There we stood…much like we had for the past hour and a half. The buzz of fluorescent lights and the suppressed smell of acetone hung thickly in the air. I’d fallen victim yet again to one of femininity’s many painfully lengthy beauty rituals- the cosmetic run.
My own cosmetic habits are admittedly quite minimalistic; I’d merely been dragged along as an accomplice by my well-intentioned, albeit excruciatingly slow, friend. I never realized how much deliberation goes into the seemingly simple process of purchasing a tube of lip gloss. After agonizing for what seemed like hours, my friend neurotically held up two beige colored tubes to request my opinion. “What’s the difference?” was my apparently ignorant response. After a look of shock and slight disgust, she informed me that one was Fizzy ocean sunset and the other was a “completely different” Lively Autumn Meadows .Even after artful examination, they both still looked brown to me. I always wondered who got the job of coming up with those outrageous product names though. I’m convinced all the name games are simply an effective use of marketing to collect more money out of fewer products. A store could probably carry two identical products and by merely giving them different titles, convince the consumer to buy both.
Many marketing strategies focus on touting an increased quality of life made possible by their product. Well, perhaps “quality of life” is a bit too noble; it seems modern campaigns appeal to widespread vanity more than anything else. I think one of the most amusing such product claims I’ve seen is for lotion. The label actually reads “firming” lotion. I’ve heard of softening lotion, but firming? Wouldn’t that be interesting…forget the gym and the Botox injections- let’s just slather ourselves in lotion! Another appeal to vanity?-it seems like everything now a days has to include some slightly provocative prefix (“sexed-up” shampoo, “shady lady” eye shadow etc…). I glanced at my shaving crème the other day and noticed it was labeled “flirtatious mango”. What, I ask, is flirtatious about this delicious member of the citrus family??? Is a mango somehow sexier than say, an apple? It’s a sad day when even our fruit is segregated.
Food is a prime example of marketing strategies in action. Some of the slogans we except are rather absurd upon contemplation. For instance, I simply can’t understand a certain drive-thru’s slogan “You gotta eat”. I mean, is the food just so bad that their only angel was to point out food as a necessary part of survival? What about “Wake up with the King”? What the heck does that mean? On second thought, I don’t think I wanna know. How about Budweiser’s highly intellectual catch phrase, “Wassup??!”…I wonder what executive lined their pockets with that stroke of brilliance. My personal favorite would have to be Oscar Meyer Weiner’s campaign “I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner”. You know, no matter how lonely I got, I feel fairly certain nothing could possibly possess me to want to be a processed meat product.
From cosmetics to packaged meat, marketing is the face of a product, and in the end, whether that face wears Amber tidal wave or just plain ole orange can make all the difference. Some marketing, no matter how idiotic, seems fated to turn into success. Perhaps that’s the point: more outrageous = more memorable. This, in short, is the genius of stupidity.