business news in context, analysis with attitude

First the apology.

MNB is very late this morning.

Because after it was written, and as I was about to file, I hit the wrong key. And deleted the whole damn thing. And couldn’t get it back.

So I had to start from the beginning. And resist the temptation to throw the computer out the window.

Sorry about that. I make a lot of mistakes, but this is the first time in more than five years of writing MNB that I’ve made this particular mistake.

For good reason, we all spend a lot of time talking about the obesity crisis, especially childhood obesity. It is a serious problem, and worth our attention.

The irony, of course, is that here in the US (and probably elsewhere, though I don’t have statistics to back that up), there also are plenty of people – especially teenaged girls – who suffer from eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia.

So I was interested to see this week that Unilever has decided to ban superslim models and actors from its ads and commercials. The company said that it did not want to be a negative influence on young women concerned about their bodies; the decision fits nicely into the broader message that the company has been sending with its Dove marketing campaign focusing on real women with real bodies.

I just think that this is smart. And admirable.

I have some experience with eating disorders. A family member suffered from it and was hospitalized for a time. While this person may no longer have anorexia or bulimia, those particular issues have been replaced with what would appear to the unschooled eye to be an exercise obsession that, I suspect, could also be life threatening in the long run. It is something I worry about. A lot.

At the same time, I have a daughter who in less than a month will turn 13, and I can see the seeds of concern about her height, her weight, her appearance creeping into conversation. Nothing to worry about yet, except that as parents we always have to worry about this stuff, have to be concerned that in our language and in our attitudes we are sending positive messages without the hint of subtext.

These may seem to be tangential issues for the food industry, but I don’t think so. I actually think that there is some business benefit to being on the side of the gods on this one…and if not business benefit, there at least is the moral uplift of being on the right side of an important issue.

Food retailers can be in a unique position to talk to parents about some of these problems, creating awareness that will allow parents to recognize these disorders in their early stages so that they can be dealt with by medical and psychological professionals.

It’d be good for customers. It’d be good for business. And it’d be good for the soul.

It already has made a lot of money. And it will make a ton more.

But make no mistake. “Spiderman 3” is junk. Crap. It’ll make your mind rot.

It isn’t just that I have a low threshold for comic book movies in my advancing years. (L loved “Batman Begins,” BTW, and I can’t wait for its sequel, “The Dark Knight.” And I love “Heroes” on TV.) I happened to like the first two movies in the series. But the third is just a way of cashing in – it has lost all the soul and character of the original and the first sequel, and it is tiresome, unambitious moviemaking.


On the other hand…

If you want to watch a wonderful movie, go rent a little British film called “Kinky Boots.” It is a lovely movie about a British shoe factory that has been making the same brown shoes for generations and is on the verge of going out of business…until the young man in charge – with some unorthodox inspiration – comes up with a way to compete in the fashion market, save a lot of jobs and put the business in the black. It’s quirky, it’s fun…and it even is based on a true story.

“Kinky Boots.” Don’t let the title scare you off.

Have a great wine for you: the 2004 Zweigelt “Zantho” from Austria, which is a medium bodied red that is great with a nice thick burger.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday.

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