Friday, December 01, 2006

A-B Trades Up for Wholesalers

Anheuser-Busch's exclusive wholesaler network raised their collective Budweiser last night and saluted an overseas adversary, InBev, for granting their Christmas wish.

Elsewhere, wholesalers left to peddle Miller, Coors and anything else they can get their hands on must have felt like taking the lump of coal they were just dealt and shoving it up a Clydesdale's arse.

In a move that has been rumored and discussed at length, Belgian brewing giant InBev agreed to allow Anheuser-Busch to distribute their brands in the United States. And while the added volume is but a drop in the leading domestic brewer's overall glass, the move further strengthens their ability to provide a wider spectrum of beverage choices for a wider spectrum of beverage occasions. From Natty in the Carolinas to Stella in Manhattan, Anheuser-Busch can answer your call for suds.

There are some challenges...which will discuss in a moment. But on the positive side, the wholesalers must be ecstatic! Higher margin imports...and a competitive 'green bottle' to challenge Heineken...mean happy days ahead. Take a look at what an A-B wholesaler will be able to offer an account in the coming months: Stella, Becks, Bass, Tiger, Harbin, Kirin, Rolling Rock, Widmer, Goose Island, Grolsch, Red Hook and Kona...not to mention the giant roster of domestic beers, including the Budweiser, Michelob & Busch brand families. Couple this with their Innovation Group, which is has recently introduced two organic beers (Stone Mill Pale Ale, Wild Hop Lager), launched a seasonal program (currently featuring Winter's Bourbon Cask Ale), and a number of malt-based beverages like Spykes & Peels and you're witnessing the revolution of an American company from brewer to global beverage company.

All this is great from a volume stand point, but there are still a few issues. One, we're still living in a spirits culture. August Busch IV has hinted that he's willing to take the spirits and wine manufacturers head-on, either through acquisitions or the development of their own wine & spirits brands. After all...brewing and distilling aren't that different, well, at least the process isn't.

Another issue is managing all these brands and keeping them all top of mind amongst wholesalers. InBev didn't ink this deal so A-B's wholesalers could fall in love with Stella and disregard the others. Much like Busch, Budweiser and Michelob, who have have been in decline since the rise of light beers, InBev's premium beers like Beck's & Bass could suffer from overwhelmed wholesalers and limited funds to market these brands correctly at the local level.

All in all, it's a very impressive move and could elevate A-B to a true global player. AABIV has made his first big splash...lets see if he can keep up the momentum.

Cheers. SPB

Monday, November 20, 2006

Branded Utility

The on-line folks are once again throwing around buzz words about a "new idea"...making a product or service that is actually worth-while to consumers. I mentioned to trend-extraordinaire Piers Fawkes that I thought what Charmin is doing in Times Square was the ultimate in "branded utility"...actually giving consumers an extremely relevant opportunity to interact with their brands.

He seemed to agree, or at least thought enough of the idea to throw it up for discussion on his Web site. Check it out at
Cheers. SPB

Monday, November 13, 2006

KFC Changes Logo...really?

So, it looks like KFC got a little face lift...but did it? I mean, you wonder how many agencies, executives, focus groups, wives, daughters, sons and household pets it took for Yum Brands to come up with this splendid new logo...which really just looks like their other logos.



Crash n' Burn

Nothing worse, or better, than the call from your clients around 3 or 4Pm asking, "hey, do you guys want to work tonight?"

I mean, how do you answer that? Say yes, and every writer, artist, director and production manager hates your guts...despite running for Starbucks, beer, pizza, and anything else those pre madonna's want.

Say no, and how do you face your client the next time you're walking the halls. "Hey, remember last week when you were in a bind and I told you to eat it? Well, me neither...hey, do you have some work we could be doing with you?"

The best is the conflict you hear from management. With one side of their mouths they're muttering about the quality of work that we will deliver in such a short time period or dreaming of shrugging them off, taunting them with the idea that if they would have called us first they'd have great work.

With the other side, they're asking what other agencies are doing working with your clients, and why you're not doing more to keep them out and keep your agency top of mind. Not to mention the numbers & projection questions that come at this time of year.

Well...I'm sitting here, waiting to hear back from the client on this latest round of creative at 11:11PM CST...only then to decide whether to drive the boards to his house about 40 minutes away...or simply meet him at the airport around 5:30 prior to his 7AM flight.

God I love this job.

Cheers. SPB.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

I met Satan in Las Vegas

I was on the first real life hot streak of my brief gambling career. Ten dollar bets had turned into $100 bets and over 12 little black chips sitting next to my Budweiser at the MGM.

Then Satan arrived, wearing a bow tie, a teal vest and name tag that read, "Chen".

Let me start from the beginning.

Following two days of setting up a large event and meeting for some clients, and after one extremely long not out in Vegas sans gambling, I decided to find a nice $10 minimum bet roulette table, throw down $40 and play for awhile. Well, after awhile, I was up an astonishing $375 bucks. I hit three straight numbers...then followed that up with hitting #25 twice...the second time with over $6 bet. For you high rollers, I'm sure this is comedy. For me, I was giddy.

A new "spinner" came rotated in and I didn't like the cut of his jib so I took my winnings met some friends playing video poker at the bar. Being novice gamblers themselves, we awkwardly moved towards a Blackjack table, making sure no one looked too experience as to avoid making complete asses of ourselves (funniest thing about'll drink a liter of vodka and dance naked at a club, but make a stupid bet at a table and you're scared for life).

We all bellied up and started off hot. Keeping it simple, $10 here...$20 there...doubling down and winning a few hands, shortly I was up another couple hundred dollars. Then, my Queen arrived. A young woman from Korea took over and things just got stupid. I couldn't lose...or better yet, the house couldn't win. I was winning on 19, 13, 20, 15...anything. It didn't matter. If i hit, I hit soft. If I stayed, she busted. It was awesome. I went up $300 on three hands in a row. I was flying...tipping the waitress $10 at a time for a bottle of Budweiser. I was slapping guys on the back. I was laughing when I'd lose a $40 hand.

It was not to last.

Satan arrived with a smile and cold laugh. He looked at all the chips on the table...said 'wow'...then stepped on our souls and pocket books. Losing always happens much quicker than winning. Within an hour, I was back down to $500. I placed a $100 bet...landed 11 with the dealer showing 7...of course...Double Down. Satan dropped a 2. I knew he was the devil.

Alas, the dreams of a new iPod...maybe some new shoes and a nice night out with the lady when I got home vanished with quick twist of the dealers wrist and my inability to call it quits.

I still left on top...$200 dollars, after starting with $40. It's a small sum...especially for Vegas. But it was worth the experience, for I have seen the devil, and he wears polyester.



Friday, September 08, 2006

Man Baiting

Everyone seems to be amazed, hurt, disillusioned with the discovery that Lonelygirl15 seems to be a marketing ploy from a Hollywood Studio.

I'm amazed in this day and age when everything you see is followed up with the statement, "well, if it's real", that people didn't sniff this out earlier.

Let's see...Alarmingly regular posts...seemlingly no change in setting...and the most obvious, the seduction factor. Shut-in media junkies who longingly look for a little cyber affection find a young, beautiful girl who is also lonely, left with her videocamera and computer as her only means of contact with the outside world...then after a few sorrid testimonials tease them with the whole "teacher" thing...I think somewhere a geek just ruined his keyboard.

I have to think that the male human is the easiest creature to lure into looking stupid on the planet. I mean, sex is sex. I can't fault my fellow males for following it to the point of embarrassment...we've all been there. Hell, I followed it to college.

But this isn't even sex...this is the possibility of someone out there...a beautiful female someone...understanding the MySpace junkies and driving them into a frenzy with a few cryptic videos and one sexual reference.

Sure, some will say it was more than the sexual overtones...the Satanic symbols, the odd numbers games...But really, it was all about access to forbidden & subdued sexual energy. Plenty of suckers plugged in.


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Man Goods

Caught this over on Springwise.

I've yet to to grasp the entire movement to provide men with the same in-depth, over-involved hair care products that women enjoy.

I have a problem paying more for the crap I put in my hair than the hair cut itself. I'm a pomade guy...and I've gone lux with Crew and a few other brands...but there just isn't that much difference between those and the six-dollar varity you can grab and Target.

I guess it's just another trend lost on this Midwesterner.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Meeting of the Medias

Boldtype...another venture from the folks at Flavourpill that uses the best parts of the e-newsletter trend to drive you to what is possibly man's greatest acheivement...the printed publication.

I'm registered for around a dozen daily e-newsletters...ranging from my daily dose of PSFK to one from International Living that I just can't get rid of.

Boldtype only arrives in my in-box once a month or so, so much like my resolution to purchase an album each week from a band I've never heard, I have been buying at least one book a month from an author i'm not familar with or on a subject that I'm not really interested in. So far, so great.

Check them out at


This post has been written as part of the Carnival of Modern Man.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Is this Us?

Just what we need...another FHM look alike that makes us out to be beer guzzling, panty sniffing assholes.

As part of a project for my pal Piers over at PSFK, I agreed to spend a week or so concentrating on what it means to be a 'modern man'...or my take on my surroundings based on being a modern man.

At first I thought it would be a pretty tame subject, at least for me. I'm a regular sports & beer, I enjoy new music & art, I have style but don't consider myself "stylish", I live in a rather subdued Midwestern city, and I tend to work my ass off for minimal reward.

But the more I dug, the more I read, and the more I realized what has happened to the American man, the more disturbed I became.

Let's face it, white American men have become the world's punchline. From Dubya down to the "Real Men of Genius", we're pretty much the only group of people left on the planet that you're allowed to stereotype without some organized civil liberties kicking your ass.

And the only people we have to blame for our descent to the bottom of the barrel is ourselves. Just check out the mag rack the next time you're grabbing a Big Gulp and some jerky. Our options are slim...we have porn, seudo-porn, gamer rags, the usual sports titles...and then Esquire.

Being in luck, Esquire used their July issue to take measure of the American male...and according to them, it's a trainwreck. Editor David Granger (or is it Gregor...can't tell from my notes) says there is an "ambition & achievement deficit in young American males."

The magazine goes on to tell us we need Regan's Orange Bitters, The Lewis Ice Bag, WMF Loft Boston shakers and a Rosher bar spoon in our liquor cabinet. Oh, and they provide some not so subtle advice on how to wear your cuffs, collars and knots.

Excuse me, but fuck you! Those douche bags doing their best Rob Lowe in those Ray Ban ads aint me or my buddies...and they sure they hell aren't like anyone I know in New York city or any other city for that matter.

So based on our print meida options, we have some guide lines on how to be an asshole...and well, how to be an asshole.

Where does the real man of today emerge? The simple answer is in the middle somewhere...guys that spend Saturday's in "frat mode" and Saturday nights in "club mode." Guys that go from $250 Italian KCs to $10 Old Navy flops in a heartbeat.

It goes deeper than that. My friend Fritz who has spent his life in academia (lucky bastard) had this to say following a short email discussion:

"I don't know, being a "modern man", or an American one, at least, seems all about actively engaging whatever you do and having more than one identity at one time (professional by day, musician/wannabe cook/etc. by night, climber/hiker/biker/etc. on weekends) instead of linear identities like most of our parents' generation (be defined by work for 30+ years, then retire and figure out who you are)."

I found this really interesting in that our parents and our grandparents let their careers define them. As we have become disenchanted with a corporate environment lacking in any sort of commitment, we search for other things to define us...Multiple things. We have balked at institutions telling us what it is to be successful, or even what success is.

Excuse me Esquire, but some of the most influential and successful people I've ever met prefer flip flops and flower prints to Italian silk.

This "image of success" has been driven by Multiple factors, including the Internet, gaming, hip hop, the NBA and the X-Games. Teenagers with an idea can now be millionaires quicker than the square with an MBA.

Unfortunately, for every success, thousands fall behind...way behind. The dream of bypassing "the man" for green pastures is alluring, but dangerous. And young men who don't know when to pull the rip cord can fall far, fast.

So where is the target for young men? There isn't one. The good and the bad of it is that we are each asked to create are own target, and develop our own path. Society has a problem with this because everyone has shifted to the Right. Choices are bad. Rules are good. Stay in line and don't get hurt.

So far I've watched in amazement as men (and woman) have found and created success in thousands of different ways. An old friend from college, sick of the 9 to 5 started a limo company in Kansas City. My brother has spent seven years teaching ski lessons, going on the road for marketing tours, and just recently settled into an automobile marketing venture...all while living life to its fullest.

After thinking about it, the "state of the modern man" isn't a fair question. The question is "how many states of being does the modern man have?"


This post has been written as part of the Carnival of the Modern Man.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Add Budweiser & Judy and I'm Set

Thrillist points us to BAMN, a Jetson's themed eatery where good food is panned at the press of a button. The food looks decent...and if they can work in a beer-by-the-dime tap, some recommended 1-900 numbers and maybe a flat screen, the institution of marriage is not long for this world.


This post has been written as part of the Carnival of Modern Man.

Mario Killed the Fist Fight

I should have seen it coming ten years ago.

In an effort to "toughen up" my younger brother, who was half my age at 10 years old, I was ragging on his soccer skills...beating him every way from Tuesday...and really giving him no shot at all. Finally, following an embarrassing nutmeg, he turned and said, "Yeah, well, I bet I can beat you at Mortal Combat."

And thus, the right-of-passage when two brothers square off in a physical battle only one can win...but builds character in the other...was killed by Super Mario...and ironically, his brother.

Video games aren't new...but they are far more prevalent today than at any time in history. In my day, getting four quarters to go down to Velvet Freeze and a chance at Tron was a big deal. Today, college kids are forsaking the kegger for all-night Madden-fests.

If video games where limited to teenagers and a few hold-overs from the Dungeon & Dragons days, we wouldn't be discussing this. The fact is, gaming is now a multi-billion dollar business attracting consumers...mainly men...from the ages of 6 to 60. In a recent article, Chuck Klosterman of Esquire compared the gaming revolution to that of Rock n' Roll. It's that important...or so say the gamers.

And maybe so. In the article, Chuck searches for the meaning behind games, and why there are no real critics of gaming...not critics of the hows and whats...but the whys. He says we need to understand the "significance of potentiality". The meaning behind games. In the article, Henry Jenkins of MIT is quoted as saying "Gaming Designers are asking themselves questions about how a game should look and what it should do, but not about what the game is supposed to mean." (more about this later)

My buddy Fritz in Minny shared some insight from Dennis Trinkle, the CIO at Valparaiso University in Indiana. Trinkle argues that video games will become the primary tool which history, values, and culture is communicated. He notes that the verbal, or storytelling culture died with the printing press...and that books lost their primary foothold with the development of television and eventually motion pictures. Now, our children will learn about the Civil War, Middle East conflict, and the do's and don'ts of society (thank you GTA) via a console plugged into the TV. And it's not a terrible thing. Would a middle school student rather read Red Badge of Courage or learn about the battle of Gettysburg via fighting in it while playing a video game? And if they learn...does it matter how? My mother, a teacher of 25 years is feeling ill somewhere.

But, I digress. I could spend a year pointing out all the ups and downs of video games...but for this post, I'm focusing on one. The "pussy factor."

Kids...and thus men...are getting softer because of video games. We're launching a generation of wimps into the world. Men who's understanding of the world resides in fantasy and their ability to use their thumbs.

Despite Chuck's desire to find someone who can pull 'meaning' from video games...The fact is, video games are anti-meaning. It's 100% escapism. It's people fleeing from meaning, consequence and responsibilities. It's people taking a break from their crappy existence to be an NFL star, a car-stealing pimp, a magical warrior or a made-up creature with amazing leaping ability. What does it mean? Nothing.

And without meaning, we have a bunch of guys who's only recourse when "times get tough" is to dive into a world ruled by megabytes. Don't look at McDonalds & Coke as to why we have fat kids...parents should to look to the permanent indentation that their child has left on their living room couch.

But isn't just about kids either.

Men, fellas 18-36, represent the bulk of the gamers, and giving their buying power, they are the target of many new titles. I asked three friends...all 30 years old, all married, all working-stiffs, all in different parts of the States, what they were doing tonight. One was unpacking from a recent trip to Croatia. One was heading to the tavern to drink his fill and play some darts...and the other? Madden, all weekend, all the time.

I personally never got into video games...I don't know if it was athletics or all the hiking and camping I did as a teen...but it's just not something that ever became a part of me. But gaming isn't like a lot of technology...I'm embarrassed that I have no idea how a DVR works...even if I don't watch enough TV to own one. I can't believe when I have to educate peers on their "first iPod". But I have no shame in telling someone that I don't know how to play EA Sports FIFA '07. Just not my thing. But why is it so many others?

I argued to my Madden-loving pal in LA that the overall development of the home...DVRs, home theater systems, Whole Foods, the Internet...has made it so a man can be fully entertained without leaving his home. I also argued that the tennis/golf/raquetball clubs of our fathers are either outdated or outpriced for the regular joe...thus, the only escape comes virtually.

But Ben shot back that while his ability to have four-star food delivered to his door and all his media needs piped into his home via three screens makes living much easier than our folks had still comes down to the three hours he'll spend tonight in suspended reality playing a video game and doing his best John Gruden.

But, back to the point. What does this mean for society? It means I'm interviewing people with the inability to function in the real world. People who have little to no communication skills beyond IMs. It means that 25 people will show up for our agency's NFL Fantasy draft this weekend...but I can't get 11 guys who want to play soccer on Thursday nights. It means I'm seeing people more comfortable in front of a monitor than in front of each other.

It means we are becoming weak. Hey, Chuck...I think I found your meaning.


This post has been written as part of the Carnival of Modern Man.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Energy Drinks Jump the Shark

I have to say, I'm not a huge energy drink guy...but I think I'm the only one.

I fully understand their purpose...and hell, even a few of them taste good (180 is like Orange Drink from Mickie D' puts me in a happy place). But they have officially jumped the shark with this crap.

God knows I'll be mixing it with new Dill flavored vodka from Smirnoff at the latest hot spot shortly...


This post has been written as part of the Carnival of Modern Man

BS for Guys

Even though I don't live in Gothem, I do make my way there every now and again, so I try to stay up to speed on what's cool, what's not...cause God forbid I find a restaurant I like in Midtown.

Anway, Urbandaddy is my new hook for what's hot. And not only is it what's's what's hot for guys. It's like Thrillist without the fart jokes.

Check it out at


This post has been written has part of the Carnival of Modern Man.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Nice Try CMJ..

...but I was all over North Atlantic...AND Tapes n' Tapes.

Getting my CMJ New Music Monthy is like someone telling me Chirstmas is coming, and will happen between December 1st and December 31st...but if it doesn't, it will at least happen next month.

I disregard the sporatic delivery for the amazing content, the comp CD and my ability to respond to my music-snob pals on the coasts with, "yeah, I've heard about them."

Anyway, NMM is my ambilical cord to the music scene. The Lou is often skipped over by many of the up-and-coming bands, although a glut of good shows just popped up with the arrival of the fall semester at SLU & Wash U (Built to Spill, Futureheads, Wolfmother, Death Cab, Toyko Police Club).

This month however, I was ahead of the curve. In the magazine's "On the Verge" section they highlight the band "The North Atlantic," a trio out of San Diego that recently had its album Wires In The Walls given a proper release. Check them out at

It just so happens that I was up late two weeks ago, doing some work at home and listening to a local indie/college Internet radio station and caught some North Atlantic licks. The next day at lunch I found the album on the Web, and BANG!...I'm in the loop!

It really is the little things.


This post has been written as part of the Carnival of Modern Man.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Sicko in St. Lou

While there was no direct connect between the above "protest" and the new Michael Moore documentary targeting the American healthcare system, the timing seems all too coincidental.

A team of folks...mix of young, old, black, white, rolled up "Truth"-style in front of our building today in downtown St. Louis and created these "crime scenes." The document in the middle noted that the company that owns & manages the building (our shop just leases the space) does not provide proper health insurance for the custodial staff, and that upwards of 200,000 workers in the St. Louis area are employed without medical benefits...of which, 2% will die due to lack of proper medical treatment.

As a marketing agency, we were all a bit jaded by the oft-discussed "Truth" tactics...but for what was obviously a small guerrilla effort, I found it impactful...especailly given the fact that a few suits from the large BlueCross/BlueSheild next door were anxiously taking notice.

Insurance, something no one thinks about until they don't have any or enough...what's your take on the American healthcare situation given the graying of our nation?


This post has been written as part of the Carnival of Modern Man

Monday, August 21, 2006

EPL is Here!

American football fans haven't had much to cheer about this summer. Watching our lads get pounded in Germany (a litteral term for poor Brian McBride) was a bit disheartening. And the MLS, is well, crap.

So, it's with much joy that the English Premire League kicked off this weekend, with my Toffees (Everton) getting three points on the table vs. the recently upgraded Watford. While the recently un-relegated (not sure if that's the term they use over there) showed good spirit and caught a tough break with a bad call at the end of the game, it was the boys from Goodison Park that got the win.

New comer Andrew Johnson got on the board quickly, hoping to end Everton's drought of scoring from last season. As expected, James Beattie served up that first mark, and Tim Cahill played well, showing his form from his World Cup experience.

We didn't see much from Jolean Lescott or the 18-year-old Nigerian Victor Anichebe, but it's a long season.

On the other side of the pitch, young American defender Jay DeMerit saw his first EPL action. A lot of Yankee eyes will be on him as we begin to look towards 2010 in South Africa.

I didn't see any other matches...but I did see that Man U put a hurting on someone yesterday. Ouch.

I read this was Everton's frist opening home win in 10 years...I guess good things come to those who wait!


This post has been written as part of the Carnival Of Modern Man

Bud Branded Content: BDF

The marketing e-newsletters were all a buzz this morning with news of Anheuser-Busch launching "a new production department" that will create branded sitcoms and spoofs to be used on the Web and on mobile devices (

More over, folks who work for hundreds of advertising agencies, marketing shops, production companies and post shops were sheepishly laughing that "A-B can't do this...they'll screw it up and come calling us to fix it."

People "close" to the situation were saying that putting AB creative-guru Jim Schumacker in charge was a sign that AB "meant business."

Actually, people who know anything about A-B were saying, "BFD."

Here's the deal...the real deal. Anheuser-Busch has had an in-house television/broadcast production group in place for a long time. It's called BSN (Busch satellite Network). This group of producers, camera men, editors, etc. spend their days producing original content about upcoming marketing efforts, company news, new products, that is then broadcast to their 500+ wholesalers around the country. It has a complete run of schedule that also includes video highlights from sponsored events as well as presentations from Sr Management.

BSN has been underfunded and misused. The fact that A-B is realizing where the group's value truly lies was only a matter of time. Anheuser-Busch didn't get to their position overnight...and they're not going to jump a marketing trend without considerable research and understanding.

Jim "Schu" Schumacker will do a great job with this group...but my biggest question is planning. While A-B does all their own media buying...I don't think they do their own planning...or any planning at all.

Great content in places where no one cares is useless content. Their ability to get this content in the hands of the elusive 21-27 year-old male is key to the success of this group. Anheuser-Busch has stayed clear of community network sites such as YouTube & MySpace due to the lack of age restraints. Will they drive people to a unique site? Or are partnerships in the works with media mainstays like Sports Illustrated, Maxim and Rolling Stone?

As for competitors who are hoping to gain marketshare from A-Bs plunge into "film making", this will be an interesting play to watch. A-B has consistently led the marketing war, often times out-spending their competition if not out-thinking it. Will this be move that once again pushes A-B back into the forefront of the domestic beer battle, or will this be another distraction like the theme parks, Eagle snacks, etc?

I wouldn't be surpised to see a rash of "partnerships" between spirits companies, brewers and companies that provide exclusive content...let's face it, we usually follow the leader.

Thoughts? Please share...


This post has been written as part of the Carnival of Modern Man

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Death of a Blog

This summer has been a near-death experience for this blog...between work, a recent engagement and more work, I just haven't had the time to spend here that I would like.

On the plus side, there was the last minute trip to Germany for the World Cup (see pic...and for more, visit me on Flickr @, a few events in New York (including my first Hamptons experience) and a promotion.

On the down side, new responsibilities in the office and at home haven't allowed me to explore the Net and comment on all the comings and goings as much as I would have liked to.

So...I'm re-dedicating myself to the blogsphere. Look for more in the coming days and weeks...


Thursday, June 08, 2006


Ahh...the World Cup.

While I'm slightly bitter because my long-developed plans to attend "the world's event" this summer was derailed buy the need for a mortage and my own plunge into engagement...I'm ready to burst with excitement.

First, can you just imagine the party that's going on in Germany right now? Hell, the beer and food alone in Germany is reason enough to visit...add world class soccer, international babes, and the occiasional drunken-futbol-brawl, and, well ...damn I wish I was there. here are my pics to win...and while none of these teams winning would be a "shock", i think everyone will be a little shocked if Brazil doesn't walk away with yet another World Cup trophy.

1. England: Lets face it...they're due. The founders of the game haven't celebrated a Cup win since the '60s. In that win, England beat the Germans at home on two good goals...and one goal that wasn't a goal at all. But I digress.

Wayne Rooney is healthy...maybe not at 100%...and not game fit just yet...but he's healthy enough to give just about every backline fits. Mr. Gerrard is listed at 50/50 to play on Saturday...but if I were a betting man (and I am, because I bet on England) I'd put my money on him playing.

St. George's warriors have excellent defense with Cole on the amazing midfield, and with a healthy Rooney...the most dynamic player in this tournament.

2. Holland: I love the orange unis. I love Ruud. And I love that they're playing in mainland Europe where they're probably draw the most fans from any nation. I feel they'll stave off another choke job and push through to at least the Final Four...and from there, ANYTHING can happen.

3. Czech Republic: I know nothing about this team other than their keeper, a one Petr Czech is around 9 feet tall with the wingspan of a Goddamn condor. They got trouble written all over them...which is bad news for the Americans, the Italians, the, er Ganhans, and anyone who dosen't like cigarette smoke when watching games with their fans.


Friday, June 02, 2006

Booze Hound

Sorry folks...I've been on the road for work and pleasure for what seems to be weeks on end. First was a quick one-nighter to NYC for a meeting a FCB (great offices by the way).

Then, it was down to Charlotte for some racing and a photo shoot, and then a long-ass flight out to Vegas for an event there.

All in all, I saw a lot of good, bad, and ugly.

But most of all, I saw a lot of booze. I mean, what's a business trip without a few benders mixed in? This brings me to one of the topics today...why do travelers feel compelled to drink at airport bars regardless of the time of day?

Back in February, I was on my way down to Daytona for that big autorace, and we had an hour layover in around 8AM. So, of course, me and my buddy proceed to the bar...which is PACKED. We order up a few Buds only to have a recently returning soldier purchase the bar a round of Jack. Ouch.

I'm usually a latte guy in the morning...but for whatever reason, I find it perfectly acceptable to drink first thing in the morning when i'm traveling. When I drive past some of the Bosnian bars in my neighborhood going to work in the mornings I pity the poor souls in there at that hour...yet, when I see a suit cuddled up to Scotch at dawn in an airport I pull up a stool and ask if he needs another one.

Just weird...not sure where this code of conduct comes from...or why it's so widely accepted. Any thoughts welcome...just don't make me put down my Bud heavy.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Jack Drinks Coke & More

Caught wind of this over on Brand New and thought I'd keep the wave going...a new Coke spot featuring Jack White of the White Stripes (who are getting sued by their old producer...but that's another story). Check it out...


Also on Brand New, found a link to a site within the WPP Group focused on brands, and the power they carry. Pretty interesting...and man would I love a gig sitting around coming up with this stuff...o'well...back to figuring out which client I want to be yelled at by first...

One more thing of note...everyone seems to be worked up about this VW campaign from CP+B. Yesterday some guys were pretty fired up on Adrants ( over the whole deal...drawing their ire for saying Crispen's average work is usually better than most.

This just proved my point that most agency-types, including myself, are pretty childish when it comes to piling on other agencies for doing work we either aren't thrilled with or dislike.

The fact remains that an agencies best efforts can become undone by a meddling client or a poor director...and all of this coming from a VW spot I rather enjoyed.

Ok, rambling...sorry.

Cheers, SPB

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Music Blogs

I'm a total music blog novice. I mean, read or hear about bands then hit the net to find out what they're all about...but I've been blown away by the amount of great info, insight...and well, music...on some of the blogs out there.

I consider myself to be a mid-waver. That is, I'm not riding on top of the wave, hearing everything and everything that's going on out there then letting people know what I think. Just no time for that and work...which sucks.

But I do tend to hear about the better bands that get the thumbs up from the music nazis around the world before those acts go mainstream.

Anyway, here are three sites that need to be checked out if you have any kind of new music interest.

Hype Machine (google it...sorry, lazy today)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Look at his package!

There is not much better than good packaging. I mean, as an ad guy I'd love to say our creative content drives people to purchase more often than not...but that's not true. As a self proclaimed "marketers dream," great packaging will always drive me to buy.

So, I was stoked when I saw this on this morning. While I'm over the whole "fancy bottled water" thing (Figi has enough of my money), this is pretty cool...including the Starbucks-coffee carrier thing...really cool.

Check it...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Miss Moneycrappy the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has invited regular joes...and cover the St. Louis nightlife scene. A buddy of mine and I submitted our names to write for the paper...letting them know if they picked someone lame we'd call them out on it.

Well, the chick covering "nightlife" IS lame...lame as hell...and when I posted a response on the blog they edited it. Go ahead and remove it...but don't edit someone's blog post.

What a disgrace. If Miss Moneycrappy can't stand up to critisizm then get off the pot cuse' your shit stinks!!!!!!!!


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Clients aren't that dumb...they just like to act like it

I haven't had anything to rant about in some time. I've been busy doing some pretty cool things here at the office, traveling and doing some new biz thinking...

Anyway...caught wind of a co-worker's sorrows this afternoon and something totally set me off.

Here are some basic truths in the ad/marketing biz:

1. Clients never have enough money
2. Agencies are all ways too expensive
3. The work needs to be done yesterday

Here's where I get pissed. You can't have it both ways.

If we (agency) ask for a budget and/or a timeline and you (client) tell us, "don't know, just get it done" then guess what...we're just going to get it done, and we're going to do it well (because God knows if the comp images aren't hi-res you'll be pissed). Clients forfeit their right to bitch about agency prices when this happens because a) you had the chance to give us a budget to work with and b) we're probably saving your ass.

I know this is a crazy fast business and I know there is a basic understanding of how much some things cost...but someone before me wrote...just because a print ad can be designed and emailed to a client in an hour doesn't mean the creative thinking to make it good can be squeezed into the same timeframe.

I'm out...SPB

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Total PSFK rip-off

Piers and the folks over at PSFK let some "copy n' pasters" have it for simply ripping material off their wonderfully informative site. While this isn't a total rip off, I was really inspired by three different articles I found there, I'm ripping them off!!!

First, the Aquabumps cool. Something about surfers puts me in total awe...and I hate it. I don't hate them...I just hate how envious I am of their talent, of their lifestyle, of their attitudes...of their world!!! To me, surfers are like jet pilots...full of attitude, a self-confidence that boarders...or is...arrogance, and the look in their eye that they've experienced something in this world that we can only dream about. I hate them for that...and I want to be them for that.

The site ( is kickass and more inspiration & inspiration than fluff. Plus, it's snowing on the second day of Spring, so the images will warm you from your desktop.

Second, Deus ex Machina. I've never been a bike guy...but if I was, this is the kind of bike guy I'd be. As the article's not the black leather-Sturgis-badass-you don't understand-bull shit you get from most cycle makers. This is a passion for motorcycles from a different era. There is something far more pure and exciting about these types of bikes. The love and technique that goes into making them, riding them and celebrating them makes me want to throw down some plastic, pick one up and head to the French countryside.

Here's the it, don't wreck it.

Third, something for the display & event builders in my life...light from concrete. Pretty effn'

I'm getting sick and working too hard again so I'm not sure when i'll get back...but enjoy.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Great Quote

This from Rupert Murdoch, pulled from

"Companies that expect a glorious past to shield them from the forces of change driven by advancing technology will fail and fall."

Well said.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Wash Post on Blogging

New York Magazine covered it better and dug deeper, but it's still an interesting article about big business using and investing more to understand blogs, and thus, their consumers.


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Corporate Blogging

I've recently had some conversations regarding corporate blogging...and how in the wrong hands it can reek more havoc than any good could undo. Yet it's so damn intriguing and, when done right, is an incredible tool tying consumers and brands together.

Anyway, I came across a great quote on Johnnie Moore's blog from some other lad that I found interesting...enjoy.

"At the end, the lesson is one of a paradox. As the power shifts increasingly towards community, the corporation loses its grip on the traditional means of control. Yet, by letting go of control, the corporation creates an environment where the community willingly creates its own switching costs. Such changing market behavior, which is structural and permanent for any industry being usurped by the Internet, must be met with a corresponding shift in corporate mindset. "



Wednesday, February 22, 2006


New media is dropping the hammer on NASCAR fans. From Nextel's little do-dads that allow fans at the race to watch, listen and scan coverage of the race to Budwesier announcing that they will have a live Webcast of a One Night Stand event with Dale Jr on March 9th, it's obvious that whatever you thought about the NASCAR demo is wrong...dead wrong. Now git er done!


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Here's the the C-List Baby!!

Great read on blogging from The New Yorker that has been on, well, every goddamn blog there is to find. And even though I found it via an "A-list" site, I'm breaking my "C-list" mold and claiming it as my own.

I will say the discussion on power-law distribution is very interesting...

Tough Clients? Read this...

Got this bit from Johnnie Moore's blog. Ross Dawson ( talks about the sophistication of professional services clients...which of course are the sophisticated consumers we're trying to buy the crap we market...


MegaTrend One: Client Sophistication

What do you prefer? A sophisticated client, or an unsophisticated one? It’s an interesting issue to debate with professionals. Some say they like unsophisticated clients, because, as they usually express a little more euphemistically, they can take advantage of them (for a little while, anyway). Others prefer sophisticated clients, as they know what to expect, they know how to work effectively with professionals, the professionals can learn from their clients (as they must to keep ahead!), and usually the opportunities are far larger.

Irrespective of what professionals want, the reality is that professional services clients are becoming increasingly sophisticated. The rubes off the street that you can awe into silence and charge like a wounded bull without protest are rather thin on the ground these days.
The drive to greater client sophistication has in turn been created by other broad shifts in the business environment. The most powerful is the ever-increasing pressure on corporations to reduce costs. Whenever business conditions turn down, the edict goes out to cut expenses. In order to cut supplier costs, companies need to understand what they’re buying. In 1992 DuPont established its “DuPont Legal Model”, which consolidated its legal suppliers from 350 to 35, and established clear processes for how its law firms would work for the corporation. This program established a precedent that has been copied by many other companies, and is highly innovative in how aligns the objectives of the company and its service providers. However the initiative was initially driven by the then-chairman’s drive to cut $1 billion from DuPont’s costs.

Across every professional sector, clients have consistently been hiring the best professionals from their suppliers so they know how to deal with them. Consultants, lawyers, investment bankers, accountants, advertising creatives, and consulting engineers all find themselves across the table from their former peers, who know all the tricks of the trade. Specialist firms are frequently brought in to assist clients in getting the best from their professionals.

The downside of increasing client sophistication is that you can’t fleece your clients, and you can’t survive your whole career on what you learned in college. The upside is that sophisticated clients help you to develop your own capabilities, they understand what rewards they need to provide to get the best, and they know how to work with you so you can do your best. Investment bank ABN Amro runs a training program for its fund manager clients that gets them to play the roles of banker and fund manager in order to teach them trading techniques, how to use their high-value research, and even how to use ABN Amro’s proprietary trading models. The advantage for ABN Amro is that their clients understand better how their bankers work, and in turn what it takes to get great service from them.


Well, I haven't posted in some time because work keeps getting in the way.

I ventured down south for a NASCAR baptisim in Daytona. I have to say, I loved it. Nextel has done an increadible job making that venue, and thus the entire sport, very approachable for the novice.

I was also in favorite city in the US...for a couple days and hit a few of my old mainstays, including Club Lago on the corner of Orleans & Superior. If you're looking for some real Italian food, there is no better place than this family run corner joint owned by Guido & GianCarlo Nardini. If you pop in, tell them I sent you, and order the veal or eggplant parm (although the chicken piccante is my favorite).

There's a ton of cool stuff that's come across my desk and I hope to share it and give my thoughts on it as soon as I get a break...or at least an hour for lunch.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Coachella Line-Up Annoucned!!!

With all this damn work I nearly forgot about the Coachella line-up being announced.

While I'm not uber-thirlled about headliners Depeche Mode & Tool, the undercard more than makes up for it. The best part of it all, as always, there are tons of bands in the line-up that I know NOTHING about...can't wait to check them out.

Some highlights from Saturday's line up:

Sigur Ros
My Morning Jacket
Animal Collective
Imogen Heap
Living Things

Some hightlights from Sunday's line up:

Massive Attack (new!)
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Bloc Party
Ted Leo

Check it all out, including how to get tix and camping passes at (the site has come such a long way from three & four years ago!!!).


The Cool Hunter

Here's an interview with Josh Rubin from CoolHunting (one of our favorites). Josh will be appearing at the Future Marketing Summit ( presented by IF! ( in New York City on February 23rd.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I get my inspiration from the details. I believe there are no new ideas, just great executions.

What is the biggest but most ignored trend you see?

If it's a trend then it's not being ignored, is it?

Are new wave trend spotters a competitive or complementary to the established trend firms?

Both. The traditional trending firms tend to have a longer term focus and less frequent deliverables to their clients—this works for many large corporations. For smaller or more nimble organizations, and those with rapid product development, the 'new wave' is more valuable. Consumer demand is changing more frequently these days, making it harder to keep up using traditional methods which means there will be more competition (or collaboration) between models in the near future.

You've just started to produce video content What sort of content are you covering? Should all online publications move into video?

We launched video for two reasons: 1. the technology is just getting to a point where people can easily consume video content distributed through untraditional conduits. 2. there are lots of things we cover on CH that are better served by audio and video over words and pictures. And that's the first requirement for what we will do a video on. The second requirement, just like the site, is wide open—it simply has to capture our interest. The videos are 1 - 3 minutes because that's what we think is the optimal length for mobile, and even web-based, viewing.

Next week we’ll feature an interview with David Carson, CEO of who will also be appearing at the FMS later this month.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bacon could happen!!

This from Chris Jobst...the king "web dude" at my shop. Pretty sweet...

Here's a company that has not only created software for you to create your own Ringtones out of MP3's, Wav's, etc. but, they have also created an online store so you can host and sell your ringtones.

This is a great solution for future clients who want us to create and offer ring tones to consumers. We could create the ringtone here and then create an online store that would allow the consumer to call a number and download the tone to the phone. This will eliminate us having to build all the expensive telephone network stuff to offer ringtones to cell phones.

The Ringtone hosting plans run from Free to $49.99 with revenue sharing!

Check it out.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Blog Bitch-fest

Yesterday the United States celebrated the first great Holiday of the year...the Super Bowl. And, as has been the case for many years, there is more buzz about the commercials than the game itself.

But as I surfed between Web sites, emails and blogs, I noticed something that I found rather surprising...the large amount of bitching, whining and general discontent streaming out of the blogsphere.

We ALL know that the days of throwing a :30 or :60 ad on one of the big three networks and watching it work are long gone...but what amazes me is how many people don't understand that the Super Bowl is an anomaly.

Advertising on the Super Bowl isn't about branding, or loyalty, or the game itself, it's about sheer entertainment. Aligning with the Super Bowl is like sponsoring Christmas...It's simply brands piggy-backing on a great time being had by EVERYONE IN THE WORLD.

Sure, there were probably a few malcontents blogging, bitching, and pouting about the commercialization of the big game, how big companies "just don't get it" and how the new consumer wants a voice in the marketing conversation, blah blah blah blah. Not on Super Sunday.

This is a day when the everyday joe...the men and women who work their asses of during the week, want to kick back and just be entertained. We spend our lives respsonding to emails, returning calls on our cell phones and shooting pins and ins to friends, family, clients and co-workers...but for these four to five hours, it's nothing but simple entertainment.

And please don't spout about how Madison Ave doesn't understand how to use the Internet. Madison Ave doesn't have to use the Internet because everyone else does. The sheer size of the event makes EVERY ad viral...I've received 57 separate emails today with links to sites running all the Super Bowl ads and even links to sites running ads that didn't make the cut. Do you know how many of these sites were paid for by the advertisers or made by marketers? One. That's viral marketing at its best.

So while all you self-proclaimed 'new marketers' out there don your favorite black turtlenecks and moan about big agencies over your lattes, I'm going to sit back and do what I did entertained.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Bud TV

The concept of brands providing content directly to consumers is nothing new…if you’ve been paying attention to the marketing world for the past year or two.

Anheuser-Busch has decided to throw their hat in the ring and they’re either going to change the way marketers and sponsors do things…or they’re going to fail miserably.

A-B is in a unique position amongst brands going direct to consumer. Their buying power in the Sports and Entertainment world could result in concerts, games and events being aired…or broadcast…or whatever it will be called…exclusively on Bud TV. That is HUGE. Either they’ll be the HBO of brands…flipping an industry on its ear…or they’ll be conservative and ruin a once-in-an-existence chance to be innovative.

This from
Anheuser-Busch will use its Super Bowl commercial time to launch a direct-to-consumer network called "The Bud Screen." The network will offer all manner of programming, branded content and advertising delivered to the desktop or an iPod. The brewer intends the network to be long-lived and to eventually be named "Bud TV." We've said it before and we'll say it again, the middleman - the networks - just aren't needed any longer. When a brand or program producer can deliver content directly to the consumer, there's no need for the current TV network set up. Oh sure, big changes are years away but it's happening and it will continue to happen faster and faster as more brands and content producers realize they can have their own channel of distribution.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Lose your beer? Find another one...

Traveling and looking for a good beer? No problem...

Monday, January 30, 2006

The New Experience Economy

Ripped this link via another link from Johnny Moore's blog...great read.

The Future of the Other Mobile Marketing

My friend Benji in LA turned me on to this on Saturday...he's the kind of geek that gets excited about this sort of thing.

Around here, if you say ‘mobile marketing’ you probably talking about pimping out an 18-wheeler to race hell-bent across the country engaging, interacting and playing with consumers. And I’ll tell you what, we can do some amazing stuff with a few trailers and a generator.

But in today’s marketing world, “mobile marketing” is usually referenced when talking about cell phones, PDAs and the other mobile devices we now strap down to keep our employers and clients happy.

Advertisers are jumping at this new channel, providing exclusive content, ring tones, screen savers, and just about anything they can do to talk to the same people that are TiVoing those same messages on TV.

While all that stuff is fine and dandy, the true winners of the “mobile marketing” battle are going to the brands that figure out how enable their consumers to do things with their brand using their cell phones, Blackberry’s, etc. rather than simply using it as an extension of their media buy.

Southwest Airlines gives us a perfect example of making “mobile marketing” relevant to the consumer.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Designing a Better Future

This site was forwarded to me from my friend Benji in LA. Like the famous ‘X Award’ this competition is designed to improve humanity…developing “big ideas” that are not only economically feasible, but socially relevant, dynamic and impactful.

I think this also speaks to previous posts (Create or Not Create) about designing and developing new products for a purpose vs. getting more SKUs at the national retail chain.

Check it out…


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

If you don't get it, read this now

Just an incredible read over on Johnnie Moore's blog...including links to Open Sauce ( and Hugh Macleod's concept of brands as "idea amplifiers."


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Sleeping with the Enemy

Batman asking the Joker for a lift? Not quite...closer to cats vs dogs. Is Apple trying to bring the suits and the freaks together? Great blog on the subject...

Monday, January 23, 2006

Yeah, what he said

I forget where I saw this link, but it's some great insight into the perception vs. reality of Public Relations firms. The lines between corporate communication, marketing, branding and R&D continue to blur...and I think it's all for the better.


Not your Father's Olympics

In a surprising show of "hipness" NBC has created a side site covering the Olympics...but without the typical sappiness and overbearing tone that Costas usually coats all of the NBC coverage with.

Covering everything from the Torino nightlife to the iPod lists of some of our Olympic hopefuls, this delivers the content that younger consumers want in a voice & design that they understand.

I guess NBC realizes that the Olympics is really something Boomers made great and that passion for the games is marginal at best among young people. But with the introduction of some newer, cooler sports (snowboarding) and some rebellious athletes (Bode Miller) there is potential for a rebirth...and NBC sees the dollar signs.


Friday, January 20, 2006

Beer Brotherhood

In a move that has been a long time coming, the entire beer industry is joining forces against wine and spirits. I think this will be really interesting to watch.

Back in the day, I used to do a little work with Diageo...maker of mediocre libations like Captain Morgan, Crown Royal and V/O (which stands for Very you didn't know that). In those days we made it our life's mission to get beer drinkers to "trade up" one drink sooner. Once that was accomplished, we tried to get beer drinkers to START with a cocktail instead of a beer. Looks like we did a pretty decent job...

Well, now that I'm in the beer industry, I'm fighting to get that drink back. Let's face is pretty safe and Anheuser-Busch isn't going out of business any time soon. But big companies have lots of stock holders who are used to seeing that stock rise...and when it's not, executives get very nervous.

But I'm really interested in seeing how the brewers play in the sandbox. Unless you've been locked in a closet or off in some remote corner of the world, you know that A-B, Miller and Coors have been going at each other like little girls for some time the detrament of all. Miller's "More Taste" campaign is tired...with only the Flava Flav courtroom spot standing out. Coors, well , they're basically a regional beer (did you know Busch beer out sells ALL of Coors?).

And the category leader, A-B, hasn't been acting as such and has been wasting time and resources responding to everyone for the last two years.

Anyway, I like the move of creating a "Got Beer?" style movement...but it will be interesting to see who plays, who pouts...and who wins.


Thursday, January 19, 2006

Are you Listening?

Some good quotes that many corporate R&D folks should read:

“Users generally have a more accurate and detailed model of their needs than manufacturers have.”

- Von Hippel

“If you want to spend a fortune trying to be more clever than your customers, well good luck. On the whole it might be cheaper and easier to assume they have some idea about what they want and need.”

- Johnnie Moore

To Create or Not to Create

Let’s face it…we really don’t need any more crap. Yes, there are “things” we want and there are “things” that could use an upgrade (video iPod, anyone?). But, as is in most civilized societies, the basics are covered.

So, why is Innovation the new boardroom buzzword? It’s because today’s consumer society is more likely to buy a new Swifer design than change the batteries in their old one. Microsoft has banked on this, well, all the way to the bank.

While improving on existing products certainly falls under the “Innovation” umbrella, that’s not what we’re going to talk about here.

This is about brand spanking new products.

Working closely with the New Products & Innovation team at my client, the subject of new products, new marketing methods, and new ways of thinking is prominent in everything we do. But moving beyond what we’ve learned working with my client, there are some other insights to be gleaned.

Historically, the development of new things has been left up to the corporations…the sellers. ACE Chair Company came to a designer of chairs and said, “If you design a new chair we will buy it, build it and sell it.” If the designer wanted to make rent or eat, they designed the chair, and everyone was happy...except the consumer who had to choose from the chairs the companies wanted to sell.

The Internet has flipped this process on its ear. Today, developers of new things aren’t merely looking for a paycheck. Designers like Massino losa Ghini ( and James Irvine ( are leading with a conscious. They’re taking into consideration society, the environment and the relevance of the product. Now when the chair company asks for the chair, the designer asks “why?”

This is the most important step when creating, and eventually marketing new products. By asking ‘why’, companies and marketers will be able to define who this product is for and why they need it.

Apple’s Jonathan Ive has succeeded by making Apple’s ( new products compelling and relevant to their target consumers. In succeeding, he has done what designer Geoff Hollington says is the toughest part of introducing a new product: creating desire more than enjoyment.

Without desire, there really is no true need. And without need, there will be no success. Sure, the large companies will force new products on distributors, who will force it on retailers, who will force it on consumers. It may sell, but that’s result of volume, not desire. It will become clutter. And worse, it will remain irrelevant. Designer Stefano Giovannoni ( states that, “Objects are not beautiful or ugly but are rather suited or not to their time.” It’s better to be on time.

Today’s consumer is taking relevance into their own hands, and the smart designers and companies are listening.

Elephant Design, founded by Kohei Nishiyama and Yosuke Masumoto, created the first interface that completely eliminated the input from any sort of brand or distributor. At the best designs are put on display for all to see. Once consumer demand reaches a point where production is viable, a manufacturer buys the design and creates the product. Talk about being relevant. Talk about addressing desire.

Recently, Kraft ( created an initiative called Open Innovation, led by Mary Kay Haben, in hopes of swapping ideas with consumers, outside partners, even competitors in an effort to improve products, packaging and business systems. Innovation is now coming from chat rooms rather than board rooms.

The new product development process will never be a science. There will still be more failures than successes. We must be honest with ourselves and our clients as we develop and introduce new products.

Hold these products and ideas up to some of the criteria discussed above…is it relevant? Where does it fit in our consumer’s lifestyle? Why are we creating it? If those questions cannot be addressed, then there’s a good chance the “hot new product” will just be another waste of resources and marketing dollars.

To conclude, something that Max Lenderman noted in his blog ( that I thought was really relevant to this subject. Artist and consultant Shepard Fairey, the guy behind “Obey the Giant”, noted this when discussing the doomed graffiti campaign for the Sony PSP (

“Corporations are much better off being very open and being proud enough to say ‘We think this is a cool enough product to stand up under the hipsters’ scrutiny, we don’t have to try and trick you. If it’s not cool enough for that, they need to rethink the product itself.”


Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Experience the Message

Check out this kick ass blog from Max Lenderman of GMR Marketing fame.


Great work is always great

A few links for those who just love to see cool shit...

First, great blog that captures great advertising from the other side of the world:

Second, a cool couple of guys doing some kick-ass AV stuff:

(who knew the CDC was so cool)

New Marketing Tools Being Put to the Test

This is a great article from Promo Magazine regarding Kraft and their Open Innovation group.

In once sense, it's great to see a large company "getting it." In the other sense, it's disappointing because I've yet to get my client to understand it at all. Damn.


Kraft Invites, Tests Innovation By Betsy Spethmann, Jan 18, 2006

Kraft Foods is pursuing partnerships with technology companies and others to build new businesses like its South Beach Diet and Tassimo brands, both of which are joint efforts with outside companies.

At the same time, Kraft is testing a desktop application to deliver recipes directly to consumers' computers via RSS feed.

Both efforts demonstrate Kraft's work to keep up with consumer trends and marketing applications for new technology.

Kraft's "Open Innovation" initiative is led by Mary Kay Haben, who was promoted to senior VP-open innovation in November. The two-month-old effort is designed to swap ideas with outside partners, even competitors, to improve products, packaging and business systems. Open Innovation has wide parameters and could include licensing deals and new technology.
Haben will work with Kraft's marketing, technology and quality, and procurement divisions to find and then use outside ideas to pump brand value and sustainable growth, which has been Kraft's mantra since its Sustainable Growth Plan began in 2004 (Xtra Jan. 29, 2004).

Open Innovation is a two-way effort to share Kraft's ideas and garner new ideas. "We'll also be looking for potential outbound opportunities such as licensing Kraft trademarks and intellectual property," said Kris Charles, Kraft director-external communications. "Kraft New Product Development will continue to focus on organic growth and product extensions, while Open Innovation will primarily focus externally."

Kraft has brokered successful strategic partnerships in recent years—witness its 1998 distribution deal with Starbucks Corp. to bring coffee beans to grocery aisles, and its licensing deal (also begun in 1998) with California Pizza Kitchens for frozen pizzas.
But the fledgling Open Innovation "brings that to a new level," Charles said. "We rely on our own R&D folks for their ideas, but also are looking outside our own walls, like Procter & Gamble does."

Kraft is going head-to-head against P&G with coffee-brewing systems, pitting Tassimo (marketed by Kraft Foods and Braun) against Home Café, a joint venture between P&G and Black & Decker (Xtra Jan. 3). Kraft and Braun rolled out the $170 Tassimo appliance to the U.S. in September, with a November cameo on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, where teams designed retail displays for the brand.

Kraft brings the beach (and South Beach Diet samples) to nine cities this month
Then there's the South Beach Diet brand, a joint venture with South Beach Diet inventor Dr. Arthur Agatston that launched in early 2005 and topped $100 million in sales in its first nine months, said Paula Sneed, Kraft's executive VP-global marketing, research & initiatives.
This month, Kraft adds South Beach Diet hot breakfast wraps, salad dressings, Asian-inspired entrées and two flavors of meal replacement bars to the line that already includes frozen meals, snacks and cereals.

A nine-city "Beach in a Box tour, running through January, samples cinnamon raisin cereal bars and gives away branded picture frames and hand warmers. Two 35-foot, Plexiglas beach-scenes-on-wheels have already toured New York City, Seattle, Portland, Philadelphia and San Francisco, and will hit Washington, DC, Baltimore, Denver and Chicago by Feb. 1. Hall Event Group and Weber Shandwick, both of Chicago, handled the tour.

Separately, Kraft is quietly testing RSS feeds to deliver recipes to consumers' computers. Consumers visit to register for up to three daily feeds (easy dinners, seasonal desserts, top-rated recipes) which come directly to their desktop, bypassing e-mail. It's one way to combat a decline in e-mail open rates, said Kathy Riordan, Kraft VP-global digital & consumer relationship marketing.

RSS feeds, which deliver syndicated content on topics that consumers specify, "could really transform the digital marketplace. It has the potential to be a disruptive technology," Riordan said. "Our focus has been so strong on Web and e-mail delivery that I don't want to miss a sea change in how consumers are having content delivered to them."

Kraft also is mulling ways to deliver recipes via cell phone, but "we haven't cracked the code yet," Riordan said. The challenges: How to display recipes on such a small screen, and use characters that consumers will understand. Kraft will keep tinkering as cell phone penetration rises.

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Sites

check'em, don't wreck'em


(ps...chad vangaalen is the best thing from Canada since hockey)

Print vs. Blog: Are both Sides Right?

This is a great back & forth between Jeff Jarvis of and John Griffin, president of National Geographic's magazine group.

Obviously, both have a fairly large stake in what they're arguing for or against. And while these arguments have been happening on a regular basis since the Internet was born, I found this one very interesting because IMHO, there isn't a finer written magazine in the world than National geographic.

Sure, there are a lot of new, fun, hip magazines out there. But as a graduate of the nations finest school of journalism (I'll let you figure that out) I truly appreciate the ability of NatGeo's reporters to own an article.

I'm all about blogging...I send dozens of emails a day sharing interesting blogs with friends, co-workers and clients...and of course I have this little thing going on. But, there is still something about a well-written, well-edited, well-printed article.

Here are my take-aways from the article:

Trust: I enjoy reading blogs...I don't trust them. I usually don't wade into waters of the superficial in the blogsphere, but even in the blogs I read on a daily basis, the best content is usually published by someone else first (company, person, etc.). Trust still comes from credited news sources and from writers and editors that know what they're doing.

Waste: Let's face it...for every crappy publication there are a million crappy blogs.

Advertising: I think it's funny that the Internet and bloggers are looking for the same advertising dollars (and hence, messages) that lured people from mass media in the first place.

Interaction: I agree that the future of print will include some sort of e-interface...something that gives the reader some control...or at least feedback. But I think some people underestimate the relaxation that comes from just reading a book or magazine. I spend my entire day giving feedback, responding, talking, thinking....and because I now live and work in a city without mass transit, I desperately miss the time I had to myself, reading on the bus or train. It was the most relaxing time of my day.


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Perception is everything.

Just added this to my daily reading list...

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Stand by your Brand

Ok...Another ad rant.

Here's the deal. I hear high-level "creatives" from big shops saying that the way to bring advertising back is to elevate the creative.

I can't really argue that truly creative, inspiring and moving ads are few and far between. And while not every ad is designed to "move" someone, I think everyone could raise their game a bit.

But, I have one problem. The people paying the tab for the advertising aren't willing to stand by a message...and if they are, they're only willing to stand by that message for six months, or until a competitor comes along with something new...of course, meaning, they need something new.

Today's brands have itchy trigger fingers. If you look at a case study of the best, most effective advertising in the last five years you'll find one thing in common...they're actual advertising campaigns. The message, the look, the attitude may evolve, but it's all from the same seed.

I know why brands do what they do. In this segmented world, they're trying to be something to everyone...which we all know doesn't work. But in trying to reach out to everyone with different messages, they're dissecting their brand into nothing.

I'll have more on this tomorrow...


Catch up on Coachella

For anyone in the LA area I highly recommend (and expect a full report back) checking out "Coachella the Movie." You can read all about it at .

Tickets in the LA area go on sale on the 14th, with the opening on the 19th at the Orpheum Theatre.

At the site it also lists the theaters nation-wide that will be picking it up in the coming weeks.

Rock on.


Monday, January 09, 2006

New Music Site

While I was getting some "second opinions" on recent albums highlighted the latest addition of NMM, I came across a new site I wanted to pass along.

It's not totally about the music, as say, a is...but it actually provides some nice insights and a POV from the music industry.

Check it out when you have a moment...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Coachella Wish List

Dates for the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival have been set ( This is a "must" for any music fan in the States (or anywhere else for that matter).

Year in and year out, Coachella rocks the music scene with arguably the best festival line-up you'll find. And while you can never argue with the headliners (RHCP, The Pixies, Iggy & the Stooges, Beasties, Coldplay, NIN, Radiohead to name a few), the real accomplishment is how they fill out all five stages with incredible new and diverse talent.

Getting invited to Coachella is like getting a "stamp of approval" from the music nazis...and once you're're in (although I will say that when I saw The Music two years ago I thought for sure they would be the next big thing and they just never took off..and I found their second album, Welcome to the North to be over-produced).

So, rather than follow what the other Trend sites have been doing, showing lists of top bands/albums of the last year or what they think will be hot in 2006...I'm throwing out my wish list for Coachella 2006.

I'm leaving out some obvious choices (My Morning Jacket, Broken Social Scene, Arcade Fire) as they have already been there or will for sure be at the top of Goldenvoice's list.

So, for the undercard, in no particular order:

1. Chad Vangaalen (
2. American Minor (
3. Silverspun Pickups (
4. Orange Park (
5. The Sun (
6. Tom Fite (
7. Idlewild (
8. The Long Winters (
9. The Vacancies (
10. Wolf Parade (
11. The Double (

There are quite a few other deserving bands...Sigur Ros, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Spoon, etc. that rocked this year...but the above is a list of new comers that will make my trip to Indio worth the heat.


Thursday, January 05, 2006

Advertising Works?

Yesterday i read an article that was featured on by the BBC regarding the success of alcohol advertising on our youth. The study, done by the University of Conneticut I believe, basically came out and said the more kids are exposed to alcohol messages, the more likely they are to drink.

As someone who markets alcohol, I read the study carefully and came to one conclusion: bullshit.

I'm not saying that the study itself was crap, or that the BBC shouldn't have reported on it. What I'm saying is that advertising isn't the problem with underage drinking/alcohol abuse in the US or the UK. If advertising was as powerful as they say, the American auto industry would be just fine.

There are two issues I have, one serious and the other not so serious. I'm not a very serious person, so I'll save that one for last.

According to the trades, according to my peers, and according to the people who seem to be in the know, Advertising is dead. Consumers zone it out, TiVo it, ingore it, don't believe it. Consumers are paying for ad-free content and spending hundreds of dollars to avoid the marketing diarreha that is in our world today. So...if this is the alcohol advertising the exception?

If not, then advertising is not dead and everyone who claims so are simply disgruntaled ex-agency planners preaching doom and gloom. Because everyone I know who works at or has worked at an agency is disgruntaled and usually preaching doom and gloom, I'm not buying it...especially at $2.5MM per Superbowl :30.

The study is missing the target.

Here it is, plain and simple. Kids drink because no one really cares. In fact, kids drink because the ONLY people who care or do anything about it are the brewers and distillers who force themselves to do it.

In all these studies you always see quotes like this one from Don Shenker: "The alcohol industry needs to look more broadly at how it prevents the inappropriate use of alcohol." Note to Don: the alcohol producing industry doesn't sell a drop of liquor to consumers. The large brewers and distillers of the world sell their product to distributors...who sell it to retailers...who sell it to consumers. Sure, advertising dollars come from the top...but the ability to put it into kids hands comes from the bottom. So why isn't there some sort of organization like Parents Against Conveinece Stores, Gas Stations and Supermarkets? Because that would mean addressing the bigger issue.

The bigger issue is that for the most part, society in the US and UK says it's OK for kids to drink.

The UK has a very strong "drinking culture." Somthing I discussed with my boys Tim & Jamie from Guildford this summer. And in both the UK and US people look at youth discovering booze as more comical and "rite of passage" than problematic.

Moreover, you see a lot of parents HELPING their kids to drink before they reach the legal limit. This year several high schools on the East Coast cancelled proms because the parties that the parents were throwing for their kids were getting out of hand. Hell, you can't watch 10 minutes of Laguna Beach on MTV without seeing them drinking...without the care of their parents.

I could go on about this...but if those professors want to find the real cause underage drinking, they should talk to parents and the business owners that make a living off 16-year-olds buying a case of Keystone.

I'm breaking up with my brand

Let’s face it. A “brand relationship” is a fancy way of saying that someone out there likes your product. Honestly…when was the last time someone called and asked about how your relationship with your cell phone was going? Has anyone approached you in a bar and asked “what’s going on between you and that Bud Light?” Never.

The only time “brand relationships” are discussed is in the pages of books written by dead advertising executives and brand managers putting their accounts up for review. It’s an over-used term that is perpetuated by marketers who take themselves and their brands too seriously.

Today’s consumers aren’t looking for brand relationships. They’re looking for brands that enable them to be the people they want to be. Gone are the days when consumers tied themselves to a brand by the heartstrings or wore a brand like a badge. Consumers want to talk back and be listened to.

Today, if you’re not speaking how, when and where the consumer wants to hear it…you’re speaking to yourself. And if you’re not listening to what your consumer has to say the entire conversation will be lost.

The brand message is now controlled by the consumer. They decide how that message is received and how it is acted upon. Is it mocked? Is it ignored? Is it relevant? Is it even understood?
The game has changed. The rules are changing day by day. Can you stay in game?