It has been through world wars and countless other global conflicts, and survived depressions and recessions along the way. Through it all, the Globe and Mail has faithfully delivered the news to Canadians since 1844. But with the advent of the World Wide Web in the 1990s, traditional newspapers like the Globe suddenly faced the prospect of a world of information they didn’t directly control. Instead, it was now the readers who began to choose how, where and when they consumed the news. And it became clear fairly quickly that readers were shunning print-based publications for news served up on a digital platter. In fact, between 2000 and 2015 alone, print newspaper advertising revenue fell from about $60 billion to about $20 billion, wiping out the gains of the previous 50 years. The digitization of the news threatened the very existence of venerable newspapers around the world, including the Globe. While not without its digital scars, the Globe today is enjoying a resurgence of sorts. It is thriving with its online content delivery and it’s using the rich data provided by social media metrics to help shape its content and brand strategies.
Few condiments hold a candle to this savory-sweet, palate-pleasing treat enjoyed by adults and children alike. Ketchup, your pairings are endless: eggs, bacon, bologna, hot dogs, fries, burgers, sausages, onion rings, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, fish sticks…alright maybe not endless. That’s getting pretty close to an exhaustive list, as far as any self-respecting person can enumerate. Yes, this powerful condiment possesses an innate ability to make-or-break your summer BBQ. And it recently showed off some of its unique power to rally social media supporters in a very surprising way. Canadian Connoisseurs Speak Up In March 2016, Loblaws decided to pull French’s ketchup from its shelves without warning, inciting a viral backlash demanding Loblaws re-list the item. The sense of importance associated with this particular product most likely stems from its local origins. French’s ketchup is made with tomatoes grown here in Canada; Leamington, Ontario to be geographically precise. Thus it’s a source of national pride, of small-town Canadian jobs and, ultimately, of significance extending well beyond something squeezed from a bottle. This high level of engagement in the supply chain management process led Globe and Mail food columnist Sylvan Charlebois to declare in his Ketchup Wars opinion piece that “the politics of food distribution are alive and well in Canada”. Many speculated that unfair competitive practices among vendors may have had something to do with Loblaws’ decision to de-list the product. Finding evidence to support this theory is challenging. However, the ketchup story illustrates how the complexities of food retailing are increasingly intermingling with unexpected social media uprisings.