Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CEO Mackey shoots hole in Whole Foods

It's not precisely a crime that Whole Foods CEO John Mackey used to participate under an alias on chat boards about his company. (The disclosure was buried in an FTC report to do with its suit trying to block Whole Foods acquisition of Wild Oats.) However, posting anonymously is a crime against his brand, whether one is talking about Whole Foods or John Mackey. Here you have a company built on more "honest" food and the CEO is skulking about, under the rather simplistic pseudonym "Rahodeb,"--a not-all-that-jumbled version of his wife's name--pimping his stock. You can see the temptation ... imagine being a public company CEO reading the message boards and having to hold your tongue, or keyboard, while others chatted on freely, and not necessarily very informedly, about your company. Still, what was he thinking? It makes my one encounter with Whole Foods' corporate headquarters kind of humorous in retrospect. Earlier this year, I wrote a story for Adweek Magazines about CEOs who blog, and Mackey proved to be one of the few who did. The only problem with including him in the story was that he wasn't very prolific. Now we know that he was--just not under his own name.

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