What's more, the shampoo is targeted at teenage girls, a population very much at risk for suicide. The copy on the bottle mixes bad puns about hair with psychotically irresponsible metaphors for actual suicide. Here it is, in all its whimsical sadness:
Well, I knew it was feeling a little off color, but I just put that down to the bad dye job. I never knew my once beautiful hair would actually commit suicide by tossing itself off dramatic white cliffs to the rocks below. Now look at me, completely bald. Before it's too late, bring your locks back from a state of complete depression with this conditioning peach shampoo.
The writing is so bad in so many directions that its casual reference to all the dead people who threw themselves off cliffs is almost the least of its crimes. Oh, and it gets worse. "Peachy Head" isn't some random whimsical name for peach-scented shampoo. It's a play on the name of the location with by far the most suicides in the UK -- a very high cliff with easy access to its highest point called Beachy Head. On average, 20 people commit suicide there every year, and the local government takes the problem so seriously that they've installed a telephone box at the top of the cliff with a direct line to a suicide support center, and volunteers patrol the area several times a day. Exactly the kind of vibe you want your personal hygiene product to evoke, right?
The backlash was pretty huge when somebody posted a pic of the bottle on Twitter, as you might expect. It seems the leadership of Anatomicals didn't seem to think it was a big deal. In a statement about the shampoo, the brand's co-founder said they're an "irreverent" brand that made an innocent tongue-in-cheek reference, all in good humor ... which might make sense for a topic other than troubled people taking their own lives.
Although Urban Outfitters promptly pulled the shampoo off their shelves, Anatomicals still lists it on their website, having decided to fight to the bitter end for their right to base cute and quirky branding on suicide. And if you're still not convinced of how fucked up this shampoo is, maybe this picture of the back of the bottle will help.
Sam Missingham via TwitterYes, that's a clump of hair in the shape of a distressed person plummeting to their death. Lather well, you goddamn monsters!
Using 9/11 To Sell Belgian Comedy And IT Security
The Belgian humor publication Humo ran a 9/11-themed ad in 2004, which is something so impossible it's worth mentioning again. The Belgian comedy magazine Humo RAN A 9/11-THEMED ADVERTISEMENT ONLY A FEW FUCKING YEARS AFTER 9/11.
Humo via Village VoiceFunny caption coming soon! When we're all, you know, more comfortable about it!
It's unclear when people will be comfortable making cute references to 9/11, but it sure as shit wasn't in 2004. Many, many people have tried since then, but what made Humo's ad so offensive was how they handled the shocking, world-shattering tragedy with the restraint of a toddler playing with a cup of pudding. Advertising your magazine on the strength of it being so addictive that people can't help causing era-defining tragedies is the kind of thing that would get a creative director fired in most places, but Humo was bizarrely proud of it.
And OK, Humo is a controversial humor magazine, so maybe it's not so hard to understand why they were fine with this, but they didn't have the only Belgian 9/11 ad shockingly soon after the event. IT company CoBis came out with one in 2006, likening 9/11 to hacking and malware. After all, there's not that much distance between thousands of people dying and opening a bad email attachment. Right?!
CoBisGive it a second. This is that slow-burn, subtle kind of offensively inappropriate.
Is exploiting fresh tragedies a trendy idea in the Belgian advertising community? Is the culture particularly glib about human suffering? Are the waffles and chocolate so delicious that the people have no concept of pain and loss? Maybe there's a dark, chilling undercurrent to the country we don't know about. Maybe Douglas Adams decided to make "Belgium" the rudest word in the galaxy in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy for a reason.
Greg Tuff can be found performing standup comedy in the basements of Winnipeg. Follow him at @Decaps86 if you continue to never visit. Jordan Breeding also writes for Paste Magazine, the Twitter, himself, and with a dirty, dirty spraycan in various back alleys.
If you're looking for fewer rough edges in your life, maybe try some Caffeinated Aftershave from Pacific Shaving Company.
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