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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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October 2008 - Posts

Axtell Puppet Challenge

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
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. For information on this puppet's background, go to http://www.dale-brown.com/.

Make Face Time

Right around the time subway riders and air travelers are experiencing withdrawal symptoms from lack of Internet connections they may look up and notice ads encouraging them to "power down, log off, unplug ... make face time." The brand with the temerity to tell us to disconnect from our totally wired lives is Dentyne chewing gum. (It's a cute web site. It shuts down after 3 minutes to force you to go out and "Make Face Time.")

The campaign, called "Make face time," features happy people embracing and kissing - their breath presumably freshened by Dentyne - as an alternative to pounding their BlackBerrys or sending electronic messages to their Facebook friends.

The strategy could be a gamble, as the ads are aimed at the people who are most passionate about these digital tools. But I hope it works because it's a refreshing approach. Also I'm tired of tightly gripping the steering wheel of my car because in my review mirror I can see the young lady behind me is paying way more attention to her cell phone call than to her driving.

2008 Axtell Puppet Challenge
For the second year Axtell Expressions is sponsoring the
"Axtell Puppet Video Challenge." The purpose of this contest is to show the world how fun and entertaining it is to use and watch Axtell puppets, and to showcase new talent.  First place winners in the ventriloquist categories (there's a puppet division too) will receive cash prizes plus an invitation to appear with Terry Fator in Las Vegas. Videos must be at least 1 minute long and not over 2 minutes long. Last year the contest attracted many creative and very funny videos.

To add to the prestige of the contest, Steve Axtell has gathered an unbelievably impressive list of judges. Here they are.

Jay Johnson, Tony Award winning star of Broadway's "The Two and Only" and TV star of "Soap."

Ronn Lucas, Vegas Headliner and author of Better Living Through Ventriloquism.

Kevin Johnson, America's Got Talent Favorite Runner Up, cruise ship and LegoLand performer.

Clinton Detweiler of Maher Ventriloquist Studios (just about all professional vents have ties to Clinton).

And oh, yeah, the guy above is also a judge. Well, there goes all the credibility Axtell was looking for.

Check out the Web site at http://www.axtell.com/ to view the entries which are due by Nov. 15. Better yet, give an Axtell puppet a home and make your own video!

Three Very Funny Commercials
Thanks again to AdRants for these.

Everyone has experienced an embarrassing moment when our parents found out about that not so straight and narrow thing we did for play or for work. When it occurs, you just want to bury your head and forget your parents even exist. In this commercial for Renault, that notion is put to use but with a twist. Because the Renault Twingo is a modern car for modern times, moms who drive them are also modern and don't have a problem with their daughters making a few extra bucks in a job one wouldn't usually include on their resume. Twingo. We live in modern times.

is a product that football players put over their shoes so that they don't slip when walking on cement or tile. (I had no idea there were such things.) This online ad for Cleatskins starts out like a typical sports gear spot. It all seemed very made-for-TV. And then the end happened, and then I laughed, because this is the kinda stuff you can do on the 'net that you can't risk doing on television.

Not one to sit idly by while its nemesis gets a $300 million makeover, Apple is out with two new commercials, one of which directly comments on the amount of money Microsoft is spending on its current advertising campaign. In the ad, we see PC divvying up Microsoft's budget allocating the lion's share to the ad campaign and a minuscule amount to fixing Vista's problems. It's pointed commentary on the all too common viewpoint that advertising can cure all ills. This will probably be one of my favorite commercials of 2008. Brilliant and funny.

And now a Public Service Message
See what happens?
(Thanks to whoever sent this to me.)


The Professor is an Idiot

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
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. For information on this puppet's background, go to http://www.dale-brown.com/.

I Denounce the Professor as an Idiot
I usually take a wide berth of any type of political marketing gimmicks or issues. But the Sarah Palin action figure caught my eye.

HeroBuilders.com has made three action figures of the Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate. The figures include the Sarah Palin business figure, complete with glasses, a suit and her hair pulled back in a bun. The Sarah Palin hero action figure looks like something from the movie "The Matrix," with a long black coat opened to show a gun holster on her thigh. And the Sarah Palin School Girl ... which is raising eyebrows and feminists' ire because the risqué doll dons a red bra and a short skirt.

Kathleen Angco-Vieweg, an assistant professor of sociology at American International College in Springfield, Mass., denounced the dolls as "sexist." I quickly denounced Ms. Angco-Vieweg as an "idiot."

No one was paying much attention to any of the dolls until Ms. Angco-Vieweg and others condemned them. Earth to Ms. Angco-Vieweg ... it's a joke. It's an election year. There are more socially damaging McCain and Obama things for sale on the internet that are way worse than being sexist ... they're just plain "wrong" in almost every sense of the word. Where was your indignation and outrage when those things went on the market?

It's a doll. (I know this because you can see plastic joints where her knees should be.) She's a public figure. (I know this because I saw her on Saturday Night Live.) Ms. Angoc-Vieweg needs to get a life. (I know this because she has a hyphen in her name.) Man I'll be glad when this election is over.

Here's Something for the Professor to Denounce
Wing Women is a company with offices in New York and Las Vegas that sells women for $75 an hour to accompany men who need help getting dates. That's right. The women go with the "clients" and try to help them pick up other women for future dates. Huh?

Anyway, here's what the Web site says about women.
"Women are attracted to men who have women around them ..." (in other words, women can't be trusted)
"Women want what they can't have."
"Women are very jealous and love to compete with one another."
"Women tend to lower their defenses around men who have other women around them."
.. and the generalities go on and on and on. You should click on the link above and see for yourself what else they have to say about women.

I for one find all of these statements "sexist." So Professor Angco-Vieweg, why don't you forget the "fake" Palin doll and denounce this "real" woman-owned company?

Yes, I Give a Hoot
The professor really isn't going to like this.

This little bit of editorializing isn't for the 800 or so of my blog readers who don't live in WI. But you may still find it interesting. After all, you probably aren't even aware that Brookfield, WI exists. And I'm sure that you don't know that it's the moral-watchdog capital of the world. At least some aldermen think it is.

First, let's put things in perspective. Millions upon millions of adults and children watched the Olympics. And according to TV ratings, women's beach volleyball was second only to swimming in popularity. I have no idea why.

Okay, I have a fair idea why ... it was the uniforms ... or lack there-of.

Now compare what was on display on TV for adults and children all over the world to see with what lurks behind the walls of a true den of iniquity ... Hooters.

Yes, folks, some elected officials in Brookfield, WI want to shine the national spot light on our state and hold it up to ridicule by trying to block a Hooters from opening in this fair city.  Their reason ... they're protecting "the children." You see, there's a grade school within a mile of the place. I want to throw up. But more importantly I want to go to Hooters.

Hooters is a restaurant. Yes, the name is suggestive and the women a little provocative.  But there's nothing lethal or corruptive about a Hooters. As my friend Gene Miller said, "Don't sweat the atmosphere or the proximity to classrooms. Worry instead about your cholesterol."     

Folks have a right not to like a Hooters ... and they can vote with their wallets by going somewhere else.  As for the kids? They can just walk on by ... no that's not right ... kids don't walk anywhere anymore. So they can ride by in their parents' cars. There are no sidewalks near the proposed site anyway.

Two restaurants, Bombay Bicycle Club and Pedro's failed at the facility now owned by the Hooters franchise. Hooters will not fail. It will attract business and be successful. And if other Hooters are any indication, (and why shouldn't they be?), Brookfield's Hooters will sponsor charity events, donate to civic causes and in general be the type of involved business citizen that the Chamber of Commerce would like others to emulate.

Of course this is the same group of elected officials that made La Quinta repaint its new hotel, because some people didn't like the shade of "pink" used on portions of the building. It is now the only La Quinta in the country not painted to normal corporate standards. Boy those elected officials really protected the citizens with that ruling, didn't they? Professor Angco-Vieweg would fit right in with this group.

Give me a frigging break. The people of Brookfield better show a little common sense by putting elected officials in office who care about real issues.

Adult Muppet Movie on the Way

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
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. For information on this puppet's background, go to http://www.dale-brown.com/.

Not All Businesses Are Down

Hershey Co.'s third-quarter earnings nearly doubled to $125 million from $63 million a year ago. How, you ask? The company increased its marketing budget. In a down market, the company increased its promotion budget, gaining market share and doubling profits. Its marketing budget will be up about 25% for the full year and as a result Hershey Co. has turned the tide on its share loss to rival Mars.

The company focused its marketing efforts on Hershey's Bliss, Reese's, Twizzlers and Kit Kat brands, as well as international markets. Hershey has vowed to increase ad spending by another 20% in 2009. See ... marketing can work in a down economy when it's done right.

New Muppet Movie Aimed Strictly at Adults

Many past Muppet-related projects and movies have aimed at least partially, at adult audiences.  Some, such as Puppet Up! and Tinseltown are "R" rated and target only adults. These do not come from Disney. They come from the Jim Henson Company's "alternative department," which is a division of Henson's that basically develops projects not for kids.

Brian Henson, Co-CEO of Jim Henson Company and one of the late Jim Henson's sons will direct a new movie, titled The Happytime Murders. (Brian also heads up the hilarious, comedy club Puppet Up! improv group.)

The Happytime Murders will take place in a special type of world where humans co-exist with puppets. However, the puppets are viewed as second-class citizens. And when members of the famous '80s The Happytime Gang start to get murdered one by one, "a disgraced puppet LAPD detective turned private eye - with a drinking problem, no less - takes on the case." (Sounds a little like Roger Rabbit, doesn't it?)

The movie is being described as having a comedy side to it, sort of like Broadway's Avenue Q. I'm still waiting to be asked to do a part in the movie. ... Still waiting ... Still waiting ... Maybe they don't know that Kermit is a personal friend of mine?

Thanks to Lauren Brown for tipping me off about this new movie.

Does This Sell Milk?

There are quite a few video oddities at Must Drink More Milk for the British Columbia Dairy Foundation. The short videos are aimed at touting the "strengthening qualities" of milk.  Some are actually disturbing ... scary. Some are funny. Others use an over abundance of bodily function jokes. See for yourself and let me know which one is your favorite. Mine is the deck of cards.

Honda's Musical Road "Turned Off" After 18 Days

Ken Gibson can tell you that it's a little eerie to hear the "William Tell" overture float through your bedroom window at 2:00 in the morning. He first thought the noise was a neighbor playing a xylophone. His neighbor was convinced it was a ghost. Across West Avenue K in Lancaster, two others thought the noise was the high school marching band.

They all soon learned that the tune was coming from a musical road installed by Honda Motor Co. designed to play the overture when Honda Civics and other cars drove over it, as part of a marketing campaign targeting younger folks. The first musical road in the U.S. is featured in Honda commercials that began this month.

The roads feature intermittent grooves similar to rumble strips on highways. The grooves are spaced so that a series of pitches play when a car drives over them. While some residents of the (usually) quiet neighborhood thought the music was great, others thought it got old quickly. After getting complaints, the city decided to cover over the grooves that made the road sing -- just 18 days after it was installed.

But the experiment isn't over. Lancaster officials liked the attention the city received as a result of Honda's road and are considering bids from Wal-Mart and other potential sponsors to build another musical road in a different location. This time, they're hoping to get more revenue out of it.

Ringtones ... Who Needs Ringtones?

The IT guys in our office asked me to include this on my blog. I thought this was a hoax until I went to the Web site ... it's real. You can purchase "Call Me" panties for $9.95 each and your holiday shopping will be done. The wearer is supposed to set their phone to vibrate. According the Web site the panties are made from the "finest material and construction." But after viewing the rather erotic videos that demonstrate the product, you probably won't care what the product is made from.

The Importance of Packaging

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Puppet
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. For information on this puppet's background, go to http://www.dale-brown.com/.

Will Work for Cash

Did you know the entire cosmetics industry was born in the depths of The Great Depression? It's true. It seems that offering ladies a little inexpensive luxury made the people who sold lipstick, rouge and eye makeup extremely wealthy. Other products that provided entertainment value, like movies, or any respite from the daily deluge of bad news, did great too.

Following the logic of history, today's economic climate should be a boon for my line of work. Those in charge of banquets, company awards functions, holiday parties, conventions and other events that could benefit from side splitting humor presented by a well known Mannequin American like myself, will surely be calling.  My December is only half booked, so there's still time to make your event a memorable one.

 ... ... I'm waiting ... ... Still waiting ... ... Do you have my number? It's 262-789-1565! ... ... #@$%&*^% ... ... Someone check to make sure the phones are working!  ... ... Tell you what; I'll even bring Louie.

Okay, now somebody's got to call!  ... ... That does it! I'm going to start selling Avon.

Unbutton Your Beast??

I have no idea why Levi's resorted to grade school humor with Unbutton Your Beast to try and convince consumers to purchase their brand.  The Web effort allows visitors to create e-cards by choosing one of nine different "trouser snake" animated characters with names like Trout Troutman and Sock Nasty, which then pop out of the button-fly of 501 jeans. The effort is geared toward young men just out of college, according to Levi's. It has drawn lots of traffic and attention but also lots of criticism for its suggestiveness ... no kidding, duh.

In a sure sign the campaign has buzz, Jay Leno spoke about it during his Tonight Show monologue. Referring to one of the character options, Paul the Pincher, Leno said, "Let me tell you something, if you've got a crab claw coming out of your jeans, you might want to unleash some penicillin."

I included this Web site calamity on my blog to demonstrate that when compared to a lot of the "marketing" going on, my comments and views seem pretty tame.

Packaging Can be Everything

Dan Aykroyd has released a new premium vodka called Crystal Head Vodka. It's a quadruple-distilled vodka made with "pure Newfoundland water triple filtered through herkimer diamonds," (which are actually crystals).

It's hard to deny the effective marketing "hook" ... the bottle. It's a stunning crystal skull (that's apparently accurate to the real thing). The site has a series of videos in which Dan Aykroyd delves into both the mystical and the archaeological. And Phil Power talks about the actual distillation process. Dan explains his fascination with the invisible world and how Crystal Head Vodka ties in with the story of the 13 Crystal Heads that have been unearthed at various times on our planet... from the Yucatan to Tibet. The heads are believed to emit positive energy, good will and prosperity. I believe the vodka will emit huge headaches if consumed in large quantities.

Click on the link to find out where the vodka is sold.

What's Happening at the Zoo?

This ad form the Santa Fe Zoo caught my attention ... then after a couple of beats it made me smile. (Sometimes I'm slow to get the obvious.) The purpose of the campaign is to get more people to take nighttime tours of the zoo. The copy reads, "Animals also have fun at night."

Are Pro Athletes Paid Too Much?
The total projected payroll for the Washington Redskins this year is $116,901,818 ... the highest in the NFL. That's a lot of money. But to put a little perspective on that number, which is split among 50-plus players, Tiger Woods is projected to hit the $1 billion mark in career earnings by 2010. Tiger remains at the top of the Forbes Top-Earning Athletes list ... while not a single football player makes the top 10. 

Personally, I think athletes who play on "teams" are generally overpaid anyway.  Golfers, tennis players, bowlers, dart throwers and others who compete as individuals, have to rely completely on their individual skills, dedication and ability to constantly deliver under pressure.  Their pay is based strictly on results. No guaranteed contracts. I'd like to see "team" players and politicians work under similar systems. 

(I have to be honest. Someone is going to have to explain this one to me. I don't get it?)

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