Consider the lowly pickle, taken for granted, and noticed only when AWOL. Then, consider the gallon jar of Vlasic pickles that sent the brand, the company and the category spinning out of control. As documented by Charles Fishman in Fast Company, the saga begins with Wal*Mart’s decision to price a virtual year’s supply of pickles at $2.97.

“They were using it as a ‘statement’ item,” Pat Hunn, the Vlasic executive at the front line of this bargain, told Fishman. “Wal*Mart was putting it before consumers, saying, ‘This represents what Wal*Mart’s about. You can buy a stinkin’ gallon of pickles for $2.97. And it’s the nation’s number-one brand.’”

Vlasic was a respected brand with a well-earned reputation ...

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