Monday, August 14, 2006

Too Much of a Good Thing

Back when I was working for the big soap company, “line extensions” were the big thing. Anything to expand your brand’s “shelf space”. The more “facings” the better. Put in aloe and call the extension “for tender skin”, for instance. Of course, every variation had to go through all the safety testing, patent clearance, trade mark clearance, legal approval of the label, ad infinitum. The one relatively easy line extension was a new size. Nothing in the product changed except the box or bottle it was in.

So we thought that getting all the approvals for king size bar of an existing soap brand would be a breeze. I practically ran – ranting and raving - to the office of the top safety guy when I received his rejection of our request for approval. When I cooled down enough to ask how he could reject a product that had been tested over and over again, he allowed how there was one more test to be run. He had assumed the answer. He told me to take off my shoe and sock. As I sensed what the test was he had in mind, I agreed to assume with him that a one pound bar of slippery soap dropped on a toe might be a hazard. I put my shoe and sock back on. I went back to my office to give marketing the bad news.

(Thank you, today’s Dilbert, for reminding me of this sad day.)


Archana said...

Interesting - that would have never occured to me (till, of course, I had dropped the soap on my foot)!

Abe Munder said...

I had no idea they budgeted toes in the mix while considering soap sizes. Now we've got to send a memo to the shampoo bottlers.

I enjoy your blog.

Abe Munder

DavidShag said...

Whenever something happens (and we all know about the lady and the hot McDonald's coffee), people sue saying "they should have known, warned us, etc." But golly gee - if the fellow could think of droping soap on one's foot - I'd say they were pretty thorough. Anyway, life is not a safe business. It was very intresting to get this peek into product development. I never thought about this before...