This week, Whole Foods launched a new TV ad campaign that’s best described as “quirky.” It’s the grocery retailer’s first major advertising initiative since being acquired by Amazon, but we here at Gizmodo couldn’t help but notice that it’s missing one important detail from the new Whole-azon Foods experience: Crying employees.
You may have heard that the Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods has been a bit rocky, to say the least. The online retailing behemoth has tried to introduce its own confusing restocking system to Whole Foods, and it’s turning out to be less than efficient. Entire shelves are being left empty, and frustrated employees are leaving in droves. Whole Foods staff are also crying. Like a lot.
“I wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares about maps and inventory, and when regional leadership is going to come in and see one thing wrong, and fail the team,” an unnamed supervisor at a Whole Foods store recently told Business Insider. “The stress has created such a tense working environment. Seeing someone cry at work is becoming normal.”
Which brings us to the new ad campaign, which features virtually no employees who are weeping out of desperation at Amazon’s new draconian policies. The ads are produced by the ad agency MullenLowe LA, which won the Whole Foods contract back in October, and are clearly aimed at Millennials in their late 20s and early 30s who are trying to find meaning in our empty, meaningless world.
In one of the ads we see a bespectacled Millennial making awkward small talk with a Whole Foods employee who “went to cheese school.” The Whole Foods employee, as you’ll notice, isn’t crying even a little bit.
Another ad in the series of 15-second spots shows a young woman making awkward small talk with a bespectacled Whole Foods employee in front of a cheese tasting plate. Again, the Whole Foods employee isn’t crying at all, something that Whole Foods employees are now known to do with some frequency.
Yet another ad shows a bearded Whole Foods employee with a mysterious gift of smell. He sniffs a customer’s two pineapples and suggests which one to buy. And somehow, the Whole Foods employee isn’t breaking down in tears.
It all feels so remarkably dishonest if you ask us, since none of the employees are sobbing with despair. It’s a bit like those fast food ads that show the meat in the burger overflowing from the bun, with fresh lettuce and tomato looking as though it’d been picked from a garden out back just this morning. Except instead of a perfectly photographed burger, it’s employees who aren’t howling in emotional pain at the stress that Amazon’s needlessly complicated restocking system is causing.
The tagline for the new ad campaign, “Whatever makes you whole,” helps consumers understand that you’ll never find true happiness outside of perhaps buying food from a brightly lit store scientifically designed to make you feel like an ethical person, wrapped ever so warmly in the glow of high-minded nourishment and spiritual purity, focus group tested and peer approved.
Stuff your face with food to make you feel whole; do whatever it takes; this is your only chance at feeling anything beyond the blinding impotent rage of a generation left little more than the rotting capitalistic corpse of a system built on pain and suffering.
Or at least that’s our takeaway, anyway. But again, it seems like a major oversight not to include the weeping employees. Maybe next time.