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Whole Foods bans poppies – yikes!

Back before I stepped away from the work-a-day world, I did PR and Communications work for a number of years. I don’t think much about that kind of stuff these days, but every now and then some organization does something so bone-headed and ill-advised, it catches my attention and gets me scratching my head.

The folks at Whole Foods, oblivious to just what a bad move this really was, decided to ban employees from wearing poppies. It seems this symbol of remembrance does not conform to their dress code (honest, that’s the best they could come up with). Could it be that the Whole Foods corporate executives really thought this was not going to be a big deal? Note to self – sometimes very well-paid corporate executives inexplicably make remarkably dumb decisions.

Perhaps poppies are not such an important symbol in America as it is among Canadians – and Whole Foods is an American company (I believe owned by Amazon). I don’t know – I’m really stretching to figure this out. What would ever cause them to shoot themselves in the foot like this?

Today Premier Ford announced to the province his family would be boycotting Whole Foods. Ouch!

From the Newtalk 1010 website: “I think it’s disgusting and I think it’s disgraceful,” Ford told NEWSTALK 1010 sister station 580 CFRA in Ottawa. 
“My girls go to Whole Foods…they aren’t going to Whole Foods anymore until they reverse this,” Ford said.
Ford later tweeted, “We will introduce legislation that prohibits any employer from banning their staff from wearing a poppy during Remembrance Week.”

I’m certain most media relations pros in Canada would advise any company to forget any idea that involves messing with the annual poppy program (and would cringe when the company ignored that advice and went ahead and did it anyway).

I will be surprised if this goes away, and I expect Whole Foods will have to trot out some hapless executive to publicly fall on his sword.

UPDATE: Whole Foods caved before the end of the day.

1 Comment so far

  1. vintageclark

    UNBELEIVEABLE!! Thanks for sharing. We are adamant poppy wearers–3 uncles of mine died in WWII and my grandfather’s wounds caused an earlier death–in his late 60s.

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