“In fact your whole torso has a freeform quality to it…”

February 20, 2010 at 11:52 am (pop culture) (, , , , )

I knew something inherently bothered me about this picture of Julieanne Moore being used for a handbag ad, but I thought it was just how stupid it was that someone would use birds to sell handbags. (“One on her hand and one on the bag!  That’ll get ‘em talkin!”)

Then Photoshop Disasters clarified my distaste:

So Julianne Moore has her kit off for Bulgari. Good for you Julianne! Now twist to the right so we can see some of your lovely back. Yay. But let’s also have your right shoulder waaay out in front. In fact your whole torso has a freeform quality to it, but at least your legs have been retouched with almost photographic realism.

Thanks guys, you always help my eyes and brain communicate better.

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Power, Proctor, and Gamble

October 11, 2009 at 4:21 pm (my life, tales from the therapist's chair) (, , , )

As a kid, I thought of myself of a bit of an informercial pitchman-type. I loved inventing things, like cleaning products, and then I would create entire marketing campaigns for those products. When I was seven, I caused a full house evacuation when I combined bleach, ammonia, and carpet cleaner to create a mega-super-cleaner, its power hindered only by the “swimmy” head it gave me. My dad had to run downstairs with a mask on to clear out the poisonous fumes, but even he would swear that the concrete floor of the basement had never been cleaner.

After the basement incident I moved into marketing full time, with a focus on beauty and hygiene products. I took long showers that turned me pruny and pitched every single product in my grasp to “the viewers at home”.

Barbasol Shaving Cream- It’ll give you that barber-fresh feeling every time!

Dial- There’s nothing funny about soap!

Most of my commercials were terrible, but my work with Pert Plus was getting rave reviews with myself, so I decided to take it out of the shower and into the kitchen, presenting it to my parents as they made dinner. “Pert Plus,” I intoned in a grownup voice, holding the bottle by my face. “They put the plus in the bottle, and not in the price!”

My parents were delighted, and after some talk over dinner about what to do with this idea, thought it might be cool for me to send it to the people that made Pert Plus. We studied the bottle (this was pre-Internet days) and found the name Proctor and Gamble, as well as an address. I wrote up a letter letting them know that if they wanted to use my slogan, they were welcome to it. I added, unnecessarily, that I was seven years old, and sent it off.

A few weeks later, just after I’d grown bored with checking the mail every day for a response, I got a letter from Proctor and Gamble. My hands shook as I opened it. I don’t remember what it said exactly, but I do remember that it was a very polite “no thank you, but good job”. It didn’t matter what it said. I just remember thinking “I made a grownup type a letter, stick it in an envelope, address it to me, and mail it.” The idea that I had the power to make grownups do things like stamp a letter was intoxicating.

I grew up with that little bit of knowledge always in the back of my mind: my ideas could get people’s attention. I could make people respond to me. I had power. It’s a nice lesson to learn at a young age. I didn’t become Billy Mays, I settled on being a therapist instead, and almost 20 years later, got a job working with troubled adolescent boys forced to live at a wilderness camp. One day I found myself facing off against a very angry 15 year old who had just arrived at the camp and was absolutely furious. I had just informed him that he couldn’t keep the Axe bodyspray that he’d brought with him.

“I’m sorry Brent, you know it’s in the rules, nothing aerosol is allowed. Huffing and whatnot.”

“I’m not going to huff any fucking body spray! I just want it! I want to smell good! This is bullshit!”

Brent was quite smart, had one hell of a substance abuse problem, and a fondness for manipulation. We both knew that this wasn’t really about wanting to smell sexy at a wilderness camp for teenage boys, and I felt sorry for him. All of this kid’s freedoms, all of his power was going out the window, and this was simply the stance he had chosen to take, like an old person refusing pain meds. I stood my ground and he eventually accepted his cologneless fate, though he still felt that it was “bullshit”. Once he had calmed down a bit, I pulled him out of class and together we wrote a letter to Unilever. In that letter, Brent explained that he really enjoyed Axe body spray, but he couldn’t have it because he was essentially incarcerated at a wilderness camp, and did they have any non-aerosol products available? The letter was pretty clever on top of being well-written, and I thought at the very least, a Unilever crony would get a kick out of it.

A few weeks later, a package arrived for Brent, and he came running over to me, tripping over himself with excitement and clutching the box to his chest. In it was an enormous supply of non-aerosol Axe products, as well as a rather tongue-in-cheek letter encouraging Brent to think positive, stay out of trouble, and enjoy Axe products. His surprise was all-encompassing.  “They didn’t throw it away, they actually read it!” he murmured, utterly shocked. Of course, my hope was that he had learned something about getting what you want through positive, creative means rather than just breaking the law, and that this would be the moment that he started focusing on his treatment and getting better, but this isn’t TV, it’s reality. Brent would be caught with drugs a few months later after convincing us all that he was tired of his old ways. I knew his battle, like all of our battles, would be long and uphill, so I settled for catching a glimpse of my seven year old self in his face that day, alive with the idea of finally having some power.

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And this is for….hair products?

September 21, 2008 at 10:11 am (pop culture) (, , , )

I saw this series of ads in Cosmo the other day- they’re for Paul Mitchell hair styling products, and they star Paul Mitchell and his creepy creepy family.  He’s an older, balding gent with an older wife with a wild mane of blonde hair, and a young son that a) looks like a kid from Home Improvement, and b) is certainly going to get beaten up every day.

The only picture I could find of the creepiest ad is another girl taking a picture of the ad, so thanks Lovemeloveme, for your picture!

really?  shirtless, with a snake, and THAT hair?

really? shirtless, with a snake, and THAT hair?

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And speaking of weird brands trying to make themselves relevant again…..

August 15, 2008 at 12:15 pm (pop culture) (, , )

Here comes Wrangler jeans’ new ad campaign.  Their last one,  Wrangler!  We’re the ones that get you made fun of in middle school! , did not work as well as they expected.  So in a move that will surprise few, they went for shock value.  Take a look!

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Just when you thought you were being original

August 15, 2008 at 12:06 pm (pop culture) (, , , , , )


Salon has a really interesting article about Pabst Beer and its slow and steady ascension to become the hipster beer in the last few years, something I noticed in North Carolina (where “pabst rock” was a genre of music in Chapel Hill), and in Chicago, where that and Dixie beer were all my bike messenger friends would drink.

Here, read some!

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