business news in context, analysis with attitude

We got a bunch of email about the reported boycott of some US products by some German consumers and restaurants as a protest against the US war on Iraq. Some of it castigated the Germans, some it castigated us for reporting it and giving it more credence than it deserved (though there have been a few subsequent stories in the media suggesting that it is a trend that may have some legs).

We’re not going to reprint them all here because it’ll wear you out. So let’s see if we can reply to them all quickly and succinctly:

Yes, the crack we made about German food was a little insensitive. But we try to be insensitive about these kinds of issues because we find these kinds of boycotts ludicrous, especially in view of the death and destruction taking place in Iraq.

The irony is that anyone would think that not eating cheese or wine or any kind of food from a particular country would have an effect on foreign policy at this level. Steve Martin had the tone just right on Sunday’s Oscars when he noted because of the war, there was no red carpet this year: “That’ll show ‘em,” he crowed, with that fine sense of irony that he displays in his New Yorker pieces.

If people want to boycott anything and everything, that’s fine. It’s within their rights.

Just as we reserve the right to make fun of almost anyone and everyone.

And speaking of making fun…

We posted a letter yesterday from an MNB user who made an observation about Kmart’s merchandising strategies, and said he didn’t know what the company was doing. This prompted us to joke that this lack of insight made him a perfect candidate for Kmart upper management…though we conceded that this was a somewhat cruel joke.

However, one MNB user responded:

“Cruel, no - true, yes! Does anyone in Kmart's management know what they're doing? I wonder what an executive team comprised solely of women would do for Kmart. Who better understands the retail shopping experience?

“And what about the store associates? Not only do shoppers have to contend with poor merchandise selections and run down stores, they also have to put up with people who outwardly hate their jobs! Where does Kmart find these people? Although I haven't shopped in a Kmart store in years, out of curiosity I took a look at a local store recently. It's pathetic and there doesn't seem to be much desire to look appealing. I would gladly spend my money shopping at a Target just to have a pleasant shopping experience!

“Now Target, they've got a great future ahead of them!”

The idea of bringing women into the Kmart executive office is an excellent one, and similar to a proposition we made last year -- that Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart ought to just buy the company and make it right.

Of course, this was before Martha got caught up in her own legal problems…not that these would exempt her from heading up a major corporation.

In response to yesterday’s story about an injunction against the UFCW, which has been trying to organize Genuardi’s employees in Pennsylvania, one MNB user wrote:

“The employees do not want union representation. How many times, do they have to say NO!”

It does sometimes seem like dealing with children, doesn’t it?

Finally, in response to yesterday’s email in which an MNB user commented on the silliness of grocers complaining about the war keeping people out of the store and contributing to declining sales, Earl W. Engleman wrote in to make another excellent point:

“Gee, and the restaurant industry is saying sales are off due to the fact that people are staying home and watching the war and eating at home. I guess we have our own verbal sales war on the home front. Least wise both areas seem to be in Shock and Awe of each other!”

Maybe nobody is eating? Maybe it is some kind of protest or boycott? Hmmmm….is this a coincidence?

We think not.
KC's View: