Monthly Archives: March 2008

dealer expo – it has to be said

this shouldn’t be happening - but it is

For the record, as an advertising agency we pay to attend most trade shows. This year’s admission to Dealer Expo was $100.  SEMA charged me $15. Performance Racing Industries charged me $0. So when I packed for Indy did I expect a show almost seven times shinier than that automotive mecca in the desert? No. But we also didn’t expect holes in the traditional powersports categories large enough to fly a space shuttle through, holes plugged with some truly questionable merchandise. By the time I finished the dome I halfway wondered how I’d missed the Hoodia franchise booth. Read the followup to February’s report here.

pixels vs. pulp – do you know where your message should be?

reading the tea leaves becomes more challenging

You can’t turn a page these days, online or off, without stepping right into the old print-new media “controversy”. I use those cutesy little finger quotes to indicate my suspicions that this is less about controversy and more about contrived drama.

My pal Robin Hartfiel, recent gatekeeper at Motorcycle Product News and Dealernews and industry sage whose card index is legendary even as he eschews a personal cell phone (for now), takes some delight in referring to himself as a print dinosaur simply because he picks and chooses those digital media aids many of us take for granted, discarding most along the way but happily pounding out copy on a wifi enabled laptop nonetheless. More out of the closet than in, I’d say.

I, however, am a true print dinosaur of the Paleozoic age. He’s a poseur, dating only back to the late Jurassic era. I can say that because I know for a fact he never worked on a Linotype, with it’s jingling strands of brass letters imprinting their lines of type into a lead slug. True, he also experienced the heady days when pasteup required double-ought Staedtler tech pens, sniffing Bestine and rubber cement while trying to avoid dicing your fingertips to shreds with an X-acto blade, but sad to say, he wasn’t in the trenches when the hot lead was flying.
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print’s best heads? ever?

the title says it all - there’s nothing like a great head

So you think coming up with a great headline’s no big deal? So easy a cave man can do it? The New York Post, R. Murdoch’s over the top rant rag, begs to differ. And so do I, even though I’m sure no fan of Lord Rupert’s ideas regarding media’s role.

This summary of the worst of the worst, titled using the Post’s most famous headline ever, succinctly crosses the “t” and dots every “i” of the headline writer’s craft.

Take a walk on the guilty pleasures side of life and explore the Greatest Hits of a tabloid’s reason for being. Buy it for the graphic. Read it for the laughs. Think about it when you consider your next ad’s hook.

P.S. My favorite will always be a now-defunct Weekly World News cover headline, “Fat Woman Impaled On Bicycle Seat.” Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts.

hartfiel out at mpn — doh!

Good friend and industry icon Robin Hartfiel was abruptly let go yesterday by Athletic Business Publications, publishers of Motorcycle Product News where he’d hung his helmet as publisher/editor since leaving the same position at Dealernews in October of ’03 after 14 years of service to Advanstar.

A self-described Luddite who nonetheless knows how to crank out the occasionally curmugeonly and always well informed copy regardless of the platform, Hartfiel’s powersports insight is both deep and wide, assuring the next company that wins the inevitable bidding war for his services a Rolodex of contacts and a lifetime of accumulated product knowledge gleaned from covering the industry for both consumer and trade pubs.

Those same skills were responsible for breathing new life into a brand that was drifting when he grabbed the reins, quickly resulting in more sharply focused magazine that got the relationship with the dealer readership back on track.

Whither now MPN? Good question, as Hartfiel’s pool of knowledge is matched by only a few in the business and they don’t seem likely candidates for a move – or move back – to Madison. The decision, coming as it does at a time when print in general’s hemoraging ad pages, could at the least encourage defections from an advertising audience in a down market that’s already nervous and in retreat.