business news in context, analysis with attitude

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that Mars Inc. is changing the name of Uncle Ben's rice to Ben's Original, and also is "dropping the image of a bow-tied Black man from its packaging."

In this Black Lives Matter era, in which there is enormous attention being paid to violence against Black people and social and economic inequality, companies are under pressure to remove names and imagery seen as being racially insensitive or stereotypical.

PepsiCo-owned Quaker Oats has said it will do a similar thing with its Aunt Jemima's brand, though it has not yet disclosed the new name.

According to the story, "Mars said it surveyed thousands of consumers over the summer, many of whom said the term 'uncle' was pejorative and the image on the brand’s packaging, of a white-haired Black man in a black bow tie, was reminiscent of servitude.

"'Times have changed,' Mars Food Global President Fiona Dawson said in an interview.  'Voices are being heard that weren’t heard before'."

As they should be, IMNSHO.

•  The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon "is limiting the ability of some competitors to promote their rival smart speakers, video doorbells and other devices on its dominant e-commerce platform, according to Amazon employees and executives at rival companies and advertising firms.

"The strategy gives an edge to Amazon’s own devices, which the company regards as central to building consumer loyalty. It puts at a disadvantage an array of gadget makers such as Arlo Technologies Inc. that rely on Amazon’s site for a significant share of their sales.

"The e-commerce giant routinely lets companies buy ads that appear inside search results, including searches for competing products. Indeed, search advertising is a lucrative part of the company’s business. But Amazon won’t let some of its own large competitors buy sponsored-product ads tied to searches for Amazon’s own devices, such as Fire TV, Echo Show and Ring Doorbell, according to some Amazon employees and others familiar with the policy."

I'm sure there will be those who try to make a big deal about this, but it doesn't strike me as any different from bricks-and-mortar retailers that choose where to place national brand products vs. private label alternatives on their shelves, and when and where to allow for in-store promotions.