Archive for March, 2009|Monthly archive page

Why the Snuggie Makes Me Smile

In terms of rank, infomercials are definitely at the bottom of the TV advertising totem pole. But the Snuggie, the groundbreaking “Blanket with Sleeves”, distinguishes itself as one infomercial product that has created as much buzz as a Budweiser campaign.

The Snuggie commercials first appeared last November amid the presidential election and sinking economy. Today, the Snuggie cult phenomenon has swept the nation and our homes. As of today, four million Snuggies have been sold. According to Good Morning America, the Snuggie has gained the most exposure in informercial history. Almost every daytime talk show host has worn the product on their show, including Ellen DeGeneres. My supervisor loves the commercial and we all watched it during a break at work. My BFF told me about an upcoming Snuggie pub crawl in Boston. I even follow The Snuggie on Twitter. The following are some of my favorite tweets by TheSnuggie:

  • “Snuggie > Slanket”
  • “I like to cuddle”
  • “Jesus [rocked] a Snuggie”

The Snuggie is infectious, good-humored, and irresistible. Yes, the Snuggie looks a little too much like a Ku Klux Klan robe and it is overpriced for its apparently thin fabric (retail price for one Snuggie = $15). Above all, the Snuggie has successfully proved that it’s definitely not just an ordinary blanket. Even in this dismal economy, there is a market for cuddling and cupcaking (even if it’s with yourself).


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Facebook’s New Home Page: More is More?

facebook-vs-twitter

I am a strong believer that less is more. Call me a Martha Stewart fan. Some of my favorite meals have a few, fresh ingredients like pasta mixed with pesto or a good steak seasoned only with pepper and salt. I love the simplicity of a clean, simply decorated room. Maybe that’s why I love J.Crew’s aesthetic or Apple computers. And maybe that’s why web 2.0 (and the web in general) overwhelms me sometimes. Ultimately, social media celebrates the fact that less is not more- more is more.

Tomorrow, March 11, Facebook is set to launch a new home page that will provide users with even more information about their friends through a stream of constant, updated feeds. The change adopts Twitter’s news feeds by speeding up the delivery of information to near real time. Furthermore, Facebook will also allow marketers to make their profiles more user friendly by making their pages seem like a genuine, real person.

Of course, these new developments will enable users to stay closer connected, which means being better informed and even more addicted to new information. What interests me is the convergence of two separate social media tools: Facebook and Twitter. The modification is not a radical innovation. Users will be able to get information just as fast as on its social media competitor, Twitter.

People are pretty vocal about any drastic change made by Facebook, and I expect to be inundated with angry messages on my new home page. I wonder whether or not I will become more engaged just the way Facebook wants me to, or whether I choose to readjust my settings to screen out the status updates of my “friends.” I guess the good news is that I can always condense more information down to less.

Fourbucks Gets Roasted

mcdonalds_billboard

Starbucks, otherwise known as Fourbucks, just got roasted. The outdoor advertisement pictured above is the product of a local McDonald’s advertising campaign in Seattle. The billboard, which was planted in view of Starbucks headquarters in Seattle this past December, is still one of my favorite ads. Starbucks, the world’s largest coffeehouse company, is now lagging behind the world’s largest fast food chain, McDonald’s in a heated popularity contest.

Not too long ago, Starbucks was the provider of trendy specialty coffees. Of course, you paid a slightly outrageous price for a fancy cup of joe, but who cared? That was BR (“Before the Recession”).

Apparently, Starbucks is proving to be a luxury brand now more than ever. Decline in sales, widespread layoffs, and closings are jeopardizing the company’s vitality. Starbucks’ own brand is hurting its own company as most consumers look for more value. In a Wall Street Journal article released last month, Michelle Gass, Executive VP of Marketing and Category at Starbucks, says, “There have been others that have been propagating the myth of the $4 latte, and that is not true”. She claims that the average price of a Starbucks latte is $3.25. But different state tax rates disprove her claim. For example, a 16 oz. latte sells for $3.52 including tax in Dallas while the same drink costs $4.06 including tax at a Starbucks in NYC. Meanwhile, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts offer more affordable prices. McDonald’s actually offers the cheapest specialty coffee drinks (small latte is $1.99 and a medium latte is $2.29).

I applaud McDonald’s campaign strategists for their wit and derision. But most importantly, I am left wondering how and if the recession will truly change consumer spending habits. Will McCafe be the new cool Starbucks? What about Payless versus Nike? Will Hood orange juice beat Simply Orange?

If you are wondering where I will go to get my coffee, the answer is nowhere. I am a tea drinker, and I always brew my own pot at home. Now that’s a better value for my buck.

The House of Blues Boston: My New Heart & Soul

house-of-blues

My temporary hiatus has been caused by beginning my new job at the House of Blues Boston. The past few weeks have been absolutely overwhelming with the Grand Opening landing on February 21. Between learning the 5 Vedic principles (Truth, Peace, Love, Righteousness, and Non-Violence), brushing past the J.Giels Band, remaining calm in the presence of Dan Ackroyd, and the mandatory food tastings, I have fallen in love with the HOB. The people at work are incredibly warm and friendly. People already know each other’s names and make a point to stop and chat. It amazes me that the venue truly operates like a house – a home. It’s very unlike Boston, where drivers show little love for one another and the nasty weather is making me a bit grumpier everyday. I had culture shock just being at the HOB.

That’s why I was surprised that the first House of Blues venue opened in Cambridge back in 1992. Where did the good old southern hospitality come from? The answer definitely lies with the people. Of course, the House wants to bring live music to the public. Nowadays, there is no lack for good food, nice people, and great entertainment. But the HOB would be nothing without the dedicated chefs, servers, bartenders, security officials, production crew, retail sales associates (FYI, that’s a personal plug), and on and on. I’m glad the House of Blues is back in Boston. It’s my new home away from home.