Helen Purves All you need to know about Helen Purves. And, indeed, much more.


18 patents is just not enough: an open letter to L’Oreal

Dear L'Oreal,

For several weeks now I've been seeing - and let's be honest, ignoring -  your adverts for L'Oreal Inoa on TV. It's not like you actually sell the stuff in shops, after all.  Only in salons.

However, it just struck me you've been making an extraordinary claim that I've been completely overlooking.  Let's take a look at your advert and see if you can spot it.

Did you see it?  Yes, it took me a moment to see past the shiny floaty hair and vacuous idiots too, but you've apparently filed 18 patents.  EIGHTEEN.  Wow.  This must be awesome hair colour.   I mean, eighteen pending patents (18)? You must have patented just EVERYTHING.  Like, obviously the dye itself, then maybe - ooh, important things like... um, the application process, and, um... other groundbreaking stuff.

But is 18 (eighteen) patents (pending) enough?  As I said, I've been checking Twitter/making cups of tea/picking my nose through your advert for weeks now, and not once have I taken note of your frankly mind-boggling number of (pending) patents.  And even now, I'm thinking - well, eighteen's a lot, but will it make me Google your website to look for another salon?  My salon doesn't use Inoa, you see, and I'm assuming your advert's aimed at attracting new customers.  And when I clicked on the "Salon Locator" tab I just got the L'Oreal Professionnel [sic] Facebook page, so you're not exactly making it easy for me, are you?  Frankly I don't think a mere eighteen patents, most if not all of them presumably still pending, is enough to lure me in.

However, I'm not a problems person: I'm a solutions person.  I'm sure you understand meaningless bullshit phrases like that, but I'll break it down for you anyway: I've come up with something to help you.  Let's bump up those patents (the pending ones) to a more impressive 19.  I hereby reveal: L'OREAL PROTEKTALOX!

Envelope with sketch: lady wearing showercap with extended flap at back and another flap at the fringe

That's right: you really are seeing what you think you're seeing and I know, it's freaking REVOLUTIONARY.  Ignore for one moment that it's been drawn on the back of an envelope: the fact I evidently have bills to pay means you know I've put proper thought into this.  But I'm not in it for the money - as Alex Tabarrok said in his 2009 TED talk, we need innovation to see us through economic crises - ideas which cross cultural and geographical boundaries.

All I'm asking for is 1/19th of your revenue from Inoa (since it will, after all, be one of the NINETEEN amazing (pending) patents key to the success of your product), £1,000,000 and a lifetime's supply of PROTEKTALOX for me and all of my 849 Twitter friends.

What does PROTEKTALOX do?  Ha.  I prefer to think of it another way: what does PROTEKTALOX NOT do?  But seriously though, what it actually does is stop dye going onto your face and pillows while you're sleeping.  I hate that.  And it has a separate flap to stop your fringe going all crooked - solving yet another problem all of us with fringes will recognise.  Keep getting dye on your face overnight?  Sick of sleeping in a shower cap?  Want to look sexier for your partner in bed?  Use PROTEKTALOX!

Yeah, you laugh now, but when you see your sales figures after you raise your pending patents to a full NINETEEN you'll be laughing on the other side of your face.  The side not covered by PROTEKTALOX.

Now it could - just could - be that name-checking your many pending but yet-to-be-processed patents could be one of those clever marketing tricks, like Olay Total Effect 7's Seven Signs of Aging (and that's not even including birthday parties - they're not on the list at all!  Silly Olay) or that time your Boswelox cream (L'Oreal Wrinkle De-Crease Collagen, I think you call it) turned out to be... well, Boswelox.  But come on - you've got more integrity than that, right?  Right...?

Yours in optimism,

Helen Purves, inventor of PROTEKTALOX (patent pending)

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