Tag Archives: ad critique


Virtual strippers sell the clothes they take off…?

The premise behind this “social striptease” is that by linking your facebook or twitter accounts to the website link provided you can command a virtual model to remove his/her clothing. By clicking on a particular clothing piece, the virtual model removes it and an advertisement for it gets posted to your social media account. This advertising strategy absolutely reinforces the ultra thin standards of the slender body as outlined by Bordo. But perhaps more disturbing, is the interactive nature of voyeuristic consumption. As opposed to a still image magazine ad, or a 30 second tv spot, these semi naked bodies are created explicitly for the desiring gaze of the customer. Moreover, the interactive interface actually sutures the customer into a position of power over the sexualized body, and creates a bizarre power structure that encourages the objectification of the virtual body.  At least they are egalitarian in their objectification, providing both male and female virtual models.

Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight. Berkley: University of California Press. 1993


Only in Commercials?

As if the world was not ridden with violence and several (notice its plural) humanitarian crises, Neft Vodka released a video that is supposedly advertising its product. Through the first-person angle, the video showcases some “hero” killing his way through some organized group of thugs.

In many ways, this video should anger everyone. It simply serves to create a more sadistic audience and more likely, numbs them to watching violence.

The problem with this type of advertising is that it conceals and romanticizes the violence that actually happens in the world. The audience of such an advertisement is more likely to believe that such violence is only possible not, in the real world, but only through their TV screen. One example could be people’s awareness of the inner working of the strip club industry. As Sheila Jeffreys points out, “…strip clubs are likely to have criminal connections, with media reports suggesting that some strip club owners and managers are associate with organized crime.” Ads like these don’t let people who indulge in strip clubs or prostitution consider that organized crime and violent patriarchy is very real and present. With almost 20 million views, this normalization of violence is exactly how violence against women-or anyone for that matter- goes unnoticed in the private and public domain.

Access for Voters With Disabilities

access-for-voters-with-disabilities-caleb-600-43873 access-for-voters-with-disabilities-dennis-600-79999 access-for-voters-with-disabilities-dori-600-63065

A new campaign promoting access for voters with disabilities has released a string of ads depicting physically disabled individuals with the slogan “He/She has issues.” While this is the first thing to catch the viewer’s eye, upon closer look these “issues” are revealed to be things like the environment, immigration, women’s rights, and the economy. These ads play on stereotypes and hint at prejudices surrounding the disabled by showing disability in a normative way – one man is in a wheelchair, another walks with a cane, and one woman has a guide dog. At first glance, the viewer may think the “issue” is the person’s disability, when the purpose of the ad is to say “Yes, I’m disabled, but this is not my only issue, and may not be an issue for me at all. My disability should not inhibit my rights.” The ad raises awareness of the challenges faced by disabled individuals but also reminds us that the label “disabled” is just that – a quantifier of their condition. Campaigns like this one, as Dean Spade points out, work in concert with the disability rights movement, which “is about pointing out that disabled people are capable of equal participation in, but are currently barred from participating equally by artificial conditions that privilege one type of body or mind and exclude others.” The campaign for increased access for voters with disability is a physical manifestation of this conviction.


<http://www.coloribus.com/adsarchive/prints/access-for-voters-with-disabilities-dennis-18320855/&gt;. Web. (Photos).

Spade, Dean. “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender.” Print.

Ad Critique: Oh My God– SHOES!


According to The DCist, a Metro ad features a dialogue between two women where one women is informing the other of how it takes over 8,000 miles before a Metrobus breaks down. The other women in response asks, “Can’t we just talk about shoes?”

Unfortunately, this perpetuates the immortal trope of the “ditsy, shoe-crazy woman”. This made me think about how when we were looking over the definition of “gender dysphoria” earlier today in class, there were still specific culturally gender-biased descriptions present.
For instance, part of the definition stated that gender dysphoria includes, “a strong conviction that one has feelings and reactions typical of the other gender” (DSM-5). This part of the definition implies that there has to be certain “reactions” or interest that apply to each specific gender, which is essentialist and false. Also, this seems to reinforce a binary that there are only two kinds of people/two genders in the world.
It’s also interesting to see that the ad features two presumably cisgendered women, since as Spade mentions, “…a central endeavor of feminist, queer and trans activists has been to dismantle the cultural ideologies… that say that certain body parts determine gender identity and gendered social characteristics and roles” (Spade, 2013). This ad seems to further pigeonhole women into these “gendered social characteristics” and implies that women must love to wear heels, thus assigning “femininity” to a body part.
Works Cited:
“Lady Wants To Talk About Shoes, Not Bus Reliability, Implies Sexist Metro Ad.” DCist. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Dec. 2013. <http://dcist.com/2013/12/ladies_love_shows_says_sexist_metro.php&gt;.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5)
Spade, Dean. “About Purportedly Gendered Body Parts.” Dean Spade. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2013. <http://www.deanspade.net&gt;

Pine-Sol’s Cleaning Fantasy

This Pine-Sol television commercial shows a woman coming home to find a muscular, shirtless guy mopping her floor. The screen then pans to this female character blissfully lounging in her bed as he continues to mop, surrounded by bottles of Pine-Sol. The campaign uses the almost ubiquitous methods of objectification and sex appeal to play to the potential fantasies of buyers, though in this case the typical situation is reversed between genders. In this particular case, the male is being objectified, and at no point is his full body shown. Instead, the camera focuses on his torso and arms. Additionally, in order to further create the environment of a fantasy, effects such as overly dramatic music and lighting and panning of the camera are used.

The commercial can be viewed from two different perspectives, with one as reinforcing gender norms and one as a progressive step towards equality in gender portrayal. On the one hand, while this is playing to a female sexual fantasy rather than a male one, it can be seen as reinforcing the fact that it is not typical/not the role of the man to be doing housework – i.e. why it would be a “fantasy.” Additionally, the marketers know/suggest that the primary target audience of these ads and subsequently the product, are women, and the use of a heteronormative fantasy continues to reinforce “the assignment of household work to women” (Cowan 151) which, as Cowan shows, was continually supported throughout the twentieth century, and the idea that they are the ones both buying and using household-related products.

On the other hand, the fact that advertisers are willing to play to a woman’s fantasy rather than a man’s for once is an exception itself. Additionally, this ad can also be seen as progressive as African-American actors are used to portray these characters, rather than the typical white characters found in almost every other advertisement. If anything, the commercial is atypical and will certainly catch people’s attention. If in this process a discussion is begun on gender roles/race, then I think it is certainly a positive thing.

Cowan, Ruth Schwartz. More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave. New York: Basic Books, 1983. 151-247. Print.

“Team Mom” and Gendered Family Roles


This AT&T iPhone ad has been airing this Christmas/Black Friday season, and though it’s harmless or even cute at best, it shows a lot of performed gender roles as they are reinforced within the family. The ad is called “Team Mom Hits the Mall.” The mother brings her son and younger daughter to the mall and hypes the kids up for finding Dad a gift.

The gender performances that lie under these simple show a difference in the way the mother treats each child. It’s true that the daughter is younger and that could add to the more condescending tone the mother uses with her, but it also shows the typical “man is strong” and “woman is weak and incompetent” tropes being assumed and catered to within the family. Sally is sporting a pink puffy coat and hat while Jack is wearing dark blue and a brown coat.

If we accept the construction of gender as Judith Lorber states it, as a structure and process, an important part of the way gender norms are perpetuated is the teaching and reenacting of gender. When are these gender roles and performances learned? From birth, “because parents don’t want to be constantly asked whether their baby is a boy or a girl” (Lorber 114). So perhaps it is a combination of societal pressures on the child and on the parents to raise the child as a gendered body that contribute to this indoctrination.

Lorber, Judith, Reconstructing Gender: A Multicultural Anthology

Ad Critique: Toys “R” Us’s Gender-Neutral Toys


Karin A. Martin observes that some parenting consultants tell parents to dismiss “gender nonconformity because the behavior is not really what it appears” (471). It does not seem presumptuous to assume that these advisors support would gender-neutral toys, though likely only for a limited time*. Some people may argue whether or not Toys “R” Us’s use of stereotypically gendered toys is effective toward the gender-neutral parenting stance. The Spiderman costume ad depicts both male and female stereotypical toys: the costume of canonically male superhero and a pink stroller respectively. Dean Spades would likely agree with this advertisement stance, “not arguing for a gender-blind society . . . but instead for a world in which diverse gender expressions and identities occur, but none are punished” (29). Other people may argue for that “society in which all people are similarly androgynous” (Spades 29). This advertisement would not achieve that idea, especially not with the parents who see and buy these toys for their children, having experienced stereotypes associated with gender, particularly the binary ones. However, the ad seems to declare that children can play with those toys regardless of their gender, which would suggest Toys “R” Us’s acceptance of all genders. Unfortunately, it is unknown whether Toy “R” Us would include non-binary genders. Nevertheless, it is a step.

*These advisors may believe gender non-conformity to be a “phase” and that preventing children from playing with toys of another gender “will create a problem” or backfire (Martin 470).

Works Cited:
Martin, Karin A. “William Wants A Doll. Can He Have One?: Feminists, Child Care Advisors, and Gender-Neutral Child Rearing.” Gender and Society, 19.4 (2005): 456-479). Print.

Spade, Dean. “Resisting Medicine, Re/modeling Gender.” Berkeley Women’s Law Journal (2003): 15-37. Print.

Torres, Alec. “U.K. Toys ‘R’ Us Going Gender Neutral.” National Review Online. Web. 3 December 2013. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/357731/uk-toys-r-us-going-gender-neutral-alec-torres.