Episode 368: The Crisis of Infinite Mr. Cleans

The overthinkers tackle narrative as marketing, and why you should never, ever believe “Our Story.”

otip-logo-podcastonePeter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink comma placement, municipal signage, advertising that bears no resemblance to the product advertised, heteroglossic discourse in scripture, marketing, and literature, and “Our Story.”


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13 Comments on “Episode 368: The Crisis of Infinite Mr. Cleans”

  1. Nat #

    I listened to this episode while cleaning, as I also like to spend time with my cool smart internet friends, but if a burly Yul Brynner genie appeared, I would have been much happier


  2. Ben Adams OTI Staff #

    I particularly enjoyed the (obviously unrealistic) speculation about what would happen if a beloved literary character were taken and turned into a bad guy decades after the fact…..


  3. Liz #

    This made me think of Sargento cheese marketing. I liked this cheese before I saw the commercials because it had (what I thought was) that quality of authenticity. Then I saw the commercial with the family talking about how it’s real cheese compared to other sliced cheeses. It’s still sliced cheese and I’m sure it’s not hand sliced. At all. Somewhat if not completely disconcerting. It made me like the cheese less, actually. After seeing the commercial, I choose cheaper sliced cheeses if not a bulk block of cheese I can slice myself. Out of all of the shows I’ve listened to, which is a handful (if I had three hands), this was my favorite! Thank you so much. I think there are two blue moons this month. I believe it is MillerCoors (on the Blue Moon buyout company) because I double checked. Initially I thought it was Anheuser-Busch that bought out Blue Moon. Thank you again.


  4. Carl Ballard #

    The Cap’n Crunch bit made me think of Oops! All Berries, the Crunchberry cereal. It seems like they tacked a fake story of the kind that Matt talked about to their fake sea cap’n. The story is something like in the Crunchberry factory a horrible mistake, instead of leading to a maiming, poisoning the food, or just having to throw out their batch, lead instead to the creation of a new cereal. You would think the FDA or some other body would get involved, but no. It seems at least a step further than just having the mascot. But maybe when you’re advertising to kids, being perfectly up front isn’t the point.


  5. Count Spatula #

    Someone stuck a note to our office shredder that seems to bring together Pete’s comma problem and Matt’s sign problem, so I thought I’d share: http://imgur.com/J5QrepL


  6. An Inside Joke #

    Well actually, canonically the Boxcar children’s boxcar really was in their backyard of a mansion. They only lived in the boxcar for the first book, after which they were adopted by their wealthy, kindly uncle who pulled the boxcar into his backyard so the children could play in their boxcar.


  7. Daniel #

    I wasn’t able to download this episode, I just got a 68.3kb file which did nothing…


    • Matthew Wrather OTI Staff #

      Hi, Daniel — We’ve had some reports of problems with the file for this episode. You can try deleting it, refreshing the feed, and re-downloading in your podcast app; that’s solved the problem for many people who’ve asked. Alternatively, you can download or stream the whole thing on this page.

      Sorry about that!


  8. Stokes OTI Staff #

    Sometimes “our story” makes me roll my eyes reflexively, but — I’m a little ashamed to admit this — sometimes it doesn’t. Like, when I see financial companies offering their story, I throw up in my mouth a little. But for beer, unless I know damn well that the brand in question is a Budweiser imprint, I tend to read “our story” happily, and more or less believe it. Same for ice cream: I know, and believe, and to a certain degree still care about the Ben & Jerry’s story, even though they finally sold the company. Or restaurants: if there’s a little flavor text on your menu about how you left a lucrative wall street job to pursue your dream of making waffles, I am happy to read it.

    Can anyone else relate to this? What do you think separates the companies that are allowed to have story from the ones that aren’t? (It’s not just that they’re food.)


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