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    Published on: October 18, 2013

    This commentary is available as both text and video; enjoy both or either. To see past FaceTime commentaries, go to the MNB Channel on YouTube.

    Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is a special Friday FaceTime with the Content Guy ... and this morning, my face is red.

    I've been doing MNB for almost 12 years, and one of my continuing nightmares always has been that some morning, I'd let some profanity somehow creep onto the site.

    I'm not talking about "hell" or "damn," words that I occasionally use on the site when I'm feeling particularly passionate about something, or want to engage in some dramatic emphasis. No, I'm talking about the big ones.

    It is with a certain amount of pride that I can say to you that until yesterday, it only happened once. One time, I wrote the word "shirt." Except that I mistyped, and left out the "r." That morning, as I recall, it took about 30 seconds from the time I sent out the morning Wake Up Call to the moment I got an email - ironically, from Bentonville, Arkansas - letting me know that I had a typo that I probably wanted to fix. Which I did. Immediately. And apologized.

    I say "until yesterday," because yesterday, it happened again. But in this case, it wasn't a typo. It was in an email that was one of dozens that I read before I posed it, but somehow missed the colorful dropping of the f-bomb. I just missed it.

    The problem was that I had a full morning planned, so as soon as I sent out the Wake Up Call, I went for a run. (Actually a jog. But allow me my delusions.) Came back, grabbed a shower, and then went to get a haircut. So it was a bit of time before I got back to my laptop and found some emails wondering - with a certain amount of good humor - whether I'd lost my mind or had somehow instituted new standards for discourse on MNB. Needless to say, I fixed it. Immediately.

    The problem with working without a net each morning is that sometimes I fall. But here's the best thing about MNB ... in this case, when I fell, you were there to catch me. And I appreciate that. And I can only hope that it is another 12 years before it happens again.

    Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa....

    That's what is on my mind this Friday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

    KC's View:

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    There's been a bit of a discussion taking place here on MNB over the past few days about how women are perceived in business.

    As a response to this, an MNB user passed along to me a column that was written by Jeff Jones, Target's executive vice president/chief marketing officer, that addressed the issue of diversity and was posted on Target's internal website.

    For the most part, the piece is positioned as a letter to Jones's daughters ... and I think it says the kinds of things that every father should want to say to his daughters. And, I think it says the kinds of things that ought to be shared with the MNB audience ... and you can read it here.

    I don't know about you, but I've also sent the link to my daughter.

    It's good stuff. It is the very definition of an Eye-Opener.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    Kroger announced yesterday that Michael L. Ellis, a 38-year company veteran who since 2012 has been senior vice president of retail divisions, has been named the company's new president/COO, effective January 1, 2014.

    He succeeds Rodney McMullen, who on that date becomes CEO, succeeding the retiring David Dillon.

    Kroger said that this announcement completes its succession plan rollout.
    KC's View:
    This is how it is supposed to happen. Clean. Organized. No drama.

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    Excellent piece this morning in the Wall Street Journal about how "food makers, including giants Kraft Foods Group Inc. and General Mills Inc., eager for any potential new sales, are trying to win over men. Research indicates men are doing a greater share of the grocery shopping and meal preparation.

    "In a June survey of 900 meat-eating men ages 18 to 64, 47% were deemed 'manfluencers' by Midan Marketing LLC, a Chicago market research group focused on the meat industry. Manfluencers are responsible for at least half of the grocery shopping and meal preparation for their households.

    "Food company executives hope more men shopping means new opportunities for foods some men have traditionally shied away from in this country, including yogurt and hard cider. The changes are often cosmetic: larger portions or darker color schemes instead of recipes on the backs of packages."
    KC's View:
    I always find these kinds of stories somewhat amusing, because I've been doing all the grocery shopping (and cooking) in my household for most of the past 30 years, and I cannot remember ever not buying a product in a store because it wasn't manly enough. (My sons used to wonder how I could buy women's sanitary products at the store without being embarrassed, and I never could understand what exactly was embarrassing about it. I had one mother, still have four sisters, and now have a wife and daughter. I stopped worrying about this stuff a long time ago ... when the day comes that I measure my masculinity by what aisles of the store that I shop, then I have bigger problems.)

    But I do think that as the balance of shopping power shifts, and men take on more responsibilities (that they should've taken on to begin with), it will make sense for retailers and manufacturers to stop solely identifying customers as "she."

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    Fast Company reports that 7-Eleven convenience stores are working to "reposition and rejuvenate" the brand through a new design package that it hopes will have a broader appeal. The logo has been designed, plus "7-Eleven looks like it's trying to distance itself from its unhealthy image as a purveyor of cigarettes, sugar, and grease. The new stores have an almost Whole Foods style vibe -- or, if you've ever been in Japan, Famima! -- with a layout and signage strategy that attempts to highlight healthier snacks and freshly made food over microwaveable nachos and sodas the size of a toddler's torso.

    "This healthier (and, dare we say, much cleaner) focus extends itself to the overall design of the stores. Gone are the dusty, crusty red and green stripes that have been ubiquitous in 7-Elevens for decades. Instead, the new store interiors have granite flooring, white tiles, green furniture, and clearly marked stations labeled in a serif black plain font with twee, onomatopoeic signage, such as "Sip. Sip. Sip." hanging above the coffee decanters."
    KC's View:
    It has struck me as evident for awhile that the c-store business had to move away from its focus on tobacco, gas and beef jerky ... and you've seen a lot of that happening already with chains like Wawa and Sheetz. So it makes sense for 7-Eleven to engage in the same sort of evolution.

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    The Associated Press reports that the New York State Court of Appeals has agreed to hear the appeal by the NYC Board of Health of an earlier ruling that blocked the city's proposed ban of the sale of jumbo sugared soft drinks.

    According to the story, "The lower court said the city Board of Health exceeded its authority by putting a 16-ounce size limit on high-calorie soft drinks. The cap would have applied to restaurants, stadiums and many other places."

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that he is confident that the appeals court will uphold the original rule. The American Beverage Association said it was equally confident that the decision striking down the ban would be upheld.
    KC's View:
    Bloomberg only will be mayor for about another ten weeks or so. Gotta figure that there is an expiration date on this story....

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    The Wall Street Journal has a fascinating story about Toys R Us this morning, enumerating and elaborating on the ways in which mismanagement, misjudgment and miscalculations over a period of years seem to have led to the current moment - as the end-of-year holiday shipping season is about to begin, Toys R Us has a new CEO who is not planning to move to the US, a fragmented strategy, and shaking economic underpinnings.

    It is a cautionary tale, and worth reading here.

    BTW...Mobile takes note of one smart thing that Toys R Us is doing ... "adding a mobile component to an annual holiday toy guide that helps parents better understand what kinds of toys are suited for special needs children." The guide "includes a list of 25 mobile applications that are aimed at helping develop creative, critical thinking and fine motor skills."

    Still, check out the WSJ story. It shows what happens when a company doesn't seem to know what it is, what it should do, or even who its customers are.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    In an interview with GQ, Anthony Weiner (aka "Carlos Danger"), the disgraced former Congressman who recently was thoroughly beaten in the NYC Democratic mayoral primary at least in part because of his continuing "sexting" activities, made the following statement:

    "And maybe if the Internet didn't exist? Like, if I was running in 1955? I'd probably get elected mayor."
    KC's View:
    Whew! Thank goodness for the internet.

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    • The New York Times reports that "the Duvel Moortgat Brewery of Belgium on Thursday announced a deal to buy the Boulevard Brewing Company," of Kansas City, described as "a large United States craft brewer that is well known in the Midwest and produces a wide variety of beers under its own name and others. Boulevard’s brands range from 80-Acre Hoppy Wheat Beer, described as citrusy with a slightly sweet flavor and light bitterness, to Dark Truth Stout, an 'inky' beer with hints of chocolate, coffee and fruits.

    Boulevard is the 12th-largest craft brewer in the United States, and the acquisition, the Times writes, "will give it access to wider distribution in the domestic market and an avenue into international markets using Duvel’s worldwide system."
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    My favorite email of the week, from MNB reader Larree Renda:

    You are my go to site first thing in the morning each weekday for my industry news. I am ALWAYS more informed, often amused and occasionally shocked. Since I’m a verbal person, if the fly on the wall was paying attention, the fly would hear an occasional “hmmmm”, “wow”, or “no kidding”.

    But today after reading your article on the very addictive nature of Oreos, the fly would of heard me laughing out loud (LOL). Yes, even this “old-timer” knows what LOL means. When you wrote, "I have to think that there are a bunch of lab rats in Connecticut that have been having a pretty good few months. Sure, they're paying for it now as they go through withdrawal, begging for just a little taste of some creamy filling ... but for a while there, they were riding a pretty good high," I seriously started my day with a belly laugh. I hope the fly and everyone else in the executive suite weren’t listening in, it’s not flattering at all.

    That’s what I love about you and your site. Your honesty, insights, candor and especially your sense of humor.  Thanks for being there for me each morning!

    My pleasure.

    It pleases me greatly when people read MNB and are informed and provoked. But it makes me happiest when I get people to laugh.

    And a belly laugh? That's the best.

    Yesterday, MNB took note of a New York Times report that Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has filed suit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), charging that the trade association "illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its contributors," an effort that would be in violation of campaign finance laws. The campaign in question is GMA's quest to defeat a ballot initiative in Washington that would mandate the labeling of products that contain genetically modified ingredients.

    I commented, in part:

    I'll let it to the court system to decide whether GMA was technically in violation of the law with its contributions. That said, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the one thing GMA did not want in this case was transparency ... in the same way that pretty much all lobbying and special interest groups - not to mention the political figures and parties that accept their money - do not want transparency.

    I'm sick and tired of the whole thing. And it is the kind of attitude and process that, to my mind, undermines the notion of democracy. And no, I don't think I am overstating or dramatizing the situation. I think the influence of so much money being thrown around within the political process in general is poisoning the system, but the influence of hidden money - spent in the shadows, without a spotlight being trained on who is spending the money and why, is positively toxic.

    It is a crock.

    MNB user Rick Rector responded:

    Couldn't agree with you more. Thanks, Citizens United!

    But MNB user Dan Jones wrote:

    For the record, I think the entire GMO initiative is complex and needs thoughtful dialogue and a national solution.  But that is not the point of my letter.  Listing of all donors who give more than $25 to a cause does not sound like democracy to me.  As a citizen I should have the opportunity to keep personal stances and votes private.  This $25 rule is stifling free speech, in my opinion.

    Let's be clear. I'm not talking about $25 donations. I'm talking about the millions of dollars that are used to corrupt the system by serving special and moneyed interests.

    And I'll tell you something else. People, companies and organizations that engage in such activities, believing that they can remain in the shadows while exercising outsized influence over the system, are going to find themselves on the wrong side of history in a society that increasingly values transparency. It won't be their opinions that hurt them most, but their desire to remain out of the spotlight.
    KC's View:

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    • In the American League Championship Series, the Boston Red Sox defeated the Detroit Tigers 4-3, taking a 3-2 game lead in the best-of-seven series.

    • In the National Football League last night, the Seattle Seahawks defeated the Arizona Cardinals 34-22.
    KC's View:
    I got criticized - with some justification - last week for not reporting WNBA scores, but that led to an email from reader Gary Butler about another perceived lapse...

    I know you only report on the sports you like and I can understand that….however you are missing the movement on soccer and world cup momentum.  The world/USA has changed and I hope you can change as well when it comes to soccer.  That’s a big eye-opener.

    I think I have mentioned the World Cup finals from time to time, but to be honest, I have to put some limits on what I include in my sports reports. I love baseball most of all, but only report on playoff games. I only report on regular season football games because the NFL has such a relatively limited schedule. (Every once in a while I even get emails asking me why I don't report on college football and basketball games. Oy!)

    I'm doing my best here. But you got one thing right ... mostly, I write about the stuff that interests me. And I haven't yet developed a taste for soccer.

    Sorry about that.

    Published on: October 18, 2013

    Captain Phillips, the new Tom Hanks film about the real-life hijacking of a merchant marine ship by Somali pirates, is a heart-pounding thriller directed by Paul Greengrass, who brought us The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. It may have been overshadowed in its opening by Gravity, but it is a definite must-see.

    The set-up is simple. Phillips, played by Hanks as a no-nonsense leader, is charged with taking his shop through shipping lanes known to be populated by pirates. He does everything right in terms of preparation, but in the end it almost doesn't matter because of the motivations of the Somalis - while they are not portrayed sympathetically, it is clear from the film that they feel they have few options, that they have been boxed in by circumstances.

    One of the achievements of the film is that the scenes take place in increasingly tight spaces, and as this happens, Greengrass manages to tighten up the suspense as well. He is one of our best directors in this genre ... in many ways, Captain Phillips has more in common with his extraordinary United 93. And the acting is across the board excellent - Hanks (who needs a hit after a run of less than successful movies) has never been better at portraying an everyman who is grappling with situations beyond his control.

    See it.

    This weekend, I get a big thrill ... we're going to Chicago to see our son, David Coupe, who is playing the lead in the New Lincoln Theatre production of "When Angels Wept," details about which you can find here.

    There are few things more thrilling than seeing our son doing the thing he loves the most, especially because he seems to be so good at it. (And if anyone in the MNB community happens to be there for tomorrow night's performance, come say hi. I'll be the guy with the big smile on his face.)

    Wine of the week: the 2012 Carmine Granata Semillon from Argentina, which has just a bit more body than the average Semillon, and that I think is lovely little sipping wine for those still-warm October afternoons.

    That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

    KC's View: