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I whined … you listened: Readers react to recent blogs

Thanks guys!
Thanks guys!

Ask and ye shall receive.

Someone (OK someone at the local Coca-Cola bottling plant) found for me a bottle of Stacy Coke, as per my plea in last week’s blog about the soda giant’s clever personalized Coke promotion.

And while it may have been easier for someone who actually works for the bottling company to find my name, guess what – I’ve got good news. They’ve found yours, too.

Well, they sort-of found yours.

With the huge success Coca-Cola-Inc. had with its original name promotion in Europe last summer, and the huge reaction it had here with the launch of the promotion in the U.S., Coke has answered the pleas of the Sybils and the Semayas out there who were pretty sure Coke wouldn’t have their name.

At Musikfest next Sunday and Monday, Coca-Cola of the Lehigh Valley will be helping festival goers personalize their own cans of Coke.

The promotion is similar to one Coke has already had twice this year at Dorney Park, to strong positive reaction from participants.

It’s not quite the same as finding that one Calvin can in the Coke aisle at the supermarket, but Coke will be printing custom labels that festival goers can wrap around seven-ounce cans of Coke.

You can read all about it in my story about product placement at Musikfest in the Lehigh Valley Business print edition that comes out Monday.

It seems that besides scoring a bottle of Stacy Coke, I hit a nerve with last week’s blog. Many people wrote to me saying the promotion was fun and how they, too, hoped to find their name on a can or bottle of soda.

My only blog that got more reaction was the one the previous week where I bemoaned the drop in quality at some of the nation’s casual chain restaurants.

Everyone agreed that with a few exceptions, many of the national restaurant chains had been going down in quality for too long.

Those restaurant execs apparently heard me, too.

Well not literally.

I’m sure the only place a TGI Friday’s executive was holding up a printout of my blog shouting, “We gotta listen to this reporter,” was in my own delusional mind.

However, at least one corporate restaurant exec has heard the grumblings of the disgruntled patrons who are sick of the declining quality such restaurants are offering.

Instead of offering more, cheaper and faster, Kim Lopdrup, the newly appointed CEO of Red Lobster, which was recently spun off from the Darden chain of restaurants, said that under his leadership things would be going a little more upscale.

“At the end of the day, people are not going to go a Chipotle for their anniversary or their birthday,” he said in a statement to the Associated Press.

And so he’s ordered the company to stop trying to act like one.

With one reporter describing Red Lobster’s goal as becoming “the everyman’s restaurant of choice for finer dining,” Lopdrup seems to have heard what the other execs are missing.

Nobody wants to ask their sweetie out for a romantic evening of cheap, cut-rate lobster.

Even people who can’t afford the finest four-star restaurant want to feel like they’re getting a little more than a full-stomach when they walk out the door. They want an experience worth having and a meal worth eating.

It’s good to know someone was listening.

Let’s hope more restaurant execs get the message.

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