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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 2010 - Posts

Time for a Re-Launch

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

Feel More "Joy"

The WSJ reports that sales of P&G's Pantene shampoo are down. So the company did some research and found, among other things, that 25% of women don't want to leave the house on a bad hair day. (I don't want them to leave the house either. Why should the rest of us have to look at bad hair?)

Armed with this information, P&G has re-launched four varieties of Pantene. According to one researcher, "Users of the new versions of Pantene reported more ‘joy' than those in the control group. New Pantene users gave especially high scores to four emotions ... 'excited,' 'proud,' 'interested' and 'attentive.'" So ladies, get excited. Be proud of yourself and of your hair. Try the New Pantene and let me know if you "feel the joy."

This is the Type of Protest I Like

Women in bikinis this week rabbled against the New York City transit system's ban of bikini-themed Georgi vodka ads from various bus routes in Brooklyn. Religious communities in that borough were apparently offended by the butt shots in the ads.

It is indeed a great day for the freedom to protest ... in bikinis.


They Have Hooters in Guatemala?


The "Camouflaged Hooters Ad" above was placed in a Guatemalan publication. It says it's a camouflaged Hooters ad right in the center of what on first glance would appear to be an ad for power tools. The disguised copy explains, "It's done this way so that your girlfriend doesn't find out that you are coming to our Happy Hour." And then goes on to give some details about their Happy Hour.  Clever ... unless you just turn the page thinking it's an ad for power tools.

Do We Need Smoked Salmon Flavored Vodka?

Because there is apparently a lack of meat-flavored vodkas in the world, a distillery in Alaska recently unleashed a version of the distilled spirit infused with the unmistakable taste of smoked salmon.

To make their fishy vodka, they smoke the fish then remove the skins and grind up the meat before mixing it with highly concentrated ethanol. This process produces a fluid that contains, "the flavor, rich color and essence of the salmon." The mixture is strained and added to vodka using a "cold infusion process." Then it is filtered a few more times before being bottled and shipped.

If you decide to try salmon vodka ... what am I saying? No one who is intelligent enough to read this blog is going to drink this stuff.

USPS Sends Package Coast to Coast ... Versus the 120 Mile Route

If you've ever wondered why the US Postal Service is running a $7 billion deficit, this story may provide some answers.

Above is a tracking report showing that a package sent from Bell, CA to Bakersfield, CA, a distance of 120 miles, actually traveled 5,586 miles. When the sender called USPS to ask why his package was sent across country and back, the rep said, "I cannot speculate on that." Her supervisor told Jonathan the same thing.

Government agency at work.

Dinner for Schmucks

Steve Carell's new movie, Dinner for Schmucks starts today. Our friend Jeff Dunham has a small role in the film. Click here to see the trailer #2.

Jeff told us that this is Carell's funniest movie to date. So be sure to check it out.

Above is a photo Dale recently shot of Jeff while he was showing the figure used in Dinner for Schmucks to other vents at the International Ventriloquists Convention. Jeff created the puppet. (I took her out for drinks afterwards.) She's now part of Jeff's tour show.

Segal Brings Back the Muppets

Jason Segal of How I Met Your Mother is currently fine-tuning a script for the new and, he hopes, franchise-rebooting Muppet movie.

Segal, who wrote the script for Forgetting Sarah Marshall, explains it this way. "Henson Company created the puppets for Sarah Marshall. And I was at the Henson Company, and I said, ‘Hey, while I'm here, can I maybe see a Kermit and a Miss Piggy?' And they got this kinda sad look, and they said, ‘Um, we don't have Kermits or Piggys. We sold everything to Disney.' And then I under stood why the Muppets have disappeared. The Muppets are something that really have to come from an individual's passion."

So Segal went to Disney and pitched an idea for a new Muppet movie and they bought it.

"Kermit was the original Everyman to me," Segal said. "The original Tom Hanks, the original Jimmy Stewart."

We wish him the best, because we miss the Muppets.

From Jay Walt

(Thanks to everyone who sent me this)

Did Jeff Dunham use Joe Biden as his inspiration when he created Walter? I doubt it. Biden hasn't inspired anyone to do anything, ever. Still, there is a remarkable resemblance.

She's Selling What?

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

You're Selling What?

Take a look at the photo above and tell me what it's selling.  Right! Lip gloss.

VH1 Charm School participant Saaphyri has a commercial video promoting her line of lip gloss called LipChap.

To be honest, from the video, lip gloss seems to be the last thing that she's selling. For those who care, the product is available in ten flavors from Bubble Gum to Cookie Dough to Strawberry to Watermelon. The line is sure to be a hit with middle school girls who want to be sexy before knowing what sex is really all about.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea

As distasteful as the lip gloss commercial may be to some, in advertising sometimes it's a better idea to use an attractive female model on a stripper pole instead of a ... monkey. The Gainomex ad would have been one of those times.

Click here to see a 30 second commercial for Gainomex Recovery ... whatever that is ... and I'm saying that after watching the commercial.

Coming Soon ... Right After These People Die

From Copyranter: You'd think this type of humor would be right up my alley ... but for some reason, it's not.

Londoners can walk into the Shock and Soul vintage clothing shop and scoop up discarded duds ... which seem to be coming back in fashion. But the print ad campaign puts a timeline on when you can expect to see the clothing in the store. "Coming Soon" and "In Store 3-6 Months" seem a bit callous and hurtful to me. But the campaign won some prestigious ad awards ... so what do I know.

Speaking of Old ...

What do Bic Pens, Jimmy Hendrix and an old woman have in common? The ad above for Bic Pens. The pen is in the upper left-hand corner. Jim Hendrix's autograph is on her left breast. And old is all over the place.

PETA Will Love This Ad

From Ads of the World: Continuing with distasteful ads, the PRIME network, uses what appears to be a Zebra wrap sandwich to promote "Man vs. Wild." I'm just guessing, but a few people may be upset with this approach.

Remember When U.S. Auto Makers Didn't Make Convertibles?

Dale used to own one of the FIAT (Fix-It-Again-Tony) Spiders featured in the 1970's ad above. (Out of necessity, his second car was a tow truck.) The ad points out that American car manufacturers had "stopped making convertibles" in the 70's, so foreign models were our sole sources for rag tops.

If you don't remember, proposed Federal laws regarding roll-over strength contributed to the decision by domestic manufactures to stop making convertibles ... giving the market to foreign manufacturers. Plymouth made their last full-sized convertible in 1966, Lincoln and AMC each made their last (respectively) in 1967, Dodge in 1968, Mercury in 1970, Ford in 1972, and Chrysler in 1976.

In the mid 80's, Chrysler re-introduced a couple of overpriced convertibles, but it wasn't until 1989, with the huge success of the Mazda Miata, that the big three got serious about producing quality convertibles ... taking back the market from foreign competitors.

No Headline is New

Just to show you how difficult it is to come up with an original concept, here's a recent, award winning billboard for the Mini that uses nearly the same headline as the previous Fiat ad that is more than 30 years old.


Beyond the Billboard

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

Progressing Beyond the Billboard

Technology is transforming old-fashioned billboards into tools that are far more interactive.  Today billboards change color or shift shapes, bus shelters interact with mobile phones and URLs drive eyes from a poster to a Twitter stream or Facebook fan page.

The Blue Man Group provides good examples of how traditional billboards can be replaced by a variety of 3-D montages. The Group often uses life-like replicas in humorous situations to attract attention.


Even our own Leslie Brown got to interact with a Blue Man replica in Las Vegas.

The Other White Meat ... Sue Me

I like pork. But the National Pork Board (NPB) has once again gone out of its way to make me want to seek out other meats.  I dislike any association or company that is without a sense of humor. I try to avoid them and their products.

The ever-vigilant NBP is out to put an end to the sale of Radiant Farms' canned unicorn meat. (If you want to go back and re-read that sentence, please do so.) It's not because they want to stop the slaughter of the one-horned flying horses ... it's because they say the product infringes on their "other white meat" trademark. You gotta be kidding me!

The unicorn meat in question is actually a fake product dreamed up by resident geeks at ThinkGeek.com for April Fool's. But the site's listing for the product read "Pate is passe. Unicorn -- the new white meat," and that was enough to bring out the Porker's legal cease-and-desist team. The Pork Board lawyers put some effort into their 12-page letter to ThinkGeek, prompting the site to issue a humorous public apology:

"It was never our intention to cause a national crisis and misguide American citizens regarding the differences between the pig and the unicorn. In fact, ThinkGeek's canned unicorn meat is sparkly, a bit red, and not approved by any government entity."

As usual, the group without a sense of humor ended up generating way more attention for the group that it attacked than ThinkGeek would ever have gotten on its own. I think that's called "Karma." To appease the Pork Board, ThinkGeek has now changed the slogan for Unicorn Meat to "Caviar is so 1980s. Unicorn is the sparkling, crunchy, savory meat of today's elite."

Officially Our Best-Ever Cease and Desist (ThinkGeek.com) is a link to the hysterical response to the NPB's Cease and Desist.

A Non-Offensive Pin-up Calendar

A hilarious and ingeniously appropriate promotional calendar targets physicians with different x-ray images for each month. It's part of a marketing campaign for high resolution medical imaging monitors on behalf of Eizo of Germany, a company that supplies high-end monitors for the observation and subsequent diagnosis of radiographs (x-rays).

The idea is so good that the calendars have been making the rounds of marketing blogs around the world.

More photos here. Ingenious.

Ventriloquism Provides Plots for Books, Comics and Movies

Ventriloquists and ventriloquism frequently make their way into the plots of movies, books, and comics. Movies like "Magic" with vent figure Fats and books like "Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy" with the puppet Slappy, tend to dampen legitimate vent business for short periods. 

But we always seem to bounce back. Besides, I know Slappy and he's a nice Mannequin American. Fats is as spooky and obnoxious as you'd expect him to be. I think he drinks.

Here's a picture of Dale standing next to a replica of Fats. Sorry I don't know the name of the young man holding Fats, but trust me, the replica is as spooky as the original.

Putting $ Where Your Mouth Is


After our lecture at the International Ventriloquists' Convention, we sold out of our recently revised "Putting Money Where Your Mouth Is ... How to Get Those First Paying Jobs as a Ventriloquist." But the books are now back in stock and available on our website. Just click here to go to our store.

Cool Comic

The Dell comic above shows Donald Duck using a parrot to help make his puppet talk. If you happen to have an original of this comic from the 50's, you're in luck because it's a very rare collectors' piece. (Call me. I know someone who would be happy to take it off your hands.)

If you run into other references to ventriloquists, pass them on to me. I'm always eager to find opportunities to make Dale look like a weirdo.

It's Easy to Sell Your Used Car

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

Now it's Easier to Sell Your Used Car

Here's a great web tool. The folks at Kelley Blue Book (KBB) have come up with a way to make it easier for regular people to sell their used cars. Their new Seller's Toolkit provides a set of easy-to-use tools that make it simple for anyone to advertise their vehicle across the social web ... from Craig's List to Facebook to Twitter to their own blogs ... and enable interested parties to get real-time value info with a click or a call.

KBB lets you create a printable window sticker that includes instructions to let interested buyers get the current KBB value with their mobile phones via text, voice or QR code. 

The kit also lets you build out a "digital window sticker" for your blog, website or social network profiles.

The KBB Seller's Toolkit even takes care of the tiny details like automatically generating Twitter and status updates and linking buyers directly to Kelley Blue Book pricing reports for the appropriate make, model and year. You can learn more or try it out for yourself at Kelley Blue Book.

Where People Are Coming From and Going To

Are people moving in or out of the county you live in? And where are they going or coming from? Here's how to find out.

Forbes has created a fun interactive graphic that shows where people are moving. Click on any county in the U.S., and the map illustrates where people are coming from or going to.

Red lines denote people moving out, and black lines show people moving in. What a fun way to show the places that people are escaping to or from. They even lined up a smart sponsor for the graphic: FlexJet.

Buy Solar ... Get a Gun

"Buy solar. Get a gun." Perfect for off-the-grid living survivalists, Bland Solar & Air, Inc. has a new deal offering every customer who buys a 3kW+ solar system a free firearm. Best cross-promotion. Ever.

The gun comes in the form of a gift certificate, which, "Depending on eligibility and legal status of customer he or she may use $400 certificate for credit toward gun, rifle, or ammunition or choose $400 rebate."

News You Won't Believe ... But It's True

Man With No Hands Required to Give Thumbprint

A Florida man was unable to cash a Bank of America check because the bank required a thumbprint, and he had no arms.

Steve Valdez says he was shocked when he was told he had to put his thumbprint on a check written on his wife's Bank of America check. Valdez says the check was written to him with the same address he has on his driver's license. Although he had two forms of identification, both with pictures, the bank still required Valdez to give a thumbprint before it would cash the check.  But that was impossible, because Valdez was born without arms and wears prosthetic devices.

When Valdez told the manager giving a thumbprint would be impossible, she suggested he either bring in his wife or open an account.

A bank spokesperson later said that the manager should have made an exception for Valdez. No duh!

Coffee is not an Aphrodisiac ... Can Cause Loss of Blood to the Brain

The Food and Drug Administration is urging consumers to stop using an instant coffee product that is being marketed as a sexual aphrodisiac, saying it could dangerously lower blood pressure.

The FDA said Magic Power Coffee contains a chemical that could interact with some prescription drugs to significantly lower blood pressure. When blood pressure drops suddenly, the brain is deprived of an adequate blood supply, which can lead to dizziness or lightheadedness. (Chip's Note: This is especially true for men because a lot of their blood is probably heading in the other direction anyway.)

"Because this product is an instant coffee labeled as an 'all natural dietary supplement,' consumers may assume it is harmless and poses no health risk," said Deborah M. Autor, director of FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Office of Compliance. "In fact, Magic Power Coffee can cause serious harm."

The FDA said it was not aware of any adverse incidents so far associated with the product.

Is That a Gun in Your Pocket or do You Just Want a Pizza?

Arizona passed a law that will allow people to carry concealed weapons without permits, which has nudged the state's restaurants to draft up policies about whether or not they'll let customers pack their pistols as they grab grub.

Pizza Huts in the southern part of the state decided to let customers tote their firearms inside, but won't let employees do the same. The Arizona Daily Star reports the decision is especially touchy because of a 1999 disaster in which thugs shot three Tucson Pizza Hut employees to death as they robbed the store.

Health Police Strike Again ... No More Bake Sales

New York's health police have found a new target: bake sales that schools use as fund raising events. The sales have already been limited to once a month, and barred during school hours. Now, the city's Health Department has warned parents that they need to look for other ways to raise dough.

The city agency has issued a booklet called "Yes, You Can! A Fresh Look at Healthy Fundraisers for Schools." Some of the suggested alternatives to cookies and cake include flowers, jewelry and student photos. (Give me a break.)

New Tax Will be a Boone for Black-market

New York City, which charges its own cigarette tax on top of the state and federal taxes, just passed another tax hike and is now the most expensive place to light up, with smokers paying $6.85/pack in taxes alone. In addition to the cigarette tax, the bill also raised taxes on cigars and chewing tobacco by 29%.

The government expects the tax hike to bring in around $290 million a year. The American Heart Association hopes it results in fewer smokers. Both will probably be disappointed. The real beneficiary will be the black-market, which is sure to provide cheaper smokes ... while providing no taxes to the city. Not to mention near-by New Jersey and Connecticut, which will benefit from New Yorkers who run across state lines for cheaper cigs.

Related Item

New rules regarding tobacco marketing recently went into effect as part of the Family Smoking Prevention and Control Act. Among the rules: No Candy or fruit-flavored cigarettes.

I understand the logic behind banning candy cigarettes. But having had them many years ago while still just a sapling, I think the real scam was candy companies being able to pass off chalk as candy.

Bicycle Film Festival

Parades are sometimes a good way to generate some publicity. The Bicycle Film Festival at the Anthology Film Archives includes a parade with bikes incorporated into everything from bars to portable hot tubs. If you made it out the Joy Ride Art Show at Dash Gallery you would've even seen bike-towed pole dancers (pictured above). I think the bicyclist needs to keep his eyes on the road.

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