What the New Year Will Bring (or Not)

As an owner of numerous worthless Internet start-up stock options, I can say with certainty that nothing is certain. Yet this won't stop me from foretelling the future of events that might unfold this year in the media and advertising business:

Jazzed by the rapid success of its inshore video network, Wal-Mart buys the WB. After being greeted by the usual blue-hair, persistently happy senior to start the broadcast day, the camera will simple stroll the aisles of a typical Wal-Mart, zooming in on price tags and interviewing shoppers who are breathless with excitement over their savings. There are no ad avails, since they have all been bought up by Wal-Mart suppliers through the 2024 season.

David Pecker announces that he will launch a magazine called "Victoria's Secret," to be "filled with photos of beautiful models wearing skimpy, sexy underwear." "We just didn't have the heart to tell him," says Leslie Wexler, Chairman of The Limited. "Apparently he's the only one in America not on our list."



At 3:09 (EST) on June 14th, blogging comes to an abrupt end when the last person writes the last thing they can think of. The sun comes up as usual on June 15th. Jeff Jarvis asks his wife if a tree falling in the woods still makes a sound if no one hears it.

Unhappy that local TV stations refuse to pick up the Pentagon's video feed of how wonderful life is now in Iraq, the Feds reprogram a CIA spy satellite and start broadcasting directly into every U.S. home via smart chips secretly embedded in Playstations, TiVo, GPS devices, Wal-Mart RFID tags, and Direct TV. After three months, Nielson reports that the War Channel has a larger audience of men 18 to 24 than all the broadcast networks combined.

Time Warner bites the bullet and sells AOL to a group of private investors that include Steve Case, Bob Pittman, and Michael Wolff.

An eerie silence falls over the magazine industry when Keith Kelly inadvertently writes something nice about someone. "It must be how Neanderthals felt during a solar eclipse," says a stunned magazine PR person. The MPA fires off the usual letter of complaint to the Post, then details a summer intern to search through 3,456 other outbound letters of complaint in the mailroom when the mistake is discovered.

Executives of Cydoor Desktop Media force their way into an OPA meeting at gunpoint and hold Michael Zimbalist captive until the charter members agree that Cydoor is indeed "the world's largest deliverer of advertising impressions." However, they vote not to admit the company saying in a press release, 'It's not a Jewish thing. It's a pop up thing." Zimbalist is eventually released, laughing, "I've gotten worse beatings from Bill McCloskey."

Cablevision adds the Photo Phone channel, running nonstop digital pictures of babies with birthday cake on their faces, fender bender insurance evidence, blurry preschool soccer action, and women who fall asleep sunbathing topless on beaches across the planet. It also pulls better among 18-24-year-old men than the broadcast networks.

Hearst launches a magazine for men who don't shop, watch sports, buy cars, need a date, or care about their abs. Called "So What!", the monthly is an instant success, building a circulation of 12 million in six months. However, it fails when renewals clock in at .0002%. "They apparently don't care about magazines either," Marty Walker tells the New York Times.

In a triumph of convergence, Microsoft acquires ABC and starts streaming TV shows to desktops. Daily online usage plunges. Microsoft blames comScore. If users try to close the media player window during commercials, a junior copywriter from TBWA/Chiat/Day pops up and tearfully explains it's the little guys like him who get hurt if people don't watch commercials. Visitors to vote to let the copywriter starve. FOX options the copywriter's growing emaciation as the centerpiece for a new reality show, but the kid elects to spend his final days in a Plexiglas box suspended over the Place de la Concord. The French declare it a symbol of American involvement in Iraq, and convert all government computers to Linux. Microsoft sells ABC.

A new President fails to be elected when the United States converts to online voting without installing the trial version of Zone Alarm, and hackers aligned with different parties keep adjusting the popular vote until Bush holds a slim 6 billion lead over Dean's 4.6 trillion votes. The Pericles Group goes public as the recount moves into its 14th month. The stock gains 173 points by noon of the first trading day.

"I don't care if they ever decide this," says John Durham on the way to the bank.

Doubleclick buys Tacoda Systems. Yahoo! buys Doubleclick. Disney buys Yahoo!. Krispy Kreme buys Disney. ShopRite buys Krispy Kreme. It assigns Dave Morgan to frozen foods, Kevin Ryan to fruits and vegetables, and Michael Eisner to the stock room. Warren Buffett sells his ShopRite holdings, and the company sinks into the abyss. Wenda Millard is last heard saying, "Hang on guys, where's my Blackberry?"

David Peckers fails in a bid to acquire the Abercrombie & Fitch Quarterly magazine.

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