business news in context, analysis with attitude

In a story yesterday about McDonald’s Super Bowl commercials, which featured a French fry that looked like Abraham Lincoln and ended up being auctioned on eBay, we noted that the company is attempting to create a “viral buzz” that will be spread by consumers.

We weren’t buying. Our comment:

Gee, we thought that McDonald’s had that commercial because there was nothing good or new to say about its food.

Analysts say that it is an attempt by McDonald’s to stay “forever young.” We think it will result in it being increasingly irrelevant.

Then again, maybe we’re just being harsh because we just screened “Super Size Me” for our kids.

The real virus is Americans' willingness to eat crappy food, give it to their children, and then send it to the rest of the world.

MNB user Donna Sires responded:

I couldn't agree more with this statement. We lived in Micronesia for 2 years, and I was appalled at the influence American culture has on undeveloped countries. Have you ever thought about what happens to out-of date food? A ship brought food once a month to the small island we were on and the market shelves would be flooded with foods (like jam for instance) that was long past its pull date. There was no TV reception on island, yet people who couldn't speak English would buy VCRs and watch action movies. They didn't know what was being said, but the action kept their attention. Star Trek freaked them out because they thought it was true. We corrupt their purity and innocence and laugh it off.

Regarding the decisions by Coke and Pepsi to offer new versions of diet drinks sweetened with sucralose, we expressed some concern that all these new varieties are going to confuse consumers.

One MNB user responded:

High fructose corn syrup will follow trans fats as an ingredient bad enough to eliminate. They’re just getting ahead of the curve.

Another MNB user wrote:

Have to disagree with you on your assessment of the potential for diet Coke and Pepsi made with Splenda. You must not be a drinker of diet beverages… Splenda offers a real taste advantage relative to aspartame, and it certainly appears (based on evidence to date) to be a healthier alternative, as well. I’m expecting, and my OB/GYN specifically recommends products sweetened with sucralose, so I enjoy 7 Up Plus, a “diet” berry-flavored beverage sweetened with Splenda and containing added calcium and vitamin C. I welcome these new additions.

And, responding to a letter we ran earlier this week that raved about Winn-Dixie’s operations in Jacksonville, one MNB user wrote:

KC, the one thing the writer who visited Publix and Winn Dixie on his Super Bowl trip forgot to consider is that his visit was to Winn Dixie's headquarters town and it was just a normal Publix. A fairer comparison would be in South Florida away from both headquarters.

Companies tend to have their best stores near their headquarters. Just human nature.

Another MNB user wrote:

Interesting perspective on Winn Dixie and Publix... After moving to Florida last year from New Orleans, I was overjoyed with the local Publix. Rare roast beef, Yuengling Black & Tan, Ring Dings... It seemed that PA/NY/NJ had been repopulated in South Florida. I was a Publix poster child. In fact, I didn't even bother to go in the Winn Dixie that was closer to my house. I had seen enough of them in New Orleans to stay away.

Interesting still, over the Holidays, I was rushed enough to stop by that Winn Dixie to pick up milk. To my surprise, this was not the store I remembered. A work crew from Atlanta Foods International was gutting their gourmet cheese island and re-merchandising their deli. I asked the merchandiser what was going on and they informed me that this was one of the stores being re merchandised with their new fresh look.

A few weeks ago, I remember reading how WD's customers really wanted them to succeed. I am surprised to say that I am one of them. That WD has a better deli by far then the local Publix. WD has a variety of gourmet cheese that outshines the 25 sku/"sku rationalization/ Anco "World of Cheese" carried by Publix and the service deli has the Premium Deitz and Watson line (a better product and value than Boar's Head). What's even more, the service has been outstanding. Granted, that may be because no one's ever shopping there. However, when people stumble in that WD by chance, I would tend to guess they will return. I hope they have enough time to continue, because their efforts have been outstanding. Produce, Bakery, and Meat all appear spruced up and appealing as well.

If you had told me last year that I would be a WD shopper, I would have been surprised.

And finally, we got the following email about the enthusiasm for “natural” chicken from MNB user Al Lees:

The idea of adding the term "Natural" to the chicken may make some feel good, but most of my customers are as confused as I am when the word natural comes into play. We've been bombarded with so many confusing and contrary messages in the past that one more is just that, one more.

If the term really meant something that would be different, but once the natural food industry sold its soul, or at least a part of it to the government regulators, it's difficult for the consumer to really know what all of it means.

That's one thought from the People's Republic of Massachusetts and I'm
sticking to it!
KC's View: