Feb 10

So, a paleontologist and velociraptor walk into a bar…

Douggie-Dinosaur-Tries-Stand-Up-ComedySo, a paleontologist and velociraptor walk into a bar…

More and more organizations of all types are recognizing the amazing ability of humor to break through to key audiences and story tell in new, and compelling, ways.

Take paleoanthropology. Please.

Ella Al-Shamani is a 31-year-old National Geographic emerging explorer, who digs for fossils in the Middle East. She also happens to perform stand-up comedy. The latter can’t be an easy task when one is rooting around inside King Tut’s tomb.

But, Ms. Al-Shamani is a young woman on a mission. She says the field of science has a very real communications problem when it comes to engaging young people, and young girls in particular. Many aren’t interested in pursuing a career in such an arcane and, some might say, dry and dusty occupation as paleoanthropology.

“I think comedy is the next stage in the evolution of how we present science,” she said.

That’s music to my ears. Give that woman a T-Rex humorous bone fossil!

Ms. Al-Shamani is just one example of an entire cohort of Millennials who grew up embracing comedy and, in many cases, obtaining their daily news from the likes of Jon Stewart.

It stands to reason that, as these Millennials begin assuming executive positions in any given field, they will harness the power and authenticity of comedy to engage new and/or heretofore difficult audiences to connect.

We’ve recognized this for years, and even have a stand-up comedy training service offering for clients.

Alas, like the dinosaurs themselves, we may have been ahead of time. Happily, though, there doesn’t seem to be any massive meteor speeding its way towards earth anytime soon.

So, wake up, corporate America and understand that the Millennial or Gen Z target you’re trying to reach absolutely adores comedy and WILL respond to your content if it strikes a chord.

That said, forget about force feeding humor on emerging decision-makers or using it to push your product or service. They’ll disregard your content quicker than a velociraptor would a hunk of inedible Brontosaurus gristle.

And a tip of the shovel to Peppercommer and resident anthropologist Abby Trexler, for suggesting this topic.

Feb 08

Is Peyton really Satan in disguise?

Check today’s guest Repman blog from Edward M. Ted “Big Blue” Birkhahn. As you’ll read, the man has some serious ethical issues with Denver Broncos’ quarterback Peyton Manning. Do you agree with him?

Unlike last night’s never-ending marathon of a Super Bowl, I’ll get right to the point: Peyton Manning and Budweiser should be ashamed of themselves.

For those who missed it, in at least two live post-game interviews with CBS  (one on the field as soon as the game ended and the other during the award ceremony with Jim Nantz), Peyton Manning deflected questions about his retirement by saying he was going to focus on some other priorities first, such as kissing his wife and children, hugging his family and celebrating the win by drinking a lot of Budweiser. Say what? Come again, Peyton?

The last part of the comment took me and many others by surprise. As a fan, a father of two kids and a marketing professional, it failed on many levels.  In what might go down as the worst example of native advertising, here are four reasons why it is so wrong:

  1. Transparency: If it looks like advertising, smells like advertising and sounds like advertising, well, then, it must be advertising. In an era of transparency, this form of sponsored content is anything but transparent. Manning tries to masquerade the paid promotion of a product as an organic extension of a conversation he’s having with a journalist. By doing so, Manning and Budweiser are duping viewers into thinking that drinking Budweiser is actually as important of a priority as hugging his family and kids. Not buying it.
  2. Authenticity: In addition to transparency, great marketing is about authenticity and believability. Manning’s delivery is so rehearsed and unnatural that it is immediately unbelievable. Will he really go home and throw back a number of Buds to celebrate a Super Bowl win and what is probably the last game of his career? You and I both know that is not going to happen unless someone from Budweiser’s marketing department is standing next to him with an iPhone to capture and distribute it across social media.
  3. I’m going to Disney World: Several people have commented that this is the new version of the, “I am going to Disney World” ads. It’s not and here’s why: When players were asked what they were going to do now that they won the big game and they responded by saying they were going to one of the theme parks, it wasn’t on live TV during an interview with a journalist. Second, everyone knew that this was a paid promotion between the player and Disney. Third, the player actually went to Disneyworld in the coming days to take part in a ticker tape parade. Effective or not, the viewer was in the know.
  4. Let’s get drunk: Lastly, what Manning did sets a horrible example for youth athletes. Telling the world of impressionable young athletes that he’s celebrating by getting drunk is just wrong for so many obvious reasons. And to get paid for saying it is even worse.

Many brands, including Budweiser, should focus on doing well by doing good. I don’t care if this sells more beer for Bud. It’s ethically wrong on a social and professional level.

Feb 08

Whether weather is all hype

TV meteorologists and storm team trackers alike seem to be competing with one another for Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations when it comes to covering approaching storms. Has weather coverage become 90 percent entertainment and 10 percent information?

RepTV co-hosts Paul Merchan and Steve Cody recently spoke to Edgard Nuñez, a meteorology blogger and former producer of NY1’s “Weather on the Ones,” to discuss weather reporting and the round-the-clock reality-TV-like media sensation it’s become.

Peppercommer and erstwhile Wall Street Journal reporter Joe Checkler donned his ear muffs, galoshes and objectivity goggles to participate in the conversation.

So, click on the video and, please, “If you don’t have to go outside today, don’t!”

Feb 05

Super Dumb at the Super Bowl

– Is student-athlete an oxymoron for Southeastern Conference Grads? –

A just released survey undertaken by Grammarly, a writing app that corrects spelling and grammar mistakes, ranked the Super Bowl teams’ best and worst grammarians.

Presentation1As it turns out, Trai Turner, a guard with the Carolina Panthers and Malik Jackson, a defensive end with the Denver Broncos, finished dead last on the list. Ironically, both are graduates of Southeastern Conference schools (Turner attended L.S.U. and Jackson is a graduate of the University of Tennessee). It makes one wonder if SEC universities are more interested in producing athletes or students.

The Grammerly rankings represent an average based on 60 to 100 Tweets from each player’s personal Twitter account. They then identified errors in the players’ tweets such as misspellings, mixed-up homonyms (i.e. your vs you’re) and subject-verb disagreement.

In addition to the woeful writing skills of the two aforementioned SEC grads, there were quite a few other interesting tidbits worth sharing:

– The Panthers’ players are more literate, having edged out their rivals by a margin of two mistakes.
– Special teams’ players have the best grammar overall.
– Offensive players proved to be the most offensive when it came to roughing up the English language.
– Panthers’ fans bested their opposite number with an average 6.6 spelling, grammar and punctuation score while the Denver fans made 7.5 mistakes.

Bottom line: If you’re handicapping the Super Bowl, and wish to factor intelligence into the equation, I’d go with Carolina. That said, one would also have to investigate which team has the most SEC graduates on its roster. That seems to be a real show stopper when it comes to literacy.

Feb 03

Adland’s answer to Nathan Bedford Forest

NathanBedfordForrestHistorians generally credit Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forest (pictured) for creating the forerunner of what was to become the Ku Klux Klan.

I raise this arcane fact because the advertising world is being rocked right now by the alleged incendiary words and actions coming out of a leader at Campbell Ewald. I’d like to think this executive’s words and actions would make Nathan Bedford Forest proud.

This has to be read to be believed. Adweek, citing unnamed sources, reports on the allegations of the original email incident that sparked this firestorm. Adweek, again citing unnamed sources, also reports that a veteran CEO has apparently lost his job over this.

According to published reports, in a recent email memo a Campbell Ewald leader allegedly used every conceivable racial slur to make light of black Americans. His motivations for doing so are unknown.

But this guy was a seasoned, successful and, up until he allegedly penned his racist e-mail, a respected leader in Adland.

If all this turns out to accurate, thanks to one horrific note these executives have become completely toxic and always will be. Campbell Ewald’s image and reputation have taken a serious hit (I would imagine more than one client fired them in protest) and everyone is left wondering, “What triggered this hate mongering?

If nothing else, it’s a shot across the bow for agencies and Corporate America. Double down on your diversity training ASAP. And, be sure to include your C-suite in the exercises.

You may very well have a ticking time bomb of an executive about to run amok among your ranks. And the last thing ANY business needs is this sort of damage.

So, what do you do if you’re one of the fired executives?

I’d suggest disappearing from the face of the earth for a year or two, undergoing extensive and intensive counseling and, if rehabilitated, think about joining a consulting firm that specializes in diversity training. There’s nothing more powerful than learning from someone else’s mistakes.


Feb 01

The Greatest Show On Earth

BarnaaumI think Florida Senator Marco Rubio didn’t go far enough when he described Donald Trump in the most recent Republican Party debate as, “The greatest show on earth.”

That phrase was coined by legendary showman P. T. Barnum in 1850 to describe the world’s first, true circus right here in New York. (Note to Millennials: Please Google Barnum if the name isn’t familiar).

Indeed, this 2016 presidential primary process qualifies not only as a circus, but also a bonafied freak show as well as the best reality TV ever (a dubious distinction to be sure).

The debates have been equal parts repulsive and riveting. They’re the equivalent of watching an 18-wheeler suddenly swerve and begin to tip over on the Jersey Turnpike. You know what’s coming will be ugly and bloody, but you just can’t help gawking as it unfolds.

Looking at this from a global image and reputation standpoint, the debates have made the good, old U.S. of A a complete laughingstock. And, God knows the long-term ramifications of such shoot-from-the-hip comments from candidates such as:

  • “Mexico’s sending us their very worst people.”
  • “I’d toss out all 11 million illegal immigrants tomorrow.”
  • “I’d carpet bomb ISIS on day one of my presidency” Note: Carpet bombing was not only a failed strategy in the Vietnam War, but killed hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians
  • “I’d shoot down any Russian plane that violated the “No Fly Zone.”
  • “I’d shut down mosques and deny all Muslims from entering the country until we get this thing fixed.” And, who knows when the “thing” will finally be fixed. Next year? 2050? Never?
  • “I’d make every college, community college and university tuition free and do so by raising taxes on everyone.” So much for taking care of the Middle Class.
  • “I’d undo every piece of ObamaCare on Day One.” Translation: total chaos returns to health care coverage.

And on and on and on…..

Most of the candidates support, and defend, the Second Amendment and use their mouths and words just like the gunslingers of the Old West.

Where will it all lead? You tell me. But, having looked at some of the also-rans, I thought I’d take a guess what they’ll do after voters reject them and they drop out of the race:

  • Jeb “The Meek” Bush will be named president of the Dale Carnegie Institute and help others overcome their fears of public speaking and appear assertive on stage.
  • Carly Fiorina will open her own consulting business entitled, “Firing by Fiorina” and counsel other, bloated H-P like clients who need to immediately cut 35 percent of the work force.
  • Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley will join the boards of several leading publicly-traded companies that are running a distant third in their industries and help them maintain the status quo.
  • NJ Governor Chris Christie will sue the surgeon who performed his gastric bypass surgery. Something clearly went awry there.
  • Rand Paul will abandon politics and succeed Alex Trebek as the host of “Jeopardy.” No one is smarter or quicker to demonstrate his intelligence on a given subject (just like Alex himself).
  • Ted Cruz will find a second career as an actor and be cast in the lead role of “Joe McCarthy: Red Baiter” and “Hey Abbott! The Lou Costello Story.” Note to Millennials: Please follow the same advice in finding out who McCarthy and Costello were (Teddy’s a dead ringer of each).
  • Hillary will find a way to once again self-destruct, finally abandon politics once and for all and star in her own reality TV show, “Hill on The Hill.”
  • Dr. Ben Carson will open a “Low Talkers” clinic and help those cannot raise their voices above a whisper.

I could go on and on, but would prefer your thoughts on what the losers will do in the next chapters of their lives.

Oh, and speaking of losers, we have no one to blame but ourselves for the cast of characters who have crawled out from beneath various rocks and turned a serious political process into a farce. Americans get what they deserve.

Jan 29

Bloody hell! The British POV on Trump’s winning the presidency (Part III)

You think the Brit’s are done with Trump? Think again. Here’s the final installment…

trumaaapIf Trump does win, look into your crystal ball and tell me what you think the world will be like in 2020 (after four years of The Donald running amok).

  • “America will be attacked again in a big way as the notion of any Trump-esq figure wielding global influence like a toy will drive all sort of people directly into the hands of terrorists and undermine the West entirely. We’ll invade in retaliation of course and the world will be like it was after four years of George W. but 10 times worse. This will have economic knock-ons of course and basically result in all out ideological/ religious warfare and prolonged global recession. I would probably give up my American passport and move to Sweden.”
  • “More war, more greed, more polarisation and an increasingly isolated US – whose only embassy remaining will be in North Korea – the one place Trump seems to admire.  In my mind – he is like the future, rich Biff from Back to the Future 2.  US will be like that ugly, huge prison of a casino and the rest of the world will try to live on in an increasingly chaotic world! Who knew BttF was so profound!”
  • “Lots more war, lots of people dying, everywhere.”
  • “Well the US has a pretty amazing track record of assassinating its presidents when they don’t like them. I guess Trump will have to move about in a bullet proof bubble or he will go the way of Lincoln, JFK, Bobby and all the others. But if he survives?
    • There will definitely be a cure for male pattern baldness
    • Orange will be the new black
    • Spanish will be banned as a language
    • Land of the free will be dropped as a tag line I can’t even imagine
    • What it will be like except that the Third Reich sounds familiar…”
  • “A less safe place; USA would be more under threat from extremists and more isolated. And the US would lose its prominent position in the world. Putin will run his hands with glee!”
  • “His views will create a lot tension. I predict Mass rioting”


Jan 27

Bloody hell! The British POV on Trump’s winning the presidency (Part II)

protest-against-donald-trumpOur British colleagues are far from done in terms of analyzing a possible Trump presidency. Check out what they think it might mean for the Middle East and the world itself.

Would Trump’s slash-and-burn promise to annihilate ISIS, topple Assad and establish “pro-Western” governments in Iran and elsewhere bring any semblance of stability to the Middle East?

  • “HA-H-AHA you must be joking! The reason we’re in this mess is because of more than 50 years of misunderstood American interventions (and a couple hundred of European colonialism) through unwanted regime change and failed state building via proxy wars which has completely destroyed the notion of any Middle Eastern stability for decades. Setting loose a useless Muslim hating billionaire with no moral compass and even less diplomatic tact or ethnic understanding would signal the end of days to the whole region and play directly into the hands of ISIS and terrorists who have more in common with Trump than the rest of Islam.”
  • “No, it would make the US the single biggest glory target in the world.  West is Best makes my blood run cold.”
  • “Are you kidding? It is the equivalent of sticking your finger in a massive hornets nest and giving it a big stir! However I would start seriously buying shares in the arms industry…”
  • “Absolutely not! Clearly he is not someone who learns from history!”

What’s your take on Trump’s desire to ban Muslims from entering the US and deporting the 11 million illegal Mexican immigrants currently residing in the US?

  • “America was built on immigrants, I’m pretty sure the Trump dynasty doesn’t descend from the Cherokee, so who’s he to ban or deport hard working families looking for a better life and do the jobs Americans don’t want? Muslims aren’t a nationality or a race, it’s not on your passport and it makes no sense even though they’re already doing it to British families who just want to go to Disneyland.”
  • “It really worries me that he is still in the running to be President following these statements –scary how so many people in the US can support this view.”
  • “It makes him a fascist – pure and simple.  Terrifying when you consider the US is a country founded on immigration.  Ironic when you consider the US is “the land of the free.” Where does it stop? When does Trump (a German-Scott) decide what is enough?  Will you set up internment camps for the ethnically undesirable, poor, disenfranchised?  I could go on, but I am depressed just writing this.”
  •  “It just can’t be serious. Please.”
  • “To use your analogy, it is a bit like trying to rehouse the Jews after the holocaust and the brilliant British came up with the idea of shoving them all into this place called Israel…well that worked well didn’t it?  I can’t imagine Mexico wants them back as their economy is deeply creaky already without an extra 11m, so maybe the US can grab some landmass somewhere and transport the 11m there. As to the Muslims…yes it does sound very like the Jewish scenario of 1936…and of course history shows that it did not stop with the Jews. In fact more Gypsies died in the camps than Jews and then of course there were the mentally ill, disabled etc.”
  • “Ridiculous in the extreme. I think Christians are just as much a threat to peace and stability!”
Jan 25

Bloody hell! The British POV on Trump’s winning the presidency (Part I)

trumpUK-660x330When I visited our London office a few months back, I asked for their thoughts on Donald Trump’s still nascent run for the presidency.

Last week, I had the pleasure to once again spend time with my British colleagues. This time, though, with Trump zeroing in on winning the Republican nomination, I probed far deeper. I wanted to know their feelings on what a Trump presidency would mean for US/UK relations and the world in general.

Since I received so many thoughtful responses from our troops, I‘ve decided to make this a three-part series that will run throughout the week.

So, here we go. Oh, and a quick note to @realdonaldtrump: Please direct your Twitter bashing at our British employees. I love you, and you love me, and the two of us both love Putin and Mexicans, and we both think Mayor DeBlasio’s an unmitigated disaster…….

What did you think about last week’s discussion in Parliament about banning Donald Trump from entering England? Justified? Absurd? Neither? Both?

  • “I was one of the half a million who signed the petition as more of a protest than an expectation of anything being done by it. I’m proud that enough people signed the petition to force the debate in parliament. Britain categorically rejects such offensive views and that we won’t be bullied by a buffoon who happens to own a couple of golf courses in our country… morality wins out over money!”
  • “Can only hope that US supporters of Trump saw the potential ban and it helped them come to their senses…“
  • “Giving him air time in Parliament is a waste of breath, particularly when there are so many MORE pressing and more important issues to be debating (Syria, immigration, leaving the EU, the world economy, hunger, food banks etc.) However, I also think refusing him entry for being an idiot (nice word) reduces us to his level (more on that below) and gives credence to his words and validity he does not deserve. “
  • “It’s justified because race hate is a real thing and he is incendiary and damaging to the harmonious relationship between Englishmen of all creeds.“
  • “It was necessary and the outcome predictable. But …wow…with the Muslim ban, immigrant ban etc. the NBC prediction that every American will be microchipped by 2017 might come true. How scary is that? “
  • “Freedom of speech is important but if we genuinely believe that his views would cause offence and public disorder then it is quite justified for there to be a discussion about his admission here.”

There’s a distinct possibility that Trump might actually win the presidency. If he does: How would it impact relations between the US and UK?

  • “Defaulting on all common sense and morality would destroy the USA’s credibility and stop many people from wanting to go there or share in the American ideal which currently is still attractive to many. Sadly it will say more about the people than the politicians. “
  • “I think it will become an extremely difficult job for the British government to handle –I find it difficult to see how they can maintain a strong relationship with the US while the British public think the US President is a madman. “
  • “Well – it would make the US an international joke of terrifying proportions. We let you get away with George W Bush, we can’t do it again! “
  • “It won’t…the British will keep their extremely stiff upper lips and be very polite. They will keep calm and carry on. After all the US is the UK’s biggest ally. Jumped up Trump will try and goose the Queen at the inevitable banquet, put a bid in for Buckingham Palace and call it The Buckingham Trump Palace Group. “
  • “It depends on his ultimate policies; the ‘special’ relationship would I think be strained and I feel sorry for any Prime Minister having to deal with him. “
Jan 22

How this entrepreneur deals with stress

DSC_0541-XLSome CEOs golf. Others lie on beaches in such posh resorts as Del Boca Vista. Not me. I climb. In fact, I love all types of climbing. It’s a superb way to decompress, since it’s physically and mentally impossible to focus on anything but one’s next hand or foot move.

Here’s a blog from Art Mooney, my guide, who routinely leads our forays into the unknown