Wednesday, October 03, 2007

My favorite Asian brands

One of the little unsung joys of living in Asia has been discovering and embracing fantastic new brands. Perfect for a consumer whore like me.

In the category of personal care products, our winner is Darlie Toothpaste, which is amusing because of it's former name, Darkie Toothpaste. As in, let's sell a product with a smiling black man who looks like he came out of a blackface minstrel show and call it Darkie. Incredible. I also note with pride that my roommate uses this particular brand of toothpaste.

In the category of delicious treats, I'm going to go with Rocky. "But Ken," you plead, "how can you choose as a favorite brand a company that is ripping off our beloved Pocky?" But to you, my friend, I say, look closer. Rocky is Malaysia's version of Pocky, so named because the similarly pronounced pooky is Malay slang for vagina. I was happy when I was buying knock-off Pocky, I was downright thrilled when I learned it was real Pocky that was somehow connected to vulgarity.

From the bathroom, to the kitchen, and now into the bedroom: the winner for best condom brand is Big Boy condoms. I'm so sad I haven't taken a picture of the advertisements in the subway yet, and therefore can't provide you with a good photo, but this gives you an idea. A dark, phallic, veiny horse represents "plus-size" condoms (in Asia...consider the obvious stereotype joke to be referred to but not made). It's especially potent in the subway ad form, as it makes the horse nose at least four feet long. Epic.

And finally, a brand that amuses me not in name, but in content: in the category of clothing, we have Uniqlo. To build a Uniqlo, you take the Gap, steal all of its clothing styles and store designs, cut the prices by 20% to 50%, and make the clothes not cut for people who are shaped like a box. Shopping for jeans here is an interesting experience. Their "easy fit" corresponds roughly to our "regular fit," their "regular fit" to our "slim fit," their "slim fit" to our "skinny jeans," and their "skinny jeans" fall somewhere between tights and a paint brush and bucket of denim-colored body paint. Also, all jeans come in a single length (which generally runs long), and the store offers free tailoring to fix the size within 1 to 2 hours. Perhaps the only problem with my experience there was that the soundtrack to my first visit was a Backstreet Boys rip-off band whose album included an obvious copyright infringement of "Larger Than Life" called "Rhythm of Life." The store did its best to make amends, however, by soundtracking my follow-up visit with the recently-released Best of Garbage album. I was tempted by the florescent yellow panda t-shirt for a spot of irony, since it would have cost about US $3.50, but they didn't have it in my size. Le sigh.


Anonymous said...

don't know if you know this but they didn't bother changing the chinese name of darlie toothpaste, it's still called "black person toothpaste"

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