Funny Business with Jane Wells


  Tuesday, 12 Nov 2013 | 12:01 PM ET

Barry Switzer's plan to take over college football

Posted By: Jane Wells

Most fall Saturdays, friends go to Barry Switzer's Norman, Okla., home to watch the Sooners' game on TV. Switzer led the University of Oklahoma football team to three national championships before joining the Dallas Cowboys as head coach and winning a Super Bowl.

Those dropping by might include former Heisman Trophy winner Billy Sims or country singer Toby Keith, settling down for the afternoon in an open-air man cave nicknamed "Coaches' Cabana."

Wouldn't it be fun to hang out there? Now you can.

The venue has become the backdrop for Switzer's latest business venture called, naturally, CoachesCabana.com. He has brought in a few cameras and is webcasting color commentary on Sooners games from the comfort of his own chair.

"It's like inviting you to come to my home and watch the game with me," he said one sunny afternoon last month before Oklahoma faced off against TCU.

(Read more: Slideshow—The 10 best-selling NFL Jerseys)

Switzer beta-tested the concept last season. During the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M, he said, his little webcast got 30,000 viewers and thousands of tweets.

"We knew right then we had something," he said.

This season, he and his partners have expanded CoachesCabana.com to more than a dozen top college programs, bringing in well-known former coaches—including Pat Jones for Oklahoma State, Jackie Sherrill for Texas A&M, Fred Akers for Texas and Johnny Majors for Tennessee—to stream their insights.

Perhaps most provocatively, Switzer has lined up Jay Paterno, son of the late Joe Paterno, to webcast for Penn State.

Switzer got the idea for the venture from business partners with backgrounds in print and television. He recalled their telling him, "We need to do an interactive type of show, where we can have fans tweet the coach, legendary coaches of these great programs around the country, and do something no one else is doing."

CoachesCabana.com is known a second-screen experience: Viewers watch the game on TV but listen to commentary on a second screen, such as a tablet or computer.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 6 Nov 2013 | 4:23 PM ET

Big Mac vs. Big King: Watch our taste test

Posted By: Jane Wells

The burger world is #atwitter with the new "Big King" from Burger King, which looks like a flame-broiled copy of the famous Big Mac. Both have two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

Except the Big King has fewer sesame seeds. And the patties taste like Whoppers. And the pieces of onion are larger.

Does that make it better?

First, a little history. The Big King is not new. Burger King debuted it several years ago in certain markets. Much like the McDonald's McRib, the Big King developed a fan base wishing for its permanent return. There's even a Facebook page dedicated to this, but if you look at the image of the burger on the page, you'll see the Big King is missing a middle bun.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013 | 11:32 AM ET

Funeral 'Selfies'? Yes, people actually do that

Posted By: Jane Wells
RubberBall Prod. | Agency Collection | Getty Images

No moment in life is either too serious or too trivial to pass without someone providing a rapid, vapid response through social media.

"Love my hair today. Hate why I'm dressed up #funeral," reads the caption of a self-portrait snapped by a young woman dressed in black. Another photo of a blonde pouting in her pink bedroom with a "Keep Calm and Rock On" sign is titled, simply, "depressing funeral selfie."

(Read more: This app makes your selfies look ... complete)

Yes, that is depressing; we don't even know how to be depressed anymore. There is tedium in every social medium to the point where even death becomes boring.

»Read more
  Thursday, 31 Oct 2013 | 10:43 AM ET

Crest toothpaste: Go ahead. Eat all that candy

Posted By: Jane Wells

Crest loves Halloween. Crest NEEDS Halloween. The toothpaste brand from Proctor & Gamble decided this year that if you can't beat 'em, make 'em laugh. It is NOT recommending that people hand out toothbrushes and floss to trick or treaters. Instead, give the kids what they want—candy.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 15 Oct 2013 | 2:56 PM ET

We need more customer service reps like Capt. Mike

Posted By: Jane Wells
Scott Eelis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

When's the last time you called, emailed, chatted with customer service and had an experience that was:

1) Helpful

2) Pleasant

3) Human

Companies take customer service seriously, and yet customers calling for help often feel like they're trying to sign up for Obamacare. It's not necessarily the customer service representative's fault. He or she often has to stick to a set policy. Going off script can get a person fired.

Maybe that's why the story of a Netflix user's encounter with a customer service rep is so refreshingly positive, it's become a big hit online.

»Read more
  Saturday, 12 Oct 2013 | 1:13 AM ET

The best ways to punish Congress

Posted By: Jane Wells
Tim Denison | E+ | Getty Images

Let's see. If I decided to stop working, I'd get fired. If I shut down my company, I'd get arrested.

Congress and the president have taken their sweet time trying to agree to terms for reopening the government, but not only are they still on the job, they're getting paid! What kind of punishment is that? Where's the deterrent there?

(Read more: White House sees progress on debt ceiling, shutdown)

So if we can't fire them, and we can't stop paying them, how can we punish those running the show before the next election rolls around?

Let's be creative.

Some suggestions:

Mandatory prancercising. Nonstop.

Have them answer their own phones during voter drunk dialing.

»Read more
  Friday, 11 Oct 2013 | 1:41 PM ET

Yikes! 'Carrie' promo scares New Yorkers in cafe

Posted By: Jane Wells
Still from the new release of Carrie.
Source: Sony Pictures
Still from the new release of Carrie.

Wanna scare members of Congress and the president into reaching a deal to reopen the government? Put Carrie on the case.

In what may be the creepiest (and potentially actionable!) promotion ever for a movie, a viral marketing team from Thinkmodo hired by MGM planted actors and special effects inside a New York coffee shop to pull a "Carrie"-inspired meltdown on innocent customers.

(Read more: Down about shutdown? Drunk dial Congress)

"Carrie" you may recall, is the Stephen King story about a high school misfit who discovers she has supernatural and super deadly powers. The Sissy Spacek version gave me nightmares in 1976, and now the movie is being remade starring Chloë Grace Moretz in time for Halloween.

»Read more
  Thursday, 10 Oct 2013 | 2:06 PM ET

Shutdown got you down? Drunk dial Congress

Posted By: Jane Wells
Marilyn Nieves | Vetta | Getty Images

Is the shutdown driving you to drink? At least there's finally an opportunity to drunk dial someone without regret.

DrunkDialCongress.org is a website that launched Thursday morning, which puts you in contact with a random member of Congress so you can "Call & Yell."

The site provides drunk dialing talking points. "My grandma can't get her cancer treatment," or "My kids won't stop yelling at me about camping."

(Read more: States most and least likely to be hit by government shutdown)

I tested it out. On the site I entered my phone number and received a recorded call from a man who sounded like he'd had a few too many. "I like to tell people whasss on my mind," he slurred. Soon I could, too. Through that phone call I was randomly transferred to someone on Capitol Hill—Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind.

"Has anyone called you using DrunkDialCongress?" I asked. "I'm sorry, can you repeat that?" said the friendly receptionist after a pause.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 9 Oct 2013 | 3:07 PM ET

Bye, Mickey! Disney stock certificates to vanish

Posted By: Jane Wells
Source: Bob Kerstein from Scripophily.com

Disney animation has gone digital.

So have Disney stock certificates.

In a filing earlier this month, The Walt Disney Co. announced that it would no longer provide paper stock certificates after Oct. 16. Beyond that date, "all shares of stock of the Company would be issued, recorded and transferred solely in uncertificated book entry form."

Certificates for shares already issued will still be recognized as legitimate but once transferred, "reissued shares would be only in uncertificated form," the company said.

"Disney is one of the five most-popular modern certificates," said Bob Kerstein of Scripophily.com. But the death of paper is inevitable, he said, as "everyone is trying to control costs."

Facebook chose to skip paper certificates altogether, but Kerstein said there are still some interesting ones from tech companies such as Apple and Yahoo. Starbucks, Harley-Davidson and Manchester United still provide physical proof you own shares, and Kerstein said some unique start-ups use them as a marketing tool of sorts—"Medical Marijuana, on hemp paper." Not ZigZag paper, apparently.

(Read more: Cramer's Disney Interview: Buy, buy Iger?)

»Read more
  Friday, 27 Sep 2013 | 12:45 PM ET

Do women 'need a dude' to help them buy a car?

Posted By: Jane Wells
Ty Wright | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Buying a car is like a root canal. Without the anesthesia.

I hate it.

As much as I love the feel and smell of a new vehicle, I cannot abide the process of acquiring one. It is funny business of the highest order.

More on my own experiences in a moment.

Four out of five women take a man with them to go buy a car, according to a 2006 study by Capital One. The Internet has brought about some improvements by better informing all consumers about a car's true value, and DePaul University research suggests women are more aggressive negotiators online than they are in person.

»Read more

About Funny Business with Jane Wells

  • If it was up to Jane Wells, she’d spend her entire day combing Mother Earth for stories and observations just for this blog. She has more fun writing Funny Business than anything else she does... professionally, that is. Funny business is whatever Jane considers hilarious, strange, fishy, or ridiculous, which pretty much covers everything on Wall Street. It is her hope this blog makes you smile, even when the news is grim. After all, it's only money.


  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.