Stealth advertising in more than one way

A quick book review of Mara Einstein’s book entitled Black Opps Advertising  in today’s New York Times, discusses how modern techniques use many methods to fool consumers into believing that they are not being manipulated. Oh but we are: so many things now contain messaging that it’s even hard for seasoned pros to tell if they are being sold. Sponsored content, native advertising and content marketing are a few of the terms explored, and now with website traffic companies like Google and Facebook know what you’re doing or about to do so interrupt your visual life online with suggestions on what to buy, wear, eat or go.

If this were a friend, you’d tell them to get lost after a while. But in this, you can’t, and that’s the scary part.
As much as we want to, avoiding these marketing ploys is very difficult verging on impossible.

A Man of the People

imageTom Hayden was many things, radical, father, author, husband, lecturer, agitator, compromiser, loved, disliked, winner and loser. But one thing he was not was a quitter.

Hayden, who died yesterday after a long illness, was one of the last meaningful 1960s era anti-war, anti-fascistic, anti-pollution crusaders in America.

His marriage to Jane Fonda raised his profile but cast him into an unnatural light of Hollywood shallowness that obscured the hard-working, passionate risk taker that he truly was.

For nearly six decades, he pushed for causes that varied but held true to the principles that he believed in, amounting to a number of important and lasting ideals.

Never shy, he embraced the role that one person could make a difference and so he did.  Arrested, beaten, insulted, criticized, he was never out for the count until the very end.  He worked hard at trying to persuade others to feel as strongly as he did about social justice and to act on those feelings.

Perhaps J Edgar Hoover summed it up best when he wrote:  “One of your prime objectives is to neutralize him in the New Left Movement.”  The paranoid Hoover hated what he did not understand.

Nice obit in the New York Times here:







Dough Nation


Yesterday, I received the first piece of political advertising for this cycle in the mail.  I can promise you it won’t be the last.  not by a long shot.  In fact, we should expect our mailboxes to overflow with direct mail advertising from candidates, proposition sponsors, political action groups and even well heeled, well intentioned people wishing to influence how you decide to vote.  Over the next 39 days, we will see dozens of such pieces chocking our mail, causing postal workers stress and filling our recycling or worse, landfills at a cost of millions of dollars in Ventura County alone.

Is this what you had in mind when you made a donation to your candidate or cause?

I’m betting that between now and voting day on November 8th, I receive over 50 such pieces in the mail, which I can quickly ignore my walking it to they blue bin in my driveway.  Extrapolated over half of the homes in the county (because some residences do not have registered voters, or are ‘low value voters’) and the math works like this:  Of the 300,000 homes in Ventura County, then half works out to be 150,000 residences times 50 pieces of political mail equals 7,500,000 pieces of mail in our area alone.  And that’s being conservative.  Who says that print is dead?

Don’t get me started on how to avoid obnoxious messages if I choose to watch television during the next month.  Oh boy…



Design is both a noun and a verb

Last week, I spoke with a fellow who owns a business called Kitchen Advertising. I asked where the name came from and his reply was that it’s the most creative roon in a house- where one takes various things and creates something better with them. With that, here’s a little piece from the New York Times on design, which is both a noun & a verb…

Father Trump


Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks to supporters as he takes the stage for a campaign event in Dallas, Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Professor Georgia Lakoff’s lengthy article on Donald Trump speaks to many of the psychological reasons how and why he is been able to get as far as the Adams in his run for the presidency.

Think what you will about Trump but there is no denying that he has been able to do what virtually no one before him ever has – be the number one news item for months on end while spending virtually none of his own money.

He has been able to capture the imagination and support of millions of Americans by seeing things with an almost Tourette’s like outburst: brash, inappropriate, non-PC and juvenile. Yet, people still back him, even though his values differ greatly from their’s.

The notion that Trump is appealing to the strict father morality that tens of millions of Americans adhere to seems to be spot on.

Lakoff, a distinguished professor of cognitive science and linguistics at UC Berkeley, presents concept that you are likely to read anywhere else. Most interesting…

Understanding Trump

Set in Stone

Today’s New York Times Magazine features a story about Oliver Stone and the making of the film about Edward Snowden. The long cover future takes us from Los Angeles to Moscow  and introduces us to Snowden’s lawyers in the United States and in Russia who seem to have similar and differing views of and interest in Snowden, the story at hand and the bigger picture.  Like many of Stone’s film exploits, this one has intrigue, budget frustrations and  delays.

“Snowdon” which screened at Comic-Con in San Diego a few months ago features a quote from Stoughton I find interesting “I no longer have to worry about what happens tomorrow,”says Snowden, “because I’m happy with what I’ve done today. ”

One statement from Snowdon’s on screen boss at the NSA I found haunting –
“Most Americans don’t want freedom, he says, “they want security. ”

This explains much about the current state of affairs we as a nation find ourselves in.

Shout out loud

Today’s LA Times had an interesting take on the state of affairs via the Calendar and Arts & Books section…  Under the title The Culture Of Anger, both sections explored the current state of discontent from a social and right brained angle. The piece from Tom Morello, the guitarists who put rage on the map, portends the future week ahead- he and friends plan to augment the GOP convention this coming week in Cleveland.


What we have here is a massive failure to communicate, resulting in a world on the verge of chaos.

Read his piece, then get ready for an exciting end of July with both parties participating in the disruptive economy- unhappiness for all!




Give give a damn

When I was a boy living in New York City I collected a few things  in a red circular Kodak film canister. I think it was made of aluminum. One of the things in this can was a cloth patch, white type against a black background, which read ‘Give a damn’.  I thought it was a pretty cool slogan so I kept it.

Now, many years later and with the advent of YouTube, I finally have learned what it meant. It was a social initiative in the 1960s trying to help impoverished people of color in New York City.   The commercial below is pretty provocative for its time and gets one thinking.   It might be nice to see such messages on our airwaves instead of the same car commercial repeated 40 times a day…



TMZ Exposed

Harvey  Tom Ashbrook had an interesting segment on his radio program On Point today featuring Nicholas Schmidle, the author of a New Yorker piece about TMZ, the TV show.  TMZ, a historic acronym for Thirty-mile Zone, was used to identify a 30-mile  radius from the intersection of  Beverly Blvd and La Cienega Blvd in L.A.  At one time this point was the headquarters of AMPTP, the negotiating body for many studio management dealings.  The term referred to The Industry’s desire to keep TV and movie productions within the ‘zone’ to keep expenses down.

TMZ is now widely known as the name of a TV program that specializes in celebrity reporting. Founded by Harvey Levine, the show features a group of ‘reporters’ talking with Levine about the day’s news – all of it pertaining to famous people, most of it embarrassing for the person being reported on.  TMZ made national news when it reported on Mel Gibson’s arrest in Malibu a number of years ago.

Because entertainment news is so damned interesting to so many Americans, the program has grown in popularity and influence.  Now being likened to a modern day FBI (which stems from former FBI head J. Edgar Hoover’s penchant for gathering dirt on his favorite targets to be used as blackmail) it is interesting to learn how Levine and his entourage encourage sources to spill on almost any topic (from haircuts to break ups).  Paying sources money is different from more traditional news sources and apparently helps to reveal some things that would ordinarily stay under wraps.

Schmidle, who researched his piece over two years, reports on the tactics and results that have evolved over the 11 years TMZ has been doing their thing.

Read his piece, entitled The Digital Dirt, here:







Perhaps you were entertained by reading Saturday’s editorial in the pages of the Wall Street Journal. The piece castigated Ben and Jerry’s founders Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the famous Vermont ice cream makers, for donating tubs of ice cream to Bernie Sanders’ campaign.  Comparing it to super PAC money and the likes of the Koch Industries (Texas brothers)  and Las Vegas’s Sheldon Adelson, the Journal  went on to lament that what is good for the goose is good for the gander and all regulations pertaining to political contributions should be removed.

The paper has long been known for somewhat extreme right wing political positions  but this piece made them look just plain silly.   I figure that the entire editorial board was on vacation  and that some GOP operative seized upon the opportunity to slam the Democrats.

A link to the piece below won’t do you much good unless you have a subscription: