Brands That Lie
April 4, 2007
In the shower today – why is it that so many ideas pop up when watered in the morning? – I was reminded, looking at the various plastic containers of ablutions, what amazing levels of lying go on in the marketing of hair care products.
I grabbed the bottles in order to jot down exact quotes (the perjuring brands will remain nameless):
“Fortified with Vitamins C & E along with a fortifying blend of plant-derived extracts” (Hair, by the way, is dead. All this healthy sounding stuff is placebo)
“_____ is specially formulated with Citrus CR for frequent use” (Oooooh – Citrus CR!!! Must be a new breakthrough!)
“_____ is specially formulated with Hydra-Proteins and shine enhancers…” (see above)
“Cleansing for all hair types” (as if an “oily” formulation wouldn’t work for “dry” hair)
“Salon-healthy hair” (is hair more healthy in a salon?)
I could go on and on, but you get the picture. They all do this. And I think the reason is that…we want to be lied to. Yes, we want to believe that these magic bottles will somehow advance us into a new realm of desirability.
It comes from Switzerland? Well, then, Euro-exotic must be good! It has extracts from the rare zamboni root, known worldwide for promoting long life and world peace? Now it’s worth double! Famous salon-master Frederico Ripoffsky uses it because it has biodegradable kelp extracts from undersea Atlantis? Fifteen dollars a bottle is a small price to pay!
Now, I’m just a regular guy, so maybe I don’t “get” all the aspirational beauty talk. Nonetheless, I still think it’s all a lie. You really can’t borrow lasting significance from attachment to such ephemera. You end up a willing slave to that which has no substance.
My criteria for a hair care products is three-fold, quite functional, and very simple:
- it smells good
- it gets my hair clean
- it’s inexpensive
That’s it! But how many bottles do you see making those claims? Hah! Forget about it – the marketers of fashion, beauty products, and hair care all know that to tap into the vanity gene, we really want to be lied to. We want to believe that these amazing ingredients wasted on our scalp will somehow fulfill us. Too many dollars, not enough sense. And so it will continue.
Of course, all products, to some degree, tap into our aspirations to be better (or more significant, or at least to appear so!). Is a $5,000 watch any better at telling time, or is it really you taking the time to tell yourself and others that you’re better? Some things, however, seem to derive their entire market value from deception/self-deception.
What other brands (and entire categories) are built on such lies? Leave your comments!