Thursday, December 21, 2006

Say it cheaply, with Kay Jewelers.

Kay Jewelers has been running their holiday campaign since November now, and I don’t know about you, but it makes my eyes bleed every time I have to see one of their god-awful commercials. The spots may be aimed at the guys out there, but ultimately, it's the women in the world who this stuff is for.

Here are the main messages I get from watching these spots:

  1. Our jewelry is special, and will help you create memories to for years to come.
  2. Doesn’t the woman in your life deserve it?

Yet message number three is in direct conflict with the above:

  1. It’s cheap.

What on earth does that say about your brand, and about the intelligence of your customers?

I don’t have a problem with the initial premise of these spots where some dopey guy thinks he’s scored big by getting his girlfriend/wife some diamonds.

I do have a problem with how the voice-over then goes on to tote how cheap these particular items are. Create memories that will last a lifetime, with Kay Jewelers. Sure- she’ll remember the Christmas when you got her some shitty diamond earrings for $99. But do you really want that particular memory embedded in her head?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Women in Refrigerators

A friend of mine pointed me in the direction of the cultural commentary blog, Crocodile Caucus. It’s good reading focusing on pop culture, television, comics, commentary, and more. Anyhow, I was reading through it yesterday, and found a terrific post about the television show Heroes, and the “Women in Refrigerators” phenomena.

For those that don’t know (and I didn’t, until yesterday), Wikipedia explains the WiF theory (and website) thusly: exploring “female comic book characters that had been injured, killed, or depowered as a plot device within various superhero comic books. Also, the site seeks to analyze why these plot devices are used disproportionately on female characters.”

These are superheroines who have been either depowered, raped, or cut up and stuck in the refrigerator. I know I missed a bunch. Some have been revived, even improved -- although the question remains as to why they were thrown in the wood chipper in the first place.

I know I missed a bunch -- I just don't know my comics deaths the way I should. I'm not editorializing -- I'm just curious to find out what you guys think it means, if anything. – From the site

Good question—what does this all mean and why is it happening? I don’t think this use of female characters is limited to comic books. As Crocodile Caucus points out, it’s branching out into television, and I’m sure with some thought and research, you can see this attitude in movies and literature as well.

Positive female role models and characters are really needed in our media. Sure, some of these women mentioned are intelligent, but they still meet a dreadful end because a man was powerless to save them. Why can’t they have power in their own right? What is this teaching the audiences (both children and adult) who watch or read these stories?

With Spiderman 3 coming out this summer, I’ll be curious to see how they handle the infamous Gwen Stacy plot line, and see if she meets a WiR ending. Another obvious example would be the fate of Jean Grey in the recent X-Men movies.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Get a better role model.

Another great article on Salon, analyzing the effects of associating with Paris Hilton, and the harm she's doing to society. Traister, the author, puts it best as she begins to make her case against the strumpet:

"You know that point in a Stephen King novel when you've sort of figured out that the creepy dollie -- the one with the plastic hair and serenely stupid eyes that roll in two different directions -- is actually an animate object wreaking havoc and destroying people and you wonder why the townspeople haven't cottoned on and crushed the damn thing under a truck or something?

I think it's safe to say we've reached that point with Paris Hilton. We need to acknowledge that Hilton is not simply a tabloid diversion but a malevolent blight on the pop culture landscape."

Read, and spread the word.

Jane is the new Emily.

Remember Emily? The "woman" who put up a billboard about her cheating husband but it was all a CourtTV stunt for a new detective show?

The UK's got their own version, Jane (via AdFreak). Instead of a Blogger site, she's got MySpace. Poor jilted Jane has friends and comments galore-- if not for the fact that this very viral campaign was carried out a few months ago, I'd believe it a bit more. Emily never allowed comments on her site, but if Jane's friends are real, it allows a level of interaction and believability that was lacking with Emily. Why join MySpace or Blogger unless you want other people to reach out to you?

Jane's first post dates from Dec. 8th, so it looks like once again, we can follow how this story plays out and make guesses about what show or product it's secretly tied to. So far there are links to a radio station in which she had interviews or something, and a few photos of the billboard bouncing around.

(It really seems that thanks to the Internet, it's getting harder and harder to recycle ideas as fresh.)

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sexy sexy birds...

When we think of energy drinks, O'Keefe imagery doesn't usually come to mind. We think of sweating athletes, grunting men- all things manly and bold.

Motley Bird, a new energy drink in Europe, breaks the mold, and proudly wears its femininity. Incredibly surreal, the spot explores the world of two hummingbirds and a very special flower. With both phallic and vulvan imagery galore, it certainly breaks through the clutter. On a nice note- it appears both the bird and the flower finish together. Don't you love it when that happens?

Produced by PSYOP.
Agency: Third Skin.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Bravia: A TV for Men and Women?

Could there be such a thing as a television for both men and women? What have I been watching for the past twenty years? The male-oriented model? Sony Bravia's new commercials claim to have designed something for both sexes: The other day I saw some ads for the new highly hyped set(no, not the awesome paint ad) in which both a man and a woman meet, and then, in TiVO fashion, the commercial stops, and you can either watch the ending for men or the ending for women. Each version plays out a different way, and multiple endings are available. Playful commercials, though they definitely lean heavily on gender stereotypes (one of the women’s ending is a romantic musical about shoes, the guy’s in one case is a sports drama).

The commercials (all variations of them) point towards a site further championing the wonders of this TV. What if a television had been built for both women and men in mind? Would it perform better? Would it have separate remotes? Would it have user-preferences? Would the interface be different? For these answers and more, I clicked to the site: continuing the gimmick, the screen is half blue, half pink. Viewers can click through different reasons it’s perfect for both sexes.

Only all of the reasons are exactly the same, albeit with different wording:

Why will women like this TV?

--Slim Design:
It’s called the Living Room, not the TV Room. And the designers of the BRAVIA LCD TV haven’t forgotten that. With its slim design and stylish look, the Bravia LCD TV only steals your eye when its on. If only the same could be said for his football lamp.

Why guys like it:
--Slim Design:
Translation: This is one killer-looking television. Enough said.

Ultimately, by using the different gender stereotypes, the Bravia proves that the same features are just as good for any viewer. They’re claiming their product transcends gender to provide the best viewing experience. It’s a unique approach—by creating a false problem to “solve,” the Bravia is able to stand out from the rest of the HDTV clutter.

In another take on the ads (besides the clutter issue), Eric Sory of Seen and Not Seen asks, “Why would Sony create a false schism and then claim to bridge that nonexistent schism?”

I'll tell you what I think-- this is all an elaborate kabuki. Sony knows that in a household with a man and a woman, the man's urge to buy an expensive, expansive TV will be met with resistance from his partner. So they've basically created this campaign as a way to help the man convince the woman to relent. "See, honey? This TV is special! It's for women too! There's a whole web site full of excu-- uh, reasons! Should we get the 46-inch?"

Whether or not this tactic will actually work remains to be seen- women now make 80% of purchasing decisions, and it's also been found that commercials and advertising don't affect them the same way cold hard facts will (Business Week).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Back in the saddle.

The past month or so has been hectic in every single way imaginable- home life, work, etc. Thankfully, I think things have settled for a little bit (until the holidays kick in) and I should be posting a bit more regularly! The holiday season should definitely have its fair share of interesting work to critique. (I know I was tied up w/ a Black Friday project...)

This link should prove some interesting reading until I get a proper post up. With a performance review coming up in January, I'm definitely keeping this information in mind.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Just a Little Naughty

These three print ads for Rush (some form of ready-made drink?) are initially pretty fun. I like the sense of play, and the kid in me likes the grown-up take on the fairy-tale characters.

Fairy-tale women have historically been either good or evil—no in betweens. There’s no ambiguity at all in these cautionary tales. Women are usually represented as pure, virutious virgins (who happen to be beautiful, or become beautiful by the end of the tale) or evil ugly crones. Your outside appearance is a clear reflection of your inside.

Now, we all know in real life that this isn’t the case. We’re not black or white- we’re all varying shades of grey. (Think of the old virgin/whore dichotomy.) Women can’t be held to impossible standards, and a woman’s beauty shouldn’t be a reflection of whether or not she’s generous, caring, or friendly with woodland creatures. I think these ads playfully help to dispel these standards.

Another thing I like about these, is that with the slight exception of the Cinderella ad, is that they’re not emphasizing sex. Yes, the women are attractive, yes, their gaze is knowing, naughty and a tad seductive, but they aren’t baring their bodies or showing a lot of skin.

It’s mischievous, it’s impish, it’s fun. And hey- the costumes work well for Halloween.

These ads aren't very new-- I found them a month or so ago online, and forgot to note where. Any ideas?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Craigslist Readers reach out to Always

Remember my post about Always? Turns out some readers/posters on Craigslist aren't too keen on the new tagline either.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dove: Evolution.

Another great film/commercial from Dove. Scary, huh?

Ogilvy & Mather for Dove Unilever.

HP, don't women use your computers?

HP's new line of ads, reviewed here by Seth Stevenson of Slate, are pretty spiffy. Great graphics, neat concept-- but, as Seth points out at the end of his review, and I was already there midway through; there are no women spokespeople for the brand. Plenty of interesting and varied male celebrities are shown discussing their HP notebooks. Not a gal among them.

If women make up 57% of current college students (and that figure is rising), and if college students are one of the most prolific computing groups, it'd make a hell of a lot of sense to market to them.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Flag it: Ending Relationship Abuse.

I've posted before about various types of domestic violence and abuse, and it's an issue that's going to keep coming up. However, this campaign for the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance addresses more than physical violence- it tackles the emotional and mental abuse as well. Jealousy, emotional blackmail, issues of control: these are things that leave a more lasting mark than a bruise. And it's not just heterosexual women who suffer either.

"The good thing about this project that it's not about abuse in a general way but giving the symptons a name like excessive jealousy or isolation." says Houtlust, and I totally agree. These early symptoms are like the early stages of a cold. If you catch them quick enough, they're relatively easier to handle then the full blown virus.

The Red Flag Campaign has its own site, with more information on how to support friends and also yourself. For a long time, the emotional portion of abuse, or even just emotional problems within a relationship, weren't treated as action issues. For the most part, they still aren't. If a couple has issues, it's between the couple. Hopefully this work will help start a dialogue, or at the very least, increase awareness. Your partner may not be hitting you, but that doesn't mean you're in a healthy relationship.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Grind it deeper?

Ok, first off, apologies for not telling people in advance that I was taking a small vacation last week. (It was nice. Good time in rural NY and PA.)

EDIT- As per the request below, the images from this post and comments based on them have been removed. 7/23/07

Friday, September 22, 2006

Model Fall-out

So, it's been a busy week-- Madrid's decision to ban waifish models from some high-level fashion shows has had an interesting effect. It was widely covered, and a few other countries have spoken out against the too-thin trend too. (It goes to show that you only need one voice to start something larger!)

ABC News had an article about India's growing health concerns as their nation picks up more and more Western trends, including ideas of beauty. CNN had two articles-- one about fashion shows and concerns in London, where there was no ban, and another about the health of models in general.

I wonder if this is the start of a body-positive "eat right, exercise and accept your body" trend, or if it's just a very small ripple in a very large pond?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

P&G invites us to "Have a Happy Period."

David over at ThirdWay Advertising Blog wrote an excellent review of some new Always print & media ads. They're all pretty decent, until we get to the tagline: "Have a Happy Period."

As he writes, there are a couple of ways to take that:
A) It's empowering! It's shedding the shame and fear and repulsion of the past and encouraging us to embrace our bodies!
B) Have you ever had a happy period? How dare P&G intrude upon a private, intimate, and sometimes very comfortable event.

Menstruation is definitely not a sign of women’s deficiencies, and it’s great that people (and companies) are trying to vigorously dispel that myth. At the same time, do they have to try this vigorously?

Thanks to some personal experiences, I'm sort of on the fence with this one. I like the idea of empowerment & positive affirmations, and esp. casting off the negative light of what is a natural process, but I don't want to be told that it should be happy, joyous, or otherwise. Thoughts?

Another small issue: When you look at the ads and their emphasis on cleanliness, they might also make some women feel "dirtier" than they would otherwise during their period. Always means well, but I think certain women may receive mixed messages and feelings about the whole thing: Menstruation's natural, but here, take a wipe and clean up "that odor." Delivering a positive message but still selling a hygiene product is a bit of a balancing act in this case.

The ads were done by Leo Burnett, and to see more of them, go here. The tag line appears in the lower right of most of the print ads.

*In my opinion, it definitely crosses the line when Always's website has e-cards to send to gal pals "wishing them a happy period."

Ban on Skinny Models in Madrid Show

I'll take this as a small truimph, though I wish it was NYC's Fashion Week that made this decision.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Great Works

Further proof that public service messages don't have to be dry or over burdened with statistics. Using classic works of art to draw in our attention, the message is delivered in a subtle & intelligent manner. The selection of work used highlights that abuse can happen everywhere- your abuser doesn't care whether you're poor or rich, old or young, impressionist or baroque. It's a universal problem affecting everyone.

These were entrants into a competition from Amnesty International Greece; credit goes to Houtlust for the scoop!

Friday, September 08, 2006

One Man Fight

For one of the best PSA's I've seen about domestic violence, go to One Man Fight. And then spread the word.

(Found it on Houtlust today.)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Radio Donna's Dance Spray

So, not only does this feature a semi-scantily glad woman getting ready for a night out, but it's also capitalizing on popular racial stereotypes.

I found this puzzling print ad on Ads of the World, and initially had a tough time trying to figure out what it advertised. Obviously, there's no real spray for this (try dance lessons), so what's it all about?

Radio Donna. It's some sort of Belgian radio station, and I guess the ad ties in with the hip urban lifestyle they're promoting with their events and music.

The imagery is creative, I'll give them that, and on its face, the ad is original, catches your eye, etc. Still, this objectifies black women; it dehumanizes them in a way. We don't need their faces, their bodies; their identities-- just their groovy legs.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

TV's Aryan Sisterhood?

As promised, I remembered to find some more info about the glut of blonde women newscasters. Slate had a terrific article and slideshow (written/compiled by Jack Shafer) on this phenomena back in Feb '06, but I think with the ascension of Katie Couric to CBS, this trend is far from withered. Check it out, and then check out, a website he cites.

The double standard I pointed out (men can go gracefully grey, like silverback gorillas, and maintain power and wisdom--- nay, gather even more prestige with age, while women must stay forever young) is hardly limited to the nightly news. Take a look within our society. How many middle-aged women do you know dye their hair? How many guys?

Besides all of that, certain media outlets give their anchors/stars/newcasters "photoshop diets," making the women look even more youthful, vibrant and healthy. Here's a link to the now famous Katie Couric photos. The same thing happened a couple of days ago with Rosie O'Donnell's press photos for The View.

Unrealistic expectations and body images are being pushed upon the female gender, and while some progress has been made, I think that in certain instances, it's become even more insidious. People know it's sexist to shill beer with babes in bikinis, but fewer people realize that the equivilant is being done to the nightly news.

Some societies look upon older women as leaders and matriarchs. Clearly, that isn't the case with Western culture. Women newscasters (as well as the rest of us women) have to be able to let go of their personal Dorian Grays.

More from Dove & its Real Women

Here are some print ads from Dove's Real Women campaign-- done by Ogilvy in the UK. I like these ads a lot more than I do the ones I had originally seen. There's no emphasis on weight here, except in the Fit/Fat peice.

All of the women seem happy, empowered, and self confident in these photos. These capture the spirit of the campaign, in my eyes.

On a total aside, here's an article about the choice to "go grey," cultural beauty norms, and how hair color affects how women percieve themselves. I'd like to think I'll let my hair go natural when it decides to. Ever notice how male news anchors have steely grey hair and look noble, but all the women are perky blonds? (I'm looking at you, Katie Couric et al.) Double standards, urgh.

Now that I'm thinking about it, maybe those thoughts aren't such a detour after all. Hmm. Stay tuned for further developments.

Found at Ads of the World.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Updated Links

So, I've added some links today-- I KNOW there are more out there that should be listed, so if anyone sees anything, pass it along...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Tulle is in, and it's such a waste to wear it to the morgue.

Houtlust has had these lovely prints on their site for awhile, and while I noticed them immediately, I wasn't sure what I could say that he hadn't. A creative director was walking by my desk when I was looking at them for like the fourth time, and he stopped to look. His immediate reaction? Beautiful imagery. Almost too gorgeous to make its point.

I've been mulling that over, and I think I might agree. While I love the message the campaign has, I'm questioning its effectiveness. It'd be great if these ran in the magazines, next to all the Chanel, Ralph Lauren, etc. Amid all of those other glossy and beautiful photos, it'd be interesting to see if people "saw" the message, or if they just saw the couture.

Agency: FCB Singapore

Thursday, August 31, 2006

María Sharapova feels pretty.

As anyone in NYC knows, the U.S. Open starts this weekend. I know this because of all of the ads, the subway specials, etc. I also know this because of the sudden influx of tennis commercials. Late August is to tennis what June was to football/soccer.

I saw this spot on TV the other night, and was immediately swept up in the song... it's hard not to be. It's fun, it's peppy, and ultimately, it shows girls can be a hell of a lot more than just pretty.

"I'm excited about this ad because not only is Nike drawing attention to women's tennis, but there's also an empowering message for female athletes that it's okay to be fierce and competitive on the court and still have a feminine side off court," said Sharapova. (from CNN Money)

On the other side, however, as David from Thirdway points out, "Sharapova was hired as a spokesperson by Nike not just because she is one of the top female tennis players, but because she is very attractive. So while she works unique well for this campaign, there are still lots of other players who will never have this chance because of the societal values that Nike is taking aim at in this spot." Hmmmm.

Client: Nike
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Ore.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Sex Positive, Anti-AIDS Messages

Sex positive, gender positive, and race positive. Simple visuals, simple (but important!) message. Sometimes simple is best- no clutter. I like the subtle visuals & symbolism. (Translation of copy: "Don't count on luck. Protect yourself.")

Found on Coolz0r.
Client: Plate-Forme Prévention SIDA
Agency: Euro RSCG Life

Kellogg's Special K: Spec Work

This is pretty damn clever. Steve at Adrants wrote about it today, and while it appears to be spec work, I still think it's great.

The girl isn't morbidly thin, Special K is supposed to be a healthy cereal for women; it gets all those points across in a charming and witty way.

(And if you don't get the phone number, it's ok, it's because it's not an American number. It's European listing.)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Secret gets you to spill it....

Secret just launched a campaign for their anniversary, asking women consumers to “share their secret.” The television and web spots are directed by Jessica Yu (she’s done documentary work in the past, and has also worked on Grey’s Anatomy, American Dreams, and ER). “Real” people were used for the spots, not actors—so, supposedly, real secrets were filmed: “There’s better stuff between real people—things that you can’t imagine,” says Yu.

Link to one of the spots “I told” on this week’s Ad Age. (Link will probably die after this week’s over, so check out the other spots on Secret’s site.) This spot is an affirmation of sisterhood: “one young woman admits to her sister that she told their parents about the sister's first sex encounter.” So much for that being a secret…

With the television ads, there is a tie-in project with print ads featuring text messaged secrets from women around the country. They’re visible in various subways stations within NYC, and I’m sure elsewhere.

Many of the supposed secrets that were shared seem of the garden variety, insecure type:

“I want a fairytale relationship.”
“I wish he still loved me.”
“I’m still in love with my ex even though he dumped me.”
“I think I’m staying for security.”

And while these are moments of weakness, I can see how they’re true secrets—things we hide within ourselves, because we want to be strong, want to be independent, want to be unique and clever and awesome. Just as these “girly” or “feminine” weaker secrets are shared, there are also secrets shared that have nothing to do with gender roles or sex,

“I never finished collage.”
“I’m afraid to be alone.”
“I talk out loud to no one.”
“Growing up scares me.”
“I have a hard time keeping my lies straight.”

Stunningly few are amazingly affirmative and wonderful:

“I’m more secure with myself than I’ve ever been in my life.”
"My sister is my hero.”

So, I’m thinking about Secret as a brand, and how this campaign seems to want to celebrate strong and independent women. Sort of similar to Dove in some ways. The commercials themselves are quirky, sort of positive, and pro-female: “Dad took me to get a tattoo” is an example of one of those confessions.

We don’t see things like “I still love him even though he’s married,” even though, unfortunately, that seems to be the majority of the user submissions.

Secret had an interesting idea, but it seems the users didn’t quite measure up. They’re submitting their secrets, their truths, but when all you see is their secret fears; it’s hard to remember the hopes and dreams that balance it all out. I’m surprised by the amount of pain and heart-ache within these text submissions. When all we’re judging is a quick sentence, it’s hard to tell if these women are strong through out the rest of their lives, and this is their one admission of weakness, of fallibility, and of true humanity.

Secret can’t control what sort of submissions they receive, but I’m not sure if this was entirely what they were expecting. It’s hard to run a campaign about the wonders of girl-power when your source material is a bit weak. Why is that? I think it’s because when we think about the nature of what a secret is, it’s something we don’t want to share with others. Positive news, for that reason, would very rarely be a secret—we want to shout our successes from the rooftops, but not our miseries and failures. So, chances are, these women aren’t weak and crying—they’re just sharing actual secrets, private parts of themselves that not everyone gets to see. And that, I think, makes them strong.

Agency: Leo Burnett, Chicago.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

You're selling clothes, not skin.

You ever hear stories about the girl who poses nude or semi-nude for her boyfriend, then the photos get spread around without her permission? The American Apparel ads are particularly irksome to me because of their similarities. There's no gloss, no barrier, just women posing in an intimate way, as if for a lover. They're too raw. As it turns out, I'm not the only one bothered by these over-sexed ads and graphics:

There's a brilliant article in this week's Business Week attacking advertising tactics by American Apparel & Abercrombie. Turns out that Business Week has a weekly column called Girl Improved, written by the women at 3iYing (which seems to be a market research company focused on female consumers).

"Girls cringe at overtly sexual ads, yet paradoxically, marketing campaigns targeted at teen girls are sex-obsessed," the article states, and goes on to detail how women fashions are aimed at men; trying to impress them and attempting to fulfill male fantasy, not young women's ideals.

The authors later go on to point out that often the message is confused due to the overuse of sex: "Gratuitous sex dilutes the sales value of your expensive advertisements... By relying on sex to sell your product you are not only getting lost in the steamy sea of marketing erotica, you're not highlighting what you want us to love in the first place—your product."

Kudos-- I'm glad that some people are realizing that women are consumers in their own right, and the same old ad ideas won't work on them. Let's class it up. I'm tired of walking into a store and seeing images like these.

* Just a sidebar: American Apparel seems to have run into multiple issues regarding sex and gender, including harrassment charges against its CEO. Read about it here and here. And also, here. Or just google it.

Post Mortem: That Girl Emily

Oh man, the pun in my post title makes me giggle.

Anyhow- as predicted, the That Girl Emily blog was indeed a viral marketing technique-- I saw the billboard in the cab the other day (I see so much in cabs.). It's been updated, and now features a huge poster for a Court TV show. Eww.

Wish I could find a photo- nothing yet.

I'm surprised a viral technique was used to promote the P.I. show-- the blog made me more interested in the psycho wife Emily, not the P.I. who might be helping her. It was a terrific use of blogs, YouTube, traditional outdoor ad placement, etc, but the product doesn't measure up to the hype. Another good question might be how much will this stunt may hurt the Court TV brand: I would normally associate justice and law enforcement shows with the truth-- not a shady marketing scheme.

Boards Women of Excellence Announced

The list for the 2006 'boards Advertising Women of Excellence (AWE-- everything has to have a catchy acronym these days) have been released. Lots of women owners, CEO's, senior producers, etc-- including Nancy Vonk!

Speaking of Vonk, here's a great link to a post & discussion she started about the whole Neil French episode (originally written about on TS here).

PSP's Racially & Sexually Charged Ads

Lots of people have already noted how racially charged these print ads have been for the portable Sony PSP-- but few have pointed out how strongly they objectify the women within them. The ads, done by TBWA, were eventually pulled.

As you can see, a caucasion women dressed in white dominates a black woman, dressed in black. In the other picture, the reverse happens. It's supposed to show the struggle to pick what color (black or white) is better for your PSP. Instead, it shows women competing as sex objects, wanting to be top bitch. The poses and expressions are also very savage; the women are animals.

The only reason that this ad was pulled was for the racial content-- not the gender issues. I'm not trying to downplay the racial disparities at all, just trying to point out that gender inequality shouldn't be overlooked.

Thursday, August 10, 2006 mean I don't?

I took a cab home yesterday (an unfortunately rare treat) and on the way, near the BAM in the Flatbush area, my cab passed another cab with one of those triangular ad spaces on top. It was an ad for Diane von Furstenberg cosmetics, with her signature pink lips graphic, and the phrase "Feel like a woman!" splashed across the top.

As soon as I saw it, it got me thinking. I'm a woman. Do I feel like one? What the hell is it supposed to feel like (besides the PMS bullshit). The ad suddenly made me question whether or not I even felt the way I was supposed to... all thanks to a phrase.

It doesn't take an idiot to realize that they're trying to simply sell designer clothes and cosmetics, and want to tap into the modern women's urge to sometimes indulge her feminine side. Still, it was troubling that the wording initial made me question what I'm supposed to feel like.

I did a little research this morning, and came across this little article in New York Magazine. Originally, in 1976, her slogan was "Feel like a woman. Wear a dress." Talk about a backlash against the pantsuits and jeans of the era...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Fratire vs. ChickLit

Fratire? What does this mean for women? Does it mean anything? Or are guys becoming just as packaged and manipulated as women? (Probably. Who these days isn't?)

Tucker Max, in his post on the HuffingtonPost, goes on to say/write some things about feminism I'm not entirely sure I agree with, but I do agree that this surge in "masculinity" and the creation of fratire is related to feminism. As he says, the ideas of feminism, and esp. extreme feminism, can't exist in a vaccuum. It affects other people, other ideas, etc.

Something that he said that I also agree with (for the most part) is that Fratire isn't neccessarily against women as a gender. Some of the authors/bloggers might be (as he is himself quite often), but as a movement, it's mostly a celebration of brash masculinity and beer. As he points out, women are a fan of both his site, and Maddox's. (Yeah, I do read the Best Page in the Universe.)

Now, I'm just trying to figure out... why, if both ChickLit and Fratire have fans, and I suppose a respective place on someone's bookshelf, does it make me feel uneasy? I think it's because both genres seem to be rather limiting, and pigeonhole both the readers and the authors quite quickly. The Shopaholic books, or Nanny Diaries, etc, are for a select group of people... they seem like the "pulp classics" of today's world, along with romance novels (ewww).

[EDIT: And, as I grow more familar with Tucker's book & site, it seems he details the exploits his drunken exploits with equally drunk women. Shall we say, a "Girls Gone Wild" for the literaries? Give me humor, give me wit, but please, give me taste and perhaps a shred of respect. Interestingly enough, it seems Tucker (and a few other Fratire writers) seem to realize that they're complete assholes, though they seem to think its part of their appeal. Really though, it just validates and confirms drunken, assinine behavior across college campuses nationwide.]

Just as certain people like Westerns or mysteries, I guess there's a spot for these "new" genres as well. Not on my shelf though.

Does sex sell? Why?

A much more in-depth post from AdRants, definitely raises some good questions and examples about sex in marketing. Steve writes:

"Noting there are far more ads that feature scantily clad women then scantily clad men, one might argue there's a tremendous unfairness going on. True, perhaps, but all one has to do is take a quick look at that industry that knows more about human nature than any marketer ever will, the porn industry. It's focused almost entirely towards men. Why? Because men want it. Men like it. Men need it. Men are attracted to it. The exact same way men are attracted to sexually laced advertising. The approach doesn't always make a great ad but, all other strategies aside, it is most certainly a powerful motivator."

My response: Sex isn't something we should censor, or ignore or hide. We shouldn't live in a puritan society. But, at the same time, so many people take their cues from advertising, and so much negative imagery is out there, showing thin, writhing women showcasing all sorts of products. It might sell, but surely there is a place for sexy and responsible advertising. What might that look like you ask? I'm not entirely sure, but I think it could exist. Any ideas?

Not to mention, when you cater to all of those slathering guys, you're ignoring half of the consumer market: the women. It's interesting how women are stereotyped as shoppers, but not nearly marketed to like a powerful segment of the consumer world. Women have more money and more independant purchasing power than ever. Show us some sexy guys, we'll buy your product.

Quick Link

Just a quickie link to a new post on AdRants. "Plus-size" marketing is on the rise, and he links to a new study done by NetPlus Marketing.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Remember Keri Russell?

I just heard that she's the new face of CoverGirl. (Yeah, this is older news, but I've been a little out of the loop. CoverGirl, Maybelline, whatever.)

It's interesting (and sad?) to note how strongly women performer's screen presence and resonance seems tied to their physical appearance. A haircut didn't change her acting abilty (at least, I hope not), but it definitely changed how people percieved her. She was pretty talented on Felicity, but her haircut proved more fatal than Samson's.

Anyway, watch the commercial if you want. Her trademark curls are gone, much like her early successes.

* Just a note on the spot itself-- did you notice how the only visible "bad guy" she takes out, besides the shadow-figures, was a black guy? :(

Agency: Grey Worldwide

Friday, August 04, 2006

Don't Die for a Diet

One in a hundred adolescent girls has anorexia (ANRED). With pressure being so high on young women these days, it's surprising you don't see more PSA's targeting this growing problem. However, Houtlust, reports a terrific one sponsored by the EDA, the Eating Disorders Association in Britain (with this tie-in site too).

Eating disorders can kill. While the Internet has made it easier than ever to get help, it's also made it easier to support having a disorder, with "communities" and "support groups" trading tips and pointers on how to hide the illness and lose weight faster-- a sort of twisted Weight Watchers. Even code words are used: Ana, for anorexia, Billy, for bulimia.

Watch the PSA. Eat healthy. Force a burger into Kate Moss's mouth.

Agency: AMV BBDO, Proximity London.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Slimfast, get real...

It took me a little bit to get this image, but when I did, believe me, much eye-rolling ensued.

Slimfast, let me thank you for contributing to my neurotic tendencies towards calories, body image, and weight loss. Instead of encouraging healthy eating, you've championed the cause, apparently, of laxatives-- how else could anyone lose so much weight so quickly as to slip into a storm drain?

Agency: Grey Mexico. Originally found on AdArena!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Transcript: A Chat with Jugo.

Jugo, a recent commenter, had a small debate with me today regarding women as directors. Rather than try to summarize it all, I'm just gonna copy and paste it (with his permission). Still think that his point make take us towards a slippery slope, but why don't you decide... (PS: The only edits I made should be clearly marked.)

jugo (1:36:09 PM): I responded to your response on your blog. [See comments made on this post, "What do these titles have in common?"]
jugo (1:36:20 PM): take THAT, feminism!
jen (1:39:14 PM): You want Greats, eh?
jugo (1:39:19 PM): I really do disagree with your stance. but I'm trying to give you room to maneuver and won't go into the finer details of why.
jen (1:39:48 PM): disagree w/ what stance, that women are capable as directors and the numbers in hollywood are abysmal?
jugo (1:40:11 PM): capable to direct what?
jen (1:40:33 PM): Films! Feature length, commercially released, Films
jugo (1:40:44 PM): There's more than one type of film.
jen (1:41:05 PM): yes.... drama, romance, comedy, action, etc. lots of genres out there, but I don't think a person's gender should preclude them from making a movie.
jugo (1:41:38 PM): Aeon Flux was a film directed by a woman pretending to direct like a man. If she had focused on things like emotions, character development, things that tend to work better for female audiences and not as well for male audiences, then maybe she would have been able to recapture was good about the cartoon and it would have been a watchable movie.
jen (1:42:20 PM): I haven't seen that movie. I haven't heard much about the cartoon, except that it had a lot of gratuitous boobs in it. [EDIT/ADDITION: Who says she’s trying to direct like a man?]
jugo (1:42:56 PM): it was dark and surreal and at the end of an episode, you'd be sort of blown away and a little disturbed. at least that's how I remember it.
jen (1:43:10 PM): And the Karyn might not have wanted to direct the way she did-- studios have TREMENDOUS power over these things and can order things the way they'd like, which is towards the 16-25 male audience.
jugo (1:43:49 PM): no, even for that, it was awful. I literally couldn't watch it for more than a minute at a time because I would start to feel unsettled by the horrible directing.
jen (1:44:02 PM): tons of action movies are superficial and gloss over things like character development... why pick on one female director's mistakes when these sins are committed everyday by men?
jugo (1:44:29 PM): because men and women are different. we shouldn't be trying to erase these differences.
jen (1:45:02 PM): When I direct I don't necessarily think, gosh, I'm a chick, I'm gonna direct like a chick and then have PMS...
jen (1:47:04 PM): The mistakes that were made could have been made by anyone, and you shouldn't think that just because women have been stereotyped as sensitive and kind that they should always have that reflected in their art. You're ignoring the full range of emotion and feelings, effectively pigeon-holing an entire gender.
jugo (1:48:01 PM): unless "retarded" is an emotion, Aeon Flux doesn't count for that argument. and anyway I'm not saying women can't do certain things. I'm saying that they're different from men. we should expect differences.
jen (1:48:21 PM): Not to mention that even if those things WERE Focused on in that movie (emotions, character dev.) women might not have necessarily appreciated it since the bulk of the audience was male anyway.
jugo (1:48:38 PM): women are going to be better at some things and men are going to be better at others.
jen (1:49:41 PM): but you shouldn't treat them differently because of it. There's no norm here-- think about it-- 50 yrs ago women weren't really present as doctors or lawyers, or scientists, but these days more women are graduating w/ a bachelors than guys are. [EDIT/ADDITION: Percentage wise, at least. Check out this link for info.]
jugo (1:49:49 PM): how much the audience appreciates it doesn't make it a better or worse movie. I like the feminine angle. I need things to have emotional impact. I like watching relationships between characters. if there were more women directors, I bet we'd have more and better of that.
jen (1:50:02 PM): Given the opportunity, women can do amazing things.
jen (1:50:43 PM): Not everyone likes "thinking" movies like you do. I wish more people did. Too many movies are immediately typecast to who they're targeting and stripped down and streamlined to appeal to one audience. it's ick.
jen (1:51:18 PM): did you like K-19? that movie was incredible-- I can't watch it again, because it's too painful.
jugo (1:51:22 PM): yes, sure, fine, they can do amazing things. I would love to see them do amazing things. but following after men and doing exactly what has already been done is not the way to do that. fighting for sameness will only get you sameness. you can't fight for sameness, catch up, and then suddenly branch off into something great.
jen (1:51:23 PM): that was an action/drama.
jugo (1:51:26 PM): I never saw that one.
jen (1:51:53 PM): the peacemaker was ok too-- about what you'd expect from a summer action flick.
jen (1:53:04 PM): Thelma and Louise was an incredible movie.
jen (1:53:16 PM): written by a woman, but she wasn't allowed to direct it.
jen (1:53:21 PM): Ridley Scott directed it.
jugo (1:53:30 PM): I'm not saying women can't make good movies and I'm not saying women don't make good movies. but I think there are certain differences that women should be indulging in.
jugo (1:53:36 PM): women have an inherent advantage in some respects.
jugo (1:53:44 PM): why not use it? why throw it away for the sake of "equality"?
jen (1:53:51 PM): Later, the writer, Callie Khouri, was given something "more appropriate" to direct: The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood."
jugo (1:54:05 PM): haha.
jen (1:54:13 PM): she was understandably pissed.
jugo (1:54:45 PM): I think anyone would be pissed if they were asked to direct The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.
jen (1:55:03 PM): It was a half decent movie, I saw it. But compared to Thelma and Louise...
jugo (1:55:43 PM): know what movie I like?
jugo (1:55:44 PM): Serenity.
jugo (1:55:48 PM): that appeals to all genders.
jugo (1:56:08 PM): Whedon has a really strong feminine side.
jen (1:56:54 PM): His stuff is also kinda kitschy though.
jugo (1:57:05 PM): his earlier stuff. Serenity is so tight.
jen (1:57:55 PM): I'll concede that there are biological differences in men and women, but I think that if you really rely on those and play them up, you're embarking on a limiting and dangerous slippery slope... limiting to both genders.
jugo (1:58:04 PM): um no
jugo (1:58:07 PM): there are psychological differences.
jugo (1:58:10 PM): serious ones.
jen (1:58:28 PM): Fine. My point remains the same.
jen (1:58:55 PM): I don't think it's a black and white issue and I think you're sorta treating as such.
jen (1:59:52 PM): anyhow-- would you be offended if I copied this conversation, edited it a little for length, and pasted it as blog post?
jugo (2:00:25 PM): go ahead. I was thinking that would be a good idea, but I wasn't going to suggest it.
jen (2:00:45 PM): I'm all about showing both sides of the argument..
jugo (2:01:07 PM): haha. there's more than two sides.
jen (2:01:35 PM): well, in this case, your opinions and mine.
jen (2:01:56 PM): two voices of the discussion with varied and multiple opinions.
jugo (2:02:10 PM): ok. better. talk to you later.
jen (2:02:49 PM): bye!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Equal Opportunity Deities for Motorola Q

I like this new Motorola Q commercial. It's obvious why.

Monday, July 24, 2006

What do these titles have in common?

What do the following movies all have in common?

K-19: The Widowmaker, Bewitched, Sleepless in Seattle, How to Make an American Quilt, Real Women Have Curves, American Psycho, Whalerider, North Country, Lost in Translation, The Peacemaker, Aeon Flux, Girlfight, Me and You and Everyone We know, Monsoon Wedding...

They're all feature films directed by women. Specifically, these women:
Want more stats, info, and studies? Go here.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Where are the Women Directors?

This older article from Salon raises a terrific question that still hasn't been answered: Where are the Women Directors? Why are as fewas 4% of a year's top grossing feature films (data from 2000) directed by women?

The article raises a few possible reasons, but over all, no solution.

Follow-up: "That Girl Emily"

Or should we say "That Hoax Emily?" Still not sure what they're advertising or marketing, but as Wizbang points out, they've spent a bunch of money on identical billboards in NY AND LA. Not the best way to run a viral campaign in the world of blogs, rapid-fire-google research and consumer criticism.

I've pasted another photo of the same billboard on an entirely different building (this one in LA). Will, at "What is Will Thinking," had a good list of reasons of why the whole campaign was suspect from the start, all of which I heartily agree with. So, last question, what the hell are they selling? (Curbed seems to think it's something for CourtTV.)

Update: ABC News says, yeah, it's for a cable TV show.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

That Girl Emily...

So, I've been looking into the shady blog of "That Girl Emily" and the billboard she commissioned about her lying cheating husband, Steve (Click the photo for an enlarged, easier to read, version). She joined Blogger in June 2006, and by July, she's discovered her husband's cheating on her and takes massive steps against him. It makes for sensationalist reading, but is it real?

Definitely not.

But what's the story behind it? Any smart gal or guy can figure out that this is some form of marketing, but what exactly are they hawking?

A number of other blogs, mainly written by women who've been through something similar, feel this Emily's pain, and wonder what the deal is. It doesn't sit right with a lot of readers, but if it is fake, it mocks a lot of real pain that couples go through when they part ways.

German Invasion of Grand Central: Invest in Germany (or else!)

There has been a recent blitzkreig of advertising to Invest in Germany.... It's all part of a new campaign to bring business and investors to Germany, esp. after the publicity and fanfare of the World Cup. How would you choose to get the message out? Maybe something Germany's known for? How about German-born supermodel Claudia Schiffer? Now we're talking!

Wrapped in a flag and posted on almost every available wall space in Grand Central Station in NYC, Schiffer shows her national pride and does her part to help get the word out about Germany. I find the campaign a little intimidating-- Schiffer's eyes stare out at you, daring you not to invest, and her body is plastered everywhere, making it hard to avoid her gaze.

Interesting that Germany would pick her as their hottest export, but it does lend a bit of buzz and humanity to a campaign that otherwise might be full of BMW's and lederhosen. It'd be nice if you could have a successful campaign that wasn't based on a hot blonde wrapped in a flag, but if that's all Germany has.... well, perhaps we'd better invest.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Tease: Axe for Women, with all its hang-ups.

Adrants' uncovers this little gem of a bodyspray... What was the brief? Probably something along the lines of "Axe for Women." While the site might ask"Why play hard to get, when you can play hard to forget," I think we can all agree this campaign is certainly easy to forget.

*Tease Special Challenge: How many phallic objects can you spot? Bonus if they're pink!

*Extra Credit Essay: Describe how tips on flirtation, differing levels of coyness, winning smiles, and bedroom eyes will slowly erode the women's lib movement. Extra points if you can link Tease to the Stupid Blonde Girl movement.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

'Boards honors Ad Women

'boards is honoring Advertising Women of Excellence (or AWE), looking for women who've made a difference creatively, in production, or as business leaders. You can nominate people (specifically, women) here. The "gala celebration" will be held in September '06 during NYC's Advertising Week.

We won't unless you do...?

Adrants released this tidbit of news from Gillette here. Evidently, Gillette's Noscruf campaign is using celebs and unshaven women to scare men into shaving. If the guys are gonna bother us with a 5 o'clock shadow (or worse), why should we bother with nicks and cuts for them? Nice idea, but if you want to get really feminazi about it, you could claim women (and for equality's sake, I guess men) shouldn't be forced by societal norms to shave anyway.

Personally though, I'll stick w/ the razor. Other girls can take up the fight.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Sure's Super Woman

New spot for Sure deodorant from agency Lowe London- check it out here. It's fun, it's perfectly timed to capitalize on Superman Returns, but it makes me wonder how much the average woman is supposed to do in a day. At least this mom has superpowers! (And, on a more bitchy note, why isn't the dad helping out more, if there's a dad around? And why does the Super Woman have blond hair? Don't brunettes ever save the world?)

Growing Bellies, Growing Ad Space??

More and more women are selling space on their bodies to become billboards for companies while pregnant. While some may say that it's empowering and allows women to earn much needed cash for the new baby, others (myself among them) thinks it smacks of prostitution in a way... esp. since it doesn't seem to pay that much. (One woman made $1K, or perhaps $111 for each month of her pregnancy.)

One mom-to-be thinks that her child will be excited to learn they were part of a marketing campaign, and has started a scrap book to share with the kid in the future. "Oh boy, Mom, I helped advertise a casino for nine months-- And we were only paid a thousand dollars?!"

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Axe Body Spray: Time to Axe the Campaign.

By now you've all seen the ads for Axe Body Spray (and also Lynx in the UK). Some guy sprays the deodorant on, girls flock to him. There are varying takes on this premise (girlfriend's mother hits on the guy, girls smell the leftovers of the spray in other metal objects made from the recycled canisters, etc) but it's all basically the same: more powerful than a pheromone, it'll get you laid and quick.

At first, these ads stood out. Old Spice doesn't market like this. Right Guard doesn't market like this. But now the market is innudated with spots of women running after guys who wear this. At this point, even the guys are tired of it.

So... I'll admit it, it's nice when a boy smells nice. But I'm not going to jump him based solely on his scent. Axe, please, move on. I don't care if you won a Lion at Cannes this year. Put all of that angsty boy energy to better use, and maybe take a shower to rinse yourself of stench instead of just covering it over. Girls are pretty smart, we catch on to that.

Heck, for an alternative, check out how Mitchum's been pushing its deodorant. They have a highly effective campaign in the NYC subways which emphasizes masculinity, being a guy, being a cool guy, etc, without making women into creatures ruled by pheromones.

Coke continues to impress! Women directors, awesome spots.

Yet another new Coke spot (c0-directed by a woman) is out! Coke "Happiness Factory" was released yesterday-- a new stunner from production company PSYOP and agency WK Amsterdam. Check it out here on 'boards! [DISCLOSURE: I might work at PSYOP. "Might" as in "yeah, I do."]

The :60 tells the story of what happens inside the vending machine, after you drop in your coin (or these days, dollar) and before the bottle drops out. Kylie Matulick and directing partner Todd Mueller envisioned a whole community of original characters, each contributing to the bottle's production and quality. The design work is amazing, showing incredible imagination and detail. Believe it or not, the bottles featured in the spot are CG, just showing exactly how talented the team of animators, effects artists, and designers is.

PSYOP continues to put out terrific work this year, with this new work from Matulick and Marie Hyon working on this year's earlier MTV HD "Crow" ID. It's gonna be a great year for them at awards... PSYOP definitely sets high standards, both with their stunning work, and their involvement of women in every aspect of production. Neil French can shove it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Nancy Vonk tells it to the man. Specifically, the sexist one.

Neil French, an (ex)top creative consultant at WPP made comments back in October 05 about the inability of women to balance both a home and a career. His specific words? "All women in the industry are crap, who inevitably wimp out and go suckle something.” Luckily, women in the industry (who evidently, were not busy "suckling something" or perhaps CAN juggle two things at once) fired back and French ended up resigning.

One of the most vocal critics in this incident was Nancy Vonk, a senior creative executive then at WPP, now at Olgivy and Mather Toronto. Boards sums it up nicely, naming Vonk to their 2006 It List: "After attending a live event in which former WPP creative chief Neil French boorishly diminished the importance of women in the ad sphere, Ogilvy & Mather Canada co-chief creative officer Nancy Vonk blogged a level-headed but firmly-written rebuttal that started the gears turning on French's eventual dismissal. Much more crucially, in the course of decimating French's glibness with well-argued polemic, she shone a light on the industry's woeful lack of female representation and sparked an international discourse that extended far outside the realm of advertising."

To grab more of Vonk's pearls of wisdom and commentary on the 'biz as we know it, check out AskJancy from ihaveanidea.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

One to Watch: Cat Solen

Director Cat Solen was recently signed by Partizan, the same prod. house that reps Nagi Noda (of recent Coke fame). Cat's definitely one to watch, as she's the creative force behind the awesome "Soul Meets Body" music video for Death Cab for Cutie, as well as some videos for Bright Eyes.

"What I love most about live action and animation is the combination of textures, and what that does inside people’s brains. I think it reminds us of childhood when we would respond to color and texture with such joy… I also think that combining animation and live-action makes the audience more aware of the process, which in the day and age of fancy computers and insane effects is very important in a film done entirely the old-fashioned way."

EDIT: It turns out that there are TWO versions of the music video for Soul Meets Body. Solen's was shot on super-8 by different familes on Thanksgiving Day. Jon Watts of Waverly Films was helming the video with the floating music notes.

To see Solen's take on Soul Meets Body, check out Death Cab for Cutie's site. Solen, via, comments on her idea: "plans is an album about relationships and the ways
that our plans effect them and change us. for "soul meets body" i wanted to make a video where our different plans could all exist together anyways. i sent 8 super8 cameras around the country and asked those folks to film whatever they did on Thanksgiving day 2005. i asked them to hold on a subject (any subject) and then pan to another, and hold on that subject and then cut. i chose super8 because i wanted the film's physicality to be directly representative of the subject manner. super8 has a contextual relationship with society that i all about plans, family, and documentation of experience. "

Cannes honors Whopperettes

Crispin Porter + Bogusky's Whopperettes campaign (blogged earlier by Toxic Shock here) was honored at Cannes' advertising festival. Their website design and execution took home a Gold Cyberlion.

Still think it was all a bit over the top, but I suppose it was clever and well-executed. Hopefully this will be the end of the "woman as ingredient" objectification.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

3,000 ads a day, and rising...

Here's a great article from Ms. magazine, discussing the ever colossal amount of ads the average person sees each day, and how that sheer magnitude can affect women. The main offenders? Who else: the regular glossies: Vogue, Cosmo, Elle, Seventeen, etc. I'll add my own two sense in here and suggest that even Jane is a culprit-- a supposedly progressive and feminist magazine, it still receives plenty of ad revenue from companies who peddle an impossible standard of beauty. Which are you to believe: the articles saying women can be strong and independant, or the full page ads saying you need a new lip gloss?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Paris Hilton: Celebration of Mindless Mediocrity

I have a beef against Paris Hilton. Besides the fact that she's famous and has no discernable talent, she's also corrupting and influencing an entire generation of girls and young women. Suddenly, it's hip to be dumb. It's appalling that girls will put themselves down, dress like little hussies, and put their brains and common sense on vacation-- all to emulate a "celebrity."

At some point, our culture went from mocking Paris Hilton and her superficial ways to celebrating them and copying them. It seems that no one knows exactly why this transition occurred either. No one will openly admit to admiring Paris Hilton (maybe her cash, but not her), yet more and more trends, culture references, and styles can be attributed to her or those like her. Even her new music video, "Stars are Blind," is a celebration of mediocrity: forgettable singing, bland beach sets, mindless prancing, etc. Apparently, with enough money, you can force yourself into popular culture.

It's not that there's a lack of better role models (Gwen Stefani, Sofia Coppola, Angelina Jolie). Unfortunately, I think it's something different that explains Paris's appeal: She's lazy and her life's been easy. Her life has not been full of hard work, and young girls would love to live that fantasy life. She's an American princess, crowned by the youth that worship her.

Monday, June 19, 2006

World Cup PSA: Human Trafficking.

What starts out as a celebration of soccer enthusiasm turns into something entirely different very quickly: this new PSA by JWT/London shows us the ugly reality of some "tourists" during the World Cup: women forced into prostitution by human traffickers. According to the PSA, thousands of women will be trafficked into Germany for this purpose during the games.

Nagafuki Surprise

So, this new Bud Light spot is just a tad offending... a cad asks for the Nagafuki Surprise at a sushi place, swearing he can handle anything because he's been to Japan. The attractive and exotic waitress, broken English and all, comes back and hands him the platter, promising free beer for the table if he eats it all. The meal attacks the idiot, everyone laughs. Yeah, it's nice to see a jackass get his comeuppance, but to revive the stereotype of the Dragon Lady is hardly progressive. Then again, maybe it's "always worth it" according Bud Light. Sexist and racist... awesome!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Tui Beer: Brewed by Women, Marketed by Clouts.

Was this made by a team of college guys, or are they just selling to them? Tui's approach is incredibly immature, full of slow-mo shots of women in cut-offs, heels, tanktops, etc. The premise of this low-bro ad is simple: Tui beer is irresistable to men, and as such, all male workers have been banned from the brewery. They were drinking away the profits and product. Now, incredibly attractive, buxom, and otherwise above-average women staff the brewery-- it's become a Willy Wonka paradise of beer, but with playmates instead of Umpa-loompahs.

With commercials like this, I'm betting Tui is a cheap crappy beer often seen at frat parties and consumed in bulk. (At least, that's how they're positioning themselves.) It also seems, based on their own ads, that women have more sense than to drink this crap. Real women don't drink Tui. They drink Guiness [or insert other superior brand here].

*Update: Tui hails from New Zealand, where they've been "distracting the boys from the task at hand since 1889." I bet-- the girls have better things to do.

3G Ad a Metaphor for Phone Sex?

A new ad for Hutchison 3G Network in the UK has some great visual effects, but seems a little odd after a second viewing. Here's the story: a man leaves on a business trip; his wife tearily says goodbye at the bus stop. As he travels cross-country on the bus, the husband opens his mouth to talk, but a silky pink ribbon flows out. The ribbon travels back across the country, and wraps itself lovingly around the wife as she walks home from the bus stop. Next scene: the ribbon floats in an open window of a flat, and we see it's floating all through-out the room, also wrapped intricately around the wife, caressing her body, which is luxiourously stretched out on the bed. She smiles, sighing as if in pleasure, and then opens her mouth, and a yellow ribbon comes billowing out. As the ad ends, it travels out the window, supposedly to the traveling husband.

So-- not your typical cell phone ad. They aren't triumphing their network or their extra minutes. It seems to simply build awareness about the brand. This is so sensual though, and so exquisitely crafted, that it certainly seems to be about more than just staying in touch. Looking at the images would definitely support this theory-- she's wiggling and writhing in bed, her shoes are kicked off to the side. It's not like the creatives chose to show her in the living room or the home office receiving her call. It's certainly pretty progressive, and it's nice that the couple portrayed can have that kind of intimacy, if this is the case. Maybe next time the woman can take a trip and pleasure the man from afar?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Perfect Parenting PSA

There's a new PSA campaign out for AdoptUsKids, and it's funny, clever, and realistic. In a world where Mommy Wars exist, and women are held to ideals (often driven by the media) of what motherhood should be, these are great spots. Adoption is a long process, not for the weak, but as the spots point out, you don't have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. It'd help though, if you knew when to hang up the phone...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Biggest Product Placement Coup EVER?

Some have called this the most brilliant PR move ever. Others are saying it's the most exploitative example of product placement they've ever seen. I'm with the latter. In an effort to raise awareness about Belly Maternity clothes, PR firm 5W delivered a "hand selected" baby shirt for little Shiloh, the newborn daughter of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, anticipating that the baby photos would be broadcast all over the world.

By now everyone's seen the photos. Does anyone notice the Belly Maternity logo on the infant? No. You don't. You would have no idea what brand of clothing Shiloh was wearing if not for 5W's press release. 5W is currently patting itself on the back, heralding its success like some sort of military mission that no one expected them to win. Did they win though? Are pregnant women and new mothers going to rush out and buy Belly Maternity clothing? I wish I could say otherwise, but I expect there will be a spike in sales. Especially since People Magazine cover is right on their homepage, with the infant T that Shiloh wore selling at $42. (Belly's even watermarked the images of the T-shirt, if you can believe it.)

It's disgusting that Shiloh has no say in what she's being used to sell, and it's worse that it's a marketing technique that will probably work. If the most anticipated celebrity baby of all time is wearing a special shirt, why not everyone else too? Pregnancy's becoming less of a stigma and way more hip-- women have more choices in what they wear while pregnant, and infants evidently do as well. It's yet another culture taken over by trends, marketing, and fashion. Littlest trend-setters of the world unite!

Friday, June 09, 2006


Busby Berkeley would have been proud: Burger King splashed out recently with a huge ad campaign that aired on no other night than the Super Bowl, and has a tie-in website. Each ingredient is represented by a woman in costume, and man, those costumes look elaborate and heavy!

The website itself is a little creepy-- you're prompted to enter your name, which the site actually addresses you by with a creepy voice-over if you're idle too long. You can then customize which ingredients you want on your own Whopper, and then watch the Whopperettes assemble it. A little much, perhaps. Makes you wonder how many people will visit the site, will remember Whopper vs. Big Mac, etc. The customization features fits in nicely with BK's current slogan "Have it Your Way," even if it is a tad Big Brother-esque.

Burger King's campaign is fun, and while it takes objectifying women to new heights (they're not just women, they're ingredients!) it seems to be more in the spirit of play than of actually believing women are all that vapid. Kudos on the art direction.