In July, a McDonald's outlet in Chicago's Field Museum is closed by health inspectors who discover that the food preparation area is backed up with raw sewage and that employees have changed the expiration dates on 200 cartons of milk.
In December, Toyota apologizes for its advertising in the Beijing-based monthly magazine Auto Fan. One ad depicts a Land Cruiser towing a truck that resembles a Chinese military vehicle, thus insulting China's ever-sensitive army. The other ad shows a stone lion - a traditional Chinese symbol of power - bowing down to Toyota's Prado, a word rendered in Chinese as badao, or "domineering."
Part 1 The PC in the WC. On April 30, Microsoft U.K. issues a press release touting a new product called the iLoo, an Internet-enabled toilet equipped with a Wi-Fi broadband connection, a plasma flat screen, a waterproof keyboard, and sponsored toilet paper festooned with Web addresses. According to the release, the iLoo will "allow instant logging on."
Part 2 Johnny on the spot. Twelve days later, after much snickering in morning newspapers and on late-night talk shows, Microsoft flacks back in Redmond come up with a clever strategy for damage control. The iLoo, says spokeswoman Kathy Gill, was merely an "April Fool-like joke."
Part 3 Something doesn't smell right. The next day, realizing that nobody's buying the April-Fool's-joke-29-days-after-April-Fool's-Day explanation, Microsoft calls back reporters and admits that it had told an iLulu: The project was indeed real but has subsequently been killed. "We jumped the gun basically yesterday in confirming that it was a hoax," says MSN group product manager Lisa Gurry. "In fact, it was not."
Over the course of six months, the sheriff's department in Lubbock County, Texas, catches five suspects attempting to fool urinalysis using the Whizzinator, an artificial penis that dispenses fake pee. Says a straight-faced Dennis Catalano, the owner of the company that makes the device and also sells dried urine, "How people choose to use it is beyond our control."
In January, British radio station BRMB is fined £15,000 for holding a contest in which entrants are challenged to see who can sit on a block of ice the longest, with the winner getting free concert tickets. The station got the idea from a New Zealand website, but unlike the Kiwis, the Brits use dry ice, which, at -109 degrees Fahrenheit, is unkind to human flesh. Three participants are hospitalized.
Sunday, 1 February 2004
The 101 Dumbest Moments in Business. The "most shameful, dishonest, and just plain stupid moments" this year, anyway. Some highlights :