Twice is unlucky, third time's a jinx

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Don't let our jovial exterior fool you. Adages has a competitive streak a mile wide. In fact, our competitive streak got the better of us last week when we rode along-once again-with a team during the Inc. Challenge, in which media-buying/planning teams subject themselves to the scavenger-hunting whims of Mansueto Ventures Publishing Director Jay Goldberg. Last year, Adages rode along with the Deutsch team, which lost (second place is a loss in our book). This year, we rode along with a team from Mediaedge:cia: Jill Toscano, Amy Newshel, Christina Dagnelo, Laura Reilly and Trish "Jake Gyllenhaal" Mazzarone. We regret to report that they lost ( Dentsu America won again). Lance Armstrong may have been their muse, but they didn't exactly play strong. Then again, they didn't have a trusty set of wheels. The limo they were assigned had bench seating, nonfunctioning overhead lights-and it stalled on a couple of occasions.

Maybe next year we'll get the winning team. Or maybe someone will figure out we're a jinx.

CBS makes offer Nielsen has to refuse

CBS recently made a generous offer to run public service announcements-an offer that could make the network millions of dollars.

David Poltrack, exec VP-chief research officer of CBS, had to leave The Research Industry Summit: Improving Respondent Cooperation in Chicago early to catch a plane Sept. 28. But before leaving, he told Robert Lederer, editor and publisher of Research Business Report and moderator of the roundtable, that CBS would be willing to run prime-time PSAs encouraging viewers to participate when VNU's Nielsen Media Research calls.

Very noble. And potentially profitable, were it to stack Nielsen samples and panels with a disproportionate number of people who watch CBS shows. Just a half-point bump in Nielsen ratings over a season can net $50 million for a network.

Owen Charlebois, president-operations, technology, research & development of Arbitron, politely noted that the industry's Media Ratings Council yanked accreditation of radio ratings for the Atlanta market in 1992 when some stations ran ads asking listeners to participate in Arbitron research. "The MRC concluded it biased results," he said.

A CBS spokeswoman said Mr. Poltrack's intention was that all broadcast and cable networks would run pro-Nielsen PSAs, not just CBS, which she said wasn't seeking an advantage from its offer. "It wouldn't make sense if just CBS did it," she said.

Indeed, once other networks get wise, they may be eager to run those PSAs, too.

The force is with Macy Gray

Because we hadn't completely recovered from all that roast guinea pig and 320-potato casserole we'd scarfed down in Peru, Adages didn't make it to Edutopia's party celebrating its second anniversary and the 15th anniversary of its publisher, the George Lucas Education Foundation. It's too bad, though, because we really wanted to see Macy Gray. You never know what's going to happen with Macy Gray. A helper monkey, though, tells us Macy was on her best behavior and even showed up on time, no doubt because she was also raising money for her Macy Gray Music Academy Foundation. In fact, during remarks prior to her set, Macy gently reminded people not to forget the George Lucas foundation and her own. "Especially mine," she said, "I love you, George Lucas, but he's got plenty, plenty of (money)."

An ad exec not interested in Wal-Mart

Speaking of Adages helper monkeys, we received an honest-to-goodness letter-typed out on paper and shoved into an envelope! After reading that another helper monkey had stumbled across Ogilvy & Mather's barbecue for Wal-Mart, this helper monkey decided to write in with some tangentially related Wal-Mart/advertising news. Turns out that Susan Zimet, a former media VP at Grey Advertising, has made a name for herself in upstate New York by battling the retailer, getting elected to the New Paltz town board, getting elected Ulster County legislator and now running for New York state Senate. While Adages likes to watch politics, we can't understand why people would subject to themselves to that particular grind. But, said Zimet, "Listen! I've lost 20 pounds. You can't buy that!"

Contributing: Jack Neff

Cast your ballot with kwheaton@crain.com
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