Friday, 15 February 2008

The Perverse Consumer

There was a new cake of soap when I stepped into the shower the other day. My wife had obviously changed brands during her latest shopping trip. A nasty surprise, however, awaited me as I began to apply it over myself. The thing positively reeked of rotten coconut!

After the shower, I picked up the box in which the soap had come. It proudly proclaimed the soap's distinguishing ingredient - shea butter. I had never heard of shea butter before, but had the manufacturers actually taken the effort to smell this most wondrous of nature's products, I daresay only sheer sadism or a desire to make a loss would have compelled them to then put it into their next product.

It reminds me of Dove soap. On the rare occasions when I'm forced to use Dove soap, I feel I'm applying a generous layer of slime over myself, slime that doesn't wash off easily and leaves me feeling slimy even after I finish my shower. I'm sure Procter and Gamble thinks people like being covered in slime (I heard mudpacks are popular too), and they may be right, since the blessed product has been on the shelves as long as I can remember, and the company hasn't folded yet.

I can't believe people would actually pay money to cover themselves in slime or rotten coconut, but at least they could claim deceptive advertising. They were told it was cream or shea butter, as the case may be.

What I can't understand are the products with upfront outrageous names. As a teenager just starting to shave in India many years ago, I was confronted with ads recommending Savage shaving blades and razors. Hint to customer: If you want to look like a savage, the last thing you need is a shaving product.

And what about Brute aftershave lotion (the Indian brand, not to be confused with Brut)? Further hint to customer: If you want to smell like a brute, you don't need aftershave. You don't need to do a thing on the odour front. For several days.

After coming to Australia, I've seen at least two more products of this kind.

Dirty Dog sunglasses are one. (Listen mate, I can suggest far cheaper ways to look like a dirty dog if that's the look you want.)

And who eats at the Hog's Breath Café anyway? Does the waiter tell you, "Here's your order, Sir. I just pulled it out of the garbage bin. I saw a pig sniffing at it, but it didn't want to eat it. Here, you eat it!"

Is that the profile of an ideal consumer, then? Someone who is groomed like a savage, smells like a brute, looks like a dirty dog and eats stuff that pigs wouldn't touch?

Well, the franchises in question are reportedly doing well, so I'm sure I'll see lots of people fitting that description walking about...

[Update: I saw a tin of "Foul Medammas (cooked Fava beans)" at Harris Farm Markets last weekend. Talk about brutal honesty.]

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