I have fond memories, though my cholesterol level does not, of eating at D’Best Sandwich Shop in Boca Raton. It’s been a few years, but as I recently munched on a Miami Cuban-style cheesesteak1 my mind started wandering and I got to wondering if D’Best still existed. As I went looking for their website, I recalled a few of their regional twists on the cheesesteak, like the New York style, a New Jersey style… not to mention their incredible non-steak explosion of an entire Thanksgiving meal directly onto a bun (D’Pilgrim).
I’m clearly no stranger to marketing, but my career hasn’t yet brought me in touch with product packaging. I like packaging, and I’ve actually bought things over the years because they were nicely packaged — stuff like candy,1 Altoids Sours, some random bike part… and yes, I’ve even bought myself a few low-balance gift cards2 to keep in my this is so awesome file.
I recently found myself impressed with the cardboard packaging around the McDonald’s Premium McWrap — I should probably go ask for a clean one while they’re still available. I guess I didn’t notice when they added this item to the menu, because I ordered my first one by mistake. My annoyance at paying about double what I expected turned to intrigue about as soon as I peeked into my drive-through bag.
I probably haven’t used Winamp in a decade, but learning that it’s finally going away for good brought it back to the top of my mind this week.
Winamp wasn’t just my primary digital-music-playing-thing1 — like many people, it was the first thing I ever used to play MP3s.
Yes Junior, back then Windows Media Player was for CDs and WAV files, and iTunes didn’t exist yet.2
What made Winamp so awesome? I could devote a whole post3 to the genius of Winamp skins, and things I’ve been reading (1, 2, 3) overwhelmingly reference the classic “whip the llama’s ass” sound clip — which, in addition to being a neat little branding thing, was permanently imprinted on everyone’s memory by being the first thing that would play after installation.
Those were cool, but my favorite Winamp memory is something a little less… superficial, perhaps? It’s a short piece of writing that long ago was featured on the “About” page of winamp.com:
But from the company’s marketing alone, I could tell that rich chocolate Ovaltine was uncool. I had never drunk any — and decades later, I still haven’t — but if I ever had, I certainly wouldn’t have told anyone about it.
I’m not exactly sure why the stuff made my lame-sense tingle as a kid. Maybe because Ovaltine was named after a shape (and shapes are for little kids), or that its marketing proudly proclaimed that it was full of vitamins (like everything parents love, and kids don’t), but what I suspect it was… was a little more basic than that.
If you’re not a rapper promoting your new album — and especially if you’re a non-rapper who works in marketing — can you do us a favor and not use “drop” to mean “the date on which [my thing] is set to be released”?
I’m sorry you’ve chosen e‑mail spam or whatever the fuck you do for a living, but talking about the day your new campaign or whatever “drops” doesn’t make you sound hip or hard or whatever.
There is one acceptable use outside the rap game: are you a pregnant woman discussing the date your kid is due to be born? Then that’s… actually totally cool.
Netflix has me trained pretty well — I know never to read the red envelopes that show up at my place. These days, the flip side is always a promo for some exclusive original series I don’t care about. House of Cards is amazing? That’s wonderful; let me know when I can actually stream some goddamn movies, okay?
That’s why I was surprised when tonight’s Netflix envelopes actually managed to catch my eye. On my way back from the mailbox I found both cleverly emblazoned with different life tips from movie moms. Tonight’s haul came wrapped in choice bits of Forrest Gump and Brave — timely for Mother’s Day and all that.
I wonder how many designs there actually are in the series — I’m guessing far fewer than the hundreds the numbering system seems to suggest. I’ll be looking for more in a few days.
That’s actually pretty sweet of them. I’ll… be sure to let mom know.