Consumer Confidential: Blockbuster's woes, Skecher's ads, KFC's buns
Here's your warm-hearted Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:
-- Sign o' the times: Blockbuster will reportedly file for bankruptcy protection within the next few days. The one-time video-rental giant has more than $900 million in debt and is struggling for solvency in a world of digital downloads. The company is reportedly working with creditors on a plan to keep operating but to close possibly hundreds of outlets. I'm thinking that if they don't have a plan to go mano-a-mano with the likes of Netflix online, Blockbuster won't have much of a prayer.
-- The Federal Communications Commission is looking into complaints that a new TV cartoon based on characters created to market Skechers shoes to kids violates government rules. Federal guidelines require a bright, shining line between commercial content and programming. They also limit advertising to no more than 12 minutes per hour for kids' shows. The question here is whether the cartoon "'Zevo-3,"' which premieres on the cable network Nicktoons on Oct. 11, crosses these lines. It features three superheroes from comic books and TV ads promoting Skechers. No one asked my opinion, but I say, "Duh!"
-- And now this: Our friends at KFC (the junk-food chain formerly known as Kentucky Fried Chicken) are paying college students of the female persuasion $500 to hand out coupons for its bunless Double Down sandwiches while wearing tight sweatpants with "Double Down" written across the, um, posterior. Domestic sales are down for the world's largest purveyor of fried chicken, so the company is clearly looking to more attention-getting motifs in its efforts to get the word out about its products. However, using buns to push bunless sandwiches seems a bit over-the-top.
-- David Lazarus