"I Don't Have SpongeBob. I Have SquishyGuy."

Guess who's side I'm on in this one? That's not a mashup, or commentary, it's thievery ;->

Sue the b@stards!

    Leslie Ann Hooker, a Fort Lauderdale costume-company owner, thought she had found a way to run her business without running into trouble. "I try to make my costumes look 40% different," she said early this month, adding that she didn't explicitly offer trademarked characters: "I don't have SpongeBob. I have SquishyGuy."

NYTimes' iPhone App Does the Job

Thanks to a tip from former Jup, Joe Wilcox, I am now addicted to the New York Times app for the iPhone. Nice clean interface, default tabs include Business and Opinions (wise choices), and....it comes with ads. That you can click through! Wow, this whole mobile marketing thing just might happen after all. Right now, I'm getting a Westin ad with a weak call to action, but a satisfying landing page. It takes up the same space as the tab controls, so about 1/8th of the screen.

Back to the Times app, I find it more satisfying than newspapers on Kindle. Kindle's NY Times was like the worst of both worlds: an RSS experience - that is, stripped down, lacking context and rich storytelling/interactive features - but not fresh either. On Kindle, you get the early edition of the Times, and it doesn't update during the day, even if you download it in the middle of the afternoon. That's a problem that should be fixable.

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MTV Soundtrack: Lots of Experiments Going On Here

I'm still trying to get my mind around MTV's Soundtrack, in alpha as of today. It's a site that will try to blend artist and fan communities (with some social networking features from Flux) with editorial content and listening and discovery and, well, you see what I mean.

For one thing, Soundtrack's arguably most innovative feature is literally a soundtrack, that is, a navigation/programming music experience that's sync'd to what songs are playing on MTV shows in real time. Take a look, it's weird, but it's not much like anything you've seen before.

Jupiter surveys show that hearing a song on a TV show is a powerful discovery tool. MTV shows "The Hills" features 12 to 15 song cues a show, and "Parental Controls" up to 50. MTV will be steering viewers to Soundtrack with on-air pop-up prompts.

Soundtrack is all over the place, and it's definitely an alpha-release product right now. Playback without volume control? C'mon, guys. And there's some weird disconnects between 30 second clips and full-track streams. But I'm intrigued - intrigued, not convinced - by the idea of a network-centric, rather than show-centric (compare the CW) music programming approach.

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Gratuitous Plug for Possibly Dying Sport

This has nothing to do with anything, except that:

a) my Mom's a Canajun, and my dad was raised in T'ronta
b) my sportswriter buddy assures me hockey players really are regular guys, which makes them a pleasant contrast to the other Big Jocks of Pro Sports:

Quoting Sports Illustrated's Peter King - a football writer - (btw, anybody noticed that SI.com is now a must-read, giving ESPN.com a run for the money?):

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Roadmap to a Connected Agency

Mary Beth Kemp

In between long weekends and vacations, I'm kicking off work on a roadmap for change for agencies and advertisers.  In it, I'll explore the following questions (and probably many more). 

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Rhinos and Wolves

I have been known to say the TV industry is a little more "disciplined" - code word for less ego-driven - than movies or music. I should have known better. Must-read blow-by-blow story in the Journal of NBC's and Dick Wolf's squabbles over licensing Law & Order.

    "...He is a rhinoceros, and he attacks with his horn ready for combat," says Tom Fontana, the executive producer of a number of hit television shows, including NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street," and a close friend of Mr. Wolf. "What makes it difficult to work for NBC is that they're like a pack of wolves, always nipping at the rhinoceros's heels."

Premature Death-Reporting?

“He said, ‘If you have old media, you should sell,’” according to one attendee, who spoke anonymously because the sessions are off-the-record. “If you own newspapers, sell. If you own TV stations, sell. If you own a movie studio, sell.”

If you own a social media start-up that isn't Facebook, sell?

It's not new media or old media, Marc, it's multi-media.

Fashion Froward

Not sure I'm ready for this:

    Changing hemlines have long been a hallmark of women's fashion. But this summer, it's men's hems that are rising. Brooks Brothers has raised pant hems about half an inch in its top-of-the-line Golden Fleece suits and is leaning toward a slightly shorter pant length across its more moderately priced collection.

Far as I can tell, Don Draper's pants still break at shoetop.

Getty and Flickr: Sounds Good; Details Sketchy

Flickr and Getty Images are definitely two great brands that should go great together, but it was pretty difficult getting any details out of the two when they briefed me the other day. Under the arrangement -- money does change hands but no one's talking -- Getty editors will pore over Flickr photos to fill out a collection of stock images they think will number in the "tens of thousands in a reasonable amount of time" with a bias towards "authenticity" and underserved regions. Getty will do individual deals with the would-be pros by contacting them via Yahoo communications.

The two talked about tools beyond Flickr tagging to help the editors find the good stuff, but wouldn't reveal any secret formulae. Getty claims its editors process 7,000 to 10,000 images a day already, but aren't those submitted with pretty strict guidelines and metadata? In any event, Getty isn't planning on hiring any extra staff to handle the newbies, nor re-writing its contracts.

So snap away, Flickrs, you could be a star.

MSM Google Backlash Continues

Gee, first it was a juicy daycare mini-scandal, now the Journal shows just how screwed up Google's YouTube ad efforts are. Hint, fixing ad operations was codenamed "project spaghetti." Chinks in the armor?

From a Jupiter report on Competing with YouTube.

According to consumers, YouTube excels across all criteria, including the three core video experiences. However, it scores its highest marks in easy sharing, user-generated content (UGC), and effective search. Through these strengths, YouTube has carved out a dominant position and mind share in the viral video market.

YouTube has linked its core strengths to an activity system for users that competitors will have an extremely hard time matching. JupiterResearch's second-mover framework identifies and evaluates competitive options: fast-follower, niche-segment, profit-margin advantage, and disruptive strategies.