Not-so-Super Bowl of ads
: Bob Garfield, ad critic of Ad Age and cohost of On The Media, is talking commercials with a roomful of ad people at iMedia.
He says that the NFL is so controlling of the game that they were behind GoDaddy.com being told they couldn’t say “wardrobe malfunction.” But more amazing is that they pressured Bud from dropping a great commercial that explained the wardrobe malfunction (guy in the dressing room uses the costume to open a bottle of beer; breaks costume). It was great; it was funny; it was charming; it was banned. “They’re really on my bad-guy list,” Garfield says.
: If you didn’t see it yet, Wizbang has the wardrobe commercial.
Living a lie
: McDonald’s put millions of dollars behind launching a “blog” and it’s a stupid, insulting waste.
On the Super Bowl, McDonald’s did a jokey commercial about a french fry shaped like Abe Lincoln. Fine. Dumb but fine. They put a url on the ad and it, eventually, leads to a fake blog.
Just this morning at iMedia, I told the publishers and marketers here that they should not make Dr. Pepper’s mistake when it made a cow blog for its milk-based soft drink.
This is a human medium, I said. It’s about people talking to people. We don’t want to talk to a cow; that’s as off-key as coming to a wedding dressed up like a pig. We don’t want you to lie to us and think we’re stupid and that we want to talk to a character a marketer made up.
Would your PR department have a cow or a fictional character call a reporter at The New York Times? No? Then why would you do that do your customers in their medium? Yes, of course, we are smart enough to know it’s your attempt at a joke. But you’re not smart enough to see that you’ve wasted our time. [via Steve Rubel]
Eason Jordan update
: A BBC exec who as at the Davos panel where Jordan spoke tells Jay Rosen that Jordan was misinterpreted. He says what I took away from Jordan’s own responses: He’s saying that journalists were shot by snipers so they were not “collateral damage” — the phrase that started the discussion — but were targeted, though he’s not saying they were targeted as journalists. It’s still all rather muddled and it could stand a reporter doing a good story to clear this up. That, after all, is supposed to be what reporters do.
: Lloyd Braun, the former head of ABC and the new content head at Yahoo, was interviewed by Max Robins, the editor of Broadcasting & Cable, at iMedia. Frankly, Braun didn’t have much to say; he sounds like so many old-media executives who switch over to new media and spend the first months gasping about how new and different and wonderful it all is but they’re still thinking in their old models. Some make the caterpillar switch, some don’t. The one newsworthy thing Braun said, which Max jumped on, was this: “If I knew what I know now when I was at ABC, I would have taken half my media budget and put it here [in online].” Sure, that’s self-serving for an exec of an online company. But I think he meant it.
Pick the sin: plagiarism or bad reporting
: The other day, another numb-nutty journalist was fired for plagiarism, which is about the stupidest sin to commit (not the accidental repetition of a good phrase — these days, we call those memes — but the wholesale lifting of hunks of someone else’s work); it’s especially stupid in this day of online news and search. Whenever somebody gets caught their their hand on the control-V keys, they get fired quickly and publicly. OK.
But it occurs to me that the punishment for getting a story completely wrong — not Jayson-Blair-pull-the-fiction-of-of-your-ass wrong but wrong-headed, incomplete, badly reported, factually messy — is nowhere near as severe.
The message that gives the public: The press cares more about protecting the ownership of content than about getting stories right.
Now that’s not only heresy, it’s a wrong and rather ridiculous way to state the proposition and I know it: plagiarism is obvious theft with an easy standard to identify and writing a wrong-headed or sloppy story is not an easy standard to agree to. So I’m not saying that everybody who has a bad-story day should be shown the door (in fact, we need to make reporters bolder and more transparent and more conversation, not more timid and boring and faux objective). I’m simply saying that the contrast in the press’ treatment of each sin says something to the public. That’s all.