Not just culture – trademarks too

We didn’t get enough of Sicily last time, so we decided to take the girls with us this summer after #1 graduated from high school. Once again, we made our way there via Munich, where a Lufthansa flight to Catania was the quickest way to get us to our destination, our friend Sally’s place at Marina di Ragusa in the south.

But first Munich – beer, beer, schnitzel, and beer. The Augustiner Keller and Zum Durnbrau restaurants were excellent, and the Neue Pinakothek a great place to escape the somewhat inexplicable crowds and 86 degree weather. And seeing old friends was the cherry on top of the sundae.

Or maybe this was:

Super Dickmann

Now, “dick,” in German, means “thick.” Unfortunately, this doesn’t save this mark from being absolutely hilarious in English. “Super thick man?” With what that item looks like? The small print doesn’t help either: “dick limitiert” means “thickly limits” or “thickly limited.” WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

In any event, Super Dickmann was only the beginning of a fantastic and fun-filled vacation. Stay tuned for more! Tschüss!

Good dessert talk

So I’ve been busy of late trying to get the eldest graduated from high school, hence the lack of blogging. She did it, is off to college, and we’re off to open veins to make that happen. But at that graduation ceremony, misty-eyed yet still eagle-eyed Mom managed to spot this blot on the landscape of the high school grounds (where construction was going on just in time for 900+ students and their families to descend en masse):

Surevoid

Being a huge fan of the Christopher Guest oeuvre, all I could think of when I saw this sign was “A Mighty Wind,” and the character of Leonard Crabbe, who beamed with pride as he discussed working for Sure Flo Medical Appliances, which was, as he said, “named in tribute after my mother, her name was Florence.” Just watch the movie. I can’t do it justice. And then tell me you wouldn’t have thought the same after seeing this sign!

Actually, SureVoid makes “corrugated paper construction products, commonly known as “void forms” or “carton forms”, which create space between concrete structures & expansive soils, thereby isolating the concrete from the swelling ground,” according to their website. And there I was thinking it was a new competitor of Honey Bucket!

Two for the price of one?

I’ll bet that the graphic artist who designed this logo thought it was a brilliant idea to combine the dot on the “i” and the apostrophe here. Unfortunately, my eye thinks otherwise.

Remember, your URL doesn’t contain punctuation! Maybe make it Jenni with two Ns?

Forever twelve

These are possibly the grooviest shoes I’ve ever seen (in terms of something wearable, that is). I saw a cousin wearing them last weekend and immediately beamed up Nordstrom’s online shoe department. One week later, they’re mine, and I’m all agog.

But Bernie, tateleh, darling, you know what your initials are and I know what your initials are. Did you really have to put them on the box?

Mistake – slang, vulgar synonym for same …

Vowel shifts, regional pronunciation differences, slang … all of these should have been considered before this name crossed the Atlantic from Sweden:

In case you can’t see the URL, it’s “mybonahome.com.” “BonaFide Fanatics” is clever, I’ll grant them that. But BONA? With headings like “Use My Bona Product” and “Bang Up Bona Savings”? IS IT JUST ME? AM I STILL TWELVE?

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).

We are not amused

As I’ve said before, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. I’ll say it again:



I’m not even going to link to this one because it gets worse. Normally I’m a great booster of our local bounty, but this time I’ll pass. (Plus, salad dressing and marinades are about the easiest things a home cook can whip up, so I almost never buy bottled anyway.)      

No thank you

Seriously, would you? 



I mean, really. “Honey, what do we have for a snack?” “How about some raw balls?” That’s what I thought.  

MPH matters

When you’re speeding down I-70 to get home from skiing, your eye doesn’t always catch nuances in spelling and punctuation.

Try this one at speed:
[something unintelligible having to do with snot …] OH! They mean “snow tire headquarters” – I get it now! No, I really don’t get it, because all I can think about is that the sign says “snot.” It’s a lot easier to see “snot” at high speed than it is to see the advertiser’s name. 
I think it’s fair to say that there should be an advertising bright line rule prohibiting the use of “sno” + “t-” formations … because some of us are still twelve at heart!

Licious. Just licious.

My friend Nancy has been blogging about the ubiquitous “-licious” suffix for years. She’s even got a category for “licious” on her blog. Well, someone has one-upped all those folks who were too timid to go whole hog for licious alone; I present you Licious Organics:

I don’t like to diss a well-meaning local (Boulder) company, but “licious” alone just looks and sounds funny. Visually, it calls to mind “licentious” or “licit,” neither of which really says delicious raw organic cookies. And then just say it. I’ll wait. Yeah, it doesn’t sound good – it’s either vaguely lewd or sort of incomplete.
Let’s just say I prefer my trademarks and my cookies fully baked.

Destination: The ski resorts of Summit County, Colorado

We need more snow, but that didn’t stop us from heading to the mountains for the MLK weekend. Some good skiing, some good dining (mostly thanks to yours truly – try this for a crowd-pleaser), and some interesting branding.

First, at Pug Ryan’s Steakhouse and Microbrewery in Dillon, good food and good beer AND smutty beer names:
Made us think back to driving past the Church of the Big Wood near Sun Valley in Idaho … (there’s gotta be a better way to say that!)
Then, in the “glad I don’t represent large luxury brands so I don’t have to be a bad guy” category we have this one from the main drag in Breckenridge:
Very cute poodles inside and out, but not a name I’d have chosen – at least not without solid legal representation and the money to spend on it!

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!

Bright line rules

I don’t think it’s wrong to say as a matter of principle, law, good taste, whatever, that food products should not be called by any name that includes “poo,” no matter how it’s spelled or what it means:

Wikipedia informs me that pu-erh is a variety of post-fermented tea; alas, that description does nothing to encourage me. And a chocolate flavored pu-erh? Lost my appetite completely.

Destination: Drinking in Vegas with my Ladybrain

Florence Nightingale here got the chance to escape the convalescing and now healthy patients for a weekend with good friends in Las Vegas. Now, I hate Vegas for myriad reasons, not the least of which is that you’re guaranteed to see someone smoking while wearing an oxygen tank and sitting at a slot machine. Everything in the suitcase needs laundering when you get back, and you’ve got a nagging cough that just wasn’t there before you inhaled a lifetime’s worth of secondary smoke in one weekend. But hey, good food and drink and good friends – it was worth it.

People-watching there is excellent, but I found more intriguing the billboards advertising legal services, like this one:
“Re-Defining Personal” indeed! If this ad isn’t targeted at women, with its pinkish tones and especially with the himbo on the left, I don’t know what is! We saw several other lawyer ads with the same type of glamorous headshots, but nothing like the open-collared gentleman in this ad!
Vegas is all about getting you intoxicated enough to do wild things and spend lots of money, as The Hangover movie franchise has deftly illustrated. Before the proprietor of a downtown liquor store yelled at me to stop taking photos, I snapped a photo of this candidate for the Drinking with my Ladybrain hall of fame:
According to the Crosby Lake Spirits Company, which makes Kinky, Kinky is a “naughty infusion of premium vodka” distilled with mango, blood orange liqueur, and passion fruit. The website? Well, its photos aren’t subtle. I’d say this drink is marketed to men trying to seduce women into doing something kinky. As I’ve still got a nearly-full bottle of Nuvo in my fridge, I think I’ll give Kinky a pass.
Finally, we saw some brand extension of what Nancy Friedman has called “the curse of strong drink”: 
Now you can find not just Feckin Irish Whiskey but Feckin Spiced, presumably for a feckin good time. And I do like how they let you click to “Find a Feckin Stockist” on their site! This one seems like good-hearted vulgarity, and not just vulgarity for vulgarity’s sake (Suxx Vodka, I’m looking at you!)
So Vegas was a good time, and since it’s a great midpoint for getting together with friends from Seattle. And for classic kitsch if you’re headed that way: run, don’t walk to the Peppermill – the bygone “glamour” of its Fireside Lounge is not to be missed.
P.S. A thank you once again to Nancy for reminding me to get back on the ladybrain drinking/blogging horse! 

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 Wisegeek.com, 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!

NSFW or for Dad

I think I’ll let Dan Savage’s commenter here express some thoughts on the merits of a new product called Masque. From the trademark perspective, however, I’ll be a bit more forthcoming: Masque, for a product whose purpose is to “mask,” is descriptive, and possibly even generic, of the product, and therefore likely unregistrable. The fact that they use the French spelling doesn’t change that analysis one iota.

That is all.