Philadelphia Inquirer

Media Wizardry—Ads Where You Don’t Expect Them
December 6, 2007

Think of it! reported that ”The world’s top 100 marketers spent $97.8 billion in global media in 2006.” That’s more money than the GDP of Egypt! The asterisk in the story is a stopper, too: “Figures exclude Ad Age’s estimates of U.S. unmeasured marketing.” After 45 years in direct marketing—where return on investment (ROI) is measured down to a gnat’s eyebrow—the term “unmeasured marketing” makes me gag. General agencies are in the business of unmeasured marketing. They splatter gobs of paint on the wall and hope some of it sticks. Measured marketing—direct marketing—is like a game of paintball where you fire the

Famous Last Words: Golf? No Thanks!
November 1, 2007

When I was a kid, I tried golf—once. I found my eyesight was so lousy—even with glasses—that every ball was a lost ball, even those that went straight down the fairway (which was almost never). I have not picked up a golf club since. In my Friday Philadelphia Inquirer, I received a massive lead-generation piece—a 16-page, 91⁄4˝ x 11˝ (one spread opened up to 361⁄2˝ across) color brochure flogging membership in The Cliffs golfing communities of South Carolina, and especially the new Tiger Woods-designed golf course at High Carolina. This piece—which must have cost 50 cents with printing and insertion—came through my door mail slot in

Corporate Strategy Hits My Nabe
October 4, 2007

I live in Center City Philadelphia six blocks from Independence Hall. Around the corner is Philly’s hangout for mostly kids—what Gourmet magazine called “raffish South Street.” There you can get tattooed, body pierced, tanned, a fine Philly cheese steak at Jim’s, hear live funky music every night at TLA and foul stand-up routines at a comedy club, buy sex toys at Condom Kingdom, and eat at any of 40 neighborhood restaurants ranging from D+ to A+. If you’re a HOG, you will find Mako’s Retired Surfers Bar & Grill, where you will meet and greet other Harley-Davidson owners from all over the country. Plus,

Two Industries That Dis Paying Customers
July 17, 2007

A couple of weeks ago, I read that the final article by David Halberstam, who was killed in an automobile crash outside San Francisco on April 23, was available on the Vanity Fair Web site. As a long-time customer and admirer of Halberstam’s work, I wanted to read it. I found “The History Boys” and downloaded it for free. It was scheduled to appear in the August 2007 Vanity Fair and I—a nonsubscriber to the magazine—was able to access it long before it arrived on newsstands or in the mailboxes of paying subscribers. That meant I—a Web junkie—could discuss it at a dinner

The Business of Being a CEO
June 28, 2007

On Monday of this week, The New York Times launched a delicious, old-fashioned hatchet job on Australian/UK/U.S. media lord Rupert Murdoch, whose bid for The Wall Street Journal is a threat to the Pinch Sulzberger’s flagging advertising. The gist of the Times’ Monday story is that Murdoch uses his newspapers and TV networks to further his own agenda. In addition, reports the Times, he has built his $68 billion empire by bribing important politicians with campaign contributions and juicy book contracts and they, in turn, pass legislation that bends the rules to his News Corporation’s advantage. Tuesday’s story in the Times was all about

June 7, 2007

One of the sublime pleasures of researching and writing this cranky little e-zine is watching a story build and then spin totally out of control—just like the cyclone in “The Wizard of Oz.” Just when you think things couldn’t possibly get worse for the people involved, they do. Julie Roehm, the 35-year-old dynamic senior VP-marketing communications at Wal-Mart was brought in from the automobile industry to oversee the company’s half-billion-dollar-plus advertising budget. She allegedly rubbed Sean Womack, Wal-Mart’s VP of marketing communications, the right way and everybody else the wrong way—and the two lovebirds were thrown out on their tails. Not only is Roehm

At Museums, the Customer Matters Least
May 17, 2007

On two successive evenings last week—at the New York auction houses, Christie’s and Sotheby’s—a half-billion dollars worth of art changed hands. I am fascinated by the art world—the work itself, the lives of the artists, collectors great and small, and the value and prices that art commands. Plus, of course, the business of auctions and museums is intriguing. Relatively few people have money to buy great works of art for their homes and yachts. Fortunately for the rest of us, many of the great collectors either founded public museums of their own or left their art to established institutions. Since no advertisements were booked

The Book Business: An Industry of Whiners
May 8, 2007

No industry in the world is so completely peopled with whiners: * Book publishers whine because they are forced to eat 35% of the products they send out in the form of hugely expensive returns. * Authors whine because publishers don’t promote their books. * Book publishers and authors whine because newspapers do not review their books. *Newspapers whine because book publishers are putting their advertising dollars elsewhere, so, in retaliation, they drastically cut the number of reviews they carry. *Book critics whine because with fewer and fewer venues for their work, they are deprived of places to show off how much smarter

Guns and Words
April 24, 2007

This past weekend, my friend David Ehrlich, a world-class violinist and teacher, came through Philadelphia to rehearse for a string quartet performance outside Boston next week and he stayed with us, as he always does. David is the Outreach Fellow in Fine Arts at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va. When the massacre happened last week, my thoughts were very much with him and his wife, Teresa, a superb pianist. But I decided not to call or e-mail; I figured they had enough going on without one more intrusion. While he was here, we talked some about the horrific event and the aftermath and then

Prepare to be Mushroomed
April 12, 2007

The massive leveraged buyout of the Tribune Company by Chicago real estate magnate Sam Zell—the 65th richest man in America according to Forbes, with a personal fortune of $4.5 billion—is in the beginning stages. My bet is that it will result in a tsunami of layoffs, buyouts, firings, and wrecked careers and lives. According to the Jan. 25, 2007 Newstrack, the media industry slashed 17,809 jobs in 2006, an 88% increase over the 9,452 jobs lost the prior year. Last year, we watched The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News fall into the hands of a local consortium of investors that has neither newspaper experience