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Steve Florio's pipe dream

Conde Nast's Steve Florio, showing a CNBC TV crew his new edifice under construction in Times Square, was stopped last week in a construction elevator by iron workers wanting to know if he was some big deal celebrity. Florio shot back: "No, I'm with the steamfitters union." Says our bug: "The guys just shut right up."

Popping off on AOL's pop-up ads

Ad people detest ads. OK, to be more specific, ad people detest America Online's pesky "pop-up" ads, judging from the flood of e-mails Adages received after running an item last month on how to rid your PC of pop-ups. But Adages erred: AOL users should type in the keywords "marketing preferences" to get to the place where you can zap those ads, which AOL uses to pitch merchandise and services to its subscribers.

How BillG beat up a big customer

Just how competitive is Msft.'s Bill Gates? Well, a fly-on-the-wall type tells us BillG went ballistic when he learned cable operators led by TCI's John Malone decided to make their new digital set-top boxes compatible with programs written in Sun's Java. "Gates ranted and raved at Malone on the phone for a long time," says our fly. Malone also picked Msft.'s Windows CE as the boxes' operating system, and Malone had planned to go to the recent Consumer Electronics Show to promote the boxes -- with Gates and Sun's Scott McNealy standing by his side. Gates wouldn't stand for that. So Malone stayed home, and Gates and Sun did separate CES speeches, with McNealy showing a "1984" parody starring BillG as Big Brother.

Palm off . . . Clow leads

Msft.'s name for its new PalmPilot knock-off -- Palm PC -- has PalmPilot maker 3Com wondering if its trademark is being stomped on. "We're looking into this. It is a concern," says 3Com mktg. chief Janice Roberts. . . . Sun, which recently began advertising on garbage trucks ("Clean up techno-pollution"), will begin sticking Lowe-created ads on tops of city buses to reach workers staring aimlessly from high office windows. . . . TBWA Chiat/Day's Lee Clow is Western States Adv. Agencies Assoc. leader of the year -- for the second time. Only other two-timer: Jay Chiat. . . . Now that Deutsch is doing NY/NJ/Conn. Mitsubishi dealers' ads, will it want viewers to forget its old Pontiac dealer ads that poked fun at Japanese carmakers? . . . IDG today begins an estimated high six-figure trade ad campaign created by Diamond, Morgan, Northend, Albers in Palo Alto. Tagline is "Answers for the information age." IDG also signed IBM to a multimillion-dollar sponsorship of a 15-country Computerworld quarterly supplement. . . . CMP's Computer Reseller News, the No. 2 computer pub in ad pages, today kills its back-page ad in favor of expanded editorial. The pub expects no loss of revenue since it's raising ad prices in the back of the paper to reflect expected increased traffic from readers lured in from the back page. Publ. Kevin Mannion says the change has nothing to do with the fact that next week Ziff-Davis launches rival Sm@rt Reseller.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Doug Goodman, Laura Petrecca and Chuck Ross. Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (213) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (213) 655-8157; or e-mail, brad@crain.com.

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