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K-Y features lesbian couple in commercial

8 Sep

Today’s post is brought to you by “personal lubricant.” Check out the lesbian marketing action:

I am pretty excited to see gay ladies in an advert like this, being marketed to like any other self-respecting consumer demographic (and not even in a PSA!). Now all we need is to see lesbians, gay menfolk and transfolk featured in commercials for things that AREN’T implicitly about sex, and we’re golden. I’ll start holding my breath in 3, 2, 1…

Shower scum: Keeping it real in body-wash territory

6 Sep

Just when you thought the only thing you had to be afraid of while in the shower was Norman Bates… enter body wash marketing! Yes, folks, even your tenderest of nooks and/or crannies can’t escape subjection to gendered representations of males and females. Here’s an illustrative snapshot of some products I found in my shower:

Innocent enough, right? But wait, look a little closer…

Note that the Axe body wash, primarily marketed to gents, is called “Excite.” This scent will invigorate you! Wake you up! The packaging will inspire you to go on the prowl! To snag lots of womenfolk in slinky dresses! And get powerful jobs with powerful salaries and command powerful armies of sniveling minions!

Compare it with the ladies’ body wash here, called “Calm.” It’ll help you hysterical betches to calm right the fuck down! Stop whining! Quit your bitchin’ about PMS or the Patriarchy or whatever you damn ladies are always yakking about! Pull you back from the brink of hysteria! This body wash is a stop-gap measure before Yellow Wallpaper time, ladies.

Alas, even the woman-on-the-verge’s traditional retreat from the vagaries of everyday life as a second-class citizen – the bathroom – is no longer safe.

Klondike responds!

21 Jul
The ice-cream purveyors at Klondike/Unilever have responded to my complaint about their heinous heinous ads! Read below:
—–

Hello MS. SARAH _____,

Thank you for writing to us.

We do apologize for the experience you reported concerning Klondike Commercials.

Unilever Ice Cream markets its various brands in ways that are meant to entertain and engage our target audience. It was only intended to be humorous.

We certainly do not wish to offend anyone. You may be interested to know that all of our commercials and advertisements are pre-tested and various techniques are used to evaluate consumer reactions. Based on the results of our pre-testing procedures, the presentations are chosen for their majority appeal. Please let us assure you that your comments are extremely important to us in evaluating the success of our commercials and advertisements.

We will certainly forward your comments to the Marketing staff. Consumer comments are very important and evaluated on a regular basis.

Sincerely,

Your friends at Klondike

– 
More to come on this later. But feel free to poke some holes in their pre-testing procedures with their target audience. I see no way that these ads wouldn’t offend most demographics – even the darling demographic of straight white men dislike being portrayed as oafish.

Also: Note their use of an honorific!

Vaginas are the center of the world!

20 Jul

Continuing on yesterday’s theme of terrifying advertisements, today I bring you more douchebaggery (no, literally!) via the new Summer’s Eve ad campaign:

I had no idea vaginas had babies ALL BY THEMSELVES! Amazing, I say, simply incredible! Also? Douching is pretty much the opposite of taking care of your “cradle of civilization.” No self-respecting medical professional would ever recommend anyone do such a weird-ass thing to their privates.

Buuuut in a strictly academic sense, at least they’re taking a new approach to helping women get uterine and yeast infections. Just try cradling a civilization after a bout with pelvic inflammatory disease! I dare ya.

Video via Feministe and Adrants.

Klondike bar ads are insulting, lazy

19 Jul

Have you guys seen this crap? Apparently I’ve been hiding under a rock, or at least eschewing prime-time network television, because Klondike’s effort to re-brand was going mostly under my radar until recently. Peep this horribleness:

Oh ha! I get it! Women are boring! Especially if you’re married to them! It’s like torture to listen to them! BAAHAHAHAHA! Hilarious. /sputter Oh yeah, and did we mention gay people are just … icky?

It’s a generally-accepted fact that the very last thing a straight man would ever want to be caught doing is something gay-seeming! Although it might be worse to actually care about the person you committed to spend your life with – hard to tell from these commercials.

Sarcasm aside, it is possible to be funny and sell ice cream without implying that women are insufferable bores and being gay is wrong (and straight men can never show affection). This is lazy work, plain and simple. The Via Agency, the ad agency that Klondike hired to put together their re-branding campaign, should be ashamed.

I complained, I hope you do too. Tell Klondike you won’t be buying their products because of these spots. If you’re an advertising nerd like me and you’re opposed to the ads on multiple levels (not only are they sexist and homophobic, they’re unimaginatively so), you can also scold The Via Agency. Humor ain’t hard, people. Wise up or lose business.

Do you think these ads are worse than normal, or just more blatant? And who decided that all mint flavors must forever come in fluorescent green anyway? Technicolor is for TVs, not food. Sheesh.

Men don’t let men eat vegetables

11 May

What could be manlier than an irrational hatred of dark leafies? A steady diet of beer and prepackaged fatty foods, that’s what! Nothing says “macho” like high cholesterol, diabetes and heart disease. Watch and cringe:

Just shows to go ya, not even menfolk are immune to the detrimental effects of the patriarchy. I’m sure either one of my vegetarian/vegan brothers could tell you a story or two (or six) of having their manly street cred called into question due to their love of fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

Children and taxes: A Mother’s Day Special

8 May
No babies for me, thanks. No, not even turkey baster babies.

No babies for me, thanks. No, not even turkey baster babies.

This mother’s day, let’s skip the adorable kitten greeting cards and bunches of roses bred to within an inch of scentlessness, picked by fourth-world residents working in inhumane conditions, trucked halfway across the globe and sold at ridiculous markups, shall we? Instead, let’s talk about the politics of child-rearing! Or, more specifically, the politics of taxes for child-education and other kiddo-focused expenses.

I recently heard a new-to-me, somewhat shocking opinion on the topic. Here it is in summary:

“People who make the responsible choice not to have squalling brats should not have to pay to educate and feed other people’s mistakes.”

Harsh words, no? That’s not quite how it was put, but that was the basic premise.

As a properly trained tax-and-spend liberal, I like having lots and lots of social services, some of which I use, some of which I don’t: Maintained roads, public libraries, rest stops, Medicare, social security, food stamps. And I’ve seen the contrast between public schools in well-heeled communities and those in poor towns: I have matriculated at some of the west coast’s best-funded and highest-performing public schools, and also attended the educational equivalent of Siberia in the state’s poorest county. But still, it got me thinking.

As an adult, my senses and my pocketbook are constantly assaulted by pleas for the children. Stop domestic violence … for the children. Build new libraries … for the children. Fund high school sports teams … for the children. Build shiny new after-school facilities with free classes in underwater basketweaving and Tae-Kwon-Do and other oh-so-useful life skills … for the children. Build cushy juvenile detention and drug rehabilitation facilities … for the children, dammit!

It makes one wonder – who is looking out for the old people while we’re busy babying the babies? Social services (in this state, at least) are almost exclusively focused on children, or people with children. As an example, kids under 18 can get subsidized health insurance, but adults cannot (the one notable exception being pregnant women).

This makes a modicum of sense. Faced with a choice between cutting the service entirely or funding it for kids only, it’s a no-brainer. But still. There are a lot of very sick, very poor adults out there not getting the care they need. Why? Because they don’t have cute button noses and tiny little hands. They’re not helpless. Poor children, they just can’t help being born poor! It’s not their fault their parents made such terrible life decisions like being born poor themselves. But once they’re adults it is 100 percent their fault that they’re still poor. What’s changed, other than 15 years, give or take? Nothing but society’s attitude toward them.

And don’t even get me started on the blatantly pandering marketing campaigns around school-funding measures. It’s voting time here, and The Hizzy is being hit with slick upon slick, all featuring pictures of cherubic, well-scrubbed white kids with pleading, watery eyes in grayscale. Turn the slick over and you’ve got the skinny white moms, looking concerned and wearing North Face sweaters, standing sternly with crossed arms next to bulleted lists of reasons why their little Madisons and Jacobs need music programs, shiny new cafeteria platters and better insulation.

So my opinion is wavering. I don’t have kids. I’m not GOING to have kids. Why should I pay to polish the silverware at the elementary school in my neighborhood? Those children having their school spiffed today will be the bitter, abusive high school dropouts that will wipe my nose at the health-code violating old people’s home I’ll live in during my infirmity. If I want care that minimizes humiliation in my old age, I’ll have to shell out for a private facility, since wrinkled faces with watery, pleading eyes just don’t test well with the focus groups.

Grown-ups, especially those with lots of wrinkles or otherwise socially undesirable characteristics (like poverty or disability), get the short end of the stick. They work their whole lives paying taxes to educate and care for the next generation, only to get tossed aside once they can no longer care for themselves. Where are the direct-mail marketing campaigns advocating for safe wheelchair routes and better elder-care facilities? Where are the ballot measures begging for community education and outreach programs designed specifically with old fogeys in mind? And what about crime – why does a 17-year-old get leniency and a clean record, when an 18-year-old in the exact same circumstances gets prison and a lifetime of employment discrimination?

Cutting services to young people can’t be the answer, but a more balanced approach to public policy is certainly worth a look-see. What are your voting habits? Does your having or not having kids influence how you vote on school tax measures and the like? Or are you an across-the-board voter in one way or the other? Any tea party types out there? If so, do you make an exception for social services for youngsters? Any socialist types out there who’ve sworn off baby-having? How do you vote? No name-calling in the comments, please – but do tell me your opinions!

Into moving pictures? Here are some amusing parent- or mom-themed videos you might like:

Happy Mother’s Day, pedophobes!
Pregnant women are smug
Hipster parents: The perfect target market

Girls can be cheerleaders

7 Nov

In only 30 seconds, this local Portland commercial for Mattress World manages to rewind gender stereotypes by approximately 50 years, scar children’s psyches, and not say anything helpful about its products’ features. They run more than one version of this exact message here during Trail Blazer games – other versions start with the little girl proclaiming her only dream in life is to be a cheerleader and then move on to the little boy with his many basketball-related dreams:

Not only are the gender roles here patently unnecessary and painful to watch, I fail to see how this campaign could sell mattresses. I imagine the crack marketing team at Mattress World sat down and said, “We need to come up with something that the locals will like. Locals like sports, right? Hmm, well there is only one professional sports team in the entire state. So the Trail Blazers are a pretty safe bet! Now, how to relate basketball to mattresses? Umm, well, they have cheerleaders, and players, right? Boys are the stars, and girls are the sideline decorations. But, we don’t want to be too sexy, we are a family mattress company. Let’s use kids, everyone likes kids. Go!”

They probably learned this form of marketing from reading kids’ books from the ’50s: “Girls can be nurses, boys can be doctors! Girls can be secretaries, boys can be businessmen! Girls can be mommies, boys can be rock stars!” Then they watched a few rip-and-replace local car commercials, where car companies come up with a bunch of generic characteristics they ascribe to a region, then voice them over pictures of their vehicles pasted over static images of local landmarks, and call that a regional targeted ad. It’s insulting. What’s worse is that they, and the vast majority of viewers, probably don’t see anything wrong with this approach.

Hipster parents: The perfect target market

16 Jun

The hipster trajectory has at last closed its own self-obsessed loop and birthed this monstrosity. Enjoy (or cringe, as the case may be):

A Day in the Life According to Granola

7 Apr

I like breakfast just as much as the next person. In fact, I have a borderline unhealthy relationship with breakfast. Sometimes I get so impatient waiting for morning to arrive with its promise of breakfasty goodness that I eat breakfast foods at non-traditional breakfast hours. I have been known to eat French toast for dinner and have mid-afternoon smoothies. I’ve even had eggs Benedict at decidedly un-benedictine times and places.

So it’s with disappointment that I inform you of a deep betrayal by granola. Not just any granola: Granola to fit my daily adventure. As you can see, my approved daily adventure(s) include birdwatching and/or photography, hiking, generic outdoor sporting, hugging small children in parks, and being a mustachioed yachter from the late ’70s.

Since I don’t live in the land of the Permanent Weekend, this granola box, instead of tempting me with larger-than-life representations of Serving Suggestion Onlies, just makes me sad. My daily adventures almost never include sunshine (mostly it rains), outdoor leisure sports or yachting. They certainly don’t include child-hugging in public parks, which would only get me arrested anyway.

My daily adventure looks a lot more like this:

I’d be much happier if my breakfast food was less aspirational and more … whatever the opposite of aspirational is. Why don’t dry-cereal shillers try making me feel good about my dreary daily routine for a change? They could, for example, put pictures of bums on the box. That way, I could look at it and think, “Hey, you know what I like about this granola? I got it out of my own cupboard, and I’m eating it in the privacy of my own kitchen. All this time in a windowless office building is paying off after all!”

Except then I’d probably just end up taking the box outside and handing it to a bum. I suppose the granola marketers have hit the magic formula on the head with their cheesy clipart models. I can now happily munch away in the knowledge that I, like their models, am a vaguely outdoorsy, healthy middle- to upper-middle-class type, and most certainly not a bum or a bore in a blazer.

Those interested in this kind of crap will be interested to know that the company that makes this cereal has actually built an entire brand around this slogan. It’s easy for me to make fun of this granola since the marketing isn’t as sophisticated as I’m used to, but the flaws I find here are present in varying degrees in all marketing.What do you think?

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