Only the Finest of Creems

What Follows is An Open Letter to Brylcreem

Dear Brylcreem,

Hi. You don’t know me, I’m a first time writer. How are you? I am fine.

I’m writing about your “Hair Police” advertising campaign. In this series of ads, delivered in a faux-COPS documentary form complete with handycam-based live-action camerawork, two members of the “Hair Police” apprehend people with uncool hair and then try to make it cool using Brylcreem.

You’re causing me pain. Pain in MY HEAD.

Here’s some reasons why, in increasing order of importance:

(1) What you think is bad hair, isn’t. The last ad I saw had your Hair Police guys grabbing someone with a mohawk, and smoothing it down (using Brylcreem of course).

(I should note that this is the thing that actually made me pay attention to the ad, as I have a somewhat overgrown mohawk haircut myself.)

A mohawk isn’t automatically bad hair. Mohawks look interesting, and ever with media-driven oversaturation, they still retain some counter-culture edge left over from the 70s/80s punk scene. I wear mine down and back, in stealth mode, for work. I wear it spiky and up when I’m in a context where visual interest is required. Since you’re Brylcreem, I’ll elaborate on that – A concert, say. Or a club. You’ll have heard of these places, perhaps from one of the younger people in the office. If you have any.

So, yeah, mohawks are very visually interesting. I will admit that they tend to favour certain head shapes only, and certainly if done badly they CAN be very bad hair. But those things can be said for any hair type, from Mullets to Buzzcuts to Carefully Scruffy Britpop cuts, As Seen In The Pages of NME.

However, the obvious subtext in your ad with the mohawk’d dude getting creem’d is that anything that’s _different_ is _uncool_ and _bad_ and should be _MADE TO CONFORM_. And that subtext is a pretty fucking bad call on the part of whoever designed your ad campaign, for starters. Different, with a counter-culture edge, is ALWAYS cool.

So this subtext is perhaps not the way to make your product appealing.


(2) What you think is cool, isn’t. A “COPS” parody? Fucking edgy. What’s next? Star Wars scrolling text? Hell, why not have the bad guy dodging squirts of Brylcreem in a Matrix-Style Bullet Time move! The Kids will love that! COwabunga, dude! RADICAL!

Trying to be hip with old and busted shit is also not the way to make your product appealing. Unless you’re being ironic. Actually, forget I said that. And please, don’t _try_ to make Brylcreem ironic. For fucks sake. No.

(3) Lastly, and this is related to (2) above, your own brand instantly and totally prevents you from EVER being cool, or deciding what is cool, or even attempting to dictate what’s bad and what’s good. Forever. And always.

“Why?” you ask? Because you’re fucking BRYLCREEM. You’re the furthest away from cool ANY hair product can be, or EVER COULD BE. If the world was calibrating some kind of giant scale for measuring the coolness of a hair product, Brylcreem would be called upon as a background cosmologically uncool shadow on a cave wall, ‘gainst which all other uncool hair products would be measured.

You’re not EVEN my fathers hair product. He’s not that uncool. You are .. MAYBE .. my grandads hair cream, if he was a total nob when he was younger.

Just say the word. “Brylcreem”. It conjures up images of … badly tailored suits. Pipes. Panto. If you re-think a bit younger, all you get is a cheerful short-back-and-sides chirpy cockney cheeky twat. You’re forever tainted with the smell of kippers, the sound of Skiffle, the distant cries of a Butlins Holiday Camp.

That’s what “Brylcreem” brings to my mind. That’s your brand equity, Brylcreem, right there. That’s what you mean to me. And since I have no special like or dislike or interest in your product, I’m willing to bet that’s what you mean to most people.

Fuck you, Brylcreem. If there really were a modern day cool hair product version of “COPS”, you’re not going to be on the upside of the show. We’d be watching them drag some poor asshole, shirtless and dazed, from under a porch. And some thin blonde woman will be looking on and shrieking about how he didn’t mean nothin’, it’s just his way, he’s just a little drunk. And they’ll both be wearing Brylcreem.


  1. Nice rant. Slick, even…

  2. I’m not…. allowed to use Brylcreem.

    It just isn’t home without an unused pot of red brycreem sitting in the bathroom cabinet.

  3. and did you send that letter?

    I can’t help thinking that Brylcreem isn’t perhaps just a *tiny* bit cool… Cool in the way that beige corduroy is… and cheese-cutter hats… and old spice.

    I like old spice 🙂 terribly hard to come by though.