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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Do You Change The Dial?

Monday, February 12, 2007

A study conducted by the radio audience research group Arbitron is suggesting that people don't actually change the dial when a commercial comes on.


First of all, a fair number of NPH readers (ever the gadget-savvy bunch) may ask, "Radio? Dial?" Such is the impact of digital music players and commercial-free satellite radio. NPH's auto audio listening has been completely transformed by an mp3 player, such that he hardly ever listens to the radio. And when he does, he doesn't tolerate commercials for a second. No, NPH is more likely to listen to James Blunt than a commercial for lypo-dissolve or Sales Genie.

NPH has to wonder if the study's results have anything to do with the proliferation of offices and retail outlets that just leave the radio on at all times.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:43 PM | link | 2 comments |

NPH Miscellany

Last week NPH participated in a three-day retreat in which he was asked to take the Clifon Strengths Finder inventory. If you don't know (and we didn't before last week) the inventory is based in the theory of positive psychology, and it was taken up by the Gallup Organization and packaged as a book for churchgoers and leaders. Content-wise it's pretty thin, and the research methodology is somewhat suspect, since Gallup is so tight-lipped about how the inventories actually get scored. But we love things that tell us about ourselves, no? It's important to remember to take them with a grain of salt.

In any case, NPH was told that his "strengths" run in a number of themes: input (collecting stuff and information), harmony (getting people to agree), restoring (fixing problems), positivity (praising and encouraging), and including ("stretch-the-circle-wider"). The nub of positive psychology is that a person will function best when they're working in their strengths, rather than when they are trying to "fix" their deficiencies. It's a good insight. NPH is witholding judgment about its effective application.
Tomorrow night NPH begins a Financial Peace University class at the church. We've put this off for nearly two years, and only now have decided to take the plunge and ask people to pay the $95 it takes to participate. Personally, we've believed in the worth of Dave Ramsey's financial counsel, but we've just been squeemish about pushing that on others. We just got to a point where we decided we couldn't justify doing nothing in the face of the financial wreckage in our community. Early returns are good, since nearly 20 people have signed up, nearly half of whom are from the community and not the church.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:20 AM | link | 5 comments |

Protesting Commercials

Friday, February 09, 2007

Following up on our criticism of Coke's and Frito Lay's Super Bowl ads, NPH thought readers might like to know that racism wasn't the only vice employed by advertisers during the big game. Not to be outdone, homophobia and suicidal ideation had their day in the sun as well. Lucky for them, the makers of these ads have drawn the ire of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, instead of being exposed by Not Prince Hamlet.

G.L.A.D. and a host of other groups objected to this Snickers ad. Snickers pulled the ad immediately and erased it from their website.

This GM ad is being criticized for its insensitivity to suicide. ''It was inappropriate to use depression and suicide as a way to sell cars,'' said Robert Gebbia, the A.F.P.S's executive director.

NPH marvels at the increased publicity for the brand created by these kinds of protests.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:56 PM | link | 2 comments |

In the ultimate flip-the-bird-reversal, Cartoon Network General Manager Jim Samples has been "compelled" to step down as a result of last week's debacle of a publicity stunt.

NPH guesses that the Turner Broadcasting System decided to eliminate Samples' salary as a way of recouping the $2 million they're out as a result of the public safety melee in Boston.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

Why Do Smiling Black Faces Make White Folks Feel So Good?

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Very Left Reverend astutely observed that the Coke and Frito Lay ads during the Super Bowl were likely aimed less at African Americans themselves than they were at do-gooder white people with a collective guilty conscience. NPH thinks Doug Rushkoff's key questions are instructive here: 1) how does this ad make me feel? And 2) who wants me to feel this way?

In other words, what's my reaction and who stands to benefit from it.

In this case, NPH has to admit that the Coke and Frito Lay ads made him feel warm on the inside. "Yes," he thought, "I believe lifting up the Black Experience in America is important too." So who benefits from that swell of misplaced, surrogate racial pride? Coke and Frito Lay of course. Because NPH is now associating those brands with these good feelings about himself--NPH is racially sensitive; NPH empathizes with black people; NPH believes we can all get along; NPH is, obviously, not a racist.

But it's an illusion. The ad is lying. It's telling NPH things about himself that are not totally true; it's pumping up his sense of self-worth while simultaneously ringing a bell that's shaped like a coke bottle and smells like Cool Ranch Doritos.

But NPH can think racist thoughts; given the choice between a documentary on the Black Experience and The West Wing, he'll take the West Wing (no, Dule Hill doesn't make up for it); NPH doesn't really empathize with people who don't look like him and who aren't from places like the place he's from.

The ads are lies. They're lying about the companies who paid from them, telling us that those companies care deeply about something they most certainly would abandon if not for the prospect of profit. But, worst, they're lying about the consumer, the YOU watching the ad. They're telling you things about yourself that, in your most honest moments, you simply know are not true. You might wish they were true, but they're not and it pains you that they're not. So when a soda or chip company can make you believe for a moment that they are, well then that brand becomes the salve to your guilty conscience. So you'll reach for it next time you're in the store.

Rule one of media literacy: know thyself.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:56 PM | link | 1 comments |

Gag Me with A Coke

NPH was tempted to do some serious critique of the Super Bowl ads, but decided that would be a waste of time. Instead, a quick comment on two spots that were equally egregious and egregious for the same reason.

The rich white CEO's and advertising execs at Coke and Frito Lay want African Americans to identify their junk food products with the Black Experience. First the Coke spot:

First off, for Coke to place itself at the center of African Americans' struggles is hard to swallow for one simple reason. Okay, maybe two.

Next the Frito Lays spot:

Are you kidding? In a time when childhood obesity has become a public health crisis in America, and when black urban populations take the brunt of that crisis, the makers of America's junk food want to position themselves to those same populations as their friends.

Are people really going to buy this? Or are African American consumers going to tell Coke and Frito Lay where they can put their chips and soda?
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:48 AM | link | 3 comments |

Coersion by Radio

The next time you're in a pharmacy or a big department store, stop for a second and listen to the radio beaming overhead. Especially if you're a 25-54 year old woman. What you'll hear is what you always hear in those places--lite, dreamy, muzak. But what you'll also hear is 30 ad spots hyper-targeting you in an attempt to ramp up point of purchase sales. In other words, the radio will be talking to you.

It's part of a deal struck between a marketing company called Point of Purchase (POP) Radio and Westwood One Radio, which is the largest radio network in the country and is partially owned by CBS (sister to Viacom). So far Rite Aid pharmacies and K-Mart stores are among the first big outfits to sign up. They like it because the messages can be changed quickly and because it costs them less than regular radio.

Oh, and because you can't turn it off. Here's what the Rite Aid CEO has to say for it: "The consumer can't hide or change the channel."

In a media landscape that is increasingly giving people the control over advertising content, allowing them to block it online through pop-up blockers or browser extensions and to block it on TV through the use of a DVR, marketers are digging in their heels in those places where you can't block or skip the ad. And they're not just announcing specials and sales to the whole store; they're hyper-targeting one demographic, based on a batallion of consumer research.

NPH is just saying, beware of the radio.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:38 AM | link | 3 comments |

Viacom Slaps YouTube

Sunday, February 04, 2007

has ordered YouTube to take down tons of its material. Jeff Jarvis of Buzz Machine thinks it's a foolish move (most of his readers disagree). NPH tends to agree with Jarvis that, even though much of Viacom content (like "The Daily Show" with John Stewart) is available on Comedy Central's website for free, YouTube is the great communal gathering place for media content, so much so that free content probably works as promotion for paid content. In other words, find John Stewart on YouTube, then go watch more on Comedy Central's website, then watch it on TV.

The opposite view, obviously, is that it's theft.

The fundamental issue this all boils down to is advertising. It's what all television ultimately boils down to, because it's ultimately what television is for: to advertise. Viacom doesn't want people viewing its material in a way that gets them no ad revenue. Their content is free on their own websites, which are loaded with paid advertising content (NPH's experience with Comedy Central's website has always been slooooooow due to all the ad content). Yet young people particularly are gravitating to content that ostensibly doesn't bombard them with product promotions. But without that, networks have no revenue stream.

NPH has long made use of a tool called "Who Owns What" run by the Columbia Journalism Review. Here's the entry for Viacom, which includes all of their television networks and film studios. The summary of the company reads like this:
One of the largest global media empires, Viacom has a financial interest in broadcast and cable television, radio, Internet, book publishing, and film production and distribution. Some of this vertically integrated conglomerate's highly recognizable properties include the CBS network, MTV, Infinity broadcasting, Simon & Schuster, Blockbuster and Paramount Pictures. With such a diverse portfolio of properties, Viacom is one of the most profitable media giants as CBS is a top draw for older viewers while MTV remains the most popular teen orientated media outlet.
Its' content may be teen oriented, but its delivery method just took a step in the opposite direction.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 4:17 AM | link | 0 comments |

Cultish Crap

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Jackie Huba at Church of The Consumer has a take on the Mini Cooper Talking Billboard Campaign. Huba is a Cooper owner herself, so when a friend asked her if she would recommend the car, she took note of the cutting edge marketing in light of her experience with the product. The billboards (which receive an electronic signal from your key and display a personalized message) are intended to intensify the "cultish loyalty" exhibited by Cooper owners already. But that cultish loyalty wasn't a result of talking billboards or secret decoder advertisements; it was the reaction of consumers who genuinely enjoyed a good product, regardless of the ads.

As for Huba, here's what she told her friend:
So I told her about the nagging problem with the hatch door that has a habit of not always latching. And the rattling noises that creep up at highway speed. And the heat that comes out of the vents unless you have the A/C turned on. And that all the dealers in Chicago are an hour away from downtown
It's a sad departure from the almost anti-marketing approach that marked the rise of the car.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:10 AM | link | 0 comments |

"I'm Not Your Priest"

Friday, February 02, 2007

Here's the link to the Guerilla Marketing piece on ABC's Nightline last night. NPH wasn't able to watch its' broadcast, because we live in a media market that prefers syndicated sitcoms from 10:30 to 11:30 rather than news.

The Nightline correspondent's interview with Rushkoff took a sort of confessional turn when he asked if the media was itself a part of the fallout from marketing ploys like the one in Boston, prompting Rushkoff to answer, "Well, you can't help it. The media loves to talk about itself." When the correspondent asked if he ought to feel guilty about that, Rushkoff looked at him with confusion for a couple of seconds before letting out a nervous and deflective, "I'm not your priest."

NPH enjoyed that.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:38 AM | link | 1 comments |

Rushkoff in Five Minutes

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Until then there are these videos made by the Adult Swim vandals.

NPH is so done with this story after this.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:24 PM | link | 0 comments |

Exhibit A

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:12 PM | link | 0 comments |

Rushkoff on Nightline

Douglas Rushkoff will be on ABC's Nightline tonight talking about the guerilla marketing debacle in Boston yesterday. The bomb-like ad was simply a cartoon character made out of led's, the little lights shown in the above video.
What NPH finds eery about this is not that citizens can so easily bring a major American city to its panicked knees, but that these kinds of pranks were the invention of graffiti artists and activists. That they're so easily taken over by a major media corporation like Turner Broadcasting (which also owns CNN, which has done some indignant reporting about the incident)for "covert" marketing creeps us out a bit. And is not all the reporting the best kind of PR Turner could ask for?


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 4:00 PM | link | 0 comments |