Sunday, July 29, 2007


Silicon Valley has become renowned for its ability to spin technology in such a way as to build entire businesses, sometimes overnight, on the back of spurious benefits claimed for some new product, service or feature. However, even we tip our hats to the acknowledged kings of this particular hill, the cosmetics companies.

Watching TV last night, I caught a L'Oreal advert claiming, in suitably authoritative tones, that their latest gloop would 'redensify' skin because it contained 'micro-capsules of calcium'.

Obviously, the first problem with this is that there's no such word as redensify, so frankly I have no idea what it is they are trying to say. Let's, then, move onto the second problem: whatever redensification is, it's triggered, apparently, by slathering the face with chalk. Do people actually believe this BS f'r chrissakes?

In the interests of scientific study, I took a look at some advertising websites for women's cosmetics. At random, I found the following gems:

'Rebuilds skin defense system against external aggressors.' (Handy in the Middle East one might imagine.)

'A treatment that enhances well-being of hair.'(Hair is dead; it is not corporeal; this is stupid.)

'Horsetail helps provide biological nourishment for cellular activity.' (Only for horses - NOT!)

The list is seemingly endless.

On the back of all this chicanery, the prices charged for this stuff makes Beluga caviar seem as cheap as an extra order of beans at KFC on free sides night. And yet, and yet: let's just remember that the target audience laps this stuff up, spending billions annually on the back of psuedo-science, inflated marketing and unjustifiable claims. Normal, rationally-minded women somehow lose the will to resist these claims, preferring instead simply to shell-out and slap-on, seemingly hypnotised into doing the bidding of the cosmetics giants.

This level of hype and hyperbole makes SV marketing types seem puritanically honest by comparison. Well, perhaps with one exception ... Apple. If in doubt, take a look at the launch program around Apple TV sometime.

Steve Jobs, the Valley's own Svengali?

No comments: