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Plastic Bags



newformat.gif (4,472 bytes) 01132005 192 X 171

This is a prominent part of the plastic wrap on a package.  It's advertisng a new format.  You can't tell from this exactly which sort of product is inside, but whatever it is, presumably the marketing department believes you'll be swayed to buy it because of its new format, er, FORMAT!  With that exclamation point and all, apparently the professionals in the marketing department are betting you'll be pretty darned excited about the new format, because they certainly are.  And marketing pros have learned that consumers are attracted to certain words such as "new" and "free" and "sex."

Is it software?  That would make sense, because software all the time uses the term "format."

Is it a cookbook, now with tabbed dividers and bigger pages in a three-ring binder?  That would make sense, and you might well want to buy it because of its new format.

Nope.  This package contains a dozen rolls of White Cloud toilet paper.

I actually went to the trouble of phoning White Cloud's toll-free help number, 1-888-768-1212, and a darling woman named Lucy actually went to the trouble of finding out what "NEW FORMAT!" means.  She says it refers to the fact that the previous package held only nine rolls!



This warning appears on a plastic bag used to hold an item I got as a "gift" when I bought some Omaha Steaks steaks.

My first complaint is about all the "free gifts" that are offered.  If it's not free then by definition it's not a gift.  If it's a gift, then by definition it's free, so "free" is redundant -- useful to advertisers as a way to fool you, but redundant nevertheless.

My second complaint has to do with whether such free gifts really are free.

20% more
hippo chow for free!

Call in the next thirty seconds and we'll throw in
a second can of spray-on hair for free!

Buy this pair and receive
a mail-in coupon for a
free shoelace!

Or see a real one here.

The managers of the companies running such promotions are not offering you anything for free, they're simply trying to entice you into buying their product by telling you a lie.  The fact is, the cost of the supposedly free gifts is, of course, already accounted for, or if it isn't the managers of those companies should be fired.  The truth would be more like this:

We want to get more people to buy our products,
and we've learned that sometimes we can fool you better
if we pretend to offer something for free
rather than lowering our price by what those so-called gifts cost us
to purchase and store and package and transport!

The people in the marketing departments at Ralston Purina and Popeil and Nike are not idiots.  Indeed, you may be sure they're very good at what they do, and if I owned stock in those companies that's just the way I'd want it.  I'd want them trying really hard to fool millions of you into buying something you wouldn't have bought but for their manipulation of your mind.  And I myself, of course, would want to be immune.

My third complaint is about how they say the bag should not be used in "cribs, beds, carriages and playpens."  Of course they should have said "or playpens."

Fourth, it's mildly amusing that they recommend against destorying the bag.

But none of the above is why I brought you this scan of a plastic bag.  Here's why.

If you remember, or if you scroll up and look you'll see that, the last warning reads as follows:


So, what product came in this bag, a product that might be damaged if I use, say, a paring knife to slit open the bag it's in?  Is it a gross of condoms?  An envelope of anthrax?  A human heart?

Nope, it's a product that is designed specifically for the sole purpose of being able to withstand being cut upon by a sharp object.  It's a kitchen cutting board.




This warning appears on a plastic container of alcohol.  Notice that it is not to be used near an electric motor.

It is designed specifically for the sole purpose of being positioned within about one inch of an operating electric motor.



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