Stay Tuned/27 July 1997

From Eccentric Flower


stay tuned

27 July 1997
(Sunday Papers)

The Continuing Cereal

I saw a good ad for a new Kellogg's bran cereal in the newspaper circulars today. It said:

Do your three meals a day start with lunch?

Now that's the elegant way to nag someone.


Meanwhile, apparently General Mills, having spent all that money on multi-colored extrusion technology for its Lost World cereal tie-in (see 4 May), is now using it in some of the cash cows of its cereal line. Venerable Lucky Charms has "Twisted Color Marshmallows", and Trix seems to have acquired "Wildberry Fruit Shapes", which are shaped like flowers with blue petals and a red center.

By the by, have you noticed that the Lucky Charms leprechaun has been getting steadily more youthful-looking over the years? I think he's been taking one too many nips from his poteen. And the Trix rabbit looks a lot more sinister since acquiring those perspective shadows on his face and ears.

No more Mister Nice Guy. Give me the Trix and no one will get hurt.

Adventures In Schlock

10 Solar Powered Candy Cane Lights
Create A Winter Wonderland
No Electricity
No Batteries
No Wiring
No Maintenance
95 cents each - 10 Piece Set

What you get, reading between the lines of the copy, is a set of ten candy canes molded out of glow-in-the-dark plastic, with a red stripe painted on them. ("Each Candy Cane contains a solar active chemical that absorbs the sun's rays and converts it to light at night time.") They're a little over a foot high and you just stick them into the ground. ("Easy to install: No hammer. No nails. No bother.")

The problem with this (besides the fact that they're hideously gaudy, of course) is that the candy canes will glow for maybe five minutes or so at twilight - and at twilight it's still too light to really appreciate the effect. They might glow for a couple of minutes after being hit with car headlights (the picture in the ad shows them lining a driveway).

At nine-fifty plus two-fifty for shipping, they're quite the rip-off. The candy canes, by the by, are only available at this price "if you respond by 9/20/97" ... but the print in the corner says that "We reserve the right to extend offer." Presumably until enough people fall for it.

Another fine product is this twee, spun-sugar little porcelain jewelry/music box, with something on the lid which is ostensibly a cherub but looks like a Kewpie doll wearing a pinecone on its back.

This piece is, apparently, "the first-ever Dreamsicles music box." Dreamsicles, the copy assures us, is a line of figurines, presumably all equally gaudy, from the Hamilton Collection (another of those fine tchotchke sellers, of which Ashton-Drake is my current favorite for sheer laughs).

But you know I don't put things here just because they're gaudy. The problem I have with this item is that "Dreamsicles" is always shown with a trademark symbol throughout ... but when you get to the bottom it says "Dreamsicles is a trademark of Cast Art Industries, Inc."

Silly me. I thought "Dreamsicle" was a trademark of a certain company known for making "quiescently frozen confections" (that being the legal definition of a Popsicle).

I am tempted to contact the nice Popsicle people (who also have Breyer's and Good Humor, among other things) and tell them about this. But if they haven't caught it themselves, then they probably don't care.

Ward, I'm Worried About These Ads

Today I found the weirdest cross-promo ad I've ever seen. It shows the little brat from the remake of "Leave It To Beaver" that Hollywood is shortly going to perpetrate upon us, and prominently mentions the movie. Guess the product. Go on, guess.

It's for Breathe Right strips. Those little things you stick across the bridge of your nose to hold your nasal passages open.

My only clue here is an inset photograph that seems to imply that the kid wears one in the movie. Still, even if the connection exists, this is a bizarre plug.

By the by, has anyone else seen Barbara Billingsley in a TV ad (I forget the product) where she goes on and on about giving kids weird names (winking the whole time at numerous Beaver jokes) and then ends by saying "After all, what kind of name for a kid is 'Wally,' anyway?"

Now that's style for you.

Hold That Line

I have here five pages of advertising from the nice people at Colgate-Palmolive, the purpose of which seems to be to demonstrate that when it comes to line extension, they can compete with the best. In the twenty products pictured, there are only five actual brand names.


In many cases the distinction is trivial and meaningless. Take these five Palmolive clones. The original - the basic green liquid dishwashing soap - is on the right. The "antibacterial" has triclosan or some other germ-killer added to the soap. The "pots and pans" formula is probably just a a stronger concentration of soap. The "sensitive skin" formula, contrariwise, is weaker. And the "lemon-lime" formula has a fragrance added.

You know, you can dilute your own soap. (Keep out of eye! Dilute! Dilute!)

Other egregious line extensions include the men and women's Speed Stick deodorants, which have further split into regular old white sticks, clear gel preparations, and something called an "invisible dry" stick, which beats me. OK, if you're wearing your strapless gown and you don't want anyone to see white streaks under your arms, I can understand needing an invisible deodorant. But then, if you've shaved under your armpits, you can probably get by without any deodorant at all for the duration of the night out.

The only good thing I have to say about all this jazz is that they've put out a version of Irish Spring with an antibacterial in it. I approve of antibacterial soaps [not so much now, see comment at bottom], and although there are plenty of them in liquid form, they don't lather well in the shower, so more antibacterial bar soaps is an OK trend, to my mind.

A Few Dry Words To Absorb

This part might be in somewhat poor taste, but that's never stopped me before.

Incontinence garments for adults are no joke, and normally I don't find them a laughing matter. But the campaign that Kimberly-Clark has been waging lately for Depend is finally pushing me over the limits. It is just too coy for its own good. Never once is the word "incontinence" used. Instead, we are encouraged to "Save on Depend, America's Protection Leader!" (protection? Is it bulletproof?) and are hit with the slogan "Depend. You've got a lot of living to do!"

Now, aside from the unfortunate coincidence that the slogan is also the name of a song from "Bye Bye Birdie," forcing me to occasionally picture a stage full of teenagers singing while wearing diapers, there is nothing remotely entertaining about this product. But that doesn't mean that whitewashing it is necessarily a good idea.

The effect is more likely to inspire backlash from the customers as anything else.

Meanwhile, two pages over in the same circular, we see an ad for Pull-Ups training pants. "Step out of diapers and into training with Pull-Ups .... Look like real underwear with just as much protection as a diaper!

Indeed. And under that, GoodNites disposable absorbent underpants. "One out of ten children wet the bed. They can't help it, but GoodNites can."

Both of those are good, frank, well-written advertisements. The maker of both products: Kimberly-Clark.

I am at a loss to explain the blind spot.

The "Dilute! Dilute!" joke is not just a case of me being random. It makes sense only if you have ever read the label on a Dr. Bronner's bottle.

Dr. Bronner's, by the by, is a fine dish soap.

Hindsight: 2 March 1998

You might note that as the columns progress, the images get fewer and farther between. This is because of a policy I adopted where I don't use the image if text is sufficient. The scanning and processing time was just taking up too much overhead.

All the frozen-goodies companies mentioned belong to the behemoth Unilever. There is a specialty site just for them at

My attitude about triclosan changed considerably later. Here's why.

and now back to our program

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