THE BLOG
12/01/2010 04:07 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Best Worst Brands of the Week Nov 23-30

Thanksgiving is met with fear every year, especially for those of us who have to face the recurring nudges of a Jewish family like "move your hair away from your face" or "you're not eating enough in New York." Usually, I need to prepare a mental survival kit so that I can meet those comments with calm and smiles. But this year it was different. I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner in my 6-inch Joe's Jeans heels and no-one said a thing. My family gets more awesome each year.

The first order of business while I was home for the holiday was equipping my 86-year-old grandma with an updated cell phone. While all her grandchildren (and her children, for that matter) are posting on Facebook, emailing, and living virtually, my grandmother must have a way to remain an efficient headquarters -- to act as the premiere source of family-related news and information. Without a computer, however, she is at a disadvantage. Facebook, unfortunately, is my grandmother's new archenemy. There are no more sets of double photographs in the mail, only updates on Facebook. So we took her to the wireless store and armed her with an easy-to-use phone, The LG Accolade, which can receive text and photos of our Halloween parties and our new apartments, outfits, 6-inch heels, and dogs with a simple, user-friendly interface. Now Miriam is more informed than ever, and stands out as an early adopter amongst her other poker and bridge game clubbers.

The turkey dinner itself in my hometown of Baltimore has accrued some wonderful rituals along the way, from shots of vodka to a new ritual of an all-kosher meal. When you walk into Uncle Jack's house, you are greeted only by women because the men, naturally, have already congregated around the Turkey Tent in the driveway. This is where the turkey fry occurs. Turkey frying is sacred. The right cigars, whiskey, and music (Joe Cocker) are as imperative as the actual turkey fryer. Apparently, the fryer needs to be of proper size and material (stainless steel). You've also got to be careful with propane, lest you burn the house down. But we have our Butterball® gas turkey fryer. After 20 years of oven-baked turkeys, our family now fries the turkey and it's the moistest and tastiest turkey I've ever had. It's a party in your mouth when chased with fennel pumpkin salad.

After dinner, there was some token football game watching, and a heated discussion ensued about GM's new "We All Fall Down" commercial. Have you seen it? It's a mini-drama that shows historical icons from Evel Knievel to the Space Shuttle and Popeye as they fail and then collectively rise. At first, it wasn't clear who sponsored this chilling, goose-bumping, after-school-special inspired ad, but at the end, the GM moniker appears along with the following line: "We all fall down. Thank you for helping us get back up." I nearly choked on my after-dinner piece of mandel bread. So ill-timed, I thought. It might a great commercial as a public service announcement to remind children who are not doing well in school, or small businesses who lost everything in the recession, or drug addicts never ever to give up. But it's not appropriate for GM. For GM, the ad serves only to remind us all that we, the American People are, at times, powerless, because while we may have put the politicians in office, we have no control over day-to-day politics and bill signing. One commenter, Sheeshtrolls, wrote "That's kind of like me getting a thank-you note from one of my kids for giving them the money to buy me a present." GM was not the only one that fell -- we all did, either directly or through those around us who went down for the count. Can we inspire GM to donate any future air time (avg :30 second unit cost = $175,000) to small businesses or job loss programs? That could change GM's public image. Not a commercial. Public Relations has changed over the past 3 years (you know, the mantra these days is to put the public back in "public relations"), and I am really hoping that Goodby, Silverstein & Partners urged their client to do more than just air this ad. And if they did not know better, you bet we (the people) do.

General Motors We All Fall Down Commercial

After leaving Baltimore on Saturday, we went to visit Washington, D.C., and dined at Café Milano -- an exquisite place to get a crash course in D.C. culture. From statesmen to journalists, you will see them all here, nametags and all. I ordered a Chianti Il Paggio, Toscana 2009, which the owner, Franco Nuschese, produces. That really did it for me. When a restaurant produces its own delicious wine, I think of nothing else to say except: authenticity. And if you don't have anything stylish to wear to dinner, get fitted for a bespoke suit before your Brodetto Di Pesce. Nuschese promotes Zegna in-restaurant and owns his own custom clothing company, Manfacto.
Cafe Milano Washington DC

On our after-dinner walk, we decided to swing by the Ritz Carlton on South Street. Along the way, I noticed an interesting commercial projection on a white brick wall. It was a series of commercials from AmericanFarmers.com to "recognize the hardworking individuals who help put food on our table -- America's Farmers." The ads were geared towards lobbyists for our food aid policies, no doubt. But the most curious part about them was that the projection was coming from a parked SUV across the street. The projector was literally in the back seat of the car. Obviously, a projection has to come from somewhere, but couldn't it come from a satellite, or at least the building across the street? Something less ghetteau than a brand new SUV? It was disappointing. So disappointing that it reminded me of the day I learned Bruce Willis was attached to harnesses during his daring high jumps in Live Free or Die Hard.

If you would like to nominate a brand, please send an email description to discover [at] 321worldwide [dot] com accompanied with samples (if relevant) to:

Alona Elkayam
c/o 321 Takeoff
419 Lafayette Street
NY NY 10003

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