Grocery Chain Smears Itself on Defamation Pursuit Against Video Creators

produce-paradise-rap.jpg[Update September 2: A&P responds to my note- see “more” below]

Fox News reports that two brothers — fired from their jobs for filming a gangster rap parody at an A&P grocery store — now face a defamation lawsuit from their former employer. The video is at FakeLaugh or here on YouTube. Fox reports:

  • A&P claims the video by Mark and Matthew D’Avella motivated at least one “disgusted and distressed” customer to boycott the supermarket because of the video’s “repulsive acts.”
  • The Montvale-based chain seeks at least $1 million in compensation and demands that the D’Avellas remove “Produce Paradise” from the Internet, where it was on their Web site, www.fakelaugh.com, and YouTube.

This is a classic public-relations blunder by A&P. It would appear that the brothers went to great lengths to shield their employer from any reference in the video

  1. No exterior shot.
  2. The circular was cropped so A&P wasn’t listed.
  3. None of the boxes visibly say A&P.
  4. No shots depicted the logo on signage (that I noticed- and I was looking for it).
  5. And although a logo is partially visible on a hat, I wouldn’t have noticed that had I not read the Fox story first.

A&P certainly can take issue with the kids making a video without permission on the private facility- poor judgment that I myself have displayed. But this defamation lawsuit will only do three things:

  1. Propel the duo’s video career.
  2. Make A&P look like worst than they’d ever look if they left this alone by quietly reprimanding or firing the kids on the basis of poor judgment not defamation.
  3. Help someone in middle management at A&P because they’re embarrassed about a few customers complaining, and want to redirect accountability.

A&P management’s position on this matter should be self explanatory. Producing a video that intentionally and unjustly depicts our company in a negative light, and utilizing company facilities without management knowledge of the specific content involved, is obviously a blatant violation of our policy.
Accordingly, the company has dismissed both employees, and is exploring legal avenues for the recovery of damages, and the removal of any and all videos about the Company from the website where it has been posted by the individuals.
We will continue to work through our store management, labor union and legal process to bring this unfortunate series of events to an appropriate conclusion, and will have no further public comment while that process continues.
Richard De Santa,
Senior Director, Corporate Affairs

Author: Nalts

Hi. I'm Nalts.

30 thoughts on “Grocery Chain Smears Itself on Defamation Pursuit Against Video Creators”

  1. What I meant to say above is that I am deeply disturbed by this continuing trend of big businesses to demand that their rights of commerce supersede the citizens’ rights of free speech. Remember when those meat-producing good old boys sued Oprah for speaking her mind?

    Go get those A&P swine, Kevin and uh…bring me back a brisket.

  2. It would be better a better story if the video didn’t suck. And I didn’t think peeing on the veggies was too cool – even if it was fake.

  3. Speaking of video creators and our celebrity system, can Ben Stein get a word in?

    http://www.amazon.com/Real-Stars-Todays-America-Heroes/dp/1401911447/ref=sr_1_2/103-5298762-3679834?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1175722265&sr=1-2

    Hmmm. Let’s see what’s in the news. A huge cover story about a child actress with a billion dollars who doesn’t eat enough so she’s going into a clinic and her sister is in despair as she goes on vacation. Then there is a lot of ink about the marriage of another millionaire actress and whether she’s pregnant. Then there are stories about two good looking young people who met on a reality dating show and now are breaking up.

    The reason these people are supposedly worthy of front page covers of giant magazines is that they are “stars.” And we pay a lot of attention to “stars” whether they are in front of a camera or suffering from anorexia or having babies or dropping baskets into a hoop from above the rim. We pay attention to them if they start a new line of clothes or if they decide to drive a Chrysler instead of a Cadillac. That’s because they’re “stars,” and I’m sick of it.

    A man or woman is not a “star” if he gets paid tens of millions of dollars to say lines in front of a camera. She’s not a “star” if she gets paid millions to simper and look sad because an imaginary boyfriend did not call. He’s not a “star” if he gets paid thousands of dollars a minute to run up and down a wooden basketball court. They may be good actors and super great athletes, but in my mind, they’re not stars. The real stars, the ones who keep this country free on Independence Day and every day, are the ones who lead a patrol down an alley in Falluja with some maniac terrorist aiming an AK-47 at their heads. The real stars are the ones who leave their families behind at a dusty Army base and go off and risk––and lose––their lives to do their duty by their country and free men and women everywhere.

    They’re the ones who go off into Godforsaken valleys in Afghanistan hunting for Al Qaeda, never knowing if they’ll ever come back, and often not coming back. Think Pat Tillman and you’ve pretty much got it.

    There are other real stars in this country like the men and women in Walter Reed Army Hospital getting fitted with prosthetic limbs because a bomb took off their leg below the knee in Mosul, Iraq. Their wives and girlfriends and parents and kids cheering them on are real stars, too. So are the doctors and techs who make the limbs.

    This country could last forever without the billionaire movie and TV stars in the magazines. We could not last a month without the men and women who fight for us. It’s high time we got our priorities straight. Those guys and gals in Bagram and Ramadi and Fallujah and everywhere else, alive or dead or wounded, are the real stars, the ones who light up the night of tyranny with the light of freedom. We would not have a July 4th worth having without them. God bless them today and every day

  4. Well so long as we’re having an off topic diatribe about heroes let’s not forget about the civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan, who live every day of their lives with the real fear of death from military aggression (whether it be from the US/coalition or their own Military) whilst the majority of Americans have a greater chance of being mugged than to die in a terrorist attack.

  5. Apparently, A&P has no clue what good will and a boost for business Chad Vader drummed up at the Willy Street Co-op in Madison, WI. I feel so cutting edge compared to the rest of the world right now.

  6. I’m not anti-American troops marquis. I’m making a point that our troops live in a free country. They made the choice to join the military and are simply doing the job they are trained to do to the best of their ability. Heroic? Of course but please don’t forget that there are civilians in the exact same war zone who aren’t trained at all. However they attempt to make the best of their lives under the same threat (if not more so) than the troops who are trying to protect them.

    America chooses to place its troops in danger… as I said, you are more likely to get mugged by one of your own citizens than to be confronted by a terrorist.

  7. Can we please get back to the grocery debacle, guys? Online video is a cultural phenomenon. When a corporation fights a cultural phenomenon, guess which gets clobbered. Hint: A&P guessed wrong.

  8. My initial thought without really looking in to this too much is that A&P will win the lawsuit. I’m not sure how they arrived at the figure of a million dollars for their impacted loss, that seems kind of high. I can’t imagine they’d get the full award.

  9. “you are more likely to get mugged by one of your own citizens than to be confronted by a terrorist.” yes thats true!,but if the united states lets terrorist groups organize,train new recruits,and spread even more throughout the world,our country and every free democracy on earth would be eventually be destroyed! Tet you did hear about that 911 thingy a few years ago right?,and the london bombings,spain,african embassy bombings,the 1993 wtc attack,the uss cole,the 1983 marines barracks attack,etc etc etc ? who do you think was responsible? it certainly wasnt a mugger!

  10. Marq, don’t get me wrong. I love when you work up a lather. But the video sucks, and if I lived in the neighborhood I’d be seeking non-peed-upon spinach at the Piggly Wiggly.

  11. Didn’t I just hear in the news that there is ANOTHER batch of killer non-peed-upon spinach with ecoli flavoring in the food supply? If peeing on your feet kills athlete’s foot fungus, maybe we SHOULD be peeing on our greens. At least until the corporate welfare-sponsored giant farm coops decide to stop shipping poisonous food to market.

  12. Oh this is an interesting thread. If I’m not careful I may learn something about things more significant than (gad- can there be) viral video.

  13. I wasn’t trying to start an argument on the merits of the war on terrorism Findthereal. I simply was trying to make a point about heroes by contrasting civilians who live in a warzone, making the best of their lives despite the odds. These people are more likely to face death and destruction on a daily basis than a US citizen in their home country.

    Marq was talking about heroes… those people are my heroes. More so than trained soldiers doing the job they are paid to do.

  14. Does A&P really think that two guys who work in their produce department have a million dollars? To paraphrase Robert Frost:

    Two paths diverged in a PR controversy, and I ?
    I took the one that makes my company look bad in the eyes of consumers.

    Mike Abundo’s right… This coulda been handled better.

    Regarding the video itself? I made it through about 60 seconds before clicking out. There appear to be no winners here.

  15. I didn’t get rid my own athlete’s foot until I *stopped* peeing on my feet. Or was it when I stopped eating spinach…

  16. I think the lawsuit on the video is more likely a PR stunt dreamed up by the video’s creators. No sane business would waste money going after a couple of ‘broke college kids’ (as they put it). Though, there could be a case for defamation now that the grocery chain has been named and has a reputation for being stupid enough to sue a couple of broke ex-employees.

    Marq… it would be ridiculous if I was talking about war victims. Victims are people who’ve given up. Heroes are people who haven’t. Despite the odds they remain positive and inspire others to remain positive. Soldiers can be and are heroic but they are trained to do what they do and understand the risk that their job entails.

  17. The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company Also owns A&P, Waldbaum’s, A&P Super Foodmart, The Food Emporium, Super Fresh
    Farmer Jack, Sav-A-Center and Food Basics
    90 Delaware Ave
    Paterson, NJ 07503
    Email: apcustomerrel@aptea.com

    In case anyone wanted to drop them a note stating just how STUPID they are.

  18. Got my response email from those fascists today jischinger. It was probably canned, but A&P sent me this:

    A&P management’s position on this matter should be self explanatory. Producing a video that intentionally and unjustly depicts our company in a negative light, and utilizing company facilities without management knowledge of the specific content involved, is obviously a blatant violation of our policy.

    Accordingly, the company has dismissed both employees, and is exploring legal avenues for the recovery of damages, and the removal of any and all videos about the Company from the website where it has been posted by the individuals.

    We will continue to work through our store management, labor union and legal process to bring this unfortunate series of events to an appropriate conclusion, and will have no further public comment while that process continues.

    Richard De Santa,

    Senior Director, Corporate Affairs

  19. yeah, I got the same letter. I suggested that they fire the guys, but to sue them was over the top and would create far more bad PR than good.

    “Producing a video that intentionally and unjustly depicts our company in a negative light”

    I thought this was a funny line by their lawyer, A&P stores are one of the filthiest stores I have ever been in, a little more than bad light if you ask me; more like rats and rotting expired food. No wonder they wish to remove any and all videos, just look at the place these guys worked! I wouldn’t be surprised to find that store alone has a long list of city health and safety violations.

    This action just isn’t a good thing overall for video makers and dare I say even bloggers.
    http://jischinger.wordpress.com/2007/09/02/death-of-the-political-blog/

  20. Yep, I got that same canned email response from A&P. I just wish they had any stores in Northern California so I could actively boycott them instead of just passively boycotting them.

    I think A&P’s public relations department needs to sue their legal department for destroying their brand image.

  21. I drove 70 miles each way to the nearest A&P over Labor Day weekend. And, spent $92.00 just to prove that the video ( as
    distatseful as it may have been to some) was the best marketing
    effort that A&P has had in years.

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