Pine Bros. Returns To Store Shelves. Company Enthusiasm Left At The Door.

There was some benign conflict when my wife and I went shopping for a dining room table the other day. As she ran through the options - weathered wood vs. veneery glaze, trestled bottom vs. traditional four-corner legs - I held my breath in the hope that I'd pass out and wake up in an environment devoid of purchasable furniture, like an ambulance. When this tactic failed, I decided to live dangerously (read: respond with full honesty), noting that my only requirement in a table - in a desk, cabinet, ottoman, settee or toilet-adjacent shelf, for that matter - is that it provides a flat surface upon which my microwave burritos can rest their weary torsos. We then bought a table. It's brown. I like it.

All that is to say: More often than not, I prize simplicity in form and function, in style and substance. But there are times when I recognize that you gotta get all frilly and whatnot, putting on a show for an audience that expects something more than drab exposition.

Such is my concern with the clip reintroducing one of my favorite brands from my childhood, Pine Bros. Softish Throat Drops. They went away a decade or so ago, under circumstances as foggy as trees are tall. Now they've returned from the brand morgue, or maybe they came back last year without making too much fuss about it. Either way, the company web page doesn't offer much in the way of clarity, just an understated "we're back" (note absence of exclamation point) and a grammar-casual "Pine Brothers not at your store, call and request it!" (The web page also links to a bounty-based plea for pro bono PR assistance, for those of you who think you can interest Anderson Cooper or the Wall Street Journal in full-frontal Pine Bros. coverage. Good luck with that.)

In the video, new Pine Bros. owner and CEO Victoria Knight-McDowell flatly states her belief in the drops' soothingness and deliciousitude, reminding us that they were initially introduced in 1870. As she does so, she walks in a straight line and tilts her head slightly to the left. At clip's end, she allows herself a tight grin.

That's it. There's nothing about changes to the product (if there are any) or about its extended vacation from store shelves. Among the questions left unanswered are "why now?," "do you still taste awesome and retain some modicum of therapeutic value?" and "why should I emotionally reinvest in you when you'll only run away and break my heart again, just like all those other over-the-counter Casanovas?"

Personal riches and Oprah semi-endorsement notwithstanding, Knight-McDowell should've recused herself from the marketing process. Clad in what appears to be her finest L.L. Bean gardeningwear, she appears to be as excited about her product as she'd be about the mailman's delivery of a generic shopping circular. We've heard of the CEO as dreamer, as inspiring force, as unrelenting taskmaster. Well, this is the CEO as recently roused coma patient. She more or less unsells her product.

I dig/dug Pine Bros. drops. I should be excited about their reappearance; I should want to enter brand-disciple mode, forcing product down the throats of fellow scratchy-throated pilgrims near and far. Instead, I'm shrugging my shoulders and wondering what other throat-drop family dynasties, like The Luden Twins or Señor and Señora Sucrets, are up to nowadays.

I'm not asking Pine Bros. for lasers or jingles (though that'd be way cool). But jeez, at least put your back into it a little. If you can't be bothered to rouse yourself into a brand lather, why should I?

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3 comments about "Pine Bros. Returns To Store Shelves. Company Enthusiasm Left At The Door.".
  1. Arthur Greenwald from Greenwald Media , October 25, 2012 at 4:52 p.m.
    Larry, I enjoyed this column but you kind of missed the story here. Ms. Knight-McDowell is better known as the inventor/marketer of "Airborne" -- the, ahem, herbal product that claimed to cure or shorten colds until the FDA made them agree not to -- and to pay $23.3 million for having done so. So soft, chewy, cough drops may taste good, but I'd ignore any therapeutic claims, considering the source.
  2. Nico Prinsloo from www.mypolokwane.com , October 26, 2012 at 2:32 a.m.
    Then it is also an unlisted video with comments disabled. It's like they do all they can not to have success! Weird.
  3. Bert Shlensky from stretchandcover , October 28, 2012 at 10:20 a.m.
    i am trying to get sick just to use them great recovery thanks