Whoa! Didja get the numbers off that truck?!?


July 17, 2004 - 5:44 p.m.

More time travel...

Common Sense; The Herald News, July 22, 2004:



Television commercials are a terrific insight into popular culture. I've been an informal student of them for many years. Who could forget Mr. Whipple? There's nothing like a witless store clerk to move toilet paper. I wonder how he'd feel working at a modern day Wal Mart?
Toilet paper commercials are the most intriguing thing for me, only because such a mundane element of every day life becomes the subject of so much analysis. Every detail gets emphasis: the way it's made, how its "quilted" and of course the "softness". Does something we encounter for a brief few minutes of the day require so much study? Leaves never had it so good.
I can't imagine what it would be like to be part of the creative team that cooks up these ideas. Oh wait, I can!
Picture a meeting room filled with tired advertising types. Every aspect of toilet paper design has already been dissected and analyzed in hundreds of meetings like this, and these people are dry on ideas. The Messiah of toilet paper peddling himself, Mr. Whipple, couldn't whip an idea out of these guys. They've placed a picture of him up on the wall, in hopes of inspiring greatness. They're getting testy in the late night hours and they're starting to snap at each other.
"How about a kid?" one offers, "Kids can sell anything!"
"Done to death" another one groans, "Besides, remember the last one? His mom drove us nuts!"
"A puppy maybe?" another one offers, "Puppies are soft!"
They glare at him soundlessly, in rejection of his idea.
This activity goes on for hours. Each idea offered up, is shot down. They're working against a deadline, and the boss peeks in from time to time, dismayed by the lack of progress. The creative team is getting annoyed by the periodic interruptions. Finally he gets on their last collective nerve as he opens the door one more time.
Again he asks, "You guys still working on it?"
As a group they stare at him. The art director speaks for the team and says dryly, "Does a bear sit in the woods?"
The door slams, and in that moment of silence the idea grows.
A bear… In the woods… Toilet paper!
It's perfect absurdity, the fuel for any successful ad campaign! Who could imagine a bear actually using the stuff? These people can, and as they throw ideas out, the perfect campaign develops.
The puppy guy speaks: "How are we going to train a bear to do this?"
Again, the silent collective glare. They send him out for more double mocha lattes. By the end of the night, daylight actually, they have the idea fully flushed out. It's the essence of cuteness and truly the total defiance of anything found in nature. They've created a cute cartoon bear that actually blushes and smiles. He finds a roll of the perfect paper, perched on the branch of a tree. His life is now complete. Order to the universe has been maintained because the bear has now found happiness in his daily routine.
I've forgotten this detail though; does he bring a newspaper to read?





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