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August 7, 2009

The ‘Matrix 3’ and Other True Tales of Real, Fake Brands


I happen to shave with the Gillette Mach 3 razor. I tell you that not because I’m looking to hawk the product. I’m sure your razor is perfectly fine. So as long as you use it regularly and don’t grow one of those damn fool goatees, one brand of razor is just as good as another as far as I’m concerned.


But I’m used to the Mach 3 and, thus, quite familiar with the brand name. So imagine my reaction when I was walking through the store the other day and I came upon something called the “Matrix 3.”


“What the hell is this supposed to be?” I thought to myself. But upon close inspection, it became apparent. The so-called “Matrix 3” is the generic equivalent of the Mach 3. It’s the cheap, store-brand knockoff that you buy for a discount – and as always, you get what you pay for.


Now, I am not necessarily opposed to buying store-brand products. I actually find little difference between store-brand butter and the name brand, and the same holds true with most pasta products. So why pay a premium for a box with a logo?


But the silliest thing about store-brand products is not that they exist as a choice for the price-conscious shopper. It is, rather, the silly attempts they make to pick a brand name that sounds similar to their name-brand equivalent.


The Matrix 3 is hilarious in its own right, but nothing can ever top the store-brand equivalent of “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter”, which is, “Is It Butter?” This is wrong on so many levels. You have a fake knock-off of a product that’s fake to begin with, and the actual name of the product is a question.


“Should I eat this?”


The question answers itself.


Even so, I would like to be the guy whose job it is to think up these silly copycat brand names. Imagine the logic one would use in determining you had hit on a winner.


“Mach has something to do with really high speed, I think,” the guy thinks to himself. “Matrix is some sort of complicated collection of connections and interwoven things, or something like that. Commonality? I can’t really explain either one, and they both start with the same letter. That, my friend, is a brand name!”


OK. If you think so. I’m going to try this. There are surely many more brand names that require store-brand equivalents, and someone has to think them up. Let’s get these on the mark-down shelf:


Pepto-Dismal. It’s not quite the pink you know. It’s more puke green. But it will get your, er, system moving, if you know what I mean. You might want to clear the house before you use it, though. It’s just a suggestion. You don’t have to follow it. Actually, you really do.


Adudas. Because for you dudes who really want to wear cool-looking shoes, Adudas will have you styling. We’ll bring back the old marijuana-leaf logo, but ours will actually be on fire. And to save money, we’ll replace the shoe laces with twist-ties from the grocery store (just ask for some as you’re going through checkout), and you’ll be good to go.


DuPaint. This one practically writes itself! You can cover your whole house in DuPaint and you’ll pay far, far less. The only problem is that our green, red, blue and brown all look pretty much the same, but we got a deal from the electromagnetic spectrum and we’re passing the savings along to you.


MicroSquish. You want software? We’ve got software! And we won’t bundle it all up so you have to buy 100 products at a time. It’s a pretty good deal. Plus, you don’t need a CD to install it on your computer. You just rub the package against the screen and it should work. It almost always does. And even if it doesn’t, hey, you paid half price.


You may have ideas of your own. If you do, please e-mail them to your friends. Don’t bother me with them. I don’t care.


© 2009 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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