That other list of 5 things you never see commercials for

Think of all the things you see advertised on TV: toaster waffles, car insurance, medicines for embarrassing health issues, lunch meat, toilet paper, etc. , .

I’ve put together a list of five very common items, stuff you buy regularly, for which there are no advertisements. The list seems even stranger when I point out the similar items for which brand advertising DOES exist. I’m not sure why the various makers of these products have decided not to fight for market share – perhaps it’s all some sort of sordid plot where they are all working together to produce the same product and simply swap different labels on the packages. Either way, let’s explore, shall we?

  1. Napkins.      Now, we all know Bounty is the “quicker picker upper” and seen the Brawny guy flex his muscle. But those are ads for paper towels. There are even ads for toilet paper (you may or may not remember “please don’t squeeze the Charmin” but I’m sure we’ve all picked up on the message of the bear who needs toilet paper in the woods). There are commercials for tissues (with Aloe… oooh) But why not napkins? Think about it, you use napkins with every meal. Yes, they come in packs of 250 or more, but I know I buy a new package at least every three weeks. And, there is no brand loyalty between paper products – I DO prefer Bounty paper towels, but I don’t buy Bounty napkins (I think I’ve seen them). I just buy the cheapest per unit – often store brand.
  2. Milk.      We’ve all seen the milk mustache bulletin boards, and I can hear “Milk – it does a body good” in my head. But, no one ever says what brand of milk to buy. I’m not counting Parmalat or my memories of the Borden cow. I know milk brands because I’m a savvy consumer, but when I go and shop… I buy according to date and price. My local Acme carries two brands of 2% milk. Invariably, they have expiration dates two days apart (what does vary is which one is farther away). I will buy the one with the later date. If both dates are more than a week away, I buy based on price.
  3. Socks.     There are commercials for sneakers. The Nike swoosh, the Addidas stripes, the Champion C… they are all logos that companies want you to see. They pay Tiger Woods millions to wear Nike gear. Why not push socks? Yes, they’re covered up sometimes, but in the summer or most sports activities, you can see the logo. Plus, they obviously decide it has some value since they take the time to embroider it onto the sock.  Admittedly, I buy (again) based on price – but sometimes I’ll reject brands which have let me down before in terms of quality or comfort. But, if I’m at Marshalls or TJ Max and I see a package of brand name socks… I expect they will be more comfortable or better quality then the no-name Walmart or knock off brands. If they’re on sale, I buy them. Why not advertise?
  4. Dental Floss.     Okay, so I’m sure no one really cares what dental floss they buy. Most people probably don’t even buy it, let alone use it. You get some from your dentist, and it gets used sparingly. But, they advertise for mouthwash, toothpaste, toothbrushes, why not dental floss? Even if only to promote those little rake like things they make so you don’t have to wrap it around your fingers.
  5. Beef.     Like milk, beef is promoted with an industry slogan “Beef – it’s what’s for dinner.” But, unlike chicken (“Hi, I’m Frank Purdue…”), there is no brand name marketing of beef. Now, you might say “there are no brand names, Scott” but you’re wrong! My local stores carry the generic store cuts, but they also carry some specialty brands of beef. Even if only to market Shop Rite vs. Pathmark beef – you never really see it. the only things close that I can remember is more of a “meat department” vs. “meat department” butcher services promotion. Again, I buy by date, appearance, and price – but you could definitely convince shoppers of a different style that Brand X is worth an extra $1.99 per pound. I wonder why they don’t.

So there you have it… five products you or your family have probably bought every month for the last year, and yet there was no advertising attempting to influence which brand of those products you purchased.

Yes, sometimes brands have “carry over” recognition … if you use Listerine, you may buy Listerine brand dental floss, but really? Is that your best argument? I say to that… you have much debate practice to do, friend.

I’m sure there’s been tons of research and it’s been deemed not cost effective. I’ll admit, I don’t think I’d be so influenced – but maybe. If it’s a well designed ad campaign, they may sway me from one brand over another. And I’m sure there are other people who shop differently than I do, who would be influenced.

So why not?

Contributed by: Scott Copperman (Guest Author)


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