Mackey’s Not Wild About Wild Oats

The Colorado press is examining the fate of Bouler-based Wild Oats Market, now that the pending merger with Austin-based Whole Foods Market is looking less likely to go through.

Whole Foods’ offer to buy Wild Oats for $671 million in February seemed like a salvation.
The Boulder-based natural grocery chain was losing share to its larger rival, and a merger would create a powerhouse in the growing niche.
But the acquisition looks increasingly imperiled.

I’ve been wondering what led to Mackey’s pursuit of his rival, especially since he had such negative things to say about Wild Oats when he was posing as “Rahodeb” on Yahoo’s Finance site. The article indicates that Mackey didn’t want Wild Oats to fall into the “wrong hands.” Namely, Kroger or Safeway, or even Wal-Mart, a company that’s recently been taking organics much more seriously.
I know Mackey’s stated reason for acquiring his rival is legit from a business perspective, but I can think of an even better reason. One that’s not fear-based. How about this: Wild Oats is a great store with an active community of brand zealots.

About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am now head of brand strategy and creative direction at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.