The One Where Safeway Tries Its Hand at Algorithms and Unintentional Hilarity Ensues

On Saturday, as Sarah and I skimmed through Safeway’s most recent Just For U offers in preparation for the terrifyingly-unending-and-budget-busting project that is feeding our kids each week, I noticed this:

See it? No? Here. I’ll give you a hint:

This is either an abject failure of algorithmic marketing, or pure genius. I’m not sure which, though my money’s on the former (and I’d dearly love it to be the latter). Lots and lots and lots of cleaning products, and then The Butler? Well, butlers are cleaning products of a sort, I suppose…

It reminds me of those hilarious early Netflix days, when its algorithms were a bit — and hilariously — unreliable. My personal favorite was the day I gave Ostrov a five-star ranking, and was immediately told by Netflix that I would also love Bjork: Live at the Royal Opera HouseBecause Iceland and Russia, I guess?  (There was also something involving Italian Neo-Realism and Jillian Michaels exercise videos, but the details elude me. Good times…)

I just realized that there’s at least one other option: abject failure, pure genius, OR just the latest example of Harvey Weinstein’s efforts to manipulate the Oscars.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that’s my favorite explanation.

OK, fine. Logic suggests that Safeway has a limited number of categories, and that DVD’s, Blu-Rays and the like fall under “Home.” So, if there had been a couple more “Just For U” offers involving DVD’s last week, this wouldn’t have been as hilarious.

And that would be sad.

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