Did Tostitos’ Fiesta Bowl Halftime Show Go Too Far?

Last night, I nearly gagged watching the ill-advised shenanigans Tostitos pulled during the Fiesta Bowl halftime show.

To summarize, Tostitos — the title sponsor of the game — partnered with USO to surprise four families by reuniting them with a loved one returned from overseas. The families had been brought down to the field and honored for their sacrifice. All of the sudden, a curtain dropped to reveal four servicemen, and 30 millions Americans looked on as emotion and shock flooded the field.

Was it touching? Absolutely. But the moment wasn’t ours. We didn’t deserve to be a part of it. It was a highly personal moment — branded, commercialized, and corporatized for your viewing pleasure. And judging by the mostly positive reviews on Twitter, it went over quite well.

The halftime show was a sort-of kickoff for the Tostitos Reunite America campaign. According to a Frito-Lay press release, Reunite America is “a program that will foster consumer-requested reunions of all kinds nationwide during 2011.” The release goes on to say,

Current pop culture trends show that consumers are looking for ways to reconnect, not just online, but in real life. From television shows that spotlight high-profile reunions to the recent trend in tracing ancestry roots, people are seeking out long-lost connections. With that in mind, the Tostitos brand intends to make desired reunions a reality for many people who otherwise might be limited to connecting with friends and family online, or not at all.

Please. Stick to chips.

It’s one thing to reconnect with an old friend, co-worker or classmate. However, reuniting with a family member who’s served overseas should be considered something sacred, not a marketing opportunity.

I’m not the only who reviled the halftime show:

Of course, there were plenty of positive reviews, too. If you can evoke powerful emotions in a consumer, nearly any campaign will be well-received. But take a step back and think about if military families reuniting was really Tostitos’ moment to own, whether it should’ve been used to sell some chips or drive people to a Facebook page.

(For the record, the Tostitos Facebook page received about 1,000 Likes in the half-hour following halftime — roughly a 0.003 percent conversion rate with a viewing audience of 30 million. Not good.)

Did you see last night’s halftime show? What did you think? Did Tostitos take advantage of a great opportunity or did they undermine their own campaign before it got off the blocks?

Newsflash: I Didn’t Win the $355 Million Mega Millions Drawing

Last year, in an attempt to drum up traffic on The Miller Times, I argued the lottery is rigged to be won by large groups of people, like a high school janitorial staff, hospital cafeteria workers or linemen at a factory.

I told readers I would buy a Powerball ticket and I would share the $107 million jackpot if they commented on how they would spend it. By the time the drawing came, the jackpot would’ve been split so many ways, I would’ve been lucky to cover my student loans.

We didn’t win, just for clarification. In a way, I was relieved. I started thinking about all the lawsuits, the false claims, being the idiot who promised away shares of $107 million only to be left with like $34,000 to himself. It would’ve been a nice story, sure as hell would’ve drummed up traffic, but it might’ve driven me to the bottle.

I didn’t get a ticket for last night’s Mega Millions drawing, a $355 million jackpot which will be split by at least two winners. Winning tickets were sold in Idaho and Washington, but the winners haven’t yet been identified.

When I think about winning the lottery — and this used to be a hobby when I was a kid — I never thought about what I would buy, but rather, how I would secure the ticket from the time I won to the time I claimed the prize. That’s not something you go on Facebook and Twitter to brag about. At least not until you have a big-ass check in hand. Discretion is a must. Go somewhere safe. Hell, go into a safe and don’t come out until you can claim that prize. Breathe lightly, though.

You don’t get to sleep the night you win millions of dollars. You make a list of people with whom you intend on sharing the money and exactly how. For me, it goes like this:

  • Each family member gets seven percent, straight up.
  • My friends get a car (under $100,000) and I pay off their student debt.
  • My girlfriend gets whatever she wants.
  • I buy a minority stake in the Minnesota Timberwolves from fellow Minnesota State alumni Glen Taylor, then buyout David Khan to become general manager.

Can’t a boy dream?

Instead, it’s business as usual at NE Taylor and 18th, where a well-to-do blogger wraps up another one so he can go to work and earn his keep the honest way. Meanwhile, lucky winners in Idaho and Washington experience a chain of events that will eventually land them on E! True Hollywood Story: Curse of the Lottery Part 3.


If Plow Drivers Knew Geometry, We Wouldn’t Have This Problem

As the East Coast endures an adorable blizzard compared to what we’ve seen this winter, I’m challenging my fellow Twin Citizens to rise up and fight back against the plow terrorists — al-Plowda, if you will.

We live on a quiet corner in Northeast Minneapolis, and on that corner, you will find a pile of snow that’s up to my chest and extends nearly eight feet. This snow bank was made possible by the bozos who plow our streets.

I can get past a little snow at the end of my driveway so long as it means my street’s clear and I can get to work. But I’m responsible for the clearing of Mount Snowmore all because some plow driver failed high school geometry. Sweet use of tax dollars.

Bitter? Of course I’m bitter. We’re past our sixth snow emergency in the snowiest December on record in Minneapolis, and that’s not even counting the walloping we’re supposed to get at the end of the week. Guess where that snow is going to end up.

Holy herniated disc.

I want a snow laser. I want a weapon which, when fired at snow, simply obliterates it. I want to wipe the molecules from the face of Earth. Matter, gone.

I’ve got a four-day work week which runs into a four-day weekend. Bless it. Time to shovel without totally compromising a weekend.

Portlandia: Portland Dream of the ’90s Video

This is exactly what I was writing about. Portlandia is a six-part original comedy short series premieres on IFC on Friday, January 21. I’m counting on creators Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein to nail the same absurdity that ran rampant while I was there.

Lessons in Puppy Ownership: Yeah, They Whine – A Lot

Beth, Olive and I pose for our — I guess — first family Christmas photo.

My dog would rather I wasn’t blogging right now. Each time she hears me tapping at the keyboard, she pokes her head between my legs and starts to whine. It’s all about her, obviously.

And so is this post. Beth and I have owned a goldendoodle puppy now for less than a week, but she’s already come to know us as:

  • The people who pick up her poop with a grocery bag.
  • The people who use soft, high-pitched voices to say, “Good girl, Olive! Good potty!”
  • The people who lay awake, rigidly, desperately trying to maintain sanity as she whines and barks when we put her in her crate at night.
  • The people who give her food and water, but never enough of it.
  • The people who put her on a string and pull her around the block.

Olive is a sweet, slight dog. She doesn’t clumsily run around the house, scratching up our wood floors. Her accidents have been few and far between, usually a matter of us missing signs she needs to go out or a result of her afternoon freak-out session after Beth’s put her in the crate. She’s getting good at tricks like “sit” and “fetch.” Most impressively, she hasn’t pooped indoors — yet.

But nighttime. That’s when things get dicey. We chose to crate train Olive because we knew there would be hours out of the day we wouldn’t be home, and she needed a place she felt was hers. She’s ever-so-slowly taking to domestic life, but not without a fight. A loud one, at that.

As living arrangements go, ours are not ideal for raising a whiny puppy. We’ve been putting her to bed at 10 p.m., knowing she’ll throw a fit before collapsing in exhaustion. The hard part is knowing above us lives a first-year law student and a first-year graduate student who are quickly coming up on finals. We lay in bed, ignoring the whines as we’re supposed to, but both picturing the neighbors above plotting to help Olive escape.

Maybe now wasn’t the best time to get a puppy.

But when would it ever be the “right” time to get a puppy? We’re always going to be employed or we’re always going to have vacations scheduled or money issues or unforeseen life obstacles. Throughout this process, we’ve shot down any doubt by reasoning dumber people have owned happy dogs.

At least I hope that’s the case.