"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 21 November 1996. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Hit & Run LXI


[Urban Outfitters]

While advertising incantations

were the only thing that kept

the suspect meme "Generation X"

dogpaddling forward to begin

with, marketers have finally

recognized the dubious utility

of a demographic whose defining

characteristic was its

reluctance to be defined (or

sold). Sure, some hucksters made

bank by convincing retailers

that they alone could lure the

lucre of this fickle bunch, but

the Mobius flypaper strip of

infotising professionals catches

more commissions with honey than

vinegar. So Ad Age is now

trumpeting a more media-friendly

cohort: the Net-Generation.

"Unlike the so-called Generation

X that came before them, they

are defined not by their

cynicism, alienation, and

rejection of things," gushes Don

Tapscott. Far from rejecting

stuff, the "N-Gen" can't get

enough: "The availability of

choice is a deeply held value in

the N-Gen culture... it is

indicative of their culture's

tolerance and reluctance to

reject anything outright." This

is, of course, great news for

the business community, whose

consternation with Gen X's

tendency to flock to secondhand

stores caused more than one

company to come apart at the

seams. After all, the N-Gen that

drives Enterprise is not Thrift,

but Profit.



Is octogenarian comedy pioneer

Milton Berle a genius

entrepreneur, garden-variety

megalomaniac, or bored

babysitter? Last week he

announced the February launch of

his new upscale lifestyle

magazine, Milton, and revealed

its ebullient slogan: "We drink!

We smoke! We gamble!" The

quarterly magazine - which will

cover, let's see here...

cocktail quaffing, stogie

sucking, and, oh yes, casino

gambling - will no doubt become

the de facto catalogue for

Lifestyles of the Rich and

Debaucherous. Given the 200+ ad

pages of Cigar Aficionado, the

recent commitment to even more

advertising by alcohol

manufacturers, and the

explosions of casino development

on Indian reservations and in

Las Vegas, Berle is sure to be

making dumb jokes all the way to

the bank. Perhaps overbedazzled

by his own business acumen,

Berle not only decided to name

the magazine after himself, he

also opted to hire his wife as

publisher and his daughter as

editor-in-chief. Sounds good to

us; we're already scoring

Milton as the run-away

publishing success story of

1997. Not only are his business

decisions based soundly on the

time-honored principles of

self-aggrandizement and

nepotism, but even the Berle

clan couldn't fuck up a magazine

based so shamelessly on not one

but three consumer-oriented

trends... four, if you count



[The Players]

The Academy Awards are still

months away, but already silver

screen pundits are debating

who'll win the first-ever Oscar

for Best Merchandising Campaign.

In this corner, human

cross-promotion Michael Jordan.

In that corner, grimacing

ubermannequin Arnold

Schwarzenegger. And just to make

things really interesting, in a

third corner, 101 repurposed

pups and Glenn Close in Divine

drag. For web-based innovation,

Eisner's gang gets the early nod -

there's no final word yet on

the rumor that the Spot will

temporarily pluralize itself as

a tie-in, but Disney's

background-as-advertising ploy

is definitely destined for

further exploitation. On the

other hand, you can't beat Space

Jam's sheer merchandising mass.

The Warner Bros. marketing

department has allegedly created

a cache of thousands, with Space

Jam foam furniture, Space Jam

candy, and Space Jam coins

representing just a part of the

alternate Space Jam universe.

While the website fails to

include a definitive list of

everything available, the

pictures certainly drive home

the campaign's hare-raising

totality. Are there really

thousands of people in the world -

or even one - ready to pay $40

for a cookie jar shaped like

Michael Jordan's head?



The mummification of dinosaur

technologies in the tar pits of

history doesn't necessarily mean

those technologies won't rise,

like some creature from an old

Abbott and Costello movie, to

haunt the world again. Dummy

terminals, vinyl LPs, and now

even electric cars are all

making a comeback. In the case

of cars without tailpipes,

however, wouldn't it be churlish

to do anything but applaud? Well

okay, twist our arm: Electric

cars were available to the

public a century ago and, though

marketed mostly as a

chauffeurless luxury for the

fairer sex, survived competition

with internal combustion

vehicles until the

electric-ignition Cadillac

diluted their market share in

1912. With its introduction of

the EV1, GM now hopes to trump

the competition again by

complying with the California

Air Resources Board's "2-percent

solution" to the state's

emissions problems two years

ahead of schedule. Fine; just

don't ask us to get misty-eyed,

a la Bill McKibben in the new

New York Review of Books, about

a "transition back to

smaller-scale regional life" -

since those who buy electric

cars will still likely use them

to drive to Starbucks, the Gap,

and Barnes & Noble. Some dismal

scientist with a waggish streak

care to come up with some models

for time-back-to-market?

courtesy of the Sucksters