retail news in context, analysis with attitude

If you have HBO and you did not watch "Last Week Tonight" with John Oliver on Sunday evening, then you should go to on-demand or find out when it will be replayed, and do so. (If you don't get HBO, you ought to consider subscribing.) Because last night, as he so often does on "Last Week Tonight," host John Oliver nailed it on a couple of business stories.

First up, he went after Olive Garden, which has announced a promotion allowing people to buy a $100 "all you can eat" seven-week pass to the restaurant … only to have an activist hedge fund release a 300-slide PowerPoint presentation explaining all the ways in which Olive Garden has cut corners in preparing and serving food that is "barely edible." Oliver noted that one slide shows a picture of one particular item (vegetable lasagne topped with chicken, which is an oxymoron) as it is shown on the menu, and then a picture of how it looks when it is served, observing that "I can only presume that between the first and the second photo, that vegetable lasagne developed a massive crystal meth addiction."

It was very funny, very pointed and very true. You can see this segment here.

Then, Oliver addressed the decision by some companies to use Twitter to promote themselves … within the context of complicated and tragic themes, like 9-11 and the conversation about domestic violence. Companies, he said, should remain "respectfully silent."

But some, of course, do not. Which meant that he had the opportunity to skewer a number of companies … that deserved it.

Very funny, very pointed and very true. (This video does not appear to be available yet to non-HBO subscribers but I'll let you know when it is.)

Oliver continues to be one of the best and most trenchant observers of the global political and cultural scene, and his HBO show has quickly become must-see viewing for many of us.
KC's View: