“I don’t know why I did it. I don’t know why I enjoyed it. And I don’t know why I’ll do it again.” – Bart Simpson
Shitty, unimaginative marketers have long taken advantage of the idea of “collecting”. The basic premise is simple enough: you create a group of things, and all but dare people to spend money getting them all. The more they get, the better for you. It’s simple, easy and profitable; and on some level it even makes sense, e.g. all the players on a Major League roster, or all the main characters from a Star Trek series.
Not surprisingly, the marketing jackasses behind Simpsons merchandise are big fans of this idea. For example, should you find yourself at Comic-Con this weekend, you can get an “exclusive” Lard Lad figurine, amongst other FOX intellectual properties. I see press releases and news posts all the time touting Set X of Characters Y from Company Z. However, profiting from people’s desire for completeness, exploiting that urge to have the entire set, can cross over from simple exploitation into an unthinking reflex. If you give a lab rat a treat every time he presses a lever, he’s going to press that fucking lever until his arm falls off.
It is in that context that one must appreciate this most recent example of Simpsons merchandise. These are Simpsons cookies. From the looks of things they appear to be some variety of short bread, no big deal there. But take a look at the packaging and you’ll see the addict’s word “collect”. Indeed, every package comes with one of thirty(!) “MEGA MAGNETS” “to collect”. As you can see from the photo at right, at about two inches long there is nothing at all “mega” about them. In fact, the word “mega” has been so ill applied here that one has to wonder whether or not they are even magnets.
The urge to conjure something collectable has become borderline pathological for the people behind Simpsons merchandise. How else can one explain using the cudgel of collectability to sell a few extra packages of a perishable foodstuff? In different circumstances, this kind of monomaniacal focus would be grounds for psychiatric medical treatment; here, however, we’ll have to content ourselves with a hearty round of pointing and laughing from the internet peanut gallery.
Ease down, fellas, for your own sake. I’m sure you have plenty of other tricks up your sleeve when it comes to conning people into thinking a drawing on the package makes something valuable, why not use another one for a change?