Year 2998. December 20. One thousand years ago, there was a big change in the world, called Euro, and most Europeans had a radical change in their daily lives (in year 2851, all the world agreed on Earth currency, but that is a different story).

Now, there is another big change: Compact Swallowable Food (Comswaf). The old-fashioned food will be replaced by Comswaf in January 1st, 2999. The food commercials of the past emphasized the experience while consuming the product. If pills are what we consume, then we just swallow them with water.

What features of Comswafs are promoted? Why would I pick McTrump's pills over Comswaf King's?

Some background
Mithrandir24601 also gave some background in his answer. Conversion to Euro is maybe not a very good metaphor, but the products were being promoted for a long time. They also come as different sizes and hardesses for toddlers. For babies, they can be crushed into powders and mixed with water to get a soft infant formula.

One should keep in mind that not everyone received this type of food very well. There are still communities who protest against compact food. However, there are so few places that you can actually find food (except if you produce your own fruits).

More on background
There was some debate on this matter a few hundreds of years before. Some thought it was impossible to let go of the old-fashioned food, and some others thought people would not even survive for one thousand years.

Please know your history well. After we colonized on mars in 2042, there was extremely limited oxygen on the red planet and in the night the temparature drops down to 218 Kelvin, it is really inconvenient to cook food there.

After a few decades, newborns in Mars were already adapted to the compact food (as powder form or syrup form). There were a compact food for every single need of human body. Since people never cooked in mars, there vere no ovens, no stoves, no equipment to cook.

In 2160, the first hotel in Mars was built. After four years, in 2164, the first holiday trip to Mars was available with ultra-high-speed transportation. People who went there for holiday found no food, but only pills. Randy Gamsay, had a brilliant idea to start a bussiness of compact food on Earth.

When you're travelling, buy your compact food from Earth! It is a lot cheaper!

The business caught on as more and more people gave up eating traditional food. By the year 2900, the currency on Earth is common, all cultures are mixed up, and resources are limited. After a serious meeting held by world leaders, the process of letting time-consuming, stinky, old-fashioned food go begun.

The taxes on food producers were tripled. The costs of starting a compact food business were halved.

And here we are, year 2999. Not a sudden change, but it happened. No more old-fashioned cooked food. There are still fruits, vegetables, and animals, though.

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    $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation, including issues raised with the scenario, has been moved to chat. @padawan, please remember to edit any needed clarifications into the question. $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2017 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ Star Trek - By Any Other Name comes to mind. $\endgroup$
    – mcalex
    Feb 13, 2017 at 7:18
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    $\begingroup$ Unless there's some in-universe reason why retailers can't embed the pills in tasty treats, they probably would. And if pills are otherwise commodity items, it'd seem to be a taste-and-branding war. So, for the purposes of this question, are retailers allowed to embed the pills in tasty treats? $\endgroup$
    – Nat
    Feb 13, 2017 at 8:30
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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure that by 2999, the audio/visual style advertising as we know it will be gone and instead ads just be a constant series of battles between the various advertisers' mind-control devices and our anti-mind-control devices. $\endgroup$
    – komodosp
    Feb 13, 2017 at 11:27
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    $\begingroup$ Lots and lots of products are advertised through commercials that have nothing to do with the products themselves. For example, whiskey commercials often talk about "manly values" or whatever. $\endgroup$
    – Sigma Ori
    Feb 13, 2017 at 13:55

9 Answers 9


These pills (containing a rich source of magic handwavium) are pretty much identical. Let's look for products which are sold by different companies, but the products themselves are more or less the same.

Gasoline. Shell, Esso and so on all sell the same basic product, and there is no real difference between them. So they compete on price and convenience. They also may offer a premium product that contains additives.

So following this analogy:

Buy MacTrump Comswaf. 0.1 dolzenals cheaper than the competition.

Comswaf Kings "Now with added dopamine"

Get Amabay Comswaf delivered to life cube by our friendly robot
"If it's not there in 24 seconds, you don't have to pay"

Finally, they can just advertise that their product is "best" without really justifying it. This is the case with a lot of current drug advertising. Look for "Nothing is better..."

Nothing provides your daily nutrition better than AstraZenecaGlaxoSmithKlineMerckSanofiPfizer Comswaf.

The underlying question is "Why would people change their food". The analogy with the Euro isn't quite perfect, since the currency of a country is decided at national level, whereas the food is an individual one.

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    $\begingroup$ You forgot the sneaky attack adds: "Our comswaf has ZERO ARSENIC!!!" Of course, no one puts arsenic in any of the brands, but isn't it strange that NO ONE ELSE is willing to claim zero arsenic? Maybe they're hiding something... $\endgroup$
    – SRM
    Feb 11, 2017 at 23:58
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM Mandatory xkcd. $\endgroup$
    – k-l
    Feb 12, 2017 at 1:00
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    $\begingroup$ @SRM "No one puts arsenic in any of the brands"--they may want to rethink that, since it's possible (though unconfirmed) that trace amounts of arsenic are an essential nutrient for humans... $\endgroup$
    – DLosc
    Feb 12, 2017 at 6:32
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    $\begingroup$ "whereas the food is an individual one" Well, not really. We are under the illusion that we choose what to eat, but unless foodstuffs are provided for us most of us are, um, stuffed. $\endgroup$ Feb 12, 2017 at 17:39

Advertising even today doesn't have to have anything to do with the physical product. They often promote the feeling or lifestyle of those consuming the brand. Look at any recent Coca-cola commercial. Does it tell you anything about what Coke tastes like? Does Apple tell you anything about what this new iPhone does for you that the one before doesn't? Do consumers even care about the extra smidgen of screen sensitivity and camera resolution? Probably not. They're investing in a brand.

I'd take this and run with it. Throw in some VR, scents, holograms, etc. How about an "it takes you to another place" analogy for experiencing foreign tastes? Use a recurring color or image associated with the brand, like how Cadbury's uses purple.

The pharmaceutical industry has been selling non-descript pills for decades. Do they show you what the pills look like? Rarely. They have colourful packaging and emphasise what it does that benefits your body. How about a healthy line with fancy 3D graphics and technobabble about how it's good for you or how this new and improved version absorbs better than the competitors? Neurofen sells millions of dollars every year for the exactly same product as generic ibuprofen at a fraction of the price without the technobabble. The brand sells.


Promoted Features

  • Nutrition: Comswaf makes more nutritious/more consistently nutritious pills then McTrump (i.e. McTrump's pills might have $x$ amount of vitamin A $\pm 10\%$, while Comswaf has $x \pm 5\%$)
  • Cost: McTrump's might be a little cheaper than Comswaf
  • Celebrity endorsement: Say a bodybuilder endorses McTrump while a famous CEO of a major company endorses Comswaf, the bodybuilders will have a tendency to go for McTrump, while the business-wannabes buy Comswaf
  • Size of pill: a smaller pill takes up less space and is easier to swallow. For a large number of people, this is what will make the difference
  • Smell and taste: Different people like how different things smell and or taste (i.e. flavour) once dissolved in water. Indeed:
  • How the pill is taken: some people prefer tablets dissolved in water, which is drank. Others prefer tablets that are taken, before having some water
  • Availablity of things like different colours and different packaging: no difference to the product itself, but could have an effect on the psychology of buying that product
  • Convenience: emphasis on how little time people have in their lives e.g. video of someone just getting up, late for work. All they have to do is swallow a pill and that's them sorted for the day
  • Inconvenience: or lack thereof compared to conventional food and competitors products, such as the frequency of taking pills or reduced need to go to the bathroom.

The process

It's not about 'what makes this product better than the other?', it's about 'how do we make people believe that this product is the best?' and 'how do we sell the most?'. In other words, they'll sell it in the same way that they sell everything else - using known marketing tricks and tactics to make people psychologically want their product above the others - special offers, free postage if you spend more than $y$, celebrities, packaging, promoting the company instead of the product etc.

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    $\begingroup$ This, literally what I've thought. You were faster :) $\endgroup$
    – padawan
    Feb 11, 2017 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ Vanity: The smartest people use Comswaf instead of the competitor. Exclusivity: Not everyone qualifies to buy Comswaf; call now to see if you do. $\endgroup$
    – fixer1234
    Feb 12, 2017 at 6:03
  • $\begingroup$ Another delivery method people will want (rather ironically): chewables. $\endgroup$
    – DLosc
    Feb 12, 2017 at 6:41
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    $\begingroup$ @DLosc That's not really irony. There's a good reason for it, chewing stimulates the apetite. Even without physical eating the body benefits from preparing to absorb nutrients. $\endgroup$
    – Tom Kelly
    Feb 12, 2017 at 22:23

I will answer based on one (implicit) premise you indicated:

The food commercials of the past emphasized the experience while consuming the product.

In plenty of cases, the experience being emphasized is woefully unrelated to the product. Many advertisements wouldn't change a bit when switching products around, as long as you stay within the same broad category (e.g. swapping one dessert-type food for another).

Rather than a description of the product, advertisements are often built upon puns related to the product name or its slogan, or center on the mascot associated with the product.

Some practical examples:

  • Merci is chocolates, but advertising is heavily based upon the name (French for thank you), and almost always relies on scenes where people are grateful to others. Obviously, it wouldn't matter at all whether the product is chocolates, flowers, jewelry, books, or anything else that works well as a gift.
  • Ads for drugs such as Ratiopharm normally just describe the general product category rather than a particular product. Their advertising creates uniqueness by featuring similar settings across all of their commercials (for the aforementioned company, that would be a pair of twins, one of which uses the advertised products, while another one uses a nameless other product). Needless to say, the advertised product turns out "better", but often, no specifics (intrinsic to the product) are given.
  • Car ads almost invariably emphasize how the newest car types of the respective company are equipped with modern, future-oriented technology, and how the cars are ready for adventure. Concrete statements about specific features or properties are usually absent.

Therefore, I see no reason why food advertising would work any differently than it does today. Concretely:

What features of Comswafs are promoted? Why would I pick McTrump's pills over Comswaf King's?

Because Comswaf King's packages are adorned with a cute parrot called Pilar, and box art as well as advertisements show little stories of that character, Pilar Parrot. That is something that many consumers like, as opposed to the weird mascot associated with McTrump's pills (a weird talking blonde hairdo-thing with a kilt?).


Comswaf will probably never replace all food. People who have trouble swallowing pills (small children) will not be able to physically ingest the capsules. And who would want to get rid of the awesome experience of enjoying roast apples with vanilla ice cream?

Where Comswaf will probably catch on is, as you already mentioned, the busy working crowd that simply does not have the time to eat (not even when ordering at a home service). For them, your advertisement can be targeted to their values:

  • fully nutritional meal in a single capsule with all the trace elements and vitamins you need
  • perhaps contains a soft stimulant much better for your digestive system than coffee, but much longer-lasting
  • maybe a company that allows you to order your pills for your exact nutritional needs (personalized recipes, depending on what kind of job you are doing, how much sports you are doing, your height and weight and sex, so that you can get your individual needs satisfied)
  • if looking thin is still a fashion ideal, you could advertise with 'keeps you full for an entire day and lets you lose weight without the nasty yoyo effect afterwards
  • aimed at survival people: keep hundreds of daily rations in a cigarette box, which will never go bad and can save your life if you get lost in the wilderness / an apocalypse happens / you get snowed in / ...
  • $\begingroup$ Wait... You're saying that in year 2999, we still haven't figured out what to do once a day to keep the apocalypse away? $\endgroup$
    – user
    Feb 13, 2017 at 15:03

The same thing that they advertise nowadays. Nothing of importance, with the implication that it will somehow make it easier to have sex with an attractive member of whatever gender(s) you prefer.

And then a long, frightening, and borderline bizarre list of potential side-effects.

Synesthesia has been reported with Comswaf. Ingestors experiencing grossly enlarged pinky fingers and toes should stop taking Comswaf.

  • Each comswaf has exactly the right amount of vitamins, vital elements, fat, carbohydrates, proteins and fibers to be healthy and predictable. So if I eat 100 comswafs I have always the right amount for a daily input.

  • There are several types for bodybuilders, normal people, people who want to lose weight. You can fine-tune the content to your specific needs.

  • There are all types of flavors, even unknown ones in natural food. Comswafs are distributed in machines which allow you to inject thousands of flavors for your comswafs.

  • Comswafs are guaranteed to hold practically indefinitely and are absolutely germ-free. You can even drop them on the floor and they are still completely edible. They also do not have environmental poisons.

  • Some more expensive comswarfs are able to actually change in the type of preferred food. They are still less expensive as normal food.


The commercial would be: 1. Buy cool drugs from us. We implant in our pills a special microcapsule that can destroy all drug related content in your system as soon as you enter a health scanning device. No change in your health policy as nothing will be detected!!

2. Our product will give you the phenomenal experience to give you 3 burbs in a timespan of 10 minutes. You will feel the flavor or the main dish, the sweet after and the full aroma of the coffee as if you had actually consumed these products for real.

3. You can order from us the world number one food solution. On vacation in a foreign country? Long working hours? No problem, you have to take only one pill, which will last for up to five days without needing to reconsume anything else. And the special part?! Yes, it's true, you can preorder what daily dishes each pill will contain, and in any order you like. We make your life easier, spent more time on things that really matters to you!


These two features will also be promoted in addition to what Mithrandir24601 told:

  1. RTTT : Required time to toilet(*)
  2. MTBT : Mean time between taking pills.

The first one is important for keeping health of digestive system as extended use of such compressed food might be related to some gastrointestinal issues. The second is important for adjusting calorie intake and balance with tradition food.

*NOTE: Note that time has both two meanings in term of frequency as well as duration.

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    $\begingroup$ This could use some expanding to explain why these statistics would be important to people and how they would be used in advertising. $\endgroup$
    – Brythan
    Feb 12, 2017 at 13:31
  • $\begingroup$ The first one is important for keeping health of digestive system as extended use of such compressed food might be related to some gastrointestinal issues. The second is important for adjusting calorie intake and balance with tradition food. $\endgroup$
    – F.I.V
    Feb 14, 2017 at 6:45

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