Sochi, Russia – The United States is sending its largest-ever contigent to a winter Olympics, with 230 athletes competing in Sochi. But there is a bigger story.
When the American Olympians enter the stadium at Friday’s opening ceremony, each will carry an open bottle of Russian vodka. As soon as they reach the front of the VIP stand, they will pour the vodka into the parade grounds.
The reason? It is to protest the embargo by the Russian government of a shipment of Chobani Greek yogurt which was supposed to be fed to the U.S. athletes while in Sochi. The yogurt shipment is in limbo at a New Jersey airport. The U.S. government has accused the Russians of using this nutritious food as a vehicle to show who’s in charge.
To counter the U.S. public protest, Russian officials have mandated that all American athletes undergo a blood test two hours before their respective scheduled competitions to detect even the slightest trace of vodka in their system. “Intimidation tactics,” one U.S. Olympic official said.
Chicago, Illinois – There was a time when YMCA was the top fitness and health club in the United States. Over the last decade, however, YMCA’s ranking has been slipping, thanks to aggressive marketing strategies pursued by newer clubs like 24 Hour Fitness, Club One, Fitness 19 and Bally Total Fitness. Unlike its top competitors, the “Y” has been slow to resort to social media in its membership campaign. This could very well be the reason that the club is not reaching the younger generation of gym enthusiasts.
As part of its efforts to revitalize its club facilities nationwide, YMCA has enlisted the support of its current members to recruit family and friends, offering financial incentives for every new member they sign-up. To launch this membership campaign, YMCA has sent a survey to all its existing members asking them how they learned about the club, as a way to determine the best medium to advertise for new recruitment.
As completed surveys started pouring into the national headquarters in Chicago, YMCA’s communications and marketing departments could not believe what they are seeing in the survey. On the question “How did you hear about the YMCA,” a whopping 65% of respondents said “Village People.”
The “Y” is reportedly considering to hire the 70’s American disco group to headline its new advertising campaign. The campaign’s meme? “It’s fun to stay at the Y.M.C.A.”
San Francisco, California – On ‘Spare the Air’ days – which observers say San Francisco has been declaring more frequently in the last couple of months – residents are prohibited from burning wood, even on a cold winter night.
Now, the City by the Bay, considered the most environmentally-conscious in all of the U.S., has imposed new restrictions on these designated days. The new rules prohibit residents and transients alike from bringing certain aromatic foods on board MUNI and BART trains and buses.
Included in the banned items are bagoong, the fermented fish or shrimp paste used in popular Filipino dishes like kare-kare; any kind of curry dishes; kimchee; and even Sriracha, the much-loved hot red chili sauce that almost disappeared from the market lately. Only unopened, sealed bottles of Sriracha will be permitted.
(It will be recalled that last November, a California judge ordered a partial shutdown of Huy Hong Foods, makers of Sriracha, because residents complained of spicy smells the Irwindale factory was producing.)
Pizza was originally included among the banned items but the powerful lobby representing San Francisco Italian restaurants and pizzerias was able to convince city officials to strike it off the list.
Train and bus riders caught violating the new rules will be charged with a misdemeanor and will be stripped of their riding privileges for up to 30 days. Additionally, repeat violators will be fined $19.99.
Private employers are also reportedly considering a similar ban in employee breakrooms.