NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—After decades of coddling young children, Johnson & Johnson unveiled its new "Nothing But Tears" shampoo this week, an aggressive bath-time product the company says will help to prepare meek and fragile newborns for the real world.
A radical departure for the health goods manufacturer, the new shampoo features an all-alcohol-based formula, has never once been approved by leading dermatologists, and is as gentle on a baby's skin as "having to grow up and fend for your goddamn self."
"We at Johnson & Johnson have been making bath time a safe and soothing experience for far too long," company CEO William C. Weldon said. "Years of pampering have left our newborns helpless, feeble, and ill-equipped for the arduous road ahead."
"It's time our children got the wake-up call that's been coming to them," Weldon continued. "It's time they cried their precious little eyes out."
The result of five years of intensive research and market testing, the company's "Nothing But Tears" shampoo contains only the most abrasive of natural ingredients and is nearly impossible to rinse from a baby's screaming face. According to directions printed on the label, the bath-time product is best used with scalding hot water for optimal toughening-up of newborns.
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Available in an easy-to-find-and-open bottle, the new shampoo is also guaranteed to give children a "healthy dose of reality."
"You'll notice a difference after just one use," said Michelle Baker, head of new product development. "Whether it's your newborn's more hardened appearance, the way he now approaches people with guarded skepticism, or just that look on his face that says, 'Oh wait, maybe life isn't all hugs and kisses and rainbows. Maybe I need to get my fucking act together.'"
Added Baker, "Johnson & Johnson will kick your baby's ass into gear."
A publicity campaign for the tear-inducing shampoo has already begun, with Johnson & Johnson debuting a series of television ads to push the baby-care product. In one of the minute-long spots, scheduled to air later this week, a mother cradles her crying newborn in her arms. As time passes, the weeping infant grows increasingly older, until the now elderly woman struggles to hold up her 48-year-old, 230-pound son. A voiceover announcer asks viewers, "Worried your child will never toughen up? At Johnson & Johnson, we can help."
After rigorous product testing at the company's research headquarters in New Jersey, the new "Nothing But Tears" shampoo was found to give newborns up to three times greater resilience than the leading competitor, as well as a stronger grasp on the crushing disappointment that is life. In addition, when combined with Johnson & Johnson's new line of bleach-based conditioners, the shampoo resulted in noticeably thicker skin after only six uses.
In recent years, a growing number of parents have begun looking for ways to raise more adequately jaded toddlers, and Johnson & Johnson is not the first company to respond to the rising demand. In 2003, Fisher-Price unveiled a new adventure play set containing 85 easy-to-choke-on pieces, and in 2006, the Walt Disney Company introduced an interactive DVD entitled Baby's First Brush With A Cruel And Unforgiving World.
Whether or not Johnson & Johnson's new move will ultimately pay off remains to be seen. However, reaction to the tantrum-provoking shampoo has thus far been positive.
"My 13-month-old used to be a total pushover," said new mother Catherine Smith. "But ever since I started washing her hair with 'Nothing But Tears' shampoo, not only does my little Debra kick and scream and wail, but yesterday she said her first words: 'No, Mommy, don't.'"
Despite testimonials from satisfied customers, some concerned parents have come out against the new shampoo.
"To knowingly upset your baby like that is downright cruel," said Hershey, PA homemaker Barbara Sterling. "My child is going to lose his blissful sense of innocence the old-fashioned way—by coming home from school one day only to learn that his parents are getting a divorce."