Apropos of nothing

From Wikipedia:

…Listerine became a clear and early example of a larger trend: marketing campaigns inventing problems that the product is alleged to solve.

This trend began in the 1920s for Listerine, so somewhat well before my time. I had the impression that deodorant was another product that fit this situation, but apparently it was introduced in the 9th century, so it would appear not.

Now, I’m sure a scholar on advertising or marketing could do a better-researched piece on this, and I’m admittedly half-assing this, but I’m inclined to think that dryer sheets might fit this situation, too.

And there are some smelly as hell dryer sheets on the market. I find it difficult to walk down that aisle of the grocery store, actually; between the dryer sheets, the laundry soap, and the scented candles or room deodorizers, it’s a tough aisle to handle.

But it’s not enough for our clothes to be scented from washing soaps and dryer sheets. Oh, no — those aren’t nearly smelly enough for a long enough period of time.

Now we have these ridiculous “scent boosters” from Downy that will soon be invading our homes. Congratulations marketers, for inventing a new problem — if only I knew that I was having a craving for an amped-up scent experience, I would’ve been right there in research and development with you.

With Downy UNSTOPABLES in-wash scent booster, you can satisfy your cravings for an amped-up scent experience.

From About.com, this review makes me laugh:

If you love the smell of Downy fabric softener and want more, more, more of the scent, then you will love Downy Unstopables. There is just more, more, more of the scent and it can permeate your clothes for days and days.

And further down the page:

Listed ingredients are:

  • perfume dispersant
  • perfume
  • dye

Oh boy, sign me up. I don’t believe that people should be able to track where I’ve been based on my scent, be that from body wash, perfume, shampoo or especially my laundry fabrics. And I’m sorry commercials, but I’ve never buried my face in my laundry and gotten any kind of oxytocin high off of them.

I am curious to see how this trend will play out, and there’s a part of me who feels somewhat sorry for the spokespeople they’ve gotten on board for it — I feel as though Amy Sedaris (from all accounts a cool chick) could’ve found a better wagon to hitch herself to.

And that’s not the only product that I can think of in recent history that’s been seemingly introduced by advertisers. Are your teeth white enough, or will your date throw wine in your face and storm off? Will you lose out on that big commercial gig because they’re stained, even though photoshop and post-production are de rigeur on all things in the public eye now?

Yes, I think bad teeth are gross. If they’re brown or green or insanely stained or twisted or missing, I find it tough to look at, and I would have a hard time dating someone with really bad teeth. I dated a guy with severe halitosis probably due to rotting teeth for much longer than I care to admit. But I’ve never been one to think, “Oh, slightly yellow teeth possibly due to genetics? Off with you!”

I read somewhere once that advertising to men is all about how awesome you will be if you use this product, whereas with women it’s all about fixing a deficiency. Your house isn’t clean enough? Use Lysol! You don’t have enough orgasms while you clean? Use a Swiffer — it replaces the romantic relationship you previously held with your gross old mop and broom. Your gut isn’t regular enough? Eat this yogurt! You’re fat and crave sweets? Treat yourself with this chocolate-flavoured cardboard and still maintain your weight!

And then on the flip side, advertisers try to tell us to love ourselves despite our flaws. How about we love ourselves because of our flaws?

I browse imgur a lot at home, and I’ve started getting really pissed off at all the “love yourself, you’re beautiful” messages that get posted. This is also explored in this Jezebel piece, probably better than I’m about to cover.

Based on no actual research, I’m going to assume that everyone that posts the “love yourself, you’re all beautiful” crap has says at some time or another that a celebrity, a friend, a random person on the street is fat, ugly, spotty, smelly, skinny, whatever. It seems so very unlikely to me that those who post those things are as all-embracing of all body types and facial constructions as they seem to claim.

This commenter sums up the problem with the campaigns well:

The main reason that ‘real beauty’ campaigns piss me off is that the implication is that the most important thing a woman can be is physically attractive.

Not every woman is beautiful. But that’s ok. Plenty of them are smart or skillful or kind or talented or whatever. Men aren’t told that if they aren’t attractive they have no reason to exist. We shouldn’t send that message to women either.

I don’t find everyone around me attractive. There are friends of mine I don’t find attractive, but I find them nice, funny, smart, interesting, compassionate, supportive, etc. I find personality to be a more important trait than looks — looks can change overnight, while personality is more set.

I don’t expect that everyone will find me physically attractive, and I’m fine with that. Talk to me, you’ll find out I’m smart (sometimes; closing the garage door on my finger wasn’t my finest moment), I’m devoted to my family and my pets, I’m sarcastic, I’m sensitive, and I’m a huge nerd. If those traits aren’t attractive to you, I’m fine with that. It’s not my job as a woman or even my intention as a person to be attractive to all people.

Not my strongest closing line, but a true one.

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3 thoughts on “Apropos of nothing

  1. A few quick thoughts that occurred to me while I was reading this:

    1) I have a secret fear that in 20 years we’ll all regret using whitening toothpaste because it triggers zombieism or worse.

    2) If Fleecy sheets are wrong, I don’t want to be right! In their defence, fabric softeners do noticeably reduce wrinkles and keep static from building up – which saves me a half hour of ironing every time I do the laundry. I could care less about the smell.

    3) Attraction is a totally huge ball of philosophical knots that I won’t try to untangle in a blog comment, but I’ll just point out that beauty is entirely subjective – “in the brain chemistry of the beholder”. So it almost doesn’t matter _what_ you do, so long as you’re healthy and visible, someone’s going to find you attractive.

    4) The Japanese Buddhists have an artistic philosophy called “Wabi-sabi” which is all about celebrating imperfection and impermanence as an aesthetic. I sortof wish the west would pick up on it, but it seems to run contrary to our lust for categorizing people and declaring the physical ideal (which is always a moving target).

    -Jay

    • I actually have nothing against Fleecy sheets, they serve a purpose. It’s the scent balls they’re now marketing so that your clothes stink longer that makes me crabby.

      And hey, one doesn’t even have to be healthy to be found attractive; there’s a couple that was featured on My Strange Addiction, if memory serves, where they were in a feeder/eater relationship.

  2. Oh! And
    5) Age of Persuasion on CBC (grab the podcast) has gone over the topic of companies making products nobody needed at length. Shame Marketing. So evil. (That being said, I do enjoy having minty fresh breath)

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