The Dirtiest Hotels in the World

This is a brilliant promotion from TripAdvisor. Got it via email and it was the one promo email, out of the last 500, that I’ve clicked thru to see. How can you not?  Its strength is its unexpectedness — most companies would be too chicken to try something like this.

From a review of the #1 hotel on the list: “It makes a crack house look like a Hilton. There are mice, roaches, bedbugs,and crack heads all living at this Hell Hole! The hotel itself smells and is filthy from the disgusting bedspread to the filthy bathroom.”

Endless fun and great marketing.

(For you Houstonians out there — this reminds me of the irresistible appeal of dearly departed Marvin Zindler‘s TV reports. “There was SLIIIIIME IN THE ICE MACHINE!”)

The Worst Name of the Year

Via the naming firm Eat My Words, the worst name of 2008 was a new “financial literacy” site for children called — wait for it — Shyrk. (I guess Pilfr wasn’t available.)

But then, before the trophy could even be engraved, there was an update:

We were tipped off that Shyrk renamed themselves with an even worse name: iThryv. Whaaaaaat? Did one of their software engineers say, “Hey, we need a name with vowels so let’s get drunk and play Scrabble again”? (Why not iShryk?) The website explains it all by saying “Shyrk changed the name of the corporation to iThryv in an effort to dispel any confusion related to the name of the company versus the name of the product. Now, when someone mentions iThryv — you know they are talking about financial literacy.” HELLO! What about regular literacy?!

From the no-brainer file: Starbucks (RED) Card

You can now get a (RED) card from Starbucks. Here’s how it works: You can buy the card online, or in a store, and purchase credit on it, just like any other Starbucks card. But there’s a big difference: With every transaction you conduct, five cents is used to buy life-saving medicine for people in Africa who have AIDS. That’s five cents out of their pockets, not yours.

If five cents sounds trivial, keep in mind that, thanks to the people at (RED), almost a quarter of a billion dollars has been sent to buy AIDS medicines, and that extraordinary amount emerged from the sum of “trivial” transactions just like these. This isn’t even charity, it’s just thoughtful commerce. It’s buying a latte with a (RED) card rather than with dollar bills.

I’ve got a (RED) card in my pocket, and every drink I buy at Starbucks this year will be run through it.

As a final note: Starbucks is the rare global juggernaut that seems to go out of its way to do the right thing. Is there another company with its reach that has a comparable record of Goodness? (Think health benefits for barristas, Free Trade expansion, etc.) Email me with your candidate. 

Magnetic duct tape!

What else is there to say, really?

Talking strategy at Newsweek

Richard Perez-Pena writes that Newsweek’s “ingrained role of obligatory coverage of the week’s big events will be abandoned once and for all,” according to execs.

Let’s leave aside whether this strategic shift makes sense or not. Notice how Newsweek editor Jon Meacham articulates the shift in a way that is concrete, specific, and full of uncommon sense:

“There’s a phrase in the culture, ‘we need to take note of,’ ‘we need to weigh in on,’ ” said Newsweek’s editor, Jon Meacham. “That’s going away. If we don’t have something original to say, we won’t. The drill of chasing the week’s news to add a couple of hard-fought new details is not sustainable.”

If you’re leading a strategic shift in your organization, that’s the way you need to sound. (And for more pontification on this point, see the “Talking Strategy” chapter in the new edition of our book.)