retail news in context, analysis with attitude

...with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary...

Advertising Age reports how how Unilever has developed a "Real Moments" ad campaign for its Dove Men+Care brand, built on real-life fatherhood scenarios that it hopes will make it stand apart from other campaigns that often depict men as falling in one of three categories - "alpha males with chiseled abs driving high-powered sports cars, guys obsessed with winning the affections of women or buffoon dads."

Says Unilever's Rob Candelino, "We hear from 73% of men that they're falsely or inaccurately depicted in advertising."

I think that Unilever is absolutely right in this observation about how men often are depicted in advertising, and I applaud the decision to try something different. I get frustrated all the time when I see ads that use stereotypes to sell product ... such ads represent lazy thinking and a lack of creativity, in my view. (And yes, I would point out that the ad business, long dominated by men, has been equally lazy or even more so in how it has depicted women in ads. If this is what they mean by equality, I'll pass.)

One recent commercial that I actually like a lot is the one that shows a father playing catch with his young son ... but it ends up that the kid probably isn't going to be very good at throwing a baseball because his father isn't, and is teaching him all the wrong things. I like this commercial, even though it has an unexpected joke at the expense of the dad, because it shows him out there, playing with his kid and trying his best. It is funny without being condescending, and I admire that. The only thing I can't figure out is how it is selling Volkswagens...though maybe it says something that I remember the name of the product being advertised, which I can't say about a lot of ads and commercials.

Business Insider reports that JC Penney is denying that its CEO, Ron Johnson, is on the verge of quitting.

The rumors emerged - and sparked a stock rally for JC Penney - as the retailer continues to lose market share and sales and Johnson faces growing criticism because of his attempt to turn the company around via an EDLP program that pretty much eliminated sales and promotions.

• The New York Times reports that Twinkies manufacturer "Hostess Brands, the now bankrupt owner of the cream-filled confections, agreed on Tuesday to sell the snacks — along with Ho Hos, Sno Balls and Dolly Madison Zingers — to two investment firms with a shared history of corporate turnarounds."

According to the story, "The new owners will be Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Company, which owns Pabst Blue Ribbon and Vlasic pickles. C. Dean Metropoulos, the food industry veteran who leads the firm that bears his name, is expected to become the chief executive of the snack business.
The deal includes five Hostess factories, which the buyers hope to restart so to begin restocking shore shelves by the summer. And the new company will almost certainly feature the Hostess name."

The deal is worth $410 million. The two firms submitted their joint bid several months ago, and other companies were then able to compete with their own offers. But none did, and Apollo and Metropoulos won the day.
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