Cosmo Chic Condo

Yumi Skinjet - Now with French Pressure Tut New Radio Technology

A bus-side ad for the latest in slimming technology from Dr. Renew, the 'Yumi Skinjet'. The web translation claims it utilizes 'French pressure Tut new radio technology (!) without needles, recognized and awarded by the U.S. FDA, American scientists patent awards, SKINJET to speed in 0.01 seconds, between the moment the essence of liquid mist into the skin in depth from 3.2 to 9.1 mm underlying the skin, skin can be completely absorbed.'

Well if it has American scientists working on it, it must be safe! I guess the depth of the 'essence of liquid mist' is key here - deadly over 9.2mm, but Dr. Renew is a trusted professional and knows his way around a French pressure Tut radio. Still why not go one better? How about a 'Belgian Ramses hyperwind tunnel' generating Mach 5 airspeeds, forcing the subcutaneous fat cells into a slimmer, more aerodynamic shape? Or not...

Under the Glitz, a Veil of Luxury...

A newish development here in HK, with the nearly indecipherable (and rather forgettable) moniker of WarrenWoods. They easily make up for the uninspired name with the tagline though - 'under the glitz, a veil of luxury'. Hard to improve on that. But under the flash, beneath the thin veneer of luxury, what lies below? A screen of extravagance? A sheen of overindulgence? Or a portal into the fabled dimension of... Hyperluxury?

Masterpiece for the Mastermind

This real estate ad is unfortunately rather hard to read, but the tagline is 'masterpiece for the mastermind'. Seems they're trying to corner the local market on masterminds (and art aficionados, as masterminds often have expensive tastes). This is going to be a hard sell though - masterminds tend to want their own private HQ in a hollowed out volcano or refitted Latvian castle, rather than share space with the competition. Or maybe thats the point; the line does say 'mastermind' singular, so perhaps they're hoping to persuade a single supercriminal or evil scientist to take advantage of a readymade citadel. You supply the minions of course, but they supply the missile launch pad, deathray bay, and swimming pool - ready to stock with your own mutant sharks. Saltwater of course; and yes its hard to maintain and pricey, but no expense has been spared. Hell you can afford it - you're a mastermind...

Famous Hollywood Socialite Epicuren Discovery Line

A poster for 'celebrity skincare secrets' at one of the myriad beauty centers in HK. There are literally hundreds of anti-aging and skin whitening facilities here, but only this one offers the 'famous hollywood socialite epicuren' effect. All the secrets that made Barbara Streisand's skin the envy of the socialite world are now yours to discover... Unfortunately the proprietor 'borrowed' some pretty unflattering shots of several tinseltown beauties; note the shiny and/or ruddy complexions and the rather melancholy Jennifer Anniston. Still the most troubling is the inclusion of Michael Jackson - the only 'male' in the bunch. I suppose you could end up looking 'famous' alright, but probably not for the reasons you intended...

Shop Until You Pop? POPTASTIC

Lane Crawford's latest tagline - shop until you pop! It truly is... Poptastic. What other word can capture such magic? Guess 'shop til you explode' was taken. I pity the poor souls who actually constructed the mylar balloon letters - a lot of work for very little return it seems. I also pity whoever gets to clean up the mess when the tai tais do pop while shopping - good thing lane crawford has marble floors, as you can never really get blood stains out of deep pile carpets...

100% Virgin Pulp, 3-Ply, 450˚C Steamed Sterilized... Toilet Paper?

The package copy for one of the 'high-end' (pun intended) toilet paper brands here. Why anyone needs a 100% virgin pulp (unlogged forests be damned, I need to wipe in merino soft luxury!), 3-Ply (no peasant's 2-ply will do), 450˚C (that's 842 Fahrenheit) steam sterilized toilet product is utterly beyond me. Its doesn't need to be hyper-sterile 1/4 inch thick etc etc - ITS TOILET PAPER. Of course here in HK, these are big selling points - literally big, as its almost impossible to buy t-paper in less than 10 roll packs (see below). Unless of course you lower your standards and buy the 'eco' 4-packs like I do. But then again I'm willing to have unseemly recycled paper touch my nether regions, and not insist on pristine softness that's been sterilized at 2 1/2 times the temperatures used for surgical equipment (no, really, I looked it up)...

Time is Love = Bunny is Wolf

A truly bizarre watch store ad. The tag line 'time is love' is innocent enough, but what the enigmatic phrase has to do with hugging gigantic mutant bunnies and wolves is beyond me. Are the animals supposed to be symbolic of time and love? So how is the bunny 'time'? And if the wolf is symbolic of love... and the model is wearing a red dress as opposed to virginal white... hmmm...

I just checked the internets, and found this helpful blurb: Rather than using the well-established ‘Timeless Love’ tagline in the 90s, the theme has been remodeled to ‘Time is Love’. The campaign has kicked off with... ads questioning the idea of love... statistical results from the Hong Kong population are tagged under sections detailing topics such as the amount of money each gender spends on the other, the percentage of people believing in eternal love, or the amount of time each gender spends in preparation for a date. People are also invited to access a designated micro-site and Facebook group to voice their opinions on love, with the best most celebrated comment destined to win a five-star spa treatment and Solvil et Titus products."

Wow. Have to say this is one of the finest distillations of hong kong culture I've ever come across; unabashed marketing and consumerism with absolutely no sense of humor or irony. By the way if you're curious what gender of HK residents most believes in eternal love, its 'female'...

Cafe Dream On

A cafe in Causeway Bay, which I was unable to find an entrance for, though I confess I didn't try especially hard. It sure looks dreamy - note the fans and outdoor speakers as well as a Parisian street lamp to add a touch of Champ Elysees.

I assume the owner didn't realize that the phrase 'dream on' sounds innocent enough, but can have a negative connotation in normal usage. Or maybe thats the whole point; it's supposed to be inaccessible and dismissive to peons like myself, available only to the select few VIPs who know the secret tunnel entrance. Want to partake of our exclusive coffees and exquisite pastry treats? Dream on little man, dream on...

The World's Largest Crossword Puzzle, For the World's Loneliest Guy

Yet another entry from the odious pages of SkyMall - the world's largest crossword puzzle - for the world's loneliest bachelor. Still smarting from his recent layoff and divorce, our hero decides its time to make a serious dent in his latest purchase, with a ZIMA fueled 3 day marathon session. Let's listen in:

"OK... OK... focus! Got to go easy on the ZIMA bro, you only have two 4-packs left... I think I need some more Chex Party Mix to coat my tummy. OK where was I... Aha! Just a quick glance in the convenient 3,286-page guide... what's a 8 letter word for 'very, very sad'? Hmmm..."

Photogenic Spot - Trust Us

This is a sign in Hong Kong Park, designating a 'photogenic spot' for the photographically challenged. This sign seems more suited for Singapore, with its Big Brother culture and 'suggestions' for public behavior etc. Unfortunately the actual photo on the sign itself is rather faded and, well, unphotogenic. I did look around for the specified angle (which I believe is actually opposite the sign) but in the interest of taking the authorities at their word I dutifully took a picture.

Hmmm... perhaps I am incapable of appreciating the true photogenic-ness of the spot. I did get a nice 'slice of life' pic of an exasperated bridegroom and his bride, trying to get their photographer to this prime location. You'd think he'd already know of it, or sense it with his intrinsic artistic sensibilities. Then again maybe the spot is so hyperphotogenic that it blows shots of a mere wedding couple away entirely, like standing in front of the sun. Or not.

This Easy to Follow Diagram

This is a typical foot reflexology chart from Happy Valley. Foot reflexology is big business in HK, with many local adherents and 'converted' expats that swear by the rejuvenating & relaxing effects. I have yet to try it, though Im looking forward to a session. Just check out the luxuriously appointed digs at 'Fun Feet' below. Hell I'd go just to sit in the chair.

The diagram illustrates the various locations for sympathetic organ excitation etc. Apparently you can cure stomach ulcers, kidney stones, and other ailments, just by activiating the right area. I assume you really have to know what you're doing, lest you accidently excite the bowels or bladder, or even worse stop someone's heart...

...And I Shall Walk Upon the Waters With A Deadly Bunny Escort

One of the newer developments in HK, the soon-to-be-fabled 'Florient Rise'. The slogan exhorts us to go 'Above and Beyond' and 'Ride to the top of success'. And we shall ride upon a magic wallpaper(?) tube that unrolls before us as we stride across the harbor - with our cartoon bunny escort, who have separated from the 2D flower pattern and assumed 3D form (note their exquisitely rendered drop shadows). Oh they may look cute and cuddly, but those bunnies are in fact a deadly bodyguard detail, escorting those worthy of rising floriently.

Now Thats a Martini

This is an ad near the onramp to Happy Valley, presumably showing a satisfied customer's online banking session. After a long day at work, our entrepreneur is settling back to check his rising account balances with a well deserved 'imperial phoenix sunset', his signature concoction. I''m guessing it involves at least one liter of vodka, a few pints of grenadine and melon liqeur, something fizzy, and a jigger of blue curacao. The man obviously knows how to mix a drink - just look at that masterful layering. I hope he doesn't start trading online after a few belts, or get alcohol poisoning and have to go to the ER again to get his stomach pumped. But maybe that's why he calls it the phoenix sunset...

A Puzzle Steward of One's Own

Perhaps one day you too will be wealthy enough to employ your very own puzzle steward, specifically tasked with no other responsibilities, so that he can concentrate his considerable talents on the creation and maintenance of puzzles and puzzle making implements. Note that this steward carries all the necessary accoutrements for high-end puzzling, including a fresh bottle of rubber cement and a selection of medical grade calipers. Wouldn't want his gentleman to sully his pristine hands with puzzle dust (or god forbid traces of befouling glue). It seems this bank has run out of ways to portray ostentation; after you have the cars, furs, jewelry etc. you need to get creative. Actually I've heard the true sign of wealth in Hong Kong is a lawn mower, as few can afford property with an actual lawn.

What Sub-prime Collapse?

Apparently the marketing department at this HK bank didn't get that memo about a global real estate meltdown. One can imagine a frisky up-and-comer at the brainstorming session;"Hey boss, let's go with a couple cavorting on the beach of their newly purchased island! That's sure to bring in prospective homeowners!" Perhaps the couple looks so happy because they're fleeing their mortgage payments, or better yet they sold just moments before the market collapsed. The marketing guys could give the ad an apropos update, maybe change the mountain behind them to an erupting volcano...

Merlin Champagne Town

This is a recently opened housing development just outside Beijing. The marketers have hit on a winning formula here - combine the awesome power (and name recognition) of the famous wizard with champagne, the recognized nectar of success - all in a exclusive yet intimate village setting! And everyone knows that Merlin doesn't license his name to just any gated community...

The Bloody Cleaver of Savings

Nothing says 'we're slashing real estate prices!' like a bloody cleaver. I stumbled on this gem outside a nearby realtor's office. It seems an enterprising agent took it upon themselves to liven up the sign outside - I hope they got a nice bonus for showing initiative. Of course a real cleaver would've been far more effective; and one dripping with the agent's actual blood, well one can only imagine the impact on sales...

Le Billionaire

Here is a an ad for a newer high rise. HK developers are always looking for swanky-sounding names (like 'the beverly hills', 'le villa de mansion' etc), but I like this nod to modern inflationary trends. no millionaires allowed - billiionaires only. I think the beams of light actually scan for non-billionaires, and eradicate them on contact. I suppose it's too ambitious to call a building 'le trillionaire' (at least outside Zimbabwe, where pretty much anyone still using the local currency is automatically a trillionaire...)

No Impossibilities in Dreams & Shopping

I think this speaks for itself. I suppose I could think of some counterexamples, but why spoil the mood?

Cosmo Living Chic Condo

Perhaps no phrase I’ve come across sums up the local definition of success than this tagline for a local development. Hong Kongers are the most unabashedly materialistic people I have ever come across; it’s almost refreshing in a way, as they are totally unapologetic about it. One strives to succeed and one shows off the results. The number of roccoco furniture and chandelier stores here are staggering - there seems to be a generational idea here that success is defined by Loius XIV chairs and leopard skin couches. It’s a bit like nouveau riche texans - without the accompanying rudeness or swagger (yes I have been to texas and of course not all texans swagger; although they do seem to truly believe that they have the biggest and best ribs, oysters etc. and that they have the biggest texas-sized helpin’s). And yes they both are wielding magic wands...

Euro Sofa Mondo

A newer variety of upscale HK lifestyle - modern pseudo european. There are of course quite a few high end italian furniture retailers, catering to a younger taste than the cosmo chic set. I couldn’t resist the potential pillow fight motif - “La Dolce Vita” indeed.
In the interests of full disclosure I should mention that I bought some ‘italian design-chinese execution’ (mainland knockoffs) - from them and have to say they were very nice + accommodating. They even volunteered the chinese origins of the pieces, something locals don’t always do.