The "Better Marriage Blanket" Says Something Profound About American Consumers ... But What?

Last Updated May 4, 2010 12:37 PM EDT

If you don't know what "The Better Marriage Blanket" is, you will soon thanks to a 60-second direct response ad that's gotten 1 million views since it was posted on YouTube March 31. It's set to become this year's Snuggie. There's probably a link to the YouTube video (below) in an email from a coworker sitting in your inbox right now.

Although the mere existence of this campaign will have you snorting in derision, Permission Interactive is currently unable to keep up with demand:

Callers to the toll-free ordering number get a recording saying that because of the high volume of calls, orders must be placed online.
The phenomenon says something profound about the psyche of the American consumer. And the blanket's $49.95 price -- in addition to its improbable selling proposition -- is a reminder to any new product manager that even the strangest idea can find a massive market in the U.S. if it's cheap enough: You don't need a massive TV and print budget if your video can grab an audience's attention on its own merits.

There's no good way to describe what the blanket does, so I'll just quote the ad itself:

It's the problem in the marriage bed that no one likes to talk about. Maybe that's why they call it silent but deadly. Now there's a solution to a very real problem.
On the inside it contains a layer of carbon activated fabric, the same type of fabric used by the military to protects against chemical weapons.
Offending molecules are absorbed before anyone knows they're there.
... it makes a great wedding gift or anniversary gift too!
Let's just make it clear that under no circumstances should you ever buy someone the BMB as a wedding gift. That said, what does this say about us, the consumers who are are viewing this ad and buying the product? The Snuggie was easy to diagnose: In a recession wracked, post-Sept. 11 world, we just wanted to stay home, curl up and keep warm.

The BMB is a little more difficult. I'm intrigued by the idea that the blanket isn't for any old bed, but "the marriage bed." The word "marriage" occurs six times in the ad, and of course it's in the brand name. Singles need not apply! The product doth protest too much, insisting on its buttoned-up, conservative credentials despite its base nature. At the same time, the blanket purports to offer a military solution to a biological condition that's causing a relationship problem.

The subtext seems to describe perfectly the way America currently deals with many of its problems: The military can fix anything. Even your marriage. Or your farts.