The latest news about bottled water reminds me of something we ought to remember from time to time. Americans know how to sell.
Consider how we sell professional baseball. And college and pro football.
By the time they reach you these sports are as packaged as your Corn Flakes. Their rules have been written by business guys to suit business. The business guys control everything. From how the game is played to how it is reported. You don’t think the announcers have any leeway, do you? They are bought and scripted - and silenced sometimes - by the guys who own the “sport.”
The games are sandwiched between blizzards of commercials. They even contain artificial time-outs to allow for more commercials.
This is 100 percent business. Steroids? Scandals? Brush them under the carpet and line up the next bank of advertising.
In spite of this, most sports fans think they are watching sports. And newspapers fill pages with news about this business, as if it was sport. Why? Because Americans know how to sell. In this instance, they sell “sports.” Correction. They sell business. And tell the fans it’s sports. And the fans lap it up.
Other examples of our talents as sales people? How about celebrity. We can package a freak like Michael Jackson and sell him for tens of millions of bucks. He is a walking side-show. Complete with his obsession for sleeping with little boys. And his obsession for facial surgery. And skin whitening.
Most parents would panic if Michael moved onto their street. Yet they buy him. They buy his music. They buy tickets to his shows. Why? Because the business guys are so adept at packaging and marketing Michael.
We buy the films and shows of a chorus line of drug-besotted sluts. And the studs who romp with them. By the millions we await the next lurid revelations on them. Why? Because their agents and managers and media companies have sold them to us. They engineer brilliant marketing campaigns.
Lord help us if Osama ever signs up as one of their clients. Maybe he already has.
Look at professional wrestling. That’s the message we’ve been sold. And millions of us have bought that message. We watch this soap opera in a ring and call it “sport.” It is more scripted than a Shakespeare performance. Why do we buy it? Because pro wrestling business guys have packaged and sold it to us.
Here is how good they are at selling: Two weeks ago millions of fans rejoiced at the announcement that pro wrestling was tackling the problem of steroids in wrestling.
Now do we care if Sylvester Stallone takes steroids to bulk up for his latest flick? (Rocky XV. He wipes out his nursing home enemies.) Of course not. Movies ain’t sports. And wrestling is? G’wan, say that with a straight face.
Anyway, the news about water reminded me of how good we are at selling.
We have managed to sell the idea that water in a bottle is Nirvana. In fact, there is even a bottled water brand of that name.
Here is how good we are at selling: Bottled water sales grew by 1625 per cent since 1976.
We got glacier water, Fiji water, Irish water, Polish water. We got water from mystical springs, from caves, from mountain streams. And from taps. Yes, up to 40 percent of our bottled water comes from faucets. But you have to read that fine print. Pepsi and Coke sell us tap water in bottles. And you know THEY know how to sell.
The news lately reveals that lots of tests tell us most of the bottled water is no cleaner or healthier than our tap water. Lots of it is far less healthy than tap water. Blind tests tell us most of us cannot taste the difference.
We pay more for the water than we pay for gas. Millions believe they will perish if they dare to sip anything but the bottled stuff. We insist our pets drink only bottled water. Millions of greens insist on bottled water from afar. Even though the bottling and shipping burns the oil they tell us is too precious to waste. And the bottles fill up our oceans, lakes and dumps.
Why have so many of us got into this silly habit? Phenomenal selling job. And if sales slow down we’ll probably see water from Michael Jackson’s springs, filtered through Lindsay Lohan’s panty hose. And folks will buy it. Because we’re so good at selling stuff.
I’m telling you, we could package up garbage and sell it as....as...
Oops. I wasn’t planning to write about politicians this column.
From Tom ... as in Morgan.
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