It’s not new that some brands name their makeup with seductive names to attract women to their products. Urban Decay has lipsticks named “69,” “Walk of Shame,” and “F-Bomb.” Their bestselling eyeliner is called “Perversion.” When I had 14-year-olds walk in and ask for their eyeliner in “LSD,” I couldn’t help but feel my eyes widen and be inclined to want to steer them towards an eyeliner with a less jarring name.
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It would appear, however, that in an attempt to garner greater shock and awe from clients, marketers and product developers may have gone a bit too far.
Kat Von D, the renowned tattoo artist made her foray into the makeup industry world several years ago. Her line is sold at Sephora, who also owns and produces Von D’s products. Lauded for her full-coverage foundations, tattoo-covering concealers, and lipstick colors in unique colors like a sparkly blue-black, Von D’s line has recently come under fire for a few of her product’s names.
Von D’s lip colors may have been out for almost a year, but it’s taken this long for enough people to actually look at the labels on their lippies and notice the actual names.
It shouldn’t be shocking that this inked, raven-haired, rebel would be inclined to label her makeup with audacious monikers like “Sexer,” “Backstage Bambi,” and “Outlaw.” Harmless enough. Even the innocuous Sephora Collection has lipsticks with names like “Call Girl,” “Cougar,” and “Unfaithful.” Racy but there’s no harm in that (although, some could argue “Call Girl” supports prostitution and human trafficking, and “Unfaithful” supports broken marriages and betrayal. #JustPlayingDevilsAdvocate).
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It would appear, however, that audiences aren’t quite on board with how far Miss Von D has recently pushed the envelope. With lipsticks named “Lolita” and “Underage Red,” consumers are voicing their dissent for this less-than-subtle intimation.
Tweets have begun pouring out. One user wrote: “Other Kat vonD lip gloss shades exclusively at Sephora: Jailbait Blush and Pedophilia Pink.” Another wrote: “I guess Statutory Orange wasn’t selling.”
As it turns out, this isn’t the first time Kat Von D has come under fire. In 2012 (before my time at Sephora), there was major backlash after they released a lip color called “Celebutard.” Wow.
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Having worked for a brand that sold to Sephora, I’ve personally seen how Sephora is greatly involved with the product creation process for top sellers at their stores. This allows for companies to really tailor their products to the Sephora customer base. Wonder why that new product is EXACTLY what you needed? How did Sephora read your mind? Well, they analyze consumer spending, watch trends, and work with their brands to develop new, innovative products that solve problems you didn’t even know you had. Genius!
With that, however, did Sephora not create, sign-off, and distribute this product? Were they not in the loop from the beginning, as they were with “Underage Red” and “Lolita”? It would appear they didn’t quite learn from the 2012 “Celebutard” debacle.
Listen, I get it. Sometimes we try to push the envelope, and that envelope ends up ripping, tearing, shredding, and we’re stuck without an envelope to mail our rent check. It happens. Sometimes we go too far. It seems that this time, however, Sephora went too far in trying to impress their customers with their edginess.
What I’ve deduced is that alluding to drug culture, taboo activities, and things of a sexual nature. are acceptable (or at least tolerable) ways in which marketers cause eyebrows to raise. As soon as there is a suggestion of subject matter that involves the harm of another person, such as rape (statutory or otherwise), eyebrows no longer raise. They furrow in disgust.
Names of controversial subjects are one thing, but when those names mock, belittle, or make light of a serious situation like rape, people aren’t so apt to turn a blind eye.
What are your thoughts? Are people taking things too seriously, or are you glad people are voicing their disapproval?