Free Ball-Point Pens: A Lesson in Bad Advertising

A while ago, Staples had a promotion that entitled me to a box of fifty ball-point pens. So I took them up on it and soon I had these pens all over my house. The only problem is, they don’t write. Okay, sometimes they write, but not often, and not for long. They don’t like some kinds of paper and they tend to just balk for no reason.

Now, I’m not stupid, and that means that I’m going to avoid Staples store brands for the rest of my life. From now on, every time I try to use a pen that doesn’t work, I will think of Staples. Even if the pen is someone else’s! In spite of many positive experiences over the years, they’ve convinced me that their company is run by the kind of morons who are happy to put their name on junk.

So I ordered a box of Bic Round Stic pens from Amazon.com, which is where I’m doing all my shopping these days because of Amazon Prime, which give me “free” second-day shipping if I pay $79 a year. I already bought enough stuff on Amazon that I’d save money on the deal, but it’s pretty wild that now I can buy a lens cap of a box of pens and have free shipping. I live in the country, and a trip into town is time-consuming. Hooray for mail-order!

But back to my story. So my Bic pens came in, and on the side of the box was the following statement: “Quality Promise: Bic Does Not Make Store Brands.”

What does this mean? I think it means that Staples is not the only group of idiots in charge of advertising and promotion, and that many, many companies are dissipating their customers’ goodwill by handing out inferior pens with their name on it. Why not put your competitor’s names on crummy pens, you dimwits! Or maybe pay the extra two cents and get a pen that writes.

Bic, on the other hand, makes a good-though-unpretentious pen that lives up to its motto of, “Writes first time, every time.” If I pick up a Bic pen that’s been lying around with its cap off for a few years, it usually writes perfectly. And on their boxes, they go to the trouble of distancing themselves from their so-called competition. If you buy a pen that doesn’t say “Bic” on it, they imply, you’re asking for trouble. Fair enough.

Sometimes people ask me about competition, and my answer is always, “What competition?” I think you can see why. Hardly anyone has Bic’s good sense. They’re mostly like Staples.

I Publish Books! Norton Creek Press

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Robert Plamondon
Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

Author: Robert Plamondon

Robert Plamondon has written three books, received over 30 U.S. patents, founded several businesses, and is an expert on free-range chickens. His publishing company, Norton Creek Press, is a treasure trove of the best poultry books of the last 100 years.

1 thought on “Free Ball-Point Pens: A Lesson in Bad Advertising”

  1. EJ writes:
    “Mail order is nice in some ways, but don’t you have a local option?
    It strikes me as ironic to advocate for local food yet shop at amazon.”

    I suppose I could have bought them at Staples, but that would be feeding the hand that bites me!

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