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March 2013 Trail Head

Posted in Features on March 1, 2013
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I just got out of the shower. Like most men, I do my best thinking in the bathroom. Okay, I do almost all my thinking there. Anyway, as I was standing under the water I happened to look over and sitting on the shelf at eye level was a new bottle of fru-fru shampoo. My wife doesn’t “get haircuts.” She “goes to the salon.” Apparently, there’s a big difference. Unlike the barber shops I frequented when I had hair, salons have valet parking, snooty receptionists, and charge $200 for a wash, cut, and color. But she’s an executive-type professional and it’s her only vice. I guess if I can justify buying myself a $1,500 handgun or retaining a fleet of junk Jeeps, I can’t begrudge her a little pampering now and again. Especially since her paycheck so grossly outweighs mine.

Anyway, back to my shower. I started reading the teeny tiny $30 bottle, which said; “L’eau de Mare was inspired by a decadent summer pool party. Dressed in a white ruffled dress, flat gladiator sandals with sultry hair, there I celebrated the beauty, simplicity, and the hedonism of an intimate conversation.”

Huh? Really? WTF? No mention of benefits, side effects, or even how it smells. Hell, it didn’t even tell you to wash, rinse, and repeat. What marketing genius thought that up? Is the goal nowadays to just make things so obtuse and nonsensical that they become profound and nobody questions it? I can do that.

“This issue of Jp is inspired by the plight of the porcupine. Saddled with responsibility, prickly in disposition, destined for glory, unable to wear underpants. Is it a rodent, or just an opossum imitating a pincushion?” There, now you owe us $30 for this magazine.

I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised about the lack of truth in advertising. Just take a gander at how laughably out of touch automobile commercials are nowadays. Hyundai will have you believe its Elantra transforms the way the road feels. Come on, you’re just putting up with that vibrating pile of plastic crap to get the 40 mpg. Kia Soul commercials feature a bunch of life-size dancing hip-hop hamsters. Somebody in Korea is dropping acid. Cadillac follows a couple of guys driving a CTS-V like a race car over dangerous roads around the world. No 80-year-old retiree or 30-something Jersey Shore gold-chainer who actually buys one is gonna do that. It would be so much more refreshing if these guys just told it like it is.

It reminds me of the 1990 movie Crazy People. Didn’t see it? Dudley Moore is an advertising guy who goes off the deep end and winds up in a funny farm. Blah, blah, he and the other mental patients start writing truthful advertisements like: “The French can be annoying. Come to Greece, we’re nicer.” Or, “Volvo: They’re boxy, but they’re good.” And everybody’s favorite: “Metamucil: It helps you go to the toilet. If you don’t use it, you’ll get cancer and die.”

None of these are remotely subtle or even half-way clever. But damn if they haven’t stuck in my brain for 23 years. To this day, I can’t even look at a Volvo without thinking “…boxy, but good.” It’s kinda like the homeless guy holding a sign that reads: “Why lie, I need money for beer.” He’s always the one whose cup is overflowing with dollar bills. Further proof we appreciate hearing the truth once in a while.

I wonder what truth in advertising would look like in the wheeling world. Wanna play clever advertising executive? Got an idea for your favorite off-road vehicle, product, or activity? Send it to me at If I get enough of ’em I’ll compile them in a fun little story. And if I use yours, I’ll send you a Jp license plate and a handful of stickers. ’Cause we’re Jp …and anything else just sucks.

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