Michael Phelps

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.

Steve Winter is president of Brotman|Winter|Fried, a Sage Communications Company. Reach him at swinter@aboutbwf.com.

Unlike Wendy’s, which goes on snark-offense on Twitter to defend its brand, many marketers find themselves surprised by negative brand attention. A crisis is different from a mild “media disruption,” like “an executive going publicly rogue in an embarrassing way,” says Ashley Deibert, marketing VP at iQ Media.

The Olympics are the marketing event of the moment. I've certainly watched my share of the sporting events, but I hadn't yet sat down and focused just on the ads going on in the show. So last night, I decided to focus on the most interesting part of these games: the commercials!

Slotted in right behind the Super Bowl and akin to World Cup Soccer, the Olympic Games have perennially served as both a showcase and a coming-out party for companies seeking to gain target market exposure, brand awareness and product sales.

Many of us, just like others around the globe, were recently glued to the television for two weeks to watch athletes pursue their dreams of earning gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. The Olympics brings out the best in all of us. It is probably one of the few times that we all come together, whether you rooted for newcomer Gabby Douglas (gymnastics), applauded the grand finale of Michael Phelps’s (swimming) record-breaking medals achievement, amazed by Wu Minxia (diving) of China and her sixth career diving medal, or were inspired by the performance of the comeback kid,

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!

Nothing-nothing!-bugs me more than advertising writers who call TV ads "winners" because they're the "best-remembered" and/or "most-liked."

Did the ad sell anything? What was the ROI?

Belinda Goldsmith of Reuters reported that roughly 1 billion people-15% of the world's population-watched some or all of the Olympic opening ceremonies, a TV spectacular that ran four and a half hours.

I watched the next morning via the DVR recording device that is part of our DIRECTV service. By judicious fast-forwarding-and avoiding ads and the procession of the athletes-I saw what was worth seeing in 90 minutes.

I don't watch TV commercials.

Cutesy-poo creativity and the "hard sell" repeated over and over ad nauseam do nothing for me. When you're 73, quality time gets precious.

I'm not alone.

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