Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Things We Miss About Our Youth

Abby says:
Every year when summer rolls around, I reflect on what I miss about my youth. Here are my top 10.
1) Looking forward to summer vacation. Ahh...that smell of summer in the air. There was nothing better.

2) My summer job as a lifeguard every year. Cute lifeguard boys, bright sun, blue sky, suntan oil and fresh air for 3 months.

3) Making prank phone calls. This was one of my favorites. We made lame calls like: "Is your refrigerator running? You better go catch it." This continues to be one of my favorite pasttimes with my mom. Even with caller ID I can still occasionally trick her.

4) Snow days! Back then we didn't have to make them up.

5) Red, white and blue popsickles (then called "bomb pops") from the ice cream truck man.

6) Having endless amounts of energy and never being tired.

7) Having not a care in the world.

8) Piling 8 of us into a car and catching a drive-in movie.

9) The feeling of naive freedom.

10) The butterflies you get with young love.

Sheri says:
It does seem as time is passing even more quickly than before. I miss:

1) Running with the neighborhood kids, playing all kinds of games, and no one had to worry about us. Well, except for the occasional skinned knee or broken arm.

2) The teenage years of piling in a car and no one had invented cell phones. Pure freedom!

3) Getting a great report card.

4) Picnics and gatherings where the adults did all the work. We children just had to show up and have a good time.

5) Putting on a swimsuit without thinking about what my body looked like in it.

6) The giddy anticipation on Christmas Eve or the night before my birthday.

7) Being able to read fine print.

8) The satisfaction of earning money and having no bills.

9) Playing 45s and then albums on the turntable.

10) Believing I could do anything.

Abby says:
Don't forget about those 8-track tapes. We thought technology had finally arrived. Little did we know!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Corporate Wastefulness

Abby says:
Americans are wasteful. Up until now with many companies downsizing and going belly up, I have never really paid that much attention. One corporation that comes to mind is Starbucks. With my business, I conduct a lot of breakfast meetings where I bring coffee and the like for small to medium groups. I often utilize Starbucks. When ordering a tote of coffee (serving 8-10 people) I typically ask for the accompanying "condiments". Rather than giving me enough for 8-10 people, I typically get enough sugar, sweetener and stir sticks for 50+ people . That is no exaggeration, and it happens every single time.

I recently purchased a coffee tote for my friends at the gym and counted 200+ sweeteners and sugars. Probably 60 stirs. The leftovers went right into my kitchen drawer for personal use. While I am thrilled I don't have to buy this stuff (it's NOT cheap) for quite some time thanks to Starbucks, it makes me a bit crazy.

Starbucks recently closed stores in my hometown, Indianapolis, and have been "right-sizing" across the country. I bet if their corporate powers-that-be knew of this practice they would cringe. Multiply me by even 500 customers a day and look at the wastefulness! Maybe they should train their staff to ask customers how many accompaniments they would like. Think of the dollars they could save.

Sheri says:
On the other hand, every fast food restaurant in the country has bounced to the other extreme. Does no one use ketchup or salt anymore? Why do I have to ask for it? Why does it only make it into the bag about half the time?

I realize cost-cutting measures are in order and in theory, I support them. But I long for the days when common sense and customer service prevailed. I long for the days when employees were allowed to think for themselves -- she ordered fries, I'll stick some ketchup in the bag -- rather than follow some robotic policy of "No ketchup unless someone asks for it."

I also wish we still lived in a society where companies didn't have to worry about every patron taking advantage of their generosity.

Abby says
Ahh...common sense. I guess it's gone by the wayside with the ketchup robots.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Is GM Acting Socially Responsible?

Abby says:
I am in the business of marketing and advertising and have been for the last 25 years. Therefore, when TV commercials air, I watch avidly rather than flipping to the next best show.

To my dismay this past weekend when watching some mindless movie, a spot for the "new GM" came on. Wow, you've got to be kidding me. They take bail-out money then they needlessly spend gazillions of dollars on a TV spot to let the public know how they plan to reinvent themselves? What a waste of money -- especially since as taxpayers, we are indirectly footing that bill. There are so many new free or less expensive avenues with social marketing (such as blogs and chat forums) to get the word out about their plans.

To me that is irresponsible. Are they are talking out of both sides of their mouth? They want to be bailed out yet they keep spending needless money. No one cares about their pretty TV commercial (which was a bit odd in my opinion).

I care about turning the company around, honoring customer warranties and getting people back into the work force so they can support their families, pay their bills, buy groceries and have health insurance.

I've written and produced many TV commercials and placed the media for them as well. I cannot even begin to wonder how many thousands upon thousands of dollars they spent (and perhaps wasted) on this effort.

Sheri says:
As a taxpayer I now own part of these companies that got bail-out money. As an investor, I should be encouraged to buy these products or at the very least, hope someone else does so. As a citizen of one of the many states that is struggling to the very core due to this fiasco, I want to see them rise from the ashes. That's one side.

The other side is a person who believes in the power of marketing -- especially if the product backs up the marketing promise. I have seen it work. I have also been in too many situations where the marketing budget is the first line item to be cut. Marketing can save a company. It can also permanently destroy a customer relationship if the advertised promise doesn't deliver.

I hope they are looking at every possible avenue to save the American automotive industry. I hope every line item is under tremendous scrutiny. I hope the bail out is a hand up, not a hand out. And I truly hope they use the line item marked "Marketing" in a responsible way.