In a year that saw the return of the Spice Girls, Led Zeppelin, polystyrene packaging bans and the Boston Red Sox, it's only fitting that Plastics News once again present its Plastic Globe awards, given to dubious or otherwise unusual newsmakers from the past year.
WAS THAT A STRIKE OR A COFFEE BREAK? AWARD: Detroit dodged a bullet this year, when the United Auto Workers had a three-day strike at General Motors Corp. and a three-hour strike at Chrysler LLC. As one supplier executive put it: “When I got on a plane, [Chrysler] was just going on strike. By the time it landed, the strike was over.”
NOT THE KIND OF PUBLICITY WE'D WANT AWARD: To Michael Carney, a Stockton, England, quality inspector at a plastics firm, who was convicted of flashing — despite his brilliant defense that he is too ashamed about the size of his manhood to expose himself to women. He showed the jury photographs taken by his wife to prove his claim.
WHEREFORE ART THOU, ROMEO … AND PEDRO? AWARD: To former Dow Chemical Co. execs Romeo Kreinberg and J. Pedro Reinhard, who were fired in April for allegedly talking with financial firms about the firm's potential sale. The men filed separate lawsuits against Dow alleging defamation and other charges. Kreinberg is seeking $600 million, while Reinhard wants $75 million — which must mean Kreinberg was eight times as offended as Reinhard.
YOUR BIAS IS SHOWING AWARD: During the Super Bowl, there were a few airings of a commercial for a Detroit-area window company, which was bemoaning the vinyl windows of its competitors. “That's plastic,” the announcer said. “Magic windows are made of fiberglass.” Watching the commercial, our Detroit staff reporter Rhoda Miel thought: “That's plastic.”
AMERICAN OVERCONSUMPTION AWARD: No wonder Americans use so many plastic water bottles. The reviews of the new Chrysler minivan note that it has 13 cup holders, which makes us ask, why does a car that seats seven need 13 cup holders?
DOES HE WRITE HIS OWN LINES? AWARD: Asked to comment on any plans to sell or spin off NBC-Universal, General Electric Co. Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Immelt told the New York Post: “That was more or less made-up stupid drivel.”
BUILD A BETTER MOUSETRAP AWARD: To former major-league pitcher Mark Littell (career record: 32 wins, 31 losses), who is marketing the Nutty Buddy, an “anatomically correct” athletic cup. Littell demonstrated the plastic cup's effectiveness in a YouTube video, where a pitching machine fires a fastball at his, uh, cup from a few feet away to show that the cup works, and that Littell might need psychiatric help.
GREAT MOMENTS IN HISTORY AWARD: An Italian maker of rotomolding equipment touted its U.S. product launch this way: “In the spirit of Christopher Colombo disembarking for the new world, 2007 marks Persico SpA's launch of their automated rotational molding equipment [dubbed Leonardo] to the American market.”
ARE THEY READY FOR THEIR CLOSEUP? AWARD: Chrysler LLC rolled out a new version of its PT Cruiser for the Woodward Dream Cruise, the “Sunset Boulevard Edition.” While the press release mentions the movie as one of the things famous about California's Sunset Boulevard, something tells us they didn't see the movie before they named it.
WHO'S THAT CELEBRITY? AWARD: To PN's own managing editor, Don Loepp. When PN closed up shop in Dusseldorf after a long day at the K show and headed for a nice restaurant, Loepp stayed behind to finish editing a video. When he finally showed up for dinner at 10:30 p.m., everyone at the PN Global Group table got up to give him a standing ovation. Loepp bowed — and apparently looked impressive — prompting others in the restaurant to applaud, too. We hear he blushed appropriately.
SIZE MATTERS AWARD: PN administrative assistant Kathie Case got a call from a reader who said he had invented something the size of a thimble, and wanted to know if we could put him in touch with anyone who could mold his “thingy.” If it's the size of a thimble, we're not sure he'll sell many.
BEST PLASTIC GIVEAWAY WE'LL NEVER SEE AWARD: Bonus packages of the Superbad DVD included copies of a phony Hawaii driver's license with the name “McLovin.” But Wal-Mart stores in the islands pulled the PVC cards because Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann was afraid minors would the use IDs to buy alcohol.
HALL 4 AWARD: There was a buzz at K 2007 about a company in Hall 4 spray-painting a nude woman. The only problem: no one seems to remember the name of the exhibit's sponsor!
MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE TRIED THIS INSTEAD AWARD: In the category of news releases we didn't take seriously, Gaul Advertising Inc. in Wayne, Pa., sent a release about a service it offers called BUZZmakers. It hires temporary workers to attend trade shows and make 25 contacts per day, talking up the client's exhibit and products. Sure, that's how we decide which booths to visit …
SAVE YOUR MONEY, DON'T GO TO LAW SCHOOL AWARD: To David Jackson, an inmate at a Walpole, Mass., state prison who sued for $1 million when the “deluxe” plastic shower shoes he bought fell apart when they got wet. He won the case and was awarded $3.50 — enough for a new pair of shoes, plus 43 cents interest.
IF AT FIRST YOU DON'T SUCCEED, SPEND AGAIN AWARD: To Basell Holdings BV and its parent, Access Industries Inc., for finally succeeding in a multibillion-dollar deal through their $19 billion purchase of Lyondell Chemical Co. in July. Basell had been outbid by Hexion Specialty Chemicals Inc. in a battle for Huntsman Corp., and was said to be in the running for GE Plastics. “I think Basell would have bought all three of them,” one industry veteran recently said of Basell's persistent shopping spree. “They wouldn't have stopped with just one.” Basell continued its money-tossing ways earlier this month, when it bought Solvay Engineered Polymers Inc. in a deal estimated at $100 million to $150 million.