retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Yesterday, we wrote about a new Chick-fil-A television commercial that focuses on a family that has trouble finding time for the important things, and how a young girl, bu visiting a magical "Time Shop," is able to get them refocus their priorities - an approach that followed a survey saying that "73-percent of respondents said they want more time together with people they care about. Ninety-three percent said quality time together is the single most important ingredient to creating favorite holiday memories, surpassing the food, decorating and music, parties and gifts."

I commented:

I think it is a charming commercial with a laudable theme … but I'm not sure how it helps Chick-fil-A grow its brand. In fact, the Chick-fil-A connection is virtually negligible; if you're not paying attention, I'm not sure you'd remember who even sponsored the thing.

In that way, I'm not sure the commercial achieves what should be its goals.


This was a lonely place to be.

One MNB reader wrote:

What I’ve heard about Chick-fil-A indicates they are about more than just selling sandwiches.  Perhaps for this commercial they have a different goal.  In your comment you mention brand building.  Perhaps this commercial, similar to REI’s Opt Out Black Friday store closings or Patagonia’s first TV ad back in 2017 which only addressed public lands enhances the Chick-fil-A brand by focusing on their values, but with their name less prominently displayed.  Humble and less focused on sales this holiday season could be a winner with their base.

MNB reader James Coffman wrote:

I enjoy MNB everyday, and have for well over a decade.

I found your response to the Chick-fil-A ad interesting.  You said, " I'm not sure the commercial achieves what should be its goals. "  This was in reference to a negligible presence from Chick-fil-A in the ad.

Personally I believe that was part of the point.  Chick-fil-A has been a values based and purposeful business for its entire existence.  I don't think they were trying to get people to associate themselves with family time, I think they truly wanted to remind people to spend the time with their loved ones, while they still can.  Any press they get from the campaign would be secondary, as they are one of the few large companies out there that truly believe in, and act on, putting people first.


MNB reader Tim Braciak wrote:

The commercial had an opposite effect on me. It caught my attention as a cute “inspired-by” a favorite movie of ours, Coraline (2009) by Henry Selick & Neil Gaiman. So much so that I was waiting for the appearance of ‘the Other Mother” as it ended, then when saw that it was sponsored by Chick-Fil-A…and somehow that is sticking with me. I can’t tell you how many other commercials I see where I can remember the story line, but not the product they were trying to sell me.

MNB reader Andrew Klapmust chimed in:

I’ve been following your daily emails for several years, but this is my first time commenting.  I enjoy the insights into the retail industry, other topics, comments, and I often pick up industry news from you that impacts our business since I oversee the membership of around 1000 companies.

Thanks for sharing the recent Chick-fil-A commercial; the first I saw of it.  I think the branding is purposely subtle.  In your face branding while trying to convey a virtuous message is ripe for cynical criticism.  Chick-fil-A’s success is in part due to business practices that come at a cost to the bottom line – they seem to always have plenty of staff, have sponsorship programs for schools, teams, youth groups and the biggest factor – still being closed on Sunday.  I think the commercial falls perfectly in line with this quote from founder, Truett Cathy.  “I’d like to be remembered as one who kept my priorities in the right order. We live in a changing world, but we need to be reminded that the important things have not changed, and the important things will not change if we keep our priorities in proper order.”  Hoping this commercial resonates with many to pause often, turn off the electronics, and make filling someone’s emotional bank account with quality time a priority.


MNB reader Jackie Lembke wrote:

I get what you are saying, it is hard to tell what company the commercial is touting but it isn't the only holiday ad that promotes something other than the company sponsoring the ad. It isn't the only commercial I have seen no matter the time of year where it is hard to tell what is being sold. The Chick Fil A commercial is sweet and timely, a lovely combination this time of year when the airwaves are full of car ads, medicare ads and political endorsements. I am not sure if the approach is supposed to send you out for a chicken sandwich but it does leave a warm fuzzy feeling about the company.

And from MNB reader Elliott Olson:

Some of the old rules of advertising don’t necessarily apply in the digital age. This is foremost a complete story not an ad. It was designed to and will go viral. Put a price tag on that.

Okay, maybe my response was a little "bah! humbug!"



Yesterday MNB took note of a Marketing Daily story about a new study from UBS Evidence Lab into why people are willing to try plant-based products. Go figure - most folks are focused on price and taste. Y'know, just like real meat.

Interest in health benefits, animal welfare, and "the quality of being resource-friendly" come next.

MNB reader Scott Habben wrote:

Yes, taste drives food consumption. It is interesting that “among survey respondents who planned to increase their consumption over the next six months, health perceptions was the #1 reason."

I challenge those to read the ingredient statements and nutritional panels and point out exactly what those health benefits are.


And, from MNB reader Mike Spindler, who for the purposes of keeping this email needs to be identified as CEO of FultonFishMarket.com:

Taste is indeed the overall QUALIFIER for repeat.  Lots of the "big-food" guys found that out when they came out with 'better for you" versions of their current brands. 

FultonFishMarket.com certainly views taste as the front door to the other benefits of making seafood a regular, twice per week, staple.   We recognized that seafood taste was a hurdle in this consumption and found that fresh seafood, delivered direct to your door is both convenient and VERY tasty.   The other benefits primarily health, but also planet health and source sustainability are unlocked by that freshness-tasty door. 

The claim about health benefits for the alt-based "meat" products (met with a grass fed beef guy last week and he labeled them "conjured") have been broadly debunked, even by guys like John Mackey , who sell them.


If I have to choose between seafood and plant-based "meat," I must confess I'm going with the fish.
KC's View: