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The Roundup September 26 & 27 Madmen really are mad

John Belushi

Who not to invite to your Windows 7 party.

It’s been a pretty sad week in marketing, from the “AIDS is like sleeping with Hitler” commercial in Germany to Carly Fiorina comparing herself to a dog in, well, Carlyfornia. So, in honor of all the hard-working marketers and ad-men who daily struggle against looking like complete and utter idiots, this week’s roundup features some of the best and the brightest of marketing mistakes. Just to give you a fun activity at your Windows 7 party.

Carly Fiorina
The often brilliant, always decisive, but deeply flawed ex-CEO of Hewlett Packard has decided to tentatively launch a campaign for Senate by putting up perhaps the worst Web site in political marketing history. For all those entrepreneurs out there looking for a good ad company, do not go near the jumbo rodeo clowns who came up with the startlingly nonsensical and impenetrable phrase, “Carlyfornia Dreaming!!!” and thought it a good idea making Carly Fiorina the “dog” and Barbara Boxer the “cat.” (And when, I ask you, has it ever been flattering to compare a woman to a dog?) Do the Einsteins at this ad company really think that the upcoming Senate election will be decided by whether voters are dog people or cat people?

Nobody, with even the wildest imagination and unhinged sense of humor, could ever put together a more crazy Microsoft parody than the ones Microsoft and their ad agencies manage to produce with a straight face. The Windows 7 “Host Your Own Party” has to be seen to be believed. Keep in mind that this video had multiple layers of decision-makers involved with it and nobody — nobody, not one person — at the ad agency or Microsoft thought that this video was the advertising equivalent of walking out of a bathroom trailing toilet paper from the back of your pants. Windows 7 activities? Have they lost their minds? You remember that scene in Animal House with John Belushi and the folk singer on the stairs? I suspect we’ll be seeing that scene playing out all over the country — but with laptops hitting the wall rather than a guitar — if anyone is geekily goofy enough to host their own Windows 7 party. Watch at your own risk. Life will never be the same again . . .


Seth Godin
Proving that crowdsourcing is indeed the wave of the future, Seth Godin had to back down on his scheme to aggregate the “brand talk” swirling around brands without the permission of the actual brand owners. While publishing all the conversations around a brand without the brand owner’s permission, Godin’s little scheme allowed those brand owners to exercise some control over this material for the nice little sum of $400 a month. Crowds of lawyers weighed in and Mr. Godin listened. That, of course, is Mr. Godin’s point. You have to listen to your customers. Especially when their lawyers call you. Of course, for a person who believes in listening to customers, it’s funny that you can’t Mr. Godin any comments on his blog or his site.

Value Voters
Don’t people who make big signs and ads actually look at them?

Seriously. You can’t make these things up. A passel of Yahoo! marketing execs along with the best ad creative minds in the world (Walter Landor & Associates and Ogilvy & Mather) have decided to put $100 million of marketing muscle on an ad campaign that is centered on putting the exclamation point in the middle of a pronoun: “Y!ou.” Yes, it’s memorable, but in a “what the hell” sort of way. Now, Yahoo! is no beginner at advertising — they’ve launched some of the best ad campaigns in the last decade. And Landor and Ogilvy, they ain’t exactly slouches — listen, you probably can’t even afford to leave them a phone message. However, as a vet of the advertising industry, I can say with a certain amount of confidence that if it looks like a bad idea, it probably is.

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