Manufacturing Want

I don’t know if anyone has heard about Colgate Wisp, but it’s all the rage now (actually, I just heard of it about fifteen minutes ago, I have no evidence that anyone even owns one).

Now, for those of you who don’t know what it is and don’t have time to investigate the website as thoroughly as I did, the Wisp is a portable, disposable miniature toothbrush. It has a “freshening bead” so there is no need for toothpaste or water. You can get a four-pack for about $3 or 16 for $8. It promises fresh breath, anytime.

I find a product like this fascinating. We, as a species, have survived for millennia without this, and yet here it is. Am I alone in having NEVER, not even once, felt the need to “brush on the go”? Is this secretly a desire everyone else has felt?—Man, I really need to brush my teeth. Too bad it’s the middle of the day and I am literally MILES from my normal toothbrush. If only there were some product that I could fit in my pocket for instant and portable fresh breath—that wasn’t gum or a mint or something like that.

The other thing I find surprising is how trendy they make the Wisp appear in the commercial above.

I don’t get this advertising angle at all. Do they honestly expect me to believe that it is “cool” or “hip” to carry around a tiny toothbrush when you go clubbing? It’s kind of like McDonald’s advertising its chicken biscuit by saying, “Let’s hear it for nonconformity” (at least McDonald’s has since embraced conformity).

As far as I know, there is no dental crisis occurring in this country because people aren’t brushing (without water or toothpaste) “anytime, anywhere” or because dental hygiene is plagued with an “uncool” stigma. Our lives would persist entirely unaffected without the Wisp; we wouldn’t take to the streets because a normal toothbrush just isn’t convenient enough. But the real goal of Colgate’s Wisp isn’t making something that fulfills a need, it’s creating the need in the first place. 

6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by lawgorrhea on June 10, 2009 at 7:59 PM

    I don’t know, John. That commercial was pretty convincing.

    Reply

  2. the angle the wisp should take is – going home with a real hunk tonight but you have stale beer breath? no worries! use this little portable toothbrush inconspicuously in the bar/club/your friend’s basement’s bathroom and at least you’ll know your breath isn’t to blame when he dumps you the next morning.

    Reply

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