Thursday, October 23, 2008

Meet Chairman Bob

This installment of Things That Keep Me Up at Night is brought to you by Copps Grocery, Roundy's Supermarkets Inc., and my fascination with minutiae.

I first noticed Chairman Bob last week while I was unloading my groceries after going shopping.  How odd, I thought as I lifted the first bag out of my car, there's a man on my grocery bag and he's ... is he? Yes, he's giving me the thumbs up.  After I got my groceries inside I examined my bags more closely and found out that the creepy man heartily endorsing my produce selection was Chairman Bob.  According to my grocery sac, "Roundy's products are approved for quality and signed by Chairman Bob himself."  After high tailing to the kitchen to ensure that my squash did not in fact bear Chairman Bob's signature, I decided to do some investigating.  Who the hell was this Chairman Bob? Why was he so chuffed with my purchases?  Who decided to run with an advertising campaign featuring a leering middle aged man displaying a forced gesture of goodwill?  I was determined to find out.

Lucky for me, Roundy's had anticipated my interest in all things Bob and printed a web address directly underneath his faux signature. told me all I needed to know.

Robert Mariano, a.k.a "Chairman Bob," is the CEO of Roundy's Supermarket Inc., one of the Midwest's largest and oldest grocers.  The group owns and operates grocery stores across the country under the Pick 'n Save, Copps, and Rainbow banners.  If you go to the website, Chairman Bob himself will tell you about the superior foods he personally endorses.  Nestled in a grove of orange trees, the Chairman gives it to us straight in a 5 minute interview.  He uses phrases like "taste profile" and confesses that "no less than 15 formulations" were rejected when they were developing Roundy's fresh bratwurst.  Towards the end of the interview we come to find out that Bob is nothing more than a med-school reject who clawed his way up the grocery sales ladder.  After not getting into medical school, Bob's first job out of college was as a "Food Service Salesman" at Oscar Mayer.  Sure Bob.  And my first job out of college was as a "Clothing Technician" for Steve and Barry's.  Bob ends his interview with the compelling statement "once you get food retail in your blood, you don't get it out."  WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT, BOB? And can I catch this food retail from your carefully selected products? Because I'll sue.

In the end, all that I found out about Chairman Bob did nothing to alleviate how creeped out I was when I realized that he was staring staring staring at me from every one of my grocery bags.  I think a lot of it has to do with the blank expression on his face.  There's probably not a lot one can do with a plastic grocery sac as a medium, but his blank stare coupled with his upturned thumb make me uneasy.  I don't need your approval, Chairman Bob, so STOP LOOKING AT ME.



megamax said...

you could make the switch to woodman's, but then you might have that idiot union-buster phil woodman's voice stuck in your head, saying "better product, better prices, because WE'RE employee owned!!!!!"

i question which is worse. maybe this can be the next thing to keep you up at night.

CSWBlogger said...

Reading your blog left me with a little chuckle. As a Roundy's employee, I was apprehensive about the campaign that we were about to launch. The ads did seem a bit hokey and made Bob seem self-absorbed. Bob is never one afraid to get his hands wet at all levels of our business. It's how he connects with his employees and his customers.

One thing I say to everyone who comments on the advertising campaign, good or bad...It made you remember Roundy's brand, didn't it?

Michael said...

You know, I actually totally believe that once you get food retail in your blood, you never get it out.