Forget the big game: Adages recommends you read a good book

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David Bernstein, a British ad exec, is the author of this month's Adages Book Club selection, the paperback edition of "Advertising Outdoors. Watch this Space," published by Phaidon. It's a bright and provocative picture book of eye-catching billboards, posters and other out-of-home executions from the past and present. Adages highly recommends it-especially as a companion to turn to during the football breaks while watching the Super Bowl ads.

Dean has a future on Mad Ave.

If Howard Dean does not make it all the way from New Hampshire to the White House, he has a future as a pitchman. Media wags at the NATPE conference in Las Vegas last week were buzzing over Dean's now famous concession speech in Iowa last week ("And you know something, you know something, not only are we going to New Hampshire, Tom Harkin..."). Many suggested that Dean's intense finger-jabbing and yowling were similar to the diabolical ranting and gesticulating of Jerry Carroll, the former disc jockey who starred in the long-running campaign for electronics store chain Crazy Eddie. Others likened the doctor's spontaneous outburst to the huckstering shout-outs of OxiClean spokesmouth Billy Mays. One program sales exec even suggested to Adages that Dr. Dean might have a future in syndication.

Move over, Dr. Phil.

Caped crusader

Meanwhile, this year's NATPE conference saw the return of Super Joe, a motorcycle stuntman pitching a TV series about himself. This year, Super Joe wore a leather jumpsuit with cape, and managed to annoy everyone with dumb questions. "What exactly is your question?" barked Larry King, who moderated a panel called "Loose Cannons." Super Joe replied: "I just want to know if anyone here can tell me how I can get my show made." One of the loose cannons on stage, Roger King, owner of King World (not related to Larry), said, "Oh, he's been here before." Super Joe replied: "Yeah, but I've signed Evel Knieval this time." By the end of the conference Super Joe had worn out his welcome. He was last seen at the free magazine booth, squaring off to fight a barrel-chested casino maintenance worker who was spewing obscenities. "Bring it on, Superman!" the janitor taunted Super Joe, while TV execs looked on.

Fair and balanced

Paul Rittenberg, head of sales at Fox News, is a happy man. A Beta Research Advertising Executive Study for December gave his sales team the highest rating since the network launched seven years ago. According to the study, which is a survey of ad execs, the Fox News team earned an 81% competence rating, placing them at a four or five on a five-point scale, up from 62% in 2002. The study was a vindication for Rittenberg, whose sales team got a poor rating in a Jack Myer's Report study, which led to some mudslinging between Rittenberg and Myers in the press. "One of the good things about working for Roger [Ailes], he doesn't expect you to back down," says Rittenberg. "But I've got a lot to do every day. I'm not looking to pick fights with people."

Neither is Myers, apparently, who tells Adages that he has the utmost respect for the researchers at Beta, but adds, "Comparing my study to theirs," says Myers, "is like comparing a juicy plum to a prune."

Throw us a hook at rlinnett@crain.com

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