I am a total sucker for those sappy TV commercials that come on this time of year. Hallmark has always produced some classics. No slap-job :30 second spots for them. Running up to two minutes or more, these are little micro-dramas are fully intended to produce a little warm spot in the coldest of hearts. The Publix grocery store chain has produced some very nice ones lately, mostly with small children. And this year, Apple has joined the crowd with a really excellent effort. Here are a couple of good ones from this year, and one oldie-but-goldie Hallmark spot from years past.
The headline in today’s local paper reads “Publisher drops Deen cookbook.” “The Perils of Paula” has been all anyone in Savannah has been talking about for the past ten days. In case you have been hibernating, you know that local Savannah restaurateur-made rich-and-famous Paula Deen has been under attack ever since the contents of a deposition were made public, in which she admitted using the “N-word” some 30years ago.
I am of two minds on this issue. My first reaction was this was an incredibly disproportionate reaction to a three-decade old petty misdemeanor. I mean – come on! Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone. I am not condoning the utterance. I just think this is a case of capital punishment for a parking ticket. I feel sorry for Paula. She actually lives around the corner from us, and occasionally we’ll see her shopping in Publix.
On the other hand, to borrow another cliché, “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” In this case, the sword is the combination of publicity and image. Paula built her food empire and her fortune based on image and publicity. It’s not like she is the greatest chef in the world. Her folksy “Southern charm” made her the queen of The Food Network. Once she caught on, her momentum just kept building. But that kind of fame and image can be like a balloon – big and voluminous, but of little of substance. One leak and the whole thing disappears.
Paula did not do a good job protecting that balloon from lurkers with needles. The damning deposition originates in a lawsuit related to a restaurant Paula created for her brother, Bubba. We know a number of people who have worked at “Uncle Bubba’s,” and they tell us that things were run pretty loose there. I have no idea of there is any merit to the actual lawsuit filed by one of Bubba’s former managers, but it is safe to say that the operation was not squeaky clean. That is not unusual for restaurants, and in most cases, it doesn’t matter — unless you are Paula Deen and you have a mega-million business riding almost entirely on your image. You must make certain there is no one lurking in the background with a hat pin looking to burst that giant balloon. Apparently, she did not do that, and that is her biggest mistake. Too bad.
I just hate it when a company gets me hooked on one of their products and then snatches it away. It’s happened to me twice in the past two weeks, and I am annoyed.
I love paper towels. That sounds strange, but I am somewhat of a connoisseur of the Bountys, Brawnys and Vivas. Ever since I was a child I have had a chronically drippy nose. Rather than carrying a cloth handkerchief, I carry a paper towel. It has to be strong enough to withstand the nasal explosion, but also soft enough not scratch up my face. I settled on the Publix Premium brand of paper towel as the best compromise of material and price. They have disappeared off the shelf. I’m not too upset about that, because I can always move up to Bounty for a few cents more. But my quest for breakfast bars is much more frustrating.
Several years ago, when I was trying the South Beach Diet, I got into the habit of eating the South Beach breakfast bars for breakfast. My typical breakfast at my desk was a banana (loaded with potassium) and two SB Breakfast Bars. The cranberry almond was fantastic. The maple flavor and the cinnamon-raisin were also good. The next thing I know, the company (Kraft, I think.) stopped making them. I discovered that the Nabisco SnackWell bars weren’t too bad, and the cinnamon raisin flavor was almost an exact match. Guess what? Now Nabisco has discontinued that product line. Grrrr. I’ve switched to the Kashi brand. They don’t hold a candle to the other brands. Now that I’ve switched to them it will be their kiss of death. I figure they have about six months before they are discontinued too.
It’s a nasty day in the Gator Nation. Last night, the Gators embarrassed themselves by allowing Louisville to have their way with them in the Sugar Bowl. If you are going to be trounced, I guess it’s best that it not come from a big rival. And at least we like Louisville coach Charlie Strong. Coach Strong spent most of his coaching career as an assistant at Florida and was very well liked and respected.
I blame it all on the Curse of the Ugly Uniforms. Teams simply do not play well in ugly uniforms, and the Gators’ unis were stinkos last night. Blue jerseys and orange pants look terrible. They have perfectly good white pants to wear.
From The Gainesville Sun
At least they didn’t wear orange over orange. They would have looked like Clemson. Well, at least Clemson won their bowl game.
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I get marketing emails from Barnes & Noble. They advertise the impending release of “bestsellers.” How can a book be a bestseller when it hasn’t been released yet?
Similarly, I was talking with a neighbor last week. She said her family had “started a new Christmas tradition.” Isn’t a “new tradition” an oxymoron? Like the frequently mentioned “instant classic.” I think you have to do something for a while before it becomes a tradition.
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Several of us parents with adult children were talking last weekend about giving our offspring Christmas presents. Several mothers, including Mrs. Poolman, were sharing their difficulties in making sure that they spent the exact same amount of money on each child. One mother keeps a careful list with her receipts and adds it up to make sure there isn’t more than a $20 difference in the multi-hundred dollar gift lists. They even got into discussing whether it matters if they get a present on sale. Should they count the sale price or the regular retail price in their computations?
I thought the whole issue was ridiculous. Gifts are supposed to be an expression of affection, respect or appreciation, not a mathematical model. If I ever heard even an inkling of a complaint from one of my children that I had not spent enough money on their Christmas gifts, it would make my shopping next year a lot easier and a lot cheaper.
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And finally, I ran across this video today and was astounded. Apparently it’s been out for several months. It’s only about a minute long, but it will make you feel good. The world needs more people like this.
I just finished reading a partial biography of one of my favorite actors – “Jimmy Stewart Bomber Pilot” by Starr Smith. I was reminded that two of my favorite actors of earlier generations, Stewart and Paul Newman, are favorites, not just because of their acting, but because of some of the things they did.
Stewart was already a major Hollywood star when he was drafted in 1941 at the age of 32. He had starred in “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” a few years earlier, and had just won an Academy Award for “The Philadelphia Story.” Even then, he was no lightweight. Actually, he was in a literal sense. He originally was drafted but failed the physical for being underweight. He appealed the decision and was shortly accepted into the Army Air Corps. Stewart could have easily taken the path of many of the other Hollywood stars who traded on their fame to sell War Bonds, or make recruiting or training films. Stewart went to flight training and learned to pilot heavy bombers. He flew 20 combat missions with the 8th Air Force in Europe, leading many of them. He could have taken the easy way out, but he didn’t.
Paul Newman is another favorite. “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” is probably my #1 favorite movie of all time. He had great roles in other films like “The Sting,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Verdict” and “Absence of Malice.” Late in his career he banked on his famous name and started up a food company. Apparently is all started with a bet with a friend about who made the best salad dressing. That grew into a successful line of spaghetti sauces and other items. What many people don’t know is that Newman never made a cent off of the sales. Early on, he designated that all the after-tax profits from his products be donated to charity. As of 2010, the donations had totaled more than $300 million. Not bad.
Sometimes when I’m in the check-out line at the grocery store, I look at the headlines in the celebrity magazines. Most of it is just scandal. It’s nice to remember that there are (or were) some celebrities like Stewart and Newman.
For some reason, I have taken note of some recent TV commercials, advertising, of all things, toilet paper. It is probably one of the least glamorous products to try to advertise. As important as it is to all of us, it is not easy to discuss.
Here is one that caught my eye last week.
The history of television advertising is full of famous and effective positioning statements.
“You deserve a break today.”
“When it absolutely, positively needs to be there in the morning.”
“The real thing.”
“Tastes better. Less filling.”
So where does this implied slogan fit in?
“Our toilet paper won’t stick to your ass!”
And here is a trend that I missed out on completely. Apparently, there legions of people who consider a roll of toilet paper unsightly.
I know it doesn’t look very good on a tree in your front yard, but on a roll in your bathroom? It would have never occurred to me. Maybe that’s why I’m not making the big bucks in the TP industry.
For most of my adult career, I worked in the television business, so ultimately my salary was paid by advertising revenue. Since I understand the value of advertising, I don’t understand why so many people are willing to just give it away for free. You can’t walk down the street without seeing companies like American Eagle, Nike, Aeropostale, receiving massive amounts of free exposure on the chests, heads and butts of people everywhere.
Recently, I was talking to a friend of mine about golf/polo shirts. I mentioned that I usually bought mine at a small chain clothing store. Their store-brand shirts are relatively inexpensive; well made; stood up well to repeated washings; and their knit collars didn’t do that crease-thing that many others do. He commented that he usually paid so much for his shirts, “…but I am willing to pay a little more for a designer brand with their logo in it.”
That’s what I don’t understand. I’d pay a little more to NOT have a logo on the shirt.
With another friend, I commented on the “Columbia” printed across the front of the cap he was wearing. I questioned it, because I knew he had gone to a New York university, but not Columbia.
“Oh, no. That’s not Columbia University. That’s the name of the company who made the hat.”
Duh. Silly me.
Actually, rather than worrying about the trend, I really should just admire the companies involved. They have not only convinced the American public they should provide free advertising for them, they have also convinced them to pay a premium price to do so. Nice scam. Wish I had thought of it.