Diller as Darth- or Search Wars meets 'Star Wars'

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IN HIS QUEST TO DOMINATE THE SEARCH ENGINE GALAXY, Barry Diller, chairman-CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp, parent company of, is going to crib from Darth Vader's playbook, not Luke Skywalker's. At a keynote Q&A session with SearchEngineWatch Editor Danny Sullivan at the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo in New York last month, Diller hinted at his role in the interactive, search-driven world. Diller was asked if, in rebranding the Ask Jeeves search engine as simply, he felt Ask needed "some kind of mission statement." "Be evil," Diller deadpanned, which got a huge laugh from the standing-room-only audience, an obvious play on search leader Google's "Don't be evil" motto. "As a mantra, [don't be evil] has a lovely connotation when you're not in business," Diller said. "When you're in business, it's pretentious. There are very few companies that act as evil, à la the evil empire." He also described himself as a technological lunkhead-despite the fact that he owns well-known e-commerce brands such as Bloglines, Evite, and Ticketmaster-telling the crowd that the interactive world has its own language. "Not only is it a difficult vocabulary, it really is a different language for me to try to learn," he said. The former TV honcho added, "I functioned all my life in narrative." No one can doubt, however, that his desire to dominate the search space rivals Vader's to dominate the galaxy. The question is, who will the force be with when all is said and done? Our money's on the dark side. After all, this is the guy who created Fox Broadcasting Co. -Carol Krol

THEY DIDN'T WIN ANY OF THE TOP AWARDS when they handed out the Oscars last week in Hollywood, but the 2005 movies "The Ring 2" and "War of the Worlds" certainly pushed the envelope for brand marketers at Ford Motor Co. Brandchannel, which tracks product placement in top films, as well as those products that appear in indie flicks and foreign- language productions, recently released its second annual Brandcameo Awards. The 2005 Award for Overall Product Placement went to Ford, whose cars appeared in almost 50% of all No. 1 films (at the box office) in 2005, including "The Ring 2" and "War of the Worlds." The automaker also appeared in films such as "The Fog" and "Saw II," driving ahead of Coca-Cola Co., in second place, and Apple Computer, which garnered third place. Product placements for PepsiCo.'s Pepsi, last year's winner in this category, fizzled out somewhat, as the beverage brand dropped to seventh place along with Johnnie Walker Scotch whisky. Other 2005 award winners include Audi ("March of the Penguins"), Gatorade ("The Island") and eBay ("Because of Winn-Dixie"). Brandchannel has been tracking product placement since 2001, and offers a cross-referenced database containing the brands that have appeared in 195 films ( In 2005, Brandchannel's trackers logged placements by 737 brands from 41 No. 1-rated films, for an average of 18 brands per film.-Matthew Schwartz

PARKING STRIPE ADVERTISING, a Denver-based advertising agency, has developed a new ad format that takes outdoor advertising to a whole new playing field. Using patented technology, the agency manufactures printed vinyl ads that cover the white stripes marking spaces in parking lots. So far, b-to-b advertisers-including Dell Inc., Halliburton Co. and Qwest Communications-have signed up for the ads, as well as a slew of consumer advertisers such as Ford Motor Co., Home Depot and PepsiCo. The idea was the brainchild of Greg Gorman, founder-CEO of Parking Stripe Advertising and founder-CEO of Denver ad agency Commotion. Gorman had challenged his employees to come up with a new place to display ads, and jokingly suggested the stripes in the parking lot when he looked out his office window and saw the unused white space below. Parking Stripe Advertising uses a CPS (cost-per-stripe) pricing model. Information is available at -Kate Maddox

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