from Shop Talk:

Dump 10 Facebook ‘friends,’ win a Whopper

JAPAN BURGER/If ever you needed a reason to clear the dead wood from your Facebook posse, here it is: Burger King will give you a free Whopper hamburger every time you cut 10 of your "fair-weather web friends."

But beware. While Facebook lets you anonymously eliminate your "friends," the Burger King application notifies them when you "sacrifice" them in your quest for free fast food.

The Whopper Sacrifice ad campaign, spotted by Adweek, sends a message alerting your former friend that the sentiment you carry for him or her is nothing compared with the sizzle of a Whopper.

According to the Whopper Sacrifice web site, more than 12,000 friends have been bitten the dust -- all for a (roughly) $2 Whopper.

In an economy like this, is anyone safe?


Even Apple music wants to be free, sort of

The New York Times headline on Apple’s Macworld convention is so snappy that it almost frees me of the obligation to write this blog entry today:

Want to copy iTunes Music? Go Ahead, Apple says.

Fortunately, the Times couldn’t fit this other part into the headline, giving us something to quote:

Beginning this week, three of the four major music labels – Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group – will begin selling music through iTunes without digital rights management software, or D.R.M., which controls the copying and use of digital files. The fourth, EMI, was already doing so.

Holidays bring much-needed cheer to Hollywood

Christmas was good to Hollywood.

The top holiday movie, “Marley & Me,” sold an estimated $37 million worth of tickets during the traditional three-day weekend beginning on Friday, and overall Christmas Day sales reached $75 million, up about $10 million from last year.

While that’s good news, particularly during the downturn, it won’t be nearly enough to salvage an otherwise rough year in the movie business, as Reuters points out.

Still, Hollywood is on course for a down year. With three days left, year-to-date sales are off about 1 percent at $9.5 billion, while the number of tickets sold has slid 5.2 percent, Media By Numbers said.

We need our music videos!

For all of you expecting a slow week at work, and looking forward to killing some time by watching your favorite music videos on YouTube, we have some bad news for you. Warner Music Group ordered YouTube on Saturday to remove all music videos by its artists. So, in other words, you’re not going to find the Red Hot Chili Peppers or T.I. on YouTube today — or at least you shouldn’t.

Essentially, the disagreement boils down to Warner seeking a bigger share of the huge revenue potential of YouTube’s massive visitor traffic. “We simply cannot accept terms that fail to appropriately and fairly compensate recording artists, songwriters, labels and publishers for the value they provide,” Warner said in a statement.

But all is not lost, according to the Wall Street Journal, which writes: “In the wake of Warner’s move, people close to the other major labels said they didn’t anticipate taking down their content in the immediate future. These people say they are discussing new, more lucrative ways to do business with YouTube. The four music companies don’t necessarily have the same terms with YouTube, which could explain the discrepancy in their stances.”

Cautious splurge: the art of luxury advertising

Advertising at the highest end of the luxury market may be the last to get hit in an economic slump, but it’s still going to get scathed before the ad market turns around, Nick Brien, who heads up Interpublic Group’s Mediabrands, a holding company for media buying and planning agencies,  told the Reuters Media Summit in New York.

“There will always be some brands and marketers who are going to want to live beyond the realities that are going on for the masses of people,” said Brien, who’s responsible for agencies like Universal McCann, Initiative, Magna, and J3 . “That will go on… (but) will it be as pronounced as it was, will be it as mainstream?”

Brien didn’t think so. Not when even Russian billionaires – with their boats and Rolexes — are feeling the pinch, he said. “Even if their wealth is coming down from a billion to half a billion, that’s what it is — it’s coming down,” Brien said.

from Summit Notebook:

Baseball’s Bud Selig: Won’t be Commish again. Really.

It's easy to tell that Bud Selig, Major League Baseball's commissioner, is a lifer, a true old-school fan with his dream job. He tells great stories about being a fan, a lifelong friend of icons like Hank Aaron, and is famous for being energetic when watching games live.

He loves it so much that this year he re-upped for 4 more years as its top dog, even after he said he would not. But at the Reuters Media Summit, he says that in 2012, he's done. It's over. Seriously. Done. Selig, signing off. Over and out. Right Bud?

Reuters: Two years ago you told us that none of your cohorts would believe you when you said that in two years time when your contract was up, that you were going to walk away...

Dial M For MySpace mobile advertising

MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe is bullish on the mobile advertising market, but says ad agencies and corporate sponsors haven’t figured out to dial into it.

Speaking at the Reuters Media Summit, DeWolfe outlined MySpace’s mobile efforts, such as its Blackberry application. He said the company was targeting more download applications for mobile devices. He said he saw big opportunities in the mobile-based advertising sector once there’s some standardization.

We think the future of mobile is more advertising based. But the marketplace on the advertiser side has not quite caught up to the inventory out there… It’s relatively undeveloped, but we think it’s a market that will grow.

Online ad spending outlook lowered by $1.3 billion

What’s the first thing many companies cut when times get tough?  The marketing budget, of course. And, according to industry researcher eMarketer, spending on Internet advertising is not spared the knife.  The firm now pegs 2008 U.S. online ad spending at $23.6 billion, down from its August projection of $24.9 billion. The new forecast would still represent an 11.3 percent bump from 2007.

In particular, spending on online display ads – such as those flashing banners draped across the top of your screen -  is suffering. EMarketer slashed its display ad growth forecast to 3.9 percent from 16.9 percent. The firm noted that many of the big display ad spenders – such as automakers and retailers – are pruning budgets, with demand weak and consumer confidence shot.

Spending on search ads is also slowing, the firm said. For 2008, eMarketer forecast growth of 21.4 percent, down from 29.5 percent in 2007. Growth is seen falling all the way to 13 percent in 2010, highlighting one of investors’ major fears about the company that dominates the paid search market, Google Inc.

Desperately seeking hits: MPG

Are people going to watch more TV because they’ve no money to go out? According to media buying and planning agency MPG — a subsidiary of Havas, the world’s sixth-largest ad firm — the answer is no, unless the TV networks come up with better shows.

“That’s inventory for us, that’s our supply,” MPG Chief Operating Officer Steve Lanzano told the Reuters Media Summit in New York. “The thing is, there are no hit shows out there on the big networks,” he added. “And if there’s no supply in the marketplace, that just makes it harder and harder for us.”

With the economy seizing up and people seeking more stay-at-home entertainment, this could be the perfect time for the big networks to hook people on to some new shows and boost ratings. That would bring in advertising revenue at a time when many advertisers are scaling back spending.

Multi-vehicle pile-up on Madison Avenue

Dimming prospects for an auto bailout spell trouble for the folks on Madison Avenue. Already, sources say that General Motors is taking a hard look at all of its advertising contracts – held by Interpublic and Publicis — to see if they should be renewed as they come up.

That’s a pretty big deal, given that GM forked out about $1 billion in ad spending for the first six months of the year. And overall, domestic automakers spent about $2.8 billion on advertising in the first six months of 2008, down 17 percent, but was still one of the 10 largest U.S. advertising categories.

If you want to know how dependent the advertising industry is on the auto industry, take a look at Advertising Age, which has a in-depth feature on it. The upshot: