March 31, 2008

Talk About toilet Paper

Over the weekend, I was sent out to purchase toilet paper, a substance which was dangerously depleted within the household: a couple more spins of a single roll were all that remained, which clearly is not enough.

As with any trip to purchase a single item, the shopping sojourn morphed into a multi-purchase experience. As I wandered the aisles, I realized we needed cat food, and then I realized we needed Diet Pepsi. All of which, of course, led to the uncomfortable experience of going through the checkout aisle with a 24 roll batch of toilet paper, a big bag of cat food and a 12-pack Diet Pepsi, which no doubt had the cashier wondering what I had planned for the weekend.

Whatever my weekend proclivities may have been, this post is about toilet paper or, more specifically, the marketing campaigns intended to sell toilet paper. As I perused the immense selection of hind-wipe, I was primarily struck by the images emblazoned upon the packaging.

Now, it's well-understood in the marketing world, if you want to sell your product, babies and puppies are the way to go. The human psyche, apparently, is unable to resist the purchasing allure of babies and puppies. If cigarette companies could somehow craft an ad campaign that featured babies and puppies smoking, with their arms/paws around each other's shoulders, you'd have 100 percent of Americans lighting up.

toilet paper companies are, apparently, well aware of the psychological draw of babies and puppies. Kleenex Cottonelle, for example, has gone down the puppy route, utilizing a yellow lab puppy that inexplicably has the voice of Zach Braff from the T.V. show "Scrubs." Even though puppies have no earthly reason to take an interest in toilet paper beyond being a chew toy, the Cottonelle puppy is unnaturally concerned about the cleanliness of the assorted behinds of its human overlords.

Angel Soft toilet paper, on the other hand, has decided a strategically-placed baby is the ticket to moving their product although, according to their Web site, they're not opposed to firing out a puppy of their own. Again, like puppies, babies don't have a particular burning need for toilet paper (at least not for a couple of years), so their affinity for toilet paper--and, if Angel Soft is to believed, babies like to be literally blanketed in the stuff--is a tad circumspect.

Perhaps most inexplicable of all is Charmin, which has been wistfully pining for the days of Mr. Whipple. Charmin has eschewed both babies and puppies and has opted, instead, for bears. Specifically, Charmin has opted for cartoon bears and, perhaps intent on capitalizing on the deep partisan divide in our country, they offer up a blue bear and a red bear--the red bear being "Ultra Strong" and the blue bear being "Ultra Soft." If the Charmin Web page is to be believed, both the red and blue bears truly like each other (although they seem somewhat suprised by the existence of the other), even though they're clearly divided.

Personally, I tend to opt for what's the least expensive when it comes to my toilet paper needs, so babies, puppies and bears are little more than silly distractions, as you can see. However, if I were to come up with my own toilet paper advertising campaign. . .

I'm thinking an image of Rodin's sculpture "The Thinker," except he's on a toilet, and above his head, in a thought balloon, would be a baby, a puppy and a bear cub, playing with a roll of toilet paper.

Hey, I'd buy a 24 roll package of THAT.

UPDATE: For no particular reason, I thought I'd share what it must be like to write a Nick Coleman column:


Posted by Ryan at March 31, 2008 10:19 AM | TrackBack

OOH!!! OHHH!!! I know why Charmain uses bears. It's a subtle reference to one of my all time favorite jokes; to wit:

A bear walks up to a bunny rabbit in the woods. He looks distracted. The bear asks the bunny, "Do you have trouble with poop sticking to your fur?"

The bunny looks relieved that the bear doesn't seem to want to eat him, yet he cringes at the question, replying "Why yes. I do have a provblem with poop sticking to my fur.

So the bear grabbed the bunny and wiped his ass with it.

Posted by: LearnedFoot at March 31, 2008 11:30 AM

I actually thought it was a nod to the "does a bear shit in the woods" expression.

Posted by: Ryan at March 31, 2008 11:45 AM

Once when I was a kid I took a shit in the woods and wiped my ass with tree leaves because there was no toilet paper during Daniel Boone's days. I should have been trying to emulate Davy Crockett instead. He would have maimed a bear, wiped his ass with it, and then killed it when he was damn good and ready.

Wiping your ass with a live bear is as manly as hell.

Posted by: Dave in Pgh. at March 31, 2008 12:10 PM

I think that campaign is hysterical, because it is clearly a reference to "Does a bear shit in the woods".

Learnedfoot -- you have to joke wrong. The bear is doing his business and the rabbit starts making fun of him because _the rabbit_ never gets shit stuck in _his own_ fur. The bear says "Good" and grabs him....

Posted by: Stephen R at April 15, 2008 12:17 PM
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