A supermarket taught husbands the difference between garlic and onion. Was it sexist?
The only fish that I can recognise at the supermarkets is salmon – it’s usually in fillet form and a different colour from the 50 shades of silver around.
Once, I wanted to steam an entire fish as the pièce de résistance for a Thai meal that I was whipping up for the family (of course this was back in the days when it was legal and encouraged to have meals with your extended family). And there I was at NTUC FairPrice staring at all the glassy-eyed fish, totally lost.
So I did what an independent 40-year-old would do – call my mum. Except that she knows her fish by their Chinese names while said fish at supermarket only have English monikers. As I desperately tried to decipher the names using Google Translate, more experienced shoppers tut-tutted at me. Hastily pointing at a random fish, I grabbed it and slunk away. I’ve never bought another whole fish since.
With the ongoing Circuit Breaker in Singapore, these scenes of bewilderment are common in almost every aisle.
“Which soy sauce do you want? There’s light, dark, less salt, organic, premium…” a 20-something-year-old was speaking into her phone.
At the poultry section, a man in his fifties gave up describing the chicken that was available and just video-called his wife, presumably. “You said chicken drumsticks, but got so many types here. Got small drumsticks and got big ones. Also got big drumsticks with another bit attached to it. Which one do you want, you see for yourself, ok?”
And going by conversations with friends, we could make memes out of “I asked my husband to get….”
“I asked my husband to get some essentials, he came home with clotted cream.”
“I asked my husband to get onions for Japanese curry, he came home with red onions.”
“I asked my husband to get some lettuce, he came home with cabbage.”
Of course it’s not just the men who get the shopping list mixed up; women too. #peace
Guide for husbands
To preserve marital harmony, Tesco Malaysia came up with a pictorial guide which has the names of fish, chicken parts and vegetables in English, Malay and Chinese. It has since garnered 3,200 shares, 2,800 reactions and more than 500 comments on Facebook.
This is a clever piece of content marketing, and it’s definitely not a high-budget production. While most supermarkets are churning out recipe videos featuring their products, Tesco Malaysia has shown that when a piece of content is useful, it gets traction even if it doesn’t look too slick.
To all the ketua rumah, we understand that things may get confusing at times like this. Use this handy guide for your…
A tongue-in-cheek jibe at a government announcement that only the head of the family is allowed to go out to purchase essential items under the MCO, or Malaysia’s version of the coronavirus lockdown, the Facebook post read: “To all the ketua rumah (head of households), we understand that things may get confusing at times like this. Use this handy guide for your grocery shopping trips.”
Titled “Now All Husbands Can Shop” with headings such as “Chicken Buying Guide for Husbands”, the graphics were positioned as a guide for husbands as they head to the supermarket.
But a week later, Tesco Malaysia uploaded a fresh set of graphics with the more politically correct “Now All Can Shop” and “Chicken Buying Guide”, basically erasing all references to husbands, probably due to criticisms of sexism.
It’s probably a wise move from Tesco Malaysia given that in the same week that the original post went live, the Women and Family Ministry was drawing flak for their tips on how wives should behave during the lockdown, which included speaking in “Doraemon’s voice” and giggling coyly.
Tesco Malaysia followed with a second shopping guide focusing on herbs but it didn’t do as well as the first. The original guide did a great job at “newsjacking”. Remove the humour and the newsiness, and it’s just a sanitised, trilingual pictorial dictionary. Still, I would give them an A for effort!