Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Playtex Sport

I first saw this ad on TV the other day and thought it was for a deodorant or sports drink at first, or maybe a sneaker. Imagine my surprise when it was for the first ever "sport-grade" tampon. I'm not the only one either: Seth Stevenson at Slate jotted down his opinions here, and largely, I agree with him. It's nice to see a new take on tampons: I'll admit that commercials featuring embarrassing mishaps with highschoolers give me the willies. This is much more empowering and positive. (And at the same time, not condescending like Always' "Have a Happy Period" bullshit.)

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

Tears dry, memories don't.

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.)

via Houtlust.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Packaging Girlhood's '06 Wrap-Up

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
London to pull a pole-dancing set sold in the toy department of a London store." Jesus- it's good that parents were able to step in, but the fact that something like that could have been in stores and sold to girls at all makes me a little queasy. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a vet, an artist or work at a zoo. I never realized I could also aspire to be a stripper.

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

Breast Augmentation for Mannequins?

Interesting article from Salon about the specialty market for large chested mannequins... thankfully it seems to be more of a fad than a lasting trend (still indicative of today's culture though).

Dieting Articles linked to Teen Health Risks

A study done by the University of Minnesota has managed to link dieting articles and advice in glossy magazines to eating disorders in teens and young women, the AP reports (via MSN). According to the article, "Girls in middle school who read dieting articles were twice as likely five years later to try to lose weight by fasting or smoking cigarettes, compared to girls who never read such articles." Additionally, vomiting and the use of laxatives increased as much as three times within this group as well.

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

What's Wrong With Cinderella?

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's "Brand" New Mistake?

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...

Via Adpunch.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

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.