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).