Stay Tuned/Buy Gum

From Eccentric Flower

 



stay tuned
 



Buy Gum
23 July 2007


One of these days I need to rant a bit about our increasing use of disposable technology.

My lovely, lovely little MP3 player started to get some sort of internal database corruption, identifying some tracks (or rather, not identifying them) as completely unknown. The tracks were playable, but couldn't be moved, renamed, deleted, etc. I couldn't find a way to fix this, short of wiping the thing clean and starting over. Of course, when I ripped tracks from CDs to put on it (always bearing in mind that I think of pressed CDs as "permanent media" and the memory on the gadget as "ephemeral media") I didn't keep copies on a hard disk anywhere (hard disks being "semi-ephemeral media"), so wiping the gadget and starting clean meant re-ripping some 250 tracks from the source CDs.

Then again, its proprietary madness was annoying me - now it was saying that it couldn't even copy the un-busted MP3s from the player back onto the hard disk because it had done some sort of DRM alchemy to them that I didn't ask it to do - bah. What I want, I said for about the hundredth time, is an MP3 player that is simply a big chunk of flash memory and a tiny chunk of player program in lieu of an operating system. Don't need no tools, don't need no interface - just mount that sucker as a visible drive and drag MP3s right onto it.

So I went out and bought exactly that, and bought one twice as big to boot. And now I am in the middle of a major CD-ripping project. And there's another chunk of unwanted, disposable technology for the landfill. I feel guilty.


Meanwhile, for reasons above and also because it's been sort of a slow week, this column will be quite brief. In fact, I have only one thing to show you.

The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. is not known for being hip and fast-moving, although they sure would like to be. While Wrigley's could not be said to be doing badly, being the dominant force in the chewing-gum market, they have a number of Pending Issues. Wrigley's best-sellers are ones which are not strongly associated with their brand, ones whose audience doesn't skew especially young (Orbit and Eclipse are gums marketed to yuppies concerned about white teeth and non-stinky breath, respectively). Their products which are supposed to get the young'uns (Hubba Bubba, Big League Chew) are looking rather tired. And the brands which are strongly associated with their name (their venerable Spearmint, Doublemint, Juicy Fruit, and Big Red) are, well, venerable. In fact, it is my hunch (I don't have time to go poking through their annual reports right now) that their only real moving and shaking in recent years was due to their purchase of Altoids and Life Savers from Kraft in 2005.

Which is not to say that Wrigley doesn't try. A while back they redesigned the packages of their four classic gums. To those of us who watch design closely, this was like the earth suddenly shifting five degrees to the left. Unfortunately, no one under the age of 25 noticed.

One wonders how much of the attempted innovation is due to the fact that, as of 2006, a person not surnamed Wrigley was running the company for the first time in its century-plus history. There are disadvantages to keeping it in the family, sometimes.

On the other hand, it's debatable whether any of the Old Wrigley Hands would have tried something as dubious as Wrigley's new gum, 5.

That's its name. 5. As in five.

The prevalent theory on the name (though there are others) is that it stands for the five senses, as this gum is apparently meant to go beyond the normal taste spectrum, if you believe the P.R.: it's a "a line of sugarfree stick gum in three flavors with added sensory enhancements that the company says can be felt while chewing."

My wife has asked me to add various rude jokes on "sensory enhancements" at this point, but I believe you are perfectly capable of making your own.

Apparently CEO William Perez believes that this is an "exciting development in sugarfree gum." I suppose that depends on your personal interpretation of "exciting." What you get is a rather sleek black package (pictures at Candy Addict) and your choice of three flavors (are you ready?): Rain, Cobalt, and Flare. That's right. Rain, Cobalt, and Flare.

Putting aside the quality of this gum, which is untested as yet here at Stay Tuned HQ (we saw it in a store today, but did not actually purchase it), the question is really who it's aimed at. It's not for the younger kids - the package is too quasi-sophisticated for that. If it were for the kidlets it would be in bright Day-Glo colors, and the flavors (which, by the way, turn out to be the standard spearmint, peppermint, and cinnamon, respectively) would be called things like Toxic Shock, Lethal Freeze, and Loco Heat.

So it's for young adults? Hmm, but they already buy the other gums that Wrigley is doing well at; pitching another product to them seems ill-advised.

So this is for adolescents who are old enough to want something that doesn't look like Radioactive Kid Stuff but who are not old enough to have their fun replaced by a devout desire not to attend the next staff meeting with garlic breath? Seems like a sort of narrow audience.

Of course, all this is just idle speculation and may very well be in a cocked hat. So let us consider the one undeniable fact: MSRP is $1.49 for a pack of 15 sticks. Now that is an exciting development in sugarfree gum. For the Wrigley people, anyway.



and now back to our program


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