Notes from the Overground

From a September 17 story in the New York Times exploring why gourmet teas are thriving even as the global economy sags, Mark Daley, chief executive officer of Dean  & Deluca says, “Demand for quality products has remained strong.” 

Now I ask Mr. Daley and the public relations staff that wrote this response if the word “product” conjures up a comfy image of steaming tea, the soothing heat as one cups the glass, the blossoming fragrance, the sense of relaxation.  If this were an article about gourmet retailing in general, perhaps “product” could be an appropriate (if weak) word choice, but in an article solely about tea, why not say “tea” and help to sell your product!

Over the past week, I have seen marketing people use the word product to describe software, cereal, healthcare insurance and special equipment. In each case, referring to the actual name of the product would have brought life and warmth to sentences that sounded stiff and, even in the TV ads, vaguely corporate.

From a September 18 World Brief column of the New York Times , a story about an 18-year-old German kid who ,”…armed with an axe, knives and Molotov cocktails wounded eight fellow students and a teacher at his high school…”

Notice, no one dead, only wounded.  This story, although not really important as news, is nonetheless one of the most poignant if macabre rationales for greater control of all fire arms.  Lots of violence, but no one died! And before they make it, here is my refutation to the knee-jerk sloganish argument that if we outlaw guns only criminals will have them: the backgrounds of the men who have committed mass killings over the past five years; lots of outsiders, some extremists and some prone to rowdy behavior, but no career or even occasional criminals.

From a September 14 article in the New York Times business section on why Business Week is in trouble, there is a paragraph explaining why advertisers discount the number of visits to Business Week’s website pages.  The reason:  because they figured out that 45% of unique visitors go there to see the slide shows, which can be endless (but represent only one real visit and one unique visitor). 

I have been wondering for about three years, why Forbes¸ Business Week other mags insist on presenting the website version of their lists of top 5, 7, 10, 20 and 40 cities, companies, states, resorts, schools and etceteras as slide shows in which the fastest turn to the next screen lasts approximately three times the length it takes to read it.  In designing this approach, they were not thinking either of their readers (or is viewers more apt for Internet reading?).  They were thinking primarily of pumping up their advertising rates.

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6 comments on “Notes from the Overground
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