Business journalism can be a pretty sobering profession these days, what with all the talk of foreclosures, a possible recession and Donald Trump's reality TV career. At least we've had some light-hearted news to provide some balance in 2007.
Business journalism can be a pretty sobering profession these days, what with all the talk of foreclosures, a possible recession and Donald Trump's reality TV career. At least we've had some light-hearted news to provide some balance in 2007. Biggest project that will never die: Fall River's former mayor famously pledged to kill the proposed LNG terminal in that city with a ``thousand paper cuts,'' through legal challenges and political maneuvers. By my last count, we've easily passed 900. But the developers, including Hess Corp., still won't give up. Best code name: Project Hummingbird (aka Bristol-Myers Squibb) landed here last year in the former Fort Devens, but Project Magellan set sail this year for another country. Thankfully, it looks like Project Julia - a movie studio complex - is on track for its big break in Plymouth. Best use of laser technology: Leave it to Jim Koch and the crew at The Boston Beer Co. to come up with this: Apparently, a laser-etched groove in the bottom of a pint glass allows Sam Adams beers to hold more of their carbonation. And who says the city of Boston still isn't at the forefront of technology? Strangest trademark fight: A real Sam Adams in Portland, Ore., was surprised to get a letter from a lawyer for The Boston Beer Co., asking him not to use two campaign Web site addresses that contained his name. The company wisely backed down when it learned that Sam Adams was a real person. ``They say they've been using this trademark since 1984,'' the candidate said. ``I've been using it since 1963.'' Strangest trademark fight (runner-up): Everyone who lived through the '80s knew that if you wanted a good time, you call 867-5309. But these days, that number apparently will land you in a legal mess. Consider the suit filed in Boston by Gem Plumbing & Heating of Lincoln, R.I., against Benjamin Franklin Plumbing after both companies had been using the memorable number as a marketing gimmick. Most bizarre ``rebranding'' effort: OK, so calling the Natick Mall just ``Natick'' was a bit presumptuous. But the developers at General Growth Properties who expanded the mall to include higher-end shops like Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus must have had a better back-up choice than the Natick Collection, which sounds more like a museum exhibit than a shopping mall. Smartest real estate deal: Mullen finally decided to trade in its longtime home in a mansion nestled among the horse farms of Wenham for digs in downtown Boston. Apparently, the ad agency decided it wanted to attract hip creative types to work there instead of polo players. Most surprising real estate deal: So Boston Mayor Tom Menino wants to build a new City Hall on the South Boston waterfront. The plus side: killer views, cheaper parking. The cons: less-than-central location, move could mean that the naming rights for the Government Center station are up for grabs. Strangest marketing effort: The geniuses behind ``Aqua Teen Hunger Force'' hand out Lite-Brite boards with a character giving the finger and ask underpaid artists to attach them to various structures in and around Boston. Sure, it was kind of a bummer that it caused the bomb squads to be mobilized. But at least it made the TV show a household name around here. Strangest marketing effort (runner-up): An East Longmeadow firm that makes a homeopathic treatment for intestinal distress holds a contest to find the best fart joke. The winner gets a $1,000 gas card. Strongest protection of home turf: The end of Krispy Kreme in Massachusetts came not with a bang, but with a whimper, as the once-mighty doughnut chain slunk out of its last Mass. shop in Dedham with no fanfare. That line in front of the Centre Street Dunkin' Donuts doesn't seem to be getting any shorter, however. Biggest disappointment in state government: The state finally flirts with a more competitive auto insurance system - and only one new insurer shows up. Wait, that insurer happens to be owned by Boston-based Liberty Mutual, which already has an extensive auto insurance business in the state. So much for competition. Most disappointing retail news: It's bad enough that we had a holiday season go by without Filene's in Downtown Crossing. But no Filene's Basement? Well, Payless is still there, so we know the neighborhood hasn't gone totally upscale on us yet. Most disappointing financial news: The Boston Stock Exchange's demise was unfortunately so long in the making that it didn't even merit front page treatment. Next thing you know, Fidelity will start shipping jobs to some out-of-the-way place like Smithfield, R.I. Most disappointing manufacturing news: Boston Beer Co.'s Freetown flirtation officially ended with a plan to buy a brewery near Allentown, Pa., instead of building one here. That followed the news that it would hire the new owners of the old Rolling Rock brewery in Latrobe to brew Sam Adams beers there. Don't worry, it can't change its name to the Pennsylvania Beer Co. - much of the Sam Adams inventory is still made in Cincinnati. Most surprising business venture by a local celebrity: Sure, we all knew Curt Schilling was tech-savvy. But who could have predicted that his post-baseball plans would have included a company that makes computer adventure games? Most surprising business venture by a local celebrity (runner-up): Aerosmith isn't necessarily trying to target the skateboarders with its AOR-friendly music. But that didn't stop drummer Joey Kramer from helping a skateboarding enthusiast in Norwell open up a hip skate shop on Newbury Street. Best business quote: I was tempted to give this award to that Sam Adams guy in Oregon. But then I remembered what Braintree developer Tom Flatley told me, with his trademark Irish wit, when he had cut a deal to lease one of his Braintree buildings to the Archdiocese of Boston: ``I would never charge the House of the Lord the market rate.'' Jon Chesto, business editor of The Patriot Ledger, may be reached at email@example.com.