business news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding the evolving strategies at JC Penney, MNB user Cathy Sturm wrote:

While I don’t know all the particulars of CEO Ron Johnson’s strategy at JC Penney, personally I am exhausted by all the sales and coupons brought on by the economic downturn.  At several retailers, I now feel I’m going to get ripped off if I don’t have my coupon in hand when I walk in the store.    If Penney’s can convince me that I’m going to get a good value for the merchandise I want without needing to remember a coupon or buy off the sale rack, then I will be going there more often.

Regarding Johnson's management style, MNB user Mike Franklin wrote:

In my experience, very few individuals make the sole difference…it’s usually the team around him/her that takes the vision…modifies the vision through adding/ subtracting appending their experience and expertise and then implements. Usually when you have an individual that takes credit for a success…you have an individual with a large ego. Just sayin’...

In all fairness, I'm not sure that Johnson is depending the attention as much as people like me are giving him all the attention because he was a force behind the Apple Store.

MNB user Katie Whelan wrote:

Kevin,  people will shop at JCP (or any great retailer) when the ASSORTMENT is right.  The price needs to be relevant but first and foremost the product has to be right.  Of course, the product can only be right when the brand message is clear. (H &M.)  I think JCP has the cart and the horse out of order.  That said, I know Ron and he's brilliant.  I'm rooting for JCP!

More about Disney's decision to mandate that all products advertised on its child-focused television channels, radio stations and Web sites must comply with a strict new set of nutritional standards. (The new standards are based on federal guidelines as well as input from recognized national nutrition experts. First Lady Michelle Obama was at Disney's announcement yesterday at a Washington, DC, press conference.)

MNB user Frank Seymour wrote:

I think the most important sentence in the article was the one regarding the implementation date of 2014.  An election, time and the balance sheet may dilute some Disney's ambitious plans.

From another reader:

As a HUGE Disney fan with two little Disney Princesses in the house, I watch a LOT of Disney Channel and Disney JR. I don’t watch Disney XD as it is a little too old for my kids.

For the two channels my girls watch, Disney has ALWAYS placed a focus on nutrition in the “commercials”. There aren’t actual commercials on the channels. Sponsors have a 15 second window to peddle their goods and not before every show. Usually it’s a toy.

They had their Pass the Plate segment which showed Brenda Song showing kids how certain foods like noodles, fish, fruits and veggies are eaten around the world by other kids. Then they had Chef ZeFronk, an animated dog with a French accent which taught how to make healthy alternatives to snack foods kids love to eat. Then 2 years ago they started the Healthy Living campaign with Michelle Obama. A variety of Disney stars discuss foods and how to eat with the First Lady. The segments do not say you can’t have this or that. It is about teaching moderation in foods, including desserts and how you have to be active, regardless of what and how you eat. Teaching how to make good choices and hopefully teaching parents at the same time, something most miss in teaching child nutrition.

One of the sponsors of Disney Jr programming is Chuck E Cheese, which I always found perplexing. However, they never show the pizza. It’s always kids doing some physical activity. The tag line is “committed to keeping kids moving.”

At Disneyland, and I noticed this before I had kids, they have always offered a healthy kids menu. Turkey sandwich, PB&J sandwich, a salad, lightly breaded chicken breast tenders with a side of apple slices or a piece of whole fruit and the only drinks you can get is water, milk or 100% fruit juice. I always found it amazing how many parents would ask for a burger, fries and a soda and get mad when they were told they could not get it for kids. If they wanted it they had to pay for an adult meal. I noticed they no longer offered Mac and Cheese and when I asked about it they told me it no longer fit into Disney’s Child Nutrition Guidelines so it got axed. Will there always be sugar and deep fried treats? Of course. Disney destinations are in fact vacation spots, where treats do abound. They TV channels do not perpetuate sugary and fatty foods.

What Disney is doing now is just taking the next step in a plan they activated years ago.

On a different subject, MNB user Evan Stanley wrote:

Today you stated:

I've been saying this almost since the beginning. No matter how you feel about lean finely textured beef, public opinion has reached the point where it can't be used anymore. It is time to move to the next issue...

In response to the sentiment that “it’s time to move on to the next issue,” I feel such a mentality may be too premature and defeatist regarding the pink slime fiasco. Yes, the public has overwhelmingly opposed the use of pink slime.  However, the public often has stubborn opinions or practices that should still be discouraged. For instance, the American public continues to purchase enormous amounts of plastic water bottles (and recycles little), despite perfectly safe tap water. The environmental impact is immense. Yet despite the public opinion being at the point where overuse of water bottles is inevitable, I still applaud efforts to reduce the waste.

I realize the comparison is not perfect. However, the science seems to suggest that the use of pink slime is perfectly safe (if not healthier, as it is leaner) and we have been happy consuming it before we thought the process sounded gross. And the end result of banning it is waste. We end up paying more and not fully utilizing the cow, which means more cattle will be killed to provide us with the same amount of beef. Perhaps with some education (and not sensationalized news stories) the public would change their opinion. Or maybe not. Regardless, I think it’s too early to call it quits. In some sense, I think you can never call it quits regarding public opinion.

KC's View: