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THE PINK ERASER: WHAT IS THIS THING AGAIN? I SURE WISH IT WOULD TELL ME.

I love it when people find strange things out in the world and save them for me. It makes me feel like I have the ability to turn the crappy commercialized world into an ironic treasure hunt. And I like that.

Anyhoo, this excellent example of marketing mayhem comes courtesy of co-author Lena Webb’s eagle-eyed mother, who spotted it at a Dollar General. Her only comment in handing it to me was a look of disbelief, with which I agree 100%. It’s not every day that regular consumer goods take the time to explain themselves. I can’t remember the last time I saw a writing instrument adorned with the text, “This is a Pencil.”

But there was something else — something familiar — about this little self-identifying eraser. On further inspection, I realized what it reminds me of: an old childhood relic, the Sanford Pink Pet.

I googled Pink Pet eraser hoping, irrationally, for a Wikipedia entry. No dice. I’ll just have to rely on memory. And Amazon, where these are still available (and poorly reviewed):

I have no idea why the eraser is a ‘Pink Pet.’ Or why the other, nearly identical, eraser is called a ‘Rub Away.’ I do know that I always thought the name Pink Pet was strangely cute. It sounds like a pet rock or a Polly Pocket accessory or something.

As the Amazon reviewer notes, these are crappy, rock-hard erasers (I would add that in addition to not erasing anything, they also leave pink skidmarks all over your paper). Preliminary research indicates the same is true of the Pink Eraser, and that combined with the rubbery aroma tips the nostalgia indicator to ‘High.’ Well played, Pink Pet Knockoff.

CHECKERS: THE NEW BATCH

A few weeks ago, I found myself with a group of co-workers at 5 Below, a neo discount store where everything is under five bucks. This is the kind of place where it’s easy to blow $45 on useless stuff that probably doesn’t meet minimum import restrictions for lead. It’s also the place where I found this:

Neon! Checkers!

I love the idea of attempting to market an old game as new and fresh by… changing absolutely nothing except the color of the pieces. What was that marketing team meeting like? I imagine a group of creatives throwing around all kinds of crazy ideas: an iPhone app, a crossover with Settlers of Catan, a Justin Bieber edition, a 21+ version (the pieces are mini shot glasses), etc. etc. But no. The old guard of Milton Bradley won’t budge.

“What if,” the VP for Sales says, “we just… brightened up the color a bit?”
“Exactly!” yells the CEO. “How about if we redo it in the fresh, modern colors of a 1980s ski jacket? Now THAT would really make it pop!”

And it does. In fact, the only way this set could be better is if it were glow in the dark.

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The Flickr network has been very generous with material for Marketing Mayhem lately. Just the other day, I was minding my own business uploading some new pizza box images when this animated gif got all up in my face:

It was the last in a series of several slides advertising Ortho Tri-Cyclen Low. There were others but it moved too fast for a good screen capture.

1st thought: Dude, TMI. I like to think I’m an enlightened person overall, but I’ve definitely got a bit of a Hank Hill prudish streak when it comes to bodily fluids and the like. And seeing the phrase “Irregular Bleeding” emblazoned across my screen makes me yearn for the good old days when you knew it was an ad for a tampon or whatever because people were walking on the beach and talking about feeling “confident.”

Time-wasting link on the subject: The Museum of Menstruation.

2nd thought: Okay, it’s a little graphic for me. But it’s also kind of awesome that even in the age of free-for-all marketing of pharmaceuticals to consumers, companies are STILL required to list side effects in promotional materials. Remember the Lunesta commercials that had a serene CGI Luna moth bopping around against a pretty little lullaby? It was all mellow and stuff, but they were FORCED to end it with the voiceover dude listing like 2,000 wacky side effects, including my absolute favorite: sleep driving! Seriously, sleep driving?

Okay, that’s about as much of writing about this as I can take. How about that weather, eh?