“I don’t want to be here. I was made to be here. This is a terrible inconvenience to me… Obviously I just want to get this over with and get on with my life.” – British supermodel Naomi Campbell about how much trouble it is for her to appear as a prosecution witness in the trial of African warlord Charles Taylor. Ms. Campbell testified that she was anonymously given a small bag of diamonds which she then gave to someone else seemingly for no reason whatsoever. Taylor, former leader of Liberia, is charged with trading weapons for blood diamonds with rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone. More than 100,000 people died in Sierra Leone’s civil war.
"I would not describe any section of our site as ‘sex related,’ " [Craigslist CEO Jim] Buckmaster wrote in response to a series of e-mailed questions from the Globe. He acknowledged that Craigslist offers an "erotic services" section that should not include more than "legitimate escort services, sensual massage, exotic dancers, etc.," but said that offers to exchange sexual favors for money are "strictly prohibited" and removed from the site.
What’s that Capt. Renault? You are shocked, shocked to find out there is gambling in the casino? I don’t blame you at all. And here are your winnings.
This is exactly the wrong PR approach. Don’t proclaim that there is such a thing as “legitimate escort service.” What you say is, “Have you looked in the Yellow Pages under ‘escort’ or ‘massage’? How is what we are doing different from that?” Look in any alt-weekly and you’ll see more of the same but with explicit pictures.
Buckmaster is caught up in a frenzy of outrage created by media companies that have had their revenues devastated by Craigslist. They would have done this to anyone but I suspect they are enjoying this a bit more than usual. Does anyone actually think that people who advertise their services in other media are any more or less at risk than those who do so via Craigslist? The hypocrisy is all this self-righteousness is astounding. The advertising alone makes it clear society views prostitution about as seriously as it does the speed limit.
The story that has yet to be examined on this topic is whether Craigslist is actually cutting down on pimping by making it easier for women and men of negotiable morals to run their own businesses. Of course that would also beg the issue of whether the prostitutes and the people who pay them wouldn’t all be safer if it were a legal and regulated activity. The other option is to vigorously and effectively enforce the laws against – and we have proved we have no interest in doing that.
Yeah, there’s a lot more than 10 here. What can I say? It was a very good year for very bad things.
GRAND PRIZE FOR SUSTAINED ORGANIZATIONAL EFFORT
The John McCain Presidential Campaign
- “Our economy, I think, is still — the fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
- Has no idea how many houses he (or his wife) owns.
- Picks Sara Palin, the Broad to Nowhere who couldn’t find Russia or Africa on a map.
- Campaign adviser and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina says Palin couldn’t run a major corporation.
- Campaign adviser and former senator Phil Gramm says Americans are whiners about economic problems.
- “Shutting down” his campaign to fix the bailout.
- “Lipstick on a pig”
- Egregious attack on Dungeons & Dragons that clearly cost him the election. (OK, maybe not so much the last one).
- June: with gas heading to $4-a-gallon, company announces it is trying to sell the Hummer brand. As of today, sale is still pending.
- August: with gas at $4-a-gallon, company announces it will take the bold move of investing “$500 million to build a new fuel-efficient, small car the automaker says will show it can make money in head-to-head competition with its Japanese rivals as it fights to return to profitability.”
- October: Asks Treasury Dept. for $10 billion to pay for proposed merger with Chrysler
- Early November: car company that already isn’t selling cars argues it can’t file for bankruptcy because “people won’t buy cars from a bankrupt car company.”
- Late November: leads troika of Detroit CEOs to DC to ask for taxpayer money to balance the books. Each flies in on wings of attitude and three separate corporate jets.
- December: runs weasel-word mea culpa in Automotive News: “While we’re still the U.S. sales leader, we acknowledge we have disappointed you. At times we violated your trust by letting our quality fall below industry standards and our designs become lackluster. We have proliferated our brands and dealer network to the point where we lost adequate focus on our core U.S. market. We also biased our product mix toward pick-up trucks and SUVs. And, we made commitments to compensation plans that have proven to be unsustainable in today’s globally competitive industry.“
- Ford features “Space Oddity” — a song about astronaut suicide — in new car campaign.
- Framingham State College uses the word blah 137 times in a 312-word fundraising letter.
- Disney (multiple entries): Bans kids from DisneyWorld restaurant; Changes “It’s A Small World” to “A Salute to All Nations, But Mostly America”; and Sells “High School Musical” panties for tween girls with the phrase “Dive In” on them.
- Woolworths (UK) launches Lolita brand of beds for young girl
- JetBlue lives up to Southwest’s parody ad by charging for pillows.
- Russia uses smiling kids in tourism ad for war zone
- Residents of Lesbos sue those other lesbians over brand name
- Motrin gets headache from viral moms video
- Butcher’s ads feature “Meat Products, Fresh Service” on naked woman
- Hershey asks if you’ve found Mr. Goodbar
Special Jury Awards
Co-Branding That Shouldn’t Have Been
- Windows Vista toilet paper
- The Muppets appear on DVD for Law & Order: SVU
- Barbie® Rice Krispies® Treats
- P&G starts hip-hop record label (Bounce® and Beyonce? Jay Z and Oral B®? 50 Cent and Febreze®? Snoop Dogg and Eukanuba®? Ghostface Killah and Ghost®? Lil Wayne & Pampers®?)
The Alpha & Omega of Over-reaching
- God’s chosen racing team loses at the Indy 500
- “Pope’s Cologne Provides Solace to Grieving Widow”
- “Can Batman Teach Spiritual Truth?”
- Email service lets you taunt friends after The Rapture
- McDonalds compares Ray Kroc to Martin Luther King Jr.
- LifeLock ID protection service fails to protect CEO’s identity
- Anti-shark device found to attract sharks
The Penguins Of Irony “Oh NO You Din’t” Awards
- Publisher says bankruptcy puts magazine chain in “a position poised for wonderful growth
- WaMu continues to send credit card offers after going out of business
Previous years’ lists
Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (pronounced: U-r-kid-ing-me) and his chief of staff have been arrested for trying to shake down various people and institutions. While the lead in the news is how it is related to naming a successor to our president-elect, what really got me is this:
According to a federal criminal complaint, Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper’s editorial board who had been critical of him fired.
OK, so the risk for an elected official doing this sort of thing is what will happen if the press finds out about it. Don’t really have to worry about that “if” in this case, do you Rod?
As someone who grew up in Chicago and then Rhode Island (Motto: We’re not as corrupt as Louisiana but we’re trying), I am curious to know if there is a corruption index for government in the US?
UPDATE: The interwebs is democratizing satire: For bid on eBay: 1 Ill. Senate seat, slightly worn
ANOTHER UPDATE: TOTALLY BIASED LIST OF MOST CORRUPT STATES: Louisiana is the most corrupt state in the nation. That’s according to an analysis of government data released today by Corporate Crime Reporter. Louisiana (1), Mississippi (2), Kentucky (3), Alabama (4) and Ohio (5) are the top five most corrupt states in the country, according to the analysis. Rounding out the top ten are Illinois (6), Pennsylvania (7), Florida (8), New Jersey (9), and New York (10). Corporate Crime Reporter looked at the 35 most populous states in the nation. (The fifteen states with population of under two million were not included in the analysis.)
No list that doesn’t have Rhode Island in the top 5 is worth its palm grease.
Starting to put together the annual list of marketing mistakes and having a tough time narrowing it down. GM alone could fill a reasonable Top 10. So could the GOP (usually it’s much more bipartisan). May have to include a couple of companies that are usually the tops in marketing: P&G and Disney. Decisions, decisions. You have any suggestions or nominations? Please pass ’em along.
PS: My hat’s off to the Detroit Three again. Usually if you get turned down for a loan you don’t come back asking for more.
The CEOs of GM and Ford have announced they will drive from Detroit to DC for the next round of begging from Congress. Clearly this was supposed to make us forget that the Detroit Three had flown in separate private jets the last time they tried to explain why their companies were running out of money.
Instead all it has done is reminded us of this. Apparently you can’t answer a cheap shot with a cheap stunt. I particularly like the fact that the two CEOs are coming in separate cars. No car pooling for these two.
Better move would have been to simply taken a commercial flight. Or walked. I hope the press will tail both men all the way during their drive. Otherwise we might get a Rosie Ruiz situation. (Ms. Ruiz was named winner of the 1980 Boston Marathon, until it was discovered she had only run .2 of the 26.2 mile course.)
Will Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli also indulge in a little stunt driving? Unknown. What is known is that he “will not travel by corporate jet. A spokeswoman says his travel plans will remain secret for security reasons.” I have no doubt this is utter and total bullshit, but it certainly plays better than what the other two are doing.
With the horses so long out of the barn that they are now baseballs and glue, officials have decided to nail the barn door shut and call it a recession. “The U.S. economy entered a recession in December 2007, a committee of economists at the private National Bureau of Economic Research said Monday.” The official declaration comes a mere EIGHT MONTHS after even most economists were saying this was the case. Of course it is also a mere EIGHT MONTHS after the Anderson Forecast from UCLA predicted we would avoid a recession.
“We don’t see that happening,” said Edward Leamer, director and co-author of the forecast released Tuesday [March 10]. “This is a tough call, but I will be very surprised if this thing actually precipitates into recession.”
Waiter, I’d like some of what he’s smoking…
What has me worried is all the official assurances that it will never turn into a depression.