Commentary

Media X: Season of the Bitch

Attention, Magna, ZenithOptimedia, GroupM and the rest of the media-industry precogs: enough with the estimated ad spend downgrades, OK? You're not helping.

Shit's bad, we get it. But these endless revisions are making it worse. I don't need your constant hammering to tell me we're still up to our eyeballs in tough times. Besides, there are some car wrecks we can see coming from miles away without anybody's help.

Maybe it's just that time of year, with night consuming day and marketers neck-deep in holiday tie-ins with the mash-up of pagan fest Samhain and kind-of Christian holiday All Hallows' Even. Or maybe it's simply the primeval wrongness of seeing baseball played in freezing temperatures. For whatever reason, fear and loathing are back in the media ecosystem.

So I'm warming up the popcorn in the microwave, twisting the top off a Blue Moon, plumping up the throw pillows and getting ready to enjoy some spine-tingling industry action:

* Chrysler Group's hotshot new marketing chief Olivier Francois, whose penchant for ads that provoke and often flaunt a lefty Euro-political skew made him the It Garcon at Fiat's niche brand Lancia, will drive the struggling U.S. nameplate straight into a ditch when he pulls that crap on American audiences. Memo to Fiat: Detroit ain't Rome and Chrysler ain't Benetton, amici miei. But if you bring back the Lingerie Bowl, I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt.

* The failure to make addressability happen. Question: When is an outcome whose desirability is blindingly obvious agonizingly impossible to realize? Answer: When cable television is involved. Sooner or later, the pinheads that run paid-TV enterprises are going to have to brand on something other than not being network television. Delivering on addressability's huge marketing promise would be a good first step. But don't hold your breath. Unless you're Barry Diller, John Malone or a Dolan. Then by all means, please do.

* Marketers gouging each other's eyes out to do a branded entertainment deal with another teen vampire movie that is a thinly-veiled Mormon anti-sex screed. A few words of advice to content creators: Kill the undead storylines already. Ditto zombies. Give business something original as well as bloody it can use to promote fast-food meals to children. How about Interpublic's decade-long humiliation of Lowe, capped off last week when Deutsch ate the poor, tormented shop alive? Now that's what I call torture porn.

* In a surprise move, China outbids Comcast for NBC. Jeff Zucker is exiled to a people's commune on the Mongolian Plateau which, because it's in the Gobi Desert, produces nothing of value, so he settles in nicely. Jay Leno is executed by a firing squad made up of network affiliates and his show is cancelled. It is replaced by an Asian farm forecast. Ratings rise by 50%.

Not frightened enough? Consider this: Media Agency of the Year submissions will soon start piling up in your email queue. Talk about bloodcurdling.

But let's look on the bright side. There are more than nine weeks left in the year, plenty of time for another two or three ad-spend downgrades from Magna, ZenithOptimedia and GroupM.

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