Single brand of booze made by monks blamed for all Scottish ills

Posted on Thu Feb 4 2010


It's rare to see a news story rip a brand to bits quite like this New York Times piece on Buckfast Tonic Wine. Despite being made by Benedictine monks in England, Buckfast is apparently the trigger for all manner of sinful behavior in Scotland—the root cause, it seems, of almost all of that country's problems. Consider the data: In one survey, 43 percent of Scottish prisoners who'd committed a crime while drunk said they'd drunk Buckfast. In a study of litter at a housing project, 35 percent of the items turned out to be Buckfast bottles. And in a single Scottish police district, Buckfast was mentioned in 5,638 crime reports from 2006 to 2009, with the bottle used as a weapon in 114 of them. Critics say the drink, which offers a potent mixture of alcohol and caffeine that makes you both tipsy and bouncy, is a recipe for violence. "It'll blow your head off," says one man, not meaning that as a compliment. Plus, the stuff doesn't even taste good, evidently. "Have you ever tried Benalyn cough syrup?" says one person. Adds another, who drinks a lot of the stuff: "You get used to it." The best thing the reporter can say about the brand is that it "comes in an attractive bottle illustrated with a friendly-looking bunch of grapes." (Imagine if they had an animal on there.) The story's otherwise unfriendly stance would seem to be a problem for Buckfast, until you realize that a certain notoriety won't hurt sales one bit. In fact, after reading the piece, you find yourself thinking: Do they sell this stuff on this side of the pond?

—Posted by Tim Nudd

KFC hits the water with a 'float-thru' restaurant on Lake Michigan

Posted on Mon Aug 31 2009


Over the weekend, KFC's first "float-thru" restaurant enjoyed its maiden voyage on Lake Michigan, "offering captains and deckhands alike a taste of southern hospitality" in the form of free lunches. The ship was bobbing around off Oak Street Beach in Chicago, where KFC happened to be sponsoring a pro-volleyball contest. They don't say how the food got from the KFC ship to the salivating boaters and jet-skiers. Hopefully some kind of catapult delivery system was used, as you wouldn't want to get too close to a floating KFC kitchen. In the unlikely event that the ship was struck and subsequently sank, hopefully they had lots of Dawn dishwashing soap on hand to de-grease the marine life.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Downsides of the Snuggie: pilling, lint and coldness of the butt

Posted on Thu May 21 2009

We've written quite a bit about the Snuggie, most of it insulting. Now, the crack team at the Consumerist is able to scientifically confirm the Snuggie's lameness after visiting the Consumer Reports labs and seeing how the blanket with sleeves holds up against CR's rigorous testing. It doesn't do well at all.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Looks like the Roomba really does clean every inch of your room

Posted on Tue May 12 2009


The central question that those of us who don't own a Roomba robotic vacuum cleaner have often wondered: Does it really clean the whole room? Now, thanks to a personal project by, we have our answer: Hell yes, it does. Here's the explanation from the site: "I set up a photo camera in my room, turned out all the lights and took a long-exposure shot of my Roomba doing it's thing for about 30 minutes. The result is a picture that shows the path of the Roomba through it's cleaning cycle, it looks like a flight map or something. It really hits every spot!" It's certainly a better advertisement for the product than this old commercial.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Watch TV spots fight to the death with AdweekMedia's Ad Battle

Posted on Thu Apr 23 2009


AdweekMedia is launching a grisly new weekly feature called Ad Battle, wherein two TV commercials participate in a duel. It's a lot like Deadwood, minus the guns, the dust, the cowboy hats, the cursing and the saloon. The ads will simply ask for your vote. This week: Nationwide Insurance vs. Dr Pepper.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

JumpSnap: all the benefits of a jump rope but no annoying rope!

Posted on Tue Apr 14 2009

It's been a while since we posted a mind-numbingly bad infomercial, à la the Snuggie, the ShamWow or the Slap Chop. So, here's one for the JumpSnap: the ropeless jump rope! It's an exercise system based on the claim that jumping rope is one of the best ways to burn calories. But why buy a regular jump rope from Wal-Mart for $8 when you can buy the JumpSnap package for $49.95?! There's more (oh, there's so much more) on the JumpSnap Web site. Thanks to GrassRoutes in Michigan for sending this one in.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Segway realizing most people are lazy and just want to sit down

Posted on Tue Apr 7 2009

Segwaypuma copy

The Segway scooter was a cool idea, but it's big downside was that people had to actually stand up on it—something fewer Americans are willing and/or able to do nowadays. This prototype of a new Segway vehicle, then, is much more promising. It's the P.U.M.A. (Personal Urban Mobility & Accessibility) prototype, and it's designed to provide efficient urban transport for people who don't want their utter laziness compromised. (General Motors is also involved in the P.U.M.A., but that doesn't necessarily mean it's doomed.) If Segway can convince people that these things are actually safe to drive, the company could reclaim its once-shining reputation as an innovator in transportation. At least until Kevin James takes the P.U.M.A. for a spin.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

UPDATE: The only people who'd be understandably miffed about P.U.M.A. at this early stage are the folks at Puma, the athletic footwear company. "It's an acronym, so they're probably protected," says Antonio Bertone, CMO at Puma, who adds that he's gotten "about 7,000" e-mails about the new Segway vehicle. Bertone didn't know how seriously Puma's management will take P.U.M.A., but he did point out an interesting overlap: Michael Taylor, Segway's director of product marketing, used to work at Puma. Taylor could not be reached for comment. —Todd Wasserman 

Parkay fans lick their lips over upcoming talking-tub iPhone app

Posted on Tue Mar 24 2009


Someday there'll be an iPhone app for everything. And we may get there sooner rather than later, now that South Carolina agency Rawle Murdy is working on an app for Parkay spread. "This is a great example of an iconic, but neglected brand," says the e-mail pitch. "We wanted to contemporize and connect with new/young moms through new media. ... We created an iPhone app of the talking Parkay butter tub that talks back to you. Voice recognition commands the tub to say things like 'Parkaaaay' when you say 'butter'; 'moo' when you say 'Parkay'; you can set a word for it to giggle in response to; etc." The app should be available within a few weeks.
  The talking tub was introduced in 1973. It went silent in 2002 but returned last year in a 15-second spot called "Barn," in which it was seen mooing in a barn stall (to indicate that the ConAgra product is now made with real nonfat milk). The campaign also featured outtakes from the "Barn" spot, with the tub busting the farmer's chops during the shoot in a lighthearted manner. Those new/young moms watching the outtakes might be a little taken aback, though, when the tub insinuates that the farmer probably enjoys having sex with his cows.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Economy got you down? Try stuffing yourself full of candy

Posted on Tue Mar 24 2009


Conventional wisdom has lately maintained (echoing a theory first put forth by Leonard Lauder) that lipstick is recession-proof: that women will cut back on a lot of other stuff in a crappy economy but will keep buying lipstick for the little morale boost that's achieved by looking good. This week, The New York Times puts forth a parallel theory: that candy might be recession-proof, too. "The recession seems to have a sweet tooth," says the story, as "Americans, particularly adults, have been consuming growing volumes of candy, from Mary Janes and Tootsie Rolls to Gummy Bears and cheap chocolates." Among the possible reasons why: the sugar high; the nostalgic thoughts of better times; and the low price tag. Candy fared well during the Great Depression, it turns out, and many popular candy brands were actually born then: Snickers in 1930, Tootsie Pops in 1931, and Three Musketeers in 1932. Of course, there's a downside: Over the longer term, battling the recession with candy won't keep you looking quite as good as doing so with cosmetics. And if you try to combine the two ... well, then you're just putting lipstick on a pig.

—Posted by Tim Nudd

Insurer set to piss off 3 million people by renaming Sears Tower

Posted on Thu Mar 12 2009

Sears_tower copy

There's always backlash when an arena, ballpark or some other well-known building gets slapped with a new corporate identity. But Chicagoans are likely to set a new bar for bitchiness now that the city's greatest landmark, the Sears Tower, is being renamed the Willis Tower in honor of a big new tenant.
  Sears commissioned the building in 1970, sold it in the 1990s but kept the naming rights. Those rights expired in 2003 but weren't sold to anyone else. Now, insurance company Willis Group Holdings is swooping in. It's preparing to consolidate five local offices (almost 500 employees) into the 110-story building, and grabbing naming rights, too. "Having our name associated with Chicago's most iconic structure underscores our commitment to this great city, and recognizes Chicago's importance as a major financial hub and international business center," Willis chairman and CEO Joseph J. Plumeri says in a release.
  What Plumeri forgets is that few people outside his business have known or cared about Willis Group Holdings. Now, everyone will hate them. Plumeri may be hoping that whatever storm erupts over the Willis name will die down eventually. To help his cause, he should probably also rethink the idea of painting the building silver.

—Posted by Tim Nudd



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