Saturday, September 23, 2017
VICTORIA SILVERMAN: Wake up and smell the Shreddies

VICTORIA SILVERMAN: Wake up and smell the Shreddies

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These Shreddies have nothing to do with the breakfast cereal.

They’re underwear that filters the odours caused by breaking wind using sophisticated technology (and no, the filters are 100 per cent carbon, not tiny wheat shreddies sewn together).

In an age when scientists are developing the means to edit our genes to remove deadly diseases and computer technologists are working on Blockchain that can carry digital money and data and verify it in a way that might make accountants, auditors and bankers unnecessary, we have Shreddies.

Alas, the marketing for this innovation is somewhat predictable. The advert for the fart-fending underwear appears in glossy health magazines and shows a couple in their 20s.

The woman is a mixture of girl-next-door wholesome and super svelte. She is on all fours sniffing the bottom of a man in his Shreddies underpants, presumably having ‘let one go’ and she’s happy because the pants have successfully filtered out the odour.

Both are bronzed. The model is not protecting his six pack with a layer; his muscles are tight and rippling.

Is this couple having a problem with flatulence? Two minutes of googling will tell you that breaking wind becomes more of a problem with age, when the back passage muscles begin to lose their bite. Of course, some young people suffer with problems like IBS, but the marketing of Shreddies made me wonder who the real purchasers might be. I check out the names of the reviewers on the site selling them: Tony, Colin, Denise, Julie.

You’d be hard pushed to find those names in any sixth form today. So why do adverts pretend that everyone is young and perky, particularly for products like this? You don’t need to be Einstein to guess that Shreddies underwear is more likely to be worn by a man in his 60s, perhaps with a paunch, thinning hair and browning teeth.

Yet that type of man or woman exists nowhere on TV or in our visual lives, except for the odd-dad in the soaps. Women’s magazines drive this approach to marketing. They tell us to be authentic: to love our wrinkles, our grey hairs and our own chubby bellies.

Yet, look at the celebrities that they interview over 30, and their photos have had any emotion digitally erased.

The result is a story that reveals a person’s struggles and darkest moments, the very things that make them interesting – yet the photo editor gives us a smiling, Barbie doll plastic face.

Thank you magazines for preparing the next generation for Instagram and Snapchat, where people share their lives through images strapped into the straight jacket of perfection – something that puts pressure on young people to come across as thin and smooth, as if they don’t even fart. Still, Shreddies marketing is fun, and the company that sells them has a sense of humour.

They say: “We provide the added assurance and comfort that you need in all situations and because they look exactly like your very own ordinary knickers, no one will ever know. After all Shreddies’ motto is “fart with confidence.” I’d love to be a fly on the wall at one of their marketing meetings.

I bet finding the right way to take such an innovation to market left a few executives wondering why they personally had been assigned to the project.

All I’m saying is that perhaps one day we’ll be allowed to just be people and advertising will reflect this. We will no longer have to defy age or keep young and beautiful when we’re old, tired and as fabulous as mature wine. Now that would be a novel idea.

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VICTORIA SILVERMAN: Wake up and smell the Shreddies