Listerine Insults My Intelligence

You’re in the hospital waiting for surgery, but there’s a delay. The nurse gives your family the reason for the wait: the hospital staff is scrubbing the operating room and doctor’s instruments so they’ll give you a great feeling of clean. 

“But wait,” says your sister.  “Who cares about how clean the scalpel and operating table and everything else feels?   Don’t those things exist to serve a different purpose, you know, like to create a medical benefit?”

“But we want you to be satisfied with your purchase of hospital services,” says the nurse.  “Surgery should be a pleasure.”

“But will the equipment actually be clean, or just feel clean?”

The nurse goes silent.  This wasn’t in her script.

And so it goes with Listerine’s new products.  They changed the name (got rid?) of a lot of their old “advanced” heavy-duty stuff and replaced it with new varieties that, as the advertisements go, give users an intense “feeling of clean.”

Okay, it feels good, but does it work?   I don’t remember the commercials saying too much about that.  Listerine isn’t the only dental product company to give us this feeling of clean BS.  But then, most people are too dumb to know the difference between clean and feeling of clean.  And Listerine encourages consumers to forget this distinction; why else would they name the new product Ultraclean instead of Cleaning Party? Doesn’t the name Ultraclean imply that your mouth will end up being cleaner than clean?

Being clean, in a medical sense, is a lot like being dead.  Once you’re clean or dead, you can’t get cleaner or deader.  I bet tainted pool water feels clean before you catch e. coli and die from it.   After that happens, your corpse can get cleaner but it can’t become ultradead.

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