Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Fox and the Sour Grades

There once was a fox, who having lived to the ripe old age of three, decided to write his memoirs. He thought about calling it You Might Be a Fox under the pseudonym Jeff Redneckworthy. But, as sly as that was, the old Reynard did not think highly of pseudonyms … because he thought higher of himself.

So he decided to call it Fox Tales by Fox. 

Inspired by his future fame and fortune, he wrote furiously and furrily. He did not stop to proofread or to check if he was mixing his metaphors—after all, he was weaving pearls.

When he finally finished, he printed off copies and mailed them to his friends Raven, Hound, and Goat.

Eager to hear the pending praise, he first visited the bird.  “What did you think of my memoirs?” he asked.

Raven, a creature proficient in many languages and a maven (as most ravens are) of fine literature, hesitated. “It was interesting,” he said. “But I noticed a few typos.”

“Typos? Are you sure?”

“Well,” sighed Raven. “For example, it says you were born in 2090.”

“I merely meant I was born before my time,” said Fox. “Obviously.” 

“And what about that bit with the ‘sore grapes?’” asked Raven. “I assume you weren’t talking about an unfortunate bicycle accident.”

“Look,” puffed Fox. “Let’s set the record straight. I didn’t want those grapes to eat in the first place. I merely wanted those grapes so I could pelt my critics with staining pellets. And if I hit you with a grape, you’d be sore; I can guarantee you of that. ”

And with that, he flung a grape at Raven. “See? I got a hold of some.”

Raven caught the grape in his beak, flipped it high in the air, and deftly swallowed it upon its return. “Suit yourself,” he said. And with a mighty flap, he was gone.

Fox next stopped by Hound’s house. “Are you leashed?” he shouted from the bushes.

“Aren’t we all?” said Hound.

“I’m asking in a more literal sense,” said Fox. “Are you presently tethered? I like you, Hound. But I don’t trust your instincts.”

“I am, indeed, shackled by an oppressive regime,” admitted Hound. “But what are you worried about? In your memoir you waxed on about how you—as a quick red fox—jumped over the “lazy brown dig.’  I assume that was a typo … and that you’re confident you can outrun me.”

“Ah,” said Fox. “I merely meant that as an agile denizen of the woods, I am nimble enough to evade ill-thought slurs—particularly by brown bears.”

“So you weren’t calling me lazy?”

To avoid the question, Fox hurled a few grapes at the hound and dashed off into the scrub.

“Thanks,” shouted Hound.

The fox then snuck to the back of the barn where he ran into Goat. “Ahoy hoy, Goat! Did you get my manuscript?”

“I did,” bleated Goat. “I loved it!”

“You found no typos then?”

“Absolutely not. … I can’t read.”

“But you said you loved it.”

“Yeah I did. It tasted great.”

“You ate my manuscript?”

“Every page.”

“So, what you’re saying is that rather than being a voracious reader, you’re simply being voracious.”

“Yeah, I have no idea what that means.”

“No matter, Goat. You’ve been a great help and a true friend.” And with that, he rolled some grapes toward his bearded pal.

A week later, Fox self-published his memoirs—typos and all—with a special endorsement embossed on the cover.

I ate it up!—Goat.”  

Moral: Proofread. Schmroofread. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Our branding will get you in the end

Let’s say you own a hot sauce company. (C’mon, say it.) Forget everything you learned about advertising and branding.

It won’t work.

After all, in the immortal words of Don Draper, “Advertising is about one thing: happiness.” And branding is supposed to reassure your customers they made the right choice, right?

But that’s not how it works with hot sauces. Hot sauce companies want to kill you. Moreover, they want you to want to be killed. ... Oh, they understand your "pain points." And they want to twist the knife in them. 

This much is self evident on the grocery shelf. Take a look at the following hot sauce labels.

How do you choose between Anal Angst and Butt Pucker?  I guess if you're more of a Hamlet type--or if you just worry your ham isn't lethal enough (with all that sodium, nitrates, and trichinosis)--you'd go with the Anal Angst. But, if you're more worried about how many angstroms your anus is, you'd pucker that bad boy with the XX-tra hot stuff.

Either way, I can guarantee you'd regret your choice. (Even more than I regret the SEO I'll garner with "anal angst" and "butt pucker" now associated with my blog and good name.)

More to the point, Professor Payne Indeass, purveyor of such fine sauces, can guarantee it, too. You'll hate this stuff. Or at least your butt will.

But will it kill you?  I'm not saying The Sauce That Killed Kenny will either. But it did, at least, kill Kenny. Maybe it's really just the "dip" that kills cartoon characters on Who Framed Roger Rabbit?

To take away any doubt, top those nachos with a little I Can't Believe It's Not Gasoline. Because gasoline will not only ignite your nachos and taste horrible, it will kill you. Just ask Fabio! And really? A cartoon Fabio? Wouldn't have Freddy Krueger been a better choice?

From Freddy to that pesky World War I Jerry--feeling nostalgic for the good old days of chemical warfare? According to Wikipedia, "the skin of victims of mustard gas blistered, their eyes became very sore, and they began to vomit." Why, that's the perfect name for a hot sauce. Well done, Crazy Jerry's Mustard Gas. We'll get those doughboys yet. 

And as for those who buy the hot sauces dubbed Pain 95% and Pain 85%, I have only one thing to say to you: wuss.

Mel Gibson would go for the full 100%. Don't you want to be more like Mel Gibson? 

And now we come full circle--now a rather uncomfortable metaphor for this post and many a consumer's uncomfortable nether circles--back to the Professor and his Sphincter Shrinker. This is a nuanced beneficial difference from the aforementioned Butt Pucker. Apparently, you pucker your butts when you want them to kiss. You shrink them when you want to hug the robed wraith of Death himself.

So can other brands learn anything from this? Should Apple rebrand the iPhone the diePhone? (Me: "Siri, will I get a brain tumor? Siri: "What? I can't hear you. Hold the phone closer to your head.") Should Coke just admit it's dissolving the lining of your stomach--nay, shout it! 

Heh, why not? It should spice up things.