Launches need more research

It says something about 21st century culture – if not of the diligence and research capabilities of consumer brand management and development teams, let alone their sense of the appropriate – when a beauty products company with a natural, new age styling decides to call one of its products “to sleep: perchance to dream”.

Great quote, isn’t it? Great name for a product. Except, of course, if you know anything about its provenance.

Did anyone at the company stop to think what it means? What does Hamlet’s equivocation with death through suicide at a moment of despair have to do with 21st century beauty products? Take a look at the play and you find the quote actually begins, “To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream”.

Hamlet, shocked at the discovery of his father’s murder by his uncle, who soon after marries his mother, contemplates what to do next.

Suicide seems an option for a 16th-century Danish prince. So, he muses, shall I kill myself or not? Didn’t Shakespeare say it so well: to be or not to be?

Does Hamlet mean it? Arguably no, for he’s worried enough at the “being-eaten-by-worms” prospect of final death to characterise it in this soliloquy as a sinking into sleep. After all, he’s a young man, and some say a bit of a drama queen. He’s just indulging himself.

Which brings us back to the company in question and poorly researched names for new products.

Here’s one possible reason for the chosen name. The company’s products are bought by spoilt, self-indulgent individuals, who delude themselves that their lives are so unnaturally stressed that their best prospect at the end of the day is to be drenched with a heady mixture of perfumes so strong, they will transform thoughts of death into a potent sleep.

Well perhaps not, after all.

How these things happen is what worries me. I can just see the team meeting in the new products department at the nameless company. Someone’s just seen Shakespeare in Love, and their project file is full of clippings about how the bard now has sex appeal.

And why not, when Gwyneth has just starred in his film, when he’s played by that scrummy boy, Joseph Fiennes? He’s good enough to eat, let alone fall asleep, perchance to dream with!

So the beauty product needs a new name? Here’s a good one: a dash of pseudo retro culture, and an archaism for that unmistakable note of charm. And a really obvious reference to what the product wants you to think it can do for you. Sleep. Dream. Except of course, it’s all about death.

Does anyone else worry about these things? Am I the lonely raving PR woman at the back of the bus, the un-hip one who spots the mistakes, who knows where to put (or not) the apostrophe in “its”?

I believe I’m not the only one who worries about the detail, who knows where to find integrity in the dictionary, who cares about what’s right and wrong, and damn it, good and bad. I care. When “they” get things wrong, I care. I happen to think it makes a difference.

Deborah Lewis

Director and co-founder

Republic

London WC2

Latest from Marketing Week

PLEASE SIGN IN OR REGISTER. IT'S FREE, QUICK AND EASY!

Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and inspiration that will help you develop as a marketer and leader.

Register and receive the best content from the only title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work, so we can make Marketing Week more relevant to you.

Register now

THE BEST CONTENT

Our award winning editorial team and columnists will ask the biggest questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.

THE BIGGEST ISSUES

From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we will be your guide.

PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Dedicated to developing your skills and helping you achieve marketing excellence. Find guidance on leadership, professional development and the latest industry jobs.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3711 or email subscriptions@marketingweek.com

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here