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October 2008 Archives

Critics Cotton to Obama’s Infomercial

October 30, 2008 8:09 AM

By and large media critics praised Sen. Barack Obama’s 30-minute infomercial that ran last night on CBS, Fox, BET, Univision, MSNBC and TVOne at an estimated cost of $3.5 million to $5 million.

Count me among those who found the time spent watching as a refreshing reminder of why this country needs a change.

It was a well-coordinated plea to appeal to the middle-class viewer who is caught in the middle of this economic mess, aimed squarely at everyone from voters facing retirement to younger voters who had just lost their jobs.

Most refreshing was the fact that Obama took the high road, unlike his opponent, Sen. John McCain, who accused Obama of already measuring the White House windows for new drapes.

That’s a snarky comment that McCain has repeated often as the gap between the candidates widens, in favor of Obama.

My question is, if Obama were indeed so cocky about winning the race, why would he spend the money on this steep-priced infomercial?

Palin’s $150,000 Wardrobe Riles Viewers

October 23, 2008 1:04 PM

Gov. Sarah Palin

Gov. Sarah Palin

Today we learned that a fellow Republican gave Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin $150,000 to gussy up her wardrobe and her family’s threads shortly after Sen. John McCain announced that she would be his running mate.

That factoid has got to sit in the craw of most voters and TV viewers who don’t even make that much money a year and have been watching their 401ks and other investments nosedive. GOP supporters said the media coverage regarding this is unprecedented and biased.

I say, bring it on. I want to know everything about this woman who emerged from out of nowhere and would be a heartbeat away from running this country if McCain keels over: That’s something to think about, given his age and what little we know about his medical history.

If Palin were a true “maverick”—her moniker, not mine—she would present herself for who she really is, a soccer mom from Alaska.

I hope “SNL” has a ball with this latest campaign update. Maybe Tina Fey will come out dressed in a parka and hip-high boots, rather than those newly purchased designer rags.

The big question is, will this revelation hurt Palin’s appeal with viewers and voters?

Local Cable TV Spots Work for Restaurants

October 22, 2008 10:45 AM

An article in today’s New York Times about how restaurants across the nation are hurting during the ongoing economic meltdown failed to address how their owners are tweaking their media plans to help manage the pain.

A solution that might help to stem the damage is hyper-local ad spots.

Elsewhere I read that broadcast national spot TV sales are expected to drop a whopping 17%.

But that doesn’t seem to be the case in Comcast-land, where I live. The MSO appears to be thriving with its Comcast Local Spot program, which runs scads of ads from local restaurants.

Judging from mere anecdotal evidence, local cable ads seem to really work. We went out to a Thai restaurant for dinner last night, and it was hurting, even though the food is excellent, the ambiance and service are great, in essence making it a great value experience.

By contrast, a nearby restaurant that floods local cable with ads had a jammed parking lot. The restaurant is expensive, the service is abysmal and the ambiance totally blows.

But the Thai restaurant doesn’t advertise on local cable while its next-door neighbor—the crummy, expensive restaurant—runs a heavy ad schedule on Comcast’s Local Spot program.

Have you witnessed that correlation in your neck of the woods? Check it out and share. I think I’m onto something here.

New Frugality Finally Reflected in TV Ads

October 15, 2008 10:47 AM

Finally, a breath of fresh air is swooshing across TV channels. TV ads are starting to address the country’s economic strains in their messages. What a relief from brokerage firms' ads touting their supposed prowess.

KFC $10 Challenge TV Spot

I first saw this happening with WalMart’s new ads. Soon the reality of the nation’s fiscal woes spread to other marketers.

I just love Marshall’s new ad poking fun at how designer jackets find their way to this discount chain, depicting an urban, snooty boutique owner who turned down a shipment of jackets because he didn’t have room for them. Marshall’s selling proposition upon receiving the inventory is, “we don’t have space issues.” Clever, I say.

Then there’s the $10 challenge from KFC, asking viewers to try to recreate a meal of a bucket of chicken and all the side dishes at home for the same price by buying the ingredients at a supermarket.

Meanwhile, Walgreens is touting its health care buses touring the nation offering basic free health care screening tests. Seniors on fixed income sure can relate to that offer.

Even Target, a retailer that has always marketed itself as upscale, is going more mainstream, or I guess you can say downstream, with its new tagline, “get more for less.”

I think viewers relate to marketers being sensitive to these hard times.

Do you?

Snore of a Debate Gets High Ratings

October 8, 2008 12:28 PM

While hardly electrifying, last night’s second presidential debate attracted a ton of viewers, scoring a 42.1 rating, according to Nielsen, and trailing not far behind last week’s one-and-only debate between the veep candidates.

NBC's Tom Brokaw

How could it not get great ratings, given that the Dow dropped another 500 points yesterday, delivering investors another punch in their already sore guts.

The debate got better ratings than it deserved. NBC’s Tom Brokaw was not at his best, trying to cover too much ground at a time when the nation is scared senseless about the economy and the state of their 401Ks and IRAs.

I expected to hear far more detail from Barack Obama and John McCain about how they would bail out us, the folks actually footing the bill for this fiscal recovery plan. Instead, Brokaw basically stuck to the script, giving the economic collapse cursory coverage, moving quickly on to health care and foreign affairs.

I thought I was watching a rerun, with both candidates echoing many of the points that they had earlier made on the stump. Clearly it’s time for some new thinking here.

I didn’t hear any, and the scary thing is there probably isn’t any new thinking.

Am I being too cynical?

Did You Watch Veep Debate? You Betcha

October 3, 2008 9:56 AM

Viewers across the nation were glued to the first and only vice presidential debate between Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Biden Palin Vice-Presidential Debate

If people were watching for a Palin train wreck, they didn’t get it. She didn’t derail; she came off as strong and spunky with her homespun “you betcha” and “darn right” manner of speaking.

Clearly the format worked for Palin, who bore no resemblance to the candidate recently interviewed by CBS’ Katie Couric.

So what did we learn last night? I walked away with one and only one thing: Palin does well when scripted, as she clearly was last night, but when it comes to thinking on her high-heeled feet in an interview, she trips up.

Meanwhile, I was surprised this morning when I took the Cape Cod Times’ online poll, which showed 67% of the respondents said Palin won the debate.

Was there a winner here? I say no.