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Archive for November, 2007

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

Friday, November 30th, 2007

A little light reading for a Friday:

  • Thumbs up to American Airlines for having eight on-time departures in a row! Maybe this travel thing is easy after all.
  • Thumbs down to Hank Steinbrenner who after a week on the job inserted his foot into his mouth at least three times!
  • Thumbs down to the person working behind the counter at the Marriott Hotel in Atlanta and not walking around to help me find chocolate milk. Instead she made me feel like an idiot for not finding it and of course they don’t sell it. Don’t worry Bill, I am very brand loyal.
  • Thumbs up to my son Riley for finishing his first soccer season
  • Thumbs not sure to IIR for moving The Market Research Event to Anaheim, CA. They had a few successful years in LA and have decided to go a little further south. Only time will tell if they are right. My sense is this was a risky move and has more downside risk than upside potential.
  • Thumbs up to Taco Bell for ALWAYS delivering great quality in a very timely fashion each and every time I go through the drive thru.
  • Thumbs down to AROD not for opting out of his contract but for not telling the truth on why he did it. Pure and simple — it’s all about the money!

I look forward to hearing from you and having you add your thumbs up and down comments.

Have You Ever Thought About Being A Writer For A Sitcom? Now Is Your Chance!

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007

Insert chips into the staff…

You probably heard that the writers of TV shows are on strike. If it isn’t settled quickly, get ready to watch plenty of re-runs in the next month or so. I don’t watch as much TV as I used to…well actually I do but I don’t consider Sponge Bob, Tom and Jerry and Scooby Doo great TV.

One of the shows I really enjoy is The Office. The show premiered almost three years ago in the United States after a very successful run overseas. Here is a list of the show’s stars: Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer, B.J. Novak, Ed Helms, Leslie David Baker, Brian Baumgartner, Kate Flannery, Melora Hardin, Angela Kinsey, Oscar Nuñez, Phyllis Smith, Paul Lieberstein, Mindy Kaling, Creed Bratton and Craig Robinson.

I am going to assume most of you have watched the show, but in case you haven’t it is described as a fly-on-the-wall "docu-reality" parody about modern American office life. "The Office" delves into the lives of the workers at Dunder Mifflin paper supply company in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) is a single, middle-aged man who is in charge and is the tour guide for the documentary. Michael believes he is the ‘World’s Greatest Boss” and has a mug that proudly sits on his desk to prove it. His staff puts up with him and at times BARELY tolerates him.

Ok so that gives you a little background of the show. Today is creativity day. Today is the day that we help the show. Because today is the day that you use your creativity and develop a thirty minute show for The Office. Your motivation could be a few things:

  • You are bored and need something to do
  • You always wanted to do this and now you have a chance
  • You TRULY believe that this is a great idea and know that I will send all of the ideas to the show’s producer

Here is what my show would be about: The Dunder Mifflin gang has been coming in late day after day, week after week. Not only are they coming in late but the last few days people are taking very long lunch breaks. In addition Meredith didn’t even come back and decided to take the rest of the day off without telling anyone.

Steve Carell was watching the Animal Planet the night before and saw this really cool show that discussed microchips. The show was talking about keeping an eye out for your pet at all times. Millions of dogs and cats, horses and birds now carry microchips. Michael is very excited that the chip only takes seconds to administer so everyone can get back to work very quickly since he is all about running a very efficient office. The chip contains a one-of-a-kind identification number and is recognized worldwide.

Michael loves this idea and feels that he would be able to solve his tardiness issue. He is having the company come in next week and install the scanners in the front of the office therefore knowing at all times where everyone is during the day. Of course the Dunder Mifflin staff is appalled and wants nothing to do with these chips and they threaten to discuss Michael’s idea with corporate.

At a 30,000 foot level that would be my show.

  • What do you think?
  • What concept do you have for your show?

Who knows what will happen to these ideas? Perhaps NBC will take one or two of them. Perhaps they will be nabbed by writers and claimed as their own. Perhaps nothing. There are no guarantees, just the opportunity to have a little fun.

I look forward to reading your ideas and hopefully sending them on to NBC.

How did your car rate? Mine did ok.

Monday, November 26th, 2007

Over the years cars have become less and less important to me. I remember when I was a twenty-something driving a Mitsubishi Starion and not only enjoyed the car loved looking at it. Now — not so much. A car to me gets me from point A to point B. I don’t drive a ton of miles probably because I fly a lot.

I do need a car that is reliable and over the years I have been very fortunate and haven’t been stranded many times. I was reading a research study that I thought was interesting and wanted to share it with you.

The American Customer Satisfaction index survey, released September 10, 2007, questioned 11,312 vehicle owners by telephone from April through June and had a margin of error of plus or minus 2 points

The consumer satisfaction rate for vehicles rose 1 point this year to a score of 82 out of 100, a record in the 12-year history of the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Everyone wants to be number one and according to this research study

….Drum roll please…

Toyota Motor Corp.’s luxury Lexus is number one with a score of 87.

Rounding out the top five were:

  • BMW
  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Lincoln/Mercury

While Chrysler’s Jeep was the worst performer in the survey, with a score of 75.

How They Ranked

Company Brand Score
Toyota Lexus 87
GM Buick 86
GM Cadillac 86
Ford Lincoln/Mercury 86
Honda Honda 84
Toyota Toyota 84
Hyundai Hyundai 83
Mercedes-Benz Mercedes-Benz 83
GM Chevrolet 82
GM Saturn 82
Average All Makers 82
Nissan Nissan 80
GM Pontiac 80
Chrysler Dodge 80
Volkswagen Volkswagen 80
Ford Ford 80
Chrysler Chrysler 79
Mazda Mazda 78
Kia Kia 78
Chrysler Jeep 75

SOURCE: American Customer Satisfaction Index, University of Michigan

Since I drive a BMW, I was happy that my car was number two on the list. I was a little surprised that Buick was rated that high and Mercedes-Benz wasn’t in the top five.

  • Where does your car rate?
  • Where there any surprises on the list for you?

I look forward to hearing your comments.

How Well Do You Know Americans? Play The Blog Version Of “Power Of Plus or Minus 10” And Find Out

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Part of me loves to try new things and always push the envelope a little bit. Well today is no different. Today we will try and play a TV game show on the Blog. The game show is the Power of Plus or Minus 10, where contestants will try to accurately predict our respondent base’s answers to intriguing poll questions. On one popular game show, the winner gets $10 million dollars — sorry but that won’t be happening here. However we will have a few lesser prizes for the top two people assuming we get over fifty responses.

Drew Carey’s The Power of 10 reaches out across America to poll thousands of people and ask them, well, just about everything – from “What percentage of Americans said they were virgins the day they got married?” to “How many Americans believe they are smarter than President George W. Bush?”

Just for fun, we did something similar. In the past two weeks M/A/R/C Research interviewed 5,800 Americans. The way this will work is this: Please click on the link below and answer the 7 questions in our little survey. We will total your answers and when we post your response, we will tell you how far away you were. It doesn’t matter if you are over or under the total. The top two people who are the closest in total to the seven questions will be the winners.

Take the survey.

Unfortunately since we asked the staff at M/A/R/C to participate internally I would ask that they not participate in this contest.

Look for the right answers and winners to be posted on December 1, 2007. Remember…the lower the score, the better.

Good luck to all!

Are You Kidding Me? I Was Hoping It Was April Fool’s Day When I Was Reading This…

Monday, November 19th, 2007

Security screeners at two of the nation’s busiest airports failed to find fake bombs hidden on undercover agents posing as passengers in more than 60% of tests last year, according to a classified report obtained by USA TODAY. I had to read this twice. Yes I am in shock.

The article stated that screeners at Los Angeles International Airport missed about 75% of simulated explosives and bomb parts that Transportation Security Administration testers hid under their clothes or in carry-on bags at checkpoints, the TSA report shows.

At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, screeners missed about 60% of hidden bomb materials that were packed in everyday carry-ons — including toiletry kits, briefcases and CD players. San Francisco International Airport screeners, who work for a private company instead of the TSA, missed about 20% of the bombs, the report shows. The TSA ran about 70 tests at Los Angeles, 75 at Chicago and 145 at San Francisco.

The report looks only at those three airports, using them as case studies to understand how well the rest of the U.S. screening system is working to stop terrorists from carrying bombs through checkpoints.

I thought that we had better security now than ever. Is that not the case? We are spending billions of dollars on airport security and nothing is improving. Yes, I have left a bottle of water in my briefcase or gone over the three ounce limit on my toothpaste in the past month and yes they went unnoticed. I didn’t think much of it but maybe I should.

The article also mentions that tests earlier in 2002 showed screeners missing 60% of fake bombs. In the late 1990s, tests showed that screeners missed about 40% of fake bombs, according to a separate report by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.


  • Are you surprised by this?
  • Do you notice a difference with security now than in the past?
  • Does security appear to be tighter when they raise the warning levels?

I really look forward to hearing your comments.

Have You Ever Had A Bad Month At Work? If So It Might Get You Fired!

Friday, November 16th, 2007

Have you ever had a bad month at work? You didn’t feel well and couldn’t perform at your normal level. How about you had a few things happen in your personal life that you couldn’t block out and it spilled over at the office. If you said yes to either of those scenarios and you work for The Atlanta Spirit, LLC and Bruce Levenson you might get FIRED!

Yes, I said fired.

Out of a job!

Shown the door!

Bye bye!

That is exactly what happened to Bob Hartley.

Bob was the coach of the Atlanta Thrashers, an NHL team. Unfortunately, the Thrashers lost their first six games this season. Bob was head coach for over three years so it wasn’t like he was a rookie on the job. You are probably asking yourself, "how was his team’s performance prior to this year?" Good question! Last year his team finished first in the Southeast Division.

ATL 2002-03 40 19 14 5 1 46 3rd in Southeast
ATL 2003-04 82 33 37 8 4 78 2nd in Southeast
ATL 2005-06 82 41 33 8 90 3rd in Southeast
ATL 2006-07 82 43 28 11 97 1st in Southeast

When General Manager Don Waddell was asked about a replacement, his response was "he might look for a coach that is less intense than Hartley" I wonder if Waddell didn’t like Hartley’s intensity last year while he was winning the division.

I must admit I am not a huge fan of the NHL or the Atlanta Thrashers nor am I a BIG FAN of firing someone if they have had a bad month.

  • What do you think?
  • Do you agree/disagree?

I look forward to your comments.

P.S. I have had a bad month before and I didn’t get fired!

Interesting Strategy For Movie Theatres. I Don’t Like It…Do You?

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I was reading an article last week and I didn’t realize that the number of adults who attend movie theatres is way down. Usually when I am at the movies they tend to be very crowded and I am focusing on bodies in seats not the age.

This article mentioned that a growing number of movie theatres are trying to woo more adults. They are banning youngsters who aren’t with their parents or excluding them from late-night showings.

Here is what a few theatres are doing:

Kerasotes Theatres is testing "adult-friendly" movies at 13 of its 95 locations, spokeswoman Clair Malo says.

Two theatres in suburban Chicago require patrons 17 and younger to attend a short "code of conduct" class on decorum before they can see movies at 8:30 p.m. or later without parents.

I understand the need for additional strategy to increase revenue for a company, but to put on restrictions for other age groups? Not sure that really makes sense to me. Isn’t it very short sighted for these theatres to say:

  • Sorry you can’t come in!
  • Go do something else!
  • How does bowling sound?

For one reason, teens grow up to be adults. Are they really going to a business that didn’t allow them admittance in the past? I realize the theatres are probably testing this but I hope they don’t move forward.

I can’t believe they are doing this — aren’t there any other creative options?

They are saying we don’t want your business because you aren’t old enough to conduct yourself in a mature fashion! What does that say about teens? About their generation?

Yes I have been to the movie theatre recently and heard a teen talking a little loud — so what! It didn’t ruin the movie enough to kick them out — or allow them not to enter after a certain time.

What will happen when I am 20 years older and go to a theatre and start to snore! Will they kick me out. What will happen to my kids when they are 16 and want to bring a date to a movie — nope can’t come in. UNBELIEVABLE!

  • Do you think this is a good idea?
  • Do teens ruin movies for you?
  • How would you handle the situation?

I look forward to your comments.

Even Though There Are 105,000 Of Them, I Was On Top Of The World For One Night!

Monday, November 12th, 2007

Last month, I had a wonderful experience. I had the honor and privilege to go back to my alma mater and present to an MBA Class at Hofstra University in Long Island, NY.

During Dr. Joel Evans’ Marketing 248: Strategic Decisions For Internet Marketing class I had the opportunity to present the research industry and online research.

One of the main reasons I have donated time to committees over the years is I always felt a need to give something back. Being at Hofstra was another opportunity to do just that.

I truly LOVED every minute of the four years I spent on campus. I literally grew up on the campus and was able to mature way beyond my wildest dreams.

My time spent at Hofstra last month was very special. It started with a tour by Ben Vogt, Senior Director for Major Gifts. The entire time I was walking around, I was thinking about my experience there 20+ years ago. My first few days where I met roommates Kenny Woods and Barry Packer. I looked at the ball fields where I recall scoring a touchdown and spraining my ligaments or a restaurant/bar where I had a few too many. I could close my eyes and hear the music of Nick Lowe or the B-52’s ringing in my ears from concerts in 1982. I remember meeting friends like Diane Harsch, Mike Wagner, Mike Aarons, Eli Magids, Barry Scholtzman and Kathy Dutke for the first time. I remember eating my first Blimpies sub at 4:00am.

The university has come a long way. I always said there was more to learn out of the classroom than in the classroom, and for me that has worked. What a great trip down memory lane. The school is even more beautiful than I remember it.

The night continued with a nice dinner with Salvatore Sodano, Dean Zarb School of Business and Ben. If you had told me 20+ years ago I would be having dinner with the Dean of the business school I never would have believed you. Sal was a very passionate, energetic and interesting guy. He was the CEO of the American Stock Exchange prior to accepting the Dean position at Hofstra.

Over the years, I have presented at many conferences, colleges and universities. I don’t usually get nervous. At Hofstra, I must admit I was a little anxious. . Sal, Ben and Joel thank you so much for a night to remember. To the students of Marketing 248: Strategic Decisions For Internet Marketing class my hope is that you learned one thing – one thing that can impact your life or career in a positive way. If I was able to accomplish that, then my goal was met.

During dinner Sal had mentioned that there were 105,000 alumni from Hofstra. For that one night, I was on top of the world and was the luckiest one of all of them.

Thank you for bringing back the memories and creating new ones.

  • What were you doing the last time you felt like you were on top of the world?
  • Have you ever presented at your alma mater?
  • If so, how did you feel?

I look forward to your comments.

Attention Music Lovers: Who Is The Greatest Guitarist Of All Time…….Written By Guest Writer Ed Sugar

Friday, November 9th, 2007

Guitar Heroes

Merrill got stuck in an airport last night and asked me to cover for him today.

Today’s subject is one that is near and dear to me and one that the Merrill Dubrow Blog has not touched enough on: music.

I love music; all kinds; classical, country, jazz, rock, blues, punk, house, gospel, blue grass, rap, reggae and opera. Before my career in marketing research, I spent two fast and furious years in the retail music industry. My wife, Marion, and I have close to 2,000 CDS in our house and I never leave home without my MP3 player or the car CD player loaded with discs. A day does not pass without music in my life.

I have been asked numerous times what my favorite instrument is. Hands down it is the guitar (piano, saxophone and Hammond organ follow in order). In the proper hands, a guitar can produce sounds ranging from a butterfly fluttering in the wind to that of two high-speed trains crashing head on. The guitar has been the weapon of revolutions, the flame that ignites romances and recently the inspiration for a popular computer game. In any genre of music, when it is the guitarist’s turn for a solo, the audience/listener senses that a leader, a rebel, a genius and a master is taking over.

So who’s the greatest guitarist ever?

  1. Duane Allman
  2. Chet Akins
  3. Eric Clapton
  4. Paco De Lucia
  5. Jerry Garcia
  6. David Gilmour
  7. Kirk Hammett
  8. Jimi Hendrix
  9. B.B. King
  10. Wes Montgomery
  11. Jimmy Page
  12. Joe Pass
  13. Andres Segovia
  14. Slash
  15. Pete Townshend
  16. Eddie Van Halen
  17. Stevie Ray Vaughn

I would have to say Jimi Hendrix. In a brief period (1967-1970), no musician has had such a profound impact on both a genre of music and the instrument he played. No one before him had played the guitar like he did and everyone after him has interpreted, copied and improvised his style and techniques.

Here is short list of other favorites of mine:

Rory Gallagher – Irish rock/blues guitarist, whose talents for bending metal produced a great raw sound.

John McLaughlin – Whether it is rock (the Mahavishnu Orchestra) straight ahead jazz or traditional Indian music (Shakti), there is no one faster running his fingers up and down the frets.

Tal Farlow – My favorite jazz guitarist. One of the best cool/bop jazz guitarist ever. The amazing thing is he did not take up the guitar until he was 21!

Ry Cooder – Best known for the CD and movie “Buena Vista Social Club”, Ry is considered by many to be the best bottleneck guitarist around. I especially like his early recordings that cover an incredible eclectic range of North American musical styles, including rock & roll, blues, reggae, Tex-Mex, Hawaiian, Dixieland jazz, country, folk, R&B, gospel, and vaudeville.

Richard Thompson – For years I thought of him as just a great singer and songwriter, until I saw him at UCLA in 2005. Just like John McLaughlin, he is a master of both the acoustic and electric guitar.

Duane Allman
Eric Clapton
Jimi Hendrix
Andres Segovia
B.B. King
Ry Cooder
  • Who are your favorite guitarists?
  • Who is the best ever?
  • Who have I not mentioned or slighted?

I look forward to your comments.


About Ed Sugar:

Ed Sugar Vice President, On-Line Communication

Ed brings over 15 years of experience and knowledge within the market research industry. His expertise includes data collection (mail, telephone and on-line studies) and data processing (coding, tabulations and customized reporting tools) for consumer, business to business, healthcare, entertainment, travel and tourism, automotive and customer satisfaction studies.

Ed is currently the Vice Chair of the Marketing Research Association’s Business Services Workgroup and Director Program/Events for the Southern California Chapter of the MRA. In recent years, he has served as Chair of the MRA’s Program Committee, Chairman of the American Marketing Association‘s Ethics Committee, President of the Southern California Chapter of the AMA and on the Board of Directors for the Travel and Tourism Research Association. In 1994 he was the recipient of the AMA Special Merit Award and the Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter of the AMA’s “12th Man Award”. In 2000 he received TTRA’s President’s Award and in 2003 was presented the MRA’s Award of Excellence. As a part of the MRA’s 50th Anniversary, he was honored as one of the association’s 22 “Industry Leaders.” He has previously presented at MRA’s Annual and Fall Conferences, as well as regional programs for the MRA Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Southern California Chapters, the Southern California Chapter of the AMA and the TTRA Annual Conference.

Ed lives in Sylmar, California where he enjoys baseball (big Dodger fan), jogging, dinning, collecting CDs and spending time with his wife, Marion, and their four cats.

Let’s Bring Our Hands Together For The Winner Of The MRA Celebrated Company Award!

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Marketing Research Association (MRA) fall conference and among the many solid presentations there was an award presentation. Colleen Moore Mezler, President of the MRA, presented the annual ward.

Each year, the MRA recognizes one company to receive the Celebrated Company Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize a company who has provided outstanding volunteer efforts and/or who has shown outstanding support at the national and/or chapter level for five years or more.

This year, this award will go to a company that began in the garage of a New Jersey home, where the founder started her business in 1966.

For over 40 years, this company has provided data collection services that have helped companies understand and realize their potential in the marketplace, and has established high standards of professional, courteous and quality service. In addition to 13 established research facilities in major cities across the U.S., they also acquired a London-based research company in January 2006.

At the local and national level, this company has consistently provided outstanding volunteer efforts and has shown great support to both the Marketing Research Association and the opinion and marketing research profession. This organization has been instrumental in many events, programs and boards and has ultimately had a profound influence on the MRA and the industry it represents.

With significant current involvement on the chapter boards in Southern California, Atlanta/Southeast, Philadelphia, and Greater New York, and current representation on the MRA National Board, it would be difficult to find a company who is presently allowing so many of its key members to volunteer at such a high level for our association and profession.

The MRA’s Celebrated Company Award is the highest honor a company in the marketing research profession can achieve. Past recipients of this award include CfMC and Galloway Research.

It is hard to imagine what the MRA would be like today without the contributions of this company. So it is with respect and appreciation for their achievement that we say "congratulations" to Schlesinger Associates and The Research House for this award honoring 40 years of exceptional service to this great industry.

When Debbie and Steve were on the podium they accepted the award for their family. That word means something different to them — because to them, "family" is everyone who works with them–from the hundreds of part time or full time employees who have spent years and years at the company, to the new employee who started last week. Knowing them as I do, I am sure they were all choked up in accepting the award and wish their Mom Sarah could have attended the ceremony.

If you haven’t had a chance to meet them you should. All of their staff are very special and care deeply about this great industry.

Again, congratulations, Schlesinger Associates. You deserve to be the recipient of the 2007 Celebrated Company Award.

Please feel free to post any well-wishes to the Schlesinger team. I am sure they would love to hear from you.