Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, February 03, 2021

i hate those guys
John Vernon, forever known as Dean Wormer in Animal House, has died at the age of 72.

I’ll have to remember to fire up the DVD this weekend. I’d do it tonight, but I’m about to step out.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/03/2021 08:11:07 PM
Category: Celebrity, Movies | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Where would generations of adolescents have wound up without the “ABC Afterschool Specials”, which more or less got shelved sometime during the first Reagan Administration?

Don’t ask me. I may have just missed the curve on them: Hitting the start of my tender years around 1983, I think I was among the first budding teens to brave the world without their sage advice. I may have watched a couple of the last ones, but I don’t remember them. I think I preferred cartoons and infrequent Planet of the Apes marathons over corny teen angst schmaltzfests.

But plenty others in my generational range remember them, and are doing the time warp with recently-issued DVDs of the show.

Amazingly, the shared experience of watching “Afterschool Specials” echoes what I wrote just yesterday about the nature of fragmented television audiences:

University of South Florida professor Elizabeth Bird, a cultural anthropologist, said nostalgia, especially for television, is a common phenomenon. But the generation looking back now to the specials could be among the last to have such a widely shared experience to relive together, thanks to the broad menu of choices available on cable now.

Younger people who watch the Specials now will likely snicker and consider themselves more sophisticated than their counterparts back then. But adults who saw them the first time around will be taken back in time, Bird said.

“My parents went through the Second World War, and a lot of their cultural touchstones come from that era,” Bird said. “A lot of this generation’s touchstones are television.”

It’s a little sad, isn’t it? Especially when those touchstones consist of lines like these.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/03/2021 07:34:20 PM
Category: TV, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback (1)

The current rounds of high-profile mergermania deals include some valuable real estate that exists only on Wall Street: The coveted single-letter New York Stock Exchange symbol.

It’s a bit comical how much aura is associated with the “F” for Ford Motor Company, or the “L” for Liberty Media. It’s like being the Cher or Madonna of the stock market! Or they’re like uniform numbers for pro athletes — maybe future business transactions will involve specific provisions for buying and selling just the right symbol.

Maybe this explains why they’re sometimes guarded by the exchange, as potential lures:

The NYSE Web site claims ticker symbols are assigned on a “first-come, first-served basis,” but the process is not quite that straightforward. Many Wall Streeters believe the exchange is keeping I and M in reserve just in case Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. decide to leave Nasdaq for the NYSE. The exchange declines to comment on the issue.

Here’s the current lineup of single-letter NYSE stock exchange symbols, including those currently idling. If/when some pending deals go through, this list will change a bit:

A: Agilent Technologies Inc.

B: Barnes Group Inc.

C: Citigroup Inc.

D: Dominion Resources Inc.

E: Eni SpA

F: Ford Motor Co.

G: Gillette Co.

H: * (formerly Harcourt & General Inc.)

I: * (formerly First Interstate Bancorp)

J: * (formerly JNet Enterprises)

K: Kellogg Co.

L: Liberty Media Corp.

M: * (formerly M Corp.)

N: Inco Ltd.

O: Realty Income Corp.

P: * (formerly Phillips Petroleum Co.)

Q: Qwest Communications International Inc.

R: Ryder System Inc.

S: Sears, Roebuck & Co.

T: AT&T Corp.

U: * (formerly US Airways Group)

V: Vivendi Universal SA

W: * (formerly Westvaco Corp.)

X: United States Steel

Y: Alleghany Corp.

Z: * (formerly Foot Locker Inc.)
* Not in use. Last user is in parentheses.

But, really, how much brand identity can a public company inject into their stock symbol? I’m not sure it’s worth much consideration. I can’t believe that, for instance, Alleghany Corp. is getting much recognition over having that “Y”.

It gets even wackier when you look beyond the single-letter group:

Some companies opt for names that represent a primary product or business line. Two of the most famous in that department are BUD for Anheuser-Busch Cos. and COKE for Coca-Cola Bottling Co.[Ed. Note: This isn’t Coca-Cola Co., which has “KO” as its symbol; it’s an affilated entity.] There’s CAKE for the Cheesecake Factory and EAT for Brinker International, which owns restaurants.

Some tickers are a little more obscure, such as MarineMax’s choice of HZO. That’s a play on H2O, the symbol for water, in case you’ve forgotten chemistry class. Catalina Marketing opted for POS, which stands for “point of sale,” for those who aren’t into marketing.

If anything, these cutesy letter combinations are useful strictly at the time when a company goes public: Because that’s a prime marketing opportunity, the symbol should fall in line with all the other promotional hype to mark the event. But after that blows over, who cares? It’s purely a shorthand marking for use on the big board. They might as well use numbers.

On the other hand, this does demonstrate how ingrained marketing principles are corporate operation, almost regardless of industry. Public image counts when you’re selling stock.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 02/03/2021 04:15:25 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business | Permalink | Feedback