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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Asda Automation and Advertising Gimmickry

I had to go to Asda. The usual things for this evening's meal. It was extremely over-cast and miserable, weather-wise. Almost pushed off the road on the way by a driver in a large flashy car, going through a roundabout. Cut me up, because I wasn't going fast enough, and then caught up with him on a long queue on the roundabout on Watling Street, so all his speed and agression didn't pay off.

Managed to park in Asda's carpark and then walked into the store. A large display in the entrance for Shredded Wheat, a young lady handing out leaflets with '50p-off' voucher inside, and an enormous bowl of mocked-up shredded wheat nearby, with huge spoon in it. Reminded me of having to make props and puppets for various shows I've worked on. Actually don't know whether seeing such a large Shredded Wheat, which looked more like a thatched roof, would have put me off eating them. I remember having these for breakfast at my grandmother's house as a child and thinking they were rather like bed-springs. As for Weetabix, they made me think of bales of straw. Funny how you associate one thing with another. I just wonder what a psychologist would have to say on the matter.

The store was surprisingly busy for 9.30 on a windy and wet May morning. The place is filling up with items for sale aimed at the London Olympics, Euro 2012 or whatever it's called and most of all the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Anyone for a P.G. Tips tin with Union Jacks all over it? Or teatowels, teapots, tin trays and rather horrible looking mugs?

I got all the things on my list, and then went to pay. None of the conventional check-outs were being used, or if they were, there were queues, so I decided to use the automated check-outs. From experience not always such a good idea. I put my Sainsbury's 'bag-for-life' on the shelf area and the machine immediately said something like, 'item in bagging area! Identify!' before I had managed to scan anything. An assistant came and re-set the checkout and I was able to continue, until I came to a packet of paracetemol. So, do they honestly think I am going to stand there and over-dose on pain-relieft medication? Well, no, but I suppose there are those who might, so it is a good measure to prevent such things from happening. Then it wouldn't recognise the Radio Times when I scanned it. I don't think they make the bar codes on some items large enough, or printed in such a way that the scanning mechanism can read it. This often happens if it's under cellophane, or on a pre-printed surface with some logo or pattern on it. At last I completed my transaction and the machine told me to put my cash in the relevant slot. Change given, taken and so on, and the machine graciously thanks me, and reminds me to take my items, and I leave.

On the way back to the car and going through the covered area where the display of Shredded Wheat was, I saw something that made me laugh. Some poor soul, dressed up in the large bowl of Shredded Wheat (with the enormous spoon in it) doing a song and dance with another innocent employee, for the entertainment of a group of school children, who seemed totally overwhelmed by the experience, no doubt. Is this some form of torture, or is it blatant manipulation by the makers of this breakfast cereal, so the children immediately berate their parents or guardians, for not buying them the aforementioned breakfast cereal? Brainwashing of the most outrageous type, I kid you not.
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