Sad clowns, banned make-up ads and ‘unicorn food’ madness

Planet Business: This week in the circus, from Ivanka handbags to ‘Dragon’s Den’

In numbers: Family business


Tons of Ivanka Trump handbags, wallets and blouses that were imported into the US from Hong Kong and Shanghai during the week that her father met Chinese president Xi Jinping at a Mar-a-Lago summit.


Number of trademarks that the "first daughter" company won provisional approval for on April 6th, the day Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner sat next to the Chinese president and his wife for a steak and Dover sole dinner.


Number of pending and registered trademarks that Ivanka Trump’s company holds worldwide. Despite a boycott at some stores, #TeamIvanka’s business is booming.

Image of the week: Oh what a circus

These are sad times for clowns like Joe DeSoto, part of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus. The “Greatest Show on Earth” is on a farewell tour some 146 years after it began life as PT Barnum’s Grand Travelling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Hippodrome. On May 21st, it will shut down for good, having been undone by falling attendance, high operating costs, shifts in public opinion and long legal battles with animal rights groups. The elephant in the room was that there was no elephant in the room. A year ago, the company removed the elephants from its shows and sent them to live on a conservation farm. The result was a further “dramatic drop” in ticket sales – while some people said they didn’t want the animals to be used by circuses, others were disinclined to attend a circus without them.


The lexicon: Unicorn food

"Unicorn food" is allegedly the latest internet craze for posting images of pastel and rainbow-hued food. Essentially, it's a moment in the social media spotlight for food dyes. Think of a piece of toast smeared with a kaleidoscopic spread, a colour palette borrowed from My Little Pony – that's unicorn food. There's a chance it started out as a real, organic trend, popularised by kidults with smartphones, or it might have been an Instagram-friendly marketing concept from the get-go. It's so very hard to tell. In any case, coffee giant Starbucks has taken it mainstream, launching a limited edition "Unicorn Frappuccino", topped with vanilla cream, pink powder and "sour blue drizzle". When stirred, this concoction changes colour from purple to pink – so that's the viral video sorted.

Getting to know: Steve Parish

Steve Parish (52), the chairman and co-owner of Crystal Palace football club, has an estimated wealth of £45 million (€54 million, the last time we checked). But never mind that – television stardom awaits the Eagles man as he is one of two new "dragons" on the BBC's Dragon's Den. Parish made his fortune in advertising before putting together a consortium of Palace fans to save the London club from liquidation in 2010. It was promoted to the Premier League in 2013 and now has a turnover of more than £100 million. The dragon has a sanguine attitude to how Brexit will create hurdles for clubs buying EU players. In a "we are where we are" column for the Sunday Times, he called for football academies to be filled with local players and the rules on work permits to be redrawn to bring in more players from beyond Europe.

The list: Made-up advertising

Rimmel has been forced to pull ads for the aptly named "Scandaleyes" mascara on the basis that star Cara Delevingne was given "lash inserts" and some lashes were re-drawn in post-production. It's not the first and it won't be last make-up ad to flout advertising standards.

1. Red for blonde: Clairol’s 2015 ad had Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks declaring she had changed her trademark red hair for blonde, but the ad was filmed in reverse. Regulators were presumably tipped off by someone who knew Hendricks is a natural blonde.

2. The “Eraser”: Ads for a Maybelline “anti-ageing” foundation were banned after owner L’Oréal admitted altering images of model Christy Turlington to “lighten the skin, clean up make-up, reduce dark shadows and shading around the eyes, smooth the lips and darken the eyebrows”. Apart from that, it was fine.

3. Teint Miracle: L’Oréal’s Lancôme brand had to withdraw ads for a Julia Roberts-fronted face cream, despite valiantly arguing that its digital retouching efforts were not “directly relevant” to how she looked.

4. Nano airbrush: Christian Dior claimed "the miracle of a nano brush" was responsible for the beauty, specifically the "unrivalled" lashes, of Natalie Portman. Our old friend Photoshop helped.

5. On the lash: L’Oréal was also done for using false eyelashes in a Penelope Cruz mascara advertisement in 2007. It argued that many women wore falsies, so it was perfectly valid to put them in an ad for mascara.