Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Beauty ads pull women’s legs selling unnatural, useless products

They say that 10 percent of modern man’s thinking is based on reason. The remaining part rests on myths; it is something handed down from generations of ancestors. In other words, we are likely to believe or doubt a piece of information without thinking it over or analyzing it in most cases. Ad agencies and sales managers are well aware of these peculiarities and use them to their advantage for selling more goods.

The majority of myths are neatly exploited through ad slogans meant for female customers. Ad writers’ male chauvinism is probably to blame for the situation. Ad writers seem to view women as somewhat irrational creatures driven by a highly unpredictable way of reasoning and mood swings.

Below are some of the most typical catch phrases used by ad industry specialists for selling cosmetic products to female customers:

1. “This conditioner is specially designed for nourishing hair roots and follicles to make your hair soft, healthy, strong and shiny.”

A conditioner for nourishing hair could be good for Medusa Gorgon yet it is useless for ordinary humans. Human hair is a threadlike keratinized outgrowth composed of the dead epidermis. Therefore, there is no point in nourishing it. Evidence to prove this assertion is easy to find. A living cell is supposed to have blood vessels attached to it. Has anybody seen blood dripping from his hair while having it cut?

A hair resembles a pine cone; it has lots of tiny scales forming the outer layer of cells. A hair will look healthy and shiny once the scales are snugly fit together. On the contrary, a hair will look miserable if the scales tend to fluff up. The “fluffing” tendencies may depend on certain individual characteristics of a “pine tree” e.g. a genetically inherited predisposition or inadequate diet. They also have to do with the way you take care of your hair.

You will certainly do damage to your hair if you shampoo it too frequently or use your hair dryer every time you take a shower. Shampoo eliminates a film of scalp oils on the hair. As a result, hair gets brittle and weak. That is when you start looking for “innovative protein-enriched shampoos and conditioners that moisturize and help protect your hair from daily styling stress” etc. In actuality, these hair products do not nourish anything at all.

2. The use of scientific terminology in slogans and catch phrases e.g. “24h Vita-Nectar with blackcurrant GLA and Q10 coenzymes.”

Using a wide range of scientific terms on the product labels is yet another clever marketing technique, which is specially designed to impress those who used to flunk exams in school or college but still have a feeling of awe when it comes to the grandeur of science. This group of customers is easily spellbound by such words as “proteins”, “chitosans”, “keratins” or “coenzymes.”

Marketing campaign for chewing gum containing “carbamide” is a good example of the power of words. Would anybody take a fancy to a stick of Dirol with urea in it? Scratch the misnomer and use a synonym instead. The sales of the new product could not but soar as a result. The same goes for other words that sound pretentiously scientific. For example, coenzymes are nothing but regular vitamins.

3. Laying more stress on natural qualities of the product e.g. “certified organic botanicals for the benefitofyour skin.”

This myth is designed for those who loathe science in general and innovative technologies in particular. The adverts of good old nature go in for yoga and experiment with a variety of diets. They treasure foodstuffs that are grown organically i.e. animals and produce raised or grown without the use of artificial fertilizers, pesticides or drugs. Back to the roots or so they say.

The customers buy into such catch words of the ad terminology as “purely natural” and “totally organic”. No doubts about it, the “silk extract” sounds more euphonious than some “isopropyl propane-butyl alcohol.”

People dislike complex chemical formulas, it is perfectly understood. The aversion stems from the side effects of school education. The organic food aficionados do not seem to care for the fact that all those “natural compounds” are, in fact, the complex chemical formulas that can stretch over several lines of a paragraph. Besides, the natural origins of a substance do not make it safer in any respect. Take a toadstool, for example. The mushroom is 100% natural and highly poisonous at the same time.

4. Tested and certified by experts e.g. “the toothpaste has been shown to be an effective decay preventive dentifrice that can be of significant value when used as directed in a conscientiously applied program of oral hygiene” etc.

Cosmetics are often marketed under a slogan containing something like “98% effectiveness of the product proven by clinical tests involving 60 (number may vary) women.”

In part, the slogan reflects a reality. The companies hire a number of volunteers (from 20 to 100) to conduct the so-called first test on humans in order to find out potentially harmful side effects of a new product. However, the testing is no good in terms of the product’s effectiveness. To find out whether some cream can really smooth off the facial lines or improve the complexion, the test will have to involve ten times as many volunteers at the very least. You had better think twice after reading ads with all those figures related to “clinically proven effectiveness” and the like.

These days many product labels display an announcement that is ostensibly meant to inform the customer that “the product has been produced without animal testing or animal by-products.” Too true, no animal testing really means a novelty item will be eventually tested on humans. No experiments in vitro (in a bacterial culture) can substitute for experiments conducted in vivo i.e. those that are observed occurring within the bodies of living organisms. The question is: Which one of the following species – a mouse, a rabbit or man – should deserve more pity?

Pulling the plug on the use of cosmetics marketed by means of advertisement is not the point. Yet we should not go to excess and believe in anything we see on the label. Those who buy cosmetics and those who manufacture them are driven by different goals. The costumers want to look great while the manufacturers aim to make lots of money by selling their products. There fore the latter use a wide variety of marketing techniques and smart ad campaigns to take advantage of the naiveté of the former.


Translated by Guerman Grachev