A couple of weeks ago I commented on how crazy some people get over saving money with coupons. I noted that the coupons I get are rarely for things that I buy, at least very often. But, I still look through them.

This past Sunday, my newspaper included the September 2011 “P&G Brand Saver” booklet, which includes lots of coupons for Procter & Gamble products. My attention was drawn to the bottom left corner of the center spread, where there was a picture of Head & Shoulders shampoo, and the message “Look for Head & Shoulders coupons in this book.”

It happened that I had just run out of shampoo that morning. I usually buy the store brand version of Head & Shoulders, but wth a decent coupon, I thought, buying the original might be just as cost-effective.

So I looked for the coupon, as instructed, and didn’t see one. I looked through the entire booklet again, and again, and again. There are coupons for deodorant and razors, feminine products and pregnancy tests, antacids and probiotics, paper towels and Pringles — but nothing for Head & Shoulders. If there’s a Head & Shoulders coupon in the booklet, it’s so well disguised that I can’t find it.

Now that’s just mean. The corner ad saying “Look for Head & Shoulders coupons in this book” was in a perfect place to have simply put a coupon. Instead, the marketing-meisters inflicted consumers with a deceitful teaser: I spent 10 minutes looking for a promised discount that wasn’t there. The ruse succeeded in geting me to look more closely at a lot of other coupons, but also ticked me off so much that I wasn’t about to buy any of the other products.

Several years ago, there was a rumor from the paranoid fringe claiming that P&G’s “man in the moon” logo was a satanic symbol. I wrote about it at the time, pointing to the evidence that the ugly rumor was completely bogus.

The company may not be satanic, but it appears that someone there has a devilish streak.

Store brand, here I come.

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