The Billion Dollar Word
By Jeffrey Dobkin
There is one word that added over a BILLION dollars in sales to an industry. One single word! And almost doubled the gross sales of an entire industry. And still does, every year. The word is… I’ll tell you in a minute, but first a short political message…
Doesn’t it bother you that we went over to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight a war? We sent thousands of troops to fight over rocks and imitation plastic replicas of thousand-year old clay vases. Clay mind you – not even gold or diamonds. Not even imitation replicas of gold or diamonds. Not even gold plate and cubic zirconium. Not even… er, never mind. What were we thinking?
We attacked the wrong country.
We should have attacked Canada. Hell, they’re just up the street. They can’t hide – look on any map – there they are, right above us. Any map.
We wouldn’t have to assemble thousands of jets and ships to get people over there, we could just walk. And the border towns could all use the business – thousand of army men and women eating at luncheonettes all along the border crossings. We could have the evenings off – catch a movie, in English, while we’re waiting for the signal to attack.
To make things easier, as if it could get any easier, we’d totally surprise them. We’d send people up there in Hawaiian shirts posed as tourists, mix in a few hippies from the 60s, and some shoebies with sandals and white socks. They’d never suspect a thing, it would just be another day in paradise.
We’d pack our soldiers lunches in brown bags, then hide all their field gear in their luggage. The Canucks would think it was tourist season. Man, they’d be happier than pigs in… well… you know. Then, one night… one night… we’d simply take over. We’d leave Montreal because they have a good hockey team. But all the rest – we’d assimilate them – like the Borg.
Resistance would be futile – for the French speaking Canucks. Ahh, French – the language of love. Certainly not the language of war. The French speaking Canadians surely would lose any war just based on their language. It iz zee language of love.
Pretty much everything said in French can be mistaken for a passage from an e. e. cummings love poem (circa 1970). Your tongue just lazily rolls around and you pucker your lips in a foo foo manner and whatever you say is French because en Francaise that’s how every sound is pronounced. You never even have to open your mouth more than just a few centimeters to speak in French. The lazy bastards.
Once we conquer Canada – which I suspect would take only a few days – we’d make some immediate changes for the better. Like, what’s up with the centimeters and millimeters as measurements. We’ll change that system to a real way to measure nuts and bolts, a man’s way: with wrenches called three-eights and nine-sixteenths. Those are men’s wrenches. Not, “Oh, could you please hand me that ten millimeter?” A real man wouldn’t be caught dead saying “Oh, can I have that 10 millimeter wrench please!” in a real garage.
Then we’d change the liquid measure back to where it should be: Quarts and pints. Not some sissy milliliter measure. “Oh, may I please have a liter of blanc de blanc…” I’ll tell you how to order a drink: “Hey man, gimme a quart of Bud, never mind the glass.” That’s how you order a drink. Never get a glass if you don’t have to – it’s just one more way you can pick up someone else’s germs.
The first thing I’d personally change is the le and la crap. Is everything in the world masculine or feminine? Is everything really in black or white? Here in America we have 64 colors – and I got a box of Crayolas right here on my desk, somewhere, that proves it. Built in sharpener, too. That’s right – I’m not cheap – I sprang for the extra big bucks for the sharpener.
In reality is it all so clearly marked? Oh, it’s a table so it’s feminine and it’s “la”. Excuse me, it’s a catalog and it’s masculine so it’s “le”. Hey, how about if it was a wrought iron table, then would it be masculine? Or if it was a catalog from Victoria’s Secret, wouldn’t it then be feminine? (I’d certainly be in favor of calling the Victoria Secret catalog “la catalog”.) Would le calendar become la calendar if it was the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar?
Come to think of it, must everything in the world be masculine or feminine? Aren’t some things neutered? How about a cat that’s spayed, does it go from la pussycat to le pussycat? Isn’t there something in between, like the cat now is? Does hair become le hair when it’s on a guy’s head and la hair when it’s on a woman’s head? And back to le hair if it’s under her arm, or her mustache? Hey, don’t blame it on me – I’ve known some French girls with mustaches.
I thought it was bad enough when I had to explain to my wife why I always wrote in the masculine gender (it’s less clunky than saying “he or she” all the time). Now, if the Canadian-French win the war with us, unlikely as it can be, we’ll have to remember if every noun in the world is le or la. That would make me fight harder.
But really, who gets to make-up all this French gender stuff? When the American’s make-up a new word, like hotrod, and it’s translated into French, is there some High French Council that says it should be masculine or feminine? Or is it the choice of the person who actually makes-up the word?
Hell, if I was making up the word, I’d use Smokey The Bear’s middle name: The. Of course, I’m as American as you can get. Born and bred in the best country on the planet – the good old USA. Got the tattoos to prove it.
So you don’t think we should attack Canada, Á?
How about if we attack Mexico? I know, I know, it’s hot down there – so we’d want to time our attack when it’s cool, like around our winter vacation. Think of how many people we’d have signing up to go? Free airfare. Warm weather. You just can’t eat the food or drink the water. Well you can, but you get sick.
But truthfully, besides tequila, what does Mexico have that we really want? I mean, do you ever look at an item and see the “Made in Mexico” sign and say, “Wow – this is unusually good quality”? In fact, have you ever seen anything made in Mexico that’s worth over ten dollars? Me neither. And to think they export their good stuff.
If you’ve ever traveled to Mexico, you know you didn’t go for the food. If you were one of the lucky ones that Montezuma didn’t seek his revenge on, you probably didn’t eat. I was in Mexico earlier this year and questioned the waiter what kind of meat was in a sandwich I was about to eat, and he just looked at me and neighed. It wasn’t that tasty and evidently not cooked as well as it should have been. It’s amazing how you can eat half a sandwich and throw up for 4 days. It must have bulked-up in my stomach. Like fiber or Metamucil.
Speaking about Metamucil, I had a friend rant and rave about how it cleared out his stomach, and how he drinks it everyday in his orange juice. Since we were in the locker room at the gym, that was a little more than I really cared to know about him or his digestive system at that time.
Man, he knew how to make a guy feel old – talking about Metamucil in the locker room at the gym. I felt like one of the old guys who plays doubles in tennis; like it’s too strenuous of a game to play singles. I told him he’s no longer allowed to talk to me about Metamucil. If we’re in the locker room, he’s gotta talk to me about the women he’s dating, how each looks in a thong, and where their tan lines end – otherwise I won’t respond. Geeze. Next thing you know he’ll be telling me about what a good BM he had a few days ago… Old people know how to have a good time: and that’s it. Oy. If I ever get that old, just shoot me.
Anyhow, I don’t think attacking Mexico is the right move. I’ve seen lot’s of fights on HBO, and those Mexicans know how to fight. Man, some of those guys are tough sombitches. I’d rather attack the French any day. Perhaps we could enlist the aid of Mexico to help us attack Canada. Nah, the Mexicans would never go back to Mexico, we have that problem already. And I don’t need another landscape guy or housekeeper. And if the war lasted more than 6 months, we’d have to issue a whole new set of green cards, causing an explosion of paperwork for the border patrol. Donut sales would go down and the economy would tank. No thanks.
Oh yea, so the Billion Dollar word (you remember, from the top of the article) is “Repeat.” Repeat is the single word that almost doubled the sales in an entire industry. That one word, standing alone. Yea, it almost doubled the sales. It was – and is – worth billions. You can find it buried in the tiny print on almost every bottle of shampoo. Wash hair thoroughly. Rinse. Repeat. Yes, it doubled the sales of shampoo.
BIO: Jeffrey Dobkin has written 5 “How-To” books on marketing, direct marketing and PR. His website is filled with “How-To” marketing articles just like this one, except with more typos and spelling errors. 610-642-1000 rings on his desk. Sign up for our mailing list, please. We need your name to sell to raise money for poor Chinese kids who live in the desert and make sneakers for the rich. I saw them on late night TV. I don’t know why the camera crew didn’t just give them a sandwich. My daughter Dani said this may be a little over the top and offend people. I’m sure you’re not offended, are you? If you are, please drop me a note and I’ll send you their address and you can send them a sandwich directly. Thanks. I read this to her, and she now says she has no further comments. Then she commented, “Dad, why don’t you just make me a sandwich instead?” So I said, “Poof. You’re a sandwich!“ She didn’t think that was funny either.