This morning I realized my tube of coconut-shea butter-whatever lip balm had run low, so I grabbed another tube from the jumbled assortment of flavored, moisturizing, sun-screening lip balms I keep for just such emergencies. I wasn’t sure about the flavor of the tube I picked – it smells vaguely like orange sherbet – but it is emblazoned with the logo for The Glades, along with the viewing time and channel. I previously mentioned The Glades because of the ubiquitous orange advertisements on city buses in Philadelphia; it seems that the program has taken their marketing to the streets by another route and set up a promotional stand in Rittenhouse Square a few weeks ago. My partner happened to be walking through the park and picked up an orange popsicle and a few tubes of the lip balm (one of which miraculously appeared in my stash).
We’re used to lip balm mimicking the flavors of food and drinks, from the classic cherry Chapstick to the Lipsmackers Dr. Pepper-inspired stocking stuffers. With friends in the business of serving, I’ve acquired a few tubes that promote Chambord (raspberry-flavored), Dogfish Head beer (peach-flavored), and American Honey bourbon (honey-flavored). But a cursory Google search indicates that there are numerous companies that would be happy to apply the brand name and logo of any product to a lip balm flavor of your choice, so it must not be too unusual to use lip balm to promote products that are not objects of taste – such as a TV show.
There are a couple of angles here that interest me. One is that marketers for The Glades consistently promote their product by that image (and now, flavor) of oranges, an object which only relates to the show’s subject by way of association with Florida. The orange, in a sense, acts as a stand-in for Florida; it brings up all the positive associations we attribute to both oranges and Florida, such as sunniness and vitality, and when the orange is shown wounded in the promo posters we might take that to imply that Florida itself is under attack. But, as I pointed out in the previous post, the orange is also meant to be appetizing. (It’s a hard-working symbol!) Certainly the orangey lip balm and the orange popsicles are meant to create a pleasurable association with the TV show.
I wonder how well this would work for other products that don’t have such a handy food symbol available. For example, I’m working on a novel that takes place partly in Vienna; if I tried to promote it by way of small, portable, frequently-used advertisements flavored like Viennese chocolate, would that create a pleasurable association for potential readers? What would you try to sell, and what flavor would it be?