Things That Look Like Other Things

Looking at the lists of most popular gift ideas, what’s striking is the number of objects or gadgets that look like something else. Typically, just like every year, you have smartphone sleeves that look like a retro audiotape, a Polaroid, a log, etc. So the trend isn’t totally new, but it seems as if we’ve crossed the edge of reason now.

It’s hard to find a kitchen timer nowadays that does not look like a rooster, a hen, an apple, an Italian chef, an owl opening or closing its eyes independently, a ballerina or even a bomb – very “sign of the times,” that one… It’s actually even hard to find any kind of kitchen equipment that doesn’t look like a cute animal or funny face. I also see pacifiers that look like a moustache, sheets that look like an iPhone, pizza slicers that look like racebikes, or a lunchbox that looks like LEGO brick.

We can speculate about the reason why this is becoming a trend. I have a theory. Of course, these playful, gimmicky look-alike gadgets are no novelty in Asian markets, and Asia’s growing importance as a supplier for all things household isn’t unfamiliar. But apart from that, this could also be seen as a sign of a growing trend to adding playfulness to everyday, boring stuff, that real happiness lies in seeing the smile in small things. It’s along the same lines as the daily quirky joke the barista puts on the chalkboard at the coffee bar: if it raises a smile on someone’s face for a sec, it’s worth all the extra money!


Spotted by Tom Theys, EVP Global Strategy, FCB.