Shall We Talk About Advertising?

I'm no prude. And as I've said many times, I don't sit around wondering or grumbling about "what our society is coming to." To my mind, it's always three steps forward, two steps back, which means that progress is being made nonetheless. We hear about a lot of evil, but the very hearing means we're making progress.

So I bring this up as a topic to mull over among us--especially those of us who are directly (PC grads and students) or indirectly (me, Jennifer--as teachers) involved with advertising and the communication arts.

The above, a post card, came in my mailbox recently.

Granted, it comes from Project 9-6-1 (Oooooh, how edgy!), formerly plain ol' 96 Rock, so I get the demographic. It would be guys--rockers--with average-to-lower IQ's, who'd choose Penthouse over Playboy. It would also, naturally, catch the attention of younger teens, like my son, for whom cars and girls are irresistable, no matter the context.

Fine. You've got to appeal these folks simply, with cars and sex. Check. So far, I don't have a problem with it. It's sad, of course, but so what? Put the half-naked girl up there, straddled, against the car. I wouldn't mind seeing a scantily-clad Patrick Dempsey up there in the same pose.

Say: "Win"--most preferable, or I wouldn't even raise a stink over "Win this"--a little less preferable.

However, "Win this ride" is entirely UNACCEPTABLE when you turn the card around to see: "The car, not the girl."

For some reason, I can tolerate the lower-level objectifying of Prize=Girl (where she's still human), whereas I can't abide Girl=Ride.

For me, whose lines are probably already too forgiving for most feminists, it crosses a line. It turns from "sad" to "dangerous."

I'd like to hear your opinions.


Kevin M. Scarbrough said...

I'm insanely curious as to what the world would be like if women began objectifying (take that, spell check! HA!) men in such a way. If not sexually, in other ways that drive women to seek out men of their preferred adjective.

Legal Notice of Noted Required Reading:
I'm assuming "adjective" is the proper word. I skipped a whole lotta English (and Math for that note) to sneak into art classes.

Collin said...

It's crass and juvenile, but so is the demographic that radio station is trying to reach.

Tania Rochelle said...

Kevin, as long as men have the power, none of those questions--as interesting as they might be--matter.

Collin--I know the demographic! The ad, IMO, goes beyond crass and juvenile. I've racked my brain all weekend to come up with a good analogy--where an innocuous word might be used in regard to another minority group in a context that demeans and objectifies them.

biggy said...

I'll let others debate the issue at hand. What I want to know is what the hell was the art director thinking? A pigeon-toed model? That has the be the most un-sexiest pose ever. Tyra Banks would not be happy.

Anonymous said...

Don't be a hater!!! That girl is fine.

Rachel said...

oh tania. it would only be trashy if she was spread eagle. i think its quite tasteful that her knees are slightly turned inward, making her "ride" a little less accessable.

and as a side note, if the person who wrote the copy for this ad is over 21, he should be ashamed of himself.

Jessica said...

Jessica = not prude. This is not a matter of prudeness or not, this is disgusting. And dangerous. And being sent to thousands of households.

On a similar note of woman as object/suggesting rape: Has anyone heard of real dolls (go to the website). It is a $6000 sex doll that can be made to look childish or very grownup. Again, a "ride" to obtain and win that perhaps is creating more problems than it solves.

ads. said...

I think the knees turned inward is only to make it less "Hustler material." Although, when you have to spell out the obvious intent of this message- by actually STATING the message, you've pretty much stooped there anyway.
I looked at the pic and thought "ooh yeah", but read the messages and thought "oh no...that went too far..." I felt uneasy by that message. I've showed this to several (male)coworkers to get their reaction, and they're like: "so...what's wrong with that!?" I was not surprised... That makes me more uneasy.

Tracie said...

I thought pigeon-toed girls were out of style.

Rupert said...

as a father of two grown daughters all I can think about is that she is/was some family's "little girl," . . . but . . . as I've said here before . . . women also objectify each other terribly in this culture . . . . whether it's "bra fat" or Christy adding a few pounds or "Mom jeans" . . . some of which I realize is in "good fun" of the Entertainment Tonight variety . . . but still . . .

Tania Rochelle said...

I know women are butal--on ourselves and each other. But still, Rupert, even terms like "bra fat" and "Mom jeans" maintain the human element.

Howard said...

Feel like I've already seen it in C.A. The ol' "talk about the car but really about the girl" trick.

That's just award winning advertising. I think it was Wieden.

Jennifer said...

Project 9-6-1 is a hunk of shit radio station. The ad is a hunk of shit too. It IS offensive in the most cliche, lowest common denominator way an ad like that can offend. In fact, I find myself more offended by it aestherically than politically/socially.

ktothefe said...

I agree with T--this is way beyond crass and juvenile. There are "smarter" ways to appeal to the lower-intelligence demographic. I hate to reference the Axe Deodorant Body Spray ads, but the most recent ads put the sexy women in a position of power. They're still pretty much naked, but as T pointed out, as long as this continues to be a straight white man's world, this will never end.

This ad certainly cheapens the already poor perception of the station.

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