marketing misstep

i’m one of those people who likes to fancy herself the kind of person who works in coffee shops, but i don’t honestly get to do it that often. sometimes, when i am getting absolutely nothing done at school and even less done at home, i declare a Change of Venue and i drag myself dramatically off to a coffee shop to get some gee-dee grading done, or something. it feels like a field trip, so it’s kind of fun (in the weird way that work can be fun), but it’s also usually pretty effective and i make some progress on whatever had been holding me up.

i am fortunate in that i live near several options, but due to various reasons, i have a strong preference for one in particular. starbucks i rule out just because of the corporate element–we have lots of local options so i’d prefer to throw them my business if i can. the little cafe/bakery near my house has kind of watery chai, so i have never bothered to work there. the place i used to frequent has fallen slightly out of favor with me, because they refuse to switch to the vegan chai concentrate (sigh) and it’s also teeny tiny and often full.

so, my favorite place has long been alterra, a local company who roasts their own beans (not that i care, because i hate coffee, ha!) and has been opening slick new locations around town over the past several years. they have a gorgeous building on the lakefront, but that one is always slammed and you have to pay for wi-fi, so: no. instead, i’ve been going to a different one also near-ish to my house, which is large, has a big outdoor seating area for when it’s pretty outside, and has free wi-fi. they have vegan options on the menu, a local and vegan chai, and they play good music. several months ago (like, the day we sold/bought our old house/new house), they opened a brand spankin’ new location about 6 blocks from our (old) house. bad timing for us, but still cool because we only moved like a mile away. that location is also large, free wi-fi, same vegan options, hooray. so the few times i’ve been able to work at a coffee shop this semester, that’s where i’ve been.

i really like supporting a local business, and i really like their vegan-friendliness, but the other day they made me extremely frustrated, sad, cranky, irritated, you name it, when they posted this tweet. seriously, a baby calf on the sidewalk outside the coffee shop? UGH. i did a little more poking around, and noticed they were advertising the visit on facebook as well: they had the calf at one location for two hours (10a-12p), and then a second location for another two hours (1-3p). so for alterra, this was all about promoting this dairy they’re somehow partnering with, and they thought the best way to go about that was to bring daisy, a 2-week-old calf, into the busy streets of milwaukee and let her lie on the concrete (and some sawdust) for 5 hours. aaaaaarrrgggh.

when i first saw the tweet i got super riled up, and i was in the middle of an absolutely intense bout of grading (final grades were due that afternoon, and i was behind), so i couldn’t even allow myself to spend brainspace on it at that moment, or i would have never gotten my work done. but i did tweet about it, and a couple of people saw that tweet and gave alterra a piece of their minds, which was awesome. one of them even went down to interview the woman from the dairy, and got a line of crap about how calves are separated from their mothers “for germ reasons,” and/or “so another cow won’t lay on it.” :ginormous eyeroll:

so i’m pretty disappointed in alterra right now. i’m well aware that it’s nearly impossible to live in a vegan bubble, but this just screams ‘happy meat marketing stunt’ and it makes me a little disgusted. using an adorable sweet baby calf, who was forcibly separated from her grieving mother 12 days ago, to shine a happy light on how amazingly wonderful milk is, makes my brain hurt. i wonder if any of the visitors asked what happens to the boy babies? or why daisy wasn’t with her mother? or where hamburgers come from? or how dairy cows manage to be in the position to give milk constantly? or a million other things that are pretty pertinent to the conversation, but i’m certain were easily sidestepped by the woman chaperoning daisy that day.

in sum: UGH.



  1. That’s so awful that they would display a calf like that. Do we put newborn babies on street corners for five hours so people can see how cute they are? No, someone would call CPS.

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