Talk about Banana Republics

So I was about to blog about the Chiquita banana stickers, and how they really show a company that gets it and understands their customers, but like a good blogger, I check to see what’s out there already. Lo and behold, I find that they were fined $25 million for supporting known terrorist organizations. And this was announced today. Talk about timing. Here’s the CNN article about it.

Anyway, the original post was going to be about the blue stickers on their bananas. These originally served a functional purpose. All produce carries a sticker that identifies the PLU (price lookup) number for the cashiers. According to missourifamilies.org, “The numeric system was developed by the Produce Electronic Identification Board, an affiliate of the Produce Marketing Association, a trade group for the produce industry.”

For a long time, these blue stickers said Chiquita and 4011 (PLU#). Most cashiers actually don’t even need that number after a while. Bananas are just something they know because they key it in a lot. The stickers started having other messages, like A good source of potassium. Since these stickers no longer carried the 4011, this was a secondary sticker and placed on a bunch of bananas in addition to the traditional sticker. The opened the floodgates of creativity, and one of the stickers I have seen recently shows a strong connection with their customers (the reason for this post). Who would think that a company that sells bananas would so clearly understand secondary uses of their products. The sticker says, “Place Sticker on Forehead. Smile.”

Peace and Justice Monument

from Town of Chapel Hill Email List:

The Chapel Hill Town Council supported a Council Naming Committee recommendation to physically mark the space in front of the Old Post Office on Franklin Street as “Peace and Justice Plaza.” A granite marker will be erected at the base of the flagpole. The marker will include a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “There was never a good war or a bad peace,” and the names of three local civil justice activists (Alice Adams, Joe Straley and Lucy Straley), with room left on the monument for the addition of future names.

NFL Takes Control of its Content

Here’s a USA Today article about the NFL and trying to wrestle control of its content away from traditional media outlets. Local TV crews are now limited as to how many seconds of NFL highlights and interviews they can broadcast.

As they expand the reach of the NFL Network, the NFL is now on iTunes. Since I still don’t have a TV (I was told that it is on order, again), I thought I would see what this NFL on iTunes thing was all about. You pick a team (I picked the Steelers) and you can subscribe to weekly video highlights. Pay one price at the beginning of the season ($25) and each week, the highlights are downloaded to your computer.

The free preview, though, is somewhat deceiving. This generic, last season wrap-up is produced by NFL Films, which means it is very slick. Great camera work, great editing, that familiar booming narrator’s voice. And it was in sharp resolution and wide screen. Even on my laptop, this looked cool. I signed up.

Well, this morning I got the first week’s highlights. It was pretty quick turnaround, but was very disappointing. It was the tv telecast, complete with mediocre resolution, tv aspect ratio, tv announcers and all the stuff that appears on the screen during games (a score crawl at the bottom). The game was edited down to about 15 minutes, so it is a better use of time, but imagine if I planned to watch this on my tv. I’ve paid my money, and it will be okay to get these highlights, but wouldn’t have been cooler to take a couple extra days and do this right. The NFL and Apple really missed the boat on this one. If I wanted tv, I could just watch tv (if I had one).

Seats for Life

Hurry and bid on two lifetime memberships at Temple Emanu-El in Miami Beach before Rosh Hashonah. They start at $1.8 million on ebay.

From the auction description:

Temple Emanu-El “Membership for Life” begins September 2007 and includes: • Two comfortable seats in Section DD, Row 1, Seats 1 & 2 (Right in front of the Rabbi!) • Includes all Jewish holidays… Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Passover, etc. • Includes all Shabbat services • Family name engraved on seats • Seats transferable within family (some restrictions apply) • Two custom-made Israeli tallitot and kippot • Free parking • Temple Emanu-El located in the heart of Miami Beach, Florida (walking distance to beach, Lincoln Road, etc.) For more information on Temple Emanu-El, please visit tesobe.org.

From the AP story about the auction:

“It’s a gift that goes from one generation to another,” said Rabbi Kliel Rose, who came up with the concept with a little bit of chutzpah and the help of two congregants who work in advertising and marketing.

The auction ends Monday morning, but as of Saturday evening, no one had made a wager. Rose said he wasn’t surprised. He said the auction was more about gaining the attention of Jews who are disconnected from their faith.

“It has very little to do with the money,” Rose said. “Hypothetically, if the money comes, it would be great, but the idea was really just to be edgy.”

Latest Survey on Blogs

From Synovate:

According to a recent Synovate/Marketing Daily survey, 8 out of 10 Americans know what a blog is and almost half have visited blogs.

The study, conducted online with 1,000 adults in the US using Synovate eNation from July 30 to August 1, shows that blogging has entered the mainstream.

“Eight percent of Americans currently have their own blog,” said Tom Mularz, senior vice president at Synovate. “This is surprising given that a few years ago hardly anyone knew what a blog was.”

Do Not Disturb Sign Contest

In our society where everyone tries to be ironic, cheeky or just plain clever, Embassy Suites Hotels has become known for their Do Not Disturb signs. An example is “Do not even think of knocking unless you have an omelet.” Wouldn’t it be a better accomplishment to be known for their rooms or their customer service, or something else related to their business? A company exec even acknowledges that people sometimes take these cleverly-worded signs to use at home. He didn’t mention anyone taking towels, though.

Well, apparently, they have run out of clever things to say and would like your help. You can even win a 4-night stay at an Embassy Suites hotel. Enter here by October 31.

Phone Company Ends Time of Day Service

Here’s a link to an article from the LA Times about AT&T ending the Time of Day service in California and Nevada. Since more and more people use cell phones and computers to determine the exact time, there is less need for this service. The article includes the history of these time systems and some of the voices behind these messages. There are a handful of “Time Ladies” whose voices and vocal mannerisms are familiar to generations of Americans.

Check out this site that has audio links to time recordings.

Gutiar Heaven

While on a client trip to Nashville, I went to the Gibson Showcase store. It is next door to the Grand Ole Opry, which happens to be the Opry Mills mall. They have lots of guitars for sale, a small instrument factory behind glass, and even have live performances. Even though this is a tourist place, it was very cool.

I have an old acoustic guitar that I want to learn to play, so I should start with it in tune. I bought an electronic tuner that you put on each string to tune it. I also bought a Gibson Flying V guitar key chain.

I go to Nashville a fair amount and this is only the second time I’ve done anything beyond go out to eat.