Stay Tuned/18 May 1997

From Eccentric Flower


stay tuned

18 May 1997
(Sunday Papers)

Oooh, what a lot of goodies we have for your viewing pleasure today. So much so, in fact, that I had to omit some images I badly wanted to put in (or this page would have taken thirty years to load). The summer advertising spree has begun. You have been warned.

More Pampered Pets

Here we go again. Pet food extruded into the shape of beef slices. You have to play right into the hands of the owner's guilt complex to sell something like this ... because, believe me, your dog won't care in the slightest what his food looks like.

Moist Mates

Another of those items that people seem to expect me to comment scathingly upon is Moist Mates premoistened toilet tissue. Well, tough luck ... it's being marketed discreetly enough, and it looks like a useful product. We use moist towels on our fingers and on baby's bottoms without a second thought; I fail to see the conflict here.

No, I probably wouldn't buy it; but then, my main concern with toilet tissue is to buy the cheapest I can find, and posterior abrasion be damned.

[22 February 2007:] The saga of the Moist Mates is more interesting than the actual product. See the bottom of the page for updates.

Adventures In Copy

Started to clip an ad today for Rondelé soft cheesegoo. The copy said: "Be a Rondelé Gourmé ... Everyday!" Yes, that's [sic]. If "gourmé" was meant to be some brand-name cutesyism, then this was unclear; looked like a blatant gaffe in twenty-point type to me, especially since the picture of the package showed the word spelled correctly.

As I say, I was all set with the scissors. Then I noticed that the brand of corn chips which was featured above it (cross-promotion ad) was called All Season's Kitchen.

I usually don't expend the effort needed to be a member of the Apostrophe Police - too petty - but what the hell. I put down the scissors and tossed the whole page into the pile to write about here.

I almost missed this next item entirely; someone else had to point it out to me. (The weird italics are verbatim.)

Molisana Penne judged the
Best TASTING Imported Italian Pasta by the
Lately, are you finding your pasta mushy and inconsistent?
Did you think you overcooked it,
or was it the brand you used?
This WEDNESDAY, try the pasta that has won tasting awards
in Italy since 1912.
It always emerges from the pot consistently firm,
with its own delicious nutty flavor.
Enjoy it also on Sunday, when you are entertaining your family or friends.

This whole thing reads like something badly translated from another language (why is it so important to try it on a Wednesday?) but the person who handed it to me was mostly concerned with a different question:

The "American Taste Institute?"

And Now This From the Sports Desk

Speaking of dubious awards, you will no doubt be as thrilled as I was to learn that Alberto VO5 is the "Official Hair Care Sponsor of the 1997 Women's Pro-Beach Volleyball Tour."

I don't make this stuff up.

Drop Your Load
On the Giant Toad

Cholesterol Report

Lipton onion soup mix ad: left half of the panel has a burger with a slice of raw onion on top, captioned "Burger to cry for." Right half has a burger sans onion (apparently made with soup mix in the beef), captioned "Burger to die for."

Given that the meat patty's about half an inch thick, they might have wanted to reconsider those captions. Oooh, my arteries ....

Then we have the egg ad:

Cholesterol Conscious?
You can still eat eggs.
When eaten in place of more fatty foods, eggs can be a delicious part of your cholesterol-conscious diet ....

Look, I eat my share of eggs, ok? But as the same observant person above noted, checking the egg carton: "Says here that one egg provides seventy-one percent of your daily cholesterol allowance."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

And the Einstein Bros, recently arrived in the Boston area, are pleased to inform us of their new "Pizza Melts" - three cheeses, tomato, and/or pepperoni permanently fused via industrial broiler onto the cut surface of a half bagel. These things look absolutely deadly.

Actually, my big objection to these is not cholesterol, it's the tendency to put things in and on bagels which have no business being there. I mean, pepperoni is a pork product. Our local coffee/bakery chain actually has a chocolate chip bagel ... ugh. I'm not the Jewish person in this household, but even as a goy that crosses my personal threshold.

I was going to try one of these in the name of science, but I've had experience with such things and I know that they're almost impossible to eat - bagels turn to granite when placed under a broiler. You should bear that in mind.

Department Of Hallucinations

(The top Brillo box is thinking "I have the power to prevent the growth of germs and odors in my pad!" The bottom one says "I'm perfect for heavy duty scouring," and the starburst says "NEW with AEGIS Microbe Shield technology!")


Ah, the dog days of summer.

Fifty Washes


Now, even if I take the conceptual leap that the shirt on both boys really is the exact same shirt, questions remain. For example, what fifteen-year-old is going to consent to wear that "little kid" shirt? With that geeky collar? And it's too small for him, too. Aw, Mommmmmm ....

And the shirt has only been washed 50 times in eight years???

Maybe they mean that it was washed fifty times for the purposes of the advertisement ... in which case they're destroying their own fiction that both "Johns" are the same boy.

My preferred explanation is that they mean the dog was washed fifty times in eight years. That sounds about right.

Popular Culture Penetration! This Sunday's Dave Barry column spoke at some length about the infamous "smell my toilet" toilet cleaner ad. Those of you who have endured this column regularly can take some satisfaction from the fact that you heard about it here first ... weeks ago.

Hindsight: 22 February 2007

Of course the "thirty years to load" comment was written in the days when bandwidth was the diameter of a cocktail straw.

By the fifth of June, several people had written me to inform me that "Wednesday is Prince Spaghetti Day." I never heard this particular cultural reference - it's apparently a classic advertisement, but one that I missed (probably by not growing up in the Northeast). Anyway, given the unanimity of response, I'll consider the Wednesday question answered.

I have done much searching for the mysterious American Taste Institute. They really do rate things and give awards, but there is virtually no web content on them. (If you search what you will mostly get is hits for products mentioning that they have been given such awards.) I can't make out whether they are just corporate shills or actually providing some sort of useful service.

"Drop your load on the Giant Toad" is a Firesign Theatre reference and has nothing to do with the bizarre item in the picture.

And now for the story of Whatever Became of Moist Mates. The original URL for the product, for NuWay Corp, has been removed. Thereby hangs a tale.

First, let's make it clear that Moist Mates was a product on a roll. That is, it came in a plastic dispenser roughly the same shape as a normal toilet paper roll, designed to fit into the normal roll holder. You then unrolled product from the dispenser as needed, just like with normal toilet paper. You will see this mentioned in the quotes below, but it bears repeating.

Our first item is an AP article from January 2001, of which this is the key excerpt:

The product hit grocery shelves in the Northeast in 1996, with a plastic dispenser that attached to the toilet-paper holder found in most bathrooms. But the company, NuWay, ran into financial trouble and stopped production. With a patented reconfigured dispenser and different suppliers, a new company called Moist Mates LLC resumed production about four months ago, [inventor John] Marino said. Sales have totaled less than $100,000, he said.

Marino claimed that he had pitched the idea to Kimberly-Clark some years before and was turned down, so he got upset when

Kimberly-Clark announced it would begin selling Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes, a moistened toilet paper that unspools from a plastic dispenser like baby wipes on a roll.

We'll come back to that in a moment, but first, what happened to Moist Mates LLC? They're here:

In 1999, the Company began manufacturing and marketing "Moist Mates", the first moist toilet tissue on a roll. Unlike other wet-type sheet products packaged in tubs, Moist Mates was a coreless, solid roll of moist tissue in its own dispenser that fit on the spindle under the dry tissue in the bathroom, making it convenient and readily accessible. The product was launched in July of 2000, and in April of 2001, was acquired by the Procter & Gamble Company. It is currently sold nationwide in a tub format under the name of Charmin Fresh Mates.

Cotton Buds, Inc. now apparently makes its living from manufacturing products that P&G has chosen to license to them, generally things in "travel size" or other portable packaging, which appears to be their specialty. They make a flushable moist wipe (Fresh Mates) in a travel size, and P&G also makes Fresh Mates, but note above - "in a tub format." In other words, packaged like normal baby wipes.

The final link of this puzzle comes from an article in September 2003:

P&G, maker of Charmin, discontinued a test market for its Charmin Fresh Mates Rolls a couple of weeks ago. It now plans to pour resources into its Fresh Mates Cloths, which went national in October 2002.

Procter rival Kimberly-Clark Corp. hasn't yet made the same decision, but sales of that company's Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes are "insignificant," a spokesman said. [...]

"Consumers like the concept of wet bath tissue, but wipes seem to be the preferred format," a P&G spokeswoman said.

When you compare this to NuWay's "financial trouble" and the fact that the dispenser design apparently had to be tweaked several times, it becomes clear that moist-wipes-on-a-roll were apparently a doomed concept from day one.

None of this would be especially significant except for all the hype and fuss that had been expended. Marino's theft accusations; the sniping between the two companies about, "Well, ours is really flushable and yours will clog toilets," not to mention "we got there first" issues .... Kimberly-Clark, when introducing their version, announced "the most significant category innovation since toilet paper first appeared in roll form in 1890." The company predicted $150 million in sales its first year. They reportedly spent $100 million in development costs. At least P&G, whose roll product also tanked, got out relatively cheaply since they had just bought someone else's work.

This Wall Street Journal article has a fabulous analysis of where Kimberly-Clark went wrong in marketing this product. Example:

Hobbled by a product few can discuss without blushing, the company never covered basics such as showing consumers in its advertising and promotions what the product does.

The whole article should be required reading - while it's still there to be read.

and now back to our program

The material on these pages is copyright © 1997-2007. All rights reserved.

It is assumed that every brand name, slogan, corporate name, symbol, design element, et cetera mentioned in these articles is a protected/trademarked entity, the sole property of its owner(s), and acknowledgement of this status is implied. When advertising materials are excerpted here it is for express purposes of commentary and criticism, and thereby protected under the Fair Use provisions of U.S. copyright law.

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