retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Still under the weather here, but the email system is finally up and working, so let me try to get through a few of them...

Regarding the Cheerios commercial that showed a bi-racial family and managed to elicit racist comments from some ignorant bottom feeders around the country (yes, but tell us how you really feel, Kevin...), one MNB user wrote:

Thank you, Kevin, for your comments dealing with the delightful Cheerios ad. Started out my day on a great note. Would that you reached those who instead are tuned to Fox News this morning.

MNB user Ken Wagar wrote:

Thanks for bringing the Cheerio’s commercial to those of us that had not seen it.

The racist reactions are simply inexcusable in this day and age even though we know it exists.
Your comments and reaction were right on!

MNB user Glenn J. Rosati wrote:

My wife and I dealt with a similar situation years ago albeit that in our case we are not a bi-racial couple but that we adopted a special needs child.  Our daughter was 100% Native American and there was no mistaking it with her complexion, facial features and hair.  My wife is blonde and blue eyed, and I am fair skinned, so when we were out with our daughter people would do double takes between her and us.  Sometimes there were just long outright stares.  Apparently, a mixed race family was not something many people could handle or wanted to see.

Some adults were politely inquisitive while others were seen to be shaking their heads.  When my mother-in-law’s now ex-fiancé mentioned off handedly in front of us that he felt bi-racial marriages and families should not be allowed that hurt more than all the double takes and stares we ever received.

What struck me then and still does today is that never once did a child stare or question the fact that we were her parents.  I think that to the children it was just natural that we were a family.

As my wife reminds me from time to time when we see similar instances, and as sung in "South Pacific," people have to be taught to hate.  Maybe what we all need to do is to spend some more time in touch with our innocent childhood memories and feelings and a lot less time being judgmental adults.

MNB user Don Goodwin wrote:

As a Caucasian father of an adopted daughter who is from Latin America, I have experience as to the bigotry that still exists in our world. It is amazing that we still have to have this discussion.

Thanks for covering the story.  I, too, plan to buy an extra box of Cheerios!

And from another reader:

I really loved what you said about the Cheerios commercial yesterday, and your timing was impeccable, as always. I had not seen the commercial, but was getting breakfast for my kids yesterday while the Today show was on in the other room. I saw something about Cheerios out of the corner of my eye, so when my 8 year old daughter came in I asked her why that commercial was on the news. She said they were saying it was bad. I asked her why, and she said she wasn't sure, she guessed because maybe it was too sad for kids because the girl's daddy was sick and she had to put Cheerios on his heart. I figured that wasn't it but was too busy to investigate further, and didn't find out the real story until I caught up with Morning NewsBeat. It made my heart proud that my daughter didn't even blink that the mommy was white and the daddy was black. (maybe even a little more prouder because we chose to move to a rural area in the South to raise our kids, and I've always been a little worried that they're not in a very diverse setting to grow up.) I thought I would write you, because maybe it's a glimmer of hope that what you said is true, Saatchi & Saatchi and General Mills are advertising to the America that is. A few idiots that still remain, but hopefully their numbers are shrinking.

Regarding the expanding marketing and usage of wet disposable wipes by men instead of toilet paper, which we wrote about yesterday, one MNB user wrote:

Is this an April Fools type prank? Or are you just trying to see if we are reading your stuff?

From another reader:

I had to laugh when I read this today….only because I met a guy that used wet wipes instead of toilet paper and thought he was crazy. I thought maybe it was because he was a single father of a young 7-year old. I think retailers need to make sure that the product packaging clearly states the disposal instructions – since most just say “dispose of properly.” Well if it doesn’t say it is flushable then how to people know how to properly dispose of them. Thanks for the laugh – I may just have to ask my guy friends their opinion on this matter in the future.

From yet another reader, who asked to be described as "clean as a whistle":

About 14 years ago, when I had my son I realized wipes were the way to go, we started with baby wipes and evolved to "personal" wipes.

Over the years since then I have always had wipes available in every bathroom, used by the whole family.

My son is off for a week in Washington DC with his 8th grade class and I asked him if he wanted me to pack wipes and he said YES.

To sum up my opinion on wipes, a former co-worker once said, imagine you got a little poop on your arm, what would you want to wipe it off with, toilet paper or a wipe??

You should give them a try!

And another:

After reading today’s MNB I have  a question…what’s the difference between tushy wipes for men and something already in production like Charmin wipes or some other brand (I thought they were for everyone) that may be more cost-effective?  Is there something about the male anatomy I may have missed?

MNB user Matt Mroczek wrote:

Your skepticism about butt wipes takes Farts Law to a whole new level.

On a more serious note, butt wipes could be similar to power windows and text messaging:  They seemed so unnecessary until you actually used them for a while; then there was no going back.  Maybe TMI, but my dad started using butt wipes before text messaging (I, however, stick with dry paper purely for economy).

Yes, that would fall into the category of TMI.

And for the uninitiated, Fart's Law says that the likelihood of something succeeding usually runs in direct proportion to the number of old farts who say that it will never work.

And from still another reader:

Too Funny…that cracks me up! I think that care should always be taken in using the terms wet wipes and gaining traction in the same sentence when discussing the cleansing of one’s fundamental orifice. Perhaps that only works when the reference is Howard Stern. But seriously, I don’t think that as you suggest, that these guys are nuts….they just want them clean! I could go on, but I do wonder how many adult males in the U.S. are married, and of that percent, how many buy the toilet paper in their household? So at the end of the day, or after a shower and shave, the way you clean you bum is probably up to the woman in your life….just like everything else.

MNB user Rich Heiland wrote:

OK, I admit up front to being an old fart. As a kid my grandfather's barn had a privy with the cheapest toilet paper around. So, using a "wet wipe" is something that never occurred to me and I frankly had not heard of that possible use until I read this morning's NewsBeat. Is this just a part of what seems to me to be almost a paranoia over germs? Going back to my days in the barn of shoveling crap, grooming my horses, hauling hay and hardly ever washing my hands I wonder how I ever survived? Not to mention, these things are wet. So, you use them and your rear end is.....wet? Do you then use toilet paper anyway as a drying step? Do we start to demand toilets with some kind of Dyson dryer built into them? I guess it's hard to ague when 51 percent of the market says it wants something. Maybe it's a natural evolution from the corn cob and leafs to the Sears Catalog pages to two-ply to four-ply but I think my evolutionary journey most likely is at an end in this case.

Getting extra credit for a movie reference is MNB reader Mike Overschmidt:

You just made me LOL recalling the campfire scene from Blazing Saddles.

Finally, some comments about my obituary earlier this week for John Lightfoot.

MNB user Paul McGillivray wrote:

I appreciated your comments on John today.  I certainly did not know him well, but appreciated  the personal opportunity he gave me early in my career, in the late 80’s, when he invited me to speak to a group of Eastern European retailers that he had organized in Warsaw, Poland.  It was just after the fall of the Berlin Wall and a fascinating time to be in that part of the world, which I’m sure I would never have done on my own.  From your letter I get the sense he was very supportive of young people in their careers and he certainly touched mine in a way I will always remember.

MNB reader Glen Mealman wrote:

John was a special friend.  We first met when he helped me judge contests in retail stores.  He was never above doing the little things that allowed him to share with the industry the latest and best ideas.  Later we traveled to Europe to see the hypermarts and Aldi type stores.  With his help I was able to work with Sam Walton as he developed their first super stores.  John along with Gene Hoffman, our competitor from Supervalu, shared so many ideas.   We became personal friends and have stayed in touch during his illness and yes he did have pride in your work.  He was a special person that loved the business.

And finally, from Bill Lightfoot, John's son:

Just wanted to say how much we appreciated your post today. You have done a great job capturing dad...he was quite something - stubborn as a mule, opinionated, possessed with a 'barb wire' personality, and a great sense of humor. Dad was dad, and sometimes we don't know the value of the exchanges we have with people like him until he has passed.

Again, thanks - it touched us deeply.

It was my pleasure.
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