Two advertising tag lines recently activated my gag reflex. First, there's Droid touting "the next generation of does." The commercial immediately creates a new elite -- Gen Does -- to which only the coolest and high-techiest among us can belong. But at bottom Motorola, the manufacturer, is simply saying -- in the most pretentious way possible -- that its newer smart phone does more stuff than the previous model. The message: Those who don't immediately buy the latest Droid are consigned to the despised Generation of Doesn't.
And how about Charmin? Its latest line is "Enjoy The Go!" Clever, but where did Proctor & Gamble come up with "The Go?" Have you ever heard anybody refer to a latrine, potty or bathroom as the "go room?" Do parents "go-train" their toddlers? I don't think so. Maybe my mom and dad were psychologically backward, but they brought me up to believe that exercising the bodily function to which Charmin refers was necessary and possibly satisfying in its completion, but definitely not that enjoyable -- unless you had a good novel or crossword puzzle with you. But Charmin is conveying an important message: If you aren't having a whale of a time excreting, then life is passing you by.
What makes making so enjoyable, according to P & G, is that at the end (literally), fewer bits of Charmin tissue than other brands will be left clinging. (The National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus this August upheld that claim against a challenge by rival Cottonelle. For more about this kerfuffle, you can consult a post by my colleague Jim Edwards, BNET's advertising guru.)
I am not sure, but even if I were of a mind to enjoy my go, factors other than toilet tissue would be more significant contributors to happiness: the comfort of the commode, the ambience, lighting and fragrance of the "go room" and the quiescence or or non-quiescence of my tummy. Still, as a consumer, I am now nagged by the worry that without Charmin, I may be missing out.
Charmin is also using its bears to exploit the insidious red-state-blue-state divide. For example, the ultra-conservative red bear pushes Charmin's Ultra-Strong tissue -- which leaves fewer pieces behind. The take-no-prisoners (or pieces) red bear is bent on eradicating evil in the world -- chasing its young over woods and field to forcibly pluck every last t.p. blob from its behind. This tough anti-toilet paper leftover stance is one that should appeal to rock-ribbed Republicans and Tea Party followers who abhor messy situations, for example, government deficits and unrestricted immigration. Then there's Charmin's blue bear who advocates for its Ultra-Soft tissue. Sweet and even mushy-brained, the blue bear sees compassion as his number one (and number two) job. Tolerant of toilet paper blobs -- and other blots on the civic landscape such as open-handed government spending and unmown lawns, the blue bear has an obvious allure to Democrats, trade unionists -- and conservationists; one blue-bear TV spot claims that people will "enjoy going more while using less" -- ostensibly saving a ton of trees.
Unlike politicians, however, Charmin is not forcing you to choose. As the video suggests, you can have both Ultra-Strong and Ultra-Soft. Whether you are supposed to use both at the same time or alternate is not clear. But deciding will definitely add more drama to your go.