Destination: London Heathrow again

Marie-Claire UK, the gift that keeps giving. This one’s not UK-specific, but I just had to comment on the cognitive dissonance of this ad campaign:

Where do I begin? With Boss Jour Pour Femme, in French for a perfume from a German company? With the clanking “Boss Jour” combo itself? I find the juxtaposition of these two words strangely disturbing and can’t quite put a finger on why. The tagline, “This Will Be Your Day” sounds more like a movie slogan than an enticement to purchase perfume. Is it the interior half-sideboob? The murky yellowish morning light, which suggests Beijing pollution rather than Tuscany sunrise? Or is it merely Gwyneth Paltrow’s preternatural smugness? I’m going to leave it at all of the above, but welcome insight.

Birchbox Bonus

Ever see a product name and think “this has got to be someone’s inside joke?”

If anyone has any inside scoop, or I’m too old to catch an obvious bit of slang, let me know. Meanwhile, I do like their product name Quicksand for hair wax/fixative, and if, as they say, it’s the “Secret Goop Behind David Beckham’s hair,” (a) who am I to dispute it; and (b) it may be the product I’m looking for to keep my pixie coif in place.

Tire maintenance blogging

Twice a year, off I go to Discount Tire – snow tires on, snow tires off. Yesterday was on, and because there was a problem with the TPMS system (wait, don’t fall asleep yet!), I spent the better part of two hours there.

I’m not knocking their service – they do a great job, and once you’re just exchanging your snows and regular tires, they charge the ultimate price: Nothing. However, the magazine selection leaves a lot to be desired. No news magazines to speak of, and the choice is starkly delineated along 60s gender stereotypes: You men get your Field & Stream, and we of the daintier sex get our Better Homes & Gardens. And there’s only so far I’ll go to bust the stereotypes, so BH&G it was.

So first this ad caught my eye:

Is it Face Everyone for Every Day? Everyone Face for Every Day? Face For Every Day Everyone? Feveryone Face for Every Day? I couldn’t even find the photo once I’d named it because the name confused me so much.

Then there’s this one, thanks to Big Pharma:

Zell-janz? Ex-el-janz? Or is the last syllable pronounced German-style, “yahntz”? It makes “tofacitinib” seem like child’s play.

Anyway, bring on the snow, because I’m ready!

Birchblah …

Sometimes I think I have the attention span of one of my teenagers. I’m just not as excited as I used to be about the arrival of the Birchbox. I got bored with the Ladybrain tippling too; maybe I need a new source of trademark amusement.

Still, maybe there’s a reason I’m bored. Could it be …

And Dr. Jart+ is back:

I only include this repeater because of the marginal excitement I’m experiencing trying to figure out just what “Water Fuse” might mean for my skin.

Then, a totally random name that I applaud only for its lack of descriptive character:

I’m going to assume that it’s an ivory lace colored highlighter and not a highlighter for ivory lace.

And now, the winner in the clutter/overclaiming class:

Bare Love. Not all that interesting. But that’s not all: There’s Oliolove, and Luxury Body Fuel – all of these are claimed as trademarks. Not all that interesting, but as always, when it’s about cures for dry skin, I’m a bit more indulgent.

Still … I may have to go back to drinking with my ladybrain for more trademark amusement!

September Birchbox – Streamlined

This Birchbox biz has been going on for some time. So to keep things more lively, I’m only going to focus on brands that are new to me.

Let’s start September’s with a marketing doozy:

I have, in the past, raged against pointless misspellings. So the extra “n” in the recognizable name “Racine” was strike one for me. Strike two? Package copy that reads “Powerful anit-aging [sic] agent.” Strike three? The “About” page that reads “At it’s [sic] roots, Racinne, a Canadian Beauty Company.” A strikeout, with bonus points for unnecessary capitalization!

Next, Airelle:

Here we have the doctrine of foreign equivalents at work. Airelle is French for “blueberry.” When the product contains blueberry extract, airelle is merely descriptive of the goods. And in this case, at least as of my publication date, the PTO has correctly applied the doctrine to refuse registration of a foreign term that is merely descirptive of these goods. Airelle had better luck with Berrimatrix, the other mark on the package, and got that mark registered.

Here’s a mark I just love:

That’s Ruffian, if you can’t see it. Love the name, love the color.

Finally, here’s a product whose marketers appear to have given up on the naming process:

Even the Birchbox insert is stumped; they call the product “This Is a Sea Salt Spray.” It’s marketed by the Davines Group of Parma, Italy. You see the legend “More Inside” on the bottle? Well, it appears that’s the product line name, so other products in the line bear monikers of, for example, “This Is a Volume Boosting Mousse,” “This Is a Medium Hold Modeling Gel,” and the finalist in the Gertrude Stein competition, “This Is an Oil Non Oil.”

The Davines website clearly outlines their focus on sustainable beauty, which is laudable. More head-scratching than laudable, however, is the inclusion of Ayn Rand in their sidebar of “Things That Inspire.” Also head-scratching is their claim to have created the “Davines” name from the names of their children, Davide and Stefania. I can’t quite make that add up, certainly not in any way that gives poor Stefania equal time!

In any event, Daughter #2 advises me that salt spray is great for curly hair and is pleased to take this off my hands.

Belated August Birchbox

Don’t even ask. Back to school and the Jewish holidays make for exhaustion. So without further ado, here’s last month’s new product names:

Those of you paying attention at home may recall that the last Birchbox haul also contained a product with “one” in the name. As Nancy says, “numeral-based names are inherently risky: numbers are a code, and not everyone has the patience for deciphering.” My view is a twist on Nancy’s: I don’t mind deciphering if there’s a story behind the number. But if all your branding discussions and experts have led you to the exciting choice of “one” or “1”? I don’t need to decipher that you’re probably lazy.

Next, too much story here from Whish:

Whish has a charming story of how it came into being – indeed perhaps a bit too charming for my jaded taste. It’s an interesting product line, though, and appears to be trying to fill a long-felt need for more sophisticated women’s shaving products. However, I’m not fond of mark alteration, so I’d caution them against using their distinctively-spelled “Whish” mark as a plural – here, “Three Whishes” – it makes their mark too literal and weakens the core Whish mark, in my book.

Finally, there’s this eyeliner from Mally:

When I reach the Mally website, a pop-up asks me to “get fiercely connected,” so I’m definitely ready for excitement here. Mally aficionados are referred to on the site as “Mallynistas,” so my excitement quickly wanes. Mally is Mally Roncal, a famous makeup artist. My excitement vanishes completely when I see on the “About Mally” page that Mally wants every woman “to look as ‘gorgois’ [sic] on the outside as she feels on the inside.” But I have a nice new “Sailor” eyeliner here that I plan to enjoy!

July Birchbox

How embarrassing: the August Birchbox has arrived and I haven’t even gotten to July’s yet. Well, in my defense, there were a few boring repeaters, and I don’t have the interest to blog about them.

For a not-boring repeater, I give you yet another gem from The Balm:

Yes, that blush is INSTAIN! Not their best, but still good. Not sure I like Vous va bien as their translation of “Wear it well” on the inside of this new-millennium compact (“Vous va bien” is better translated as “it looks good on you”), but it’s a cute color, and clever package copy as usual.

Here’s a product name I just can’t get excited about:

G-1? A trade association? And shouldn’t it be “mattifying”? I guess the excitement here is that it’s for boys too.

I’m dispensing with the rest so I can move on to August … stay tuned!

Destination: Hawaii

For our 20th anniversary, we decided to treat ourselves to a Hawaiian vacation. This time, we visited Oahu and the big island. Trade winds, mai-tais – the whole nine yards. It was a glorious time, and we returned not too tanned but very well-rested. But of course there were some blogging goodies along the way.

This one came from a hippie-ish shop in the hippie-ish town of Hawi, in the way north of the big island, birthplace of Kamehameha I:

Succinct branding; sometimes it’s the best you can ask for. More island finds to come.


Happy Bloggiversary to me! Six years and counting. And just in case I don’t manage to post something from the Hawaiian odyssey we’re taking to celebrate 20 years of marriage, here’s a product name that can’t be beat:

That’s right, it’s SPLAT, hair color for those who think dyeing their hair colors like “Orange Fireballs” or “Pink Fetish” is a great idea. While a trip to their website reassures me that this isn’t my demographic, I applaud their enthusiasm and naming skills.

The wrong impression

Back when I was growing up, little girls were meant to be made of “sugar and spice and everything nice,” while boys were made of “snakes and snails and puppy dog tails.” I didn’t wear pants to school on a regular basis until fifth or sixth grade. And one old saw that was tossed around to girls as a reminder of our “place,” was that ladies didn’t sweat or perspire; rather, ladies glow. Well, feh, but hear me out.

Over a decade ago, Jennifer Lopez introduced a fragrance called Glow, which provoked some trademark controversy. Well, it seems J.Lo is a prolific fragrance marketer, and has since introduced a number of “flanker” perfumes to Glow. Her latest is this:

Forever Glowing. Or, as I see it, the hot flash that never ends. Glow Ten Years After. The soft-focus photography of the ad, J.Lo’s parted lips – she’s not sweating with this hot flash, she’s merely glowing. (Riiiiiiight … probably since she’s dating a much younger man.)

There are so many perfumes on the market with “forever” in the name that this one will have to clamor for attention – look at what comes up first on Google:

I liked her Deseo brand a lot more, but maybe that’s because times have changed: it’s acceptable now for a woman to express desire and not merely sit on the sidelines and glow.

June Birchbox

Thanks once again to Birchbox, I’ve got something to blog about. This month there are a couple of marks that rankle.

First, we have Mirenesse:

Don’t get me wrong – I LOVE lip pencils, and expect a cage match over this one with my daughter. However, the name troubles me because it looks like a line extension of Mirena, the intrauterine birth control device. I know they’re not related goods, and I see no likelihood of confusion whatsoever. I just know that with my fertile (heh) mind, I see Mirenesse and think of Mirena.

But this one really irks me:

That’s right, it’s “100% Pure.” Where on earth do I begin with this? Let’s start: If the product is indeed, 100% pure, whatever that means, then 100% PURE is descriptive and therefore unprotectable as a trademark. It is also therefore a lousy trademark, because you cannot prevent competitors who have products that are equally 100% pure from asserting that same fact.

And yet this raises another question, one for the false advertising attorneys among us: What does 100% pure mean? For that matter, what do “100% natural” and “100% vegan” mean? Does the latter mean I can eat this? It’s vanilla bean and coconut, after all. This company alleges that its products contain no toxins, but the lengthy list of floral, fruit, and nut extracts contained in the creams, for example, could be highly allergenic, if not toxic, to one sensitive to those ingredients. I once used a cocoa butter skin oil that contained the admittedly all-natural Brazil nut oil – and broke out in a ferocious rash, natural or not.

So enough of that. Let’s move on to the less inflammatory items. Here we have Suki:

It’s “exfoliate foaming cleanser,” and shouldn’t that be “exfoliant”? Seems that way to me.

Next, another Color Club nail polish:

Cute color, but I don’t do matte. And this makes THREE of these!

Finally, a well-established brand:

Dry shampoo (or shampooing sec, en francais) is something I tend not to bother with because I have such short hair that it takes no more than an extra minute to wash it in the shower. I guess it’d be good for overnight travel … but maybe I’ll just give it to the kids.

That’s all for this month’s haul!

The rest of the May Birchbox

I’m not even sure there was a theme this month, but there were laughs. This item, in particular, had me roaring:

Why? Because I LITERALLY CANNOT READ WHAT THE BOTTLE SAYS! So much for targeting the product to my age group. According to the Birchbox insert, this product is called Beauty Protector (a snooze of a name if I ever heard one), and its purpose is to lock in color, add shine, and detangle my hair.

Next, we have a product that sounds Australian, but isn’t:

That’s COOLA, if you can’t see it. Coola, according to the website, is a company that’s “passionate about making healthy sunscreens people love to wear.” I’m not sure what constitutes a “healthy sunscreen” (and I’m sure the FTC could weigh in), and I know Nancy would have something to say about the passion aspect – but the bottom line is that I live in Denver. I need sunscreen most days of the year, and if Coola wants to “spoil [my] sometimes finicky, always worthy skin,” I will let them try their damnedest.

Next, however, we have another not particularly interesting name:

“Folle de joie” means crazy with joy. It gets a big meh on the naming front, but it smells kind of nice, so we’ll see if it passes the migraine test.

Finally, there’s a lovely eyeliner with an interesting naming scheme:

Sumita appears to be a division of Ziba Beauty, and offers a number of eyeliners, all with what appear to be Indian-inspired names. This black eyeliner is “suman,” while other color names include bhura, hansa, and mansha. I’m always all in for eyeliner.

Happy Memorial Day!

May Birchbox – Geek diversion

This month’s Birchbox allows me to dive deep into the nuances of trademark law – so deep that I’m going to save the rest for another day. I’m sure you’ll be glad to have taken the plunge with me, though. Here goes:

This is a sample of YesTo Grapefruit products. If you’re familiar with the YesTo line, you know that they feature a number of fruits and vegetables to which we’re saying yes – e.g., carrots and blueberries. From a trademark perspective, however, these marks could be a bit troublesome; as I see it, these narrowly skirt the fate of being deemed a dreaded PHANTOM mark! (No, not this Phantom.)

What is a phantom mark? According to the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedure, a phantom mark is one that contains an element “that is subject to change.” The reasoning for the prohibition against such registrations is to “accurately reflect the mark that is used in commerce, so that someone who searches the register for a similar mark will locate the registration,” and that a mark that is missing elements “will encompass too many combinations and permutations to make a thorough and effective search possible.” TMEP ยง 1214.01

So how do the YesTo folks get around the phantom mark problem? By almost, but not quite, mutilating their trademarks. Yes, yet another somewhat obscure trademark rule holds that a mark must be “complete”; that is, the mark in the drawing must reflect the mark that appears in the specimen. Here is the PTO drawing of the YES TO mark followed by the mark as it appears on the products:

Trademark image
As you can see, there’s a “flavor” under the YES TO logo on each package – here, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, or blueberries. But that flavor isn’t, according to the PTO, part of the registered trademark. I’ll tell you what I think: I think YesTo sat down with its trademark lawyers and had a nice long talk about how to ensure its marks could be registrable and protectable and how to avoid both the phantom mark and mutilation problems – and switched to this new logo, which emphasizes the YES TO and clearly shows the fruit or vegetable as a variety name. But what about the little tomato, carrot, cucumber, or blueberry that appears right above “to” in the logo? Isn’t that part of the logo? I suspect the YesTo argument is that the little picture is also a variety designator and not part of the YesTo logo.

Well-played – but look at what you have to go through to get registration with a mark like this! 

More from the rest of the May Birchbox selection soon!

The cruelest Birchbox

Today is my birthday, and April’s Birchbox wastes no time in reminding me that I am old, old, old.

Did I know that there were eight signs of aging hair? Nexxus tells me there are … 
 … yet this packaging neglects to enumerate them. This Youth Renewal rejuvenating hair elixir promises to combat those eight signs, whatever they may be. Although the Nexxus website itself is mute on those signs, consumer reviews indicate great satisfaction with the product, so why not try it? After all, that’s what these samples are for.
The plus-sign or ampersand branding format is one that Nancy has discussed in great detail, and I will defer to her far more comprehensive analysis. The quirk with this product – 
 – Malin+Goetz bergamot body wash, is that “malin” is French slang for clever, crafty, or sneaky. I doubt that was the intent behind the name.
Here’s a Kiehl’s product with two hyphens too many:
Yes, the geeks (and eagle-eyed) among you will note that “Powerful-Strength” and “Clinically-Demonstrated” do not require a hyphen. (See here for more detail on this than I can provide.) What’s more interesting to me is the claim that this product will reduce “Marionette Lines.” WTF? Well, Wikipedia confirms that these are indeed a thing, and a look in the mirror confirms that I do possess these lines, so Kiehl’s here we come.
Speaking of things that are apparently happening, I’ve noticed recently that every major cosmetics company seems to be selling a product dubbed “BB,” for “beauty balm.” Which, in my book, is just another way to say “schmearachs,”* the Yiddishism for anything you schmear on your face. Well, if you liked BB, you’ll LOVE CC:
From Supergoop, a brand we’ve seen before, here’s CC Cream – CC here indicating “color correct,” according to several cosmetics news items. Well, since this one is sunscreen, it’s always welcome here in Colorado (except of course with the April snow showers predicted this week!)
Finally, we have another product marketed for the aging harridan I just saw in the mirror:
Useful, yes, but I have two issues: one, the green is way too close to the green that Garnier uses on its entire line of products (and in which I’d think they could claim protectable trade dress); and two, Simple? Not a very distinctive mark. And simple always makes me think of one of my favorite movies, Tropic Thunder – and its Simple Jack parody. Still, tired eyes? I’ll use it.
*My best guess as to how to spell this delicious word.

One track mind

I’m probably one of very few people who can see this ad for hair color

and think wine, but I do. Why? Because Aloxe-Corton is a wine commune in Burgundy, one that we passed by but didn’t visit in 2011. Until I learned that it is pronounced “A-lohss,” in my mind I pronounced it exactly like the above hair color product.

I do like the Aloxxi mark because it just hints at “locks” of hair. At least I assume that’s the intention; me, I’ll just go back to dreaming of Burgundy.

N.B. It is only in drafting this post and mulling over the Aloxxi mark for some time that I realized that the mark’s first connotation to me was not “lox” – so clearly they’ve done something right!

Alt-0174 again

Best name ever for a tattoo parlor. But you’re just going to have to savor the experience yourselves when you click on the link. Just make sure your speakers are turned down if you’re in an office … and if you don’t like reggae!

UPDATE: I’ve just been advised, and have confirmed, that the Sorry Mom Tattoo website is down. I still think “Sorry Mom” is an outstanding name for a tattoo joint, although “sorry” wouldn’t be remotely sufficient for either of my daughters in the event aliens made off with their brains and they decided to get tattoos. But I digress, and apologize to you, dear readers, for the technical difficulty here.

March 2013 Birchbox

I am excited – they went for “March Madness” as their theme for the month’s goodies, and I, for one, have no problem with this whatsoever. Likely to be confused with the NCAA? Nope. Likely to be viewed of as sponsored by or affiliated with the NCAA? Nope again. Is it March? Yes. Does Birchbox reference the NCAA sporting events that take place in March in its copy? Yes again. But I still don’t mind, because referring to the grand slate of basketball tournaments that takes place in March – and the ensuing frenzy – is appropriate, when the NCAA has elevated the annual tournament to holiday status. You can’t define a season – not to mention making untold millions from broadcast rights and tickets and all – and then tell the public they can’t call it what you’ve named it.

The same goes for the Oscars and the Super Bowl, by the way.

Now that I’ve hosed myself down after this rant, I’ll resume our regularly-scheduled Birchbox blogging.

Here’s my favorite naming of the bunch:

Caudalie products are made from antioxidants that are derived from the byproducts of winemaking. So I’m already predisposed to like them. Calling this new collection “premier cru,” or “first growth”? Now I love it. I’ve used their products before and have liked them, particularly since they don’t overdo it on fragrance. Read their story here; you’ll want to go there.

Next, we have another foreign import:

It’s Miss Me perfume by Stella Cadente – “falling star,” in Italian. I like the perfume name and the company name. Unfortunately, the scent is a bit too powdery for me.


Serge Normant, according to his website, is a “renowned hairstylist” with an “eponymous line of transformative hair care and styling products.” With florid prose like that, I’m intrigued. But after scouring the site I can only conclude that the wild coifs depicted on his home page are not the results I can expect from using this dry shampoo. But I’ll try my best.

Vasanti’s website is a lot less glamorous than Serge Normant’s. But since its offering, pictured here – 

 – contains the term “face rejuvenator,” who am I to refuse it?

Finally, this month’s bonus shows an example of a good old-fashioned laudatory mark:

That’s Madewell. Can any trademark geek tell me why MADEWELL is registered on the Supplemental Register for paint but on the Principal Register for clothing? I can’t come up with a principled distinction, but I suspect the PTO can’t either.
Enjoy the madness!

February Birchbox

This month’s theme is “red carpet ready,” though I have to confess I’m weary of awards shows at this point. Too much self-congratulation, too much plastic surgery, too many toupees, and too many scarily bony women. But the products this month are pretty good – with one exception:

 … at least, not for my demographic. And it doesn’t smell good either.
But otherwise, we’ve struck utility, if not trademark, gold this month. First up, a great volumizing hairspray. The only problem, however, is that they’re suffering from a surfeit of trademarks, as you can see here:
Yes, it’s Your Highness Root Boost Spray from the Volume Collection of Catwalk by Tigi. STOP THE MADNESS! There are simply too many marks on here for effective identification of this product and its producer. Worst of all, having so many marks obscures what’s a really fantastic mark for a spray designed to boost hair volume: Your Highness! Simplify, please!
Next, a repeater by theBalm with another good name: 
Well, a mark like this always resonates with a woman my age. And this is a peach blush that will enhance a hot mama’s complexion nicely.
Finally, we have another one that’s perhaps a mite wordy: 
That’s the Dr.Jart+ [sic and huh?] Black Label Detox BB Beauty Balm Multi-Action Skincare + Make up [another sic]. But skincare, makeup, and SPF 25? Count me in, even if it takes a lot of verbiage to get there.