Something that has been covered extensively in the media but somehow gets ignored by a lot of bloggers has to be the way that brands are choosing to name their beauty products. The cosmetics industry is huge with many women (and men) buying beauty products to boost their confidence and make them feel more feminine or sexy. Generations are exposed to the beauty industry at a younger age seeking products to carry them through their teenage years yet brands continue to name products in a way that is inappropriate and quite offensive, today I thought it would be interesting to discuss some of these product names and the marketing tactics and psychology behind them.
I think there’s two key factors that go into naming a product, one factor is how it will make the consumer feel and the other is how the product will be marketed. Think about a perfume advert that you have seen, a lot of the time perfume adverts will use husky voices, beautiful women and seductive acting. The key message is that if you buy this perfume you will instantly be sexy, beautiful, seductive. The second thing is marketing tactics, so you’ve seen the advert but let’s say there’s three other perfumes with similar notes that may be cheaper or from more established brands, how can you stand out? Well a product name featuring swearing or talking about sex may just get people talking and once that buzz is created sales increase.
The problem with the cosmetic industry isn’t the fact that brands need consumers to buy products. The world is very consumer driven, we are surrounded by media, television, radio, even internet adverts telling us to go buy this product. Cookies remember your searches then cleverly use adverts in side-bars to attract you to those very same products based upon your profile. But the issue isn’t the fact that businesses are marketing, the issue is that certain brands and products go too far and cause offensive. I’m going to now talk about ten examples of brands that have caused offense and consider why their products are named this way.
Colourpop has undoubtedly exploded onto the beauty scene and I myself have so many products of theirs on my wishlist but controversy was caused when people noticed the difference in shade names for darker skin tones. Personally I’m surprised that Illuminati didn’t offend people but using words such as Yikes and Typo for darker skin tones doesn’t send out a good message, since then Colourpop has issued an apology.
As far as I’m aware Illamasqua has never come under fire for their product names but it can be argued that the name Climax for a lipstick is questionable. Personally, I don’t find a major issue with Illamasqua’s product naming, the brand is based on the idea of alternative and the names are not explicitly offensive but more euphemisms. Climax for example could relate to the sexual climax or it could simply be the end result of something. I think the dual-meaning to the names of Illamasqua products means that Illamasqua is definitely on the tamer side of product naming.
3) Kat Von D
Kat Von D has come under fire in the past for the names of two of her lipsticks – Celebutard was pulled from Sephora due to complaints about the name whereas Underage Red continues to be sold. I think Celebutard was rightly removed, the name has negative connotations and seems to mock disabilities, but Underage Red doesn’t strike me as too bad. I think Kat Von D draws a lot of inspiration from the world around her, Lolita for example is named after a piece of literature in which a man falls in love with a child. The names do get people talking and I think Kat Von D is on the fence for product names.
MAC doesn’t tend to cause much offense with their names but when they named a product Juarez controversy was sparked. The MAC Roadart Collection featured a product named Juarez and it was actually beauty bloggers who branded the products distasteful. For those who don’t know Juarez has become notoriously known for a high level of cases where women have been raped and murdered so to glamourise it definitely was a bad idea. Personally, I don’t think MAC were intentionally offensive but it just goes to show that you should research a name and its connotations before you apply it to a product.
Where to begin with Nars? I have to be honest although I like the products by Nars I do think that the product names are ridiculous. It’s not fun going into a shop and asking for G Spot/Orgasm/Deep Throat/Pussy Galore and personally I feel that the names are inappropriate. The names are unnecessary and just because it’s fashion it doesn’t mean that it’s okay to be so vulgar. Nars products are nice but I do think that the product names put off a lot of potential consumers, people who may feel uncomfortable saying the product names are far less likely to buy basically edginess is one thing, being crude is another.
OPI are well known for their tongue-in-cheek puns when it comes to their products, “You’re such a Budapest” for example hasn’t seemed to offend anyone but is clearly intended as a joke. I think the one name that is unacceptable is “Iris I was thinner” generally puns are fine but I think here the issue is the fact that the name touches on weight which is a very sensitive subject for a lot of people. This hasn’t caused a massive scandal but I do think the name is a little insensitive.
7) Soap and Glory
Known for their fun packaging and tongue-in-cheek product names Soap and Glory has faced issues with certain products such as Glow Job which haven’t been welcomed by certain countries. Soap and Glory don’t typically come out with names that are heavily sexualised so I think it’s more the pun element but I can understand why some people may not like this name. Soap and Glory are quite affordable so I could see a lot of young teenagers using their products which I think contributes to the controversy surrounded the naming of Glow Job.
8) The Balm
The Balm have offended with more than one of their product names, in their Nude Tude palettes there was media coverage surrounding the naming of women as ‘selfish’ but I think the worst name is Schiz. Schiz is occasionally used to describe someone who is “mental” (I use that term in the loose sense there to provide context) but it does appear to be shortened from Schizophrenia which is a serious mental illness. I do understand the complaints surrounding this name, there’s already heavy stigma for mental health so I don’t think joking about that is a wise idea.
9) Too Faced
Not so much offensive but possibly a little inappropriate is the naming of To Faced’s Better Than Sex Mascara. This does surprise me because Too Faced typically has created quite a fun, cute brand I mean their palettes are based on food so I’m surprised that they have a mascara that suddenly switches to a sexual theme. Personally, I’m not offended by the name but it is a little obvious in it’s outlandishness so perhaps it isn’t the best name for something that will be seen by younger audiences in department stores.
10) Urban Decay
Urban Decay has come under fire previously for their lipstick named Gash which in my opinion is on the fence (not overly offensive but possibly not as tame as you might think) but their most recent struggle is with a petition that is calling for Sephora to force Urban Decay to rename the eyeshadow Druggie in their Afterdark palette. As far as I’m aware Druggie has been around for a while so I’m surprised that it’s only just been picked up on. Personally I don’t think it’s meant to be offensive, Urban Decay follows a theme of exactly that urban life, I can understand why people may be offended but personally it’s not a name that particularly upsets me.
So there we have it, controversial product names! If you enjoyed this post please hit the like button and let me know in the comments what your thoughts are on controversial product names, there’s quite a few out there so I could do at least another post on the names if it’s something that interests you.