The Eyes Have It: TOTN's Top 10 Stories Of 2011

It’s always illuminating to read which stories have most touched readers’ fancies. Not surprisingly, news about big brands that have a place on our personal shelves, screens or desktop score highly: Netflix, Facebook, Apple, Google, Toyota. Promising news, such as a possible recharge of JC Penney’s battery with new CEO Ron Johnson, are definitely popular, but so also are gaffes such as the No. 1 most-clicked-upon story among all of Marketing Daily’s 1,500 or so headlines last year –- indeed, Netflix’s decision to summarily raise prices 60% is one of the most boneheaded misreadings of the customer we’re likely to ever see.

Herewith, then, are the Top 10 “Top of the News” stories for 2011 as determined by your eyeballs.

1. Customers Irate Over Netflix's Price Increase

July 13, 2011

Netflix yesterday implemented that old marketing adage: "If it ain't broke, gouge the customer." At least that's the way it initially seemed when I was served with an email informing me that to continue the same service I'm getting now come Sept. 1 -- unlimited DVDs and unlimited streaming for $9.95 -- I'll have to pay roughly 60% more, or $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). You can also get either service independent of the other for $7.99. The price changes are already in effect for new customers. Read more.



2. Whispers About Privacy Become Embarrassingly Public 

May 13, 2011

The home-page tease on the San Jose Mercury News Web site this morning calls it a "potboiler that has put much of Silicon Valley on the edge of its seat," and Patrick May's lede entices us further with the promise of "an unfolding tale ... of skullduggery." Indeed, the story has had classic whodunit qualities since some bloggers and newspaper journalists let it be known that they smelled a rat when the Burson-Marsteller public relations firm refused to divulge who was paying it to pitch a story about Google's purported violations of Facebook users' privacy. Suffice it to say that they suspected it was not a disinterested party. . Read more.

3. Toyota Has A Lot Riding On Its New Camry

Aug. 24, 2011

In a massive, multi-city event that was kind of like announcing you've tweaked the taste of vanilla, Toyota yesterday unveiled the first major update since 2007 to its Camry, which has been the best-selling car in the U.S. for 13 of the last 14 years. It is the seventh generation of the vehicle, which launched as a competitor to the Honda Accord in 1983. Read more.

4. Penney Rings Up A Big Sale: Apple's Johnson Buys In

Jun 15, 2011

The verbs in the heds and ledes of the various stories about JC Penney's announcement that Apple's retail guru, Ron Johnson, would become its CEO this fall are a colorful lot indeed: "wooed"(Wall Street Journal); "poached" (New York Times) "nabbing" (Bloomberg). "Every industry has its rock stars, and J.C. Penney Co. just nabbed a big one," gushes Maria Halkias in the Dallas Morning News. And Financial Times goes with the news that shares of the midmarket retailer "surged" more than 17% after the anointment, reaching their highest level since 2000. Read more.

5. The Power Of Brand-Name Buffett 

Aug. 26, 2011

Talk about a trusted name adding value to a generic product: Just by transferring a measly $5 billion from wherever he keeps his Money Market with Free Checking account to purchase a piece of Bank of America yesterday, Warren E. Buffett issued a "seal of approval" that sent the latter's stock price soaring by 10% in subsequent trading. Read more.

6. More Legal Action Against AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

Sept. 7, 2011

Sprint has filed suit to block AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, adding yet another barrier to the deal getting done. The suit was brought in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., where the Justice Dept. last week also sued AT&T and T-Mobile, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, saying that their union would "substantially lessen competition," as Bloomberg reportedRead more.

7. Senators Grill Phone Company CEOs About Merger

May 12, 2011

Did you like Ma Bell? Then you'll love the company being spawned by her offspring and T-Mobile, Minnesota Sen. Al Franken seems to feel. But he and some other Democratic senators grilling the CEOs of the two companies, whose merger would combine the No. 2 wireless provider (AT&T) with the No. 4 (T-Mobile) to create the No. 1 ahead of Verizon and Sprint, don't remember the phone company monopoly all that fondly. Neither does Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse, commercial star of the little and littler screen and fan of both unlimited calling plans and competitiveness. Read more.

8. Space Is Tight(s) At Comic-Con

July 21, 2011

Fret not if that cape and tights, or other semi-attire, don't fit quite as winsomely as they once did. We're headed out to San Diego and Comic-Con this morning on a news-aggregation mission to gather all you need to know about the annual comic book convention that not only draws about 125,000 fans -- many emulating their favorite characters -- but also the likes of Mattel, Hasbro and Disney Stores, in what has become, as the New York Timesheadline puts it, "a testing ground for toymakers." Read more.

9. Whole Foods Opens Its First Wellness Club

Aug. 15, 2011

"If you know what's good for you ... " is a phrase that's fraught with threat. It implies that even if we do know what's good for us, our actions suggest otherwise and may carry dire consequences. But even if we do know, deep down, what's good for us, we often don't know how to achieve it.

I'm not talking metaphysics here. I'm talking kale, and the new prototype Wellness Club that Whole Foods is opening in Dedham, Mass. this morning with the intention of not only showing and telling us what's good for us but also how to prepare it.  Read more.

10. Something To Get In A Lather About

Aug. 2, 2011

It seems perverse to declare a day in which the richest country in the world will reach agreement to avoid defaulting on its obligations as a "slow news day," but there you have it. What's the marketing angle, other than the fact that we'll be averting "devastation" of the consumer economy?

Pert Plus, for which I have been in mourning for several years, is bouncing back with a shiny new campaign targeted primarily to men 25 to 34, Andrew Adam Newman informs us in the New York Times this morning. Read more.


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