More Tek Freak


Nobody Wants to Talk About Mustard
by David Spark
Axcess, December, 1997

Over a period of five months, The Dijoinnaise Talk Shop (www.dijoinnaise.com), an online bulletin board focused on the discussion of the mustard-mayonnaise condiment Dijoinnaise has collected a total of 23 outside messages. That number averages to a little over one message per week. Why so little discussion about Dijoinnaise?


Seems easy enough? You didn’t need me to tell you that now did you? Well, believe it or not, there are many companies with far too much disposable income that simply refuse to accept the basic fact that a person’s interest in a consumer product like Dijoinnaise that has zero learning curve ends with consumption.

Sandwich good, no more data needed. Time to move on. Good luck trying to convince the brand managers at Mustard, Inc. They’re not stupid. They’ve read an Internet article in Newsweek without moving their lips. They know that a web presence is necessary for them to survive in our new information economy. Could all this "Next Generation" media hype cloud a brand manager’s ability to conduct basic market research on his or her own product? If nobody wanted information about it before the proliferation of the web, what makes them think they want it now?

Open your desk, fridge, medicine or liquor cabinet and take note. Chances are you’ve heard of all the products mentioned in this article. Probably used most of them. But I’m making an educated guess that you’ve never visited their web sites. You know who visits the Pilot Pen web site? Pilot Pen employees and their families. What’s the point? They’re already getting free samples.

Recognition Factor is Not Reason Enough

When it comes to achieving an Internet presence ego rules an advertiser’s judgment. Watch as ‘Net mania causes a successful businessperson to completely dismiss basic marketing rationale.

No Internet Skills Needed
If to be able to intelligently advertise on TV you must know and watch it, how come Internet use and knowledge is not a prerequisite for Internet advertising?

The Irresponsibility Scale
Advertisers’ spending is based on finding the most cost efficient way to reach an audience. If the Dijoinnaise site reaches five people a month in its discussion group and averages a cost of sixty thousand dollars a year, then that’s only costing them a mere thousand dollars per person. Makes the Super Bowl look like a bargain. But in the advertiser’s defense, their research shows that those five people are really heavy mustard users.

Who Cares What the Customers Want
According to a recent Gartner Group report, 90 percent of organizations surveyed created their company Web sites without ever consulting their customers as to what they’d like to see on those sites.

Animation is Not a Draw
Although every successful website is based on usefulness and not trendiness, every consumer product web site still showcases flashy and pointless Shockwave and Java applets. In 1997, even online, Pong isn’t going to hold anybody’s attention.

mustpic.jpg (10799 bytes)Not Everybody Needs to Be on the Internet

Message to corporate execs of consumer products: try to keep your work and the product you’re selling in perspective. To you, soap is responsible for supplying you with a house, car, and food on the table. To the rest of us, it keeps us clean.

Can’t handle the call volume on the Crest 1-800 question and comment line? Don’t expect a Crest web site to alleviate the pressure. You can safely assume that anyone who needs to be talked through the process of where to squeeze a tube of toothpaste is not going to be a core Internet user.

C’mon Dad, Everybody Else is Doing It

The corporate peer pressure has hit its breaking point. Although there’s no rationale beyond "everybody else is doing it," corporations are forcing themselves to create a "web presence" even though they foresee no return on their investment. Don’t they realize that there are 12-year-old kids developing web sites that cost nothing yet attract more traffic than their corporate web site? Internet mania has transformed grown adults into immature children. It’s as if they’ve fallen into some body switching Freaky Friday movie.

How to write your own Internet article:

  1. Pull any news story about the hysteria of last year’s Christmas gift buying season.
  2. Load it into your computer.
  3. Issue the find and replace command and change any mention of "Tickle Me Elmo" to "web site."

Prior to being your illustrious "Tek Freak," I used to work at an advertising agency and happen to be privy to the early development of two of the sites mentioned in this column. What’s amazing about being around a group of advertising execs is that since they’re all so obsessed with stroking each other ego’s, nobody’s willing to stand up and say, "Hey, you’re all so unbelievably wrong!" I’m ashamed to say I was one of those people. Luckily for my fellow Axcess readers, I changed.


Re: Zima
A Zima FAQ that disturbingly misses the most commonly asked Zima question: "How come drinking is supposed to be cool, yet Zima isn’t?"

Click the Zima banner and there’s a warning that states that you can’t drink Zima unless you’re 21. I’m not sure if that’s a legal disclaimer or just simply good advice. Still, I’m dying to meet the person who first learns about the legal drinking age from the Zima web site.

Open the fridge to download sounds, icons and two whole images. I’m not a Zima drinker, but if I were I think my relationship with that mildly alcoholic ginger ale would end with my trip to the men’s room.

Cuervo Gold Untamed Spirit

The Cuervo Gold online bulletin board has an authorization process that can be bypassed simply by hitting Cancel. Might want to think twice before hiring their web developers to design your secure (?) e-commerce web site.

The Republic of Cuervo Gold
Just a little trick the web developers like to play on their alcoholic consumers by making them think there is such a country.

Played the J.C. Roadhog low brain usage video game and my score made the top 10 list. Hurry, there’s room for just nine more.

Learn how to do body shots off your partner’s stomach - lick, salt, lick, shoot, and then bite the lime. And for those of you about to shampoo your hair - lather, rinse, repeat.

Vidal Sassoon Academy (www.vidalsassoon.com)

Find the Vidal Sassoon Salon closest to you. Designed for those people who never learned the alphabet and can’t afford a free copy of the Yellow Pages.

Check out Styles and Trends to see four photos of new hairstyles. That variation can also be accomplished by looking around your office or poking your head out the window.

Get hair tips from Paul in "This Week’s Secret." Someone might want to explain to Paul that a week lasts only seven days, not indefinitely.

I’m assuming there’s plenty more to come due to the proliferation of "Under Construction" signs. Cross your fingers.

Old Spice

Answers all your deodorant related questions except, "How come the people in my office refuse to use it?"

The Old Spice Challenge
Wipe that stick under your arm and get ready for adventure. Unaware that there are already over 20,000 electronic newsgroups on subjects far more interesting than deodorant, Old Spice wants you to share your armpit stories of adventure with the rest of the world. If you find yourself relating "personal deodorant challenges" with fellow Old Spice users maybe it’s time to seek some professional help.

Do you consider a story of some guy biking down a mountain a "challenge or a sure thing?" This question is Old Spice’s answer to an online game.


Schick knows its market. Why go to nba.com when Schick’s web site’s got unaccredited NBA rookie coverage?

Learn all about Schick’s products, or just go to the drug store and buy it.

Ralph Lauren Fragrances (www.ralphlaurenfragrance.com)

The Pulse
an episodic web soap. Mr. Lauren is obviously not aware that "The Spot" filed chapter 11.

Odorless live chat
If you can send video and sound electronically, how come you can’t send fragrances?


Couldn’t find the answer to the most commonly asked question, "Who’s the prick that came up with the name?"

The Smucker’s Jelly Quiz
The only test you’ll ever take that you don’t care if you fail.

Pilot Pen

Understanding that the average pen consumer’s life is void of advertisements, Pilot execs thought their users would be eager to spend six minutes downloading a 1 megabyte 30 second Pilot Pen commercial. How thoughtful.

Home of the only online slot machine in America where it’s impossible to lose.

The FAPQ (Frequently Asked Pen Questions) answers the question, "How do I operate my Vanishing Point Pen?" Which begs the next question, "If you’re able to get connected online, how come you can’t figure out how to operate a pen?" Still searching for answers to "Who keeps chewing all my pens?" and "How come I keep losing all my pens?"


What’s the point? In cyberspace nobody can smell your breath.

1997, David Spark

PC Computing
Internet Underground
Second City
Live Marketing
American Comedy Network
Yahoo! Internet Life
And the Rest...
I Didn't Write For...

Copyright 1995-2000, David Spark