Wednesday Edition 2/3/10

CA-CHING!: The NY Times‘ Richard Perez-Pena reports that Steve Brill’s pay-to-play online world is about to be taken for a test-drive.

NUMBERS: Latest traffic reports for newspaper sites may not be all that clear. E&P reports a slip in Q4, but E&P’s former editor and a poster at E&P In Exile aren’t sure what the numbers mean.

PROFITABLE NEWS: News Corp’s fourth quarter profits rose with an upswing in ad sales — and some help from “Avatar,” AP reports in the LA Times. ALSO: News Corp’s News America Marketing will pay rival Valassis Communications $500 million to settle an antitrust lawsuit, with Valassis stock rising 17 percent on the news, BusinessWeek reports.

CONDE RATS: The Newhouse mags, where money’s flowed like crystal water, is looking to plug leaks — and asking employees to tattle on their comrades, the NY Post reports. “Fraud is detremintal to the company — and ultimately to each one of us,” said a memo by CFO John Bellando.

SUPER FANS: Burger King’s push for “super fans” — 18- to 34-year old males — appears to have backfired. Its preferred demographic cut back on eating out as the economy tanked, and other customers were turned off by a creepy ad campaign. Wall Street Journal reports on Yahoo! Finance that Burger King may have ignored franchisee complaints.

The chain ran irreverent television and online ads featuring its big-headed King character, which some people found cool and some found creepy. Some ads offended Hindus, Mexicans and women. An advertisement for Burger King’s Texican Whopper featuring a small wrestler dressed in a cape resembling a Mexican flag drew the ire of Mexico’s ambassador to Spain. The company also drew fire for its “SpongeBob Square Butts” ad, which featured the King Mascot dancing alongside women with squared-shaped butts. Franchisees pleaded with Burger King executives to woo more mothers and children by toning down the ads and bolstering kids’ and breakfast offerings.

“We had multiple marketing meetings where we bemoaned that our kids’ meal sales had dropped dramatically, and that we didn’t have a dessert program, and the company said, ‘This is the way we’re doing it,’ ” says Julian Josephson, who owns 40 Burger Kings in the West and Southwest.

BAD MORNING: Good newspaper. Commercial from Down Under.


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