The choice is yours

Nancy Friedman analyzes “choice” as a marketing term:

Choice is most flattering in its adjectival sense — select, superior, elite. That’s how we’re meant to perceive Ohio-based Choice Brands (“a wholesale appliance distributor for Brands of Choice”), Choice Hotels International (an economy-to-mid-market chain that, naturally, offers a Choice Privileges program), and President’s Choice, Canada’s largest private-label brand (food and consumer products, mostly, but also financial services). With President’s Choice, we get a double whammy of elite-ness: If the president (of the company) chose it, it must be really special! But here’s a little secret: All of these Choices are wishful thinking. Truly elite brands never broadcast “elite” in their names.

And the Sam’s Choice label at Walmart is perhaps the least-elite brand of them all.

Still, the most blatant example of “choice” presenting itself as a superior option is in USDA beef grades: “Choice” is the second grade from the top, ranking below “Prime” but above “Select,” which used to be called merely “Good.” There are five grades below that, none of which are “Okey-Dokey,” as seen in a Food Clown ad in the Dacron Republican-Democrat, circa 1978.

Disclosure: I have wangled, over the years, several hundred dollars’ worth of freebies from the Choice Privileges program.



  1. fillyjonk »

    17 January 2010 · 2:57 pm

    I think Jewel stores (before Albertson’s bought them out) used to carry President’s Choice here in the US. (Whether it was the same brand or one by the same name I do not know).

    Is there still “Cutter and Canner” grade meat? Or (as we used to say in grade school) “Grade D But Edible,” which was allegedly what the cafeteria served?

  2. CGHill »

    17 January 2010 · 3:14 pm

    Below “Select,” you’ve got “Standard,” “Commercial,” “Utility,” and then at the bottom, “Cutter” and “Canner.”

    Which, I suppose, you’d wash down with a tall glass of Malk.

  3. McGehee »

    17 January 2010 · 9:58 pm

    I think Jewel stores (before Albertson’s bought them out) used to carry President’s Choice here in the US.

    They turned up in Lucky stores in northern California in the early ’90s (hence, before they were absorbed by Albertson’s), about the time that chain stopped stocking its in-house “Harvest Day” brand that I’d grown up with.

    At mid-decade when I moved to Fairbanks and walked into a Fred Meyer store for the first time and saw “PC” on soft drink cans there, I was profoundly unthrilled — but eventually Fred stopped carrying them, at about the same time I guess that Kroger Corp. bought the chain.

    In 2004, after being mostly Kroger store shoppers for five years, we went back to Fairbanks for a visit and found Fred no longer stocked anything branded with its own name anymore but “Kroger” instead. And the soft drinks were Kroger’s in-house “Big K” brand.

    Seemed kind of a letdown after traveling 4,000 miles.

  4. linked by »


    • The Adventures of Roberta X

RSS feed for comments on this post