Sunday, January 30, 2011

Marketing Gimmicks that Bug Me

Some marketing  gimmicks annoy me. 
For example...

What it implies: lots of chocolate here!
What  it probably really means: there's no chocolate in this, but it sorta tastes chocolaty.  Or maybe it just looks chocolaty.
Same deal with "fruity," "buttery" "cheesy" etc...

"Made with 100%..."
What it implies:  "This stuff is 100% [ingredient X]
What it probably really means: We're confident you're too stupid to understand the difference between "this is 100% X" and "We took a (probably small) portion of 100% X and mixed it in with the other slop."

Thus this:

Can be marketed as this:

What it implies:  Made  with farm-fresh cream!  And it's a French word with the little doodad over the "e!"  That makes it sophisticated.
What it really means: There's no cream in here.  So we're calling it "crème. "

Maybe the crème is hydrogenated vegetable oil.  Maybe it's beef lard.  The latter is a compromise of sorts, as it least it has something to do with a cow.

I also see crème on expensive skin products*:

Other annoyances:
Surgery candy boasting that it's "naturally fat free"  Does anyone think that Twizzlers are a healthy snack because they're fat free?

"Ancient Wisdom"
News flash.  The ancients weren't that wise.   The ancients thought human sacrifice was a reasonable thing to do.   Then again, considering how many modern people are suckered by dopey marketing techniques, maybe I'm being too hard on the ancients.

Customized Internet Adds:
"[Insert your town here] person discovers miracle treatment for [what we think is probably wrong with you]."
I get stuff like "Los Angeles** Mom Discovers wrinkle cream (or weight loss cure)!"   Inverter Mom really gets around, as she's from El Segundo when I'm at work, and Redondo Beach when I visit my folks
In other words, advertisers are betting that I'm old enough to be fat and wrinkled.   Gee, thanks, guys.

*There is limited evidence that some vitamins (A, B3, C, and E in particular) may be of some use when topically applied, but  I think the vitamins in skin creams are there to sell the skin cream. 

** I don't get the local angle.  Am I supposed to trust the product because a neighbor made it?  Or think "Golly, that's where I live too.  What a coincidence!  I'd better look into this..."

Friday, January 21, 2011

Stay off the Grass, ya Black Dahlia Sillies!

"Please stay off the lawn," the tour guides said. "In fact, stay off the sidewalk. And please don't do what someone did, the first time we gave this tour, and lie on the grass.
We stood in a nice suburban neighborhood. You'd never guess anything ugly  had occurred 64 years earlier.
I was on Esotouric's  The Real Black Dahlia  tour, visiting  locations associated  with  one of the one of Los Angeles's most infamous unsolved murders. 
The guides tactfully steered us just south of the where the body (which was cut in two) was found in 1947.  I think they wanted to point out the location without having us stomp all over someone's property, as it lies on what is now someone's front lawn, right next to the sidewalk.
Later I did some Google searching and discovered some visitors (and there are plenty) aren't so thoughtful.  The case has a cult following and some people have spread out on the grass and posed for pictures.  What the hell!?
I wonder how often it happens?  What's it like to live there*?  Do the residents get mail addressed to the victim?  Do people leave flowers and plush toys?  Do crazy people knock on the door and ramble on about the case?
Does the scene below ever happen?:
If this were my lawn, it would happen.
Or maybe I'd just charge each weirdo five bucks per photo.

*The house was built about nine years after the body was found.   Rumor has it that the builder (or original owner) was obsessed with the case, if not personally involved, which I find hard to believe.  Looks like a regular tract house to me. 

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Train Whistle Blues

Want to stand out? Want to command attention? Want to scare the pants off of people?

Do what my neighbor did.

Install a  train horn in your car.

Usually I  hear a train horn in context.  You know, with a train.  It's no surprise.  First there's the flashing lights and ding-ding-ding bells at the intersection.  A low, distant row grows louder and the horn blasts, followed seconds later by the mighty machine itself.
It's different when I'm in my front yard, checking the mail and-
Suddenly, I'm on the tracks.  It's right on top of me! I think, I'll be crushed!  Mangled!  Train Track Tartare!

Oh wait,I remember.  There's no trains or tracks in the front yard.  Heh heh.  I almost forgot.   Must be someone driving by with a  train horn.
Part of me thinks it's rude and tacky to drive around with a train horn.
The other part of me wants one.