Saturday, September 01, 2007

A&P produce video fracas

From the world of the Dora spoof to the produce aisle...

When I first heard that two brothers, Mark and Matthew D'Avella, were first fired from their jobs at the A&P grocery in Califon, New Jersey, and then sued for $1 million, I immediately wondered about the tightness of the grocery chain executives' neckties and their obvious inability to recognize satire.

The trouble for these two 17-year-olds began when they were given permission from their manager to shoot a rap parody video for a class assignment. Their intent was to spoof so-called rap "artists" by building a story around vegetables. They shot it at night, when the store was deserted, and brought in their own produce for the shoot.

After they posted the video to their web site, FakeLaugh.com, someone - anonymous, of course, because cowards never have the guts to identify themselves - complained to A&P. The grocery chain launched an investigation, fired them, and then sued them, claiming that's how much business they lost because of the video's release.

These two seemingly straight-laced college kids have been making the rounds of the talk shows in recent days, sharing their thoughts on how absurd it seems for a Big Bad Supermarket Chain to go after them with such a legal-driven vengeance.

There's an A&P near my house. I've often brought my own camera into its produce aisles for some photographic fun (see here and here for a couple of examples.) Something tells me I'd be less inclined to shop at a store whose leaders clearly don't know how to take a joke. Maybe it's time for companies with stuffed shirts at the top to bring in younger leadership that clearly understands how we communicate in the world today.

I'll betcha the execs who made the fire-and-sue-'em decision had never even heard of YouTube (or Facebook, or blogs, or podcasting, or...) before this video was brought to their attention. I would advise them to drop this lawsuit so the rest of the world will stop laughing at them. Then they'll be free to go back to printing their weekly flyers and taking down the old postings from the community message bulletin board at the front of the store. That sounds more their speed.

Your turn: What say you on this oddball story? Are some companies (A&P, anyone?) too disconnected from reality for their own good? Is this the way to build a business?

17 comments:

BreadBox said...

Hi Carmi: Michele sent me, but I'd probably have come along this afternoon anyway...
I think that lots of (most?) big companies are too full of their own sense of importance, take themselves too seriously and as a result end up looking really stupid, really quickly.
They might instead have tried to get the young men involved in this to do some sort of guerilla advertising kinda/sorta for the store (not explicitly pro A&P, but with enough pro-A&P product placement that it made them look good). For example. Just a small one.

On the other hand, I do understand the company not wanting part time employees using corporate property to do unapproved things after the store is closed.... but their reactions certainly are over the top!

N.

Sara said...

I laughed when I watched the video - I thought it was funny. Companies need to get a grip - especially this one! What they are doing is just stupid...but, it is a reality that a lot of big companies just don't get it...

They would never have seen the video if someone hadn't called it to their attention...

David said...

Exewcutives are only mildly stupid, but the higher up the corporate ladder they climb the dumber they get.

moon said...

Wow, how idiotic of them ..if anything, this company can only LOSE customers who have a modicum of whats going on around us...Who wants to support anal retentive paper pushers who have no sense of humour or good spiritness.
Good for the boys doing interviews, the company will only get more deserved bad press from it..

Tabor said...

I was going to comment here, but breadbox said exactly what I was going to say!! So there.

Bob-kat said...

I really must see this video now.

It sounds like the company went way overboard on this one. So desperate are they to keep the custom of the one or two people who complained that they are willing to risk losing the custom of thousands of folk that actually have a sense of humour and know how to exercise it!

Hmmm... could it be that their knee jerk decision was wrong?!! Shock horror!

Michele sent me to say 'Get a life' to the A&P management.

Michael Manning said...

HAVE A NICE WEEKEND!!!

A Army Of (Cl)One said...

having worke din a grocery store before, during and for a short while after college, I can see the higher ups doing something like this. We would get barked at if we hung out after work to chat with friends if we were wearing any part of our uniform. And this was the least of the problems the management gave us.

Thank goodness it was a union job and paid well.

But as for A&P, what a bunch of buttheads.

Hello from Michele

wordnerd said...

Are you kidding me? This is beyond ridiculous! I wanna know who complained -- I mean, really, what's the big deal? Sheesh.

The Turmanators said...

Saw these guys on the Daily Show and thought they were hilarious and sacrificial. Loved their spoof and I wondered where our collective sense of humor went? Did we ever have one? Perhaps in the 70s for a nanosecond. Hopefully they will benefit in other ways and can say "screw A&P"!

Star said...

So , you know I work for a Supermarket chain. CAn you guess whih one? Yep. Actually a subsidiary. Am I surprised by their action? No? The powers that be can never seem to see the big picture. They are bringing more attention to this by binging the suit. Trust me, they have bigger fish to fry than these two, obviously bright kids. At work I alwaays caution my co-workers not to apply logic when trying to make sense of the lateset company policy. Logic doesn't enter into the equation. I am glad you are putting this out there. I felt a little disloyal doing it.

Becky68 said...

I don't have A&P shops near me but I would probably be less likely to shop there due to them showing such a lack of sense of humor.
I went to the sebsite & also sent A&P an email using the link from FakeLaugh.com.
Michele sent me today & I'm glad to hear about this. I work for a company in technology & they're still (In spite of being in tech) Clueless.

Mamacita (Mamacita) said...

I know of one customer they've lost. Mamacita will never shop at an A&P again.

Higher-ups with no sense of humor are the pits. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I don't care to give my money to a business with stupid CEO's. Nope. Not a penny.

flleenie said...

So management gave permission, then the teens got fired & are being sued by the corporation? Totally ridiculous! What happened to the manager who them gave permission to film in the first place?

I want to see, I'm going to find the video...btw Michele sent me

Sandy J said...

We don't have an A&P in my city, but if we did, they would have definitely lost me as a customer!

BreadBox said...

Watch for this young people to go somewhere spectacular now that they have all this publicity: they'll be the ones who make the next Shaun of the Dead, I bet!
Just watched Hot Fuzz this evening: loved it -- very funny and at least the gory bits are fun...
Michele sent me,
N.

deputyswife said...

I would be inclined not to shop at their store after reading this story. (Lucky for them, I am in po-dunk Iowa and have never heard of A&P.)

I don't think the intended punishment fits the so called "crime". What would happen if some little old woman knocked over a display of grapefruit? Jail? A garnishment of her pension?

Bah. This company needs to worry more about important things. Like improving their public image.