My buddy, Ron, started a thread in the HorrorTalk forum describing a cross promotion in Albertson’s that just wasn’t quite right.
Apparently, they are promoting the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and hung various items throughout the store. He was thoughtful enough to take pictures:
After laughing at the great pics Ron took, I was reminded of yet another glorious moment from my retail days. When I was working for the now defunct F&M, there came a time when the Powers That Be really started pushing tie ins. Basically, they wanted you to make all of the endcaps with at least two items. (IE a big display with paper plates, with a smaller display of plastic forks flanking it. Stuff like that.)
But it wasn’t just about endcaps, they also wanted you to use floor displays to maximum potential, too. So if you had a battery display, they’d want you to set it up in, say, the toy aisle.
I had fun with the tie ins. It became a sort of game with my manager and I, on who could find the most f’d up tie in. Like an endcap of toilet paper flanked with a Drano tie in. That sort of thing.
One day, a floor display of Trojan condoms arrived in the warehouse. As it came in towards the end of my shift, I placed it deep in the warehouse so the manager coming on duty wouldn’t set it up. This was mine. I had plans.
The next day, before the store opened, I set up the Trojan display. In the baby products aisle. The way I looked at it, people who were there buying formula and pacifiers would see the Trojan display and be reminded what a pain in the ass kids were, and pick up a box or two of Trojans. Brilliant.
Later that afternoon, as the store manager was doing his daily walk through of the store, he called over the walkie talkie that he needed me in aisle four. I chuckled. Aisle four was the baby aisle.
When I got there, he was smiling. “Nice one,” he said. “But you are handling any complaints.” My manager was pretty damn cool (I was an assistant manager at the time. Not an assistant to the manager like Dwight on “Office Space,” but a bonifide assistant manager.)
I didn’t have to wait long. Actually, it was only about an hour later when I was paged, by name, over the intercom for customer assistance in aisle four. When I arrived, I saw a lady, obviously pissed off, baby in tow.
“Can I help you?” I asked. Always pleasant.
“What in the hell is this?” She asked, directed my attention to a condom display.
“That is a condom display.”
“I can see that. What the hell is it doing here?” She was obviously one of those soccer moms. You know, the kind that have no time for jokes when it comes to the beauty of creation.
“It’s a tie in.” I explained.
“In the baby aisle? Why the hell would someone put a condom display in the baby aisle??”
“To sell condoms,” I said. She was dense. And oh so very pissed.
“Do you know how distasteful this is? Babies are a blessing!”
“I realize that,” I explained, “but not everyone wants to keep having them after the first, second or fifth one.”
“This display has no purpose in this aisle!” She exclaimed, face red. I will admit, though, she wasn’t raising her voice.
I pointed out the two missing slots in the display. “Obviously, it’s working. I’ve sold two packs since I put it up this morning.”
“You set it up! I should have figured! What the hell were you thinking?”
“Two things. The first is the sales, which are already happening. The second is my sister has a son. She said she would never have kids again after him. I’m thinking of people like her.”
“Is your sister older or younger?” The lady asked.
“What would you think if your mother had bought condoms from a display like this after she had had your sister?”
“I think we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
She stormed out in a huff. I didn’t have to relay the story to my manager, as he was in the next aisle listening and, most likely, laughing. And while he didn’t yell at me for the conversation, he did make me move the condom display.