Very strange 1969 ad campaign for Bacchus after-shave. The premise is that instead of leaving a giant horse outside of Troy, the Greeks actually left a "towering bottle of Bacchus," and that this caused the Trojan women to become so wild with lust that the Trojan men no longer had time for fighting.
It then follows this up with the tagline: "The Romans conquered an empire with it. Go out and conquer yours."
But what do the Romans have to do with the Trojan horse? Rome didn't even exist at the time of the Trojan war. I guess there's a vague connection because the Romans believed they were descended from the Trojans, but even so the history seems hopelessly muddled.
Invented in 1996 by three California firefighters turned entrepreneurs. Their explanation of how they got the idea:
"We were coming out of a fire one night and we walked past this policeman who smelled like donuts. We were like, 'Wow, we love that smell.' And we started laughing that cops hang out in donut shops so much, they actually are starting to smell like donuts."
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The idea was that the card in the catalog would have a scent, and then the book on the shelf would have a matching scent. So you could find your books by smell. There were about 60 scents in total, including apple, chocolate, garlic, lemon, roses, root beer, leather, pizza, orange, strawberry, candles, pine, cheddar cheese, clover, and smoke.
I was curious what became of the scented catalog, so I emailed the library and asked. The reply came just a few minutes later:
Unfortunately, the UA Library no longer has this catalog, and has not had a physical card catalog since around August 1989. We aren't sure what exactly happened to the scented catalog, but we guess that the cards eventually lost their scent over time, but remained part of the catalog until it was decommissioned.
And they also emailed me a news clipping about the catalog (in extended, below) from the local Upper Arlington paper.
Transparency in sophistication, just a trace of jasmine mingled with the so far neglected smell of a cigarette. Jasmin et Cigarette is the twilight zone, the banned, the addiction. She is an icon, the longed-for woman.
The juxtaposition of the grossly physical with the structurally normative produces a profound effect: Norms and values become saturated with emotion while emotions are ennobled through contact with values. The monolithic (or rather, ithyphallic) print ad for Macho cologne run by Faberge several years ago, effectively condensing referents to male sexuality, aggression, wealth, and ethnic stereotyping in its rhetorical and iconographic symbolism, nicely illustrates this principle. Thus, symbols function as both storehouse and powerhouse, encoding information which is ultimately authoritative.
Update: Thanks to Brian for drawing our attention to Pierre Cardin Man's cologne, which also featured a suggestively shaped bottle.
And I just noticed that the Father's Day ad features both Macho cologne and Pierre Cardin Man's cologne. So if you gave your dad both, what message would you be sending him?
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.