Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sometimes New & Improved...Isn't

I've had about enough of "new and improved."

So many things tout themselves as "new and improved" these days, that the phrase has lost its meaning. Instead, some should be advertising, "slightly different, but not quite as good as it used to be." But marketing like that isn't gonna move a lot of product, now is it?

Case In Point No. 1:
Diet 7-Up has recently given a slight modification to its plastic bottle labels, adding the phrase, "Now more Lemon Lime taste!**" And if you twist the bottle around, eventually you'll find that the "**" in that phrase refers to a, "**New Formula." Pardon me, guys, but did you consult your regular drinkers before you went and messed with a good thing? Maybe some of us don't want more lemon-lime taste. Maybe some of us were perfectly happy with the way the taste was for years and years. If we wanted more lemon-lime taste, we'd drink Sprite!

I can see Sprite's new marketing campaign coming a mile away.
"Now tastes more like 7-Up than ever before!"

Needless to say, I'm not entirely pleased that some suit who probably sits around drinking Tangueray and tonics all day instead of the soft drink that made him filthy rich has decided to fuck with the formula of one of my regularly consumed carbonated beverages.

And it's not the first time. Oh, no. Which leads me to...

Case In Point No. 2:
Several months ago, Diet Mountain Dew started adding the slogan, "Tuned Up Taste," to its packaging. Not to beat a dead horse, but...the taste wasn't broken, so why fix it?? Why take a perfectly delicious citrusy beverage, and tweak it so that when people crack one open and take a drink, they stare at the can and say to themselves, "Hmph. What did they do to that?"

Please leave my soda pops alone!

(Neurotic Grammatical Aside: If Diet Dew is gonna advertise its new taste, shouldn't it be written as "Tuned-Up Taste"...with hyphen inserted as such? I mean, a "small, green ball" can be broken down into a "small ball" and a "green ball," so no hyphen is necessary. But it's not "tuned taste" and "up taste". It's "tuned-up" taste. Compound modifiers, people. Let's use them correctly, shall we? Alas, no hyphens on their packaging. Perhaps the people at Dew would like to hire me in a newly created position as Aluminum Can Proofreader.)

If you think this rant is limited to only carbonated beverages, read on.

Case In Point No. 3:
Several years ago, I wrote a column on mustard. (believe can be done.) A well-known mustard brand that shall remain nameless so as to avoid scandalous defamation lawsuits (French's) advertised on its yellow mustard bottle a "new stay-clean cap!"

Hooray! said I. No more molten lava mustard ooze from the old-style, cone-shaped, twist-up caps (that's three compound modifiers in a row!! stop me before I modify again!) where after squeezing some onto your brat or burger and placing it back on the counter in the open position, whatever residual mustard that was left in the tip would creep out of the top and down the spout.

This new cap has a concave shape and looks better suited to teeing up a golf ball than it does to dispensing a condiment. And it might be a "no-more-ooze" cap, but it's far from "stay-clean."

Inside of that concavity are four flexible plastic flaps that direct a stream of mustard toward its intended target. However, after the first use, it forms that dry mustard "skin" thing that awaits you on its next use. So you're forced to break through that barrier with an extra-firm squeeze, which can throw off your mustard aim by several inches. So instead of Mustard On Rye Bread Awaiting Summer Sausage, you've got Mustard Art On Microwave Oven Door, or Mustard Stain On Shirt Previously Being Worn To Work.

I firmly believe that the people at French's are in cahoots with the people at Bounty paper towels. Because any day now I expect to see Bounty's new slogan:
"Now able to tackle more mustard spills than ever before!"

Look. All I'm saying is that if all you marketing and R&D geniuses out there want to spend your workdays "improving" something, concentrate on the things that need improvement. If you're stuck for ideas, I've got a few to get the ball rolling:

• The current White House administration. While a new one won't effectively take office until 2009, that gives you plenty of months to work on improving the one we have now. Please work quickly...for all our sakes.

• My salary. This one should be easy. Simply take any old spare zero you have laying around somewhere, and insert it immediately to the left of the decimal point. And take the rest of the day off for doing such a good job with that one.

• My golf swing. (FORE!!)

• The Detroit Lions. (uhh...this one may take some overtime.)

• My internet connection. The only reason I still have dial-up is to afford myself the opportunity to use the verb "slog" on a regular basis.

"Marketing is the science of
convincing us that what you get
is what you want."
—John Carter


  1. Now this is a "RANT"...I may be inspired to actually post something new one of these days...maybe.

    Good stuff.

  2. I don't know if it's possible to improve the current administration. Nothing short of replacement is acceptable in my opinion.

    I liked 7 Up Gold. Does anyone remember that?

  3. Andy Rooney, is that you? ;)
    Point #3 made me giggle and I don't even like mustard.

    Nope, 7-Up reminds me of puking and we all know my thoughts on that.

  4. Proofreading Diet Dew cans?? I'm picturing you sitting near the assembly line quickly reading every can that goes down the line... kind of like in the intro of Laverne and Shirley.

    I do realize that you would not send the cans through the process until you corrected the grammar, but the image of your new career is singed into my brain!!

    Remember our Diet Coke addiction from the past... like the early 90's?? I take it you're not a DC drinker anymore. Anyway, I love Diet Pepsi. Usually drink 24oz a day... not more! My neighbor is the plant manager of the Coke facility down here in the QC. He constatnly fills my pockets with certificates for free golf, Great America, the zoo, and even weekend getaway packages. I felt guilty sipping a DP on the back deck in his company. So, I am now a DC drinker again. I think DC tastes like flat Diet Pepsi, but I can handle it.

    New Fromula??? 7-Up Gold?? More Lemon Lime?? I must live in a cave. Never heard of them.

    But, I have heard of the new product in which a toilet seat is affixed to a 2" steel pipe. The tubular pipe fits into your hitch receiver. You just slide it in and you have a comfortable shitter. I'd like to see the suits make an improvement to that.

    No fan to turn on! No flushing! No clogs! AMAZING! You can even back over your remains to make it disappear! Sorry my thoughts led to this topic! It fits under new and improved though, right?

  5. I loooove Andy Rooney! Got a couple collections of his columns, and I'm hoping to take his spot on '60 Minutes' one day.

    For some reason, 7-Up Gold sounds familiar, but I don't remember when it was out, or if I ever drank it.

    Mark...I remember switching from Diet Coke to Diet Pepsi to Diet Dew back to Diet Pepsi and back to Diet Dew again over the years.

    I agree with your assessment of Diet Coke, although another of our commenters might have a different opinion. *ahem*

    I can pretty much drink anything, but if I'm reaching for it myself, I'll grab Diet Dew or Diet 7-Up.

    And I hope you're using that new and improved toilet seat contraption in environmentally-appropriate locations (e.g. not in the middle of your subdivision!)

    Gotta go practice my new workplace's theme song:

    Schlameel, Schlamazel
    Hassenpepper Incorporated


    Brad...........get inspired.

  6. Gregg! I am laughing out loud in the middle of the night! I loved the entire blog, but I have to agree.. the mustard was the icing on the cake.

    Remember the whole Classic Coke, New Formula Classic Coke and then dismissing the New Formula, but was it really new or was it the next Caffiene Free or possibly the Diet Caffiene Free, or I've gotta try to addict the whole world so everyone can soak thier teeth in our formula that has been known to eat away rust. Great post!