What's on a Package?

Time for another trip into the Far, Far, Far-Out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.

Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you once again into the wondrous world of product promotion, where truth and logic are total strangers. Our guide through this morass is Consumer Reports magazine.

Let's start with an innovation on the old Made-in-the-USA label. Tisonic Inc. makes a radio cassette player for automobiles, and the package proudly bears a rendering of our U.S. flag. But, wait ... the stars on this flag are blue on a field of white. Not only are the colors reversed, but the print beneath the flag says "Made For U.S.A."—- not made in our country. Clever.

"Worrisome" is the word that might occur to you if you bought the Super Signal Booster that's supposed to juice up your radio reception. Worrisome because on its front the package brags that the Booster uses "Secret Military Technology!" and that has been a "Secret device for the military for YEARS!" Maybe so, but on the back, the package confesses: "Made in China." Worrisome.

As for logic-defying labels, how about "Chicken Noodle Vegetarian" soup? Then there's the Krylon spray paint promo that says you can turn an old end table into a like-new treasure in only "30 minutes." Go for it -— the copy explains that all you have to do is remove all hardware, strip and scrape off the old paint, sand the table, wipe it clean and prime it, sand it again, mask areas you don't want painted, apply one coat of paint, wait, then apply a second coat. I don't know ... sounds like maybe a 35 or 40 minute job to me.

This is Jim Hightower saying ... I also appreciate the label on Food Lion's apple cider vinegar, which brags: "Made from REAL APPLES!" Well, that's better than making apple cider vinegar from squirrel heads, I guess. To learn more about the murky world of advertising go to: www.consumerreports.org.

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