retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, MNB took note of an Ad Week report that online retailer Zappos engaged in a marketing stunt last week in Hanover, New Hampshire, sending 30 employees there in "the dead of night" and having them deliver gifts - headphones, backpacks and other warm-weather gear - to the doorsteps of every single home. Some 1,900 boxes were delivered in a single night in a town that Zappos describes as "fiercely loyal" to its brand.

I commented:

This all sounds lovely. Very Christmas-y.

Except that I have a problem with all this charity being visited upon a town described as one of the wealthiest in the state. Y'think maybe there are other people and places that might've benefitted more from Zappos' marketing stunt? The pictures might not have been as pretty, but the impact might've been a lot more significant.

I hate to say it, but, "Bah. Humbug."

Nice try. But in the end, IMHO, this is a miss.

MNB user Christine Neary responded:

In regards to Zappos’ recent Hanover stunt … I don’t believe your sentiments make you a Grinch. Or maybe I just agree with you and that makes both of us Grinchy.

If Zappos had the wherewithal to deliver 1,900 packages – wow, what an opportunity for them to make a meaningful difference in the lives of people who need it: school supplies for struggling students of all ages, warm coats, gloves, and scarves to the homeless, blankets and backpacks to foster children… I could go on, but I’m sure everyone gets the gist.

Bottom line – Zappos failed.

But another MNB user disagreed:

You always preach about the importance of rewarding your most loyal customers. How can you oppose this? It was targeted to boot.

It is a fair point ... but I still think that you can reward great customers and still make a difference in people's lives. This may have been an effective stunt, but it still is a stunt.

It could have been more.

Got a number of emails about the terrific Edeka holiday TV commercial that we featured yesterday.

MNB user Larry Ishii wrote:

I agree with you, Kevin.

This is a great ad and they did not need to even mention Edeka because the viewer is glued to it to the very end.

They have some great ad people.

This is right up there with the P.O.S. beeper Christmas symphony they did last year.

Thanks for sharing with all of your readers.

My pleasure.

BTW...I didn't remember the ad that Larry mentioned, and so I checked it out ... and he's right ... and now you can watch it, too ... here.

MNB reader Jim DeLuca wrote:

The production was great.  I was moved.  Then I thought that someone in my family would have killed Grandpa for pulling such a stunt... Then I thought it was way too manipulative...

Regarding the report that the US Postal Service (USPS) is launching a new service called Informed Delivery, where if you sign up, the Postal Service will email you photos of  your letter-size mail envelopes by 11 AM each day, MNB reader Angie Dahman wrote:

If I wanted my letters digitized I would use this new fad called email. SIGH. USPS has been out of touch for a very long time. Ironically Amazon is keeping them afloat by contracting with them for delivery services. The catch, they have to deliver 7 days a week.

Finally, responding to our piece about Barnes & Noble's continuing problems, MNB reader Dan Blue wrote:

I bought my wife a Nook Color when it came out 3-4 years ago and she loved it… until I got her a Kindle Paperwhite with Kindle Unlimited. I figured she'd use both ecosystems to read the "free" books, but she hasn't picked up the Nook for 18 months.

Lasers won't save Barnes & Noble... not even tachyon beams could save them at this point.


I assume, by the way, that you are making a "Star Trek" reference. Though when I head the word "tachyon," I often think of the terrific series "Journeyman," which aired for 13 episodes in 2007 and should have lasted a lot longer. (You should binge watch it ... "Journeyman" is available on iTunes. ... and it is one of my favorites.)
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