The world of advertisement is full of hyperbole. Every material item claims to have the power to transform our whole lives – whether it’s a razor, apple juice or rollerblades, we are told we need these things in order to be happy and fulfilled.
We are aware of the exaggeration involved in advertisements, so much so that we hardly even notice when a jar of pasta sauce stops a couple from getting a divorce or a new Hyundai saves 15 orphans from a burning building. Some adverts are subverting this trope, with tag lines like “we know it’s only butter, but isn’t it great all the same? Better than other butter, at least.” Still, most brands go for life-changing claims and superhuman feats achievable only through things and stuff.
The biggest culprit, I believe, is mascara. If you don’t know what mascara is it’s makeup for eyelashes that makes them darker and sometimes a bit curlier. Of course, if you had no idea what mascara was and had to infer it from an ad, you might think it was a DANGEROUSLY SEXY tube of LIFE ALTERING MAXIMUM IMPACT SUPER MAGIC EYE LAZER DRAGON POWER that turns ordinary people into supermodels. DANGEROUSLY SEXY supermodels. It’s not, though. It’s paint for the little hairs around your eyes.
Here is an ad for Too Faced (brand) Better Than Sex Waterproof mascara (mascara name). Let’s start with the name. The poor people over at Too Faced are having such terrible sex that they would rather have eyelash paint. This is a sad situation. I wonder if it’s the entire marketing department, are they all sleeping together and thinking “well, at least this mascara is better than this collective sex we’re having?” Or was it just one person, maybe the boss, who said “This mascara is better than sex! Better than sex with my terrible husband, at least…” and everyone else was too embarrassed to disagree? And “better than sex with Barbara’s terrible husband” didn’t fit on the tube? Anyway, this ad implies, HEAVILY, that this mascara is better than sex and it will turn you into a mermaid. Seriously, watch the video. She puts on the mascara and then she’s a mermaid. And the water is like, full of mascara, so I guess it’s multiplying… is this where the sex name comes from? Does Too Faced mascara reproduce sexually? What has that got to do with mermaids?
Urban Decay is one of my favourite makeup brands but it’s hard to take mascara seriously when it’s called “Perversion“. I strongly encourage you to read the product description, because a writer got paid for it. Here is the opening line;
“For lashings of sex appeal and high voltage drama, introduce Perversion Mascara into your make up bag.”
LASHings of sex appeal, see what they did there? I’m concerned about “high voltage drama” though, do I need to plug this mascara in? Will it cause me to blow a fuse? Our electrics are old. Urban Decay also make an eyelash primer called “Subversion”.
“Take your lashes to the next level with Subversion Eyelash Primer by Urban Decay.”
Take your lashes to the next level of WHAT?
Rimmel’s Scandaleyes Reloaded mascara is presented in this ad as some sort of weapon. Cara Delevigne plays… a spy? I think? She’s walking very fast, anyway. And looking dangerous. There are so many buzzwords in this ad it’s hard to work out what they’re claiming this mascara does, colour and extend one’s lashes, I suppose.
So, it’s Scandaleyes (killer pun, to be fair) and it’s reloaded which obviously means… something. It provides:
- DANGEROUSLY BOLD LASHES. You could take an eye out. Yours.
- MAX DENSITY BRUSH. I believe Max Density is Mr. Rimmel’s cousin. He’s not very bright but he is a mean brush designer.
- EXTREME VOLUME. This volume is jumping out of planes and all.
- UP TO 24 HOUR IMPACT. I dunno.
- EXTREME WEAR. The wear is also extreme! As well as the volume!
- EASY TO REMOVE WITH WARM WATER. I feel that this is all we needed to know.
- UNSTOPPABLE. Except with warm water.
These are just some examples, there are many mascaras out there. Most of them have very intimidating or sexual names, here are some examples:
- Colossal chaotic
- Illegal Length
- Babydoll (not scary)
- Manga Eyes (ditto)
- Push up Drama (boob joke)
- They’re Real (boob joke!)
- Bad Gal
- Lash Architect (I like that one)
- 2000 calorie (nonsense)
The list goes on in varying degrees of nonsense. Sexuality is a strong theme, although I’m not sure the last time anyone found eyelashes erotic. Like, what?
“It really turns me on how your lashes protect your retinas from dust particles…” I mean, no judgement here, whatever you’re in to, but it seems like the brand should be going for more mass appeal.
There’s also a common theme of power and strength and I love for people to be empowered by all of their products but again, are eyelashes particularly intimidating?
“WHOA, RUN AWAY, those are some COLOSSAL eyelashes, they should be ILLEGAL! Have they been RELOADED?!”
I understand that the marketing execs are doing their jobs, but I think we’ve reached a point of diminishing return on eyelash paint claims. I love cosmetics but there is only so much they can do, it’s all legal and none of it is extreme. Mascara makes the little hairs around your eyes a bit darker, a bit longer and a bit curlier. Without it, your eyes might look slightly smaller. Sometimes it comes in fun colours, like blue, but it rarely looks as good. That’s about all there is to it.
Lipgloss, on the other hand… Turns your lips into EXTREME SEXY SUPERHEROES WINNING THE WORLD ON CHRISTMAS IN DISNEYLAND WITH SEX AND CHOCOLATE AND JAMIE DORNAN, PROBABLY.
Caoimhe is available for copywriting if any cosmetics companies are interested 😉