Stay Tuned/6 April 1997

From Eccentric Flower


stay tuned

6 April 1997
(Sunday Papers)

Sorry this is late, for anyone who cares; I had other things to do this weekend which took precedence, i.e. income tax. (And have you done yours yet? Of course you have.)

Tampax Redux

Ahem. I recognize that tampon manufacturers are treading on tricky ground with any advertising at all, considering how overly sensitive people in this country are on the subject (and I don't just mean men, either). However, that's no excuse for poor taste, or, what's more likely in this case, poor judgement.

Here we have a Tampax ad with the Girl Scouts USA logo at the top, and the big ol' caption:

Tampax Is Helping Girl Scouts To Be Their Best!


In all fairness: The ad is because $.05 from each Tampax coupon redeemed will go to the Girl Scouts, up to $50,000. Which is OK by me. But the wording ... on the other hand, I can't come up with anything much better. (If you can, mail it to me.)

Oh, the ad also notes in the fine print: "Official endorsement by Girl Scouts of the USA of Tampax products not implied."

Tampax maintains a separate URL for their teen-oriented site. If you haven't had enough of this, you might check it out. ([February 2007:] I have changed the URL; the old one,, is no more. For comments on this change, see the updated article on women-centered marketing.)

Where's Fabio?

I opened up a box of cream cheese innocently, and found the following lurking on the inside of the box:

Dear PHILLY Cheesecake Lover,
We'd love to hear about your Love Affair with PHILLY Cheesecake!
Drop us a "love letter" of 50 words or less, describing all the delicious details of why you love PHILLY Cheesecake. If your entry is the Grand Prize winner, you and a companion will be flown to Hawaii. Twenty-four first prize winners will be flown to Jamaica.
Please hurry, we can't wait to hear from you.
Until then, XX00

Offering a prize in order to get free testimonials from customers is an old, old sport, and one that doesn't bother me - but why cast it in language like this? Again, if I were in the soap opera crowd, I'd be offended by the idea that all I do is sit around all day, read romance novels, and eat cheesecake. (Read cheesecake and eat it too? Oh, no, wait, if it's a man, it's "beefcake.")

Bad Ideas In Food

Who came up with the idea of a cinnamon raisin pretzel? Is it crunchy like a pretzel, or is it more like a breakfast sweet in disguise? Either way, it's an abomination.


And while we're on the subject ....

Maybe you'd like to know what a person from the South thinks of garbage like this. Maybe you just assume that we-all just automatically buy into this hype. Well, we don't. This is Southern-style kitsch for deluded Northerners. This is a disgusting mess, and I do not recommend purchasing it. If you'd like Southern food, go make some ... you probably won't be able to buy any ... you can even write me and ask me for recipes. But don't eat this.

(By the by, I find it amusing how people who were raised on underseasoned food - people on the Eastern seaboard, where I now live, in particular - have discovered, via "Cajun" this and "Cajun" that, that having flavor in your food is a good thing. Eureka! The only sad part is that they could buy a shaker of cayenne and save themselves a lot of endurance and money.)


Here's an ad from outer space. It shows a spiral pad and a pencil. Scribbled on the pad:

- A Great Product!
- 3 employees,
- A business plan written in crayon,
- and millions of satisfied customers

What are we trying to say here? This appeared in a consumer circular. Now, the average consumer doesn't care how small the company is. And what's this about a business plan in crayon? Even if I do not automatically shut my brain down when I see the word "business plan," is this supposed to be a Good Thing?

And, uh, folks, what's the product? (The company's name - ClearVue - and their logo are the only other things in the ad itself. Not to keep you in suspense, though: the product picture on the coupon indicates that they make ... cleaning products. Hmmm.)

Also from the far fringes of reality:

Try the only Frosted cereal made with NABISCO Shredded Wheat!

The cereal is from Post. The box says "Brought to you by Post" at the top, but it also has the Nabisco logo in the corner. The fine print is unhelpful: the copyright is by Kraft Foods (Kraft = Post Cereal) but also says that "NABISCO" and the logo in the corner are trademarks of Nabisco, etc etc.

Is Post licensing Nabisco trademarks? Seems unlikely, but otherwise why put your competitor's logo on your packages? Note that "Frosted Wheat Bites," the other cereal which bears both logos, is a registered trademark, but as far as I know, "Shredded Wheat," being purely descriptive, is not.

The cereal market is ruthlessly competitive. If there's some sort of licensing agreement going on here, I want to know the backstory. (And how much $$$ is involved.)

Hindsight: 27 February 1998

I added a note to the original column a few days later that the cereal mystery "turned out to be much less entertaining" than expected. The next column has the details.

Tampon-maker's kids websites were discussed at some length in the URL Watch, a side project I was running at the time which tracked corporate URLs and commented on them. That was eventually dismantled because of the time drain involved. Later, I pulled out the tampon commentary and used it as part of a side essay on web sites which pitch to females.

Kraft has apparently reworked their legal statement sometime since I last checked their site. They used to have a "don't link to us without our permission" clause - the only one of its kind I ever saw. Now it's gone, so I will link with impunity. You will find Post cereals in there somewhere.

Nabisco, meanwhile, is exactly where you'd expect it to be.

and now back to our program

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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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