Beijing

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

"Are we ever going to catch up to Asia?" It's a refrain heard far more frequently on our shores in recent years. The latest front in the East-West skirmish is in mobile marketing. Once again, the U.S. marketplace finds itself at a perceived disadvantage. So it's fair to ask the question once again: Are we ever going to catch up to Asia? Thanks to smartphones going mainstream in the U.S., the leader now wears red, white and blue—at least in terms of ad dollars. According to eMarketer's December 2012 report, the U.S. surpassed Asia

SES San Francisco is on day two already and the organizers had a big surprise for the attendees yesterday: Matt Cutts would make a surprise visit … Something Cutts doesn’t do that often outside of some SMX appearances in the past few years. So the question arises, will he be announcing something today? … He starts with the Knowledge Graph. There are 3 billion connections with "real world things." … There are a lot of Jason Smiths around. …

Late last summer I ordered two pairs of chino trousers from L.L. Bean and a couple polo shirts, which arrived a day or two later. I clothed my upper and lower halves with the new merchandise, and both pieces fit my dreadful flesh-case beautifully.

Where Land's End trousers seem to slip off the spare tire of my middle and threaten to drop down around my ankles just when I'm carrying a heavy sack of groceries in one hand and a gallon of Stoli in the other, these marvels from L.L. Bean look and feel custom tailored. I was thrilled.

When it came time to wash them, I looked at the label to see what the settings should be and discovered the polo shirts were made in Thailand. On the chino trousers label, a line of copy made my blood run cold.

"Made in China."

The Chinese government is brutal, repressive and vicious. In China, a nation of polluters, a new coal-fired plant comes online every 10 days. The brown cloud over Beijing is disgusting. The Chinese are also state-sanctioned killers of girl babies. In addition, they kill other babies (poisoned milk), American children (lead paint in toys), beloved dogs (poisoned pet food) and Tibetan monks, as well as being jailers of dissidents and the press. China's blatant counterfeiting of luxury and everyday products—together with massive theft of intellectual property—is responsible for billions of dollars in losses the world over.

I resent L.L. Bean making me an unwitting accomplice to criminal behavior.

I just finished a splendid book, "The Forger's Spell" by Edward Dolnick, about how a mediocre painter named Han Van Meegeren painted a series of "Vermeers" in the 1930s and 1940s and conned the European art establishment into believing they were real. One of his forgeries was the crown jewel in the collection of the world's greatest art thief, Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering. It was a delicious hoax.

When I put the book down and started looking for news stories to pin this column to, I found August was an extraordinary month for hoaxes, fakes, scams, scandals and pranks. Let's start with Wine Spectator.

Thomas Matthews, Executive Editor of Wine Spectator, is pissed. For starters:

Wine Spectator learned yesterday that, for the first time in the 27-year history of our Restaurant Awards program, a fictitious restaurant has entered its wine list for judging. To orchestrate his publicity-seeking scam, Robin Goldstein created a fictitious restaurant in Milan, Italy, called Osteria L'Intrepido, and then submitted a menu and wine list to Wine Spectator's Restaurant Awards as a new entry in 2008. The wine list earned an Award of Excellence, the most basic of our three award levels. Goldstein revealed his elaborate hoax at a meeting in Oregon last week. He is now crowing about the fraud on his own Web site. The story has been picked up in the blogosphere, and now Wine Spectator would like to set forth the actual facts of the matter.

"Facts of the matter?"

Mr. Matthews, you were bamboozled. Hornswoggled. Thimblerigged. Flimflammed. Your awards program is a deeply flawed business model.

Gotcha!

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