August 4, 2004

"Control the volume for hypnotic eyes up to 6 times."

That's the insane advertisement statement of the day. From a paper NYT ad for Lancome mascara. Sorry I can't do the circumflex over the "o" in Lancome. The mascara name has another circumflex over an "o" which I can't show you, but it belongs in the product name: "Hypnose Mascara." It seems that the notion that gripped the admen and product namers was hypnosis. I guess they were brainstorming about eyes and came up with the idea of "look into my eyes" used in hypnosis and thought it was fabulous for a beauty ad, because there's always the goal of achieving mind-altering control over someone through beauty. But how to process "hypnosis" into a product name? Well, it's for Lancome, so let's just French it up: "Hypnose"! Never mind that you just referred to two body parts that aren't the eyes!

Now, the ad line itself takes the idea of controlling the viewer through the hypnotic effect of blackened eyelashes a step further. It seems as though you can control the degree of hypnotic effect, however, not more than 6 times. Six times what? The original hypnotic effect of your uncoated eyelashes? I really don't know, but it sure sounds powerful and precise. And note that adfolk who write about makeup can never bring themselves to call eyelashes eyelashes (or eyebrows eyebrows or eyelids eyelids)--it's always "lashes" (and "brows" and "lids"). Here we have these tiny eyelid hairs, with their basic limited capacity for screening dust and sweat our of your eyes, and suddenly they are taking on some sort of sixfold power to control people. And they aren't just eyelashes, they are lashes. "With each stroke," the ad tells us, "the patented POWERFULL brush intensifies lashes ..." The double meaning of "lashes" is quite apparent--and a bit frightening. Picture a supervillain with eyelashes that literally possess the qualities that mascara ads talk about: that would be one scary creature!

(The double "L" on "POWERFULL" is not an error, by the way. In fact, the people who thought it up are so pleased with the image of power and fullness contained in that respelling that they've put a little "tm" mark next to it.)

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