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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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July 2008 - Posts

More Convention News

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

All Mannequin Americans Do Not Look Alike
For all of you racists out there who think all Mannequin Americans look alike, take a close gander at the snapshot below of puppets and their partners. No two are alike. If you look real close, just to the left of the yellow sign is Jimmy Nelson (burgundy shirt) with Danny O'Day.  Jimmy's wife Barbara is holding the famous Farfel. Both puppets appeared in hundreds of commercials for Nestles.  Remember the song "N. E. S. T. L. E. S. ... Nestles makes the very best ... Chooooocoolaaaaate."  Jimmy has been a good friend for a long time and was instrumental in helping Dale land one of his first television appearances. But that's a story for another day.


Oh look! There's Dale and Louie amongst the sea of puppets and people holding puppets. I bet you had no idea that there were this many personality-deficient people in existence.

Anti-binge Drinking Ad Gets the Point Across ... Maybe

You wouldn't start a night like this so why end it that way? This 20 second anti-binge drinking ad is poignant ... but probably only to those of us whose memories of college are a bit fuzzy. I have no idea if it reaches its target audience. But kudos for a good attempt. Click on the link and see what you think.

"It Didn't Air Awards" Showcases Ads Killed by Clients

Jumping on the trend of awarding ads that never appeared, London International Awards launched a campaign to promote an award show for radio creative that never aired, appropriately called the It Didn't Air Awards (IDA).

It makes sense. There are similar awards for TV Commercials and print ads that were never used because they received a "thumbs down" from clients. Often these are some of the most creative, (but admittedly edgy), marketing vehicles generated each year.

I can speak from experience when I say that there's nothing worse than busting your hump on a great piece of marketing only to see it go up in flames because one client representative didn't like it ... or more likely, didn't get it. And in the case of the IDAs, proceeds from the sale of event t-shirts and other items will benefit the Freeplay Foundation, an organization which is "committed to providing innovative and practical energy solutions ... to ensure sustained access to information and education via radio."

It's Hard to Insult an Irishman
I saw someone wearing one of these at the Vent Convention and I thought it was really funny. I immediately went online to find a photo to send to all of my Irish friends. No they weren't insulted. All but one immediately went online to purchase one. The one-percenter said they were too expensive ... imagine that.

Happy Anniversay
I would be remiss if I didn't pass on a belated "Happy Anniversary" to two of the nicest people in the world, Clinton and Adelia Detweiler. (I swiped this photo from Clinton's blog without asking ... so don't tell him.) The two celebrated their 53rd wedding anniversary last week. If you're part of the vent community, you know who these people are and you know the tremendous influence they've had on helping to perpetuate and grow the art ventriloquism. To know them is to admire them. To know them well is a precious gift. Our art form couldn't ask for better embassadors.

"Green" Billboards Work

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 background, go to

International Ventriloquists' Convention Draws Big Crowd of Dummies ... and Mannequin Americans
Almost 20% of the people at this year's International Ventriloquists' Convention were first time attendees ... which indicates that the art of ventriloquism is gaining in popularity thanks in part to people like
Jeff Dunham, Terry Fator, Jay Johnson, Ronn Lucas and others.

At our lecture on "Comedy Writing" we sold out of our "How to Write Comedy Dialogs for Vent Characters" book. So if you'd like to order a copy, click here. (You can also order our DVD at the same link, and our book "Making it Up As You Go ... Ad-Libbing and Audience Participation.")

America's Got Talent winner Terry Fator just couldn't wait to meet Dale and myself. Here Dale is explaining that I'm in the bar.

During the convention Terry introduced his newest puppet, Jazz Man. He had just picked the puppet up a few minutes before going on stage. The puppet is pictured below and is being held by its creator Tim Selberg. Tim also created Dale's Louie the Jockey puppet which Dale is holding. (I took the photo.) Terry left the figure with Tim because he wanted the headstick controls changed a bit.

In later blogs I'll include more convention photos and behind the scenes insights into what goes on at the International Ventriloquists' Convention. (If you get your money to me fast enough, I won't include any photos that I took of you in the hospitality suite. You all know who you are.)

People Who Make Fun of Themselves, Make Me Laugh

This is a very funny commercial in the classic style of the make-believe doctor giving make-believe medical advice. Former make-believe doctor Doogie Howser a.k.a. Neil Patrick Harris, vamps soap opera-style for Old Spice Pro Strength Anti-Perspirant. In the commercial, (the blue underlined word means you should "click" on it so you can laugh along with me) Harris plays up the fact he used to be a fake doctor and that, combined with the fact you do not need a prescription for Old Spice, makes it perfectly Okay for him to recommend it.

It's one of the better spoof-style commercials that's come along recently and it made me laugh.

But I also liked the spoof Old Spice commercials with Will Ferrell.

Old Spice must not have liked them as much because they're no longer on the Old Spice Web site. But if you click on the link you can see the entire series. Ferrell obviously ad libbed much of the dialog. And he did it as only Will Ferrell can. All that's missing is a puppet.

"Living" Billboards Attract Attention
To jazz up its Wimbledon sponsorship, HSBC commissioned two artists to make photographs out of growing grass. Brings a freakish new angle to "watching grass grow." If you click on the link you'll learn how the process takes place. Not funny, but interesting.  Kohler should employ this technique at its next major golf event.

And speaking of "living" billboards, McDonalds has incorporated live plants in a salad billboard. Passersby could watch the billboard grow and fill in.

McDonalds has also created a giant egg in front of some of their stores. The egg opens between 6:30 and 10:30 a.m., the hours breakfast is served at the restaurants. It's not your average billboard and it proves the worth of a medium that, while old, still has a lot of flexibility for creative use. See time-lapse photography of the egg opening here.

New Muppet Show on Disney

This news from our friends at Muppet News Flash. The Muppets will star in an all-new original television special coming to Disney Channel later this month. The Muppets have teamed up with popular Disney Channel stars - including Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale, Dylan & Cole Sprouse, Jonas Brothers and The Cheetah Girls - in the all-new television special "Studio DC: Almost Live!". The show is currently set to air in August (check local listings for details).

The special will feature singing and dancing, comedy sketches and the backstage antics of a fictional Disney Channel variety show.

The project was developed in order to introduce a new generation of fans to the Muppets - while keeping the classic feeling and tone that the Muppets are known for.  However, the original Muppet Show was aimed at an adult audience and considering the "stars" featured on the new show, it appears that this version may be aimed at the teen market. If so, that's disappointing. 

Back From ConVENTion

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 a look at my background go to

Ventriloquist Bill DeMar
Thanks to Clinton Deweiler's "Newsy Vents" blog for this information.

Our much respected friend and ventriloquist Bill DeMar has been doing his version of a "tape over the mouth" trick for 50 years. "Chuck Norwood" talks and continues to talk as a member of the audience puts multiple layers of tape over Bill's mouth! Yes, Bill is speaking for Chuck live - no recordings; no "plants" or "stooges"!

I've seen Bill do this routine many times, and it almost always results in a standing ovation. Now Bill has decided to sell the secret of his method and routine performance rights to a few individuals.

You can read about it here: http://www.cornellpublications.com/demarsecret.htm

Carrot Top Marketing

Here's a bit of street marketing for you. To promote a local farmer's market in Portland, OR, plastic linings in the shape of carrots are placed around the bottoms of nearby trees. In addition to the linings, which make the trees look like carrots, placards are placed over antennae of automobiles throughout the city making them look like barbecued vegetable skewers.

Everything You've Ever Wanted to Know About "Banner Ads"
Okay, we all want to know, "Who actually clicks on those flashing banner ads?" And "What exactly happens when you click on a banner ad?"

Well, it's been confirmed ... no internet user is safe where the banner ads dwell -- not even if you're the type who doesn't know the difference between J-Lo's lips and Angelina's lips. Unless you're strong enough to always look away, you can be had.

Click here and see a very clever 60 second video on "Man vs. Banner Ads." It's funny and it's educational.

Shredded Wheat with Strawberries Goes Sexy
What satisfies a hungry woman? Shredded Wheat with Strawberries, of course.
    In case you can't read the copy in the upper right corner, it says, "What satisfies a hungry woman?"

I showed this new ad to Dale and he said, "So that's what I've been doing wrong all these years. I thought it was me ... but obviously it's been the absence of Shredded Wheat with Strawberries."  He's an idiot.

Need a Beer Pouch Hoodie?

There were a ton of things to buy at Summerfest this year, but the beer pouch hoodie caught my eye.  Sold by Brew City Promotions these clever bits of clothing are guaranteed to give you an extra hand for another beer! But don't bend down to tie your shoe or your going to spill some beer!

June Sprints

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/.

I'm Not Really Here

I wrote this blog before leaving for the International
Ventriloquist Convention in Cincinnati, OH ... or more precisely, in Ft. Mitchell, KY a suburb of Cincinnati and home of Vent Haven Museum ... which at some point in the future will become my retirement home. But today I'm at the conVENTion. So while you're reading this I'm probably in a coma in my room, or in a bar preparing to be in a coma in my room. But it takes a lot to put me in a coma state because I have two wooden legs ... a very old joke.

When I get back I'll share stories and embarrassing photos with you. In the meantime here's some stuff that I collected for you before leaving for KY.

Why Do You Need a Web Site? Go to "No Grapes. No Nuts" to Find Out.

I've heard clients ask, "Why do we need a Web site?" Usually there are a number of very good reasons to have a Web site. But seriously, why does a cereal brand need a Web site? Well the guy on the Post Grape Nuts site, "No Grapes. No Nuts." Doesn't know either. But he tries his best to explain. And he's funny!

Be patient. After you get to the site you don't need to click on anything initially. Your tour guide, or more accurately your stand up comedian, will eventually walk out and begin talking to you and take you through his virtual world. Then you can click on the remote control device to move around. Click here to watch, learn and laugh. 

June Sprints at Road America
A racetrack can be a depressing place for a retired racecar driver. So I went along with Dale to keep him company when he decided to pay a visit to some of his old friends during the June Sprints at Road America. Dale has many memories of the Sprints. Once, when qualifying for the Sprints, he rolled his car over in the rain at Canada Corner ... something others had claimed "couldn't be done." That was before they saw Dale drive.

(Above, I played a trick on Dale once by putting my name on the Formula Continental that he drove at Brainerd, MN. He doesn't look very happy about it, does he? By the way, this photo was obviously taken before he rolled his SRF at Road America, because his helmet is still all shiny. After the rollover, the helmet in this picture was retired with nicks and scratches on top from the gravel trap that captured Dale's car. You wonder why drivers pay so much for their helmets? As racecar driver John Schaller once said, "What's your head worth?")

Dale's first June Sprints attracted a field of 90 cars. About twenty cars never made it to the finish line. Miraculously, Dale was able to finish ... I think on the same day he started.

Anyway, it was good to see so many of our racing friends at this year's Sprints.  Our first stop was at the paddock and under the "big top" of Elite Autosport. In the photo below, Dale (at the far right) talks with our buddy and SRF driver, Lance Mussler. Lance had a couple of close calls during the race, but ended up doing pretty well.

The Sprints attracted one of the largest fields of SRFs in history. A near record 85 SRFs took the green flag. The thought of being on the track with 84 other cars, all heading into the first turn at what some may deem a "stupid" speed, can cause drivers to ponder the intelligence of their choice of hobbies.  Below, Dave Shapiro appears to be praying to the race Gods before strapping on his racecar.

Once in his racecar, (below) Dave went into a trance, mentally picturing the start of the race and visualizing every turn, every shift and every pass.  Then he threw up.

I could only fit a handful of cars in my lens, but below are some of the SRFs heading into turn 5 on the first lap. You can see Dave Shapiro's 02 and Lance Mussler's 24 in the mix.  It was an exciting race with "lots" of action and "lots" of passing and "lots" of other stuff.  To say that you've raced at the June Sprints is something to be proud of. Special congratulations to our friend Bill Douglas who finished an impressive 14th out of 85. He must have been going too fast for me to get a picture of his car.

And another special congratulations to our close friend John Schaller, who finished 4th in the GT1 class. Below, John (yellow car) is in a tight battle with a competitor going into turn 5. 

This Will Keep You Busy

Okay, this should keep you busy until I get back.  Go to the Museum of the Obvious, a Duracell campaign that showcases obvious inventions, while cleverly promoting their products. The virtual site allows you to click on all kinds of things. Go to the "Featured Exhibit" and see what happens when you touch (click on) the item on the desk. Then play some of the games.  It's a good marketing site and a good way to waste some time ... and hey, you may learn something.

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