Destination: Paris et les magazines de la mode

Remember my kvetching about Acne Jeans and what a ridiculous name it is? Sure you do. And it still is ridiculous, IMHO. Well, hold on to your emesis basins, because here comes another one, straight out of the pages of Marie France magazine. The latest kids’ jeans brand:

         Finger in the Nose

Where do I begin? Is this name meant to evoke the endearing nature of a child performing a digital excavation of his nasal passages? I’m just not buying it. But take a look at the website and its charmingly mangled English: “[E]ach material choice has been tought [sic] to guarantee children a good feeling in their jeans whatever if it’s a slim, straigh [sic] or comfort fit.” A good feeling in children’s jeans is probably not what we want to be touting here. But there’s more: Finger in the Nose promises that these jeans are “[a] simple yet clever product, capable of following the child everywhere and for a long time to go.” So basically these are stalker/molester jeans? A good translator would’ve gone a long way here.

What a beautiful progression a French child can undergo: From Finger in the Nose to Acne. What’s next for jeans for the middle aged? My suggestion: Lumbago. You’re welcome.


Destination: Parigi

We stayed across the street from this restaurant when we were in Paris in 2008:

Our girls were 12 and 10 at the time, so you can imagine how much fun they had with this name! (It was also great pizza; too bad we strolled by on fermeture hebdomadaire day).

Destination: Paris (encore une fois!)

Once again, I headed to the ville lumiere; this time, accompanying my parents to attend the 80th birthday celebration of a dear family friend. So between the kilo of magazines I picked up at the airport (hey, we all have our drugs!) and the photos I took along the way, there’s plenty to blog about.

This is a restaurant whose name has amused me for the past several years, and I now share it for your amusement as well:

That’s “Speed Rabbit Pizza.” I always envision a rabbit on speed – if it were Speedy Rabbit, maybe it’d work? Peu importe, c’est amusant.

Stay tuned for more!

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!

Dog days of summer

Already it’s a scorcher, especially back east where my kids are at camp. But I’ve got people all over the country braving the heat to leave their air-conditioned cars to snag me photos of entertaining shop names. This one’s from Bethesda, MD:

Dog stuff and a French pun? Love it!

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!

Mal traduit?

A café in France is not at all the same as a coffee house. Did Keurig confuse Paris with Vienna in this ad campaign? In Paris we have cafés, not coffee houses, and the coffee in cafés has never been anything to celebrate, in my experience.

David Lebovitz, one of my favorite food bloggers and cookbook authors, has long bemoaned the dismal state of coffee in Paris; in fact, in The Sweet Life in Paris, a book I adore, he consecrated an entire chapter to it, and called Parisian coffee “murky black sludge” and “donkey piss” (pipi d’âne?) So I just don’t know how Keurig came up with this misplaced tribute.
On the other hand, I do know exactly where this photo was taken – at the corner of the rue St. Dominique and Avenue Bosquet, in the 7th arrondissement. The full photo (and I apologize for chopping it off) shows a café called “Le Recrutement” – one that we memorialized in a photo back in 2004 that graces our kitchen today. So while I can nitpick the M.O. of the ad, I can’t quibble with its location at all.

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!

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!

January Birchbox

Something is wrong with my camera, and this month’s haul wasn’t so exciting that I felt like re-taking all of the photos. But I think that two items bear mentioning and re-shooting:

First, a new fragrance by Harvey Prince, a company you’ve seen in these pixels before:
I’m still kind of irked about the marketing pitch insisting that a fragrance should make me “feel as youthful and charming as [I] smell,” and that their fragrances can “empower women to feel young, happy, slim, and beautiful.” If I want to smell really young, I can use Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and Baby Powder, thank you. 
But what I love here, and what I’ve never seen before? The Grande Arche de la Defense pictured in the Paris skyline. I promise you, when I think about the romance of Paris, I never think about the Grande Arche. We visited it in 2003, and I promise it’s missable. Yet its inclusion in the skyline here at least speaks to a comprehensive familiarity with Paris that I applaud.
The second item of note in this month’s package was a mascara called Lashem. The teeny-tiny sample size didn’t allow me much of a chance to see how well it works, but it’s the name that has my too-fertile brain aflutter. Lashem, you see, is very very close to Hashem, the Hebrew word that substitutes for the unutterable name of God. (Check it out.) Literally, it means “the Name,” and so when I read Lashem, I think “to God” or “to the Name.” Which is just all wrong and too tangential and I’m probably the only one who thinks that way, which isn’t good enough reason to change a name just because one meshuggenah trademark lawyer can’t turn off her brain, but there you have it.

Destination: Paris

Time for a mea culpa. Remember last month when I dissed Lumiere d’Hiver shampoo saying that winter light in Paris isn’t worth devoting a brand to? Well, I was wrong:

We were expecting sleet, and instead got this magical sky. So I was wrong about that – and happy to be wrong, mind you.
Also, that shampoo? I’m going to have to buy more, as its scent is positively intoxicating.
Bonne annee!

December Birchbox

Just hear those sleigh bells jingling … It’s the “All Wrapped Up” December Birchbox delivery, and I appreciate its celebratory yet non-denominational enthusiasm – i.e., the accompanying card is not red and green with holly on it.

What’s the haul this time?
First, a repeater:
Apothederm is mincing no words here – Another year? Another wrinkle? Count me in. I still say the name sounds like “a pachyderm,” however.
Next, another brand repeater:
I still don’t think Juicy Couture skews to my demographic, and can’t imagine that its marketers targeted 50-somethings with the tagline “Smells Like Couture.” When I see a “Smells Like …” tagline, I immediately think of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana’s smash hit from its 1991 album Nevermind. I don’t want a fragrance inspired by grunge rock, okay? Birchbox, please: If you’re sending perfume samples, Taylor Swift and Juicy are just plain wrong when I’ve ticked the 45-55 box!
Sometimes, marketing people just work too hard, and here’s an example:
The company that makes this product, The Balm, appears to have adopted wisecracking 40s Hollywood glamour as its M.O., and that’s fine, though a bit close to Benefit’s vibe. This product is a “luminizer” – hence, Mary-Lou Manizer. Get it? Actually, I’m being a mite harsh. Lots of their names are quite cute – BalmsAway for eye makeup remover; BalmShelter for lip gloss, TimeBalm facial cleanser, for example. Mary-Lou Manizer just seems strained in comparison.
Another name I don’t understand: 
I thought it was LA as in “ellay,” the city, rather than “la” as in the French article, but their website shows otherwise. What can I say, I just don’t like the sound of it. Fresh is totally weak in the cosmetics area, so it’s hard to distinguish yourself from, for example, this company. And adding “la,” which means “the,” isn’t enough. I do like some of their other good names (e.g., Divas & Studs canine care products), as well as their conservation focus, but fundamentally find the name La Fresh to be … not so fresh?
Finally, a timely travel shampoo for the gym: 
The brand here is Number 4 (apologies for the photo quality). Why 4 – I mean, I know why not 2, but still? (Couldn’t help myself there – sorry.) 
A look at the company website reveals an inspiration statement, and here’s where the stars align: It’s Paris. Yes, Number 4 is “inspired by French culture, virtues and debonair ideals.” Whatever that means. So this product, from the Lumiere d’Hiver line, is somehow supposed to be connected to the fourth arrondissement in Paris, otherwise known as the Marais district. 
That’s all well and good, but “Lumiere d’Hiver“? Winter light? Have you been to Paris in the winter? Not only have I been there, but I’m heading there very soon for Noel. And the forecast is for wet, gray weather. So if we’re talking natural light, it’s not a connotation that speaks to enhancing the beauty of my hair. However, if it’s the artificial lights and festive displays of Christmas, that could work. I’ll just have to let you know.
So a Joyeux Noel et Bonne Annee a tous – and with any luck there will be destination blogging aplenty in the nouvel an!

October Birchbox

This month’s haul is purportedly inspired by suggestions from goop, “a lifestyle company curated by Gwyneth Paltrow.” No, that’s a quote, as is “Gwyneth began curating the best of lifestyle.” These goop-y locutions aside, the goods are basically the same as usual, with a few points of note:

The intro to Chantecaille Faux Cils Mascara says “Meet your new wand love.” Hmm, mascara doesn’t usually come to mind when I hear that. So, the Chantecaille mascara:
Very swanky packaging, and the name Chantecaille – “song of the quail” – is lovely: not descriptive, not pretentious, although perhaps a bit of a challenge for non-Francophones to pronounce. Faux Cils – well, that just means “fake lashes.” I don’t think “faux” is a term you really want to use with any product, but I never turn down a good mascara.
Next, DDF Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer:
I have trouble believing that this one can do everything it says it does: “for instantaneous pore appearance reduction while it exfoliates and hydrates to continually diminish the appearance of wrinkles.” But I’ll give it a whirl, since hey, I am in that demographic.
Next, Embryolisse:
Not real excited about a name that translates to “smooth embryo.” Indeed, I feel the same way about this name that I did about Cold Plasma: yuck. This cream is targeted to “rides installees,” or “established wrinkles.” Somehow I don’t buy that there’s a big difference. Also, this one contains not just vitamins A and E, but vitamin F as well. According to, vitamin F is omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Maybe the Embryolisse folks follow my marketing diktat about the word “fat”?
Orofluido is the third foreign-language compound-word brand this month – meaning liquid gold:
Not exactly sure what I’m supposed to do with this hair treatment oil. Their website promises a “journey to the orignins [sic] of the beauty of hair,” and a model destined for the Ps Disasters website. The rest of the site’s copy is no more lucid. I think this is meant to be a hot oil treatment of sorts, but there’s no “lather, rinse, repeat”-style instructions, so I may just toss this one out.
Finally, a “Lifestyle Extra” – a Luna bar, a “goop fave.” Well, that will get eaten.
Off to go curate my own damn lifestyle!

Ladybrain-free wine blogging

Three long years ago, I promised to blog about the Western Slope of Colorado and its produce and wine. Life somehow interfered with the execution of that promise, but in the meantime, we’ve had the chance to learn more about Colorado wine – specifically, that it can be quite good and has great potential to keep improving. But don’t just take my word for it – others are spreading the word too.

On our visit to Colorado wine country three long years ago, we toured many wineries in the Palisade and Paonia areas. So many, in fact, that we returned with 33 bottles of wine! Veterans of several summertime tours to eastern Washington wineries, we were well-prepared with ice packs and Styrofoam coolers to ensure the safe journey home of our bounty in 100-degree heat. (Heat wasn’t a concern once we hit a mudslide that washed out the road on our return. We got to see a lot more of the state than we’d expected when we took an exciting detour over Kebler Pass [unpaved!] and then through Crested Butte. But I digress …)

One of our favorite stops on the trip was Canyon Wind Cellars in Palisade. The wines were uniformly excellent, and the setting? Stunning:

So why do I bring this up, three years later? Well, we’re still drinking their wine: their 47-Ten everyday blend is quite reliable (see this review of their rosé, where it performed admirably among more well-known names and regions) and was available at Costco this season at what the French call a prix intéressant. And I just love their tagline:

That’s right – Wine With an Altitude! Cheeky and evocative, it’s a great tagline that reinforces the key proposition here: this is Colorado wine! Remember, if you’re wedded to a descriptive or not all-that-distinctive trademark, a tagline can make all the difference. But don’t trust me on that: trust Nancy, who wrote the book on taglines (or at least parts One and Two!)

The cachet of English

When we were in Sicily, we were told that having an English business name is the way to impress locals. Here’s one example I found:

Yes, it’s a dog care store. And somehow I don’t think Mondo Cane would be a hit in the US the same way.
That English cachet appears elsewhere in Europe, but often makes less sense than the Italian example above. Here’s the cover of Lufthansa’s intra-European menu offering:
Was? “Nonstop you”? I don’t get it. 
The French are no better. Here, an ad for a juice drink:
“Be fruit”? No, that doesn’t work either. On the other hand, here we are in the country that came up with La Yogurt, so perhaps we’re not in a position to criticize.

Destination: Marina di Ragusa’s finest caffè

Spotted in a cafe in Sicily:

See the ® symbol there? CAFE NOIR is registered in Italy for coffee and coffee shop services. So, French major, what does “café noir” mean? Why yes, it means “black coffee.” 

Now, is there any chance in hell that BLACK COFFEE could be registrable for coffee in the US? Of course there’s not, and trying to sneak a fast one past the PTO by stating that, for example, “caffè nero” means “coffee black,” rather than “black coffee,” thankfully, won’t fly. Look, if your client’s mark is a dud – descriptive or geographically descriptive – tell the client and save them the money, instead of fabricating definitions or feigning ignorance to the PTO. You’ll do us all a favor.

I’m not saying you should miss Caffè delle Rose in Marina di Ragusa, though. And take their cannoli, please, if you’re ever offered the leftovers:

Just take the claim of trademark rights con il beneficio del dubbio, as they say there.


The greatest love of all

This product provides me with an adjective with which I can pat myself on the back:

Alas, it’s not frizzante, so I didn’t drink that much of it. Bonus benefit in Sicily: una grande bottiglia d’acqua frizzante at a restaurant will run you a mere 2 €, far less than the same grande bouteille d’eau minerale gazeuse in France.