Can't You Just Feel the Dove.

As part of my healthy eating regiment I was encouraged to incorporate dark chocolate (some regiment huh?) into my diet because of their natural anti-oxidants, and because sweets can signal the brain that a meal is over. This made perfect sense to me and I was eager to make the inclusion into my dietary rotation. Further research indicated that Dove, brand dark chocolate was the best choice given it's natural ingredients and high anti-oxidants levels. Ever obedient, on my next visit to the grocery store I tossed a bag into my cart, and following my evening meal, I downed a couple pieces (actually, it was closer to seven or eight before my brain actually caught on). As I threw the wrappers in the trash, I noticed that there were words written on the inside of the foil which, like fortune cookies, formed little phrases called "Promise Messages. However, unlike the stoic incites and vague innuendo of happy outcomes found in the fortune cookie, these Promise Messages sounded closer to the scripted advice of a self-help guru using local, cable access to reach audiences with his late-night guarantee of personal fulfilment for the low, low price of only $19.95 plus tax.

It's obvious that some evil marketing genius concocted this scheme, whereby consumers are drugged with a double dose of endorphins as the brain is injected with the sweet, high of personal validation in conjunction with the sugary rush contained in a rich, dark chocolaty treat. But not everyone can feel the "Dove." Apparently, years of exposure to Baptist legalism in my childhood has rendered me virtually immune to anything allowing me to feel good about myself (this includes candy, which is why Trick-or-Treating is a sin).

This resistance to marketing-induced, self-esteem, I've been told, can also result in a noticeable rash, spontaneous twitching and an uncontrollable urge to laugh your head off, which I do often when reading these wrappers. Upon seeing this reaction for the first time, my fiancee figured I had finally cracked up over the strain of being so... so... well, the stain of some extremely positive trait I possess, but that's not the point here. Recognizing her bewilderment, I showed her my "Dove-ly" little message, to which she started laughing hysterically as well. Since then, we've started saving our wrappers, and now with the bag of chocolates gone I've gathered our collection to share these bits of joy with you here.

- Follow your instincts.
- If they can do it, you know you can.
- It's definitely a bubble-bath day.
(my personal favorite)
- There's a time for compromise... it's called "later."
- Count the stars.
- Sometimes one smile means more than a dozen roses.
- Live your dreams.
- Send a love letter this week.
- Flirting is mandatory.
- Don't think about it so much.
- Age is nothing but a number.
- When two hearts race, both win.
- Keep the promises you make to yourself.
- Watch reruns, they replay your memories.
- Temptation is fun... giving in is even better.
- Hey, why not?
- Be mischievous. It feels good.

If you are one of those who laughed until your sides ached because the concept of grace eludes you, or you didn't laugh at all because this really isn't funny, then take a moment and re-read the list. Note how enabling these Promise Messages can be. I noticed this a while back, and it actually disturbed me enough that I wrote the Mars Corporation (makers of Dove) a letter recommending they include a disclaimer on their packages. This warning would advise buyers that Dove chocolate and the suggestions found in the Promise Messages are not intended for the following people: Anyone convicted of murder or serious crime; those accused or guilty of sexual harassment; individuals with the repressed memories of a traumatic past; anyone diagnosed with mental illness, multiple personalty disorder or psychotic tendencies; anyone having a restraining order filled against in the past five years; those recovering from an alcohol, drug or gambling addiction; cannibals; and those with an allergic reaction to bubble bath products.

As part of my recommendation I also suggested an alternative possibility of changing from their broad-base theme in Promises Messages to one with a more selective reach. With this approach, I reasoned, they could use criteria to establish individual groups to whom they could communicate a targeted messages of Dove that would make consumers feel even more special about themselves. For instance, practical-minded individuals would find Promise Messages saying things like, "Change your oil at 40,000 miles, not the dealer-recommended 30 because listening to yourself saves money," or, "Buying extra canned goods will make you feel smart when unexpected disaster strikes." Choco-holics in the "Active Adult" category could enjoy such golden nuggets as, "Go ahead and fart. No one will say anything because it's cute at your age," and, "They don't visit because they realized you were right in saying they'd never amount to anything." Not wanting to alienate the "Pre-Adult" demographic, the company could include messages of consolation such as, "Wear more black because they'll never understand you," and, "Grab it, Mom shouldn't have left that 20 laying there."

Although I really liked this targeted concept, my experience on the big-time corporate playground halted my hair-brained notion with the realization that such an idea was simply not "cost-effective." Recognizing the impracticality of such a strategy, and not wanting to damage the credibility of my message with the executives at Mars, I re-drafted a list of suggested Promise Messages that, I believed, would resonate with an even broader base of consumers than does the current one now (a disclaimer would still apply, however.) And so, I submitted this final list of "warm and fuzzies"

- Don't you think you've really had enough.
- Dodge, deny and deflect. It doesn't have to be your fault.
- I know what you did. Don't make me tell.
- Drink from the jug, nobody's around.
- It's ok, everyone takes office supplies.
- Fake a disability! You get free money and a parking tag.
- There's no such thing as "too much information."
- Switching price tags is just being thrifty.
- You're not fooling anyone.
- Try harder, no one's going to recognize the effort.
- Don't feel bad. It was her turn to pick up the kids.
- Ignore it and someone else will take care of it.
- It's always the right thing to do if you can get away with it.
- It's ok. You can quit anytime.
- They've already had a full life, now it's your turn.
- If they loved their cat so much they would've kept it inside.
- Depression is an excuse. Just take the pills!
- Recreational drugs aren't a big deal.
- Go ahead, he's a jerk anyway.

I sent this proposal off several weeks ago and I have to admit I'm anxious to receive the company's response, which I am sure to get. In the mean time, I will continue to eat Dove chocolate and laugh hysterically at their Promise Messages while I sit here watching television at 1am in an attempt to put my life back together for a reasonable price if I act now.

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