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Consumer

Date Night? Olive Garden Will Take Care of the Kids

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When you’re here, you’re family … so leave those brats with us.

In restaurant circles, it’s the rumor that Darden‘s fun Italiano concept Olive Garden is hurting for your money. To wit, it came up with what they think is a genius marketing campaign to get your butts in their seats — the restaurant will spring for your babysitter.

In a world of hypersensitive parents, child predators and sick freaks around every corner, this has to be a great PR idea, right?

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7-Year-Old Skewers LEGO For Not Including More Girls

LEGO_LogoRemember when LEGO came under fire for its LEGO Friends line, a collection geared toward girls (finally!), but which abandoned adventurous themes for a pastel color palate, taller and slimmer female minifigures, and cliche female-friendly scenarios like a suburban home, a beauty parlor and a horse stable? Well, despite the toy line being slammed as sexist and pandering (even spawning a hashtag movement to #LiberateLEGO), it has become a huge success.

But not all little girls are satisfied with the domestic-themed options the toy company offers them, and one little girl in particular has decided to make her very dissatisfied voice heard.

Seven-year-old Charlotte took it upon herself to write a strongly-worded letter to LEGO, criticizing the toy company for making more “boy people” than “lego girls,” and for sending boys on fantastic adventures while relegating girls to the mall and the beauty parlor.

The letter read in part:

“My name is Charlotte. I am 7 years old and I have LEGOs, but I don’t like that there are more LEGO boy people and barely any LEGO girls. Today I went to a store and saw LEGOs in two sections…All the girls did was sit at home, go to the beach, and shop, and they had no jobs, but the boys went on adventures, worked, saved people, and had jobs, even swam with sharks. I want you to make more LEGO girl people and let them go on adventures and have fun OK?!?”

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Twitter Is Your New Healthcare Customer Service Line

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Have a great day—and don’t forget to @ us when you tell your 235 followers how much we suck!

The fact that many brands use Twitter for customer service is nothing new; we covered a few of the best feeds last year, and many of them were created strictly to engage with customers. If you check out our listicle you’ll notice that most of the ones we included were consumer brands like Nike, Xbox, Amazon, etc.

But today ProPublica posted a must-read story on how Twitter became the new go-to customer service tool for the healthcare industry—and we thought it worthy of debate.

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The NRF Reminds Us That Retail Jobs Aren’t Just for Part-Timers and Discount Holiday Gifts

The National Retail Federation, the largest retail trade association in the world, has launched a campaign, “This Is Retail,” that’s focused on careers in that industry, which is most often thought of as a professional pit stop.

“Did you know that retail supports 42 million American jobs? Think those are all behind a cash register? Think again,” the campaign homepage reads.

Indeed, when we think of retail jobs, we tend to think of students working in the mall for a little extra money for books and beer. Or perhaps you or someone you know has taken a retail job at a favorite store just to get a killer discount on holiday gifts or on a summer wardrobe.

This campaign points out that retail jobs go in all different directions — from working in a shop to e-commerce and social media.

But perhaps speaking best to the need for jobs at a time when we still have a 6.7 percent unemployment rate and more than two million who are “marginally attached to the labor force” is the story of Claudine McKenzie, a 17-year Walmart veteran.

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Kraft Confirms Velveeta Shortage as Super Bowl Approaches (The Horror!)

2D11086829-shotofvelveeta.blocks_desktop_largeRemember that time Starbucks ran out of pumpkin-flavored syrup at the height of autumnal mania, and all hell broke loose? Well, imagine a similar scenario, except instead of coffee-seeking young professionals and hipsters, the angry mob in desperate search for seasonal foodstuffs is a rowdy group of football fans. With a just-confirmed shortage of Velveeta right before the Super Bowl, this doomsday situation could be looming in our imminent future.

At first, like all rumors of impending catastrophe (global warming, anyone?), the general public assumed it was some sort of media-hyped panic or marketing ploy. But, oh, how tragically wrong we were.

Earlier this fall, Kraft sent NBC News two different memos warning that customers should be prepared for limited supplies of Velveeta in the coming months. “We have recently moved our Velveeta production lines from one Plant to another Plant this summer,” read one. “During this transition we have run into production challenges.”

Just a way for the company to get people to run out and stock up on over-processed “cheese product,” right? Wrong!

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The Dodo, A New Site Focused on Animals, Taps Into Our Love For Our Fuzzy Friends

the dodo tweetThe Dodo is back from extinction. At least in digital form.

The new site, The Dodo has launched, “a community-driven destination that’s committed to understanding, celebrating and helping animals.” For this site, “anyone can be a contributor,” though there is also an editorial staff. According to the press release we received, contributors will have the power to create content, pull things from social media, and add items with the hashtag #thedodo.

And based on a glance at the site’s homepage, we’re talking about more than just cat videos and baby animal webcam footage. Topics covered include SeaWorld’s non-reaction to a dolphin hunt in Japan, issues with an Animal Planet program, and an oil spill in Trinidad.

OK, there is one cat video. But it’s a white tiger, so slightly different.

The site has got some big name backers, including Lerer Ventures and Sterling Equities, and counts among its contributors Arianna Huffington and the Dog Whisperer himself Cesar Millan.

But the question is whether there’s enough passion out there to sustain a site with an animal focus. We’ve seen fervor over animal rights wax and wane over the years. Dodo EIC and CEO Kerry Lauerman addressed that issue in an email to us.

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To Stand Out On Crowded Shelves, Book Publicity Gets Creative

chang raeBook PRs are pulling out all the stops to appeal to readers as well as a segment of the population that often needs a warning and a darned good reason to settle in for a #longread. Book publicity is going further than parties, comp copies and reviews nowadays.

An award-winning writer (for his first book Native Speakerand Princeton professor who was selected by The New Yorker as one of the 20 best American writers (for his second book A Gesture Life), Chang-rae Lee is tops among the literary set. But he still needs to stand out among all of the books that are being released. So his latest, On Such a Full Sea, will have what’s being called the first 3D slipcover for a limited edition version of the book.

Taking 15 hours each to print, you can buy one of these bad boys for $175.93 on Amazon. But more than that, it’s a way for the novel to get some extra media coverage, like this article in Time

And because three’s a trend, here are a couple of other books that have gone an extra mile to stand out.

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Starbucks Gets Frap-Slapped by Missouri Pub Owner

Sucks Coffee StarbucksSometimes, I think I should be one of the Occupy Wall Street folks. And then I remember I much I love to bathe and exercise proper oral hygiene and move on to something on TV. Corporate folk so easily forget the times when they struggled, so when “the little guy” gets one over on them, I secretly jump for joy … and publicly come here to relish in the afterglow.

You may be familiar with Starbucks? In their overused, cutsy lingo, the eff word is not what you think a barista says when he or she can’t remember one of those ridiculous hipster diatribe orders in the drive-thru. No, the eff word in question is “Frappuccino.”

However, thanks to this genius move by a pub owner in Missouri, Starbucks may actually be using the other word you were thinking.

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STUDY: Bad Customer Service Costs US Companies $41 Billion a Year

excellentcustomerserviceIn news that should somewhat vindicate those of us who have spent countless hours being passed around from one unhelpful/unfriendly customer service rep to another, a new study shows that when we “vote with our pocketbooks” by switching service providers, brands, or retailers, it truly does make a major impact on those companies. New research done by NewVoiceMedia reveals that U.S. companies considered to have poor customer service are losing a whopping $41 billion a year.

Take that, endless hold music!

The survey revealed that 44 percent of U.S. consumers are taking their business elsewhere as a direct result of poor service, and 89 percent of that group have switched at least once or twice in the last year.

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Macy’s Has A “Special” Black Santa That They Didn’t Tell Anyone About

In light of a steady stream of racial profiling incidents reported in the media and the firestorm generated by Megyn Kelly over her thoughts on Santa’s skin color, we find out now that Macy’s has a “special” black Santa Claus that they’ve basically kept hidden for what could be many years.

Animal New York posted this story with the video above on its website this week, showing the twists and turns that their correspondent had to journey through to visit this jolly St. Nick. If you happen to know about him, you have to ask an elf to direct you to him. It’s like black Santa is also speakeasy Santa. If you don’t know what to say to get past the door, you can’t see him.

While it’s great that Macy’s recognizes a multicultural celebration of Christmas, it’s a fail that they don’t publicize it.

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