In Marketing There Are No “Pros” in Reaction

arts martiaux sur des poteaux
Competing store campaigns illustrate the need for pro-activity


One of the unabashed pleasures of martial arts is that you can fight with an opponent – hammer him, really – and nothing happens. Then, as I began taking judo more seriously and got into tournaments and competitions, my sensei taught me the two secrets of winning: visualization and pro-action. Try to see a few moves ahead and don’t wait for your opponent to move, do it first.


Yesterday, when I saw this banner at my local Publix supermarket, I couldn’t help but think, “S*%t, I would have hammered this guy in two seconds!”

For those who don’t have a Publix nearby, it’s an dual experience. On the one hand, they have amazingly nice people overall, pleasant stores, go-out-of-their-way service and are ubiquitous in South Florida. On the other hand, their delis are very slow and most of the time they are on the expensive side.

Recently, Walmart began attacking Publix as part of its national “See what you can save” advertising campaign, which seems to have dozens and dozens of TV commercials.


Walmart, as always, has done a very credible job of explaining its main points, driving them home in a believable and relevant way, and then hammering its opponent with its advantage. Walmart is like a black belt in retailing.

The commercials began innocently enough by stressing not only price (Walmart’s key positioning) but also selection, location, freshness – you name it.


The commercials then swung directly into price comparison. And Publix has been hammered recently by a series of South Florida commercials touting a 13 percent price advantage for Walmart.

That’s pro-action – in more ways than one.

So what should Publix consider doing and what should they do?

If I could find a cute way of working “amateur” into “action”like I did for “pro”action, I would do it. Sadly, I can’t. Publix began a series of basically amateurish spots trying to fight fire with, not fire, not water, but more like oil.


First, we had a “BOGO” (buy one get one) commercial.