« Apr-02 | This archive, pg:  1  |  2  |  3  | Jun-02 »

Is There No Escape?

Nowhere to Hide: Ads Arrive on TiVo

By Jimmy Guterman

When personal video recorders were first introduced in 1999, pundits
predicted that the devices would spell the demise of television
advertising. The recorders -- essentially cable boxes with hard drives,
sold by TiVo and ReplayTV -- offered consumers the ability to digitally
record perfect copies of their favorite TV shows and to skip
commercials. The latter function caused much weeping and gnashing of
teeth in Hollywood and on Madison Avenue, which fretted that the
30-second TV commercial was on its way to extinction.

But it hasn't turned out that way -- at least not yet. While 80 percent
of TiVo users fast-forward through commercials, TiVo has found a way to
serve ads to its 400,000 subscribers all the same. This week TiVo
announced a deal to develop branded "advertainment" with Best Buy. The
ads will appear on TiVo's main programming screen as a small box. Users
who click on the box are invited to view exclusive music videos by
Sheryl Crow and win free CDs. The catch? You have to watch a 30-second
Best Buy ad before you get to the goods.

TiVo Gets Retail Push From Best Buy

New Ad Campaign Aimed at TiVo Owners


by Steve Hall    May-23-02    

Chapter Two: Beth O

Oh Beth. I have to describe Beth as my first true experience with teenage lust. That's all it was. She was incredibly sexy with a sultry doe-eyed, round-featured face and all the right curves in all the right places. And believe me, they were not small curves. Which was amazing since this was the 7th grade. I used to follow her around school between classes watching her move in those low slung hip hugger bell bottoms, now back in style, not fully realizing what the attraction was at the time . Or, why I was walking in directions completely opposite to my intended direction...just to watch this girl walk! I'd find myself in areas of the school that where nowhere near where I was supposed to be at the time. Needless to say, I was late to a great many classes once I awoke from the trance this girl put me in.

I don't even remember how I met her. Maybe it was just in the hallway at school. We never went on a date. She never even really talked to me that I can remember other then one strange hallway occurrence. It was between classes and there was the usual hallway activity with kids running to class, talking, and visiting their lockers. Well, I must have been at my locker or walking by hers when I noticed her standing there and I just sort of looked at her with a budding lust still held back by nervous innocence. She looked up, saw me, and flashed her devious, sly, yet alluringly attractive smile surrounded by lips far fuller then a 7th grader should rightfully have. She looked right at me and asked me, "What do you want?" And without a hesitation or a conscious thought on my part, I replied, "I want you!"

Yes, that's exactly what I said. I remember it as clear is this current second. I don't know where I got the courage or rather the wanton rudeness to come up with this quick reply but those words sprang from my mouth with a strange sort of confidence that actually surprised me at the time. Of course, the second I heard those words spring from my mouth, I immediately retracted back into that little protective shy 7th grade shell that is a poor excuse for comfort in a situation like this. I honestly don't remember what happened after that.

We exchanged these glances with each other at various school events and later, when I was in 9th grade, I met her cousin Gary who was a good friend of mine throughout high school. For whatever reason, we ended up over at her house on the other side of town and he asks me, "Do you want to see her room?"

Now, two years later, I had a little more saavy and understanding about the opposite sex and figured I could show some restraint. Well. no. I quickly replied,. Yes!"

So up the stairs we go with my heart beginning to pound within my chest for no reason other then a strange curiosity. I mean she wasn't even in the house. What, exactly, would her room look like? What would any girls room look like for that matter? I certainly don't remember all the details but I do remember the utter fascination I had as I walked through the doorway into her room. It was not neat. She was not a neat person. She had a sort of hippy chic look to her though if she actually changed into a bikini, she would slide over into the hottie column for sure.

The room was dark. Pieces of colored sheer fabric were slung over the lamps giving it that proverbial opium den look. The shades were pulled to increase the effect. There were clothes all over the bed. Frilly female type stuff and there was a smell. The indescribable female scent that comes from a women whether or not she is wearing perfume. I stood there gazing with glory at actually being in this girls room. The room of the little girl which two years ago, I had made a complete fool of myself with my brash, middle school pick up line. Glancing around the room, the things I saw laid about told me she was, for sure, not a little girl anymore.

I wonder even today if women leave lingerie hanging around just to taunt us men or if they simply wear so much of it that it becomes part of their bedroom decor. Or maybe it's a reminder to them that they have that certain power over men that forces us to become blithering idiots when we see even a hint of a breast or a slice of Brittany-tummy.

So I stood there just inside of the doorway surveying the room. There were several pairs of pants laying on the bed and what looked like shorts over one of her pillows. There were two white bras hanging from the knobs of her dresser, maybe placed there to put away later or maybe to complement the hippy chic look she had created in this room. There were a few pairs of panties on the floor. Panties. Why do we have to use that word for female underwear. I mean it's underwear. It's just happens to look different then guys underwear. And, when you say the word "panties" it just immediately conjures up all these awkward and weird feelings. Maybe that's the whole purpose. I mean how sexy is, "Do you want to see me in my underwear?" versus, "Do you want to see me in my panties?"

Ok, whatever, I digress.

There were little trinkets all over the room. I don't even know what they were. Little shiny figurine type things. No idea what they were. There were even what by now seemed required in this room, tiny little nightgown pieces spread out on the floor. Flashes of light pink, white, and red. Which were the tops and which were the bottoms, I had no idea. I mean it's the panty/underwear, nightgown/pajama thing all over again.

I turned to my friend and he smiled asking. "Nice, huh?"

"Um, yea", I replied not really hearing him.

"We should go" I said as this sudden feeling of absolute fear raced up my back. What if she caught me here in her room? What if she found out later that I had been there? Worse, what if she found out and started telling her friends making me the school fool? I couldn't face that. I quickly turned and ran by my friend practically knocking him off his feet and raced down the stairs and out the front door. I needed to breath. I needed to get my center. The cool air outside made me start to feel better. I was out of her bedroom. Out of her house. I was safe. She wouldn't catch me. I wouldn't end up the laughing stock of the whole Highschool.

Oh, Beth O.


by Steve Hall    May-22-02    

Bring On The "GigaBuddy" Home Server!

In-Stat/MDR found that:

-Worldwide unit shipments of PVRs are forecasted to increase from 1.2 million in 2001, to over 6 million in 2003. Over the same period, PVR product revenues are forecasted to increase from $550 million to over $2.3 billion.

-Satellite set top boxes with integrated hard disk drives will continue to make up the bulk of PVR unit shipments, although cable set top box-based PVR unit shipments are expected to grow rapidly over the next two years.

-Portable digital music players that integrate hard disk drives have proven to be extremely popular. Led by models like the iPod and the Rio Riot, worldwide unit shipments are forecasted to increase from 230,000 in 2001 to over 950,000 in 2003.

-Product development of consumer electronics products with hard disk drive-based storage is continuing. The next generation of products will include hard disk drive-enabled PDAs, cell phones, and even wearable computers.

Slap it all on a "megaserver" and get rid of the 30 odd pieces of electronics that litter your home today.


by Steve Hall    May-21-02    

Thinking Big About Nanotechnology

Just think. Pretty soon we will have little nanobots crawling around inside us screaming at us, "Buy Nike!" "Drink Coke!" "Drivers Wanted!"

Thinking Big About Nanotechnology

I think we have finally found the answer to the useless clutter of advertising that litters the landscape, pages, airwaves, and IP streams of today. We will look back on this period of marketing and scoff with glee at the idiocy of today's market-think.

We will ask, "What were they thinking?" "Did they actually think that anyone would even look at and hear those incessant screaming ads let alone actually make a decision to buy based on that inanity?"

Marketers take a sigh of relief, the solution is near.

by Steve Hall    May-21-02    

So I Did It

I'm not one for public spectacle of every possible little problem that we face as humans. Aren't you sick the many solicitations you get either over the phone or in person to sponsor someone in the next greatest Walk For Something?

So when my wife told me that she was going to enter us in the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Walk, I wasn't too excited. Of course we have to raise money for this and other illnesses but something rubs me the wrong way when I have to ask my friends to give me money to sponsor me in a walk. If they want to give on their own then fine.

But, being in the ad business, I should know that the only way to make people aware of something is to create a spectacle.

And a spectacle it was.

I have to admit that after going, it was a good thing. I tell myself no one would be there if they didn't have some stake in this illness. I can't even tell you how many people have come up to me following my cancer and told me that they either had it at one time or someone they knew had it. It's incredibly pervasive.

For me, cancer was always something that happened to someone else or something you saw in a weepy movie. It would never affect my life. Well, you don't control as much of your life as you think.

I will tell you that it was very difficult to hold back the tears when I took the Survivors lap around the track at Ayer Highschool. Hundreds of people had camped out for the 20 hour event and every single person was applauding us the entire 1/4 mile loop as we slowly paraded ourselves around prior to the start of the Walk. We even had the ubiquitous hairless Cancer Kid leading the parade. Now that may sound harsh as I have always thought it was such an abuse of a child and a shameful tactic at awareness. But, after walking that lap behind that child and his mother and his Aunt, it just seemed so right. I'm 40 and a survivor of colon cancer. That child was not more then 8 years old! It puts all things in perspective.

So I am glad I finally crawled out of my "it's nobody's business" cave and shared in all the emotions that the event blessed us with. Cancer is killing us. Chemotherapy is a "dumb" drug that kills all cells that are like cancer cells which is why so many people have those awful side effects. The good cells are being killed with the bad. But there are actual "smart" drugs in trial use now that know to go after the "bad" cells and leave the "good" ones alone. Very soon, Cancer will be cured by swallowing a pill. We are not there yet. But with time, money, and the amazing effort I witnessed at the Relay For Life, that pill may see the light of day.

So I am glad I did it.


by Steve Hall    May-18-02    

New England Weather

Right now, this minute, at the time stamp on this post, it is snowing! SNOWING!! May 18 and it is snowing. Just thought I'd share that.

by Steve Hall    May-18-02    

Chapter One: Robin R

Never before had I given girls a second thought as I was 10 at the time.

But on one Summer afternoon at one of those neighborhood fairs that people used to have before we were all afraid of child molesters, my eyes perked up to the sight of Robin. It was amazing. There she was wearing jeans and a jeans jacket. Her long blond hair was dancing to the tune of the wind as she ran over to area that I was visiting. Instantaneously, I was drawn to the widest, biggest, and friendliest smile I had ever seen before in my short life. Beaming is an understatement. It had all the excitement and innocence that a child has before the world gets a hold of them.

I don't think we even talked that day but I knew that forever, she would be a beautiful memory that I would keep forever.

The next time I saw her was in school after that Summer as she had just moved to Concord. We were not in the same class but in adjoining classrooms that in those days resembled wide open play pens with little structure. I'd steal a glimpse of her through the open door occasionally while she sat at a table with her other classmates creating that wonderful childhood art that our parents bring out to show us many years later when they get all weepy and nostalgic. Our eyes would lock. She would smile. I would smile back and then get immediately embarrassed and head back to the center of my classroom.

Since she lived in a neighborhood close to mine, we shared a bus ride home which was indescribably heaven-like, especially when I was able to sit next to or near her. After all these years, I have no idea what we talked about or how much we talked at all. All I remember was that I looked forward to getting on that bus every day so that I could bask in the beauty of Robin R.

So the year went buy and it being the end of our 5th grade in school, we both knew that we would be going to separate middle schools. The thought of not seeing her every day created the kind of childhood sadness that no parent can comfort. The last day of school, I sat with her in the back of the bus. The back, of course, being the cool place to sit. We talked, I'm sure, although about what I have no memory. All I really remember is the imagery. Just the pure beauty.

Well, the bus finally got to my stop , which was before hers, so I had to leave my beauty and get off the bus to face another Summer of relentless camp and other activities. I walked around to the side of the bus. The bus started to move up the street. My eyes were searching for her in the window and finally our eyes locked. She was sitting in the same back seat that we shared looking out the window at me. Not just looking randomly out but looking right as me. As the bus slowly pulled away, I wandered into the middle of the street with my eyes still locked on her sweet face. Then, and this image is forever locked inside my memories, she turned around in her seat never losing eye contact, raised her hand, waved to me, and beamed that big brilliant smile to me through the bus window. I thought I was going to faint! As the bus pulled further up the street, I returned her smile and waved at her with my arm raised high in the air wondering if I, ever again, would see this beautiful girl.

Well now that would be a tragic story if it ended right there. But, over the next three years of middle school, I'd run into her downtown, at the local swim club, or at the town library and we'd sort of look at each other not quite knowing what to do or say so we said nothing. In high school, she ran in very different circles then I did so we really never connected at all. There were just those fleeting moments passing her in the hallway between classes where the memory of her in the back of the bus would surge within me.

I never asked her out. It just seemed like it would ruin what once was. Besides, in high school, I was a pretty shy guy. And, I had no idea if she had any of the feelings that I had for her. So time marched on. I'd catch an occasional glimpe of her around town. I even saw her once in the grocery store and she looked at me, waved, and said hello. I returned the gesture but she was on the way out of the store and chasing after her like a forlorn lover would have been just plain awkward.

Then, many years later while I was working in an ad agency, the receptionist yelled to me as I was walking up the stairs telling me I had a call. I go to the receptionists desk and she hands me the phone and whose voice do I hear? Robin! The same feeling I had when I first saw her in her little jean jacket and when the bus was pulling away so many years before gushed though my body made me feel like that shy kid again. I was about 30 at the time I think.

We talked briefly. She was actually calling for our production manager and she worked for a printer at the time. The call was only about a minute. I don't remember the exact words but she, being as surprised as I was that the two of us where on the phone after all these years, said something to the effect of, "I can't believe it. I make this business call and I get my childhood crush on the phone". That single statement, if I got it right, put to rest the wonderment I had for all those years as to whether she even knew I existed. The relief was incredible. beautiful.

Well, no romantic ending. We asked the usual boring questions of each other: "Are you married?" Where do you live?" "Do you have kids?" "How do you like work?" Perhaps neither of us had the courage to say what we really wanted to say. At least for me, it would have been, "Robin, I fell in love with you that Summer day so long ago. I've been in love with you ever since."


by Steve Hall    May-17-02    

The Blow Off That Never Works

Does anyone answer their friggin phone anymore?? I mean do you really think that a sales person is going to give up simply because you do not answer your phone? Of course not. They are going to hound you until the get you. Or at least get a reason as to why you should no longer call them. It's called qualifying the lead. No good salesperson will stop until they have a category to put you in. So...a piece of advice for you perpetual procrastinators: Answer the fuckin phone and simply tell the person you have no need for their services at this time. Is that so difficult? Do you actually LIKE having a full voice mail box?

And what's this shit about, "I'm sorry, I can't give out her phone extension" What the fuck? I can get the person from the dial by name directory so what's the difference?

People! Save yourself the anguish of the haunting salesperson. Deal with it today, don't perpetually procrastinate!

Just a humble suggestion from one who has had the great displeasure of navigating all the fucked up phone systems that companies have put in place thinking those systems will make it all more efficient.

Hire a receptionist. I guarantee you it will cost less in the long run and your customers will be happier.


by Steve Hall    May-16-02    

Now Here's Marketing For You!

From DM News:

Disgruntled Company Wages War at MTAC With T-Shirt Campaign

May 16, 2002

WASHINGTON -- Attendees to the usually orderly Mailers Technical Advisory Committee reception here at the National Postal Museum were greeted by a banner that included a drawing of a postal official using a vacuum to suck money out of a man's wallet. Bewildered postal officials and major mailers entering the affair were also handed T-shirts and postcards using similar imagery by representatives from a law firm representing CIGI/Consumer Insurance Group Inc., a small insurance company suing the U.S. Postal Service over its revenue assurance program.

I love this kind of stuff!


by Steve Hall    May-16-02    

Give It Up!

From AdAge:

"NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- In the wake of one of the worst years for any TV network, ABC Television has drastically revamped its prime-time schedule, adding three new comedies and four new dramas.

True to its promise of going back to family-oriented shows, the network, a division of the Walt Disney Co., has added sitcoms and moved other shows into its key 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. time slots -- a period it is developing under the theme "Happy Hour." Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett Co., Chicago, is the creative agency developing that branding campaign.

Three of the new comedies will arrive on Tuesday night. 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, starring John Ritter as a father dealing with his two daughters, will run at 8 p.m. At 9 p.m., Life With Bonnie, developed by its star, Bonnie Hunt, is a part-scripted, part-improvisational sitcom about a local TV show host. At 9:30 p.m., the office workplace comedy Less Than Perfect is scheduled."

Give it up, ABC. Trying watching HBO for inspiration.


by Steve Hall    May-15-02    

« Apr-02 | This archive, pg:  1  |  2  |  3  | Jun-02 »