6 Words Advertisers Love (That Donâ€™t Mean A Damn Thing)
Duh Marketing is when a product makes a claim so obvious that it's inconceivable you thought otherwise. Like an energy bar that "Helps Satisfy Appetite!" or a Hawaiian Punch that "Contains 100% DV of Vitamin C per serving!" Did you know that 100% DV of Vitamin C is so little that it's the actual bare minimum to avoid scurvy? If you accidentally drop a grapefruit in a corn syrup plant you'll contaminate everything with 100% DV of Vitamin C per serving. Your grocery store thinks you are a moron, and here are 6 examples of how:
A lot of food claims to be real, but it's never really made clear what the alternative to that is. For example, if you read the ingredients on a jar of mayonnaise and a jar of REAL mayonnaise, you'll see they're exactly the same-- soybean oil, eggs, latex house paint, hog semen. If there's any difference at all it's usually that "fake" mayonnaise contains modified corn starch and xanthan gum-- two thickening additives with the nutritional value of sawdust. They're what you add to a vat when you want to turn 300 pounds of food into 500 pounds of food-scented pudding.
"Real" has very little meaning in food. You can say a cat food has REAL chicken flavor because your cat doesn't know how to call you liar and cat owners are so used to puns that they can't spot horrible violations of language. But sometimes "real" on a food implies actual legal classification and not that one or more ingredients were replaced with quick-dry cement.
For example, on a box of Chips Ahoy!, the words "REAL CHOCOLATE Chip Cookies" appears next to a worried cookie with a face that says he wasn't ready to deal with the existential burden of finding out there was a debate about whether or not he was real.
A quick check of the REAL CHOCOLATE ingredients, and I see that it's made of five things, no one knows what two of them are, and chocolate isn't first. That's like saying Tila Tequila's breasts are "real" because one of them is filled with actual cadaver fingers.
From the FDA's perspective, "real chocolate" means a candy with actual cocao fat in it, the thing that gives it its creamy texture and a melting temperature of human mouth. This doesn't quite add up either, since a Chips Ahoy! cookie takes 3 weeks to break down inside a mouth and has the texture of ancient brick. If you throw a Chips Ahoy! cookie into the ocean, the sea level drops 11 inches around the world. They added a nervous face to their mascot to warn consumers that this food will put up a struggle if you try to digest it.
Aside from Chips Ahoy!'s obvious misunderstandings of the words "real," "chocolate," and "cookie," there have been many controversial semantic arguments about what is and isn't chocolate over the years. In 2007 the FDA tried to reclassify standardized chocolate to include products that had no cocao fat in it, and it quickly turned into a war. You might be able to trick fat people into disposing of political prisoners by calling their remains "McNuggets," but don't you dare try to call chemically flavored vegetable fat "chocolate." After months, the FDA lost the battle and now if you replace cocao fat with a different oily by-product of man's hubris you're not legally allowed to call it chocolate. It seemed like a victory at first, but by the end of this sentence they'll realize that they pissed off the organization in charge of regulating how much cockroach debris is okay to leave in a candy bar. One day they're going to use food descriptions against us and force Chips Ahoy! to rename their product, "Mass insect graves and rodent droppings in bleached wheat flour."
Almost every sugary candy calls itself "A FAT FREE FOOD," as if we're idiots. Why would we think there's fat in a Lemon Head? Is some mad man running loose in your factory and putting a drop of love handle in every box? Of course candy is fat free-- it's technically everything free since edible glue and corn syrup aren't food groups.
Are you insecure, candy? Because you don't see gravy bragging about being sugar free. This label is so irrelevant to consumer health that I think it's only there so doctors can laugh when they ask you questions about how you got diabetes. If someone is really stupid enough to need a fat free label on their candy, it does more harm than good from a marketing perspective. They're probably telling the clerk, "Red Vines are fat free? Fuck that, give me the pizza. I didn't come to the movies to work out."
And nothing's worse than vegetables that are proud of themselves for not having fat. Way to go, fat free refried beans. You managed to get smashed into a can before a time traveler from the '40s put lard in you. And while I'm on the subject, stop labeling things "vegetarian" when there's no reason they wouldn't be. The only thing that clearly labeled vegetarian products do is make life easier for vegetarians, and if that's what they wanted, they wouldn't have done hormone therapy to turn their penises into flowers.
After a lifetime of eating, no words mean less to me than "all natural." A bottle of Arrowhead water claims to be 100% NATURAL* CALORIE-FREE. Why did anyone speculate that I'd think differently? Was there a conspiracy going around that their product was bottled android sweat? Outside of a hydrogen fuel cell, where does one even find unnatural water? Witch toilets? Arrowhead, are you implying that your competitors get their product from witch toilets? Because that's fucking crazy, Arrowhead.
On that same bottle of what I assume was non-witch toilet water, I searched for the asterisk referred to by "100% NATURAL*" and it led to the explanation, "*100% Natural Ingredients." Oh, ingredients. That clears it up, Arrowhead. I'd like to kick the shit out of bottled water marketers just to see how long it would take for them to describe it to authorities. "The attacker used pure, viking violence... his intentions as clear as an alpine waterfall I felt a 100% natural blend of pain* and discomfort."
*Painful Bowel Evacuation
Of all the products meaninglessly described as "all natural," I think I have the most problem with clam juice. What loathsome lack of ethics would allow someone to make synthetic clam juice? And how in the world would it be easier than making it the regular way? Do you hold a jar under a fisherman while he jogs? Do you milk a dumpster outside a Chinese restaurant? Any factory worker trying to scare a fish into peeing will tell you: artificial clam juice is more trouble than it's worth.
If you look at the label of most skin products, it will boast that it was developed by dermatologists. No shit? You're selling a complicated combination of chemicals designed to rub on the skin, and at one point you consulted a skin scientist? I'm worried you felt the need to bring that up. Was your first attempt at hand lotion something a janitor found in his bathtub after a cleaning supply fight?
From now on, save yourself some trouble and only tell us who made your product if it's not obvious, like if a school teacher(!) made your cold medicine or if actor Paul Newman made your salad dressing. When a lotion company advertises that it hired a dermatologist, that's like an airline advertising that it hired a real pilot. Duh, Lubriderm. I fucking went to sixth grade. If you really wanted to give your consumers useful information, you'd tell them how long your product takes to transform from lubricant into paste during masturbation. And even then, my response would be the same: Duh, Lubriderm. I fucking went to sixth grade.
From a Non-Insane Source!
A lot of products brag that they come from a specific source. For example, almost all orange juice excitedly claims to be from California or Florida. And while those states sound mouth-watering, they also happen to produce 95% of all our oranges. So hooray, your oranges came from one of the two places oranges come from. If you really want to impress me, find me some that you grew in Detroit.
Domino's Pizza has an entire ad campaign where they reveal to startled focus groups that their tomatoes come from tomato farms and their cheese comes from cows. Are we really that cynical that we thought evil pizza technicians were growing crops without sunshine and turning spiders into milk? Of course you bought your tomatoes from a tomato farmer, Domino's-- that's like the fucking whole point of that guy's life. And I assume it's cheaper to do it that way than to develop some kind of sinister cloned tomatoes in a moon lab. We're all glad you're not wizards, Domino's, but it's kind of a dick move to assume we were crazy enough to think you were to begin with.
Hey, Domino's, if you have to start an entire ad campaign to convince us that you use food in your food, maybe you should stop and think about how an entire consumer market was convinced that your sauce was made of pressed tampons and burned tires in the first place. Yes, I understand that with each of your pizzas we buy, we make it more and more clear that we know nothing about nutrition and flavor. Still, we know where tomatoes and milk come from. That's not the problem. The problem is that by the time these ingredients get to our front door they also have toenails and a condom in them.
Less Fat, Asterisk!
Sometimes instead of declaring itself to have no fat, a product might brag that it has less fat. For example, Reduced Fat Jif has 25% less fat than regular Jif. Great job. So does a 3/4 full jar of fat. If you look at the nutritional information on reduced fat peanut butter, it just says, "It's too late to care now, so scream the word 'doctor.' Your dumb ass is about to have a heart attack."
Replacing 25% of your fat intake with maltodextrin is about as health conscious as finding a prostitute with a fake leg. Hilariously, if you look at a jar of regular Jif, its selling point is "Yes, Still 18 Ounces!" which really loses its impact when it's on a shelf with 30 other brands of 18 ounce peanut butter jars and right above and below it are different sized jars of Jif. The word "nothing!" would actually make this retarded peanut butter's point in 9 fewer letters.
Some products don't even make it clear what they have less fat than. A York Peppermint Patty claims "As Always... 70% Less Fat!" Cool! I'll cancel my situps! But after searching the bag for actual context, I found that their 70% less fat is 70% less fat than "the average of the leading chocolate candy brands*." No fucking shit, York Peppermint Patty. I kind of figured toothpaste had fewer calories than nougat.
Still curious, I searched for the other end of that asterisk and saw, "*3 grams of fat per 41 gram serving vs. 11 grams of fat in the average of the leading chocolate candy brands." I'm not a mathematician, but those leading candy brands are more than 25% pure fat. Do you want a medal for defeating that? If those figures described a man, nutritionists would categorize him as "obese," and he'd be so easy to defeat that you'd have to give a discount to the billionaires hunting him. Oh, were the stakes not made clear to you, York Peppermint Patty? This hunt started five minutes ago and the dogs can smell your refreshing mint sensation from 14 miles away.
I suggest you run.
For more words you didn't realize are screwing you, check out 9 Words That Don't Mean What You Think or read DOB's look at 6 Words That Need to Be Banned From the English Language.