Dolores R. sent in a flubbed opportunity to represent Mexicans positively and reach out to the expanding Mexican market in the U.S. In “honor” of Cinco de Mayo, Mike’s Hard Lemonade hired five men — in fake mustaches and sombreros – to pretend to be a Mariachi band. They then improvised songs in response to submissions from viewers. The stunt is self-conscious, along the lines of the “ironic” “hipster racism” we now see so much of. Notice them making fun of themselves in this promo:
The fake band may have been making fun of themselves, but they did so by engaging in something that they had already decided was ridiculous, Mariachi music. Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone.
A better approach, Latino Rebels suggests, would have been to spotlight some of the actual awesome Mariachi music out there. They wouldn’t have even had to be traditional. They could have hired a real band to improvise, or they could have drawn on the existing Mariachi cover bands, bands that do really neat stuff! Here’s, for example, is a band covering Hotel California:
YetAnotherGirl, Andrew, Rosemary, Nathan Jurgens0n, Dolores, and Ann K. all sent in an ad for Belvedere Vodka that should be listed in the annals of bad ideas. The ad shows a gleeful man grabbing a distressed-looking woman who, we are to presume from the text, must not be going down smoothly (via Feministing):
Because how is it not funny to present your product in a context that says sexual assault is funny?
Online criticism of an ad that seems to be making a joke about forcing women to engage in sexual acts led to the company pulling the ad and issuing an apology of the passive “sorry if you were offended” type:
The company’s president also apologized when speaking to CNN about the controversy (via The Consumerist):
It should never have happened. I am currently investigating the matter to determine how this happened and to be sure it never does so again. The content is contrary to our values and we deeply regret this lapse.
The company also made a donation to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).
Phil Villarreal, who posted about the ad and the apology at The Consumerist, suggests that the ad may be even more cynical than it at first appears:
The cynical might wonder whether or not the campaign and apology made up a coordinated effort to draw attention to the brand.
Intentionally invoking outrage, then making an apology and symbolic corporate donation as marketing strategy. Any readers with marketing expertise have any insight here? We often see cases of companies desperately trying to control the negative effects of controversies. When does a controversy hurt a brand and when does it serve as a marketing opportunity?
UPDATE: Reader Tom points out that it turns out to be a still from a parody video that someone at the company then reposted (via Adland):
Somebody on their social media team obviously created (or found) and posted it thinking it was an amusing parody. And that person has probably been found and fired.
But it is unlikely anyone officially *in charge* of the brand actually saw and approved this.
As Tom says, this brings up a separate issue: the challenges to companies of managing brand image in a world where one person in the organization can quickly disseminate something via the company’s social networking sites to thousands or even millions of people with much less oversight than a traditional ad campaign would get, especially when viewers make little distinction between images included in tweets or Facebook updates and those in billboards, print ads, etc.
Here we have another great vintage ad (1962) that upsets the idea that today’s norms are trans-historical. First, the idea of having a “pint about midday” would be considered inappropriate by many U.S. employers (though, as several commenters have pointed out, not necessarily elsewhere). Second, the large print — “Beer, It’s Lovely!” — sounds unmasculine today, even though these grizzled sea-farers likely would have seemed perfectly masculine enough at the time.
I don’t know if “subliminal” is a real thing or just a layperson idea, but when I talk about media in Introduction to Sociology I show some images to show just how carefully advertisers are steeping their material in raw sex. I start with the image below.
I ask: Notice anything interesting about this image? Even in very large classes it usually takes a long time for anyone to see…
…that the shadow of the liquor bottle is pointing directly between her nearly bare breasts.
Here are some more:
This is a picture of an ad at the Burbank airport. Notice the profoundly phallic shape of the foaming surf that happens to be pointing directly at the woman’s crotch. The foam mimicks the crown printed at the top of the Budweiser bottle (in the upper left hand of the image in red).
And where is the rocket going?
This ejaculating bottle is in an ad for clothing in a magazine aimed at gay men:
What image accompanies the word “come”?
That’s Salma Hayak and Campari… or should I say Salma Hayak’s boobs and an ejaculation fantasy.
I love this one. Just underneath the banner you see two nuts, a thick pour and, let’s face it, a chocolate vaginal opening.
A vintage ad for Bright and Clear lipstick (found here):
Finally, Chappell E. sent in this Brookstone cover featuring a woman an an, errrr… automatic wine bottle opener:
This ad illustrates some sociological idea, something I could use in class. I’m just not sure what it is. (You may have already seen it. It’s been around on the Internet for a few months.)
Yes, it’s a beer commercial, not a documentary, not “reality.” But the couples are real and unscripted – like the victims in a “Candid Camera” bit (or the subjects in some social psychology experiments). Real and unscripted too is our reaction as viewers. I don’t know about you, but after the ad was over, I realized that I had shared something of the couples’ anxiety at being different and hence excluded. The bikers are neutral, maybe they are even silently hostile, so when they suddenly became accepting, my sense of relief was palpable. I laughed out loud.
So sociological point one is that we are social animals. Excluded we feel fear, accepted and included we feel comfort. Point two is that laughter is social. Here (and in many other situations) it’s a kind of tension-meter. There ad had no joke that I was laughing at. It was just a release from tension. No tension, no laughter.
The ad also illustrates “definition of the situation.” The rigged set-up shatters the couples’ standard definition of going to the movies. They are anxious not just because they are different but because they nave no workable definition and therefore no clear sense of what to do.
Finally, the ad raises the issue of stereotypes. Stereotypes may actually have some general statistical accuracy. The trouble is that the stereotype converts a statistical tendency to absolute certainty. We react as though we expect all members of the stereotype to be that way all the time or most of the time. Is it reasonable when you see 148 bikers to be fearful even to the point of leaving (I think some of the couples didn’t take the available seats)? You don’t need to have read Hunter S. Thompson to know there is some truth in the image of bikers as above the mean on violence. But in a theater where you find them quietly awaiting the movie?
What other sociological ideas does the ad suggest?
by Guest Blogger Nick Green, Dec 1, 2011, at 12:27 pm
Australian sparkling wine manufacturer Yellowglen has been running the Bubbly Girls campaign for about a decade in Australia. The brand’s self-proclaimed goal of the campaign is:
Yellowglen celebrates women everywhere. We’re proud to be part of the celebration, and as such have asked three women who are living their dreams to be the Yellowglen Bubbly Girls. Who are they? They’re bright, beautiful girls who epitomise everything that we love about Australian women.
The marketing campaign actively employs a conflation of femininity and aspirational fantasy. The three women in the video were allegedly chosen because of “…the real life achievements of women and the female spirit.”
No evidence is given of any actual life achievements (i.e., experiences, career developments or highlights). Rather, the featured women talk about their dreams and desires to be famous by way of acting, music, or by spending their life travelling the world. No evidence is provided that they have even pursued these goals yet, let alone achieved anything worthy of note in these pursuits.
The rest of the campaign consists of the women modelling and drinking sparkling wine, sometimes making appearances at “fashionable” events such as the Melbourne Cup (a national Australian event worthy of it’s own post) as part of larger fashion-oriented campaign.
Thus, the campaign appears to re-enforce several patriarchal notions of femininity:
The genderization of “‘fun”: femininity, fashion, friends, social attention (and bubbles!).
Success is defined by fantasy; lofty and rather unattainable ambitions for careers based on appearances and social attention.
Celebration is “a day in the spotlight,” of pamper and attention; not the acknowledgement of tangible outcomes.
Has anyone seen a male-oriented campaign that ‘celebrates’ men in a similar fashion? I’m genuinely curious.
Nick Green studies Arts (Communications) at Monash University and Economics at University of New England, Australia, with particular interest in social economics. He performs in Heartbreak Club (a group that creates semi-satirical songs about male narcissism), writes about wine and loosely related topics at the Journal of Sparkling Shiraz, and is employed by an Australian media company.