Hey Look… Up In The Sky…

Conan BlimpIt’s a bird. It’s a plane. No… it’s super… wait a minute. Yay, it’s Conan!!!

Over the New York City skyline is a piece of one of this year’s most well thought out cross-channel marketing efforts: a drive to the premiere of Conan on TBS.

Flying over the 5 boroughs is a bright orange blimp (that has nothing to do with Nickelodeon). If you see it in the sky, you can check into it using Foursquare, at which time you’ll receive a special Conan “blimpspotter” badge. The badge has no real value, but offers one-click bragging rights when you announce to your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter that you got something they don’t. I got it on October 20,2010 at 3:34pm. Conan Blimpspotter Badge

Not surprisingly, the Team Coco had the blimp heading over to Yankee Stadium (big audience with open sky access, free TV coverage, you know the drill).

This also benefitted Foursquare, which took advantage of the crowd by distributing a “Swarm” badge to everyone who had checked in once the total reached 50. They even used marketing speak in the email, by calling it a “flash mob” for all us early adopters.

Another piece of the Conan program is a live webcam (that started yesterday — October 20,2010) in the “stairwell of [their] comedy bunker.” You never knows what you’ll get on arrival, but it’s clearly improv in his planned, but random style. As I’m writing this, I’m being serenaded by a 3-piece mariachi band. If only there were margaritas.

They’re doing a wonderful job building buzz, and are demonstrating a much clearer understanding of how to use digital and social media. I’d also wager they are doing it for a fraction of what the Peacock Network spends marketing The Tonight Show.

Conan, Bravo… er… I mean TBS!!!

I look forward to seeing you again on November 8th.

2010 Fashion Week or 1994 Robert Altman Film?

2010 London Fashion Week Charles Le Mindu

2010 London Fashion week… Designer Charlie Le Mindu (of Lady Ga Ga fame) has captured the attention of the press by sending models down the runway in nothing but their birthday suits save for his latest hat and purse collection.

In 1994, film director Robert Altman paid homage to the world of fashion with “Prêt-à-Porter.”  In case you don’t recall (or if you were only 8 years old at the time, coincidentally just like Charlie Le Mindu) the climax of the movie, was models hitting the catwalk in Paris wearing… you guessed it… their birthday suits.

So is this move on the London fashion runways in 2010 really “breaking the last taboo” as it’s being reported?  I don’t think so… it’s art that’s supposed to imitate life and, sometimes when things get a little too ridiculous, to poke fun or outright critique it. I’d like to think were Altman still around to comment, he’d share the sentiment.

Charlie Le Mindu may be reversing the old saying, but he may be a savvy business man.  He’ll probably benefit by riding the media swell being created to higher heights.

I was hoping to post a side-by-side image of then (movie) and now (real life) as a comparison, but can’t seem to find the movie footage just now.  Instead, enough is being said by the woman’s expression at the end of the aisle on the right.

If you’re looking for the entire shoot, it’s available at Papierdoll Magazine here.

THE LATEST GREAT BIG COMPANY RUSE… QUALITY OF SERVICE

On the consumer-facing side of the network delivery world there’s a movement toward offering what’s being referred to as “Quality of Service” (QoS). In case this sounds like another language, swap out “network delivery” for “Broadband service.”

On the surface, the term and corresponding acronym sound pretty good. Something along the lines of “yeah, I think I’d prefer having QoS to not having QoS,” right?!

Wrong.

As a consumer, the most likely place you’ll see QoS is from your broadband provider (DSL from the phone company or Cable Modem from the cable company), and it basically boils down to one thing:

Preferential treatment.

Again, on the surface it sounds like something you’d want, right?! Maybe, but I don’t think it’s really good for you… sort of like Nutrasweet.

This preferential treatment splits into services and content, but pretty much functions the same way. Explained separately:

Services: For argument’s sake, let’s say you have a cable modem and your cable provider offers phone service via your cable modem (known as “Voice over IP” or “VOIP”). QoS comes into play when your cable company puts into place the mechanism to prioritize that phone service on the network.

Still sounds pretty good right?

Ok, but consider this… Change one piece of the equation. You still have your trusty cable modem, but for your VOIP phone, you’ve decided to use a third party company (e.g. Vonage). In a QoS world, you’ve just unwillingly become a second-class citizen to your neighbor who decided to give all the business to the cable company.

Push this out a couple of years and we’re in a world of regional monopolies, not unlike the days of “Ma Bell.” Bet you no longer get your “all you can eat” package for $24.95. Hubbub about QoS and associated network costs would almost definitely become the cable company topic du jour.

Now let’s talk about the other side of the QoS coin:

Content: For about a decade, content companies (from the old guard Hollywood studios to the new world behemoths Yahoo! and Google to start-ups) have been trying to monetize their content on the Internet. The major problem that they’ve faced is that the Internet was born free and established itself in the minds of the public as such. Despite the illegality of stealing music online (MP3’s), this reinforced the idea that what once cost money now doesn’t have to. QoS comes into play when your DSL or Cable Modem provider decides to strike “carriage deals” with content companies. From here, it pretty much plays out the same as above. If yours struck a deal with Google and you are a diehard Yahoo! fan, your neighbor might be getting preferential treatment.

Here’s what I have to say about QoS to the broadband providers:

Stop trying to force fit my Internet into a monetized model that you understand from existing distribution channels. Your job is to figure out a better model (e.g. more speed, more reliability) that works for me because don’t forget, the Internet isn’t yours, it’s mine. You are just the pipe. If you forget that, for even a minute, I’ll do my business elsewhere. I know and understand that you and the content companies need to make money, but it won’t be at my experiential expense.

Seacrest out!!!

(No relation, just always wanted to say that)

DTC PHARMA ADVERTISING OR THE END OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION…

Well folks, what the hell have we come to? Is there any larger scourge than Direct to Consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical advertising? It’s the Dark Ages all over again, where all sorts of beasties are preying on weak and frail humans. We’re under vicious attack from toenail fungus and mucus. The horror!

Who the hell is coming up with these ad campaigns?

Lamisil® starring Digger the Dermatophyte, and Musinex®, with the wife beater wearing Mr. Mucus (nothing more than a white trash Slimer ala the first Ghostbusters film) are among the worst DTC pieces of crap out there. I swear these campaigns are contributing to the downfall of humanity, sending us backwards to a time when we explained phenomena by making stuff up. Did you know that worms were thought to be horse hair brought to life by a clever mixture of water and mud? Interestingly, frogs also were thought to be a life creating mixture of the same elements, but alas, I digress…

I can see it now, a conference room in a high powered ad agency… here’s the pitch, buck toothed monsters are eating your toenails. It’s Brilliant, sure to drive every last customer into the doc’s office asking for salvation from these dread creatures!

The market research must show that the entire American population is a bunch of cave-dwelling imbeciles. How else would we fall victim to such drivel. I mean, come on…a puke yellow goblin eating my nails? It’s just a fungus people; it’s not going to kill you.

I’ve got no problem with an educated public that understands the risks and benefits of prescription drugs. However, the crap that’s being shoveled in our direction is not helping educate, it’s helping nothing. How about this, instead of spending millions in agency fees to come up with the next Digger, how about putting the money towards actual educational campaigns that treat the consumer like an adult? Better yet, leave the prescribing and educating to the physician-patient relationship, and put the cash towards research. Drug resistant bacteria are on the rise, and we’re running out of antibiotics. Imagine multi-drug resistant flesh-eating bacteria…now there’s a monster.

Please don’t encourage this abomination by visiting www.mucinex.com or www.lamisil.com.

THE VOICE OF CNN… NO, NOT JAMES EARL JONES

Back in the days when people thought Ted Turner a loon, he was a visionary. In the words of the now infamous Apple Computer “Think Different” ad campaign, he saw the world through a unique lens, and his vision resonated in the form of a 24 hour news network that would change the face of global media: CNN.

Since its inception, there has been a proliferation of 24 hour news networks by almost every major media company. This has also changed the face of news media… What once was a craft born of research and integrity has become a dilution of brands (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, who cares) in the race to break every would be story before the next guy.

Taking inventory on CNN.com today as an example turned up the following samples (alongside a reasonably noteworthy Hamas Landslide Shakes Mideast):

This mixed bag of stories reeks of a spoof of tragedies in which people act like they’ve been irreparably scarred that one might expect to be an issue of “The Onion.” Let’s go through the stories one at a time.

Sadly, the first is a true story. Seven children were in a car that was struck by a tractor trailer and died when the car burst into flames. The title however might make one believe that we are not in the era of the Internet, but an era parodied by the 1984 comedy “Johnny Dangerously” where the only way to sell papers is to have some kid in knickers standing on the corner yelling out the headlines.

“Extra, extra, read all about it!!! Grandpa Dies After Hearing 7 Die in Fiery Wreck!”

Tragedy. The editor should apologize to the family and be fired… Maybe “The Onion” is hiring, although I bet they work on a different salary scale.

Next…

Let’s read the title again. “Living homeless on the streets could mean dying.” Need we say more? Do you get it? As far as headlines go, this pretty much says it all without the need for a supporting story.

Finally, “Did that Elmo potty pal ask ‘who wants to die?'” What do you think? Is the new American dream the lawsuit lottery? Does this fluff really qualify us to act “scarred for life,” call CNN, ABC, Geraldo or whoever and then sue Apple and Wal-Mart for $2,000,000 in emotional damage. Don’t say you missed “iPod Replaced with Meat” (just to be fair to CNN, this is an ABC News piece).

In discussing the state of affairs with a friend, I sarcastically commented (slightly off-topic) that suing Apple and Wal-Mart for $2 million is better than having to pour boiling hot coffee on one’s crotch to sue McDonalds for a mere $1 million. He responded that, if it were his call, he’d grant the money to a guy who scalded his manhood on purpose for the money. His reason:

“That’s dedication to the craft.”

Too bad it was a girl.

News at 11:00.