Now with TWICE the obviousness!
After he retired from superhero work, defeating criminals with crushingly obvious statements, Captain Obvious settled down and got a job in marketing. I know this because of a statement he wrote on a jar of peanut butter.
I think that actually says something about me, when I can go from peanut butter to retired superheroes by association. I wonder what ol’ Freud would have to say about that.
Anyhow, back on the topic of peanut butter, or rather the label on the peanut butter. It said “Gluten Free.”
That got me thinking how often I see the phrase “Gluten Free” on packaging for juice, fruit, vegetables, meat…the list goes on. Think about that for a moment – anyone who knows what gluten IS made that implicit conclusion the moment they laid eyes on the product in question. Neither peanuts nor oil have ever contained gluten. It’s WHEAT PROTEIN. Yet good ‘ol Captain Obvious figured this was information we needed to know.
Meanwhile, he also put some equally helpful information on our bottled water. Almost every major brand screams “0 CALORIES” somewhere on their packaging. Excuse me, when did water ever have calories? Calories are measured by the amount of the food that must be burnt in order to boil a certain amount of water. And last time I checked, you cannot burn pure water.
The more amazing thing to me is that people actually get excited about these marketing statements. That’s why Captain Obvious is still employed – his tactic works, for some mind-numbingly idiotic reason. We have an entire population of people who remember nothing of high school science, and are far too easily persuaded as a result. I’m not talking about the people that couldn’t read or didn’t get a good education. I’m talking about the gainfully employed high school and college graduates in America.
Yes, there are people with college degrees that are excited over gluten free peanut butter and 0 calorie water.
However, I’m in a charitable mood, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt for a moment. We are absolutely inundated by the words “calories” and “gluten”. If you doubt that the pure mass of word exposure can fry neurons, think about your response the last time you heard “hey dude, wanna hang?” That didn’t used to be a good thing.
We have plenty of people in media to thank for this confusion, such as a certain TV doctor, who is named for the land he used to work in as a scarecrow before he attended Slappy’s School of Clowning and Medicine. Good rule of thumb – never trust a “doctor” who is giving out medical advice that correlates with his own brand of miracle cures.
While we’re on the subject, does anyone actually know what Goji Berry is, and how humans managed to survive the last few centuries without this apparently vital secret to good health? Once again, we only care because good ol’ Doctor Television said we should.
I shall leave that topic with an Aesop-worthy moral: “Do your research, discard evidence backed by people who have a conflict of interest, and never clean ovens in houses made of candy.” Okay, maybe that last part is for another story…you know, the one about the children who learned you should never mark your path through a forest with gluten products?
The other classification of obvious marketing contains those phrases which we almost invariably look for, without ever considering whether we’d even see the inverse. Take for example the common phrase, “TASTES GREAT!”
Yeah, when was the last time you saw “TASTES LIKE PLYWOOD” on a package of crackers? (Seriously, if you have, please comment. I’d love to be wrong right now.)
Or what about the classic “Great Value!” claim? Two things I’ve discovered: one is that marketing people are not quick to print “Horrendously Overpriced” on their packaging; two is that if they have to tell us its a good price, it probably isn’t.
The third category is the convenient allergy warnings. Yes, I understand that these must be included for legal reasons, and I’m glad of it, as I have allergies. I’m just amazed that we live in a society where anyone would even care if certain packages left the warning off. I have seen packages of nuts labeled “WARNING: Contains nuts.” Yes, I seriously hope it does, otherwise I’m taking it back and demanding a refund.
And then there’s this gem of a package (pictured left), located by The Daily Mail. “The Happy Egg Company” left absolutely no question about the ingredients of their free range eggs, with the warning “Allergy Advice: Contains egg.” on the inside of the package.
I bet you didn’t know, but eggs contain eggs! I’ll let you process that revelation. I promise you’ll get over the shock shortly. Just get a brown paper bag and take some deep breaths into it.
Thank you Captain Obvious. We would be less lost without you.