2010, 2011 PRSA WI Paragon Award of Excellence

About this blog

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.
My Background
What I Do
About Brown & Martin, Inc.

Email Updates


August 2009 - Posts

Drawing Conclusions From Marketing Stats

Chip Martin, Mannequin American

The Russian Solution to the Medical Insurance Issue?

Russia is grappling with a major public health crisis ... citizens are essentially drinking and smoking themselves to death. About a million Russians die each year from alcohol and smoking-related causes. Between 600,000 and 700,000 of those deaths are attributed to drinking alone.

Who's to blame? Maybe the government! Unlike other countries, Russia has refused to levy hefty taxes on cigarettes and alcohol to discourage smoking and drinking.

As a result:

  • The average Russian drinks 50 bottles of vodka a year.
  • A bottle of beer can be purchased on the street for less than the cost of a bottle of water.
  • Twelve million of Russia's 141 million residents have died over the past 15 years due to alcohol-and smoking-related causes.
  • A pack of cigarettes can be purchased for about 30 cents.
  • The average Russian male lives to be 60 years old, dying 15 years earlier than his American counterpart. Russian women die 13 years earlier than American women.

Although the country has launched a series of television commercials encouraging Russians to choose healthier lifestyles, many critics say this is of little benefit.

So far, Russian President Vladimir Putin has refused recommendations to raise taxes on cigarettes and alcohol, with some health critics saying the Kremlin would rather the Russian public stay "pacified and anesthetized."  I say it's Russia's way of handling the issue of medical insurance. As long as everyone dies an early death ... there's no need for costly long-term care. 

Booze Death Calculator

Let's be honest, Russians aren't the only ones who drink. So as a public service, you can click here to find out how many of your "drink of choice" it would take to kill you.  (See, I'm much more enlightened than the Russian government. I provide pre-emptive information.)

Thanks for Telling Your Friends

Readership of this blog rose 30% in August, which is a little surprising since it's the peak month for people to go on vacation.  But I have you, my readers to thank because it's word of mouth that increases readership. That and the fact that this blog is now on FaceBook, Blogged.com, Bloggers Choice Awards, and linked to many other blogs and additional social media venues.

As always, I continue to be the catalyst for attracting attention to the Brown & Martin, Inc. Web site, http://www.bmpr.com/, which got a 48% increase in traffic this month. I take full credit for that, but others say it's because B&M's Web site is continually updated with new content and informative white papers. Dale's Web site, http://www.dale-brown.com/ also gained 22%, probably because I linked to Dale's new Motivational Keynote video. (What would he do without me?)

But again, it's you who help increase loyal readership; so "Thank you," to all who have recommended this blog to others. For those of you who aren't carrying your share of the load, forward this blog to co-workers, friends, family, vendors, customers ... whoever. They'll thank you, and I'll be indebted to you. Come on it doesn't take much effort ... so do it!

Drawing Conclusions from Marketing Stats
For some reason, my blog followers send me a lot of condom-related marketing examples. Recently I found some research behind those examples to be very interesting.  Not surprisingly, marketers know what type of person buys specific brands of condoms.

Brand leader Trojan is known as the brand men grew up with, the "Boy Scout" of condoms, if you will, for its preparedness in the wallet. The No. 3 biggest brand, LifeStyles, is associated with the "partying lounge lizard." The No. 2 seller, Durex is somewhere in between. It's buyers are less likely to be a first-time condom buyer, more experienced, more likely to know exactly what he or she likes in "sexual health" products, more likely to be passionate and deeply involved with their partners. The company is using that niche in its new "That's My Pleasure" campaign breaking this month in Sports Illustrated, Maxim and other venues.  Below is a sample ad from that Campaign.

Interestingly, Durex market share is around 15%, compared with more than 70% for Trojan, 8% for LifeStyles and 13% for other brands.  So if I'm reading these statistics and the marketing information properly, there are a lot more people looking for one night stands than there are in long-term, meaningful relationships ... right? Just saying ...

We Never Made it Big, but we Know a lot of Others Who Did - No. 8

In the yellow shirt at the bottom right of the photo above is Pete Michaels, a talented New York area vent who has appeared many times at the Apollo Theatre and throughout the east coast. He's very talented and very funny. Go to his Web site to learn more.

At the bottom left side of the photo is our close friend Bob Rumba and his two look-a-like Mannequin Americans. Bob is more than a vent. He is a talented juggler, magician and balloon sculptor extraordinaire. He's perhaps best known for his walk-around impressions of Charlie Chaplin, Groucho Marks and Barney Fife ... all hilarious.

The lady in the middle with the two puppets on her lap ... Oh, wait a minute. Those aren't puppets. I'm bad.

To the upper left is retired Chicago vent, Bob Isacson. To say the Bob is one of the "nice guys" doesn't do him justice.

Bob, Bob and Pete are all on the Advisors Board of Vent Haven Museum.

The most gratifying thing about this photo to me is that there are so many young vents in it. Within the past few years, Jeff Dunham, Jay Johnson, Terry Fator, Kevin Johnson and others have helped to significantly increase the exposure, popularity and status of the art of ventriloquism.  As a result, an increasing number of young people are trying their hands and mouths at ventriloquism ... which is a very positive thing.  (Let's face it ... it must be pretty easy or Dale would never have been able to do it.) In any event, the conVENTion has evolved to have more workshops aimed specifically at beginning and younger vents, which has helped attract and meet the needs of this new, young audience.

A Worthy Marketing Contest

Chip Martin, Mannequin American

A Worthy Marketing Contest
American Airlines and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD) are pleased to announce the creation of the "Altitude Award" honoring the best U.S. television commercials featuring authentic depictions of people with disabilities.

"One of the highest priorities at American Airlines is our continuous endeavor to promote workplace diversity and inclusion and equal employment opportunities for all individuals," said Dan Garton, Executive Vice President - Marketing. "We are looking forward to reviewing all of the entries and know that our judging panel - and the public - will have many worthy commercials to consider."

Kudos and I hope that they receive scores of entries.

A Very Rewarding Ride
Dale and Leslie recently took part in the Wisconsin Corvette Club's 27th Annual Wheelchair Camp ride-alongs at Camp Wawbeek, an Easter Seals facility in Wisconsin Dells. The camp is for men and women who are confined to wheelchairs due to muscular diseases.

Sixteen Corvette owners gave camp attendees the opportunity to experience what it's like to "burn a little rubber" and ride in exotic supercars. 

"When we arrived at the camp, there were scores of people waiting for rides," said Leslie. "Attendants lifted individuals into the cars, sometimes having to find room for breathing equipment and other life sustaining apparatus. Everyone who wanted a ride, got a ride. Some took rides in several of the cars. The smiles on every rider's face remained as they were lifted back into their wheelchairs."

"It seemed like such a simple gesture to us; yet it was obvious that it meant so much to the campers. It was a very rewarding and at times, an overwhelming experience ... one that Dale and I are looking forward to repeating next summer.

"A big "Thank you," to the Wisconsin Corvette Club and Camp Wawbeek, for giving us the opportunity to meet and spend time with so many inspiring individuals."

What Famous Person Do You Relate to Most?

Answer the following questions.

1. Pick your favorite number between 1 - 9

2. Multiply your favorite number by 3

3. Then add 3

4. Then multiply by 3 ... (I'll wait while some of you get a calculator)

5. You should have a 2 or 3 digit number

6. Add the digits together

Match your number with the number on the list below to see what famous person you relate to most closely.

1. Albert Einstein
2. Nelson Mandela
3. Margaret Thatcher
4. Tom Cruise
5. Bill Gates
6. Gandhi
7. Oprah Winfrey
8. Barack Obama
9. Chip Martin
10. George Washington

Be sure to tell your friends!

We Never Made it Big, but we Know a lot of Others Who Did - No. 7

On the left is Bill DeMar, who is regarded by other vents as the "master" of puppet manipulation.  In fact, in his ventriloquist act, Bill uses a frog that never speaks ... but is very funny none-the-less and it's entirely due to Bill's phenomenal manipulation skills. (He stayed at our house a couple of times and I can truthfully say that I've never felt so good being manipulated. I wanted to go home with him.)

Bill is retired now and his puppets are generally secluded in their cases. He began his career after being discharged from the service. He worked at resorts, clubs, bars, strip joints, theatres and virtually anywhere he could. Stories about his experiences on the road, brushes with mobsters and backstage shenanigans are priceless.

In the middle of the photo is Bill's Mannequin American double, made by Mary Ann Taylor.

On the far right is Roy White, who owns the Bill DeMar character and who provides the puppet with a remarkably accurate Bill DeMar voice and many DeMarism anecdotes.

There's Classy and Then There's  ...
Below is a one line funeral-themed ad for Accuquote. It's tasteful, considering the subject matter.

Now here's another "death-related" banner insurance ad courtesy of Drudge. "Everyone Dies." Nice toe tag. Not so classy.


Banning Things is a Boon for Sales

Chip Martin, Mannequin American

Banning Things is a Boon for Sales

Few statements have the marketing allure of "Banned in Alabama." What people read is "Hey! A bunch of intolerant rednecks can't handle this, so you just know that it's gotta be cool!"

So it goes with the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board telling stores and restaurants in the state to stop serving Cycles Gladiator wine because of the offensive label ... (pictured above, because I'm not offended.)  The board cites nudity as its justification. But the truly shocking thing about the art nouveau label is how completely harmless it is; if you've ever been to a museum and seen, well, anything, you'd write the label off as innocuous.

The AP reports: "Bill Leigon, president of Hahn Family Wines in Soledad, Calif., said Thursday that visits to the company's Web site have increased tenfold since news of the ban broke late last week, and callers from across the country have been asking where they can buy the wine.

Because of the increased interest, Leigon is developing store displays that say ‘Banned in Bama' and ‘Taste What They Can't Have in Alabama.'

Electronic Ads That Caught My Eye

Here's a link to a brilliant five-minute spot in which Robert Carlyle, in a single continuous take, narrates the progression of Johnnie Walker whiskey from the backroom experimentation of a humble shopkeeper to the multinational powerhouse it is today. It's among the best ads of the year. It must be. It's the first time I've ever sat through a 5 minute ad. Because it a continuous take, its amazing that Mr. Carlyle is able to reach specific spots along the trail at just the right moment in his dialog. I can't imagine how many times he had to make that walk. Thanks to AdFreak.

We'd all like to live in a world where we'd never have to look over our shoulders to see who might be lurking in the shadows, preparing to do us harm. This recruitment ad for the Milwaukee Police succeeds because it subverts our expectations, eschewing a violent and loud ending in favor of a subtle and quiet surprise. This spot effectively speaks to those who might consider taking steps to help make that world a reality. And in Milwaukee, it's working. 

We Never Made it Big, but we Know a lot of Others Who Did - No. 6

Here's a photo of Dale with a replica of Fats, the puppet that starred in the movie, Magic, with Anthony Hopkins, Ann Margaret and Burgess Meredith. Magic single handedly set ventriloquism back 20 years by making "dummies" scarier than clowns. After seeing the movie even I began to look under my bed suitcase at night. Click here to see the movie's trailer.  It's still scary even after all these years.

I'm sorry that I don't know the name of the young fellow holding Fats. But I'm sure our friend Tom Ladshaw, who can be seen in the background, knows.

When a "Name" Says it All
London Fog recently announced that international supermodel, Gisele Bündchen will appear in London Fog® brand's fall marketing campaign (sample below). The marketing campaign will debut in October issues of fashion, lifestyle and entertainment magazines, outdoor billboards and online.

There's truly strong brand recognition when all a company has to do is put its name over a half dressed woman, to sell itself.  I wonder if I could use the same approach?


Or maybe this would be more appropriate.


I think I just came up with my next direct mail campaign. Excuse me while I go Twitter Miss Piggy to check on her availability.

Special Fund Raising Opportunity for Service Clubs and Non-Profits

If your non-profit organization is looking for an opportunity that will provide:

  • Great fundraising returns for very little effort
  • High community profile for your organization
  • An event that people will enjoy and remember ...

then click here for a special offer from yours truly.

Dale said you have to be pretty old to get this cartoon ... and he certainly qualifies. As for me, I'm proud to say that I have absolutely no idea who Alice Kramden is or why she's on the moon.

This Got My Attention

Chip Martin, Mannequin American

This Got My Attention


I'm cruising through my inbox to rid it of items our spam filter missed ... newsletters I didn't sign up for, Nigerian-style scams (which, somehow still make their way through), travel deals, etc. Then I stumble upon a press release featuring an image of a woman bent over with her head in a box and wearing nothing more than heels, and underwear. I pause and wonder, "Huh?"

The email was all about improving your summer wardrobe with a visit to Rue La La, "a private two-day sales boutique of the most desirable designers at 30-80% off retail prices."  Not my cup of tea, so I didn't go to the Web site. But I'm a sharing Mannequin American so I'm sharing the image with you. Thanks to Adrants for heads up about Rue La La.

This is Useful

Okay, 1-800-Goog-411 is free and it's cool. Call, 1-800-466-4411 from anywhere, say your location and say the name or type of business you're looking for, and Goog connects you. For instance, say, "Waukesha, WI ... Pizza Delivery," and Goog will start listing all of the pizza places that will deliver to where you are. You select one and Goog places the call for you. It has many other cool features. Put it in your phone's memory and I guarantee that you'll use it.

Click here to see a 30 video on how it works.

This is Stupid

This Makes Me Look Stupid
Svedka Vodka lets you make yourself or someone else into a bot at

Below is what I look like as a bot.  Sort of looks like I'm wearing a condom on my head, doesn't it? I have no idea how this sells Vodka ... but after seeing myself, I need a drink.

We Never Made it Big, but we Know a lot of Others Who Did - No. 5

Above is a photo of Dale with our friend, Robin. The two met up at this year's International Ventriloquists' Convention ... which I wasn't allowed to attend. Robin has years of experience promoting comedians, rock bands, TV shows, Broadway plays and much, much more. A snap shot of some of his bio includes:

Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special (2008) (TV) (promoter)

Jeff Dunham: Spark of Insanity (2007) (TV) (promoter)

The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour (2007) (V) (executive producer)

Dennis Miller: The Raw Feed (2003) (TV) (live event promoter)

Chris Rock: Bigger & Blacker (1999) (TV) (live event promoter)

Dana Carvey: Critics' Choice (1995) (TV) (concert promoter)

Robin is also a Broadway producer and has been nominated for a Tony Award. If you know him, you love him. If you don't know him, be very, very afraid of him. I've seen his job and I wouldn't want it. I've watched him walk up to an obnoxious drunk in a sold out arena and scare the guy sober.

More Posts Next page »