Monthly Archives: January 2015

Whole Foods: Values Matter


The words “healthy” and “organic” can mean different things depending on the retailer using the words. But to grocery retailer, Whole Foods, the words are part of the values that the company promotes to its consumers. Since its founding in 1980 in Austin, TX, Whole Foods established itself as a source for organic, healthy, ethically-sourced food products. And, for many years, the only place to find these products was at Whole Foods.

A lot has changed in the intervening years and now many grocery stores carry organic, natural, and local food products. Given the rise in competition, and the greater availability of organic foods, Whole Foods has shifted its message to tell a story about the company’s values and operations. The new campaign – “Values Matter” – seeks to link the company to a more ethical stance about food, sourcing, healthy eating, and transparency of actions. How important is it for companies to state their vision and values to stakeholders? And more importantly, will the statements increase consumer confidence and sales?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Review Whole Foods in brief. Company Web site:
  2. Show the video, “Values Matter”: What is the key message from the video?

  1. Discuss competition: What are the direct competitors? Indirect competitors?
  2. Divide students into teams. Have each team compare Whole Foods with a competitive storey. What are the points of difference? What makes Whole Foods different from competition? What can other companies do to compete with Whole Foods?
  3. Discuss the target market for Whole Foods.
  4. Debrief the exercise.


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PSA: “Don’t Jerk and Drive”


Why do so many public safety announcements have to be serious – and usually very tedious as well? Of course, PSAs should be educational and informative, but they don’t have to be boring. After all, if the campaign is compelling, and even a little humorous, the viewer is much more likely to recall the campaign and even practice the safety tips.

That was the thought process behind South Dakota’s recent winter driving PSA titled “Don’t Jerk and Drive.” The catchy phrase was presented using an animated video that teaches viewers to drive safely when hitting a patch of ice on the road. Instead of “jerking” the wheel, the video illustrates how drivers can safely steer cars back onto the road smoothly, thus avoiding accidents. Great concept – great instruction and it outperformed other PSA campaigns by 25 to 1.

Unfortunately, the state’s Department of Public Safety decided to pull the ad from television when there were too many comments about “jerking and driving.” Come on – take the joke – and keep up the good work instructing drivers on safely navigating icy roads this winter.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the role of PSAs in advertising. Why are these important?
  2. Poll students: What PSA campaigns can they recall? Why are those memorable?
  3. Show South Dakota’s Web site and video:
  4. To illustrate other creative PSA campaigns, show Virgin Airline’s safety video:
  5. Divide students into teams. Have each team select a topic for a PSA campaign and design a creative campaign that will get people’s attention and improve safety.

Source: Ad Week

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Amazon’s Echo


Move over Siri – Amazon has a new interactive device with its own unique voice. The new product is called ‘Amazon Echo’ – a device designed around the users’ voice and it is always on and ready to respond to requests for music, news, information, weather, and more.

The product has multiple microphones which can hear the user from any direction, even if it is playing music. It uses an on-device keyword spotting to detect the wake word, which then streams audio to the cloud, and leverages Web services to recognize and respond to requests. Want to know how tall Mount Everest is, or the latest weather prediction? Just ask Echo and it will quickly search out the correct answer. It even has the ability to learn and adapt to speech patterns, vocabulary, and person preferences. There is also an app available for Fire OS, Android, iOS, and desktop browsers so that it is still available even when the user is not at home.

Echo is currently only available by invitation (request an invite on The price for Prime members is $99, and for non-Prime members at $199.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of clearly defining a target market.
  2. Show the Web site for Amazon’s Echo:
  3. What is the target market for this product?
  4. Divide students into teams and have each team develop a profile of a target market. Include demographics, psychographics, behaviors, values, attitudes, etc.
  5. Based on the target market profile, what makes this product unique for these customers?
  6. Debrief the exercise.

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