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


June 2010 - Posts

Strategies for Restaurant Web Sites

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

Strategies for Restaurant Web Sites

When you check out a restaurant website, what kind of information do you expect to find?

  • What's on their menu?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Where are they located?
  • When are they open?
  • How to reach them for a reservation?

Pretty simple stuff, right? So how come 50% of the restaurant websites I go to waste my time and their money on irritating flash animations, music, movies, and pages of stuff that potential customers don't care about?

Take it from a Mannequin American marketing professional ... here are some things that should not be part of a restaurant's website:

  1. Flash animated intro pages. Please, I just want to check out your menu or get your phone number. I don't need to see the logo assemble itself letter by letter, or be greeted with a soft-focus slide show of dishes cycling painfully slowly with misty transitions.
  2. Automatically playing any music or any type of sound ... ever. It's annoying. And it busts people at work who want to fantasize about where they're going to eat later.
  3. Listing basic info under "clever" navigation headings. Make it easy to find your address and phone number on the first page without making people guess what to click.
  4. Not listing prices. At least provide a sample menu with sample prices so people can gauge what they're getting into when going to eat at your place.
  5. Info that's not in a format that can be cut and pasted so that I can easily email the address and phone number to my friends inviting them to join me for dinner.

If you're a restaurant marketing consultant, please feel free to copy this list and use it to improve your clients' web sites. You're welcome.  Better yet, go to Barnacle Buds website and see how simple it is to get it right.

While We're on the Hospitality Industry

Dale was sitting at a bar last weekend (surprise) ... actually he was nursing a 7 Up killing time before we performed at a company's awards banquet. A former bartender himself, Dale asked the lady behind the bar what her pet peeves were when it came to inappropriate customer behavior. Not surprisingly, we learned that bartender irritants haven't changed much over the years.

According to surveys here is a list of the top 5 things that annoy bartenders.

  1. Don't snap your fingers or pound your glass on the bar to get the bartender's attention. These actions consistently top the list as a way to quickly get on a bartender's bad side. 
  2. Don't use your phone to order a drink. Apparently some people shove their phones in the bartender's face and ask them to make drinks off apps. Don't do that if you want to keep your phone in working order.
  3. Don't bark orders. Be considerate. When a bartender asks, "How are you?," don't answer "Manhattan."
  4. Don't flag down the bartender until you know what you want. Here's a big pet peeve. The bartender is called over by a group of customers and then none of them are ready to order. Service to all other patrons is put on hold because the group is self-absorbed and rude.
  5. Don't dig your mitts in the garnishes. Bartenders constantly wash their hands. You do not.

There's an App For That?

App developer MEDL Mobile has just released an iPhone app to help men and women evaluate prospective sexual partners.

The app lets users draft profiles based on six categories of sexual likes, dislikes, positions, kinks and fetishes. Would-be sexual partners can then "boink" their phones together (using the same technology as the BUMP app, which lets users exchange contact information by bumping phones) to determine whether or not they would be good together in bed.

The best part about the app is that users' preferences remain entirely private; it simply reveals whether or not they would make good sexual partners with cheeky messages like "Drop what you are doing and get to a hotel right now" or "Turn and run away."

A Free Gift from Me to You ... Sort of

Are you in the need of a thong but don't have the extra cash required? You're in luck because I'm going to score you some underwear for free ... or rather American Apparel will give you a thong for free.

All you have to do is A) be over the age of 13 (isn't that a bit young to be thonging it?) and B) sign up for the American Apparel mailing list on their web site. Then you'll get a follow-up e-mail where you can tell them your size (available in XS to XL) and where the thong needs to be shipped. Go to American Apparel Newsletter Sign Up Form. You're welcome.

Mercedes Knows How to Use Humor to Sell Cars

Click here to see a rather funny Mercedes Benz commercial for the auto-maker's new BAS braking system. Once again, humor does a great job of getting the point across in about 20 seconds.

Say it Aloud

"Fred, you have acid reflux disease. I want you to try prescription ‘ass effects'."  The creatives who came up with the name for heartburn drug "Aciphex" seem to have forgotten to read their work aloud to catch any "odd sounding" phrases or words. Click here to watch the ad and you'll hear what I'm talking about.

She'll Want to Thank You 3 Times a Day ...

Apparently in the 50's all it took to get lucky 3 times a day was an In-Sink-Erator ... the "Everlasting gift." If only it were that easy today ... or ever. (And look at the way his wife is dressed while at home. Things sure were different in the 50's.)

Marketers Have Responsibility for ROI


A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

It Only Takes Time

I recently read an article by a "social media strategy consultant" about "how much time is needed to see solid social media success." The author (out of fairness I'm not going to use her name because it's easy to take Monday morning pot-shots at other people's work) rightly pointed out that "ROI is top of mind for most marketers using social media." But after that her credibility fell completely out of sight.

The author wrote, "Unlike some other traditional forms of marketing, when it comes to social media, your investment is more time than money." What? Obviously this self-proclaimed expert has never run a "real" company. A successful business must always view "time" in terms of ROI. Time literally is money.

Marketers have a responsibility to keep their eyes on the ball ... and the ball is ROI. Social media usage needs to based on the same ROI objectives that more traditional forms of marketing have been expected to produce.  It can be argued that true "return" is not always financial. But in the grand scheme of things marketing is expected to contribute to the bottom line.

That's Not a Jacuzzi

Thanks to copyranter: Okay, this commercial for Bristol Myers Squibb is just too funny not to take a moment to watch. It looks intimate. It's not.

Along similar lines, the print ad (above) for a pocket-sized air-freshener dispenser is a bit over the top.

While we're "over the top," the print ad above for Anchormar Spicy Sardine features what appears to be a farting sea gull. I think they're giving readers too much credit for being able to figure this one out.

And finally, from fart-enhanced marketing to bathroom-enhanced marketing, here's a print ad that advises, "Take Your Relationship a Step Backwards" for Tzamar Romantic Vacations for Couples. You have to admit, the photo forces you to take pause ...

Ventriloquist Ray Alan

English Ventriloquist Ray Alan died recently at the age of 79. Ray was famous for his act with monocled, upper-crust, inebriated puppet Lord Charles. I never met Ray, but I remember seeing him on a few variety shows and HBO's Block Heads. His technique was outstanding ... and he was funny.

Lord Charles was inspired by a boozy patron spotted by Alan at a table during a cabaret show. He later based the puppet's face on Stan Laurel, having performed with Laurel and Hardy on their last tour in 1954. (Did you know that Laurel and Hardy toured? I didn't.) 

Click here to see one of Ray's classic routines.


Non-Profits Don't Have to be Non-Funny

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

Non-Profits Don't Have to be Non-Funny to be Taken Seriously

Church blogger Eric Seiberling points to the Toyota "swagger" campaign and asks "can a church have swagger?"

An excellent point and great illustration that no matter who your audience is, they're probably...humans. And humans typically connect with content that is real, has humor and is engaging.

Churches and other non-profits with "serious" marketing messages, listen up! Just because it's serious, doesn't mean it has to be boring. The New York Public Library ... which is a serious place ... brought in Improv Everywhere to help raise awareness about their "Don't Close the Book" fundraising campaign. It gained a lot of attention and generated significant donations. Click here to see the Improv Ghost Busters rid the library of those pesky ghosts.

It's yet another example that:

  • Non-profit doesn't have to mean boring.
  • Non-profit doesn't have to be serious to be effective.
  • Non-profits can associate with fun.

If you cater to an audience of humans, they like to laugh every once in awhile. It's ok to let your brand associate with that, too.

Finding Humor During a Disaster

Fathers Day Gifts

Here's a comical Fathers Day ad that many dads can relate to.

Really? Dad always wanted a weekend at a nudist resort? Who knew? Mom sure didn't.

Make a Doody in Denim

Huggies is upping their fashion quotient with the US launch of Little Movers Denim Jean Diapers, a diaper with a printed pattern of simulated denim that includes stitched seams and back pockets. The new television spot doesn't mince words ... it gives us the straight poop, so to speak.

While the jeans diaper commercial was accepted by 13 networks, three others, ABC, ABC Family and Sprout, objected to screen text at the end of the spot that included the word "pooping." For those networks the text was changed to, "When you gotta go, go in style."

Click here to see the 30 second spot, which includes hilarious lines like "I poo in blue," "When it's full of number 2 I look like number 1," and "My diaper is full of Chic." What can I say ... I like poo jokes.

This Talented Baby Could Sell Anything

A snowboarding toddler?!?! I'm surprised an enterprising entity hasn't signed this family up to sell something baby-related, snow boarding-related or just about anything.

Click here to see a one-year-old girl shred the slopes. Aren't babies still trying to balance their heads on their bodies at that age?

Speaking of Babies

Does this look like a good idea? The Roller Buggy is a multi-functional baby carriage transformable into a scooter.

Through a simple pull of the lower body, it extends the normal baby carriage into a scooter, creating a "more sportive and faster transportation on various terrains and giving both parties a good time."

According to the manufacturer: Child safety - Roller Buggy has a specially-made hydraulic brake system with two disk brakes that allow to reduce the speed and to stop. There is also a safety belt on the child's seat. (There's a good idea.)

"She Could Have Been Such a Different Girl ..." (if only she had pooped)

 "Wrinkles and pimples may appear. Energy is sapped. Personality becomes flat." All because of constipation? You really have to read the copy above for yourself to get the absurdity behind this vintage ad for All-Bran.

Check Out These Boobs (NSFW)

Speaking of "absurdity." From Copyranter: The goal: Train 175,000 men how to examine women's breasts for lumps. The method: Let the men use their mouse to play with a model's boobs online. This video explains the project and shows you how it worked. Again, NSFW.

Celebrity Hand Puppet Theatre (NSFW)

Click here to see a 2 minute cartoon "Gerbil Celebrity Hand Puppet Theatre," featuring puppets Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump.  NSFW


Cheaters get Cheated

A Dummy's Puppet's Ramblings - from Chip Martin, Mannequin American

Life is Short ... Have an Affair?

The Monday following Mother's Day, Ashley Madison, a "dating" site for promiscuous married people, claimed over 31,000 women disappointed with their men "signed up to cheat." That's over 10 times the normal number for a Monday on a service that has almost 6 million members.  (There's so much morally wrong in that last sentence that I'm surprised my keyboard didn't catch on fire while typing it.)

That announcement got the Toronto based company a boatload of free PR, including an interview on Sean Hannity's Fox News program. Hannity took CEO Noel Biderman to task for being morally bereft and "pimping" his service. But a tweet from @ashleymadison later thanked Hannity for the service's biggest signup day ever ... 42,000 people, after the show. (My keyboard is definitely getting warm.)

Although the vast majority of the media attention toward Biderman and the site is negative, business is booming. In fact, the company offered Phoenix's Sky Harbor Airport $10 million to rename it Ashley Madison Airport. The city rejected the offer.

Biderman, a former lawyer and sports agent, a married man with two children who says he doesn't cheat, has clearly found himself a successful market niche. As he puts it, Ashley Madison is just a "platform." He didn't invent infidelity and his site doesn't cause people to cheat any more than divorce lawyers cause couples to split up. (Good line.)

But here may be the real problem. Is Ashley Madison a scam? People get to sign up for free, create a profile, and interact with each other by sending free "winks." But before they can actually communicate with each other in a robust way so they can actually chat and get together, they've got to sign up for a paid membership.

As it turns out, at least some of the "winks" that guys get, prompting them to sign up for a paid membership to communicate with the winking hotty, are never returned because, well, they're fake. They come from Ashley Madison. And the company states as much in its "legal" and "terms" section which, I'm guessing, most people never read:

"From time to time this service may include, offer, or initiate winks, collect messages or instant chat from Market Researchers (Online Hosts) simulating attached or single men or women. These efforts are conducted for market research and/or customer experience and/or quality control and/or compliance purposes. Market research information is used to provide analysis, feedback, trends, patterns, social commentary and information in the aggregate and aides in the process of monitoring our system for compliance of our operating standards and code of conduct. Accordingly, Market Researchers (Online Hosts) will NOT be conspicuously identified."

So in the end, many potential cheaters may be "cheated," in a manner of speaking. Seems fair to me.

Still Walking

I featured this six-minute film for Johnnie Walker about a year ago when it was first introduced. Now it has almost a half a million views on YouTube and it recently won best in show at the 35th annual One Show Awards ... following the receipt of a plethora of other awards.

The film was shot in a single take with no cuts and no camera tricks. It's impressive enough that I thought I'd post it so you can watch it again.

Guess how many takes were required to get the entire film done in one shot? Twenty? Thirty? Forty? Fifty five?  The answer is below the cartoon at the bottom of today's post.

They'll Protect Yours Better Than They Protected His

So confident is Lifelock in its $10-$15/month "identity theft protection service" that its CEO Todd Davis posts his social security number in its ads. Unfortunately, his identity has been stolen 13 times since doing so, reports the Phoenix Times. The FTC fined Lifelock $12 million in March for deceptive advertising.

Speaking of "Protection." Knock. Knock.


Oh, no! It's a tramp at the door. Let's shoot him!

This vintage ad claims women can go to the door "with confidence" with Iver Johnson Revolvers in their hands. I can't argue with that ... especially if she's holding a revolver.

Ads That Caught My Glass Eye

This Honda ad, encouraging Honda owners to "Use Original Parts" is attention-getting ... but that's about all.

From Adland: What's that under your nails? Eeeeeeew. Gross.

Playing on the idea "The Things You Touch Stay With You," Protex Antibacterial Soap, uses closeup images to show the stuff that's left on your skin until you wash your hands.

How can you ignore an ad that includes two "Hefs"? On the left is Hef the Magazine Magnet, and on the right is Hef the Chick Magnet. There's ever a 30 second TV commercial featuring the two Hefs. Click here to see it. Way to go Stoli.

From the Johnnie Walker post above: The first successful take was "take forty".

More Posts Next page »