Monday, November 3, 2008

Analysis & Commentary: Tesco's Fresh & Easy Launches an Election Day 2008 Promotion ... and the 2008 Political Bastardization of the 'Average Joe'

U.S. Election 2008 Special Report

When the British lost the War of Independence, they made it possible (not as an intentional element of their political and military strategy of course) for the one-time empire's former colony, America, to become the United States of America, form a representative form of democratic government, and elect its own President and members of Congress. From taxation without representation to lots of taxation without much representation is how many Americans might describe this evolution.

Those early days of representative government in the U.S. were far from perfect of course. For example, only white men could vote.

But they did set the stage for better times, which is what democracies allow for that monarchies and other forms of totalitarian rule don't -- change. Much later than it should have done, the U.S. eventually passed laws allowing first woman and then African Americans to vote in the country's elections, finally meeting its promise for a representative government for all rather than just the majority.

Today the United States and the United Kingdom are the best of friends and closest of allies. After all, why let a long-ago war prevent making up and moving on.

In fact, because of the particular history between the two countries, along with the fact America eventually became the world's superpower, the U.S. and Britain even call their relationship the "special relationship," suggesting how close of allies and friends the two English-speaking countries and their peoples are today.

With this history, it's only appropriate and logical then that a British grocer come to America, Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, has launched an 'Election Day 2008' promotion in its 96 grocery and fresh foods stores in Southern California, Nevada and Arizona, the latter of which just happens to be the home state of one of the two candidates for President, Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain.

Tomorrow is election day in the U.S., and Tesco's Fresh & Easy has created a promotion around the theme of election day entertaining and celebrating. The promoted products include a variety of foods which the grocer is encouraging shoppers to pair with its wines for their election night television watching activities and celebrations.

For example, for the wine and cheese crowd Fresh & Easy is offering a 5.3oz pkg. of fresh & easy brand blueberry stilton cheese for $4.48, and a (fresh & easy brand) 8.8oz premium cracker assortment for $2.49. Along with the cheese and crackers offering, the grocer is promoting its proprietary Reflexion Rioja Reserva Spanish wine for $9.99.

Feel free to insert a joke about brie eating, wine sipping Liberal Democrat yuppies here. Or rich, fat cat cheese and wine party loving Republicans here.

Something tells us though that all the "Average Joe's" -- Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, Tito the Builder and the others, real and mythical, -- the McCain campaign has been featuring at its campaign events and talking about non-stop for the last three weeks wouldn't likely rush out to pick up this fancy cheese, cracker and Spanish wine combination.

In fact, the "Average Joe's" would probably even boycott the promoting of a wine from Spain when there are so many American-produced wines that could be offered in the promotion. You know, buy American and all, especially on election day. Not too mention the rather questionable history of Socialism in Spain, along with its current mixed Democratic Socialist and capitalistic system.

But the cheese, cracker and wine combination does sound appropriate for those Liberal Obama supporters in Chicago's fancier neighborhoods, the guys like 1960's radical turned University of Chicago professor and now locally described pillar of the Chicago community Bill Ayers, for example, who likely will be celebrating the election returns tomorrow night in their multi-level townhouses.

Of course so many of these supporters are university professors, doctors and lawyers, they probably will be multi-tasking: grading papers, examining patient medical charts and working on legal briefs while enjoying their cheese, crackers and Spanish wine. And in Bill Ayers' case probably doing a little tinkering with electronic devices on the living room coffee table while he watches the election returns, sips white wine and slathers brie on his Garlic-Basil flavored Carr's Table Water Crackers, using the pearl-handled butter knife given to him in 1968 by a Latin American revolutionary.

Obama supporters in West Hollywood, California and West Los Angeles also are strong and likely candidates for the cheese, cracker and wine combo. These folks eat blueberry stilton cheese like the folks back in Wisconsin eat 100% processed cheddar after all.

So to are many of the items in the Fresh & Easy promotion appropriate for the real McCain supporters, most who make over that magical $250,000 a year and have been far too busy over the last three weeks shifting their investments from the stock market into Treasury Bills and then back again, viewing tomorrow night's election returns in their fancy downtown Phoenix, Arizona upscale condos or in their multi-million dollar homes in Scottsdale.

You know, the crowd Mr. and Mrs. McCain really run with in Arizona. Not a "Joe" or a "Jose"in the bunch. There are a number of Joseph's though.

But John McCain certainly has a bit of the "Average Joe" (or John) in him as well, doesn't he? His middle name for example is Sydney, which you heard him mention about as often during the course of the campaign as you heard Barack Obama mention his. In Obama's case he's had plenty of others mentioning it for him.

Of course since Mrs. McCain is the chairman of the board and majority-owner of the Budweiser beer distributorship in the Phoenix region she inherited from her father, she might appreciate a six-pack or 12-pack of Budweiser beer being included as a part of the Fresh & Easy election day celebration promotion. After all many of the Fresh & Easy stores are located in the Phoenix region. So too would Joe The Plumber and Joe Six-Pack respectively appreciate a beer offering in the promotion, we would imagine.

But alas there's not a single bottle, 6-pack or 12-pack of beer of any kind in the Fresh & Easy Election Day 2008 promotion.

There are numerous other food items though, ranging from snacks and burgers to desserts and beverages. Below are the other items in the Fresh & Easy election day or season promotion:

fresh&easy Grape Tomatoes -- $2.27 / 16oz
fresh&easy Cauliflower -- $2.53 / each
fresh&easy Blue Cheese Dressing -- $1.79 / 16fl oz

fresh&easy Organic Blue Corn Tortilla Chips -- $2.29 / 12oz
fresh&easy Thick & Chunky Salsa (mild or medium) -- $1.34 /16oz
fresh&easy Sour Cream -- $1.68 / 16oz

fresh&easy Ground Beef with Blue Cheese -- $7.99 / 3lbs
fresh&easy Hamburger Buns -- $1.28 / 8 count
fresh&easy Organic Ketchup -- $1.65 / 20oz

fresh&easy Angel Cake -- $3.48 / 7.7oz
fresh&easy Blueberries -- $3.68 / 6oz
fresh&easy Strawberries -- $2.68 / 16oz
fresh&easy Vanilla Ice Cream -- $2.49 / 16oz

fresh&easy Pure Cranberry Juice -- $4.89 / 32oz
fresh&easy Acai Mixed Berry Fusio Juice -- $2.98 / 32oz
fresh&easy Vanilla Banana Smoothie -- $4.98 / 32oz

We see numerous items in the promotion that will appeal to both Obama and McCain supporters in the primarily upper-middle and higher-income brackets in California, Nevada and Arizona, as well as across the land.

But we are a bit concerned there are so few items included in the promotion for the famous average Joe's, mostly mythical, of this campaign -- Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, Tito The Builder and all the other "Average Joe's" John McCain and Sarah Palin have been featuring for weeks now.

We can see the collective "Average Joe" going for the vanilla ice cream , strawberries and angel food cake of course. You can't get any more American than that -- although their certainly should be an apple pie in the item mix. And we can even see the Joe's trying some of the blueberries as long as no one is looking, particularly a member of the press in the case of Joe the Plumber.

Additionally, we think the Joe's would go for the chips (even though they are blue and organic and therefore a bit silly) and the salsa and sour cream (a little sour cream at least), after all they are bound to be hungry after being on a Presidential campaign trail for the first time in their collective lives.

But beyond those items we think the Joe's are going to be tough customers for the rest of the Fresh & Easy election day promoted items. And, according to the McCain campaign, Joe the Plumber, Tito the Builder and all the other collective "Average Joe's," including Mr. Joe Six-Pack, will be at the McCain campaign's election day event tomorrow night at the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona, so they will be in a Fresh & Easy market.

For example, having built his image as America's everyman in just a few short weeks, does anybody think Joe the Plumber would risk all that fame and fortune by being seen buying ground beef with blue cheese in it and using organic ketchup on it? God forbid.

Or can you see Joe the Plumber stocking up on fresh & easy Acai Mixed Berry Fusio Juice (talk about an image killer for Joe) or fresh & easy Vanilla Banana Smoothie's at $4.98 a bottle?

Joe may have talked big about getting ready to buy that plumbing business that does over $250,000 a year from his boss when he had that now famous encounter with Democratic candidate Barack Obama when the candidate was visiting Joe's Ohio neighborhood on an election campaign stop. But the fact is, Joe's boss (the potential seller) told a local Ohio television station a couple days after the event that his employee, Joe the Plumber, wasn't exactly in a financial position to buy the business from him, or any other business for that matter.

There's also the matter of Joe owing a couple grand in back taxes and the fact he really isn't a plumber, at least a licensed one which he would be required to be in order to own and run his own plumbing company, which he would first have to buy. But since when did facts every matter when using an average citizen in a political campaign.

In fact, since most of what was said about Joe the Plumber by Senator McCain's campaign -- that he is a licensed plumber, that he is buying his bosses business, that he is wealthy and therefore will pay higher taxes if Obama is elected President -- who is to say that when it comes to food and beverage choices Joe actually is an "Average Joe?"

In fact, based on all the false advertising about Joe the Plumber, he might even actually be a super-fussy eater like Senator Obama is reported to be. Michelle Obama has joked that her husband is a picky eater, which in part is how he keeps his trim waistline.

We also know the Senator from Illinois and possible next President of the United States likes arugula and is a buyer and consumer of organic foods. When home in Chicago he and his wife Michelle have been spotted in the Whole Foods Market store near their home as well as at the organic fruit and vegetable booths at a nearby farmers market on more than one occasion.

But Barack Obama's fussy eating habits mostly involve preferring the basics like tuna sandwiches instead of things like poached Chilean Sea Bass with a butter-based sauce and liking grilled cheese sandwiches on whole wheat bread instead of say blueberry stilton cheese and wild mushroom and toasted pine nut omelets or other fancier versions, according to Mrs. Obama.

Could he actually be an "Average Joe.?"

So since in political campaigns white is really often black, and perception very seldom meets reality, Joe the Plumber, Joe Six-Pack, Tito the Builder (all sort of the Village People of campaign 2008) and all the other mythical "average Joe's" touted in the campaign rhetoric could actual be brie eating, arugula munching, Spanish wine sipping, local foods fanatical foodies, and therefore perfect consumer candidates for most of the specialty-oriented items in Fresh & Easy's election day 2008 celebration promotion.

Of course, it still wouldn't hurt to add some hot dogs, an apple pie and one or two varieties of beer to the election day promotional mix just in case we are wrong about the "average Joe's" alter ego's when it comes to food and beverage choices and preferences.

[Editor's note: Tesco's Fresh & Easy has had nothing to do with the political bastardization of the "Average Joe" in America as far as we can determine. The election day promotion is merely a vehicle to write about and discuss the topic, along with reporting on and writing about the promotion in general of course:)]

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