Monday, February 4, 2013


Last weekend I drove from northeast Missouri to south-central Tennessee and back—a hair over 1100 miles—to participate in two days of FIC Oversight Committee meetings. That meant a lot of hours listening to sports radio, which is the easiest way for me to stay awake on long distance drives.

Today's blog will feature highlights gleaned from my radio adventures...

Best Quip
Sunday morning, en route from Dunmire Hollow to Fenton MO and a Super Bowl party at my son's house, one announcer breezily reported from New Orleans (site of the big game and a destination renown for serious partying) "I've been in town all week and my check liver light came on 72 hours ago."

Ads That Double Clutch
Unless you're listening to NPR, commentary is inextricably commingled with commercials. I was particularly amused by these two:

o  Since 2004 there's been a popular energy drink on the market called 5-Hour Energy (it's virtually impossible to find a truck stop these days that doesn't have this product prominently displayed at every checkout counter). It grabbed my attention that they've now adopted the tag line: "5-Hour Energy—it lasts for hours." Perhaps… five hours?

o  My other favorite is a PSA for Age-related Macular Degeneration, or AMD, which is an eye disease that compromises a person's ability to see what's in the center fo their field of vision. It starts out with a dude who reports that he thought his gradual loss of vision was the inevitable (if sad) result of growing older, but was surprised to learn that it wasn't: he "only" had AMD, and early diagnosis meant that he could do things to delay its progression.

While that's a good story and an important message, I was shaking my head at the double speak of implying that AMD isn't connected with getting older when it clearly is. It's much more prevalent among people over 65.

Most Questionable Public Relations Choice 
On the ride south Thursday, I heard the first day scores from the Waste Management Phoenix Open. No, it wasn't a contest to see how many dump trucks you could haul to a desert landfill. It was a golf tournament.

While I understand that Waste Management is a serious name if the field of, well, waste management, I'm questioning this as a marketing choice. Who could possibly have thought it was a proud corporate moment? Were they reclaiming the term "waste," so to speak?

I'm aware of the marketing adage that there's no such thing as bad publicity, but please.

Back in 1958 I spent four weeks at a boys camp in Ely MN called Camp Easton. Naturally enough the camp was owned and operated by Bill Easton, best known as the track coach at the University of Kansas from 1947-65. The next year he sold the camp to the athletic former Michigan State tight end, Doug Bobo, who had the good sense to not change the name to Camp Bobo (lest people mistakenly think they were offering clown training in the North Woods).

Not every name is meant to be in headlines. Not every name conveys a sense of lilt or elan. While the terms "waste" and "management" may connote a sense of cash, neither has cachet. Hearing those terms I think offensive lineman; not golfers. I think missing links; not linksters.

I figure the Waste Management folks could at least have gone for whimsy. If they were bound and determined to be up front about what they do for a living, why not make a special pitch to invite the golfers with the biggest swagger and style their event the Trash Talk Open? How about marketing their tournament as the Recycling Invitational, where you can watch the world's best golfers going for the Green on every hole? Perhaps they could partner with Weight Watchers and offer up the Waist Management Classic, with Phoenix Rising. I'm thinking there are ways they could have worked with this, instead of just bludgeoning their way forward like, say, a garbage truck.

I don't find trash compaction and golf courses a compatible image. Though I thoroughly appreciate the hippopotami in tutus in Disney's Fantasia—a whimsy classic—it's hard to conjure up garbage trucks and the balletic follow through of Tiger Woods in the same image.

Most Shocking Stat
The news flash of the weekend was the Caltech baseball team, which achieved a moon-from-the-bottom-of-the-sea come-from-behind defeat of Pacifica, 9-7, in the second game of a doubleheader Saturday afternoon. This mercifully ended a mind-numbing 228-game losing streak that stretched back to Feb 15, 2003, when the Beavers edged Cal State Monterey Bay, 5-4. 

Think about that: losing every game for a decade. Talk about a standard for futility! Caltech makes the Chicago Cubs look like all stars and gives hope for underdogs everywhere. Go Beavers!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love the maj jong reference.