Tag Archives: Evil Corporations

Diageo: Perfecting The Art of Petulance

The arrogance of these corporations, and the  people that represent them, is, at times, jaw-dropping.

On Tuesday, 2 days after the award, I (James) took a phone call from Kenny Mitchell, Chairman of the BII in Scotland and Chairman of the Award Committee explaining the situation. To directly quote Kenny:

‘We are all ashamed and embarrassed about what happened. The awards have to be an independent process and BrewDog were the clear winner’

‘Diageo (the main sponsor) approached us at the start of the meal and said under no circumstances could the award be given to BrewDog. They said if this happened they would pull their sponsorship from all future BII events and their representatives would not present any of the awards on the evening.’

In my opinion, Diageo is stellar at making mostly good, but not great products. Guinness is a good, but not great beer. Tanqueray is a good, but not great, gin. They do have some great products, but these are the exception and not the rule. Look over their brands and see if you disagree with me.

Here’s the thing…people have been figuring out how to create great beers and great gins, and realizing that as a small producer of these products, they can fiddle and shape their recipes on a regular basis with a quick turn around.

Diageo has difficulty in competing against the new breed of brewers and distillers, in large part because the company is so large.  Change that needs to occur in a large organization is a slow, laborious process, getting buy-in from people who may not even be on site. Change is a long term problem for any large corporation.

So they play short term games. They brag about their silver medals, without telling you that twenty-two other brands won a silver medal at that event.  They bully Award Committees by threatening to pull supporting income.  They get “brand ambassadors” to become walking, talking commercials for their product. This is, in my experience in researching both the whiskey and beer industries, their short term solution for their long term problem.

Their other short-term solution? Remove the products that are actually great. Bushmills, also owned by Diageo, makes a stellar 21-year old whiskey. And I’ve heard from people in the industry that several people at Diageo wants to kill the product. Why? Because it’s expensive to create a high quality product, free of defects. And waiting 21 years before seeing only limited profit on the product seems counter-intuitive to many corporate-types. Other products that have high-quality but low to no profit margins are removed without fanfare.

Here’s the thing – Corporations want to make a lot money. This is the first order of business. Small businesses, know they don’t have the resources to compete against a corporation whose goal is to make lots of many, and they know they can’t compete on a mass produced scale – so these small businesses do something different. They provide a product that has to outshine the Diageo-type product that everyone is aware of.  And when these producers do create such a  product or service, they should be lauded for it, because producing  and selling a great beer, gin, or whiskey is hard fuckin’ work.

Simply put, to pull that award away because it wasn’t an operator that sold Diageo product, is both petty and childish, something I’m finding representatives from Diageo are getting quite good at.

<i>(h/t to Boing Boing and congratulations to Brew Dog.)</i>

Kraft Singles

Do not be swayed by near future ad buys for Kraft Singles, for they are both tasteless and evil, and lower the standards for all things good about quality cheese.

Kraft is suffering from lagging growth as consumers switch to cheaper store brands, costlier gourmet-style products or more innovative offerings from competitors like ConAgra, Hormel and Procter & Gamble. To help reverse its falling fortunes, Irene B. Rosenfeld, the chief executive of Kraft Foods, is increasing the company’s huge marketing budget — estimated at $1.4 billion a year — by $300 million to $400 million.

The primary goal of the spending increase is to persuade consumers that Kraft’s venerable products can meet their changing needs. A case in point is Kraft Singles sliced cheese; Kraft will devote a campaign that begins today to the glorification of the grilled cheese sandwich.

The television, online, print and retail campaign carries the upbeat theme “Have a happy sandwich.”

If you truly want a happy sandwich, buy real cheddar. You can thank me later.


Panera Responds?

It looks as if this “A burrito is not a sandwich” decision hit Panera Bread company pretty hard today, and they are scrambling for answers. I received this in my inbox this morning, but I wouldn’t swear to it’s validity (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

To: Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Locke

From: The Legal Brain Trust of the Panera Bread Co. bakery-and-cafe chain

Your Honor,

Thank you for your recent decision regarding the question of whether the burrito is a sandwich. While we don’t agree with your interpretation, we will abide by it.

Meanwhile, we have other lawsuits in the works, as we wish to prevent any competition with other restaurants within a 1/2 mile of any of our locations. As such, we were hoping to get your legal council on whether our actions against the restaurants below have any merit.

  • The Athenian Cafe: The gyros they serve – are they sandwiches, or Greek burritos?
  • The Jade Dragon: Point of contention – Spring rolls and Hum Bows.
  • Lenny’s Bagels: While Lenny only serves bagels and cream cheese, we think that the potenitiality of sandwiches based off of the boiled-then-baked bun is enough to cause us financial harm.
  • The International House of Pancakes: Their Pigs in a Blanket (sausage links in a rolled pancake) screams ‘sandwich’.
  • Fontana’s Pizzeria: Not only for their calzones, but also because their customers have been spotted folding their slices in the middle of the crust, giving a sandwich-like experience.
  • Lobardi’s Italian Cuisine: What is lasagna but an Italian version of a club sandwich, with pasta (which is boiled slices of bread) in place of toast.
  • Rothchild’s: They serve Turkey with stuffing, and what is that if not an ‘inverted sandwhich’?
  • Lastly…any place that sells pie.

Your response on the above questions would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

The Greedy Bastards at Panera Bread.

Technorati Tags: Panera Bread, Sandwich


What can You do when you’re a Candy Oligopoly?

Well if you’re the Mars Company, it means that you can cut off candy resellers from their supply of Colorworks M&M’s.

What does this mean? As Cybele writes:

…when it comes to smaller quantities (one pound or less), buying directly from M&Ms means at least a 20% premium. (Yes, youâ??d think buying direct would mean youâ??d pay less, wouldnâ??t you?) When you knock out the middleman, I can imagine that M&Ms profits on these are pretty high. Even with economies of scale itâ??s clear that the ColorWorks are a huge moneymaker for Mars. A half pound of ColorWorks (whether part of a color blend or a single color) are $4.69 for eight ounces ($.59 an ounce). M&Ms cost about $3.50 for a 12 ounce bag (not on sale) at your local grocer ($.29 an ounce).

Basic Econ 101 – When you’re the single distributor for a product in demand, you control the price. I think it’s time for a road trip to Canada to stock up on some Smarties.

Technorati Tags: Candy, Mars Candies, M&M’s,


We Get Letters v. 21: The Case against Coca-Cola

Langley writes in:

Kate,

Can you please help me build a case against drinking Coke? My husband LOVES the fizzy, sweet, goodness of it and drinks up to two cans a day.

It is worth mentioning before I go any further, that overall we lead a very healthy lifestyle, so Coke is really his only vice – but I’d really love him to cut back!

I have tried to tell him over and over again how bad it is for him, how it will rot his teeth, but he’s just not prepared to give it up or cut down.

Anything facts or figures you could provide me on the health hazards of drinking coke would be most appreciated.

Cheers,
Langley

Hi Langley, and thanks for the question and comments. However, after reading the following, I’m not sure your going to feel so gracious in return.

I could easily lay out a case against Coca-Cola and give a variety of health concerns, and I will a little further down below, but I want to address a larger issue.

First and foremost, I am a strong believer in personal responsibility. If a person has enough data to make an informed decision, then I try to respect that person’s choice. If a person likes McDonald’s, Kraft Mac & Cheese, or even Coca-Cola, more power to them.

The corporations on the other hand, these purveyors of misinformation and setters of inflated expectations, I have no problem taking a whack at now and then. If a company gives enough information for the consumer to make a decision, then they deserve our respect. If a company goes out of their way to mislead or hide information from the consumer, then I have a problem.

But back to your husband: The case against carbonated sodas is pretty straight forward. They’re empty calories and add little or nothing of nutrional value. Replacing two 12-ounce cans of sugar sweetened soda with water can cut over 350 calories per day. Over the course of a month, that equates to 10500 calories or about 3 lbs, if your to believe the numbers on this site. Multiply that by 12 and that’s 36 pounds saved in year. Not too shabby.

Then there’s the carbonic and phosphoric acids found in the sodas which don’t help a person’s teeth, and of course the High Fructose Corn Syrup, which nobody knows how it affects the majority of the population. Even if you go the cane sugar route, excessive sugar intake may cause endogenous opioid dependency (in english: a body becomes “addicted” to sugar), which possibly leads to higher insulin production, obesity and Type II diabetes.

Have I scared you yet? My apologies, because here’s some good news. Firstly, the acid versus the tooth enamel issue may not exist. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentristy found that the pH associated with Coke and Diet Coke did not reach the critical pH which is expected for enamel demineralization and dissolution. Whether you believe their results or not is probably best determined on whether your belief that Coke’s $1,000,000 grant to the AAPD biased their results.

The obesity and diabetes doesn’t happen to everyone who drinks soda. In fact, it doesn’t even happen to a great majority of people who are overweight. It does happen, don’t get me wrong. Enough so, that it’s statisically siginificant in to those who work in the health industry. But if your husband visits his doctors and dentists on a regular basis, and they find him to be healthy, then he needn’t worry about the above. However, if they suggest he cut back, then the above links should help give him reasons to stop drinking.

There’s so many other reasons not to drink Coke that have nothing to do with health, inlcuding giving huge grants to medical associations to prove that Coke doesn’t rot teeth. I realize this is a generalization, but it’s often true: a corporation that gives money for research often does so to muddy the debate on their products.

Then there’s the recent episodes surrounding Coke and its bottlers tolerating the actions of Columbian paramilitaries against their workers in order to prevent them from setting up trade unions, resulting in some of the leaders of said attempted trade unions being murdered.

This has lead to several universities to banning Coke from their campus.

You see, there are many for your husband not to drink Coke. Health is only one of them.

Technorati Tags: Food and Drink, Drink, Coke, Coca Cola


Monsanto Strategies

Some of you may already know this, but for others, this may be a bit of a shock…

What’s one way for Monsanto to affect public discourse?

Why, pay the reporters of course.

In his Jan. 5 (Scripps-Howard News Service) column, (Michael) Fumento wrote that the St. Louis-based Monsanto has about 30 products in the pipeline that will aid farmers “but also help us all by keeping prices down and allowing more crops to be grown on less land.”

What Fumento didn’t say in that column is that conservative Hudson Institute — recieved a $60,000 grant from Monsanto back in 1999. Why does this matter? Well it seems Mr. Fumento is a senior partner at the aforementioned think tank.

Whoops.

One might think that this is an important piece of information that the reader just might like to know.

Luckily, so did Scripps-Howard who fired Mr. Fumento today. Score one for ethics.

Technorati Tags: Food, Monsanto, Food Politics


McDonalds and Gym Class

One of the more interesting aspects of Fast Food Nation, was the information on how food corporations infiltrate and influence students at various schools throughout America. This story in the USA Today, about how McDonalds is sponsoring a Physical Education program, is a pretty good example of this activity.

From the article:

The fast-food giant is launching a new national physical-education program Tuesday aimed at third through fifth graders and includes games and activities from countries around the world.

McDonald’s says 31,000 public elementary schools with 7 million students have agreed to try Passport to Play this year. It’s up to individual PE teachers how much they use the new activities such as boomerang golf from Australia; Japan’s Mr. Daruma Fell Down, a game similar to red light, green light; and Holland’s korfball, which combines elements of basketball and football. Each time students complete a game from another country they will get a stamp in a pretend passport — one of the educational materials that will carry the golden arches logo.

It’d be easy to say that McDonalds has no place in Schools. But I think it’s a little more complicated than that.

First and foremost, McDonalds is always going to act like McDonalds. Any opportunity to get their name out and influence children’s diet desires any way possible. This doesn’t excuse their influence peddling. I’m just stating that certain conditions exist that allow this to happen.

That condition is, as almost always, money, or more specifically, the lack thereof.

Think of yourself as a School Board with limited funds. A corporation comes to your door and offers you a bag of money, as long as you implement their pre-made syllabus. You don’t mind so much because you now have a ready-made class, and you can have your Phys-Ed teachers work on different classes, without having them work on gym classes exclusively.

So not only are you bringing in money from the corporation, your saving money elsewhere. This money can be used on items that taxes can no longer cover. If you’re a school board, what would you do?

Do I think that a fast food company has any right to be in schools? Not at all. But the issue is larger than simply “McDonalds shouldn’t be in schools”.