The Consultants Always Win

Hamilton Nolan · 08/28/13 10:26AM

Financial markets fluctuate. Investors have good and bad years. Cities and states see their fortunes rise and fall. Banks soar, crash, and are bailed out by taxpayers. The only people who always come out ahead: the consultants.

Rachel Maddow Explains Birth Control to Mitt Romney

Matt Cherette · 10/21/11 02:42AM

In a recent Huckabee appearance, Mitt Romney said he'd "absolutely" support a constitutional amendment defining conception as the beginning of life. In addition to outlawing abortion, such an amendment could ban many forms of birth control, a fact Romney was seemingly unaware of when pressed on his position during a campaign event on Thursday. So tonight, armed with beer and female anatomy diagrams, Rachel Maddow invited Romney to her "Man Cave" for a crash course in how babies are made.

Do Not Try to Befriend Cops While Drunk

Hamilton Nolan · 04/22/10 09:19AM

We bring you the following story as a public service—for journalists, college students, and everyone else. Take the experience of Tim Chapman, former editor of James Madison University's student newspaper, as a lesson: Cops are not your drinking buddies.

World's Cleverest Ad Campaign Is Big Failure

Hamilton Nolan · 06/22/09 10:13AM

Sometimes a worthless "consumer" will see some very strategic high-concept ad that involves, say, a subservient chicken, and innocently ask, "How does that sell burgers?" And then the creative ad execs will chuckle at this un-strategic dunce, their target audience.

Five Lessons from Obama's Campaign That Aren't Marketing Pseudospeak

Hamilton Nolan · 11/10/08 02:46PM

Now that Obama hath ascended to America's throne, it's time for everyone to speak loudly about the Lessons Learned. Did we learn that Obama won because eight years of heinous mismanagement made everyone hate Republicans? Ha, no, that would be far too easy. The real lessons are all these crazy marketing strategies the Obama campaign used, allegedly! After the jump, we'll tell you five actual lessons of the Obama victory, and why things haven't changed as much as everyone says: 1. Facebook doesn't mean shit: This is really the insight that gives us the most delight. All those Facebook groups for Obama and donating your Facebook status do not mean shit. They are a great way to feel as if you're participating in the campaign fight while actually doing nothing to sway any votes. Facebook is the epitome of preaching to the choir. To the extent that it's an easy and effective way to communicate with people, sure, it helps, and it will be adopted by both parties eventually to the extent that it makes their jobs easier, just like email and websites. But the idea that some sort of "Facebook activism" actually helped shift red states to blue states is just wrong. Offline tendencies drive online behavior, not vice versa. 2. TV is still king: With all the internet and the websites and the social networking and the blast emails and the online video and the microtargeting, you know what the most important weapon is for any campaign. TV ads, as always. That's where all that money you give on the internet gets spent (Obama spent $250 million on ads—which sounds like a lot until you compare it to, say, the $300 million Microsoft is spending for its current ad campaign). In terms of being a powerfully influential medium for moving voters, TV crushes the internet now and forevermore until further notice, the end. 3. The candidates matter: Did Barack Obama do better than John Kerry because Obama had a more sophisticated media strategy? OR was it because Obama is more competent, more likable, more telegenic, and was running against a teetering old warmonger who would be a heartbeat away from turning the Oval Office over to a fundamentalist Alaskan psycho woman? You decide. 4. Elections ride the swinging pendulum: When the nation swings as far to one end of the spectrum as we've been for the last eight years, with such disastrous results, you can bet it'll swing back to the other end. Honestly, Christopher Dodd with no Facebook page at all would have had a pretty decent shot at winning this year if he raised the money Obama did. It's the Democrats' time. 5. Campaign tactics are always evaluated in retrospect because the media has no idea what it's talking about, mostly: Here's how media experts evaluate the tactics of a presidential campaign: A campaign does something. The media sees what the reaction is. Then they "explain" why it was a good/ bad idea, based on whether it worked or not. If some tactic starts off slow and is pronounced a failure only to eventually start working, watch the media magically create a reason for this dynamic that does not include "We have no idea what we're talking about." This goes for us too, btw. Neither we or our media colleagues are any more able to predict the dynamics of an election in advance than you, the average idiot! The only prediction worth a shit is one made beforehand, that turns out to be right. And the person making that prediction is still not worth a shit unless they can make similar, accurate predictions repeatedly over an extended period of time. This is why everything that pundits say is good only for entertainment value, and Nate Silver will rule the world.

What Have We Learned From That Fake Steve Jobs Rumor?

Hamilton Nolan · 10/06/08 04:48PM

Last Friday a rumor went up on CNN's "Citizen journalism" site saying that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had had a heart attack. Apple stock plunged momentarily, but the posting was debunked within the hour. The suspicion now is that the rumor was planted by a short seller looking to capitalize on the skittish reaction of the market. So that means don't trust crazy internet rumors because the internet is lies! Right? No: The incident caused an uproar, but look at what it really was: one guy with a fake post on an unmediated citizen journalism site. Making any stock selling decisions based on that is approximately as risky as making the same decision based on a Craigslist post. It's an inherent gamble. Jeff Jarvis is sanguine:

Shouty Sportswriter Is Sorry For Yelling

Hamilton Nolan · 05/05/08 02:24PM

Buzz Bissinger, the excellent sportswriter and blog hater who made himself a very unpopular man very quickly by becoming unhinged and cussing out nice-guy Deadspin editor Will Leitch on TV last week, has had some time to think about what he did. And he's sorry now. First his wife told him he looked bad. Then everybody else did. "I started reading emails sent to me. The majority were predictably vindictive — dickhead, horsefucker, douchebag, windbag, ugly, stupid, etc. But what struck me far more is that many of the emails were smart, not laced with personal invective, and made cogent points about sports blogs and the Internet." He has perhaps now learned a valuable lesson, or three!

Doree Shafrir · 08/22/07 11:30AM

"My email marketing finally worked. Gawker.com did a story on me. They did 3 actually. And if you're in the industry u know that Gawker is a celebrity website that keep it real and from that story I am meeting with an agent today who contacted the kid after reading and researching me. Wow, you get rid of the losers in your life and doors began to open for you. So let me get this book deal on and popping. So we shall see what's good with that. Right now I'm on my sk so I can't place a link of the story but just google me or wait until I get online later on to do so. Life is starting to look up for Tionna Smalls and I'm happy. I'm happy with my fam situation, my man situation, friends, locality, everything. I sleep all day, work all night. That's the life of a go-getter. Were planning the next luncheon. What else can happen to make my world better?" [Talk Dat Ish]