reporter's notebooks in a trash can

Starbuck’s holiday cups; big, Big Macs; Cubs buying frenzy: The BloomReach Relevance Report

Last chance before we elect a new president. Read the BloomReach Relevance Report — early and often.

Starbuck’s annual cup of controversy

Starbucks community cup

Ah, autumn. The leaves changing. The bracing chill. The anticipation of holidays yet-to-come. And a nation going bat-s crazy over the design on Starbucks cups.

Yep, the annual tradition is underway: People finding Starbucks paper cups not Christmas-y enough, even though this week’s switch to a green cup with a sketched homage to community wasn’t intended to have anything to do with anyone’s holidays.

No matter. Holiday traditions are hard to shake.

Yes, Starbucks had cup trouble last year when they went with a basic holiday red — no Santa, no reindeer, no Christ child etc. The company said the plain canvass allowed customers to create their own holiday story, which makes a lot of sense to us.

It can be hard to remember, as we are bombarded from mid-October through most of December with commercials, print ads and Internet come-ons for Christmas, that not everyone celebrates Christmas. Not even all coffee drinkers celebrate Christmas. So why not leave a little wiggle room in the cup department?

Anyway, one interesting thing we noticed in the extensive news coverage of the 2016 cup controversy is that some of our favorite angry tweets appear to be tongue-in-cheek. Which is a slight chink in our internet-outrage armor.

Emily Keeler’s Twitter feed, for instance, appears to be the feed of someone who enjoys a good laugh. And Jazmine, whose Tweet lacks any clues that it’s meant as a joke, later tweeted that it was meant as a joke.

That said, they’re good, so we’ll share them here in the spirit of being nonsensical.

 


 


Oh yeah, Starbucks actual holiday cup is due out next week. Brace yourself.

The Cubs are the curse for one e-tailer

Cubs Joe Madden

Let’s just say online orders for Chicago Cubs gear are way up from the last time the major league baseball team won the World Series.

Uber and Fanatics came up with a 2016 solution for those looking to hop on the bandwagon: The on-demand ride service and the sports-team clothing and memorabilia retailer set up a deal where Chicago-area fans could order caps and T-shirts on the Uber app and have them delivered within minutes.

No word on whether the Cubs were involved in a similar scheme, perhaps one using horse and buggy, when they last won the World Series in 1908.

 


Our sources, OK Twitter, indicate that the Uber thing is working out OK.

 


 

In fact, the Cubs long-awaited victory was a bonanza for all kinds of retailers, according to Internet Retailer. Even Crate & Barrel, which does not sell Cubs gear, but which is headquartered in Chicagoland, adorned regional websites with Cubs-related messages, IR says.

Cubs gear sold like crazy this season, Internet Retailer reported in a separate story. If you drill into the data, you’ll note that Cubs fans were not born yesterday. Well over half the merchandise sold was sold in the month of October. Nobody was going to go all-in early on the Cubs, which have a long history of, well, blowing it.

Not this year — and the team’s logowear sold at a pace more than eight times the league average. And those numbers were crunched before the Cubs won the World Series.

But not all was well in Wrigleyville in the wake of hell freezing over. Sports World Chicago provided a case study in the difficulties of scaling an e-commerce business when it got swamped with more orders than it could handle, according to Internet Retailer.

overwhelmed website

Sports World’s owner told IR that the operation simply doesn’t have the staff to handle the number of online orders coming in. He added that the online store brought in six figures in sales in a 24-hour period.

The brick-and-mortar operation, across from Wrigley Field, continues to function.

We’re going to guess that Sports World Chicago will be in a better position to handle the rush by the Cubs next world championship in 2124.

Collard green with envy

Collard Greens

Of course we’ve had our doubts about whether “any publicity is good publicity.”

But then along comes Neiman Marcus and its collard greens. Maybe you’ve heard: Among the really expensive things to buy for people you really like that are featured in the retailer’s annual Christmas Book are $66 collard greens ($81.50 with shipping).

Yep. The veggie side, long associated with Southern cooking and soul food, is now apparently the haute-est of haute cuisine. And if you thought Twitter lost its mind over Starbucks’ cups, you haven’t seen Twitter crazy.

 


Face it: It’s a target rich environment. Some were sure that Neiman was oblivious to the place collards play in African American culture. Nicole Taylor, who wrote “The Up South Cookbook,” told the Washington Post that collard greens were considered poor people’s food when she was growing up. Serving collard greens was nothing to be proud of, she told the news outlet.

The $80 price tag might change all that.

And if you’re wondering who would buy collard greens for $66 when you could get the same amount delivered for about $7 (plus shipping) from Good Eggs, you should note that the Neiman Marcus collards sold out.

Not to worry: You could always serve the Good Eggs collards and just say you got them from Neiman Marcus.

Or, as USA Today points out, you could just go ahead and get the Baked Bean Medley for $80, plus $18 shipping.

Hey, it’s Christmas (or it will be in about two months). Why not?

And this Big Mac is just right

Big Mac

It’s long overdue. Long, long overdue these coming changes to McDonald’s Big Mac. We mean, why serve one Big Mac when you can serve three.

Yep, starting early next year, fast-food fanatics can order a Big Mac, a big Big Mac or a small Big Mac, according to Advertising Age. What a country.

When you think about it, the burger with the middle bun is 50 years old. No, not the Big Mac you had for lunch — the idea of the Big Mac hamburger, which launched in Pittsburgh in 1967. Why not shake things up a little?

Micky D’s head honcho says customers have been clamoring for different ways to enjoy the one-of-a-kind taste of the Big Mac, which weighs in (get it?) at 540 calories, AdAge says. Oh and it also reminds us of McDonald’s last attempt to change it up with Big Mac: The Big Mac wrap. No, not a song.

The Snack Wrap Mac, the news site says, was half a patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions wrapped in a flour tortilla. Haven’t seen one in years.

Anyway, no reason was given for going bigger, but no real reason needed. More Big Mac for guys named Big Mac (and others who like to eat). Think of the trouble it would save this guy.

The small size, the company line goes, was launched because diners (and we use the term loosely) wanted a Big Mac that was easier to eat on the run.

Just what we need: More people eating fast food, faster.

Some, OK Brian Sozzi over at The Street, are not impressed. Biggering and smallering the Big Mac simply isn’t innovative enough, he says. Besides, he adds, the Big Mac special sauce has always been blech and remains blech.

Here at the BRRR it looks to us like McDonald’s is flailing around, trying figure out how to give people what they want now that they discovered that not everybody wants exactly the same thing.

Remember this guy, who made the biggest McDonald’s hamburger ever? You saw this coming, didn’t you. And yes, the whole point of this item is to post this video again.

Quote of the week

“It has much higher-end items. I always tell people we don’t want to be a Nordstrom’s, we want to be the Nordstrom’s of thrift.” — Goodwill of Silicon Valley CEO Michael Fox told the Resident newspaper, regarding the agency’s new upscale second-hand store.

Photos: Starbucks cup and Reporter’s Notebooks by Mike Cassidy; Joe Madden by Bailey Cassidy; collard greens by stereogab, published under Creative Commons license; Big Mac courtesy of McDonald’s.

Mike Cassidy is BloomReach’s storyteller. Contact him at mike.cassidy@bloomreach.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.