Thursday, January 29, 2009

loreal & love

i had a brief (all of 8-weeks) stint with mccann erickson working on loreal - loreal the mass market cosmetic/hair color brand, not one of their other brands  - and reading the current news about them, it seems obvious that their problem is the same one i thought i was hired to address. 
i met with a woman called carol hamilton who lives and breathes the loreal brand. 
and i told her the problem i saw (and who am i?) was that the brand was too cold. it was shiny, glam and slick looking but it didn't seem to love women.
or even really like them.
i thought that the on-a-pedestal idealized glossy view of a woman was great for haircolor. but it wasn't for skincare. because there you wanted love. you wanted intimacy, closeness, you wanted to believe it cared about you before you put it on your face.

if the brand cared about you, it had to act like it. 
like moving towards recycled or recyclable packaging, like being more transparent about the ingredients, like speaking to you in a way that was simple, comprehensible and said it believed you could have a more beautiful future.

and she said, "yes, you're right. i'd love to talk more about it."
my boss - or colleague - at mccann, the jagged and wired executive senior vp super-important account guy who hired me, agreed. for about 5 minutes.

in reality, no one was the least bit interested in what i thought. or in anything green. or in questioning the overall meaning and message of the brand. 

no time for big picture thinking - internal politics and strategy sapped everyone's energy.

in action, loreal had no love.

i adore kevin roberts and his lovemarks theory.
absolutely brilliant.
there are brands that inspire devotion by using stories, emotion and magic.
and loreal once had that. 
sometimes it still does.

but i think there is one missing piece. you love brands that love you back.

the funny thing is that as this economy gets worse, that core truth becomes more apparent. if you've only got one dollar in your pocket - who gets it? whoever actually likes you and cares about you even when your dollar is in their wallet.
so there are tons of brands that are lotharios and will tell you all kinds of pretty stories just to get into your pants' pockets. and if they are gorgeous enough, you will go along for the ride.
but only if you've got time and money to spare.
like teenage girls becoming women, we are starting to realize our power and value as consumers.

back again to loreal, when i started working for them, i did my research. loreal was started by a chemist called eugene schueller - by most accounts, he was a fascist supporter and an all round nasty guy. (read bitter scent by michael bar-zohar, amongst others). eugene made hair-dye that didn't harm your hair and reportedly turned in people to the nazis. 
since i believe the birth of a business infuses its soul, i was horrified.
a cute, young jewish copywriter working there, said, "but we're good people, right?"
at least, he seemed to love hair.

not a lot of love to start.

then i started working on the antiageing platform. 
and another bright young woman said, "oh it's so digusting this ad, trying to insinuate that a 60 year-old woman has sex! at that age, she shouldn't be thinking about men and sex."
i also noticed that there were no women over 50 around. (except for carol hamilton. if she is over 50. ) they talked about older models dismissively, "she has wrinkles ON her wrinkles."
i tried to say something about old being beautiful and was immediately shut up for even mentioning the "o-word"
no love lost for the ageing set.

we were presented with an intelligent approach to skincare. by the WRONG person. politically, that is. it was shot down. and everyone seemed to be doing everything in their power to make it go away.

no love for each other.

i asked about getting rid of external packaging. and using recycled and recyclable bottles.  i was politely told, "no."

no love for the planet. or our future.

i'd been moved by the story of the incredibly empowering line, "because i'm worth it," written by a recently-divorced young woman standing up for herself. almost like the secretary become copywriter in madmen, she reinvents herself.


but in today's world, the meaning goes from inspiring to self-centered and egotistical. 

and "because we're worth it" is just not believable.

even if the "we" refers to the brand.

the question is - can we bring back the LOVE? 
because without it, we're more unnecessary plastic on the shelf. 

and if we can't LOVE the consumer, our products and our future - do we deserve to exist?


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

the meaning of life

or at least the meaning of your own life.
i met a very nice guy called mike rogers who runs an ad agency called ml rogers. 
i guess i was there to be interviewed. and i pathetically didn't even really bring a portfolio because i am so used to being hired by word of mouth. which i said, which must have sounded incredibly arrogant. 
i also stupidly said, i always win pitches. all but 3. in my lifetime of advertising. 
which again, i didn't mean as arrogant, i just was stating a fact. but it must have come across as pretty full of myself.
but what blew me away was, when i asked him, why did you start an agency?
and he looked totally confused and said, what do you mean, why? to have a  job, of course.
so i said, well, you had a job.
and he said, yes but it's nice to be boss.
and i said, well what's the point of the agency?
and he said, to make good advertising.

i was starting to sound bitchy so i thought i'd better stop belaboring it. and i packed up to go. but then i said, what is your agency's strength?

and he said, really smart strategy. we're not just funny to be funny. we really think about the brand and what it means and we go really deep. and then we make great ads.

which made me think the point was an agency run by strategic planners. an interesting idea because they are always the smartest, best-read people in an agency. but...

i am not sure that that would get me out of bed in the morning. 

and i am not sure that in this day and age, anyone has the luxury of starting a venture without a purpose. 

i mean, good for mike, that was his time. and he seems to be doing well.

but today, if you didn't have a totally brilliant reason to exist - why would you start an agency? or anything else? there are tons of advertising agencies. and tons of restaurants. and shops. and clothing designers.  there are more shoe stores and shoe brands than we can possibly imagine.

basically, the world - esp the first world - is overrun by crap. advertising being one of the things. so why make more?

this may sound self-righteous and it's not meant to. it is a totally personal opinion. but why do anything if it doesn't add a layer of meaning to your life? or strengthen your beliefs somehow.


i like to play off that i am so low-maintenance and don't care about all this beauty stuff. and now i am rushing out to buy beauty treatments like a madwoman. even though i am broker than broke.

yesterday i had a nasty shock that almost drove me to plastic surgery. 
my beauty guru mary schook has this incredible camera that photographs your face and penetrates several layers beneath the skin to show you the sun damage and the ageing. 

i've got ugly sun damage on my cheeks and forehead and dappling my nose. but not that bad. it turns out i am a 3. which means that, in terms of sun damage, my skin is 3 times older than it would have been if i had stayed out of the sun.

i thank my mum for this.  i have olive green skin that doesn't burn. my mum looks quite young. but also my mum hates the beach. she hates hot weather. she likes shady places, she likes walks through the mountains. 

she cannot stand wearing a bathing suit and lying beside the sea.

so from my childhood, i can count our beach holidays on one hand. 
in fact, on 2 fingers.  this isn't to say we never went to the beach, but it was generally an afternoon trip, a swim and a picnic.

anyway, we did not sunbathe.

so that gives me a 3.

the unlucky part? the age of the skin around my mouth and chin is 57! 

my forehead is 38. my cheeks are 41. my actual years on this planet are 45.

more bizarrely, there is no blood flow to my mouth. the skin around my mouth and chin is totally white and devoid of blood vessels. 

AUGH. it's only going to get WORSE.

mary schook suggests the derma wand. a mild electrical current that stimulates the oxygen. $134.00 online. i've got to do it everyday to wake up the bottom of my face.

also, the muscles in my cheeks are atrophied.  i need facial exercises. she recommends flex effect. ok. $89.99 at 

now for my eyelashes. yup. as you get older, they fall out. i was using a product called revitalash but the f.d.a changed the formula. now it's not working as well. product 3 $150.00 plus tax, shipping & handling.

yup. that's right. i am a slave now. hardcore. 

no botox, fillers or plastic surgery. but don't let my subversive version of it fool you. i am chasing the anti-ageing mob as hard as the rest of them.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

for all those people who say the beauty/fashion mores give young girls bad body image, look at bratz!
Michelle Obama is wearing sunflower yellow Isabel Toledo to the inauguration! YES! AM so happy for Isabel!

Friday, January 16, 2009

whatever does one wear 2 look chic & stay warm? in cozy lint-covered polar fleece again. Y do i only see cute guys when i look like a marshmellow?
still wearing pjs under my polarfleece. rara wants to go to school now. back in2the cold.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

kids harrassed me 4 wearing lehnga 2 opening. but also wore lipstick red boots. i like to look different& overdressed.
working the used toy sale at UNIS. dug out a slouchy alaia sweater & skinny skirt from '88. shaggy boots but feeling pretty supermom.
am (generally) dressed 2 advantage but fall apart in the cold. buried head2toe in polarfleece w/lint sticking to it & puffer & big boots.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

but "another way to die" is brilliant. the bizarre juxtaposition of jack white & alicia keys is deliciously compelling.
listening to "the diary of alicia keyes." disappointing. she has incredible potential to unearth powerful emotions w/her voice.

Monday, January 12, 2009

growing respect for the superficial world of fashion & beauty. bc politicians academics & intellectuals complicate issues. it's simple-act human.
product recco: joico agedefy haircare. shiseido collaboration. re:nu serum:hair looks 70s faye dunaway sexy & shiny.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ceasefire ends. killing begins again. and the congo. and somalia. where is LOVE?

Monday, January 5, 2009

home: dishes. beds. bills. re: mahathir mohd's letter to obama. why haven't we signed kyoto treaty?

Sunday, January 4, 2009

time for US to stand for peace. obama's given us back our hope. check out or @gazamom