Thursday, July 26, 2007

Special offers and antioxidants

If I'm not in a hurry, New York is. And then you have to run to keep pace with it anyway. Yes, everything goes fast here, but after being here for two weeks I'm getting quite used to the situation. It seems ages ago that I was sitting in a cab on my first day, gazing at the Manhattan streets with a mixed feeling of anxiety and intrigue. Right now I'm standing every day in the subway (standing, cause you can't sit) and go to work like every other slave of the working society. I'm even getting used to the crazy people over here. This morning I noticed I wasn't surprised anymore when I saw someone talking loud to himself.

What still amazes me is the advertising here. One out of two commercials on television is from some car dealer. The ads are always the same. The first 20 seconds they lure the viewer into the commercial by showing spectacular shots of a car doing a slalom and driving in a curve. An intriguing sounding voice over tells about all the specifications of the car. When the potential car buyer is almost drooling in front of the television...BAM. They trap the viewer by casting an enormous amount of prizes, special offers, mandatory messages and restrictions. Every inch of white space around the car is suddenly filled with copy.

Over here they like copy so much that they fill entire packages with it. In the beginning it took me over an hour to do groceries cause I couldn't find the right product. There are no packages that just say 'BUTTER'. If you want normal butter you have to find this butter between the soja butter, macrobiotic butter, fat-free butter, unsalted butter, flavoured butter and lactose free butter. There's even a brand called 'I can't believe it's not butter'. Well, if it's not butter, I don't want it. Another piece of copy, on a cereal package:

'For anyone who wants to celebrate their 50th birthday. As the halfway point'.

This is the lamest piece of copy I've ever seen on a package. Yet it's so strange that it makes me laugh. Talking about strange, the keyword on every package here is: ANTIOXIDANT! That tea and apple juice contain antioxidants doesn't surprise me. But they even put the line 'contains natural antioxidants' on a chocolate bar because there are raisins in it (!). Some copies are just plain bizarre. Like this line that was in a big font on a can of salt:

'This salt does not supply iodide. A necessary nutrient'.

So...let me get this straight: you bring a product on the market, leave out a vital ingrediƫnt and put that prominent on the package? Well, at least it's honest. Luckily, I figured out which products I have to buy and doing groceries goes faster every time. Which is good, because I love New York and I didn't fly all the way from Holland to waste my time in the local supermarket.

3 Comments:

Blogger Nick said...

The salt thing is a government requirement, as are many of the labels you see on foods in the States. I guess that doesn't excuse the big font, though.

http://ecfr.gpoaccess.gov/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=ecfr&sid=14aad90d85c4d5260f233c5f1ab1365d&rgn=div6&view=text&node=21:2.0.1.1.1.4&idno=21

If you're in New York, why not just use Fresh Direct?

http://www.freshdirect.com

3:13 pm  
Blogger Robin Stam said...

Ah, that explains a lot, haha. I would indeed put the required copy on the package really small. But it's funny. Thanx for the tip, but I found my way throught the wilderness of products by now, so it's not such a problem.

4:05 pm  
Blogger Jenne said...

Hahaha, Robin I haven't checked your blog in forever but decided to stop by. The salt thing makes me laugh so much because I think we have that very kind in our cupboard. Some people may or may not want additional iodine in their diet I guess -- so I guess if you're watching your diet for whatever reason, you'd want to know that. But it *IS* incredibly funny.

When I had been out of the country for almost 2 years teaching English, I was so shocked coming back and discovering everything was being marketed as 'low carb.' (A trend which is already over -- this was 2004.) I was like, when I left the country carbs were ok, but now they're not!? What happened???

Americans are crazy, you figured that out fast! :P

5:04 am  

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