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Talk of the day

By Times Staff Writer
Published October 25, 2007


Diddy to pour himself into vodka venture

Just five years ago, Sean "Diddy" Combs asked Busta Rhymes to "pass the Courvoisier," but these days, it's all about the vodka. The hip-hop mogul has inked a multiyear deal in which he'll help develop the Ciroc brand - one of Diageo PLC's super-premium vodka lines - for a 50-50 share in the profits. The agreement is the latest in which a celebrity is going beyond the typical role of endorser to share in a brand's rise and fall. Diageo said the agreement could be worth more than $100-million for Combs and his company, Sean Combs Enterprises, over the course of the deal, depending on how well the brand performs. "I will say that it is not an endorsement deal," Combs said. "This is something that will have my daily attention. ... I'm not just a celebrity endorser, I'm a brand builder. I'm a luxury brand builder."

Internet luster fades for parents

Parents have become more ambivalent about the Internet, with a new study finding fewer of them considering it good for their children. The Pew Internet and American Life Project said Wednesday that about 59 percent of Americans with children ages 12-17 consider the Internet a positive influence on their kids. That is based on a 2006 survey, the latest available on the topic, and represents a drop from 67 percent in 2004. Meanwhile, those who do not think the Internet has had an effect one way or the other increased from 25 to 30 percent. In both years, only a small percentage consider the Internet bad.

Hooky notes get seal of credibility

Feeling like playing hooky, but nervous about getting caught? The Excused Absence Network has got your back. For about $25, students and employees can buy excuse notes that appear to come from doctors or hospitals. Other options include a fake jury summons or an authentic-looking funeral service program complete with comforting poems and a list of pallbearers. Some question whether the products are legal or ethical - or even work - but the company's owners say they're just helping people do something they would have done anyway. The company's customers receive templates so they can print the notes after typing the name and address of a local doctor or emergency room.

Microsoft equates smart with cheap

Microsoft Corp., facing new competition from Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry and Apple Inc.'s iPhone, is working with sellers of its Windows Mobile phones to cut prices below $100. AT&T Inc. began offering the 3125 Windows Mobile model for $49.99. Another phone will go on sale for less than $100 next month, Microsoft said, declining to name the company selling the device. Microsoft competes with Apple, Research In Motion and Symbian Ltd. in developing phones that handle e-mail and surf the Internet. More consumers are buying such devices, so-called smart phones, which had been the domain of corporate customers.

[Last modified October 25, 2007, 00:44:54]

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