Paddy Gower Has Issues: Countdown boss faces the music over supermarket's sad playlist

  • 24/05/2023

Karen O'Leary is taking her new role as "Community Investigator" seriously - and has already racked up a real world win. The comedian has managed to get supermarket giant Countdown to change their ways. 

The first episode of Paddy Gower Has Issues found O'Leary tackling the seemingly small issue of supermarket music.

Having received an email from a Wellington-based student Zoe Thomson complaining about the sad music that gets played in her local Countdown, the Wellington Paranormal star dove headfirst into the subject. 

Before confronting the supermarket "bigwigs" as she calls them, O'Leary studied up on the subject - and found that there is a level of manipulation going on in the aisles that consumers might not be aware of. 

A Danish academic, Holger Roschk, confirmed that retailers know the music played in stores has an effect on consumers - including that slow tempo music will make shoppers move slower, therefore spending more time in a shop, leading to higher sales. 

O'Leary then performed her own experiment - strapping cameras and headphones to three random shoppers, making one listen to happy music, one to sad music, and one to the word 'mince' being repeated non-stop while they shopped.

The hilarious experiment had surprising results, with the happy music listening shopper spending a whopping $138.68 more than the 'sad' and 'mince' shoppers.

And in another shocking twist, the shopper who listened to mince on repeat didn't even end up buying mince. 

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The story wasn't all fun and games though - O'Leary discovered the person responsible for the music being played in Countdowns up and down the country is actually their general counsel, James Radcliffe.

The lawyer sat down for a confrontational interview with her, and ended up agreeing to change the company's in-store playlists to include songs chosen by O'Leary and Zoe.

The changes will be implemented in all Countdown supermarkets over the coming weeks, and the company says it "will be closely monitoring customer feedback and happiness levels."

Karen O'Leary will be acting as Aotearoa's 'Community Investigator' for the rest of the year, and has put the call out to anyone who has an issue, big or small, that they would like her to help solve.

"If it matters to you, it matters to me," O'Leary says. 

Email with any issues you would like to tackle. 

Stream Paddy Gower Has Issues in full on ThreeNow.