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.

Brendan Menapace is the senior digital editor for Promo Marketing. While writing and editing stories come naturally to him, writing his own bio does not.

"Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" is the story of a woman, played by Frances McDormand, who takes matters into her own hands by putting up three billboards (hence, the name) to question local law enforcement when it doesn't adequately investigate the murder of her daughter.

Iowa and North Carolina said they are looking into a breach involving a subsidiary of Experian that exposed some 200 million social security numbers, in addition to two states that previously announced investigations. Separately U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, chided the company, saying she was concerned it had changed its explanation of how it was responding to the breach. McCaskill told Reuters she was troubled to learn Experian has recently said it would not be able to notify people whose social security numbers were compromised in the scheme. "It's troubling that Experian would wait three months after

We have TiVos, ad blockers and the highly refined ability to simply not care, so advertisers really have to get creative if they want to get our attention these days. And what gets your attention more than threatening, scaring and emotionally traumatizing you for life? Well, they say no press is bad press. See, after listening to you sobbing and ranting about the ghost in the mirror, the man with the rifle or the police hunting you through a crowded airport, your psychiatrist will inevitably ask you what product caused all this pain, and then boom: mission accomplished.

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.


By Noelle Skodzinski When a mailing arrives with money visible through the outer envelope, it's almost impossible not to open it. And, if it's a $50 bill that's peeking through, well, it would be the exception, for sure, to toss that envelope unopened into the trash. This was the thinking behind a recent direct mail effort for Missouri-based marketing services agency Inquiry Intelligence Systems (809ININSY1203). The effort's 6" x 9" outer envelope featured a large glassine window revealing the face of the company's brochure, as well as part of what looks like an actual $50 bill. Even for those who see direct mail

More Blogs