Column Date 2006-07-21

Two scrambled eggs, hold the ads

Now they’re putting ads on eggs.

That’s right, eggs. CBS is going to promote its new fall lineup with ads etched onto eggshells using lasers.

Thirty-five million eggs will soon appear in supermarkets with timeless advertising lines such as “CBS Mondays – leave the yolks to us,” “CSI: crack the case,” and “SHARK: hard-boiled drama.” So the next time you buy eggs, you’ll also be buying embarrassingly corny CBS ads, as well.

(I can already see other egg producers introducing “Eggs without advertising – at no extra cost!”)

It’s also clear that CBS’s “egg-vertising” will miss key segments of their potential viewing audience.

For instance, what about people with high cholesterol, who avoid eggs? Not to mention people who order eggs at a diner and will never see the message at all – just the omelet.

Eggs, of course, are just the beginning. Once we accept eggs as an advertising medium, can other foods be far behind?

Imagine eating a baked potato whose skin says “Don’t go off half-baked – get your degree at night at NYU.”

Or a banana that reads “Had enough of slippery politicians? Idzik for Mayor.”

Your next pickle could come with an ad that says “This lonely pickle deserves an Oscar Mayer hot dog.”

And your next donut, of course, might tell you to “Support your local police.”

But why stop with food? How about temporary laser etching on people? (Laser etching on eggs is incredibly shallow, just 50 micrometers, and I’m sure they’ll figure out something safe for humans.)

In an economy where the federal minimum wage is still $5.15 (it hasn’t changed since 1997), there should be no shortage of men and women who wouldn’t mind picking up a few extra bucks as moving billboards.

Just imagine sitting on the subway, and the person across from you has the CBS logo on his forehead, followed by the words “Dr. Phil gets into your head.”

Or looking at someone’s nose that reads “Both nostrils clear! Thank you Nasonex!”

A message on a bald man’s head could say “I used to have crushing migraines. Ask me what medication I take.” (At last -- an advantage to being bald!)

Senior citizens, too, would certainly appreciate some extra money. A laser message on a senior’s cheek might say “Old-Timers Day at Yankee Stadium, August 30th.”

Progress marches on, I guess, slowly filling every inch of our world with messages from our sponsors.

But coincidentally, just as the CBS egg story broke, there was another story about messages on eggs.

This one came from Kazakhstan, where a chicken in a small village apparently laid an egg that had the word “Allah” inscribed on its shell, in Arabic.

In a religious world, of course, the sponsor is God. Here, it’s CBS.

Either way, I’m getting nostalgic for the good old days, where men were men, and women were women. And an egg was just an egg.

©2006 Peter Tannen