I popped the plastic lid off my yogurt the other day. Underneath, printed on the foil seal, was a message that said, “You deserve this.” Yes I do, I thought to myself. And I ate it up.

Yogurt isn’t the only product that’s been talking to me these days. Whenever I unwrap a cough drop, I pause for a dose of inspiration. Through a haze of congestion I read messages like, “Keep your chin up,” “Hi-five yourself,” “Get back in there champ!” and “Impress yourself today.” Some sayings may be more welcome than others when you’re coughing up a lung, but you can’t blame the folks at Halls for trying to cheer people up in their own tiny-wrapper way.

I don’t know what came first, the Halls or the Dove, but if you can’t get a boost anywhere else, do some unwrapping. Because inside your Dove wrapper you’ll find equally cheerful messages, and perhaps some relationship advice, like, “Don’t settle for a spark…light a fire instead” or, “Be your own valentine.”

If you’d prefer less advice and more relationship, Taco Bell has you covered. Because their little hot sauce packets seem to want to start something. How else would you interpret messages like, “I’m up for it if you are,” and “I’m in the mood for love.” But if that’s too subtle, how about a hot sauce packet that says, “Will you marry me?”

What’s going on here?

In a world where advertising is literally everywhere, I find it refreshing when brands communicate like humans. Sure, you could say it’s all part of their positioning strategy; to give the brand a certain personality and maybe generate some buzz. After all, it is true that googling “Dove Wrappers” turned up a number of photos of the little messages. I also wouldn’t be surprised if a few cubicle bulletin boards are adorned with inspiring foil wrappers. People do love their pithy quotes.

I know companies are tempted to fill every available brand space with hard-working messages. Marketing departments get pressure to squeeze in one more logo or tag line, or add a coupon or cross sell. On the other hand, it’s hard to prove an ROI (return on investment) for thoughtful sentiments. In fact, it has to cost marginally more for someone to come up with those little sayings. Design and printing would also cost extra.

So why?

Modern marketers have recognized that pushing products on people isn’t the answer to sustained sales and long-term brand loyalty. Marketing success happens when customers feel so good about consuming a product they want to recommend it and make it their go-to. This means you don’t just want to get the product into somebody’s hands, you want them to have a positive and memorable consumption experience. Can a little message make this happen? Not all by itself, but if it enhances the moment of unwrapping a candy or squeezing hot sauce, why not?

In a world of marketing saturation and undifferentiated products, it can be the little human touches that connect people and leave a lasting impression. Having some fun can even bring joy to employees when they’re encouraged to think of ways to delight customers. To those companies who are adding touches that give people a little break and a smile, I say, “Hi-five yourself!”

Copyright Liz Behlke 2019