Michelle N. sent us a video by the ever-fabulous Sarah Haskins, this time on the use of scientific imagery and language in skin care commercials. Michelle says,
In these advertisements, complex, scientific-sounding language is used to obscure the actual simplicity of the beauty product and the “conditions” they aim to correct (body-aging anyone?)…Since when do we refer to lotion as a “serum”?
Thansk to Meia G. for sending in these “tool set” ornaments for sale at Home Depot. Notice that they don’t just group these tools into ones associated with women (gardening) and men (building), they actually label them as women’s and men’s on the price sticker. This is a great example of how gender isn’t just something we encounter in objects because we know enough to read gender into them, it’s actually prescribed to us.
Christmas gift advertising tends to be highly gendered in part because buying gifts can be difficult and time-consuming. Gender helps us narrow down options or find something that seems suitable for someone we don’t know very well. Marketers exploit this imperative and its uncertainty for all its worth.
And perhaps all this was just an excuse to re-post Sarah Haskins on holiday jewelry advertising. You’re welcome.
The California Milk Processor Board, the group responsible for the Got Milk? and Happy Cows ad campaigns, produced “Medusa,” a commercial about a princess whose “ugly hair” destroys her chances for love…until, of course, a man comes along who knows how to tame her hair, make her beautiful, and “conquer her love,” allowing her to finally get married:
I get that her hair is made up of snakes, but as a person with incredibly curly, unpredictable, shall we say boisterous hair, I can’t help but notice that the beauty ideal espoused here clearly calls for sleek, straight, controlled hair.
Sarah Haskins takes on the fairy tale trope in commercials aimed at women, including my favorite, a milk ad in which the princess’s PMS mood swings cause a tidal wave of her tears that threatens her entire realm:
I’m trying to catch up on some of our email, so you’re getting another round-up of similar-themed items, this time on the gendering of food. Laura L. sent in an advertisement for Muscle Milk, a product generally marketed to men, that she saw on the BART (San Francisco’s public transportation system). The ad presents the product as a means to become more attractive by building muscle — a body type usually encouraged for men but not women — and thus gain sexual access to your friends:
It’s interesting because it’s a gendered product that uses a tactic common in products that market to women: you’re body isn’t good enough, but our product will fix it. It’s not the first time the company has used tactics more often seen in products aimed at women.
In another example of marketing to men, Julie C. pointed out a commercial for the Canadian sports bar chain La Cage Aux Sports in which meat and non-meat diets are clearly gendered, with the girlfriend eating veggies and grains, stuff that just isn’t normal for a guy! A translation of the French is below:
Last year, my new girlfriend Isabelle convinced me to become a vegetarian. So I completely
changed my diet: I eliminated meat, discovered flax seeds, alfalfa sprouts, soy, quinoa, a bunch of
things I didn’t know. So well now, you see, we’re not together anymore.
[Announcer] The new VIP Prime Rib Burgers are here. Available in regular or “monster” size. Hey,
Isn’t a good burger good? Eh? Good, isn’t it? A good burger?
In another example of the association of meat-eating with men, Tom Megginson, who blogs at Work that Matters, sent us a link to a story at AdFreak about KFC’s inventive promotional campaign for their Double-Down sandwich, which, if you didn’t know, consists of bacon and cheese between two chicken breast patties (fried or grilled). The promotions, which started in Louisville, KY, involve undergrads wearing sweats with “Double Down” across the butt and giving out free stuff:
The KFC announcement of the program makes it clear that only women are wanted as “brand ambassadors” to help them meet their “key target of young men.”
While men are encouraged to eat high-fat/sodium/calorie monster/mega/ultra/double meat-based items, women, of course, get to eat yogurt. Brianna L. found this Australian commercial for Yoplait Formé, in which women are shown eating foods that are clearly meant to appear unappetizing and illustrate they are sacrificing flavor for their diet, as well as policing one another’s food choices:
Notice at 12 seconds in they all wave away the plate of cookies, but then, just for a second, one of the women shows weakness and starts to reach for one. The woman next to her, however, quickly reins her in with a disapproving look and gesture. As Brianna points out,
Even the tag line “feel fuller for longer” shows eating is not about sustenance, or taking pleasure in food. Being in perpetual hunger – that’s the status quo, at least until a magic yogurt comes along to save you.