In this tumultuous economy, America’s leading consumer brands have come up with a bold new strategy to replace sagging revenues: Filing multi-million dollar lawsuits for brand infringement.
Recently it was reported that America’s leading cereal manufacturer, Kellogg’s is suing a Californian non-profit organization, the Maya Archeology Initiative, claiming the nonprofit’s use of a toucan in its logo (left) too closely resembles Kellogg’s famous Fruit Loops cereal icon, Toucan Sam. Apparently Kellogg’s is trying to corner the market on both high-fructose breakfast cereals and cartoon toucan characters.
Kellogg’s is no stranger to filing lawsuits for brand infringement. In 1998, they sued Exxon over the oil company’s use of a tiger for a long-running ad campaign to “put a tiger in your tank.” Kellogg’s claimed that Exxon’s tiger bore too close a resemblance to their own famous icon, Tony the Tiger. Apparently, Kellogg’s is also trying to corner the market on cartoon tigers – perhaps with an eye to opening America’s first cartoon zoo.
Continue reading “Little Caesars Pizza sues Ancient Rome for brand infringement” »
As most of you know, over the past 25 years, I have been a highly sought-after lecturer / motivational speaker on business success strategies (gleaned largely from lessons I learned by making boneheaded business mistakes over the past 25 years). Every organization’s success is built on (brutally beating down) the backs of its frontline employees.
Business experts like myself – and even experts not like myself – have long known that employee recognition programs are a powerful way to reward your employees for their efforts. These programs build loyalty and reduce turnover, while at the same time improving systems, reducing waste, increasing customer satisfaction levels and keeping trophy companies in business.
Thanks to innovative employee recognition programs, every year motivated employees find creative ways to eliminate redundancies, cut costs, improve efficiencies, and leapfrog over obnoxious rival suck-ups competing with you for that next promotion.
There are a variety of highly effective employee recognition incentives, from nifty restaurant gift certificates to prime location parking spaces to those popular Employee of the Month plaques in the lobby that list the name of the same employee, Lin Chong (left), every month from January 2003 through October 2010 except for two months in 2008 when she was briefly out for chemotherapy for a life-threatening illness. In each case, these highly motivating incentives cost their employer roughly the cost of one cartridge of black inkjet printer toner.
Continue reading “And the Employee of the Month Award goes to?” »
At the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY, the hotel even provided us with pets to keep us company – at no extra charge. Meet Buster. Of the hundreds of ants in our hotel bedroom, this guy was my favorite.
Recently, my daughter Rachel and I took a vacation to visit friends and family in the Eastern USA. As part of our holiday adventure, we spent a night in world-famous Niagara Falls, NY. This short visit was a high point of our vacation – except for one small disappointment – our accommodations at the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY. (Yes, it’s a real hotel.)
If you would like a relaxing, restful, clean hotel room for an evening, might I propose an alternate place of lodging? But if unexpected surprises are what you look for in your vacation destination, then the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY may be just the thrill ride for you.
Below is a copy of my actual thank-you letter to the hotel after our recent stay. (Disclaimer: the photos below are not actual photos from the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY and were not included in the letter I sent. I include them here to give you a sense of the adventure we experienced. – tj)
To the staff and management of the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY
I just had to write to thank you and your staff for a most memorable stay last week at your hotel. It surely is one that neither my daughter nor I will ever forget. Rest assured, we will be telling all our friends about our unforgettable one-night stay at the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY.
It is so hard to pick my favorite memory from our short stay. There were so many. Perhaps it was when we first entered our hotel room, having come out of the oppressive heat and humidity of a 95-degree July afternoon. As we entered our room, we were not jolted by the typical arctic cold blast of air conditioning you find in most mid-priced hotels. Instead, your fine hotel helped ease our transition from the heat of the outdoors with a gentle transitional room temperature of 92. After awhile, when the air conditioning unit did not seem to moderate the Amazon Rain Forest climate conditions of our room, I got just the slightest bit uncomfortable, as rivers of sweat flowed off my body and converged into a small pond on the carpet. So I approached your front desk person, Brad, about the situation.
Without even needing to personally inspect the air conditioning unit, Brad intuitively surmised that the cause of the lack of apparent cooling in our room was not a defective air conditioning unit at all but rather an accumulation of the collective body heat radiating from me and my daughter, having been outdoors in the intense heat. Brad surely must have been right. The sweat pouring down my brow must have been the result of my own body heat and could not possibly be the result of a completely malfunctioning, defective air conditioning unit. Besides, I’ve read that sweat is the human body’s natural air conditioning system. Your hotel was no doubt just trying to be eco-friendly. Thank you for caring about our planet like that. Sorry about the sweat stains on your carpet. Please bill me for any cleaning expense.
The Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY billed itself as having a view of the world-famous Niagara Falls. So, I was a little nervous about what the view from our room might actually be. Might my precious daughter lean a little too far out the window and fall to her death over the falls? Well, I am happy to report that this concern quickly evaporated when we went to open up the blinds of our hotel room window. Instead of a view of the falls, I was relieved to see a view of a Motel 6 across the street, safely obscuring any possible view of the falls. I immediately felt 100% safer. Turns out it was just a brisk 20-minute walk through the 95-degree heat, to get to the Falls. Thanks for letting me get a much needed aerobic workout.
Another thing I appreciated about our stay at the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY was your “pet-friendly” policy. Of course, when I read about that on your web site, I thought it referred to guests who might want to bring their own pets. But I now understand that the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY goes the extra mile by providing its guests with pets from the hotel at no extra charge. Imagine my surprise when I felt one of your little pets – a half-inch long black ant – crawling up my back in my bed. I have to admit, at first I was somewhat startled. But after awhile he kind of tickled.
Apparently, we hit the “pet-friendly” jackpot because this little fella must have invited 40 or 50 of his closest friends to join the party – on the bathroom floor, the walls of our room – and just for good measure, my daughter’s pillow. I will never forget the look of stunned surprise on her face as she opened her eyes the next morning to see two black ants staring back at her from point blank range. The screams of terror were over in an instant. The eventual laughter she will experience when retelling this story years from now will last a lifetime.
I called down to the front desk to ask about changing rooms. I called five times over the course of 90 minutes. I was never able to get a hold of a live person. I can only conclude the reason no one ever answered at the front desk was because Brad was out and about helping other guests feel every bit as welcome as we were feeling, wearing his “I our guests” button.
Perhaps in part because of the company I was keeping with my little black ant bed mates, I did not sleep quite as well as I might have otherwise. But that’s totally fine. Honest. I’m told most adults don’t really need more than 3 hours’ sleep a night anyway – unless they want to be coherent the following day. Coherence is overrated anyway. When I placed my call the night before, requesting a 6am wake-up call, your morning staff must have anticipated my impending lack of sleep. They were gracious enough not to disturb my morning slumber, wisely choosing instead not to give me the requested wake-up call. Thank you for your thoughtful decision to let me and the ants sleep in a bit longer.
Whether it was the Cable TV that kept losing its signal or the empty roll of toilet paper that came with our bathroom or the advertised “whirlpool bathtub in every room” that came equipped with everything but a functioning whirlpool, your capable staff made sure our stay was comfortable. Compared to sleeping in a mosquito-infested, mildewed tent in the Everglades in August, our room felt palatial. The only thing I might have suggested to go along with the whirlpool bath tub besides the missing whirlpool might be a clean shower curtain … Oh, and perhaps something vaguely resembling water pressure …. Oh, and perhaps a tad fewer ants in the tub.
Finally, thanks for helping me “shut down” from work mode. This was, after all, my vacation. Noticing your advertisement for “Free Internet in every room”, I tried to log onto the Internet to check my work email. But your hotel wisely knew that what I really needed was to get unplugged, and thoughtfully made sure your hotel’s Internet access was “down for repairs” during our stay. God bless you for keeping me focused on having fun.
In looking back at my time at your lovely hotel, my only regret is that I wasted so much time at the Falls when I could have been enjoying the comforts and convenience of your establishment. The thunderous crashing torrents of the icy blue water of the world famous falls could not possibly compare to the green bubbly water of your hotel swimming pool’s hot tub – had it not been “closed for maintenance” during our visit, that is.
I can certainly understand why the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY prides itself on providing first class service second to none – unless of course you include any European youth hostel I have ever stayed at – including the one in Venice, Italy with the sign at the front desk that read “No masturbating in your room”.
It’s also clear that the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY spared no expense (other than for normal maintenance and repairs) to make me feel like a king! Where did I leave my crown and scepter? I am confident your hotel would pass almost any third world nation’s health inspection (with a bribe), with only a smattering of minor sanitation code violations.
I felt a tug in my heart as we checked out of the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY. I wanted to stay longer. When checking out, I shared some of the highlights of our stay with Heather, the morning front desk person. I told her about the cozy, warm 92-degree room temperature in our room, the 40 or more surprise house guests, the lovely view of the hotel dumpster, and the out-of-order vending machine on our floor. I started to tear up, thinking about all the wonderful memories from our short visit. I will never forget Heather’s caring, compassionate words when I finished sharing my story. She looked at me, smiled tenderly and said, “Your total comes to $167.89. I see there were no additional room charges. Will that be Visa or MasterCard?” Heather, thank you for listening. You had me at “Your total comes to $167.89.”
Oh, just one more thing. Turns out, unbeknownst to me, a few of your little black ant hotel pets hopped in my suitcase and made the journey home with me – a fitting reminder of our time at your hotel. Let me know if you’d like me to return the ants to you. But I have to tell you, I’m starting to get attached to the little fellas.
PS: I will be sharing a copy of this letter at my blog site in the hopes that the thousands of people who read my weekly blog might pass along this letter about my wonderful experience at the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY to others who might be planning to visit your fair city. I would hate for anyone to misinterpret this heartfelt letter and come away with the errant impression that my stay at your fine hotel was anything less than memorable. Please give my best to Brad and Heather.
With fond memories and deep appreciation,
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011