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My orang utan can beat your ylang ylang

Anand Halve explores the absurdity of a lot of commercials for personal care products which actually mean nothing.
None | By Anand Halve
UPDATED ON OCT 02, 2007 08:51 PM IST

"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe."

This bit from Lewis Carroll's poem, Jabberwocky, seems to mean something, but one is never sure. Just like a lot of commercials for personal care products.

Take the ylang ylang mentioned in this article's title. It was introduced to me in a commercial where the female protagonist was gyrating in a manner suggesting a nervous disorder. "Contains ylang ylang," it said.

Now, if the hapless viewer was told the potion contained neem or chandan, it would mean something because there is a sense of their do-good value. But ylang ylang? The ad might just as well have said, "Contains orang utan."

But this penchant for unknown and incomprehensible ingredients is getting out of hand. Take another TV commercial that informs us that the product contains "jojoba oil." Quick, how many of you know whether jojoba oil comes from a seed, crushed leaves or the pineal gland of an insect? It's okay… I don't know either.

But am I missing something, or do these brands really believe referring to unheard of ingredients will terrify consumers into buying?

The familiar made impressive

Not content with tossing in strange horticultural substances, some brands turn the common into the exotic, in a bid to impress. As you know, vitamins are the poor cousins of the nutritional family. They don't get to Page 3 or the ramp like 'Carbs', 'Proteins' or 'Calories' do. They just get by with a few random alphabets tossed their way. So the only ones you know are the somewhat anonymous Vitamins A, B, C, D, E and K.

So what exactly are the 'Detox Vitamins' that certain products are said to contain? A Google search of 'Detox Vitamins' reveals that they are the humble Vitamin C fellers with a new name!

Another product was supposed to have 'Fairness vitamins', which turned out to be only "… unique patented formula with its fairness vitamin B3…" when I traced it to the company's website. This seems like calling a gardener a "tree surgeon" to make him feel more educated!

And the bizarre

And if re-nomenclating the commonplace was not enough, how about the weird? A recent commercial for a hair care product shows a bent head of hair trying to drink its 'plant milk'. Plant milk?

When I was in school there was a piece of advice that said, "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with b******t". A lot of guys have evidently been listening!

Anand Halve is co-founder, chlorophyll Brand & Communications

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