Bing Blog

Vote: The funniest, the stupidest stories of the year

Sudoku

It's almost October and the stores have their Halloween displays up already. Tempus fugit and all that.  Soon it will be time for the drooling season leading up to the holidays to begin. Not quite yet, though, thank goodness.

With autumn a-comin' in, we have, however, arrived at the season when people who think about business for a living (as opposed to doing any) begin considering what might have been the biggest, the best, the funniest, the stupidest, the most pathetic and the most inspirational business stories of the year, in preparation for their year-end extravaganzas. So that's what I'm thinking about. As always, I hate that. Thinking, I mean. I would rather ask you for help.

So. What do you think were the biggest, the best, the funniest, the stupidest, the most pathetic and the most inspirational business stories of the year?

  • Was it China, which last week added the recall of a million baby cribs to its list of miscreancies?
  • Was it the state of the crazy, hazy airline industry?
  • Was it Mr. Jobs promising to give $100 cash American to anybody with eleven fingers?
  • Was it the spread of BlackBerry ubiquity?
  • Was it the arrival of Sudoku as brain Drano of the year?
  • Was it YouTube's 1,000,000th talking cat video?
  • Was it the branding of Philanthropy as a fad, replacing Excellence, Synergy and many others that came before?
  • Was it the decline of the celebutante and pop tart as dependable mercantile entities? I mean, haven't these people ever heard of chauffeurs?
  • Or was it something else? Something, say, that YOU did that you believe is worthy of note?

As magazines and newspaper editors meet in serious conclave, with stacks of clips and videos in which to immerse themselves, let's see if we can go them one better and begin the construction of a meaningful, entertaining and illuminating list.

Okay?

66 Comments Add Comment

I nominate the big-money purchasers of sub-prime mortgages that claim that their sophisticated financial modeling could not forsee the uptick in defaults that would occur when those teaser rates that they hooked the poor slobs they lent the money to ran out and went to market rates, and thus that they should be entitled to a government bailout so they'll be able to fund the next round of idiocy that Wall Street comes up with.

(How's that for a run-on sentence)

Actually, Bing, you're wrong!

I was in Macy's (Mall of Georgia) at the weekend and Halloween is gone - the Christmas displays were out and active!

As for the 'f**k-up story of the year' it has to be the oft repeated 'China gear' stories.... c'mon people, get the lead out, already!

As my wife says - 'Made in China... so it breaks more easily and we can make even more money'

I'm all for reducing operational costs - but it needs to be done on an apples to apples basis. We've had an unfortunate period where 'outsource or die' was the mantra, and damn you if you didn't follow along.

We've seen it in services (tech support, anyone?)
We've seen in in clothing (did somebody say sweatshop?)
We've seen it in manufacturing (bridgestone tires?)

You don't get the 'same' product or service if you don't specify and pay for 'all' of the component parts.

Mattel found that out to it's cost (I imagine a lot of unsold barbies this christmas)

Maybe it's time for a correction in this particular marketplace.

Tony

Funniest business story of the year: Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza hits 'Reply All' to a customer's email and shows how much he cares about the people who fly his airline. He demonstrates a sad case of being out of touch with reality.

Was it the decline of the celebutante and pop tart as dependable mercantile entities? I mean, haven’t these people ever heard of chauffeurs? (The stupidest as I am tired of hearing about Britney and LiLo)

Was it China, which last week added the recall of a million baby cribs to its list of miscreancies? (the best)

Was it the spread of BlackBerry ubiquity? (the funniest)

I think the biggest piece of news this year was the whole mortgage mess and it's effects on the financial community.

I think it was probably Britney Spears WONDERFUL performance at the VMA's.

That was a hoot!

the craziest business 'move' was the federal reserves 0.5 reduction in the prime. let the market 'shake' out the winner and losers - creative destruction.

The best has to be the $100 laptop program for kids in poor countries.

My vote for the most unbelievable / pathetic is American manufacturers not recognizing the "hidden" costs of manufacturing in China.

No, wait. The most pathetic is the decision to out source call centers to countries like India and expecting this to bond customers more closely to the brand.

I have to say the stupidist so far are the analyst that caused the mortgage crash of '07. Just think if anyone had done any research they would have seen that the majority of the forclosue impact was on the left and right coast. But hey, we are journalist and analyst so lets send the entire country into a tailspin. Let's yell fire in a crowded theatre! Now people in areas not affected by the fall will be and now we have created the truth instead of reporting it!

Stupidest move in business? When Bell Canada plastered Vancouver and Toronto with billboard ads that made fun of the Holocaust.
http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_14732.aspx
http://today.reuters.com/news/articlenews.aspx?type=oddlyEnoughNews&storyid=2007-09-17T125401Z_01_N14216288_RTRUKOC_0_US-PHONES-1.xml

Yes, it was inadvertent, but still...

Isn't it too early for these "end of year" lists, Mr. Bing?
Or, are ya running out of material? :)

Your Buddy,
-Phil

My wife leaving me because she realized that she was "attracted" to horses.

Kind of jumping the gun, is the year over yet???

the most pathetic story of the year is George W is still trying to sort out his messes, the stupidest thing is the Democrats have not pushed to have him impeached for lying to the America and destroying a great nation...

Lord, child, where do you live? Here in Tennessee (the let's-get-'em-in-the-pocketbook-any-way-we-can state) have had visions of sugarplums and the rest of the holiday hoodlums up and going since early August. Cracker Barrell Old Country Stores have had Christmas trees up since then, and Lowe's Home Improvement has been decorated for several weeks. Wal-Mart locally has already cleared their lawn and garden areas in prep for the storage PODS to hold all their holiday merchandise.

Man, it must be nice to live in a place where Christmas decorations don't come out until....well, the holiday season.

Actually, no, Phil, it isn't too early. I work on these kinds of things for a number of magazines and everybody is starting their meetings on the subject. That doesn't mean stupid and wonderful things can't happen the fourth quarter, but now's the time to start getting the entire year into focus. So keep those stories comin'!

Oh, and FYI... I am NEVER out of ideas. I just like to hear what you guys are thinking about. Where else would I hear from a person who split with his wife when she started showing excessive interest in horses?

The best story is Mattel apologizing to the Chinese government for recalling all those toys.

The whole "jena 6" story was probably the funniest of the year.

The "I have no clue how to reach customers" award must go to Macy's for "rebranding" Marshall Field's and dropping the merchandise quality - I think sales are now down 70%.... duh

http://fieldsfanschicago.org/blog/index.html

The most patheic is Big Oil has got to the point where they stopped using excuses for raising prices. OPEC boosted out put and oil prices went up, even with high stockpiles. Right up there with them are the lazy people of this country who let them.

I think the most pathetic story were the ones regarding airline employees kicking people off of planes because of the way they were dressed (or making them cover up). I'm sure there are plenty of men who would rather fly an airline with scantily clad ladies (like Hooters Airline). The airline companies need to put more focus on customer service and on-time flights and stop worrying about what people wear to fly!

The subprime blame game...
Lenders told the customer about the time frame for the "teaser rate"... problem is the lender did not tell them how to lock out their credit so they would not run up a S%7T load of debt thinking everything was peachy... 7, 11, 13, that is not interest rates that is the different chapters to clean up this mess... same old, same old. As I have heard it before it all comes out in the wash...

Hey, the funniest (stupidest )story is about a company that comes out with a new iPod and then "WHOOPS" it decided it charged too much and wants to give some money back.I think I'll wait till they give you a comic book too !

The credit rating agencies that rated securities based on sub-prime mortgages as investment grade. I mean, can these people actually be that stupid???

Celebrities acting stupid is just so routine these days. Although, Michael Vick does take the award for celebrity stupidity. Who else ruined a career that fast?

The most pathetic story revolves around the housing crisis. The most pathetic award goes to the FED, Congress and the president.

The housing bubble was declared over 3 years ago. I sold my house and have been renting for the last 3 years.

What were our government leaders doing to avoid the crisis 3 years ago? The plans they are contemplating will not force Banks to make more bad loans or prevent the onslaught of bankruptcies.

The $64-million pants lawsuit might not be the worst, but it's gotta be bottom 10 at least...

I dunno if you guys are allowed to take potshots at other magazines, but I lost all respect for Time when they chose "You" (aka YouTube) for Man of the Year. What a freakin' cop-out.

And before you all think I'm a technophobic old fogey, I'm 24!

For the funniest story of the year I vote BLACKSTONE Group (private equity) going public.
The stupidest story is about fools that bought Blackstone shares at IPO price.
The most pathetic story is about Federal Reserve caving in to the political pressure to lower Prime rate by 0.5% in the face of rising inflation tide.
The most inspirational story should be about 1 millon Americans buying $599 souped-up Apple's phone/player/blah-blah/...
America is still THE land of opportunity.
The biggest story is the oil price popping $80/barrel lid and nobody noticing it.
And all of them were the best - compared to adventures of Britney Spears.

wadda ya mean Sudoku=brain Drano? I love Sudoku, it affords me the luxury of not speaking to the egotistical, drunk, cigar smoking stinky, blowhard next to me on an airplane.

STUPIDEST MARKETING DECISION OF THE YEAR should go to macy*s choice of Martha Stewart wares to reinvigorate their sagging home store sales. Martha Stewart has been affiliated with Kmart for years, and how is carrying essentially the same merchandise sold at Kmart going to help "reinvent the department store"? What a joke!

Terry Lundgren of Macy's thinking that adding Martha Stewart's merchandise will save Macy's falling sales. HELLO TERRY... Martha Stewart has been sold at K-Mart for years, and it didn't help them at all. K-Mart, while selling Martha Stewart wares, filed for bankruptcy!!

The stupidest business story of the year goes to Macy's for dropping dozens of regional store names, but most importantly, the 150 year old Marshall Field name. This corporation's ignorance is beyond comprehension. Undoubtedly, this will go down as one of the biggest marketing mistakes in the last several decades.

I nominate Macy's getting rid of the Marshall Field department store chain in Chicago. In spite of unprecedented petition of about 60,000 persons to the contrary, Macy's killed the chain and they are now paying the price with sales sinking like a rock in Chicagoland

Probably not the worst, but definately up there...

Whole Foods' CEO Mackley Bashing Wild Oats and boasting Whole Foods on Yahoo Forums... You would think the CEO of a company that stresses ethics would know better.

I think the biggest and most stupid story of the year was released today.

White House: Social Security is $13 trillion short.

This is a business story because it is all our business!

The following statement "Paulson, however, has said even if he is not able to achieve an agreement during the short time the current administration will be in office, he hopes to lay the groundwork for the next administration and a new Congress to tackle the problem" is the funniest because that is what each of the past 4 administrations have done to solve the problem.

Very sad.

Oh, Oh, Oh.
THE story of the year to me was the Sudanese man caught while making love to a goat! And, he was forced to marry her.
LMAO..
I think it was BBC.com's most widely read news article as well.
I feel for the guy and for the goat as well.

Stupidest is this article.

Funniest are the folks posting to it.

Worst story - Macy's purchasing May Company and dropping all the nameplates including the world famous Marshall Field's. Customers have left by the thousands...there are even protests. Who needs overpriced, cheaply made goods, virtually no customer service and advertising peppered with disclaimers? Sales and revenue (down 77% last month) continue to nosedive every month.

Macy's officials say we all need to be "re-educated" to the Macy's way of shopping. Can you believe that one?

Put this one down as the biggest business blunder since New Coke. Who killed the department store? Macy's.

Macy's killing off of Marshall Field's is horrible. Hey, here's 154 years of Chicago history and public service. Macy's won't change a thing, but we're going flush all that history down the toilet. While we're at it, let's just depersonalize department store shopping all over the USA. While we're at it, let's run all the stores we bought out into the ground. Pray that this nonsense stops.

macy's blows

I agree with econgeek that Macy's implosion is the biggest business goof of the past year or so--with profits down a whopping 77%. Why? Despite customer protests, Macy's took Marshall Field's, the Midwest's finest department store, re-branded it Macy's, and took it massively down-scale. Customers pleaded with Macy's. Sixty thousand signed petitions. Tens of thousands donned pins, lapel stickers and bumper stickers. Even songs were written and performed at Chicago clubs and on Chicago radio. Yet Macy's didn't listen. Now their stockholders are paying for it. The original Marshall Field had a saying--"GIve the Lady what She Wants." Evidently, Macy's Terry Lundgren has never heard of this saying.

Macy's completely screwing up the combination of stores between them and the former May Co. Terry Lundgren ingnoring the consumer and and replacing Marshall Field & Co. with Macy's. This is the biggest blunder since Coke introduced New Coke in 1985. It is failing BIG TIME!!

Stupidest business move? Macy's trashing Marshall Field's and other beloved regional stores. The whole ordeal has gone from infuriating to pathetic to funny and back again. They took Field's "give the lady what she wants" philosophy, and replaced it with top Macy's execs telling the media that their potential customers are "confused" and need to be "reeducated." Actual quotes! It's like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Stores such as Carson's (Bon Ton), Nordstrom's, and JC Penney's are scooping up customers left and right, barely able to contain their glee and contempt for Macy's. I would guess that "M" has earned the distinction of being the most vilified brand in recent history.

Macy's elimination of Marshall Field's is one of the stupidest public relations mistakes I ever heard of. People all over the United States are mad at them, and they still refuse to get it.

Macy's replacing Marshall Field's elegance is one of the biggest stupidest marketing blunders of the year, not to mention Bank of America's impending purchase of LaSalle Bank with thousands of layoffs in Chicago or Whole Foods CEO badmouthing Wild Oats candidly online and thusly buying Wild Oats and limiting its only competition.

Macy's has taken the Mona Lisa of department stores, Marshall Field's, and turned it into a velvet paining being sold out of a 1970's dodge van on a street corner.

Examples:
Instead of playing jazz on the PA, they play light rock...the best song "When a Man Loves a Woman" by Michael Bolton.

They eliminated paper bags for cheap plastic ones.....great for lining my litter box if I ever even bought anything at Macy's in the first place.

Replacing clothing lines such as Armani, D&G and Kennth Cole with fake sounding house brands such as Alphony, Charter Garbage, No Style and Company and Tassoooo Elbow.

Eliminating the ONLY reason to keep loyal department store shoppers visiting their favorite department store....via eliminating the name for a national department store named Macy's that means nothing more than a parade at Thanksgiving.

I work in retail and our company worships the customers and listens to their every complaint and fixes it. Macy's on the other hand, sends off comments about "re-educating" the consumer, or completely ignoring the customers concerns all together with highly inflated B.S. about how their favorite former store, such as Marshall Field's, was failing! Never in history can I think of a retail company that didn't care about it's customer, other than Zayre maybe.

Thanks Macy's....instead of "Way to Shop!" it's now she be coined "Macy's, Way to Flop!"

Macy's ruining Marshall Field's. How can someone destroy a fabulous nameplate like Marshall Field's and not expect disastrous results. Macy's is paying the price now!!!!

The biggest blunder? Macy's takeover of May Co. and rebranding not only their own storied names, but every other regional department store that was owned by May to Macy's. This was done out of arrogance and stupidity by Terry Lundgren. The Foley's stores in Texas have gone downhill terribly since their demise. Their merchandise is cheap garbage made in China and the service is horrible. Dillard's, Nordstrom, Saks and others have benefited from Foley's departure. Foley's was the last of the 1/2 dozen regional stores we had in Houston. The flagship is now a shadow of what it was as are the branch stores. This was the biggest marketing disaster since New Coke.

The "transformation" of hundreds of regional department stores to macy's was the worst marketing and business disaster since "new coke." Federtated Department Stores (M) made a huge mistake.

I agree with the posts below. The elimination of Marshall Field's by Federated/Macy's was one of the worst corporate screw ups since New Coke. They need to undo this error, and fast. I think that Macy's board of directors is simply populated by howling monkeys who couldn't see a good decision if one hit them in the face. Oh wait, that's probably an insult to monkeys. Macy's Board scores far below monkeys....

I agree with everything that has been said about "terry (lunkhead) and the pirates" eschewing the venerated Marshall Field's name for "messys", all in the name of "economy of scale"...Huh?! Oh, and nice red commie star, terry. What a terrific logo. Really says it all.

The dumbest marketing move of the year? Macy's "retiring" the Marshall Field's brand. Instead, Macy's now occupies the former Field's stores, now offering the public downmarket merchandise; lousy customer service; dirty, ill-maintained stores; arrogant and defensive management, etc. No wonder that Macy's profits have tumbled 77%. Former Field's stores have seen double digit revenue decreases (at the State Street flagship store as well as top suburban locations, sales have tumbled 30-40% and more). This marketing fiasco has been justified in the name of saving advertising and administrative costs by operating a national department store brand. Such long-term strategic strategy is flawed -- the Macy's brand has alienated shoppers in major markets such as Chicago, Boston, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Houston, Detroit, Minneapolis, etc. by eliminating beloved local department stores (Chicago in particular). Macy's stock has lost 40% of its value from its 12-month high, and only has risen with rumored private eauity buy-outs. And for all of this the CEO of Macy's has been awarded stock options worth over 10 million.

I nominate Macy's for EVERYTHING THEY'VE DONE, EVERYTHING THEY PLAN TO DO, AND EVERYTHING THEY STAND FOR as being THE stupidest and THE most pathetic business stories (plural x plural) of the year.

I would like to nominate Macy's for plastering over all those venerable department store names from existance especially Marshall Field's. Never Macy's will ever do will make me shop in there store again.

I nominate Macy's "sensation across the nation" is the New Coke of retailing. It is the biggest disaster in modern retailing.

I sense a theme here... The iPhone price cut was a big mess, but I agree with everyone that Macy's continues to make moves that turn it into a commodity, and a low-value, low-quality commodity at that. They destroyed Marshall Field's, Filene's, Strawbridge & Clothier, and many other regional brands that meant something to people. Here in Atlanta, they closed the downtown store (in continuous business and owned by Macy's since 1924) just when people are buying million-dollar condos within walking distance! Just as Wal-Mart steamrolled over small town America, Macy's thinks they can do the same to the bigger cities and more affluent shoppers! But their upscale competition isn't closing down in fear, they're booming!

The biggest business blunder of the year is the move by Macy's to dump Marshall Field's. As a result, Macy's has lost millions and will continue to bleed red ink. Former customers of Marshall Field's are helping to boost sales at stores like Nordstrom's and Saks. Those stores are posting big gains while Macy's North division is in the gutter. And this ALL could have been avoided. Yep, the Macy's debacle has to be the years biggest business blunder.

Macy's by far has to win this - destroying regional stores in the Northeast. First, Jordan Marsh then Filene's. Not only cramming the stores with inferior merchandise but bad customer service because there aren't any sales associates and if you find one they do not know how to deal with the public. Nordstrom, Nieman Marcus, Penny's, Dillards, Lord and Taylor and yes Sears knows what a customer wants and will provide the service and merchandise.

For me, I would have to say MACY'S would win the biggest buisness mistake in history award-hands down! When Federated Department Stores(now Macy's Inc) bought and hostilly took over Marshall Field's in Chicago, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan and Other regional department stores, they not only made these stores boring, with bad service, poor quality merchandise and high prices, they took away the midwestern identity that there was something truly special in our regional department stores. Field's is a part of midwestern culture and so are the other nameplates that were moth balled in the regions that they served. Macy's Offcials will never admit mistake or failure-but it shows in their desperate attempts to restore the Macy's Name to the world and it continues to fail. So, here's to you Macy's Inc and Terry Lundgren-May you continue to fail and may Carson's, Lord and Taylor, Neiman Marcus, Saks, Nordstrom-Heck, even JCPenney, Kohl's, Target and Even Wal-Mart continue to take all of your business away from your company to show you the error of your ways!

Hands down Macy's. They are successfully heralding the demise of the department store through offering poor quality and bad customer serivce across the nation. How does a company throw away Marshall Field's and then blame the customer for not "re-educating" fast enough to suit their bottom line.

Very silly Mr. Lundgren.

I can't believe everyone cares this much about Macy's...do you all live in one-store towns? Get over it! Shop elsewhere! Consumers have power, vote with your feet!

Stupidest - calling the "mortgage meltdown" a story. Many of us saw this coming long ago and was no surprise to us.

Funniest - that whole foods CEO calling himself attractive when pretending to post as someone else online.

This Macy's thing seems like an exposed nerve up in the midwest. Here in Houston, Foley's ran Macy's out of the local mall several years ago. Then Macy's bought Foley's and changed the name. Changed the qualtiy of the products and service too, there isn't any. We don't shop there anymore. As Bugs Bunny would say, "What a bunch of maroons!"

Macy's wanton disregard and wiping away of regional goodwill and local flare by retiring the local names of The MAY Co. (as well as their own names of Federated Dept. stores) is the worst -- ESPECIALLY the destruction of Marshall Field in Chicago. It is a complete flop and now Macy's is a bland booring awful place with JCPenney and Kohl's "eating their lunch" and deservedly so.

Now I'm posting to dilute the Macy's tide. (I was never familiar with either store until a few years ago when I moved up here to PA -- the Southeast is Dillard's turf.)

I can't believe no one's mentioned Sony falling on its face with the PlayStation 3. When the latest console war was gearing up, everyone figured the PS3 would flatten all competition, just as the PS2 did. Then Sony found out something mindblowing: No one will pay $600 for a system that's way late, doesn't deliver on all its promises (it wasn't backward compatible with even RECENT PS2 games), and has no good games (because it released so late and sold so poorly that no developers wanted to risk the money or the brand tarnishing).

Meanwhile, Nintendo makes a cheap system that even "non-gamers" love and have fun with. It will take Nintendo a year to catch up with demand for the Wii, and Sony can't give the damn PS3s away. I LOVE IT.

I will have to add my support for the Macy's debacle being one of the stories of the year (maybe most pathetic).
They stated they were looking to revive the department store. So they took over a chain that presented something that set them apart in each market, i.e., the regional brands that each had a touch of local flavor, and made them into a bland national chain that is the same everywhere. Now they are just another JCPenney or Sears or Kohl's. Nothing wrong with those stores but since the regional nameplate stores offered an alternative to the national chains, why would you take that away and enter into a market that is already saturated, instead of capitalizing on what sets you apart? Add in the fact that many consumers, including me, have expressed disappointment in the low value for the dollar of the Macy's house brands and the decline in sales and profits is easy to determine. I can find apparel and home goods of similar quality and design at the other national chains at a much better price, and better quality goods at near Macy's prices at upscale stores like Nordstrom, so I have no reason at all to go to a Macy's. I don't think my experience is unique in any way and millions of customers are feeling the same as it is showing in the bottom line.

Also (can't believe I forgot): XBox 360 warranties costing Microsoft more money than the Firestone recall.

Maybe also the Zune in general.

Macys taking over Marshall Fields. As far as I am concern they are just another Walmart except the employees don't wear bibs. What is the uniqueness or difference between Macy's in Cleveland versus Macy's in Atlanta? Why do they think all consumers are mesmerized by the glitz and glamour of celebritries? They seem to assume the branding of their name on junky merchandise will equal large sales.

RELATED THINGS