business news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding our story about union pension funds with a stake in Walmart calling for executive changes in the wake of the Mexico bribery scandal, one reader wrote:

Why would a union pension plan even own Walmart stock?  It seems there are two uncomfortable answers.

The non-union shop will outperform other union retailers and the market.

The fund is waiting for a scandal so they can sue.

What's the old line about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer?'

MNB user Philip Herr had a thought about's growth:

Resistance is futile – we will assimilate you.

Which is pretty much what I think of Amazon. One of my pupils asked the difference between Walmart and Amazon. My response was that it was like comparing rats and squirrels – both rodents, just that one has a better reputation.

Gotta love an email that starts with a Star Trek reference.

Responding to Michael Sansolo's column yesterday, one MNB user wrote:

I took note of the comment from the article that more retailers need the opportunity to jump on merchandising programs.

It is notable that many retailers offered these programs are not willing to be flexible enough to make them a winning proposition for both sides. I am sure the same could be said from both sides of the table.

Hopefully the meeting serves as a wake-up call that those that partner well generally win together.

Regarding the lack of stores being built in urban deserts, despite promises to the contrary, one MNB user wrote:

Unfortunately, your article about the lack of profits to be made in underserved (poor) urban areas is true, and the answer is only going to be the de-ghetto-ization of communities.  Here in Kansas City, as in most metropolitan areas, there are vast areas of poorer people with a limited selection of lesser choices, and vast swaths of suburbs where everything is available.  Neither population feels welcome in the other area.  There is increasingly less migration between the two, less communication, and less understanding.  And thus less potential for change.  Pretty sad.

We have taken note here of Pepsi’s new ad campaign, using the slogan “Live For Now,”which is designed to make the brand cool again. One of the things that Pepsi is doing is putting the image of Michael Jackson, who I described as "a dead, drug-addicted, likely pedophile and absolutely weird pop star," on its cans.

I commented:

I can understand wanting to pay tribute to its marketing past. But they would be better advised to turn to another Michael - Michael J. Fox - who did so many great commercials for the company back in the eighties and who has done nothing to embarrass himself or his brand in the years since, and in fact has become through his charity work and medical research funding something more than just an actor.

A reader responded:

That is a FANTASTIC idea!!!  Why didn’t Pepsico think of it????  I love Michael J. Fox and considering the fact that he’s got a dread disease and yet still works, plus all the other things you listed - who better fits the “Live for Now” slogan?

One MNB user from Pepsi wrote:

If you can bring yourself to do it, watch “This Is It” – the documentary that was made from the rehearsals for the tour.  It’s so compelling that you will stop seeing him as a freak – the music and the talent are that strong.  I have no idea what really went on at that estate, but I feel in my heart that he meant no harm to anyone.

I wholeheartedly endorse your idea of Michael J. Fox, too.  He is a winner from whatever perspective you choose to look at him – actor, comic, activist, hockey fan - J .  Your comment may find its way to someone in Marketing.

That's be cool.

I love that kind of retro, self-aware advertising.

I was thinking the other day about a possible campaign for the new Dodge Dart, which has been put back into production after many years out of people's minds and driveways.

It goes like this.

A young guy pulls up to a house in his new Dodge Dart. He walks up to the porch, where an older guy is sitting in a rocking chair - obviously his grandfather. He starts telling the grandfather how great the car is, and then offers to let the older man - who we only see from the rear - take it for a spin. The grandfather eagerly agrees, and then proceeds to take it out for the kind of drive that only a stunt driver - or 60's-era TV private detective - could attempt, putting the car through its paces and scaring the crap out of the kid. When he pulls the car back into the driveway with a screech, we finally see who has been driving - Mike Connors, who drove a Dart back when he played Joe Mannix on TV.

Of course, there probably would only be 17 of us who would get the reference. But it would connect the new Dart to the old Dart...and it would be a totally cool commercial.

Over on MNB's Facebook page, MNB user Cat handler wrote:

Pepsi has spent the last quarter century trying to live down the adverse publicity it received due to the disastrous accident in which Michael Jackson's hair caught on fire on the set where a Pepsi commercial was being filmed. This incident has been frequently cited as an impetus for the King of Pop's addiction to prescription pain medication. It would appear Pepsi is relying on collective amnesia from MJ fans in order to exploit his legacy.

Regarding my piece yesterday about "The Voice," one MNB user wrote:

REALLY, come on … exciting come from behind OT win in hockey doesn’t get mentioned & "The Voice" does????

Don't watch hockey. Don't even watch much pro basketball.

Sorry about that.
KC's View: