* * * What's the buzz in Beantown? It's the buzzcuts a half-dozen guys were recently sporting in homage of the almighty tire-actually, Dunlop tires, to be exact.
A Boston Globe story noted that Eric Michaud's head ``looks like a car drove across the top of it.'' (Not surprising...have you ever driven in Boston traffic?) He's one of several men recruited by a Boston promotions company called Street Attack to become walking billboards for Dunlop. For the stunt, they each had tire tread patterns shaved into their hair.
The tire maker, a jointly owned Goodyear subsidiary, only engaged the services of guys because, the news story said, it worried that women with shaved heads would not fit the image (a case for discrimination, ladies?).
These so-called ``treadheads,'' ranging in age from 20 to 29, included a lawyer, a vacationer from Ireland, a music business employee and a couple of college students. The Globe said they were chosen from among 30 applicants for their ``outgoing personalities and mix of ethnic backgrounds and nationalities.''
Perhaps the best part is they actually got paid about $30 an hour to spend weekends wandering around meeting people and passing out literature promoting Dunlop. The now-concluded assignment involved eight to 12 hours of work over several weeks.
A marketing prof at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School told the Globe the campaign's biggest asset was creating a buzz, not immediately selling more tires. He called it ``deeper than a pure publicity stunt,'' noting it would more likely make customers remember the brand. That's the top-of-mind kind of thing ad geeks so often desire.
The Dunlop brand has been involved in a number of grassroots (or is it hair-roots?) marketing activities in some markets. Last year, for instance, it promoted a stunt in Canada where several persons with the ``Dunlop'' surname were paid to change their name to ``Dunlop Tires.'' And the company also recently launched sumo wrestling promotions in the Great White North.
We hesitate to ask what's next. But the exploits certainly accomplish the aim of good advertising: to get people talking about your product. Any dealers out there willing to become ``treadheads'' for their tire supplier of choice?
This 'n that
More dumb crook tales-During a police line-up of possible perps, a New York City detective told each man to step forward and repeat the threat delivered at a robbery: ``Give me all your money or I'll shoot.'' One sap reportedly stepped forward and yelled: ``That's not what I said!''
And a report out of Michigan told of a pair of robbers who entered a record store for a heist waving their pistols. The first robber shouted, ``Nobody move!'' Then he noticed some movement out of the corner of his eye and fired-shooting his fidgety partner.
Smart guy-The eminent Albert Einstein said that ``intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.'' (Except obviously in the case of the dumb and dumber crooks above.)
* * *
Glub, glub, glub-Columnist P.J. O'Rourke may have been right on the money when he observed, ``Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.''
* * *
Getting biblical-It was Aldous ``Brave New World'' Huxley who said: ``Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad.''
* * *
Picking on the nerds-At a recent conference on transportation technology, Mary Peters, described by Automotive News as the ``effervescent'' chief of the Federal Highway Administration, noted that a lot of engineers had attended the event.
Pointing out their reputation for being whizzes at math but slouches at social skills, she asked: ``How do you pick out the extroverted engineer at a party?'' Answer: ``He's the one looking at your shoes instead of his own.''
Trust me, I'm a...
That age-old stereotype of the plaid-suited, fast-talking car salesman appears to be holding its own, based on fact gathering by the Gallup Organization.
Asking Americans to judge the honesty and ethics of 21 professions, it found that Americans love cars but apparently don't care much for the people who sell them. In the poll, car salespeople ranked near the bottom-at 20th, while advertising execs finished 19th. Only telemarketers were lower, firmly grasping the 21st spot. According to Automotive News, only 6 percent of respondents considered car salespeople ethical.
We hesitate to say journalists were ranked in the middle of the pack in 10th place-just two rungs above congressmen...ouch. For the third straight year, Gallup's survey on honesty and ethics in professions found that the public gives nursing the highest marks, with 79 percent saying nurses have ``very high'' or ``high'' ethical standards. Military officers and high school teachers also ranked high.
Here's the number-by-number breakdown: 1. Nurses; 2. Military officers; 3. High school teachers; 4. Clergy; 5. Police officers; 6. Druggists, pharmacists; 7. Medical doctors; 8. Funeral directors; 9. Accountants; 10. Journalists, reporters; 11. Bankers; 12. Congressmen; 13. Building contractors; 14. Business executives; 15. Lawyers; 16. Labor union leaders; 17. Real estate agents; 18. Stockbrokers; 19. Advertising practitioners; 20. Car salespeople; and (surprise, surprise) 21. Telemarketers.
Since nowhere in that list do tire dealers show up, perhaps they're flying under the radar. But who's to say whether that's good or bad?
Do NOT kick the tires
It wasn't listed in the options for a used car a Nebraska woman bought.
She was trying to get the vehicle's air-conditioning unit fixed, the Associated Press reported, when a homemade explosive device fell out of a vent. Investigators said the half-foot-long bomb had probably been in the car for quite awhile, and they were trying to track down the car's previous owners.
That could be tough, though, the AP said, because the vehicle had been bought from a dealership and once had been used as a rental.
Kind of gives new meaning to describing one's car as ``a real bomb.''