Great corporate weasel words: When in doubt blame ED or Elvis

  1. Bob Dole's favorite malady, erectile dysfunction, is to blame for GM getting all limp. At least that's how I interprest the fact that GM decided to announce that it has to spend $17M a year on Viagra, Cialis and other erectile dysfunction drugs. While the company does cop to the fact that's a small fraction of GM's overall health care costs ($5B last year) "company executives often use the example to illustrate what they said are out-of-control health care costs," according to the AP. Best line in the story: "Ford Motor Co. declined to say how much it spends on erectile dysfunction drugs, and a spokesman for DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group could not provide figures." You can blame the ED or you can blame the fact that you've made a lot of crappy cars. You decide.
  2. elvisThe King is blamed, long live the King. Execs as the UK bakery Kingsmill would like us to believe that an ad campaign — featuring Elvis Presley, no less — is why they lost a third of their market share. The campaign was a tongue-in-cheek one built around the fact that on his one brief stop in the UK, Elvis ate some the company's bread and therefore the bread is made "By Appointment To The King." Kinda clever actually. Best line of the story: "Analysts said that Kingsmill had lost about a third of its market share to Hovis and Warburtons because of the advert and production issues." AND: "The problems come after the loss of [parent company] Allied’s deal to supply Asda with own-label bread after a dispute with the supermarket group." While "critics" blasted the ads as some sort of sacrilegious thing, I think the only way a campaign could kill a third of your market share is if it made joking reference to Hitler. After all, Starbucks was recently endorsed by Chinese dictator, er, president Hu Jintao and it doesn't seem to have hurt them.

Starbucks – favored by repressive dictators everywhere

Chinese President Hu Jintao this week positioned himself as a future spokesmodel for the Seattle-based coffee chain.

"Starbucks coffee shops have mushroomed in China's cities. If I were not serving in this office, I would certainly prefer to go into one of the coffee shops run by Starbucks," he told a group of “dignitaries,” including Bill Gates and Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz. “And if they screwed up my double venti decaf latte I would have them killed.”

Not who I want endorsing my product but I'm just weird that way.

In today’s news…

You know your approval ratings are low when: Jessica Simpson snubs Bush.

Best line from the story goes to a very petulant sounding NRCC spokesman Carl Forti: “It’s never been a problem for Bono,” he said, referring to the U2 rock star who has met regularly with political leaders of all stripes to promote various causes, including Third World debt relief. “I find it hard to believe she would pass up an opportunity to lobby the president on behalf of Operation Smile.”

Good news! Hot pepper kills prostate cancer cells in study: Is there’s anything it can’t do?

File under: All is chaos under heaven, and the situation in excellent. A special As I Say, Not As I Do award to China’s President Hu Jintao for publishing the following list of Do’s and Don’ts for his countrymen.

Love, do not harm the motherland.
Serve, don’t disserve the people.
Uphold science; don’t be ignorant and unenlightened.
Work hard; don’t be lazy and hate work.
Be united and help each other; don’t gain benefits at the expense of others.
Be honest and trustworthy, not profit-mongering at the expense of your values.
Be disciplined and law-abiding instead of chaotic and lawless.
Know plain living and hard struggle, do not wallow in luxuries and pleasures.

The list of aphorisms went on sale yesterday in the form of a poster with plain, black Chinese characters above a photo of the Great Wall, cost: $1. Apparently the president hopes to “douse the excesses of China’s 27-year-long economic boom with a bucket of cold virtue.” No word yet on whether Jessica Simpson would meet with this president.

Oh Brave New Media, That Has Such Strange Creatures In It: Let it not be said that the Chinese are stuck in the old ways when it comes to exhorting the masses to virtue. A new online game which stars legendary Communist hero Lei Feng shows people the way to go is “doing good deeds, volunteering on building sites and obtaining Chairman Mao’s autograph.”

Quoth Reuters: “For beginners, sewing and mending socks is the only way to increase experience and upgrade,” said Jiao Jian, a young pupil and online game fan from the southern city of Guangzhou. “As long as my experience, reputation, skill and loyalty satisfy the game’s criteria, I will win and meet Chairman Mao.”

One has to assume that the point in meeting and getting the autograph of the dictator responsible for killing tens of millions is to then be able to sell it on eBay for Big Bucks which can then be spent, virtuously, on copies of President Hu’s poster.