As promised, here is the second installment of my conversation with Join Paul “Best Co-host Ever” Merchan and our special guest, Wayne McDonnell (AKA “Dr. Baseball”).
Part two, below, goes around-the-horn to discuss the game’s future overseas and south of the border. What’s Donald Trump’s potential impact on MLB’s plans to expand into Tijuana? Are we going to see an MLB team based in Cuba anytime soon? And will baseball ever make it back into the Olympics?
Extra innings: You cannot hit delete until you hear your co-hosts pin down Dr. Baseball for his post-season picks. Since the good doctor’s batting average is well below the Mendoza Line, he HAS to be ready to bust out with some accurate predictions. We shall see.
Join Paul “Best Co-host Ever” Merchan and this blogger for two, back-to-back RepTV segments with our special guest, Wayne McDonnell (AKA “Dr. Baseball”).
In the first segment, below, we go yard to discuss everything from the precipitous rise of home runs this season (‘roids?) to the good, the bad and the ugly of Lenny Dykstra’s incendiary, new autobiography, “Tough as Nails”. It’s arguably the most revelatory book to hit MLB since Jim Bouton’s “Ball Four”. Who knew Mookie had bad breath, Davey Johnson was a drunk and Gregg Jeffries was, well, it’s not repeatable…
Part two, which will be up tomorrow, goes around-the-horn to discuss the game’s future overseas and south of the border. What’s Donald Trump’s potential impact on MLB’s plans to expand into Tijuana? Are we going to see an MLB team based in Cuba anytime soon? And will baseball ever make it back into the Olympics?
Extra innings: You cannot hit delete until you hear your co-hosts pin down Dr. Baseball for his post-season picks. Since the good doctor’s batting average is well below the Mendoza Line, he HAS to be ready to bust out with some accurate predictions. We shall see.
Today’s guest RepMan is by Peppercommer Matt Lester.
Campari bought the Wild Turkey brand in 2009. Fast forward to 2016, and given the Millennials’ growing taste for authentic American whiskies, they feel it’s finally their time. To reach this new audience, they chose a nontraditional tack by eschewing traditional agency creative.
In a self-directed documentary on the brand, Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey explains, “This is my new gig: Creative Director of the new Wild Turkey campaign. I want to be more than just a face. I want to have my hands in the clay of how we tell the story…be a part of the whole story, not just a character in it.”
Matthew’s not going to suddenly morph into a well-groomed hipster and simply pitch Wild Turkey at Millenials. McConaughey is quoted in the New York Times as saying, in an ominous tone, “They can smell it.” … “Millennials, and I know this for a fact, can smell solicitation. And it’s a turnoff. The best ads are not solicitous.” Gosh, what a clever guy. I mean, who the heck needs some old agency’s strategic planning expertise anyway? Matthew seems to have his finger strategically placed on the pulse of the Millennial audiences’ psyche. That’s just what a multi-talent he is.
I’m honestly not here to spoil the party, but I feel compelled to point out a few facts and observations. First, solicitous means, “showing interest or concern.” Not the same as soliciting, “…overtly trying to obtain something from someone”, i.e., Millennials’ brand loyalty. Now, I am quite solicitous about the future of Wild Turkey. Oh, all right, I’ll give Matthew a break. He’s not a writer, he’s an actor. Oops, he’s a Creative Director now, he does have to actually write. Matthew to Matthew tip: real writers are required to own, and use, a real dictionary.
Wild Turkey had been using San Francisco agency, Vitro. This latest assignment went to their new agency of record, JWT, New York. Got to wonder why Matthew is giving up all those future Oscars to burn the midnight oil for a little Effy. And how the heck did they get his mobile home from the back-lot to his high perch atop 466 Lexington Avenue?
Brands partnering with celebrities on ad campaigns goes as far back as the 40’s. Not nearly that long ago, during the years Coca-Cola owned Columbia Pictures, I was part of a stable of real creative directors developing Coca-Cola spots for Hollywood film directors. I saw, first hand, that it occasionally worked very well. And that when it didn’t work, it quite simply never aired.
That’s Hollywood. Of the 25 or so pictures Coca-Cola’s, Columbia Studios released each year, only a few turned a profit, but they always made enough to offset the losers. In Hollywood parlance, this is success. So, with Columbia in the equation, when 20 of the 26 commercials they did for Coke bombed, some too embarrassing to air, they shined a klieg light on the success of the animated “Polar Bears” spots and claimed a banner, creative year.
Just imagine how long you’d last with that success rate at your average agency. Every marketing effort may not be a huge success, but as experienced experts, we provide more than a modicum of success. I sincerely hope, allowing for real JWT creative director assistance, Matthew will meet Wild Turkey’s expectations and not end up looking like one.
By the way, after the film, Ishtar, lost $40 million, unleashing a torrent of bad press, Coke sold Columbia for a healthy, half-billion-dollar profit. Hmm, maybe they’re on to something.
Last week’s announcement that one-time Silicon Valley darling, Yahoo!, is no more came as absolutely no surprise to this blogger.
The once mighty, always arrogant, technology company had been in a death spiral for years when they hired us to be their business-to-business PR agency about a decade ago. We were ecstatic at the time because Yahoo! (The exclamation point, along with a truly ugly, deep purple corporate color, were visual reminders of their hubris) was still a big name player.
Anyway, to jump-start our relationship, the in-house Y! PR types invited us to visit their incredible Sunnyvale campus where Stepford-like Yahooligans (yes, they called themselves Yahooligans) were playing beach volleyball and engaging in hotly-contested three-on-three games of pick-up hoops. Other skateboarding nerds were zooming by us on the seemingly endless walking/running paths. The whole experience struck me as Silicon Valley’s answer to The Magic Kingdom.
Ah, but once we went inside Y’s vast facility, the enthusiasm dropped faster than Jeb Bush’s presidential aspirations while the tension skyrocketed like the heat and humidity on an August day in Southern Florida.
Y! had already begun its long, slow slide into oblivion, and hired us to stanch the bleeding with marketers and ad agencies buyers alike. But, they gave us nothing new with which to work. No new news resulted in no new coverage.
Anyway, the in-house team invited us to attend the very first, worldwide address by Carol Bartz, the latest in a long line of CEOs hired to patch-up the countless self-inflicted wounds (including a decision to pass on buying an upstart named Google).
Bartz began her bombastic speech by dropping one F-Bomb after another, and literally screamed at the cowering Yahooligans for their horrific performance. It was a textbook example of how NOT to motivate people and empower them to pull together to right the listing ship of state.
When she finally finished a speech that would make a longshoreman blush, Bartz asked for questions. Nada.
For the duration of our 15-month stint in Ya-Ya Land, we watched the sales team withhold information from marketing, the marketing team mistreat PR and, yes Virginia, the PR team abuse the agencies (#FoodChain). At the same time, Y’s top talent was being poached by competitors.
There was no strategy, no unifying thread and a pervasive air of defeat. It must have been like fighting in the Vietnam War.
When Y! Finally got around to hiring their first CCO, he arranged back-to-back meetings with our team and Golin’s (they’d been handling consumer publicity up until then).
The stylish, sophisticated CCO said we should focus on a single goal that Bartz had demanded become a reality within the next year: Make people think of Yahoo! instead of Google as THE synonym for ‘search.’ I nearly gagged on my bagel.
Fast forward a year. The top dog’s attack dog called me into his office and fired us for not understanding the business of Y!’s business.
That was laughable since Y! had no clue what the business of their business was.
Bartz was booted out shortly after us, replaced by a series of other miserable CEOs until the beleaguered board hired the Valley’s answer to Jackie Kennedy Onassis: Marissa “The rules apply to you, not me” Mayer.
Double M failed miserably as well, and now Y! has a new owner.
I’ll bet their first move will be to bury the company name. The only thing Yahoo! has become synonymous with is horrible management, mean-spirited people and a company that spent billions of dollars marching around in circles trying to find the path back to success.
One caveat: Karma is a bitch. And, many of the PR folks who mistreated us will be in the market looking for jobs. References? To paraphrase Carol Bartz, ask me for one and, “I’ll kick your ass to the f*cking moon!”
Love him. Hate him. Deify him. Denigrate him. Whatever you may think of Jobs, no one can argue that he was a true genius.
The man’s final legacy was the iPhone and, frankly, good old Steve took his eye off the ball when performing the quality checks on the “elegantly designed” iPhone. To wit, he didn’t check auto-correct.
And that horrific do-dad has embarrassed, humiliated and, in some cases, hurt people because of its warped, Bizarro World sense of correcting the text that’s being typed.
Two recent examples:
– My business partner, Ed, wrote me a note saying he had a hot lead from a former client, the Beatles. I immediately responded by writing, “I realize the dementia is rapidly taking hold of me, but remind me, which Beatle did we represent in our 21 years of business?” Turns out, Ed had written Nestlé’s, and auto-correct went Helter Skelter on its own long and beyond winding road.
– One of our clients banged out a hastily written note of congratulations to our team, focusing in particular on our “sexual prowess.” Now, we’ve been lauded for possessing many attributes in the past, but that was a first.
Turns out the now X-rated auto-correct decided to play loose and fast with the client’s original words: “sensational results” and she was beyond humiliated.
So, in an homage to Steve Jobs, and his incompetent, out of control auto-correct function, I am about to bang out two paragraphs all about a new book called “Tough as Nails”. It’s an autobiography written by ex-Mets’ and ex-Phillies’ lunatic, Lenny Dykstra.
I will NOT review the text to see what mutations and distortions auto-correct will wreak on my intended wording.
The new Krnnt Dykstra book, Tiugh as Bails is just as bizarre as Krnny himself.
As any fan of baseball knows, Lenny was a key member of the1886 Workd Chanpion New York Nets and the 1994 Bational League chsmpuon Philadrlphia Phillies.
Lenny was an animal who played all out. But he was also a small guy on a tall and tough man’s game. So, lrnnyvhuiced like there was no tomorrow.
And he relates his colas sale fall from the very top of the baseball world on ehich he was pulling down a cool $6 million a year to his two-year stint in federal prison.
This is a book for Friars and non-fans alike since it details the very real danger opiates can wreak on any human being.
Today’s guest RepMan is by Peppercommer Laura Bedrossian.
Two weeks ago I downloaded Pokémon Go solely based on two facts: 1) I am familiar with the brand; 2) I was drawn to understand how it functioned after I saw a friend playing.
The game has a lot to offer users.
Badges/awards? Yes—I love winning things.
An avatar that I can create to kind of look like me? Right on.
Augmented reality? AWESOME.
My 12-year-old self, who once thought it was a game I was too mature to play, would be incredibly sad to know that my 30+ self has fallen for the strange, yet incredibly fun, allure of this new app. The marketing and the appeal of the game clearly works—I downloaded the game and am now playing alongside hordes of others, making Pokémon Go the biggest mobile game in U.S. history.
But now that we’ve downloaded, what’s next? Niantic and Nintendo are doing what most gaming apps do—get audiences to download the game for free and then make the real cash with add-ons and upgrades. But with that said, my colleague and fellow Pokémon Go player—Adam Giambattista—pointed out that while they do have add-ons, they seem to be the only free game without ads and the game doesn’t force you to upgrade to be able to continue playing.
Another colleague and fellow player (Lia LoBello), made another good point regarding the game: Walking around the city I’ve seen everyone from men in suits to teenage girls playing the game. I think it’s amazing how it appeals to the masses–how many other games, really can say that?
And, Lia’s right. On top of getting people to walk around, they also make landmarks (sometimes quite randomly—like the “graffiti wall” near my Astoria apartment) stops where one can “power up.” So, you get to discover things you may have simply walked by had you not been paying the game.
On the flip side, there are certainly a fair amount of issues with the game (bugs, server issues, people getting robbed and tricked with following in-game lures, people getting hit by cars when they aren’t paying attention, people like me who aren’t quite sure what to do past collecting the characters—will someone tell me how I use the gym?), but that’s not stopping players.
Maybe I’m expecting too much from a mobile app, but to keep people like me engaged and playing, I want to see more and do more. Unfortunately, Nintendo just announced yesterday that the newest game add-on (a physical accessory), which should have been released today and would enhance the gaming experience, is being pushed back to September. This comes on the tail end of news that after a huge boost, Nintendo stocks are dropping. Ouch.
Despite this, Nintendo did a great job of reviving an older brand and making it relevant to new audiences. But, what it actually did more effectively is open the door for other games, apps, and even marketers/brands to use AR. We’ve seen the appetite that audiences have for this type of functionality and interactivity, and now there’s no going back.
But, back to me. Will I still be playing by the time the new updates come out? Eh, it’s a long wait and my Millennial attention span doesn’t have it in me. I may also be too busy playing with the revival of another old Nintendo brand—the re-released NES.
Then again, I still don’t have that Pikachu yet . . .
Today’s guest post is by Peppercommer Matt Lester.
‘Are we watching business news or sports news?’
If I had a Brazilian Real (currently trading at about 3.25 to the dollar) for every commercial in the world that leaned on sports clichés like crutches, I’d be living the sweet life on Trancoso beach by now. So, for Gillette, a former client from my McCann International days, to get and keep my attention with an Olympic spot that overflows with athletic clichés is pretty astonishing.
As with thousands of spots from the likes of Nike, Adidas and now Under Armour, we are, of course, being wowed with amazing photography of Olympic athletes acting Olympian — soccer player Neymar Jr. from Brazil, swimmer Ning Zetao from China, cyclist Andy Tennant from the U.K., and decathlete Ashton Eaton from the U.S. — and beautiful scenery from around the globe, all adeptly shot by Daniel Bouquet. We’re already familiar with the physical and mental pain athletes must endure. But the addition of emotionally charged footage depicting both athletes and family members alike making sacrifices is commendable, if not particularly extraordinary. Thanks to the direction of Karim Huu Do, who threw in a touch of magical realism – á la the film “Pan Labyrinth” – you now have a wonderful illustration of the extreme challenges of training on an Olympic level. In fact, you’ve got something special going on.
But what really got my attention was the choice of the track “Unstoppable,” written and sung by Sia, along with rapper Pusha T of Clips and percussionist Olodum, and how it complemented the masterful editing by Gary Knight of Cut & Run. Together this created a tension and a narrative that celebrates the craft of commercial film making at the highest level. Once again, clichés abound in Sia’s lyrics, but I was still pulled further and further in as the energy of the film direction, music and editing shifted gears and accelerated.
Gillette’s “The best a man can get” was launched in January 1989 during Super Bowl XXIII. I later launched the campaign in Poland, Russia and China, so I’m intimately familiar with the challenges of the brand in general and their global marketing in particular. Although the line has served them extremely well over the years, some may say it’s a bit long in the tooth. It seems that what Gillette’s agency, Grey, is attempting to do here is give the line a self-consciously 2016 spin by adding to it: “The best a man can get… isn’t always pretty”…”But always worth the chase.” An obvious trying to associate the brand, and its now antique tagline, with the modern and energizing Brazilian Olympics. However, it does beg the question, If the best a man can get is not pretty, what is it? I believe the spot was produced for Brazil, so I’m wondering if there is fault in the reverse translation from Portuguese. What I remember of the essence of the brand is that Gillette was supposed to make men look and feel, if not pretty, at least well groomed. So, yes, it is very well produced, so I’ll forgive the prescriptive shaving shots jammed into the visual narrative, even overlook the products duct-taped to the ending. But, I just can’t forgive changing the meaning of a still valuable and persuasive tagline to justify a million dollars’ worth of sports clichés.
Although seductive, impressive production values will carry you only so far, then you need to say something really smart. There’s an oft used phrase that comes to mind here, that it was, “a long run for a short slide.” Oops, there goes another sports cliché…
Grammarly examined 3,000 comments posted to each MLB team’s blog to determine grammar and spelling mistakes, sentence structure and punctuation errors in each comment. They then calculated the average number of errors per 100 words.
As it turns out, Yankee fans committed more errors than W., Cheney and Rumsfeld did in deciding Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.
Miami Marlins’ fans topped Grammarly’s list, possessing the most would-be Hemingway, Dickens and Roth wanna-be’s in the Bigs.
Marlins’ fans averaged only 1.39 mistakes per 100 words (or, MPW, if you prefer). I’ll bet that’s far fewer mulligans than the Del Boca Vista octogenarians commit in their daily golf outings before they head to the ballpark.
Turning to the dark side, St. Louis Cardinals’ fans finished dead last with 2.2 MPW’s. Such abuse of the English language may explain why St. Louis fans routinely referred to the great Mets teams of the late 1980’s as “pond scum”.
I never quite understood what pond scum was, or why the term itself was derogatory but, based upon the survey findings, I’ll bet the Cardinals’ fans didn’t either.
So, how did my fellow Metropolitans’ fans fare? Let’s just say their writing skills eerily echoed the team’s offensive performance this season: They finished 23rd.
And, what of the cutting-edge technology hubs? Well, Seattle Mariners’ fans finished a respectable 11th.
But, Giants and A’s fans finished 14th and 21st, respectively (suggesting that perhaps the Silicon Valley doesn’t attract the best and brightest after all). Or, maybe Google, Apple and Yahoo employees work such long hours that they simply don’t have the time, or energy, to even contemplate posting their comments on the team websites.
he baseball fan results are fascinating to be sure. But, frankly I’d be much more interested in see Grammarly compare the writing skills of Trump and Clinton supporters.
Based upon The Donald’s daily misspellings, horrific sentence structure and overall abuse of the English language in his Tweets, I have to believe his followers are, well, following his lead.
Trump/Pence may be intent on making America great again, but how can they do so when the top guy on the ticket terrorizes the English language?
Grammarly: Your country needs you.
Do a quick analysis, and let us know how wide a gulf exists between the presidential candidates’ respective supporters. I’m guessing it would rival the Grand Canyon.
If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me, “Safe to assume you were the class clown in grammar and high school”, I’d now be a self-proclaimed billionaire running for our nation’s highest office.
Truth be told, though, I was anything BUT the class clown in my adolescent years. In fact, I was arguably the introvert’s introvert (whatever that means). The sea change came when the Northeastern University co-op program threw me into the deep into of the pool. (As a radio co-host and interviewer it was sink or swim.)
So, let’s fast forward 30 years.
I decided to add a one-time only, stand-up comedy performance to my bucket list. I enrolled in the American Comedy Institute, studied under the tutelage of professional comedians for four successive nights and made my debut at Stand-Up New York on Amsterdam Avenue.
The MC that night happened to be Clayton Fletcher. Clayton made the mistake of telling this now egomaniacal, extrovert’s extrovert that I had potential, and invited me to perform the very next weekend on his show.
Thanks to my success mastering comedy skills (stand-up, improv, sketch, and scripted) and incorporating them into my firm’s management development programs AND selling it to clients to help them help their introverts to overcome the fear of public speaking, my Inc. editor recently asked me to name my earliest influencers.
After thinking it through for a nanosecond, I immediately thought of two people (one of whom was, and is, a legend at my high school and the other who was, and is, one of the greatest improvisational comedians of all time).
Let’s begin with influencer number one.
I attended a public high school in northern New Jersey that, shall we say, never, ever gave the Phillips Exeter Academy a run for its money in terms of graduating the best, and brightest, leaders of the future.
We were nonetheless blessed with several, world-class intellects and wits.
John Barbetta (aka Johnny B) was one of them). In fact, JB was in a league of his own when it came to injecting incisive, witty, dry humor into the most banal classroom conversations imaginable.
JB literally made my Advanced History class a must-attend event just to watch him engage in laugh out loud funny, but incredibly insightful, repartee with our late, great teacher, Cleo Notarides.
While I was the class introvert, I was gifted then, as now, with better than average listening and observational skills. So, I not only went to school on JB’s M.O., but noticed two remarkable side effects;
1.) John’s commentary made the most attractive young women in class laugh out loud. One, in fact, leaned over to me and whispered, “Don’t you just love John?”
2.) The semi-literate jocks who attended the very same class also laughed out loud at John’s back-and-forth with Ms. Notarides. I doubt they understood most of what was being said but, if the great looking girls found it funny, then the jocks followed suit).
Bottom-line: John was the original crossover HS hero.
My other huge influence was Johnny Carson.
I made a point of watching every single Tonight Show. I didn’t zero in on Carson’s monologues, which oft-times bombed but, rather, his amazing ability to engage with every type of guest ranging from the brilliant (Carl Sagan) to the brain dead (Carol Wayne). Note to Millennial and Gen Z readers: Please Google each name for further information).
JC’s true genius, though, lay in his mastery of non-verbal communications. Look at this one example:
The rest, as they say, is history. But, truth be told, I never would have gotten to where I am today if I hadn’t keenly observed and learned from JB and JC.
I’ve found the single, best way to stop spammers in their tracks, throw them a wicked Jake Arrieta-like curve ball and have them immediately delete you from their data base is to:
1.) Confirm your need for their services, however lame they may be, 2.) include two of your colleagues to not only escalate the immediacy of your need for the spammer’s totally unneeded product or service but, critically, validate said need, and, 3.) further whet the spammer’s appetite by encouraging my peers to provide personal, oft-times hilarious examples of how truly desperate we are.
Two end results almost always occur: 1.) The spammer eventually catches on, and laughs along with us. (Alternatively, she gets angrier than Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz for being labeled “Little” and “Lyin'”, respectively, by a certain schoolyard bully-type running for president.) and 2.) we’re deleted from the spammer’s spam list.
So, reading from the initial spam down, here’s the Peppercomm Players latest creative effort, entitled, “Fencing Out Spammers” Enjoy:
Hi Steven To quote Five Man Electrical Band, “Hay, what gives you the right?
To put up a fence to keep me out or keep mother nature in
If God was here, He’d tell you to your face, man, you’re some kinda sinner” Well, you are definitely some kinda sinner if you don’t use it for branding. Fences are everywhere and many times they are not used to their full potential.
Fence Graphics, Dura Mesh – A great way to turn what is normally a boring looking security measure into a powerful branding tool. If you are not sure where to start, need some ideas, or just want to make some changes, give us a call. 800.790.7611. We are BigSigns.com and are experts in making your projects come to life. BIG is in our name and it is what we do with your brand.
We have the experience and knowledge to take your projects to the next level.
From: Steve Cody
Corey: Your note really struck a chord among all of us.
Dandy Stevenson, my assistant, was in a serious, long-term relationship with the lead singer of the Five Man Electrical Band and, indeed, is given credit by many rock historians as having been the inspiration for the song’s lyrics.
In addition to being a superb account manager, Samuel Bruno is our resident expert on all things religion-related, and could weigh-in as to whether, in fact, God would call someone who fenced out The Five Man Electrical Band or fenced in Mother Nature a sinner.
Lastly, and more to the point of your note, Ann Barlow represents a huge ag-chem company that has charged her with finding unique ways in which to break through the clutter (or, weeds in this case) and generate more brand awareness. I have to believe fence graphics would be an ideal, and unexpected, way in which to reach ranchers and growers (note: the key messages would need to be differently worded in order to connect with each audience).
So, I’d appreciate your contacting Ann ASAP and, if the spirit (pun intended) should move you, to call or e-mail Dandy, who might provide you with further insight into the lyrics that you, in turn, could leverage to further strengthen your already powerful value proposition.
From: Ann Barlow
Think of the possibilities if Trump is elected and puts up his famous fence!! Our client could take over entire states of fencing!
From: Dandy Stevenson
Steve is correct and I have gone from being a little disturbed about my connection with Les, but I’ve learned to embrace the wild oats I sowed, and ate and smoked with my main man of five man.
Used to joke that he was 5 men in one. Actually, do you know he had six toes on both feet?
Well, he used to… during one especially crazy drug filled morning, I cut off both extra toes and mailed them to Berry Gordy. He had denied my dear Les’ plea for a session.
(And, actually, this toe incident was later inspiration for the toe dismemberment in the Big Lebowski.)
Corey, have I got stories. How many toes do YOU have ?
Despite our best efforts to fence out the sign salesman, he actually believed us, and is passing along the “lead” to another salesman. C’est la vie.
That said, I do believe we’ve uncovered this spammer’s true calling in life: His whip-smart rhetoric in tandem with a razor-sharp analysis clearly qualifies him to be a delegate at this week’s Republican National Convention.