Whole Foods vs. Ramadan: The Original Email

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Since our post yesterday on Whole Foods's reluctance to promote Ramadan this year after a few customer and blogger complaints, the story unexpectedly went viral.

Saffron Roads CEO Adnan Durrani called the post "a tempest in a teapot" when interviewed by CNN. And NPR reported: "Looking to set the record straight, the Whole Foods grocery chain says it is 'still carrying and promoting halal products for those that are celebrating Ramadan this month.'"

That's roughly the same thing that Whole Foods has been saying across the Internet for the past 12 hours or so, and the same thing that Whole Foods PR representative Kate Lowery left in our comments section yesterday.

But it's also the same language that was in the original email, sans a few pertinent points. Nevertheless, Kate Lowery emailed the Houston Press this morning with the following request: "Would you like to include the entire sentence from our Q&A to ensure your readers get the accurate truth? I'm happy to share our entire Q&A with you so you understand that we are promoting halal foods during the special time Ramadan, not specifically promoting Ramadan itself. Again, it's business as usual and we are continuing our promotion."

So at the risk of seeming as if we're attempting to distort what was originally said, two screenshots of the original email are posted below.

The italicized portion of the email was appended by one particular region, as we have now learned: the Southwest Region, which covers Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma. But the remainder of the email was sent out from Whole Foods's corporate office to its marketing teams.

Again, it's easy to see that this started out as an entirely positive promotion that stumbled along the way. And it's not as if this is a marketing disaster of epic proportions: It could be much, much worse.

Instead, it's a cautionary tale about letting a small minority dictate your actions, and failing to have the courage of your prior convictions.

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