MediaFile

Picture gets darker for 8,000 Sprint workers

Employees of embattled wireless service Sprint had yet another reason to complain on Monday after the company, which has been losing customers for years, announced 8,000 job cuts.

However, even after they’ve been booted out in the cold, these workers will likely still be reminded of their previous job by the sight of their old boss Dan Hesse, when he moonlights as lead actor in Sprint’s sepia-toned TV commercials on top of his day job as CEO of a struggling wireless company. 
    While Hesse’s dual lead man/CEO role may be saving the company some money, a few experts have wondered whether the commercials are doing more harm than good to Sprint, which has been roundly criticized for its marketing message. 
    Or perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the company has continued to report steep customer losses since the ads started to run soon after Hesse took on the job just over a year ago.

(Photo: Still shot of Dan Hesse in Sprint ad)

Beam me up…Barbie?

Yes, it’s true. Mattel has gone where it has already gone before, but only differently!

Pictures of Mattel’s new Star Trek Barbies were released on Wednesday causing a stir among Trekkies, eagerly anticipating Paramount’s May release of the film, “Star Trek,” chronicling the earliest days of Captain Kirk and Spock.

The toys’ images, released by CBS Consumer Products, which owns the licensing rights for Star Trek consumer products, show the three dolls, which are modeled after the three actors playing Captain Kirk, Spock, and Lieutenant Uhura in the film, which is set to be released in theatres on May 8th!

It’s Super Bowl time and that means beer ads

We recently wrote that advertisers have even more riding on this Super Bowl than usual. There may be no better illustration of this than Anheuser-Busch InBev, brewer of such Super Bowl marketing staples as Bud and Bud Light.

Yesterday, the company gave the press a glimpse of some of its advertising for this year’s big game. The company has purchased 4-1/2 minutes worth of advertising time, once again making it the biggest Super Bowl advertiser.

At first glimpse, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s plans don’t seem that different than other years. It will go for humor in Bud Light spots and emotion in its Budweiser spots, using the Clydesdale horses. (Actually, it will run a record 3 Clydesdale commercials during the game).

Obama greenlights analog TV for another season

After all the excitement, endless public service announcement ads and electronics retailers salivating over anticipated high-definition TV sales, it turns out that the United States might not be switching to digital television just yet.

President-elect Barack Obama is backing a move to delay a mandatory switch to digital TV signals on Feb. 17 because viewers might not be prepared. Also, the government has run out of $40 coupons to help pay for converter boxes.

The idea that as many as 8 million homes (according to Nielsen data) might lose TV reception in a few weeks is not the kind of headache a new White House administration wants to deal with so it’s perhaps not surprising talk of a delay, possibly up to four months, is gathering support.

CES: Samsung gadgets get reporters hot and bothered

If gadgets were fashion models, Samsung would probably send its TVs, Blu-ray players and camcorders sashaying down the runway, with reporters and photographers scrambling to get close. That’s how proud they were of their gadgets at the Consumer Electronics Show — admittedly, they were all slim, sexy and worth a slip of drool.

The South Korean electronics giant paraded a number of new or upgraded TV models in Las Vegas today, including a line-up of high-definition TVs that are supposed to be more energy efficient because they use LED as a light source rather than traditional cathode lamps.

Jongwoo Park, Samsung’s president of digital media, was quite bullish when asked about the tiny LED TV market. “We’re going to create the market,” he said.

CES: Toshiba’s Regza gets a facelift this year

Toshiba’s pricey Regza LCD televisions are getting cosmetic surgery this year, the Japanese electronics maker announced at the Consumer Electronics Show on Wednesday.

Not that these TVs need a face lift, but companies do like to make splashy announcements in Las Vegas.

The newest Regza TVs will have “cutting-edge cosmetics” due to its “Deep Lagoon” design, which is “inspired by the beauty and elegance of nature” and provides a 3D feeling, according to Toshiba.

Now this is Hollywood entertainment

The divisions are deepening out in Hollywood – and we’re not talking about the standoff between the Screen Actors Guild and major studios. No, we’re talking about Tom Hanks vs Mel Gibson, George Clooney vs Martin Sheen. Actor against actor, start against star. Good stuff.

To be fair, it’s not as though they are hurling rocks at one another. But there are divisions within the ranks of the SAG over whether to authorize a strike. In a petition yesterday, 130 actors — many A-listers — sought to have the union halt the strike authorization vote. The way they see it, the economy is so bad that a strike right now would be too devastating to the industry.

Perhaps they have a point. Hollywood, after all, is still recovering from the writers’ strike. TV ratings are way down, advertising dollars are drying up and consumers are keep a close watch on their budgets. It could be a terrible time for a strike (And we should note that a strike authorization vote is different than an actual strike).

Jay Leno to NBC’s Rescue

How odd is it that perhaps the most exciting story in network television is not about “Lost”, “Fringe” or some other edgy, expensive small-screen phenomenon, but instead, about a veteran night time talk show host moving to prime time?

According to reports, NBC is set to announce today that Jay Leno, who relinquishes his “Tonight Show” gig next May, will get a new show at 10 p.m. each night “in a format similar to “The Tonight Show.”

This news comes as last-place NBC tries to cut costs during the economic slowdown. It wants to streamline creative decision-making. I suppose you can’t streamline it any more than putting the same gab-fest on every weekday night to compete with everything from legal and espionage yarns to hospital dramas and time travel shows.

How bad is local advertising? Ask Fox

We’re guessing Rupert Murdoch isn’t smiling quite so much right now. Not after News Corp reported a larger-than-expected drop in quarterly profit and cut its full year outlook.

The problem? In case you haven’t heard, advertising, particularly at the local level, is in terrible shape. Any company with local TV stations — and News Corp is one of them — is hurting right now.

Indeed,  Fox Television Stations’ first-quarter operating income fell 48 percent from the same period last year. Overall, News Corp profit fell 30 percent.

Google-Yahoo vs. Department of Justice

The odds of a Google-Yahoo Web advertising deal are looking increasingly bad. The Wall Street Journal says that both sides may just drop the deal as early as next week. The reason: The Justice Department wants too many darn compromises.

From WSJ.com:

The option to scrap the deal has been on the table before, but Google in particular has begun considering it more seriously as Justice Department talks haven’t progressed. One sticking point has been the department’s discussion of having the companies sign a consent decree stating the terms of the partnership. That would subject their compliance to continuing oversight by a judge.

But dropping it next week? That seems so soon. Well, paidContent speculates that the timing could be linked to Tuesday’s presidential election.