Marketers face a future driven by, um, ‘Truth Squads’

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So this where we are in 2012, a new TV show in the UK, called ‘Food Unwrapped’, dedicated to exposing the “marketing lies” of food manufacturers. The article at FoodManufacture.co.uk quotes show originator James Watt as saying, “Our aim with this program is to educate the public, to make them aware of the lies they’re fed by some manufacturers and to encourage change. It’ll be ultimately down to the consumer to decide whether they’ll continue to buy these brands, or stand up for their right to the truth in marketing and boycott the offending brands.” Why am I not surprised by this new and negative fascination with the food industry, it’s a trend that is taking root all across the globe. And you can take this to the bank, if the show catches on, we will see something like it right here in the United States. It has become so trendy to bash the industry. But maybe it’s me, maybe I’m one of the few who thinks the food and beverage industry, especially here in the US, is among the most innovative in the world. But this constant barrage of negativity from bloggers and critics is bound to take its toll, and this new TV show will just add to the suspicions many feel about the food companies and the products they produce. My advice? Marketers need to be certain, and honest, about the claims and promises they make to consumers, because there are people now, Truth Squads, poised to bring them down every chance they get.

Starbucks to Loyal Customers: Up Yours

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Starbucks is such an elitist, arrogant marketer. It never seems to have a problem kicking customers in the a** if it means more bucks on the bottom line. Forever, it seems, Starbucks has not charged vegans or lactose-intolerant customers, who are reward card holders, for shots of soy milk or syrup. But they recently ended this perk and it has Starbucks customers riled up. And Starbucks’ corporate response? It says it won’t reverse its decision, and that, as it strives to provide the best benefits to the greatest number of customers, “we realize there will be some trade-offs.” Meaning? We don’t really give a damn if you freeloaders don’t patronize our stores. That’s how I read it. I’ve never seen a company like this, that starts and stops customer perks, even the popular ones, and doesn’t seem to give a hoot what the customers think.

One from cane, the other from corn … it’s all sugar in my book

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I don’t have a problem with the Sugar Association. But I think it’s a stretch for that group to somehow portray high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) as something sinister, that somehow it isn’t sugar, and that somehow it is a threat to the health of consumers, when there is absolutely no science (none that I’m aware of anyway) that gives irrefutable evidence to support the association’s arguments. But if that is going to be the Sugar Association’s position, then hells bells, let’s just start yanking everything out of the supermarket (or restaurants and fast food joints) that has sugar in it because, to listen to the nation’s health cops, sugar in any form, and from any source, is a stone-cold threat to the health of all kids and adults. Of course, I don’t buy it for a minute. I don’t believe any food is a threat to our health if it is consumed in moderation. I have defended the Sugar Association in its defense of sugar vs the gloomy spin of the health cops, but it’s hard to defend the wicked campaign it has waged against HFCS. I say both are sugar. One comes from cane, the other from corn. Like beet sugar comes from beets, sugar can come from a variety of sources. I think consumers get all that.

GM food? I ain’t losing any sleep over it

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I don’t sit here and ponder hours-on-end about the pros and cons of GM foods. Because I have yet to actually see research that says genetically-modified food is the bogeyman in America’s food cupboard. But I have seen research that says GM food is safe to consume. Even FDA says it. So, who to believe? I can only speak for myself, but I generally tend to side with the guys who at least have some evidence on their side of the table. What do the anti-GM followers in loony California, which has the infamous Prop 37 on its November ballot, bring up as the proof that sustains their arguments? Emotion. Protests. Threats. And if you mention the pro-GM research, they quickly brand it as ‘outdated’ ‘misleading’ and ‘paid for by Big Food.’ Well, it may be all of that, who knows, but I know which side has bullets in its gun and which one is firing blanks. But what’s the big deal anyway, we’ve all been eating GM foods for years, and, OMIGOD! we’re all still alive!. I’m just saying…

Stop the disabled! Is that the Walmart way?

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Of course Walmart can be sued for “knowingly” putting its payment machines out of reach of disabled people in wheelchairs and on scooters. Why? Because it’s California and you can sue Big Business at will, at any time, for any whipped-up, frivolous reason, and win! According to an article in Chain Store Age, “The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by the Berkeley-based Center for Independent Living and two disabled individuals. They are represented by the groups Disability Rights Advocates and Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund.” Fine, launch your silly lawsuit, but what bugs me is the use of the word “knowingly” in the complaint, as if the late Sam Walton’s first act upon creating Walmart was to tell his managers, “We must do all we can to make sure the disabled are not able to use our payment machines…” Do you know how ridiculous that sounds? Walmart is all about selling. Why would it “knowingly” want to keep anyone from purchasing products in its stores? Sheez.

Please, enough with the boycott chatter

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I’m a little bothered by the antagonism some feel for Chick-fil-A. I’m a guy who gave kudos to General Mills for having the courage of its convictions and standing up for same-sex marriage and against Minnesota’s anti-gay amendment. It was not a popular decision considering gays represent such a small part of the total population of America, and that the bulk of General Mills consumer customers may not agree with the company’s position. But General Mills made an honest decision based on its corporate values. And I’m okay with that. But Chick-fil-A has also stuck to its corporate values, only in the opposite direction — its Cathy family owners are absolutely against same-sex marriage. And so it is being targeted by gays and others who would like to see a national boycott against Chick-fil-A. That would be wrong, just as it is wrong for people who are against same-sex marriage to launch a boycott against General Mills and its products. Chick-fil-A, like General Mills, does not discriminate against any group of people, it will gladly sell its products to all Americans. So everybody should just chill out with the boycott chatter. When Chick-fil-A starts banning gays from its restaurants, or General Mills refuses to sell its food products to people who don’t agree with its beliefs, then we can talk.

Mars astronauts doomed to ‘grumpiness’ from planned veggie agenda

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Well, here’s what we know — the astronauts who will man America’s first planned flight to Mars, around 2030, had better like vegetables. Because, apparently, NASA is only working with vegetarian meal menus since meat and dairy products cannot be preserved for such a long journey. No disrespect to NASA, but I would rather slash my wrists with a dull blade than spend years being forced to eat vegetarian food. Forget water-boarding, what could be more tortuous than what NASA has planned for these astronauts? Like, what do broccoli, carrots, asparagus, kale and spinach have in common? They are the five courses of a  five-course dinner aboard a US spacecraft headed for Mars. C’mon, you mean to tell me science lacks the technology to create meat, dairy and other non-veg products that can be sustained for the journey to and from Mars? Don’t Twinkies last for years?

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