Instapun*** Archive Listing

Archive Listing
December 14, 2005 - December 7, 2005

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Pepsi Challenge

'Seasonal Dude' -- A bold advertising gambit

PSONG 23. Cigarette maker Phillip Morris devotes much of its advertising dollar to informing its customers of the dangers of smoking. Oil refiner BP, advertising its love of the environment and dedication to alternative energy sources, claims that its initials stand for Beyond Petroleum rather than British Petroleum. And now soft drink giant Pepsico has unveiled an 'anti-mascot' that appears to be aimed squarely at the large red belly of rival Coca-Cola. The figure known as 'Seasonal Dude' will have a no-nonsense message for consumers during the final weeks of December. Copy from ads due to run on the alphabet networks, MTV, VH1, Spike, and the Comedy Channel feature a truculent Seasonal Dude uttering such pearls of wisdom as, "Me, I've had it with the capitalist conspiracy to make billions from a stupid myth... I don't need no religious bling bling or no bitch in a red suit to feel good about myself... I don't need no damn tree in my crib or a bunch of boring old kiddy tunes or any other sugary crap to make me feel good... All I need is some Diet Pepsi mixed with good times, if you know what I'm saying..."

Pepsico denies the company is attacking Christmas or its traditions. "We have nothing against the C-Word," said a company spokesperson interviewed by telephone. "It's just that our customers belong to a new generation that 's too cool to get caught up in all the conventional holiday claptrap. We think they'll respond to a campaign that says out loud what so many of them are thinking in private. We believe Seasonal Dude makes an excellent role model for young people and intellectuals of all stripes. In fact, we'd be very surprised if this campaign doesn't lock up 90 percent of the university and college market, as well as 60 percent of the market in the blue states. We're very confident."

Industry analysts suggest that Pepsi's ambitions go far beyond domestic sales. They point to recent trends in Europe and the Middle East, where new soft drink brands like Mecca Cola, Arab Cola, and others are being introduced to take advantage of virulent anti-American sentiment. New Pepsi ad copy aimed at foreign markets, for example, has Seasonal Dude confiding, "If you're like me, red, white, and blue don't stand for America or that rag they call a flag -- red, white, and blue means Pepsi-Cola... If you want to stick it to Coke and the big red Satan, do what I do and stick with the Pepsi red crescent. Ma sha' Allah."

A Coca-Cola spokesperson was cautious in his comments about the Pepsi campaign. "We understand their desire for product differentiation in a competitive market," he said, "but it does seem a bit retro. Coca-Cola hasn't employed the large bearded person in the red suit in our advertising in quite some time, and we don't believe this effort to associate us with the present unpopularity of that character or with an obviously outmoded holiday of whatever name will succeed."

Coca Cola's marketing nightmare -- Santa and the C-Word.

Clearly, Coca-Cola is hoping that soft drink consumers have already forgotten this extremely lengthy history. Perhaps they are right. American consumers seem to be capable of forgetting just about anything.

UPDATE, 10:45 AM.  Pepsico has just issued a press release announcing, without explanation, that 'Seasonal Dude' has been permanently cancelled.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Help for Howard Dean

He's at it again. We really want to be of assistance.

THE EASY WAY. It's hard to know what to do for a man who's as bright as a Roman candle, firing off in all directions without illuminating anything but his own stupidity. You can't engage him in rational discussion because behind the Yale accent there's nothing but a tempestuous twit. You can't persuade him to read books that might replace the sour pudding in his head with information because he's 1) a politician and 2) a doctor, which means that he's 1) incapable of reading more than a sentence or two at a sitting and 2) pretty sure he's infallible. You can't beat any sense into him because it's against the law and probably wouldn't work anyway. It's enough to make a person despair.

So we typed in the address, and guess what we found? The perfect kind of vehicle for helping Dean and the Democrats through the vale of tears they have so determinedly created for themselves. They're in the form of motivational posters -- beautiful photographs, simple wording, and wise perspectives on a variety of liberal maladies. For example, we'd suggest that Dean's secretary put up the following posters -- one for each wall -- in the DNC chairman's office:

And here's one to put up in the office of every staffer at the DNC:

And, finally, one that should be mailed to all the rank-and-file afflicted with Bush Derangement Syndrome:

No, the posters probably won't change anything, but at least we took a shot at it.

P.S. By all means go take a look at You could even buy something and SEND it to a Democrat.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Musical Nations

The New Europe

DIASPORA II. Yesterday, President Isn Ah Uman of Iran made a radical proposal for solving the problems of the middle east. Specifically, he:

...expressed doubt the Holocaust took place and suggested the Jewish state of Israel be moved to Europe.

His comments, reported by Iran's official IRNA news agency from a news conference he gave in the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, follow his call in October for Israel to be "wiped off the map", which sparked widespread international outrage.

The latest comments also provoked quick condemnation. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called them "totally unacceptable" and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said "I condemn them unreservedly. They have no place in civilized political debate."

We think the Europeans are being a mite hasty here. It could actually work out. The map above shows one implementation of the idea, which gives Israel some land on the continent of Europe. The only people who will be inconvenienced by this are some French and Germans, but it's been well established by now that they would never react like the Palestinians because they don't think there's anything worth fighting for ever. Yes, they'd have to find other places to go, but unlike the Palestinians, they have cars (mostly) and credit cards, which means they're free to travel and wouldn't have to squat in tent cities recruiting adolescent suicide bombers to kill for them. In fact, the really great news is that the French and Germans have practically given up having kids, so the pool of potential suicide bombers is small. And since they don't observe any kind of religion anymore, the few kids they do have probably can't be talked into murdering civilians for the greater glory of God.

The more we think about this plan, the more it seems like a win/win approach. The Israelis are resourceful and ambitious enough to revive the flatlined economies of France and Germany, which would be a boon for the rest of Europe. In their new homeland they'd no longer be surrounded by fanatical barbarians but pusillanimous decadents, which would enable Israelis -- literally -- to make love not war, providing the continent of Europe with a desperately needed baby boom. They also have just the right kind of experience to sort out the problems the French found so vexing in the muslim slums of Paris. All the car burning and other nighttime nonsense would probably come to an abrupt end.

Things will get better. You'll see.

We understand that people will carp and nitpick about the plight of the French and Germans who have to find new neighborhoods, but there's every reason to think it can be accomplished without too much ruckus. Europeans are among the most politically correct of the world's self-hating leftists, and so they surely must see that social justice is not a matter of equal treatment under the law, but of accelerating appeasement of the ancient grievances of minorities. It's not as if the French and Germans aren't aware that their ancestors hated and persecuted the Jews. The due date for reparations has come. And thanks to their colonial and expansionist pasts, they all have places to go. Historically, the Germans have proved many times that they know the way to Belgium, to Austria, to Poland, to Holland, and to Norway, and if they want a change of climate, they can always go stay with relatives in Argentina and Paraguay. The French have even more alternatives. They can move to the sunny south with their dear old friends in Algeria, Somalia, and the Sudan. They can indulge their inveterate sense of superiority with their poor relations in Quebec. And since they've been so incredibly supportive of the Palestinians all these years, they could even go live in the former Israel to show the rest of us how easy it is to have neighbors like the Arafat family.

It's true that Chirac and Merkel are going to cut up rough about the new scheme, at least for a while, but sooner or later they'll see that there's a silver lining. As heads of state in exile, they would do what all heads of state in exile do -- live in sybaritic splendor in Paris. No more elections, no more electorate, no more accountability for results. Just five-star restaurants, bulletproof limos, lavish penthouses and estates, endlessly revolving credit, and daily photo ops with the global media. Where can you get a better deal than that?

Is anyone else starting to see how beautifully this could all work out? We thought so.

UPDATE: A Fair Trial

LEGAL NICETIES. It was on Tuesday that we forwarded our recommendations about how Saddam should be situated in the courtroom during his trial. Today, Charles Krauthammer published a column at RealClearPolitics suggesting that the former dictator should be popped into a glass booth. Where have we heard that before? We know Dr. Krauthammer is a busy man, but a passing hat tip to InstaPunk wouldn't take much time. (Just kidding, Doc. It's RCP we're mad at. Just kidding, guys.) Regardless, we still think our inspired version of the booth is superior to anything he proposed. But that's just us.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Transition: Ted Koppel
finally releases his hostage

A SENSE OF MISSION. Twenty-five years is a pretty long time for a special news bulletin to last, but the retirement of Ted Koppel from Nightline is a reminder that his show started as a nightly update during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis. The program was called America Held Hostage, and Ted soared to stardom on the strength of a voice that has always seemed pregnant with restrained grief.

The good times. It's made millions on DVD.

Indeed, Ted has never stopped grieving -- first for the Iran hostages, then for an America afflicted with the cruelly prosperous presidency of Ronald Reagan (shake head slowly from side to side in mournful disbelief), followed by yet another bellicose and insensitive Republican administration (sigh and execute an imperceptible shrug of those tiny shoulders). When Clinton recaptured the White House for the forces of good in 1992, there may have been an interval of seeming relief from the huge burden that weighs Ted down and gives him that ineffable air of gravitas, but the vast right wing conspiracy was always a source of concern and then it succeeded in wrecking the second Clinton term, which plunged Ted anew into a state of morbidity that became inconsolable after the stolen election of 2000 and the genocidal war on terror that arose from the ashes of 9/11. Not since the glorious days of the Iran crisis was Ted more in his element, and thus the second highpoint of America Held Hostage was The Great Reading Aloud of the names of soldiers and marines killed in Iraq.

Some accomplishments can never be topped, and so now Ted has decided to yield his specially engineered chair to a trio of new anchors who will face an uphill battle to fill his big hat shoes.

Koppel replacements Terry Moran, Cynthia McFadden and Martin Bashir

We wish them much luck, of course, and we also wonder what Ted will do now. Perhaps an audio CD of his magnificent voice reading its way tragically through the Manhattan white pages. In our humble opinion, it would be nice if he took a break from misery, maybe by joining the cast of South Park, where he could prove an unexpectedly good fit with the show's overall esthetic.

Call us nuts, but we think Ted might feel right at home in South Park.

It's more likely, though, that Ted will remain somewhat aloof from the rest of us. Some television journalists are just too big, in whole or in part, to mix very well with the common folk. Take Walter Cronkite. You're not going to find him chugging shots and swapping stories with average joes at the corner tavern. He's out riding around on his big yacht, communing with the soul of Edward R. Murrow, and only rarely does he stoop to type out a senile screed about the latest Republican outrage. Ted, too, is likely to become more and more lofty and removed from the bustle of real life. In all probability he knows exactly where he belongs, and that's where we're going to have to go if we ever want to see him again.

That's Ted on the left.

Happy trails, Ted.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005



. If there's one thing New Jersey has in abundant supply (no toxic waste jokes, please) it's ex-governors. (Okay, we take it back about the toxic waste jokes.) What's rare is for them to get news coverage after they've been flung out of office in disgrace. Yeah, Christie Whitman shows up occasionally as a Democrat punchline in jests about the administration's environmental policy, and Brendan Byrne sometimes sneaks onto the set of Comcast talk shows to bash Bush in his trademark drunken slur, but mostly we don't hear from these folks because they're not of any earthly use to anybody. That's why we were shocked to read the following in the paper today:

WASHINGTON Time, money and ever-present terrorism threats have done little to close gaping holes in the nation's security system, the former Sept. 11 commission said Monday while accusing the government of failing to protect the country against another attack.

The panel cited disjointed airplane passenger screening methods, pork-barrel security funding and other problems in saying the Bush administration and Congress had not moved quickly enough to enact the majority of its recommendations of July 2004.

"We're fwustwated, all of us fwustwated at the lack of uugency in addwessing these vawious pwoblems," said Tom Kean, a Republican and former New Jersey governor who was chairman of the commission.

"We shouldn't need another wake-up call," Mr. Kean said. "We believe that the tewwowists will stwike again; so does evwy wesponsible expoot that we have talked to. And if they do, and these wefohms that might have pwevented such an attack have not been implemented, what will our excuse be?"

Surprised and embarrassed by Kean's reemergence in public, the New Jersey legislature reacted swiftly by passing a resolution to put the former governor up for auction on ebay.

We applaud their decision and recommend that the same measure be applied to the other six mental midgets who are still rattling around out there.

Sleepy and Grumpy

Dopey and Bashful

Happy and Doc

Who should go on the block next? That's not an easy call, but Republicans might all agree that we'd feel less ashamed if she were out of our hair for good.

But put your bid in for Kean first. So far, he's not exactly as popular with ebay customers as a Britney Spears bra. Enough said.

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