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"If this election shows one thing, it's that every vote counts--and counts again and again and again." -- Jay Leno on The Tonight ShowEdited by Robert McNattReturn to top

The Big Mac Looks a Little Green

The golden arches of McDonald's are taking on a new hue: green. The fast-food chain is in the final stage of testing an earth-friendly container for its Big Mac--the latest in a series of ecologically correct moves.

The new eco-package, being tested at 120 Chicago stores, is made of recycled milk and juice boxes, starch, and limestone. Although the current McDonald's boxes use recycled paper, the Earth-Shell is considered better; it uses some nonbiodegradable materials that would otherwise clog landfills. The new boxes follow two other peace offerings to environmental McCritics. Earlier this year McD's quit buying genetically modified potatoes. Then it pleased People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals by ordering its egg suppliers to house hens in bigger cages.

McD's says those moves were cost-neutral, but it won't know about the costs of the new boxes until further tests are done. The PR value, though, has been great. PETA has called a truce in its war on McDonald's, while Environmental Defense applauds the new box. Now if McD's could only fix its sagging stock price.By Michael Arndt; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

AT&T Debacle? What Debacle?

AT&T lost 40% of the long-distance market while Robert Allen was CEO. AT&T's stock price plummeted. And some of Allen's decisions--like buying computer maker NCR--were disastrous. But three years after leaving Ma Bell, Allen is reentering the technology world as an investor and director at WhisperWire, an Austin (Tex.) startup.

The company plans to launch a hush-hush telecommunications-software product that will help companies with sales and customer service. While mum about its exact nature, WhisperWire CEO Mike Kadyan brags about snagging Allen, who also brought along ex-FCC chief Reed Hundt as an investor. "My opinion wasn't formed by what might have been in the press," says Kadyan of Allen's stormy tenure at AT&T. Instead, he says he relied on a recommendation from his Dad, a retired AT&T info-tech manager, and his own positive impression after meeting Allen.

But one analyst says of Allen's new gig: "The timing is interesting. That he should appear when AT&T is facing so many incremental problems. Maybe now he feels that he is not going to be attached to the current problems." Or blamed for the old ones.By Joan Oleck; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top

The Name of This Game Is--The Name

Just how far will the licensing thing go at Eddie Bauer? The Redmond (Wash.) retailer, whose moniker already adorns Ford SUVs, a line of wallpaper, and a few other products, will now put its name on computers, thanks to a two-year licensing deal with Compaq Computer.

The outdoorsy casual outfitter has an aggressive strategy designed to maximize consumers' exposure to the brand. This newest license is for special-edition Compaq Presario 1400 notebooks, whose prices start at about $2,000--and sport a distinctive trim. Having the label on a computer, says Don Perinchief, an Eddie Bauer vice-president, "says that we are modern and that we're a go-anywhere kind of brand."

But with apparel sales struggling this year, some analysts question the priorities of Eddie Bauer, a division of catalog giant Spiegel. "Their business has been terribly disappointing," says Janet Kloppenburg at Robertson Stephens. "Their entire focus should be unrelentingly on their merchandise assortment." Translation: Designer computers won't help sell more clothes.By Robert Berner; Edited by Robert McNattReturn to top


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