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Archive for the ‘f.B’s Worst in Industry Award’ Category

Not since the “I can’t believe it’s not butter” ads with Fabio have we seen such trickeration in the marketing of food.

Pizza Hut has been running these commercials in which the surprise is that you’re eating Pizza Hut food and not the food of the restaurant you’re sitting in. The ad campaign started with Tuscani pasta and now also includes wings from “wing street.” People walk into a restaurant, order (from what I imagine is set up as some sort of special menu) and then huzzah! they’re elated that they’re actually eating Pizza Hut and it’s not horrible.

Not that Pizza Hut is listening, but if it were, some thoughts:

Pizza Hut,

a) you better not charge me the menu price for the restaurant I’m actually in, and

b) it’s our anniversary, I made reservations for this place and we’re eating Pizza Hut pasta. This is a problem. Fix it.

I’m not usually a fan of surprises. The kinds of surprises I like are limited. Here’s a contrasting pair. You guess which one I’d like.

A letter from Citibank explaining that recent financial restructuring means my student loan balance has been forgiven.

A guy in a Pizza Hut trucker hat running out of the kitchen at the restaurant at which I’m eating, screaming “You’ve been punk’d!”

ashtonpunked-thumb

It’s like this, Hut (can I call you “Hut?”). If your approach is “if we told you it was The Hut, you’d think it sucked, so we lied to you, with the hope that we could avoid the stigma of such a presumption,” well, I think your ad council sucks.

But I guess it takes diff’rent strokes to feed the world, Hut. What might be right for some, may not be right for me.1 And I suppose I shouldn’t judge you for aiming for the market of people who love putting unidentified objects in their mouths just because I like to keep my ingestion honest.

Pizza Hut: it’s not just on purpose anymore.

_____________

1They’ll have theirs, you’ll have yours and I’ll have mine.  And my stomach will be fine.

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So two out of three ain’t bad, unless we’re talking about places that serve food and what happens two out of three times is miserable disaster.

I didn’t go to be impressed.  I didn’t go with very high expectations.  But who cares why I went?  The point is that, not long after I left, I was reduced to huddling in the fetal position wishing the pain — which I can only describe as having swallowed a fertilized alien egg and then having it hatch as the new alien baby tries to claw its way out through your belly button — would stop long enough for me to sleep through the night.

I guess I shouldn’t say the name of the restaurant where my cousin and me had lunch on Saturday.  I mean, 13 years ago, Oprah got sued by the whole friggin’ cattle industry for saying she didn’t trust beef.  And, clearly, my influence and Oprah’s influence are like this *crosses fingers.*

I’ll just say its name rhymes with “Boobie Losedays” and “Tuby Ruesdays.”

For over ten years, we honored a family vow never to eat at this restaurant, ever, again.  That’s what happens when three of you go, order three completely different entrées from the menu and each get ill within an hour of leaving.

I broke the family pledge about a year ago.  And it ended fine.  It wasn’t particularly high quality food, but it got the job done.  So I went again Saturday thinking it would all be cool.

It was not cool.  And I have remembered a tough lesson, being from Jersey, I know all too well: never go against the family.²

Note: If you, unnamed restaurant’s marketing machine, just so happen to come across this post, don’t bother giving me gift cards or whatever to try convincing me you can do better.  Not interested.

_________
¹He needs no introduction. Just go here.
²I can make that joke because The Sopranos filmed in my county.

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DAgangFull

Where is my Launchpad
where is my Darkwing Duck
where are Timon and Pumbaa
where have all the cartoons gone?
Where are my Gummi Bears
where is my Kit Cloudkicker
where is my Uncle Scrooge
where have all the cartoons gone?
¹

After an award-winning Saturday night, Miss Bianca and I started our Sunday recovery at Wendy’s… around 4pm.  Our local Wendy’s has televisions they tune to some Wendy’s-supported channel that previews upcoming movies and features current TV shows.  Most of the movies and shows are targeted at kids.  “Targeted” fits so well because it makes me think of weapons and I imagine watching any of the shows pushed on kids these days is about as fun as getting shot.

Where have all the cartoons gone?  We had so many iconic shows as kids.  The list is too long: G.I. Joe, ThunderCats, He-Man, DuckTales, Chip ‘n Dale’s Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, The Smurfs, Rugrats, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Doug, David the Gnome, Muppet Babies, Animaniacs…

They don’t even have The Disney Afternoon, anymore.  They, don’t even have, The Disney, Afternoon, anymore.

No wonder our neighborhood kids are firing bottle rockets into traffic, during the day, on July 1st.²  I went to ABC’s site, hoping to find that there was some awesome cartoon line-up I’ve just been missing.  Nope.  Not only could I find no line-up at all in the after-school block, but this is what I found for the what-used-to-be-sacred Saturday morning spot:

The Emperor’s New School
The Replacements
[isn’t this a movie with Keanu Reeves? they give the kids Keanu Reeves?!]
That’s So Raven
That’s So Raven
[again?!]
Hannah Montana
The Suite Life of Zack & Cody
Power Rangers: RPM
Power Rangers: RPM
[they repeat two shows in one 4hr block?!]

I know I have no control over any of this… travesty.  I’m like George Costanza: I have no hand.  So no open letters to industry execs — unless you’re reading and in that case: put the cartoons back where you found them — and no petitions or any of that actually-do-something-about-it way of living.  All that’s here today is some good old fashioned complaining.  Congratulations, cartoon-broadcasting channels of the world.  You have all won f.B’s Worst in Industry Award.

_________
¹ Special thanks to Paula Cole for not knowing I appropriated her “Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?” for my own purposes.
² After writing this sentence, I realized how much I felt like Dennis the Menace’s neighbor, Mr. Wilson, but I don’t care. Damn kids.

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Last Thursday, thanks to a tweet by the Wicked Witch of the Web, I learned that Hulu might start charging.

(I’ll wait for your blood pressure to drop to normal levels.)

In the ensuing fallout, upset that cable TV would find it easier to compete, I twelled¹:

bradley fields (francoBeans) on TwitterAnd like Ken Jeong in The Hangover except without any of the inherent humor, awesomeness and super-awesomeness — a Comcast rep leapt out of the shadows and into the conversation:

Twitter _ @francoBeansI paused and then politely responded:

bradley fields (francoBeans) on Twitter-1bradley fields (francoBeans) on Twitter-2

He was persistent, though, and asked that I email him. I did not. There’s nothing to say. The best possible scenario would be that he’d get someone to come check out why the wireless signal is so spotty or why the DVR system is so buggy. He might be able to fix something tangible. But what I’m sure he can’t do is have someone explain to me why it takes a week to schedule appointments or why people would insist, over the phone, that I have a TV signal when I, standing directly in front of my TV with full eyesight and a trivial amount of idiocy, inform them there’s no picture. He wouldn’t be able to fix the intangibles: the service aspect.

I thought about emailing ComcastBill anyway, though, because on Sunday I saw something on TV that seemed tangible enough to repair.

Bored out of my mind and too sore from Saturday’s run to grab a DVD from across the room, I actually resorted to Comcast’s Music Choice on demand.

[Use this space here: _____ to consider my failures as a human being.]

There was a video playlist section that included something to the effect of “Rihanna vs. Chris Brown.” The promotional voice-over told me I’d “heard of the controversy” but now it was time to see the best they had to offer.

I’m sorry. The “controversy?” I heard about the part where he (allegedly) beat her face in. I didn’t hear the part where anyone on either side said he didn’t do it or about the seminar that suggested (alleged) domestic violence was a prime marketing tool for music videos. I must have missed the part about the controversy.

If I’d known we could demand content like that, I would’ve asked for a special playlist honoring the life choices of Phil Spector. Ooh: or a montage revealing Tom Cruise’s best brainwashing techniques used on Katie Holmes. I’d definitely watch that second one. The possibilities are endless.

_____
¹Tweeted + yelled = twelled. No? Eh. Too late.

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credit: designatednaphour

credit: designatednaphour

Michael Stipe wrote a song that fits this moment.  Well, sorta.  Actually, if you understand a single idea in It’s the End of the World as We Know It, please: share.

But, right: our house.  Our American house is crumbling.  We’ve spent two centuries and a little more than a generation building our foundation and now it’s in shambles.

An outrageous claim?  I think not.

Our American house has a foundation cemented upon three premises: fast food, whale-sized automobiles and the appearance of sex.  The first has proven that movies like Super Size Me, diseases and the FDA are no match and its industry seems as unsinkable as Molly Brown.  The other tenets are in danger, though.

We’ve all heard of the auto industry’s epic-fail performance.  This week, GM is at center stage.  And for all the jokes that have been made about how China owns us and how, if it ever called in our debt, we’d dodge that phone call like it was a student loan collector on the line, a Chinese manufacturer is buying Hummer.

Yes, that Hummer:  the masturbatorial insignia stamped upon the self-celebrating American-life Hummer; the “if the roads and highways were like pants, then I would be too big for my britches” giant on wheels; and the “just in case I encounter enemy fire on the way to my daughter’s soccer practice” suburban tank.  Like we are a child given a toy he then misuses, the Hummer has been taken away from us and placed high upon the shelf.

But there’s more.

The appearance of sex is a stand-alone industry here in America.  We have a tease industry.  Sure, we outlaw actual sex in all sorts of places and you certainly can’t do it for money unless you’re in Vegas or the San Fernando Valley.  But we revel in flirtation: it’s legal, profitable and durable.  Well, it was, until it started causing tingling thigh syndrome.

Yes: tingling thigh syndrome.  Do not confuse this with restless leg syndrome.  Tingling thigh syndrome (“TTS”) doesn’t interrupt you while you’re laying on your couch trying to do a crossword puzzle, unless you are laying on your couch in skinny jeans.  Yes, skinny jeans are the culprit and stilettos are the accomplice.  TTS “can happen when constant pressure… cuts off the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve, causing a numb, tingling or burning sensation along the thigh.”  Apparently, the compression of the skinny in the jeans, especially if worn with steep shoes and a heavy handbag, can make your legs want to shrivel and die.

Remember this moment, kids.  This is the moment when the American pharmaceutical industry’s efforts to tell you everything makes you sick and it has a cure confronts the tease industry head-on.  Personally, I hope neither side backs down.

And another note: I bet there are a bunch of nations laughing hysterically at us, right now.  And why not?  I am.

[Note: as of approximately 1pm, WordPress has decided to just quit.  Which is cool, which is cool.  But if you’ve left a comment since then or just before then, chances are it’s not showing below this post.  Anything you wrote is on my WP dashboard and in my email, and I’ll post them mySELF if WordPress decides to continue its shenanigans, but as of now, it’s madness.  Sorry.]

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image_pepsithrowback_can_final1

For hefty compensation, I have leased this space to PepsiCo. today.  The following is a statement from its Senior VP of Marketing.

_____________________________________________

Dear customer,

By now, I’m sure you’ve seen Pepsi’s latest endeavor in the beverage-for-pleasure market.  But, to be sure, let me refresh you:

That’s right, friend: Pepsi Throwback — a softer, more real, natural kind of Pepsi.  We will sweeten it only with real sugar, like we used to, before we singlehandedly created the diabetes crisis your country now faces.

For the last 40 years, we here at PepsiCo have put everything in your Pepsi other than real, natural sugar.  We tried donkey sweat, human ear wax for coloring, dirt for the grime left on your teeth and the tears of baby chimpanzees because research shows they have a superbly addictive quality.  The high fructose corn syrup was just icing on the cake.  No, really: it’s literally Duncan Hines vanilla icing to which we added brown food coloring and real bits of panther (for that swampy aroma).

For decades, we thought we could get away with anything.  We reminded ourselves, “Hey, at least it’s not cocaine.”  And we stick by that; we do.

But it’s a new world; one where simple truths in consumption reign supreme; one where hidden ingredients, like the feces we put in all of our diet sodas, are discouraged as “unhealthy,” “dangerous” and “biologically irresponsible.”

So, for a limited time only, we offer you Pepsi Throwback.  Until June, you can enjoy the flavors we’ve been artificially creating for almost half a century.  But only until June.  We will return to our regularly scheduled shortening-your-life-span Pepsi flavoring by the fourth of July weekend.  And, actually, that reminds me: do not look directly at fireworks while drinking a Pepsi.  Something about the way light reacts with the blinding chemicals we put in each can of soda causes blindness.

Thank you for drinking,

Stan “the Man” McTexas
Senior VP of Marketing
PepsiCo

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nq060113

Traditional media.  I hear too little about the consequence of choices.

It makes me think of Lost Ones by Lauryn Hill:

Consequence is no coincidence
Hypocrites always wanna play innocent
Always want to take it to the full out extent
Always want to make it seem like good intent
Never want to face it when it’s time for punishment
I know you don’t wanna hear my opinion
But there come many paths and you must choose one
And if you don’t change then the rain soon come…

I feel like a traitor for even thinking this.  Broadcast media was my mom’s career for thirty years.  We grew up around producers, reporters, editors, writers…

But the worst kept secret in the world is that traditional media is failing.

After reading Frank Rich’s op-ed in the NYT, the causes seemed obvious:

  1. A catastrophic failure of professionalism during the last 8 years.
  2. A way too narrow reading of the tortoise and the hare fable.

Everyone has talked ad nauseam about the failure of professionalism, but the second cause still seems ripe.

Aesop’s lesson is always remembered as “slow and steady wins the race.”  But the tortoise didn’t win the race because he was slow and steady.  The tortoise won the race because the hare was cocky; so cocky, that his advantage was useless.  If the hare had just run the stupid race, and spent less time mocking and teasing the tortoise, he would have kicked the tortoise’s shelled little ass.

It’s the same with the big media.  If it had spent less time insisting that social media, blogs and the like were just immature fads, maybe less of its stalwarts would be headed for bankruptcy.  Big media could’ve used its immense resources and familiarity with consumers to be ahead of the shift.

I get into fights about this rift with people a lot; people who think Twitter is entirely functionless, that blogs are nothing but exercises in vanity.

This blog is not about vanity; at least not any more than the novel I’m currently reading or the last album I bought.  It’s all just creative expression.  Creative expression is built for consumption; that’s the idea.  If you’re only writing for yourself, you’d keep it in a journal under your bed.  Why anyone who writes a blog is told of their vanity, while those who write 500 pages of non-fiction in verbose autobiographies are praised with spots on bestseller lists, frustrates me.

The willingness to pigeonhole us — bloggers, tweeters, etc. — comes with a price: irrelevance.  This isn’t to say that any and all content produced for online consumption is the gold standard.  It’s not.  But we’ve easily passed the point where being self-published online is legitimate as an automatic disqualification.  Actually, we’re approaching the point where not being published online is a death knell.

But I wrote all this on a blog.  So I guess that means no one cares.

______
Just to be safe: it’s entirely possible that the cartoon was designed to be some remark about homelessness, but its use here is in no way intended to do the same.

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