Case Rip Cord Goes Back in Time

The Case Rip Cord is officially over a year old. Woo hoo! What’s it to you? Well, if you’re in the RC, you get to hear about cases you’ve actually read. Recycled ripping is included below for your reading pleasure.

But first, how shocking is a quick glance at the Aldrich classroom bulletin boards these days? In addition to the venerable “Corporate Whore” flyers, the space now features flyers that read “Vagina.” Oh, it’s a play. Right. Regardless, a look that way is a sure cure for lazy eyelids.
On to the cases.

Dunkin’ Donuts: In class, Ashley Cockrill (OJ) said that KFC changed their name from Kentucky Fried Chicken to avoid the negative health implications associated with fried foods. She challenged Dunkin’ Donuts to make a similar switch, now that the consumption of donuts is down. Well, isn’t it enough that they already shortened the word “doughnuts” by taking out the “ugh”?

Progressive Corporation: “By engaging in mouth-to-mouth referrals, a non-standard customer was, in a sense, turned into a ‘distribution channel’ for Progressive.” Mouth-to-mouth? Progressive has, with much more than a “sense,” crossed the fine line between a quick response from their insurance adjusters and ambulance chasing. We hear their plans for vertically integrating into the paramedic industry are progressing smoothly. All of this brought to you by their CEO, “a rock star without any musical ability” who collected Andy Warhols of Mao. This case wins the award for cheesiest closing line, “As [the CEO] glanced around…looking for guidance, Mao Zedong was giving him only a quizzical look-not only once, but ten times.”

R&R: Bob Reiss graduated from HBS in 1956, which makes him our most “mature” HBS case protagonist since St. Jim Burke at Johnson and Johnson. He sold “adult games” in 1984 and made a mint, although the game was supposedly appealing because it was “non-sexual.” Strange words to describe a TV Guide version of Trivial Pursuit. Luckily, the games were carried at everyone’s favorite grocery store chain of all time, the Jitney Jungle. Anyone seen any of those around lately? Exhibit 5 is a nice article in the New York Daily News, “New York’s Picture Newspaper,” from June 12, 1984, talking about the new game. Mr. Reiss suddenly became Mr. “Reese” in the article, which thankfully states, “And yes, there is a Mr. T question.” Mr. Reese [sic] then states, “people are tired of video games and computer games.” Clairvoyant.

The USSR 1988: Uncle Joe Stalin opens the case, “Either we do it or they crush us.” Did this quote get the tune “Feelings” stuck in your head for the rest of the case too? Then we get “More than 82% of [the USSR’s] population remained concentrated in the countryside.” Now how do you concentrate a population in an area that size? “Producing planes, guns, and tanks of good quality, the Soviets stopped the German advance.” That’s funny, I always thought the biggest deterrent to Blitzkrieg on the Eastern Front was Uncle Joe’s mandate for a special production run of…winter.

Vermeer Technologies (A): Should Charles Ferguson agree to the proposed venture deal? The only possible response, of course, would be to refer to the wise words of Motown legends William “Smokey” Robinson and Berry Gordy:

Just because you’re an entrepreneur now
There’s still some things that you don’t understand now
Before you give some VC your plan now
Keep your freedom for as long as you can now
My mama told me…
You better shop around

Gotta get yourself a bargain son
Don’t be sold on the very first one
Pretty deals come a dime a dozen
Try to find one who’s gonna give ya true fundin’
My mama told me…
You better shop around

The Feeling of What Happens: “[Human emotion] is…about the world-weary voice of Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau singing Bach’s ch habe genug.” OK, that German’s means, “I’ve had enough.” Which, in addition to the emotion that last passage caused, is a pretty good way to wrap up.

Please send comments on your cases to

February 25, 2002
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