The problem of advertising, which creates information noise, is also in the amazing sexism of presentation. Californian designer Cynthia Petrovich launched a blog “Do I Offend” several years ago, in which she began to structure such advertising, highlighting her patterns and thematic layers. After looking at some of the cleverly crafted sexist ad selections of the mid-20th century, we tried to figure out how female ad imagery has changed compared to the Mad Men era, and looked at some fresh and gender-significant precedents.
What kind of advertising was there before
Clear summer day. An attractive, tastefully dressed woman reaches for a picnic basket, but this idyllic picture disgusts her companion. “She is one in a million,” the man thinks, “dances, cooks, looks great. But all her virtues were destroyed by gaposis. " Gaposis, so you know, this is an unforgivable long distance between the buttons on the skirt - and he just ruined the privacy of this charming lady. If she gets to get married, then another trouble awaits her - dishpan hands: before the spread of dishwashers, women had to wash dishes by hand, which made the skin on their hands too rough. There is another danger - a cheerful advertisement for Schlitz beer is running on the network, where the husband with a smile consoles his wife who has burned dinner, saying: "Do not worry, dear, at least you did not burn the beer!"
These are just a few examples of advertising in vintage women's magazines such as the still alive and well Ladies' Home Journal, collected on Cynthia Petrovic's Do I Offend blog. With a good grasp of social science, she discovered in advertising her own internal logic and structure, which was reflected in the heading of the blog. For example, Petrovich devotes a separate section to advertising devoted to problems with weight - overweight or, conversely, insufficient. In the 50s, the ideal of the female figure was far from the typical modern one, descended from the pages of gloss. Thinness was often the object of caustic ridicule and a serious problem that needed to be urgently addressed with drugs like Wate-On. Skin condition or odor was no less concern: “Remember,” reads one such ad, “your hair absorbs an unpleasant odor.” The key point in such an advertisement is the exaggerated value of public opinion, up to and including displeasure on the part of one's own children.
The shortcomings of American women were emphasized in every possible way - if they are not eliminated, something terrible will happen: either no one will call you on a date, or other women will start making stinging jokes, or the male boss will refuse employment. Something intended as a compliment - “Doesn't your wife cook? Don't get divorced, let it be a pet,”the woman could only find in an advertisement for a cafe.
Ladies' Home Journal
for March 1955
How has the economy affected
Book cover "The Myth of Beauty"
In American society during the post-war baby boom, middle-class women lived in the kitchen, or at worst a grocery store. With the rise of feminism, the development of equal rights movements and the sexual revolution in the 1960s, social models familiar from previous decades began to show noticeable cracks. The liberalization of the social sphere could not help but affect the pliable advertising market, even if it happened gradually. Since then, openly sexist advertising has become less and less common, and the advertising image of an independent woman, independent of a strong male shoulder, ultimately became more advantageous.
However, this medal also had a downside.Armed with liberal sex trends, advertisers used them to create a hypersexual product. The objectification of a woman as an object of possession has been replaced by the widespread objectification of the female body: if suddenly it falls short of the images replicated in advertising, then this must be urgently corrected. "Sex sells" is a familiar formula, the popularity and effectiveness of which can be appreciated by anyone with good eyesight. The global spread of sexuality standards and associated advertising imagery is having amazing consequences, from the notorious enlargement of the eye contours of Korean teens to the boom in skin whitening creams in India. In modern advertising and media, the fashion for hypersexuality has found its ideal embodiment in the image of an anorexic model, looking at consumers from advertising posters and filming in gloss and perfect for selling all kinds of products - from cosmetics to burgers. Therefore, it is not surprising that the American feminist and author of the book "The Myth of Beauty" Naomi Wolfe emphasizes that this situation is not the result of obsolete patriarchy, but of good old capitalism, which is well aware that sex is really sells.
What has changed in advertising
with the advent of political correctness
But there is another internal trend associated with increased attention to ethics in the Western world and the so-called gender mainstreaming. This concept, in fact, denotes political correctness in matters of gender relations, which is also reflected in certain norms governing advertising content. For example, in Norway at the end of the 70s, the first attempts were made to limit sexual discrimination in advertising, which resulted in separately prescribed regulations. Many other Western countries have long relied on self-regulation on the part of advertisers and customers, but today, norms like those in Norway are more common. In Britain, they became part of the unified Equality Act of 2010, and anyone can file a complaint that an advertisement is discriminatory to women.
In connection with these changes in the cultural landscape, many large companies are ready to rethink the stereotypes of female beauty and at the same time to deal with gender stereotypes. One of the trendsetters in this case is the cosmetics manufacturer Dove, which has recently presented a number of extremely successful examples. The Dove Real Beauty Sketches campaign demonstrates in an original way how understated women's perceptions of their own beauty can be, especially when compared to the opinions of strangers. Another example: “Selfie” is a large and successful project in terms of feedback, rethinking the concept of beauty by eliminating the use of selfie filters. In advertising of the 50s, that thinness and fullness were easily turned into obvious female flaws by advertisers, while Dove turns them into objects of pride. Be yourself, do not lose your individuality - these seemingly typical mantras for an individualized society are now being used more and more successfully, which reflects the liberal shift that has taken place in the gender sphere.
All these examples look quite harmless in comparison with American Apparel advertising campaigns, which, under the banner of revaluation of values and non-standard, contradictory ethics, manage to provoke scandals every time. The heroines of the provocative filming of the California brand are both employees of the company itself of different ages, shapes and colors of skin, and, say, the porn star Sasha Gray. Here the naturalness of the models is mixed with deliberate candor; sex continues to sell, but without the polished and photoshopped picture. In the case of American Apparel, scandalousness often has a dual effect, generating conflicting feelings (and, of course, attention) in the public, but also forcing ethical debates.
By and large, American Apparel's campaigns show as litmus test two trends that do not get along well with each other: attempts to present the model in the most natural and human form and provocative intonation, which is more characteristic of hypersexual advertising. The author of the blog "Do I Offend" is inclined to argue that the situation has changed slightly compared to the middle of the last century and that today's advertising world is full of stereotypes. Of course, hypersexuality continues to sell well, but it can cause fierce opposition from the public - take, for example, the ban on advertising Carl's Jr. with Kate Upton.
It is difficult to imagine such opposition to stereotypes in the 50s and 60s. And the main thing that has changed in comparison with that era is the content of advertising, which is becoming more and more amenable to ethical control and self-control. An advertising image of a hysterical housewife burdened with taking care of dinner would not only look like a monstrous anachronism today - it would be hacked to death in the nearest agency. Seen in this light, the Dove example and the other ad campaigns below signal a more socially responsible and reassuring direction in which the advertising market and the media today are less influenced by gender bias and are striving to be at the forefront of ethics themselves.
Cases in which they collapse
copywriter of the advertising agency "Voskhod"
Legendary social media response from British lingerie manufacturer Bodyform to Richard Neil's post. In his commentary, Richard laments that his advertising-shaped perceptions of menstruation were far from the truth. He hoped that his girlfriend would roller-skate, jump with a parachute and laugh endlessly, but instead saw a fury "filled with poison."
With this work, the Carat agency not only showed how you can brilliantly instantly respond to current events (the answer was recorded and posted less than a week after the publication of Richard's comment), but also forced to reconsider the approach to understanding the entire category of feminine hygiene products. In the video, gender stereotypes and clichés are sarcastically challenged, and women's "secrets" are boldly revealed. Nice move, awesome script, great game. Don't forget, this is 2012! Perhaps this is the best thing that has been done in promoting this product category on the market.
Another campaign of the Belgian agency Duval Guillaume for Plan Belgium, which helps children to defend and realize their rights in society. This time the work was aimed at combating discrimination against women. In one of the Belgian schools, girls were removed from school and forced to do “female” work: peeling potatoes, washing toilets and floors. Of course, the children met such innovations with misunderstanding and a strike, which was what Plan Belgium employees expected.
In this case, the mechanics worked out and traditional for Duval Guillaume, where a provocative non-standard becomes a virus, is based on absolute sexism, brought to the point of absurdity. This works great and gets the message across clearly.
Stunning massive work by San Francisco-based Pereira & O'Dell for Toshiba laptops with an Intel processor. The audience judged computers solely on the outside, while Toshiba and Intel decided to focus on what was inside. The agency came up with an incredible campaign: a touching series of 6 episodes appeared on the network, the main character of which wakes up in a new body every day. Alex tries to figure out what is happening to him and records calls to himself through a webcam. It was this form of video diaries that made it possible to include a huge number of viewers in the series, who recorded and posted messages on Facebook on behalf of the hero.
The work has collected an incredible number of awards at advertising festivals, it can be found on resources dedicated exclusively to cinema, as a self-contained series, and Alex has been played by more than 50 viewers. The strongest idea "The beauty inside" frees us from any stereotypes and restores faith in ourselves. It is absolutely not important your gender, nationality, eye color, hair length, height and age - it is important what kind of person you are and what you have inside.