OPINION1 June 2009

The Diary

Big dippers, comfy kippers and nul point for Norway.

Sticky fingers
Once again, research is being blamed for a much-loved product being tinkered with. This time it’s that classic children’s sweetie the Sherbet Fountain, which, since time immemorial (well, 1925 ) has been packaged in a cardboard tube. But Tangerine Confectionery has announced that “extensive customer research” has led it to change to a resealable plastic tube instead. The loss of the old packaging, with its delightful way of going soggy with saliva in your hands, prompted predictable moans of ‘killjoy’ from the tabloids, but Diary will be interested to see if anyone in the general public actually gives two hoots either way. Sherbet Fountain follows in the footsteps of Coco Pops (rebranded to Choco Krispies, then unrebranded), Ask Jeeves (rebranded to Ask.com, then unrebranded) and Wispa (back by popular demand) – u-turns which must either result from shoddy research or highly effective research showing that constant tinkering is a great way to get attention.

Blankets are ok, but…
If you don’t know what a Snuggie is yet, please take the time to enjoy this fantastic infomercial: snurl.com/snuggie. Basically, it’s a blanket… with sleeves. For only $14.95. It’s been a huge hit, and admirers are calling it a triumph of NPD research. It has to be said, if you’d conducted a survey in the Research newsroom asking ‘Have you ever wanted a blanket with sleeves?’ you’d have got laughed at quite a lot. The question that really needed to be asked was ‘Have you ever wanted to keep cosy and warm while also operating your laptop and impersonating a wizard?’.

Eternally yours
The prize for research-based headline of the month goes to news agency DPA for: ‘One in 10 Germans wants to live for ever’. The article presents the figure from an Emnid survey as “only one in ten”, but with a population of 82 million that’s still 8.2 million immortal Germans. And rising, of course. Having said that, the survey found more people who said they’d like to live to 70 than people who said they wanted eternal life. Diary doesn’t know who this survey was conducted for, but there’s only one organisation we can think of whose central proposition involves eternal life – and we’ll be impressed if they can pull off a repositioning exercise like this without alienating their core market.

20:20 hindsight
Cint predicted that Norway would win this year’s Eurovision Song Contest. The funny thing is, the firm’s statement arrived on 20 May 2009, which we couldn’t help but notice was a full four days after Norway won the contest. So we’d like to make a few predictions of our own: Barack Obama to win the US presidency in 2008, the Titanic to sink in 1912, and Normans to invade England in 1066. Three out of three. And we didn’t even do a survey.