Chieftains: Whole Foods, DC Comics, Marie Callender’s

By Oct 01, 2011


Effectively throwing out the superpowered baby with the kryptonite-irradiated bathwater, DC Comics relaunched all of its titles last month. The move — dubbed “The New 52” in honor of the 52 comics like Superman and Justice League debuting new #1 issues in September — was a ploy to lure in new readers intimidated by the prospect of trying to understand decades of superhero continuity. Fans of DC’s arch rival Marvel Comics, however, may have thought Lex Luthor had hijacked their Twitter feeds during the publisher’s promotional blitz. As BleedingCool.com reported, DC bought the names of several Marvel characters like Thor, Spider-Man and X-Men as Twitter search keywords and served up promoted tweets about their competing new titles. At press time, Doctor Doom was mulling several schemes to retaliate, including creating a “I bet this pickle could get more fans than Aquaman” Facebook page.


Granted, the best-practice rules are still being written on how brands should interact with blogger-influencers. But here’s one that can probably go into the book in pen: Don’t promise food bloggers a gourmet dinner, get them to run contests for their readers to attend the event, and then feed them frozen food. That’s what happened in late August at a dinner in a pop-up underground restaurant dubbed “Sotto Terra” in a New York brownstone, an event hosted by Food Network star George Duran and supermarket guru Phil Lempert. Some 20 foodie guests were thus horrified to find out that the entrée consisted of Marie Callendar’s new Three-Meat Four-Cheese Lasagna, thawed and heated. They were then videotaped giving their reactions to the food. Callender’s parent ConAgra apparently hoped to get some Folger’s-style praise to use in marketing. What it got was blogger ire along the lines of “SHAM!” (MomConfessionals.com), “bait-and-switch” (same), and “you fed me the exact thing I said I did not want to eat” (FoodMayhem.com). ChubbyChineseGirl.com objected to being embarrassed in front of readers who had won a competition to accompany her. A spokesperson for PR firm Ketchum told the The New York Times that “a high percentage of people [at the dinner] … actually appreciated the event.” However, ConAgra has agreed to reimburse the unappreciative for expenses such as cab fare and babysitting.


In September, Whole Foods became the first national grocery chain to offer a coupon deal through Living Social. The offer let shoppers buy $20 worth of groceries for $10; Living Social spokesman Andrew Weinstein told the Associated Press it sold roughly 115,000 an hour (or 30 deals per second), making it the site’s fastest moving offer to date. Five percent of the sale price of the one million coupons sold was donated to the Whole Kids Foundation, which supports children’s nutrition and wellness.