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A front page article in today’s Wall Street Journal has my Irish up (and I’m mostly Scotch-German). It concerns the Washington Nationals organization trying to have it both ways — full stadium attendance when the Phillies come to town, but with those seats occupied only by Nationals fans. Currently, this is the work (and job) of one Andrew Feffer.

Feffer is outraged that marauding Phils fans have traveled south to take over the mostly empty Nationals stadium whenever the NL East rivals played. The article cites the usual predictable nasty anecdotes about how horrible the sports fans of Philadelphia are. In this case, vomiting on a local fan’s shoes when he took his father to opening day. Well, there are horrible Philadelphia fans, but they are in the minority. Also, they are in roughly the same proportion as horrible fans from other cities. Philadelphia fans are the polar opposite of fair-weather, they are knowledgeable about their teams and their competitors, and they are passionate enough to take their support on the road.

Philly sports fans are proud to root on their teams even in enemy territory.

Philly sports fans are proud to root on their teams even in enemy territory.

Last summer, I had the pleasure of witnessing this phenomenon while vacationing in Los Angeles with my family. We wanted to take in a Dodgers game that week and were thrilled to learn the Phils were on a West Coast swing. Our only concern was awareness that LA had gotten some serious bad press after Dodgers faithful had beaten a Giants fan nearly to death in the parking lot earlier in the season. Turns out our concerns were unfounded. Like the Nationals, the Dodgers were having real trouble filling seats and as a result Phillies fans turned out in force. It was a great atmosphere and a real kick to watch our team notch a win in someone else’s ballpark. During every trip to the concession stands, a sea of red was high-fiving fellow travelers.

Back on the East Coast, for the past few seasons, Phils fans have actually helped boost the Nationals’ revenue by selling large blocks of tickets that would otherwise have been empty seats. Now, Andrew Feffer is leading an organizational charge to, in his mind, keep the barbarians at the gates. Really sad and shabby idea.

The solution is to field a winning team. The Nationals have been so bad as to be nearly unwatchable in recent years. It’s understandable to not fill seats when your team is terrible. There have been times in recent years, when the Braves and the Marlins had good teams and were unable to fill their stadiums, even at playoff time.  This year, the Nationals have improved from those tough seasons and look like they might be more than competitive. Feffer should trust that winning baseball will attract people to the ballpark. I know there will be at least one. My friend, Glenn, has been a Nats ballpark regular when they were like watching paint dry. THAT’S a fan. Now, it’s thick. Glenn was also there through thin.

Competition is good for sports rivalries. You don’t build a fanbase by keeping other teams’ fans out of your own ballpark. I hope the Nationals new stadium is filled to capacity this weekend. With Nats and Phils fans watching some great baseball, cheering on their teams, and not vomiting on each others’ shoes. Go Phightins!

 

 

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Anyone concerned about the imminent decline of Apple following the passing of its visionary leader Steve Jobs can go back to worrying about climate change or the Mayan calendar doomsday. This week’s quarterly earnings report blew the doors off investor expectations: profits up 94% over a year ago; highest ever Mac, iPhone, iPad sales in a March quarter; cash above $110 billion; it’s Camelot in Cupertino.

Even Iron Man in the new Avengers movie sustains more damage than my aluminum MacBook Pro.

Even Iron Man in the new Avengers movie sustains more damage than my aluminum MacBook Pro.

Apple has been top of mind a lot lately. I recently recounted my self-administered laptop damage travel fiasco that occurred at SmartPark (I know, right?). Incredibly, despite running over the edge of my MacBook Pro when the laptop case flopped over as I parked, the tough aluminum case was bent but not broken. The CD drive, which looked to be affected, wasn’t. The display was compromised but only in the upper right corner. Less than 24 hours at the Apple Store restored it to pristine condition. Can you name another product that can take that kind of licking and keep on ticking?

While my Mac was in for repair, I spent the weekend in Manhattan and had the chance to visit the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. It is just below ground, but by the stairs or glass elevator that take you down, it feels like you are entering the Starship Enterprise. This is a company that knows how to fire the public’s imagination and desire for all things digital.

Beam me down, Scotty, to the planet Apple below Fifth Avenue in NYC.

Beam me down, Scotty, to the planet Apple below Fifth Avenue in NYC.

I am not a huge cellphone guy, but I have had an iPhone for about a year and it’s wearing me down. I don’t need to be on it  all the time, but I find myself using it for so many different things. In the car, it’s my GPS and my iTunes feed. In a long line at the store or restaurant, it’s my e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter access. In bored moments, I find myself downloading really useful apps like the Flipadelphia cup flipping game from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Obviously, with the explosion of iPhone and iPad users out there (including a burgeoning market in China), Apple’s future is looking mighty rosy. Even a Justice Department investigation over possible book publisher collusion on digital book pricing is little more than a minor distraction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azBzUEFZIss&feature=relmfu

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5Dt0YlN2nM

The cool factor has always been there in Apple advertising. From 1984, through the PC and Mac guys, and the iTunes tunes, Apple has managed to capture attention, set trends, and create demand for its amazing products. Now comes two new TV spots featuring celebrity users of the latest generation iPhones with Siri capability. Although Apple has enough cachet on its own, it doesn’t hurt to trade on the current popularity of Samuel L. Jackson and Zooey Deschanel. Neither spot is ground-breaking, but both are fun and play to the strengths of the actors at quiet moments at home with their digital personal assistant.  The reviewer from Advertising Age found them somewhat misguided and with the strategy adrift now that Steve Jobs isn’t captaining the ship. Still, the spots are scoring well with consumers. Right now, I think you could replace Jackson and Deschanel with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Snooki and it wouldn’t have any effect on Apple sales or popularity. The economy might be hurting, the California economy in particular, but in Cupertino, it’s the gold rush all over again.

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Just prior to heading to NYC for the weekend, I got an email from Mike Sisti with the following New York Times story link as possible blog fodder. I found it to be a pretty interesting example of why price wars, in this case between rival pizza parlors, have a tendency to cause pain for all involved.
A temporary race to the bottom can permanently harm multiple competitors and skew consumer perceptions about quality, service, and other differentiators. Being the low cost leader in any business is not necessarily the best position because customers are often left with the impression that corners must be cut in order to achieve the lowest of the lows.

Gray's Papaya is advertising 99 cent pizza.

Gray's Papaya is advertising 99 cent pizza.

While walking around the Village south of Washington Square yesterday, I saw evidence of the cutthroat battle between the non-chain pizza purveyors. I did not come across any 75 cent postings. Gray’s Papaya was glad to have a sign in the window advertising 99 cent slices. Then, I turned a corner and saw a remarkable commitment blending branding and pricing strategies. Between raw materials, cost of labor, rent, and other overhead and fluctuating variables, I am not sure I would ever name my business 99 Cent Fresh Pizza, but I’ll bet for the moment, things are working well.

When you're 99 Cent Fresh Pizza, you are committed to a pricing and branding strategy.

When you're 99 Cent Fresh Pizza, you are committed to a pricing and branding strategy.

In other restaurant news, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (Mental? Why not Dental?), since July 2010, has decided to enter Zagat’s realm and is now requiring food establishments to prominently post letter grades received following most recent spot inspections (A, B, or C). At first glance, I noticed nothing but A’s around the Village and assumed it was not mandatory and only those getting top grades would post (however, all are required by law to post their grades). Soon thereafter I came across a posted B grade (lone cockroach spotted?). This is an unusual blending of carrots and sticks to get restaurants to clean up their kitchens. Most people if given the choice between an A or a B or even a C are not going to want to risk food poisoning and are going to opt for the top grade. Having been a dishwasher in a couple of kitchens early in my working life that were not always pristine, I can see where this regulatory approach has some merits and built in incentives to keep things more toward spotless than spotty.

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Don't tread on me — somehow my Macbook Pro survived being run over by only upper display and case damage.

Don't tread on me — somehow my Macbook Pro survived being run over with only upper display and case damage.

My trip to the ISC West Security Expo this week didn’t start out on a winning note when I went to straighten my car in a parking space at the airport car park. My laptop case flopped over at the worst possible moment and I managed to run over the edge of it. Despite a creased screen, my Macbook Pro and mental state survived a very bad hand. From there, I found myself having a fun, never less-than-entertaining time in Sin City. I’m not a gambler, so I can usually limit the damage on a Vegas trip to electronica.

Things off to a great start with the chance to catch up with old Newton friend, Don Shook, who now heads Merit Media Relations in Vegas, a PR firm specializing in the packaging industry. We worked together with Don years ago when he handled corporate relations in-house for Graphic Packaging, the folding carton giant, and then a unit of Coors. Don has been a great many things in his career, including law enforcement in CO, a news video editor at Philadelphia’s WPVI-TV when Larry Kane was anchoring there, and a world-class punster. All that and this photo of us in the lobby of the Venetian with a statuesque blonde should more than qualify Don to succeed Ricky Gervais as host of the Golden Globes.

The author and old friend Don Shook, the gold (leaf) standard in media relations.

The author and old friend Don Shook, the gold (leaf) standard in media relations.

The rest of my short stay was no less memorable. It consisted of a whirlwind Thursday calling on two Newton clients exhibiting at ISC West and walking a very packed Sands Expo Center.

The folks at 2GIG Technologies continue to lead the industry in security and home automation with panels that emphasize elegant ease-of-use design and do things no one is even thinking about. They use the Alarm.com platform, which was featured in a full page ad in the US Air magazine on my flight in.

The 2GIG booth was demo land at ISC because everyone wanted to get a preview of the new Go! 2.0 panel.

The 2GIG booth was demo land at ISC because everyone wanted to get a preview of the new Go! 2.0 panel.

Powerhouse decided that "the force is with 2GIG" and used a Star Wars theme to promote the Go!Control Panel.

Powerhouse decided that "the force is with 2GIG" and used a Star Wars theme to promote the Go!Control Panel.

The Powerhouse Star Wars suit featured a fully armed Go!Control Panel from 2GIG Technologies..

The Powerhouse Star Wars suit featured a fully armed Go!Control Panel from 2GIG Technologies

I got a demo of 2GIGs new Go! 2.0 panel and it is quite frankly mind-blowing what they are building in. No wonder their booth was packed from start of show till finish. Also why even their distributors like Power House can’t get enough of this product line — they took to the floor in Star Wars gear with the original Go! Control panel affixed to the front and back of the Imperial Stormtrooper uniform. That’s just terrific trade show buzz-generating fun.

Expertly piggybacking on this Z-Wave of home security functionality is Secure Wireless, another Newton client specializing in the industry’s top wireless transmitters and sensors (compatible with every major manufacturer’s line) plus OEM lines developed for these same makers. Secure Wireless has built a solid business by being even better than the equivalent units by the manufacturers.

Secure Wireless is the one of the leading developers of RF based transmitters and receivers in the world.

Secure Wireless is the one of the leading developers of RF based transmitters and receivers in the world.

The rest of ISC was a blur of very different but always interesting exhibits and statements.

Probably not a good idea to use your products (CCTV cameras) as mini golf hazards in a trade show booth putting green.

Probably not a good idea to use your products (CCTV cameras) as mini golf hazards in a trade show booth putting green.

Bosch decided to emphasize inventory. Hence an exhibit made entirely out of CCTV packaging.

Bosch decided to emphasize inventory. Hence an exhibit made entirely out of CCTV packaging.

Assa Abloy was a big presence at ISC West (including a booth big enough to house a tractor trailer).

Assa Abloy was a big presence at ISC West (including a booth big enough to house a tractor trailer).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Capping the day was a chance to catch up with a few old friends at the Nine Fine Irishmen pub at New York, New York. Great Celtic fare for those of us who missed Saint Patrick’s Day, as well as an awesome high-energy house band, Sin E Ri Ra.

And the most amazing groupie I have ever seen.

The Irish know how to have a good time. So do the folks who built and now maintain Las Vegas as one of the world’s great destination cities for business and pleasure.

It's hard to beat Vegas as the 24/7 fun time capital of the world.

It's hard to beat Vegas as the 24/7 fun time capital of the world.

 

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The NYTimes magazine features an amazing story on retailers' data collection and analysis practices.

The NYTimes magazine features an amazing story on retailers' data collection and analysis practices.

The answer is of course. We all are. Personal data is being collected on all of us at an alarming rate. We have written about it before and before that. The President and Congress and the Digital Advertising Alliance are looking at new legislation and new steps to protect consumer privacy. Meanwhile the databases continue to accumulate on you and me and your next-door neighbors and your cousin Louie and all credit card wielding members of the Kardashian family.

I’d like to thank Michael Smerconish and his drive time radio show for tipping me off to an amazing story on personal data collection and analysis from last Sunday’s New York Times magazine. I encourage you to read it in its entirety here and to watch the short video that accompanies it. There’s an amazing story about how data launched, crashed, and resurrected Febreze and a mini industry of household deodorizers. However, the main event is how Target is successfully collecting data and using it to predict key moments when customers might be induced to become even more loyal and big-spending customers.

The Target example given is focused on products that women purchase when they are in the early stages of pregnancy (evidently one of those retail window periods when customers might be influenced by special offers and promotions to become uber customers).  That sounds like a universal creepout and Target, smart marketers that they are, recognize how to use that data in such subtle ways that most customers will not even realize they are being beckoned siren song style by the ”growing family” clothing, feeding, and home decorating aisles.

Once the full ramifications of this article had sunk in, I began having nightmares about the data that various retailers are collecting on me and how they are interpreting it.

Does Starbucks know they have a serious caffeine addict on their hands and can now move beyond this gateway drug and start selling me crack lattes?

Must Wal-Mart be convinced by the number of boxes of Cap’n Crunch and other child-friendly cereals I purchase that I am now ready to acquire a steady stream of action figures and Pokemon cards?

Will Wegman’s tally up my craft beer six pack totals and write me off as asleep on the couch Rip Van Winkle style and unlikely to shop again prior to 2015?

Lord, please make CVS destroy the servers where my Rx and OTC pharmaceutical purchases are stored. They may be calling the asylum now.

I think we can all take some comfort that Ryan Braun, last season’s National League MVP, managed to get his drug testing suspension overturned this week. It may not restore the appearance of purity to Major League Baseball, but it’s one small blow against the data collectors and wielders.

On the second anniversary of our weekly blog. Thanks to all of you who read NewtonIdeas.net on an occasional or regular basis. This marks our 106th post. Last month, we broke the 10,000 unique visitors mark and it felt gratifying that the meta tagging of all those pornographic search terms are finally paying off.

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The ad industry was once filled with imaginative writers, amazing artists, and exceptional salespeople. Today, it still is, but there are a lot fewer of them, with their thinning ranks filled by technologists. However, I’ve always been buoyed by copywriters who manage to write their way out of the agency business and into fame and fortune. After working on Detroit automotive accounts, Elmore Leonard launched a prolific career as a crime novelist — most recently, his lawman character Raylan has spawned the popular cable show JustifiedJames Patterson, author of the Alex Cross mysteries and now a hugely successful children’s book author, once toiled at J. Walter Thompson.  Even, more serious scribes like F. Scott Fitzgerald (you know, the Gatsby guy) first penned ad copy to pay the bills.

Closer to home, I once had the pleasure of a book-signing meeting with award-winning author of young adult fiction, Jerry Spinelli, who worked on the trade media side of the business as an editor at the long-gone Chilton publishing empire in Radnor. He put Norristown and the Elmwood Park Zoo on the map in the classic Maniac Magee. I also once interviewed with a very personable Jon Clinch, a creative director at Schaefer Advertising, who went on to write a remarkable first novel, Finn, daring to take on Twain’s story from the perspective of Huck’s dead father.

Unfortunately, for every fiction and screenwriter writing about advertising from the outside (MadMen, thirtysomething), there are many more writers in the advertising profession hoping to midwife the Great American Novel. Fortunately, a few are also putting their talents to work creating exceptional thought leadership tomes about advertising, branding, and marketing. Some are brand names themselves (Ogilvy on Advertising). Some are in-demand lecturers like David Meerman Scott.  And others are terrific practitioners of what they preach.

One of the latter is a friend of mine, Lori Widmer, who fills every day as a professional writer, freelancing for corporations and agencies like Newton, writing Words on the Page, a writer’s blog, co-moderating About Writing Squared, a writers’ forum, and now authoring an ambitious and ingenious e-book of ideas, Marketing 365.

Marketing365 is an idea-a-day business-building treasure chest for entrepreneurs

Marketing365 is an idea-a-day business-building treasure chest for entrepreneurs

This work is literally a year’s worth of advice, (plus a bonus for leap year), to help small businesses and entrepreneurs develop and retain their customer bases by making marketing an essential everyday agenda item. The guide is a quick-read at 108 breezy pages, but it is chock-full of great recommendations. Lori doesn’t want readers to implement one a day, or anything close to all of them. She just wants businesspeople to mine her book for things that fit their company culture and personal comfort level. It is a great reference source to skim through to trigger new thinking about an age-old subject. She manages to mix traditional methods and media with plenty of digital and social options, all without repeating herself January 1 – December 31. It would make a great addition to any marketing curriculum and SBA support center.

Marketing 365 can be yours via PDF download for the bargain price of $14.95. I hope the many readers of this blog will help make Lori rich (just not rich enough to leave the profession and give up occasional freelancing).

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Who cares about the Super Bowl? Certainly not local sports fans in this town. It’s the Philadelphia Eagles’ arch NFC East rivals, the New York Giants, vs. the team that thrashed us in our last Super Bowl appearance, the New England Patriots. It is fortunate we have other diversions like hosting our own long-running annual professional sports championship this weekend — WING BOWL XX!!!!

WIP radio hosted Wing Bowl XX with an incredible sellout of the Wells Fargo Center by over 20,000 well-lubricated fans

WIP radio hosted Wing Bowl XX with an incredible sellout of the Wells Fargo Center by over 20,000 well-lubricated fans

For those of you who don’t follow eating competitions, Wing Bowl, hosted by local radio sports talk channel WIP, has grown from a couple guys sitting around a hotel-hosted wingfest into a Lollapalooza of an event that draws over 20,000 crazy fans who sell out the Wells Fargo Center weeks in advance. It is hard to describe this spectacle — it is part indoor Mummers Parade/Mardi Gras; part burlesque show thanks to hordes of barely clad Wingettes, and part fall of the Roman Empire complete with vomitorium.

Wing Bowl may sound like a slapdash affair, but it has grown from an amusing radio stunt conceived by Morning Team co-host Al Morganti into a mega-event that requires weeks of on-air and remote appearance screenings of professional (and amateur) eaters, Wingette girls, and event promotions. The City and the Wells Fargo Center has to prepare for an army of early a.m. drunks, carefully managing traffic and parking, and even closing FDR Park across the street to keep it from becoming a tailgate city.  The planning of D-Day looks spontaneous by comparison.

Like all good radio contests, zaniness abounds in Wing Bowl. My favorite of many laugh-out-loud moments over the past few weeks was listening to the Morning Team try out a strange fellow who won entry by eating five pounds of canned pineapples. Host Angelo Cataldi surprised his audience by asking the man’s religious affiliation following this tough gastric challenge, because he wanted to know if he was related to a past Wing Bowl contestant. Stagename: The Acidic Jew.

Wing Bowl XX was a record setting spectacle — 337 wings consumed by pro eater Kobayashi.

Wing Bowl XX was a record setting spectacle — 337 wings consumed by pro eater Kobayashi.

In spite of all the good-natured carousing and silliness, Wing Bowl is a serious competition, this year pitting 27 eating-stunt-tested contestants. Past winners like Super Squibb and El Wingador went elbow-to-elbow against a variety of past contestants and newcomers. Incredibly, the legendary Kobayashi, perhaps best known as the champion of other professional eating competitions like Coney Island’s hot dog eating competition, bested not only these all-time greats, but broke the all-time record by eating a jaw-dropping 337 wings. You can read all about it here and here. Or watch coverage here.

The other winners? Smart retail marketers like jeweler Steven Singer and Barb’s Harley-Davidson, who actively take part in the festivities and pony up the major prizes. You can’t buy this kind of publicity (well, actually they do), but it is ongoing, associative, and branded all over the place.

Wing Bowl may not succeed in making Philly sports fans forget that they are not in the Super Bowl this weekend. But kudos to the gang at WIP for creating their own mega-event that is fun, wildly unpredictable, and uniquely and exclusively Philadelphia.

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PA's Yuengling just attained America's Largest Brewer status.

PA's Yuengling just attained America's Largest Brewer status.

Congratulations to D.G. Yuengling & Son, who just officially became America’s largest brewer, moving ahead of Boston Beer Co. (Sam Adams), according to Beer Marketer, as the largest U.S.-owned brewer that makes all its beer in the states. That sounds highly improbable for a family business and a beer sold almost exclusively in the East (and long concentrated in the Northeast), and especially to anyone who doesn’t follow beer industry brewings. However, all the national brands are now owned by foreign corporations and industry market share is greatly fragmented by smaller brands, microbrews, popular imports, and reduced consumption overall.

If you’ve never visited the hillside town of Pottsville, PA, the Yuengling brewery tour is a good reason to do so (the other is the fiction of John O’Hara, who wrote many a novel and short story about the town in its economic hey day as Gibbsville). The company now has a second brewery in Tampa.

This news should be a big deal for Pennsylvania, but it hasn’t registered to the extent it should. Perhaps that is because marketing isn’t what has propelled Yuengling to the top (hard to top the ad budgets of Budweiser, Miller, and Coors), but quality and persistence are. Yuengling Lager is a really good everyday beer that makes it consistently popular everywhere it is sold. This state has a proud brewing tradition and many brands historically associated with various localities: Philadelphia (Schmidt’s), Pittsburgh (Iron City), Rolling Rock (Latrobe). . .one of my favorite TV commercial memories from childhood when visiting relatives in Scranton was “Gimmee, Gimmee, Gimmee Gibbons”, the slogan of the Wilkes-Barre based Lion-Gibbons brewery.

Beyond state borders, I have always had a soft spot for Coors, because there was a time it attained cult status in the East when refrigerated transport for a time kept it mostly West of the Rockies. Later, when Newton Associates had the Graphic Packaging account, which had been a folding carton packaging unit of Coors, a lucky few (not myself included unfortunately) traveled to Golden to shoot a packaging plant video and got an exclusive Coors brewery tour. Another legendary beer of the time was Olympia from Washington state. Today, we help the O Bee Credit Union with PR — ironically, it began life as the credit union for employees of the Olympia brewery, which closed in 2003.

Happier, hoppier days at the Olympia brewery, which closed in 2003.

Happier, hoppier days at the Olympia brewery, which closed in 2003.

So, although many popular breweries and brands are gone. Yuengling’s rise is happy beer industry news locally. Fortunately, PA is also blessed with a resurgence of microbreweries such as Victory and Stoudts, as well as excellent brew pubs and beerhalls like Iron Hill and Brauhaus Schmitz. For all those Pennsylvanians who enjoy beer, the announcement of the Yuengling triumph is like Octoberfest in January.

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Latest Facebook movement is on behalf of kids with cancer.

Latest Facebook movement is on behalf of kids with cancer.

As 2012 starts, we are suffering from a dearth of leadership, and the larger the institution or company, the more likely that no one wants to step up and steer the ship. Latest example is Mattel, which has a social media storm developing outside its corporate walls and it is over something that could be turned into such a positive for all and on all levels. If you haven’t heard about the Beautiful and Bald Barbie Facebook page/group, here is a good primer on it. Essentially, someone came up with a brilliantly simple idea to support little girls going through cancer care and attendant hair loss (as well as those whose mothers are) — a Barbie, the universal doll symbol of beauty, minus all her signature golden locks. With every other possible celebrity and situational version of Barbie, it is amazing that Mattel did not think of this themselves, and therein lies the problem. So far, the official response to this Facebook movement is that official corporate policy is to not accept ideas from outside.

I suppose Mattel is grappling with a lot of legal questions as to who owns this idea and how are they compensated on future sales. Incredibly, this story adds another layer — that early last year Mattel custom-produced a bald Barbie for a single little girl undergoing chemo. So, there is even precedence here.

I have a unique perspective on this, being from the PR industry, and having had a child successfully treated for leukemia. A children’s onco ward can be a scary, lonely place and little gestures of caring and kindness go a long way. How can Mattel be so tone deaf — kids with cancer and a chance to do something socially redemptive — it seems like the easiest corporate green light ever.  Where is the downside?

No response to Bald Barbie movement on any Barbie or Mattel pages.

No response to Bald Barbie movement on any Barbie or Mattel pages.

Instead, with the Beautiful and Bald Barbie Facebook page now approaching 100,000 likes, and a lot of negative comments posted about Mattel, the official Mattel and Barbie Facebook pages, apps, and web site pages do not have any responses to this movement. However, you will find this bit of mission statement gobbledygook:

“”Leadership” at Mattel is the ability to develop and communicate a compelling picture of the future that inspires and motivates others to take action. Leaders at Mattel align themselves with Mattel’s core values, exhibit leadership competencies and drive for success in our business strategies. In this way, we will work to achieve our vision, “Creating the Future of Play.” Every day as Mattel’s 30,000 employees worldwide strive to realize that vision, our leadership team is guiding the way.”

Someone on this page at Mattel needs to stop talking about leadership, throw policy manuals out the window, and actually lead.  It’s the smart thing to do, the right thing to do, and the ONLY thing to do.

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The Mütter Museum is a Philadelphia Must-See.

The Mütter Museum is a Philadelphia Must-See.

If the question is “May I take photography inside of all your marvelous medical oddities, curiosities, and maladies?”, the answer is a definite no. But actually, my question is “Can I blog about Philadelphia’s infamous Mütter Museum?”, and I’m just going to plunge ahead, not waiting for an answer, and beg forgiveness later.

If you are a Philadelphia area resident and you have never ventured to 22nd Street between Market and Chestnut, to the College of Physicians’ amazing, disturbing, and eye-opening (and in some cases, oozing) Mütter Museum, you owe it to yourself to put it on your New Year’s Resolution list. A visit will cure you of thinking hypochondriacs are crazy, it will give you new respect for the medical pioneers who have helped us achieve the healthcare available to us in the 20th Century, and it will create empathy for some remarkable people who have had to endure some physical handicaps, indignities, and challenges that underscore the strength of the human spirit.

If you are from outside of Philadelphia, I have good news for you — the Mütter is now available to you every Monday via its very own YouTube channel with a video minute starring its current curator. I would like to salute the Museum’s marketing team for its social media inventiveness (you can also connect with the Mütter via Facebook and Twitter). They are leveraging digital and social to connect in an educational and entertaining way with a wide audience of museum members, followers, and potential new converts. Marketing creativity has long been a strength of the Mütter, however. A good many years ago, a former curator was a semi-regular guest on David Letterman’s show. Earlier this fall, the Mütter premiered an art film by identical twins, the Quay Brothers, who were likely drawn to the collection by the saga of conjoined twins Yang and Eng. The museum really understands that its halls are filled with exhibits that are offbeat at best, off-putting at worst, and that it needs to play to its strengths, but with 365-days-a-year unconventional outreach.

As great as the new YouTube channel is (deep, too, with around 100 videos), you need to visit in person to get the full Mütter experience. The Soap Lady needs to be seen in the flesh (or in all her saponified glory). There are several preserved ovarian cysts that are (I’m not exaggerating here) larger than our Butterball Thanksgiving turkey for 12. Then, there is the mega-colon (also preserved and on display) from a man whose bowels’ nerves were contributing to the worst constipation problem anyone could ever possibly conceive of (until you see it on display). Perhaps the most amazing thing I learned was that the Hahneman of yesteryear found nothing they could do, so they discharged the poor man (not the hospital’s finest hour).

The Mütter is a tourism treasure of the City of Brotherly Love and needs all the love it can get. Here is a holiday card in the form of a very entertaining Gamestop commercial from Christmas season 2010 that has nothing to do with the Mütter, but as you’ll see, everything to do with the Mütter:

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