Friday, March 30, 2007

Roots loses contact with planet earth.

A couple of weekends ago I was in the Eaton Centre when I was accosted by a young woman at the entryway to the Roots store. Spying our Gore-tex jackets and hiking boots, she correctly surmised that we might be "outdoorsy" types.

She wanted to sell us on this "great new product" that would help us on our hiking trips.

Air in a can. Yup, Roots is willing to sell us a can of 90% oxygen for the low-low price of $60. And once you use it all up, do not fret! It can be refilled for a mere $20!

According to Roots, flipping the little plastic nose cover up, bringing the cannister close to your face and spritzing while inhaling promotes mental alertness, relieves stress, increases energy and ability to concentrate.


Uh, I have so many problems with this.

First - you have eviednce from what epidemiological/clinical studies exactly?

Second - My lungs are perfectly adapted to extract the amount of oxygen I need from the atmosphere thankyouverymuch.

Third - pure oxygen could damage my efficient little alveoli (the bits of my lungs that take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide). The atmosphere is actually made up mostly of nitrogen (not oxygen!) - it's only 20% oxygen. It's well-established that breathing 50-100% oxygen over a prolonged period of time causes lung damage. In fact, there are lung diseases where scarring occurs because of the presence of highly reactive oxygen radicals that are created when the lungs get all inflamed. Yuck. is this cannister of 90% oxygen going to come with a warning label?

Fourth - $60 for something I can (continuously) get for free? You've GOT to be kidding me.

Fifth. Oh and so I'm going to lug this on the hiking trail with me?! Who did the focus groups with the outdoorsy people, I wonder? They didn't manage to figure out that most of us would want to reduce the weight we carry, that we're out there for the challenge and not a quick fix, that creating more "stuff" to send to landfill is unlikely to be our cup of tea.

Sixth - the salesgirl said "wouldn't it be better than breathing in that polluted air outside?" Aside from the fact I'd rather spend my $60 on reducing the amount of emissions I'm responsible for - is she suggesting I just attach this permanently to my nose? (besides, see #3) It's pretty hard to get away from outdoor or indoor pollution in Toronto and please tell me that they aren't really marketing this as a healthy alternative to our dirty air when the energy required to create and fill the cannisters probably caused some of the pollution?

Seventh -
You know how athletes train at high altitude so that they can run faster? That's because there's less oxygen up there, so they are forcing their bodies to make more efficient use of the oxygen they do breathe. Which makes me wonder if overuse of Roots' new product could actually dampen the ability of your blood cells to transport oxygen around your body.

Eigth - are they trying to commodify air? I mean talk about tragedy of the commons. I think the most tragic thing would be that the commons ends up all owned and no longer common. (I'm not even going to get into bottled water here, people. But you can guess what I think of that). I refuse to even think about how someone could own my air.

Ninth - talk about a completely transparent attempt to sell me something, anything, for profit. Roots can take that attitude and shove it.

And ten: I leave this spot and all the numbers that come after ten open - for anyone who would like to add a thought.


Simone said...

That is so brutal! and bizzare.
and wierd. and ya, not really what you'd expect from Roots...

...although it is April 1st... did that just happen today? here's hoping it was maybe just a little April Fools joke!! and explanation that makes so much more sense to me!

although I know they do have Oxygen bars in Japan and New York, so it's not a new idea.

Simone said...

Oh, I just re-read the post and this happened a few weekends ago, not an april fools day joke I guess - and you published it on Friday so you're not playing April fools on us either... although it really does make way more sense as a prank...

Happy Owl said...

No, this is for REAL! It's so weird. The salesgirl was completely serious.

Apparently it has only been introduced in a few stores across the country. I'll be interested to see if people actually buy into it. I'm sort of hoping that it just fades away as a failed marketing venture.

Morag said...

don't get me started on Roots, those guys are idiots and have yelled at J and his family for being too close to their cottage (its across the lake from ours) ... in a provincial park.

they also used to own Beaver Canoe and you remember that tag line "made by Omer Stringer" - Omer was a real guy, thought he was going to be helping design real canoes and ended up getting NOTHING for giving them his name.

We're not big fans of Roots in our household.