‘Tis The Season To Be Chummy

Today’s lunchtime news chum seems to all be connected to marketing and advertising. I have no idea why.

  • From the “Creative Financing” Department: Tired of the mundane school fundraiser? Have enough greeting cards? Don’t need another magazine subscription? An instructor in Rancho Bernardo (near San Diego) has a novel idea: Sell advertising space on the exams. The teacher, Nick Farber, started letting parents and local businesses sponsor tests this fall after learning budget cuts would limit his in-school printing allowance — tracked by the school’s copy machines — to $316 for the year. The cost of printing quizzes and tests for his 167 students will easily be more than $500, he said. So Farber, who says he’d never asked for money from parents in his 18 years of high school teaching, pitched the ad idea to parents at a September back-to-school night. For checks made to the math department — $10 a quiz, $20 a test or $30 for a final exam — they could insert an inspirational quote — their own or someone else’s — or a business advertisement at the bottom of the first page. He’s already collected more than $300, and is on track to top $1,000.
  • From the “Valley of the Dolls” Department: There has been an interesting legal verdict in the battle of Barbie vs. Bratz. The judge banned MGA from making or selling the Bratz doll. Note that this is almost 30% of the business of MGA (HQed in the San Fernando Valley). The LA Times gives more details: the judge ruled that Mattel (HQed in El Segundo) is the legal owner of the edgy toy line and has the right to recall all unsold Bratz. The order says that MGA may no longer manufacture, sell, advertise or license its core lineup of Bratz dolls or any other product with the Bratz name. However, the order does not take effect until February, and an appeal is expected. My expectation: Mattel will keep manufacturing the dolls under their imprimatur, and there will be more job losses in the valley.
  • From the “Notice how Saturn wasn’t in the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter?” Department: As we all know, the “Big 3” are all in DC pleading for their lives (oops) asking for a handout (oops) groveling. One piece of information coming out of this is that the one division truly GM created, Saturn, may be on the chopping block (most of the brands came in with the mergers that created GM). According to the LA Times, Saturn may be on the chopping block, be sold, or be merged. It has evidently not been profitable, they’ve abandoned most of their original core ideas, and their cars are either rebadgings or imported Opels that the exchange rate is killing. Instead of being a model of how to compete with the Japanese and other imports (the original goal of Saturn), it has become a drag, and didn’t provide ideas to improve the other divisions. This is highlighted in the NY Times article on the subject. Could perhaps GM be too hidebound, and this be the reason for its failure? Nah. GM knows it isn’t their fault.