Our panelists tell three stories of a company revamping its public image, only one of which is true.
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CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR News quiz . I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Mo Rocca, Faith Salie, and P.J. O'Rourke. And here again is your host, at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
Thank you, Carl. Thanks everybody. Thank you.
KASELL: Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!
LORENTZOS PAPANICOLAOU: Hi, my name is LP, and I'm calling from Cohoes, New York.
PAPANICOLAOU: Yes, it's a long Greek name, so I shortened it.
MO ROCCA: Now you have to give us the whole thing.
SAGAL: Yeah, tell us what it is, the whole thing.
PAPANICOLAOU: It's Lorentzos Papanicolaou.
ROCCA: Oh, I'm hungry. Sounds delicious.
SAGAL: That's the one with spinach, right?
SAGAL: It is true that all Greek words sound delicious. I don't know why.
ROCCA: They do, it's true, yeah.
SAGAL: Well welcome, it's nice to have you, LP.
PAPANICOLAOU: Thank you.
SAGAL: You're going to play the game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is LP's topic?
KASELL: Makeovers for everybody
SAGAL: Not every company can go to Don Draper when they need to improve their image. Actually, no company can, he's a fictitious. Our panelists are going to tell you a story about a company that had to revamp its public face and did it in an interesting way. Guess the real story, and you'll win Carl's voice on your voicemail. Ready to go?
SAGAL: First, let's hear from Mr. P.J. O'Rourke.
P.J. O'ROURKE: They brought back Twinkies, they brought back Ho-Hos, they're bringing back Lehman Brothers. But you're saying Lehman Brothers? They went bust. They're bankrupt. They don't exist. Well, the Lehman Brothers brand name was purchased from creditors by the Wall Street venture capital group Black Star, and they're repositioning Lehman Brothers as the go-to brokerage for people who own poorly performing stocks and bonds and troubled derivatives and commodity contracts. The new Lehman Brothers, never leave a brother behind, pitch.
O'ROURKE: Are you an unsuccessful investor? We understand.
O'ROURKE: Are you getting zero returns, carrying huge unsecured debt, making complex market plays that result in enormous losses? Been there, done that.
O'ROURKE: Are you experiencing a financial crisis? Call Lehman Brothers, the people who invented financial crises.
SAGAL: Lehman Brothers coming back as a troubled bank for people in trouble. Your next story of a burnished image comes from Faith Salie.
FAITH SALIE: When you think of adult diapers, you probably think of June Allison(ph) and other folks who were born back when the incontinents were joined.
SALIE: A new, hip diaper company called Content wants to change all that. Taking a cue from the publishing world, where young adult books are wildly popular, Content wants to make young adult diapers bestsellers. Content co-founder and CEO Sherwin Perry(ph) says he came up with the idea when he was out drinking with his buddies.
As Canadians, we're too nice to say, excuse me, I have to relieve myself, explains Perry. Momentum is everything when it comes to meeting women. This way guys don't have to stop a great conversation with a lady. Diapers come in fashion-forward neon colors and camouflage prints because they promise to make you feel so confidently sexy that by the end of the night you'll want to be seen in them.
SALIE: Content young adult diapers have taken off through a series of viral videos that almost seem like "Saturday Night Live" sketches. In one online commercial, a 20-something man sweeps a woman off her feet at a bar and takes her home. As they start to undress, she catches a glimpse of his diapers, decorated with maple leafs, and she whispers: Brings new meaning to, did you bring protection.
SALIE: Another ad shows a man cajoling his late-night date: Do you really have to go? And she purrs: I already did.
SAGAL: Adult diapers getting a makeover as young adult diapers. And your last story of extreme image improvement comes from Mo Rocca.
ROCCA: (Singing) I love you, you love me, right this way to Cell Block C.
Don't be surprised to hear that Asahikawa Prison(ph), Japan's only prison with a mascot. The cuddly 6'6" mascot named Katakurichan(ph) has a big square face, an enormous purple flower for hair and wears a warden's uniform, adorbs. Quote, "Prisons have this image of being isolated places surrounded by imposing gray walls," says one of the prison's publicists. "And people tend to consider them unwelcome in their neighborhood."
Well, this mascot is already making a difference. At the prison's annual fair - and doesn't every prison have an annual fair - Katakurichan was a huge hit with kids and cons. The town hopes to make its prison a place you'll want to get into.
SAGAL: So let's review your choices here, LP. From P.J. O'Rourke you heard about somebody trying to revive the brand of the failed bank Lehman Brothers. From Faith Salie, how adult diapers are being rebranded as young adult diapers. Or from Mo Rocca, a Japanese prison improves its image by getting a big, cuddly mascot. Which of these is the real story of a rebranding attempt?
PAPANICOLAOU: Do you happen to have a fourth choice?
SAGAL: No, I'm afraid...
SAGAL: I'm afraid we're fresh out.
PAPANICOLAOU: Oh boy. I'll take a shot. I'll go with three.
SAGAL: Three, OK. You're going to go with Mo's story. Well, to find out the correct answer, we spoke to someone familiar with the truth.
IRA KALB: I think that the mascot, when they're putting on this friendly air, and you know it's a prison, a lot of people here are going to think that really bad things are going on there.
SAGAL: That was Ira Kalb from the USC Marshall School of Business about the Japanese prison that has, in fact, gotten themselves a mascot. So congratulations, you did get it right, LP. Well done. You earned a point for Mo, and you have won our prize, Carl's voice on your voicemail. Well done.
PAPANICOLAOU: Thank you, guys. Keep up the good work, thank you.
SAGAL: We will, bye-bye. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.