Amy Chozick’s New York Times Story On General Motors & Scratch

March 22, 2012 — 0

Fabrizio Costantini for The New York Times

Ross Martin, left, of Viacom’s creative strategy unit, is working with General Motors to help revive interest in cars among young consumers. Mr. Martin and John McFarland of Chevrolet are shown in G.M.’s headquarters in Detroit.

As Young Lose Interest in Cars, G.M. Turns to MTV for Help


DETROIT — Ross Martin, 37, is a published poet and a former drummer in an alternative rock band. Wearing Nike high tops and loosefitting jeans, he is the kind of figure who wouldn’t attract a second glance on the streets of Brooklyn, where he lives.

But on a chilly afternoon here last month he managed to attract a few odd looks as he walked across the 24th floor of General Motors’ global headquarters. Mr. Martin is the executive vice president of MTV Scratch, a unit of the giant media company Viacom that consults with brands about connecting with consumers.

He and his team are trying to help General Motors solve one of the most vexing problems facing the car industry: many young consumers today just do not care that much about cars.

That is a major shift from the days when the car stood at the center of youth culture and wheels served as the ultimate gateway to freedom and independence. Young drivers proudly parked Impalas at a drive-in movie theater, lusted over cherry red Camaros as the ultimate sign of rebellion or saved up for a Volkswagen Beetle on which to splash bumper stickers and peace signs. Today Facebook, Twitter and text messaging allow teenagers and 20-somethings to connect without wheels. High gas prices and environmental concerns don’t help matters.

“They think of a car as a giant bummer,” said Mr. Martin. “Think about your dashboard. It’s filled with nothing but bad news.”

There is data to support Mr. Martin’s observations. In 2008, 46.3 percent of potential drivers 19 years old and younger had drivers’ licenses, compared with 64.4 percent in 1998, according to the Federal Highway Administration, and drivers ages 21 to 30 drove 12 percent fewer miles in 2009 than they did in 1995.

Forty-six percent of drivers aged 18 to 24 said they would choose Internet access over owning a car, according to the research firm Gartner.

Cars are still essential to drivers of all ages, and car cultures still endure in swaths of suburban and rural areas. But automobiles have fallen in the public estimation of younger people. In a survey of 3,000 consumers born from 1981 to 2000 — a generation marketers call “millennials”— Scratch asked which of 31 brands they preferred. Not one car brand ranked in the top 10, lagging far behind companies like Google and Nike.

The five-year strategic vision that Scratch has developed for Chevrolet, kept quiet until now, stretches beyond marketing to a rethinking of the company’s corporate culture. The strategy is to infuse General Motors with


Viacom Launched A Blog, Yo

March 16, 2012 — 0

In a blatant ripoff of (kidding, Mark), Viacom launched a blog this week.  Surprise — it’s actually freakin’ good.  I work here, yes, but it’s true.  Look at the blogs of other corporate monoliths — they blow!

Viacom’s blog is already posting some fantastic stuff from the likes of MTV & VH1’s Van Toffler, Viacom International’s Bob Bakish, Logo’s Lisa Sherman, Will Ferrell, Jon Stewart, Fran Drescher and more.  There’s even already a pretty cool behind-the-scenes look at Spike’s new Mixed Martial Arts show — “MMA: Uncensored Live.”  Thank you to Daina Amorosano for your kind post on my appearance at the McGraw Hill Media Summit last week.

Check out Viacom International Media Networks President, Bob Bakish, on K-Pop and connectivity:

Viacom and K-Pop from Viacom on Vimeo.

There’s even a post about Scratch’s incredible friend and inspiring colleague, Millie Peartree, who just appeared on VH1’s Morning Buzz show:

Mark Jafar has somehow worked this into a blog people are actually using.  Insights, news, behing-the-curtain stuff, there’s so much here that otherwise wouldn’t surface, and it’s giving people a chance to see the breadth and depth of work across the company.  I hope you’ll check it out.  It’s so not easy to pull off a corporate blog that doesn’t suck.


Kvell, Mom, Kvell

March 15, 2012 — 0

Last month, I tried to impress the shit out of my parents by hooking our family up with a sweet bungalo (thank you, Pam Kaufman!) at the Nickelodeon Hotel in Orlando.  I stacked the room with fresh fruit and other treats, and even had my mom’s favorite cocktail, a (virgin) pina colada, waiting for her when she arrived.  It was awesome.

If you’ve got kids of Nickelodeonesque age, you gotz to go.  Don’t miss the massive sliming ritual, poolside, where the biggest bucket of green goo you’ve ever seen is dumped on ecstatic crowds.  Epic.

I got a SpongeBob temporary tattoo, and she realized her son’s truly gone on from poetry school to corporate tool.  (I can still rhyme, bitches.) 

At least I didn’t blog about getting a SpongeBob tattoo.  Oh, wait.

Anyway, look at me now, mom.  It’s “Dude Week” at a Jewish parenting blog called “Kveller,” and your boy is all over it like schmear on a bagel.  That’s right, mom.  I even talk about Shabbat Dinner and stuff in interviews to make you proud.


Blasting The New Album By “Fore” This Morning

March 13, 2012 — 0

 It’s Tuesday morning, I’m in the office blasting tracks 25 year-old Mutaurwa Mapondera, a.k.a. “Fore” (formerly “Foretold”), just sent me from his underground debut called GOING BACK IS NOT THE SAME AS STAYING.

Fore, born in Zimbabwe, describes it as “an album about Distance. Distance from the people and places you love, and Distance from the life you feel you should be living.”  Fore produced the album largely himself. 


Listen for influences of Big L, Big Pun and, of course, Nas, alongside samples from the Cocteau Twins, Mali’s Amadou and Miriam.  The schemes are complex, the writing’s true and the emotional depth belies Fore’s age.   Listen for the “Zim in him…”

Here‘s where I downloaded it.  Here‘s Fore’s Tumblr.  And you might recall Fore freestyling in my office, last year, which is here.



“Fresh Guacamole”: A New Stop Motion Short from PES

March 12, 2012 — 0

Fresh Guacamole: A New Stop Motion Short from PES video cooking animation

Stop-motion slight of hand’s not new, but in the hands of PES, every cut’s a surprise…

From Colassal:

In his first stop motion short in over a year, animator PES (previously) has just released this brilliant companion piece to his groundbreaking 2008 cooking video Western Spaghetti. I’m happy to report this new clip is every bit as wonderful as his earlier works. PES has an uncanny ability to utilize the most unexpected common objects to represent foods, animals and other things—those dice!!


Brooklyn’s Jose Parla

March 6, 2012 — 0

Loving Jose Parla

The enigmatic Brooklyn painter has been called a “raconteur,” a conceptual documentarian, a “transcriber.”  Parla’s work, which I wish we had on our walls and hopefully, one day, will, uses markings and layers of distress to chronicle the passing of time and neglect across their surfaces. 

The work is beautiful, cerebral, emotional.  Like, say, Cy Twombly, it feels like code for a truth we can’t reach but need.

Parla combines calligraphy and brutal erasure, urban landscapes full of pedestrian accident and also intention. 

In some of Parla’s work, signs of the original platforms begin — as if neglected for decades — to reveal themselves.  That’s when more of their narratives begin to surafce like evidence.  The more time we spend with them, the more they tell.


Now there are some other platforms for Parla’s work.  Like these: 

 And these:

(Parla only made 500 of these, last year.  I don’t have a pair.  Yet.)

(Go Brooklyn.)