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Albertsons, Kroger CEOs will testify in DC Tuesday as they ramp up influence campaign

Albertsons and Kroger, facing choppy regulatory waters, will testify in front of a US Senate panel Tuesday – and are making big ad buys to get their message in front of Washington, DC policymakers and more.

Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust and Consumer Rights will hold a hearing with Albertsons CEO Vivek Sankaran and Kroger CEO Rodney McMullen. Kroger announced it would acquire Albertsons last month, triggering skepticism from a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The antitrust panel, co-chaired by Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and Republican Senator Mike Lee, called the hearings shortly after the deal was announced.

In addition to the CEOs, the panel has lined up a competition researcher for Consumer Reports, a University of Maryland economics professor and the CEO of small Ohio-based grocery chain Fresh Encounter.

Lee and Klobuchar issued a statement last month that said they had “serious concerns” about the deal.

The hearing is set to begin at 1 pm MST. BoiseDev will provide coverage Tuesday.

Splashy ad buys

With the hearings coming Tuesday, the companies joined together for the main ad unit in the Politico Playbook newsletter. The widely read morning email mixes news, gossip and more for the political set.

The high-profile ad slot touts what the two companies say are the benefits of Kroger’s acquisition of Albertsons. Ad copy embedded in the newsletter claims that the company will invest $500 million to lower prices and $1.3 billion to “improve the customer experience.” The companies don’t detail how those investments will be spent.

Politico is one of a class of DC-focused publications selling ads to help “companies looking to repair or burnish their reputation,” according to an August story from Vox. Facebook parent company Meta is a major spender in the category as it tries to hold back regulation from the federal government.

Separately, the companies are running ads across the business-focused social networking site LinkedIn. A new ad posted just before the Thanksgiving holiday features McMullen appearing with Sankaran at an Albertsons store (the store appears to be the company’s location on Broadway in Boise).

The two CEOs again tout what they say the acquisition will do. McMullen emphasizes that the companies will “preserve union jobs” and a “competitive alternative to larger non-union” companies – which could be an oblique reference to Walmart, which has more stores that are generally not unionized.

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Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don Day - BoiseDev Editor & Founder
Don is the founder and publisher of BoiseDev. He is a National Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Stanford University John S. Knight Fellow. Contact him at [email protected].

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