Dear TrueNorth

March 15th, 2009 by Editor B

Dear TrueNorth,

I picked up a bag of your Pecan Almond Peanut Clusters at the store the other day, and have found them quite delicious. In fact, they are alarmingly habit-forming.

Upon examining the nutritional information on the back of the package, I was pleased to see a list of only six simple ingredients, instead of a bunch of chemicals I can’t pronounce. Well done.

However, as my eyes drifted to the right, I found my pleasure in your product somewhat diminished by the following promotional prose:

Our nut clusters are guided by these product truths.

Ack! I put it to you that nut clusters are not capable of being guided by any truths, be they “product truths” or some other less dubious form of wisdom. Nor are nut clusters capable of being led astray by falsehoods. That’s because nut clusters are not sentient, not capable of thinking and reasoning in the way that you and I are. (Though in light of your decision to run this copy, your thinking and reasoning abilities are certainly open to question.) And what the hell is a “product truth” anyway? It sounds like something an overzealous marketing student cooked up after too much organic sugar.

It is an unfortunate fact that awkward marketing phrases tend to have an effect that might best be described as the reverse of appetizing. In other words, I nearly gagged on my nut cluster.

I recommend replacing this infelicitous passage with the following:

Our truth clusters are guided by these product nuts.

It’s nonsense, but then so is the original. I think my rearrangement has a more poetic ring to it. Please contact me if you’re interested in using it. My freelance rates are quite reasonable, and I’m sure we can reach a mutually beneficial remunerative agreement in very short order.

Sincerely, respectfully, et cetera, et cetera.

8 Responses to “Dear TrueNorth”

  1. Sean Says:

    I don’t want to take sides with Frito-Lay, but I believe they are saying product truths are nut cluster facts (i.e., something true about the product). I guess these truths aren’t self-evident. However, I’m sure they didn’t think you would read it unless you were waiting for a plane, bus, or ferry. Maybe in that frame of mind it would’ve had a different impact, but it may be too late for that.

  2. LatinTeacher Says:

    I love those things! But I had not read the package carefully. I dislike marketing like that. But I do like the thinking that we just need food without unpronounceable ingredients (to prevent clumping or as a preservative).

  3. PJ Says:

    Sounds like the drunken ravings of an outraged academic.

  4. Rob Says:

    This blog is guided by these posting truths:

    1. Speeling is important.
    2. Sentences are never made for ending prepositions with.
    3. Never say anything twice that you can say once with redundancy.

  5. Wordnut Says:

    Great observation! “Product Truths” is an example of how language originated as an internal, industry term becomes so familiar to those who use it that it bleeds onto external marketing materials where it doesn’t really belong. All they really want is for you to feel good about the product you have already bought. I’m sure there is a simpler, less grandiloquent way to do that.

  6. Editor B Says:

    Wordnut: Aha. Your explanation rings true. It also helps me make sense of another reference on the package, not quoted here, to something called “natural snacking.” It’s industry-speak creeping out into the light of day.

  7. Michael Homan Says:

    My nut clusters are sentient Bart. But sadly they don’t seek truth, and often they give me bad advice.

  8. dsb nola Says:

    Is there a list of purported product truths? It’s just that I’ve been looking for a nut cluster to believe in.

    And yes, your slogan is much better. They’d be insane to not accept your charitable offer.

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