Mindless Marketing Monikers: Limited & Unlimited

Jeep Wrangler Sahara UNLIMITED

Jeep Wrangler Sahara UNLIMITED (honest, but stupid)

Perhaps I am not your average consumer, having spent most of my career as a marketing professional, but certain product names elicit a wry smirk from me.  The words “Limited” and “Unlimited” are two such examples.  I was reminded of this recently when I parked my car, looked out the window, and saw a Jeep Wrangler Sahara Unlimited parked beside me (see photo).  As an aside, I believe there is a point where the name of the product gets way too long.  Here, we have Make/Model/Version followed by the aforementioned senseless “Unlimited”.  While “Limited” and “Unlimited” are both hollow and meaningless names, “Unlimited” is clearly the dumber of the two.  If you buy something that is “Limited” and you are naive enough to believe that companies will not make as many as they can possibly sell, you might feel that you are one of the chosen few who get to experience the pleasure of owning one.  Exclusivity is coveted by many consumers.  However, if you buy something with “Unlimited” emblazoned on its visible brand signature, you are basically saying that your product is so commonplace and easy to attain that any dolt can get one.  Implicit, as well, is that you are one of those dolts.  Congratulations.

Not Your Average Jog in the Park

Somehow, the duct tape came off my broken blister during the run. See exposed skin near the little piggy--the one that went "wee wee wee" all the way home.

Call me adventurous.  Or wacky.  Or lacking of good judgment, if you ask my wife.  In any event, I am intrigued by novel approaches, newfangled solutions, and interesting diversions from the sometimes mundane aspects of life.  I learned to ride a unicycle a few years ago and have endured join-the-circus jokes ever since.  I once bought a book about powered parachutes (like an ultralight aircraft, except replace the wings with a parachute), convinced I would fly like a bird.  My latest recreation has been barefoot jogging.  Fast approaching the critical mass required for fad status, this activity is as simple as it sounds.  Ditch the shoes and hit the pavement just as you were born, except with shorts and a shirt (let’s not take this bare thing too far).  Having run a marathon in shoes, I am now convinced that running without them is like watching a movie in 7.1 channel surround sound on a 60-inch HDTV.  With shoes, it was like watching on one of those 13-inch, black-and-white boob tubes your grandma used to have on the kitchen counter.  Sure, I have suffered one minor injury, a blister that tore open, but I did what any reasonable person would do.  I put a piece of duct tape over the tender skin and ran another three miles this morning.

Cell Phones Advance Faster Than Common Sense

Roger's iPhone 3G Launch - Canada's First iPho...

We Love Our Phones! Yes We Do! (Image by Anirudh Koul via Flickr)

With technological advances come new dilemmas for mankind to consider.  Few examples of this phenomenon are as clear as the cell phone.  Once a novelty, the latest statistics suggest that 80-90% of all Americans (not just adults) use cell phones, and an increasing share of them are so-called “smartphones”, capable of accessing the Internet.  Aside from the known hazards of driving, walking, or doing just about anything else while using a cell phone, there is the fundamental question of what RIGHTS a person has to use his or her cell phone.  A Constitutional expert I am not, but most arguments in favor of unrestrained cell phone usage seem to hinge on the First Amendment right to free speech.  Difficult as it may be in a litigious society, it seems like common sense ought to solve most of these dilemmas.  Unfortunately, it has not.  Instead, our prisons are constantly on the lookout, not for drugs or weapons, but for cell phones used to orchestrate crimes from behind bars over airwaves that cannot legally be blocked.  Restaurant and theater owners who install signal blockers are found to be criminals.  Law abiding citizens using public transportation have found their cell phone service intentionally blocked.  When does the madness end?

One for the Road, Or Not

2011 Buick Regal

Love at First Sight is Foolish Love (Image lifted from Buick.com.)

A car enthusiast I am not, but I do have an appreciation for exceptional styling and engineering.  I can usually name the make and model of any car from some distance.  Further, I am keenly aware of a car’s personality–the undeniable and unique expression a car makes about the person driving the car.  For most of us, a car is the second biggest purchase we make in life, and its ability to define us is surpassed perhaps only by clothing, which has the distinct and unfair advantage of staying on our bodies all day long.  Enough setup.  So, I have been noticing a sharp new model on the roads of late–sleek, modern, and aggressive with the bouquet and youthful energy of Beaujolais Nouveau, but the complexity, sophistication, and depth of character found in a fine Napa Cabernet.  Let’s say it has overtones of BMW and Audi, with a nod to Lexus and perhaps a wink to Bugatti.  Yes, Bugatti.  Today, I got to see one up close.  A BUICK REGAL!  Kudos for the design, but at the end of the day, it’s an inferior product of a failed company resuscitated briefly by the federal government.  A glass of two-buck Chuck or Boone’s Farm anybody?

5 Foods That Make No Sense to Me

Once a year.

Beer Cheese Soup (yes, popcorn on top) Image by leedav via Flickr

Nearly 2 weeks without a single blog post proved several things to me:

  • Paradox of Paragraphs: The less I blog, the less I have to blog about.
  • It’s Alive!: People keep visiting and reading, even when I don’t write.  Thanks!
  • Blogging is Not Real Life: Life is tougher.  One of my superheroes saw kryptonite, got pretty weak, and rebounded to defeat the villain virus or bacteria or whatever it was.

On to a much more important topic…

5 Foods That Make No Sense to Me

  1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: What’s with the “extra”?  I have never seen just regular old “virgin” olive oil.  Why personify olive oil?  Would it sell as well if marketed as Super Skank Olive Oil?
  2. Tuna Fish Sandwich: Of course it’s a fish!  We don’t order turkey bird or ham pig butt sandwiches.  Why do we feel the need to clarify that we are talking about a tuna FISH?
  3. Double Malt Scotch Whiskey: Never drank the stuff, but I have been told that single malt is better.  THEN WHY MALT IT A SECOND TIME?!?
  4. Grape-Nuts: No grapes, no nuts.  What gives?!?  How about calling it Gravel?
  5. Beer Cheese Soup: Who thought of this concoction, and WHY add popcorn?!?

You Think YOUR Weather is Crazy…

Copan Ruinas. Macaw and Squirrel

Macaws Compete with Squirrels for Free Grub (Image by Adalberto.H.Vega via Flickr)

Usually mundane talk about weather has gotten more interesting this summer all across America, as sweltering temperatures, monsoon-like downpours, floods, droughts, and tornado outbreaks have become the new normal.  I am not here to make a statement on global warming, but even Minnesota has gotten downright tropical–not just hot, but incredibly humid.  As a result, all sorts of strange things have been happening.  My wife’s tomato plants look like shrubs.  Outside air condenses on the cool windows of our homes and cars.  Rain, thunder, and lightning seem to come and go daily, as in the rainforest.  Icy roads of winter are replaced by slippery, moss-covered roads of summer.  Tree canopies are beginning to cover entire neighborhoods.  Joggers are tripping over sprawling green vines that grow by the hour.  Beautiful macaws and toucans have replaced the usual robins, blue jays, and cardinals.  Reports of traditional roadkill like deer and skunks have been replaced by stories of squashed 20-foot boa constrictors and tree sloths.  Then there are the monkeys raiding vegetable gardens and the gorillas squatting in abandoned homes and scaring away house hunters.  And WHY does our new weather man wear a loin cloth, let out wild calls, and swing from vines?

Art of the Absurd: The Future of Book Deals

Bristol Palin

Like Momma, Like Daughter. Bristol Palin Cashes in on Book Deal, Smiles at Every Idiot Who Buys a Copy (Image by Gage Skidmore via Flickr)

Capitalism sometimes manifests itself in peculiar and absurd ways.  Book deals are one such example.  Somehow, in this age when bookstores are struggling to survive and sentence fragments are all the rage on Twitter, there is still a market for the inside scoop, in long form, from dimwits, convicts, derelicts, or public servants who aren’t content with simply a big taxpayer-funded salary and pension.  Examples of such gold diggers are plentiful–Sarah Palin, Bristol Palin (a rare mother/daughter combo!), Casey Anthony (in the works), Casey Anthony’s attorney (not making this up), Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, Reverend Al Sharpton, a 17-year-old girl who faked her pregnancy (Gaby Rodriguez), and the list goes on.  The problem with book deals, for publishers, is the random, unpredictable nature of good subject material and the need to harvest it from greedy people.  Enter my vision for the future of book deals–REALITY BOOK DEALS.  Think up a good story, hire low-budget dolts to act it out, and write a book about it!  Just like network TV has feasted on reality TV, publishers could feast on reality book deals.  Suddenly, a good book deal is limited only by the imagination!  What’s not to like?