Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, June 18, 2021


The new campaign from Trojan condoms, dubbed Trojan Evolved, seeks to equate condom-wearing with a less-bestial male personality.

Jokes about how the average player is constantly on the prowl to “pork her” abound.

The approach hasn’t flown with some advertising outlets:

Fox and CBS both rejected the commercial. Both had accepted Trojan’s previous campaign, which urged condom use because of the possibility that a partner might be H.I.V.-positive, perhaps unknowingly. A 2001 report about condom advertising by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation found that, “Some networks draw a strong line between messages about disease prevention — which may be allowed — and those about pregnancy prevention, which may be considered controversial for religious and moral reasons.”

Representatives for both Fox and CBS confirmed that they had refused the ads, but declined to comment further.

In a written response to Trojan, though, Fox said that it had rejected the spot because, “Contraceptive advertising must stress health-related uses rather than the prevention of pregnancy.”

In its rejection, CBS wrote, “while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions.”

This stance grates against the usual mode of business in TV land, of course:

“It’s so hypocritical for any network in this culture to go all puritanical on the subject of condom use when their programming is so salacious,” said Mark Crispin Miller, a media critic who teaches at New York University. “I mean, let’s get real here. Fox and CBS and all of them are in the business of nonstop soft porn, but God forbid we should use a condom in the pursuit of sexual pleasure.”

All I’ll note is that Trojan may help its case a little by correctly spelling the word “evolve” in the dedicated site’s TITLE tag. Currently, it’s coming up as “TROJAN EVLOVE”. I doubt it’s an intentional entendre.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 11:53:13 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback


Tired of relying on third-party Hollywood types to transplant its intellectual property from printed page to silver screen — with the results less than satisfying, both creatively and profit-share wise — Marvel Comics has set up its own wholly-owned production house, Marvel Studios.

This isn’t really relevant to the anatomy of this business set-up, which is fairly complex with regard to the necessary distribution of upcoming projects like Iron Man and Hulk; but I must note the following:

Marvel’s chief rival in the comic book/superhero biz, DC Comics, has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of the company that is now Time Warner since 1969. That conglomerate has always included Warner Brothers and various other film/television studios. So DC has always had a direct conduit into the movie-making business; that’s why practically every DC character — including the heavy hitters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman — have had movies and TV series release under the Warner imprint for decades, while Marvel’s stable — Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and others — have had to be farmed out to Sony, Fox and other adopted homes.

So, in a sense, the creative stables of each superhero house are now on somewhat equal footing, execution-wise. More of a fair fight at the box office and Nielsens.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 11:24:24 PM
Category: Publishing, Business | Permalink | Feedback (6)


Whoever’s doing public relations for Threadless has been working overtime, because the company was featured in (at least) two major press outlets today:

- In the Washington Post, as the prime example of the success of crowdsourcing as a way to outsource non-core business functions, ala the shirt-design creative process that made Threadless famous;

- In Business 2.0, as the focus of a company profile, again extolling the virtues of distributed creative talent as the key to its growth into a $15-million per year company.

Some PR wonk is getting a box of t-shirts this month!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 11:03:53 PM
Category: Media, Business | Permalink | Feedback (1)


This morning, I stopped by my usual street cart on 57th Street to get my usual bagel, en route to my usual workday office.

When I stepped up to the window opening, I saw a brown-glassed bottle of Budweiser Select, on display with the usual coffee, tea and juice selections. Definitely looked out of place on that tiny, precious shelfspace.

I ordered my bagel, then asked the guy, “What the hell? Does anyone seriously order a Bud as a morning pick-me-up?”

I was imagining some commuters who routinely down a couple of beers during their evening trainrides home to Connecticut and upstate, and wondered if they hadn’t started demanding breakfast beers…

He laughed and said no. Someone from a nearby building gave him a couple of bottles of the beer, and he put one on display as a joke. Apparently he’d been getting plenty of reactions similar to mine (in fact, now that I think of it, the woman who’d been in line just before me seemed to be commenting on it as well).

This particular vendor is kind of a wiseguy — he sometimes makes me wait a few seconds so he can check out the chicks walking by behind me. So it’s completely in line with his usual mode of business. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn he did this just to spark conversation with customers. Obviously it worked.

Now I’m thinking, though: I’m betting it’s against the law to sell alcohol from those street carts. Even if it’s just a joke with no intention to sell, he could be risking a fine. That’s his problem, I guess; but I’d hate to have to find a new source for my morning bagel.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 06:05:33 PM
Category: Food, New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback


I caught Comedy Central’s new animated series, “Lil’ Bush: Resident of the United States”, late last night.

A satire on the George W. Bush administration/family? Didn’t Comedy Central already blow this six years ago with “That’s My Bush”?

Ironically, “That’s My Bush”, which was conceived by the minds behind “South Park”, was far less in the comedic vein of Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny than “Lil’ Bush” is. And much like the current state of “South Park”, the humor of this new entrant is way too heavy-handed and blunt to really strike a nerve. Having a mumbly kid version of Dick Cheney getting it on with Barbara Bush is over the top, but not in a particularly satisfying way.

From what I can tell, “Lil’ Bush” isn’t designed to have a long shelf life anyway. I’m guessing ComCen is counting on a healthy flood of outrage from the conservative intelligentsia, prompting accusations of more liberal-leaning media bias, and then making hay out of that controversy. Sort of predictable.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 09:26:55 AM
Category: TV, Politics, Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (3)


You knew those phenomenal growth rates couldn’t last forever: Online shopping seems to have hit a lull, the result of saturation and seemingly more appealing experience in brick-and-mortar stores.

Nancy F. Koehn, a professor at Harvard Business School who studies retailing and consumer habits, said that the leveling off of e-commerce reflected the practical and psychological limitations of shopping online. She said that as physical stores have made the in-person buying experience more pleasurable, online stores have continued to give shoppers a blasé experience. In addition, online shopping, because it involves a computer, feels like work.

“It’s not like you go onto Amazon and think: ‘I’m a little depressed. I’ll go onto this site and get transported,’ ” she said, noting that online shopping is more a chore than an escape.

Well, some ecommerce sites are indeed designed to “transport” you via shopping, even if there’s more of a blase aspect to doing so in your living room. You can also take more time to research, examine, and muse over the item on the Web — you can’t really do that in-store.

All that’s compensation for not being able to physically get your hands on the thing. And there’s the delayed gratification of waiting for shipping to deliver. As always, pros and cons.

I don’t doubt that part of this shift comes from the loss of novelty in mouse-click shopping. It’s commonplace now, so perceptionally, there’s little difference between Amazon.com and Target. Shipping is probably the main sticking point, which has brought about a new counter-solution:

In response, a so-called clicks-and-bricks hybrid model is emerging, said Dan Whaley, the founder of GetThere, which became one of the largest Internet travel businesses after it was acquired by Sabre Holdings.

The bookseller Borders, for example, recently revamped its Web site to allow users to reserve books online and pick them up in the store. Similar services were started by companies like Best Buy and Sears. Other retailers are working to follow suit.

“You don’t realize how powerful of a phenomenon this new strategy has become,” Mr. Whaley said. “Nearly every big box retailer is opening it up.”

The overriding impulse is to save time by going to the store, but also getting that expected deep Web discounted price. It seems neither sales channel can do it on its own — ecommerce sites being too detached from the consumerist experience, and retail outlets being too ponderous in layout and transaction fulfillment. Combined, they create a new model for satisfying purchasing impulses.

FURTHER THOUGHTS: Stanley Bing adds some context, arguing this trending as proof that ecommerce isn’t going to kill off traditional retail in the long run:

So keep on growing, online retailers! Good luck to you! All the best! But forgive me if news indicates that your march across all civilized nations is reaching manageable levels, that there may be some actual, physical business entities standing when the day is done.

And hey - you pundits who always predict that one medium is about to extinguish all others? Next time shut up, why don’t you?

It’s a similar argument regarding emerging media with regards to the older formats they compete against, in that zero-sum results rarely occur. For instance, for all the perception that television “killed” radio, it really didn’t: It just forced radio to reinvent itself into other formats, within which it thrived. Does the same concept apply to retail? I’m not so sure, but it’s interesting to see the immediate results.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 06/18/2007 09:01:55 AM
Category: Internet, Business | Permalink | Feedback