Meredith C. Carroll: Television madness, excuse me, marketing
Meredith Pro Tem
All the buzz surrounding the 60th Primetime Emmy awards, the nominations for which were announced this week, is surrounding the AMC drama series “Mad Men.”
Having never seen the show, I still don’t doubt that a series about a Madison Avenue advertising agency is riveting. This, of course, coming from the girl who started collecting Absolut vodka ads when she was 14 (and no, no one found that troubling), holds dear the memories of the Chia Pet she had in her sophomore year of college and, to this day, says “the freshmaker” out loud every time she eats a Mentos candy.
Good marketing just makes people do the strangest things. Like lathering, rinsing and repeating, even though dermatologists issue endless warnings that hair washing every day, not to mention twice during the same shower, will strip the scalp of its natural oils, potentially causing it to dry out and produce flakes.
I admit to wearing my dad down in the late 1980s until he bought me an Epilady, because the commercials convinced me that I’d never have to shave my legs again (although all the device actually did was ensure nightmares for years afterward from the memory of the horrendous pain it caused from just one use).
My husband is no less a sucker for a halfway decently marketed product. Not long ago, Rick decided he needed a new nail clipper and came home proudly with his purchase, from a company called Mr. Grooming. The package boasted that it’s “built for men” and made to “fit your grip and take a rough handling.” The instructions directed users to, among other things, wash hands in warm water, use the file to “pry dirt” from under the nails and then trim them with the nail clipper.
“Why does it bother telling you to get the dirt out if you’re only going to cut the nail off, with or without the dirt, afterward?” I wondered out loud.
“So that the nails are clean when they go flying and get left on the floor,” Rick suggested. “After all, wouldn’t you rather I leave clean nail clippings on the floor instead of dirty ones?”
I compared his prized Mr. Grooming model to the other nail clipper sitting in our medicine cabinet, one not meant exclusively for men. But when I placed them side by side on the sink counter, I couldn’t actually discern which one was which. I’m guessing Rick’s nails won’t know the difference, either.
Then there were the uncured buffalo franks he dropped into our cart during a recent trip to Costco. Clearly the manufacturer, Maverick Ranch, must feel that clueless men with time to burn are its biggest supporters if the special instructions on the package are any indication: “Cut franks into small pieces before serving. Children should always be seated and under adult supervision while eating.”
And only a man could appreciate the recipe printed inside the package for Corny Frank Chowder.
“Get it?” Rick chuckled, before asking if we had any creamed corn and half a pound of cut-up pasteurized, prepared cheese product in the house so he could attempt to make the soup.
Our kitchen cupboards could actually be completely bare, save for a Luna Bar, but Rick would just as soon starve before eating one. I think he’s afraid that he might start getting his period if he eats the energy bar that prides itself on feeding souls, lifting spirits and taking a “whole-life approach, trying to embrace healthy living and bring communities of women together.” He just doesn’t seem to think he’ll gain anything from eating the bar the Luna people assert make others feel “more in tune with ourselves and the world around us.”
Rick would much rather munch on a Clif Bar. Made by the same folks who produce Luna Bars, it claims to be “nutrition for sustained energy” that’s perfect “whether you’re on a 150-mile bike ride or making your way through a long day.” And while eating a Clif Bar doesn’t guarantee men that they’ll grow hair on their chests, at least no self-respecting man has to worry about the need to go bra shopping after consuming one.
Short of a Clif Bar, though, Rick’ll choose a Slim Jim any day. Once advertised as “the-ready-to-eat spiced sausage treat,” it holds the enviable title of being the No. 1 brand of meat sticks that’s available in a variety of flavors, including beef steak and beef.
If those “Mad Men” don’t get an Emmy, at least their real-life counterparts on Madison Avenue should get a raise.
Aspen resident Meredith C. Carroll writes a Friday column. E-mail questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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