Unlimited* marketing reaches Infinity*

Coloured infinity symbol

Infinity: unlimited, untouchable (and shampoo-free)

The shampoo bottle was the last straw. “Touchably soft hair” it promises.  Marketing claims and brand names become ever more contrary and vacuous.  Or perhaps I’m becoming more attuned to them (not to say grumpy!).

Let’s look at a trio of my current favourites:

  1. That shampoo bottle: “Touchably soft hair”.  Touchable means “able to be touched”.  If my hair were not touchable already, how would I apply the shampoo?  Does the bottle come with an applicator for people with fearsome, untouchable hair?  No.  So the shampoo is for people who already have touchably soft hair?
  2. Unlimited mobile data:  A few months ago, I took out a phone contract promising “unlimited” data.  Hidden in the small print is an “acceptable use policy”.  Unlimited means “limitless or without bounds”, so the use of the word is entirely incompatible with any small-print restriction.  Fast forward to the present; now the telcos are rushing to hide the word “unlimited” as their definitely-not-unlimited network capacity comes under pressure from exponential mobile data growth by expectant consumers.  Why didn’t they just make the limits clear to start with?  Is “500MB per month” too abstract/complicated for consumers?  I don’t think so.  We all cope with speedometers and fuel gauges in cars, and, if we don’t already know, we soon learn that the harder/further we drive the sooner the fuel runs out.  We could easily comprehend the equivalent gauges for data – showing us how much data allowance we have left, and how quickly we’re using it up.  If people didn’t realise that video chews data faster than music, they’d soon learn.  The networks could have raised “data awareness” by ensuring users have easy access to comprehensible data gauges.  Instead, they chose to accelerate themselves into a capacity problem by burying the truth under the “unlimited” headline claims.
  3. “Infinity” broadband: Infinity is the name of the next generation, optical-fibre-based broadband offering from the UK’s former state-owned telco.  I wonder whether the marketeers behind “unlimited” also came up with “Infinity”?  Are we to believe that this new offering will be the end of the road for UK broadband advancement?  I don’t think so.  But what comes after Infinity?  Nothing, by definition.  So what would I choose as the name?  How about “Lightning”?  It has the requisite super-speed connotations and embraces the word “light” as a nod to the shiny new optical fibre underpinnings.  The products could be named Lightning 40, Lightning 100 etc., where the number denotes the speed of connection – which (barring a dictionary re-write) will never reach Infinity.  Ever.

Update 1/7/2010: Just found an interesting round-up of Broadband Britain which picks up on spurious marketing claims.

* Subject to limits

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *