What the Hell, Advertising?
So, here’s a cigarette advert from several decades ago. Y’know, back before they knew cigarettes killed you and stuff. Also back when gender representations in advertising were even more terrible.
But hey, that was decades ago, right? That was from a time when people held far more dubious views, hell people had only recently stopped using tape worms as a miracle diet (no, seriously). It was a less enlightened time, but we’ve moved on since then, yes?
Well, no, not so much. The world of advertising is still filled with dubious messages, awkward depictions of race and gender, and terrible division of products along gender lines (“This is a girl product! Make the packaging pink so they’ll buy it! This is a boy product! Fill the advert with explosions!”) So what we have here is a collection of half a dozen or so recent magazine adverts that have taken their attitudes straight from the 1950s.
It was Mothers’ Day in the US recently, and Mr Clean decided to run this advert for the occasion. Maybe I’m misinterpreting the advert. Maybe Mothers’ Day in the US is a bit different to the UK. Either way, the apparent message of “Get back to the cleaning! And get your daughter to help, she needs to learn!” seems a little… well, off.
Goldstar Beer have an interesting view of how drinking works, one that manages to simultaneously insult both men and women. Women are complex and have to worry about matching their drinks (girly, fruity drinks, naturally) to their outfits, because they’re shallow like that. Men, meanwhile, are simple-minded creatures who are only capable of desiring one thing: beer. And not even good beer. Crappy mass-market beer.
Goldstar have another advert in this campaign that manages to be even worse on some levels – take a look for yourself here.
It’s not just gender that advertising fails on either. Here we get a delightful intersection of gender and homophobia from the fine folks at Nike. Because ballet isn’t manly, you see, and you don’t want your son to do something that isn’t manly. Best buy him some Nike trainers as soon as you can and get him doing something macho like soccer, before the homosexuals lure him into their sordid world of energetic dance routines and toned calf muscles. Because that is totally how reality works. Yes.
Women, you see, are basically like magpies, only larger and incapable of flight. So not very good magpies. But like magpies, women are innately drawn to shiny shiny things; the shinier the better. And as DeBeers know, if you feed her craving for shiny objects then she’ll pretend to like you and sate your desperate need for validation. Which, of course, is all women are good for. (That and cooking you dinner, which is a talent the common magpie rarely excels at.)
Wait no, all of that was wrong. What the hell, DeBeers? Really?
Social values, 1950s style. Cooking, cleaning, caring for your child. These all start with C. More importantly, they’re all things that the wife does, because hey, it’s not like she has a job, right? Women in the workplace? Madness! And all of those things are time consuming; why, hiring someone to do them all would be fairly expensive. When your wife dies, you won’t be grieving over the loss of your life’s love, you’ll be wondering who’s going to make dinner if you can’t afford to hire a cook. So you’d better get life insurance out on her. Or, I guess, buy some diamonds and lure a magpie, either way.
I was going to say something bitingly snarky and witty, but… I just… wow. I’ve been defeated by this advert. Just imagine I said something hilarious and cutting and you’re all very entertained.
So, defeated by that last advert, I’m going to stop here. I implore all of you to go out and get jobs in advertising and make better adverts than these, so that we can someday feature them in Found Feminism.