Tuesday, July 20, 2004

We won’t just bake your bread, we’ll stalk you until you eat it

Woolworths, the supermarket company, has a new slogan ‘Woolworths Fresh Food People. It’s more than a job. It’s an obsession.’
I’ve noticed the rise of the ‘staff obsession’ meme in advertising of the last few years. While Woolworths only has the slogan (at this stage), others have explored this idea in greater detail in various humorous ads. For example, in one ad for tyres, staff are shown looking at what appears to be a Playboy centre-fold only for the camera to zoom in and reveal that the young men are getting exciting over a large picture of a tyre.
What exactly are these companies getting at with these ads? They want to suggest that their products are backed with excellent service but they also know that their customers realise the level of service will only be that which the marketplace allows. That is, the level of service is tied carefully to the dollars which you the customer bring through the door. If all you’re going to do is buy a loaf of bread, then they’re not going to rush it to you by high-speed courier moments after it’s come out of the oven.
So how do you suggest to a cynical customer that you’re going to give them really, really good service, above and beyond the value of their custom? By telling them that your staff are pyschologically unhinged and have a pathological obsession with some kind of ordinary household product.
You can be sure that the coriander is fresh because Michael, even though he only earns $22,000 a year, was there when it was picked and then rushed it here himself in the back of his Ford Laser. If the leaves start to curl, he becomes increasingly agitated and finally buys all remaining stock himself just to get it off the shelf. He would rather customers had nothing than make do with limp coriander.

Of course, this idea has its limits. ‘Yes, I had to fire Jenny, I’m afraid. She was a good worker, always came in early, stayed late, enthusiastic. But then I found her masturbating while french-kissing a red capsicum. And the worst part of it is that capsicum and I were engaged to be married in the Spring.’

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