Slaughtered-goat marketing: Potential downsides thereof

Well, I don’t know if this is for real or not, but the Dailly Mail has a story about Sony getting some fairly unsurprising backlash for “using a freshly slaughtered goat to promote a violent video game.” The article says:

The corpse of the decapitated animal was the centrepiece of a party to celebrate the launch of the God Of War II game for the company’s PlayStation 2 console.

Guests at the event were even invited to reach inside the goat’s still-warm carcass to eat offal from its stomach.

Sickening images of the party have appeared in the company’s official PlayStation magazine – but after being contacted by The Mail on Sunday, Sony issued an apology for the gruesome stunt and promised to recall the entire print run.

I know that Sony has had some problems lately, and just feels a bit stodgy compared to its innovation-filled history. But maybe this isn’t the best way to get that edgy reputation back.

UPDATE: An associate of Murketing assures that it’s for real, etc. etc., and forwarded a Reusters story. But that’s not why I’m updating. I’m updating because the story quotes from Sony’s apology, which I might have missed in the Daily Mail story, but demands repeating:

“We recognize,” Sony said in a statement, “that the use of a dead goat was in poor taste.”

Somebody make sure Harry Shearer knows about this, k?

The Gadget Boom, 1935

From the February 1935 issue of Everyday Science and Mechanics, via Modern Mechanix:

The American people spend more than $100,000,000 a year, in amounts from 5c up, on gadgets manufactured in this country—not counting the huge importations from abroad. Here is a field of invention, and unlimited new business possibilities, always open to the ingenious….

Gadgets have been in use, probably, ever since man emerged from the cave; and, while the earliest no doubt were extremely simple and uncomplicated, they were, nevertheless, gadgets. For instance, when some cave man first thought of putting his arrows into a hide pouch, in order to reach them more easily, that pouch became a sort of gadget; because heretofore the arrows had been carried in the loincloth, or in the animal-skin covering that served the prehistoric man as a cloak….

Gadgets should be distinguished from necessary tools, which do not come under the classification of gadgets. For instance, to make this clear, let me make an example: At the present time, most beverage bottles have the variety of cap known as a crown seal—other bottles have corks. A tool is needed to open the bottle; either a cork screw or a lever arrangement for the crown seal, which is a necessary tool. It cannot be considered a gadget….

And do not jump to a rash conclusion that all gadgets are just novelties. Some of the most successful gadgets have been on the market for many years, and millions of them have actually been sold. Just to name a few, such items as pan-scrapers, mechanical gas lighters, steel wool pan cleaners, have actually sold by the millions and have become staples. So have anti-window rattling devices, door checks of various varieties, and scores of pencil sharpeners that can be bought from 5c up to 25c….

When the automobile first came into vogue, there were hundreds upon hundreds of car gadgets, many of which sold into the millions. We had all sorts of gadgets from radiator emblems to flower vases, arm rests, mechanical signalling devices, etc. Many of these later became standard equipment….

And toward the end, this prediction:

Let no one think that the gadget market in this country is apt to decline. With our advance in civilization, the chances are overwhelmingly in the opposite direction; since the more mechanized we become, the greater the demand for gadgets.

Cover versions

Delightful gallery of old Russian book jackets. Via Couldal.

An Ink, Inc. pioneer

In the recent Consumed that dealt with Scott Campbell, the Sailor Jerry brand, and the persistence of the old-school tattoo aesthetic, I made passing metnion that Normal “Sailor Jerry” Collins left his estate to two of his proteges, who get a cut of Sailor Jerry brand sales. One of those proteges was Michael Malone, who has just passed away. From the Times obit:

Steeping himself in California’s 1960s counterculture, Mr. Malone worked in San Francisco on rock shows that had psychedelic lighting while studying ceramics and carpentry. He moved to Manhattan in the late ’60s and, under the tutelage of a local tattooist, began decorating clients at his downtown apartment. In 1971 he helped organize an exhibition called “Tattoo!” at the Museum of American Folk Art in Manhattan.

A year later Mr. Malone moved to Hawaii and became a protégé of the artist known as Sailor Jerry Collins, who was famous in the industry for introducing a sophisticated style and vivid new colors to the skulls, roses, hearts, tigers and sailing ships of classic tattooing. When Mr. Collins died in 1973, Mr. Malone bought Mr. Collins’s company, China Sea Tattoo, in the Chinatown district of Honolulu, and with it his mentor’s designs.

More on MySpace mourning

The other day, after noting that Facebook and MySpace mourning after the Virginia Tech killings wasn’t as surprising as it might seem, given the MySpace mourning for soldiers killed Iraq, I wondered about the long-term status of the MySpace pages of the deceased. The Savannah Morning News has a story today about military MySpace mourning. Regarding Kelly Youngblood, a 3rd ID soldier killed in Iraq in February, the story notes:

MySpace officials have said they do not delete inactive accounts, nor do they let others take control of a deceased user’s accounts, because of privacy concerns.Youngblood’s “last login” date will remain Feb. 5, 2007, in perpetuity, along with everything else on his page.

“I love that it will always be there,” said Youngblood’s girlfriend, Cecelia Jones, 19, of Westville, Ind. “I look at pictures and things he wrote … and if the page wasn’t there I wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Like a widow in a grief support group, Jones continues to post messages on Youngblood’s site. She talks about how she’s doing on any given day or recalls a memory they shared together as a way of coping with her loss.

Her latest post was simply: “I wish you were here.”

Buzz Factor

In Consumed: Spykes: A new product gets lots of attention — mostly from vehement critics.

This past January, Anheuser-Busch rolled out a new product called Spykes. It comes in two-ounce bottles, in flavors like Spicy Lime and Hot Melons. The label says it’s a “premium malt beverage,” containing caffeine and ginseng; it’s meant to be drunk straight, or used as a mixer with beer, or as an ingredient in some new cocktail of your invention. It’s “whatever you want it to be,” the new brand’s Web site says. Spkyes, in other words, is a hodgepodge of every recent trend or fad that has caught the attention of alcohol consumers in the past five years. …

Continue reading by way of this NYT Magazine link, or this Boston Globe link.

Notes on a transparent apology

I’m still snickering over the recent comments of Fake Steve Jobs at about famous PR guy Steve Rubel. Rubel is one of these people who’s turned himself into a guru by touting the mighty Web and how it’s, you know, changing everything.

For example, it’s a great opportunity to “empower customer evangelists.” Actually, I first became aware of Rubel when he was talking up some project he’d come up with for Vespa, which basically involved “empowering” some Vespa fans to blog about Vespas, under the auspices of the company that makes Vespas. “What better way to evangelize the benefits of scootering than empowering existing customers to tell prospective scooterati why Vespa rocks?” he summarized. The two synthetic blogs that resulted were called and I kept an eye on them for a while, but then I forgot about them — and it’s not clear how that experiment panned out, since both those URLs lead to 404 Not Found error pages.

Still, Rubel ended up with a column in Ad Age, and a more prestigious job at Edelman. Probably he had some other success stories that I happen not to be aware of.

Anyway, one of his other big themes is transparency. Fake Steve Jobs finds something a little, uh, unconvincing about this. And then goes on the following rampage:

Apparently Rubel blabbered on Twitter that he doesn’t read PC Mag and in fact tosses his copy into the trash when it arrives. Smooth move for a PR guy right? [PC Magazine editor in chief Jim] Louderback blasted back here saying that since Mr. Bigshot PR man and blogger Steve Rubel of Edelman PR has so little respect for PC Mag, then he would start ignoring pitches from Edelman clients.

That in turn prompted this hilarious groveling open letter from Rubel to “Mr. Louderback” and everyone at Ziff Davis, which owns PC Mag. It’s really a must-read, if only because Rubel is one of these guys who’s been going around saying how the mainstream media doesn’t matter anymore, and how blogs are displacing all the big newspapers and magazines, blah blah blah … but here he is taking one deep down the windpipe on behalf of his clients, who no doubt carved him a new one for pissing off PC Mag.

From there it gets a little crude for the family-friendly environment of, so proceed at your own risk. And needless to say, I don’t necessarily endorse the views of Fake Steve.

But in this instance, I did find them amusing. I just thought I’d be transparent about that.


New developments regarding the predicted (by others, not by me) age of a world “devoid of brand advertising as we know it:”

TV “ad clutter” was “relatively flat” in 2006, according to one recent study, with broadcast and cable channels “running an average 15 minutes of nonprogram time per hour in prime time.”

This is seen as somewhat good news: At least clutter isn’t growing at the same pace of recent years.

On the other hand, Red Herring says:

Beware YouTube watchers, ads are coming?as soon as this summer.

The video-sharing site that was acquired by Google in November is experimenting with the precise length, form, and placement of those ads, and will begin rolling them out this summer, Suzie Reider, head of advertising for YouTube, [said recently]

“We’re looking at executions like a very quick little intro preceding a video, then the video, then a commercial execution on the backside of the content,” Ms. Reider said.

The idea is to generate long-promised revenues that Google can share with the more than 1,000 “premium” content creators whose video material is available on YouTube, Ms. Reider said.

Trust me

Asked to rank their level of trust in a dozen industries ranging from insurance to health care, respondents around the world invariably put media and entertainment dead last, according to Edelman, the U.S. public relations and consulting company that conducted the surveys.

— International Herald Tribune.

The silver lining here, for me, is that this must mean Edelman won’t bother to pitch me anymore. Why would their clients want to be mentioned in some untrustworthy media outlet?

Rock and rockets

Pretty interesting NYT dispatch today from Sderot, an Israeli town near the Gaza Strip, where there’s a vital local-music scene:

In the Israeli public consciousness, Sderot is a place of poverty and danger. It has been barraged by more than 4,000 rockets in the last six years, including nearly 200 since the shaky cease-fire began in November. Six people have died from the attacks, and dozens of homes have been damaged.

And yet Sderot is also the hometown of a pop culture hero of the moment: Kobi Oz, the lead singer of the Teapacks, the Israeli pick for the popular Eurovision song contest. Mr. Oz made headlines in March when organizers of the contest suggested that his song “Push the Button” might be disqualified for carrying an inappropriate political message. [The Teapacks are scheduled to perform in the Eurovision semifinal in May.] The song riffs on the Israeli fear of being obliterated by an atomic bomb.

The link.

Symbol status

I was reading something about the logo that represents Rotary clubs — “a brilliant advertising image, it has proved as lasting and recognizable as any corporate symbol,” historian Victoria de Grazia observes in passing in her 2005 book Irresisitible Empire — and ended up going over to Rotary International’s web site.

There I was surprised to find that you can get a Rotary-branded credit card. There’s a part of me that would like to break out the Rotary Platinum Plus Card at lunch with some trend-watcher or “thought leader,” just to see if anybody would notice, or react.

A different sort of wine packaging

The WSJ has a good story today about a “cult” wine called Screaming Eagle. (It’s a subscribers-only article, but here’s the link if that’s you.) The winery doesn’t do tours, or having a tasting room, and — as the owners are notably willing to tell the Journal — they’re big on secrecy in general.

This tradition goes back to 1986, when [founder Jean] Phillips, a former real-estate agent, bought the 68-acre Screaming Eagle ranch and started making wine in a 12-by-18-foot stone building. She made just 200 cases of her first vintage. Wine critic Robert Parker awarded her 1992 release a nearly perfect 99 rating, and Screaming Eagle scored instant cult-wine status.

Ms. Phillips resorted to a common cult-wine practice: She sold only to people on a mailing list, with a limit of three bottles a year. The list was full by 2000. She closed the waiting list after thousands of people had signed up….

Those who have made it onto the list are often elated. One grateful buyer sent Ms. Phillips a photo of his baby in a bassinet next to a bottle of Screaming Eagle, sending updates with photos of the growing child each year.

Regarding that last detail: Ew.

Regarding the story in general, I wonder how important is, in building a culty business, to have an early stamp of endorsement from a widely-known expert.

Think it over

Recently I was introduced to the very pleasing Psychology 101-ish term, “need for cognition.” Or maybe I was introduced to it years ago, when I took Psychology 101, and had forgotten. Anyway, it basically means this: People who have a high “need for cognition” like to think, and those who don’t, don’t. I liked this because of course I think of myself, and my readers, as people with a high need for cognition.

Then I started thinking about it.

Do people really self-identify as not liking to think? There’s a lot of evidence — I think — to support the contention that many people do not, in fact, like to think. That’s why gossip and shopping tips are more popular than long investigations of complex topics.

But how, exactly, do psych researchers figure out who are the people who don’t like to think? Who would say, “I prefer to think as little as possible.”

I found this quiz, which appears to be designed to measure need for cognition.

The first item is: “I would prefer simple to complex problems.”  You’re supposed to rate to what degree this statement is characteristic of you, the quiz-taker.

This gave me pause. For one thing, if I know what this quiz is about, and I see myself as a person who likes to think, I know what the “right” answer is. Looking at the list, the “right” answer is fairly obvious in almost all cases. Other statements are: “Thinking is not my idea of fun,” and “The notion of thinking abstractly appeals to me.”

I’ll tell you what I think. I think this quiz measure the degree to which you want to be perceived, or maybe even perceive yourself, as a person who likes to think. Which is quite a different thing than being a person who really does like to think.

For another thing, while I see myself as a  person who likes to think, the fact of the matter is — if I really think about it —  I’m not sure that the “right” answers would really be honest. I know I’m supposed to say I prefer complex problems to simple problems. But come on. I’d prefer no problems at all! I’ve got plenty of problems to deal with, every week, and if I could make the problem-barrage simpler, I’m pretty sure I would.

But maybe the truth is that this is only what I think! Maybe the truth is, while I would claim that I’d prefer to cut down on the problems, my actual behavior is a morass of problem-creation, and when I don’t have enough problems to think about, I go searching for more. Without even thinking about it! After all, one thing I do recall from Psychology 101 is that there’s often a disconnect between what individuals say, and what they do.

So what does it all mean? I’m not sure. I need — possibly I really and truly need — to think about it some it more.

Music as punishment

I guess I’m kind of late on this, but if others have picked up on, I haven’t seen it. And I have to pass it along.

Fortune’s Roger Parloff (a former colleague of mine) examined an interesting question in a March 27 post on his blog, Legal Pad:

The tormenting of Guantanamo detainees by subjecting them to round-the-clock barrages of blaring rock music has raised a thorny, if thus far hypothetical, legal question: Is torture a “fair use” under the Copyright Act?

It seems that some musicians don’t want their music used by the government as a kind of harrassment weapon. Fair enough: Maybe they have an ideological disagreement with the government — or maybe they just figure having their music associated with punishment is bad for the brand.

Perhaps a copyright violation lawsuit is their way of stopping it? Mr. Parloff weighs the answers. After all, as he points out, the practice has become more routine:

In previous years, we would, only once in a great while, see our government use copyrighted music — mainly hard rock and heavy metal classics — to break down a foe’s will to resist. We saw it used in Panama, for instance, to drive Noriega from his palace and then, years later, in Waco, Texas, against David Koresh and his Branch Davidians (with unanticipated results). But with the arrival of the War on Terror and our liberation from previously crabbed interpretations of international human rights commitments, high-decibel music may now be becoming a fairly routine interrogation tool used in Guantanamo, Iraq, Afghanistan, and, perhaps also, an archipelago of secret C.I.A. prisons across Eastern Europe. … Barney the Dinosaur’s excruciatingly monotonous “I Love You” theme … has apparently been found by military intelligence officials to possess powerful, yet so far entirely unrecompensed, coercive properties.

Ink, Inc.

In Consumed: The Tattoo Aesthetic: Why, despite years of trendiness, the old-school tattoo tradition hasn’t faded.

It has been several years since even Ozzy Osbourne could see that tattoos were overexposed: “To be unique, don’t get a tattoo. Because everybody else has got tattoos!” Yet despite the fact that tattoo imagery is everywhere — serving as the basis for reality shows, as a de facto part of N.B.A. uniforms and, increasingly, as an element in marketing — it retains its appeal as “an authentic and real part of culture,” one advertising executive recently informed The Chicago Tribune. What’s surprising about the popularity of tattooing is that it won’t seem to go away — that some tattoo imagery still seems authentic, even when it’s mainstream….

Continue reading by way of this New York Times Magazine link, which will probably expire in a week, or this Boston Globe link.

Related Links: Gyro/Sailor Jerry case study; Scott Campbell.