BrandSnark: Good Week/Bad Week for the Big Brands

Good Week: Alphabet – Google’s parent company had a twin-win week, revealing it will give its self-driving Waymo cars – “autonomous vehicles,” as the industry likes to call them – to hundreds of Phoenix-area drivers at no cost in order to learn more about how and where they use the vehicles. This was followed in short order by Google announcing that it will ask users for help with search results (vs. relying solely on its algorithms) in order to cut down on offensive or fake content.

Bad Week: Nordstrom The luxury retailer’s unveiling of $425 jeans made to look dirty with a “caked on muddy coating” to give them a “rugged American workwear” look was derided far and wide on social media, particularly by those who actually get dirty and/or work for a living. #whosidea?

Worse Week: American Airlines – You can imagine the all-staff memos that went out across the airline industry in the immediate aftermath of United’s forced-passenger-removal fiasco: “Let’s never forget to treat our passengers with dignity and respect, and remember: each one of them is carrying a device that allows them to shoot and post video. Be on your best behavior.” Perhaps the only surprise then is that it took American as long as 10 days before video of one of its employees going off the rails and challenging an angry passenger to “hit me… bring it on” went viral. In this case, “monkey see, monkey do” feels like an insult to our primate friends.

More Tough Times: Clothing chain Bebe announced it will shutter all of its 180 stores by the end of May and one-time king of the toybox Mattel posted Q1 results that fell far short of analyst expectations, casting doubt on the company’s comeback. The company blames a lackluster Christmas that resulted in dwindling sales of Matell’s biggest property, Barbie dolls. Ken could not be reach for comment.