Commentary by Scott Donaton

REPORT FROM THE SUMMER DOLDRUMS

A Recap of All the News You Missed Since June

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Hey you. Yes, you, the one getting off the helicopter from the Hamptons, looking warily for any stray Republicans still skittering around New York: Don't you think it's time to get back to work?
Scott Donaton, editor of 'Advertising Age.'

Summer's over. And, besides, your 2005 budget outline is just six weeks from overdue.

Listen, you know you've been on cruise control for the better part of the last two months even as you exclaimed that you've been busier than ever. Let's be real. You left early every Friday, arrived late on Monday, soaked up long outdoor lunches, caught an afternoon game at the stadium, spent two weeks in Italy, visited the kids at summer camp in Maine. Admit it, you need focus.

No worry. What follows is a convenient recap of key summer events. Use it to convince co-workers that you spent the summer examining business trends, studying marketing successes and failures and brushing up on vital issues. They won't know any better; they've been swapping time shares in Orlando.

Here's what happened:

  • Clients invade Cannes. More than 100 marketers join the creative community in doing nothing on the French Riviera and expensing it. Cannes lion Roger Hatchuel laughs all the way to the bank, unloading the festival on Emap for $96 million and revealing a 60% profit margin.

  • People stop eating carbs. Then they start eating them again, or at least -- to quote Doug from CBS's King of Queens -- the delicious ones. Food companies flood shelves with low-carb offerings, forgetting the lesson of the McDonald's seaweed burger: People won't eat stuff that doesn't taste good. Unless they're attending a four-hour luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria.

  • Media buyers talk tough leading into the upfront and don't rush to make buys. That's right, this year they -- well, they wait a few weeks before paying exorbitant prices for network TV. Question: Can Joey replace Friends, top Survivor: Vanuatu and maintain NBC's Thursday-night dominance? Answer: Nobody cares.

  • Martha Stewart, sentenced to five months of hard time, makes an impassioned plea from the courthouse steps -- for ads.

  • After years of rumors and Kremlin-like whisperings about Ed Meyer's motivations and inflated pricetag, Grey goes on the block. Finally! The sale everyone's been waiting for! The doors fly open and ... Martin Sorrell is the only one standing outside. Never mind.

  • Spider-Man 2 and Shrek 2 grab fistfuls of money against remakes of The Manchurian Candidate and The Stepford Wives, disproving once and for all the notion that Hollywood is creatively bankrupt.

  • Blogs forever change the political process, marketing and the media power balance. Or they don't. I forget which.

  • "Mass marketing meets its maker," Advertising Age declares. Mere months later, Business Week shockingly reaches same conclusion.

  • Burger King hires its 10th CEO in 15 years, wonders why it's still an also-ran. Quizno's is stunned to discover rats don't sell sandwiches.

  • Olympics, election, blah, blah, blah.

  • Les Moonves and Tom Freston replace Mel Karmazin as Sumner Redstone would-be's. Ted Sann is unceremoniously bounced at BBDO to make way for return of David Lubars. Chris Coughlin leaves Interpublic, CEO David Bell loses chairman title. Chuck Fruit takes over marketing at Coke as Steve Heyer departs. John Partilla manages to open an ad agency inside of Time Warner.

  • Conde Nast fires people, hires them back, disproving once and for all the notion that Si Newhouse is mercurial.
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