought in $138.1 million during Hostess’s final year. That’s a lot of calories. Speaking of which…

Q: Nice feature on Ray Lewis right before my Ravens made Tom Brady look like a deer in the headlights a couple of Sundays ago. Are you taking the Ravens in the Super Bowl?
—Joe J., Las Vegas

Q: I suppose you’ll be in Florida this Sunday covering the Super Bowl, right braggard?
—Phillip O., Cleveland, OH

Q: No blogs on the 2013 Oscars, eh? Did they ban you for your debauchery at the after parties?
—Sandra, K.., Toronto

MG: I am betting on Ray, but not the Ravens on Sunday. There’s a Las Vegas proposition bet where you pick who has more: Ray Lewis tackles or Kobe Bryant assists on Super Bowl Sunday. I’m going with Lewis tackles, but the 49ers prevailing 34-19. As far as going to the Super Bowl, I am a no show. I didn’t even apply for credentials. I’ll be at home analyzing the new ads. I am unsure whether to tweet about them (Media Guy Twitter handle = @marketingvip) in real time though. One thing I hope to never miss is the Oscars. I’ll be there on the red carpet for the second year in a row and blog about it then. Hopefully, I’ll be stealth enough to bypass security and have a talk with Angelina Jolie about this screenplay I wrote that is perfect for her (hint, hint Ms. Jolie).

Q: I read somewhere that sex lasts only about five minutes on average and burns only 20 calories. Why doesn’t that get more press?
—Dianne R., Toluca Lake, CA

MG: Reminds me of being seventeen all over again. Did your survey mention the age parameters? The regions of the country or world the data was pulled from? Male vs. Females? These are important factors in the potential decline of sexuality in the States. I did find a reference to a 1984 survey with similar stats. I’m hoping things have improved for the women of the world. Which reminds me that we don’t cover sex enough in The Media Guy Struggles. Why? I’m not sure since SEX meets rule #6 in the Media Guy Mandates for a Great Story. Note to self: more sex. (And who can argue with that?)

Q: Did the CEO of Taco Bell call you yet? Is that why their strategy is giving free churros? Maybe you should call him.
—Nala Z., Ft. Myers, FL

MG: Who can argue with the new spots? The ad made its debut on YouTube a few days ago and has over 200,000 views with the January 18th teaser being watched 500,000 plus times. CEO Greg Creed seemed to be riding high with Cantina Bell, the new Taco Bell “Live Mas” tagline and the Spanish version of “We Are Young”. That being said, I still think Mr. Creed should ring my phone.

Q: Beyoncé lip synced? Good or bad for the brand?
—Simon S., Winston-Salem, NC

MG: Nothing can derail the Mrs. Jay-Z train. She’s unstoppable and there is no reason this should have been a continuing story because besides having the kind of generational beauty that most of us can only wish for, there is one thing she can do without question and that’s sing circles around anyone. Whitney lip synced at the Super Bowl and her rendition hit #1 on the charts soon thereafter. Beyoncé is much bigger that Whitney ever was.

Q: What are you going to do with “The Voice” now that Christina Aguilera has been replaced with Shakira?
—Jon M., Oklahoma City, OK

MG: I deleted my Season Pass on The Dish.

Q: Do you think Christina Aguilera caused Hillary Clinton to pass out?
—Josephine P., Kuala Lampur

MG: Very much a possibility.

Q: Any truth that our favorite diva Miss Aguilera stepped aside to spend time with the Media Guy?
—Stephanie C., Manchester, England

MG: Uh, no comment.

Q: There were two typos when you initially posted your last column. Who’s proofing your columns.
—Nadia W., Tucson, AZ

MG: Sorry, Monica is on vacation.

Q: You nailed it in your Valentine’s Day column, it’s ruining the office. Any more tips to help out here?
—Marc W., Wichita, KS

MG: I reached back to Ernest Quansah whotold me that the brain’s feel-good “love” chemical – oxytocine – usually increases when women are presented with novel activities, beyond those established and preferred routines. He says to abandon old traditions and do something to sweep her off her feet with these five steps:
  1. Before the big day, drive her wild with anticipation by telling her that you have the most amazing surprise for her. This promise will keep her guessing and make her think about your evening.
  2. Know her favorite flowers. If you don’t, don’t panic. You can find out by making a comment, like “I’ve noticed plants blooming early this year …” and steer the conversation from there. In a beautiful vase, arrange an exotic bouquet and hide it somewhere in your home on the special day. She’ll like that you created the presentation.
  3. Go to your local chocolate shop and select her favorite kinds of chocolate. Have it boxed and nicely wrapped to prevent her from knowing what it is when you present the chocolates to her.
  4. Create a dish and name it after her. For example, if her name is Anne, you might call the dish “Tournedos Princess Anne.” This step is the most important. I can assure you that after having spent time in some top-notch restaurants, food that is named after a person is a special honor. We all know how women love it when their men do the cooking. What I do is cut and precook the vegetables, and I even make the sauce beforehand to make sure I get it as perfect as I can. Leave everything in the fridge. Then, on Valentine’s Day, I set the table before I start the cooking part. On both plates, place a fresh RED ROSE. The single rose is just part of making her think that that is all the flowers she will be getting (but we know differently). When she gets home, make sure to get her to promise you that she’ll stay out of the kitchen. Tell her not to spoil the surprise!
  5. When everything is ready, plate the food, cover it and take it to the dining table, and then ask her to come and sit. Before you uncover the lid, have her close her eyes. Retrieve the hidden bouquet, place the flowers on the table, and ask her to open her eyes. Pay attention to how she responds. Tell her what you’ve named the dish. But that’s not all – after the meal, take her by the hand, walk her to the living room and sit her down. Bring out the boxed chocolate, go on one knee and tell her, “This is for you,” or, “You make me feel whole,” or, “You are the most beautiful woman in the world and I love you.”
Remember, you don’t have to know why this works...only that it does work.

Q: The Bachelor – how do you see Sean navigating the insane women he has on his hands?
—Kimberly G., Dallas

MG: There are some crazies this season. Poor Sean. I promise a separate column next week with a recap and my vision to how it all plays out.

Q: I think we all know your love of Angelina Jolie – of course in a non-stalker, yet borderline stalkerish way – but seriously, do you need help distracting Brad Pitt while you try to talk her up at the Oscars? My bestie is a dead ringer for Jennifer Aniston and has a similar crush on Mr. Moneyball. Any affinity to forming a partnership to get what you both want? You can email me at any time.
—Brooke Y., West Hollywood, CA

MG: Yes Virginia…these are the reader friends of the Media Guy Struggles.