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(RNS) — Last night I tried to schedule an appointment at a hair salon. A friend had recommended a stylist at The Red Door — Elizabeth Arden’s New York salon and spa. For decades, what lay behind the company’s aspirational “Red Door” represented the peak of American feminine glamour. As one number in the 2017 musical “War Paint,” dramatizing the midcentury rivalry between Arden and makeup rival Helena Rubinstein, attested:
“Enter Miss Arden’s temple to beauty/Serving your every need is our duty/May you enjoy the full day you have in store/Behind the Red Door!”
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This fall, however, the red door is being rebranded a millennial-pink hue. The Red Door, it turns out, is now called Mynd Spa and Salon, a “self-care journey with the same perks” as its upscale predecessor. “Mad Men”-style glamour and unattainability is out. Spiritual refreshment is in.
“No matter how you define self-care,” proclaims a Mynd advertisement that has been following me around the Internet, “Mynd is a resource … focused on helping you achieve lasting beauty and wellness.”
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The advertisement goes on: “At Mynd, you’ll find self-care you can confidently say is my.” The grammatical weirdness only adds to the sense that Mynd seems to have been created by a branding bot developed to appeal to millennial audiences. It’s a little bit spiritual (it’s a “journey,” after all), and utterly bespoke (“is my”). It’s at once on the nose and unsettlingly inauthentic: the how do, fellow millennials of branding.
Elizabeth Arden is not the first well-known brand to pivot to wellness. Last year, Weight Watchers redefined itself as “WW” and a tagline that promises “Wellness That Works,” minimizing its focus on dieting and instead partnering with meditation app Headspace to encourage its subscribers to live (and eat) more mindfully.
In the halcyon days of self-pampering, as we called it in the...
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