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The Magical Art of Selling Soap (laphamsquarterly.org)
49 points by anarbadalov 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 11 comments





It seems that the trend of make-believe advertisement has gone worse and worse. Today's advertisements are way worse than those in the articles.

Everything must be "natural" and "chemical-free". This is home-made, and that is hand-crafted. Pills are better if they contains herbs. Buy the "smart" scale/hygrometer/ruler: it has a sleek design with no screen, and it connects to your phone. And of course, who doesn't want more "air freshener" on literally everything?

Maybe I'm too grumpy about it, and the ranting is hyperbolic. But it's genuinely hard to shop sometimes. There are too many buzz words. What's worse? Some descriptions on the packages are actually technical and important, but you need learn enough to figure it out.

I'm more inclined to purchase store-brand products these days, because at least it just says what's in the box.


Furthermore, the illustrations in old adverts were absolutely amazing. Just look at today's vast majority of the works - half-baked, traced in illustrator and even then not as refined and charming, full of frivolous colors and complete lack of mastery in drawing (if they ever learned attempted it).

We've regressed so much, it makes me upset. There are a few gems out there though.

Advertisement, marketing, business ethics, customer centricity, etc. have eroded in favor of high thrift, low margin disposable products we buy today.

The other day I was searching for a water pick machine. Amazon search returned a plastic palace worth of shit, each one competing for attention and none of the brands I've ever heard of. Every brand was some engrish name with spelling mistakes, definite chinese knockoff.

Good honest businesses are a rarity these days.


It's the end result of the printshop (video studio/ graphics workstation) on everyone's desk. It greatly accelerates getting amazing tools in the hands of the talented...and also the not so talented. Memos with 20 fonts abound.

It’s simply the (game theory) logical conclusion of capitalism and globalization

I’m interested in your opinion here. Will you elaborate and cite an example an example to justify your opinion?

I tried to get some all natural, chemical-free vacuum, but virtual particles keep contaminating it, just winking in and out of existence before I can even do anything about them.

In the future, I imagine a similar write up will be made about the beauty products today and their advertising. I suspect Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop will surely be on the list that future people look look back on with laughter.


What amazes me here is how prevalent these advertising claims are even today. I wonder if these claims really originated from advertisers or if the advertisers themselves have a basis elsewhere (maybe folk medicine, or something they observed Native Americans did, etc.) and just gave it an audience.

Hydrotherapy sounds like the contemporary endorsement for cold showers (even if, I think, some of the claimed benefits of cold showers have been proven).

> “quicken the blood supply, increase the scalp’s nutrition, and thus aid nature in keeping your hair alive and beautiful.”

> Stimulating massage plus lather plus water flushes out “dead cells” and “dust,” leaving “the pores clear and free to do their work.”

Are natural hair care advice you can get even today. I have completely no idea how these have fared against scientific testing. All I know is that there is still a lot we don't understand about hair care and so you are bound to get a lot of conflicting advice. Heck there isn't even a consensus how frequently should you shampoo your hair.

> Only the fresh-squeezed juice of a lemon, Sunkist offers helpfully, “cuts the alkali in the soap and leaves the hair really clean.”

I distinctly remember hearing this sort of advice in my school's grapevine just around the time we were going through adolescence[1] and just getting conscious about how we look. Even with the hormone-clouded judgement of an adolescent, I could tell this claim has disputable basis; citrus is acidic and why the hell would I want anything acidic on my scalp?

What really gets me is I am not from the US. Granted, we were a colony and not to mention US is influential even to non-colonies. But I find it very amusing and curious that I heard such a singular and obscure advice, which Sunkist apparently promoted almost a century before. I wonder, if I could trace back how this idea propagated to me as a pimply schoolboy, will it have originated to Sunkist's ad? Or perhaps share a common ancestor with it?

Man, ideas are damn hard to kill.

[1] If I really try to place this memory, I would say around 2004.


> citrus is acidic and why the hell would I want anything acidic on my scalp?

Because your skin is acidic - indeed it has a protective acid mantle [1]. The question you should actually be asking yourself is why would you want anything alkaline (like soap & sodium lauryl sulphate detergents) on your skin.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acid_mantle


You don't talk about fight club?



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