Governor’s asset overexposed

Arnold’s battle with the bottle: “It’s no ‘girly-man’ beer!” Jerome Chicvara sounded all wide-eyed and enthusiastic when he first began touting his Governator Ale back in January. As industry Web site (“What part of beer don’t you understand?”) reported at the time, the chief executive officer of Portland Brewing Co. couldn’t figure out why none of his competitors had thought of brewing up their own tribute to the newly elected governor first. “Maybe,” Chicvara speculated, “they thought the governor wouldn’t like it, and they’d be on his bad side, or it was just silly.”

Chicvara got his answer last week, when the Los Angeles Times reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s lawyers had issued a cease-and-desist order and are now negotiating a settlement for exploiting the governor’s image for profit. (Actually, it’s a fairly generic rear view of a muscleman on the label, but combined with the “Governator” and the “Pumping Iron Brewing” label, it would be no problem for Arnold’s lawyers to make a case for it being his likeness.)

“You don’t overexpose an asset like the governor,” governator press officer Rob Stutzman told the Times. “If it’s not special anymore to see the governor promoting something, then you lose an advantage that we otherwise would have. That’s just a fundamental principle of marketing.”

In a culture when spin-meisters publicly debate the best season to roll out a new war, it’s no surprise that governing and marketing are now pretty much the same thing. And though it may be a bit harsh to conclude, as proprietor Doug Heller did recently, that Arnold sees himself as a brand, it’s safe to say the Portland Brewing Co. no longer will be doing business as “Pumping Iron Brewing” without paying some hefty royalties. (Stutzman insists the only ads the governor is doing these days are promoting the state of California.)

So, if you’ve got a bottle of Governator Ale in the fridge, you might want to join the dozens of early adopters on eBay who have decided to leave theirs unopened. At press time, at least one bottle had sold for $49.

He called it: When ombudsman Tony Marcano complained in Sunday’s Sacramento Bee about the most overused transitions in contemporary journalism, Bites suspected it would be only a matter of hours before one of his colleagues proved him right. Bites even had a pretty good idea of who it would be.

The offending term, which landed at No. 3 on Marcano’s hit parade, was the use of “Call it …” as a transition. Explains Marcano: “Similar to ‘welcome to,’ it’s a device in which a writer slaps a supposedly clever label on a situation set up in the preceding paragraphs.” Marcano follows with a hypothetical example: “Tony Marcano, the ombudsman of the Sacramento Bee, rails against hackneyed newspaper phrases like ‘He is not alone’ and ‘self-described.’ Call it the revenge of the reader’s rep.”

And the winner is, of course, R.E. Graswich, who, less than 24 hours later, began his column: “The city of Sacramento might be getting into a new business. Call it Cops R Us, Inc.”

Why, it’s almost like the self-described writer was being clever, but anyone who’s read R.E.’s columns knows better.

Ides of April: Hummer owners may have gotten the biggest break from Arnold’s repeal of the California “car tax,” but now the more ecologically inclined among us are getting a break courtesy of the Internal Revenue Service. The agency is offering a “clean fuel” vehicle deduction of up to $2,000 for those who bought a hybrid vehicle in 2003. You can go to www.fueleconomy.govfeg/tax_hybrid.shtml to learn more, but you might want to act fast: The deduction reportedly will be phased out through reductions of $500 in each of the next three years.