Former Exec Says GM Is a “PowerPoint Culture”

They say good could come from this recession: many of us will learn to focus on value instead of mindless vanity, the financial industry could be reformed, and health care might begin to work. One of the best possible scenarios is that some of the companies who most need to “get it” will.

After reading what the former vice president marketing for General Motors, Mike Jackson, says about the car maker, it’s easy to see why America is choking in a sea of SUVs even though the world is running out of oil. Apparently, the entire company’s decision-making system is deeply flawed.

He dubbed GM as a “PowerPoint culture” and a “bureaucracy of meetings culture.”

He dubbed GM as a “PowerPoint culture” and a “bureaucracy of meetings culture.” During his tenure at the automaker, Mr. Jackson said that “there were no meetings where people just sat down, had a discussion and made a decision.”

Mr. Jackson also was critical of GM for putting engineers and finance people with no marketing training in key marketing positions. That means the agency teams often presented their work to executives with less experience and often no experience outside the auto industry, though he added that his former employer has lots of company in this arena across the auto industry.

…If an [ad] agency doesn’t fall in line with the marketer’s demands, the client threatens to move the business…The agencies present work they know will get approved, not cool, risky creative, he said. As a result, ho-hum work is perpetuated.

One of the “five Ps” of marketing is the product itself. It’s no wonder that bad processes were leading to bad products at GM. Let’s hope GM 2.0 wises up.

Stop Tossing Out Catalogs

We like to bring you ideas on how to tread a little more lightly upon the earth. The web site,, can help by keeping catalogs you don’t want out of your mailbox, recycle bin, or — yikes! — trash.

You register your name and primary mailing address (which are only used to match up your catalog solicitations), then identify which catalogs you don’t want from a searchable list.

After about 10 weeks, viola: no more catalogs. If any do come through after that, catalogchoice will follow up with the merchant for you.

The service is free — and quite reputable.

Catalog Choice is a sponsored project of the Ecology Center. It is endorsed by the National Wildlife Federation and the Natural Resources Defense Council, and funded by the Overbrook Foundation, the Merck Family Fund, and the Kendeda Fund.

And in case you’re feeling sorry for the nice folks who keep thoughtfully sending you these gifts in the mail, rest assured that they would prefer their catalogs go to people who actually want them. You’re doing them a favor by getting off their mailing list.

AFA Cranking Up Its Christmas Witch Hunt

‘Tis the season. Since Halloween is almost upon us, the American Family Association has cranked up its annual witch hunt for companies that don’t include Christian messages or symbols in their marketing and advertising materials. In other words, companies that don’t commercialize Christmas by slapping baby Jesuses all over their packaging and ads are somehow bad, according to the AFA (which, by the way has $32 million in dough it has collected from dumb Christians).

The first victim of this season is that godless dough ho’ Mrs. Fields Cookies.

How did this come to the AFA’s attention? An anonymous call:

When Diane H. of Michigan called Mrs. Fields and asked to speak with a supervisor in customer service about why they banned Christmas, the supervisor told Diane that they do not offer anything with Merry Christmas because they don’t want to offend anyone.

Then Don “Wildman” Wildmon, chair of AFA, called for a boycott of Mrs. Fields products.

But if you go to Mrs. Fields’ Web site, it’s Xmas stuff out the wazoo. Did Mrs. Fields cave in just a day to the AFA’s bullying? Lord no:

So all Mrs. Fields is really guilty of is having the good taste to not start hawking its Xmas goods until after Halloween. Shucks, the AFA bully boys must be disappointed — “Curses! Foiled again!”

Use the AFA’s own mail-out system to send a letter of support to Mrs. Fields by going here.

Is That Christ I Smell?

Want to literally smell divine? Thanks to a new perfume, which supposedly mimics the scent given off by Christ and the saints, you can!

The makers of “Virtue” say they were guided by the Lord in picking their product’s name, ingredients — including apricot, fig, pomegranate, frankincense, and myrrh — logo and bottle design. Who knew Jesus was such a marketing whiz?

We turned to the Bible and let Spirit guide us through the process of picking and choosing the right elements to include in the fragrance…

What was right? When the Spirit let us know, through both, an inner knowing and outer worldly confirmation. The worldly confirmation was a process of holding to our Inspirations, even when our “deadlines” were not met. Holding our Faith, when money and circumstances were not always in alignment with our intent to move ahead. Even, when our suppliers delayed us by either internal practices or personal bias.

Well isn’t that commendable? These folks soldiered on because it was their mission to bring a new perfume to the world. A perfume that costs only $80 per 1.7 ounce bottle. And for which Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, and PayPal are accepted. I’m inspired!

The thing is, you want to smell right when you commune with your creator.

…if you choose to use is as it’s creators intended, it’s a simple matter. Spray your wrist(s) and prepare yourself to begin a spiritual practice that you are familiar with; prayer, meditation, contemplation, etc…

All the while, Feel, in the Stillness, the Presence that is your Spiritual Self. Smell your wrist. Let Virtue’s scent wrap this Awareness with it’s unique character that is slowly transitioning into your own Signature version of Virtue®. In time, your association with the fragrance will give you the ability to transition to a Spiritually Centered state, almost instantaneously. For Christians, we call this practicing the Presence of God, the Holy Spirit or Christ. Being Christ Centered.

Jesus should lead them to a good copywriter.

Fundraising opportunities are available, in case your church or faith-based initiative wants to buy into this hooey. In the meantime, the makers are getting on beauty pageant sponsor lists by awarding bottles to winners in the Miss Anaheim and Miss California contests.

The only fragrance I’m sniffing is horseshit — and bald greed.

Mysteries of Uncle Ben Still Unsolved

Perhaps you’re bored. Perhaps you need some meat and rice recipes. Or, more likely, you forgot the meaning of the word, “horseshit,” and need a refresher.

Was he married to Aunt Jemima? Is he Rastus from the Cream of Wheat box’s father?

If so, visit the all-new headquarters of Uncle Ben. Yes, the smiling black chef we all grew up with is now — thanks to marketing people spending too much time in a room alone with just each other — chairman of the board of Uncle Ben’s Rice.

The execution on this is just too awful.

What you’ll gather from the virtual tour of Uncle Ben’s desk, which is beneath his smiling (teeth hidden) portrait in a bow tie and suit, is that Uncle Ben is quite a guy. He travels the world collecting rice lore, photos, and recipes. He addresses national nutrition boards and makes speeches in Washington. The only thing the man doesn’t do is have a last name. So much for erasing the icon’s previous image.

Was he married to Aunt Jemima? Is he Rastus from the Cream of Wheat box’s father? You won’t find out here. This is just straight-up crap from the minds of Mars Food. Makes me cringe to be a marketing person.

Republicans Tell Blacks, “Democrats Will Kill Your Babies”

Somebody stayed up late to come up with this one. A new ad campaign by the Rebooblican America’s PAC is being aired on urban radio stations. The campaign starts by telling African-American listeners that Democrats favor abortion as a means of wiping out blacks.

A female announcer says, “Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies.” Democrats support “liberal abortion laws that are decimating our people”

In one particularly provocative spot, as a baby cries and thunder clasps in the background, a female announcer says, “Black babies are terminated at triple the rate of white babies.” Democrats support “liberal abortion laws that are decimating our people,” she says, while “the individual’s right to life is protected in the Republican platform.”

“Don’t buy the Democrats’ lie,” intones a male announcer as he reads the ad’s tagline. “Killing unborn babies is no way to help those in poverty.”

Another ad asks, “Why do our leaders in Congress support the pro-abortion agenda of the Democrats? Or more to the point: Why do we support them?”

I guess this has a certain appeal. More damaging, since it’s often true, might be the ads from the same group that say Democrats take black voters for granted.

The ads targeting African-American voters have been largely cleared on urban music stations owned by Lanham, MD-based Radio One, a minority-owned group which calls itself the “Urban Media Specialist.”

…”When someone you’ve called a friend betrays you, the truth can hurt,” a female announcer says. “For 50 years now, we’ve trusted the Democrats for education, health care and economic opportunity. And the truth is, today’s Democrats take us for granted.”

Least effective might be the ads targeting Latinos.

The group is also running ads on Hispanic stations in Denver, Albuquerque, Sacramento and Las Vegas, among other markets. The New York Sun reported one of those ads says, “Republicans respect the Latino soldier… Enough with these Democrats.”

Hear all the ads for yourself.

Librarian Needed: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

This advertisement appeared today on Media Bistro:

Any of you librarians out there in need of a job and willing to locate?

Job Title: Chief Librarian

Organization: Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions

Location: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

Description: Are you interested in putting your library science education and experience to work in one of today’s most challenging, interesting and rewarding environments? Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is recruiting for a Chief Librarian to manage the Detainee Library, under the direction of the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In managing the Detainee Library, the Chief Librarian is responsible for providing, maintaining and developing library services and operations using reading, recreational games and puzzles, music, or electronic media. The Chief Librarian is responsible for selecting and maintaining a range of reading and recreational materials to reflect the needs of the patrons in terms of languages and appropriate/approved topics …

The Chief Librarian will supervise a staff of three (one Assistant Librarian and two Linguist/Library Assistants). The Chief Librarian will also work closely with other contractor and government staff.

To be successful in this job, the Chief Librarian will need to be creative, adaptable, ambitious and resourceful. The ideal candidate will possess a degree in library studies or a closely related field and relevant experience. We will consider extensive experience in library operations and management, in lieu of a degree. This job requires proficiency in English. Applicants must be eligible for a US government secret clearance. If you’re interested in talking in more detail, please e-mail your resume to

Application Information: Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions offers a highly competitive salary and benefit package. Additionally, this job qualifies you for federal tax breaks. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is a certified Minority Owned Business and a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions is an equal opportunity employer.

McDonald’s Hummers a Big Bummer

McDonald’s is giving away toy Hummers in its “boy” Happy Meals. What’s next? Wal-mart introducing a line of arctic fox stoles?

The Environmental Working Group has put up a parody site that allows you to generate your own golden arches sign on the subject. My favorite: “Would you like a war with that?” Next runner-up: “Global warming…I’m lovin’ it!”

From the site, you can also send McDonald’s an email asking them to end this campaign, which in a world of scare resources sends the wrong message to both kids and their parents. Let them hear from you.

Cellphone Crutch Helps Cretins Converse On Culture

Cellular crib notes: As I was reading Media Bistro over lunch, I came across an employment ad that looked interesting: “Pop Culture & Entertainment Writers in Anywhere, USA.” Following the link, I came to an ad placed by Moderati Inc., makers of Modtones mobile phone ringtones.

While I find “creative” ringtones only slightly less annoying than the people who pay for them, Modtones assured me that it could “Turn your phone into a house-rocking hit machine with Modtones. This ain’t yo momma’s ringtone!” “But I don’t need a rocking hit machine to make a phone call!” says my inner fogey.

The most popular Modtones songtones included “Ridin'” by Chamillionaire, “Unfaithful” by Rihanna, “Me and U” by Cassie and “London Bridge (Chorus)” by Fergie. Apparently people fork over $2.99 for one of these one-named wonders’ songs to distinguish their cellular phone from the next guy’s when it goes off in the middle of a movie. Or a funeral.

It’s a combination of tips & tools to help people fake their way through the competitive social scene using their cell phone

But back to the ad. Moderati is launching a mobile product that could prove to be even more obnoxious than their ringtones. The company is looking for copywriters for … I can’t explain it:

It’s a combination of tips & tools to help people fake their way through the competitive social scene using their cell phone. We’re seeking good, punchy writers who can contribute little scoops (about 2-3 sentences) on current goings-on in pop culture, entertainment, music and fashion.

To be considered, please send a couple sample blurbs on the topic of your choice in pop culture, and we’ll contact you with more information. Your blurb should explain the topic and give a distinct point of view, suitable for subscribers to use as conversation starters. Snarky smart-asses welcome!

OK, let me get this straight, so these are conversation starters for people who have Shakira’s “Thighs Don’t Lie” as their ringtone? To help them “fake” they have something to say, glancing at their phone cupped in their palm like they’re reading crib notes? If you need that kind of help, you belong on the bench watching the “competitive social scene.”

How hard can it be to have somehting to say about pop culture? Listen to AM radio. Watch “Entertainment Tonight.” Read “Tiger Beat” magazine or I mean, if one were trying to chat up a hot prospect about politics and culture, one could read Pensito Review, of course, but then readers of PR probably don’t have ringtones featuring “Miss New Booty (Edited)” by Bubba Sparxxx.

I wish Moderati luck with their product, especially with generating a need for it. But this seems to be just another senseless technological solution to a nonexistent problem aimed at the 14-24 demographic, a generation already overly dependent on electronics for, not even entertainment, but just stimluli. They have been so thoroughly overloaded by cartoons, music videos, video games, iPods and cellphones that, like some smack-addled junkie, they can’t create a cogent ice-breaker in the competitive social scene. So they look to their little electronic guru to help them “fake” having a brain, a personality and an opinion on whether Paris Hilton is really through with men and is now celibate, fer sure.

We are becoming a nation of pod people, separated by a couple of earbuds and a million miles. It’s no wonder we’ve forgotten how to start a conversation — we’re too busy not listening to each other.

Why Won’t These Black Kids Just Drink More?

A new study shows that African-American young people are under tremendous pressure from advertisers to drink, drink, drink. According to the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY), during 2003 and 2004:

  • African-Americans aged 12 to 20 were consistently exposed to substantially more magazine advertising for distilled spirits and beer than were youth in general
  • African-Americans were exposed to from 17% to 21% more beer and ale magazine advertising, and 42% to 43% more distilled spirits magazine advertising per capita
  • African-Americans heard more radio alcohol advertising per capita than youth in general in nine of the 10 largest radio markets during the summer of 2003, and in six of the top 10 markets — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston-Galveston and Detroit — during the summer of 2004
  • Alcohol ads ran on all 15 of the most-watched television programs among African-American youth in 2004, with three brands — Bud Light, Heineken Beer and Miller Genuine Draft — contributing more than half of the nearly $4.8 million

Despite the concerted effort of alcohol producers to get their products into the hands of black youths, the American Advertising Federation (full disclosure: I am a member) says alcohol use is less in this demographic.

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States has noted that a government survey on alcohol use found that in the same time period, African-Americans aged 12 to 20 used alcohol at a rate of 19.1 percent, compared to 26.6 percent of Hispanic youths and 32.6 percent of Caucasians.

The problem, says CAMY, is that the effects of using alcohol are worse among black kids.

There is substantial evidence that, although African-Americans may drink less than the general population, they suffer higher rates of alcohol-related problems. Alcohol is the drug most commonly used by African-American youth. While African-American youth consume less alcohol than their White and other ethnic minority peers, more than a third (37%) of African- American high school students are regular drinkers (i.e. at least once in the past 30 days). Alcohol use contributes to the three leading causes of death among African-American youth between ages 12 and 20: homicide, unintentional injury (including motor vehicle crashes) and suicide. In the African-American population in general, abstention rates are higher than in the general population, but so are prevalence of heavier drinking and levels of alcohol-related health consequences.

Gee, do you think it’s time to stop pushing 12-year-olds to pop open a cold one?