For instance, I recently came across two different brand names, in the same product category, that took me aback. Both were for lines of makeup. Admittedly, I know very little about eye-liner and lip-gloss, still I believe that these names offer cause for concern.
The first is for a line of eyeshadow called “Nude Dude.” Although some labels can be misleading in terms of what the products actually involve, Nude Dude’s name is not. The product consists of a palette of about a half dozen skin tone colors ranging from light to dark, each color represented by its own semi-naked male model.
Fortunately, the makeup trays mask the men’s private parts. Suggestive poses, however, urge users to imagine the hidden details. Likewise the names of the individual colors are intentionally evocative, for instance: flawless, flirty, and firm.
While some probably find Nude Dude’s sexual imagery objectionable, others may argue it’s not that bad and might even call it playful—“It’s just for fun.” That debate notwithstanding, consider the second makeup name: a line of lip color, illuminator, and blush called “Orgasm.”
The maker of Orgasm is NARS Cosmetics, which “makeup artist, photographer, and iconoclast” Francois Nars founded in 1994. The company markets a wide range of cosmetics for face, lips, cheeks, eyes, and nails. Many of NARS’s product names are benign, e.g., “NARS Skin Purifying Foam Cleaner and Velvet Lip Liner. With its Orgasm line, however, NARs seems intent on pushing the envelope of evocative imagery as far as possible.
This desire to sexualize is evidenced not just in the Orgasm line name, but also in many of the individual product names that comprise the collection. For instance, there is “Super Orgasm” blush and “Orgasm The Multiple,” a “multipurpose stick for eyes, cheeks, lips, and body.” Still, if there’s any doubt about the sexual experience the company is aiming to exploit, one need only consider the collection’s overall tagline: “NARS Orgasm: There’s No Faking It.”
You likely realize we live in a hypersexualized society. Yes, humans are sexual beings, and the act of sex is an important part of life—a beautiful gift in the right context. Still, some organizations and individuals seem intent on infusing sexual imagery and innuendo into every aspect of our existence.
This sexual imposition is particularly problematic when it trickles down to the youngest members of our society, as seen even in the toys that our children are invited to play with (e.g. a pole-dancing doll) and the clothes they are asked to wear (e.g., high heels for babies). Some believe that this oversexualizing takes a toll on our young people over time and results in mental health problems that manifest themselves through self-destructive behavior such as anorexia and bulimia.
Will product names like Nude Dude and Orgasm lead to these outcomes? Not necessarily, but those potential consequences are not the only reason for concern. Also at issue is the ongoing erosion of important societal values like modesty, decency, and decorum. We’ve become a rather debased people when we need to attach graphic sexual imagery to products like makeup that have at best an indirect connection to sex.
Based on their web presence, it seems that the Nude Dude and Orgasm product lines are popular among targeted consumers and , therefore, probably create stakeholder value. Still, for condoning crudeness while trivializing the place and importance of sex, both brand names should be seen as examples of “Single-Minded Marketing.”