So Smart It's Stupid

Crest has just come out with HD toothpaste.


Let’s discuss the ways in which this product is idiotic: 1) It costs 15 times more than a tube of value-priced fluoride toothpaste. 2) It requires two steps – i.e., 100% more steps than toothbrushing has required for 150 years.  3) It is marketed on a lie. (“works to deliver a 6X healthier mouth … in one week” – compared, if you read footnotes, to “ordinary” toothpaste, by which they mean non-fluoride toothpaste, which nowadays barely exists)  4) HD?????

Huh? As measured by toothpixels?

Of course, Crest is hardly the only consumer package good to attempt trading on the high-tech ring of “HD.” There is at least one line of HD makeup. There are HD car-care products. There are HD bodybuilding supplements, which at least make sense by (falsely) promising superior muscular definition.

We’ve been here before. Thirty years ago, everything became a “system.” You didn’t buy a razor; you bought a “shaving system.” Even now, sneakers don’t have padding; they have a cushioning system. Shampoo isn’t shampoo; it’s a color-management system.



So many kinds of tech-not-ology. Think about “turbo.”

Turbo bowling accessories. Turbo dog treats. Turbo masking tape. Turbo car wax. Turbo cell phones. Turbo tax software. And of course, a turbo cat toy.

Package goods are to turbo and HD what Burger King is to royalty. And I say this as the son of a man who manufactured paper plates under the brand name Aristocrat.

So we’re agreed, then, that expropriating a techy sounding name to lend cachet to something mundane is a silly exercise. But not nearly as silly as lending superfluous actual technology to something that simply doesn’t require it. Like, I dunno, a bottle of booze.

Diageo, the spirits purveyor, sparked a lot of buzz at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week by unveiling a new package for super-premium Johnnie Walker Blue. An interactive package. That’s right, we have smartphones. We have smart thermostats. We have smart refrigerators. We have smart electric grids. And now, at long last, we have a smart Scotch bottle.

Because ‘til now, for peat’s sake, Scotch has been so embarrassingly dumb.

The bottles are rigged with near-field communication capabilities that transmit a weak signal to consumers’ mobile phones, provided they have loaded the app to receive it. Thereupon, according to MediaPost's Marketing Daily, “whether they've invested in a bottle, or are simply lingering near one in a store, consumers can read the tags with any NFC-enabled smartphone to see promotional offers, cocktail recipes or branded content.”

As one would.

I mean, you’re in the liquor store. You’re on the way to daycare. And here’s what you’re thinking: “Gosh, what delicious mixed drinks or baked goods can I prepare with this $120 bottle of Scotch? Lemme pull out my phone and download the recipe!”

You know, just like all those QR codes you always scan to get extra promotional info from a magazine ad or package.  I don’t know about you, but I drive my own wife crazy. “Bob, stop scanning for those valuable promotional offers already!” It’s just that….well, if Diageo’s going to take the trouble to make it so convenient for me to consume advertising and collateral, how in the world can I resist?

There’s really only two ways for this experiment to fail. One is for Chivas Regal to come out in HD. The other is for Diageo to introduce a smart Scotch bottle.











6 comments about "So Smart It's Stupid".
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  1. Sam Smith from Black Dog Strategic, March 9, 2015 at 10:18 a.m.

    Jeez, Bob, how did you not mention "extreme"?

  2. Doug Garnett from Protonik, LLC, March 9, 2015 at 11:40 a.m.

    Sam - I think that's "Xtreme"... Or all the things with an "i" in front of them... But these are the realm of lazy marketers.

  3. Kenneth Hittel from Ken Hittel, March 9, 2015 at 1:06 p.m.

    Been waiting a good long time to bring out "for peat's sake," I bet... But I'm happy you did.

  4. Brad Stewart from Molecule Inc., March 9, 2015 at 1:54 p.m.

    Super HD article, Bob.

  5. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER, March 9, 2015 at 3:27 p.m.

    Great column, Bob. Oddly enough, the toothpaste is great, almost as good as Ipana

  6. Patrick Scullin from Ames Scullin O'Haire, inc., March 9, 2015 at 5:07 p.m.

    Finally, HD toothpaste for digital plaque.

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