- Sensual Soft Serve: With its provocative overtones, Canada’s Perverted reimagines a soft serve ice-cream brand for an ‘adults only’ audience. Sexual innuendos inspire its flavour names, while its all-black Vancouver store is decorated with lewd twists on cartoons and pop-culture references. This genre-bending approach reflects an ongoing consumer desire to dismantle taboos around sexual appetites – see Commercialising Pleasure for more.
- ‘Second Look’ Centrepieces: New York brand JonsBones dubs itself a responsible osteology shop, selling ethically sourced human bones, skulls and skeletons (all real). The products are positioned as educational rather than macabre – a strategy that likely appeals to young people who prefer wholesome, sincere messaging over dark humour.
Meanwhile, London ceramics brand Me Old China speaks to consumers who retain an appetite for irony. The brand takes commissions for hand-made ‘swear jars’ (vases) painted in ornately scripted expletives. The heavy font makes the words almost indeterminable at first, allowing them to hide (nearly) in plain sight on display at home.
- Smoking’s Seduction: After decades of health campaigns, there’s a reappraisal of the cigarette’s cultural role, with smoking cropping back up on the small screen as a key plot point in television shows like youth-favourite Euphoria.
To sell its luxury-positioned cigarettes, American tobacco brand Hestia leans into exclusivity, relying on influencer and word-of-mouth marketing. Its hand-illustrated packaging calls out the ritual and tradition of smoking, enticing consumers who wish to find themselves in a community of taboo-flouters. Elsewhere, people can buy lipsticks packaged to resemble cigarettes.
Evolving social norms is a topic we’ve been tracking since our 2017 report, Tackling Taboos.