Stuff that doesn't stack up

by Kelley Korbin

You know when you’re really excited about something and you can’t wait to eat, use or experience it? Enticed by a great marketing buildup or plain old nostalgia you willingly shell out money or time only to realize (or remember) that in practice this is a product that just doesn’t’ live up to the hype.

Here’s my curated list of things that don't deliver.


Sure, the dispensers are kitschy, but the candy is bland and tasteless. What’s more, the contraptions are so awkward to load that a quick Google search unearthed more than eight instructional videos that teach the finer points of filling them! In future I think I’ll stick to sweet, savory and incredibly flavourful salmiak.



With imaginative and evocative names like Atomic Tangerine, Razzmatazz and Tropical Rain Forest, an untouched box of Crayola Crayons conjures a multitude of possibilities, even for someone as inartistic as myself. But then you pull out Electric Lime only to realize it draws a lumpy, jagged line in a colour that is indistinguishable from five of the other greens in the box, breaks with the slightest pressure and is almost impossible to keep within even the most generous of lines. Why they inflict these torturous tools on budding five-year-old Picassos I’ll never understand. I prefer a smelly Mr. Sketch marker any day.


Fashion and lifestyle magazines

“Amazing hair in minutes,” “Banish back pain for good,” “Easy ways to clean anything.” Why do I keep falling for these enticing pictures and glossy pages? I have not found one single exercise that delivers perfectly sculpted abs, my hair is still a frizzy mess and I don’t believe that anyone can get a gleaming kitchen with a combination of baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice.


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Guaranteed sun, cheap and direct flights, luxe resorts, world-class entertainment options and free drinks all promise a fun weekend getaway. For me, the reality was a vacation that left me feeling like I needed a shower and a fistful of antidepressants. Pools teeming with sloshed 20-somethings, more Botox, silicone and spandex than the eye can see, hawkers trying to sell you sex along every inch of the strip and the sick feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you lose a couple of hundred bucks at the blackjack table are just some of the soul-sucking experiences that I couldn’t wait to leave behind in the desert.



Face Time

It was a cool invention to rival flying cars in The Jetsons. In real life, every time I accidentally hit the FaceTime button on my iPhone I nearly have a heart attack.  My craggy face and three chins up close, usually at the most unflattering angle possible, are a sight I can live without. Barring the option to airbrush in real time, this is one form of technology that’s best left to those under 20.


Hey Y’all 

I’m a sucker for a good marketing campaign and for me Hey Y’all is the clear winner for this summer’s beverage offerings. The hard iced teas come in enticing flavours like Georgia Peach, Huckleberry and Carolina Watermelon with a great can design and colour palette that makes you want to collect ‘em all. Stacked in pyramids at the liquor store, it’s hard not to grab the Porch Pack Mixer for the weekend. But this is one product that I have been able to resist – at least for now – having been inoculated against the allure of brightly coloured, extra-sweet alcoholic drinks last summer when I mistakenly took a generous swig of my niece’s Palm Bay. But with 57 days of summer remaining, there’s still time to fall for Hey Y’all’s marketing magic.


At Combo, we believe the best strategy is to surprise and delight our clients by under-promising and over-delivering. These products and experiences do just the opposite, and yet they remain incredibly successful. Sometimes I really wonder what I’m missing.