Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Soft Hard Sell from Chipotle

Now Let's Get Out There and Slaughter Some Pigs (Humanely, Of Course), I'm Famished!

My favorite commercial of the year so far has to be the long version of the Chipotle spot, known as "Back to the Start," which has Willie Nelson singing Coldplay's "The Scientist" as a backdrop to the story of a farmer who starts small, thinks big, regrets his choices and self-redeems himself by going back to his roots.
It's a touching parable that has everything to do with Chipotle and its company values (well-sourced products, properly grown, humanely raised and harvested, etc.). If you've never been to a Chipotle (and that's becoming increasingly difficult), the message might be a bit flummoxing. But it's compelling nonetheless. To what extent it'll make you feel better when there's a humongous line at lunchtime standing in the way of you and your burrito bowl is debatable, but it's a commendable bit of marketing well worth two minutes and 20 seconds of your time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston: An Accident the National Enquirer Was Waiting to Happen

It's Not Like They Knew What Was Going to Happen, But.....
The latest issue of the National Enquirer came out just a little too early for the only celebrity story that really matters right now. But you just know they're foaming at the mouth waiting to hit the send button on the presses for the next edition. To wit:

Sunday, February 12, 2012

As TV Stations Go to Cover Dolan's Elevation to Cardinal, Let's Hope They Ask the Right Questions

As Chief Mouthpiece for Archbishops Losing Hearts and Minds on Contraception Contratemps, He Has a Lot to Answer For

It's a big week ahead for New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who on Saturday is set to be elevated to cardinal. Local TV and radio stations are taking proper note and are devoting considerable resources and correspondents to covering the event, including live coverage at, yawn, starting at 4:30 a.m.
Obviously, this is a big deal. But let's hope that the stations don't jump the gun on deifing Dolan. No doubt, Dolan makes for good media. He's avuncular, more of the people than many higher-ups in the Roman Catholic Church and is often shown having a good laugh even at his own expense. However, make no mistake. There is Dolan the people's cardinal, and there is Dolan the extreme conservative who has lead the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the lead agitators against the Obama administration's rule requiring Catholic hospitals and universities to provide free insurance coverage for contraception.
It has been Dolan who has made this into a battle over religious liberty and a blatant infringement on First Amendment rights, when it is nothing of the sort. It is not a battle over insurance coverage, but over contraception itself. No one should be fooled by Dolan's somewhat conciliatory words today after he landed in Rome. As The New York Times reported,

Archbishop Dolan said in a brief interview that “there are so many unanswered questions” regarding the compromise, and that it was “too early for us to give a judgment one way or the other.”

At the same time, Dolan made it clear the compromise to limit the religious institutions' exposure to the coverage by having it provided directly by insurance companies was still too much to countenance.
In other words, little or nothing has changed about how the bishops and Dolan feel about this, regardless that most of their female parishioners--98 percent by one Guttmacher Institute--have used birth control.
The media covering Dolan's elevation should not be so awed by his red hat on Saturday to not confront him with these and other questions. A change in title does nothing to change that.

Whitney Houston Shows Why Newsrooms Never Assume Nothing Will Happen Over the Weekend

Meanwhile, a Call for Less Fawning Coverage; Don Lemon, We're Talking to You

While jumping in between the cablers' Whitney Houston coverage last night, it was clear the networks had learned from others' past mistakes. Then again, they made some new ones.
At least their programming dictated that there were live bodies in the newsroom for breaking news, though it's safe to say the crew at MSNBC was skeletal because the net was settling in for its weekly dose of prison reality shows. But they were at least nominally up to the task of covering the ultimate demise of a pop diva turned 40-car pileup.
Nowadays, nobody assumes it's going to be quiet on the weekend. Heads were rolled--or, at least, shuffled when I was working at CBS and there was no one from the TV network who was ready to go on the air late Saturday night on Labor Day weekend in 1997 when Princess Diana was on the losing end of an escape from paparazzi in Paris.
The network eventually had to rush in Vince DeMentri, an anchor from WCBS-TV to fumble his way through reading wire service bulletins until Anthony Mason was rustled up to head up coverage. Meanwhile, at CBS News Radio, where I worked, London bureau chief Adam Raphael and Paris correspondent Elaine Cobbe were riding herd on the story. Raphael was first in the U.S. to confirm that Diana was dead.
So, now every network always has a correspondent in the building at all hours who can go on the air on short notice. And so it was last night.
As the cable nets went balls-to-wall with Whitney well past midnight, they gradually gained their footing after playing the same, tired file tape they had. Gradually, they scared up more while frantic bookers tried to find someone, anyone, with anything relevant to say.
Most of the coverage I saw was fairly even-keeled. A notable exception, however, was CNN's Don Lemon, who was a little too start-struck. That was painfully evident when he was interviewing professional has-been Jermaine Jackson about Whitney/Michael parallells, and Lemon was name-checking any connection he had to the former pop royalty in an effort to establish his bona fides with Jermaine. It was a treacly interaction from a newsman who ought to know better.
Of course, that was then. And after the requisite tribute on the Grammys tonight, the media will inevitably rev into "it's-a-shame-but-not-exactly-a-shocker" mode. In fact, that's already started, as this story on Yahoo indicates.
You just know that this will be the only story on TMZ this week, while Entertainment Tonight, Extra and Access Hollywood have likely commissioned new sad music while they show Whitney montages. The juxtaposition of an erratic addict who could not discard her demons as opposed to the divviest of pop divas with scary talent is a great story. Now the Don Lemons of the world have to be prepared to cover it from all sides.