Checkers Outrage

A local supermarket chain is currently running a promotion whereby, for each R150 spent in their store, you get an item from their (and here I quote) “#CheckersLittleShop big brand mini groceries”. These are miniature versions of some of their more popular (some might say iconic) local brands. There’s also an educational arm to it – “Become an entrepreneur – Encouraging tomorrow’s tycoons” .
Nice. Cute.

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Not everyone thinks so though. Some people on Facebook are outraged.
Now there’s a surprise.

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Blimey. Who knew?

Where to begin? Let’s go through this spectacular rant piece by piece, shall we?

The starvation and the unemployment figures, the drought. All of these things are sadly true. As is the fact that Checkers paid an ad agency or promo agency to come up with this c**p, as the erstwhile commenter comments, erstwhiley.

But then it all goes a bit off the rails. The fact that Checkers paid an ad agency or promo agency to come up with this c**p has very little to do with the elevated levels of our grocery bills. There are bigger things at play there. Inflation, the somewhat disappointing exchange rate, the price of manufacturing goods and transporting them, because of  the higher price of oil and therefore petrol; the cost of fertiliser. Starvation and unemployment have little or no effect of the size of your grocery bill. The drought does make things more expensive though. So, only 1 out of 4 guesses on the causes of higher grocery bills. You’re playing catch-up now, furious Facebook commenter.

We move on to the second paragraph, and it actually starts rather well, with another solid fact, describing the mini plastic & polystyrene mock ups of products that Checkers sell in their stores as “Mini plastic & polystyrene mock ups of products you sell in your stores.”
As a description of the mini plastic & polystyrene mock ups of products Checkers sell in their stores, it’s near perfection.

And what happens when the promotion is over? Where does she think these things end up?

In our oceans. In a trash heap where most of it might never biodegrade.

Well, yeah. Or it might get recycled after a couple of years being played with in a kid’s doll house. To be honest, we all know that plastic isn’t great for the oceans or renowned for its biodegradability, but then, we all continue to use it, don’t we? And while I appreciate the need to cut down, these are awfully small things. “Mini”, some might say.
One fewer 2l fabric conditioner bottle will offset a full collection and more.
And, if that “most of it might never biodegrade” line above is the case, then all toys made of plastic (and everything else besides) should be banned. Immediately.

Bye bye, Barbie. Barbie, bye bye.

Meh. I’m unconvinced. If only there was one final line to persuade me that the inconsolably annoyed and ranty Facebook woman has a point.

Maybe, a child might actually mistake it for food and try eat it and accidentally choke and die?
Shame on you.

Yeah. “Maybe” that “might” happen. Equally, that might happen with a piece of wood or a rock though.
Yes, these are mock-ups of groceries, but they are also in their mock-up packaging. If a child mistakes a genuine bottle of All Gold Tomato Sauce for food and ingests it, it will also die, because it’s a glass bottle.

Additionally, some of them are mock-up detergents, moisturisers, deodorants and nappies. Your child deserves to die if it eats that and chokes. Darwin’s Law, that’s called. Shame on it, more like.

But then, there is a plus side to all of these pitiful arguments. Because if they’re true…
[But they’re not – Ed.]

Shut up.
Because… if they’re true, and Checkers’ promotion is actually responsible for all of these things: unemployment, malnutrition, the drought (lol… as if the drought is Checkers’ fault, ffs!), the inability of plastic to biodegrade within any reasonable timeframe, oh, and and infant asphyxiation, then surely if or when Checkers choose to end the promotion, surely all these nasties will become a thing of the past.

Could Checkers (possibly inadvertently, but still) could they have come up with a plan to literally end world suffering, simply by causing it all in the first place?

Or should Ms Ranty Facebook lady go and find something more beneficial to do with her time than blaming everything ever on a 6-week promo in a second-rate local supermarket?

Your call.




(Hint: It’s the second one.)

(Number 2)

24 thoughts on “Checkers Outrage

  1. Here’s a more micro-level feedback, also copied off Facebook: “Checkers is giving a mini grocery toy for every R150. Saturday i buy the not so necessary to get my niece some. I then see the total is only R400 so I throw in another R50 of whatever I can grab at the till. I now only shop at checkers. Clever marketing dudes. Tonight I’m back. In front of me a mom and her daughter. Daughter is bubbling over about the mini. Mom is buying bread, milk and polony. Daughter is now begging for her to please buy more. Mom calmly says not tonight. Her credit card is then declined. Embarrassed she empties her purse of last coins. Child is unaware and still begging for a mini because everyone at school has them. Mom is fighting back tears. And just like that I’m aware of how terrible marketing can be…. times are hard, shops should market to adults and leave the kids alone.”

  2. Kerry > Thanks for the comment. Yes, I appreciate that there is more than one side to marketing. In this post, I’m not really suggesting that this is a good thing or a bad thing, nor supporting it in any way. I’m merely that it’s nowhere near as terrible or responsible for the world’s ills as the ranty lady suggests. I’ve also seen the other side of this in other posts, but again, this isn’t a Checkers issue, it’s a much wider socio-economic problem. Should Checkers et al. really be emotionally manipulated into changing advertising/marketing strategies because of the economic situation? I don’t know.

  3. @6000 No… Checkers shouldn’t be dissuaded from marketing efforts. But perhaps they should be proceeding with a little more caution when the marketing efforts are so clearly targeted at children getting their parents to spend more money. If they can’t come up with something that appeals to adults without getting the kids involved, then maybe they need to look at more than just their marketing strategy…

  4. Kerry > The ethics of it are interesting. But it’s no different from what PnP did (and are doing again), and Spar as well.
    Do these rules only apply for promotions like this? I used to collect football stickers when I was at school. Obviously some people couldn’t afford as many as some others. Does that mean that sort of thing must end as well?I do recall being very disappointed when other kids completed their collections and I didn’t. (I made up for it with Panini 1986 though).

    But – BREAKING: Some people are richer than others. It’s Checkers’ (and any other business’) to relieve them of as much that cash as possible. Is this an unethical way of doing it? I’m not sure it is.

  5. I’m no marketing expert, but you only have to watch a little bit of telly to see how kids are marketed to all the time in many different ways. Through actual ads and through the shows they watch. It’s not unethical. It’s marketing. The choice always remains with the consumer to buy or not to buy. I absolutely feel for that lady as mentioned in the comment above, but those type of situations happen all over and in many different scenarios. You can hardly blame checkers or marketing for that. It’s sad yes but not unethical.

  6. Ronnie > Just because everyone’s at it, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily ethical (I don’t think?). But you’re correct in that Checkers shouldn’t be singled out for abuse and nastiness. Much like Woolworths and the sweets around the checkout queue. They removed most of them, got abuse for not removing all of them, but Checkers (oops) and Pick and Pay still have them right next to conveyor belt. Selective outrage is very crappy. Stop it. But it’s also good blog fodder. So, equally, don’t stop it.

  7. I guess I’d need to know more about what constitutes unethical marketing, which I don’t. To my mind, unethical marketing would be something like if the DA were sending texts to people saying that voting for a small party is a wasted ballot. Oh wait…

  8. Ronnie > OK, well you go cast you vote for the ‘George Independent Ratepayers Forum’, the ‘Karoo Democratic Force’ or the ‘Knysna Unity Congress’ on the 3rd, then come and look me in the eye and tell me that your ‘X’ made a difference.

    It’s not unethical. It’s the TRUTH!

  9. It is the truth indeed
    I still find it dodgy to send such a text. However, the Knysna Unity Congress does sound like fun 😉

  10. Ronnie > The Knysna Unity Congress will crumble in the face of the MIGHTY Karoo Democratic Force. (After a heated lightsaber fight in which one of them loses a hand)

  11. Ronnie > I may be being a little slow on the uptake here, but are you in some way suggesting that “KUC got the “boom””?

  12. Haha yes I think that is what I’m saying… and to prove my point – the person who wrote that blurb clearly got the good “boom”

  13. Ronnie > You’d certainly have to go a long way to find leaders more sincerely or also have an experience for cust.
    I don’t think anyone would deny that.

  14. So you’re jumping ship now? I bet the Karoo guys don’t have such an incredible attitude to cust like my guys have

  15. Ronnie > I’m not jumping ship. I was never on board with the KUC crew. They’re just a load of deckheads and (w)anchors. *almost immediately runs out of terrible ship-based playground insults*

    No, I’ve always been more of a KDC man myself.

    Tagline: “Use The (Karoo Democratic) Force, Luke!”

    [disclaimer: I have no idea who Luke is, nor his relevance to the 2016 Municipal Elections.]

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