Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Live interview with @peggyolson after the Shorty Awards

The winner of this year’s Shorty Award for
did her best work in 1962.

Her name is Peggy Olson, and she is not entirely real.

The “real” Peggy Olson is a character on AMC’s Mad Men, played by Elisabeth Moss.

@peggyolson is a Twitter account run by a fan of the show, one of a group of fans who decided to impersonate characters from Mad Men and post in character on Twitter — a kind of grass-roots promotion that galvanized AMC’s audience and took the Internet by storm.

Unfortunately, not everyone was comfortable with the idea of fans taking on the roles of copyrighted characters. Concerned about liability issues and the protection of their intellectual property, AMC shut the project down, only to recant a few days later, after an ugly fan backlash.

On the show, Peggy Olson is a rising star at Sterling Cooper — an innocent learning to swim with ad-industry sharks, a cautionary tale for women in business, and an unlikely pioneer for women’s rights.

So does a fan pretending to be a fictional character deserve to win an award for advertising?

@peggyolson has never sold an ad, but her Twitter campaign is one of the most innovative promotions ever devised for a TV show.

Mix these things together and you get a figure who can represent the past, present, and future of advertising, all at once.

But who is @peggyolson? Where did the campaign start? Why did she choose Peggy? Where do the fan and the character overlap? And what has she learned from the experience?

Find out Wednesday night after the awards, when I chat live with @peggyolson and her real-life counterpart.

Peggy has agreed to step out from behind the curtain and answer anything we can throw at her.

Send your questions to michael.duff@lubbockonline.com or Twitter them to @michaelduff. Be sure to follow @peggyolson and @michaelduff after the awards so you can see both sides of the interview. Peggy will be switching to another Twitter ID after she reveals her real name.

The award ceremony will start at 8:30 p.m. Eastern time.

Peggy will be joining me after things wrap up, probably after 10 p.m. in New York. That’s 9 p.m. here in Texas.

I’ll be tweeting live about the awards until she arrives.

Written by Michael B. Duff

February 10, 2009 at 08:18

Posted in TV

Why the Seinfeld Microsoft ads aren't funny

Bill Gates circa 1983When the big guys get it right, I have nothing to write about.

Good ideas, smart marketing, successful product launches — none of this is funny.

But when the big guys get it wrong, totally spectacularly wrong, it makes my little black heart go thump.

Microsoft has just launched a new ad campaign — a $300 million ad campaign to promote Windows, or something. I assume the ad is selling Windows, but I’m actually just guessing. This commercial is so bad, it ends up looking like a public service spot for leather shoes.

In the ad, Jerry spies Bill getting poor service at “Shoe Circus” and rides to the rescue. Bill gets some shoes and Jerry launches into a vague joke-like ramble that advocates wearing shoes in the shower.

“You’re dressed, and you’re clean!” Jerry says, with a stale whiff of self-parody. Feel free to pause for a moment and grab your sides. I’ll wait.

It’s one thing for an ad to fail, all right? Anybody can take a chance and get it wrong. What makes this failure so epic is that it takes no chances, plays it utterly safe and still manages to get it wrong.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael B. Duff

September 18, 2008 at 17:29

Posted in Microsoft, TV

'Mad Men' fans strike back with online manifesto

Looks like the Mad Men Twitter brigade is fighting back. Or maybe they just got tired of incessant interview requests and decided to answer everybody’s questions at once.

Mission statement from We Are Sterling Cooper.com:

Fan fiction. Brand hijacking. Copyright misuse. Sheer devotion. Call it what you will, but we call it the blurred line between content creators and content consumers, and it’s not going away. We’re your biggest fans, your die-hard proponents, and when your show gets cancelled we’ll be among the first to pass around the petition. Talk to us. Befriend us. Engage us. But please, don’t treat us like criminals.

And that’s how you spank a giant, clueless corporation. Nice work, guys.

For those who are just tuning in:

First I spent 800 words praising AMC for their innovative marketing campaign. It turns out to be a fan project, and the giant clueless corporation invokes copyright to shut them down.

The characters are back on Twitter now, but I haven’t seen any kind of explanation from the company.

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 28, 2008 at 13:43

Posted in TV

AMC shuts down Mad Men Twitter accounts

UPDATE: Quote of the day goes to Peggy_Olson: “Pleased to discover it’s not hard to make friends in advertising after all. But the guys in legal are humorless, and frankly not too bright.”

UPDATE 7:33 p.m.: Mad Men characters are back on the air. More details if I can get one of them on record.

Typical. I spend 800 words praising AMC for being innovative and cool, it turns out to be a fan project, and the giant clueless corporation invokes copyright to shut them down.

I said Hollywood doesn’t get the Internet, and AMC seems determined to prove me right.


Written by Michael B. Duff

August 26, 2008 at 10:53

Posted in TV

Mad Men invade Twitter!

It’s 3 a.m. on Thursday morning and I’m writing text messages to a fictional character. Peggy Olson wants to read “Atlas Shrugged” and I’m trying to stop her.

Hollywood hasn’t really figured out the Internet yet. I remember a good friend in 1993, promising to boycott any movie that had its own web site. I presume he’s reading books now.

These days, all movie web sites look the same — struggling to be different in exactly the same way. Buggy, flash-heavy pages that require dozens of plug-ins and fail spectacularly when you don’t have them.

Most promoters try to impress us with video, eye-candy and sound effects, but every now and then, somebody gets creative.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Michael B. Duff

August 25, 2008 at 11:35

Posted in TV

Duff: Striking writers are fighting for their piece of the Internet pie

Duff: Striking writers are fighting for their piece of the Internet pie

By the time you read this, the Hollywood writer’s strike will be three weeks old. And at the risk of sounding biased, this looks to be the most clear cut case of good vs. evil since David beaned Goliath.

Network execs sound particularly arrogant this time because they think they’ve figured out how to produce television without writers.

They think they can keep us distracted with game shows and reality TV while they work through their cache of scripted programs.

But “Heroes” fans won’t wait forever, and reality shows are old news. I’ll confess to being a fan of old-time game shows, but the modern variety are like cotton candy dunked in glitter.

There’s no substance here. Modern viewers need stories – characters, dialog and plots we can sink our teeth into. Look at what HBO has done for primetime TV.

Shows like “Rome,” “The Sopranos” and “Six Feet Under” have carved out an audience and raised standards for free and pay TV alike. That’s the kind of entertainment people are hungry for – the kind of quality that comes from strong writing.

So what does all this have to do with the Internet? Everything. The writers want a flat 2.5 percent cut of new media revenue, and the execs are talking out both sides of their mouths as they try to deny it.

In one speech, Viacom chief Sumner Redstone brags about the revenue potential inherent in “convergent advertising deals” while in another he says new media “won’t yield enough revenue to pay writers for at least the next five or six decades of my life.”

The writers say networks are using the new medium as an excuse to cut their residual rate, just like they did when home video was new.

The writers took a serious pay cut to help the fledgling home video market and they never got it back. The Writer’s Guild pushed for a bigger cut of DVD revenue this time but took it off the table in the last round of negotiations before the strike.

Don’t let the networks fool you. New media is about to explode as a platform and a revenue source. Streaming video of primetime shows is viable, practical and paid for.

NBC and HBO are poised to launch a new service called Hulu, a Web site that will feature, not just current shows, but all your old favorites, ad-supported and in high quality.

It’s not fully implemented yet, but you can preview the service at video.aol.com.

The writers aren’t striking over some abstract prediction of the future. The Internet is about to change the way you watch TV, and writers are fighting for their piece of the pie.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 23, 2007 at 13:47

Posted in Columns, TV

CBS don't need writers to write news good

CBS news writers have authorized a nationwide strike, and once again, the execs aren't worried. They say they've got plenty of nonunion writers who can pick up the slack.

And in the news today, President Bush said a lot of boring stuff and some guy in Russia wigged out at a cabinet meeting. Back to you, Velveeta.

And then, like an hour ago, this criminal dude was all like, “I'm escaping with teh cash!”

And the cops were all like, “Nuh huh.”

And the dude was all like, “Yeah, huh.”

And his car was all like VROOM!

Then the cops were all, “We put down spikes on the road!” and the criminal dude got all crashed.

Then a van came and the driver got even more dead than the first guy.

Written by Michael B. Duff

November 20, 2007 at 14:06

Posted in Humor, TV