Last week, Consumerist posted the results to their Worst Ad in America poll. Winners (well, losers) include the McDonald's "not until I've had my coffee" guy and Jimmy the Extenze spokesperson—no surprise there, since those ads are super annoying. But, with all of the excellent categories created by Consumerist (Creepiest Commercial, Most Grating Performance By a Human, etc.) there is one category left to vote on: The Most Sexist Ad in America.
Marketers are increasingly using Retro Sexism to sell products. This form of advertising uses irony and humour as a way to distance itself from the sexist and/or racist representations and stereotypes they perpetuate.
Retro Sexism (n.): Modern attitudes and behaviors that mimic or glorify sexist aspects of the past, often in an ironic way.
Maybe it's because I've been watching too many episodes of Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch lately and therefore keep seeing the same online ads, but this Dove Clinical Strength commercial is everywhere I look and I want it to go away, and take its only-pretty-girls-are-strong-and-deserve-deodorant message with it. Behold:
From PBR to Pampers, Lisa Wade and Gwen Sharp of the blog Sociological Images look at the cultural significance of the graphs, cartoons, and advertisements we usually take for granted. I spoke with Lisa and Gwen for our Mad World podcast about how the blog got started, how to "pull back the curtain" on advertisers, and why exactly the "mediocre male" is such a prevalent trope found today.
Jean Kilbourne made the first Killing Us Softly film in 1979. Now with several books under her belt and Killing Us Softly 4 out this spring, Kilbourne obviously hasn't stopped her activism in media criticism--whether it's following the increased sexualization of children in ads or calling out the alcohol and tobacco industry. Kelsey Wallace spoke to Kilbourne, a member of Bitch Media's National Advisory Board, on the phone about trends in advertising and gender, the state of media criticism today, and Kilbourne's future plans. You can order Killing Us Softly 4 at the Media Education Foundation. This interview is part of our Mad World podcast on gender, advertising, and identity in a mediated world.
Subscribe on iTunes. Download at archive.org. Transcription available here (.doc).
Verizon doesn't exactly have a reputation for being an organization that's empowering its users. After all, it is Verizon that's leading the fight against net neutrality, which would amount to an Internet that is basically the opposite of user-friendly. Perhaps that's why they've launched a new ad campaign designed to convince us that, through powerful transmitters, Verizon is on our side in the fight against prejudice. (I know, right?)
When a conversation turns to branding (and don't all of your conversations turn to branding?) the efforts of Absolut Vodka, the little alcohol company that could, are inevitably evoked. There's good reason behind this, too. Although ads for alcohol are extremely problematic, Absolut has certainly made a name for itself with a distinct brand. In fact, I'd bet that most of you can conjure up an Absolut ad, complete with their unique typeface and slogans, without even having to consult your Google image search.
That's why I've been a little surprised lately to see Absolut eschew their brand for an over-the-top cinematic spot (one loaded with messages about gender, of course). Behold:
Most people with a finger on the pulse of pop culture (and I'm guessing that includes you if you're reading this) know that the new season of AMC's Mad Men premiered on Sunday. Now, for those of you who are waiting for it to come out on DVD, fear not: This is our weekly advertising forum, so no plot spoilers will be revealed here. I want to talk instead about the ways in which advertising is being dealt with within the show so far. (If you're interested in a plot discussion though, I like Slate's TV Club. Good stuff.) Now, on to the advertising!
We had a conversation in the comments section on another Mad World post a while back regarding ads that use real people instead of actors to sell their products. Do these people get paid? Are they actually just actors in disguise? Why are we strangely compelled by their "real" presence in commercials? Well, dear Mad World readers, to get to the bottom of these issues, I recently went undercover as a "real" person in a commercial photo shoot (well I guess I wasn't technically undercover since I am actually a real person, but you know what I mean) and got the scoop.
The ubiquity of commercial cigarettes in the United States is a 20th century phenomenon. In large part, the massive popularity of cigarettes in the United States can be traced back to their rationing to soldiers during World War I and World War II. The cigarette's rise in popularity amongst women, however, is a different story all together. In this special edition of Adventures in Feministory, we're taking a look at how flappers, Freud, feminism and fashion transformed the perception and popularity of women cigarette smokers.