Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: Advertising and Marketing

Have it Your Way

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Add the Mayo
Add the Cheese
Have it Your Way
Pretty Please

“Mommy, Mommy,”
Kids Do Sing
“I Want Me
Some Burger King”

“No, No, No
That Food is Bad”

“But Didn’t I See it
On Your Ad?”

Are you sure mothers using BlogHer ads want to be advertising Burger King value meals to other busy mothers in their sidebars?   Frankly, I like Burger King Whoppers, much more than Big Macs, but I don’t have a childhood obesity problem — only high cholesterol.   At least In-N-Out gives me some old-time religion with my burger!   Burger King doesn’t even get the good movie tie-ins.

My First Attempt at Targeted Advertising

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For the upcoming Poetry Thursday
demographic:  hot Yoga chicks

I’ve mastered my emotions
Through tantric practices
Through careful meditation
I’m a Ayurvedic wiz
I know my Bhakti Yoga
I’ve sat with Liz Elayne
I’ve read my Upanishads
While posing in the rain
To reach my inner chakras
is actually quite hard
That’s why I feel my oneness
With the Enlightenment Visa Card

You know how several times a year, you get offers for credit cards from every organization you’ve ever been connected with:  the AAA, your college alumni, Amazon.com.  Do you have any doubt that if my penis would apply for a Mastercard, that he would be approved for one?

I just happened to find the idea of an Enlightenment Visa card amusing.   From their website:

Finally, a credit card for people like us

Some people say money is evil…

We say “how” money is used determines the effect.

The Enlightenment Card was founded on the idea that money is energy and if used with positive and integrative intention, can have the power to affect change in our lives and the world. Everyone uses a credit card, so why not have one where people can earn points towards positive products and services that enhances their overall “Conscious” life path? Some of the categories of rewards you can earn points toward are yoga classes, organic products, retreats + workshops, travel, books + DVD’s, personal care, spa treatments, and more…And, members can even redeem their points to make donations to charities such as Trees for the Future.

Is collecting 154,000 Reward Points for a Thai Yoga Massage at a fancy resort really that much better than American Airlines Frequent Flier Miles?

There are eight different cards you can choose from, including “Truth,” “Love,” and “Peace,” each with a different “spiritual” picture on it.

I LOVE the Enlightenment Card’s slogan:  “Changing your world with every point you earn.” 

Arm in Arm

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Imagine a world where liberals and conservatives stand side by side. Where gays and right-wing reactionaries work for the same cause. Where snobby New Yorker and small town Southerners live as equals. Where foul-mouthed frat boys and stern-faced feminists wish each other well.

Is this utopia? No, this world does exist.

Online.

This world is called Blogads.

Since I started blogging, I’ve complained about how segmented the blogosphere is — differerent “communities” that rarely interact. In reality, a unifying force brings the most popular blogs together — one God you might say — yes, it is money from advertising.

I’ve always been fascinated with advertising, ever since Mr. Molnia, my eigth grade Social Studies teacher, taught us about “propaganda techniques.” He always told us to study the advertising on TV and newspapers because you could learn a lot about what is — and what is NOT said — in the world.

Despite my hatred for advertisements on blogs — and I HATE THEM — there is a strong possibility that I might end up with them some day. So, today, I hit the online road to explore what is out there. And here is what I found: No surprise. There is a lot of advertising going on.

Before we all get all excited, you should know that to make any sort of money, you need a lot of readers and “hits.” In the scheme of “blog celebrity,” if Dooce is George Clooney, I’m Pauly Shore’s unknown brother, Herman.

Dooce and the big mommy and daddy blogs like Amalah, Finslippy, and Dad Gone Mad, all seem to be part of the Federated Media Publishing network and get advertisements from Adbrite. I quickly left these two sites, realizing I was on hallowed ground.

I headed over to BlogAds (for opinion makers!), mostly because I’ve seen them on all types of blogs, and they seemed to “represent” a broader ranger of “categories.”

We’re the blog advertising specialists. Launched in 2002, Blogads.com is where you place ads on America’s most influential blogs.

We represent the blogs you read — sure they’ve got stellar demographics (see our surveys of 56,000 blog readers), but blog readers aren’t just another random crowd of affluent consumers. Bloggers and their readers are mavens, influencers and insiders. Densely networked and brainstorming together at the speed of light, they are the new epicenter of American opinion.

Brainstorming together at the speed of light? Is that what we do every morning in our underwear? And… speed of light — are you kidding? Have any of these people actually commented on a Blogger site? It takes five minutes just to fill out the name, the email, the url, and that stupid jumbled word? Speed of light? Maybe big-time bloggers never actually comment anywhere, sort of like how former President Bush didn’t know how to buy groceries in a modern supermarket.

Still, I knew Blogads was the place for me. How did I know that? Because there were testimonials. Testimonials that I didn’t understand, and I’m always impressed with things that make me feel stupid.

“Blogads is the ‘Intel-inside’ of the blog revolution.”
– John Hlinko, Grassroots.com

Ok, great!

“My favorite ‘buzz seeding’ tool currently is the amazing network over at BlogAds.com…”
– Brian Clark, GMDstudios

I like the buzz seeding stuff because it sounds like sex.

“The best part is being able to share space (mind-space, virtual-space, screen-space) with the bloggers who — if they embrace our books and authors — make all the difference”
– Farah Miller, Knopf Publishing Group

The three dimensions of space. Cool!

But clearly my favorite was:

“…we’ve gotten very good CPM and CPC rates this way…”
– Elias Israel, Messagefire

Now, this is why I started blogging!

As in other “ad networks,” Blogads separates their blogs into convenient “hives” to attract the appropriately affluent demographic.

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Curious to know “What’s My Hive?”, I went through each hive one by one, trying to find the best “fit” for Citizen of the Month.

Here’s the bulk of the list:

Hollywood Blogads
Liberal Blo Advertising Network
TVBlogs
Humor Network
Conservative Blog Advertising Network
Beltway Bloggers
The Philly Ad Network
Hip Hop
Baseball Blogosphere
Gay Blogads
Environment and Sustainability
SportsBlogs
Los Angeles Blogs
Women Bloggers Network
Blue Country
International BlogAds
Government Relations Blog Network
Programming and Technology Blogs
Riveting Reviews
The Liberal Prose
Foodblog Ad Network
Military Blogs
Hip Hop and R&B
AltWeeklies Blog Network
Southern BlogAds
North Carolina
Fashion Blogads
Indie Film Blogs
Indie Music
Law Blog Ad Network
Texas Progressive Alliance
Design Network
SoapBlox
Science Blogs
The Anti-Terrorism Coalition
Red State Network
Progressive Parenting
Baby and Parenting Blogads
UK Blogads
Economic Blogads
Chicago Blogs
Oregon Progressives
Football Blogosphere
Gun Blogs
Raging Center-Right Bloggers
Stock Market Investing Network
Jewish Blogs
Product Niche Network
Blogads Gaming
Evangelical Bloggers
Japan Blog Ad Network
Colored Left
Shopping
Physician Blogging
Jersey Ad Network
Travel Blog
Michigan Ad Network
Wine Blogger Ad Network
Libertarian Ad Network
Christian Moms
Homeschool Blog Network
Art Network
Twin Cities MN Blogs
Lesbian Blog Ad Network
Colorado Progressive Bloggers
Iowa Blogad Network
Weight Loss, Fitness, and Diet
Boston Blogs
Craft Blogads
Feminist Blogger Network
Music Blog Network
Blogads Gadget Network
Gossip Blogs

Whew! That took forever to type out.

Have you ever seen a more motley crew? On the blogosphere, they all hate each other, but on Blogads, they all work for the same cause. In fact, the better the Christian Moms do as a network, the more money in the pot for the lesbians! It’s a small world after all!

Of course, it is difficult to “typecast” yourself. Of all the categories, the ones that seemed most appropriate for myself were the Humor Network, Los Angeles Blogs, and Jewish Blogs.

Unfortunately:

1) My blog really isn’t that funny anymore. Humor Network.

2) My most popular post on Los Angeles was: “Why is Los Angeles So Ugly?” Los Angeles Blogs.

3) Jewish Blogs? Uh… uh… well…

SHALOM, ADVERTISERS!

UPDATE: On request, Jay at the Zero Boss offers readers of this blog a very special BLOG ADVERTISING PRIMER — an insider’s look at how it works and why it is important to clutter up your blog with ads.

UPDATE #2 — 10/20/06: My little post on advertising yesterday received more email than anything I’ve written lately, so it must have touched some nerve. There’s probably a lot of different anxieties at work here — art, snobbishness, money, envy, etc.

I think many of us were initially attracted to blogging because of how democratic it seemed. Any grandmother with a mouse could start a blog and join the conversation.
But, all of a sudden, everyone is talking about bloggers paying their mortgage with their blog.  I understand t would be be nice to get something back something in reurn for all our blogging “work” — other than spam. Oh, right, we’re supposed to be doing this to find our writing voice and make online friends? Hah!

Today’s society is clearly a world of marketing and publicity. We should know. Half of us work in that field.

Everywhere around me, I see the melding together of art and commerce — not that it is new, just that there are fewer and fewer places to hide from it. Just today in the LA Times, I read about how a new PBS children’s show is being sponsored by Arby’s. There are already cross-promotions in the works. Why exactly does PBS exist if it is becoming as commercial as network television? But really — who can blame them? With less government funding, PBS needs to get money from somewhere.

It is sad to me that you can’t even hide in the Blogosphere.

At The Zero Boss, I learned about how blogs are using clever methods to sell you products. Wal-Mart’s PR firm created two blogs that were POSING as grass-roots support for the giant retailer.

I had never heard of this new company called PayPerPost, where you can sign up and make money by promoting products on your blog. So, in the future, if I tell you how much I loved my Burger King Veggie Burger, you won’t be able to know whether I really enjoyed it or I am GETTING PAID to say I enjoyed it.

I’m surprised that so many of you actually said that I should “go for advertising.” To be honest, I’m not sure it is even worth it. Someone who works in the biz emailed me and said that when all is said and done, the most I could expect is forty bucks a month — and that’s only if I completely covered my sidebar. God knows what type of ads would go here.

I think I would be better off with a job with better health benefits.

Maybe I am behind the times. Maybe I’m a sucker for the laid-back, old-school Los Angeles vibe of years ago, a world I fantasized about even as a child in Queens — where everyone just hung out at the beach, not worrying about marketing, but only the sun and the surf, listening to the Eagles on the radio —

What did you say? The Eagles just made an deal today to sell their next album where?  Excusively at … WAL-MART?!

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: How Much is that Dildo in the Window?

(is this old post kosher?)

The Best Teacher I Ever Had

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The best teacher I ever had was my eight grade social studies teacher, Mr. Molnia.    He was a middle-aged man who wore bargain-basement suits and the same pair of black shoes every day.   Most people probably walked past him on the street without giving him another thought.  I have no idea whether he was married, had children, or if he is still with us.  But this man blew my mind open with his radical ideas. 

It’s an old intellectual concept that "reality" is the superficial part of life — and the real action is going behind the scenes.   It was the Greeks who first introduced us to the "Platonic ideal."   Christian thinkers such as Aquinas infused Greek thought with Christian thought — creating a separation between heaven (the ideal) and earth (the sinful senses).  Later philosopher rejected this religious outlook, but still sought "the real truth" beneath the sensory world.  Hegel and Marx saw history as pushing society forward.   Marx’s vision  became the basis for Communism and Socialism.   Freud’s search turned matters inward, with the unseen truth usually having something to do with sex and repression. 

As an eighth grader, I didn’t know much about Marx or Freud.   Mr. Molnia talked about issues that I could relate to — like television, and the reality behind the facade.  He explained to our class that the networks existed as much for the commercials as they did for the programs.   This was an earth-shattering concept to me.  I always thought of TV as my friend.  Suddenly, I realized that it was two-timing me with the Milton-Bradley Company, telling me I needed to buy certain games just to get some action with his other friend. 

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Mr. Molnia told us to watch some of our favorite shows, and make note of the commercials.  By doing this, we could find out what type of audience they were shooting for, and we could get insights on how they’re trying to manipulate us.  Years before everyone was arguing about media bias, he was telling us that EVERYONE IS BIASED.   He told us to take everything with a "grain of salt," even text books.  He read us part of a book explaining that the "Founding Fathers" were as interested in personal gain as they were in forming a new country.  I couldn’t believe we were learning this stuff.  It was as if we had just found out that the world was round, and every other teacher had been telling us for years that it was square.

I felt a paradigm shift in my mind.

Now, Mr. Molnia was NOT some sort of ex-hippy.  He was far from it.   His biggest enemy was propaganda.  He showed us how it was used in Nazi Germany.   He showed us various American political campaigns from the past, and how their aim was to manipulate the populace.  He made us watch commercials for products, and how they used the same propoganda techniques to make us insecure and buy their products.  He taught us different  techniques — assertion, bandwagon, card-stacking, glittering generalities — not so we can become copywriters — but so we could analyze the false message that we are being told.

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Mr. Molnia has had a great impact on my life.    Whether it is good or bad is another matter.   I can be a stick in the mud at times, still questioning the accuracy of some "60 Minutes" segment.  I’m always curious about a media company’s advertisers, because that tells you a lot what their content is and isn’t going to be about.

For instance, Gawker, the wildly popular gossip site, which the New York Times has called “the national go-to spot for keeping up with the rich and scandalous, the media elite and the pop-culture trends of the moment.”

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Much of their website’s content involves mocking media companies and celebrities.  And who are their sponsors?  This week, it includes:

• Showtime
• Travel Channel
• NBC Blow Out
• American Public Media
• MovieBeam
• Hershey’s
• Don’t Come Knocking
• Speedo
• Basic Instinct
• H&M
• Dyson
• HSBC
• Toyota Yaris
• Brick
• Shatner DVD Club
• Delta
• Fox Searchlight
• Hard Fi
• American Apparel
• Nontourage
• New Line
• Sanctuary Group
• The New School

What does this tell you about their coverage?  Will they be mocking New Line this week?  And what does it say about the advertisers?  Why do they think that Gawker’s audience will want to buy "American Apparel" t-shirts? 

Sophia and I both love reality TV, but we get into endless arguments over it.  I don’t believe half of what goes on in those shows.   As a film school graduate, I can tell you now that there can be no "reality" with a camera in your face, a producer behind the scenes, an editor cutting the material, and music punctuating the emotions.  There is no doubt that someone like Steven Speilberg could film me typing this post right now, and manipulate things with lighting, editing, and music so you would be bawling in your chair after he’s done with it.

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One of my first student movies at USC Film School involved a scene with a baby and a mother sitting under a tree.  We put an ad in the trades, and we were shocked to get hundreds of professionally-made photos from mothers wanting to get their baby in a no-pay silent 16mm student film done by two inept amateurs.  We held auditions and met all these crazy mothers who wanted to get their babies (!) into commercials so they can make money for the family.  We picked some cute baby for the part.

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On the day of the shoot, the mother showed up with her baby — but there was some bad news.  The baby was sick and throwing up.  We were about to call up another "baby," but this psychotic mother insisted that her baby could "go on."  We ended up using this baby, shooting between the times she threw up on the actress.  Months later, after we cut and added music to the short film, people were touched by it, especially the scene with the "angelic baby."

You all know Kelly Clarkson, the shy girl from Texas who made it big on the first American Idol, right?  But did you know, she already lived in Hollywood before her audtion, working as an extra on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and recording vocal demos with famed songwriter Gerry Goffin ("You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman").  She wasn’t just some cute local girl they found working at a Texas Walmart.

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Does it take away from her talent?  No.  But, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that her "story" was bullshit.

Here is one of the most famous photos documenting the civil rights movement. 

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It is Rosa Parks sitting in the front of the bus with a scowling white man behind her.  I’ve seen this photograph in many documentaries.   After Ms. Parks’ recent death, there was an article in the New York Times about this photo.  It seems that the man behind Rosa Parks is Nicholas C. Chriss, a UPI reporter who was writing an article about her.  He posed in the picture to make it look more dramatic.

Does this take away from Rosa Park’s heroism?  Of course not.

But I guess I am a Watergate child at heart — I don’t trust too many politicians or media outlets — no matter which side of the spectrum they come from.

Maybe that’s why I don’t write about politics at all.  Whenever I start believing something is true, I hear Mr. Molnia in my ear and start questioning what I’m being told.

On Saturday, 500.000 marchers walked in Los Angeles to protest proposed federal immigration legislation.   My first instinct was to side with the protesters — and my local NPR station certainly seemed proud of them.  I heard an interviewer talking about racism and Minutemen and how terrible it was that it was OK for Europeans to come to this country, but not Mexicans. 

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Suddenly, my bullshit radar went off. 

I was pretty sure I wasn’t for HR 4437, the border protection bill, but surely something needs to be done to stem immigration from Mexico.  As a resident of Los Angeles, it is a vital issue.

I turned to progressive Chicago blogger Alley, because she is always insightful on political subjects.   But I didn’t quite buy what she was saying today, either.

Do you have any idea what would actually happen to the economy of this country if we turned all of our hard working immigrant non-citizens into criminals, and/or if we actually succeeded in stopping illegal immigration from Mexico? Say goodbye to your clean office buildings and your cheap veggies and your Italian lunch in Downers Grove. No, really.

What proof do you have that your assertion is true? 

The truth of the matter is that it is a complicated issue.   I think conservatives need to remember that most of our grandparents came to this country as immigrants.  But, then again, most of these immigrants came legally.  Is it fair that certain illegals now get "amnesty?"  How do others legal immigrants feel about this issue?

I know progressives are concerned with the well-being of the immigrant community.  But I think we should also be concerned with our poorer citizens who are being pushed aside because there is too much demand for city services.   In Los Angeles, county hospitals are being closed because they have to care for countless numbers of illegal immigrants without insurance.   Our inner city schools are overcrowded because we have to educate these students.  And illegals keep the minimum wage down, further hurting the poorest segment of society.  

As you can probably tell by now, I am wishy-washy politicially, spending way too much time thinking about the other side of the story.  Thank you, Mr. Molnia, for making me a more intelligent, but more indecisive person.

Truth in Advertising

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Last week, I bought a toaster.  On the box, it sold itself as "ideal" for toasting bagels.  But then when I tried to used it, I had to literally stuff my bagel halves into the slots because they wouldn’t fit. 

I hate false advertising.

I bring this up because a few nights ago, I was IM-ing with a female blogger about WordPress when she started flirting with me.  I found this a little strange because I didn’t do anything to instigate this flirting.  But then I realized what was going on — she had read my archives and got the impression of me as a flirtatious playboy, and a kinky one to boot. 

It got me thinking — am I involved in false advertising myself?

OK, let me be honest.  I haven’t been shy about flirting with my female readers.  I have at one time or another visualized most of you, both married and single, as being naked in my bed.  But before you call me a sicko — at least give me credit for being one of the few male bloggers who will actually admit this publicly.

Ladies — you have to understand how exciting it is for a man to have dozens of sexy, beautiful, and witty women coming to HIS blog because they are interested in something HE has to say!  This never happens to most of us men in REAL LIFE!

In fact, this is as close as it gets to that fantastical heaven that those crazy male Muslim fanatics believe in — where dozens of virginal women surround them wearing nothing but lingerie.  Except in my case, I press "Publish" rather than blow things up, my female readers probably wear torn sweatpants rather than lingerie while they read my blog, and considering my readers’ lascivious interests,  my female blogging buddies haven’t been virgins for a very LONG time. 

Now, so far, most of my flirting hasn’t gone beyond the written word.  But who knows?  Maybe one day, I’ll be meeting up with a female blogger, we’ll get a little drunk on Chianti, and before you know it — we’re naked in the bedroom. 

Not only would that be an amazing sexual experience — imagine the great post I would have for the next day!  I already can visualize the 100 comments!

But, like I said, I do not believe in false advertising.  I would hate to disappoint anyone in bed.  So, let me dispel three myths about me that you might have gotten from reading my blog.   Let me help you better know the real Neilochka, not the blog Neilochka.  This way, if we ever really do end up in the bed together, you won’t accuse me of sex under "false pretenses."

THREE MYTHS ABOUT ME

or

UNVEILING THE REAL NEILOCHKA

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MYTH 1)   Neil is an exciting guy.

The truth is — Neil is boring.  Think about it.  I love to blog.  And what is blogging?    Blogging is sitting around your apartment and typing on the computer.  Is there anything more boring than that? 

Every once in a while, Sophia will drag me out, and while I’m there, I’ll say, "This will make a great blog story."  I’ll start writing the blog post on the back of a napkin.  This drives Sophia up a wall.  She has told me that I have become infinitely MORE BORING since I’ve started to blog.  And she thought I was boring before blogging.

Sometimes, while driving in the car, I’ll turn to Sophia:

"I have this great idea for a blog post tonight."

"Will you shut up about your stupid blog.  Enough already!  I don’t want to hear anymore about your blog!"

"Anyway, here’s my blog idea…"

So, ladies,  write this down.  Neilochka =  boring.

MYTH 2)   Neil talks dirty in the bedroom and  is kinky.

OK, Sophia, stop laughing. 

Now, it is true that I frequently use words like "cock," "pussy," and "fuck" in my posts.  But I am the complete opposite of the shy girl who turns into an wild animal in the bedroom, screaming "Fuck me!   Fuck me with your big cock!"  

The truth is I never curse in real life.  Not even when driving in traffic.  I never put up my middle finger.  I never use any dirty words, including the ones mentioned above.  Why do you think my mother can read those posts and find them amusing?  She knows how she raised me.  She knows that in real life, the word  "cock" has never ONCE been part of my vocabulary.

Sophia has a dirty mouth.  She can curse like a sailor.  For years, she has tried to get me to curse, or at least not to be offended by her cursing, but I just can’t.  I am totally pathetic.  I am totally vanilla, which happens to be my favorite ice cream flavor.

Many of you would be bored with me in the bedroom.  I only know a few "positions."  I recently saw a book of Kama Sutra sex positions — and I didn’t know 3/4 of them even existed.   Who can do all that stuff, with the woman hanging upside down?  I have never had sex in an airplane, a car, an elevator, a library, the kitchen, the garage, my parents’ home, the state of New Mexico, and countless other interesting places. 

If, for some reason, we are making out in some hotel, and we are about to make love, I strongly advise you to call Sophia on her cellphone beforehand — just to learn more about what I can and cannot do.  Please be advised that just because I am an amazing stud in a post doesn’t guarantee a repeat performance in the REAL WORLD.

Also, remember this important piece of information:

Objects in the Blog may appear bigger than their actual size.

MYTH 3)  Neil has a great smile.

So far, the only photo of myself that I have published is this one. 

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After I published it, someone emailed me and wrote, "What a nice smile you have."

In reality, I am self-conscious about how I look.  When I was about to publish the photo, I thought my teeth looked too dark.  So, if you zoom in, you can see that I used my expert Photoshop skills to whiten my teeth.  Months later, Sophia still makes fun of me about that.

Now I can sleep better, knowing you know the truth.

And Now a Message from Our Hubcap

Today, as I was driving down La Cienega, I saw a taxi that that was advertising "Smallville" on all four of its hubcaps.   I started to imagine the meeting that must have taken place at some marketing agency —

Marketing guru:  "Hey, we’ve turned buses and cars into travelling advertisements, how about the hubcaps?" 

I have nothing against new forms of advertising… but hubcaps?   Is that really going to excite the general public into watching a TV show on the WB? 

I figured this hubcap mania was already going on in New York, home to the great taxis of America, but the only hubcap advertisement company I could find was in Great Britain. 

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(via Hubads)

With summer quickly approaching, I offer a new idea in guerrilla marketing:

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