Marketing 101: If you can’t think of something nice to say, say something obvious

Here in the United States, things like milk and orange juice usually come in gallons and half gallons and quarts and pints. One gallon equals 128 fluid ounces.

This is important to the story.

So’s the fact that marketers are always looking for something, anything, to distinguish their product from the competition’s, which is hard when you’re talking about a commodity like orange juice. One half-gallon of orange juice is pretty much the same as any other.

Still, if you’re in charge of selling more orange juice, you have to come up with something, so the marketing whizzes at one supermarket chain came up with this:

In case you can’t see the photo, it says “HALF GALLON,” and there’s a red balloon with the words “STILL 64 FL OZ,” which is short for “fluid ounces.”

Of course, it’s 64 ounces! It’s one-half gallon! If there are 128 ounces in a gallon, there are automatically 64 ounces in a half-gallon! This is true of the competitions’ half-gallon cartons of juice, as well.

Oh, don’t misunderstand. I bought the juice, but I didn’t buy it because there were 64 ounces of juice in the half-gallon carton.

I bought it because it was cheapest, which you’d think would be reason enough to pick one brand over another, but, as often happens in life, no one asked me.

Physics for hotel managers: How sound travels upward from a patio bar

I stayed in this hotel a couple nights ago. It was nice.

It was warm, so the patio bar on the ground floor was open, and there was live music, a guy playing guitar and singing Jimmy Buffett songs (see illustration).

My room was on the 11th floor on the opposite end of the building.

It was a business hotel on a weeknight. I think it’s safe to assume that everyone was there on business of one kind or another. I think it’s safe to assume, too, that everyone had to get up early the next morning.

OK, here’s today’s science lesson for hotel managers:

The people on the 11th floor who have to get up early can totally hear the live music on the patio bar.

Pretty weird, huh?

You’d think only the people at the patio bar could hear it, but quantum physics shows that people on the 11th floor can hear “Margaritaville,” too.

In fact, the music coming from the patio can be loud enough to make it hard for someone on the 11th floor to hear the TV. It can also be loud enough to prevent people on the 11th floor from sleeping.

I finally called the front desk and asked, “How long until the music stops?” As expected, the desk clerk said she’d speak to the patio bar’s manager, who turned down the music so that it was almost quiet enough to sleep on the 11th floor, but he cranked it up again before the guy’s big finish, suggesting that middle-aged guys who play Buffett at hotel bars think they’re a lot more awesome than they really are, but more research is needed to confirm this hypothesis.

Staying apart, to prevent the snowman apocalypse

Starbucks says, “When we’re together snowmen come to life.”

Because of this, we can never be together.

Because if we’re together, even for a moment, snowmen would come to life.

Snowmen coming to life would not be wondrous. It would be terrifying. It would be like the zombie apocalypse, only colder and worse, because if snowmen can come to life, there’s no reason they couldn’t use their mittened stick arms to create more snowmen — a magical army of icy golems that would lumber down the streets of town. Thumpety-thump-thump. Thumpety-thump-thump.

We can write. We can call. We can Skype. But we can never be together.

It’s better this way.