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Silicon Valley start-up TiVo will make a splash at the Consumer Electronics Show this week when it introduces a TV set-top box that allows viewers to control when and what they watch. The $500 digital box and $10-a-month subscription let you easily record shows on the device's massive hard drive. TiVo over time learns your preferences and then makes viewing suggestions. TiVo also digitally records whatever you're watching; hit pause if the phone rings or hit reverse to see an instant replay; then hit fast forward to get back to the present. Advertisers will be able to run spots aimed at the specific demographics of a TiVo household. The service, compatible with cable, satellite and over-the-air broadcast, begins testing early this year. But there's one feature TiVo doesn't play up to Mad. Ave.: TiVo may be the best commercial zapping device ever introduced, allowing savvy viewers to easily fast forward through commercials. TiVo VP Stacy Jolna says advertisers aren't overly concerned, arguing they will be more turned on by TiVo's ability to target ads. "If advertising is more relevant to the viewer," he says, "the viewer is more likely to watch the ad." But how many consumers would gladly pay $10 a month for commercial-free TV?

Fewer ad techies going downhill

Ziff-Davis is scaling back its annual advertisers' ski junket to Aspen. A sign of cost-cutting after the IPO? Not at all, says Terri Holbrooke, prez of ZD Brand & Market Services. Holbrooke says ZD will bring a "smaller, focused group" to Aspen in March and will invite other big customers to non-ski events, such as golf or spectator sports. ZD will survey customers this month to see how they wish to be entertained. Holbrooke says ZD considered dropping the Aspen trip, long one of the most coveted junkets in tech advertising, because it had become too broad and unfocused. Instead, ZD decided to make Aspen one of a handful of smaller shindigs. "It's not a budget issue, it's an ROI issue," Holbrooke says. "We're taking some of our own events' advice and making it a series of client events."

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The cast of tattooed ad execs ranges from FCB's Geoff Thompson (see Player Profile on Page 19) to Berlin Cameron's Andy Berlin. But Adages especially admires Mike Bevil, CD-partner at Austin's Bam!, who tattooed the agency slogan to his upper arm: "God bless the troublemakers." Know of other notable tattoos in adland? E-mail Adages.

Last words . . . veggie option

Famous last words: GM Prez Richard Wagoner tells www.carconnection.com that "if we don't achieve some reasonable results soon, someone else ought to be running this company.". . . Coming to the menu at Broadway Bar & Grill in Santa Monica: Gardenburger. So who owns the joint? Rubin Postaer's Larry Postaer, whose agency's new Chicago office landed the veggie burger account.

Compiled by Bradley Johnson with news from Alice Z. Cuneo and Jean Halliday.

Got an Adage? Tell Brad by phone, (213) 651-3710, ext. 111; fax, (213) 655-8157;

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