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Marketing War

posted Feb 5, 2017, 9:50 AM by Viktor Zólyomi   [ updated Feb 5, 2017, 9:50 AM ]
The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Over the past three weeks leading up to the imminent reopening of the Onn Lee Megastore in Downtown Con City, all out war has broken out between the superstore and the city's premiere discount supermarket, the Deal Mart. Since the closure of the Onn Lee Megastore due to flooding a few months ago, customers flocked to the Deal Mart to do all their grocery shopping. Oscar Lee, owner of the Onn Lee Megastore expressed his worries that the months his former customers spent at the Deal Mart have made them accustomed to the discount prices and this may keep them from returning to the superstore next week.

`That is why we launched our new marketing campaign,' he explained three weeks earlier. `I admit that the slogan may be a little bit controversial, but this is business. I'm sure the management of the Deal Mart will understand.'

The initial marketing campaign ran with the slogan, `don't buy shit, come to the Megastore,' which drew the ire of Albert Flanders, owner of the Deal Mart.

`I don't know why that rude scoundrel is so worried about the loss of customers,' he said in response to the advert. `The Deal Mart is a supermarket, specialized in groceries and related products. The Onn Lee Megastore is a shopping center. They sell everything including the kitchen sink. So what if their grocery store operates at a loss? They'll make up for it in the profits made in the rest of the Megastore. But you know what? If Oscar Lee wants a fight, I'll give him one.'

Days after the launch of the `don't buy shit, come to the Megastore' ad campaign, the Deal Mart began a television campaign on Channel 11. The ad consisted of archived news footage showing the flooded Onn Lee Megastore, with the narration, `do you really want to go back there?' and closed with a slide show of smiling customers at the Deal Mart. Oscar Lee found the advert distasteful.

`No decent human being would mock the misery of another man,' he stated. `Part of me is glad that Albert Flanders showed us who he really is, because now I will have no problem taking off the gloves!'

The second marketing campaign of the Onn Lee Megastore followed the formula of the Deal Mart's advert. The television ad displayed numerous homeless people sleeping right next to the entrance of the Deal Mart in the early hours of the morning. The narration at the end of the advert said, `don't shop in the shitty neighborhood, come to the Megastore.'

`Tasteless and elitist,' Albert Flanders summarized his opinion of the ad, days before launching a new television advert for his supermarket, in which a man standing in water up to his neck tried in vain to reach a box of cereals on the top shelf inside a small room meant to symbolize the Onn Lee Megastore's grocery department. Oscar Lee refused to issue a statement regarding the advert. Days after the first airing, however, a new ad campaign of the Onn Lee Megastore ran on Channel 11.

The thirty second advert, like its predecessor, started with an exterior shot of the Deal Mart in the early morning hours. Instead of homeless people, numerous unsavory characters stood near the entrance, forming two groups. They eyed each other for ten seconds before they drew various firearms. Then the ad cut to black for fifteen seconds during which time loud gunfire, sounds of explosions, and painful screams filled the air. `Don't put your life on the line for your groceries, come to the Megastore,' the narration said at the end.

Albert Flanders was furious over the advert, and called it `a declaration of war.' While one would assume he had meant those words in the marketing sense, it turned out he had been quite literal. He reached out to his returning customers, much of them residents of the Oldtown district, and within days a convoy of no less than fifty cars surrounded the Onn Lee Megastore. Men and women looking many times more unsavory than the actors in the offending advert sat in the cars, eying the superstore from dawn till dusk, only to be replaced by another convoy of fifty cars that would stay from dusk till dawn. A van bearing the logo of the Deal Mart came by at noon and midnight, and supplied free food for the people in the cars.

The building contractors working on the refurbishment refused to go anywhere near the superstore as they did not dare to walk past the Oldtown vehicles, causing severe delay to the repairs being undertaken.

`I called the police,' said a distressed Oscar Lee, `but they said they couldn't do jack shit. Not until one of those hooligans draws a gun. Bullshit! Whatever happened to prevention? Well, that's okay. Albert Flanders isn't the only one who has friends.'

Two days after the non-stop blockade of the Onn Lee Megastore began, three black helicopters landed on the roof of the superstore, delivering a platoon of private military contractors armed with assault rifles to the scene. They took positions around the building, standing guard and waiting for the Oldtown residents to engage them or drive away.

At the time of writing the standoff between the presumably armed associates of Albert Flanders and the most definitely heavily armed private military contractors has been ongoing for four days and shows no signs of ending. Meanwhile Oscar Lee relies on the helicopters to transport the building contractors to and from the superstore, and remains confident that the building will be ready for the scheduled reopening. Whether the customers will be willing to enter the Onn Lee Megastore in the middle of the standoff remains to be seen, albeit Oscar Lee seems to be prepared for the worst.

`If all else fails, I'll just use the helicopters to get the customers through the door,' he states. When asked how much the private military contractors and the use of the helicopters cost him and whether these expenses may be far greater than any profit he could hope to gain by luring back the customers of the Deal Mart, he refused to comment.