Tuesday, May 01, 2007


oh good grief. I happened across a bit of litter on the street today which turned out to be a cardboard box from U-Haul. On it was printed "Medium-Sized Box. Perfect for packing: small appliances, toys, kitchen wares, office supplies."

WOW. Thanks U-Haul. I Never would have figured out how to use the box without your help!
Its just another addition to the list of products "so idiot proof they're insulting." It started with "attention: hot coffee" and "this bag is not a toy and should not be given to children under the age of 3 or used as a crib lining." Base statements that anyone old enough to supervise a child under 3 should not have to be told. But this is slightly different--rather than printing how Not to use a product so as to cover one's ass against lawsuits, companies are printing suggestions for how to use their products--products such as boxes, breakfast cereal, modeling clay, zip-top bags, and shoes . (if you're lucky, you might find directions as to how to use all 5 together!)

You know how your mom used to say "if you can't find something nice to say, don't say anything?" I've got a new one for marketing departments: "If you can't find something WORTHWHILE to say in regard to your product, leave the packaging blank." Statements such as "Try our cereal with cold milk, or pack it in a zip-top baggie for a tasty snack!" and "great for punching 3 holes in lined, unlined, and construction papers!" are NOT WORTH SAYING. If your packaging looks too dull for you, maybe its an indication that your product is fairly mundane. Don't try to spice up tupperware by exclaiming about its multiple storage uses. Please refrain from suggesting that I use potting soil for growing plants. And come ON, even a toddler knows that envelopes can be used to mail business letters, greeting cards, thank-you notes and More!

I recognize that all companies feel the need to promote their products. But guess what. Bleach has always killed mildew. An armload-sized box has always held about an armload-worth of stuff, and terrycloth has always absorbed water. Stating these things directly on your products is not going to encourage people to buy them over the competitor's version. Perhaps, rather than paying a marketing department to develop catchy things to write on your packaging, you should just make sure your products do what the customer already expects them to do. That'll encourage sales much more than suggesting your customer use the product the way he was already intending to. Believe it or not, we're not all idiots bumping into one another out here in the consumer base.

Now Big cardboard boxes--those are airplanes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Try ringing up a cigarette company and asking for their advice on which products they recommend that you use. See how helpful they are. ;-)