I, the Enlargened, Crunchy Product
11 April 2002
To start by, let me illustrate my case with a letter that I received some weeks ago:
I am desperately in love with one of my co-workers, and am trying to make her notice me "in that way" too. We have worked in the same office for some years now, and have become extremely close in that time. I have always held a torch for her - she is very lovely - but as I was married, never acted on it. Now I am separated, and would dearly love to make a move on her. The problem is that, having known me for so long, I don't think she could think of me as more than a friend. XXXX, how do I make myself appear new and special to her? Would pheromone sprays help?
Obviously, pheromone sprays would never help in this situation - who wants to pull a man who has the scent of randy donkey bollocks hanging about him? But this is a serious problem. How does one repackage the old parcel into a new, enticing vision?
Let us look to the major chocolate manufacturers in the UK, who faced a similar problem at the start of the 1990s. Chocolate consumption had reached saturation point in the UK, due in part to the invasion of American fast-food restaurants which had turned the nation into lard-gobbling massive-arsed cretins who would eat anything. Good for the consumer, who had the choice of hundreds of different chocolate at their disposal; bad for the manufacturers who had to find ever-new ways of grabbing the attention of the lardy bastard customer.
Relaunching entirely new products was risky, as people favour what they know and trust (see Ch.9 "Branding and You"). The manufacturers realised that consumers were more likely to buy a product which they were familiar with, but which had been slyly altered in some way to provide both security and novelty, rather than an unknown and potentially dangerous product.
This is the lesson for Jeremy C, and for any of you who hoping to grab the attention of those who already know you - that cute boy in accounts, your boss, your maiden aunt. You are the product - by simply altering your lifestyle choices subtly, you will find yourself desired by people who previously thought that you were dull as mud.
Which alterations to make though? Well, which did the chocolate makers use? There are 6 fail-safe ways of making old chocs seem new, and they'll work for mankind too:
1. Make it orange/mint/honeycomb
These are the safest flavour changes to make, and are employed on a regular basis. Some deviants have messed about with coffee and coconut, but the ensuing sales resulted in them being taken out the back and shot later. How about you then? If mint's yer thing, a quick body rinse in mouthwash should give a minty aroma all day long which can be supplemented by breath-mints. Orange: eat satsumas and rub yourself with the peel. Honeycomb is more difficult, but if you buy some from the local beekeeper you can dip your fingers in it and spread the sticky sweetness about all day (also see No.2). The aim is not all-pervading mint/orange/honeycomb, but a mere waft of it which will result in your desired one/consumer to say - "There's Johnny - but...minty!"
2. Make it crunchy
Achieved by air-bubbles and puffed rice in the confectionary business; achieved by bubble-wrap and cornflakes for you. The novelty here is noise, a new and exciting crunchy sound which lies in your wake as you march to the photocopier. A healthy mix of cornflakes and bubble-wrap in your shoes should give you all you desire, although the crunch mix may have to be replaced on a regular basis. Not good for attracting the attention of the hard of hearing, although placing sheets of bubble wrap under your regular clothing will provide textural satisfaction.
3. Make it dark/light
Generally a safe bet in chocolate (see Kit-Kat White, Dream etc) but not so much for you. Admittedly this approach has been tried for some decades with the use of tanning products and other cosmetics, but confectioners rely on more severe changes in hue than a fortnight in Tenerife will provide. If it is unlikely that your workmates will find the sight of you blacked/whited-up novel yet comforting, try another approach.
4. Make it big
Excellent results can be achieved here if your consumer only sees you on CCTV (ie. you are a prisoner/receptionist/mugger). By standing extremely close to the camera you will give the impression of added size and value. When the consumer is able to see you more clearly in this way they will appreciate previously-unseen facets of you, ie. your pores. In an office environment, alternative methods of "making it big" include platform shoes, oversized clothes, padded underwear, the "foam hands" found at football games and, for ladies, the final stages of pregnancy.
5. Make it small
Far more difficult than No.4, this may require ingenuity. For CCTV, simply standing very far away from the camera is all that is needed. For direct encounters, the following may be considered: extreme weight loss, removal of some interior organs, (ladies) strapping breasts down, shortening tibias through medical operations. Wearing black to appear slimmer is a pansy's trick and fools no-one.
6. Make it seasonal
Better to choose one season and stick to it than change with every minor occasion and look like a fucking schizoid. Everyone does Xmas - how novel is running around waving mistletoe like a demented harpy? Easter is more unusual but prone to difficulties - dressing in pastels may be attractive, but dressing up as a giant papier-mache egg is not.
These are the confectioner's tricks of the trade - use them wisely. With a new, relauched you, donkey pheromones will be a thing of the past as you are gloriously consumed by your market audience.