The late Bob Dubin once told me a story about the folks he had to deal with at Allied Domecq.
It seems they weren’t very happy with the way their brands were being run in the States (New York in particular) and one of their top ranking marketing people was coming over for a series of meetings to get to the reasons behind the poor performance.
A senior member of the NY sales team met the executive at the airport when he came through customs. He ushered him to his car and told him that the plan for the first day was to bring him to the hotel, get settled and then they would tour the market.
“I hope to see stores as they really are and not have one of your set up visits,” said the marketing guy. To which the sales person replied, “any store you like…you’re staying in Manhattan so lets start there. You choose.”
A few minutes went by and the visitor exclaimed that he needed to go to a drug store right away. “Please find one close by.”
Thinking that he must have had a headache or some other physical ailment from the flight, the salesman pulled off the expressway and stopped at the first drug chain store he saw.
He was gone for about 10 minutes then came storming out, got back in the car and complained loudly and bitterly that he had looked all over the store and couldn’t find any of their brands.
The salesman patiently explained that in NY, the sale of alcohol was not allowed in drugstores.
“But it is allowed in other states isn’t it?”
“Yes, in a few states” said the salesman.
“So, if you and your associates weren’t so damn lazy, you’d get the law changed, wouldn’t you?”
The salesman didn’t bother to explain.