Monday, March 16, 2009

Consumers Saving Some Green But Still Celebrating It This St. Patrick's Day

/PRNewswire/ -- Over 44 percent of Americans will celebrate St. Patrick's Day, recognized this year on Tuesday, March 17. And while spending is expected to hover around $3.3 billion, a drop from years past, consumers are still making sure to enjoy themselves. Trend experts at American Greetings Corp (NYSE:AM) have found that the holiday is commemorated today with more variety than ever before, making it easier, and more affordable, for everyone to celebrate their Irish heritage (even if only "borrowed" for the day.)

While spending the day on the town is synonymous with March 17 other activities, especially those that are more family-friendly, are becoming more commonplace.

Parades have been a cornerstone of St. Patrick's Day, dating back to the holiday's origins in the United States in 1737. This year, millions of consumers will take in a St. Patrick's Day parade, with the largest being held in Savannah, GA where an estimated 750,000 onlookers attended in 2006. Many cities host their own parades, including major events held in New York and Boston.

Along with parades, another popular celebratory activity is enjoying some "authentic" Irish cuisine. This year, nearly 30 percent of all consumers will be dining out to commemorate the holiday, and more than 33 percent will be making a special meal at home. Whether enjoying an over-stuffed Reuben sandwich, piping hot potato soup or filling a large appetite with Sheppard's Pie, no St. Patrick's Day would be complete without a taste of the foods that go so well with any green beverage.

Getting out to a parade or to have an authentic Irish meal are always fun, but unfortunately all celebrants this year won't have the time to get away. Be it work, school or other responsibilities, many this St. Patrick's Day will not be celebrating in grand style, but that doesn't mean they won't be celebrating. From decorations to the traditional "wearing of the green," consumers still embrace all things St. Patrick's Day. In fact, this year, nearly 22 percent of consumers will be setting up St. Patrick's Day decor at their home or office, and an astounding 82 percent will be wearing at least a little green to get in the spirit.

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Bust Your Dust Without Lifting a Finger: Enter the Nobody Outcleans The Maids Sweepstakes

/PRNewswire/ -- Spring has sprung: who wants to be stuck inside scrubbing sinks, scouring bathtubs and getting the dust bunnies out from under the bed? Let somebody else take over for the next year with the Nobody Outcleans The Maids Instant Win Sweepstakes, an online promotion from THE MAIDS(R) Home Services. Simply visit from March 16 through June 14, 2009, and enter as often as every day for a chance to win free housecleaning for a year, a Luxury Included(R) Family Vacation from Beaches Resorts, a year of flowers from 1-800-FLOWERS.COM(R) or other prizes.

Now in its fifth year, the sweepstakes offers multiple prizes led by $2,500 worth of full-service cleaning using THE MAIDS' exclusive 22-Step Healthy Touch(R) Deep Cleaning System. Contestants may also win one of three four-day/three-night Luxury Included(R) Family Vacations for two adults and two children at any of four Beaches Resorts in Turks & Caicos or Jamaica, or one of five awards of a year of flowers from 1-800-FLOWERS.COM(R).

The Maid's Healthy Touch(R) Deep Cleaning System features environmentally preferable cleaning products, a strategic cleaning approach and state-of-the-art equipment, including a back pack vacuum with HEPA filtration that can capture up to 99 percent of all dust, allergens, bacteria, pet dander, pollen and other pollutants. All work is backed with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.

For complete sweepstakes rules, to find THE MAIDS office nearest you or for more information, visit

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. A PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. OPEN TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE 50 U.S. & D.C. AND LEGAL RESIDENTS OF THE BRITISH COLUMBIA, ONTARIO, AND NOVA SCOTIA CANADIAN PROVINCES WHO ARE 18 YEARS AND OLDER. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Air transportation is not included as part of the Beaches Resort Luxury Included(R) Family Vacations prize package. Promotion ends 6/14/09. For Official Rules, prize descriptions and odds disclosure, visit Sponsor: The Maids International, Inc., 4820 Dodge Street, Omaha, NE 68132, U.S.A.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Clayton State’s Culural Shock Week

Clayton State University’s Department of Campus Life will host “Cultural Shock Week,” a week-long, campus-wide event that will celebrate cultural differences and promote cross-cultural interaction, from Mar. 26 through Apr. 2. Cultural Shock Week was developed by Lakeisa Cantey, assistant director of Campus Life.

The week will begin with a presentation by Jabari Asim, Editor-in-Chief of NAACP Magazine "The Crisis" and author of "The N Word" at 7 p.m. on Mar. 26 in Student Activities Center Ballroom located on the Clayton State University. Asim will speak about his upcoming book, "What Obama Means…For Our Culture, For Our Politics, For Our Future.”

Next, “Safe Zone Space Training” will be held on Mar. 31, from 11 a.m. to1:30 p.m. in the Student Activities Center Ballroom C. Twenty-five seats for Clayton State faculty, staff and students are available. The Safe Space program is a national movement to increase the visible presence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) student allies and places that are “safe” for LGBT students across college campuses and school environments. An ally is a member, often of the majority group, who works to end oppression by supporting and advocating for the oppressed population. Attending the Safe Space training is one way to serve as an ally and can provide you with a chance to learn about yourself and others and to create a campus climate that is accepting of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or other differences.

Following “Safe Zone Space Training,” individuals are invited to come out and be inspired and empowered by a talented group of poets. “Brave New Voices All Stars” will take place Apr. 1, at 7 p.m. in the Student Activities Center CafĂ© located on the Clayton State University Campus.
The Brave New Voices All Stars is a group of young, diverse, creative and intelligent slam poets from various areas within and beyond the borders of the United States. Between the ages of 18 and 25, each member has gathered attention in the national arena, from showcases on HBO's Def Poetry, to feature articles in Teen People and Newsweek. Brave New Voices All Stars brandishes both Hip Hop sensibility and immaculate writing.

Finally, to end the week long celebration of diversity, “CulturalFest” will take place on Apr. 2, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in University Center Quad.

Individuals are invited to come out and taste different dishes from all over the world and learn about other cultures. The event will also feature a Capoeira performance, which is an Afro-Brazilian dance form that incorporates self-defense maneuvers, at 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. In addition, students will be able to create a Birthday Chronicle that features the actual headlines from the day and year they were born.

“I hope students will understand the significance and importance behind this celebration. Hopefully, students will step out of their comfort zones and enjoy learning about and interacting with other cultures,” Cantey says. All of the events, except the Safe Zone Space Training are free and open to the public.

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sallie Mae Shares ‘How to Save, Plan and Pay for College’ Information on Television’s Designing Spaces

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sallie Mae, the nation’s leading saving- and paying-for-college company, and Designing Spaces, a popular television series that inspires viewers to make every space count and to enjoy the space they live in, today unveiled a “How to Save, Plan and Pay for College” segment to help viewers get important information for their college investment.

The segment, which aired on the WE network and The Learning Channel (TLC) and is available at, explains when and how families may begin saving for college, how to estimate college costs, what financial aid is and how to apply for it, and where to go for more assistance.

“We are thrilled about our partnership with Sallie Mae,” said Lysa Liemer, executive vice president of Quorum Productions, Inc., Designing Spaces’ production company. “They offer a wealth of information for parents who are preparing and saving for college. With easy tutorials and step-by-step solutions, Sallie Mae alleviates all of the concerns and confusion to help parents secure their children’s future. It’s never too early to start!”

The segment emphasizes the importance of scholarships, which do not need to be repaid, offers viewers tips for jumpstarting college savings and suggests the Upromise Rewards Program as a free way for families to earn rewards on their everyday purchases. In addition, it educates viewers on tuition payment plans, an interest-free alternative for families who want to pay education costs in monthly installments.

“In these tough economic times, we feel even more strongly about sharing information about college access and affordability with students and their families,” said Barry Feierstein, executive vice president, Sallie Mae. “Parents and students overwhelmingly believe that college is an investment in one’s future. We agree and are here to help them keep that investment manageable.”

According to Sallie Mae’s How America Pays for College study, conducted by Gallup, 75 percent of parents agreed that they were willing to stretch financially for the best opportunity for their child. To help families determine the full cost of college and build a plan to pay for it, the Designing Spaces show references Sallie Mae’s free Education Investment Planner available at

Sallie Mae champions a “1-2-3 approach” to paying for college: first, tap “free money” such as grants and scholarships; second, fully explore federal loans; third, fill any gap with private student loans.

Created by Quorum Productions, Designing Spaces is a half-hour informative series that inspires viewers to make every space count and instructs them on the smartest ways to make their homes more beautiful and functional. From advice on large scale renovations to small modifications, simple tips on making everyday tasks easier to decorating on a budget, this is the one show that provides you with all the comprehensive information you'll need, presented in a fun, easy-to-follow format. Designing Spaces is seen Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings on TLC and on the Women's Entertainment Network between 7:00 & 10:00 am.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Shampoo Marketing

Recently, I needed shampoo. Now, for the last 44 years my wife has been the procurer of all things shampoo; not that it is a difficult task, but she just gets it while she’s shopping. (And besides, it’s in her job description.) However, this time I happened to be in our local RiteAid drugstore, and realized “I can do this.”

So, I found the aisle where shampoo is located, ready to make a hasty selection and move on, when I came face-to-face with a myriad of selections I never conceived possible. I found shampoo for straight hair, for curly hair, for dry hair, for women’s hair, for men’s hair, for thin hair (I couldn’t find any for “fat hair.”), for color-treated hair, for baby’s, for African American’s. They even had shampoo for “normal” hair. Imagine that.

I got so confused by all these choices, and being of a technical persuasion, I decided to make a market research project out of this kaleidoscopic mass of merchandising facing me. So, I started counting. I counted the top row, and the second row, the next row, and the bottom row. There was a total of 94 different varieties of shampoo! Now, mind you, this is just “varieties;” I counted two sizes as “one” variety.

Then, just when I was shaking my head in amazement, I turned around and noticed that the shelves behind me had even more shampoo! People walking by must have wondered why a gray-haired gentleman was on his hands and knees pointing at bottles of shampoo. But I didn’t care, I was on a mission!

By the time I finished, I had counted 278 distinct varieties of shampoo! 278! Now, why would a store need to requisition, purchase, stock, code, check and count 278 different styles of … shampoo? That is American consumerism gone nuts! Are the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers really making money? ‘Beats me. I just know that from now on, I’m going to continue letting my Chief Procurement Officer buy shampoo for me.

So, after all this “research,” what shampoo did I select? Why, the one with Apple Pectin & Cucumber, of course. And how did I come to that decision? Just like any red-blooded American male would … because it was the cheapest.

by J.D. Holmes

POSTSCRIPT: The above research project occurred about a month ago. Just this morning inside the plastic wrap surrounding the Sunday newspaper came a free sample from Gillette of a new and improved, deep-cleaning shampoo possessing 75% more cleansers than the leading men’s shampoo, with an “all day clean you can feel.” Wow! 279 choices!
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Office Depot and HP Announce Sweepstakes Surrounding the Release of DreamWorks Animation’s Newest Film “Monsters vs. Aliens”

(BUSINESS WIRE)--In celebration of the theatrical release of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc.’s (NYSE: DWA) new 3D animated film, “Monsters vs. Aliens,” which opens in theaters on March 27, 2009, Office Depot (NYSE:ODP) and Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) launched the “Monster Makeover Sweepstakes,” a national promotion where one grand prize winner will receive $5,000 in Office Depot gift cards for an Office Makeover, a trip for four to San Francisco, an HP TouchSmart computer, an HP wireless printer and more.

In addition to the Grand Prize, there will also be additional prizes, ranging from HP notebook computers and printers to Office Depot gift cards and movie tickets. As an added incentive, everyone that registers for the “Monster Makeover Sweepstakes” will also receive a free official 11” x 17” “Monsters vs. Aliens” poster available at the Design, Print & Ship Center only at Office Depot.

To enter the Office Depot “Monster Makeover Sweepstakes,” simply visit your local Office Depot store and register on any in-store PC, or log on to between March 8, 2009 and April 11, 2009 and register for a chance to win. In addition to registering for the sweepstakes, visitors to the web site will also be able to download movie content such as “Monsters vs. Aliens” computer wallpaper, screensavers and movie trailers, and even play a “Monsters vs. Aliens” online game.

"Office Depot is thrilled to be working with HP on this exciting promotion surrounding a truly revolutionary animated 3D film,” said Chuck Rubin, President of Office Depot’s North American Retail Division. “This film was powered by HP technology, and with a wide selection of HP technology products available at Office Depot, our customers can use the same technology to develop their own big project right out of their home or office.”

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Open only to legal residents of the 50 states and DC, must be 18 or older. Void where prohibited. Sweepstakes ends 04/11/09. One entry per person. See Official Rules at Sponsor: The Hewlett-Packard Company, Palo Alto, California 94304.

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Tips For College Basketball Fans On How To Pick A Perfect NCAA Tournament Bracket

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Every March, “basketball bracket fever” sweeps the U.S. This year, the stakes are higher than ever for people who compete in NCAA tournament bracket contests., an online site that features a variety of interactive sports games, is offering a grand prize of $100 million (fully insured) to anyone who selects a perfect bracket of all the winning teams in the 2009 men's NCAA tournament. The contest allows participants to submit one free NCAA tournament bracket entry and up to four different brackets (by joining with a chance to win the $100 million and other weekly prizes.

“People are calling this everything from a free lottery ticket to the $100 million economic stimulus package," said Terry Dell, president of The company is working with over 300 media partners, including more than 100 colleges and universities, to promote the largest prize ever for an NCAA tournament bracket contest. The contest is also free to any school that wants to run an online NCAA tournament bracket game.

“We’re calling this the Game of the Century™, because nothing even close to this amount has ever been offered in NCAA tournament history,” Dell said. “This is 100 times larger than average prizes in the past. There are even prizes for people who don’t pick a perfect bracket.”

To help contestants better understand the strategy behind making NCAA tournament bracket selections, has prepared historical information in conjunction with Accuscore, a leader in sports forecasting. The two companies have partnered to analyze the 2009 matchups when they are announced on March 15, 2009 and generate the ultimate NCAA tournament “cheat sheet.”

“Picking a perfect NCAA tournament bracket is all about math and matchups,” Dell said. “History tends to repeat itself, so we also have compiled important historical information and used proprietary algorithms to determine the assessed risk of historical perfect brackets since 1985."

Historical Math

According to Dell, one of the best things to consider when completing an NCAA tournament bracket is the historical advancement of seeds. The chart below details the round by round wins for each seed.

Historical Advancement (by Round)

Seed 1st Rd 2nd Rd 3rd Rd 4th Rd 5th Rd 6th Rd

1 96/96 84/96 69/84 42/69 23/42 14/23

2 92/96 60/92 44/60 21/44 10/21 4/10

3 81/96 48/81 23/48 12/23 8/12 3/8

4 76/96 41/76 14/41 9/14 2/9 1/2

5 66/96 35/66 5/35 4/5 2/4 0/2

6 66/96 35/66 12/35 3/12 2/3 1/2

7 62/96 19/62 6/19 0/6 0/0 0/0

8 44/96 9/44 6/9 3/6 1/3 1/1

9 52/96 3/52 1/3 0/1 0/0 0/0

10 34/96 17/34 7/17 0/7 0/0 0/0

11 30/96 11/30 4/11 2/4 0/2 0/0

12 30/96 16/30 1/16 0/1 0/0 0/0

13 20/96 4/20 0/4 0/0 0/0 0/0

14 15/96 2/15 0/2 0/0 0/0 0/0

15 4/96 0/4 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0

16 0/96 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0 0/0

Some of the more interesting and important facts to note are:

* A #1 seed has NEVER lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament. So do not pick a number 16 seed as an upset no matter how much you like the team.
* #2 seeds have only lost four times in the first round
* #9 seeds have a higher winning percentage that the #8 seeds in the first round.
* The first round winning percentage is identical for #11 seeds and #12 seeds. Don’t focus only on the 7 vs. 12 matchup that is commonly referred to by “bracketologists.”
* #9 seed performance falls dramatically in the second round with the lowest winning percentage of any seed that makes it to that round (5.8%).
* A strong number #8 is as good as a strong #6 seed for advancing deep in the NCAA tournament, while a #7 seed has never won in the 4th round
* #3, #4, and #5 seeds that get to the 4th round typically perform well in the 4th round.
* Two #11 seeds have made it to the final weekend of the tournament, while no #7, #9 or #10 seed has ever made it.
* #1 seeds matter and boast greater than 50% winning percentages in every round.

In the 2008 NCAA tournament, the staff at released Davidson, a #10 seed, as the bracket buster for 2008, Dell said. Davidson became the seventh #10 seed in the NCAA tournament to make it to the round of eight teams before falling. “Last year, if a bracket had been entered according to the historical performance of seeds with only the one change being Davidson, that bracket would have most likely won any office pool—and some other minor variations could have made it perfect,” he added.

Basic Strategy for Multiple Brackets

To maximize the fun and profits in the NCAA tournament in March, Dell advised that people should enter pools and contests that allow multiple bracket entries. “Multiple brackets allow participants to use a variety of strategies to strive for a perfect bracket and be competitive in the contest if the perfect bracket does not hit,” he explained. is offering the largest prize in college basketball history by allowing each contestant to enter up to four different brackets to win $100 Million. In addition, the highest score of the contest that is not a perfect bracket will win a complete sports den package that includes theater seating from La-Z-Boy, flat screen TV and surround sound system.

For more details about the $100 million Game of the CenturyTM contest, visit

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Pass Go and Collect $20,850 at the 2009 Monopoly National Championship Tournament

If you’ve ever advanced to ‘Boardwalk,’ taken a ride on the ‘Reading,’ or breathed a sigh of relief landing on ‘Free Parking,’ you know the emotional ups and downs of making a deal and owning it all while playing the world’s most popular board game, MONOPOLY. Whether you’re the undisputed MONOPOLY champion in your home or just enjoy making a mint while building a hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue, you may have what it takes to become the next MONOPOLY National Champion!

MONOPOLY players of all skill levels across the country are invited to enter the competition to qualify for the 2009 MONOPOLY United States National Championship tournament. For more information on how to qualify for the National Championship, players should visit before March 12, 2009.On April 15, 2009 – better known in the United States as “tax day” – players will compete in the MONOPOLY National Championship at Washington, D.C.’s historic Union Station. The top player will earn the prestigious title of MONOPOLY U.S. National Champion, $20,580 (the equivalent of the “bank” in the MONOPOLY game), and the honor of representing the country at the MONOPOLY World Championships in Las Vegas in October 2009.

“We’re excited to bring together game players from across the country to compete in the ultimate fast-dealing property trading game using play money for the chance to earn real money,” said Matt Collins, Vice President of U.S. Marketing for Hasbro Games. “This year, we’re hoping that we will find a National Champion who will reclaim the world title that has not belonged to the United States since 1974.”

Fans of the game will be invited to take a qualifying multiple-choice quiz on
that tests their knowledge of the game and game-playing strategy. High scorers will be asked to answer five MONOPOLY-themed essay questions. Twenty-four players will be invited to compete in person in Washington, D.C. at the MONOPOLY U.S. National Championship. For official rules and qualification information, please visit To be eligible, a player must be at least 21 years old on April 14, 2009, and be a citizen of the United States. For the first time in tournament history, players will play with the MONOPOLY speed die, a new die now included with the traditional game that increases the pace of game play. Players will continue the tradition of competing on the classic MONOPOLY game board based on the streets of Atlantic City, from Mediterranean Avenue to Boardwalk.

The first MONOPOLY World Championships took place in Washington, D.C., in 1973. Since then, 12 MONOPOLY tycoons have earned the title of World Champion. World Champions have hailed from 10 different countries, including Spain, Italy, Japan, Ireland, United Kingdom and the United States. The last champion, Antonio Fernandez of Spain, earned the title in 2004 at the World Championship in Tokyo.

In 2009, Hasbro will release a new edition of MONOPOLY that will keep aspiring tycoons on their toes. MONOPOLY Family Game Night: Championship Edition introduces tournament rules and scoring to the home, inviting families to run their own nail-biting competitions. The game includes a customizable MONOPOLY trophy for the at-home champion. The Championship Edition will be available in Fall 2009 for an approximate retail price of $19.99.
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