Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ann Taylor Investigation Shows FTC Keeping Close Eye on Bloggers-Advertising Age

Ann Taylor Investigation Shows FTC Keeping Close Eye on Blogging

Commission's Scrutiny of Retailer for Rewarding Posts About Collection Is a Warning to Marketers

By Natalie Zmuda

Published: April 28, 2010

NEW YORK ( -- The Federal Trade Commission has made public its first investigation into a company's relationship with bloggers, and while the federal agency took no action, the decision provides some insight into how it is viewing marketers' relationships with online communities.

--> The FTC informed Ann Taylor that, following an investigation, it has decided not to take action against the women's retailer over an event held earlier this year. The retailer had invited bloggers to preview the Loft division's summer 2010 collection, offering a "special gift," and promising that those posting coverage from the event would be entered into a "mystery gift-card drawing," where they could win between $50 and $500.

The invite explained that bloggers must submit posts to the company within 24 hours in order to find out the value of their gift card.

The event and the unusual request for posts to be submitted for a prize received media scrutiny and caught the eye of the FTC. "We were concerned that bloggers who attended a preview on January 26, 2010 failed to disclose that they received gifts for posting blog content about that event," Mary Engle, the FTC's associate director-advertising practices, wrote in a letter dated April 20 to Ann Taylor's legal representation.

Although the agency decided not to take action against Ann Taylor, the case serves to let marketers know that the FTC is keeping a close eye on their interactions with bloggers.

Getting the message out
"This tells me that [the FTC] is looking, and that's important to know," said Douglas Wood, an attorney and head of Reed Smith's Media and Entertainment Industry Group. "They're probably throwing a little fire-starter into it, sending some messages out. The message this time is somewhere between $50 and $500 requires a disclosure."

Last year the agency began cracking down on bloggers, issuing new guidelines requiring bloggers to clearly disclose any "material connection" to an advertiser, including payments for an endorsement or free product.

The FTC said it decided not to take action against Ann Taylor, because, according to the company, the January preview was the first and, to date, only such event. Also, only a small number of bloggers posted content about the preview and several of those disclosed the gifts. A sign posted at the event directed bloggers to disclose the gifts, though the FTC says it's not clear how many bloggers saw the sign. Finally, Ann Taylor's Loft division adopted a written policy regarding its interaction with bloggers in February.

According to a spokeswoman for the FTC, the retailer was cooperative during the process. Ann Taylor declined to comment.

Industry watchers have widely expected the FTC to make an example of a company, in its quest to give the new guidelines teeth. The FTC declined to comment on any additional investigations that may be underway.

"I'm speculating, but what the FTC is doing is not being aggressive intentionally, so they can set up a standard they think is appropriate. Maybe they'll do this a few more times," said Mr. Wood. "It's not an unusual way to begin the educational process. In a way, it's always good to be the first one looked at. The second one might not fare so well."

The FTC's blogging guidelines are serious business, as proven by their first public action. Next time, I'm thinking there's going to be some nasty fines involved. Bloggers-FULL DISCLOSURE is the name of the game!

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Metro's local victory prompts state to cut one-third of its aid, and that's not all they cut!

20100319metro1.gifPosted 2:20 p.m. Thurs., 02.22.10 - Less than three weeks after St. Louis County voters approved more money for Metro, Missouri is taking back a hefty chunk of its aid.

Gov. Jay Nixon announced today that he has cut $4 million from the $12 million that the Legislature OKed last year as one-time aid to the region's public transit agency, which had slashed services a year ago after area voters rejected in November 2008 a half-cent increase in the sales tax rate.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the hike April 6, which Metro said would result in restoration of many of its service cuts. Agency officials said the governor's action wouldn't affect Metro's plans. 

Ironically, Nixon cited Metro's success on April 6 as the reason he was cutting its state aid. That reasoning may anger some Metro allies, who noted during the campaign that most states -- unlike Missouri -- subsidize their urban transit systems.

But Metro chief executive Bob Baer was philosophical in his statement released this afternoon. "While we are disappointed, we are not surprised,'' he said.

"Metro has closely monitored the budget debates in Jefferson City over the last several months and we have been in discussions with our St. Louis legislative delegation," Baer continued. "We understand that the state’s precarious budget situation has put many important services at risk, and that public transit is among them."

Baer said the agency still plans to restore some services this fall, as additional money comes in from the sales tax increase known as Proposition A.

In the meantime, Metro is considering several options for dealing with the cut in Missouri aid; one of them calls for accepting a $1.8 million offered last year by officials in St. Clair County in Illinois.

In Missouri, Metro's cut was among $45 million in additional state budget cuts for the current fiscal year that Nixon announced today because of the state's continued lower-than-expected income collections. By law, the state must have a balanced budget when its fiscal year ends on June 30.

Others who took a hit:

  • Parents as Teachers, a nationally honored pre-school program that already is on the chopping block for the next fiscal year, took a $4.9 million cut today. That's in addition to $2 million trimmed earlier.
  • Transportation money for public schools' bus systems was slashed $8 million, which is in addition to $4 million cut earlier.
  • Public hospitals, which saw a $2.2 million trim in their Medicaid payments.

Today's cuts were unexpected because Nixon and state Budget Director Linda Luebbering had said several weeks ago that they thought the $900 million that he'd already cut from the current budget would be enough to keep it in balance.

But they apparently were wrong. Luebbering announced that, as of April 20, this month's state revenues are down 19 percent from April 2009 -- a month that also had been down from April 2008.

With just over two months left in the fiscal year, this year's overall state revenue collections are down 13.8 percent -- about twice what the Nixon administration had projected just a few weeks ago.

Luebbering said in today's announcement that the state's money troubles are exacerbated because "the average income tax refund is up nearly 8 percent compared to last year, while the average payment has fallen nearly 30 percent.

"Also, withholding (income tax) and sales taxes remain historically weak,'' the statement said. "Through March, individual withholding has declined five straight quarters and sales tax has declined 10 straight quarters."


Via the St. Louis Beacon and veteran reporter Jo Mannies.

Stunning number of cuts by formerly family and disabled friendly Gov. Jay Nixon (D). I understand the state has a budget crisis, but some extremely deserving organizations, NOT just mass transit, really got the shaft today.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Friday, April 16, 2010

President Obama - Chicago Cubs Fan | Mediaite

President Obama, Unwilling Chicago Cubs Fan

by Dan Fogarty | 5:37 pm, April 16th, 2010

President Barack Obama’s allegiance to the Chicago White Sox is a well-publicized fact: he donned a Sox cap after his White House win, called to congratulate Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle after his perfect game last July, and awkwardly wore a White Sox hat with another team’s jacket whilst throwing out the first pitch on opening day.
But while this has surely been a source of pride for White Sox fans, the president’s public flaunting of team spirit has surely ticked off Washington politicos who root for the Sox hated crosstown rival, the Chicago Cubs. So what do you do when your commander-in-chief roots for the team that you despise?
You make him a member of the Verban Memorial Society, your politically-connected Chicago Cubs fan club, without his knowledge.
This bipartisan group, which is based in Washington and dedicated to supporting the Chicago Cubs, has 700 members ranging in political temperament from Dick Cheney to Rahm Emanuel. For 35 years, no ideological clash, corruption scandal or fruitless season of Cubs baseball has been able to fracture the unusual bond between its members, who meet up for game outings and luncheons.

The only criteria for Verban membership, is to be nominated by a person on the inside.
So who was this “person on the inside?” Who would be conniving enough to make Obama a member of a Cubs fan club, without his knowledge? Dick Cheney is too obvious, and although we could totally see Rahm Emanuel flipping out about his boss’s baseball allegiance, surely he wouldn’t jeopardize his work place environment.
Our prime suspects are Senator Dick Durbin and columnist George Will, both of whom are Verban members, and both of whom sounded a tad proud of themselves when asked about their newest constituent:
“I know it will be hard for him to accept this accolade,” Mr. Durbin said. “It’s like telling him he was elected to the board of directors of the Republican National Committee.” Conservative columnist George Will, a Verban stalwart, says the president ought to embrace his induction. “Diversity,” he says. “It’s a great liberal value.”
Oh, snap!
To add insult to injury, when the White House found out about Obama’s membership, a staffer called the club’s founder (and former member of the Nixon administration) Bruce Ladd. When the staffer inquired about Obama’s removal from the club, he was flatly denied.

filed under

This is a monumental occasion. POTUS is now a fan of the TEAM OF DESTINY, the 2010 Chicago CUBS!

Carole King And James Taylor Are Coming To St. Louis!

Two of my favorite artists are coming to St. Louis on July 10th.  Carole King and James Taylor are playing the Scottrade Center.
They've got a new DVD/CD coming on May 4th, and here's a video talking about the new project and the tour.

  Carole King and James Taylor CD promo

Friday, April 09, 2010

Some Things Just Can't Be Made Up (REAL ad)

Download now or listen on posterous
CougarLife.bleep_.mp3 (2292 KB)

A friend of mine sent me the audio clip that's part of this post.  Listen to it.  This client wanted to put the ad on one of America's most listened to radio stations.  I'm guessing the ad was turned down.

Over the years, almost everyone in any kind of media has made up parodies of real ads or created comedic ads from scratch.  This time, the ad is real. 

And no, I did NOT sign up.

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

TV News Calls On Me For Reaction To Prop A Victory

Its kind of wild when the lady at the front desk calls and says "there's a TV crew here to see you".  That could be a bad thing, or a fortunate moment.  Luckily it was the latter today, as KSDK, the local NBC station, dropped by to talk about the passage of Proposition A Wednesday afternoon.

Alwas a good thing when I can get on TV without the terms "accused", "alleged" or "person of interest" somehow associated with my name.



Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

St. Louis Returns Public Transit To The 20th Century

Thank you, voters of St. Louis County, for passing Proposition A and funding public transit in our region!

After a heated and sometimes ridiculous campaign, it looks like the voters of St. Louis County passed Proposition A, a half cent sales tax that will fund public transit in the St. Louis region.  I for one could not be more happy about this, as my very poor vision prevents me from driving and I rely on public transit to get to and from work, as well as to other business and personal destinations around St. Louis.

Metro tried to get a similar measure passed in November of 2008, but it failed miserably due mostly to the incompetence of a soon to be indicted old school political hack who had no idea how to get the people of St. Louis to understand the importance of mass transit.  That resulted in draconian cuts in service and complete removal of transit service to thousands of people, including me.

By passing this measure, the people of St. Louis County have begun to see the importance of public transit, not just for people like me or people who can't afford an auto, but for the region as a whole.  Metro, the region's mass transit agency, has been struggling to provide even a bare bones level of service due to the often provincial attitudes of people who most likely have never set foot on a bus and the tunnel vision of local radio talk show hosts

Yes, the agency has made some simply horrendous mistakes over the years and has not been a good steward of the public's money.  But a new administration, led by Ray Friem and Jessica Mefford-Miller, have made substantial changes and improvements in the way the agency does business and improved what was a horrible situation considerably. 
This measure would not have passed without the tireless efforts of Chesterfield, MO Mayor John Nations,mayornations.jpg a rare visionary who saw the importance of mass transit to the entire St. Louis region.  He should be commended for everything he's done, both before this campaign and while leading the push to get Proposition A passed, to keep the buses and trains moving in St. Louis.

But most importantly, the measure couldn't have passed without the voters of St. Louis County (OK, 22 percent of the registered voters in St. Louis County) coming out and voting for this very important initiative  I thank you, both as someone who needs public transit every day and as someone who sees the potential for the St. Louis region to be better than it can be now.  No region can prosper without a good mass transit infrastructure, and it looks like St. Louis is about to begin to make up for years of neglect, partisanship, and ignorance and come up with a practical, affordable, and workable plan tor a much needed public transit system.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

More reasons to vote YES on Proposition A in St. Louis TODAY

April 6, 2010 - VOTE TODAY FOR PROP A!
Passage of "Proposition A" is Critical to the Region's Transit System and Economic Growth If you live in St. Louis County, the RCGA strongly urges you to VOTE TODAY for PROPOSITION A, a one-half cent sales tax increase to support local transit.

Polls will be open from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

If passed, the sales tax would generate approximately
$75 million each year for operations, maintenance and expansion of MetroLink, MetroBus, and disabled and senior public transportation.

If the proposition fails, transit service could be cut by as much as 50%
, many workers will be left without access to jobs, and senior and the disabled will lose independence and mobility. 
To learn more about how Metro helps workers, students, and other St. Louisans get around the region, click on the picture below. 

A strong transit system is necessary for building a vibrant economy and moving the region forward.  Chesterfield Mayor John Nations, who is chairing the campaign for Prop A, understands the critical role that regional transit plays in economic development.  Nations said, "If you can't move people, you can't create or retain jobs.  Metro provides quality public transportation that is essential for building a strong economic environment in our community and enhancing the quality of life of our residents."

About St. Louis

More than 100,000 individuals board a Metro bus, train or van each day, amounting to nearly 53 million trips a year.

Prior to the March 2009 service cuts, 97% of all jobs in St. Louis City and St. Louis County could be reached by riding Metro transit.

Transit is vital to training our region's workforce, as 10% of MetroBus and 7% of MetroLink riders are students traveling to school.

Metro's on-time performance, vehicle reliability and safety record rank among the best in the nation.

Metro transit operates with one of the lowest costs per passenger taxpayers.

Prior to the 2009 service reduction, Metro transit experienced an 18% increase in ridership over a 5 year period.


I use public transit every day, and along with thousands of others face the real possibility of not being able to get to my job if Proposition A doesn't pass.  Please take the time to vote YES on Proposition A today. 
Thank you in advance for supporting transit and the economic stability of our region.


TODAY is the day to vote YES on Proposition A in St. Louis County. Please help transit users like me and our entire region by voting YES.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0


Sunday, April 04, 2010

Craving: Peepza | FOODBEAST - Because we're hungry.

Yes, Peeps marshmallows on a pizza. Thrown on a completed pizza just minutes before the actual pizza was done cooking for the highest caliber integration of “peeps as a pizza topping” as possible. For some reason, this does not look half bad to me. I’m craving to try a slice! (Thx SeriousEats)

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Uh.....Happy Easter?

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Do You Have An iPad? Then You Need The App!

If you’re one of the lucky ones to have an iPad or are planning on getting one, there one app you should get now.  Its the RADIO.COM app, and it will make your iPad come alive.

The new app for iPad gives you radio you can touch, read and hear. makes it easy to get updates on your favorite artists, follow twitter feeds; watch original videos; listen to podcasts; and see photo slideshows.

Enjoy over 600 stations from CBS RADIO, Aol Radio. and Yahoo! Music.
Built specifically for iPad, makes internet radio fun and easy.  Lookup your favorite Music, News or Sports stations by using the interactive map.  Just click on a city and we’ll give you a list of stations to choose from.

Experience Y98 and hundreds of other radio stations in a whole new way. Get to today. Look for the Radio dot com app in iTunes iPad app store…it’s free!

Posted via email from Mark Edwards 3.0

Friday, April 02, 2010

More Reasons To Vote YES on Proposition A in St. Louis

Some things about the upcoming St. Louis County Proposition A vote from The St. Louis Beacon

Please plan now on voting YES on Proposition A on Tuesday in St. Louis County.

John Nations: The facts support 'Yes' on Proposition A, the one-half cent sales tax for Metro
By John Nations, Special to the Beacon   

Posted 11:30 a.m. Wed., 03.31.10 - An unbiased review of the facts surrounding Proposition A in St. Louis County on April 6 will lead to a fair and obvious conclusion: The public-transit system in the St. Louis region benefits all of us, but cannot continue operations or make improvements without the new, long-term funding source provided by the half-cent sales tax in Prop A.

But opponents of Proposition A are desperately attempting to kill public transportation in St. Louis by misrepresenting the issue and misquoting its supporters. Opponents appear to be hoping that you do not find out the truth about Proposition A. John Burns wrote an article in this space a few days ago, which misleads the voters.

It's time to cut through the political rhetoric and get to the facts that you need when you go to the polls in St. Louis County on Tuesday, April 6.

BURNS: "Only 10,300 St. Louis County residents use mass transit."

FACT: Burns's numbers come from an old census questionnaire and not from the actual Metro verifiable ridership figures. Which would you rather rely on? The numbers for 2006-2007, before the service reductions last year, showed 15.6 million boardings of Metro vehicles a year in St. Louis County. Further, Burns' numbers do not count the thousands of daily riders in St. Louis County who are not county residents but who rely on public transportation to get to their employment in the county. Nor does the include the thousands of students, disabled, and elderly. We will not have successful businesses in St. Louis County if we do not allow people from outside the county to get to their jobs.

BURNS: "Metro has ... repeatedly asked for tax increases."

FACT: Metro has been in operation for 60 years and has had only two small sales taxes in St. Louis County during that entire time, during which there has been tremendous change in the St. Louis region. The last increase was in 1994 -- 16 years ago -- and the only other tax levied to support public transportation was in 1974. Since then, federal funding for operations was eliminated and in the last four years, the cost of fuel has quadrupled. The St. Louis County Council voted to put Prop A on the ballot in April because so many citizens were distressed by service reductions after the defeat of the sales tax in 2008.

Read more from beacon

BURNS: "Metro made the disastrous decision not to apply for federal funding" for Cross County MetroLink expansion.

FACT: Metro did not, and in fact could not, make that decision. That authority legally resides with the East-West Gateway Council of Governments (EWGCG), the region's planning agency. Also note that EWGCG, the St. Louis County Council and the Metro Board have all agreed to pursue only future expansions that are supported by federal funds.

BURNS: "The plan doesn't contain simple information such as where a new light-rail route will be built and by what date."

FACT: After more than 30 regional public meetings, Metro has produced a long range plan which has been adopted unanimously by both the Metro Board and by East-West Gateway. The plan's priorities are (1) restore service cuts implemented in 2009, (2) expand the bus system and improve service throughout St. Louis County with expanded Metro Bus, Call-A-Ride for the elderly and disabled, and new Bus Rapid Transit, and (3) plan for future light rail expansion, which will only happen if economically feasible and with continued extensive public participation. Metro is not empowered to decide where a future light rail would be; that decision belongs to East-West Gateway.

BURNS: Metro "hasn't proven to voters that it can successfully manage itself."

FACT: More than 20 independent reviews and audits over the last two years have given Metro's new management team a clean bill of health. In fact, Metro has won awards for excellence in financial reporting, budget practices and risk management. The region's political leadership and more than 250 endorsements confirm that there is a "New Metro" which has definitely earned the public's trust and support.

BURNS: "Metro doesn't allow the public to look at its books."

FACT: Metro is a public agency and its financial statements, audits, budgets and nearly every other document it has are open to public inspection -- many of them online -- and are discussed in public meetings by the Board of Commissioners. Visit and click on the "Inside Metro" tab.

BURNS: "With all of this oversight, why are they $50 million in the red?"

FACT: Oversight does not create revenue. Only revenue from fares, which Metro has increased four out of the last five years, is keeping pace with inflation. Federal funds for operating systems like Metro ended in 1999, leaving (in today's dollars) a $30 million annual gap. Many regions filled that gap with state and/or local support; ours did not. Missouri contributes about 1 percent of operating funds while the national average from states is about 23 percent. Revenue from regional sources has been flat or declining. Those are the reasons Metro needs more revenue. Opponents want you to believe that the funding situation began with the latest light rail extension, but the truth is that Metro has been talking about this for more than a decade.

BURNS: "Metro has demonstrated it doesn't care about its employees or the poor."

FACT: Metro's employees and the poor, who are among the highest number of Metro riders, are among the biggest supporters of Prop A. They all know how essential public transit is to them and to the region as a whole. Metro took many steps to avoid layoffs or service reductions, but it can only go so far when costs increase and revenues decrease. All one has to do is look at the many groups who are supporting this issue to realize how shameful Burns' political tactics are.

Those are the facts and they're readily available to anyone interested in the truth. And they clearly support a "yes" vote on Proposition A.

John Nations is mayor of Chesterfield, chairman of the Advance St. Louis campaign supporting passage of Proposition A, and a long-time advocate on employment and transportation matters in the St. Louis region. To reach him, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

Posted via web from Mark Edwards 3.0