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Inside The Blog: So Everybody Loves Kal; Why is That News?

May 31, 2007 | 10:45 pm

Kal5If you haven't been following the saga of Atlanta mortgage originator Kal Wayman, this item is not for you. For those playing catch-up, we criticized Kal's over-the-top, sex-drenched TV ad as inappropriate to the serious business of mortgages, and then dozens of Kal's friends and clients rushed to his defense in the "comments" section of this blog.

Which raised a number of questions -- Why did we publish so many promotional comments about Kal? Didn't all those supportive comments add up to free advertising? And how do we know Kal himself wasn't sitting there at a keyboard, sending one love letter after another to himself?

That's what one regular reader asked tonight: "Have you checked the IP addresses of all the Kal fanboys to be sure it isn't Kal himself spamming the blog?"

I'll deal with that issue first, and then the others. First of all, comments are moderated, in the sense that I try to keep profanity and personal attacks off the blog. So I had seen all the comments. Sheepishly, I went back and checked IP addresses of all 48 comments, and found only two that were suspicious -- different names, same IP address. So it appears Kal really does have that many friends.

But did he, or one of his friends, orchestrate the outpouring of support? Probably. So why publish all of those comments? First of all, on a blog -- unlike in the printed newspaper -- space is not expensive. It's close to free. And remember, LA Land started this -- we criticized Kal's sexy TV commercial -- so it was only fair to let his friends defend him.

And where, exactly, is the news in all this? Why is a newspaper blog devoting this amount of space to this? Fair question. I thought the TV spot itself was newsworthy -- who knew a mortgage company could market itself as irreverent, hip, young and sexy?  Further, I thought the responses were informative -- it seems a lot of people really like Kal's way of doing business. They think it's fun. They like Kal. Fair enough.

How would the print side of a newspaper have covered all this? In my experience, it's the kind of story that often doesn't get written. For one thing, it's a story about a TV ad, and the print edition of a newspaper can't show you a TV commercial. But in a larger sense, it's too fluffy -- a colorful young businessman is making a lot of money, running funny commercials and throwing parties all over town? I've had editors who would say, 'So what? Where's the news?' (How many stories did you see about Ferrari-collecting Orange County mortgage mogul Daniel Sadek before the subprime collapse?)

To that I would disagree -- I think the idea that there is a 20-something kid in Atlanta selling mortgages to other 20-somethings, building a financial services brand based on youth, sex and fun, is an interesting and unexpected story.

With that, I think we're done with Kal for a while.

Photo Credit: askJonathanOnline.com (Yes, Another Friend of Kal's)

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