Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Scent of a Half-Man

My Palm Oil column for Coconuts ... in which I say thanks but no thanks to Eau De Upstart by Mario Maurer, especially when flying the cheapskate skies with Air Asia http://bangkok.coconuts.co/2014/07/02/palm-oil-thai-scents-

SUPER MARIO WANTS IT ALL                  ... Insta-Art © Jason Gagliardi

I regularly get to endure the utterly joyless experience that is flying on Air Asia, from the “be here early or we'll leave without you” check-in and stale, overpriced sandwiches for sale to the schizophrenic policy on whether beer can be obtained in-flight.

These indignities were amplified on a recent trip when I glanced up at the garish advertising splashed all the way down the overhead lockers to see repeated entreaties stretched out to vanishing point suggesting I would be an imbecile not to immediately douse myself in the new signature scent of Mario Maurer, the recently ubiquitous, Thai-German, actor-model-whatever du jour.

Now I am not against advertising, although I can advise against its practice having spent some time in its iniquitous clutches. Nor am I against men's perfumes or the branding thereof by assorted fashionistas and celebrities, or the idea of celebrity endorsements (although I believe they should be used sparingly and not gratuitously and above all authentically – otherwise you are left with Tiger Woods shilling Buicks).

Hell, I'm not even against Mario Maurer, as long as he keeps his sickeningly pretty face and his abs of steel in movies for lovesick teenagers and in the pages of teen and gay magazines and not hovering above me in Warholesque repetition, pouting, importuning his captive audience of hapless travelers cooped up in their tin can with wings for hours. And then there's the risible “hero shot” “of Maurer astride his thundering motorcycle, looking about as tough as wet tissue, a “Wild Hog” in waiting.
Mario Maurer for Him.

I mean, give me a break. The dude is a boy. How can you expect to credibly endorse aftershave when you look like you don't even shave yet?

A Towering Pile of Utter Nonsense: Condominium Branding

In which I take aim at the symphony of silliness that surrounds the naming and branding of Asia's throw-em-up, flog-em-off condominiums. The original column for Coconuts is here: http://singapore.coconuts.co/2014/06/17/palm-oil-whats-condo-name

LE C'ORB VERSUS THE FRENDY                      Insta-Art © Jason Gagliardi

My secret theory on the naming of brands, especially the vexed pseudo-science and one-handed greasy pole climb that is the conundrum known as condominium naming, is simply this: The best name is one that has been chosen.

I say this having spent more time dreaming up condominium names and taglines and the rest of the branding babble than any sane man ought reasonably to admit. Six years navigating the high-gloss reflections and shifting sands of adland was enough to give me an enduring cynicism about the seemingly simple task of buttressing bricks and mortar with brand architecture.

It goes like this: Having won the pitch, the triumphant agency sends in the big guns to kick things off with the client (thereafter they may send in the clowns, but I digress).

The client is the project's developer but also, you are about to find out, an instant expert in all matters architectural, design, brand, marketing, sales, style, fashion and cranial nano-surgery. Despite, or perhaps because of all this expertise and intelligence, the client will reject all the first round of names. And then the second. And the third. And the fourth.

Unless you are Clint Eastwood or a call girl penning her memoirs, not having a name is a bad thing. In property, it's suicide. Without a moniker, lacking a crisp appellation that buttresses the brand values while fitting the target market like a Hugo Boss suit, the smartest structure remains ephemeral and amorphous, a chimera skittering on the skyline.