August Birchbox

Yes, yes, it’s back to school. While this month’s Birchbox insert has lots of interesting information (did you know that Mylanta will calm razor burn?), the products inside don’t really wow me.

First, there’s a Schick razor.
From a pure value standpoint, this item alone is worth the monthly layout. At best, this razor runs about $8, with most outlets offering it for $11. And I guess from a trademark perspective, HYDRO SILK is a great example of a suggestive mark: it hydrates your legs and makes them silky – yet the mark doesn’t say that directly. Still, I buy my razors at Costco, where the prices are unbeatable.
Next, Caldrea hand soap, in tiny sample sizes:
Yeah, hand soap. I am too practical a shopper to be sucked in by items like luxury hand soap. So this one doesn’t thrill me.
This “tinted lip conditioner” by Beauty Fixation confused me a bit.
So I went on their website, and I think I’m on to them: They’re selling pre-dipped cotton swabs to people too lazy to dip a Q-tip into the appropriate bottle or jar! Maybe the excuse is that these are good for travel, but in my view, it’s only going to add clutter.
Now, the one item actually targeted to my demographic:
I like the house mark, Osmotics. I also like that they actually provide some of the clinical studies that they say support their claims on their website, though I suspect my in-house false advertising expert would probably advise otherwise. And, I’ll certainly try the product, though my aforementioned thrift will likely prevent me from shelling out $58 for an ounce of it.
And finally, here’s where Birchbox failed with its demographic targeting this month:
Juicy? I don’t care if you add La Fleur to try to class it up; Juicy skews too young to go along with anti-aging products!

July Birchbox

I don’t know, this month’s haul seems to be more the result of perspiration rather than inspiration, in the words of my 10th grade English teacher. 

The theme this months is the senses. First up, I’d say this one is sight and smell: 
Another Color Club nail lacquer. I actually like the color, and it works well on my Sicilian-bronzed fingers, but this stuff is pretty gloppy, so I’ll probably remove it before anyone gets to see my appalling manicure skills.
Next, taste, and this Larabar treat. I’m not going to bother with the umlauts.
But I guess “uber” isn’t a bad name for a fruit and nut bar. It’s certainly not descriptive.
Next, sound. These aren’t even branded, so there’s not much to say other than I love the bright colors and am going to hide these from the kids so they don’t nick them.
Next, we have the core makeup products:
Good name – “jouer” means “to play” in French.
Eyeko, for eyeliner, is another good name. There’s nothing wrong with including a descriptive word as part of the mark if you can transform it into a distinctive trademark. EYE + another descriptive word wouldn’t work, but EYE + KO = a brand that looks and sounds unusual and is thus protectable.
Finally, smell, and another perfume. Or should I say hello?
I’m a bit confused by this one. The text on the left reads “We started Harvey Prince in dedication to our mother, and we craft exceptional fragrances that empower women to feel young, happy, slim, and beautiful.” Their website gives little insight as to how the name became Harvey Prince – all it says is that two brothers founded the company as a tribute to their mother, but they still don’t say who Harvey Prince is or why they named the company Harvey Prince. In fact, a search of the PTO records reveals that the name does not identify a living individual at all.
I am not really comfortable with the idea of two men hawking perfume to make women feel slim. I’m just saying.  Also, one of their other scents is called “Ageless,” and even if you’re paying tribute to your mom, who in your eyes never ages, please keep the word “age” out of it. I’ll give Hello a try, though, and we’ll see if it passes the migraine test.

June Birchbox

Visiting parents and in-laws on both coasts has significantly cut into my blogging time in the past two weeks, not to mention getting the time I’ve spent exercising my credit cards to get the kids ready for camp. So my apologies – I know you’ve all been waiting breathlessly for the June Birchbox report, and here it is.

The theme this month is, appropriately enough, Jet Set. I can’t say I disagree with their statement that “every June we still get giddy about dusting off our suitcases and planning an itinerary” – that’s what I’ve been doing in quadruplicate for this summer. And these items will actually all come in handy for my upcoming travels.
First, we have this:
Not particularly exciting on the naming front, but always useful.
Next, a name I really like: 
Stainiac – suggestive and protectable, and I even like the “hint of tint for cheeks and lips” line; it’s very catchy. And it does indeed work as a nice hint of lipcolor. And the house mark for this product – theBalm is a lot cheekier (!) when you say it aloud than when you just read it.
Stila is a well-established brand with a solid name, and this product looks like something that will be a valued addition to my travel kit:
A repeat offender rears its head: 
Yes, it’s Juliette Has a Gun perfume. And their website still contains some hilariously nonsensical language. For example, “Juliette Has a Gun est un electron libre dans le monde de la parfumerie.” And I’m not sure a bullet-shaped perfume dispenser is going to impress the folks at the TSA with its owner’s originality …
And finally, the “lifestyle extra”:
The “tili bag” for your liquids at the airport. I could draw on a plain Ziploc bag, no?
Happy trails and travels for the summer!

May Birchbox

This month’s Birchbox shipment is sponsored by CW and the show “Gossip Girl.” So I’m thinking what’s inside will not be targeted to my demographic:

Surprise! Gossip Girl trivia contest insert notwithstanding, this month’s haul seems tailor-made for the baby boomers among us rather than Gens X and Y. First up, an old friend:
That’s right, Algenist.  Still not wild about the name, but I’ll take firming and lifting.
Next, Dior. A classic brand, and not a bad idea to get their products out to a new generation. 
I wore Miss Dior perfume years ago (as did my mom), and also dabbled in Diorella and Diorissimo. I think they’ve reformulated the scent, as what I just spritzed on my pulse points is much funkier than the elegant scent I recall, and I will chalk up the migraine that’s sure to ensue to the pursuit of art. Or whatever I want to call this blogging. “Extase,” or “ecstasy,” for the mascara seems to be a tentative reach towards the consumer who has no trouble asking for Asphyxia or Mildew as eyecolor names. Dior’s already gone there with Addict lip glow, so I guess ecstasy is the logical next step.
Finally, confirming that these products really are for old ladies like me, we finish with two products from the Kerastase “Age Premium”* line, the Bain Substantif:
and the Masque Substantif: 
Well, I see “substantif” and think “that means ‘noun’ in French,” and so do my Petit Robert and my Larousse. But what do I know about marketing language? And why do I want a bath or masque on my hair? This all leads me to believe there’s a marketing think tank somewhere where they sit around all day sipping wine and musing over what silly combinations of French words will seduce the American consumer into sealing the purchase decision. [Can I have that job? I’d be really good at it.] Still, I think the French copy wins out here though: do you prefer “shampoo nutri-vitalisant” to “rejuvenating shampoo”? I sure do!

In fact, I have submitted my preferences to Birchbox so that they can refine my monthly selection to provide what they think I’m most likely to purchase. So far they’re getting it mostly right, though I’d say Taylor Swift’s fragrance last month was a bit of a miscue. 
Stay tuned for next month’s haul!

I represent Pacific Bioscience Laboratories in connection with trademark work; they are now
 owned by L’Oreal, which makes Kerastase products.

April Birchbox

It’s that time of the month again (so to speak)! This month’s theme (and I apologize for not noticing there was one last month – must’ve been the excitement of the first time!) is “natural wonders.” This means “bringing things back down to earth with fresh products that take inspiration from the world around us.” Whatever you say, dear.

First up is my old pal Taylor Swift and her Wonderstruck perfume:
I’ve said everything I needed to about her before; I’ll only add here that I see no nexis whatsoever to the month’s purported theme!
Next, we have the Alima Pure Organic Nourishing Lipbalm [sic]:
That’s fine as brand names go; nothing exciting or novel here. Still, I can always use a new lip balm. My husband and daughters steal mine frequently, and it’s the number one item that survives the washing machine. We do have the cleanest lip balm in town, I always say!
J.R. Watkins Hand and Cuticle Salve is next. 
I love a good clumsy French translation, as you well know. Translating into French from English isn’t a matter of one-to-one equivalences. French simply requires more wording in order to convey a flavor or scent name. So where we say “Aloe and green tea,” in French we probably need to say “aux aloès et au thé vert” – that is, “with green tea and aloe.” Meanwhile, the French on the label rings a bit discordant alongside the J.R. Watkins brand, which sounds more like something ranch hands would use after a day of herding cattle. But since I keep harping on how dry the climate is here, you know I’ll use this.
Next up, Jurlique Moisture Replenishing Day Cream:

I’m not wild about the phonetics of “Jurlique.” The “jurl-” part reminds me unpleasantly of the slang written and spoken “gurrl,”and the “-ique” suffix alongside it just creates a mark that sounds very 60s and not in a good, Mad Men way. I got some background on the brand from my favorite resource – Beautypedia – and it seems that the M.O. of this Australian company is to capture the “life-force” of the plants that are used in the products. Beautypedia isn’t impressed with those claims, and deems this particular product merely average. What shocks me is that a day cream from Australia contains no sunscreen; any sampling I’ll do of this will only be for nighttime use.
Finally, there’s the “Lifestyle Extra” in the package – dropps laundry detergent:
The package claims because these “pacs” (nice generic term to add to your genericize-able trademark; good work!) are concentrated to contain six times less detergent than the amount normally used, energy use is correspondingly reduced. Neat idea, though the eco-friendliness comes at a price – these retail for $6 for a pack of 20. My only beef is with some of the package copy: “designed to make laundry laundr-easy” makes Jess a little queasy!

March Birchbox

The new phone books are here! The new phone books are here!  … Whoops, we’re not reliving The Jerk, so let’s try again: The Birchbox sample box is here!

Let’s take a look:
The box is 5″ x 7″ – quite tiny and mailbox-friendly. Here’s what it looks like when we open it:
When my eldest saw this one she immediately read it as “Superpoop”:
Although a sunscreen wipe would be an incredibly handy item for emergencies, it’s probably not cost-effective to use these instead of your regular sunscreen, particularly in a sunny climate like Denver’s. It’s on sale at Sephora now, eight wipes for $5. (Though I guess with a winter like this one in Seattle, the sun’s sudden appearance could pose an emergency that would make these handy!) On the trademark front, I’d say Supergoop rates a “good,” despite the poop misreading.
Want a name that won’t distinguish you, no matter what your business is? Try Lulu – it’s in widespread use for clothing, cosmetics, restaurants, bands, and many other goods and services. There are so many marks registered for clothing that contain “Lulu” that it’s clear that no single entity can claim the exclusive right to the name in connection with clothing. In the cosmetics field there are fewer registrants than for clothing, but enough to make one (if one were a trademark lawyer, at least) think twice about adopting the name. Well, LuLu Organics forged on nonetheless. Their Hair Powder, or “poudre de cheveux,” bears a legend that made me laugh hysterically:
That’s “FOR HAIR ON DAYS OF UNWASH,” if you can’t read it. I tried to find any information at all about the origin or location of LuLu Organics, but their website is mute as to who or where they are, other than that typing in the URL that appears on their package resolves to I just hope they’re not trying to make “days of unwash” happen. I probably will let one of my girls try this one, because if I do attempt a day of unwash, I wind up resembling the coal-mining members of the Zoolander family. Meanwhile, on the trademark front, I’d just like to see a bit more effort.
Next up, another trademark snooze:
Skin-Smart? Tea forté? Really? The irony here is that the descriptor that follows the trademark is quite snappy: “antioxidant amplifier teas.” And the tagline is good too; I think “Beauty From Within” complies with Nancy’s suggestions for a good slogan. The teas – honey yuzu, cucumber mint, and cherry marzipan – all sound delicious, and I have no beef with their respective purposes: “natural renewal,” “youth recovery,” and “corrective repair” – I could use all of them! I guess my biggest issue is that I don’t really want to be drinking something that has the word “skin” in it! 
Finally, the last photo of goodies:
Color Club – not a bad name for a nail polish brand at all. I have lousy nails on preteen-looking hands, so will let the girls have at this one.
NIA24 – It’s a “niacin-powered skin therapy,” and again, I’d love to have seen a more distinctive trademark here. Still, it’s skin-strengthening, and with the aforementioned Denver sun, I will take all the help I can get.
And last but not least, we have Apothederm stretch mark cream and let’s just say I’m grabbing it, although I’m not wild about the name. “Apothe-” suggests “apothecary,” and that may sound a bit more Dickensian than edgy, but I guess if you need stretch mark cream you may not care about being edgy. In fact, the other connotation the mark brought to mind after I said it out loud obsessively for a few minutes was “a pachyderm” – which, I guess, would work just fine!
Anyway, this first haul provided just what I was looking for from a trademark perspective, and now the Levy women can share the bounty as our reward. Stay tuned for next month’s haul!