I make frequent fun of high-tech companies' attempts to advertise their wares--or more often, their brand and image--to the masses, but the new Java "100 percent pure" ads are the worst yet. The campaign uses the old "See Jane run" children's book trope to hype the virtues of Java:
"Anne and Pete use the same program. But they do not use the same platform. How? How can this be? They have 100% Pure Java. Anne and Pete are happy. They can work. Work! Work! Work!"
Puke! Puke! Puke! So much for the theory that technology should free us from office drudgery. Even worse, the print ads use that retro-fifties Norman-Rockwell look that was hip and ironic when pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein poked fun of clean-cut yuppies. But now that corporate America has picked it up as "hip and ironic," it's as tired as Dennis Rodman's Carl's Jr.-stained lip gloss.
If the print ads aren't enough, Sun has bought prime-time radio spots with the same kindergarten text read by a June Cleaver sound-alike. I found out when one of my baseball buddies called the hotline: "Hey Skin-boy, I just heard one of those Java ads during the friggin Giants' game! Yo, what gives?"
What gives is that Sun is running the radio spots in Boston and San Francisco (home of 3Com Park, remember?) only, presumably because the hardball fan base has been infiltrated by geeks, Lexus-driving marketing cheeseheads, and "productivity workers."
What's on deck? Barry Bonds hawking his favorite data warehousing solution?
Barry is in fact a technophile--the plans for his new Bay Area mansion call for a computer screen in every room (Hey, Barry, there's a guy in Redwood Shores just down the hill from you who would love to sell you a few dumb terminals). But so far Barry hasn't succumbed to the temptation of a virtual vanity plate, i.e., registering one's own name as a domain. Barry's diamond mate Cal Ripken, Jr. tried and found someone else in his spot in the lineup. The digital elite have also gotten eponymous: count Jessie Berst, Ike Nassi, Paul Allen, Stewart Alsop (with family), and Christine Comaford among those who have kept the squatters off the lawn.
After I chided her in my last column for trying to trademark the word "schmoozefest," Christine was kind enough to let me know what nefarious plans she had for the word:
"we actually use it as the name for a quarterly event (of about 100-150 attendees) at my home. vcs, visionaries, entrepreneurs, politicos, and other players attend. mark [tebbe] and i are partners in this venture."
Apparently the digerati don't need to use capital letters.
Here's another bigwig in my inbox, responding to my item about Netscape "stealing" personnel from Big Blue:
"Netscape 'stole' an IBMer? This from the company that's hired dozens of people away from places like Infoworld, the SF Chronicle, Byte, etc.? Wild. :-) Marc"
My dear se?or Andreessen, we never "hire away," we seduce! You can seduce me by sending hot and spicy rumors in my direction. The more keystrokes you use in your email, the better.