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Got several emails about yesterday’s story about the conference at the University of California Santa Barbara focusing on "Wal-Mart: Template for 21st Century Capitalism?" The meeting drew 300 people who largely focused on how to deal with perceived Wal-Mart “sins” such as “low wages and lackluster benefits to stress-filled jobs and anti-union managers.”

One MNB user observed:

Don't you wonder why this conference hasn't been held in any of the other 49 states? Could it be that all of these elitists who have nothing better to do live there? Please, they are the only ones that take themselves that seriously and think middle America is listening. I can just hear the boots shaking in Bentonville.

Who do they think they represent? If Wal-Mart was such a horrible influence in all of those thousands of communities they're in, then don't you think the citizens would throw them out? So I guess it's safe to assume that the University of California thinks the rest of us are ignorant and too stupid to think for ourselves and that's the only reason Wal-Mart is the largest corporation in the country.


And another MNB user wrote:

Don't guess that anyone representing Wal-Mart's point of view was there…

Actually, the news reports said that Wal-Mart was invited but did not attend.

As for the first email, we happen to think that it is perfectly appropriate to hold conferences at which the implications of Wal-Mart’s growth are considered and explored. And, in fact, Wal-Mart ought to be willing to engage in that discussion, because it would be the responsible thing to do.

We also take offense at the implication that California has all the elitists, which is why the state university system is willing to host the conference. We were born in Greenwich Village, went to school in Los Angeles, and live in Connecticut – and we have to say there are plenty of elitists in all three places.




An MNB user wrote yesterday that: "I know someone who works at Wal-Mart. She said she was very happy working there because they regularly let her have extra hours. Her manager told her she just couldn't go over forty. She thought this was because then she'd be full-time. She always works between thirty and forty hours. Do you think she gets health care? She's technically a full-time employee, but they don't treat her like one. I had to explain to her that they don't want her to go over forty hours because then she could get overtime. She doesn't care, though. She only has a high school education and has few opportunities available to her. She's grateful to have the hours and won't complain because her family needs the money."

To which another MNB user responded:

Depending on when she was hired she would be considered full-time if she worked a certain number of hours per week or more. In my case, 28 hours/week based on a 1993 hire date.

She would normally be a full time employee if she works 30 to 40 hours a week, unless she is classified "part-time" and is given the extra hours by management. I believe if she averages over a certain number for the year that qualifies her as "full-time" she must be considered "full-time" thereafter.

Not being treated like a full time employee is a matter of her treatment by someone not identified, but has nothing to do with her "legal" part-time/full-time status.

She is eligible for buy medical coverage after she completes a certain number of months employment.

Not wanting to have associates working over 40 hours is a pretty common thing as store managers aren't allowed hardly any over-time hours in their budget. Over-time availability is an ongoing situation. It can change overnight depending on circumstances.

Having only a high school education is her problem, not Wal Mart's. Many with similar education have risen high in Wal-Mart's ranks as in many other jobs.

This story borders on becoming an internet "legend" and I'm a little surprised you would bother to add it to your lists of anti Wal-Mart rants.


Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were being accused of being a Wal-Mart stockholder and apologist? Geez…we can’t win.




We continue to get email on the subject of drug reimportation from Canada. One MNB user wrote:

If the drug companies would cut back on the advertising of drugs here in the U.S. we might be able to lower drug prices - and continue R&D too!

Couldn’t agree more.

Another member of the MNB community wrote:

Another big part of our cost for prescription and even over the counter drugs is the high cost of insurance. Just look at the ads on television for lawyers. "I'll get you money!! We will find all sources and get you the most for your _____. (injury, sickness, accident, etc)" So you have an interaction to a new drug prescribed by your doctor. Who gets sued? The doctor, his partnership, the pharmacy, the drug manufacturer and anyone else who might have money or insurance to go after.

Is it necessary? Yes, to a degree, but many go in excess…The Canadians, the British and many others don't allow this to happen and control both the cost of the drugs and other legal aspects. Sure keeps the cost down and in-turn limits a lot of liability - right or wrong.





Finally, we had a story yesterday about how Burger King has managed to generate some buzz for its new TenderCrisp Chicken Sandwich by creating a website, www.subservientchicken.com, that allows web surfers to look at a guy in a chicken suit and get him to follow specific commands, like “wave,” “jump,” or “scratch.”

The goal is to communicate to consumers that just like they can get the chicken to do what they want, they can get the chicken sandwich their way. The site is programmed so that they chicken can obey some 400 commands; it apparently has become the web’s the top site in terms of popularity.

Our comment: It also is the dumbest thing we’ve ever seen.

Burger King should maybe try coming up with decent food. We have no idea if this TenderCrisp sandwich is any good, and this website does nothing to get us to actually drive in to a BK.

We know what we’d like to tell the chicken to do. But that particular command doesn’t seem to be programmed.


Needless to say, we got some email on this…

One MNB user wrote:

You're missing the real value of this stupid web-site, which I agree is stupid but I did take the time to mess around with it. Just the fact that the site is popular and you wrote about it makes this a strong awareness generating campaign. How many more people know about BK's chicken product?

My guess it is right on target with their target demo. Think of the stupid campaign Quizno's ran with the singing rodents...it created all kinds of buzz and was hugely successful. However, it did the opposite for me and actually grossed me out. We are just getting old...


True…sad, but true.

Another MNB user wrote:

Think targeted marketing. Ever been to bored.com? You can actually find a link there to pop packing-bubble wrap online. Tons of college-aged web-users find this a blast. Beats me why, but I understand how the appeal of virtual chickens could be a boost for Burger King. Maybe we in the grocery industry could use a little more 18-24 thinking in our marketing.

Feeling older all the time.

Kevin, You missed the boat on this one, to be sure. This is pure marketing genius. The Wall Street Journal has even done a full article on the campaign, saying that since the site's debut - on April 7 -- yes, about a week ago -- the site has gotten 15 to= 20 million clicks already. As for me, no, I hardly ever go to Burger King. But now, I have to say I'm curious enough because of that crazy chicken to go over to Burger King and see what's up with the new offering(s).

Feeling really, really old.

And yet another member of the MNB community wrote:

Perhaps you’re being a little harsh in your assessment of BK’s funky chicken. Sure, the food tastes more boiled than “flame broiled,” and the best promotional concept may be an on pack angioplasty kit.

BUT, there is something to be said for trying to create corporate buzz around the BK brand, staying hip / relevant to a younger audience, etc… I bet the BK marketing department is celebrating the fact that they found an inexpensive way to get an important demographic re-exposed to their brand.


Oy.

Another MNB user wrote:

Come on kevin were is you creative side. You don't know everything. Try the Sandwich it happens to be very good. You have no appreciation for a very new Marketing idea. I have not yet seen the sight. You can bet i will review it Now and appreciate the effort. Your no expert on marketing are you ??????

No, but we are pretty good on spelling and grammar…

Thank goodness someone agreed with us, as MNB user Gary Harris chimed in:

Of course I had to check it out…

Of course you’re right, it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen, too!

Of course I caused a commotion laughing out loud at the thought of your ‘unprogrammed command.’

I don’t even know what else to say.
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