retail news in context, analysis with attitude

We had some discussion earlier this week about the Nationwide commercial on the Super Bowl that focused on household accidents and portrayed a small child talking about all the things in life that he didn't get to experience because he died in such an accident. An awful lot of people found this commercial to be a downer ... but then I got this email from an MNB reader:

My daughter was 20 months old when she pulled a TV on her like the Nationwide commercial showed. She fractured her skull in multiple places and has been left deaf in one ear. All because of poor judgment on her parents' part regarding what was safe and what wasn’t within the home.

The commercial didn’t feature anything to do with that hotly debated topic of gun ownership & safety, it showed simple everyday items in every viewer’s home – TV, bath, chemicals – that can kill if you are not paying attention. I commend Nationwide. I got lucky and she survived. Many don’t. Would you support a $5 to $8 million TV commercial expense if your child had died and it might trigger just 1 person into making sure it doesn’t happen to them?

Damn right I would. And I really appreciate your email.

When my kids were little, TVs were big and heavy and unwieldy ... I don;t remember ever worrying about one being pulled on top of them. But these new flat screens obviously are different, but it never occurred to me that they could be a safety issue. (My kids are big now, but I may have grandchildren some day ... I've learned something valuable here.)

I think it is worth pointing out here that Nationwide pointed to a website that is dedicated to this issue:

There are folks who said that the Super Bowl was the wrong place for such an ad. But in retrospect, I disagree. Nationwide could have done an ad about puppies and made everybody feel good. But maybe they've helped save a life or two. Good for them.

On the subject of the controversy surrounding dietary supplements, MNB reader Jerome Schindler wrote:

The chickens have come home to roost - or something like that.

For years I have also been urging the FTC to go after the media (newspapers, magazines etc.) that accept advertising for these products with claims that they surely should know are false/misleading. They probably make as much money off these ads as the sellers of the products.

From another reader, on the same subject:

I remember years ago there was legislation to regulate these and one of the biggest opponents was Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah.  I guess those lobbyists were/are into him good.

Unfortunately people usually have to die before Congress does anything about it (guns excluded).

MNB reader Kevin McCaffery wrote:

This list of supplement ingredient’s “contained little more than cheap fillers like powdered rice, asparagus and houseplants, and in some cases substances that could be dangerous to those with allergies." Looks very similar to the list of ingredients found in Taco Bell “beef” that was discussed last year.

Still another MNB reader wrote:

As a spouse of a pharmacist who is reading this dialogue with great interest...

Please keep hammering your points!    This story has needed to be told by someone and If that someone is the NY AG’s office, that’s where it can generate a lot of publicity.   In my wife’s mind, it’s not as much the issue of whether the supplements do or don’t work, but more that the companies who sell them either can’t or won’t provide verification of what ingredients are (or aren’t) in these products-----and there is no oversight by the federal government to force these companies to either provide such proof or remove the products from the market.

On another subject, MNB reader Mark Delaney wrote:

Congrats to the reader who wrote in saying “can’t bring peanuts to school, don’t bring measles…”... Politicians are doing everything they can to impale themselves on this issue and while that’s entertaining to watch, the reality is that most of the parents making these decisions not to vaccinate weren’t even walking the earth when these diseases were still killing people – and I’m not sure the modern medical world is ready if we were to see epidemic outbreaks again. Your decision to not vaccinate does directly impact me when your child is next to mine on the bus, in the mall, or riding a ride at Disney.

Unfortunately this is one area where you can’t have it both ways. Put the child in a cocoon with no contact with other children (or adults with chronic illnesses) and I suppose you can make your point but I haven’t seen anyone willing to do that. While I normally sympathize with parents who face a dizzying array of choices and implications in 2015 – this one is a no-brainer – do the research and roll up your child’s sleeve – for all of our sake….

We had a story earlier this week about a study saying that despite the vast number of apps available, the majority of people spend most of their time on just five of them. Which prompted MNB reader Sue Borra - who, for purposes of this discussion, needs to be identified as Senior Vice President of Communications and Strategic Planning at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) - to write:

The mobile app statistics from Mobile Marketer reinforce the importance of producing content that is relevant and targeted if you are to have any hope of reaching today’s new consumer.  This may not be the most comforting stat for someone, like us at FMI, who recently launched a news app to serve the food retail industry. However, while we recognize the challenge of breaking into this highly dominated arena, we hope that the FMI News app will be a valuable resource for information of specific and useful significance  to the food industry. We invite your perusal and feedback on this new platform – if you can break away from the top 5 for a few moments.

On the subject of my minor rant yesterday on the subject of religion and the workplace, one MNB reader wrote:

This is a great topic - I think you will be getting lots of comments on this one!  I believe as you do that with all the crisis going on in the world today, what makes us think that God (if there is one) is looking down at a football game?  Or a golf game?  Get over yourself - he had nothing to do with it.

From MNB reader Tom Robbins wrote:

I know there have been many times that we have been in disagreement but today I say: You are spot on! Everyone needs to take a deep breath and relax a bit (maybe a lot).

Finally, one MNB reader took issue with my constant criticism of the lobbying culture:

The function of lobbying is simply to make sure that decision-makers have access to both sides of an issue before making their decisions.  Are you sure that sheer ignorance would lead to bliss?

Not at all. I'd just sort of prefer it if the people with the deep pockets didn't have an innate advantage over the folks who don't. If I were in charge, there would be incredibly strict regulations on who is allowed to lobby (with no loopholes for former lawmakers to dance through) and total transparency about what organizations are spending to support candidates, committees and causes.
KC's View: