Suzanne Vranica

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

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

Some big ad agencies are being investigated for price-fixing. Rebecca Meiklejohn, a government antitrust attorney based in New York, is looking into whether big ad agencies got smaller production firms to submit inflated bids to marketers so the agencies’ in-house departments would win the ads.

A new marketing campaign for StubHub, the ticket-resale website, stars a 25-foot-high animatronic talking tree with tickets as leaves. In commercials, the tree, known as the "Ticket Oak," lives in a suburban backyard and doles out tickets to neighbors. It is quite a departure from StubHub's last ad campaign, which showed people dreaming about getting a ticket to a concert or a big game. But with the Ticket Oak character, StubHub hopes to make a splash on Facebook and other media.

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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