Sep 28

Woeful Willie’s wobbling wards

Everytime my wife sees Mets Manager Willie Randolph’s sorrowful countenance on TV she asks, ‘Why isRandolph
that guy always so bummed out?’

You’d be bummed, I tell her, if you were managing what will most likely be the worst collapse in major league baseball history. Randolph’s reeling regulars have seen the bottom fall out of their once-promising season. And, today, they find themselves in a tie for first place with the gritty Phillies, and only three games left in the season.

The verbal and non-verbal behavior of these mediocre Mets tells the tale. Shoulders are slumped, heads are hung, eyes diverted. You can almost sense the Mets players want to be done with this nightmare and back home in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or wherever else most call home.

I’ve worked at several organizations that found themselves in similar, if somewhat slower, declines. The Mets’ collective behavior reminds me of those days where it was cover your ass, point the finger and hope that some miracle will occur to turn things around.

Alas, miracles only occur when the leadership is strong, visionary and inspiring. What my former agencies needed then and what the Mets need now is what England had in those dark days of September 1940: Winston Churchill.

Sadly, though, Willie’s no Winston. And these Mets are done. Paraphrasing the great Churchill’s most inspiring line: ‘Never have so many owed so little to so few.’ Mets fans and players alike deserve a manager who can inspire and stand strong in the darkest hours. What we have, instead, is a guy who has already mentally packed up his tent and gone home.

Sep 27

I want to be sedated

I love to laugh at some of the shlocky commercials that air on my local cable station. One features aDentist
sleazy, Bill Murray-type lounge singer earnestly pitching $14.95 shrimp dinners at a local bistro (er, no thanks). Another hawks something called ‘sedation dentistry,’ trumpeting it as a breakthrough solution for an angst-riddled society. Come again? Sedation dentistry?

Yes, indeed. And, in a true problem-solution approach, the dentist promoting the sedation therapy warns that more and more Americans are avoiding the dentist chair because of anxiety. As a result, he says, they suffer such serious consequences as gum disease, tooth erosion and god knows what else.

Happily, though, there’s a solution: sedation dentistry. And, it’s so effective that one patient beams, ‘I remember sitting down in the chair and then I don’t remember anything else until I left.’

Excuse me, but that’s more than a little scary. In fact, it conjures up all sorts of bizarre scenarios (i.e. the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry wakes up to see his disheveled dentist and nurse quickly buttoning up their tunics).

Sure, shlocky commercials are a hoot. But, when they raise more questions than they answer, one might question the cost-benefit ratio (not to mention the image and reputation of the advertiser).

Sedation dentistry may be an alternative for a few antsy folks. But I, for one, want to have my wits about me when someone is drilling deeply into my oral cavity. That said, I may sedate myself the next time I see that woman pop up on my screen.

Sep 26

What’s next, sponsored clouds?

In the ongoing saga of advertising’s increasing irrelevance comes a tale from Britain that surprises evenAirplane_advertising_alaska_2
this jaded blogger. Not content with pasting ads in airplane bathrooms, seat backs and up and down the aisles of every airport in the world, a company called Ad-Air is now launching the “….world’s first global aerial network.” That’s Ad-Air speak for giant billboards you can see from the sky (ugh).

So now, as you enter your final approach having suffered countless delays, indignities and insults from the existing airline experience, Ad-Air intends to apply the coup de grace with an unwanted, unwarranted and unwelcomed ad some 30,000 feet below your cabin window.

Gee, what a great way to break through and create awareness for a marketer. I’m already pissed off and dead tired from the hellacious misadventure that is flying in the year 2007 and, bam, I look out the window and see yet another ad? Nice.

Gimme a break. This is a terrible idea created by an industry that continues to deconstruct as consumers pay less and less attention.

So, what’s next? Chevy print ads on clouds? Superimposing the Microsoft logo on the eye of the next category five hurricane? Why not start selling space in the skies above all major cities? I’ll bet the air space around the Empire State Building would command a premium price. And, sure enough, desperate advertisers would gladly shell out the money in the vain hope that consumers would actually care.

Sep 25

OK, I’ll admit it. I love this commercial

As Repman fans and medical supply executives know all too well, I’m not a fan of print or broadcastNike_logo
advertisements. With a few exceptions, I think advertising money is money poorly spent.

That said, I adore the new Nike TV commercial that blends the awesome "Last of the Mohicans" soundtrack with a beautifully edited (and epoch) struggle of a running back attempting to score a touchdown against seemingly unsurmountable odds.

Just like the Daniel Day-Lewis character in ‘Mohican,’ the running back fights his way through any and all obstacles (rain, snow, huge linemen etc.) to reach his goal. And, while I’d rather fight to reach Madeleine Stowe (Lewis’s love interest in the movie) than score a touchdown, the concept works beautifully.

So, guess what? This ad actually broke through. Does it mean I’ll go out and buy Nike products or show preference to their brand over a competitor’s? Not likely. Rest assured, though, that when shopping for my next pair of sneakers, ‘I will find you.’

Thanks to Chris "Repman, jr" Cody for the idea.

Sep 19

Who are those guys?

Tom Martin, current executive-in-residence at the College of Charleston, and former client of PeppercomAngryboss
as corporate communication chief at ITT, penned a fascinating opinion piece about abusive workplaces.

In his article, Tom, references conversations with several young people who complained about abusive bosses. These were heads of public relations agencies who, said the staffers, shouted, screamed and managed by fear.

Like Tom, I’m befuddled by the fact that leaders who are retained by Corporate America to manage image and reputation could be so oblivious to not ‘walking the walk’ themselves.

I once worked for a screamer and shouter and know how toxic such an environment can be. In that case, the CEO was a former NFL offensive lineman (talk about an appropriate job title), the firm was in the management consulting field and the times were decidedly different.

When the Council of Public Relations Firms, PRSA, Arthur Page and other professional organizations ‘screen’ for new members, they should include a background check on managerial style/corporate culture. And, prospective clients should conduct better due diligence in their searches (we’re rarely asked to discuss agency culture or our management style in new business pitches).

The Vince Lombardi School of Abusive Management should have died when the great Packers coach did. To hear that it is not only alive, but well, is depressing. To realize that such deportment is going unchecked in our own industry is a disgrace. We must police this sort of boorishness if public relations is to one day claim its long-coveted seat at the table.

Sep 18

Double standards are wrong, regardless of race, creed or color

NY Knicks President and Coach Isiah Thomas advanced the ongoing devolution of American society Isiah
yesterday by testifying that the use of the ‘B’ word is less offensive when uttered by a Black, rather than White, male.

Thomas, who by all ‘insider’ accounts, is a truly bad guy, is accused of sexual and workplace harassment by former MSG senior marketing executive, Anucha Browne Sanders. In her testimony, Ms. Browne said Thomas repeatedly referred to her as a *itch.

Thomas shrugged it off, saying the derogatory term is less offensive when used by a Black man towards a Black woman. Oh, puh-leese. That same warped logic has been used to defend Gangsta rap lyrics and other horrific examples of deportment.

Wrong is wrong. Isiah Thomas is wrong. The Gangsta rappers are wrong. And, our society’s leaders are wrong to let these double standards pass unchecked.

The real losers are the kids who, having fewer and fewer role models, will choose their own definition of right and wrong. And, that too, is wrong.

Sep 17

Hon, be sure to pack sunglasses, some SPF 55 and don’t forget the kevlar vests and helmets…

Some cagey advertising types in Israel are trying their best to distract potential vacationers from theIsrael_flag
realities of life in their country.

Rather than own up and admit that certain regions offer more thrills and chills than white water rafting the Colorado, a new advertising campaign instead leverages sex to sell.

Scantily-clad young Israeli ladies are seen frolicking on the country’s beaches as a narrator lists the many hot and trendy jetset activities available to tourists. What they neglect to mention is that, along with bathing suits, sunscreen and sunglasses tourists would be wise to pack kevlar vests and helmets.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for scantily-clad young ladies cavorting on beaches, but, not as a ruse. There are too many unsuspecting (or downright uninformed) people in the world who, seeing these advertisements, just might book a flight to the Holy Land. If something should happen to them, whose fault would it be? The State-sponsored advertising campaign that lured them or their own ignorance for not having conducted proper due diligence?

Too many advertising campaigns make false or misleading claims. Conveniently overlooking Israel’s many dangers goes beyond misinformation and borders instead on malfeasance.

Thanks to Carl "Union Jack" Foster for the idea.

Sep 13

RepChatter #43 posted

Rep_logo_2Steve and Ted discuss the image of young pop stars and the roles they play in the reputation of affiliated networks.

The discussion is centered on pop icon Britney Spears and High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens. They both have been heavily scrutinized in the news for their recent misfortunes. Britney for her lackluster, lip singing performance at the MTV Video Music Awards, and Vanessa for her scandalous photos posted on the internet.

How will the actions of these young celebrities affect the reputation of their associated networks, MTV and Disney? Was MTV to blame for Britney’s debacle on stage? Can Disney afford to part ways with Vanessa, a major piece to their billion dollar franchise?


Sep 13

Customer alienation 101

Professor Richtoven: Good morning, class. I’m Professor Richtoven and this is Customer Alienation 101. Gillette

Let’s start with a simple question that relates to our first case study of the semester: How many here have cut a finger or worse trying to open a packet of Gillette Mach 3 razors? Anyone? Anyone? My goodness. Everyone!

Ok, wow. Well, who would like to share a war story with the rest of the class? Yes, Smedley.

Smedley: I’ve cut myself three different times on those impossible to open packages. One time I sliced off the tip of my pinky. See the stump? Anyway, my mom insisted on taking me to the ER. So embarrassing.

Professor: Ouch. And, how does that make you feel about Gillette?

Smedley: I hate their guts.

Professor: But, you still buy their razor?

Smedley: They’re the best, professor. The best.

Professor: Interesting. Anyone else? Yes, Dimwitz.

Continue reading

Sep 12

When the back-end is as important as the front

I can remember walking into a restroom many years ago and seeing my entrepreneurial boss bendingGarbage
down to pick up paper towels. He not only scooped them up, but also used them to mop up the sink and clean the mirrors. I was stunned.

He spotted me staring at him and sniffed, “Clients and prospects use this men’s room. If they think we don’t care about little details like this, they’ll think we won’t care about the little details of their business either.” I laughed at the time, but I’m not laughing now. Especially when I see the condition of some men’s rooms, ours included.

My boss was a successful businessman whose firm was eventually acquired after a 25-year run. What separated him from most was an understanding that an organization’s image and reputation is impacted by every aspect of the ‘customer’ experience. As a result, he not only fussed over client service, but also the maintenance of everything from the front-end reception area to the, well, back-end restroom. And, he never became too busy or too successful to pay attention to the details.

I’d like to think I’m somewhat the same way. That’s why, if you timed it right, you’d see me picking up newspapers, paper towels and other flotsam and jetsam in the Peppercom restroom. It all matters in the image and reputation wars.