retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email responding to the stories and commentary about hospitals banning not just smoking, but smokers, as they look to present a more healthful image and more effectively manage their own healthcare costs, as well as the article and email about the grocery executive arrested and charged with soliciting sex online from a girl who identified herself as a minor.

I have been with you and the letter since day four and I need to help you...

Kevin, all this stuff on smoking and pervs needs to fade and fade fast.  You have built a personal brand that is strong and growing.  The only way you severely damage a personal brand image is when you push too far into peoples’ lives via your carrier (MNB).

I am sorry for your loses but the choice our friends and parents make are THEIR choices and we honor them.

Look forward, do not dwell on these type issues and guide the retail industry’s mornings with the beat of your news!

Smart marketers know that the most valuable emails you get are the ones that criticize you - because a) they force you to think about what you are doing, and b) they come from someone who cares enough about your product to complain.

However...I must say that I’ve thought about this a lot, and I respectfully disagree with you.

Let’s start with the child prostitution arrest. I’m an old newspaper reporter, and that was just an interesting story on all sorts of levels, having to do with someone notable within the retailing business. And I’d be willing to bet that whether people liked reading that story or not, because it made them uncomfortable or queasy or whatever, it was one story this week that almost everybody did read. It’s called “news,” and I would not have been doing my job if I did not write about it.

As for the smoking story...

When I mention the death of my mom from lung cancer here on MNB, it is usually to put my opinions about the tobacco industry in some sort of context; I think that in this case, that kind of transparency is required.

I actually think I was fairly balanced in my commentary on that story, because I am genuinely conflicted about it. I tried to lay out the pros and cons, and stimulate discussion and thought among the MNB community, which I think is what happened.

I respect your opinion and thank you for your criticism, but that’s my “personal brand image.” I push the envelope in terms of what I write about and how, I say stuff that sometimes is uncomfortable, occasionally I go too far ... but mostly I just try to be more interesting than everyone else, while acknowledging that MNB won’t be for everyone.

On the subject of whether one can or should decide not to hire people who are smokers, MNB user Brian Fox decided to make a movie connection:

I can't believe Minority Report didn't somehow enter into the hiring debate....

Spielberg has characterized the story as "fifty percent character and fifty percent very complicated storytelling with layers and layers of murder mystery and plot."

The film's central theme is the question of free will vs. determinism. It examines whether free will can exist if the future is set and known in advance. Other themes include the role of preventative government in protecting its citizenry, the role of media in a future state where electronic advancements make its presence nearly boundless, the potential legality of an infallible prosecutor, and Spielberg's repeated theme of broken families.

Love it when you guys bring up the movies...

Got two great quotes from MNB users yesterday, both referring to issues of innovation, and I thought they were worth sharing:

“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn." - Alvin Toffler

Responding to my story about Nuval nutritional labeling in which I wrote that “the NuVal approach uses a proprietary system to rate every product in the store on a 1-100 scale ... with 100 being the best to eat,” Nuval’s Mike Nugent wrote:

The higher the score, the better the nutrition.  Higher score = better nutrition.  I appreciate the reporting and don’t want you to stop, but I also am trying to avoid the wrath of the entire industry by calling things good, bad, best, worst, unhealthy, healthy, red, yellow, green, that sort of thing.

Point taken.

But will you forgive me if I were to suggest that while you may be endeavoring to avoid the wrath of the industry, you also are engaging in a kind of semantics?

And, from another MNB user:

I know people are probably tiring of the Chick-Fil-A vs. gays with an agenda story, but I couldn't help but chime in something that I've thought about since prop 8 was originally introduced into California.  It made me wonder about the reasoning of its supporters and still does.

A highly religious gentleman that I know is vehemently against gay marriage and took the opportunity of Prop 8's introduction to be very vocal about his disapproval of what I would consider equal civil rights.  What fascinates me to no end is that he is thrice married, his first marriage having ended based on his infidelity and likely his second as well.  His history is common knowledge and yet no one challenges his faith or involvement in his religious community.  I, personally, have to suppress laughter when I hear the man speak of "the sanctity of marriage".

If people want us to legislate biblical values (throwing the founding of this nation based on separation of church and state out the window, I might note), shouldn't he and those like him be banned from every remarrying?  I thought there was some rules in the good book about coveting thy neighbor's wife.  Not that I'm a proponent of that, I just think it's a kind of fun question and would love to hear a response from those on the other side of this issue.

I’m sure we’ll hear from “the other side” on this.

But think of it this way. He must believe in marriage because he keeps doing it....
KC's View: