Published on: April 4, 2011
Last Friday was April 1... and as has been the tradition around here, I started the day’s news with a few satirical pieces that made gentle fun of Supervalu, A&P and Big Y, touching on issues such as executive compensation, underperforming CEOs, and new ways to generate revenue in a tightening marketplace.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first - the story that was true had to do with Denny’s new “Baconalia!” menu and the introduction of a new ‘BaconAir” product that allows one to “breathe food.” The others were all in fun ... we kid because we love.
To be fair, though, not everyone shared my sense of satire and irreverence.
MNB user Bob McGowan wrote:Many people rely on your update as a source of industry news every day. With all of the consolidations and uncertainties affecting our industry, many individuals have been displaced and their families have been negatively impacted. Your article today was taken as fact by many and circulated widely. I understand the spirit of what you were trying to do for April Fools Day but, in light of all of the uncertainty, I think it was insensitive and ill timed.
I always feel a little bad when people tell me that they circulated my April Fools stories to their customers, co-workers and clients, thinking that these are serious pieces. A little bad, but not entirely chastised - the simple truth is that if satire works, it is because it comes close to the truth, or at least close to what people worry about.
I cannot tell you, for example, how many people have expressed concerns to me about Supervalu’s plans, and frustration that the folks at the top may not be connecting with the front lines as meaningfully as they should.
One person told me that I’d “demeaned” MNB with my April Fools joke. But I don’t see it that way - people who have been paying attention for the last 9+ years know that this site is about having a good time while trying for some level of illumination ... even if that means that like Icarus, I occasionally fly too close to the sun for my own good.
I was, however, worried by this email:Thank you four the tip on Supervalu. I was able to sell all my shares on market today before company made announcements. Cut my losses, as you say.
I hope he was kidding...
I think it says much that I got a lot more email on Friday responding to another, serious story:
“The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. announced that beginning next week it will launch ‘Senior Appreciation Mondays,’ described as “a new special discount program for seniors in all Pathmark stores. Through the program, every Monday customers over the age of 55 will be able to save five percent on their grocery purchases of more than $30, excluding pharmacy items, milk, tobacco products, beer, wine and spirits. “
A&P also said that it will launch ‘Senior Appreciation Tuesdays’ with the same eligibility requirements for customers at Superfresh stores in and around Baltimore, Maryland on Tuesday, April 5th, and at all A&P, Food Emporium and remaining Superfresh stores on April 19.”
My comment: Fifty-five? You gotta be kidding me.
People who are 55 or older aren’t seniors. And speaking for myself, I don’t want to be appreciated as such.
This isn’t just male vanity speaking. I actually think that marketers have to be very careful about this kind of stuff - that they run the risk of offending people when they suggest that people who are 55 are entitled to “senior” treatment. Most of us don’t think of ourselves that way, and don’t want to be treated that way.
At least I don’t. And I cannot believe I am alone in this.
MNB user Owen Hernandez:In response to the subject story: 5% is huge. I’m 35 and I’d be happy to be called young or old or almost anything for a 5% discount on my significant (and growing) food bill. I’d consider it an offset to inflation and say thank you every time I check out.
I get it. A five percent discount is huge, and some folks are willing to be called anything to save that cash. Especially these days. But I still think it is tone-deaf.
MNB user Georganne Bender wrote:We agree on our dislike of being called a Senior - you may recall I said those exact words at SymphonyIRI Summit 2011 during Wednesday's Generational Panel. At 55 I am not a senior citizen, so don't call me one. It's not male vanity Kevin, it's generational.
You may also recall that I said Baby Boomers have redefined aging: 55 is now middle age, we don't even begin to think we are "old" until we hit our mid 70s -- and we'll still be cool even then.
Retailers who lump all Boomers -- ages 47 to 65 -- in one big group will lose. Younger Boomers, those of us in Generation Jones, may take your "senior" discount but we'll hate you for offering it. Classic Boomers do not appreciate this moniker either.
In our speaking and consulting practice, Rich and I recommend retailers drop anything that reads "Senior", "Golden Age" -- anything that smacks of calling customers old. We've been talking about this since Boomers began to turn 50 waaay back in 1996 - there's still have a lot of work to do!
Agreed on all counts.
MNB user Mary Rush wrote:I am okay with getting a senior discount (I’m 57) but they could call it something else like “Seasoned Shopper Discount” or “You’ve Earned it Discount”.
And from another MNB user:We are baby boomers through and through!
It’s a fact that we are very rebellious against the aging process, its part of our baby boomer DNA. Really. We are the generation of “question authority” - we still are doing so, and will till our last breath. We are absolutely going to prevent that dreaded “aging” however we can, even through complete denial that it’s happening. Remember “don’t trust anyone over 30?” We invented that! And we (rather arrogantly and egotistically, as is our nature) bumped it up to 40, then 50, then 60, to suit our needs. Now we’re saying “70 is the new 30” and it’s true! (Hey, even Bush Sr. jumped out of a plane. I know he’s not part of “our” generation, but we’ll do that at 80, some of us will for sure). We’re still hangliding, bungee jumping, hiking, biking, doing yoga and gym workouts, pilates, eating healthy, taking vitamins, ANYthing to avoid “aging”. It’s just part and parcel of being part of this exceptional generation! (We’ve never been known for humility, why start now right?)
Another MNB user chimed in:Hear ya, I’m 52 and I am NOT A senior! I am getting AARP mail since age 49 – don’t know how they found me but I am offended and will never join. (Generation America makes more sense to me anyway).
However, Kevin, historically, 55 has been considered “senior”, so I must say, it is indeed vanity – not gender specific – that we feel this way. So, get over it.
Yet another MNB user wrote:Between you and me, As a 25+ year vet of CPG sales I thought every day was Senior Appreciation day at A&P...a little funny and maybe a little or a lot sad because for years that's who their Customer based has either perceived to be or is...And I'm with you, I don't view 55 as a Senior...although my knees might beg to differ in that POV.
MNB user Mike Starkey wrote:Leave it to A&P to miss the mark once again! Like you, I'm in my mid-fifties and do not consider myself anywhere close to being a "senior citizen"; however, I am looking forward to being "carded" once again for not looking like I'm 55 (or 21 so very long ago!)!!
And MNB user John Quinn wrote:Many years ago when I was still in my forty’s, and only beginning to gray up at my temples, Acme ran a seniors promotion of some sort. As I checked out of the store, the cashier asked me if I was eligible for the Senior discount? I asked her how old I needed to be to get this discount and she said 60!!! I blurted out…”do I really look 60??? (I’m nearing 60 now and still don’t look it). I told this dim wit that she ruined my day and that I would never go back in that store again… I didn’t. The store is now long gone and no doubt the lack of sensitivity training contributed to its demise.
Finally....on Friday, in “OffBeat,” I took note of a “real” BBC
report that new studies suggest that milk produced by cows within 48 hours of having given birth could help athletes improve their performance, and also could help them avoid heat stroke and what is called “gut leakiness,” which is a kind of gastrointestinal distress sometimes induced by running.
The reason? Milk produced by cows immediately after birth - also known as bovine colostrum - apparently is rich in “bioactive components” that are performance-enhancing.
My comment:All I can think if the poor cow ... she’s just given birth, she’s dealing with a new calf, and she’s got some guy pulling on her udders saying, “Come on girl, we’ve got the Olympics in two years...”
MNB user Rosemary Fifield responded:I think this story about harvesting bovine colostrum to give to athletes is just plain sad. Calves are already deprived of their natural source of nutrition and maternal connection by being removed from their mothers so we can take mom's milk for ourselves. Colostrum conveys the cow's natural antibodies to the calf, providing immunity until the calf's own system can kick in. And getting it is the calf's one chance to behave naturally for a day or two. I hope it is an April Fool's story.
MNB user John Giggy did have one reality check:Kevin, you obviously grew up as a city boy...not that there is anything wrong with that, but to get milk from a cow you have to pull on the teats that hang from the udder.
Thanks for the info. I have no intention of touching either. Ever.