Kevin Roberts channels the ad spirits

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Boy, the things we learn from reading books. For example, frequent Adages contributor Brooke Capps was reading Charles Fishman's excellent book "The Wal-Mart Effect" when she discovered a gem of quote attributed to Saatchi & Saatchi CEO Kevin Roberts. It's right there at the top of chapter eight and we're pretty sure our readers will love it. "The customer is not a moron. She's your wife."

Now before anyone gets his or her red suspenders in a twist, it should be pointed out that David Ogilvy is rightfully credited as the original source of the line in the source material at the back of the book. So why did Fishman attribute it to Roberts? It's all about context, he says, and the context was a speech by Roberts at the October 2004 "Emerging Trends in Retailing" conference at the Sam M. Walton College of Business in the University of Arkansas-quite powerful. Fishman found the line "trenchant" but had never heard it before (proving, we guess, that fame in the ad industry is not quite equivalent to real-world fame).

For his part, Roberts said through a spokeswoman: "The quote is a David Ogilvy quote, which I always attribute to the great man."

P&G exec has red-state blues

As Democrats rallied deep in the heart of Ohio's red zone near Cincinnati in late August, Nathan Estruth, general manager of Procter & Gamble Co.'s FutureWorks unit, was an unlikely part of the crowd.

A Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter spotted him, his wife and four kids among the few not wearing T-shirts supporting Democratic candidates. Reluctantly, Mr. Estruth answered some questions. A story the next day portrayed him as a man who "typically voted Republican but who had showed up at the rally to give the Democrats a chance to win his vote." They didn't. He said he wasn't impressed with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland.

And no wonder. It turns out Mr. Estruth gave the campaign of Mr. Strickland's Republican opponent, Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, $7,500 in June 2005. He's also president of Common Sense Ohio, a group that has raised $1.5 million to run ads attacking Mr. Strickland.

Mr. Estruth, in an e-mail, said the Plain Dealer reporter aggressively pursued him even after he declined to be interviewed several times at the rally. "He had a story angle he clearly wanted to write," Mr. Estruth said. "I never indicated I was 'undecided,' a word used in the story but not in quotes. In fact, I clearly stated I had 'supported' Ken Blackwell and even talked about why I supported him." He added: "The liberal blogs act as if I didn't know that my name would be listed on the secretary-of-state website" as president of CSO, "which is, of course, silly. Not only was I keenly aware of this, I was also keenly aware that my name and my wife's name can be easily pulled up online as significant contributors" to Mr. Blackwell's campaign.

Stars crash to earth-gracefully

Someone call the union! ABC forced the stars to work overtime last week. To launch the third season of hit "Dancing With the Stars," ABC employed more than 100 dancers in giant gold-star costumes across the city to perform a variety of dances in locations both obvious (Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge) and less so (subways, South Street Seaport). They even did some intranetwork plugging with a segment on "Good Morning America," where host Diane Sawyer introduced a cluster of stars before they flat-footed on top of a double-decker tour bus.

Whether or not the gimmick was effective for people other than New Yorkers, something prompted viewers to tune in to the live premiere: It drew the largest prime-time audience since the season finale of "American Idol" in May.

Mr. Adages going to Washington?

Adages went to Success magazine's party last week to see cover-woman and Wall Street star Maria Bartiromo and chat a bit with Publisher Joseph Guerriero (who appeared in this column last week grumbling about a cruel summer on the links). But we hung around to chat with Myrna Blyth. We hadn't previously had the pleasure of meeting the former editor in chief of Ladies' Home Journal and publishing director of More, but suffice it to say she showed up on our radar big time with the publication of her book "Spin Sisters." Myrna has a book coming out in March called "How to Raise an American," which already may be causing a vague sense of unease in the usual quarters. But what she really wanted to talk about was her role as chair of the president's commission on White House fellowships. Her big dream for the gig? Getting more media types to apply for the highly competitive fellowship, to see what it's like to work in the executive branch, rather than against it, on a daily basis. If you see Adages go dark next year, it's because we think hanging with the president (of any political stripe) would be more fun than swilling cocktails at magazine parties. (Also, the $100,000 stipend and the fact that we could pass for fashionable in D.C. helps.)

Contributing: Brooke Capps, Andrew Hampp, Jack Neff Rock the vote with kwheaton@crain.com
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