Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Friday, May 12, 2021

You know how pissy people still get about having to watch commercials in movie theaters? They argue that they didn’t pay around 10 bucks to experience a TV moment before the feature presentation.

So imagine how riled the patrons on Broadway and other cities’ theater districts will be, when they plunk down $100 and upward, and then have to sit through a stage-performed ad for the City of London, prior to the evening’s entertainment.

“I don’t know why nobody has thought of it before, to have a live ad on stage for theater,” said [ad actor and Britcom star Pauline] McLynn, who will perform before a production of “Saturday Night Fever” at [Dublin, Ireland’s] the Gaiety.

“It will be a real thrill for the people who are here, as 1,500 people are going to have been at a world first, they will be able to go home and say not only did I see a great show last night, but I saw the first-ever live ad.”

It’s a choice audience to target: Mostly affluent consumers whose eyes and ears marketers drool over getting. And they’re captive for those three minutes before the real curtain-raising.

Then again, I can see this inaugural ad placement going sour. Those same desirable targets are also fairly conservative when it comes to their entertainment experience, and probably won’t take kindly to this intrusion. I fully expect to hear reports about booing, hissing, and possibly objects getting tossed; I can’t wait!

And if the Irish crowds won’t get rowdy, maybe the Broadway rabble will. Visit London is bringing its act to New York, starting May 23rd for the evening performance of “Stomp” at the Orpheum Theater. I smell drama!

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/12/2021 09:40:28 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Creative | Permalink | Feedback (2)

Fat financial deals designed to snare high-flying corporate talent soon will have nowhere to hide, if the Securities and Exchange Commission gets its way. A proposal that would require publicly-traded companies to disclose how much money they’re paying their best-compensated non-executive employees is raising plenty of hackles:

The entertainment industry is abuzz over the so-called “Katie Couric” clause in a broad SEC plan for publicly traded companies to give shareholders more information about multimillion-dollar salaries. The designation comes from “Today” show co-host Couric, who is leaving NBC at the end of May to join CBS as anchor and managing editor of “The CBS Evening News With Katie Couric” for a reported salary of $15 million over five years.

The SEC proposal — aimed mainly at prying loose more information on the pay of top corporate officers — also would force companies to disclose salary figures for up to three workers whose compensation exceeds that of its top executives.

Of course, companies CEOs, Presidents, CFO, etc. salaries already are required reporting items on the 10-K; but they’re widely seen as skeletal, base-pay figures that come nowhere near representing all the perks and extras the C-level boys get. Naturally, the SEC would like to get a truer picture of how much money is being made. The Katie Couric provision wouldn’t do this alone; I presume the rest of the proposal is calculated to unlock the secret.

While the loudest protests are coming from the entertainment industry, other companies oppose it as well.

Kellogg, the world’s largest maker of breakfast cereal, told the SEC the plan would give rival companies crucial salary information.

Disclosure of the salary of a highly paid non-executive like a salesperson “could cause employee morale issues and provide our competitors with sensitive information that could be used to solicit the employment of our salespeople,” it said.

Media companies are using the same argument.

“The disclosure requirement could have the effect that producers, talent and other individuals would prefer not to be employed by publicly held motion picture companies at all,” said Linda Rappaport and George Spera, of Shearman & Sterling, who wrote the SEC on behalf of several movie studios.

Companies would not be required to name their top non-executive earners under the proposal, but they said the identities would be easy enough to figure out.

DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg also complained in a letter to the SEC that stars’ salaries have less value to shareholders because there is less conflict of interest when negotiating those amounts than in the case of executives’ salaries, which are set by members of the board of directors.

Funny, these companies don’t always have a problem citing their star-level payroll when it’s convenient. For instance, last year the Tribune Co. highlighted its first-quarter $13.5 million charge on account of the trade of Sammy Sosa by its wholly-owned Chicago Cubs baseball team. Sosa’s contract, like that of all major-league pro athletes’, was public knowledge anyway (although even there, it’s rare that much beyond the base salaries are readily known). In fact, in the sports/entertainment fields, such info is already widely disseminated, officially and otherwise. It’s a more prickly matter in other fields, of course.

Frankly, all this will do is force the accountants to get even more creative with the smoke and mirrors. But even fictionalized ledger items would be a hoot to read.

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 05/12/2021 09:20:14 PM
Category: Media, Baseball, Business | Permalink | Feedback

Thursday, May 11, 2021

bouncing baby britney
With Britney Spears confirming that she’s preggers with kid No. 2, it was inevitable that the two obvious song titles from her repertoire would do duty as headlines.

Which of the songs was more preferred by news-breakers? Quick-and-dirty Google News searches of the moment reveal:

- “Baby One More Time” ticks up 385 citations

- “Oops!… I Did It Again” brings in a mere 85 results

Not at all comprehensive, and full of overlap, I’m sure. If Brit goes for a trifecta, we can go through this all over again.

I’m thinking husband K-Fed should ditch his questionable rap career, and follow his obvious calling: Stud farming. The guy’s a freakin’ sperm factory.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 05/11/2021 08:54:51 PM
Category: Media, Pop Culture, Celebrity | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, May 10, 2021

ah-ha, 10 downing
“The Thick of It” is the latest high-stylin’ Britcom to make noise in comedy circles. It’s a contemporized take on the classic “Yes, Minister”, imbued with the creative vigor that made the Alan Partridge shows so funny.

In fact, “Thick” owes its existence to the Alan Partridge character, which reveals how little has changed at 10 Downing Street since the days of “Yes, Minister”:

[Armando Iannucci] said the television series’s first direct inspiration came in 1996 when he got a call inviting Alan Partridge to interview Tony Blair as staged entertainment for a Labor Party conference in Blackpool. When Mr. Iannucci and [Steve] Coogan arrived, they were surprised by the greeting they were given by Mr. Blair’s chief image maker, Peter Mandelson.

“He was absolutely furious because he was expecting Alan Partridge,” said Mr. Iannucci. “He had to be taken to one side and explained that Alan Partridge was a fictional character played by Steve.”

“On the one hand, they tried to demonstrate this finger on the pulse of popular culture by knowing Alan Partridge was the one to be seen with. On the other hand, they demonstrated how little they know of popular culture by not realizing that it was a fictional character.”

“That’s when I started thinking, ‘Something is very odd about British politics right now.’”

Consider it a London version of the Beltway mentality.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/10/2021 11:16:53 PM
Category: TV, Politics | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, May 09, 2021

If your only experience with coma patients is from their portrayal in movies, you’re getting fed a brain-dead scenario. That’s the conclusion of Drs. Eelco and Coen Wijdicks, who find Hollywood enactments of the comatose condition to contain an alarming lack of real-world grounding:

Dr. Wijdicks also found that many lay viewers were unable to identify inaccuracy in the depiction of coma - despite 39% admitting that those depictions might influence their decisions about a coma in real life.

He said: “Inaccuracy concerns me because the public sees an unrealistic portrayal of a neurologic disease that could lead to improbable expectations from a family of a patient in a coma; for example, that it will be just a matter of time till the patient awakens and everything will be fine and dandy.”

Actually, based on Tennessee Senator Bill Frist’s ham-handed video diagnosis of Terry Schiavo last summer, I’d say the celluloid glamorization manages to seduce even those who should know better.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 05/09/2021 10:56:13 PM
Category: Politics, Movies, Science | Permalink | Feedback

Monday, May 08, 2021

read the book, fool!
Today, I learned to stop second-guessing myself. At least, where this blog is concerned.

When I crafted the post about Mr. T’s upcoming advice show, “I Pity the Fool”, I thought about including a quip about the proper theme music. In my mind, it could be performed only by The Mr. T Experience. I couldn’t name even one of their songs, but that’s irrelevant; it’s got to be the coolest alterna-rock band name out there, and most appropos in this situation.

But I didn’t include that bit of whimsy. I figured it was far too obscure a reference to throw out there.

Yet today comes news that the band’s frontman, Frank Portman, is now a bigtime book author. And that he likes to be photographed posing next to colander-breasted robot sculptures.

So you see, there’s no such thing as “too obscure” in this pop-cultural zeitgeist. What are the odds that The Mr. T Experience would ever make the news on a random day? I should just let my freak flag fly, already.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/08/2021 10:38:17 PM
Category: Publishing, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

Sunday, May 07, 2021

In case you haven’t noticed, Wal-Mart has been trying to class up its marketing image, partly by ditching a recognizable mascot:

Under [chief marketing officer John Fleming], the smiley-faced character that has symbolized Wal-Mart’s commitment to low prices, which was created by Bernstein-Rein, has virtually disappeared from mainstream ads.

But there’s a more pertinent reason for the company to wean itself off that character: A trademark challenge from France over licensing rights to le smiley.

So in addition to going after the higher-end consumer — who’ll hopefully swing in for a cheap DVD and walk out with an impulse-buy flat-screen TV — the new ad approach serves as a backup in case Wal-Mart loses its court case. Considering the target, the company’s making an upscale grade of lemonade out of lemons.

I got a kick out of the legal definition of Wal-Mart’s customized Mr. Smiley:

You might think a smiley symbol is merely a yellow circle with two dots and a curvy grin.

But this is what Wal-Mart lawyers see when they gaze into Mr. Smiley’s eyes, according to one of their legal filings: “The ’smiley face’ design is comprised of a circle, within which appears two dots, parallel to each other and in the upper third of the circle, approximating eyes in a human face, and an upturned parabola in the lower third of the circle, approximating a smile on a human face. The design appears sometimes with, sometimes without, lines perpendicular to the corners of the ’smile’ element. It is usually represented in the color yellow.”

Proprietary only in the retail-store business. So your emoticon smileys are still safe for email use :)

- Costa Tsiokos, Sun 05/07/2021 08:58:42 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business | Permalink | Feedback

Wednesday, May 03, 2021

Lots of construction goin’ on in New York. And where there’s construction, there are portable toilets.

And when you need a port-o-let the City and surrounding counties, you look to Call-A-Head for all your flushing needs.

I applaud this plucky company for the clever double-meaning in its name: “Call ahead” blended with the Navy slang for “toilet”. It’s funny and memorable.

But then, perhaps inevitably, it goes too far. The corporate tagline goes for cute, and instead comes off as reaching:

We’re Way Ahead of All You Leave Behind

I guess I should say that Call-A-Head should have quit while it was a-head. But then, I’d just be part of the problem…

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/03/2021 10:33:02 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

After too much backlash and not enough customers, purveyors of the Big Three penis-pills — Viagra, Levitra, Cialis — are repositioning their sales pitches.

Levitra and Viagra now have new campaigns that forego the provocative in favor of depicting erectile dysfunction as a medical condition, not simply a lifestyle concern. The commercials are a recognition of the prior approach’s failure to expand the market, as well new guidelines adopted by the industry in January to address critics’ concerns and improve ads’ accuracy.

That’s funny. The “lifestyle concern” angle is precisely what the NFL cited when it ended its marketing partnership with Levitra, back in January:

Brian McCarthy, an NFL spokesman, said the league chose to end the relationship because “the ads shifted from men’s health to a performance, lifestyle issue.” The change in advertising strategy made the NFL uncomfortable, McCarthy said.

So, while left unsaid, the National Football League was a primary agent in effecting this change. I’m thinking the loss of premium exposure time during football Sundays was enough of a jolt to make the drugmakers shift gears so abruptly. This new approach might be an attempt at rapprochement with the league.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 05/03/2021 09:37:02 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg. | Permalink | Feedback

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