September 2005: Times & Transcript

A scoop on poop with no stink

Some days my job is worth waking up for.
Those are the days when you head home at night and feel you’ve had some kind of positive impact on the world. The days when you write a piece and it “sings” as we say in the “biz”, meaning you have written prose that would be Pulitzer-worthy if those Pulitzer folks would just pick a copy of Times &
Transcript.
They are the days when stories you tell are gripping and gritty, when you hit a source that can articulate their story in a compelling way.
And then there are the interviews, and these are often my favorite ones of all, when you hang up the phone and think “well, I won’t soon forget that one!”
They’re few and far between, but I had one of those last Friday when I had the pleasure of doing a halfhour interview about poop. No, that was not a typo. I did an interview about poop. Actually not so much about poop per se as about how a local company’s new product helps eliminate the unpleasant odours associated with said action.
I can somehow picture these folks dreaming up this product with some king of Eureka’s moment and then the excitement slowly draining from them as they realize their conundrum: they’ve come up with a product that everyone wants to use, but no one wants to talk about.
I mean, how do you explain it nicely?
Luc Jalbert, the vice-president of Prelam Enterprises, the company that makes Just’a Drop, the indelicate product in question, has had a lot of practice. He’s become refreshingly frank about the whole thing. After all, he explains philosophically, it’s something everyone has to do.
True, but paradoxically, the product is aimed directly at those who would rather the rest of us never know they just did what everyone has to do.
Faced with this dilemma, what does a good company do? Prelam has apparently decided to tackle thing head on.
Their TV commercial does not feature courtesy flowers floating in the air as a well-dressed family (mom dad, one girl, one boy and a dog) breathe deep in the sweet smelling sanctity of their bathroom.Nope, Prelam has gone with an ostrich sticking its head in the sand as an announcer intones “Is this what you do after your husband uses the bathroom?” and a raccoon praying no one will use the facilities right after him (and for deliverance from the stench one assumes.)
Their packaging features a little cartoon man sitting on the potty, then standing with his smiling family members afterwards.
Mid-interview I get the giggles as Mr. Jalbert explains their excitement over a deal with Irving Tissue to include samples of the product in 25,000 packages of toilet paper. “Twenty-five thousand people are going for a poop with our product “he says.
I’m sorry, but poo is funny. I bet you’re laughing right now.
Luckily I am doing a phone interview so he doesn’t have to watch as I lose it and I sound admirably in control by the time I ask my next question.
I’d love to hear someone interview him live on television or radio.
But the real challenge come post interview. How does one write up a story about going to number 2? What does one call it, for instance, so as not to offend the delicate sensibilities of one’s readres.”
But then, this is the kind of challenge that makes my job worth getting up for. It may not change the world ( well, actually it might help make it smell better), but it’s already got me smiling and sometime that’s changes enough.

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