Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Marketing In Your Mouth

I was shopping for my family a few days ago when I spotted something sinister near the snack aisle. I immediately grabbed the container with the familiar bow-tied-handlebar-mustached mascot on it. Pringles is now offering something called, “Pringles Prints” which puts silly questions and answers right on each chip. Yes, the actual chip that you eat.

When you open the canister you get to read the tagline, “Read’em and Eat’em” which is of course trademarked. Then you pull out your first imprinted chip to reveal Q&A in a blue, handwritten font. I guess a serif wouldn’t work well here. Who wants to eat serif?

Even if I wanted to play along with this concept, the question and answer are so close to each other that you can’t help but read both at the same time. Also, you can’t help but grab one the ‘wrong’ way up and read the answer first a lot of the time. Clearly this isn’t really a game. What is this then? Who did they design this for? I’m afraid of what things may evolve from this new food-writing technique. Are we far from seeing marketing messages appear on our belly like on Linda Blair in the Exorcist after we eat something?

When you go to the Pringles website it gets worse. They have a sitelet just for Pringles Prints that is co-branded with the game Scene It?. How much money did they pour into this idea?

I wanted to contact them about how strange I thought this whole concept was, but found myself lost on the contact us page. Take a look at the screen grab. What are you supposed to do here?

The top 7 categories found have the label “multiple”? What does that mean? It’s as if someone wrote the business requirements, designed it, and then developed and deployed it themselves in a biodome. Everything about this feels so very disconnected from real customers.

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