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A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin
Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends, news from the world of puppets and ventriloquism, bits of humor and other interesting but useless information. I post every Tuesday and Friday.
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June 2008 - Posts

Bartelt is B&M's RPS Champion

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends plus bits of humor and interesting but useless information. For information on Chip's performance schedule, go to

Bartelt Crowned 2008 B&M RPS Champ
The fourth annual B&M Rock, Paper, Scissors (RPS) tournament produced loads of excitement along with a new champion, Bruce Bartelt.

Leslie Bonk, who holds several RPS records and has held the championship trophy for the past two years, won only a single match in the first round of play and was among the first to be eliminated. 

Heather Goeden was in labor at West Allis Memorial Hospital during the event, but still managed to take part in the tournament by gaining a special dispensation from tournament officials who allowed her to register her throws ahead of time.  When other competitors were scheduled to throw against Goeden, they simply made their standard throws and a tournament official then read Goeden's throw from the list she had provided. Using her absentee list of throws Goeden defeated her first opponent, 2005 Champion Steve Borgwardt, 4 to 1.

(Above, Borgwardt ... Margarita in hand, goes down in defeat to an invisible and "in labor," Goeden.)  Borgwardt was never able to recover from that upset and for the second consecutive year was eliminated in the first round. Borgwardt retired to the Margarita bar, as has become an all too familiar custom. (For those who have not heard, Goeden gave birth to a healthy baby girl, Peyton Marie.)

Newcomer Leanne Bennett surprised everyone by shutting out her first three opponents. (Above, she easily defeats Steve Borgwardt ... just like everyone else did.) Bennett then continued her impressive showing by going undefeated all the way to the final round. However, the rookie appeared to succumb to the pressure of championship play--and the fact she found out there was an actual prize for winning the contest--and was defeated in four consecutive throws by the experienced and cagey, Bruce Bartelt.

Bruce had weathered several tie-breakers and last-throw wins on his way to the finals and did not appear the least bit anxious in the final round ... thanks in part to a few respites at the Margarita bar to obtain advice from Borgwardt. In the end, Bartelt's final "paper" defeated Bennett's "rock". 

Bartelt was presented with the coveted B&M RPS trophy and received a $25 gift certificate to Pedro's Restaurant. Bruce was co-designer of the traveling trophy, so it is only fitting that the piece of crap prestigious prize hangs in his office.

Here's One Way to Pi## Away Your Advertising Budget
Am I the only one who doesn't get this ad for Hyundai? "Hyundai. Wherever there is sport."

Okay, I get the "sport" of pissing along side the road. What I don't get is the tie-in to Hyundai. How is this selling cars? Can someone explain this to me? I'm getting a headache from trying to figure it out.

Kill 5 Minutes While Creating a "Cure"
If you've got 5 minutes to kill you'll have fun doing this.  Go to The Drug Inventor site where you can invent your own drug. The site will name your drug, (mine was Chipotox). You can choose whether it's a pill, an ointment, drops, liquid or cream. Then you select what your drug with cure or prevent. Options include awkward first dates, enlarged ego, stinky feet, know-it-all syndrome and many, many more. Then you fill in a few blanks and Cedra automatically creates an ad for your drug which you can email to friends.  It's pretty funny.

I was hesitant to waste my time going to this site at first. But as all my friends know, I'm glad I did because I was able to send them this information on Chipotox Ointment!

TV Funeral Commercial is Anything But Traditional

I'm not big on funerals ... but not for the usual reasons.  Half of my family tree was made into coffins.  Anyway MyWonderfulLife, a new online funeral planning service doesn't believe funerals have to be boring, weepy events that follow the traditional routine. And they have a new TV ad to prove it. It's actually the first funeral ad I've ever seen that's funny ... in a bizarre sort of way.  Click here to see the 20 second spot. It's worth a look because it gets the point across that this do-it-yourself approach means anything can happen at a funeral.

China's Funeral Strippers May be Left Out in the Cold

Speaking of funerals, in China, a large crowd at a funeral is seen as a sign of honor. To help attract more people to funerals, relatives often hire strippers to perform at the events. But the tradition may be coming to an end as officials have ordered a halt to "obscene performances" and say funeral plans have to be submitted in advance. Officials have also said residents can report "funeral misdeeds" on a hotline, earning a reward for information

Vents in The Wall Street Journal

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends plus bits of humor and interesting but useless information. For information on Chip's performance schedule, go to

Ventriloquists Featured on Front Page of The Wall Street Journal
Talk-show host Bill Maher once said, "A ventriloquist has won the 'America's Got Talent' contest, proving that America does not have talent." Maher should know ... he's got the least bit of talent of anyone I've ever seen. I still can't figure out who's working his head.

Anyway, last Friday's Wall Street Journal had a front page article about the "revival" of ventriloquists, recognizing our form of entertainment as "mainstream." (I feel obligated to point out that vents would be nothing without the real stars; their puppets. So the reporter should have interviewed a few of us, to get the real story.)

The article primarily focuses on Terry Fator, (below) but mentions other vents as well. Click here to read the story. Come on, click on it, it's a good read.

I've been featured in the Wall Street Journal already (seriously, I have) so I guess that's why they didn't interview me this time. But Friday's article was interesting and contains an entertaining video clip.  Notice in the photo above that Terry has replaced his old cloth Winston the Impersonating Turtle with a new puppet created by our very good friend,
Steve Axtell. The middle puppet is an "off-the-self" Axtell puppet. So if you own one you won't be able to use it now because people will think you stole the character from Terry. Ha, ha. Too bad for you. Oops. I guess that isn't really funny for anyone who shelled out $ for that character. But that's what you get for dealing in puppet slavery.

If You Can't Live Without Bottled Water
As a follow-up to my previous blog on "Bottled Water," an alien visiting from another planet might think this paying for water that we can get for free out of the tap is one of the most illogical of all human behaviors ... but he would be wrong. He won't have a true understanding of how the human race has "evolved" until he observes humans paying $40 for a bottle of
Bling H2O marketed by none other than this ubiquitous bare-as##d, sex-sells hottie.

The alien might hypothesize anyone marketing a bottle of $40 water must have their head up their butt ... and this ad would certainly confirm that assumption. Seriously, I'd like to meet a person who pays $40 for this water because I have a feeling that they could take my place on Dale's knee and give me a vacation!

We Missed National Doughnut Day

I owe my readers an apology. I neglected to alert you to National Doughnut Day which is always the first Friday in June. Mark it on your calendar. (Note: The word "Doughnut" is often shortened to "Donut. So, if you see the term National Donut Day, it's the same day.)

National Doughnut Day honors the Salvation Army "Lassies" of WWI who were sent to the front lines of Europe in 1917. Salvation Army lassies were the only women outside of military personnel allowed to visit the front lines. These brave volunteers made doughnuts and home cooked foods and provided a morale boost to the troops. Often, the doughnuts were cooked in oil inside metal helmets of American soldiers. The American infantrymen were commonly called doughboys. 

So next year On National Doughnut Day, look to see if your local doughnut shop, or other organizations, are offering free donuts to solicit donations for the Salvation Army or for another needy cause. If you find them, please be generous. For more information on National Doughnut Day and to take a quiz to test your Doughnut knowledge, click here.

I'm Not a Cat Person, But ...
   I'm not a cat person. Not at all. You wouldn't be either if cats routinely tried to use you as a scratching post. Nonetheless, I found a blog post by a cat sitter who I have to admit, I agree with.

The New York City cat sitter complains about being sent a HUGE t-shirt from the Humane Society and how all the marketing pieces the Humane Society sends her are a waste of charitable donations. She makes a good point. Click here to read her rant.

True Numbers Behind the McCartney Divorce

Bob Mikush sent us his take on the math behind the Paul McCartney/Heather Mills divorce.

After 5 years of marriage, McCartney paid Mills $49 million. Assuming they had relations every night during their 5 year relationship (I know I'm being very generous here), it ended up costing him $26,849 per coitus, not counting attorney's fees and court costs.

On the other hand, Elliot Spitzer's call girl Kristen charged $4,000 an hour. At first that seemed high to me. But, had Paul McCartney employed Kristen for an hour a night for 5 years, he would've paid $7.3 million (a savings of $41+ million). So at least on the surface it appears he would have been better off renting. (Bob provided a list of additional benefits, but I discretely decided to omit them.)

More Interesting Numbers

86.6 minutes ... the average daily amount of time spent on the internet by U.S. users.

78% ... percent growth in YouTube over the last 12 months

80% ... percent of online video viewers who have watched an ad online

52% ... percent of online video viewers who have watched an ad and taken some action as a result, such as visiting a web site, searching for more information, going to a store or making a purchase 

What Would You Use to Sell Mushrooms?

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends plus bits of humor and interesting but useless information. For information on Chip's performance schedule, go to http://www.dale-brown.com/.

Ventriloquists on Last Comic StandingCongratulations to Taylor Mason and our friend Ian Verella who both managed to get some television face time on Last Comic Standing.

Although Ian didn't make it to the Comedy Club round, the judges had only positive comments about his audition and were obviously impressed with his talents. NBC keeps the past episodes on their website. You can watch the entire show by going to www.nbc.com/last_comic_standing/video/episodes.shtml. Click onto the second episode from the left to see Ian's episode.

The highly original and very funny Taylor Mason and his popular Paco the Pig made it to the Comedy Club segment and were a big hit. The show included a lot of Taylor's routine which you can see by going to the same site mentioned above.

If you ever have a chance to see either of these talented vents, don't miss the opportunity.   

Famous Last Words


Are your customers' perceptions your reality?
Most businesses spend the majority of their branding efforts on communicating their vision via marketing efforts. But they spend very little time following up to see if they're making progress or if they should be headed in a different direction. Here are a few simple ways to assess where you stand in your customers' minds.

  1. Contact customers you've gained in the last year and ask them why they chose your brand.
  2. Call current customers and ask them what differentiates you from competitors. Or ask them what the first thing they think of is when they consider your brand; then the first thing they think of when they consider a competing brand.
  3. Look at the commonalities in the types of customers who are coming back to your brand. Contact them to get a feel for the source of their loyalty to you.
  4. Is your business growing by word of mouth? What others say about your brand carries more weight than what you say. That's why publicity is generally more valuable than advertising.

You don't have to spend thousands of dollars to learn what your customers and prospects think. But you do have to spend time and energy. We can help. Well, I can't help, but others at B&M can help. Just call us.

Drinking Bottled Water Can Give You Water Lips

I may be a Mannequin American, but I'm no dummy. I don't buy bottled water. I get my water from the tap. Occasionally I'll fill an empty plastic bottle with tap water and take it with me. But I've never seen any intelligent reason for purchasing bottled water.

We've all heard about the environmental problems with bottled water ... little things like producing the plastic for the bottles uses millions of barrels of oil. Then there's the transportation involved in getting all those bottles to stores and getting rid of them after they're empty. Add to that the fact that plain old water from our home taps is held to higher standards of purity and bottled water is just ... stupid.

These issues have been all over the media for years, but they haven't seemed to affect sales of bottled water much. In fact, in 2007, the industry reported growth of 7.8 percent, to $11.7 billion in sales.

Now, however, a new problem with bottled water has surfaced, and it may just bring everything to a grinding halt. Drinking bottled water, it turns out, can give you wrinkles.

The phenomenon is being called "water lips." Like cigarette smokers, bottled-water drinkers have to scrunch up their mouths to get their fix, and the repeated motion is causing fine lines to form around the edges of the lips.

The hilariously scare-a-riffic news piece quotes Washington DC dermatologist Dr. Marilyn Berzin, who advises that water drinkers use wide-mouth bottles or cups and allow their upper lips to stay relaxed while drinking.  And people, no matter how delicious the water is, please remain expressionless.

What Would You Use to Sell Mushrooms?
Everyday we all see scores of ads that have attractive women in them. Often we scratch our heads and wonder "why?" Alright, we all know "why." But this ad for Nila Sliced Mushrooms has to make the top ten on that list.  I don't get it? Who's this ad aimed at? The ad is two parts pulchritudinous cleavage and one part "Fungtastic" headline ... and nothing more. 

Okay, so I went out and purchased a can ...

The Saddest Father's Day of All
Children aren't supposed to beat their parents to the grave. That's one of the saddest components of the Tim Russert story. Our friend Gene Miller at 620 WTMJ wrote a fitting message on his blog about the 58 year-old NBC Washington Bureau Chief, son and father. Click here for Gene's thoughts.

I've Heard of "Sugar Foot," but "Sour Toe?"

Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet (Mannequin American views and guidelines on marketing/PR trends plus bits of humor and interesting but useless information.) For information on Chip's performance schedule go to www.dale-brown.com.

You Started a War ... Now I'm Paying the Price
    Do you get annoyed by those little promotions that pop up at the bottom of your TV screen during a show or movie? Sometimes those crappy little nuisances actually cover up something significant that you wanted to see!

Well, you did it. You used your TiVos and DVRs to skip commercials. That ticked off those who want you to see commercials. So you started a war.

Now networks are running promotions during programming. Some of them now involve pausing the show while an ad runs on the lower third of the screen. Right now, it's just station promos but, seriously, how long before we see paid advertising in this space? You did it to yourselves and now I'm paying the price. Somebody owes me a TiVo!

Results of Our IQ Test
Lots of people emailed me to say that they managed to get 10 out of 11 questions correct on the short IQ test that I included on my June 10th blog. Losers. On the other hand our blog reader Bob Chelius managed to get a perfect score. You can still take the test by clicking here.

Cartoons Used to Sell Sex ... Sex Used to Sell Everything Else
In Nevada, where legal brothels have operated since the late 19th century, business is suddenly a bit slow. (We're not getting more moral. It seems that truckers represent a large percentage of the brothel market and high gas prices are keeping them away.) The Nevada Brothel Owners' Association claims that revenue at the 25 legal bordellos for which it lobbies is down 25% to 45%, depending on location. 

A law dating to the 1970's forbade Nevada's legal brothels to advertise outside the immediate areas in which they were located. That law was struck down in federal court last July. However, most legal brothel owners still don't advertise for fear that it would enrage community leaders and push the Legislature to ban legal brothels.  

Nonetheless, Susan Austin, general manager of the Wild Horse Adult Spa and Mustang Ranch purchased eight billboards along various highways in and around the city of Sparks that declare, "The party's at the Wild Horse!" The billboards include a picture of a cartoon horse.  (During research I couldn't find a single cartoon horse on their web site. There could have been one there, but I didn't see it. It could have been covered up by a ta-ta or something.)

Some other brothels use sponsorship marketing rather than overt advertising. Donna's Ranch, in Wells, NV is the major sponsor of the town's car show and is the secondary sponsor of its senior pro rodeo. But the sponsorships use nothing explicit.

In short, the brothels are not using "sex" to sell sex.

On the other hand, Italy's advertising watchdog, the Institute for Advertising Self-Discipline (IAP), recently banned Tom Ford Eyewear ads from national media. Why? Because the company used "sex" to sell eyewear.

This photo was deemed by IAP to be "markedly vulgar" and to "transcend the limits of simple bad taste and offend the sensibility of viewers".  I think it just looks stupid. But it did catch my attention ... and that's the first challenge of advertising.

The IAP also said the sexual innuendo is part of a campaign based on these kinds of images, noting that the brand's web site itself describes the spring-summer ad photos as "sexually explicit." It's true ...the Tom Ford web site is explicit and I don't recommend clicking on it from your office. If you want to see a single ad for the company's new fragrance "Tom Ford for Men" click here ... but be forewarned ... it's very racy.

So while bordellos are using cartoon horses to sell sex, manufacturers are using sex to sell just about everything else.  Seems ironic. I wonder which type of ad works better?

I Could Have Included a Photo, but Even I Have Standards

And now for something truly disgusting ... which the majority of my readers seem to enjoy.

The Yukon during Gold Rush days was a notoriously rough-and-tumble place-and apparently it hasn't changed all that much. If you travel to Dawson City, Yukon, you may find yourself face-to-face with a local specialty, the Sourtoe Cocktail.

The drink contains something along the lines of a worm at the bottom of a tequila bottle-except that this something is a human toe. That's right. A severed human toe, preserved in salt, black and shriveled and topped with a fat yellow nail. Truly disgusting, but an essential part of the Sourtoe experience.

The "cocktail" consists of a shot of Yukon Jack Whiskey topped off with the toe. Drink the whiskey down and if the toe touches your lips you get a certificate naming you a member of the Sourtoe Cocktail Club. (Hey, over 65,000 people have conquered the challenge!)

There's a photo of the toe on the club's web site, if you really want to see it. This image may be out of date however, as the Sourdough Saloon has gone through several toes over the years. Trust me; you don't want to know how they lose those toes. But don't worry, they keep an extra one in the freezer ... really.

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