Brand Blogger Q&A: Food Market Index (regarding Whole Foods)

This week’s third Q&A is, like yesterday’s, probably the beginning of a series: A series of interviews with brand-specific bloggers. In this case I imagine the series will be less open-ended (but I could be wrong). I’m starting with a relatively new brand blog, one that focuses on Whole Foods. It’s called Food Market Index, and so far it’s been quite good. The proprietor is Mr. Food Markets, Rob Denton, who kindly agreed to answer some questions.

When did you start the blog, and what goals did you have in mind?

May, 2006. My goals for the Food Market Index were to have fun and to try to amuse and inform readers. It was also a creative outlet for my ideas about organic foods, shopping, and Western civilization in general. I wanted to explore an area of personal experience that is also a familiar one for millions of people.

And were you perhaps inspired by any other brand blogs, or not so much?

Not at all. Oddly enough, I wasn’t all that aware of other brand blogs until after I started mine. I found that every niche has its fans — from Trader Joe’s to Toyotas. Some of the other brand blogs are quite inspiring in their scope and execution; others are a little snarky for my tastes. I feel like I walk a middle line down the shopping aisle — I like Whole Foods Markets, obviously, but I can also laugh a bit at the whole milieu, and at myself and fellow consumers too. [ Read more

The rap on Vans: Pro and con

The latest addition to the history of hip-hop odes to products, sneakers in particular, is “Vans,” by Bay Area rap group The Wolfpack, or just The Pack. (Here’s the group’s MySpace page — the song starts playing as soon as you arrive, and it’s laced with profanity, so, you know, click with care.) It’s about how great Vans are, and how they’ve always been great, and how you should throw out your Nikes, and so on. But that’s not what’s interesting.

What’s interesting is that somebody called Drino Man has responded with an answer remix about how much he hates Vans. In fact his track is called “Fuck Vans.” Nikes and Jordans, among others, are declared “real sneakers,” and Vans are … well, I guess the title pretty much sums up where this guy is coming from. Here’s his Myspace page; the lyrics are quite obscene, so, you know, you’ve been warned.

I don’t think either song is particularly good, but that’s hardly the point, is it? I’m slightly interested in whether Vans will do anything with or about all of this (or whether they’ve orchestrated the whole thing somehow), and also in whether marketing guru types will pick up on it as another example of technology “empowering” consumers to “join the conversation.” Assuming, of course, that bickering about sneaker brands counts as a “conversation.”

I heard about this by way of The Weekly Drop. The Pack’s pro-Vans song is also discussed at

Ad It Up

Firefox Flicks: What does it mean when consumers become producers – of advertising?

Advertising was called the “folklore of industrial society” as early as the 1950’s, when Marshall McLuhan used that phrase. Back then, though, the tools required to fashion and disseminate the images and stories of industrial products to the masses were available only to industry (or rather to the advertising agencies hired by industry). Today the folk — or at least much of the middle class — have those tools, too, and in recent years have shown a surprising willingness to use them on behalf of brands. Converse has solicited consumer-made commercials for a couple of years and has received more than a thousand; lately General Motors, MasterCard and others have asked for, and received, contributions to their marketing efforts from the grass roots. Perhaps the most famous consumer-created ad — a computer animation of flying iPods made by a California teacher — was made and distributed without any input from the makers of the product. It makes sense that Firefox, the Web browser distributed by the Mozilla Corporation, would try this approach …
Continue reading at the NYT Magazine site by way of this no-registration-required link.

Related links:

Also, not related, but in the NYT Magazine this week and worth reading: Randy Kennedy’s article about MTV making shows for cellphones, and Scott Anderson’s cover story on National Guardsmen re-adjusting to civilian life after tours in Iraq. On the latter subject, this recent episode of public-radio show Speaking of Faith is also worthwhile.