retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Kate McMahon had a great column yesterday talking about the social networking efforts of Lady Gaga, suggesting that marketers have much they can learn from her.

One MNB user responded:

Your perspective was right on ... We forget the changing way the younger generations now get information and influence it has.  Hope to see more information and articles from you in the future.

Count on it.

I thought that MNB user Tom Devlin had an interesting take on this:

I like many, am amazed and must admit admire the marketing genius of Lady GaGa and how she has turned the REMAKING of Madonna and the shock factor to a new level. Her following  on Facebook,Twitter  etc. is a great page of success that Barrack Obama used to win the White House. We have reached a new plateau and this will be common now on how our entertainers reach out to the public.... or consumers.   LeBron James and the Miami Heat also deserve kudos on how they took a free agent signing in sports to a new level.

What concerns me more than anything is how young we are targeting the consumer. I have a very close relative that does security at Rockefeller Center where the Friday concerts are done for the Today Show on NBC. He actually takes the celebrity to the stage from their dressing room. When the Jonas Brothers did the Friday concert the security and police had to deal with three fifteen year old girls who were sleeping on the sidewalk two days before the event ..... When police contacted their parents in New Jersey , they were told they gave permission to the kids because they loved the Jonas Brothers so much that it was okay to do this... I am sorry .... We must take a step back and question ourselves and ask when does it end?. We have become a bunch of followers and not leaders.

On another note a few weeks back I was at the Apple Store in Danbury CT when I witnessed a twenty something year old practically in tears because he was told he would have to be on a waiting list the Apple Iphone4...... Sorry , it is a phone...  I understand that early adaptors will always be around.... But what we are teaching our youth will have a very bad affect on their lives .... Very bad.

I agree with you that allowing 15-year-old girls to sleep on the streets of New York without parental supervision borders on negligence. Lousy parenting. And crying over a phone seems a little extreme.

I only disagree with you about LeBron James. I thought it was a ludicrous event, and the sole purpose seemed to be to give Cleveland the finger in as public a way as possible. the urging of Michael Sansolo, who also, it ends up, is a Lady Gaga fan, yesterday I watched the video of “Telephone,” one of her hit songs. My daughter was amazed that I wasn’t scandalized by it...but I just thought it was sort of dumb.

Maybe I’m getting old.

On another subject, I really liked this email from MNB user Jeff Folloder:

Let's stipulate that the US Postal Service (USPS) cannot remain financially viable with the current menu of services/charges.  Given that most non-corporate communication has moved to other forms (Internet, etc.), it would seem that corporate clients are the only valid potential market.  Seriously, anything that is "courier like" can be done by many of USPS' competitors that offer better service and a better customer experience.  So that leaves mostly bulk and direct mailing (that a huge percentage of recipients loath) that doesn't make money for USPS, surly employees at the end of long lines, Netflix, and subsidized package delivery that will soon be just as expensive as the competition (with much worse tracking features).  It has already been demonstrated that the bulk/direct thing is too cheap and I really don't see the rates for this being substantially raised (read: political lobby).  It's not going to get better.

So why don't we take all those conveniently located post offices and make them truly useful?  Wire 'em all up with Internet, staff them with cheerful staff, give 'em a fresh coat of paint (buildings, not staff), offer a full range of connected services from DMV, Social Security, municipal services... to a variety of courier services.  And raise the price of bulk direct mail anyway.  To put it in CPG terms, make the PO the destination and let the experience underline the value.

That’s the kind of fresh thinking I’m talking about. It seems to address the problem instead of the symptoms.

Responding to my piece about George Steinbrenner’s passing yesterday, one MNB user wrote:

In your comments on George Steinbrenner's passing you mention that there is no estate tax on the books this year……those of us in the financial planning industry have long speculated that there will be some "mysterious" deaths between now and December 31 that might potentially benefit high-net worth families wishing to avoid estate taxes for large estates.    At the same time, it appears that Congress might pass a retroactive estate tax that could still cause estates created in 2010 to be subject to estate tax after the fact.   More than that, no one seems to have a clear idea where estate tax rates will be headed if they don't allow the current estate tax laws to sunset at the end of 2010.

We'll see what our friends in Washington decide to do after the elections, I suspect.

I think a retroactive estate tax for this year would be absurd. You’re supposed to play by the rules, not change the rules as you go along. I’m also not sure you could garner enough votes for such a tax. But I’ve been wrong before.

And MNB user Daniel McQuade wrote:

So in your opinion.....

Does George make it to the Hall of Fame?

I’m conflicted on this one.

A lot of writers here have been arguing that Steinbrenner was the second most influential person in NY sports history, with only Babe Ruth having a greater impact on the city’s sports scene.

My reflexive response is that owners probably don’t belong there. Then again, Walter O’Malley is in the Hall of Fame, and deserves it because he owned the Brooklyn Dodgers when the team broke the color barrier by signing Jackie Robinson.

This, by the way, would be my response to the sports writers trumpeting Steinbrenner’s contributions. Jackie Robinson’s contributions were greater; indeed, in my view, he was one of the most important Americans of the 20th century. And both O’Malley and Branch Rickey, the Dodgers’ general manager who signed Robinson, had greater long term impact not just on sports, but the country.

And I think it is hard to name to the Hall of Fame a man who was banned from the sport - twice.

So I think my answer is no.

But the discussion proves what the late, great Robert B. Parker used to say - that “baseball is the most important thing that doesn’t matter.”
KC's View: