Nov 02

Delta – No Longer Ready for Anything

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Beth Starkin

Thumbnail.aspxWe all remember the days when Delta was "ready when you are."  While the airline has its flaws, (they all do,) they were the airline who won me over with the care and concern of their employees- and I would go to bat for them because of that.  Recently, though, I’ve noticed that care has gone from genuine to forced.

For example, take my flight Friday.  I woke up at 3am excited for my 6:20 am Delta flight from San Francisco to Charleston (with connection in Atlanta).  I was off to visit my boyfriend– he’s in the Navy and we don’t see each other very often so when we do, every second is precious. You can imagine my dismay when at 3:30 I received an automated call from Delta.  A calming computerized voice told me my flight had been rescheduled to 8:30.  Not delayed… rescheduled.  But they had “protected me” and rebooked my connection on a later flight.  No option to speak with a representative. No explanation for the delay. But, also, no worries, because I was comforted that they had “protected me.”

Only they hadn’t.

Hopeful fool that I am, I went to the airport in time a 6:20 departure (I was up already anyway).  The gate agent, while nice enough, wasn’t terribly helpful.  See, while they did rebook me on a later connection, there weren’t any specific seats to be booked on that flight, so they could't guarantee I would get on.  Details.  But no worry, she put in a seat request for me – window. But only if there are seats of course.  She also could provide no information on why the flight was rescheduled despite good weather on both coasts. (I later learned, that my plane had a flat tire, and the new  tire had to be trucked up from LA – confounding, but another issue for another day.

While I was miffed about the delay, I did understand that things happen, and delays are part of travel.  What makes me crazy is this false care.  Sugar coating a bad situation doesn’t make it go away, or even make it better.  Companies are much better to just tell it like it is – we’re sorry for the inconvenience, and we’ll do what we can to help you.  Don’t say you’ve “protected me” when you didn’t.  It comes across as disingenuous and deepens my distrust of your company.
For a company that claims to be 'Building a Better Airline, Not Just a Bigger One,' Delta seems to be falling short.  Automated calls with no options to speak to a representative and gate agents who don’t actually know what’s going on speaks volumes about a company that’s grown too fast to continue to provide quality customer service.  Perhaps it would be more appropriate if they reversed their tagline to read 'Building a Bigger Airline, Not a Better One.'

Oct 31

Blue Rondo à la Rep: What Happened to Jazz?

Today’s blog entry is special for (at least) two reasons. First of all, the subject of the day is jazz music. As we’ll explore below, jazz lends itself well to dissection in a RepMan blog. Second, today’s entry was written by two RepMan guest bloggers – young Peppercommers and jazz enthusiasts, Laura Bedrossian and Nick Light. As always, comments are encouraged in order to continue the conversation.
Harlem JazzCan you identify any of the musicians mentioned in this post and pictured above in this famous 1958 photo taken in Harlem?

[Nick]

Greetings, readers. In order to kick off the discussion, I’d like to briefly talk about why Laura and I chose jazz music as the subject of today’s entry. Given that the general overarching theme (we think) of RepMan is reputation, we thought it appropriate to examine a topic that couldn’t have a more confused reputation (which is to say image or brand). In my experience, when I tell new acquaintances that I like jazz, their notions of what jazz is rarely come close to the real modern jazz experience. Now, I’m not saying that everyone should have the same experience as my own, nor that my experience is the real one.

The most common associations with Jazz music that I encounter are: 1) Those who see jazz as elevator music. jazz is not elevator music, and the music you hear in elevators or shopping at JCPenny is rarely jazz. 2) Those who associate jazz with John Coltrane and Miles Davis. I enjoy Miles and Coltrane, and they certainly played jazz music, but their careers have long since ended, and jazz has expanded in so many directions since their golden years. Check this out, for example. 3) Those who see jazz as an exclusive, white glove genre for individuals who are too polished to associate with the groundlings. In my experience, this couldn’t be farther from the truth. In short, jazz music lacks consistent branding. We could spend a lot of time debating why. One suspects money is a large issue. But I digress. Laura?

[Laura]

Completely agreed, Nick. Though I would like to add that for someone who says that jazz music is her favorite type of music, it is usually accompanied by a –“What are you, 70?” I’ll chalk that one up to inconsistent/incorrect branding (if any).

In addition to our love of jazz and the obvious issues with the image that people have in their heads, I also am fascinated by the history of the genre. There once was a time where jazz and drug/alcohol addiction seemed to go hand-in-hand. Which is not to say that all musicians did, but I still think that is an image issue today. My own observations and studies have gotten me to wish I could jump in a time machine and work on the personal brand of some musicians, or if I wanted to fight an uphill battle, some bigger challenges. 

PR Dreams:

  • Glenn Miller – when Jimmy Stewart portrays you in the movie about your life, you’re automatically a PR dream.
  • Benny Goodman – credited with one of the most recognizable jazz tunes ever – Sing, Sing, Sing.
  • Louis Armstrong – no explanation necessary. He’s the man.
  • Ben Pollack – as the “Father of Swing,” five famous jazz musicians started off in his group—two of whom are on this list.

Not-at-all-as-dreamy PR Dreams (aka nightmares):

  • Bix Biederbecke – alcoholic, father was a minister who openly disapproved of his son’s choice of career.
  • Charlie Parker – drug addict/alcoholic. Didn’t show up to a gig one time, everyone thought he was dead, but he was actually blackout drunk under the bandstand.
  • Richard Twardzik – died from a heroin overdose.
  • Chet Baker – very publicized drug habit.
  • Billie Holiday – multiple arrests throughout her life for drug possession, including on her deathbed.

If each of the people in these lists, and those who are unnamed in both categories had PR representation, would jazz be in a different light today? With the right PR pros (cough, cough, me and Nick, cough), yes.

While this could easily turn into a two-part blog or (fingers crossed) a book deal, there is so much we did not cover, we’d love to hear your thoughts. What are your impressions of jazz? Think we’re on target with our thoughts on how the whole genre could be presented differently?

Oct 25

If I knew then what I know now…

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Dandy Stevenson.

My home state of NC has launched a “Tobacco-Free Me” pledge program to poised to keep kids from ever trying a cigarette. I applaud that initiative, vote in favor of sky high taxes on cigarettes and praise lawmakers around the world for every bit of legislation that makes it hard for anyone to smoke. And getting to the kids before they start is, I think, maybe the most important of all. I know all too well.

Smokning I was born in the tobacco capital of the world, Winston-Salem, to a family with deep ties to the industry— a great-grandfather sold the first train load of RJ Reynolds products.  As a RJR stock-holder, I got free samples of new cigarettes in the mail— when I was all of 10 years old. I wasn’t smoking then, but the heady sweet smell from the factories, mixed with the smoke from the finished product implanted in my Dad’s hand, was already doing a number on me.

I had my first cigarette at 14. Martha Ann Young’s older brother fell asleep on the sofa watching Bonanza and we fingered a couple like the sneaky kids we were.  (Martha Ann also introduced me to wild boys, so you know the kind of friend she was.) We were so impressed with our sophistication – impossibly cool with heads cocked and arms gracefully arched, showcasing our cigarettes for all the birds to see—  as we knelt under the magnolia behind her garage.

I bought my first full pack at 16, for a whopping 20 cents and the clerk no more asked for my ID than for me to jump straight up. (I sold individual butts to my little brother for a quarter— made him slide the coin under my bedroom door before I’d roll the cig back to him. I was hooked on supply and demand too.) 

My sister smoked, my teachers smoked, my dog smoked.  I graduated from RJ Reynolds High school and in college preferred my papers rolled with tobacco rather than the grass my roommates introduced me to.  I never worried about smelling like smoke, because everything in my world smelled like smoke:  my friends, my car, my Cheerios.

Fast forward a few decades.  I emerge from a nicotine fueled haze and found the world had changed. The smoke-free zones had spread as fast as ice in a frying pan, and included not only restaurants, airplanes and offices but also my sister’s garage, my son’s boat and my boyfriend’s bed.  I could still smoke in my apartment, and presumably behind Martha Ann Young’s garage.  But that was about it.

And finally I had enough. So four years ago I put the patch on my arm and took the monkey off my back.  I had a relatively easy time with it because I viewed it as not quitting something I liked, but becoming something I wanted to be: a non-smoker.  I didn’t want to smoke for a number of reasons, including of course, my health. But the lock-down on places to smoke and the pressure to not partake in such an un-cool, un-sophisticated and un-healthy habit certainly weighed heavily on me. 

I didn’t know that not doing something could be so joyous. Usually pleasure comes from action…  riding a horse, having a glass of wine, going to the movies.  Every day I am  happy to not have to light up after a flight, with a cup of coffee or when I am stressed. I don’t have to bum a light, try to hide a coughing fit or interrupt a nice dinner to go puff.  I have more money, fewer colds and less droopy skin.

When I was growing up society did everything but light the cigarettes for me. And then finally society demanded that I just-for-heaven’s-sake-go-ahead-and-quit-already.  I am thrilled that the charge against this dreadful drug is not losing any steam.

I am not ashamed of my family’s heritage and connection with tobacco.  But it was a way of life that thankfully is going up in smoke.

Oct 18

Don’t be a jerk; innovate!

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Carl Foster.

Castanza7I was sad to note the passing of FT Tilt last week, the recently launched paid-for emerging markets blog from the Financial Times. Sad, not because it’s one less news outlet for us to pitch but sad because an innovation failed. In today’s globally competitive economy innovation is mission-critical to long-term success. But bravo to the good people at No. 1 Southwark Bridge for trying. This one might have closed down 10 months after starting up, but it seems there is a culture of innovation at the FT (its subscription model, Alphaville blog, etc.) that will ensure it’ll be just fine in the future.

When I heard the news I couldn’t help but think about Steve Jobs. Despite the recent hero worshiping from many quarters, some have taken a more balanced look back at his career. In an excellent article on Gawker, Apple’s authoritarian corporate culture is examined and the response to one particular failed innovation told:

Steve Jobs: "Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?" Having received a satisfactory answer, he continued, "So why the f*ck doesn't it do that?"

"You've tarnished Apple's reputation," he told them. "You should hate each other for having let each other down."

Jobs ended by replacing the head of the group, on the spot.

That doesn’t sound like a management culture that engenders innovation. This might be an odd thing to say about Apple, one of the most innovative companies around, but I guess we’re about to find out how much innovation came direct from the brain of Steve Jobs and how much filtered up from below. The same critique of a culture that suffocates innovation can be made of many other companies, especially those without a creative genius at the helm. Carol “F*ck You” Bartz at Yahoo, for example.

There is an interesting discussion developing on Fortune, with Gene Marks saying Steve Jobs Was A Jerk. Good For Him. Gene’s fellow contributor, David Coursey has posted a response Steve Jobs Was A Jerk, You Shouldn't Be. Coursey says:

My concern is that Gene might have hit a nerve among managers who haven’t found themselves and are willing to try whatever the business press declares to be the flavor of the moment. I can imagine headlines like “Are You Jerk Enough to be the Next Steve Jobs?” or “Want to Be Like Jobs? Be a Jerk!” or “Think Different: Like a Jerk!” or whatever will sell a book or magazine.

I am with Coursey on this one. I once heard from a Silicon Valley entrepreneur that an idea is the most fragile and precious of things. An idea can be stamped out and lost forever if someone doesn’t own it, nurture it and champion it. Being a shouty jerk might be the modus operandi for some managers, but it doesn’t lend itself to people in your company stepping forward with risky but potentially excellent ideas. We need to innovate to get ahead, so here’s hoping that innovative companies like the FT outweigh those where jerks rule.

Oct 13

What Is Life: More thoughts on “George Harrison, Living in the Material World”

Today's guest post is by Julie Farin (@JulieFarin)

I recently had the opportunity to attend the NY Film Festival’s big-screen premiere of Martin Scorsese’s 2-part HBO documentary on George Harrison: Living in a Material World.  As a lifelong Beatlemaniac, John Lennon has always been my favorite of the Fab 4, with Paul McCartney a close second, and George Harrison a dark horse at third.  For some reason, I never took a serious interest in the solo career of the Quiet Beatle, as I did Lennon’s Plastic Ono Band or McCartney’s Wings ("Silly Love Songs" notwithstanding).

GeorgeMy zeal for the Lennon/McCartney powerhouse overshadowed my appreciation for Harrison’s contribution to the band that pulled the trigger on the British Invasion.  Being a third wheel to one of the most successful songwriting teams in popular music had to be frustrating for the youngest Beatle.  As the nearly four-hour documentary demonstrates, Harrison handled his creative competition with the dynamic duo as well as could be expected under the circumstances, and even managed to land a very memorable song or two on several Beatles albums, most notably Rubber Soul ("Think for Yourself") Revolver ("Taxman"), The White Album ("While My Guitar Gently Weeps") and Abbey Road "(Here Comes the Sun," "Something").

Part 1, which chronicles Harrison’s upbringing in war-torn Liverpool through the rise of Beatlemania in America, was not a revelation.  Most of these stories have been told and re-told countless times (although some amazing never-before-seen photos and footage of the early Beatles is a highlight).  In Part 2, Harrison was described by many friends, family members, and colleagues as having two distinct personalities that were constantly at odds with each other.  Ringo Starr described The Beatles’ lead guitarist as “a bag of beads” as well as “a bag of anger.” 

Harrison’s inner turmoil with the trappings of fame and success led to his quest for inner peace through Eastern philosophy, Indian mysticism, and Transcendental Meditation.  However, he never totally renounced the material things in life, as most notably witnessed by his purchase of Friar Park, a 120-room Victorian neo-Gothic mansion in Henley-on-Thames in England. In Part 2, Harrison recounts the joys of chanting the mantra and his quest for the spiritual, while his widow, Olivia, alludes to how “George loved women and women loved George.”  He also struggled with drug addiction during certain periods of his life.

Even though Harrison died of cancer at the age of 58, I was left with the feeling that he was satisfied with having led a full life of accomplishments, as short as it was.  He told an interviewer that apart from his son, Dhani, who needed a father, he couldn’t really think of anything else keeping him here on this earth. He was ready to go.  All things must pass.  And according to Olivia Harrison, upon George’s death, “There was a profound experience when he left his body.  It was visible.  He just lit the room.”

George Harrison, Living in the Material World  can be seen on HBO On Demand.

Sep 09

The Waffle House Index

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Deborah Brown.

 
Waffle-house-index 9961044-large
While meteorologists help determine the force of a hurricane, Waffle House helps to determine   its destruction.  Yes, the same Waffle House that makes waffles.  According to a Wall Street Journal article published following Hurricane Irene, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) relies on two metrics to assess the damage.  One is the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale.  The other is the Waffle House Index.  According to the article:

Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.

What’s impressive about Waffle House is that the company really understands the importance of crisis management.  The Wall Street Journal article talks about how Waffle House has beefed up its crisis management after Hurricane Katrina.  Even if the power is out and only the gas grill is working, Waffle House cooks take out the gas grill-only menus and start cooking.   A business-school professor even recently named Waffle House “as one of the top four companies for disaster response, with Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Home Depot Inc. and Lowe's Cos.

We do quite a bit of crisis management work at Peppercom.  And, we always tell our clients that the way a crisis is handled can positively or negatively impact the company’s reputation.  Although Waffle House hardly spends any money on advertising, it “has built a marketing strategy around the goodwill gained from being open when customers are most desperate.”

A tip of my fork to Waffle House for being so prepared for natural disasters.  After a hurricane or tornado, when power is out and everyone is trying to figure out when life will get back to normal, consumers – and apparently FEMA – can always count on Waffle House for a waffle or scrambled eggs with a side order of normalcy.

Aug 30

Monday Morning Quarterback in the Wake of the Storm

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Deb Brown.

This blog is, in some ways, a follow-up to Repman Steve Cody’s blog from August 25th.  In that    blog, Steve talked about how the media really hyped the earthquake we felt here in NYC.  Although the quake’s epicenter was in Virginia, you would have thought it had to be in midtown Manhattan by the way the media were reporting.Slide1

Now fast-forward to the news yesterday morning, in which the debate discussed was “Did the experts and media over-hype Irene?”  This blog from Washington Post blogger Jason Samenow captures both sides of the story.  

Some will argue that the news media truly over-hyped the approaching storm, especially here in the NYC area whereas others along the East Coast will disagree.  I believe a lot of the sentiment depends on where you’re standing (hopefully on dry ground).  My husband and I were evacuated during the storm since we live on the East River.  Manhattan pretty much got by without a scratch.  New York Harbor overflowed a bit, but otherwise windows stayed intact, electricity and cable stayed on, and for the most part, we were all fine.  But, it could have been much worse.  And, one point that was mentioned on the Today Show Monday morning was that while it’s easier today for meteorologists to accurately predict the path of a storm, the intensity is not always as accurate. 

Were my husband and I inconvenienced?  Of course.  Am I complaining?  No.  I’d much rather have the experts and elected officials tell us to get out of the path and find out it wasn’t as bad than to have the opposite happen.  I think much of the hype, so to speak, was because they were trying to tell us how deadly a Category 1 or even a Tropical Storm could be.  By the time Irene reached Connecticut and Vermont, it was a Tropical Storm.  Yet, by Monday morning, half the state of Connecticut was without power and Vermont suffered some significant damage. 
Jason Samenow has a poll on his blog and the majority, to date, believes the storm was hyped.  It wasn’t that long ago when we, as a country, condemned the city of New Orleans, the state of Louisiana, and the Federal government, including “Brownie,” for not doing a good enough job getting people out of the way in time. 

I think we’ve learned our lesson.  And, I would much rather have our local officials err on the side of caution.  The media had a different role to play in this scenario versus the earthquake.  The earthquake hit and was barely felt in most parts of the City.  Yet, they definitely hyped it after it happened.  No one knows how Mother Nature will ultimately react.  And, the media, in conjunction with our elected officials, did the right thing in warning of the approaching storm’s potential fury and trying to scare people enough so they would move.  The problem with the media’s image is that if something minor is talked about in the same breath as something major, people become skeptical and think of the boy who cried wolf.

I think New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said it best and was the most direct when he saw that people were still on the beach in Asbury Park Friday afternoon:  “Get the hell off the beaches.”

Aug 22

Keep Calm and Carry On…Tell that to the Olympic Sponsors

Today's guest post is by Courtney Chauvin Ellul, Director, Peppercom Europe.

Suppose your organization just spent $1mm to become a sponsor of the London 2012 Olympic  games? How would you feel after the rioting of the past two weeks?

London-riots-olympicsThat's the image and reputation dilemma facing Olympic organizers, sponsors and, of course, Britain's ruling class in the wake of last week's carnage. I can tell you from first-hand knowledge that London was, and remains, a very scary place.

Last Saturday, I got off the tube a few stops early after a gang of about eight young men started screaming, jumping on the seats and kicking the doors in. They might have just been ‘chavs’ (English hooligans) on their way to a football match, but I wasn’t leaving anything to chance.

The London riots have left us all looking over our shoulders and feeling downright angry. There was no economic, political, or Stanley Cup reason for last week’s horrific events; this reckless field trip was born out of greed for sneakers, branded sports apparel and flat screen TVs.

In addition to the disgusting behavior of the rioters, it was shocking to see how the police handled the situation. You almost felt bad for the officers as they stood on the sidelines helpless, with their shields out and batons neatly tucked away, while rioters burned and looted shops, businesses and homes in more than 20 areas across London.

In some communities, citizens took matters into their own hands. When the rioters came to attack shops in a Kurdish and Turkish community in Hackney, the owners were waiting for them with sticks and knives.

If the police weren’t equipped to handle the situation, then why wasn’t the Army called in? And where were the country’s leaders? 

Well, David Cameron, the prime minister, was in Tuscany on holiday and only returned to the UK on the third day of the riots. And when he did return, he came armed with a whopper of an idea: to outlaw social media, including shutting down Twitter, to stop the flow of communication between rioters. A bit like outlawing air, wouldn’t you say?  Of course, that never happened.

Boris Johnson, London’s mayor, was also slow to return from vacation and was criticized by angry locals in riot-torn areas for his tardy response to the attacks. And Theresa May, home secretary, continued to fuel the blame game by saying the police chiefs were at fault for causing most of the red tape that overburdens officers.

What message are we sending to the world, and to would-be terrorists, if we can’t protect the country from our own and we can’t agree on the underlying issues? With less than a year to go before London hosts the 2012 Olympics, the police and politicians need to gain some control to win back the public’s trust, and they need to do so pronto. 

Beyond the violence and leadership vacuum, London faces another challenge: how to quickly fix the reputational damage that's been done before it's too late (and sponsors begin pulling out).

Aug 19

We Have a Situation

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Deb Brown.

Clothing retailer Abercrombie & Fitch recently said publicly that it would “offer substantial payment to MTV’s The Jersey Shore’s cast members to stop wearing the brand on air.” Apparently, Mike “the Situation” Sorrentino wore the trendy clothes on a recent episode and Abercrombie & Fitch stated that his “association with the brand could cause significant damage to our image.”

The_clothes_make_the__man_kleinWow.  I had to think about this for a minute.  So, the famed (or infamous) retailer, which has had its own image issues with sexually explicit ads (among other problems), and which sells primarily to 18-22 year-olds (probably the only audience for The Jersey Shore) really doesn’t want the Situation strutting about in its clothes?  Are they serious?  Or, is this a way to drum up a fake battle between The Jersey Shore cast members and the retailer for more publicity?

So, then I came across another story in which Chief Executive Mike Jeffries said of the actual situation, “We’re having a lot of fun with it.”  Actually, Jeffries brought up the situation on an analyst call, saying “Is no one going to ask about the Situation?”  I think the reason the analysts didn’t ask is because they didn’t give a damn.  But then one finally took the bait.

So, that’s the answer.  They’re not serious.  They’re looking for a marketing gimmick to sell more clothes, but it’s not smart.  Think about it.  They’re pulling free advertising from their own audience and how long do they think this situation will go on for?  A few hours?  Maybe a couple of days?  Then what?  They’re out-of-sight, out-of-mind with their key audience with regards to this particular show.  Plus, Abercrombie & Fitch sells a t-shirt called the “Fitchuation.”  Really?  Their stupid stunt is so transparent it doesn’t work.

On the WSJ blog, they have a quick poll.  Is the stunt brilliant or a bomb? Believe it or not, it was pretty much even, with only a slight majority saying brilliant.  Sigh.  Normally, I wouldn’t be surprised since our society is filled with too many people addicted to reality shows, each of which manages to outdo the other to see how low they can go.  But, I was surprised since it was the Wall Street Journal’s audience. 

Smart marketing and publicity help to elevate a company’s brand and grow its bottom line.  At first, I thought Abercrombie was having problems with sales.  But, earnings released on Aug. 17th said earnings are up 64 percent and sales have increased in the U.S. and internationally.  However, on the analyst call, Jeffries talked about “entering a period of greater uncertainty” and shares dropped 8 percent. Or maybe the investors didn’t think the Situation situation was smart enough to invest in.

So, what’s up with this short-lived gimmick?  Who knows?  Probably an inexperienced marketing team that’s looking for quick attention to the brand rather than a well-thought out strategy. 

Mark Twain once said, “Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little or no influence on society.”  In this case, Abercrombie & Fitch certainly doesn’t make the Situation…anything.  And, now Abercrombie & Fitch make believe they want out.  The clothing retailer and the Situation deserve one another.  Abercrombie & Fitch shouldn’t pay the Situation and other cast members not to wear its clothes; instead, it should be a major sponsor of this tasteless show.

Jul 29

Tasteless Spot

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer and Kangoo Nation member, Deb Brown.

OK… so I might be in the minority here, but I think the fairly new Snickers commercial for its new Peanut Butter Squared isn’t ha-ha funny nor is it dark humor.  It’s just plain dark (and I don’t mean as in chocolate).  The commercial debuted in January but I saw it for the first time earlier this week.  Somehow I luckily escaped the tasteless spot over the past several months. However, for some reason, the ending was slightly different from the one that ran in January.  The commercial I saw omitted the guy at the end (see original commercial below).   Maybe the company thought that would soften it a bit. Yeah, right. The commercial shows a focus group of sharks saying how they thought the young man tasted better than the young woman because he had eaten Peanut Butter Squared as opposed to a peanut butter cup (in other words – take that Reese’s… sharks like young adults who eat Snickers PB Squared better).

Now, I happen to have a sense of humor.  But, I didn’t find this commercial funny.  I actually thought that BBDO, which created the spot, and Mars, the candy company responsible for all things Snickers, crossed the line from humorous to sick and stupid.  I think this spot is indicative of television/cable television today. We’re constantly lowering the bar when it comes to reality TV so why should commercials be any different?  Since when is the death of young adults even remotely funny?  And since when is it ok to use the deaths of young adults to sell candy or for that matter…anything?  The commercial is even more morbid when you learn that the month before it launched, a woman was killed by a shark in Egypt.  And, just a few days ago, a 6-year-old girl almost lost her leg in a shark attack.

There’s nothing tasteful about this spot.    I’m not sure if Mars got itself into a sticky situation with this spot that will negatively impact Snickers’ sales or if the general public will just accept it and buy the candy.  I still believe Mars bit off more than it could chew with this spot.  But, maybe I’m wrong.  Or, maybe we hit such lows with television shows and commercials that nobody even notices anymore.