Nov 19

You are what you watch. Except when you aren’t.

Dog watching television According to psychographic ad targeter Mindset Media, the television shows we watch provide a  unique insight into our personality and can help brands better target their marketing spend (insert link).

For example, modest people, says Mindset Media, are more likely to watch 'Deadliest Catch' while altruistic types, such as Ed Moed, dial up cooking shows like 'Rachel Ray.'

Hmmm. Color me skeptical about all this psychographic psychobabble.

In describing viewers of my favorite show, 'Mad Men', Mindset says it attracts creative types. (No duh. The show's about an ad agency.) But, the creative types who watch 'Mad Men' are also emotionally sensitive (Well, yes, that's me.) and intellectually curious types (Damn, right again.) who tend to be more often dreamers than realists. (Whoa. Back off, Mindset. That's not me!)

Mad Men watchers are also liberal (Gee, these guys are pretty good.) and prefer brands such as Blue Moon and American Express. (I order sauvignon blanc, but I do like a Blue Moon on occasion and carry an AmEx card.) Mindset says I wouldn't be as interested in Campbell's Soup or the Cadillac Escalade. (That's putting it mildly.)

Mindset analyzed viewers of other shows as well, including ‘The Office’ which, while it's gone steadily downhill, is still a favorite of mine. “Like Michael on the show,” says Mindset, “watchers of The Office think they are superior to others.” (Rubbish.) In fact, says Mindset, fans of ‘The Office’ believe they are extraordinary (Which I am.) and happily brag about their accomplishments. (I'm a shameless self promoter.) Viewers prefer Starbucks (Not me. The coffee's way too bitter.) and the BMW Series 3 (Now, this is scary. I own an M3.) They dislike McDonald's (The word 'loathe' would be more appropriate.) and the Lincoln Town Car. (I'll ride in one, but you'll never catch me behind the wheel.).

All in all, this psychobabble stuff IS pretty impressive. Their analysis of me based upon my viewing of ‘Mad Men’ and ‘The Office’ is eerily accurate.

BTW, in case you watch ‘Glee’ (which I can't stomach), you're “in touch with your own feelings and may even feel happiness or sadness more intensely than others.” I'll bet you didn't know that, did you? You also drink Evian and drive a Volkswagen. You dislike Quaker cereals (What's your issue with Quaker cereals?) and the Chevy Silverado. (Does anyone like that car?) Oh, and as reluctant as I am to add this in, Mindset says ‘Glee’ viewers are closest to viewers of ‘Mad Men’ when it comes to being creative. Not true. We ‘Mad Men’ types rule.

So, what's your favorite TV show and what do you think it says about you? I'd go on, but I need to DVR 'Eastbound and Down.' I'll bet Mindset would have a field day with viewers of that show.

Mar 11

Is Steve Carell the Willie Mays of sitcoms?

March 11 What do such legendary TV sitcoms as MASH, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Seinfeld have in common? They all ceased production while the shows were still at their absolute creative best. The directors, writers and cast members all knew when to say when.

Sadly, the same cannot be said for Steve Carell, who plays Michael Scott in NBC's legendary sitcom, The Office. Why? Because Carell & Co. have signed on for yet another season.

And, while it may make sense financially, it makes no sense from an image a reputation standpoint.

The Office peaked well before the Jim and Pam wedding episode. It's now devolved into a silly, smarmy love fest of nonsense that bears little resemblance to the show's original premise. In fact, it's become little more than a showcase for the individual characters to display their singing and dancing talents (or, lack thereof). In a word, The Office has gone from riveting to revolting.

Why do so many people in so many fields not know when to say when? To wit:

– For every Sandy Koufax (who quit at his absolute peak), there's a Willie Mays (who, at 40 something years of age, badly embarrassed himself in the 1973 World Series)
– For every Jerry Seinfeld there's a Lucille Ball (who continued making dreadful sitcoms long after 'I Love Lucy' had ended)
– For every Greta Garbo there's a Nicholas Cage (who continues to tarnish his once serious stature by starring in an endless string of B movies)
– For every Bill Gates (who now busies himself with his foundation) there's a septuagenarian such as Bob Lutz (who keeps re-appearing in some sort of GM managerial position despite his highly-publicized crankiness) 

I see it in my own business. I belong to a number of trade organizations populated by elder statesmen who are clearly past their prime. Yet these giants of yesteryear still feel compelled to weigh in on issues where they no longer have any direct or relevant experience. Why not go gently into the night?

I'd like to think I'll know when to say when. And, if I don't, I'm hoping a close friend will have the courage to point it out to me. That's what Steve Carell needs right now: a close friend with the guts to say, 'Steve. Bubala. It's time to let go and move on. You don't want to be remembered as the Willie Mays of TV sitcoms, do you?’