Sunday, April 28, 2013

Actions Versus Advertising

Some people that I know who run small businesses had some interesting feedback on my last post about "friendship" marketing, or as the ever witty Autumn at The Beheld dubbed it, "Slumber Party Marketing", where large companies attempt to market to consumers as if they are really your friends, and try to give you the impression they care more about your happiness than what you buy. The global marketplace is so crowded these days that just having a good product isn't nearly enough to get you the attention of consumers. If you want to sell people things, one of the most effective ways is to get them emotionally invested in your company and your products; and the most effective way to do that for both large and small businesses is to convince consumers you care about them.

We are legion, and we care about you.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cosmetic Marketing and the BFF Style

I thought my post on the Dove Beauty Sketches ad was so late to the party that it might be the last one - but apparently the debate continues to rage. Well, actually, calling it a debate seems a bit disingenuous. The vast majority of the articles I've read have decried it as being exclusionary, too focused on beauty as the core of a woman's self worth, and being sneaky wolfish marketing dressed up in "activist" sheep's clothing. I'm not interested in arguing the moral value of marketing companies attempting to appeal to our self esteem in order to sell products - although you should feel free to do so in the comments if you like. However, I do find the psychology of this type of "friendship" marketing endlessly fascinating, and I have a great example of this kind of marketing done horribly wrong to share with you today.

Loyalty based, "friendship" style marketing is at the core of what Dove is attempting with their Natural Beauty campaigns. They're trying to convince us they're not a soulless corporation that only wants to sell lotions - they're our friends. * They want us to feel good about ourselves (and buy their soap), they want us to be happy and successful (and buy their soap), just like our real friends. They tell us we really are beautiful, no matter what we tell ourselves, just like our real friends. And in turn, they hope we will reward the company like we do our real friends - with our loyalty and commitment. They hope that we will forgive their mistakes and support their endeavours, just like we would a real friend. And the thing is, regardless of whether it's morally right or wrong, this type of marketing isn't going anywhere because it works like WHOA.

Loyal customers bring in tons of bags just like this.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

Welcome dear friends to what happens to be my 100th post!

Just like on my actual birthday, I don't want to get too serious - instead, let's have some fun looking at some nail art I did last night that I am unbelievably proud of.

I got a little bottle of blue holo stars from the discount store down the road weeks ago, swearing I was going to do something nail related with them, despite not actually having used rhinestones or studs or any of that sort of thing before. They were just too freaking cute to leave there!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

In Defence of Dove

You might have noticed there has been a lot of discussion all over the internet about Dove's latest "natural beauty" campaign. In case you've missed it, here is the video that everyone has been talking about.

I've seen a lot of quite justified criticism of this campaign around - first and foremost is the point that Dove is owned by Unilever who own...well, just about everything. But in particular, they own Lynx/Axe, who's marketing campaigns are about as diametrically opposite Dove's as is possible. For all their talk about "natural" beauty in the Dove campaigns, Unilever also own Ponds, who are well known for shilling whitening cream in markets like India, promising wealth and happiness if you can make your natural skin look more Western. Nestled under the same corporate umbrella we also have Weight Watchers, and frankly my problems with THAT company could fill an entire article on its own. The point is that Dove keep some very suspect corporate company, and a lot of people have been rightfully pointing this out.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I Wish It Was Supanova Every Day - Part 2

Welcome to the second part of my Supanova Melbourne adventure!

The second day I decided I was over the cape, and more importantly, over the height of the heels on my boots. I really have to find something more wearable for the Sydney event! So I went "incognito", and spent most of the day in panels, shopping, and once again, stalking cosplayers.

For some reason I can never seem to be all of The Boy's head in joint selfies.
I mean, he has a big head, but this is ridiculous.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I Wish It Was Supanova Every Day - Day 1

If you don't want to hear about my recent trip to Supanova Pop Culture Expo in Melbourne, then you should probably go entertain yourself elsewhere for the next couple of days because I had SO MUCH FUN and I have SO MUCH TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT!!

Quick background info for those who either haven't been to Supanova, or aren't Australian and therefore have never heard of our tiny little backwater convention. Supanova is held once a year in Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and the Gold Coast, and they usually spread these events out into two "tours" - one around April, one around June. Different guests go to different events, which is pretty neat because it means over the course of the tour they can get a lot of different guests, and guests don't have to block out half a year to attend. However, it alsp means that inevitably all the guests I really reaally desperately want to see end up going to the events in cities other than the one I live in, and every other year I've just sucked it up. But this year I said NO MORE. I have a decent job, I can afford the ridiculously cheap airfares to Melbourne, and best of all I have a little posse of internet acquaintances who are willing to let me crash on their floor. This year The Boy and I decided to Do This Thing. I got together a classic Catwoman outfit, as pictured here, and The Boy made himself a kick ass Riddler costume, based off the Arkham City game.

We arrived in Melbourne absolutely exhausted from staying up all the night before sewing costumes, which seems kind of like a prerequisite for any cosplay attempt. We were put up by some lovely friends of The Boy, who I technically had only previously known online, who live in a fantastic share house in what the taxi driver warned us was a "bad" suburb.

My kind of place
Once we got there, we more or less passed out, and then it was time to get into costume and on to Supanova.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Dead Set Babes Polish Review - In Which I Got Free Stuff

I'm not ashamed to admit I was THRILLED when Dead Set Babes contacted me to review their budding polish collection. They are the very first company to approach me as a proper Beauty Blogger who's Opinion They Would Like, and I ended up bouncing around for a good ten minutes until it something dreadful occured to me - what if I didn't like them? I would have to say something mean! And then no-one would ever ask me to do reviews again! And I would be back to pretending I'm a Real Beauty Blogger and suddenly I wasn't 100 per cent I should have said yes in the first place.

I know, I know, my brain can ruin ANYTHING.

As it turns out though, thank goodness, I DO like the little bundle that Dead Set Babes were kind enough to send me! Not only are they very pretty, all their polishes are 3-Free, Vegan, and they give a portion of all sales to the RSPCA, which is rather decent of them.

From left to right, we have Midnight at Tiffany's, Teenage Crime, and Rocket Man
These are all matte glitter creations in a clear base, quite similar in formula to Emily de Molly's Bright Young Things. The clear base means you do have to put another colour under it, but it also means you can pick whatever colour you think will look best with the glitters, making it really quite versatile. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Cosplay gets complicated

I love cosplay. I am a great big, unashamed nerd, and I fucking LOVE cosplay. I love the creativity, the DIY craftiness of putting together a costume that creates the illusion of an outfit that is often actually impossibly impractical. I love the opportunity for commentary that comes with things like gender swap cosplay. I love the experience of pretending to be your favourite character, I love the basic principle of putting on an awesome costume just because.

I LOVE the Gender Bent Justice League. I love everything about them. Photo via Of Foxes and Hedgehogs
I'd never been to a convention of any kind until heading to Supanova Sydney for the first time a couple of years ago, and I've not missed a year since. Here in Australia we don't have a big convention "scene" as such. While there is apparently a convention somewhere in the US just about every weekend, we get Supanova, and every now and then a competing convention. The competitors don't usually come back for a second year though, so it's more or less Supanova or nothing. I've met some really awesome celebrities at various Supanova conventions - I had an awkward moment where I confessed to Noah Hathaway that my pre-pubescent obsession with his character Atreyu in the Neverending Story was probably the origin of my fetish for guys with long hair. He very kindly didn't freak out, and instead apologised for having cut his hair off the year before. I've been THIS CLOSE to Karl Urban, who is astonishingly tall in real life. I've heard  Jennifer Hale (the female voice for Commander Shepherd in Mass Effect) say, "I'm coming for you", and talked to Patricia Tallman (Lyta Alexander in Babylon 5) about her Twitter account. But the part that really energises me about the convention is the cosplayers - every year I set myself the goal of getting a photo of every costume I like, and every damn year I fail, no matter how creepily I chase the cosplayers. One year I saw a family in full Alien outfits, with 50's style domestic outfits over the top - there was a mother Alien with a frilly apron, and a dad Alien with a little fedora on top of his carapace, holding a facehugger with a little pinwheel hat. AND I DIDN'T GET A PHOTO. Gah, I'm still kicking myself about that.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Public Service Announcement

You might have noticed my posting has slowed down considerably of late - or maybe you didn't, maybe I'm the only one who keeps track. Anyway, since so many of you have been so kind as to sign up to follow my ramblings on a regular basis, I thought I owed you a little bit of an explaination.

The slowdown has been caused in part by simple burnout - I was writing too many things for too many people, to too many deadlines, and it's done my head in. I am so very grateful for everyone who has been willing to publish my work elsewhere, but I think I need to rein that in a little in order to make sure SOMETHING comes out, rather than ending up back in this frozen state of panic again. I got a bit too caught up in the excitement of realizing that people were listening, and people wanted to hear what I had to say, and I think I've burst something because I just feel flat and deflated now.

It's also partially been caused by a general downturn in my work environment - one too many people have derisively called me their secretary, one too many people have demanded I do something they could easily do for themselves just because it makes them feel more powerful to make me do it, one too many people have looked right past me without so much as a hello when I open the door for them. It's hard to keep up the feminist rage when you're being treated like a particularly useful piece of furniture for so much of the day, and as much as I wish it didn't, it does get me down.

This isn't a "poor me, pity me and tell me I'm awesome" post - I just wanted to let you all know where I'm at, so you don't think this blog is going to disappear like so many do. I still want to keep going, and I will - I just need to slow down a little bit to make sure I can make it for the long haul. There will still be posts, and I will most likely take the next week or so to catch up some of my low brain, picture heavy ideas. So if you signed on for the rants, rest assured, they will be back - just in a week or so. Hopefully, you can all be patient with me for a little while, and soon we will be able to get our ranty pants back on and rage in style.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Light It Up Blue - Charity Auction

You might remember my blue manicure for Autism Awareness Month a little while ago, and my brief mention of an upcoming charity polish auction. Well, I have some more details now, and this is looking like a HUGE DEAL.

If you head on over to Paint It Blue you can see all the details, but the basic premise of this deal is that a bunch of amazing indie polish makers have created custom, one of a kind blue polishes to be auctioned off. All the proceeds are going to ASPECT, who I also mentioned in my last post on Autism Awareness Month.

Seriously, anyone who is anyone is indie polish has gotten in on this project - here are a few swatches that have been shared so far just to get you all worked up.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Fuck you FEMENS

I’ve been involved in a couple of heated debates about emerging radical feminist group FEMENS recently. In case you’ve missed all the excitement, FEMENS is a group that started in the Ukraine as far as I understand, and has now spread to several countries in Europe, as well as smatterings of support across the world. Their goals come often across as pretty nebulous and broad – this might be a result of my inability to read any languages other than English, but even giving credit for that their aims are pretty pie-in-the-sky stuff. Smash patriarchy, reform the world, feminist revolution, yada yada, ending, one presumes, in the hallowed feminist utopia. Their main tactic for getting this message across seems to be taking their tops off and writing slogans across their chest, preferably while giving the finger – this is the part I actually have no issue with, and what I’ve spent the most time defending. FEMENS has justified their use of nudity to make their point with the argument that not all nudity is inherently sexual, and by going topless in a confronting, non-sexual way they are attempting to undermine the patriarchal assumption that breasts exist purely for their gratification. I think this is an interesting point to be making, particularly since most of the protesters are protesting against an Islamic social structure, where policing of women's bodies is much more apparent on a practical, everyday level than say, Australia.

FEMENS recently hit the social media headlines when a Tunisian member named Amina was disappeared, after posting a topless picture to the net, and this is how they came to my attention. You can read more about it here, but the general gist is that she was admitted to a psych ward against her will for her political beliefs, and hasn’t been reliably heard from since, which is all kinds of fucked up. Naturally there has been a great deal of rage going around about this and various groups are currently attempting to apply pressure to the Tunisian authorities to let her go. Because this is the issue that brought FEMENS to my attention, I’ve been arguing in favour of their actions, and their right to protest however they see fit. I’m personally not convinced widespread toplessness is going to create a tidal wave of social change, but I will absolutely defend their right to do it without being arrested, disappeared, or executed.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Light It Up Blue! Autism Awareness Month

Like a lot of people who haven't been directly affected by it, for a long time I didn't know much about Autism Spectrum Disorder. I'd heard a bit about it, and seen Aspergers in particular used as an excuse for bad behavior by people who had diagnosed themselves over the internet without actually consulting a doctor of any kind. I was was aware it was some kind of mental condition, but that was about it, until I moved in with a housemate who was doing volunteer work at a respite home for children with various behavioral problems. The stories she came home with were shocking - she was dealing with children who were far more affected by ASD than anyone I'd ever come across, and I was horrified to realise just how severe the condition should be. But the part of her experience that has really stuck with me is the stories of the occasional child who was abandoned at the respite home. Parents who would drop their kids off for a weekend, and just never come back, because they simply couldn't deal anymore. They didn't have the support, they didn't have the resources, they just didn't have it in them to take care of their children any more, and the ida that both parents and children were so lost and alone broke my heart.

I think increased awareness can make a huge difference in the lives of people with ASD. The amount of hostility they can be subjected to is just shocking, and this hostility often comes from a place of confusion. The more you understand something like ASD, the easier it is to see the person behind the condition, and hopefully treat them with the dignity and compassion they deserve. In aid of this cause, it's World Autism Awareness Day today.  The theme is "Light It Up Blue", and all sorts of groups are doing activities to get the message out there by making anything and everything they can blue. In an awesome display of the sort of solidarity I've talked about here before, the nail community is getting together to do a couple of really great things to contribute to the cause.

First up there is an awareness campaign being co-ordinated from Facebook where people both in and out of the nail community are painting their nails blue for today, this week, or the whole month if they can, in order to bring attention to autism and the challenges facing people with autism. There are some really touching, and some really rage making stories being shared there, mostly from the point of view of parents trying to support their children in a culture that isn't particularly interested in making room for people who work differently. This group is also organising an upcoming charity auction, where several indie polish makers are donating a custom polish, and the proceeds are all going to ASPECT, a fantastic Australian autism support organisation. They offer an enormous change of services to the autistic community, as well as their parents and carers, including diagnostic assessments, early intervention programs, and a network of autism specific schools and satellite classes. From what I've heard, they're doing some amazing work, and I'll be keeping an eye out for details of the this auction supporting them as they're released.

On a smaller scale, but also on a beautifully personal level, the owner of Loki's Lacquer is holding a blue nails competition on the Loki's Lacquer Facebook page all this month. The winner will get a custom polish of their choosing from Loki's Lacquer, and the winner will be chosen by her daughter, who has ASD and has inspired her Mum to get so involved in this cause.

Finally, there are a ton of Instagram tags being used to tag blue manicures for autism awareness. #bluenailsforautism, #autismawarenessmonth,#paintitblue and #lightitupblue are all in use currently, and I'll be making an effort to add as many blue manicures as I can to the pile over the coming month.

But in the meantime, here is my initial effort; Elevation Polish in Azure Caverns, with Alanna Renee Pacific layered over the top.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Look into my eyes - Femme Fatale loose eyeshadow review

I hope you've all been enjoying your Easter holidays - I know I have! This is, of course, why there hasn't been a lot of thinky content here for the last couple of days. I'm taking a break from braining as well as work, so in keeping with the theme, here is another picture heavy post of pretty!

Femme Fatale is an Australian indie cosmetics brand, and I've showed you some of their amazing glitterbomb nail polishes here before. In an uncharacteristic show of spontaneity, I decided to get some of their loose eyeshadows - while I wasn't 100 per cent I could actually use them properly, the colours they offer are just so rich and delicious I figured it was worth a shot, and I'm so very glad I did. Femme Fatale's sale options for their eyeshadows support just this kind of dabbling, which I think is a brilliant idea. Loose eyeshadow can be challenging in and of itself, and all the swatch photos in the world won't guarantee it will actually look good on your particular eyes, so offering options like sample sachets and mini sizes is a great way to encourage people to give it a bash. For reference, the sample sachets I've gotten have been enough for two, maybe three light applications. All the other shadows I have from Femme Fatale are the mini size, and even though I've been wearing it every day the only one I've really made a dint is one that unfortunately got dropped on the floor because I'm a clumsy oaf. This is my collections as it currently stands.

I may also have five more on the way, because I have a problem.