5 dumbest things on Wall Street

Google's Bing sting, a spat between tax-prep services, and Kenneth Cole's Twitter blunder are among this week's stupidest business moves.

By TheStreet Staff Feb 4, 2011 12:20PM

By TheStreet Staff, TheStreet

 

Here is this week's roundup of the dumbest actions on Wall Street.

 

5. Bing's hand caught in the Google jar

One upshot from the so-called Searchgate drama between Google (GOOG) and Microsoft's (MSFT) Bing may be that search quality is only as good as Google makes it.

 

Google, which controls two-thirds of the total search market, created traps for Bing using phony words assigned phony search results. Using a mishmash like "delhipublicschool40 chdjob" as a search term, Google affixed an Ohio credit union site to the results that came back. Soon after, says Google, Bing's results for that query also turned up the same credit union.


Embarrassing for Microsoft, certainly, and scary for the rest of us since the perceived competition for the best search engine turns out to be little more than No. 2 copying No. 1. (Microsoft publishes MSN Money.)

 

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4. CBS delivers Super Bowl sack to players

The sky is blue on clear days. School buses are generally yellow. CBS (CBS) isn't going to run the National Football League Player Association's anti-lockout ad during a college football game on Saturday.

Those are all just absolute truths, with the last one driven home by a nine-figure financial obligation and bad memories of a network once starved of NFL games.

 

The NFL and its union have until March 3 to reach a new labor agreement, at which time ownership could potentially lock out players. Considering that CBS aired a 2010 Super Bowl that was watched by an average of 106 million viewers in the U.S. -- with a total of 153.4 million Americans watching all or part of the game and making it the most-watched program in television history -- there's a better chance of Charlie Sheen suiting up for the Packers on Sunday than that ad running on Super Bowl weekend.

 

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3. Tax spat

Tax-prep services Jackson Hewitt (JTX) and H&R Block (HRB) really have a knack for capturing that magical feeling of tax season -- the soft flicker of calculator lights, the smell of pencil eraser remnants, the furrowed brows of average Joes hunched over the kitchen table trying to comprehend incomprehensible tax codes. Ah, memories.

 

This year, Jackson Hewitt has opted to capitalize on the season's euphoria by filing a lawsuit against H&R Block. That's the spirit! Could there be anything more American than lawsuits and taxes?

 

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2. Pepsi CEO plays the moderate-consumption card

Pepsi (PEP) CEO Indra Nooyi trotted out a trope during an appearance on Fox Business News this week that we thought was reserved for the likes of tobacco and alcohol executives.

"Doritos are not bad for you," she said, a comment caught by Consumerist.com. "Doritos are nothing more than corn mashed up, fried up in oil, and flavored in the most delectable way."

 

Hard to argue that. After all, Twinkies are just shortcake with vanilla cream filling and KFC is just chicken deep fried and "made with the same secret blend of 11 herbs and spices Colonel Harland Sanders perfected more than a half-century ago."

 

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1. Kenneth Cole out of fashion on Twitter

Kenneth Cole (KCP) gave a lesson in how retailers and brands should not use Twitter.

 

The fashion brand posted this Tweet Thursday morning: "Millions are in an uproar in Cairo. Rumor is they hear our new spring collection is now available online."

 

It's this kind of tweet that exemplifies just how powerful 140 characters can be. Unfortunately for Kenneth Cole, it did so in the least favorable way. The post possesses the brand-damaging tone deafness you'd expect when jumping on the bandwagon of trending mob violence in the Middle East in order to draw attention to overpriced shoes and apparel.

 

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