Posted by Chaz Repak
on February 05, 2010
“Domino’s Pizza crust to me is like cardboard.”
I’m not quoting a friend or family member – I’m quoting a Domino’s Pizza commercial, in which Domino’s focus group participants denigrate everything about the taste of the chain’s signature product. To trumpet a revamping of its pizza recipe in December, Domino’s put out commercials in which its marketing and product executives listen with dismay to withering criticism: for example, Marketing Director Karen Kaiser saying, “Whoa, this one’s really bad – ‘worst excuse for pizza I’ve ever had.’” Others: “The sauce tastes like ketchup”; “totally void of flavor’; “boring, artificial imitation of what pizza can be.”
Posted by Gabriella Stern
on January 27, 2010
Actually, that’s not me. I’m an admirer of the Apple-Jobs phenomenon – from afar. The last Apple I owned was a Mac II in the late 1980s; it did what I needed it to do as I typed up grad school research papers. Today, I own an MP3 player, but not an iPod. Mine is a Zen, by Creative Arts; I bought it when we lived in Singapore. It works fine – I listen to music and watch old episodes of “Weeds” and “Dexter” during the daily train commute. (My husband downloads this stuff for me – a sign of how un-tech-savvy I am.) I have a Blackberry – that is, it has me in its Crackberry grip. It’s my phone, my email, my address book, my “to do” list – and my route to online newspapers and magazines. Small as the Blackberry is, I manage to read it for an average of three hours a day. You may be like me – intrigued by all things Apple but not obsessed enough to really care what the new tablet’s called (iPad) or to road-test it when it hits stores. All that said, if the new Apple tablet is totally and utterly convenient for all the functions described above, I may buy it. (The price, around $500-800, looks reasonable.) Moreover, if fairly neutral, even apathetic, people like me succumb, the sky’s the limit for Steve Jobs’ company. You see, Jobs already owns the die-hard Apple freaks, and he’ll never seduce the anti-Apple clique. But middle-ground people like me – fly-over country, so to speak – who use cell phones, MP3 players and Blackberries, but find one or all of them not quite right for our multi-media purposes – we just might be lured to Apple country with the right new product.
Walk up 7th Avenue and as you approach 41st street you see the most stunning billboard of the U.S. President in front of the Great Wall of China. It’s breathtaking. In this morning’s semi-darkness, I had to stop and look at it. As Peggy Noonan recently wrote, there’s a deep reservoir of hope that the new (he’s only one year in) President succeeds – even as one feels rather irritated by some of his domestic policy stumbles. Nearby this billboard diptych (there are two large Obama-Great Wall panels) is a crass Calvin Klein billboard featuring greased and scantily clad bodies – classic soft-porn marketing. The contrast between the two images is stark, and if Weatherproof wanted to sell its jackets, it found the formula – whereas Calvin Klein won’t get my hard-earned money. The Weatherproof ad has generated some controversy – the company apparently didn’t have the president’s consent to flog their garments. That’s for the lawyers to sort out. What I want to discuss is this: The Dodd and Dorgan Senatorial resignations have spurred a flurry of speculation about the Democrats’ autumn 2010 chances. I think their plight is overstated. As a decidedly centrist voter, and thereby an “average” one, I reckon, I view the political landscape this way: American voters know what the Democrats stand for; Obama’s agenda is transparent; we have seen the administration’s policy ambitions move inexorably toward the center – whether it pertains to Iran or healthcare reform. What I don’t know is what the Republican Party stands for. There’s is no clear party leader and no evident agenda, and the splinter-group agendas are either incoherent or fringe-y. The Democrats may lose some ground come November 2010, but it won’t be dire. And between now and then the U.S. economy will continue recovering; a fairly palatable healthcare bill will get passed; and only if the Grand Old Party acquires some discipline will it make noteworthy Congressional and Gubernatorial gains.
Posted by Chaz Repak
on October 26, 2009
Apple is running a new set of its fiendishly clever “I’m a Mac” ads to coincide with Microsoft’s release of the Windows 7 operating system, and the latest one hits close to home for this PC user looking to upgrade.
Windows 7 has received glowing reviews, particularly in contrast to the poorly received Vista operating system released in early 2007. Because Vista was not a smash hit, millions of consumer PCs run an operating system now two iterations old – XP, which was released in late 2001. Upgrading to Windows 7 from Vista is fairly simple, but upgrading from XP is a serious chore. As The Wall Street Journal’s Personal Technology columnist, Walt Mossberg, has reported, XP users will be required to wipe out everything on their PC’s hard disk. Microsoft itself doesn’t refer to an XP-to-7 move as an upgrade, but as a “clean install.” In fact, Microsoft recommends XP users upgrade to a new machine running Windows 7.