|Carb-Barb Redux |
1. On the Carb SideNow that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has apologized to the widow of diet guru Robert Atkins, you probably thought you had read the last about that brouhaha. Not quite.
Yes, we were amused by Mayor Bloomberg's version of the Atkins diet -- namely, take a bite of the food served at a Dr. Atkins party, then spit it out into your napkin when no one's watching.
But we were more amused to see this crack example of content-targeted advertising on the CNN.com Web site. (Thank you, Joan Griffin, for pointing this out.) After all, what better endorsement of Dr. Atkins' low-carb diet could there be than the New York City mayor's suspicions, rehashed in the story, that the doctor's dietary practices led to his death? A CNN.com spokesman says it isn't a contextually placed ad, but was just a random occurrence. Ah, the joy of random events.
2. Don't Say We Didn't Time Warner YouSpeaking of copyrighted material published by a unit of the world's largest media conglomerate... We were somewhat alarmed to hear comments made by Time Warner ( TWX) CEO Dick Parsons at a meeting with analysts this Wednesday. Specifically, we're a little jittery about Parsons' discussion of a joint effort between Time Warner and Microsoft ( MSFT) -- the world's largest and most powerful software company, in case you'd forgotten -- that may affect a teeny tiny portion of your life in the future. And what's that teeny tiny thing this Microsoft/Time Warner collaboration may affect?
|You've Been Warnered Before... |
...about file sharing
|Arnold 'Partner' |
Legal greens fees?
3. No, It's the Other Guy Who'll Be Playing Golf NowAnd the winner of this week's award for Best Mistake in a Press Release goes to Bear Stearns ( BSC), which confirmed our theory that somewhere out there, a lawyer is playing golf while billing his client $350 an hour.
In Thursday's announcement of who will succeed Mark E. Lehman as general counsel, Bear Stearns reported the hiring of Michael Solender, who previously was a partner at the esteemed law firm Arnold & Porter. Except that's not exactly what Bear Stearns said. In fact, the firm noted that Solender had been a partner at "Arnold & Palmer" -- confusing the 57-year-old law firm with the 74-year-old golfer. Of course, as much as we loathe playing golf, at least it's not as unpleasant as practicing law. So maybe we should let Solender have his fun.
4. A Comedy of ArrowsWe at the Five Dumbest Things Research Lab know better than to try to run a publicly traded company. Which is part of the reason why we politely request company presidents not to try to write witty market commentary. OK, we'll settle for just one president: Patrick Byrne, head of online closeout retailer Overstock.com ( OSTK).
Let alone, Overstock.com
5. Another Dog of a Press ReleaseSpeaking of questionable writing in company earnings announcements, this week's Get To The Point Already Award goes to Sirius Satellite Radio ( SIRI).
Now, let's say you saw a press release entitled "Sirius Satellite Radio Announces Fourth Quarter and Year-End 2003 Financial and Operating Results" -- the title of a press release that Sirius indeed released this week.
Wouldn't you expect to read something in there about the company's financial results?
Well, so would we. But you have to dig pretty deep into the press release to find it. You have to read past the part about subscriber numbers. You have to read past the part about the retail aftermarket channel. You have to make it past the "four feature-laden transportable Plug-&-Play receivers," the boating and trucking partnerships, the agreement with Penske Automotive Group, the National Football League deal, the backwards-compatible traffic solution, the Dolby Pro Logic II surround sound and the small translator module. In fact, you've got to read past 17 paragraphs until you get to the real story: That the company, which has a market capitalization approaching $3 billion, reported $5 million in revenue last quarter. $5 million! In revenue! The net loss, of course, was much more impressive: $148 million. That's what we at the lab refer to, sports metaphorwise, as an air ball.