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Posts Tagged ‘Whole Foods’

Three Message Points That Whole Foods Should Use In Its New Marketing Campaign

whole foods signWhole Foods is tired of its “Whole Paycheck” moniker. Though I have no hard data, it seems as though the store has made some effort in recent months to offer products that are less expensive than the top-of-the-line organic/natural/free-range/chemical-free/etc. items that also line their shelves.

Still, the “Whole Paycheck” reputation persists.

With financial results coming up short — “Whole Foods’ stock was the second-worst performer in the S&P 500 after losing 30-some percent of its value since January,” according to Slate — the company has decided it’s now become a business imperative to shake this nickname. It’s launching its first-ever branding and marketing campaign this fall.

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Whole Foods Is Getting Hit By Hobby Lobby In An Unexpected Way

whole foods signSometimes, a brand can get hit with a controversy that they didn’t even know they were involved with. Surely, that must be what Whole Foods is thinking.

Usually involved with issues surrounding food and the prices at their shops, it’s likely they didn’t have a crisis plan in place for the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, which made it OK for employers to determine whether or not to offer contraception coverage. The company itself has no plans of discontinuing the coverage. However, one of the brands they carry, Eden Foods, is trying to opt out of the coverage. And now there’s a petition against Whole Foods with 12,500 names, demanding that they stop selling Eden Foods products. According to The Daily Beast, the company is one of 82 trying to discontinue the coverage.

“While individual-level boycotting of Eden Foods may not have much of an impact, telling Whole Foods to stop carrying Eden Foods’ products in their stores around the nation should have a much bigger effect. Let’s seek out the best messenger to send this message to Eden Foods- and in this case, Whole Foods seems like the perfect fit,” reads the petition.

We can all just imagine the looks on faces of the Whole Foods publicists when they saw this.

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Chobani Brings Russian ‘Yogurt Standoff’ to a Peaceful End


We kinda feel for Chobani. The “Greek” yogurt company only wanted to amplify the good will earned by its sponsorship of American Olympians and this cool follow-up to its Super Bowl spot by sending product samples to U.S. athletes in Sochi…but Putin’s “regulators” were like, “Nyet” due to arcane “customs rules”, something something.

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Spin the Agencies of Record


Boston/New York/San Francisco-based SHIFT Communications will be the primary AOR for Whole Foods Market in Northern California.

SHIFT’s biggest role will be regional media engagement, but the firm will also manage community initiatives and events which we hope will include local beer tastings (because everybody loves those).


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When Sponsored Content Met CSR and Made Magic Happen

Matt Crenshaw, Mother Nature Network

One thing we can all agree on: PR professionals will spend a lot of time working on sponsored content and corporate social responsibility projects for the foreseeable future.

“Sponsored content” is the hottest phrase in PR and marketing right now, primarily because it means such different things to different people. Yes, it’s a new twist on the classic advertising discipline, but SC can clearly amount to more than BuzzFeed listicles barely related to the product at hand or conspicuous blog posts that hang out at The Huffington Post under the “sponsored story” heading.

Last month we spoke to Matt Crenshaw, president of environmental and social responsibility news site Mother Nature Network, to learn about how his organization has begun to serve clients by combining CSR and sponsored content in one fell swoop.

Why are brands increasing their focus on CSR? 

Well, a recent Cone Communications study found that 80% of people feel that brands have a responsibility to tell them what they’re doing for the greater good, and another study found that brands that put “values” at their core outperform the S&P 500 by about 300%. We all joke about Whole Foods being “Whole Paycheck”, but they are really a lifestyle platform based on “values”, and they’ve done a great job of taking this niche movement and making a big business out of it.

What role can sponsored content play in this equation?

We live in an age where brands need to tell a story and hit you on an emotional level. MNN wants to be the Whole Foods for content: if you’re AT&T and you want to reach the high-value, socially responsible consumer, then you don’t talk about a discount on your phone, you talk about these tablets you created for kids on the autistic spectrum to help them learn. So MNN created a documentary series about it:

Of course, at the end it’s “AT&T: Rethink Possible”, and it’s clearly labeled “content provided by AT&T“, but our role is to say “here’s the story behind the brand.”

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Whole Foods’ Local Social Media: ‘It’s Not the Mini Me Version of Corporate Social’

Overseeing social media across multiple retail locations for a popular, sometimes controversial food retailer is a complicated proposition. But at least customers’ comments related to crises are usually directed at the corporate, not the local level, according to Natanya Anderson, Whole Foods’ director of social media and digital marketing. She spoke at Ad Age’s Digital Conference in New York on Tuesday.

To make a close connection to the local community, Whole Foods’ local social media encompasses four areas: brand social, city social, functional social (i.e. healthy eating) and store social, Anderson explained. Overall, she said the company has a “big eco-system of 604 social media presences.”

“We have different expectations for local social”, Anderson noted, and they follow a plan:

  • The brand acts as the local authority and connects to residents’ lives by featuring local products.
  • They focus on creating and curating content. Their new Detroit store will feature different offerings than their east coast stores.
  • Local employees are dedicated to customer service. For example, they can snap photos of products that customers request.
  • Local staff members often email Anderson before posting on their local social platforms. “We’re adding a local crisis management element”, she said. (Perhaps Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey should have checked in first before his controversial comments on President Obama’s healthcare program earlier this year.)
  • They have dedicated mailing lists to disseminate information to local customers.

Whole Foods has devoted many resources and a large infrastructure to make local social media work, and Anderson claims it has been worthwhile from a number of perspectives:

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Whole Foods Enters the Organic World of Half Truths

It’s hard to remember a world before Whole Foods–a time when the best cheese around came wrapped in plastic and organic meant something wasn’t a car part. All of that has changed, of course, thanks to brands that capitalized on a more eco-conscious and discerning “foodie” public that will pay extra—sometimes a lot extra—for Alaffia Shea and Green Tea Revitalizing Body Lotion or Organic Capellini.

However, with organic mania came imposters and obfuscation, and the public became wary of brands claiming to be environmentally friendly. The public understandably became cynical as oil companies and other environmental offenders flooded our screens with touchy-feely commercials filled with smiling locals and leaping whales and financial companies preached about fiscal responsibility and being a good American. So when it seemed like every food brand on the shelves of our supermarkets were suddenly organic, we—the public—knew something wasn’t right. And those instincts are healthy.

Because Whole Foods was ahead of the curve regarding the organic movement, the public has typically exercised a strong faith in the brand.

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What Are America’s 10 ‘Most Trusted’ Brands? And Why?

A few weeks ago we gave you a list of the 10 brands Americans hate most and tried to figure out why. Today we’re taking the opposite approach with the help of Harris Interactive‘s latest public opinion poll gauging the most (and least) trusted brands in the country.

Here are the brands held in highest esteem by the 19,000 random people who participated in the poll (along with our attempts to figure out how they got there):

1. Amazon: It could be the fact that Amazon remains the first and biggest online retailer with a reputation for security and an endless inventory. It could be the brand’s truly innovative recommendation system. Or it could be Amazon’s plan to create its own “virtual” currency–because no dishonest individual would ever make his own money, right?

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How to Improve the Supermarket Shopping Experience: Add Alcohol!

Grocery shopping is stressful–even for people who claim to enjoy it.

Life was easier when we didn’t have so many choices and the shampoo aisle wasn’t crowded with befuddled men refusing to call their wives and ask for advice on whether they need conditioner for oily, smooth or damaged hair. (Go with the classic clean, guys. Works every time.) And that’s just shampoo; we’ve yet to consider toothpaste, arugula and seven different types of corn flakes. It all leaves the modern shopper thinking: “God, I could use a beer.”

Finally, supermarket chains such as Whole Foods and Wegmans are acknowledging their customers’ desperation. Bars are becoming part of the grocery shopping experience–some stores’ shopping carts even feature cup holders for alcoholic beverages!

Not surprisingly, this development has been popular with men. We like our beer, particularly when we’re out of our comfort zone.

It’s never wise public relations policy to design and implement strategies based on clichés, but in this case the logic is sound.


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Whole Foods CEO Backtracks on Obama ‘Fascism’ Remark

Whole Foods CEO John MackeyWe know that a PR professional’s job often includes telling powerful people what to say–and when to say it. Today we feel fairly safe offering this little nugget of wisdom to every client: Unless you’re a left-wing Eastern European politician, never use the words “fascist” or “fascism” to describe your opponents, no matter who they may be. It’s never appropriate, and it always makes you look like an ass. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey recently learned that lesson.

Mackey stepped into the national health care debate back in 2009, when he penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed arguing that President Obama‘s signature health care overhaul was a form of “socialism” that would ultimately lead to complete government control over our nation’s health care system.

Now he’s hitting the various media outlets to promote his book Conscious Capitalism, which apparently details the ways in which certain businesses (his own included, of course) make the world a better place without the interference of the big, bad government. While visiting NPR‘s “Morning Edition“, he turned his previous criticism on its head, arguing that:

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