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Next time you go grocery shopping, beware the creepy creature roaming through the aisles looking to give you or your kids a high-five, a hug or a carrot stick.

But don’t call the cops on him – because he works there!

A Chicago grocery chain that turned off many longtime shoppers by getting rid of its loyalty card and tearing out many of its self-checkouts is now adding something new for its loyal customers’ grocery shopping pleasure – a furry, red, one-eyed “mascot” who loves kids, vegetables and, apparently, frightening adults.

Never mind lower prices and customer convenience – we have a mascot!

Jewel-Osco has officially introduced “JoJo” to a somewhat skeptical clientele. “JoJo is bright red, really fuzzy and extra helpful!” the store announced as it unleashed its creation on an unsuspecting public. “One of JoJo’s favorite things is to help kids go grocery shopping for fresh fruits, tasty vegetables and other healthy items.”

But some shoppers aren’t sold on the idea of a big furry Cyclops in a Jewel-Osco uniform, staring at them with that giant all-seeing eye.

“I’m afraid to go to Jewel in case this thing is there,” one commenter wrote on Jewel’s Facebook page. “Sorry, but me and my kids would be running from this!!” another added.

Some registered their objections with even more flourish: “It kinda looks like bacteria or something that should not be growing on food,” one shopper opined. “If I saw this wild critter I’d use my child as a human shield to vanquish it back whence it came,” added another. “It looks like something I’d find in an Amish dungeon.”

Bacteria? An Amish dungeon? It’s only meant to be a furry, friendly mascot – aren’t we overreacting?

As some question why a grocery store even needs a mascot, it’s actually not unprecedented. Several stores have mascots, most of them cuddly animals who head up grocery kids’ clubs – Publix has Plato the dinosaur, Ohio Kroger stores have Pepe the Penguin and Minnesota’s Cash Wise has Scottie the friendly dragon, to name a few.

Other stores have somehow managed to turn inanimate objects into what they hope are cute, cuddly mascots. H-E-B in Texas has “H-E-Buddy“, a brown paper bag full of groceries, which also happens to have a face. And Jewel-Osco’s crosstown Chicago rival Mariano’s has “Super Kaley”, which is a giant smiling smoothie cup. Not creepy, necessarily, just a little weird.

Then there’s the furry-monsters category. Price Chopper in the Kansas City and Des Moines area had Clifford the Chicken until a few years ago, when it replaced him with a pair of furry monsters that were actually well-received, at least compared to JoJo. The “Price Chopper Chompers“, resembling smiling pom-poms with feet, appear in commercials and in stores to “chomp” high prices and keep them low.

A little creepy to some, but at least the Chompers are on brand. As for JoJo – what is it? What is it meant to represent? What does it say about Jewel-Osco or its ability to help feed your family or save you money?

“I think he is kinda cute,” one commenter offered in defense of JoJo. But other shoppers aren’t interested in a mascot, no matter what kind of animal, furry monster or inanimate-object-brought-to-life it is. “Stop with the gimmicks and lower your prices,” one shopper suggested. “Too weird Jewel,” another wrote. “The coupons and deals get people in the store.”

So if your store has a mascot, hope it doesn’t creep you out if you happen to encounter it during your regular shopping trip. And if your store is mascot-free? Given all the contentious comments from JoJo haters – perhaps you should consider yourself lucky.

Image source: Jewel-Osco

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