A better idea?
It wasn't an April Fool's joke: On April 1 the Sierra Club launched its ``Adopt a Ford Dealer'' campaign.
No, it has nothing to do with orphaned car dealers. Club members around the country have been asked to meet with their local Ford Motor Co. dealers to encourage them to sign a letter to Chairman Bill Ford Jr., urging him to raise the fuel economy of his company's vehicles. ``We can influence Ford Motor Co. by letting them know that dealerships around the country want to sell cars, trucks and SUVs that go farther on a gallon of gas,'' the club's newsletter stated.
It goes on to say any interested club members will be provided ``with all the materials and support you need to meet with a local Ford dealer and make a difference in the fight to curb global warming.''
A word of advice: If you want to make a great impression, pull up to the Ford dealership in a Honda Insight or a Toyota Prius hybrid.
This, that & other stuff
Me-owwww!-Earlier this year Business 2.0 magazine named Toyota Motor Corp. the ``smartest company of the year,'' citing ``intelligent moves in every corner of its operation, from product design and marketing to manufacturing and leadership.''
The other automotive winner was General Motors Corp.'s Pontiac division for the public relations value it got from Oprah Winfrey's G6 sedan giveaway, which created mucho publicity on her TV gabfest.
Making the list for dumb ploys was a mean-spirited marketing campaign by Ford of Europe that showed a simulation of a cat being decapitated by a Ford SportKa's moonroof. Sorry we missed it. Just what's needed-more violence on TV.
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I don't think I want it-A woman on a test drive at Honda of Fort Myers in Florida hit her husband, a salesman, a car and a tree before running into a wall.
``She must have panicked,'' said Joe Sica, the dealership's sales manager, speaking with the Associated Press. (Maybe she was just excited about the new car.)
The force of the crash was enough to deploy the airbag in the 2005 Honda Accord she was piloting. The woman was not hurt but her husband and the car salesman were hospitalized. The car? Written off.
She might want to take a remedial driving course before attempting to purchase her next vehicle.
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Horizontally challenged speed shop-Dragster owner/builder Keith Engling operates Highland, Mich.-based Skinny Kid Race Cars L.L.C., which claims to have built ``some of the most exciting cars to come on the drag racing scene in the past few years.'' Gotta love that name.
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Quotes du jour-``You give 100 percent in the first half of the game, and if that isn't enough, in the second half you give what's left.'' (Of course you immediately recognized that from sage ol' Yogi Berra.)
Rich guy Malcolm Forbes once observed: ``It is much easier to suggest solutions when you don't know too much about the problem.''
`No, really...you're fired'
No, it wasn't ``The Donald'' muttering those words any apprentice would dread.
Someone...something much bigger. General Motors Corp. in essence told that to the Los Angeles Times. It was in retaliation for what it deemed a number of unflattering stories/commentaries in the largest-circulation daily paper in the biggest car-buying state in the nation. The final straw, apparently, was a review of the Pontiac G6 by Dan Neil, the Pulitzer Prize-winning auto writer at the paper.
In it, Mr. Neil said GM should fire CEO Rick Wagoner and Vice Chairman Robert Lutz, noting: ``This is an uncompetitive product, an assertion borne out not by my say-so but by sales numbers. When ball clubs have losing records, players and coaches and managers get their walking papers. At GM, it's time to sweep the dugout.''
The auto maker has yanked ``until further notice'' all its advertising from the paper-media buyers estimate that's about $10 million a year. The company said its decision was based on long-standing disagreements over the way GM is portrayed in the newspaper, including concerns over factual errors and opinions, a spokeswoman said.
The paper said it's looking into GM's complaints, according to Automotive News.
What's that old saying about ``when GM talks...''?
Walking a mile in their loafers
Speaking of getting fired...Jonathan Tisch probably doesn't have to worry about that-though apparently he needs to brush up on his bed-making skills.
The chairman and CEO of Loews Corp.'s Loews Hotels unit was keynote speaker and host recently at a convention for a group of hose and accessories manufacturers and distributors. The gathering was held at his company's property in Miami Beach, Fla.
Attendees got to hear the CEO describe a segment he did for a TV show on The Learning Channel where CEOs performed entry-level jobs. Not afraid to jump in and get his hands dirty, Mr. Tisch served about a half-day each on such tasks as front-desk clerk, breakfast cook, bellboy and maid (just wondering...did he get to keep any tips he received?).
While he may receive high marks as Loews Hotels chairman, he was given a ``C'' for his work as a maid. The head of housekeeping-who probably was being kind in her grading and, after all, how can you delicately tell your boss he flunked?-helped Mr. Tisch make up the first room on his to-do list. He then proceeded to take three hours to do one room on his own.
That's about six times the 30 minutes it usually takes the regular maids.
Uh, Jon... here's a little tip for you: Don't quit your day job.
Voice from the wilderness
To be more specific, a voice from the Pacific Northwest wilderness. Trevor Hoskins, retired Bridgestone/Firestone public relations executive, sent word to Marketplace that retirement hasn't dampened his desire to achieve new heights. He recently climbed the south side of Mount St. Helens-on a ``quiet'' day when the volcano wasn't blowing its top.
Trevor said it ``was one of the best experiences I have ever had,'' adding that as the mountain continues to sputter and belch smoke, it ``might just mean that no one gets the opportunity in the future-but I hope that is not the case.''
``Retirement still goes great,'' he continued. ``Difficult to imagine that seven years have almost passed since I hung up my cap-it has gone very, very fast!''
Part of his reason for writing, he noted wryly, was to ``twist the tails'' of some tire industry friends, ``to show them I am very much alive and still kicking!''
When last we had heard from the intrepid Brit, who lives in Blaine, Wash., he had been shaken but not stirred as he rode out ``The Rattle in Seattle''-the earthquake that hit the Pacific Northwest in spring of 2001. We're glad he's now taken to heart the words of Rodgers and Hammerstein and has decided to ``climb every mountain, ford every stream.''
Who knows? Maybe there's a part for him in a ``Sound of Music'' revival.