"Madame, bear in mind That princes govern all things--save the wind." -Victor Hugo, The Infanta's Rose

Monday, December 19, 2005

New! Now with extra bloggy goodness!

This may give you some idea of just how oddly my mind works: I have this recurring fantasy about product tampering.

I don't mean in a bad way, like actually messing with the content of a product; that would not be funny at all. But, next time you go to the supermarket, notice all the "marketing messages" on most retail items, like "New!" "Improved!" or some other catchy slogan designed to entice you into buying that particular product. What I've always found amusing is the unspoken message that if a product is now "improved", then what the hell was it before? Lousy? So in my fantasy, I use a laser printer to create bright, colorful, eye-catching labels which I then surreptitiously slap on various grocery items as I roam about the store. This would be sure to cause confusion and consternation on the part of some little-old-lady shopper who comes along later. As she picks up, say, a jar of peanut butter and is about to drop it into her cart, she notices a big flashy red star-shaped label on it that reads:

"EXTRA CRUNCHY - FLAVORED WITH REAL FISH HEADS!"

or on a can of mixed vegetables:

"NEW FORMULA - LESS RUBBERY THAN OUR PREVIOUS BLEND"

Or here's a few others, good for things like cereal, potato chips, bread, etc.:

"BIGGER BOX - HIGHER PRICE - SAME NET WEIGHT!"

"NOW WITH EXTRA DISODIUM GUANTYL GUM BENZOPHOSPHATE!"

"NEW LOOK! NEW PACKAGING! SAME CRAPPY CONTENTS!"

"NO PRESERVATIVES ADDED - GETS STALE SOONER!"


I'm not sure why I find this idea so funny. It speaks to me of the absurdity of marketing and gullible consumerism, and I love a good practical joke. The other possibility of course, is that I simply have a sick and twisted sense of humor. But rest assured - even though I may have thought about this from time to time, I'm sure I will never actually do it. For one thing, it's got to be highly illegal. Retail stores take a very dim view of product tampering in any form, and would certainly fail to be amused by such a prank. After some irate customer brought a bottle of shampoo bearing a colorful "NEW! FRESH SEWAGE SCENT!" sticker to the Wal-Mart manager's attention, they would probably have to take extensive measures to assure that the contents of the product had not in fact been tampered with. Plus, 90% of the fun would be seeing the aghast, confused look on the face of the shopper who discovered the item, and I'd miss out on that. How do you enjoy a joke if you can't be there for the punch line? So, this will have to stay my own strange little fantasy. For now, heh heh.

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