Category Archives: Marketing

Starburst 1 – Toxic Avenger 0

There’s a commercial for Starburst that I see nearly every night on the Simpsons syndicated re-runs featuring two doofuses in an industrial plant of some sort, surrounded by 55 gallon drums of toxic waste.  One of them asks the other to give him a Starburst, so the second guy throws it to the guy asking. 

The throw is off and the Starburst goes into the toxic waste.  Doofus #1, then reaches into the barrel of acid or whatever, in an attempt to pull it out, and says "I got it!" and then when he pulls out his arm… the arm is gone.  Apparently eaten away by whatever chemical waste is in the 55 gallon drum. 

So then he tries with the other arm and thinks he has it again… but doesn’t, since that arm is now gone as well.

Naturally, doofus (that’s my word of the day) #2 rolls up his sleeve to reach in and get it, but the commercial ends, cutting away to the final glamour shot of the logo and product, along with the tagline "Blame the juicy goodness."

So I know that the point of the commercial is that Starburst candy is SO GOOD that you will do even the stupidest things in order to get some.  Even put yourself in mortal danger.  Its a bit extreme and I thought it was a good commercial.  Until I thought about it for a millisecond more and thought about something else…. what kind of unnatural polymer-co-chain-carbonite-ferrite ingredients would Starburst put in their chewy candy that would make it survive a plunge into 50 gallons of flesh-dissolving acid??

If the chemicals in that drum of toxic waste can burn away a human arm in a matter of seconds, what in the name of Buddha are Starburst candies made out of that they would survive a plunge into the same chemicals?  Would you eat something that was impervious to an acid that could destroy your flesh?  (ok, well.. Coca-Cola and most super-spicy hot sauces could do damage to you too, but not instantaneously)

I’m sure there’s a junior brand manager for Starburst somewhere reading this going "I TOLD THEM!!!"  Don’t worry kid – I’m over-thinking it.

BTW – I couldn’t find a copy of this commerical to link to anywhere online, otherwise you wouldn’t have been subjected to my play-by-play description of the commercial.  If anyone can give me a link, I would be grateful.

So its TicketMASTER, is it???

I’m thinking that TicketMaster has lost their collective minds.  I got an email yesterday from them promoting Clifford The Red Dog live at the Opera House in Boston.   Let’s take a look at the sheer brilliance of this utterly useless email effort, shall we?

First of all, Clifford The Big Red Dog is a 40-year old children’s book character from Scholastic (though I swear I don’t remember him when I was a kid and that was sure as hell less than 40 years ago).

Secondly, I am a single, never-married guy with no children that I am aware of.

And most disturbing, the last five sets of tickets I bought from TicketMaster were: 

  1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  2. Aerosmith and Lenny Kravitz
  3. Judas Priest and Anthrax
  4. Iron Maiden
  5. Scorpions and Whitesnake

Uhhh… yeah. Maybe TicketMaster wants a few of us head-bangin’ Satan-worshipers there to balance out the saccharinity of Clifford, but mommy and daddy probably won’t be too happy if I show up wearing my "Keep Music Evil" or Baphomet and pentagram t-shirt at their friggin’ kid’s birthday party. 

Or maybe Ticketmaster has taken on a vast right-wing neo-conservative effort and will bombard me with wholesome entertainment until I renounce the devil’s music?

Maybe I’ll just show up wearing a pair of shorts worn under a trench coat with a low-wearing hat and sunglasses.  You know, just to freak ’em out.  Maybe Sesame Street Live will be in town too. 

If you’re going to get arrested, you might as well make a spectacle of yourself…

On a totally semi-related note, I originally was going to write this with the following list:

  1. Trans-Siberian Orchestra
  2. Aerosmith and Lenny Kravitz
  3. Judas Priest and Anthrax
  4. Ozzfest
  5. WASP with La Guns and Stephen Pearcy
  6. Motorhead and Corrsion of Confiromity
  7. Dio and Anthrax

All of which were in the last year.  That would have made my point a bit stronger, don’t you think?  However, #4, 5, 6, and 7 were all bought through either or NextTicketing.  I didn’t even notice how the places my tickets are coming from has changed in the last two years.  Glad to see that Ticketmaster doesn’t have the deathgrip it had (and still has for the most part) a few years ago.

What am I supposed to do with 3,000 freezer gloves in an office?

So I have been having a bad streak with customer service and shipping lately and would like to IMPLORE all companies out there to LISTEN to your CUSTOMERS.  Arrrgh!!!

I’m not asking for complicated stuff.  I ask for some samples to be sent to me here at my office in Franklin, Massachusetts and the rest of the shipment to a plant in NJ or PA.  What happens?  For the third time I get the samples and then two days later I get the rest of the order, which then eats up my time spinning my wheels arguing with the supplier, waiting for UPS/FedEx to pick them up again, get sent back, re-labeled, sent out again….

It is just so ridiculous and frustrating.  This should be the EASY part of the whole process, and consistently, companies mess it up BIG time.  LISTEN PEOPLE, LISTEN!!!

If this keeps up, this blog could turn into a black list of companies that can’t follow simple instructions.

In Marketing Lingo, We Call This “Targeting”

Funny observation of the day: earlier I was sending an e-card to a friend of mine who’s birthday is Monday and while browsing through the various selections, I wandered into the "off-color" cards and came across one called "oral gratification." 

Being a guy, I couldn’t resist checking out what it was and while the card was only marginally funny, I was struck by the fact that alongside it was an ad for Religious t-shirts.

Nothin’ like a little oral gratification to help you find religion! 


"Oh god… oh god… oh god…  Oh, I’ll go get you a towel."

The Wal-Mart Hole Gets a Little Deeper

Since it was bloggers who brought the problem to light, we might as well make fun of it as well…

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (January 9, 2006) – A feature on that offered movie recommendations based on current purchases was shut down last week when it was discovered that “offensive” racial connections were being made by the software, according to media reports. For example, the purchaser of a “Planet of the Apes” DVD was given the recommendation of a movie about Martin Luther King Jr. as a “similar item.” “It’s just simply not working correctly,” Mona Williams, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, was quoted as saying. The problem was initially brought to light by Internet bloggers, the reports said.

Just what is a valued customer anyway?

I recently purchased a gift for my friends’ son’s first birthday from  It was a very good experience shopping with them and they produced a quality product that I was very happy with.  I wholeheartedly reccomend them for anyone looking for a different gift for nearly any occassion.

However, they just did something today that annoyed me.  Nothing too big, but just one of those stupid little things that drives me nuts both as a consumer and a marketer.  I received a letter from them with a special offer for "Our Valued Customers."   I bought ONE thing from you and I’m a "valued" customer?  If that’s the case, I feel kind of bad for them.  Me buying one item one time shouldnt’ make me a valued customer.  Steven Tyler and Chapstick; Gene Simmons and toungue scrapers; Michael Jackson and daycares… now those are frequent and "valued" customers.

This post is made with apologies to Idiot Letters by Paul Rosawho inspired it.  Read the book. Its friggin’ hilarious.

How to screw up a client relationship

Yeah, so here’s a word of advice to all marketing services agencies out there.  Listen and read and follow any requests and/or directions that your client gives you.  Really. 

I had a situation yesterday where a very simple request to an agency – who shall remain nameless out of professional courtesy – was mucked up because they simply didn’t pay attention to the fact that I requested a logo in JPG format rather than the TIF format that they sent it to me in.  A small mistake, granted, but one that started a chain reaction of events that ate up a lot of my afternoon and caused a great deal of frustration on my part.

However, Kudos to Winner Advertising and Marketing By Design for doing a great job for me and going above and and beyond the call of duty.

My First ebay Store

In an attempt to sell off some excess inventory (not enough of you damn people got sick this year) I just opened up an ebay storefront for the first time.  Check it out here.  Thermometers, diabetes organizers, and some other interesting stuff.

It was a very interesting process – some problems getting the site to stop timing out while working on it yesterday, but I got it up and running today and now we have seven items listed, each selling for well below retail.  Go there and buy something to make me look good!

Diamonds are Forver Annoying

This is hardly a timely entry, but it popped into my head today and thought this was a good place to vent about it.

There is a "diamonds are forever" commercial that I’ve always found very annoying and if I were a woman, would find it pretty annoying.  It’s the one where the couple – man and wife, since I believe the ad is for some sort of anniversary-related piece of jewelry – is standing in an Italian piazza, and he starts shouting out "I LOVE THIS WOMAN!!" over and over.  A silly, but dramatic and heartfelt sentiment.  She’s embarrassed to death and basically tells him to shut up.

He then pulls out the diamond whatever (earrings, bracelet, necklace, whatever) and shows it to him.  She suddenly changes character and embraces him and starts to say in a breathless voice "I love this man, I love this man, I love this man." 

WHY? Because he gave you a freakin’ expensive glass-like piece of stone?  THAT’S OK to say "I love you" but not shouting it out to the world?  Is it just me or does that make women look shallow and materialistic?  Or at least THAT woman??  Why don’t they just end the spot with "can’t win her with love?  Buy the bitch with some diamonds" and just be honest with what they are trying to say!?!?

Arrogrance and Frustration

So here’s a work frustration post… I’m in a very frustrating position with my ad agency, of all things.  The manager of the account happens to be best friends with the President of the company I work for, and that personal relationship has gotten in the way of sound business decisions. 

I am trying to pull together a promotion which resonates with family caretakers who find themselves struggling to take care of more than one generation – the "sandwich generation" is what they most commonly referred to, as they try to look after both their children and their aging parents (or granparents).  These are everday people who are stressed out, with too much going on, and not enough resources to do it all.  My goal is to make sure that our products and brand clearly empathizes with them, motivating them to purchase our products as they associate Timex Healthcare as THEIR partner in caretaking.

So how to do that?  Pick a great spokesperson who can address our target audience with empathy, knowledge, experience, and expertise, is definately one way of doing it.  So our ad agency came up with a reccomendation: Deborah Norville.

Yeah… Deb Noville…. New York urbanite sophisticate, former beauty queen, TV news anchor, and host of Inside Edition, TV’s favorite celebrity gossip show.  Now, to be fair, she DOES have two kids, and has written a children’s book and a book about overcoming adversity.  However, her lifestyle and wealth pretty much dictates that she has a nanny of some sort, and her books… ouch… check out the reviews on yourself: Back on Track and I Don’t Want to Sleep Tonight.  Nothing like a childrens book that causes nightmares…  No one here in the office thinks its a good idea, no woman in our target market things its a good idea, and I obviously don’t. 

So why Deb Norville?  Because there’s also a personal relationship between the AE and Deb, and we can get her "cheap."  I’ve tried to fight it, but the AE has gotten to the President, and he thinks its a wonderful idea, and now apparently thinks I’m a brainless twerp, based on the way he’s been acting towards me.  I tried to bring other ideas to the table, but they got shelved in favor of this brainless move.

The worst part is that the AE is not only friends with the President of my company, but he’s simply one of the most arrogrant people I’ve ever had the displeasure of working with.  Things started off on the wrong foot the first time I met him, as I went to check out a recording session for a radio commercial.  He told me to be there at 1:30, and I was.  But when I got there, the ad was already DONE!!  He clearly thinks that whatever he thinks is right, and that there is no other option.  I, as the client, am simply mere interference with his infinate wisdom, rather than a collaborative partner. 

I’m not alone with this – everyone here in the company doesn’t like him (including my boss), and during my due diligence process before taking this job, several professionals in the area either "warned" me about him, or simply refused to give an opinion.  In the end, I couldn’t get a single positive review of him as a person or a professional.

So now I find myself in a very difficult position – stuck working with someone who is nearly impossible to work with on a promotion that I disagree deeply for professional reasons, while trying to look good to a president who has already heard a bad rap about me from the person I’m supposed to be working with. 

Maybe I won’t be around here for all that long afterall…