Aug 04

‘Roids, Trump and Nails: What more could a baseball fan ask? (Part One)

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.

Aug 03

Rodeo Drive Meets Madison Avenue

Today’s guest RepMan is by Peppercommer Matt Lester.

Turkey Visual 3Campari 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.

Aug 01

Karma is a bitch

100610_ya-whoLast 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!”