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1/31/2005

Ronald McDonald, Chief Happiness Officer

Filed under: — 11:04 pm

Looks like Mr. McDonald was promoted, funny since I watched Super Size me the other night:

But this isn’t some deal where he’s been kicked upstairs to make balloon animals all day; his job duties have changed as well. Ronald’s going to be going into schools to promote the joys of physical activity.

I’m surprised the school’s cant do it themselves… wait, no I’m not. Everyone knows Ronald, the kids will listen. Perhaps thats why Fast Company calls him the newest Chief Propaganda Officer.

Fast Company

IRS Extends Donation Deadline

Filed under: — 10:41 pm

Okay, I just became privy to this information the other day. How on earth did I miss this?

Did anyone else realize the IRS had extended the deadline for tax-deductable donations to January 31, 2005? Usually the dealine is the end of the year, but in light of the tsunami it was pushed back a month. At first I was thinking… nooo, the IRS would do that? But I looked into it. The law was passed on the 7th.

“There are no extra forms to fill out or any additional burdens for taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson. “As long as you send your check by the end of the month, the donation will be treated just like it was still 2004.”

This seems nearly unheard of. Any idea if deadlines have been extended like this before? Ever?

IRS.gov

Microsoft Dividend Equals Huge

Filed under: — 10:37 pm

You know your company has a truckload of cash when a dividend does the following:

U.S. consumer spending advanced solidly in December as personal income shot up a record 3.7 percent on a big dividend payout by software giant Microsoft Corp., a government report showed on Monday.

Enough said…

Reuters

Apprentice Helps Burger King Traffic

Filed under: — 9:56 pm

Apparently the week after the first Apprentice episode aired, Burger King recieved a decent increase in website traffic:

The site at www.bk.com Jan. 20-25 received 418,000 visits and 280,000 unique visitors who averaged 9 minutes, 55 seconds online.

Looks like people enjoy building burgers. Someone figured out how to spend their money, wisely.

By the way, the Western Angus Steak Burger (from the show) is now available in 7,800 Burger King restaurants.

iMarketing News | via MarketingVOX

Lovemarks and Buzz Are Only Good When Authentic

Filed under: — 9:41 pm

The title sounds reasonable enough, right? A number of people are upset with the lovemark/buzz trends cropping up. In short: companies are being semi-deceptive. In an recent post from Churh of the Customer, Jakie says:

The problem with stealth marketing is when prospects become unwitting participants in a cloaked process … Prospects are used by advertisers who stealthily insert commercial messages into real-life situations and hope they aren’t found out.

I, personally, had become a member of BzzAgent when FastCompany did an article on them. As I started going through the motions it was clear that this was a ploy to create little “agents” that would just name-drop and evangelize products they (most likely) did not believe in. The way the reports are structured leads you to believe they’re looking (and rewarding) the most convincing liars and superficial-friends. Sure, I could decide I don’t like the product but still tell my friends about it and get points. Or I could even decide not to talk to them about it and outright lie! What an awesome system…

Needless to say, similar criticism is out there with regards to lovemarks. Again, for those unaware, the idea behind a lovemark is one that goes beyond a brand; where a customer is loyal beyond reason (Apple anyone?). But, now there is an agency out there, as BadMarketing reports, that claims to be able to manufacture that level of love and respect! Thats ridiculous. Earlier our friends were manufacturing positive word of mouth and now agencies can design something thats tied to people’s emotion? No, lovemarked brands are those that earned the title by offering great products or services and by not being jerks about it. As the article mentions, people respect Google because it wasn’t filled with arbitrary ads.

Just some things to think about when designing your products, maybe. As Godin says, the marketing doesn’t come after the product development… the product should be the marketing and vice versa.

Why Lovemarks Offends Us | via AdPulp | also Truth in advertising

1/30/2005

Proctor & Gamble Acquires Gillette

Filed under: — 2:29 pm

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Early Friday, P&G, the consumer-products giant that has sells Clairol, Pantene and Oil of Olay, said it plans to acquire shaving powerhouse Gillette for stock initially valued at $54 billion.

They sold the merger to analysts with the following reasoning: P&G is good with women, Gillette ’s is good with men. I kid you not. It sounds pretty silly but analysts agree: it’s a great strategic move.

Interestingly enough, this acquisition will create the world’s biggest consumer-products enterprise.

Wall Street Journal

SBC, AT&T Will Vote On Acquisition

Filed under: — 2:23 pm

From The Wall Street Journal:

SBC Communications Inc. effectively agreed Sunday to acquire AT&T Corp. for roughly $16 billion in shares and cash, people familiar with the situation say. The move still has to be approved by the boards of directors from both companies and votes are scheduled for this afternoon and evening, these people say. In addition to board approval, the move will be subject to regulatory approval.

..more on this as it becomes available.

Wall Street Journal

1/27/2005

The Apprentice: Motel 666

Filed under: — 11:18 pm

Wow, let me just say, this season is shaping up to be amazing television. But my first question is: why does Brian like being a negotiator? That translates into he likes to be a push-people-arounder. Needless to say Brian was the project manager (Jeremy should’ve read my blog before the show aired tonight) and was a pretty shoddy one at that. But we all saw that coming right?

The episode began in front of Trump International. Yeah, that one successful hotel you’ve heard about. What surprised me? Danny had a nice suit. Good for him, he’s an episode behind the rest of the world though. Anyway, the challenge was announced. Renovate a Jersey motel and impress your customers. All they had was $20,000 and 48 hours.

As mentioned, Brian was the only one who stepped up for networth. Sure, he’s in Real Estate, from Jersey, but he just wanted to toot his own horn. So, whats wrong with the motel? Among many things there was terrible mildew, mold, water damage, carpet, etc. So, Brian decides get a dumpster in there and do it now. Wow, way to get started on a plan. His accountant, Kristin, said it was necessary to make a budget. He said no. Take note, this becomes a recurring theme.

Know who interrupts a lot? Michael. Know who doesn’t like that? Verna. Michael knows best.. so does Brian.. bad plan, Team Leaders.

Brian is such a pompous ______(insert one of his own colorful nouns here). He states that his ability to negotiate is a lesson for the whole team to learn. Way to go, moron, you negotiated 14 toilets that you don’t need. I’m surprised he didn’t get a “steal” on pet rocks to go in every room!

Verna had a “cushy” job according to everyone. Michael made her paint. Oh well, big deal right?..

We go back to badass Brian who claims that “Mr. Trump is just like me…” Haha no Brian, Mr. Trump is successful. You’re not allowed to be full of yourself until you’ve got some credentials. So far you’ve got a broom and no team, buddy. Brian claims that he “reads” people and doesn’t need help from anyone. Yeah, no, you’re right, it’s not called a team… So, he tries to correct his upcoming budget problem (he knows he screwed up… a day later) by commanding Kristin to sit down. That’s a macho guy’s way of saying “I screwed up but let’s save face?” It didn’t work.

Back at team success..err..Magna, Danny and Verna are doing a great job at the front desk. Danny even comes up with the idea for a ‘get together’ out on the veranda that evening. Man, it kicked ass. It was like one big party. Danny, that was well done. Spur of the moment, put emphasis on entertaining the customer, keep them happy. Oh they did. Verna didn’t. She was tired and upset and hungry and.. the list goes on.

Kristin and Danny are still arguing. Now there are customers around them though. Angie and Audrie try to shut them up but that doesn’t work. In fact it backfires and they lose their temper at Kristin who storms off. Excellent.

Back to Verna. Yeah, she ran away that morning. Woke up, and just left. The team had no donuts nor coffee and customers were already trying to check out. That hurt Magna a little. People claim she was only thinking about herself. Carolyn found her (such a cool lady) and brought her back. Verna learned she can’t always be in control and was very sorry it all happened. That’s hard. Coming back and admitting you screwed up. The team was gracious… to her face. Erin was featured ranting about Verna at least 3 times in a 30 second span.

Now we go to the boardroom. Mr. Trump tells Verna there’s nothing like a good comeback. Nice guy, that Donald. The results are in. Networth did well with the paper in the morning, but the members were loud and the rooms were a disaster. On a scale of 1-5 their average rating was a 2.92.

Magna turned it around and the customers said they had a lot of fun, the fresh paint smell sucked, but overall their score was a 3.96. Wow. Scoreboard, Networth.

The reward? A ride on the Highlander. It’s Mr. Forbe’s Yacht. It was fun, they all had a chat with him. He left in a helicopter. You know, any other day.

Back to the boardroom. Trump straight up asks Brian: should I fire you now? His reply: yes you should. Wow. Ballsy, but not going to make you look much better. Especially when your behavior in the boardroom prompts Carolyn to tell you to stop (cursing). Again, Carolyn, you’re awesome. The fact of the matter was, there was no timeline, no budget, no team. Not to mention the team fell apart in the boardroom pointing fingers left and right.

Oh well, we all know who got fired. Our excellent leam leader of the week: Brian.

My Apprentice Fantasy scores are pretty decent. I predicted 1) the team leaders 2) the challenge winner and 3) Brian is an idiot. Final results tomorrow. Next week looks exciting. First five minutes and someone already quits. This season is shaping up for excitement and lessons learned by all.

I wonder if anyone will even read this. If you’re reading a business blog you probably watched, anyway. If you didn’t you probably didn’t come here for a recap. So, maybe I need to rethink how I do this next week…

SBC May Buy AT&T

Filed under: — 4:50 pm

Here comes an interesting acquisition:

SBC Communications Inc., the second-largest U.S. regional phone company, is in talks to buy former parent AT&T Corp. for $15 billion or more, The New York Times and Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday. The talks, which the Times said executives described as “fluid” and “very, very sensitive,” would re-unite SBC — a Baby Bell with some 50 million local-line customers — with its much-diminished former parent. (Reuters)

Yes, this means that “Ma Bell” would disappear. What’s also interesting is SBC is looking to get into television.

The talks come on the heels of SBC’s decision to move into TV programming, and its recent wireless expansion. A deal with AT&T could give SBC access to millions of coveted corporate customers and would make it the only telecom company to be a major player in every segment of the industry. (Wall Street Journal)

This really isn’t a new concept, what with Chief Executive Edward Whitacre Jr. still around. He also talked with MCI at one point. Before he retires he may want to corral just one more company. We’ll see…

Reuters | Wall Street Journal

Exclusive Yahoo Content Spoils The Apprentice

Filed under: — 4:37 pm

Well, maybe it doesn’t spoil it, but the exclusive preview of tonight’s episode of The Apprentice certainly gives you this much: Brian is the team manager for Net Worth. For those of you playing the Fantasy Game, if you don’t have (at least) 10 points after tonight I have little sympathy for you. I repeat:

2. Who will be designated the Project Manager for Net Worth Corporation? (10 points) : Brian

..you’re welcome. :-D

Ford Switches 8,000 Employees to Cell Phones

Filed under: — 4:23 pm

Here’s a pretty big annoucement:

Wireless phone provider Sprint and Ford Motor Co. announced this week that 8,000 employees at the auto manufacturer will shed their land line phones and use cell phones exclusively. The transition is set to begin in March with Ford’s product development unit.

That makes you think a little. First, I have to ask, why not VOIP? Then I wonder about those companies that have employees that have a cellphone and a deskphone. What about their own personal phone? Plus add in the home phone, fax, etc. One interesting point brought up at the VOIP discussion was how easy it is to collaborate, set priorities for calls, organize voicemail. Are you one of those people (or don’t you know someone) who refuses to check their _____ voicemail? Of course! What a hassle. If you’re going to spend that much ripping out the landlines get someone internally to work on VOIP. The costs saved.. wow.

That reminds me, Scott Charney talked about voicemail going into his inbox. Yes, this isn’t anything new, Microsoft has had it for a while. The voicemail is saved and archieved. Quite convenient for subpoena purposes. Who knows, companies all over may be implementing these policies soon.

Anyway, I’ll leave you with those thoughts on communication.

CNN Money

1/26/2005

Man Takes Out Advertisement To Say Sorry

Filed under: — 11:31 pm

Nice work, ass, not only did you do something big enough to warrant a full-page “I’m sorry”, the whole world knows about it now. How embarassing! Definitely money poorly spent.

“Please believe the words in my letter, they are true and from my heart,” read the ad in Tuesday’s edition of The Florida Times-Union. “I can only hope you will give me the chance to prove my unending love for you. Life without you is empty and meaningless.”

This feeble (and tasteless) attempt at apologizing was not worth $17,000.

“It was a culmination of things,” he told the newspaper. “But I am desperately trying to save our marriage.”

We all wish you the best of luck… even since she hasn’t responded! This is reminiscent of Seth Godin’s discussion of the worthlessness of a full-page ad in the WSJ.

Bad move, pal.

SLToday

Tom Peters Says CEOs are Idiots

Filed under: — 11:13 pm

…Mr. Peter’s has a point. When you’re number two, I think you have the right to say whatever you want; justified or not.

His recent publishing of this slides date back to a speech in Lisbon. Apparently the world doesn’t like pompous Americans who think they know better. News to me! Well, guys, in many cases, though: we do know better. At least Tom apologized:

“It’s really, really, really rude to call CEOs “idiots” when you are a Guest in another country.” … “I am very sorry for my rudeness outside my Native Land!” … “I am sorry that so many CEOs are idiots!”

Hey, sometimes its necessary to shake things up.

By the way, all of his slides are awesome. You may not understand some of them without his speech. I know that “W = 2xI” is his (uncited?) measure of data that Walmart has on its customers. It’s about twice the size of the data on the internet.

The moral of the story: focus on IT, idiots.

tompeters! - “CEOs Are Idiots19″ | tompeters! - “I’m Sorry!” | PowerPoint Slides

My Thoughts On Market, Dollar Fluctuations

Filed under: — 11:01 pm

So, when I first started this blog I was excited to let people know how everything was doing. I decided I’d let you know how things like the dollar were, the stock market, etc. Know what I learned? It’s not worth it.

Look at Reuter’s alone. They have a staff of writers. They will say, maybe 20 times a day, remind us of how the stock market is. Now, does that reallly matter how it was doing at 7a, 10a, 11:14a, 12:24p, etc.? Not really. How about weekly trends? Yes, that may be a much better look at the market. Unless you’re a day-trader there are some things that have very little effect during a couple hour period.

Granted, there are stocks that will plummet in a day and certain annoucements that will throw the market off. Now that’s something that I think we should hear about. So, I’ve done a lot of thought, and that’s my consensus… with myself? Whatever. The same goes for things like the dollar. One day its up, the next it’s the lowest its ever been against the Yen, the Euro, you name it. I hope you can trust me to let you know what’s really pertinent.

With that said, let me know when I screw up and miss something, please. I’ll be the first to admit I’m oh-so-skilled at screwing up.

Blogging Awards Open

Filed under: — 10:34 pm

Wow, there are so many business blogs I had never seen before! I don’t know how these guys got under my radar but go over to the Business Blogging Awards and look at them. Jeremy and Darren have done a great job putting these uniquely new (but oh-so necessary) blog awards together. Despite a bump in the road today I think they’ve done very well overall. Things are bound to happen on the first year… so its not bad at all. The question is: why are you still reading?

Vote Or Die.

Yeah, I know… but I just needed to put that “business” spin on it. I mean, “vote or die” was one of the most successful “advertising” capaigns, ever. Oh wait, no, it wasn’t. Then why name your whole book (okay, now only a chapter) around it? Alright, got a little sidetracked…

…so if you happen to find this blog listed on that page somewhere let me know how I’m doing by chosing BusinessBits. Or not. That’s cool too.

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