Adage OnStar Looks to Connect Drivers With More Than Their Stolen Cars GM Brand's Marketing Head Says Voice Texting, Social Networking From Driver's Seat Could Be a Safety Improvement For years, OnStar has told consumers it would be the first to connect them with emergency services or police in case of a car accident or theft. Now, with the help of a major new ad campaign, it wants to convince consumers it's also there to connect them with friends on social networks. The General Motors-backed brand is attempting to redefine the meaning of in-car communications: It's now beta-testing voice-texting features, as well as audio Facebook updates that would let OnStar subscribers verbally update their Facebook status or listen to recent news feed messages through the OnStar Virtual Advisor service. OnStar has for some time been building out new services. Through a partnership with Google Maps, drivers can send a destination to their vehicles and retrieve directions by the push of the OnStar button. "You wouldn't need a portable device like a Garmin or Tom-Tom, or even a factory-installed device, you can do it OnStar," said Sam Mancuso, who has held several marketing posts at GM and now serves as general director of OnStar Marketing.
McDonald's Is Target Of Ad Linking It To Heart Disease Wall Street Journal Julie Jargon reports that a TV ad is set to air today in the nation's capital, blaming fast food giant McDonald's for heart disease. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine chose Washington, D.C., because it has the second-highest rate of deaths from heart disease in the country and because the district has more McDonald's, Burger King and KFC restaurants per square mile than eight other similar-sized cities. In the commercial, a woman weeps over a dead man lying in a morgue. In his hand is a hamburger. At the end, the golden arches appear over his feet, followed by the words, "I was lovin' it," a play on McDonald's longtime ad slogan, "I'm lovin' it." A voiceover says, "High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian." The spot will be broadcast on local news stations and on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" in the Washington area. PCRM says it is also considering running it in Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami and Memphis in coming months. As for McDonald's, it reiterated its commitment "to providing balanced menu choices and a variety of options to meet our customers' needs and preferences."
Business Week Netflix: Premium Cable's Worst Nightmare Fast growth and pricey deals have made the service the first Web-based movie channel Hollywood is having a hard time deciding if Netflix is friend or foe. The fast-growing movie service has already helped drive DVD retailer Blockbuster to the brink of Chapter 11. Now, Netflix is poised to take on premium cable giants like HBO and Showtime. Last month, Netflix bought the rights to stream films from three studios. That will make it the first true Web-based movie channel. It already has 15 million subscribers and an ad-hoc distribution network that includes Web-ready TVs like Sony's Bravia, game consoles like Microsoft's Xbox 360, and even gadgets like Apple's iPad. That makes Netflix's $8.99 a month mail-order and online service a threat to more-expensive premium cable channels. It also poses a quandary for HBO parent Time Warner, whose Warner Bros. studio has become more reliant on Netflix as a source of revenue as overall DVD sales have declined. Netflix "is a customer for our output, and it is a potential competitor to networks like HBO," Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said last month. "So far it has been more of a complementary service to HBO than a competitor." That's changing. Netflix's most recent deals have moved it from the periphery of the home-entertainment ecosystem into the center of a world in which consumers can watch films and TV shows anytime and anywhere. On Aug. 10 it agreed to pay $900 million for online rights to films from the new Epix pay-TV channel, giving it streaming rights to 3,000 or more films from Viacom's Paramount Pictures, Lions Gate Entertainment, and MGM. That raised Netflix's total to more than 20,000 films and TV shows. (It already had rights to some shows from CBS' Showtime, and movies from Walt Disney and Sony via a deal with the Starz pay channel that expires late next year.
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