Snow Cool

My business trip to Denver is proving to be quite a treat. Terrific snow storm with between 12 and 49 inches on the ground.

Nice preview of winter. Can’t wait to ski!

Good Copy Sells

In direct response marketing, a good offer paired with a good list will inevitably become successful. Practitioners in this art/science will rarely share what they found success with, so as not to tip-off competitors. This is the scientific part of the deal.

What about the art? Is it the realistic photo or illustration? Sure, it’s got to get the point across or simply get the audience’s attention. What really makes the sale is the copy. The more you write, the more you sell. Infomercials? They work. How do we know? If they keep running them, then we know they’re moving product.

As marketing people, we should all be familiar with John Caples‘s classic piano lesson ad.

As the last notes of the Moonlight Sonata died away, the room resounded with a sudden roar of applause. I found myself surrounded by excited faces. How my friends carried on! Men shook my hand — wildly congratulated me — pounded me on the back in their enthusiasm! Everybody was exclaiming with delight — plying me with rapid questions… “Jack! Why didn’t you tell us you could play like that?”… “Where did you learn?” — “How long have you studied?” — “Who was your teacher?”

Writing a good story around your offer — or your company — is what sells. Direct response sells product, corporate communications sell the company. People like to read stories. It was true in 1926 and it’s still true today.

I happened to be listening to WFMU yesterday when Joshua Glenn was interviewed about his Significant Object project. They buy cheap little things at garage sales and thrift stores, they put them up for sale on eBay, along with a fictional story about the object. Yeah, it sells.

Take this example, the “Cape Cod shoe.” The story, by Sheila Heti, helped sell an item for $77.51 (original cost: $4).

Very interesting experiment. Rob Baedaker’s piece in is worth reading. Experiments aside, I still think good copy sells.

Don’t Cry For Me, Cupertino

David Pogue: brilliant, as always:

Soupy Sales

So long, Soupy.

I’ll always remember watching The Soupy Sales Show as a kid. After viewing these clips, I can better understand why I enjoyed them so much.

The Sarah Palin Show

Not bad for a first stop on your first book tour: Oprah. The summary, via the Chicago Sun-Times:

You betcha! Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin will appear on “The Oprah Winfrey Show” on Nov. 16.

Harpo announced the booking today, adding that Winfrey and Palin will meet for the very first time on the episode.

Palin has been courted by numerous talk shows. Other than news-channel interviews and a cameo on “Saturday Night Live,” she hasn’t made it to Leno, Letterman, etc.

Of course, there’s really one reason Palin chose Oprah: She’s got a book to sell. And Oprah can move tanker-loads of books. Palin will be hawking her upcoming memoir, Going Rogue: An American Life.

Palin was John McCain’s running mate on the Republican ticket for the 2008 presidential election. Oprah endorsed Barack Obama in the election, the first time she publicly supported a candidate.

Think Oprah can see Russia from her Chicago skyscraper?

And the book goes on sale the next day? She must have a good agent. Too bad her resignation speech will be remembered for reasons other than good writing.

TalkingPointMemo’s video edit of Sarah Palin’s “greatest hits” is worth revisiting…

Coolest iPhone App

Here’s a great app from DishPointer, released in August:

Very surreal, this is the next generation satellite finder: Point your iPhone anywhere towards the sky and see all the satellites lined up, on the live video screen! At a glance, you’ll see where the satellite is and whether any trees or buildings are blocking the line of sight. Think of multi-lnb dishes and now you know where to place your dish best. Doing a site survey and setting up a dish is going to be a piece of cake with this app. This is a truly useful augmented reality app for the professional and diy enthusiast alike.

The app uses the gps, accelerometer, and the compass of the new iPhone 3GS. Just move the phone up and down and left and right and the satellite arc will follow the live video on the display. The compass has a bit of a lag though, so when doing quick sideways movements the satellite arc is trying to catch up but then settles to the correct position.

If you’re in the satellite business, you know how valuable this can be. Available now — a steal at $20.

Hot Dog

The food’s essence may not be my cup of tea, but I love the brand. Saturday’s Columbus Dispatch wrote of an Ohio State graduate who got the job of “hot dogger.” The lead was full of puns…

To be frank, a workday spent behind the wheel of a traveling hot dog is a meaty prospect.

The gig cuts the mustard — no buns about it.

It’s a wiener of a job that an employee might, well, relish.

Without a doubt, Laura Moller has heard all the puns.

The work requires her to crisscross the country to promote the brand by attending events, distributing coupons and “wiener whistles,” and driving the highly conspicuous Wienermobile — which stretches 27 feet.

“This is my dream job,” said Moller, a 22-year-old Cincinnati native.

Other people apparently craved the position, too: More than 1,500 college seniors applied last year for 12 spots — a la “hot-dog Harvard,” she quipped.

Ed Roland, mobile marketing manager for Oscar Mayer, recalled feeling “refreshed” after an early phone conversation with Moller about the job.

“She was a fun, bubbly personality,” said Roland, who runs the hot-dogger program.

“She had . . . a real driven attitude.”

I may not agree with what a hot dog is made of (my brother-in-law worked in a meatpacking plant years ago and hasn’t eaten one since), but I will give them credit for maintaining their very strong brand.

Who doesn’t remember the Oscar Mayer jingles from the 60’s and 70’s? Very memorable, and yet so very simple. Jingle-writing is a fading art. Here’s the story behind the original…

And I especially remember this one from the 70’s, only for bologna:

Being a skier, the movie “Hot Dog” also comes to mind. Who could forget the climactic “Chinese Downhill” scene.

Here’s a more recent effort from 1998…

On The Wall

(AP Photo/National Gallery of Art, Courtesy of Ed Ruscha)

What you hang on your walls says something about you, your character. Think about your own home. Look around. What do you see?

There’s a new taste for modern art in The White House, via Art Bistro:

You can’t see it, but there’s a quiet cultural revolution under way at the White House.

The Obamas are decorating their private spaces with more modern and abstract artwork than has ever hung on the White House walls. New pieces by contemporary African-American and Native American artists are on display. Bold colors, odd shapes, squiggly lines have arrived. So, too, have some obscure artifacts, such as patent models for a gear cutter and a steamboat paddlewheel, that now sit in the Oval Office.

Check out the slideshow on HuffPo.

Expense Account Lunches

Brilliant promotion by Walrus NYC for restaurant Maloney & Porcelli. Ad Age’s Garfield loves it, too:

Is it advertising?

Is it PR? Is it digital marketing? Is it guerilla marketing? Is it aiding and abetting in fraud?

Dunno for sure. But we are certain of this: The Expense-a-Steak Headquarters stunt from Walrus, New York, for midtown restaurant Maloney & Porcelli’s is one of the cleverest ideas we have seen in 24 years of AdReview-ing.

Let us just restate that, in case we weren’t entirely clear: We LOVE this thing. It is brilliant. It is charming. It is hilarious. In short, it is brothermucking genius.

Here’s the context: The economy has been a bit on the soft side, putting a great deal of pressure on certain industries: the banking industry, the media industry, the brokerage industry, the advertising industry and, in a poignant example of collateral damage, the $108 steak ‘n’ fries-for-two industry.

Even if the president of the United States had not upbraided corporate America for its piggish, profligate culture, every finance department (except probably Condé Nast’s) has made this abundantly clear: Until further notice, the gravy train is parked on a siding. First class is now coach. Coach is now teleconference. Town cars are now the 4,5,6 trains. And lunch is from the hotdog cart.

Want to upgrade to the half-smoke? Go crazy, because the company’s not paying.

So imagine the impact on the poor restaurateurs who for so long have heroically provided the lavish expense-account meals for fat cats — those $700 table-for-four tabs with wine, cocktails and tip — knowing that only about $200 of the bill was picked up by federal taxpayers. They’ve been devastated — Maloney & Porcelli’s no less than any.

If a $29 caramelized-sea-scallop appetizer falls on a white tablecloth and there is no one there to pay for it, does it make a profit?

Enter the boutique agency Walrus on a two-fold mission: 1) to increase traffic for its client 2) to generate awareness for the tragedy of corporate retrenchment.

The obvious thing on the second half of the brief, of course, would be an ink-red ribbon, but that has so been done by lesser causes, such as abducted children and cancer. No, this problem called for more than a mere gesture. It called for a solution. Namely: the Expense-a-Steak fake-receipt generator.

Go to and fill in the obscenely large amount of your Maloney & Porcelli meal. Out will come a PDF of receipts for exactly that amount — innocuous (and extremely realistic) proof of purchases for taxis, panini lunches, office supplies, business books and so on. Accounting doesn’t ask why you’ve bought $700 worth of anti-static floor mats and toner? That’s their problem.

Walrus also printed up camouflage doggie bags, so when you carry home a $180 leftover, you can do it in a Sbarro sack. (Until a couple of days ago, you could also choose Olive Garden or Chipotle sacks, but those chains sent along a cease-and-desist order on the grounds of unbelievably brazen trademark infringement. Sheesh, has nobody a sense of humor anymore?)

All right, granted, the 61,000 phony receipts downloaded over the first four days might suggest the stunt is actually being slightly “abused” for a touch of “fraud” by a few tens of thousands of bad-apple “thieves.” But, c’mon. Expense-a-Steak apps don’t defraud corporations. People defraud corporations. In the meantime, Maloney & Porcelli is suddenly on the lips of those who hitherto could remember only Smith & Wollensky, preempting its major competitor into a corner. Because how to top

Alas, is already spoken for.

Great work; hope the restaurant remains full during lunch.

Wind, Power