The Day the Hardworking Staff at Campaign Outsider Went Viral

Full disclosure: The hardworking staff has a small but deeply disturbed following at Campaign Outsider, and we appreciate each and every one of you splendid readers.

But yesterday something entirely unexpected happened: We went sort of viral on Facebook.

It all started with this post on Sunday.

Coca-Cola Classy: Runs NYT Tribute to Pepsi’s Roger Enrico


Former PepsiCo chief Roger Enrico died last Wednesday, just early enough to get his due before all obits were swamped by Muhammed Ali’s.

New York Times obituary for Enrico . . .

The tribute was this full-page ad in Saturday’s Times.

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Somehow, our post took off on Facebook.

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And resulted in 3224 views, a roughly umpteen % increase in our usual traffic.

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So there was great rejoicing at the Global Worldwide Headquarters of Campaign Outsider.

But . . .

We picked up exactly zero subscribers to this blog in the process.

The moral of this story:

The web can be a great trampoline. But it’s also no slingshot.

(Then again, today’s views are up over 1100, so go figure.)

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times ( Edition)

The latest edition in our long-running series on people with all those dollars and no sense

From yesterday’s New York Times:


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That full-page ad features a certain Earle I. Mack’s piece from The Hill’s Congress Blog, self-described as “The Hill’s Forum for Lawmakers and Policy Professionals.”

(The hardworking staff strongly suspects that Congress Blog is a paid political platform, but maybe that’s just us.)

Regardless, Mack – a real estate investor and former U.S. ambassador to Finland under George W. Bush – is reportedly bankrolling the website, which of course has its own Stupid PAC to flack for Garland.

Here’s their FEC filing:


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Feel free to contact or at your earliest convenience. That’s more than Mack’s ad will do for Merrick Garland.

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Coca-Cola Classy: Runs NYT Tribute to Pepsi’s Roger Enrico

Former PepsiCo chief Roger Enrico died last Wednesday, just early enough to get his due before all obits were swamped by Muhammed Ali’s.

New York Times obituary for Enrico:

Roger Enrico, PepsiCo Chief During 1980s ‘Cola Wars,’ Dies at 71


Roger Enrico, the PepsiCo chief executive who nearly dethroned Coca-Cola in the 1980s, died on Wednesday while vacationing in the Cayman Islands. He was 71.

His death, on Grand Cayman, was sudden, his family said, and the cause was not immediately specified.

Mr. Enrico joined PepsiCo in 1971 after serving in the Navy in the Vietnam War, and he rose swiftly through the ranks. He oversaw the company’s advertising campaign during the so-called Cola Wars, making marketing deals with celebrities like Michael Jackson, Madonna and Michael J. Fox. Pepsi’s market share grew, prompting an anxious Coca-Cola to change its formula in 1985, only to quickly change it back in the face of a tide of customer wrath.

There’s nothing but warmth, however, in this full-page ad Coca-Cola ran in yesterday’s Times.


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Sounds like the real thing.

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What the Hell’s This Pro Bono Ad Doing in the New York Times?

Well the hardworking staff was plowing through the New York Times yesterday when we came across this quarter-page ad on A15.


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Feed the Pig, eh? Here’s the homepage of their website.


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Fun! (You can see all their PSAs – except the one above – here.)

The campaign is a joint effort of the Ad Council and the American Institute of CPAs. And since numbers are the game here, try on these stats for the Times readership as listed in the paper’s media kit:

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Got that? Net worth $1,045,515? (Love the median principal home value.) Does that look like the profile of someone who needs to feed the pig?

Hell, half of them are the pig.

But maybe there’s another reason this ad ran in the Times. Let’s see how the Ad Council described the campaign.

Saving is a Top Priority for Millennials, but Two-Thirds Say Impulse Spending is a Major Barrier

Feed the Pig Campaign from AICPA and the Ad Council Collaborates with Facebook, Games for Change and IFTTT to Help Young Adults Adopt Positive Saving Habits

New York, March 24,2016: According to a new survey from the Saving-is-a-Top-Priority-for-Millennials-but-Two-Thirds-Say-Impulse-Spending-is-a-Major-BarrierAmerican Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) and the Ad Council, one in three millennials (34 percent) ranked saving as their number one goal for the year – ahead of living a healthy lifestyle (20 percent), paying off debt (19 percent), and losing weight (14 percent). But while saving was atop priority, a majority of millennials attributed their lack of saving to impulse buying (65 percent).

Aha! They’re going after millennials! Except . . . . do millennials actually read the Times in print? (The Times media kit claims 35.9% of readers are between the ages of 18 and 34, but 1) we’re guessing that percentage is pretty top-heavy, and 2) the numbers seem to combine print and online readership, so who knows?)

Anyway, shouldn’t the ad run in – hell, what do millennials read in print? The Ad Council oughta look into that.

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What Comes Between Calvin Klein and Controversy? Nothing.

There’s been a fair amount of pearl-clutching this past week over the new Calvin Klein ad campaign, described thusly by Bethan Holt in The Telegraph.

Calvin Klein launches predictably provocative advertising campaign. But can sex still shock?


Calvin Klein’s new advertising campaign is boldly entitled Erotica. In the images shot by photographer Tyrone Lebon whose work is renowned for being raw and candid, supermodel Kendall Jenner squeezes half a grapefruit so that it resembles a vagina. In another image, actress Abbey Lee Kershaw is shown with her hands clasped inside her CK pants. Meanwhile actress Klara Kristen is pictured with the camera gazing up her dress in a predatory manner to show the underwear between her legs.

But, as Holt notes, “As I write these descriptions, I realise that the pictures should shock me. But they don’t. As they popped up on my facebook feed as I scrolled through this morning, I barely registered their provocativeness.”

Not even this belfie.




Whenever discussing Calvin Klein ads, of course, the control group is this fabled 1980 Brooke Shields TV spot.



But that’s small bare compared to CK’s 1995 chicken-hawk porn campaign.



The marketing of CK Jeans has always been about alienating adults, thereby attracting teens. We’ll see if that formula still works in an age of Internet porn and Facebook friending by your Mom, yeah?

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Weiner? Wiener? Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off

The hardchuckling staff has no idea who put these two ads together in yesterday’s New York Times Summer Movies section, but we thoroughly approve.


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Just to be clear: Weiner is a documentary about “disgraced New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s mayoral campaign and the landscape of today’s political landscape.” Whatever the hell that means.




Wiener-Dog, on the other hand, “[c]hronicles the life of a dog as it travels around the country, spreading comfort and joy.” So no real spot for the soi-disant Carlos Danger there, right?

Wait! Maybe there is a connection.

From the New York Post’s Page Six two months ago:

Carlos Danger wants to sell you a hot dog

The disgraced former congressman responded to Burger King’s Screen Shot 2016-05-02 at 3.55.31 PMannouncement Wednesday that rapper Snoop Dogg would be their spokesperson for the forthcoming launch of grilled hot dogs at the venerable fast food joint.

“OK, I gotta admit Snoop is a brilliant pick for this,” he tweeted. “But I can think of one guy woulda been better.”

Actually, no.

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The Weekly Standard Pimps Out Its Cover and Writers – Again!

This is getting to be a habit, no?

As the hardworking staff has repeatedly noted, The Weekly Standard has lately become a marketing chippy for its owner Philip Anschutz, who also owns Xanterra Parks & Resorts.

As we wrote earlier:

The Weekly Standard has taken to pimping out its editorial content and its writers to Xanterra Parks & Resorts, the major concessionaire at U.S. National Parks.

At that point, we sent an email to Weekly Standard editor William Kristol, who has of course not deigned to respond to us.

So this time we’re emailing Geoffrey Norman, whose work we greatly admire but who has been knee-deep in this aditorial series, having written about Death Valley, Zion National Park, and, in this latest edition, the Grand Canyon.


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The money (at least for Philip Anschutz) quote, which turns up in one form or another in all of the Xanterra branded content pieces:

It’s impossible to describe the majesty of it. The mix of colors on the opposite side, the great depth that the Colorado River has carved through the stone walls, down into the earth’s vitals, the play of light and shadow. The sheer, undeniable immensity.

Just no way. You must see it for yourself, as Teddy Roosevelt said every American must.

Right in the middle of the four-page spread “Celebrating 100 Years of the National Parks Service Sponsored by Xanterra and Produced by The Weekly Standard” comes this ad-within-the-ad:


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Don’t get us wrong: This is a terrific piece that nicely captures the grandeur of the Grand Canyon.

But in the end it’s marketing material, not editorial content.

So we sent this email to Geoffrey Norman:

Dear Mr. Norman,

[We] greatly admire your work and have learned a tremendous amount from your Weekly Standard pieces about both the Civil War and World War I.

But your recent pieces for the magazine’s celebration of the National Parks Service (which are excellent in their own right) make [us] wonder: Are you comfortable producing what is essentially marketing material masquerading as editorial content?

[We] don’t mean to be disrespectful. [We’re] just concerned about the inexorable blurring of the line between advertising and editorial content. (See here for further details.)


[The hardworking staff]

We’ll let you know if he gets back to us.

Meanwhile, in the same edition, The Weekly Standard also leased out its front cover, just as it did two months ago. This time the buyer was the execrable corporate gunsel Rick Berman, whose Employee Rights Act front group has been for months exploiting the legacy of Jackie Robinson in its campaign to suppress increases in the minimum wage.

Here’s the cover the front group purchased:


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The stealth marketing effort was a four-page wraparound but we’ll omit the other three, lest we do Berman’s dirty work for him. Regardless, our beef isn’t really with Berman who, like the scorpion, does what he does. Our beef is with The Weekly Standard, of which we are a charter subscriber and from which we expect better.

Or at least used to.

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Wall Street Journal Launches Heat Street: ‘News. Fired Up.’

The Weekend Wall Journal featured this quarter-page ad for – the second time it’s run in the Journal in the past few weeks.




The site – a product of Dow Jones & Company, parent of the WSJ and a wholly owned subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch – looks like the Journal on amphetamines.

Home page, Tuesday 1:40 am:


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Better question: Was Prince actually Tourettic?

From Jonathan Lethem’s wonderful novel, Motherless Brooklyn, whose narrator has Tourette’s syndrome:

I don’t know whether The Artist Formerly Known As Prince is Tourettic or obsessive-compulsive in his human life, but I know for certain he is deeply so in the life of his work. Music has never made much of an impact on me until the day in 1986 when, sitting in the passenger seat of Minna’s Cadillac, I first heard the single “Kiss” squirting its manic way out of the car radio. To that point in my life I might have once or twice heard music that toyed with feelings of claustrophobic discomfort and expulsive release, and which in so doing passingly charmed my Tourette’s, gulled it with a sense of recognition, like Art Carney or Daffy Duck — but here was a song that lived entirely in that territory, guitar and voice twitching and throbbing withing obsessively delineated bounds, alternately silent and plosive. It so pulsed with Torettic energies that I could surrender to its tormented squeaky beat and let my syndrome live outside my brain for once, live in the air instead.

Anyway . . .

Here’s another snapshot of Heat Street:


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And here’s how conservative stalwart Washington Times sees it.

Just launched: Right-leaning news site Heat Street vows to ‘mock the mainstream’


The sparse media marketplace dedicated to the needs of conservatives, right-leaners and liberty-minded folk just got a little larger. Ambitious and toting a little kryptonite: That would be Heat Street, an ambitious new online news site launched Monday by Dow Jones & Company, which also publishes The Wall Street Journal.

Ah, but step carefully. Editors Louise Mensch and Noah Kotch warn that Heat Street “is not a safe place. The pomposity of self-regarding, self-conscious, self-abusing journalists will be absent from our pages.”

We’ll see if self-regarding, self-conscious, self-abusing readers will follow suit.

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The Arts Seen in NYC (Long Day’s Journey Edition)

Well the Missus and I trundled down to The Big Town last weekend and, say, it was swell.

Except for the drive to get there, of course. We hit four – count ’em, four – major traffic jams on the way, not to mention the full hour it takes to get from the RFK (née Triboro) Bridge to 32nd and Fifth. Total travel time: Six – count ’em, six – hours.

Regardless, we almost immediately headed over to the Fashion Institute of Technology to catch Fairy Tale Fashion, described this way on FIT’s website.

Fairy Tale Fashion was a unique and imaginative exhibition that examined fairy tales through the lens of high fashion. In versions of numerous fairy tales by authors such as Charles Perrault, the Brothers Grimm, and Hans Christian Andersen, it is evident that dress was often used to symbolize a character’s transformation, vanity, power, or privilege. The importance of Cinderella’s glass slippers is widely known, for example, yet these shoes represent only a fraction of the many references to clothing in fairy tales.

That’s right, perceptive reader: It’s gone.

But here are some representative samples interpreting Little Red Riding Hood from the late 18th century and from Comme des Garçons in 2015, respectively.


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The whole exhibit – from Manish Arora’s Alice in Wonderland . . .


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. . . to Thierry Mugler’s The Little Mermaid . . .


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. . . was a hoot.

You can’t catch it in person, but you should at least catch it online.

From there we moseyed up to the Museum of Arts and Design to see Studio Job MAD HOUSE (through August 21), described thusly on MAD’s website:

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Studio Job MAD HOUSE will be the first American solo museum exhibition of the work of collaborators Job Smeets (Belgian, b. 1970) and Nynke Tynagel (Dutch, b. 1977), who established their atelier, Studio Job, in Antwerp in 2000. Since then, they have developed a distinctive body of highly expressive and opulent work, characterized by pattern, ornament, humor, and historical, sociocultural, and personal narrative.

How personal? How about “Train Crash,” a table the pair designed in 2015.


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The backstory: Job and Nynke’s personal relationship eventually turned into a train wreck, but their professional relationship stayed on track.


Another example of Job Studio’s work:


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That’s Chartres Cathedral flipped on its side and turned into a cabinet.


Then it was on to the Walter Kerr Theatre for the revival of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible with Saoirse Ronan, Ben Wishaw, Ciarán Hinds, and Sophie Okonedo.




It was a unique theater experience for the Missus and me – not the play, but the audience.

We were sitting in the first row of the mezzanine, where the woman of a certain age next to the Missus decided to take her shoes off and plop her feet on the railing in front of us. She proceeded to wiggle her tootsies, give herself a foot massage, and generally insert her feet into every scene of the play. I half expected her to get a mani-pedi sometime during Act Two.

Anyway, we thought Saoirse Ronan was very good, Ben Wishaw was kind of squishy, and the production overall was interesting but not compelling.

New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley, on the other hand, thought it was fabulous, while Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout declared it dreadful.

So go figure.

Next day we started off at the Museum of Modern Art’s Edgar Degas: A Strange New Beauty exhibit (through July 24).

Edgar Degas is best known as a painter and chronicler of the ballet, yet his work as a printmaker reveals the true extent of his restless experimentation. In the mid-1870s, Degas was introduced to the monotype process—drawing in ink on a metal Screen Shot 2016-04-23 at 1.30.59 AMplate that was then run through a press, typically resulting in a single print. Captivated by the monotype’s potential, he immersed in the technique with enormous enthusiasm, taking the medium to radical ends. He expanded the possibilities of drawing, created surfaces with a heightened sense of tactility, and invented new means for new subjects, from dancers in motion to the radiance of electric light, from women in intimate settings to meteorological effects in nature.

We liked it a lot, and we strongly recommend you use the magnifying glasses available for most of the exhibit. We also took in Marcel Broodthaers: A Retrospective (through May 15), but we totally didn’t get it.

So we walked up Fifth to The Frick for Van Dyck: The Anatomy of Portraiture (through June 5).

Anthony van Dyck (1599–1641), one of the most celebrated and influential portraitists of all time, enjoyed an international 20161587_0career that took him from his native Flanders to Italy, France, and, ultimately, the court of Charles I in London. Van Dyck’s supremely elegant manner and convincing evocation of a sitter’s inner life — whether real or imagined — made him the favorite portraitist of many of the most powerful and interesting figures of the seventeenth century. This is the most comprehensive exhibition ever organized on Van Dyck’s activity and process as a portraitist and the first major exhibition on the artist to be held in the United States in over twenty years.

The exhibit features about 100 works of the Flemish portraitist (see a bunch here) and provides this splendid introduction video.



We never expected to like the show as much as we did, but we did.

From there we shuffled up to the Jewish Museum for Isaac Mizrahi: An Unruly History (through August 7), which was all sorts of fun. There are the clothes, of course:




And there’s the irrepressible Isaac Mizrahi himself. A sampler:



Very encouraging about the sweatpants.

After that we made a quick stop at the Cooper Hewitt, where the exhibits lately never fail to disappoint. This time around it was Beauty—Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (through August 21) that left us cold, while Thom Browne Selects (through October 23) just left us laughing.


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For the next installment of the museum’s Selects series, fashion designer Thom Browne explores ideas of reflection and individuality with an installation that includes more than 50 of the museum’s historic and contemporary mirrors and frames.

Full disclosure: The Missus and I much preferred the old Cooper Hewitt of pop-up book  and button exhibits to the current trendoid version with The Pen and various other high-tech gimcracks. But that’s just us.

Then it was off to the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night (through June 26).

Elegant in its simplicity yet limitless in its scope, Long Day’s Journey Into Night is the tale of an ordinary summer’s day with extraordinary consequences. Drawing so heavily from the author’s personal history that it could only be produced posthumously, the story of the Tyrone family and their battle to unearth—and conceal—a lifetime of secrets continues to reveal itself to audiences as one of the most profound and powerful plays ever brought to the stage.

The cast:


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Michael Shannon and John Gallagher, Jr. were fine, but Gabriel Byrne was terrific and Jessica Lange was absolutely riveting.

And no bare feet – in the audience, at least – were involved.

Next morning it was up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for Vigée Le Brun: Woman Artist in Revolutionary France (through May 15)and, man, it is a knockout.

Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (French, 1755–1842) is one of the finest 18th-century French painters and among the most Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 1.40.32 PMimportant of all women artists. An autodidact with exceptional skills as a portraitist, she achieved success in France and Europe during one of the most eventful, turbulent periods in European history . . .

She was remarkable not only for her technical gifts but for her understanding of and sympathy with her sitters. This is the first retrospective and only the second exhibition devoted to Vigée Le Brun in modern times. The 80 works on view include paintings and a few pastels from European and American public and private collections.

Vigée Le Brun painted more than 600 portraits and became the most famous female artist in Europe. Helpful thumbnail clip:



At that point we went from the sublime to Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play (through July 31), which “explores the multifaceted intersections between photography and crime, from 19th-century ‘rogues’ galleries’ to work by contemporary artists inspired by criminal transgression.”

Such as “John Dillinger’s Feet, Chicago Morgue” (artist unknown) . . .


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. . . and Weegee’s “Human Head Cake Box Murder.”


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You can see a bunch more here.

From the Met mothership we wandered down to The Met Breuer, née the Old Whitney at 75th and Madison, to finish our grand tour with Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible (through September 4).

This exhibition addresses a subject critical to artistic practice: the question of when a work of art is finished. Beginning with the Renaissance masters, this scholarly and innovative Screen Shot 2016-04-24 at 2.09.24 PMexhibition examines the term “unfinished” in its broadest possible sense, including works left incomplete by their makers, which often give insight into the process of their creation, but also those that partake of a non finito—intentionally unfinished—aesthetic that embraces the unresolved and open-ended. Some of history’s greatest artists explored such an aesthetic, among them Titian, Rembrandt, Turner, and Cézanne.

The painting above – “Portrait of Mariana de Silva y Sarmiento, duquesa de Huescar” by Anton Raphael Mengs – clearly needs some more work, but other Unfinished pieces in the exhibit aren’t as, er, clear-cut.

More clarity, perhaps, here:



(Ian Volner takes a good look at the Breuer transition in the May edition of the New Republic.)

At that point we decided to leave behind the snaphappy hordes taking cellphone pix of the art instead of actually looking at it, and head home. Made it in four hours with two stops.


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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (Benjamin Franklin Edition)

The hardworking staff’s long-running series has featured everyone from John Lennon-loving Yoko Ono to Broadway-loving Carole L. Haber.

But this one’s a first.

Yesterday’s full-page New York Times ad comes from none other than Ben Franklin.

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Close up:

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The man behind the quintessential American man is one Tom Blair, who describes himself thusly:

Tom came to this country as a young child after his dad was killed during the Normandy Invasion a couple of weeks before he was born. Tom borrowed to start his first company, and, through hard work and good fortune, has been extremely successful in a number of enterprises. Unlike Donald Trump, he never used bankruptcy to stave off his creditors. His most recent company was sold for $4.8 billion.

Blair is also author of Poorer Richard’s America: What Would Ben Say?

Not sure he would say “spend six figures for a full-page ad in the Times that up to 620,000 readers will ignore,” but why get technical about it.

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