At last look, the flesh of a banana is a warm, pale, off-white. Banana ice cream is dark yellow. I understand that the marketers would want the packaging to incorporate a strong yellow to identify the ice cream flavour with a yellow banana. However, once I have bought the product, do I need to see the ice cream as dark yellow? It’s not that I need to think the ice cream was made from the skin. Surely I’d want to eat something the colour of the food part of the banana, not the skin I throw away. And I don’t think I’d have that much trouble distinguishing the banana ice cream from vanilla bean ice cream as to need the banana ice cream to be that deep a yellow. I have a label on the container for that. Am I so in need of visual prompts that without the strong yellow colour of the ice cream, I might not be drawn to choose my banana ice cream in my freezer. Ok, so maybe the ice cream is designed for the ice cream parlour, not the grocery store freezer. I guess looking through the glass display case in the ice cream parlour at a dark yellow ice cream, one might be enticed, at least those banana lovers of us, to select that ice cream. But if I’m buying ice cream, what matter would the flavour be to the owner of the parlour so long as I’m buying ice cream? Oh, too true, it’s not the flavour that I buy. I buy colour. Ah. to make choices for what to buy, I need a mythology; as great as Zeus is to the imagination so is yellow. My No Frills grocery store that sells banana ice cream sometimes has a bright yellow theme, and bananas are a big identifier for it. Tropicana juice company decided to update its graphics and removed from its label the red-striped straw sticking out of an orange. World wide sales decreased by 30% in months. They had no idea that people, many, selected the juice because of the straw sticking out of the orange. Yes it is a powerful mythology for drinking the nectar of the fruit or carnival yellow striped straw conveying life as funtime or something mythological. But really. That’s how we choose our juice. Forget taste, cost, taste, how good it tastes. We choose juice on the basis of the cute red-striped straw sticking out of the orange. We have so much choice perhaps, so much to choose from, that we give up choosing. Let the best marketer win. I remember James Hillman saying how in the 80s and 90s a large number of marketing and advertising executives would attend academic mythology conferences.
When I was a kid and first fell in love with Price’s Dairy banana ice cream – because it tasted so good to me – yes, it was a pale yellow, and scooped into my cone that I proudly carried out into the public, this token of my identity and core belief (banana above all), to tell passersby so they knew I was of a rare, elite group of people, a banana ice cream eater. Well, today it’s not enough to be pale yellow, competing as it must with all the other colourful flavours: now it has to be loud and dark and screaming yellow. With a ribbon of chocolate, please. Don’t you know I eat with my eyes? Of course. After a couple of licks, my mouth is so cold from the ice cream, I can no longer register its flavour. I need the colour to make me believe I’m eating banana ice cream. Yes I believe. Thank you marketers for understanding me so well, for convincing me I’m alright. May the gods be with you. Well, well. Some say you are the gods, know exactly how to get me to do what you want. Bless you. What do I matter, my experience matter? Take my soul. Be my dream. May the best marketer win.