by Amy Zidell
First published on-line 7.01.96 on an e-zine that is no longer in operation.
I'm not sure who to thank for the colorful appellations given to nail polishes, paint colors, crayons, bond paper and other products, but I imagine they sit busily in secretive little offices thinking a minimum of forty hours a week. I wonder if these small stealth offices impact the work these equally private people do. Probably. Fanciful, unusual names can be fun. They're harmless, but, what about product names that don't make sense or make too much sense?
Here's what I mean: I saw an advertisement for a product called "Clear Blue Easy." Sounds pleasant. Has a nice ring to it. Makes me think happy fresh thoughts. The name reminds me of the movie title "The Big Easy" -- 'Easy' referring to Louisiana. Perhaps this "Clear Blue Easy" is a refreshing new beverage from the New Orleans state.
The truth: "Clear Blue Easy" is a pregnancy test. Oh. When they demonstrate such products on television -- I've never seen an in-store demonstration at the local supermarket by the way -- it appears that test takers need to look at a small strip, section, or spot to see if a color change takes place. I imagine this could be difficult, especially in low light.
I think the point the product namers were going for here is the fact this test is Clear, Blue, and Easy -- kind of makes you want to go out and take a test whether you might be pregnant or not. Now while these people in their small clandestine offices worked their little adjectival hearts out describing their product, could they not have also, in a small way, described their customer? Inadvertent irony or result of a bored employee's curiosity if anyone would catch the double entendre? Who knows? It could all be part of bigger campaign. "If you're not easy you won't need this, but, if you are, you'll be glad to know it's easy, easy like you." It could happen. Or, "If you feel queasy why not try something easy?" Maybe, "It's hard to get home when you don't know where you woke up. That's why we made this so easy." It is possible the name's been toned down from an earlier version, "Clear Blue Sleazy."
I'm sure many of you are now wondering, "What kind of a warped mind would think of something like that?" Well people have been trying to figure that out for years, but let's look at the options and their implications. "Clear Blue Simple," doesn't have nearly the zap the actual name has, plus 'Simple' is not a flattering characterization. I think most women would much prefer to be easy than simple if they had a choice. Then there's "Clear Blue Visible." Well, if you're already showing you really don't need the test anymore.
Clearly this blue and easy test is not the only one out there sending mixed messages. What about "First Response?" Does that refer to the response after finding out the test results -- panic, joy, happiness, despair? Or does that relate to the response that lead to the test being taken in the first place? "He's really cute," "Okay I'll have another drink," "Um, why not?"
"First Response"-- it sounds familiar. Come to think of it my parents have a "First Response" fire extinguisher at their home. I didn't know pregnancy tests could fight fires. How do you direct the stream? Can anyone say singed? Ouch!
Is this a one time only deal? What about people who use "First Response" the second time? It's the only test I've seen that beckons for a second opinion. What's this "First" business anyway? There's more? Is there a second, third and fourth response too? Maybe it's just the beginning of a complete pregnancy, prenatal, child care system. You think it's that unlikely? Today spray paint passes for hair replacement.
Compared to what's on the shelves right now I'm surprised "Let's See," "Maybe: Maybe you are, maybe you're not," or "The Answer Is...," aren't stockpiled up there along with the rest of them. It's just a matter of time. Hey--that's not half bad.
[DISCLAIMER: The above was based on observations of someone watching TV very late. No negative implication should be made about people taking pregnancy tests, especially tests with the word 'easy' in the name. The observations made in this article are for entertainment purposes only. Intentional misuse of this material is specifically forbidden by a law somewhere.]
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