What’s Madison Avenue got to do with it?

What’s Madison Avenue got to do with it? In Tuesday’s NY Times, advertising reporter Stuart Elliot says, “Madison Avenue is walking a fine line in determining its response to the South Asian tsunami. Advertisers, agencies and media companies are seeking ways to show that they care, but they are also striving to avoid the appearance of capitalizing on the disaster for commercial gain.”

What did the near instantaneous response by Apple and Amazon.com turning over their most valuable real estate and the core of their commerce engine to raising money for tsumani victims have to do with Madison Avenue? Everyone on Madison Avenue was off last week. Did Apple or Amazon.com call up their advertising agencies to check out what they should do? Did they get the ad folks started on a :30 second tsunami spot that will run during the Super Bowl?

Madison Avenue, my ass.

What happened last week in the first wave of companies responding to the crisis was clearly the action of human beings (not marketers) doing the right thing and not standing around waiting on some ad guy to tell them how to communicate.

Now, this week, it may be Madison Avenue. Just strolling back in from vacation, I’m sure there are phone calls with conversations like, “Hey, let’s do lunch next week and bounce around some ideas about this whole tsunami-marketing thing.” Hey, yeah, and let’s get the PR department to pitch Stuart Elliot on doing a story about it.

Tsunami response

Tsunami response: It’s amazing what you can do with a powerful “war machine.”

Like Jeff, I’m tuning out the misguided attempts by some to come up with moral or monetary equivalences to the tsunami and to suggest that we should cancel this or that and give the money to relief. Stop with the politicizing of this tragedy, people. Even Mark Cuban, my favorite billionaire blogger, has called for the cancellation of the presidential inauguration festivities so that funds can be diverted to tsunami relief. Huh? Why not call for the cancellation of the NBA season and take all the dollars advertisers have committed for broadcasting it and send those funds to tsunami relief? What, the advertisers won’t do that? Have you asked?

What will canceling a two hundred year old national celebration of democracy do to promote tsunami relief? Much better, gather all those barrons of industry together in D.C. in a few weeks and make them challenge each other to prove they can be more generous than each other. Let the President use his inaugural address to articulate our nation’s commitment to feeding those who hunger. Let’s agree this is a cause we can all agree on. This is not liberal or conservative. This is about 150,000+ men, women and children being killed without warning…and those left behind who are in desperate need.

(Remember to contribute to the American Red Cross or another of the agencies serving those in desperate need.)

Amazon.com product page redesign



Old (top) and new product page format.
(click on either to enlarge)

Amazon.com product page redesign: Just noticed that Amazon.com has a new look on product pages (or I am imagining things, perhaps). I don’t have a before-and-after, but Compare it to this screem grab I made of the new Harry Potter book displayed in the traditional format and it appears they have dropped down the side navigation columns to open up the top of the page (what you see upon first landing on a product page) to display (at least, in the case of books) the book cover in a larger format. For example, here’s the product page for the book I’m reading currently, Ordinary Wolves, by Seth Kantner. Looks great to me.

Speaking of Amazon.com, I almost posted a rant this morning on this ridiculous column in AdAge by Al Ries trashing Jeff Bezos. In essence, saying Amazon has lost $3 billion, so we shouldn’t be so enamored with its success. (My rant was full of remarks like, “Reis, stick to branding and not economics — you’re dilluting your brand.”) Wanting not to appear as if I were piling onto someone who was already doing a better job than I embarassing himself with a lame argument constructed poorly, I discarded the post. Then I saw this post
by Damon Darlin on the B2Day weblog, with the punch line to which anyone who reads the column is inevitably led: “I think there is a reason Mr. Reis is a consultant and a columnist for Ad Age,” (and Bezos is a billionaire). And I just couldn’t help myself.

Sad, but no worry

Sad, but no worry: Frank Kelly Freas, an influential illustrator who produced sleek, stirring images for science fiction and fantasy books and helped shape the image of Mad Magazine mascot Alfred E. Neuman, died yesterday at the age of 82.


Beginning in the 1950s, he spent seven years as the main cover artist of Mad Magazine, creating spot-on, stylishly detailed portraits and helping to make famous Alfred E. Newman (sic), the freckled, front-tooth deprived purveyor of the phrase, “What? Me Worry?”

Third blogiversary

Third blogiversary: Today is the rexblog’s third anniversary. Here are some quick thoughts and a few announcements.

1. Today, I’m starting a link blog (I’m using del.icio.us/rexblog currently) and will link to more magazine-related stories than I do currently. At the same time, I’ll be blogging less about magazines here. Trade off: more links to magazine news, less cheap shots (but they won’t go away).

2. This year, I’ll be blogging more about “coversational media” in the corporate context. I will be focusing especially on how traditional corporate and institutional print publishing relates to and works with such emerging tools and approaches as (of course) blogs and podcasting, and also video (vlogs & and IM-enabled video) and wikis.

3. At another URL, later this month I’ll be blogging a great deal about a topic I’m more known for in my day job: small business.

4. Speaking of my day job, today we’re launching a Hammock Publishing company blog called Hammorati at the URL blog.hammock.com. We don’t know exactly what it will become, but we’re going to enjoy figuring it out in public. For example, last week when our offices were closed, we turned it over to coverage of a fire at a historic church attended by one of our editors. And today we started posting photos of friends who have sent us their photos wearing a Hammock Publishing tee-shirt. Steve Rubel and his wife, Lisa, are featured today.

5. Recently someone asked how many posts I’ve made on this blog and how many words I’ve written. As the permalink number does correspond with the number of posts, I haven’t a clue how many posts I’ve made. A lot. Does someone know a way to, on a manila site, track such things?

6. Another person asked if I had ever thought of compiling in print some of my favorite posts. Yes, I have. There was a service I saw once that offered to do that. But I lost the link. Anyone know how to do that?

7. I get lots of e-mail from people who ask why they can’t get to old links to rexblog.com they find on Google. I do know the answer to that: replace the part of the URL that has “rex.weblogs” with “rexblog” and the URL should work. I think the kind folks at Userland (where this blog is once again being hosted) may even have a way to re-direct those old links somewhere other than to blankness.

8. While I will continue to post photos here, I plan on using my flickr photo blog to post photos from my cell phone.