Posted in Commentary, Growing up/old

Some people just don’t understand marketing


The first thing you should know is that I have very sensitive gums. And those sensitive gums are receding in my old age in part because of inherent orthodontic issues, and in part because teeth and gums really were not prepared to live life past 40; we were all supposed to die by then, but then we discovered new-fangled things like pasteurization, hand-washing, penicillin and dental hygiene, got cocky, and began asking our bodies to operate more or less properly for twice the time they had been for millennia.  And bodies are just not up for that kind of abrupt change without at least 10,000 years’ notice, and, as a result, have a tendency to stage any number of job actions, from slowdowns to striking outright.

If you’ve started waking up sore, stiff, and possessed of mystery pains and ailments, you are experiencing this truth in all its hideous glory.

But gums. Yes…my gums are so sensitive, they write their own sad poetry and wear their bangs hanging down in their eyeteeth and cry during Folger’s commercials. And while they get along reasonably well with the toothbrushes the dentist gives me every six months when I go in for my cleaning, I replace my toothbrushes more often than that, and so I’m stuck going to the store for replacements betwixt appointments. But the toothbrushes they sell at Target lie when they are marked “soft,” bristle-wise, because when I use them, my gums feel like I took one of those wire brushes for cleaning barbecue grills to them. I do not enjoy this feeling, and furthermore, it makes me worry that I will hurry along my gum recession, thereafter my teeth will fall out of my head, and it’ll be nothing but applesauce and soup for the rest of my life, which, dog help me, will probably go considerably past the 41 years I am currently possessed of.

So at my cleaning last month, I discussed the softness disparity between the dentist’s brushes and the ones I can buy at the store with my awesome hygienist while we discussed the upcoming RATT concert (oh yes–they are evidently still going concern) in the hope, quite frankly, that she’d take pity on me and I would score more than the usual allotment of a single toothbrush. My stratagem failed utterly, in that I still only got one lousy toothbrush, in an orangeish-red color no less.

I wanted the purple one.

But I also walked out with a pamphlet that included the website where I could purchase the toothbrushes I liked, and when I got home, I ordered $40 worth of toothbrushes, enough to last me awhile. It seemed insane to me that I spent that kind of cash on something as pedestrian as toothbrushes, but my gums have thanked me every day since I stopped using the grill cleaner ones.  So there’s that.

And that would be the end of the story, except for the part where I ordered it from a website. Because I did, I get regular e-mail from GUM. Far too regular e-mail from GUM, whom I would like to shake by the shoulders now and say, “Did you not see that I just ordered two dozen toothbrushes from you, and am SET for the foreseeable future???” Evidently, they imagine me in need of new dental hygiene tools every single week, and just in case, they’re going to e-mail me weekly to check: “Do you need some now? How ’bout now? Maybe now? Maybe just a little floss? Please?”

The one that took the cake, though, was this one that arrived on Monday:


I’m well versed enough in e-commerce to expect that every single approaching holiday will fill my inbox with solicitations from every company I’ve ever ordered from, regardless of the appropriateness of their goods to the holiday being celebrated. But I’d like to know on which planet giving dental hygiene products as a gift to a new graduate or to your dad on Father’s Day is going to be well received? Best-case scenario, it will be seen as quite possibly the lamest gift since Eve offered Adam the apple. Worst-case scenario is it will offend the recipient who could reasonably understand you to be commenting on their personal cleanliness (or lack thereof). I can’t see it, and I have to wonder who in the GUM marketing department thought this was a good idea. Whoever it is, in a just world, they’d be polishing up their resumé right about now.



I've been doing some form of creative writing since 9th grade, and have been a blogger since 2003. Like most bloggers, I've quit blogging multiple times. But the words always come back, asking to be written down, and they pester me if I don't. So here we are. Thanks for reading.

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