>Oh that’s so wrong

>There’s a billboard on the main commercial drag in our neighborhood, Leafy Lea, that is perhaps a perfect example of why the close study of language matters (especially to folks who go into advertising, in this case). The sign is advertising a hair salon and one of its “d’oh!” moments is in the fine print, where it says, “We specialize in all hair types.” Um. Someone needs to look up the word “specialize.” But that’s really not the worst of it. Oh no, there’s more.

First of all, the name of the salon is Master’s Touch. Ew. Creepy! Seriously, when you read that name, doesn’t it give you the heeby-jeebies? Doesn’t it sound like the name of an S&M web site or something? And hair care is certainly not the first thing I think of here. Shouldn’t a name of an establishment convey what it does? OK, so clearly the name is not the advertising firm’s fault. But wait, there’s more…

So what’s the image used to convey what Master’s Touch does, to make that vaguely creepy sounding name more clear? It’s the head of an African-American woman with straightened hair that covers half of her downturned face and one her averted eyes.

No really, I’m not making this up.

I’m sure they were trying to invoke the skilled touch of a master artisan with that name, but when it’s paired with an image of an African-American woman in a submissive pose (and hair imitating the dominant culture) a whole ‘nuther set of associations with the word “master” springs to mind.

Yikes. Not what they were going for, I’m sure. At least I hope the hell not!


10 thoughts on “>Oh that’s so wrong

  1. >Ew….Salons seem to have a habit of coming up with the worst possible names. Around here, we have the following vaguely unsavory characters: Scissorhands (a little creepy, although I recognize the reference) and Hairoglyphics (this one grosses me out, but I’m not sure why). And then there’s a nail salon called Hangnailz. Now that’s just stupid (hangnails being precisely the things you want to AVOID, right?).

  2. >Meg — Ha! Very punny!JB – Yeah, if you’re going to use “Hangnailz” in the name, it should be something like “Help! Hangnailz!” My favorite hair salon name of all time, along those same lines, is “Oh My Nappy Hair!”And Hairoglyphics is just dumb. Especially since ancient Egyptians wore a lot of wigs.And Fizzy — well, chances are in a local Rust Belt ad she’s not going to be British or French or Carribean or actually African. (And the straightened hair makes the last two unlikely, as well.) But she *could* be Canadian, I suppose. Not likely, but possible; but then Canada is part of North *America*, so she’s still African-American. 😛

  3. >Here in the “new south” we have a salon geared toward those with African-American hair called “No Grease Honey”. I forget the name of the twin for guys next door, but I get a chuckle every time I go by.

  4. >There’s a barber near our house called Cut ‘N Run. It’s been around for ages, and of course it’s a perfectly reasonable name for a basic hair-cutting place, but recently it’s made me giggle every time I see it, because of the current political associations of the phrase.

  5. >The “specialize” irks me too, but I think we have to read the slogan as asserting something trivial and not something inaccurate or inconsistent. “We specialize” isn’t improper in that a business person is indeed specializing in operating any kind of storefront enterprise: The barber is not a cobbler, and the general store is not an auto repair shop, etc. Probably the “specialize” is completely gratuitous, but maybe the owner wants to suggest the barbers in there are multi-talented yet dedicated folks who could be off designing jet engines or engaging in various activities in parallel, had they not deliberately chosen to specialize in cutting hair (of all kinds). e.g. “We cut all kinds of hair, and note we do it though we could be earning twice as much tuning pianos.”

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