OK folks. We're a little busy here at Bitch HQ today getting ready for our Compromising Positions Forum tonight (you're coming, right?) so it seemed like the perfect time for a Mad World open forum. The prompt: Which ads have actually compelled you to buy something? Or, have you ever purchased something just because you liked the ad?
I'll start. Last week I was at a big box store (OK, it was Target) and I was looking for some body wash. Although several brands were cheaper, and they probably all contain roughly the same ingredients, I went with Dove Cream Oil. Why? Because I like the ad!
For the record, I'm not a huge fan of the term "cougar." It demonizes older women by framing them as dangerous predators who prey on younger men, and it has inspired far too many terrible jokes. However, I am also not a fan of Google AdSense's recent decision to refuse service to ads for cougar dating sites. Their reasoning? The concept of an older woman looking to date a younger man is not "family friendly." They will continue to allow "sugar daddy" dating sites to advertise online though, because those are way more kid-appropriate.
The widely popular video game Bayonetta boasts an advertising campaign that rivals the onscreen sexism of the game itself. In Tokyo, a large billboard in the subway invited passersby to literally strip off flyers to reveal Bayonetta naked underneath. The campaign perpetuates and encourages sexual and physical harassment against women, an epidemic in Japan (and many other countries, including the United States). Check it out:
Mad World fans, take note! In cooperation with PSU’s Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Department, we're hosting a Mad World intergenerational community forum!
Compromising Positions: Race and Sex in Advertising, A Mad World Intergenerational Community Forum
June 1, 2010 / 6:30pm
Portland State University Smith Memorial Ballroom
1825 SW Broadway, Portland
Now you may be saying to yourself, "But Kelsey, this is a weekly discussion blog, not a place for you to talk about events! And besides, lots of us don't live close enough to attend!" Well, right you are to say those things to yourself. But take heart, because what this particular post is for is to get us talking about the forum topic: race and sex in advertising. (Though we really do want you to come to the forum, too!)
Perhaps you have heard of KFC's "Buckets for the Cure" campaign. The idea is, every time you buy a pink bucket of fried chicken from the chain, 50 cents is donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation for breast cancer research. Now, raising money for cancer research of any kind is great, but I can't help but think (and I am by no means alone here) that this campaign is misguided and misleading (not to mention the weird irony of buying – and eating – certain breasts to save others). Of course, tying an advertising campaign to the fight against breast cancer, a practice commonly known as pinkwashing, is nothing new. Let's look at some more examples and discuss!
To bring you this week's installment in our Mad World series, Bitch went on-location to Console-ing Passions, an international conference on media and feminism. We figured that with big questions like, "How is technology influencing advertising effects?" and "Where are the women in media creation and distribution?" we needed to consult the experts.
Advertisers are tapping into some of the most misogynistic male fantasies when they use futuristic fembots to convince men to buy their products. They are selling a fantasy of control by turning women into obedient, mute, homemaking, sex slaves.
When it comes to women and sports, we've got a long way to go before we reach the promised land of gender equity. Still, when you consider that Title IX just passed in 1972 and that we've got some seriously kickass women athletes to look up to in the wide world of sports today, well, it could be worse. So how are we doing when it comes to women, sports, and advertising? Well, let's start on a high note:
For the past several Mad World discussions, we've looked at ad campaigns that are somewhat lacking when it comes to progressive gender politics. It seems high time, then, that we highlight advertising that gets it right where gender is concerned. The only problem is, where the hell is it? Does mainstream, sexism-free advertising even exist?
OK, we are all pretty up on the concept of advertising at this point. Not to say that ads don't have an effect on us (they do), but when it comes to the reasoning behind most ad campaigns, we savvy media consumers are hip to what's going on. They're trying to sell us something. We get it. So what do we do with ads that let us "in" on the joke?