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March 8, 2011

Don’t Drink the Purple Kool-aid!

Don't Drink the Kool-Aid

As often is the case in the northeast in winter, it began to snow. Please, no I begged the sky.  Stop, please stop!  Do not let my flight home be delayed.

We made it to the Bradley International airport, checked in and boarded.  Of all the ill-fated wretched luck, my shadow’s random seat assignment was beside mine. As I watched the snowflakes getting bigger and falling faster, I thought, just go.  Go anyway.  I am a good swimmer and I have a decent layer of fat to insulate myself, I will take my chances with a water landing.  Please, just go.

But then it came, the announcement.  Not due to weather, but a maintenance delay.  Did we really need two engines?  Deep sigh, it was going to be at least ninety minutes, and that was the first number they threw out so you knew it was going to be longer.

My shadow then drags out and opens his back pack.  Yes, back pack.  A grungy, stained, tattered, unkempt mess of a pack that looked like it had been drug home through mud puddles. This would be fine if you were travelling on a Eurail youth pass but they stop issuing those past the age of twenty-six.  He was way past sixty. He thought the back pack made him look cool, it just made him look unprofessional and shoddy. He then pulls out a bunch of papers and tells me that he and his ex-cupcake cronies came up with  total annual projections for the new pizza line.  Since it is your company, he snipes; I thought you might like to see the numbers.  Truth was, I really didn’t give a rat’s ass about those numbers, but since I was being held captive by Northwest Airlines, and my shadow was between me and the exit, I took a gander.

I looked them over, I turned the pages, I took my glasses off, I put my glasses back on, it didn’t’ matter how I looked at these numbers, they were absolutely absurd.  Keep in mind; the pizzas were only placed in one retailer at that time.  There were no funds for television, radio, or magazine advertising.  Our complete promotional plan would be limited to carefully selected in-store promotional events.

I turned and asked my shadow if he was familiar with the total pizza category movement.  He remarked, I believe so, (of course, he knew everything, I forgot.)  Good, I replied, because let’s take a look.  I pulled out my own set of papers with the category movement breakdown.  This data is available through several sources, such as Nielsen, and is supposed to be used so that you can make sound fact based projections.  Reviewing the movement I pointed out to my shadow, the numbers for Kraft, Schwann, and other well established pizza brands.  Then I went back to the numbers he was proposing.   The cauldron clan had projected that our start-up brand of two pizza flavors, was going to outsell Kraft’s entire line up of  the DiGiorno pizza brand in the next twelve months.

I said, “Don’t you think these projections are a tad optimistic?”  I was pleased those were the words that actually came out of my mouth when my mind was screaming “Are you flipping nuts?”

My shadow replied “Well no we don’t.  In fact we think they are conservative. The regional sales managers should be able to easily surpass these projections.”

“I just want to be clear. You think that our start-up two flavor pizza brand that is currently only on shelf with one major grocery retail chain is going to outsell the  entire  line of the number one pizza brand in the United States in the next twelve months without television, radio or magazine ads.”

“Why yes we do.” He answered scary serious.

Purple Kool-Aid Pitcher

“Did I miss the flight attendant passing out the purple kool-aid” I asked him.

“Why, are you thirsty” he asked. The guy was just clueless, dense, and thick as fog.

At last, take off.  Detroit bound.  Wahoo!


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