retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Got the following email responding to my piece yesterday about advertising that struck me as tone-deaf in the moment:

Aren’t the ads and tv time made and bought months in advance? They might not have a choice but to let it run unless they want to spend $$$$ to make a commercial for what’s happening today??

They might be better served spending the $$$$ for their customers/associates/charity

Just a thought.

The time is bought, but I think if it were me, I'd try to be relevant.

MNB reader Jackie Lembke chimed in:

My husband and I have been having this same conversation on a regular basis as we watch TV. Car companies seem to have reacted pretty quickly to the new normal but others are still airing commercials that are out of touch with our present normal. The issue being the ones not reacting are becoming annoying as I would like to think companies from which I buy product understand my current situation and are at least sympathetic and aware that a backyard party right now is not appropriate, neither is a cruise or vacation anywhere. Step up to the plate and adjust or you may not have a business once I am ready to vacation (probably not a cruise for a while if ever and I loved cruising before this current crisis), shop and eat out.

And from another reader:

Wholeheartedly agree on companies/ads that need to think about messaging/content that is appropriate given the current environment we’re all living under.  Although, I do give advertisers some benefit of the doubt relative to traditional/analog content as that has longer lead times to adhere to prior to hitting the market.

However, digital/streaming ads require far less lead-times and can be altered/substituted with much quicker turnaround time and there shouldn’t be any reason to not modify content to be more time/place appropriate.

Perhaps the best example of “seizing the moment” that I’ve seen over the past several weeks is what Guinness did in altering their spot in front of St. Patrick’s Day.  It struck a great balance of acknowledging the environment caused by the  pandemic while at the same time resilient and uplifting…and guess what, it made me thirsty for a Guinness! 

Got this Costco update from an MNB reader:

Today’s Oregon update: I went to the Costco at 8:30 am, an hour before the 9:30 opening.  Long line.  Manager came out and announced they would open at 9:00 (half hour early, very welcome at 39 degrees) and that plenty of TP and paper towels in stock to cover everyone in line, but only Kirkland brands.  Please take only one.  He told us they got 15 semis since yesterday and people had been working all night to stock the shelves.

Now at 9:30 there is NO line to get in.

This morning I had already been to Fred Meyer, Safeway, Whole Foods, WalMart, WinCo, Albertsons and even Zupans.  Not a square to spare anywhere but Costco.

And now I also have new wiper blades...

From another reader:

The thing in grocery stores that continues to be (pretty ) fully stocked are DSD items - Breads, Soft Drinks, Beers, Wines, Chips, etc…

While maybe not essential items they do provide comfort for a lot of people.

Those all sound pretty essential to me.

And, on another subject, from an MNB reader:

You quoted several stories about President Trump hoping to open some parts of the country by Easter.  Those stories  failed to report his comments that he will be listening to his healthcare professions before any decision is made.  He also said some parts of the country could be opened up when other parts are not and all parts of the country need to adhere to his safety protocols .  Later in the afternoon Dr. Fauci commented that President Trump listens to his views and also the views of the other experts. 

Governors will make the decision for their states, and some will be in a position to open up and keep the social distancing protocols, others will not be ready yet.

From MNB reader Fred Caito:

Your dogs are the epitome of man’s best friend.  A few questions about the dogs:

Are the dogs from the same blood line or litter?  What are the ages of the dogs?  Embarrassed to ask, what breed are the dogs?


I've actually gotten this question from a number of folks.

Spenser is the newbie in the family … he's about six months old.  Zazu is my daughter's dog, and she is about 20 months old.

Both are pure labs … are from the same bloodline (they are third cousins, I think) … and both share the distinction of being having not made the cut at Guiding Eyes for the Blind.  Guiding Eyes is a wonderful organization - we raised one dog who passed all the tests and ended up with a blind woman (and saved her life a couple of times).  We've also taken Guiding Eyes puppies from time to time just to socialize them.

We're not exactly sure why Zazu and Spenser didn't make the cut, and are amazed that Guiding Eyes was able to make that determination so early in their lives.  But we're grateful to have them.

Parker, my son's dog, is almost 10 years old and is a rescue dog.  She's a mix of lab and some other stuff, and is an absolute sweetie.

We've been incredibly lucky with dogs over years.  We had a collie/golden retriever mix named Kipling for many years;  she lost a leg in a car accident when she was about two, but lived another 12 years and was amazingly active and loving.  After that we had Buffett … we thought we'd never have a dog as great as Kipling, but Buffett was amazing.  And now, Parker and Zazu and Spenser.

Mrs. Content Guy keeps telling me that Spenser probably is my last dog, because of my age.  (Not her last dog, she notes.  The only question is who she replaces faster, Spenser or me.)  I'm not sure I agree with her, but when Spenser starts getting gray around the snout, I'm going to get worried.

However … I also firmly believe in the theory that if there is a heaven, it will be a place where all the dogs you've ever loved will come to greet you.  In which case, I'll be okay.