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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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November 2010 - Posts

Tips for Newsletter Writers

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

Newsletter Writers Must be Tactful
(Because the people you report to are often clueless)

I can't tell you how often I've grappled with clients who want to re-write newsletter articles so that the words convey what they want to say. Now some of you may think that that makes sense. If so, you're as clueless as my examples. And you probably should have restraining orders banning you from being within 50 yards of the creation of any marketing or employee communication materials.

Company representatives have agendas. As such, they want to push those agendas. That means they generally want newsletter articles to contain topics and words that are of interest to them. The problem, of course, is that their audiences don't care about those topics or words. Their audiences want interesting, helpful information that they can enjoy and use.

Company representatives also want to exploit their agendas as the foundation for newsletter articles because it makes things easier. It means they don't have to put any work or thought into making the newsletter really good. Let's face it ... it's hard to come up with original topics that grab a targeted audience's interest time after time. If it doesn't seem hard, you're probably doing a half-assed job of it.

As a writer, it's important to remember that corporate managers are not your adversaries. You're on the same team. To be successful, you must be a tactful, thoughtful diplomat who can convince managers who are marketing/communication illiterate that they're getting in the way of their own success and the success of their company's newsletter. (Good luck with that.)

Check Product Reviews While You Shop

Recently Consumer Reports launched a new $9.99 iPhone app that lets you scan a barcode of a product you may be looking at and get official Consumer Reports ratings, reviews and specs for that product. An Android version is in the works.

The app contains info on more than 3,000 Consumer Reports tested products, and over 17,000 non-tested products.

Consumer Reports Mobile Shopper (iTunes link) also enables you compare similar products, compare prices at local retailers, and shop online, Post stuff you're interested in on Facebook or save them for later on your wishlist. The app is available now as a $9.99 per-year subscription introductory price. That will bump up to $14.99 after Jan 1, 2011.

Humor Sells Serious Insurance

I think it's fantastic that so many insurance companies have learned that humor can be effectively used to sell a very serious product. (A lizard, a duck and Snoopy quickly come to mind.)

This 20 second commercial for Swiss Mobiliar Insurance is pretty darn amusing. From Very Funny Ads ... and it is.

Worst Beer in the World

RateBeer.com has identified the worst beers in the world. And the very worst beer is the 3.2% ABW version of Olde English 800, which scored a .96 out of 5 on the site. The standard version of O.E. fared somewhat better; its 1.35 score was enough to merit a ranking of 41st worst beer in the world.

Taking second place on the craptastic list was another malt liquor that's a favorite of penny-pinching teenagers, Natural Ice, with a score of 1.03. That beverage's non-malt counterpart, Natural Light, had an identical score but must have lost a tie-breaker to end up in third place.

Here is the full top 10:
1. Olde English 800 3.2 (0.96)
2. Natural Ice (1.03)
3. Natural Light (1.03)
4. Milwaukees Best (1.05)
5. Michelob Ultra (1.06)
6. Sleeman Clear (1.08)
7. Budweiser Select 55 (1.09)
8. Coors Aspen Edge (1.11)
9. Bud Light Chelada (1.13)
10. Busch Ice (1.13)

Check out the entire rankings at RateBeer.com

Will Cookie Monster be the Next Betty White?

Here's a key on how to go viral ... be a Muppet.  There's a new Facebook campaign to get Cookie Monster to host Saturday Night Live.

It sounds like a silly fan thing, but in fact, if you click this link you'll see it's an actual movement started by the Sesame Street people via their official YouTube channel and Cookie's official Facebook page.  Could this actually happen?  Well, it worked for Betty White last year, and although Cookie's television career doesn't go back quite as far as White's, he's about as beloved as TV icons get.

Best of all, Cookie Monster made an audition tape for SNL and it's funny! The ending is priceless, but Cookie Monster's imitation of McGiver (Macarooner)  is over-the-top funny.

Click here to see this entertaining video that is sure to go viral.

Little Has Changed in Liquor Ads

"I always thought you could fix anything with a screwdriver." Today's liquor ads have not evolved far from this vintage 1960's Smirnoff Vodka ad ... except that today the model would probably be wearing less clothing and riding the fuselage.

To prove my point, here's a contemporary vodka ad from Russia. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

On the Other Hand, Car Ads Have Changed A Lot

Try getting away with "the Man's Car" these days. Plus, "Cougar" tends to bring an entirely different image to mind today.

David Mitchell Signs Some Boobs


YouTube has several episodes of David Mitchell's Soap Box. He's a comedian from England who has a real gift for writing funny scripts.

This episode is titled "David Mitchell Signs some Boobs." If you appreciate really funny writing, you'll love this spot, but it's NSFW because of the frequent use of the word "tit." So watch it at home and laugh. Click here to see the video.

You're Probably Out Shopping Anyway

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


I doubt many of even my loyalist of readers are taking time to check this blog today ... so I decided to just post a couple of personal items.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. I'll be back next Tuesday.

I love this shirt.

... and I love the shirt above, too.  How far our hero has fallen.

Black Friday

Today is Black Friday. SNL did a pretty good parody of Black Friday madness with a madcap fake ad for "Mega-Mart." It starts off looking like a normal ad, then progressively heightens as the store adds more and more bonus game changers, prizes, and contents that endanger customer's lives. Click here to see the video. Via Consumerist.

A Happy Health Club

Good health clubs have bars ... and I belong to a really good one, the Wisconsin Athletic Club. The bar in my health club is so good that often times I never get past it and into the work out areas. Here's a shout out to some of Dale's racquetball buddies and spouses, who, in the photo above, are enjoying the club's most vital amenities. From left: Mary Beth, Matt, Jeff, Bob and Debbie. Happy Holidays all.

B2B Marketers Must Dare to be Different

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

Marketers Must Dare to be Different

Let's be honest. Every day we see, hear and touch a lot of very ordinary marketing ... marketing that lacks any real impact or energy.

To stand out, B2B companies must be willing to take risks and be willing to fail once in a while. By risks, I mean be different ... not follow the pack.

Mercedes Drivers Most Likely to Receive Traffic Violations


A new study by an insurance industry analytics service reveals vehicles with the highest and lowest percentages of traffic violations.

Of the top 10 automobiles with the most violations, three of them were made by Mercedes-Benz. On the opposite end of the scale, 6 of the 10 least ticketed cars were GM models. The study determined each vehicle's number of moving violations per 100,000 miles driven.

The Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Convertible had the highest percentage of violations, racking up more than four times the number of tickets than the average automobile. Two other Mercedes vehicles -- the CLS-63 AMG and CLK 63 AMG -- also made the top 10 list with 264% and 179% the average number of violations.

While there was only one Toyota brand vehicle -- the Camry-Solara (349% the average) -- on the list, the car maker is also responsible for the two Scion models in the top 10.

Only one car from a U.S.-based car company made the most violations list -- the Pontiac Grand Prix, with 182% the average number of violations.

Meanwhile, GM essentially owns the list of cars with the fewest violations. Between Buick, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac, the car maker accounts for 60% of that top 10 list.

The car with the lowest percentage of violations was the Buick Rainier, with only 23% the average number of violations. The Rainier also had the second-oldest average driver age (61) on that list. The vehicle with the oldest average age of the driver was the Buick Lacrosse at 65 years old.

1. Mercedes-Benz SL-Class Convertible (404% of average)
2. Toyota Camry-Solara (349%)
3. Scion TC (343%)
4. Hummer H2/H3 (292%)
5. Scion XB (270%)
6. Mercedes-Benz CLS-63 AMG (264%)
7. Acura Integra (185%)
8. Pontiac Grand Prix (182%)
9. Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG (179%)
10. Volkswagen GTI (178%)

Women are Pigs (their words, not mine)

If you're a man, this ad claims your can become a "boy toy." The new campaign for men's apparel maker Jack Jones shows that with the proper outfits, women will only use you for sex. The hero in this commercial says that's okay, but sometimes he just wants to be held ... yeah, right.

Click here to see the entertaining 30 second spot (not from the U.S.) ... then let's go clothes shopping, okay?

The Bassador: Minivan

The Bassador is heavy on sarcasm. To get the full "funny" out of this talking fish commercial you have to wait for the fish to stop talking and read the comical ending. Pretty clever for such a cheap fish puppet. Click here to see the 1 minute commercial for Anglers Legacy.


I don't usually cover TV shows here, but I want to make a prediction: Heather Morris, who plays the role of Brittany S. Pierce on Glee, is creating a character that will soon become one of those iconic quotable people like George Castansa.

Check out some of her quotes from the show:

"I think my cat is reading my diary."
"Did you know dolphins are just gay sharks?"
When asked what a ballad is, Brittany replied "It's a male duck."
When her best friend says that "Sex is not dating." Brittany replies with, "If it was, Santana and I would be dating."

There are many more. And hopefully we'll eventually see an entire book of them. Kudos to the writer who puts words in her mouth.

Axe Takes on Old Spice's Popular Icon

The billboard above is a rather humorous way to battle the popularity of Old Spice's Emmy Award winning "man on a horse."

Pinocchio Continues to be Popular Spokes-puppet


My cousin, Pinocchio, is in more ads than Einstein ... and Einstein is king of the deceased advertising kings. This time Pinocchio has been aged to sell the "Long Lasting Protection" of Woodtec, a wood preservative.

Let me point out the errors of the ad: Slotted mouth ... wrong. Pipe ... we tend to avoid all fire. Glasses ... our eyes are glass.  But I'm being picky. I'm happy for Pinocchio's continued success ... albeit at my modeling expense.


7 Traits of Successful Social Media Campaigns

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

Seven Traits of Successful Social Media Campaigns

Via Adrants: During a recent panel discussion at BlogWorld Expo several traits emerged for successful social media campaigns:

1. Be authentic. In this medium, platitudes don't work.

2. Make it brainlessly easy for people to participate. Don't make people jump through too many hoops.

3. Make sure there is a clear and concise call to action. Too many brands are unclear in their explanation of how people should participate.

4. Avoid blatant self promotion within the campaign.

5. Don't make your call to action something that takes people away from your offering ... like making people look something up online or look for a tweet during the broadcast of your television show.

6. Don't stuff the ballot box. If you're hosting a photography competition, don't fill the gallery with your own brand's submissions.

7. Don't, under any circumstances, ask employees in your company to flood a Facebook campaign with Likes or drop hundreds of positive comments on a YouTube video.

Would You Have a Drink with You?

The majority of liquor ads seem to use over-the-top sexual references to gain attention. That's why I find Stoli's "Would You Have a Drink With You?" campaign rather refreshing.


The campaign's television commercials reinforce the print ads. Click here to see a 30 second Stoli commercial with Hugh Hefner and himself.

Marketing That Caught My Glass Eyes


I tend to like companies that use iconic mascots ... which is why this photo from Nathan's annual hot dog eating contest caught my attention. Yeah. Right.


"Are you obsessed with the right things?" This new 2010 ad campaign for the Breast Cancer Foundation's Awareness and Education Program in Singapore is making the rounds on the design and advertising blogs. Created by DDB Worldwide, Singapore, they feature women's bodies illustrated by Andy Yang Sookit.

They're attention-getting and I hope equally effective. Click here to see all of the ads.

Three Commercials That Made Me LOL

Official Currency of the Beer Economy

The plot of this commercial for Tooheys New White Stag Beer has been used before. But the ending will make you LOL. Click here and enjoy the 30 second spot.

Not Our Favorite Child

Here's another entertaining beer commercial. This 20 second commercial for Newcastle Brown Ale features some clever writing, including this gem: "You're not our favorite child. You're below Roger, Pam, the dog and our special china." Hilarious.

The Flying Condom

This Durex condom commercial has some humorous moments, but it's the ending that will make you smile.

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