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Archive for September, 2014

Perdue Gets Ahead of the Story

September 4, 2014

Perdue Foods CEO Jim Perdue employed a classic media strategy in announcing that his company was halting the use of human antibiotics in 95% of its chickens and 100% of its egg hatcheries:  He simply changed the conversation.

No one is more familiar than Jim Perdue with the raging debate over how the use of antibiotics in livestock is not only making all of us sicker, it’s spawning so-called “superbugs” that are increasingly drug-resistant.  He’s no doubt still smarting from that 2008 documentary “Food Inc.” in which rogue Perdue contractors pulled back the veil of secrecy that for so long has hidden the ugly truth about how our chickens are really raised.

Couple this with a growing grassroots (pardon the pun) movement of informed consumers increasingly eschewing corporate food labels in favor of small, local, and natural, and you can understand how he could see the writing was on the wall for the future of his $6 billion a year empire.

So, as he proudly crowed this week to USA Today, Jim Perdue said “We listen to consumers.”

Listen, yes.  Do what they ask, not necessarily.  Actually raising chickens humanely would have been way too big of a financial hit.

So what did he do?  He tweaked his operating procedures slightly, and CHANGED THE CONVERSATION.

How?

The conversation was about the use of antibiotics in livestock.  Perdue, however, made it about human antibiotics versus animal antibiotics.  What’s the difference?  Scientifically, there really is no difference at all.  But Perdue’s message to the media is that in switching away from “human” antibiotics, this will solve the crisis of not enough antibiotics to treat diseases in humans.

Is there such an antibiotic shortage crisis?  Actually, no.  The crisis is that the use of antibiotics in farm animals is creating superbugs and making us all sicker.  But that didn’t stop Perdue from pointing us away from the real problem (his inhumane factory farms are making animals so sick that they need to be drugged up from cradle to grave to prevent their meat from being diseased) to his “solution” to a non-existent crisis.

And it worked beautifully.  A distracted media has largely missed the distinction that Perdue will still be using animal antibiotics (which are essentially the same thing), and an even more distracted public will think they’re making a healthy choice when they pull a Purdue chicken out of the supermarket cooler with the words “no human antibiotics used” plastered across the label.

It’s a brilliant use of strategic messaging and crisis communications.

Unfortunately, it’s being used against consumers.

In the Spirit of Back to School …

September 2, 2014

It’s the day after Labor Day, and I wanted to share with you all a blog entry that for this Generation X kid hits the nail right on the head!  Kudos to the writer for taking us all back, and giving today’s parents a serious reality check!

Back to School: The 70s vs. Today, A Lot has Changed

12:31 PM | Posted by Wide Lawns |

Back to School in the 70s

1. Take the kids downtown to go shopping at Sears for back to school clothes the last week of August. Get everyone a new pair of corduroys and a striped tee shirt. Buy the boys a pair of dungarees and the girls a pair of culottes. No, Jennifer, you can’t have that orange and red poncho. Promise you will crochet her a better one with much more fringe. Get the girls a package of that rainbow, fuzzy yarn they like in their hair. You are done. You have spent a total of $43.00. Now take everyone to the Woolworth’s lunch counter for grilled cheeses and chocolate milk.

2. On the night before the first day of school (that would be the Sunday night after Labor Day, of course, you know, mid-September) throw the kids in the way back of the station wagon and drag them downtown to Eckerds, K-Mart, Ames, Dollar General, Drug Fair or the like and hurry them over to the back-to-school area to pick out a lunchbox. Make sure to tell them get a move on because you don’t have all night for them to make a damn decision. They need to get in bed by eight and yes, they’re going to miss the Wonderful World of Disney if they can’t decide between The Fonz and Dukes of Hazzard. Good Lord, why is it so hard for them to pick? Tell Kimberly if she can’t make up her mind between Holly Hobbie and The Bionic Woman then you’re going to pick Pigs in Space and you don’t want to hear another word about it until June. Grab a composition book for each of them and a pack of pencils too. That’s all they need. Remember to save some grocery bags so they can cover their textbooks with them after the first day of school.

3. Buy yourself a pack of Virginia Slims on the way out and smoke three of them on the way home.

4. Get up in the morning and make yourself a cup of Sanka with Sweet ‘n’ Low. Line up all the lunchboxes on the formica counter top in your kitchen. Open up a bag of Wonder Bread and do this assembly line style.

5. Spread yellow mustard on bread. Slap baloney on bread. Unwrap American cheese slices and put on top of baloney. Put top on the sandwich and wrap sandwich in tin foil or wax paper. Put it in the lunchbox. Every kid gets the same exact lunch. Period.

6. Alternate sandwich choices could include: peanut butter and grape jelly, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff, the end of last night’s leftover roast beef or the ever popular with children tuna fish with large chunks of onions and celery and Miracle Whip.

7. Put some Planter’s Cheese Balls into a baggie and close with a twist tie.

8. Take Twinkies out of the box. Put one in each child’s lunch box.

9. Fill Thermoses with either Kool-Aid or whole milk.

10. Include a red delicious apple even though you know that damned apple is just going to come home uneaten again, which is fine because you can keep adding the same one until it practically rots.

11. Close the lunchboxes. You’re done. Go put some Barry Manilow on the record player and celebrate that your kids are out of the house until dinner time. They’ll grab them, along with a frosted, dutch apple Pop-Tart on the way out the door as they walk a half mile down the road to get to the bus stop.

Back to School 2014
1. Take five deep breaths and say a positive affirmation. School begins in two weeks. It is the middle of July. Don’t worry, you still have time to order BPA-free bento boxes and authentic Indian tiffins made with special stainless steel that did not involve any child-labor, sweat shops or animal cruelty. Remember, you have Amazon Prime. You can get the free two day shipping and you will have plenty of time to read reviews and make this very important decision because your kids are in summer “camp” which is actually just another word for school in the summer because OH MY GOD you were so tired that day you had to have them home all day with you and you couldn’t go to your restorative flow class at yoga. And that was also the day something went terribly wrong with the homemade glitter cloud dough recipe that was supposed to go in their sensory bin and the very same day that they were out of soy milk at Starbucks and you had to immediately email corporate to let them know that duh, they should actually be selling almond milk and/ or coconut milk. Get with it Starbucks. Soy is so 90s.  Ugh, but you digress. The tiffin. The bento boxes…
2. One Week Later: The bento boxes and tiffins have arrived. So has your childrens’ school’s annual list of school supplies that you must purchase and deliver. It is three and a half pages long.  It includes a ten pound bag of flour and several cleaning products and also requests a Costco-sized package of toilet paper.3. Begin frantic online search for backpacks and school bags made from all natural materials yet still “cool.” Have them monogrammed.

4. Take kids shopping at the mall for new school clothes. Buy them each a completely new wardrobe from Gymboree and Crew Cuts. Spend $2,387.07 on your credit card.

5. Take children to the child psychologist to prepare them mentally for the difficult transition to a new grade, new teacher and new classroom.

6. Intently study the allergy list the school has sent you which lists all the items that other children in your children’s classes are allergic to and thus cannot be sent in your child’s lunch either. This is extremely stressful because the last thing you (or anyone) wants to be responsible for is sending a second grader into anaphylactic shock. Make notes on your phone so you can remember what not to buy when you go to Whole Foods.

7.  Purchase school supplies for your children. Not to be confused with the 3 1/2 page list of classroom supplies you are also responsible for. They will need paper, pens, folders, notebooks, a calligraphy set, fifteen new apps for their tablets, a graphing calculator, a scalpel, an electron microscope and a centrifuge.

8. Go to Whole Foods to shop for school lunch items. This will take 4 hours and 15 minutes because you have to read every single label to make sure you are purchasing organic, locally sourced, non-GMO, gluten-free, allergy friendly products. You come home with tahini, bananas and a package of brown rice cakes. You somehow spent $76.19.

10. The night before the first day of school prepare the bento boxes. Fill containers with organic, local strawberries intricately cut into the shapes of  sea creatures. Include homemade, nut free granola made with certified gluten-free oats. Make a sandwich on vegan hemp bread out of tahini, kale and jicama. Form it into the shape of your child’s favorite Disney character. Make flowers out of non-dairy cheese slices, olives and seaweed. Photograph the finished Bento Box and post it to Instagram.

11. Write your child an encouraging note which includes an inspirational quote.

12. Include a sheet of stickers for good measure.

13. Fill a Siig bottle with filtered water and also include a box of chilled coconut water in the Bento Box because children can never be too hydrated. Ever.

14. Blog about this experience. Pray it goes viral and is picked up by HuffPo.

15. Get up at four in the morning on the first day of school. Make first day of school signs for each child to hold as you photograph them on the front step. Make a bunting to hang above the front door. Blow up balloons. Actually, go ahead and make a full on back to school photo booth.

16. Make pancakes in the shape of the letters of the alphabet.

17. Dress kids in coordinated outfits and spend 35 minutes posing and photographing them (with your phone).

18. Load everyone into the car to drive them to school.

19. When they are safely in their new classrooms, return to your car to cry for the next 20 minutes. But it’s okay, really. You’ll be back in six hours to pick them up and drive them to Synchronized Swimming, Cello and Urdu classes this afternoon.