Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Why is my brain fried?
By Christmas break, I'll have watched over ten of Lifetime Movie Network's titles, and will have written promos for said films. And that's just writing. I'm overseeing/coordinating/producing a run of FORTY EIGHT PROMOS. After so many newly single mothers discovering love where they least expected it, independent women discovering strength when they needed it most, and mother/daughters discovering a bond they never knew they had, well, I'm done with discovery. Come Yuletide, I'll be recovering in front of utterly apathetic and thankfully phlegmatic C-SPAN.
As Slate points out, the differences between Oxygen, Lifetime and WE come down to demographics. Sure, it's all about the chicks, but there are many different kinds of women. First on the scene, Lifetime's been around since 1982 and is partially owned by the Walt Disney Company (who knew?). Currently, their original programming includes "Army Wives," "Cheerleader Nation," and "Gay, Straight, or Taken." Re-runs of "Will & Grace," "Desperate Housewives," and "Grey's Anatomy" also have found homes here.
If Lifetime is the old standard bearer and tries to gently appeal to all women, then Oxygen is the young upstart, launched as a network in 2000. (How young and hip? Well, it was originally conceived to be an interactive network with an important website component. And it also showed softcore porn.) It's mostly known thanks to Oprah's early involvement. However, the network was recently sold to NBC Universal. If Lifetime shows "Will & Grace," Oxygen shows "Xena: Warrior Princess." That should say it all (along with their current roster of sleazy bridal/slutty/true-crime/all of the above reality shows).
Lastly, WE: Women's Entertainment has been trying to make a home in the space between Oxygen and Lifetime. Originally it was a supplement to AMC, and showed romance movies without commercial interruption. (I never knew that.) Now it focuses on its hit Bridezillas, in between re-runs of Dharma and Greg. Slate points out their new slate of programming is mostly reality based (cash-cow rehashes of Bridezillas).
Surely there has to be more to women's television than bridal shows, fashion shows, and re-runs of older comedies? What Slate doesn't explore is whether or not there's really room for three of these networks. With such similar programming, one or all of the networks has to find a way to distinguish itself from the others, and hopefully break away from the pack. Looking at the programming offered, it'd be very easy to create a single channel using only the best programming from each: Army Wives, Bridezillas, Bliss (I can't resist!), etc. I don't think all three networks will survive in the long term, definitely not in their current incarnation.
Sunday, December 02, 2007
Awhile back I had wondered how posting daily would affect readership, visitors, etc. Taking a look at the numbers, it appears the number of visitors increased by about double the amount of a normal month. Nice.
Thanks for visiting, and thanks for a great month. Keep your eyes here for more rants!
Friday, November 30, 2007
It doesn't show grueling athleticism, it doesn't have sweat, blood, tears, or thrilling victory. Nor does it celebrate the underdog in a typical, glorifying, against-all-odds fashion. Yet, it does features an underdog of sorts, but only after a healthy load of sarcasm and one big depressing reveal.
This seems to be a pretty big change in tone for Nike. It's still celebrating the women's soccer team, but also seems to be shaming the viewer for their lack of knowledge or interest. I agree that no talented sports team should worry more about marketing than their sport, as the ad suggests, but is this sort of advertising more effective than what's been used in the past? And who is the ad appealing to, if the typical apparel consumer doesn't have intimate knowledge of the US Women's Soccer Team? My guess is that we're supposed to care and feel chided since everything else Nike touches has an amount of esteem and importance. They're cashing in on their brand.
Does it work? It caught my eye, for sure. It stands out more in my mind than other recent commercials from Nike or Adidas. Whether it will influence me to buy more, I don't know, but I don't think that's the point. It helps further establish Nike as a leading brand that takes all athletes seriously regardless of their fame or current spotlight. Sure, there's the Nike that has a new NBA shoe out for whatever athlete of the week we're currently worshiping, but this Nike, this semi-jaded and incredulous Nike, is beyond that. It's about pure athleticism.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
"In celebration of record sales, Taiwanese lingerie company Audrey Underwear asked its 500 female employees to come to work for a day wearing nothing but their undergarments. Over 90 percent did and the company has now made it a monthly occurrence Work productivity among the company's male employees on those days is expected to drop to zero with productivity of another kind shooting upward all day long." (adrants.com)
Huang Bihui, PR manager of the company, explained: "We introduced eight new camisoles into market and sold more than 20,000 in less than two months so we named the 21st as Camisole Day." (spluch.blogspot)
90% of female employees. That's 450 women, if I trust my math. That makes me think that A) Company loyalty and corporate culture is quite different in Taiwan, and B) Women must not be too self-conscious, or at least, their company loyalty outweighs their reservations.
I'm not sure what to think without knowing more about the company and its employees. On the one hand, it's great that so many women would feel so confident and safe in their workplace to wear so little. On the other hand, what if they didn't feel that way, but felt obligated? And lastly, confident or not, isn't it just objectifying their bodies? The real treat is for the guys, no?
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
So, as you can expect, this is gonna be a shorter one. Steve Hall over at Adrants wrote a really good post today about tobacco, marketing, and responsibility. Two things I noted in particular about his article: 1) RJ Reynolds will cut all print advertising in 2008. That means no more Joe Camel in newspapers or magazines. 2) Why now? Because they were getting flack about their Camel No. 9 brand, which attracts women smokers through it's likeness to Chanel. It's amazing what they'll do to sell this shit.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
1. Don’t think of women as a “niche” market.
2. Don’t take a product and “dumb it down” or “paint it pink.”
3. Don’t segment women strictly by age.
4. Don’t ignore the time women spend online and influencing their networks.
5. Don’t underestimate the power of the women’s boomer market.
All of these are good notes to follow no matter who you're marketing to, but I think, for me, numbers 1 & 2 stick out the most. Nothing gets my ire like being treated like some sort of exotic species. Related to both 1 & 2, I'd add another thought: If you're appealing to *just* guys or make a commercial that appeals to men through sexism, you might turn off women buyers. While thinking in terms of niches or market segments can be handy, what appeals to some certainly won't appeal to all, and can potentially limit your market.
Monday, November 26, 2007
I squirmed all the way through the trailer, and haven't found much other information on the film other than a short review on IMDB describing it as a "gore-comedy" and claiming "If you appreciate cult, camp, or horror with a feminist edge, this is for you!"
Note the lead character's surname. O'Keefe. Hehe.
Until I see this (if I can bring myself to see it, so creepy! Oh yeah: release date is May '08), I'm not really sure what else I can say. Too little to go on. (Though: I bet that OB/GYN scene wouldn't have been the same if it was a female doctor she was seeing-- can only work w/ a dude.)
On a semi-related note, check out Rapex, an anti-rape female condom moving into production
in South Africa. How does it work? Well, it's like a tampon. Insert it in the vagina, and the plastic hollow tube has detachable barbs that lash onto any offending objects entering. The creator, Sonette Ehlers, calls it a "medieval device for a medieval deed." Yikes.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Too bad they're secretive and don't accept recruits. Anyhow- check out this older billboard they sponsored re: the Oscars. Girls after my own heart!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Since I'm re-reading the Arrows of the Queen series by Mercedes Lackey, I should also mention that Talia of that series fits the bill. Lackey's tales are almost like a Benetton commercial: people from all walks of life, sexual preferences, income levels, etc. I don't think I noticed it as much when I first read the books in early high school, but now it seems almost too obvious. I mean, I love the books, I love the characters, but she takes such great pains with equality that it's near comical. Ah well. Lackey's work isn't exactly Pulitzer stuff, but it does keep you warm and entranced on a cold winter's night.
C'mon-- there've got to be more strong female characters! Let's hear them!
Friday, November 23, 2007
At first glance, this looks exactly like the type of ad I would have complained about. If you don't stop to look and just flip your magazine page, the ad's actual message is lost. However, upon looking closer, the ad is trying to compare dated gender roles to dated beer technology. (The twist-off cap vs. the non-twist.) I like it, but then wonder- if the ad showed the twist-off instead, would the woman still be opening the bottle for the guy? I'd like to think no, based on the copy.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Why am I sharing?
A) I thought the commercialization of holidays was only getting really bad recently. This shows I've just been paying more attention recently.
B) Thanksgiving Sales commercials have definitely gotten a lot more sophisticated, often using graphics, effects, etc. Let's compare.
C) The word "door-buster" has been around longer than I thought. I hate that word.
Seeing all of these frenetic ads, warnings about two and a half minute sales, etc, makes me stressed. I just want to enjoy a normal Thanksgiving, or what passes for Normal (ok, maybe not that odd) over here. In that pursuit, laptop's going off.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It's kind of interesting coming home for the holidays or a long weekend. Co-workers and friends from Manhattan always look at pictures of my parent's log cabin in disbelief, while neighbors here upstate can't believe I spent my weekend writing on-air promos for the Lifetime Movie Network. The discrepancy between the girl who balances spreadsheets and makes deadlines to the girl who tools around in a red pick-up seems confusing to many. To them, I say pfffft. After my Advil, I'll maybe chop some firewood for my own woodstove and then bake a pie for tomorrow. Gender stereotypes, eat your heart out.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Sure, it's a nifty concept: girls and women sharing books with their friends, and celebrating "strong girls in books who've got the guts to dream" and hopefully "inspiring girls to make history of their own." I guess I was picturing a great blog/forum where readers could weigh in about their favorite characters, discuss notable plots, etc. Instead, the main site seems to speak entirely in teen-girl chatter, what with their *way cool* bookmarks you can download, and their founding "divas" regularly write posts about how awesome things are going on the site. (If you take a look at their author bios and photos, I don't know if they strike me as the diva type.) Overall, it seems like a bunch of smart women had a good idea to start a teen-accessible book blog, but ended up pandering to them with things like MySpace author chats and "Best Books for BFF's."
The end result feels more like a bad attempt at under the radar marketing rather than a genuine effort to reach out to young women readers. I figure if they're as voracious a reader that would visit a site like "readergirlz," then they probably won't be into the whole BFF thing.
That said, how do you create an online community that doesn't feel schlocky? I think that online author chats sound neat, as does some of the sites other features. It's just a question of maturity: teens certainly don't want anything that seems like it's younger skewing (do you have to use so much pink in your design?)
Something tells me that the girls from 3iying could give readergirlz some good advice.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Great follow-up to Evolution from Dove. We know we're bombarded with "health and beauty" imagery every day, but I don't think we ever get a true sense of how pervasive it is until seeing a project like this. Just watching "Onslaught" makes me feel tired. Dove's campaign continues to be one of the few I've seen that can successfully combine social responsibility and brand building.
As AdAge points out though, there's something darker here at work when you pull back the curtains of the Unilever family: Dove belongs to the same corporation that brings us the low-end wet dreams of high school boys everywhere: Axe/Lynx. While Dove itself might be a "responsible " brand, what of Axe? How much responsible advertising do you have to create to undo the crap that Axe elevates and celebrates? Is there a quantifiable amount?
Personally, I think it would mean more if Axe found a different approach to its campaign. I'm sure you notice that within "Onslaught," there wasn't any Axe footage being mocked. Hmm. Perhaps that's not a parallel they'd like us to focus on?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
The catalog flew fast and loose with objectifying both sexes, but as this ad shows, they were also pretty progressive.
I'd like to think, that in the end, it evens out, and perhaps high schoolers remember not just the gratuitious nudity, but also the broad-minded acceptance of sexuality.
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Friday, November 16, 2007
Find more videos like this on AdGabber
Why am I posting it? Feminist ads don't have to be about in-your-face girl power. You can have a successful ad that captures someone's attention without defaulting to gender stereotypes or sexism.
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Oh, where to start?
Well. This is a real ad, fresh from an Indian ad agency, that I found on Adrants today. Steve Hall's write up is dead on: objectifying men for once, all while excluding women. I'm tempted to apply and see what happens.
Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about the prestigious company that's looking for a few good balls, check out Concept Communication's website. It wasn't what I was expecting from the guys who gave us the recruitment ad above: it's a site heavy with phrases like "quality assurance," "integrated solutions provider," and my favorite, "project-value registration qualification."
UPDATE: Ok- that site I found above was Concept's global site. Here's the India-specific site. Hmm.
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
My mother works at a library upstate. We talk frequently about books we've read, books we like, books we want to read. I was talking with her on the phone tonight, and she mentioned a conversation she had w/ a co-worker. When thinking of children's books with strong female characters, especially action-oriented books, it was tough to come up with a list. This is coming from LIBRARIANS, so if they're stumped, I don't know what it says about the state of publishing and the heroine.
Plenty of books had girls as protagonists, but most were set in inward-facing roles, coming of age stories, or humorous stories of day to day life/growing up. Lois Lowry's Anastasia books, Ellen Conford's Jenny Archer series, Megan McDonald's Judy Moody are all great. Believe me, I loved them! But where's the girl's equivlant of Harry Potter? (Hermoine- we love you. But you're a straight-laced goody goody. Who do we turn to when we want to manage some mischief?)
Lyra Silvertongue of the "His Dark Materials" trilogy is definitely our answer there. (Besides her, I can only come up with Harriet the Spy, The Blue Sword's Harry [a girl, thank you], and the indefatigable Sammy Keyes. Please please, add to this list.) She's intelligent, courageous, and incredibly quick-witted. Sure, she doesn't have a He Who Must Not Be Named to take on, but she makes do. Her antagonist? Just Metatron and a bunch of rebel angels.
One of the best additions to literature in the past decade, The Golden Compass, the first in author Phillip Pullman's trilogy, is coming to theatres this winter. If you liked Harry Potter, give Lyra a shot. She won't disappoint.
PS: The book is teaming with religious metaphor and philosophy, questioning the differences between personal spirituality and organized religion. Through the course of the trilogy, Lyra comes to symbolize a lot more than a plucky girl from Oxford. While appropriate for a YA audience, the book has plenty to chew on for adults, in a meatier way than a certain boy wizard. If that's not a ringing endorsement, let me put it this way: I willingly read it on a long car trip, knowing I was setting myself up for nausea and a splitting headache. Just couldn't put it down.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Nothing like using condos to say women are property. (Again, note the facelessness and impersonal touch... just a pair of legs. In heels and what appears to be a nightgown or lingerie. In the frickin' kitchen no less. What year is it again? And why is one of the most recent ads I liked from 30 years ago?)
Sunday, November 11, 2007
Is it aspirational? (Ie: Drink this and you'll be as hot as these fine women) or is it... just bull shit?
2. Chivas- another semi-anonymous woman here. We're free to project our fantasies onto her. Her relation with the product is unknown; she and the alcohol exist in a different physical space: she's confined to black and white monochrome, the liquor meanwhile, in full color. Does this suggest that she's more lifeless than some booze? Also note the bonus copy (right-hand top): "Yes, God is a man." Well, while that may or may not be true, we can tell at least the designer was: a woman sure as heck didn't design this one.
3. Brava Cerveza- Spanish for "The Beer of Summer" or Frat-boy for "Nice Ass"? We may never know. Notice how this woman has been reduced to a single body part. Also, check out the bottles towards the bottom of the page. Great phallus subsitutes, eh? Peicing together the visual messages and cues of this one, I think it's telling us to have anal sex on the beach.
5. Tabasco Sauce. I know this isn't alcohol, but c'mon, you can tell that it's trying like hell to capitalize on the same type of advertising. Not only is the woman a blank faceless slate for us to project our hot and firey fantasies on, but the product itself is missing from the ad.
Did Tobasco Sauce just beat the beer and liuqor world at their own game? I believe it did! We have a winner.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
My favorite? The US Marine Corp- they had a spot that was aimed exclusively at women. Keep in mind that the armed forces had just switched to an all volunteer force and they had to think of new ways to keep enlistment up. I love how simple this spot is- not condescending, not pandering, just a spokesman talking straight to the camera.
You rarely see this type of direct appeal nowadays in ads- especially not in Army/Marines commercials. Flashy graphics, fast cutting, and overwhelming sound effects or a booming voice over are more the norm. And heck, you don't see many women in the newer Army/Marine commercials (if you do, they're wearing make-up, tending to children, ostentatiously as medics. How progressive!). You certainly don't see any spots that reach out solely to them. I wonder why. With the mess in Iraq, you'd think they'd be trying to appeal to as many different able-bodied people as possible.
Friday, November 09, 2007
I like this new(?) Reebok commercial for women's NFL apparel. As it states, you can be a woman and be a fan- no conflicts. It's great that women are meeting up to watch the game together on their own, no boyfriends, no men-- just as a social girls' activity. Rock on.
My only complaint? The cat fight yowl at the end. C'mon, sorta funny, but ultimately plays to the stereotypes the ad previously was doing a great job to dispel.
Thursday, November 08, 2007
Stumbled across RIT's Women's Film Project today while web surfing. I know a lot of other sites list important contributions to cinema made by women, but this list also allows you to rate the titles and add comments. I was delighted to learn that two of my earliest influences (National Velvet, 1944, and The Black Stallion, 1979) both had scripts written by women.
If you have a few moments, check out the list and rate some films. (In the interests of both disclosure and scholastic pride, I'm happy to note that the site is run by one of my former professors, Naomi Orwin.)
And while searching for a good pic for this post, I found this fascinating essay about Elizabeth Taylor and her character in National Velvet. Watching the movie as young as I was, I probably missed all of the mother/daughter themes mentioned. I definitely noticed and celebrated the challenges it presented to various gender roles-- only my height (and lack of actual horse) killed my burgeoning dream to be a jockey.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
You'll probably recognize the Dolce & Gabbana ad from a previous post of mine. For those of you who are lazy link clickers, I've posted one of the worst offenders (I'm not surprised by the amount of sexist beer and liquor ads, but a tech company that sells servers?). It's definitely worth a look over on their site. It's one thing to see one sexist ad here or there, but as a body of work, it makes you realize how prevalent this stuff is. More interesting were some of the reader comments on the post- all guys- some of them celebrating the imagery, and others debating whether some of the ads were sexy or sexist. There's a definite difference, and yeah, you can have a sexy ad.
What I've also noticed is that the majority of the ads that I blog about are over the top in their sexism or use of gender roles. Sure, there are ads where you can debate is it sexy, but much of what's out there clearly crosses the line.
Tuesday, November 06, 2007
I had the opportunity to meet Heidi Dangelmaier in August as well as some of the awesome women behind 3iying. They've got strong ideas and incredible drive-- there's no doubt that Heidi's assembled a great team of young minds. The question is, will the ad world listen to them? After all, we're talking about an industry that talks all the time about change and challenging the status quo, but we rarely see much of either (instead it's more of the same).
As Alisha (below) notes, we're soooo not into that!
One potential issue with the "flips?" You have one woman acting as the voice of an entire gender. Whether or not that's the chosen intent, it certainly comes across that way. While Alisha's opinion is hard to argue with (who would want to be leered at?), it's a little trickier to make a :30 universal judgment on other ads, especially PSA's. Maria's thoughts on this anti-rape ad represent just one voice. I can see where she's coming from, but it still conveys valuable information for teens/young women. It'll be important to avoid coming off as shrill... Not to mention, are there any positive ads out there? According to all of the "flips," not a one works.
Time will tell if all of the media attention and YouTube "flips" land any clients for the 3iying team. They're adept at pointing out the problems when marketing to women and girls, but until they show they've got the solutions as well, it may be a difficult sell.
Monday, November 05, 2007
If the Rose Petal Cottage I blogged about had a counterpart, I'll argue that it's the Tonka toys that Hasbro makes. Specifically "built for boys," I'd hate to tell little Ann or Kate that they can't take a turn too.
Trucks, cottages, and other toys that re-imagine an adult's world on a childhood scale are great. Giving kids the message that they're "built" for one thing or another... not so great. Again, Broadsheet said it best, if you want to check out their post.
I remember seeing this commercial on TV and wondering WTF... with a tagline like "Built for Boyhood," it felt vaguely reminiscent of earlier times- say... the 1960's. Before that pesky Women's Lib movement. With the holiday season rapidly approaching, I wonder what other toy commercials and websites will catch my eye this season!
Sunday, November 04, 2007
Saturday, November 03, 2007
Besides being shown on the Foundation's website, I hope that it's getting screen time on television somewhere as well. A lot of great PSAs are on the web, but how many people really see them (besides ad geeks passing links back and forth)?
Friday, November 02, 2007
However, when you go to their site, you only see girls playing with the house set. Additionally, their zeal for doing laundry and baking muffins is a little disconcerting. To echo Broadsheet's comments, why couldn't there be some less domestic activities?
One way the site *does* bring play into this modern world is the electronic wish list. Children (presumably w/ parental help?) can make and email a wish list of appliances to relatives or friends, checking off which items they already have. It'll be a few decades before these kids have a bridal registry, but I guess you can't start learning the virtues of consumerism too soon.
Thursday, November 01, 2007
For instance: Slate has started a new blog, the "XX Factor," where "Slate women blog about politics, etc." I've been reading semi-regularly, and so far it's pretty good. I've particularly liked some of their posts and news items regarding Hillary's run and some of the gender-based questions it's raised (How are women voters judging her? Is she a polarizing candidate because of who she is, her gender, or both? Can we please stop analyzing her suits, her laugh, and her cleavage? The male candidates, Edwards' haircut aside, aren't subjected to nearly the same amount of superficial criticism.)
One question that came up in XX's reader reactions and comments: Does the net need another feminist or woman oriented blog? By creating a woman-only discussion space, does it foster a more intimate discussion among women writers or is continuing the stereotype that women are different: a sort of self-imposed segregation? Hmm.
Monday, July 16, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Checking out one of the newest posts on the site, and I can't help but share: Ad Seduction has some new print ads for Sisley, a division of Benneton's. I'm nearly floored by the way the women are portrayed, but an outside link to a picture of model Josie Maran takes the cake. In this image, there aren't any clothes even shown-- leading me to wonder if it's a real ad or what. After some searching, I found the full ad (the Flikr image was cropped to show only the raciest part), and have posted it below. Did the image really help push the brand?
Maran even got in trouble with Maybelline, a company she was a spokesperson for at the time.
"I was just having fun," says Maran. "I didn't think it was a big deal at the time."
The sight of moo juice dripping from Maran's pretty chin was more than Maybelline was willing to swallow. "That campaign definitely caused some drama in my life," she says. "Maybelline would like me to keep myself contained and ladylike and they're right. They let me get away with a smack on the wrist and I respect that very much. My mother keeps telling me to think before I do or say something, and make sure it's what I really want to project. I'm definitely learning." (full link)
Besides the cow/ejaculation image, there are other Sisley ads featuring more barnyard fun. I honestly don't know what to say. So many of the ads barely show any clothes- they're clearly more about creating the brand's feel than selling product. But is this a mindset young women want to buy into? Bestiality couture?
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
What About Our Daughters is currently leading a pretty successful crusade against a new BET show, based on a website, called Hot Ghetto Mess. There's an open letter to corporate America on the site, and according to Yahoo Entertainment News, at least two sponsors have dropped the show from their ad time (State Farm and Home Depot). After checking out the site, I totally agree w/ WAOD-- it's incredibly degrading and encourages stereotypes. If BET is supposed to be for African Americans, can't they take the high road and support change, rather than perpetuating a cycle that encourages prison culture, pimps and ho's, and is anti-woman and anti-education?
Monday, July 09, 2007
Remember that really cool Dove commercial ("Evolution") from a few months back? Showing all of the airbrushing and changes that are done to models?
This site, iWANEX STUDIO, works to professionally "touch-up" and airbrush photos of top celebrities. It's incredible to go through their before & afters... really makes you wonder how realistic some of these images are and what's manipulated. Check it out, and think twice before comparing yourself to a magazine cover. I put some Before & After images here, but it's really best to go to the site- look at the differences in skin tone, hip size, waist size, etc. I don't mind lighting changes or small hair tweaks- that's just good photography and art, but when you start changing the actual person you're working with, in ways that only a surgeon could do, that's taking it a bit far, isn't it? Not only does it make people strive to live up to an unrealistic standard, but if I were retouched like this, I'd worry about living up to my fake cyber-self.
The blog Catwalk Queen has a good article about it too, dealing specifically w/ Kate Winslet. Evidently, a number of magazines just take the liberty of making changes without asking the stars they're working with. Jamie Lee Curtis worked w/ More magazine a few years back to try and shed some light on what real women's bodies look like, star or not. The article is now on Ladies' Home Journal site.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
According to her site, Svitak uses her writing to reach out to kids and tries to inspire them: “Nowadays children are lacking in reading and writing skills, and they are saying things like ‘I don't like to read' or ‘ I don't want to write.' That hurts me very much.”
I too am hurt by all of this, but what's the difference between me and her? Over a decade. She's nine. While her achievements are definitely worth mentioning on their own, the reason I'm posting about her is that not only is she a published author, and "tiny literary giant," according to Diane Sawyer, but Svitak is also a nascent feminist, often "disappointed by the way girls are portrayed in books and movies." She's written feminist and gender equality themes into a few of her short stories, trying to create characters she'd want to read about herself.
After having a pretty crappy week at work, this definitely brightens my day. (It also makes me wonder what would have happened if I hadn't lost the original manuscript to Blaze, a ten page horse story I wrote in third grade.)
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Just read this interesting article today from Newsweek- instead of guilt campaigns or shock tactics, road authorities in Australia are challenging a guy's masculinity. The PSA show young male drivers, who "are mocked by unimpressed women who wave their little fingers at the drivers in a parody of their manhood."
According to research done before launching the campaign, young drivers have become used to seeing gruesome car accident footage or other fear tactics. According to the article, "the campaign was produced by the Road Transport Authority (RTA) of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, where death and injury rates from speeding are highest among young men. 'More and more young people are not responding to the shock-horror kind of advertising,' said RTA Director John Whelan. "We are doing something different to get the message through. What we are saying with these ads is that speeding doesn’t impress anybody."
Do real men need to speed? I don't think so, and hopefully this clever ad campaign will help save lives and teach responsibility. Clearly, you're compensating for something-- if not a small dick, maybe a small brain?
Here's a direct link to the video too.
Sunday, June 10, 2007
I’ve long despised Axe’s advertising. I’m not the only one who feels it’s grown old. Way old. (New campaign! Please!)
David over at ThirdWay seems a bit nauseated at the newest iteration of the Axe ads, calling them “cringe-worthy.” While I can agree these ads are also memorable, and keep in continuity with the older ads, I could debate whether or not this is a good thing. That time I had really bad potato salad was also memorable, but I don’t think Unilever wants their brand remembered the same way.It's really interesting to see the difference in advertising and marketing messages for women's sprays and men's. In theory, it should be possible for a deordorant to appeal to men, be sexy, and not turn women into bitches in heat. Does low-brow humor honestly sell more product? Brands like Old Spice are getting in on the game too- check out their new commercials with Bruce Campbell. Bruce is awesome, but a body spray shouldn't brainwash anyone...
Friday, April 27, 2007
Good news and a disappointing fact.
Good news: Jodi Piccoult is writing a short run of Wonder Woman for DC comics.
Disappointment: Wonder Woman’s character is over sixty years old, and this is the second time she’s being written by a woman. For a character that’s supposed to embody empowerment, it’s pretty disappointing. No wonder she falls kind of flat—she’s never struck me as having any substance. As Piccoult notes, "Over the years, she has had many different incarnations in the human world, some that I thought were pathetic," she says. "[But] there's never been something that a reader could sink their teeth into and say, 'Oh yeah, this is why I'm like her.' (CNN’s article here.)
Piccoult plans to focus more on Diana Prince, Wonder Woman’s alter ego, and the pressures upon her to succeed. I’m looking forward to reading the six-issue run. It could revitalize a hero that felt glossy and fake—all make-up and spangles, no real nerve, struggle, or heart. She’s a terrific metaphor for the internal struggle women face today, and if written correctly, could be a great vehicle to explore gender politics and pressures.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Picking up a pair of jeans can be a nightmare- besides having to decide on a cut and a wash, supposedly simple details like what size I wear can become ordeals. Express is an eight. Fashion Bug, 6. Old Navy, 10. What gives? Why does this have to be such a head ache? My waist doesn't change size in between stores-- mall pretzels aren't that fattening.
So, you can imagine that this is great news from MSNBC-- Spain is regulating the size of the mannequins shown in store displays (none will be smaller than a size 6) and, even better, is going to standardize all women's sizes so that a size 6 is a size 6 (or whatever size it is) no matter what store you shop in. I think that's a great idea- guys have long had it pretty easy since their measurement are in inches. Girls on the other hand deal with the inconvienance of varying sizes as you shop at different stores. Besides convienance, it'll also help eliminate some embarrassment-- no longer will you feel fat at one particular store. Everything'll be the same.
Monday, April 16, 2007
I’ve never liked the Black Eyed Peas song “My Humps.” Sure the beat is catchy, I’ll admit that, but I’m no fan of the lyrics. I think it’s pretty tawdry, and not exactly a celebration of women’s gifts, humps aside.
Turns out I’m not the only lady who’s peeved at the song: Alanis Morissette made a hilarious video spoofing the song and original music video.
A few people on the Salon forum (coverage here) have said that even the original video was a joke—the byproduct of goofing off in the studio, and that it’s not anti-feminist. Whether or not there’s truth in the BEP story of the song’s origin, asking a woman about her lumps/humps/bumps/dumps etc isn’t the most polite discourse you could have. How is it feminist?
Speaking on the topic of annoying gentlemen who need some lessons, check out Holla Back NYC. Best idea I’ve seen in ages.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Found some mediocre Post-it print work via Coolz0r:
A) “Look Up:” I’m glad that Post-it is trying reminding guys to look up, but as AdRants points out, the presence of the note itself may give guys an excuse to stare. (One commenter even said “If she really wanted me to look up, don't wear it so low!”) It’s a nice cheeky response for women who are tired of men’s drifting eyes, but overall, the execution could have come off a lot stronger and less voyeuristic.
B) “Jade:” I think this one’s also trying to capture the humor of the first ad, but falls a tad flat. “For all the little things you’ll forget?” Regardless of your views on hook-up culture, I hope that you’d show a little more respect to your paramour, regardless of gender. The fact that is IS a woman who’s physically labeled just further reinforces negative stereotypes and behaviors.
Note to agency: try again. (Though... might it be spec? More can be found here.)
Agency: The Jupiter Drawing Room (Johannesburg)
Monday, March 26, 2007
In a step towards debunking the long-held stereotype that men are better drivers than women, a recent study shows that women are better at splitting their attention on a number of tasks at once and have better overall “mental flexibility.” We may not be that hot at reading a map or parallel parking, but we’re less aggressive drivers and the accidents we do have happen at lower speeds.
Happily, a South African insurance company, 1st for Women insurance, has noted this, and is offering lower premiums to female drivers. (Many insurers already offer slightly lower rates for women 18-25 when compared to their male counterparts, but these rates tend to level out as drivers age.)
According to the ads, “If men were women, we’d insure them. But they’re not. So they don’t get to pay substantially lower car insurance premiums. Cover with care.” Black River Football Club, from Johannesburg, South Africa, handled the campaign. (Click the images for larger versions.)
Friday, March 23, 2007
I buy cage-free eggs. I don’t own any fur. I’m against foie gras. As much as I admire PETA and their cause, I'm not sure I agree with some of their marketing techniques. Does using sex to sell an idea really further their cause?
I know people are going to say that these models are vegetarians, and that they’re choosing to do this, and there’s nothing like a sexy woman to make being animal-friendly seem cool. But after a few campaigns of the same thing (the Pamela Anderson ads are from last year, if not earlier), isn’t it time to use a new approach?
I do sort of like the cabbage leaf dress- it feels classier and more on-target. The lettuce bikinis just don’t do it for me. Where are the sexy guys in lettuce thongs, I ask you?
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Another difficult-to-watch PSA about the horrors of eating disorders, perhaps giving us a glimmer into a victim's mind. Sponsored by Anorexi/Bulimi-Kontakt, this visceral spot aired on MTV Sweden-- can you imagine a PSA like this airing in the States? It would certainly make people sit up and take notice.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
So, if you read the Dolce & Gabbana post below, you might have visited the Love Your Body site sponsored by NOW. It had a great collection of offensive ads, of which D&G topped the list, but I also think it bears mentioning that they have a great site of positive ads too.
"Positive ads?" you say, bewildered and confused. Yes, positive ones! Women don't always have to be at the mercy of beer peddlers who toss them in skanty bikinis and force them to shill watered-down piss, or cosmetics companies that prey upon their insecurities, promise the world in a compact, and then fail to deliver.
Unsurprisingly, Dove has a number ads featured on this site, as well as the Girl Scouts (man, if they had offensive ads, we'd be doomed).
Quoted on MSNBC, designer Steffano Gabbana "says that he regrets the way the ad was perceived and insists that he and his partner Domenico Dolce were not intending to demean women. He adds that the image is artistic and was meant to 'recall an erotic dream, a sexual game.' "
Surrrre. Forget the flying dream. My favorite is definitely when a group of men hold me down and force themselves on me. Absolutely. Are they using condoms? No? Even better!
Anyway- the article goes on to interview the designer. Gabbana states he doesn't see how the ad could be supportive of violence towards women, but has respectfully pulled it from publication. Evidently the ad had the power to go past partisan politics, uniting both of Italy's political parties against it. In the USA however, it was run without comment.
Which begs me to ask the question, how come it's inappropriate to see women breast-feeding in public, but this is ok?
Tuesday, January 23, 2007
At the same time though, the website is still pretty embarrassing. Try opening it at work and you'll see what I mean.
Both the Playtex site and Slate's site has the commercial (too awkward to refer to it as a spot!). I'd go for Slate's site simply because it's not as bright pink and attention-attracting. I mean, isn't the whole point of a good tampon discretion?
Friday, January 12, 2007
Incredibly powerful group of print ads for Ipas Brazil, part of the Ipas Intl. group. Domestic and sexual violence is still rather prevalent in the country, with reports by the WHO and the Population Reference Bureau routinely citing lack of enforcement and resultant low reporting as major issues. As recent as the '80s and '90s, the country has declined to prosecute, convict or address the offenders that did stand accused. With the government's laisse-faire attitude, it's no surprise that women may not feel comfortable coming forward, especially if the abuse is suffered at the hands of a family member. I think the Ipas campaign is incredibly compelling- it grabs you and you can't help but feel the strangled emotion, silent screams, and fear coming from these women. But until the government is more reponsive and willing to consider the rights of all its citizens, I'm not sure how much change this may bring. At the very least however, it brings more awareness to the issue, and doesn't let the problem recede into the background.
(Click the images for larger versions- the depth of detail is worth it.)
Thursday, January 04, 2007
My favorite year-end list comes from Packaging Girlhood. I definitely agree with their summary- the Dove campaign was one of my favorites this year too.
One item that escaped my attention this year that they listed: British citizens caused a store in
Anyway, it looks like Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown also have a book out this year.... it's going on my reading list.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
It's no secret that airbrushed photos and ridiculously tiny models often appear within the pages of these 'zines. The images are definitely hazardous to a girl's self-esteem, and create an unrealistic standard for body image when growing up. However, this is the first time that the "health" articles have also been linked to eating disorders and teen health problems.
Magazines like Seventeen, Vogue, and Cosmo are regularly read by females well under the target range-- a lot of pre-teens and middle-schoolers have copies stashed in their school lockers, delighting in the ridiculous quizzes ("Is he into you?") and oggling the newest fashions. I'm not going to argue their popularity or say they should be censored, buuuut.... perhaps teens are more impressionable than first thought? I mean, if reading an article about cutting carbs eventually leads to bulimia, something's up. Especially with recent events: Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston died Nov. 14th at the weight of 88lbs. She was 5'8''. To put a little perspective on this, 88lbs would have been considered a healthy weight for a 12yr old. Reston, however, was 21.
Publishers may want to examine the lifestyle they glamorize. Showing more realistic body images and offering a varied palette of articles have been shown to work-- JANE's been using this template for years (though I'll admit I don't find it 100% perfect). At the same time, it should also fall to parents to monitor their tween's and teen's reading materials. JANE might represent a healthier and more empowering alternative, but if you visit their site, one of the top links is for a reader sex survey.
Tuesday, January 02, 2007
As pink and all its power becomes highly lucrative, the make-believe fantasies of children are becoming commercial successes. It’s not just Barbie and G.I. Joe anymore. Peggy Orenstein wrote a fantastic article (aptly entitled "What's Wrong with Cinderella?"), exploring these issues and fall-out of the Princess marketing phenomena and young girls. It’s available from the New York Times, but requires subscriber access. I’ve pasted two excerpts below. Definitely an interesting read and I highly recommend it.
“[Discussing the Disney Princess line of merch]…It is also worth noting that not all of the ladies are of royal extraction. Part of the genius of "Princess" is that its meaning is so broadly constructed that it actually has no meaning. Even Tinker Bell was originally a Princess, though her reign didn't last. "We'd always debate over whether she was really a part of the Princess mythology," Mooney recalled. "She really wasn't." Likewise, Mulan and Pocahontas, arguably the most resourceful of the bunch, are rarely depicted on Princess merchandise, though for a different reason. Their rustic garb has less bling potential than that of old-school heroines like Sleeping Beauty. (When Mulan does appear, she is typically in the kimonolike hanfu, which makes her miserable in the movie, rather than her liberated warrior's gear.)”
“….If nothing else, pink and Princess have resuscitated the fantasy of romance that that era of feminism threatened, the privileges that traditional femininity conferred on women despite its costs — doors magically opened, dinner checks picked up, Manolo Blahniks. Frippery. Fun. Why should we give up the perks of our sex until we're sure of what we'll get in exchange? Why should we give them up at all? Or maybe it's deeper than that: the
freedoms feminism bestowed came with an undercurrent of fear among women themselves — flowing through "Ally McBeal," "Bridget Jones's Diary," "Sex and the City" — of losing male love, of never marrying, of not having children, of being deprived of something that felt essentially and exclusively female.
I mulled that over while flipping through "The Paper Bag Princess," a 1980 picture book hailed as an antidote to Disney. The heroine outwits a dragon who has kidnapped her prince, but not before the beast's fiery breath frizzles her hair and destroys her dress,
forcing her to don a paper bag. The ungrateful prince rejects her, telling her to come back when she is "dressed like a real princess." She dumps him and skips off into the sunset, happily ever after, alone.
There you have it, "Thelma and Louise" all over again. Step out of line, and you end up solo or, worse, sailing crazily over a cliff to your doom. Alternatives like those might send you skittering right back to the castle. And I get that: the fact is, though I want my
daughter to do and be whatever she wants as an adult, I still hope she'll find her Prince Charming and have babies, just as I have. I don't want her to be a fish without a bicycle; I want her to be a fish with another fish. Preferably, one who loves and respects her and also does the dishes and half the child care.”
I’ve long heard the mantra that feminism is about choice. Rather than confining it to a set of decisions about A or B or black or white (pink vs blue for that matter), perhaps it’s more apt to say it’s about personal balance. After all, I know I’ve got a little Cinderella as well as some ass-kicking She-Ra in my veins.
Lavazza Coffee's new run of print ads are bewildering at best, and at worse, can be easily confused with Target's branding. It took me awhile to spot what was being advertised, and even then, was thoroughly confused by the concept.
Bad branding aside, I'm also put off by the use of the scantily clad women. Wasn't that the domain of the alcohol industry? Since when did coffee rely on the "sex sells" position? Just to prove awards don't mean anything in this biz, the campaign's photography won an Epica award this year...
Monday, January 01, 2007
I've got a good feeling about 2007, but let's wrap up '06 first. I happen to be a fan of stats and odd tidbits of information. If you're curious, here's a snapshot of various stats from '06:
Most Searched For Term: Motley Bird/ That Girl Emily (tie)
Most Discussed Post: Sure/American Apparel
Most Blogged Company/Product: Dove
Lastly, my personal favorites:
- Dove's "Real Women" campaign continues to impress and surprise me, but I'll stand by my comments and continue to wonder how long they can keep this up. Can you actually build a brand on honesty and integrity? Will it slip into something condescending?
- The EDA's anorexia PSA. Still absolutely brutal.