The Blind Lead the Blind
President Clinton managed to pause from his duties as Commander-in-Chief long enough to address the tragic shootings of 14 students in Littleton, Colorado. On the same day our airplanes were dropping bombs on Yugoslavia, Clinton set some new standards for ignoring the obvious by uttering these words of bargain basement wisdom: "We have to take this moment once again to hammer home to all the children in America that violence is wrong," he said. "And to show children by the power of our own example how to resolve conflicts peacefully." Thank God for the "power of our own example." (BBC 4/21/99)
Tobacco companies have found a more personal way to reach potential customers -- turning bartenders into a walking commercials. Companies like Brown & Williamson are spending up to $30 million a year to see that bartenders give the right advice about smoking and have free samples to giveaway. PR firm KBA Marketing, for example, has 450 employees whose sole job is to visit some 2,000 bars a week on behalf of R.J. Reynolds. Bar owners receive from $2,000 to $50,000 a year to promote a particular brand while bartenders receive perks like ski vacations for sharing their new found opinions. Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Reynolds was kind enough to put this seeming manipulation of everyday conversations into perspective. "None of our marketing programs are designed to encourage nonsmokers to start smoking," she said. "If an adult chooses to smoke we simply want to compete for his business." An important distinction. (WSJ 4/21/99)
Special Agents Dept.
New Jersey state troopers have been involving employees of dozens of hotels in the never ending job of keeping surveillance on potential drug smugglers. State law enforcement officials have recruited hotel workers and trained them in special surveillance seminars to be informers on people who fit the profile of drug smugglers. What counts as suspicious behavior? The following: paying for rooms in cash, receiving too many phone calls, asking for corner rooms and speaking in Spanish (a dead giveaway). Hotel managers have been routinely allowing state troopers to check through credit card receipts. Though some may view these actions as invasions of First Amendment rights, Fred Hartman, manager of a Newark Ramada Inn, had a strong defense to offer. "They're good guys," he said referring to the troopers, "and we want to cooperate with them whenever we can." As long as they're "good guys", who can argue...? (NYT 4/29/99)
Allure, a popular women's magazine, is credited with taking an important step in overcoming the distinction between advertising and editorial content. In the April issue, the magazine in what it calls an "interactive editorial", praises makeup shades they say will look good on anyone. The editorial then becomes "interactive" by having samples of Revlon eye shadow and Johnson & Johnson Neutrogena blush (supplied by the manufacturer) glued to the same page. Linda Wells, Allure's editor, defends this cooperation between editorial writers and advertisers in words that reveal the naivete of critics. "We write about people who advertise in the magazine," she says. "That's what magazines do." It's so tiresome having to point out the obvious. (WSJ 4/19/99)
Some major corporations are stepping into the fight to provide uniforms for public school children. Reebok and Nike have both offered to supply not only complete uniforms, but free computers as well to schools who agree to participate. The Nike uniform features a greenish gray warm-up jacket, an oversized sweatshirt with the word "Nike" proudly displayed and warm-up pants, all with the Nike "swoosh". The Reebok uniform is maroon with "Reebok" tactfully printed everywhere. Hopefully these uniforms will help provide students suffering identity crises with a common anchor. In addition, both companies will be offering students incentives for wearing the corporate outfits to sporting events, placing logos on their houses, painting their cars in company colors, etc. Almost makes you want to go back to school. (PC Computing Online 4/99)
Special thanks to Dave Steel and Colin Wright for spotting quality Newspeak. You too can be an informer or get stuck on our e-mail list by contacting email@example.com