There has been an influx of creepy soft toys and menacing bears on our advertising screens recently. Cute and cuddly is apparently passé.
Ranked below from the mildly disturbing to the completely creepy, I give you: MENACING TEDDIES.
5. Who doesn't love Paddington? Several people probably don't after his meddling with Marmite. A food ad that features people being sick and grimacing after eating the promoted product is quite bizarre in my book. Might just have taken that "Marmite - you either love it or hate it" a tad too far there.
4. Awwlookatthecutepanda! What the hell has a Mafia panda got to do with baked goods? I don't know either.
3. In the ad agency, the conversation went like this: "Right, so these cars are driven by the UK police force, sold second-hand to the elderly and bought new as fleet cars for middle-aged salesmen. The way to make this brand REALLY COOL is for us to put on a PUMPING TUNE and introduce these surreal teddies. You just watch. The current customers won't get it, but we'll attract lots of new ones. On acid."
2. If I'd seen this as a child, it'd have given me nightmares. It might still give me nightmares. He is not very friendly, is he? There is a menacing tone to his delivery. He seems to be holding back poorly concealed rage. What will he do if we don't buy his products? Poke out our eyes while we sleep? Gives the brand 'Birdseye' a whole new flavour. Not in a good way.
1. And the top spot for sheer creepiness goes to: Travelodge and the zzz-squad. My husband nailed it when he said: "The people behind this advert have obviously never lived in a dodgy neighbourhood." Does Travelodge now provide a gun on the pillow instead of the traditional mint?
These ads have all failed because they've not make me buy their product. But they've all succeeded because they've made me talk about them and maybe, just maybe, one of you will be sold on them as a result. One of you creepy people who is into leather-clad, gun-toting, gold-chain wearing teddies and probably has sex games wearing a giant adult nappy.
It felt like another birthday to get this in the post today! An old uni-friend of mine wanted something from UK a while back, so we agreed to swap parcels. The package contains two packs of Suffeli chocolate-covered corn sweets, one pack of Hot Rod spicy potato rings, more Finnish reggae and a book by Seppo Jokinen.
Yes, I realise getting junk food in the post all the way from Finland is pretty sad. At least at the Finnish Easter fair I was restrained and mostly bought porridge oats.
I recently acquired a nifty jumbo-sized Urban Decay Primer potion (which has become a must-have beauty staple). It came packaged with various other mini-sized products, one of which was a Pocket Rocket lip gloss. It's a lovely coral pink colour and I immediately smothered some on without further inspection because coral-pink is one of my favourite lip gloss shades on the planet.
To date, the only things I've known to go wrong with lip glosses are:
1) Brush fail: the old Bobbi Brown glosses had a hairy wand that exploded to something resembling a chimney-sweep after a few applications.
2) Ageing lipline fail: the gloss creeps up where it shouldn't.
3) Lipgloss-hair fail: repeat after me - "Thou shalt not wear lipgloss on a windy day."
Whilst I'm delighted to encounter make-up novelties after over 20 years of various degrees of make-up junkedom, this new surprise wasn't a pleasant one.
The gloss tasted strangely... savoury.
I looked at the packet. Apparently it was a "Timothy" flavour. A man-flavour? Slightly worrying.
It definitely reminded me of something other than lip gloss, but what? I hadn't encountered Pocket Rocket glosses before, so I checked the Urban Decay website. I read the description and thought: "Ah; they're a pisstake of those undress-the-bikini-clad model pens that used car salesmen would buy each other for office secret santa in the 80s. How clever."
This is from the product description:
"Undress our men with the flick of your wrist! Inside the cap of our custom tube is a photo of a yummy man.
And the gloss? This formula is so slick and cushiony, you would love it even in a plain ol’ tube. Each shade varies in opacity and finish, but all have a sweet crème brûlée flavor.
Tilt the tube back-and-forth to strip them to their undies! (We've even included front and rear photos.) Whether you swoon for a future senator or a tree-hugger, one of our men is sure to please you. Our guys make awesome gifts for bachelorette parties, baby showers, or b-days."
Here's the thing. They were going for crème brûlèe, but got McCoy's Flame Grilled Steak crisps instead. Everyone who has tasted steak and the aforementioned crisps knows that these crisps taste nothing like actual steak. Instead, they're flavoured with a fairly sweet, slightly burnt, smoky, umami savoury concoction that I find quite enjoyable when served on a ridged potato product. I don't actually like steak that much.
I don't want to have gloop tasting of it stuck to my lips. When I realised what the flavour reminded me of I laughed out loud. It amuses me that some flavourist has got away with calling this crème brûlèe.
Perhaps it's a desire to be forever childlike and cute like the Japanese girls, or an attempt at denial over one's own age - or maybe just a simple nostalgia marketing trick - but it seems that various unlikely characters have been appearing on beauty compacts for a little while now.
Can't say who was the absolute trend-setter, but Paul & Joe's Disney make-up range must have been one of the first of the recent batch.
Bambi face powder or, what is that, a tube of dog shampoo? No, it seems to be a hand cream. The star of the range surely has to be the skunk powder. You too can smell this good!
I've seen it sold in Harrods here in UK if you absolutely must get hold of some.
Recently, I spotted that the quirky make-up range Too Faced has decided to become super Smurfy - the blue characters have been chosen as the theme for a new make-up range. The creator of the range, Jerrod Blandino, is convinced that "Smurfette was the 'it' girl of the 80s generation". Yes. We were jealous until we went blue in the face.
MAC is also up to something - I've read that they will be launching a Hello Kitty line this spring. That seems
suitably cute and appropriate, but their current special collection might raise a few more eyebrows. Would you consider Dame Edna your style icon? Not to say that the way in which her looks are applied is sloppy (she always looks excellent on stage), but the look is intended to be a send-up of an over-done drag-queen. And it fits the bill very well. I suppose MAC is a range with colours and textures fit for theatrical as well as everyday looks and maybe launching a Dame Edna range is in some ways a nod towards MAC's make-up artist roots. Since the Estee Lauder aquisition, we've had more "seasonal looks" and the sort of fluff you usually associate with a mainstream brand - not to mention MAC perfumes, which clearly indicate Lauder Group meddling (same happened to Bobbi Brown after they were bought by the Lauder Group - all of a sudden there was a perfume launch).
So with Dame Edna eyeshadows and lipsticks, MAC can teach us all how to send up your own customers, or if you prefer this interpretation, to pay homage to its own beginnings as a professional make-up line. Or if you think like me, you'll applaud them for doing something that gets all of us writing about them.
What I really would like to see now is a Muppet Make-Up range. Are you listening out there? You could have Animal deodorant (it brings out the animal in you), Gonzo concealer (hide your little beauty flaws) and a Miss Piggy Powder Compact (you too can be like the most glamorous pig in showbiz). Come on! It's not such a leap. There was even a Miss Piggy's Guide To Life back in the day.
Quite some time ago, I bought my half-Finnish man a Finnish language CD-rom and course book. He'd expressed regret at never having learned the language at home. His mum spoke it and Timo and his two brothers did make some Finnish noises when they were children, but the language didn't really stick.
He didn't really get very far with the course materials. His version is that I was too bossy when trying to correct his pronunciation and whilst learning all the swearwords was of some use, he didn't feel inspired enough to continue.
Now that we're married and the course materials have gathered quite an impressive layer of dust on the top shelf of our bookcase, the greatest thing ever has happened: Katja's newly minted husband has declared he wants to learn Finnish. He's English through and through. Voilà, my husband now feels like this is some sort of challenge; the gauntlet has been thrown.
With his mind thus properly focused, Timo has made impressive leaps towards being able to understand the finer points of Viivi and Wagner and can't be too many years off being able to understand the other great literary W - the Finnish national treasure, Mika Waltari.
Current progress is still mostly focused on greetings and suchlike. So, okay, we're some distance off reading Sinuhe (The Egyptian) in the original language. But I'm convinced with his new found motivation, he will get there!
Whilst reading out loud some words intended to stretch the foreign mouth's ability to handle Finnish vowels, Timo fell in love with "höpö höpö" (which roughly translates to "poppycock" or "nonsense"). It's one of those delicious words (well, a pair of words really) that sounds appropriate for the intended purpose. Just like the English "poppycock".
The following chapter - on questions and appropriate answers - was highly entertaining because, in the style of "that would be an ecumenical matter", I suggested "höpö höpö" could be used as an answer to everything. Just try it and see!
Meanwhile, we've been trying to think of where to take Timo's Finnish cousin and his girlfriend when they visit London in November. I don't really want to see Avenue Q again (as brilliant as it was, we've got the soundtrack now and may have over-played it juuuuust a little. But then, can you blame us? "The internet is for porn" is even on my iPod). Anyway, I've suggested Monkey. Now that it has moved to its dedicated venue, maybe we'd stand a chance of getting tickets. I was so gutted for having missed it the first time.
I'm almost on holiday again (in the timeline of my blog entries, "again" seems appropriate, as I tend to update more when I'm not buried under worky things).
I'm going to spend some time with my close, old friends Katja & Tuulia next week in London. We're probably going to make some museum trips (Tuulia likes museums even more than I do and she's visiting only for a few days). Science museum is always cool and we'll pop over to the V&A museum too.
On Wednesday evening, we're planning on seeing Mamma Mia in the cinema. Timo groans when I mention this. I can understand... we went to see Avenue Q on our wedding anniversary recently and Mamma Mia, the movie, is hardly in the same league. Still, Katja really wants to watch it and I do too. So there!
However, I'm probably the only only one of our little group who would love nothing more than to devote an entire day to a perfumery tour of London. I might just set out to do that on my own sometime. I even made a Google map to help.
The first time I saw the bottle design for Thierry Mugler's Alien perfume, I had a nagging feeling I'd seen it somewhere before.
The commercially successful Angel by Mugler is a love-or-hate scent, you know, a bit like the Marmite adverts in UK. You either want to smear it all over you, or it makes you want to remove yourself from even a hint of its presence. Preferably a few postcodes away, actually.
Well, as far as Angel goes, I'm in that second category. So had it not been for the intriguing bottle, I may never have decided to sample Alien at all.
The scent is soft, sweet, warm, loaded with Jasmine and suits my skin exceptionally well. It transforms to a faintly powdery (but not dusty) amber on me. Very nice for feeling cosy and sultry. And I'd much rather be an "alien" than an angel any day.
I was really, really, really, REALLY hoping to get this perfume for my birthday. Maybe. Maybe?
I had a genuine surprise this morning - there was a golden package next to the Valentine's card on my desk. Timo was already at work. The sneaky devil! We've never done Valentine's presents! Cards, yes, but presents, no. So, I now have my own mini-Kosh.
Maybe he was being extra thoughtful because we're getting married this year? In fact, 5 months from today. Yikes.