My parting shots at 2002: best,worst, most, least of it

By Published on .

It's the first Monday of the New Year and-since the future only heralds more audience fragmentation, increased market maturity and growing economic uncertainty-it's time to look backward. Herewith, the 2002 Media and Marketing Best-Worst-Most-Least Awards.

Best branding effort: Target Stores.

Worst branding effort: Microsoft's "guerilla-marketing" butterflies.

Best cross between brand and branded: Martha Stewart.

Worst positioning: Sam Adams beer as a Generation Z party brew.

Branding-Is-Easy/Merchandising-Is-Hard Award: To Gap CEO Mickey Drexler.

Most powerful media executive: Eric Schmidt, chairman-CEO of Google.

Most comfortable in his megalomania: Time Inc.'s John Huey.

Most likely to retire before he gets the job: MSNBC anchor Brian Williams.

Most likely to reach TV stardom before Brian Williams: Donny Deutsch.

The Citizen Kane Award: To New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, whose WBBR-AM finished No. 30 out of 40 radio stations in the city's Arbitron ratings, just above religious programmer WMCA.

Best media story of the year: The Jack Welch-Suzy Wetlaufer affair.

Most inconsequential media story of the year: The resurgence of Us magazine.

Most irrelevant media story of this or any year: TV Guide's search for a new editor.

Story we'd most like to see end already: The merger of CNN with a broadcast network's news division.

The 2002 Carl Bernstein Award: To Chris Noth and his publicists at The New York Observer.

The George Sanders "Because I Am Bored" Award: To the editors of The New York Times Book Review, who could find only seven books for their "Ten Best Books of the Year" list.

Best talk-show host: Isaac Mizrahi, on Oxygen.

Worst appeal to intellectualism: "Brilliant but Cancelled" on cable TV's Trio.

Best evidence that, for TV critics, middlebrow is highbrow: Tie/"Sex and the City" and "The Sopranos."

Clearest indication that irony has run its course in marketing: Old Navy's "Rugby Bunch" commercial.

Most Freudian moment: The National Magazine Award to magazine and media critic Michael Wolff.

Most missed advertising human: Jay Chiat.

Least likely to call Arthur Andersen (advertising category): Interpublic.

Biggest media development: Broadband media centers that combine cable TV set-tops, PVRs, massive digital music storage and on-line gaming.

Best dot-com comeback:

Best magazine comeback: The Columbia Journalism Review.

Best reason to be thankful that working in the media is its own reward: AOL Time Warner stock options.

The N.W. Ayer Keep-Everlastingly-At-It Memorial Award: To Advance Publications, which in 2002 claimed (to Ad Age and The New York Observer) that The New Yorker had achieved profitability for the first time since its acquisition by the company, following previous claims in 1996 (to The Wall Street Journal) and in 1989 (to The New York Times, in a report written by yours truly).

Randall Rothenberg, an author and longtime journalist, is director of intellectual capital at consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton.

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