Giant mechanical creatures in the news

Personally I think the gorilla is off to Liverpool to start a band with the spider.

Did mortgage crisis cause crash of flying saucer?

saucer houseA Chattanooga, TN, house shaped like a flying saucer recently sold for $135,000, far less than expected. The 38-year-old, structure is perched on six “landing gear” legs, has multiple levels, three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an entrance staircase that lowers and retracts with the push of a button. The new owner — who didn’t want to speak with the press — faces some uniquenterior decorating challenges as the curve of the exterior creates a sloping ceiling and short side walls. On the plus side the building has a striking curved bar and a custom designed bathtub.

A neighbor, Ron Parimore, told the Chattanooga Times Free Press that former owners in the 1970s got in an argument and the wife pulled up the stairway, drove her husband’s truck underneath it so he couldn’t get the stairs down and left him stuck inside.

All the news that’s fit to eat

  • A day late and a fad short: In an effort to capitalize on the dying-if-not-dead low-carb diet fad, President's Choice has brought out Crispy Lettuce Wraps. "Crisp and sweet-tasting but flexible enough for folding, this versatile cross between romaine and iceberg lettuce is the perfect holder for all your favourite sandwich fillings. Great for hot & cold foods, tacos, Asian lettuce wraps and salads." Tip of the hat to Strange New Products for this one.
  • I know it's for a good cause but …PINK BAGELS? "Celebrate Mother's Day With Einstein Bros. Pink Bagels." During the Mother's Day weekend, Einstein Bros. Bagels is going to sell pink bagels for each one sold they will donate $.10 to the the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Isn't it bad enough that most Americans now think bagels have the consistency of Wonder Bread®, but do we have to make them pink? They're trying to do good but is it OK if I go in, order my regular bagels and then pretend they're pink? I'll even cough up an extra dime per for the company to donate. [Fittingly colorful quote from the press release: Einstein Bros., one of the brands under the New World Restaurant Group, Inc. (Pink Sheets: NWRG) Pink sheet companies are ones that issue and trade stocks without needing to meet minimum requirements or file with the SEC. They got their name because they were actually printed on pink paper, not because they donate ten cents to charity or because they have the consistency of a bagel made at one of these chain bagel shops.]
  • Just because you've taken a survey doesn't mean you should keep it: "According to a nationwide survey released today by Whole Foods Market , Americans eat meat an average of 4.2 times a week — that's 218 times a year. Flavor, safety and humane treatment of animals are the top drivers for choosing high-quality meat and poultry." Ummmm … what exactly does your first point have to do with your second point? Other survey highlights:
    • 65 percent of Americans want a guarantee that all meat and poultry products are free from added growth hormones and antibiotics, and that the animals were humanely raised.
    • 61 percent felt it important that meat and poultry products' compliance to these standards should be labeled.
    • 51 percent said having set standards for meat products is a key factor in deciding where to shop for meat.
    • However, when asked if they'd ever purchased products meeting such standards, 51 percent said they were "not sure."

The first two points basically are like asking if you're in favor of mom and/or apple pie. The final point is the rub. Yeah yeah yeah we all think we should exercise more & eat better but actually do it? Hmmmm. How much a pound? (To understand the short-sightedness of consumer's calculation around the cost of meat — or the cynicism of those selling it — I suggest reading Michael Pollan's new book The Omnivore's Dilemma. It's wonderfully written, but a bit too long. If Fast Food Nation didn't already convince you that corn is a blight upon the nation, this will. Ban "High fructose corn syrup," that's my new cause.

Smells like teen irony

Courtney "Please go away, please" Love says she will not let her late husband's song "Smells Like Teen Spirit" be used in a soap commercial. Yes, that would be a travesty for a song whose tag line started out as the tag line in a deodorant ad. Ms. Love who is famously short of cash has sold  a 25 percent stake in the Nirvana song book to Larry Mestel, the former COO of Virgin Records and current head of Primary Wave Music Publishing, reports Rolling Stone. "We're going to remain very tasteful," the shy and understated Ms. Love told the magazine.

Beer needs its image buffed?

Stretching the definition of provocative to new lengths: "If you could have a beer with anyone, who would it be? Renowned filmmaker Spike Lee has teamed up with the beer industry to ask adult beer drinkers this provocative question." — From a brewski industry release touting its new "grassroots campaign to elevate the image of beer."

OK, how many of you said Bill Wilson and Dr. Robert Smith? 

This effort will focus on (and God I wish I could have made this up):

  • Reminding consumers of the social value of beer — it brings people together in an unpretentious way. Around urinals.
  • Romancing the product and the art of brewing — reinforcing beer's refreshment, all-natural ingredients and the beauty of its liquid. Splashing around urinals
  • Encouraging consumers to view beer differently — giving them new ways to enjoy beer … on their way to the urinals.

Steve Ballmer: I’d brainwash my kids to protect Microsoft

 There is nothing the sweatiest man in IT won't do for MS. From an interview in Fortune: 

Do you have an iPod?

No, I do not. Nor do my children. My children–in many dimensions they're as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod.
 

Not only can you not get drunk in a bar in Texas, but in Canada you can’t even be seen to have a beer. IN CANADA!

The Aussies continue to have good luck getting free PR. Turns out the Canuck ad authorities not only wouldn’t let them use the word hell in the ad, they had “to remove a shot showing a half-full glass of beer.” Oh, Canada…

Aussie tourism boss Fran Bailey continues laughing all the way to the bank on this one. “I still find the decision astonishing. What this decision shows is that Canada lags behind Americans, Brits and even Germans in the sense of humour stakes.” OOOOH, that hurts — less funny than the GERMANS? Canada has taken this insult seriously and announced they are sending all of their armed forces not currently serving at the Tim Horton’s in Afghanistan to invade Australia. Adding economic clout to this military threat, the Canadians say both of those people will fly on an airline that is not Qantas.

Further proof charity begins at home

The AP reports: Former first lady Barbara Bush gave relief money to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund on the condition that it be spent to buy educational software from her son Neil’s company.

Nope, not gonna make that up. Wouldn’t be prudent.

However while that may be the most self-serving donation reported today to aid the victims of the hurricanes, it is far from the oddest. Someone gave $35K (presumably not for software produced by the company of someone he or she is related to) to VH1’s “Pay to Play for Hurricane Katrina Relief” benefit. For $25 you got pick one video to be played. For $35K? They gave a whole hour to the person to program any music videos they chose. And they chose … “the English and German music videos for the 1984 hit 99 Luftballons, aka 99 Red Balloons, by German rock group Nena.”

And?

And that’s it.

To hear and see an hour’s worth of the song, which is much better in German because you get the melodic hook without the having to pay attention to its lyrics, turn on VH1 Classic Sunday, starting at 2 PM.  If you’re going to be out, you should set your Tivo now.

On-line game to virtually crucify players who break the rules: PR disaster or PR genius?

Press release put out by the MMPORPG Roma Victor is headlined: BRITAIN TO WITNESS FIRST CRUCIFIXION FOR ALMOST 2,000 YEARS. (Hmmm, I would have written in almost, but that’s just me.)

It then continues:

Ancient punishment is handed out for the all-too-modern crime of ganking (or gang-killing new players) as Roman-style justice returns to Britain for the first time in nearly 20 centuries.

Brighton, UK. Britain will witness its first crucifixion for almost two millennia later this week, when Cynewulf is nailed to a cross as punishment for ganking other players as they first appear. Cynewulf, (in real life a 27 year-old electrical engineer from Flint, Michigan, USA) has no need to worry about suffering any permanent pain to his hands or feet, however, as this barbaric sentence is due to be carried out in cyberspace; in the virtual world of Roma Victor®.

    Roma Victor is an online recreation of Britain in Roman times, where players live virtual lives as slaves and citizens of that all-conquering Empire. The world is currently in the final stages of testing and will officially launch on July 1st 2006, after which thousands of players will be able to live out their own virtual lives within ancient Roman-occupied Britannia.

Given that someone — at the very least the American Family Association — is bound to start screaming about this, they’re sure to get some ink. Given that the game doesn’t launch until July and needs all the ink it can get — I judge this incredibly offensive PR genius and wash my hands of the whole mess. Pass the pieces of silver, please…

[Insert Funny Headline Here]

Today is an odd moment in time professionally speaking. The Jesse H. Neal awards for biz journalism are being given out today and I’ve been nominated along with the rest of the crew at the Late CMO Mag. If we win, will someone from IDG really go up and accept? ooops, my bad, we were nominated initially but then turns out somehow after the magazine was closed we got delisted. This wasn’t done by the group that gives out the awards, BTW.
In Texas it is now illegal to be drunk in … bars. Quoth Reuters: Texas has begun sending undercover agents into bars to arrest drinkers for being drunk, a spokeswoman for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission said on Wednesday. DO WHAT? I’d expect in that kind of namby pamby government intrusion in a Democratic controlled states like Massachusetts … but TEXAS? What do they charge you with, drinking while intoxicated? Operating a cocktail under the influence? Being in danger of the possibility of driving while drunk? I don’t even drink and I’m as namby pamby as they come and I’m appalled by this.

bikeAnd speaking of namby pamby overprotectiveness…Someone has invented a bike which, quoth BoingBoing, “is designed to teach kids how to ride a two wheeler. As the tricycle picks up speed, the rear wheels get closer together, until they merge into a single wheel.” Finally someone is willing to protect our kids from the threat of skinned knees. Cool looking, though.

And my tax dollars are being spent on what exactly? “Budget constraints are forcing some FBI agents to operate without e-mail accounts,” according to the agency’s top official in New York, says the AP. “As ridiculous as this might sound, we have real money issues right now, and the government is reluctant to give all agents and analysts dot-gov accounts,” Mark Mershon said when asked about the gap at a New York Daily News editorial board meeting. Sigh.

Repeat after me: I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused…

Aussie ad campaign continues on a roll

Man, those folks from Down Under sure know how to get the most for their ad dollar. Having previous reaped a whirlwind of free press from getting the “So where the bloody hell are you?” ad banned in the UK, they’re now doing it again — this time in Canada. The Canucks have banned the ad from TV and say there’s no point in the Aussie Tourism Minister coming to the Great White North to appeal the case as she did in the UK because they’re not going to change their minds. Well, I bet Ms. Bailey still makes the trip as the point of her trip won’t be to change the decision but to get publicity and I bet it will again work like a charm. Hmmmm, what mildly racey word can they put in the US version?

BREAKING NEWS!!! Turns out they didn’t have to ad anything to get free publicity in the US. Adjab points out that  the ever looney American Family Association (motto: We Make PETA Look Rational) has gone on the offensive and found something offensive. According to a story in the Sydney Morning Herald:

AFA members are expected to bombard Tourism Australia with thousands of emails and phone calls in coming weeks to vent their feelings. Members are also expected to boycott Australia as a holiday destination. “I just feel pretty sure the typical American family who is watching TV with their children and they’re exposed to this ad are going to be upset,” AFA director of special projects, Randy Sharp, said. “I don’t want my children to hear that phrase. It’s a shocking phrase because we’re not familiar with it. I guess they use it all the time in Australia, but it’s a foreign language here so I think it’ll have a negative impact rather than positive.”

Nervous Aussie tourism officials said losses from the AFA’s decision could mount into the high single digits. They were actually more worried as to what would happen after the boycott ended. “Wasn’t ’til they stopped the ‘cott of Ford that Ford really started to lose money,” said one Australian stereotype.

Don’t Randy Sharp’s quotes sound so dumb as to be made up? Sadly, it’s in keeping with everything else I’ve read about him. Can we nominate the AFA for some sort of award for “PR Person’s Best Friend”?

Obvious headline of the day competition

Vote now and choose the er, um, winner?

From USA Today: Should business execs meet at strip clubs?
Congrats, though to the reporter for finding someone soused enough to answer in the affirmative: Attorney Rohit Sabharwal, a Rick’s Cabaret regular, says he often takes clients of his small law firm with him and such entertaining was common when he was at a large firm, too. “Nobody really objects,” Sabharwal says. “I think it’s a lot more civilized in the law profession. I don’t think women have a problem succeeding in law firms.” You wanna bet Rohit is regretting this?

From the Seattle PI: Marketers see TV ads as less effective
NO! Really?

The AP story doesn’t help much: Nearly four in five marketers surveyed believe that television advertising is less effective than it was just two years ago, according to a study released Wednesday.

A more insightful take on the same study can be found here at my day job and no I didn’t write it.

Is it just me or is it really easy to get 4/5ths of anyone to agree on something?