What time is it? Don't ask a ninja

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The rumpled-shirt Web 2.0 guys behind the popular Ask a Ninja video podcast dropped by Adages HQ last week when they were in New York meeting with agencies. (Ninja as product pitchman, perhaps? "Ninja loves the sparkling white teeth he gets from using Crest...") Douglas Sarine and Kent Nichols were struggling improv comics trying to make it big in Los Angeles and had hit a low point professionally when they decided to invent Ninja, the gruff-voiced and rambling black-clad fighter who's since gone on to become one of the most popular independent podcasters. The creators wouldn't reveal which one played the part of Ninja but did say fame has gone to Ninja's head. Said Nichols: "He just walks around in his Speedo with a clock on the front and says 'What time is it? What time is it?' And you have to tell him. You just have to look down and tell him. It's demeaning." Yep, said Saline: "No matter what happens on the internet, actors will always be crazy." Saline also volunteered, in case there are "cewebrity" groupies out there, that Nichols "is single and looking." That's right, added Nichols, "I am advertising meat."

Roasting Tom Moroch

China or platinum are the typical 25th anniversary gifts, but employees at Dallas agency Moroch Partners recently feted founder Tom Moroch's silver anniversary with a roast. Not the kind with a pig on a spit, but the Friar's Club variety. More than 1,000 guests attended the Sept. 9 affair to have a laugh with and at the agency chairman.

Among the glitterati who participated were former and current McDonald's executives (the agency's first and still-current client), including: Ralph Alvarez, president-chief operating officer for McDonald's North America; Paul Schrage, McDonald's first chief marketing officer; John Warzecha, senior VP at Midas International; and Jeff Cogan, president of the Texas Rangers. Mr. Schrage brought his Tom Moroch bobblehead-complete with the white suit, earring and hip-length ponytail that makes Moroch look a little like a cross between Tom Wolfe and Jerry Garcia. The agency began producing the thumbs-up-gesturing and nodding statuettes in 2003 as a gift for staff and clients.

But Mr. Moroch's favorite roasting was from his 18-year-old daughter, who appeared on stage with a young man she introduced as the new boyfriend that she met at college. The punchline became clear when the "boyfriend" began stripping. Once his shirt came off, "I was looking at my wife and said, 'I don't know what this is,'" said Mr. Moroch, recalling the moment. "They had me going for a couple of minutes."

"I've never seen him so red," said Moroch CEO Pat Kempf.

'WSJ Weekend Edition' has a ball, lets its advertisers eat cake

While media observers keep waiting for the Wall Street Journal 'Weekend Edition' to stumble, its leaders keep forging ahead, now moving into the sort of events usually thrown by glossy mags. For example, they recently hosted the New York Film Festival premiere of Sofia Coppola's "Marie Antoinette," complete with a post-movie gala at the MOMA, where guests were treated to some of the ridiculously opulent pastries and delights seen in the movie and a bit of chatter with actor Jason Schwartzman, who escaped the VIP fold and made a number of turns around the party.

"Since the launch, we have endeavored to provide advertisers with transformational ideas that celebrate what 'Weekend Edition' is all about-bringing the best of the business of life to the forefront," said Judy Barry, "Weekend Edition" senior VP-sales and marketing, one of many WSJ execs on hand for the evening. Beside party partner Sony, other advertisers on hand included: Caroline Faviet, U.S. president, Swatch Group; Joanna Scholl, marketing director, HBO; Giunero Floro, VP, Ameriprise; Allison Womack, director-client services, Doremus.

And while Adages left before our chariot turned into a pumpkin, we were told that the movie's star, Kirsten Dunst, had an interesting comment when she saw the gift bags. "Oh, wow," she said. "A gift bag from The Wall Street Journal. Is this for smart people only?"

Contributing: Abbey Klaassen, Kate MacArthur Ask an Adages at kwheaton@crain.com
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