Category Archives: Commercials

Random Musings on Ads and PR

Standard

So, there’s some television commercial for something – I can’t even tell you what it’s for – where a woman is sitting in a chair on a beach looking at a tablet while some guy – I suppose it’s her husband – is vacuuming the sand beach.    Then the scene flips to her sitting in the living room looking at her tablet with her husband vacuuming the floor.    Like I said, I don’t know what the commercial is for, but it has something to do with her envisioning her home being like a tropical paradise or something.

All I could think of was “I wonder if they made the guy vacuum because if they’d have a woman vacuum while a guy is sitting around they would hear about it from a bunch of women?”

This may sound silly, but I’m willing to bet that this was discussed.

My issue isn’t that a guy was vacuuming.   I’ve done it.   Most married men at some point do, whether it’s the way the jobs typically break out or not.   I don’t take offense to the implication.

My issue is that we’ve somehow made any reference to traditional roles verboten.   You see it on ad after ad.   If women are cleaning or cooking it’s only because the man is too stupid to do it.   But usually it’s either a role reversal or it’s shown as a cooperative effort.    It’s just annoying.    Again, it really has nothing to do with whether or not a man can clean or cook.   That’s not my point.   Few, if any men, actually care that they are being shown in what might be considered an emasculated fashion.   And even if we care, we’re too lazy to complain about it, and it’s likely that the product isn’t meant for the typical guy anyway.    But the reverse isn’t true.    Products peddled for men often still make fun of men, even as they are trying to sell the goods to them.

Women want equality, but I’m seriously trying to remember the last time a woman has been made to look like an idiot while the man is the reasonable one.    The closest thing I can think of is the State Farm Commercial where the guy’s talking to an insurance agent and the woman freaks out.     Rarified air there.

Isolated, none of these ads are a major deal or problematic.   But when there is no real balance there is an ever-pervasive drip, drip, drip in the messaging that does, I believe change peoples’ attitudes over time.

Where I work, there is a poster that promotes the following:   “Stand out and get noticed.”    They want us to complete a profile page so we don’t miss the opportunity to showcase experience, skills, etc.

The picture on the poster is a woman standing up at the end of a table, hands placed on the table on either side of her, while she is hovering over other people who are all fixated on her.    The first thing that strikes me about this picture is that I can’t recall a whole lot of meetings I’ve been in where the person leading the meeting strikes this sort of posture.    It’s a position of noticeable elevation above other meeting participants, and has certain connotations.    I am quite certain that this would be looked at unfavorably if a man struck this posture.   But the marketing people know that they will not get pushback if a strong woman is pictured, whereas a picture of a man in this position would be misogynistic.

The other thing noticeable about the picture if one pays attention is, like all other advertising and corporate publications, there is this constant game that we play where everyone needs to be represented.   We’re so freakin’ afraid of getting sued that we need to show the largest spread of people with the fewest number of people.    So, you have the old indian guy, a middle-aged black woman, a young Asian woman, a young Hispanic male, a young white male and a white woman.    But wait…   no blondes are represented!    Discrimination much?     It’s silly, really.   But if you look at any game box, advertisement, or corporate brochure on anything these are the things we focus on.    Heaven forbid we miss a demographic.

What I think is funny is that I live in rural Wisconsin.    And we actually do have some diversity on our company’s workforce (a guy from China, a guy with Korean descent, a couple African-Americans, a couple guys from India…).   But the non-white population in our workforce is probably 2-3% of the total.    But if you look at our company’s brochure when recruiting, you’d swear it’s the other way around.

None of this offends me.   I just think it’s stupid.

 

 

Advertisements

Responding to Actors Speaking Politics

Standard

 

This has nothing to do with Catholic anything.   I just thought this was not only hilarious, but pretty much says it all as far as my opinion on all those holier-than-thou entertainers who decide they need to help inform us unthinking underlings on politics.   Or, really, anything.

It’s worth the view, even if you’re not a Trump fan.   (Which, to be honest, I’m getting sick of people saying as an obligatory addendum to nearly everything.)

Why Am I Annoyed by Happy People on Commercials?

Standard

The little boy drops a bowl of cereal.   The bowl breaks and stuff is everywhere.   The boy cries.   The mom smiles and consoles him.  There is no anger or scolding.  There is only…  a Swiffer!   And joy abounds.

The man has heart pains.  But because of the magical pill he no longer has heart pains.  He now feels younger.   Now, all his time is spent laughing as he plays hide-and-seek or fishing with his grandchildren.

I hate these commercials.  But why do I hate them?   Do I not want people to love their kids and grand-kids?   Do I prefer that people lose their temper instead of being cool, steady, and joyful?

No, that’s not it.

The first reason i hate them is because I am not that perfect.   I’d have yelled at the kid and thrown him in the corner while grumbling about his clumsiness as I cleaned up his mess.    And when I retire, I look forward to spending time playing cards with my grandkids, but I’m probably not going to play hide and seek.   Too much work.   So, yes, I see my own imperfections in the perfect unreality of commercials.

The second reason I hate them is because I don’t believe they mirror most realities, and they’re trying to sell me something by lying to me about the fact that all my anger and imperfections can now magically be solved by this particular product.  That’s a lie.

But really, my dislike for all this goes much deeper.   I may be overthinking this, but I am utterly annoyed by the hypocrisy of our culture.   We sure love our kids in commercials.   They are our joy and our hope.   But in a society that has killed over 50 million kids in the womb and prevented however many other pregnancies because of the contraceptive mentality we have totally embraced, the idea that we really, really love our kids so much because they mean everything to us is simply a lie.  They don’t.

That may seem harsh, and I don’t mean it as a universal statement that applies to everyone.   But I do mean it as an overarching cultural statement.

Imagine the following sentiment from Mr. and Mrs. ABC:   “Oh, little Johnny and Jenna are just the joys of our lives.   We can’t imagine what life would be without them.   They are such blessings, and it’s so unreal watching them grow up!  The time flies by so quickly!”

“Oh, so are you planning on having any more children?”

“Good, God, no!   We can hardly handle the two we have!”

So… which is it?   The “money can’t put a price tag on the little darlings that bring the ultimate joy to our lives” parents, or the “I can’t handle this” parents.    Because saying you can’t handle something, to me, is not something you say about a blessing.    It’s something you say about a burden.

Now, don’t get me wrong.   I am not saying it isn’t normal to think that you can’t handle life at times, including the kids.   This is perfectly normal.   In fact, sometimes I think we need those times to allow us to refocus on God.   Because when we can’t handle something, we must humbly turn to God in our humanness and ask for help, and admit that we are not God, we are not in complete control, and we are imperfect.    The answers that God gives in these times may not be what we desire.   We get tested and refined and strengthened so that we can not only handle what we have, but a little bit more.    And to the extent we can’t, we need to lean on Him all the more.   This isn’t all about happy happy joy joy.

So, in our human ingenuity, we’ve turned to abortion and contraception as the answers to our burdens – children – all the while putting on a face of love and joy and happiness over the children we have, as long as we don’t have enough to disrupt our lifestyle.   And this somewhat peeves me.

But, I guess a commercial about a dad with 9 kids doling out a punishment while pulling out an old dishrag he found for a quarter at a garage sale probably wouldn’t inspire consumerism.   So, I’ll just have to live with the fact that people on commercials love their kids.   At least the ones they kept.