Tag Archives: commercial

Penelope Cruz + french lingerie = ?

This video is a part of a new ad campaign for the upscale French lingerie company, Agent Provocateur, for their new L’Agent line. The company recruited the beautiful Penelope Cruz to direct this seductive short film, which features her real-life husband, Javier Bardem. In this video, the main male character walks through a house that is experiencing some sort of orgy. Throughout this 6 minute video, the fundamental heteronormative characteristics of advertisements and music videos are present. Besides the obvious fact that there are a myriad of beautiful, thin women hanging around the house in their lingerie, looking sexy and never speaking a word, other elements are also displayed. For example, at 1:32 the man is staring at three underwear-clad women dangling from gymnastics rings, as if they are on display at an exhibit – they are not presented at women but as mere objects to look at. Although there is diversity presented (one woman is black), these women are all thin, exhibiting the Bordo’s idea of the ideal slender female body. At 1:50 and 2:00, two girls in lingerie are eating cupcakes and licking icing off of each other in the kitchen, which depicts the typical male fantasy — girl on girl action. At 2:50, two practically naked girls are touching themselves in an outdoor shower, displaying the typical “wet” female body, another male fantasy. This scene in the house ends at 3:45, when the man in the video is practically hypnotized by a beautiful woman simply whipping her hair back and forth and pressing her breasts onto his face. Not once does she utter a word, but solely uses her body and sexuality. In the end, this whole erotic vision ends up literally being a man’s dream. The alpha male in the video turned out to be a construction worker (typical male role) who passed out on the job and fantasized this titillating orgy.

What do you all think about this ad campaign? It is obviously a very sexualized/aesthetically pleasing lingerie commercial, but does that make any of these problems okay? Is the objectification of women made better or worse because it was written and directed by a woman?

Not until the end of this Amazon Kindle commercial do we realize that it features a gay man. He seems to make a pass at the woman, proposing that they share a drink. But then he says that his husband is at the bar ordering them already.

Aspects of this video call to mind Hsui’s criticisms in “Assimilating the Queers,” in which she says that advertisements make viewers expect all gay men to be white, handsome, and upper middle class. We can tell that the man in this video earns a comfortable income in his ability to order a new Kindle immediately on his iPad.

It also calls to mind Chambers’s “Heteronormativity and The L Word,” which argues that The L Word is made acceptable to a heterosexual audience by giving them the sense that the gay characters in the show are similar in many ways to heterosexual viewers. One way is through the use of a usually heterosexual narrative. In the Kindle commercial, it’s the common situation of a man making a move on a woman who’s already taken. She firmly but indirectly deflects the man’s coming on to her. This sets us up to think that he’s straight.

Chambers, S. A. (2006). Heteronormativity and The L-Word. In K. Akass & J. McCabe (Eds), Reading The L Word: Outing contemporary television (p. 81-98). New York, NY: I.B. Tauris.

Tsai, W. S. (2010) Assimilating the queers: Representations of lesbians, gay men, bisexual, and transgender people in mainstream advertising.

Ad Critique: Amazon Kindle

This Amazon Kindle commercial reinforces many homosexual stereotypes represented in modern media. The stereotypical gay male represented in many television commercials is white, wealthy, upper class, and style-conscious. Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai writes, “gayness in the marketing discourse often is defined by high-end tastes and conspicuous consumption” (Tsai, 6). In this ad, Amazon is using the gay male’s approval of their product to portray it as high-end and fashionable.

The advertisement is also extremely heteronormative. In the advertisement, the man on the beach is portrayed as the “woman” of the relationship and the man getting drinks is the “man.” The man on the beach is not necessarily more feminine, rather his position in the relationship is represented through his likeness to the woman on the beach. The concept that one man must be the “woman” of the relationship and the other the “man” is a heteronormative stereotype. This aspect of the commercial contributes to the development of heterosexual norms. In Heteronormativity and the L Word, Samuel A. Chambers writes that a norm “implicitly, and sometimes explicitly, demands, presumes, expects and calls for the normal” (Chambers, 84). In this case, heterosexual positions in a homosexual relationship are the norm that the advertisement is reinforcing.

Reading the L Word: Outing Contemporary Television. Kim Akass and Janet McCabe, eds. New York: I.B. Tauris, 2006: 81-98.

Wan-Hsiu Sunny Tsai. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.” Advertising & Society Review 11, no. 1 (2010) http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed July 31, 2012).

Ad Critique: I Take Off Most of my Clothes When I Eat Too

Carl’s Jr. is known for its risqué advertisements, featuring celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Kate Upton, and Jenny McCarthy (you’ll forget you’re eating a salad!) But the latest ad for the burger chain, featuring Miss Alabama Katherine Webb, has inspired a lot of questions as to whether Carl’s Jr. is actually selling burgers or simply advertising sex.

The advertisement is full of fragmentation: Miss Alabama is cut up into parts- legs, hands, breasts, and mouth. She is no longer a singular being, but rather a being only viewable because of specific parts she possesses. She has “turned herself into an object and most particularly an object of vision: a sight” (Berger 38).

She is no longer a model presenting a product, but has become the product herself- she is the real object of the viewer’s desire, not the hamburger. The advertisement is not for the Black Angus Steak and Bleu cheese, but the black leather and body parts of the woman. The presentation of the wet, clothes-less female body out does the juicy hamburger that she holds in her hands. The hamburger simply cannot compete with the sexuality that the woman exudes. She is more appealing to the viewer/customer (and if you have ever actually seen a Carl’s Jr. hamburger, you know they aren’t very appealing looking at all) and this works for the target audience, but is it really selling the food?

The ad would certainly make the male audience excited, but excited for the food… or sex?

Berger, John. “From Ways of Seeing.” Trans. Array The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.

Ad Critique: Sexism in Al Rifai Nut Advertisements


It’s almost mind-boggling how creative advertisers have become to enforce gender binaries and create sexist commercials in order to turn a quick profit. Al Rifai, a Lebanese nut company, managed to turn a poster for a seemingly innocuous food into yet another example of chauvinistic advertising. Who knew cashews and walnuts could be so offensive?

The advertisement consists of two pictures, one of a walnut and one of a cashew. The walnut picture bears the slogan “Because he’s got the brains,” while the cashew’s slogan reads, “Because she’s got the curves;” underneath these phrases are the words “Happy Valentine.”

According to Al Rifai, men are attractive because of their intelligence, while women are found valuable solely through their physical, not mental, attributes. This sexist message is particularly damaging because it reinforces the societal preoccupation with women’s physical appearance and conflates physical beauty with a woman’s worth. As Susan Bordo wrote in “Reading the Slender Body,” “women in our culture are more tyrannized by the contemporary slenderness ideal than men are, as they typically have been by beauty ideals in general.” Objectifying women by comparing them to cashews? That’s nuts.

Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight. “Reading the Slender Body.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. 185-212. Print.

Carbon Copy Cuties

Our media encourages women to believe their natural bodies are unattractive. To fix this, they must buy products to “improve” their appearances. Corporations want to milk the most money out of this vicious plot. Along with bombarding women with photoshopped, airbrushed, and otherwise unreal images of women, body parts are broken into separate problems, all with a product solution. Want perfect lips? Buy this lipstick!

L’oreal’s Colour Riche Privee Collection ad depicts a group of conventionally attractive women chatting and smiling blithely as they put on lipstick. The commerical implies that wearing L’oreal’s lipstick will make you beautiful, popular, happy, and distinctive. “It’s totally unique,” one woman claims, looking at the viewer. How will buying a mass-produced product make you unique? It’s especially jarring because the models are all so similar-looking, I had difficulty telling their faces apart, including the few that were not white. Placing so many “beautiful” models side by side just drives home how narrow our concept of beauty is.

It’s no surprise that being bombarded with these strict, false images of beauty harms women’s self esteems. “A woman was twice as likely to rate her attractiveness as low, between 1-3 (on a scale of 1 to 10), than a man was.” (Hesse-Biber 63) The plot was successful; now, women strive to become carbon copies.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery.” The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. 61-82. Print.

Ad Critique Post – DiGiorno Pizza Commercial

The DiGiorno commercial ties very well with the main ideas discussed in Beauvior’s text titled The Second Sex: Introduction and Lorber’s text titled The Social Construction of Gender. In this commercial both genders are stereotyped into traditional gender roles as the men are seen relaxing outside while viewing sports and the woman is seen heading into her home with two large grocery bags. The men decide to order a pizza – but the main male character decides to call his spouse instead to demand her to make him a pizza the way he likes it. She replies, “you know I hate when you do this” as if this is an everyday occurrence between the two of them. He then demands her to make the pizza quickly.  This commercial resembles how Beauvior discusses gender: “man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him” (Beauvior 33). Her existence is dependent on serving men instead of being independent to do the task she enjoys. Lober’s belief that gender “creates the social difference that define woman and man” because people “learn what is expected…thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order” (Lorber 115). This construction is seen as the woman is expected to make the pizza for the men as she always does. After making the pizza the woman retaliates by turning the sprinkler on the three men. The men have no reaction and continue to watch sports, as if they are oblivious to her existence. Their actions demonstrate that men are seen as the supreme and the woman is only significant in service to men. Therefore, the woman is only defined according to the men’s terms.

Judith Lorber, “The Social Construction of Gender”, 1990.

De Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.”, 2003.