The Dear Abby of cough drops

November 30, 2011 – Philosophical advice seems to come at us from all angles these days.

Cadbury Adams, the makers of Halls, which I’ve been popping since catching a cold over Thanksgiving weekend, now wraps their cough drops with inspirational messages that they refer to as a “pep talk in every drop.” Messages like “Keep your chin up”, “You’ve gotten through worse”, “Tough is your middle name”, and “March forward!” adorn each individual cough drop to help keep my attitude positive so I can fight off my cold. While I find these little messages amusing, the jury is still out on whether this remedy works.

Inspirational messages on consumer products are nothing new. Dove chocolates have been wrapping their sumptuous Promises line in heartfelt messages for years, with gems of wisdom that tout “Temptation is fun … giving in is even better” or “Sometimes a smile can mean more than a dozen roses.” These decadent messages go hand in hand with the chocolate experience, and may even add a little boost to your day.

Similarly, the makers of Snapple communicate to their customers by placing messages on their bottle caps. Of course, you need a good pair of reading glasses to see the fine print on the cap, and Snapple messages tend to gravitate to trivia and interesting facts, rather than philosophy.

Speaking of philosophy, I’ve saved my favorite for last. The brand name Philosophy takes inspirational messages to the next level, and perhaps does the best job of all. If you’re not familiar, Philosophy is a skin care brand that believes in miracles, and names their products accordingly. I use products from their line with names like miracle, grace, hope, purity and joy. Each product comes complete with its own message in a bottle, such as, “When we walk in gratitude for each and every moment, we empower ourselves by empowering our spirits,” or “When it comes to love you need not fall but rather surrender.” A bit mushy perhaps, yet I keep coming back for more.

Are we a generation so starved for inspiration that we’re willing to take it from the consumer products we buy? Or have marketers simply found a smarter way to make us believe we need these products to do whatever it is they promise to do, and to nourish our spirits?

Can’t imagine what Socrates would have thought of that.

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