"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 11 October 1995. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Selling Without Shame

[Ad Age]

Ad Age, or "the Ad Age Brand" as

they call it, offers the best

kind of information: relevant,

statistical, and institutionally

cynical. There's no shame or

irony in the Ad Age world - they

astutely leave the smart-ass

commentary to Suckers like us,

while leaping deep into the

heart of contemporary issues

with an acumen we could only

dream of. Check out their most

recent O .J. market analysis and

tell us we're exaggerating.



Whether the subject matter

involves establishing the Star Trek

franchise, building the Baywatch

buzz ("It wasn't just another

sitcom or detective show."

Yup.), or employing

"psychedelic-colored buses" as

marketing devices for Fruitopia,

AdAge seldom fails to

unsmirkingly deliver the

bottom-line on sophisticated

media consumer manipulation.

Their appraisal of the

Wonderbra's sharp ascent from

$20 mil to $120 mil product says

it all: "Wonderfull."


The minds behind Ad Age are

expert, indeed, as testified to

not only by their tight industry

coverage, but also by their

application of deceptive

marketing techniques to their

own publishing operation. Be

sure to check out Jeff D.

Diehl's chronicle of his

experiences with Ad Age's direct

mail shenanigans. Anyone with

the balls to cleverly disguise a

subscription offer as a

delinquent debt invoice is

deserving of cautious

admiration, if not outright




Ad Age, as a Web site, is a

bottomless cup, with the kind of

unsolicited but much-appreciated

breadth typical of most Organic

Online productions.

Comprehensive feature articles on

the history of advertising and Ad Age's

top 50 TV commercials are enough

to warrant a bookmark, but it's

the daily and weekly news items

that illustrate the stark

absurdity of this industry.

Don't get us wrong, there's a

massive amount of press

release-spawned snooze fodder

lurking about, but it co-mingles

peacefully alongside some

jaw-dropping facts.



For example, we should've but

didn't know that Conde Nast,

through sales of year-long

contracts with only eight

advertisers, raised $1 million

in advance of publication for

its Epicurious and Conde Nast

Traveler Online. That's $120K

each for a year's worth of ads

for a site bringing in a paltry

200,000 page hits a week. A

bargain compared to ads Levi and

Visa purchased on ESPN's

SportsZone, at $100k a quarter!

For that kind of bankroll, we'd

put freakin' American Gladiators

rankings on our pages!


[Daily Deadline]

Of particular interest, to us at

the very least, is the Daily

Deadline, a robust repository of

breaking news for the

advertising community. Most of

the stories feature reports of

notable ad execs and PR teams

who have recently been axed, and

while the names and agencies are

largely lost on us, we can't

help feeling some deep-seated

satisfaction in knowing that

even in the absence of cats, the

rats will feed on each other.

Still, the contents of Ad Age's

Comings & Goings suggest that,

in the ad industry at least,

life after death is the most

basic of career strategies.


[Digital Media Masters]

Perhaps the harshest lesson of

all was found in Ad Age's

Digital Media Masters section,

where we found a profile

Starwave VP of Online Services,

Tom Phillips. The name rung a

bell, and we were mortified to

learn that Phillips, who is

leading a team of 200 to create

and operate Starwave's various

lame (Outside Online? Mr.

Showbiz?) publications was the

same troublemaker who founded

and published one of our

favorite mags of the 80's, Spy.

What's next - the editors of The

Baffler taking charge of c|net?


Spying on the enemy is one of the

finest ways to waste your time

while surfing the Web, and Ad

Age makes it an easy pursuit.

Sure, we can think of more

pernicious threats to the

community than a bunch of suits

trying desperately to cook up

schemes to bilk the masses. But

the ad people, who have made

careers out of playing an

unceasing game of cat and mouse

with the wily consumer, tend to

unwittingly provide the ultimate

in comedic value. And as with

every other pleasure available

these days, you're the one who's

paying for it - you might as

well enjoy it.

courtesy of the Duke of URL