October 03, 2008

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While I'm Thinking About It

Some things are just stupid.

Have you seen what 7-Eleven is doing? They're selling coffee in specially marked Obama and McCain cups. Cute gimmick, and even somewhat appropriate given their long history of Big Gulp and Slurpee collector's cups. The thing is, they're tracking sales of each cup, and giving the results to USA Today, which then reports on it as if it's some sort of legitimate news story.

According to the "fun facts" on the 7-Election site, not only isn't this the first time they've done this (a fact I was completely unaware of . . . in 2000 and 2004 I was getting my carbonated, caffienated, flavorated sugar water elsewhere, and as such wasn't paying attention), but results from the past couple of go-rounds have been almost accurate as a predictor of the final vote tally come election day.

DO I EVEN HAVE TO EXPLAIN HOW STUPID THIS IS?!?

Look, it's a cute gimmick to get people to buy their coffee. But lots of folks will never buy 7-Eleven coffee. Loyalty to another chain, perhaps. Frugal types who brew their own. Folks like me who have never developed a taste for the vile, undrinkable bean squeezings and never touch the stuff. Even though "every cup counts," folks like us don't get to play.

My real problem is tallying up the results of this informal, unscientific, self-selected marketing gimmick with no limits beyond just how much coffee a person can consume, and reporting it in a national newspaper as if it had any legitimacy. I don't care who's leading in this fake poll, I care that someone looking at the "results" in the paper is going to get distracted by the pretty colors and fancy layouts and think it any statistical validity whatsover.

Rant over.



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