America’s business by Larissa Faw
EVERY YEAR, more than eight million children in the United States send letters to Santa Claus asking for Christmas gifts. But, this year, Dallas-based nonprofit Thanks-Giving Foundation is encouraging children to send thank-you notes to Santa after they’ve received their presents.
The Thank You Note project is a new program conceived by the organization “to encourage people to practice gratitude in their daily lives”.
Teaching good manners to kids is just the beginning, however, as the foundation has plans to extend to other occasions, including Mother’s, Father’s, and Veterans’ days.
Mark Denesuck, founder and CEO of the foundation’s advertising agency, Commerce House, says: “Kids are at the stage where they’re forming habits and this is a great one to adopt. By getting kids to do it, we hope to expose their parents to the practice as well.”
Holiday stat attack
Online shopping-coupon provider CouponBox.com has come up with some fun facts from the holiday season.
The average person travels 275 miles for Christmas and spends $805 on gifts;
Americans purchase more than 1.6 billion greetings cards during the Christmas holidays;
150 million chocolate Santas are made each year;
The USA produces 1.76 billion candy canes each season, enough for each American to eat five;
Men were twice as likely as women to purchase electronic gifts this season, with 35 per cent saying they would do so against 19 per cent of females respondents; and
People spend six times more money on gifts than food during the holiday season;
Click to buy
More than half of Americans – 53 per cent – said they planned to use their laptops to shop this holiday season, while 39 per cent said they’d use their home computer and 24 per cent their mobile phone, according to online discount store ebates.com.
Shoppers also told the site they planned to use their cell phones to research gifts before making their final purchases, with 54 per cent turning to their mobile phones before purchasing on a computer.
There are 60,000 Red Box DVD rental kiosks in retail stores, giving the movie-and-video-games renter more outlets than any retailer, including Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.
Today the solar industry employs more than 170,000 people in this country, more than the coal industry.
And, in California, the solar industry employs more people than the five big utilities combined.
At least United Health Services is honest about charging people top dollar for their medical treatment, even if it now prefers to call itself a “behavioral business” rather than a healthcare provider.
“If you try to commit suicide or you overdose on drugs and alcohol, you are not going to be in a position to decide whether you should or shouldn’t be admitted to the hospital,” says the company’s Steve Filton.
“That decision is really being made generally by somebody else who is effectively economically insensitive to what your economics of the situation or concerns might be. So, I think that’s another reason why the behavioral business has generally proved to be more – I’ll call it – recession resistant.”
This holiday season, Belgian beer brand Stella Artois wanted to give city-dwellers a taste of something they don’t experience too often ¬– the wonder of a starry sky so, together with its ad agency, Mother London, and production company, UNIT9, the brand whose name is derived from the Christmas star brought to life pop-up installations in New York and Buenos Aires inviting people to experience and interact with a seemingly infinite night sky like one they’d never seen before.
Canadian resort Whistler Blackcomb may be best known for its snow skiing but summer tourism is increasingly becoming a significant part of its business and 26 per cent of its visitors last year came during the summer months .
Activities they enjoyed included sightseeing, hiking, bike parks and summer glacier skiing, which were up 5.2 per cent from 2014.
There’s a significant change in how people listen to music, says online music service Pandora. Apparently, 80 per cent of people still listen to traditional radio but the other 20 per cent expect to hear a specific song or want to build a customized playlist.
“They grew up with YouTube as a reality and so anything you want anytime is at your fingertips,” says Pandora’s Mike Herring.
“And so there’s a way of thinking about music that’s different from that perspective. It doesn’t mean that they don’t want to hit play.”
In recognition of the 25th anniversary of movie Home Alone and its place as a holiday classic, filmmaker 20th Century Fox and its agency TVGla have introduced a social-media campaign leveraging the iconic image in which left-alone kid Kevin McCallister puts his hands on his face and screams: “Ahhh.”
As part of the initiative, fans can visit a meme generator to pick a Give ’Em The AHHH Face background, write a caption on the image around Kevin’s face and download or share the resulting meme.
There is also a Home Alone GIF keyboard app available on iTunes.
Editor’s note: You can find the meme generator online through the links included in our electronic version of this article above.
Caught with their pants down
The acquisition of Jos A Bank by fellow apparel retailer Men’s Wearhouse is not going well and it seems there’s trouble in store.
Bank sales for the first five weeks of the fourth quarter were down by 35.1 per cent, worse than the expected decline of 20 to 25 per cent.
Worried about the risk of missing the low end of the company’s sales guidance range for the year, Men’s Wearhouse’s Doug Ewert says: “What we did not know then but do now was just how toxic some of the promotions were and how deep and far reaching the transformation required would be.
“And how significantly near-term performance would suffer as we began to execute painful but necessary steps to restore the long-term sustainable profit model and reshape the business towards a healthy and growing Jos A Bank.”