Thanks for buying our product! Now, fuck you.
Thanks for buying our product! Now, fuck you. is a corporate principle. In fact, it is the cornerstone of all corporate philosophy – a principle more powerful than "always be closing," "greed is good," and "falling backwards builds trust" put together.
The principle dates back to the 18th century, when the British East India Company sincerely thanked consumers for purchasing their silk, indigo, and tea by giving them all opium addictions and syphilis. Then, as they left again for India, they would yell back to those standing on the dock, "Thou facinorous scuts!" – the 18th-century equivalent of "Ha, ha! Fuck you!"
Early American interpretations of the principle
Early on, American corporations such as Ford felt that the best way to say "Thanks for buying our product! Now, fuck you" was to slaughter the families of the people who bought their products. They briefly considered dispatching death squads to the homes of customers, but their lawyers informed them that the government would probably look upon that as murder. Instead, after decades of research, they rolled out their flagship product in 1970: the Ford Pinto, a vehicle designed to explode randomly and for absolutely no reason.
Unfortunately, this strategy backfired. Not only did people stop buying the Pinto after a mere 10 years of being killed by it, but they also sued Ford for millions of dollars. It was as though Ford had said "fuck you," and the public had responded "Fuck me? No, fuck you!"
More modern implementations of saying both "thank you" and "fuck you" to customers
Fortunately for everyone, modern corporations have learned from Ford's mistakes. Modern corporations are able to say "fuck you" in ingenious ways that leave us unable to do anything but bend over and take it.
In the late 1980s, corporations began experimenting with putting adhesive labels on their products. For example, they would sell a frying pan with a sticker right inside the pan that said "Ma's Homestyle Frying Pan." At first glance, the sticker would seem innocuous – simply a way to identify the product and its manufacturer. Innocuous enough, at least, that consumers would cheerfully buy the product.
Then, upon returning home, a customer would discover that every square millimeter of the sticker was glued to the pan with a space-age adhesive. Any attempt to peel off the sticker would result in scraping off a tiny piece just barely large enough to jam painfully under the thumbnail. Eventually, in order to make any use of the frying pan at all, the consumer would have to buy some sandpaper and spend half an hour sanding off the sticker under running water.
For a few tense years, retailers held their breath, waiting to see if the other shoe would drop. Would they be hit with a hundred thousand minor-thumb-injury lawsuits? Would consumers storm their headquarters and beat them to death with frying pans still covered by the tattered remnants of stickers?
Eventually, they exhaled. Nothing happened. For the first time, corporate America had learned how to say "fuck you" and garner the response, "Thank you, sir! May I have another?"
A few years later, corporations had another brilliant idea: why not put vaguely insulting warning labels on all products? The thinking went like this: if we take all our packets of silica gel, and print "SILICA GEL: DO NOT EAT" on them, what we're really saying is "Thanks for buying our product! Oh, and we think you're exactly the kind of fuckbrain who would eat silica gel."
The strategy worked brilliantly. Not only did it prevent exactly no people from eating silica gel (as protecting actual lives would have taken some of the sting out of "fuck you"), but consumers actually came to demand the warning labels, until corporations could get away with labels like "Coffee. Warning: Hot!" or "Warning: do not turn this lawn mower upside down and try to lick the blade while it is running."
Nowhere was this concept carried further than in Japan, where companies could get away with truly absurd labels with almost explicit insults – labels like "Please do not place the dance mat on top of your sister" or "It may be unhealthy to form a close emotional bond with this robotic dog."
Unfortunately, the dangers of this strategy became clear when U.S. tobacco corporations entered into a conspiracy with the Federal government to tell their customers they were idiots. For years, cigarettes were packaged with insults – you'd pull out a smoke, and find yourself staring at a little box that said "SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Wow, you're gonna smoke these? You must be pretty dumb." Unfortunately, people were so offended by this that they began to file lawsuits, claiming that the companies were actually forcing them to smoke through some kind of mind control. Clearly, more subtle ways of saying "fuck you" to the consumer base were needed.
The impenetrable plastic case
Just as the novelty of insulting warning labels was wearing off, the upstart company Radio Shack devised a brilliant plan for abusing their customers: impenetrable plastic display cases. They were nominally "anti-theft security devices", but Radio Shack used them to package everything – even headphone cords that sold for 99 cents.
This was particularly ingenious, because it said "fuck you" to the customer base in two ways. First, upon walking into a store, it said to the customers "Welcome to Radio Shack! We think you're just the kind of lowlife bottom-feeder who would steal a 99 cent headphone cord!"
But it didn't stop there; it was the "fuck you" that kept on giving. Upon returning to their cars, customers would try to pry open the display case, with absolutely no success. They would strip their fingernails. They would tear at the plastic with their teeth and cut up their gums and lips. They would make tiny dents in the plastic with their car keys. And then they'd eventually give up, drive home, and pull out a pair of scissors – only to have the scissors bend and buckle against the plastic. It's not until they got their hands on some wire cutters or a hacksaw that they were able to get at their cord – which was, as often as not, damaged in the process.
Nearly every retailer in the world quickly adopted the Radio Shack model: what better way to say "fuck you" than "Hey, thanks for buying our product! No, you can't have it."
Variations on the model quickly sprung up. For example, executives at Sony realized that CDs could be packaged in ridiculously annoying ways. They began by sticking a large plastic piece through the hole in the middle of the CD that held on so tightly that any attempt to pry the CD loose would bend or even break it. Then they sealed the case with tape, and then – on top of the tape, they wrapped the entire package in cellophane. Finally, the CD was infested with a computer virus that would destroy any computer it were placed into, in the unlikely event the disc could be successfully removed from its packaging. Eventually, consumers' chances at actually hearing music they'd bought were successfully minimized.
Products that are crippled until you buy something else
The idea of crippling products until subsequent purchases are made began with toy stores. These stores realized that American businessmen weren't doing enough to say "fuck you" to children. And what better way to say "fuck you" to children than to make them cry on Christmas? Thus, the idea of crippled products was born: they'd sell some awesome new electronic toy, and upon opening it, the child would find that it hadn't come with any batteries and thus did nothing. And then he would cry sweet, sweet tears.
Unfortunately, people quickly caught on, and began buying batteries just before Christmas. Toy companies such as Fisher Price then altered their tactics and began including batteries – sometimes extra batteries. Granted, "Ha, ha, you have too many batteries" wasn't the best "fuck you" ever devised, but it would serve in a pinch.
The idea spread like wildfire. Within a few years, video game systems were sold with no games. Cameras were sold with no memory. LCD TVs were sold with no stand or mounting brackets. Leather chaps were sold with no ass coverage. Every purchase forced customers to make an additional purchase, a vicious cycle of "fuck you" from which there was no escape.
Thanks for reading this article! Now, fuck you.