Week in Review 9/30/10

by by Leah Michaels & Sam Levison

Healing Bad Carma

Remember that time you lost your temper because you left your car on Thayer Street for just five minutes and got a completely unfair parking ticket? In Cambridge, MA, the Traffic and Parking Department is trying to curb that rage by printing drawings of yoga poses on the front and back of parking ticket envelopes. The city has printed 40,000 of these envelopes in hopes that parking violators will embrace their inner chakras and release their traffic ticket anger when they see that dreaded envelope tucked under the wiper of their sedan or SUV.
The idea is the brainchild of Daniel Peltz, a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, who is also the first temporary artist-in-residence (his actual job description) with the Traffic and Parking Department. Interested by the human response  when drivers find their tickets, Peltz created the illustrations that appear on the envelopes—probably the only artwork he’s done so far as a member of the traffic court. Although the city didn’t commission his artwork for the unique venture, they are paying a small amount to print the new age envelopes. And once all 40,000 “salutation citations” have been handed out, no more will be printed. In other words, they should be used up in about two weeks, tops.
While the Cambridge Arts Council (a group working with the Traffic Department to bring the project to life) and Peltz think the artsy endeavor will bring about positive changes in the city, others are not quite as willing to bend in new ways. According to Boston Channel 7 News, one local motorist called it “absurd” and unnecessary while another rejected it as “a waste…because if I got this as a ticket I am not looking at the poses to relax, believe me.” Seems like they could use some namaste in their lives. Once they’ve paid their fines, of course. -LM

Beetle Juice for Babies

This isn’t your summer camp bug juice. Millions of containers of Similac powdered infant formula have been recalled due to an excess of unwanted protein: common household beetles. Beetles and their larvae were found in both the popular product and the Michigan plant that manufactures it. Although there is only a small chance of buying a contaminated product (and even then there is very little risk of experiencing health problems), Abbot Laboratories Inc., the makers of Similac, announced last Wednesday that they were voluntarily implementing a recall before any disgruntled consumers could bug out.
There are few clues as to how the creepy-crawlies managed to infest the factory, and Abbot is none too thrilled with the Beetle Invasion. The recall will likely result in a loss of around $100 million—quite a cost considering that over 99.8 percent of the product line was found to be lacking in insect activity. At least Abbot isn’t alone in its misery: one of its biggest competitors, Johnson & Johnson, has announced 11 recalls since September 2009 on products such as Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl due to customer complaints of a “musty or moldy odor” coming from the items. Perhaps their plague of bad luck has spread to Abbott.
A company spokesperson told Reuters, “The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has determined that while the formula containing these beetles poses no immediate health risk, there is a possibility that infants who consume formula containing the beetles or their larvae could experience symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort and refusal to eat.” Maybe it’s because babies just don’t like the taste of beetles, although I can’t vouch for the gustatory pleasure provided by bug-free Similac either. -LM

KFC Tries Ass-vertisement

The chain-formerly-known-as Kentucky Fried Chicken has recently adopted a booty-centric marketing tactic that will finally provide buns for its infamous san[s bread] ‘wich. The “creative on-clothing ad campaign,” as it’s described on the company’s official website, involves paying college girls $500 to wear red sweatpants with “Double Down”—the chain’s 540-calorie fried chicken, cheese, and bacon behemoth—emblazoned on the seat.
According to spokesman Rick Maynard, KFC borrowed this promotional technique from “some apparel companies and sororities” to target its prized young male demographic after a seven percent drop in 2nd quarter sales—though I’m pretty certain that most adolescent males actually think the “Juicy” on sweatpants refers to the wearer’s rear, not the couture.
While the promotion began on Louisville’s Spalding University campus, KFC’s website proudly claims the chain is bringing the opportunity to exchange one’s rear end for a stipend to three more US campuses. In addition to cash and free sweatpants, the participants will receive a supply of KFC gift certificates to ensure that those sweats fit nice and tight.
Despite hundreds of “likes” on KFC’s Facebook page from enthusiastic supporters, the blatantly chauvinist marketing strategy has been met with outrage from National Organization for Women president Terry O’Neill, who objected to the use of “women’s bodies to sell fundamentally unhealthy products.” O’Neill also noted that women make the majority meal-related decisions in their families, insinuating that KFC’s darling campaign may ultimately bite them right in their corpulent corporate ass. -SL