Krispy Kreme forced to eat half-baked marketing scheme

Last week, the kreme hit the fan when

Do-Vo and Vo-Vo An Australian biscuit company has threatened legal action against US chain Krispy Kreme if does not stop selling its Iced Dough-Vo doughnut. Arnott believes the product is almost identical to its own Iced Vo-Vo biscuit, and breaches trademarks registered in 1906.

Krispy claimed the confection was meant as a tribute to the beloved Vo Vo.

This resulted in some of the best headlines I have ever read:

What about: Krisp Kreme donut turns to humble pie

 

As you can tell the Aussies take their Iced Vo Vo’s very seriously: In his November 2007 victory speech, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd jokingly urging his campaign team to have a strong cup of tea with an Iced Vo Vo before getting to work.This reportedly led to skyrocketing Iced VoVo sales, prompting Arnott’s to send a shipping pallet of the biscuits to the Prime Minister’s office in Canberra’s New Parliament House.

Headline of the Day: Vietnam cracks down on hamster craze

Born to be mildFrom next Monday, anyone possessing or trading hamsters faces stiff fines of up to 30 million dong (1,875 dollars), the Vietnam News daily reported, citing a new agriculture ministry directive to enforce a ban imposed last month. The communist government aims to end a youth craze for the fast-breeding animals, which were previously only imported for scientific research, but which have now spawned online hamster forums and real-life hamster clubs.

Apparently the Year of the Ratatouille is to blame for the popularity of the rodents. The government is afraid that they could spread disease and destroy crops.

This crackdown seems to have hit the blackmarket hamster trade very hard: “Amid the stern warning, the state-run Vietnam News reported, the street price of hamsters, many smuggled from China and Thailand without licenses or quarantine checks, has already dropped from over 20 dollars to less than 10.”

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Headline of the Day: “He handily beat Clinton even in traditionally Democratic areas”

Subhead in today’s Honolulu Advertiser on a story about Obama winning the Hawaii caucuses.

A Democrat won in traditionally Democratic areas!?!?!? Wow. Strange times indeed.

BTW, here’s a definition of mixed blessing — having the flu in Hawaii. I tell people on the phone and they start to come across with some sympathy and then it’s  … “wait a minute … he’s in HAWAII!”

Well, I’ve had the flu a lot of places and Maui is pretty much the best place for it.

Headline of the Day: “Swiss Aim to Save National Sausage”

When erectile dysfunction strikes an entire nation…

sausA joint “task force cervelat” composed of scientists, bureaucrats and industry representatives has been convened to tackle the crisis caused by a shortfall in Brazilian cows’ intestines used to encase the nation’s favorite sausage, the Swiss meat association said.

That must be a great resume item.

And in a related story, a German company has unveiled a pill to “improve first-person shooter performance.”

FpsBrain is the only effective product with a 110% money-back guarantee. Clinical research and expert knowledge made it possible to develop an effective neural accelerator.

Yep, performance enhancing drugs have come to video gamers. Either that or the Germans are taking euphemism to a whole new level.

Headline of the day: “Russian rat shortage on eve of Year of the Rat”

RatMOSCOW (AFP) – Moscow pet shops are reporting a run on rats, as keen astrologically-minded Russians snap them up ahead of the New Year, which is the Chinese Year of the Rat, Interfax news agency reported Monday. Desperate shoppers are even resorting to buying mice, hamsters or gerbils in lieu of a real, domestic rat, according to one shop in the capital.Chinese astrology is closely followed in Russia, which shares a long border with China, and where many newspapers deliver daily horoscopes — and advice on how to care for new pet rats given as presents on December 31.

Oddly, they had the same problem in the year of the dragon.

(Happy 1st Headline of the Day for 2008)

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2007’s silliest, oddest and most annoying headlines

A year in headlines of the day:

January 7: GM Vows to Defend Title Against Toyota How’s that working out?

January 25: Gnome, gnome on derange SYDNEY, Jan 25 (Reuters Life!) – It’s being called the “Gnomesville Massacre” and emergency workers in Western Australia are offering a reward for the capture of vandals who smashed their way through a local tourist attraction.

January 31: French health minister seeks nap study

March 8: Borat seen as human rights victim by U.S. government A State Dept. report cited Borat’s loss of his Kazakh webpage http://www.borat.kz in late 2005 alongside court cases and limits on free speech faced by the few domestic media critical of Kazakhstan’s long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

March 20: “Hundreds Line Up For Sheep Testicles” In Scotland they call it speed dating

April 16: 5000 rabbits block traffic on major highway in Hungary Were they hungry Hungarian rabbits?

April 18: Seattle Man Charged In Bizarre Duck Case Yeah, like there’s a chance in hell you’re not going to read the rest of that story. The lead, however, is even better:

EVERETT, Wash. A Seattle man has been charged with a slew of crimes that involved an alleged shoplifting, assaults and a pet duck named Mr. Peepers.”

I think Mr. Peepers is a canard or at least a red herring.

The terror alert level has been set at duck l’orange.

April 27: San Anselmo teen wearing prom dress, combat boots chases down thieves in S.F. Erin Schrode, a 16-year-old sophomore at Marin Academy, was decked out in prom gear and boots when she jumped into pursuit of three youths who swiped a friend’s purse and a laptop computer at an afternoon protest rally.”

June 12: Wild new flavours spice up German sausages German butchers have introduced a new line of exotic-tasting sausages with flavours ranging from kiwi, maraschino cherry, lemon and even aloe vera.

June 25: Giant penguins may have roamed Peru

July 8: Rushmore from Cheese “Get ready for Mount Rushmore to roll into your town this summer! Instead of granite from the Black Hills of South Dakota, the profiles of presidents Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln will be carved out of real cheese as part of the Cheez-It(R) Big Cheese Tour. The 700 pound portable cheddar cheese version of our nation’s first grand fromages, created by veteran cheese carver, Troy Landwehr, will help raise awareness of products made with 100 percent real cheese.”

October 1 Tropical activity possible in Gulf of Mexico Glad we cleared that up.

October 24: Fire affects TV shows, celebrities CNN on the California wildfires.

October 25: SpongeBob Squarepants Digital Camera Is Neither Square-Shaped Nor Made Of Sponges

October 31: Man Gets Probation in Pickle Assault Includes the quote of the year: “The fact that it’s silly doesn’t mean that it’s not serious.”– Berrien, MI, Trial Court Judge Scott Schofield sentencing Bobby Bolen to time served and 1 year of probation for assaulting two people.

November 3: Maker of Lipitor Digs In to Fight Generic Rival

November 8: How Google Can Take the High Road on Privacy Mr. Orwell! Mr. Orwell! Call for Mr. Orwell!

November 12: How to Teach Marketers to Be Authentic

December 5: News Corp May Have Found God, But Not LinkedIn

December 14: Demand softens for ant aphrodisiac

 

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Headline of the Day: “Demand softens for ant aphrodisiac”

A Chinese company that raked in billions of yuan raising ants to make an aphrodisiac tonic has filed for bankruptcy, an official Web site said. Thousands of angry investors took to the streets of Shenyang, capital of Liaoning province, last month to demand help getting their money back from Yilishen Tianxi Group, besieging government offices and disrupting traffic.

No more comment needed.

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Headline of the day: “News Corp May Have Found God, But Not LinkedIn”

TechCrunch reports on reports that Murdoch is buying BeliefNet.

What I find amusing about BeliefNet is it is so non-denominational that I am always a little surprised when I find any mention of The Big Kahuna. The site’s motto is “Inspiration. Spirituality. Faith.” Kind of the reverse order that most religious types would put those in but perfect for today’s scripturally squeamish consumers. The most emailed article on the site today is Chocolate Is Not The Enemy. This is a selection that appears under the wonderful tag: Weight Loss and Diet Inspiration From The Best of Chicken Soup For The Soul. Does anyone else think that the more chicken soup you have in your diet the less weight loss and diet inspiration you might need?

Looking at BeliefNet it is easy to imagine even a Universalist Unitarian complain about the lack of doctrinal rigor.

This is in marked contrast to my current favorite site for mixing religion and the internet: Mecca.com. Although this site doesn’t mention The Big Kahuna either, it seems to me that this is because they believe it’s wrong to associate You Know Who with a commercial enterprise rather than a desire to appeal to everybody.

While I would like to say I like this site because it helps people connect and find out what they have in common in a nice Muslim context, that would be a lie. As their mission statement shows the is lie by me … not them.

“Mecca.com offers a point of solidarity for online Muslims worldwide. Our goal is to promote and reinforce an inspiring, positive image of the strong values that Muslims bring to their respective communities everywhere. At mecca.com, we help Muslims everywhere come closer to achieving their own personal dreams – whatever they may be. Together, anything is possible.”

logomNo, my real reason for liking the site is that is has The. Best. Tagline. EVER: Come to Mecca.

BRILLIANT.

(Maybe there’s someone there who can help me understand The Qu’ran. I tried to read it on my own a few years ago and quickly realized this is not a text I could make sense of without an instructor. I suspect I would have had the same reaction to the Old and New Testaments had I not grown up in a culture so infused with them.)

BTW, if you’re looking for a “holiday” gift for your “spiritually” minded friends may I suggest that you Reserve A Spot In Heaven for them. A mere $12.79 (?) guarantees him or her

BULLET Heavenly issued certificate of reservation with a unique I.D. number registered in the Book of Light™

BULLET A First class ticket to Heaven. Why walk those stairs when you can fly?

BULLET The Official Heaven Identification Card so you can get around without getting hassled.

BULLET Heaven 101 mini informational guide. Don’t be a victim of culture shock. Get acquainted with the land.

BTW, group discounts are available.

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Headline of the Day: How Google Can Take the High Road on Privacy

Mr. Orwell! Mr. Orwell! Call for Mr. Orwell!

orwellMeanwhile Google played their hand brilliantly. They unveiled OpenSocial taking the “open” high ground and a lot of wind out of Facebook’s sails (to mix some metaphors!). And with Facebook aligned with the old Evil Empire Microsoft, Google has a chance to recover their “Do not be evil” aura.

If they also take the high road on privacy, they will blow the competition out of the water. They can do this because they can afford to; and their competition cannot afford to. They don’t need to amass lots of information about me to serve relevant ads to me. As long as I keep on searching, Google knows my intentions. Sure they could offer something even more powerful if they track and synthesize all my searches in the last 3 months, but at what cost in terms of spooking and alienating me? For what marginal extra value to an advertiser?

So Google could back the “Do Not Track” legislation and comit to more rigorous restrictions on search history.

I’m guessing the high road doesn’t go into China where “Do Not Track” legislation means you’ve been disappeared.

Or, as my good friends at They Might Be Giants, put it:

We’re in a road movie to Berlin
Can’t drive out the way you drove in
So sneak out this glass of bourbon
And we’ll go

We were once so close to Heaven
Peter came out and gave us medals
Declaring us the nicest of the damned

This was all written before I came across the following column by Duncan Riley at TechCrunch: “Yahoo in China: An Unfair Attack”

For those who missed it, in short Yahoo was attacked by both sides of politics for complying with a request under Chinese law, in China, to provide information on a political dissident.

The rhetoric was raw; San Mateo Democrat Chairman Tom Lantos called Yahoo moral pygmies, and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., compared Yahoo’s cooperation with the Chinese government to companies that cooperated with Nazi Germany during World War II.

When it comes to China there are very few who will come to the defense of those who deal with the Chinese Government.

Yahoo’s actions might have been in part wrong morally, but legally they have done nothing wrong, and in a global economy this is even more true.

Mr. Riley misses the one point he might have scored here: That a US congressperson using the phrase “moral pygmy” is the height (and depth) of irony. Congress will take no actions to inhibit the flow of goods and money to China. That is what makes them collectively corrupt, even if individually some may be honest.

Unfortunately Mr. Riley’s statement that although Yahoo! was “in part morally wrong” the company was legally obligated to comply turns an interesting contrarian argument into logical nonsense.

How do we define degrees of moral wrongness?

This isn’t exactly a case of the poor man stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family. This is a multinational company placing its profit margin ahead of a person’s life. You can argue that Yahoo has a fiduciary duty to its stockholders not to harm its relationship with the Chinese government. True. This is why companies are run by people. People are supposed to have a sense of proportion and discretion.

Let’s make no doubt that Yahoo’s actions were legally correct — well except for the law that the company appears to have broken here in the US.

That left-wing publication, the Wall Street Journal, reports on what must have been a fascinating meeting between Yahoo’s CEO and general counsel and the wives of two dissidents jailed because of the company’s disclosures.

After Tuesday’s hearing, Messrs. Yang and Callahan met privately with Ms. Gao and Ms. Yu in a room in the offices of the House Committee. According to Ms. Gao, the two apologized profusely for the company’s role in the jailing of Messrs. Shi and Wang, and pledged to put pressure on the Chinese government to release them.

They also discussed a court case in which the women are suing the company, accusing it of breaking several laws, including one which prohibits U.S. companies from assisting in the commission of torture and other human rights abuses in other countries.

So Yahoo was in an impossible situation. No matter what it did it would be breaking someone’s law. Mr. Riley, which law would you have chosen to follow?

I would like to suggest some reading for Mr. Riley. No, not Amnesty International’s report, that would be too easy. How about the State Department’s?

The State Department’s 2006 China human rights and religious freedom reports noted China’s well-documented and continuing abuses of human rights in violation of internationally recognized norms, stemming both from the authorities’ intolerance of dissent and the inadequacy of legal safeguards for basic freedoms. Reported abuses have included arbitrary and lengthy incommunicado detention, forced confessions, torture, and mistreatment of prisoners as well as severe restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, association, religion, privacy, worker rights, and coercive birth limitation.

Then perhaps Mr. Riley could read up on one of my favorite law-breakers: Chiune Sugihara, Japan’s consul to Lithuania during World War II. Mr. Sugihara became a criminal when he did not follow orders from his government and issued transit visas to escaping Jews. Mr. Sugihara was totally wrong legally. Yep.

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Headline of the Day: “Maker of Lipitor Digs In to Fight Generic Rival”

Is a generic rival harder to fight than a specific rival?

Bonus Headline of the Day:

warthogBig Pig-Like Beast Discovered

How dare they say I’m not well-known!

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Headline of the day: “Man Gets Probation in Pickle Assault”

“The fact that it’s silly doesn’t mean that it’s not serious.”– Berrien, MI, Trial Court Judge Scott Schofield sentencing Bobby Bolen to time served and 1 year of probation for assaulting two people.

The assault happened after Bolen helped himself to some pickles in an Jody Lee’s refrigerator. According to police, Lee then ” told Bolen he couldn’t afford to feed everyone and not to eat his pickles.”

Later, Bolen barged back into the house and got into an argument with Lee. Lee told police Bolen slammed him down on the couch and threw two large pickles at him and said, “Here’s your damn pickles.”

Another person at the scene was also assaulted. Defense attorney Robert Lutz said alcohol appeared to be at the root of Bolen’s problems.

Personally, I blame the pickles.

Someone get the brand of that pickle. “Pickles worth fighting over.” Now that’s a slogan.

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Headline of the day: SpongeBob Squarepants Digital Camera Is Neither Square-Shaped Nor Made Of Sponges

What more do you need to know?

spongebob

UPDATE: This camera neither says Hello nor is it a Kitty, however it does take pictures with 5 megapixels worth of data:

HKCamera

Headline of the Day: Rushmore from Cheese

Mohammad would have gone to this mountain but only if he wanted fondue.

cheeseFrom the release: Get ready for Mount Rushmore to roll into your town this summer! Instead of granite from the Black Hills of South Dakota, the profiles of presidents Washington, Jefferson, T. Roosevelt, and Lincoln will be carved out of real cheese as part of the Cheez-It(R) Big Cheese Tour. The 700 pound portable cheddar cheese version of our nation’s first grand fromages, created by veteran cheese carver, Troy Landwehr, will help raise awareness of products made with 100 percent real cheese.

Given Mr. Landwehr’s physique, I’m surprised it wasn’t co-sponsored by the American Association of Heart Surgeons.