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The Biz Roundup February 1

What’s bigger news than who wins the Super Bowl? Why, the Denny’s ad, of course.

Although the country’s circumstances are far different than in previous years, many of the more than 50 spots shown on Sunday would not have seemed out of place in any Super Bowl of the last decade or two. All the elements that are supposed to make for successful big-game commercials were displayed, over and over again, as if bonuses were being awarded on Madison Avenue for the least creative briefs.

(“Ads That Pushed Our Usual (Well-Worn) Buttons,” New York Times, February 1) Listen, we in the ad business don’t get too many news days, so when they’re doing that dumb football thing, that’s when we go to the toilet. Who’s playing? Who cares? That Pedigree ad was great.

Twenty bucks.

India’s “Sakshat” laptop is intended to boost distance learning to help India fulfil its overwhelming educational needs. It forms part of a broader plan to improve e-learning at more than 18,000 colleges and 400 universities. However, some analysts are sceptical that a $20 laptop would be commercially sustainable and the project has yet to attract a commercial partner.

A prototype will go on show at a National Mission on Education launch in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, tomorrow. Pioneered in India by scientists at the Vellore Institute of Technology, the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, the Indian Institute of Technology in Madras and at the state-controlled Semiconductor Complex, the laptop has 2Gb Ram capacity and wireless connectivity.

(“India to follow $2,000 car with $20 laptop,” Financial Times, February 1) Soon to be at a Worst Buy near you.

Recession-weary audiences generated an unprecedented $1.03 billion in revenue in a month that is not known for its big box office. That’s an increase of nearly 19% from last January’s $867.2 million. . . .

Industry watchers said the unexpectedly strong January, which pushed action film “Taken” to the top this weekend, suggested that movies were benefiting from the economic downturn by providing a relatively cheap escape from the drumbeat of layoffs, bankruptcies and other bad news.

(“Biggest January ever for Hollywood,” Los Angeles Times, February 1) Paul Blart would be proud.

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