Two recently launched unisex fragrance brands, each using Magritte-style negative brand statements.
The earlier of the two is Jeremy Scott’s Moschino Toy fragrance, launched in 2014. It’s bottle is packaged in a stuffed teddy bear wearing a T-shirt with printing that reads: “THIS IS NOT A MOSCHINO TOY.”
Both brands seem to test the limits of plausible deniability in branding. I picture a consumer setting out to buy the fragrance named “Moschino Toy”, only to have the teddy bear’s T-shirt contradict it’s own branding.
With This is Not a Blue Bottle, it’s not immediately clear what exactly is being denied here. Are they saying that the bottle is not blue? Or that it’s not a bottle?
Videos and further details about each brand, after the fold…
1. Moschino Toy
The Magritte painting being alluded to by both of these brands, is the “The Treachery of Images” — the same painting that was referenced in our previous post about Howard Schiller’s 1991 Print Magazine cover design.
For Magritte, the “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” punchline had to do with representation not being the real thing…
The famous pipe. How people reproached me for it! And yet, could you stuff my pipe? No, it’s just a representation, is it not? So if I had written on my picture “This is a pipe”, I’d have been lying!
If “Moschino Toy” is a fragrance brand, then technically, the same thing could be said about the teddy bear’s T-shirt — that it would have been lying if it claimed to be the fragrance. If that seem like too paltry a rationale for a such a contradictory negative brand statement, consider the fact that the fragrance containing teddy bear, itself comes in cross-category toy packaging. “Moschino Toy” the toy-impersonating fragrance brand must deny that it is a toy.
I wanted to push the fragrance beyond the realm of what a perfume looks like it, or how it’s packaged. And I think we’ve achieved that.
2. This is Not a Blue Bottle
Clearly couched in the declarative Magritte style syntax — flatly stating what something is not — and yet the brand’s name (which is itself a negative brand statement) never even appears on the bottle.
Another influence for this brand, perhaps stronger than Magritte, is that of Yves Klein, whose “Klein blue” pigment is the very specific blue that is being simultaneously invoked and denied here.
Above, from this month’s Harper’s Bazaar is Van Vincent’s lovely photograph of the “This is Not a Blue Bottle” bottle on a contrasting yellow background.
Interestingly the writer saw fit to reference yet another modern artist. This time, it’s Mark Rothko, as a metaphor for the layering of scents…
IS HET EEN ROTHKO?
Een flacon die niet misstaat in het Stedelijk. Erin: een bijna abstracte geur. In de loop van dagvallen de amber en patcheoli pas op. Laag over laag, net als een Rothko.
Harper’s Bazaar, March 2016
The video for This is Not a Blue Bottle was done by Oui Will.