AD CRITIQUE: M’AM, YOU’RE UNDER ARREST. PLEASE DROP THE BURGER AND STEP AWAY…

http://www.getcaughtphilly.com/

A couple weeks ago, on my way back to Philly after a restful break at home, I came across this advertisement for Swarovski crystals on a billboard. It immediately caught my eye because I thought the catchphrase with the picture was rather ludicrous. Get caught doing what? Eating a burger? Drinking a shake? Eyeing the skinny model, her bones jutting out, I thought the poor woman should probably be left alone to eat in peace.

Taking a look at the other advertisements part of the “Get Caught…Philly” campaign, it became abundantly clear that Swarovski was making a ploy that glamorous women should never be caught doing things that they depict as banal or low class.  While the other ads were offensive in their own right to everyday women who do  those activities, I was particularly offended by their depiction of eating as one of those ‘low class’ activities. According to this ad, eating has become on par with a criminal offense (the model is gaping and horrified at being ‘caught’) – something that should be done shamefully and in secret. God forbid you be caught buying a pint of Ben and Jerry’s or (Gasp!) indulging in a hamburger and shake. Because, clearly, glamorous skinny women would never do anything like eat in public.

This reminded me of Marilyn Wann’s introduction in the Fat Studies Reader about the stigma surrounding being fat. This particular ad is not shaming fatness directly, but rather establishing a new shame to habits associated (erroneously) with obesity – specifically eating. These ads are creating a kind of nonsensical fear surrounding normal and healthy activities. They are essentially saying that to be like the woman in the ad, you shouldn’t eat, and if you do, it is is a shame.  They limit the domain of beauty and allure to a select few individuals who (apparently) never get caught eating – a ridiculous concept.

Wann, Marilyn. Foreword. The Fat Studies Reader. By Esther D. Rothblum and Sondra Solovay. New York: New York UP, 2009. Ix-Xxii. Print.

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One thought on “AD CRITIQUE: M’AM, YOU’RE UNDER ARREST. PLEASE DROP THE BURGER AND STEP AWAY…

  1. cding10

    I agree with you in that this Swarovski ad campaign’s catchphrase of “Get Caught” is confusing and does not seem to fit in with what the images are portraying. Looking at this particular one, I can see that it would be the “guilt” of having indulged in something so “bad” as a burger, but as far as the other images (apart from the ice cream one), it just seems as if it is everyday tasks, as you pointed out, and I do not see the link between those and anything of a criminal nature. However, I am not sure if I believe that the advertisers are necessarily trying to depict eating as a “low-class” activity, but I think they certainly pointedly chose a hamburger and ice cream as the foods. They are typically know as “guilty pleasures,” and contributes to the whole “cult of thinness” that Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber talked about, as well as the entire diet industry that has been constructed around the image of a so-called “ideal body” and a fear of food in women. What’s more, and perhaps the most unfortunate fact, is that it is most likely the majority of people that saw that ad would really not think twice about what it is trying to convey -in their opinions, it is probably obvious that she has been “caught” in the middle of a guilty act of indulgence. In our popular culture, images of models and burgers do not belong together, and unfortunately, ads like these only serve to further inforce that reasoning.

    Reply

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