More Loose Change

Back to the drawing board, Part I: A new $300 million campaign--underwritten by the studios, cable and broadcast trade associations, consumer electronics manufacturers, the Ad Council, and broadcast networks and designed to help parents get information about existing content control mechanisms like cable channel blocking and the V-chip/ratings system--features a Sopranos-like character whacking his wife in the head with a shovel.

A study released in London found that mobile phones have more of an influence on young women's lives than television. The report was issued by Carphone Warehouse, a mobile phone retailer. This to be followed by a report from the Irish Tourism Board revealing that potatoes are of more importance to young men than video games or supermodels.

Back to the drawing board, Part II: in July the promotionally challenged MPA and the Magazine Marketing Coalition sponsored a two-week guerilla promotion to raise awareness of magazines' strengths by dressing up a studly young man as a superhero named Captain Read--complete with crimson tights, a black cape, and a lightning-bolt "M" (for magazines, get it?) on his chest. He visited nine advertising agencies in New York City, bearing research materials that touted the super-power of magazines. William Shawn could be heard turning over in his grave.

Australian-based illegal peer-to-peer file-swapping Kazaa has agreed to pay a reported $100 million to trade organizations representing the international music industry. As part of the settlement, every teenager and college student in the world has agreed to delete everything off their MP3 players and replace music with a file of Mitch Bainwol, chairman and CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America, going "na-na-na-na-nah" for 14 straight hours.

Back to the drawing board, Part III: In the UK, Coca-Cola has aroused the wrath of mental-health activists with its new campaign for Coke Zero that features the tagline "Blind dates without the psychos."

Giving new meaning to the concept of "free" classifieds, several users of Craigslist have been held up at gunpoint by individuals posing as buyers and sellers. In the robberies--including five in the SF area during the past month--none of the victims has been hurt, but they have lost cash and hundreds of dollars in property. Several newspaper groups have prepared ad campaigns centered on the theme of "Victimless Classifieds."

Back to the drawing board, Part IV: Less than a month after a report that a third of females ages 16 to 25 picked Google as their favorite "website," Time Inc announced it was putting all its Teen People eggs in its online basket. So much for that sticky content idea.

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