Did you… see… the memo about this?

Life imitates art this week, with the announcement that RadioShack (the baby boomersToys R Us) has just fired 400 employees via Email.

Employees at the Fort Worth headquarters got messages Tuesday morning saying: “The work force reduction notification is currently in progress. Unfortunately, your position is one that has been eliminated.”

In the old days the boss would take you out somewhere nice for lunch, so you wouldn’t make a scene and blub all over his Armani suit. Then they figured out they could save $40 + tip by giving you the hard word as you slinked off early on Friday afternoon, assuming (not always correctly) that your homicidal tendencies would dissipate come Monday. Failing that there was always the classic 80’s innovation of leaving a garbage bag on your desk and hoping you got the hint.

What’s next? Read about it on the boss’s blog?

Lost: 1 planet, hardly used, enquire 3rd from sun

Douglas Adams put it best when he wrote:

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.

Space is indeed big, but our solar system is a lot smaller today, following the announcement that Pluto is not actually a planet.

If you need a little sunshine after that bombshell, check this out. I want. Now.

Hours of fun for the whole family

Actually, definitely not for the whole family. Some of you will have heard recently about a ruckus at AOL that resulted in some high-profile firings. 3 months’ worth of search data was published online, some of which contained social security numbers – making for an embarrassing privacy breach that’s bound to hit the courts sooner or later.

AOL removed the data but, as Pam & Tommy know all too well, you can never really remove something from the Internet. DontDelete.com has a simple interface for searching the data, including a button that will randomly select a user and display all the searches they ran during that period.

Let’s just say those AOL users have some *interesting* predilections. (If you’re a coffee drinker, suggest you put the cup down to keep monitor clean).

You’ll never take me alive, copper!

A Whangarei man was today convicted of theft, and fined for inappropriately using the Internet at work.

Whangarei District Court heard (the perp), 40, downloaded pornography and music videos while using a computer at the Poster Faktory in the town.

Let’s just be clear here – this had nothing to do with the subject matter. He wasn’t charged over the porn. Or the music downloads. He was busted for stealing his employer’s bandwidth. That is really scary.

Snake’s hype fails to deliver at box office

Big news today (to the dozen or so people in the world who care) in reports that the much-awaited Samuel L Jackson epic ‘Snakes On a Plane‘ has had a fizzer of an opening weekend in the US, pulling in a paltry $15.3m despite substantial online hype in recent months.

I’m the first to admit that the online hype was pretty cool. You could go through a little wizard and create a personalised voicemail message from Sam J, and there were some pretty cool MySpace skins to download – which is something we’re definitely going to see more of (especially given how crappy the standard MySpace skins are).

But seriously… Snakes? On a plane? Does Sam J owe money to the mob? Why didn’t they just pour the money into a shot-for-shot remake of Ishtar? Or a Director’s cut of Caddyshack?

If we’re talking ROI, my guess is that the money spent online returned a lot more than whatever they paid for the screenplay, actors, production etc. That said, one thing I’m wondering – do you reckon it hurt them to focus so much resource targeting a demographic that was just going to download the movie anyway?

Ron Jeremy – Internet Pioneer?

Gareth noted in a previous post observing the web’s 15th birthday, that several notable websites – including Hotmail – had been left out of The Guardian’s list of ‘15 websites that changed the world‘.

One thing i couldn’t help noticing – and don’t get the wrong idea here people – is that no adult sites made the list. Are the editors in denial, or just naive?

I read a great article a couple of years back – sorry, damned if i can find the reference – about the role porn has played in emerging media technologies. Super 8, VHS, DVD, the web – all provided consumers with the ‘take home’ alternative to sitting next to Paul Reubens, which is pretty appealing to anyone who’s seen Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. After driving us online, porn really pioneered the affiliate advertising model, and provided an income stream to people with nothing better to do than sit at home and rant – the first wave of bloggers and the beginning of the end for the old media barons.

I could go on, but you get the idea. The web (the world!) would be nothing like it is today without porn. If Larry Flynt had figured out a way to deliver jollies via carrier pigeon, we’d all be in our Lofts right now shoveling pigeon crap into the JunkMail box. Think about that next time you’re in Trafalgar Square.

Party like it’s 1989

Astonishing report in the Herald this morning, concerning everyone’s favourite NZ e-tailer Flying Pig… oops – I mean Ferrit.

Ferrit’s new advertising campaign – by its new agency Consortium – was launched on Sunday, with half its budget allocated for TV.

Seems that while Ferrit’s business model is all about selling online advertising, that’s apparently not the best way to reach consumers. Do they mention this in their sales collateral when pitching to enlarge their miniscule pool of participating retailers?

This is scary news, folks, but not uncommon. Advertising agencies are still clinging to the old ways and pouring money into TV. Why? 1. They don’t understand this whole Interweb-thingy, besides its utility as a source of humorous emails and top-notch porn. 2. They’re scared, because it’s so easy to demonstrate Return On Investment from online campaigns. 3. TV production costs big bucks and leads to hefty commissions. 4. The 80’s were such a groovy period for the industry (ponytails, Concorde, all the blow and Dom you want to know about etc) and they just… can’t… let… go!

Sound familiar? If your agency is stuck in a time warp, we’d love to hear from you!

BTW – the last paragraph in the aforementioned article cracked me up also:

Wogan said more functions were in the pipeline, including the ability to buy on the website. “The biggest competition for us, and for New Zealand retailers, is overseas sites.”


The next big thing in online advertising?

A report just out from P3 Media observes that advertising via product placement (promotions buried in TV or movie plots, written into song lyrics etc) is on the rise – jumping 42% last year and predicted to maintain impressive double-digit growth.

Why? Do we have to keep repeating ourselves, people? Because consumers are no longer chained to the TV they way they once were, and are choosing not to watch commercials. It started with the introduction of the remote control and has never looked back. TiVo. iTunes. YouTube. Bit Torrent. I’m watching what I want, when i want it, commercial free.

My prediction? Soon (real soon) we’re going to see a product placement-oriented advertising model for consumer-generated media. Consumers will create some content that includes the advertiser’s brand/message, upload to YouTube or other, and get paid every time the file is played.

Anyone who reads this and then goes on to make a fortune by establishing said model, please mail cheque c/- Marker Ltd.

A View from the Top (?)

Big news this week was the announcement that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has joined a burgeoning international community – by starting his own weblog (http://www.ahmadinejad.ir/).

I have to admit I’m really torn about this. On one hand I think it’s a great use of the technology – actually speaking to your people without filtering every word through umpteen levels of bureaucrat, image consultant, censor and spin doctor. It may not be transparent government, but it’s a step in the right direction. (Although i did note that comments weren’t being accepted. Party pooper)

On the other hand, i couldn’t help remembering a classic article from The Onion published a few months back:

CIA Asks Bush To Discontinue Blog

“…According to (CIA director) McLaughlin, several recent entries on PrezGeorgeW. typepad.com have compromised military operations, while other posts may have seriously undercut the PR efforts of White House press secretary Scott McClellan.”

“…A July 24 posting read, “Just got back from a lunch with Colin and Adil Moussa (one of Prince Saud al-Faisal’s guys). Colin wants the Saudis to send some troops to Najaf—so some of the soldiers are Arab, I guess. This Moussa guy sure wears a lot of jewelry. A golden chain, a golden ring with his initials or something, and some other sparkling stuff—kinda effeminate. Anyway, best of luck in Iraq, Iyad.”

“..Bush said he could not understand McLaughlin’s anger, characterizing his blog as a ‘personal thing written for friends and family or whoever’ and therefore ‘none of the CIA’s business’…”

If you haven’t dropped in to The Onion lately, the best things in life are passing you by. Other past headlines of note:

Holy S**t! Man Walks on F**king Moon! – 21st July, 1969
Head Dead Head Dead – 9th August, 1995 (re death of Gerry Garcia)
NSA Wiretap Reveals Subject May Be Paying Too Much For Long-Distance
New Oliver Stone 9/11 Film Introduces ‘Single Plane’ Theory