I kind of feel the same fondness for the Smurfs as I do for the recession ... of 1981. I didn't like either entity 30 years ago and I have not been looking forward to their imminent return. Even if the recession -- or even just "economic turmoil," as one story would have it -- is still being spliced together in the Congressional cutting room, the likes of Brainy, Papa, Grouchy, Gutsy and Smurfette are upon us this very day in the marketing vehicle known simply as "The Smurfs."
Marketers' blog posts don't usually draw more than a handful of comments, unless it's about some wildly unpopular notion that incites the dormant irateness in consumers' souls. As of 5ish this morning, for example, Jessie Becker has the distinction of having received a whopping 12,591 responses to his explanation of why it's a good idea for Netflix to raise its subscription prices by 60%. Let's just say that customers' reviews of this horror move hover in the one-half-star range.
Doesn't it seem like Dunkin' Donuts has been on a road trip to "expand beyond its Northeast roots" for even longer than it takes to traverse, metaphorically speaking, Connecticut's I-95 on a sweltering summer Friday evening? Yes, but this time it really means business -- and last night it priced about 20% of its outstanding shares at $19 for an IPO that's intended to fuel its trek westward even as it pays off a heavy debt load.
McDonald's will be steaming a webcast at 10 a.m. Eastern today to unveil "a multi-year nutrition awareness effort that will add more nutritionally balanced menu choices and help kids and adults nationwide make informed food decisions."
The looming budget disaster is being nudged in the headlines by another burgeoning national crisis: Our ever-increasing waistlines. The two issues share some similarities: Everybody agrees there is a serious problem but they radically disagree over how to address it. Meanwhile, things just get worse.
Let me get this straight: The gobbling-up of Medco Health Solutions ($66 billion in revenue) by the somewhat smaller Express Scripts ($45 billion) is part of a broader trend in the health care industry to control costs and will result in lower prices for consumers because the larger entities will be inclined to use their increased power to negotiate better prices with Big Pharma and other price gougers.
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 Times headline puts it, "a testing ground for toymakers."
A year ago last March, when we gave our son some money to play around with in the stock market when he turned 21, I suggested that his decision to buy Apple stock might be a mistake. "The market has already anticipated the iPad," I said as sagely as possible through a mouthful of birthday cake. Which explains, in a nutshell, why I'm typing these words at 5:34 a.m. on a sweltering July morning instead of sleeping soundly at a summer estate on a private island off Maine.
My 26-year-old daughter reacted nostalgically to the news yesterday that Borders was closing its doors, laying off its 10,700 remaining employees and liquidating its stock. "I bought my first Pearl Jam CD at a Borders," she recalled.
Richard Cordray, 52, who aggressively investigated mortgage foreclosure practices before losing reelection as attorney general of Ohio and now works under Elizabeth Warren as director of enforcement at the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has been nominated by President Barack Obama to lead the agency. The CFPB formally opens its doors this week.