The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Posts Tagged ‘advertising’

Toyota Prado Campaign Doesn’t Want No Poofs Or Women ‘Round Here

Posted by Clem Bastow on September 27, 2009

Back in gender studies class at uni, momentum was regularly stopped while our lecturer explained to whinging sportoes that the patriarchy was bad for men, too – and the new Toyota Prado campaign has had me thinking precisely that for the past week. Here’s the ad, if you’ve not yet seen it:

The ‘net has been abuzz about how hilarious it is, particularly as a skewering of the myriad ‘phobias exhibited by Border Security-type television shows (xenophobia springs to mind), but that’s where it falls down for me, and all because of one of my least favourite phobias of all.

It is “funny”, much like the Snickers/Mr T ads and moments of the new VB campaign. But here’s the problem I have with it: campaigns like these (and, for a real flashback, the old Collingwood “What’s that in your locker, you big girl?” Sunsilk ad), play into your average “Aussie” person’s latent (or in many cases, not so latent) homophobia.

All that’s missing is for one of the tough boder patrol team members to use the phrase “a bit of a poofter”.

That might seem like a stretch, but it isn’t when you examine the campaign’s examples of apparent “soft” manhood (i.e. “men’s cosmetics”, “manscaping”). Much like the phrase “real women” makes my blood boil, so does implied ideals of “real manhood”, which, let’s face it – despite the presence of a few women in the ad, both on the Patrol and behind the wheel – is essentially at the core of the Prado campaign: people who drive “soft-roaders” are either not real men (in other words, potential gay men), or women (who are most certainly not real men).

We’ll keep laughing at this sort of humour in advertising because in our post-internet-slang (“Taste the future in your mouth”, “The drinking beer”, etc) and satire-drenched world, it will be shrugged off as “irony”. But isn’t it time we examined the deeper implications of such depictions of manhood, real or unreal?

Methinks it’s time for Joe Jackson’s sage meditation on gender roles to climb back up the classic hits charts for a much needed repeat airing:


Posted in Film & Television, Media Watch, Relationships, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , , , , | 17 Comments »

Your inner sexpot consumer

Posted by Nic Heath on June 24, 2009


american apparel

The image accompanying The Age article

A couple of Sundays ago The Age website featured “Cheeky ad campaign or sexploitation?” – an article about “a popular clothes retailer using highly sexualised images of young women – many of them company staff ” in its advertising.


There are tons of photos of women in provocative poses on the Models page of the American Apparel site. I’m not arguing for the complete removal of sexual provocation from advertising images – sex has a place in the public arena – however some of the photos have no discernible relevance to American Apparel products. In this slideshow, for instance, Hannah Lee is pictured topless, with no American Apparel clothing in frame. Sunday’s Age article describes Hannah as ‘very young’ and the pictures ‘all provocative poses and barely covered breasts.’

The DIY aesthetic of many of the photos – taken in front of door frames, on couches, but mostly on white-sheeted beds – gives the viewer a sense of the voyeur. The many pictures of Natasha look like they were taken by a lover. Sophia, on all fours, arches her back and cocks her hips. Veronica, looking over her shoulder towards the camera, juts out her buttocks. Many of the other photos stick with this soft-porn script.

It is not hard to work out why businesses such as American Apparel opt for overtly sexual images to advertise their product. As Daily Finance points out, this strategy has been very effective for Calvin Klein in the past. “Every year or so, Calvin Klein manufactures a fresh “controversy” with a button-pressing, taste-defying ad campaign calculated to generate stories on the evening news without quite crossing the line into outright indecency of the sort that would provoke the authorities.”

I followed the Daily Finance article to this early incarnation of teenage sexual innuendo as a marketing strategy, when Brooke Shields reminds us nothing comes between her and her Calvin Kleins.

Do these images constitute the “caricatures of female hotness” identified by Ariel Levy? Last year the Herald Sun reported that many women “felt the way they were portrayed in advertising and marketing harmed their ability to be taken seriously in the workplace.” Citing the results of a survey conducted by Splash Consulting Group, the article said “most of the 500 women surveyed said they would go out of their way to boycott a product or service if they were offended by an advertisement for it.”

While the sexualisation of women in advertising uses women as commodities, as Monica Dux and Zora Simic point out in The Great Feminist Denial, young women ‘make ideal consumers’. Will women use their buying power to render obsolete exploitative advertising?

Posted in Media Watch, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Gigabytes for Girls

Posted by Cate on May 14, 2009


With yet another example of ridiculous gender stereotyping, technology retailers Dell have released a new Website Della, with editorial and products supposedly targeted at women. I don’t know I just like my technology to work when I want it to, not to be some kind of social accessory.

Some of the highlights:

There’s a big plug for the Mini plug notebook  with lots of gendered descriptions for women who like to hang out with their friends

  • Enjoy a resized keyboard for a convenient fit – even in your bag

Um, since when is my bag meant to be small because I’m female?

  • Check the weather, movie times or restaurant directions wherever you go
  • God forbid we might want to use our internet access tocheck the news or stock market or work emails like the other gender. Shall we check out horoscopes too?

    Are you imagining the restraint the copywriters would have to use to ensure the absent of exclaimation marks? But rest assured, you can get more excited, the mini notebooks come in lots of different colours to ‘match your outfit”.

    The”Tech” section specifically targeted at women offers nothing more than  matching a mini notebook to your lifestyle.

    There’s  a “Featured Artist”, fashion expert Robin Moreno with a video on “How to score at Vintage Stores”.  

    The Giving section is possibly the most patronising of all. It’s news to me that computer recycling (green wash anyone?) is somehow a women’s job. And when will the time come that big business decides to offer dosh to charities besides breast cancer fundraisers?

    Excuse me whilst I go powder my nose.

    Author’s edit: I just finished writing this post and saw a news item about Net Registry and their use of Benny Hill style ‘naughty nurses’ at the CeBIt Australia  trade show  to promote their products. But, don’t worry, it’s really ok, the company assures us that the stunt was just a bit of fun and was directed by “women and a gay guy”.

    Posted in Business, Tech & Net | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

    Women Are Always To Blame

    Posted by caitlinate on November 23, 2008

    I’m pretty tired right now so this may not be the best written post ever. But! We’ll try anyway!

    The government has a new anti binge drinking campaign out – aimed at the 15 – 25 age demographic. The Age refers to the campaign as ‘graphic’ and had an article about it in the Saturday paper which can be found online here. The link also has the actual advertisements embedded in the article.

    The campaign theme is “don’t turn a night out into a nightmare” and is based on showing ‘regrettable’ behaviour you might get up to whilst binge drinking. The intent, it seems, is to embarrass teenagers into not binge drinking!

    Nonetheless, the campaign in itself is probably necessary and I haven’t reflected enough on the overall idea to either criticise or praise it at length. Overall. One element though does make me really, really, really angry.

    One of the ’embarrassing’ things one might get up to when drunk is “be filmed having drunken sex”. Says The Age:

    One advertisement depicts a teenage girl getting drunk at a house party and eventually having sex on the lawn while being filmed by laughing party-goers. It finishes with a reminder that one in two teenagers will do something they regret while drunk.

    Sorry, what?

    Creative directors found that girls were more susceptible to a message that social embarrassment could be caused by regretted sex acts than any health risks caused by alcohol.

    This [section of the] underage drinking ad is meant to be from the perspective of the female. You see a hand with a cup of – presumably alcohol – repeatedly raising to the camera, a male enters frame and speaks to the camera/girl and then finally we see the girls feet on the ground and her underwear being removed, with the male standing above her unzipping his pants. This is followed by the text ‘one in two Australians aged 15-17 who get drunk will do something they regret’.

    This is so wrong in so many ways.

    Not only does it imply that only the girl will regret it or get herself into that ‘kind of situation’ it also says that she is responsible for what happens to her when she is intoxicated. No questions about consent (particularly when in the ad the guy seems to be more sober than her, though the fact apparently only girls can have this happen to them is also problematic). No public campaign about how having sex with someone who is so drunk they can’t make rational decisions is, oh, rape. No condemning of the people standing at the sidelines and laughing and taking pictures rather than helping. Just condemnation heaped on the girl for drinking so much she got herself into that situation in the first place! Once again! Women to blame for their own rape!


    Posted in Media Watch, sexual assault, violence against women, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , | 19 Comments »

    Sarah Haskins: Everybody Poops. Except For Women.

    Posted by Clem Bastow on October 10, 2008

    Hey, guess what? Sarah Haskins still rules!

    For some reason I can’t get this video to stop auto-playing (good work on your Firefox 3 compatibility, VodPod/WordPress), so hop over the jump for Target: Women‘s latest, Number Twos…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blog Watch, Media Watch, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

    Does This Ad Make You Feel Protected Against Potential Motorcycling Accidents?

    Posted by Clem Bastow on October 8, 2008

    Walking through Melbourne’s CBD the other day I snapped this phonebooth ad.

    Draggin Jeans are a motorcycle fashion company whose signature item is Kevlar-lined jeans (i.e. to provide added protection in the event of a bike spill).

    I’ve seen their ads on TV – loud, low-rent and featuring ridiculous moto stunts, and mostly full of blokes – many times, particularly during motorsports coverage, which is why I found this ad somewhat out of character (for the brand; not, sadly, for the motorsport community at large).

    If you can’t read it, it says: “Protect your assets. Wear Draggin Jeans.

    Geddit? “Assets”! Good one!

    Really, Draggin – any women who are likely to buy your products are not going to be swayed by this; if anything, I’d think they’d be turned off. As for the blokes, well, the company has sold plenty of jeans and jackets based solely on their existing advertising (as mentioned before, featuring little more than – ahem – cunning stunts on motorcycles) and reputation for providing road safety in a reasonably fashionable format. Was this really necessary?

    Posted in Fashion, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

    State of the Female Blogosphere

    Posted by Mel Campbell on October 1, 2008

    Blogging poobah Technorati has just released its State of the Blogosphere 2008 report, a kind of online State of the Nation that reveals the ways blogging is being used, the shifting formats and technological changes (particularly the rise of blog advertising and the blurring of blogs and so-called “mainstream media”), and who is blogging these days.

    This year, for the first time, Technorati got bloggers to fill out a survey (previous States of the Blogosphere were based on the stats Technorati collected itself). The survey was in English, and 72% of respondents stated their blog was also in that language. 48% of blogger respondents were based in North America, 27% in Europe, 13% in Asia, 7% in South America, 3% in Australia, and less than 1% in Africa. 66% of bloggers worldwide were still male, and here’s a further snapshot of bloggers by gender:

    We all know those dumb stereotypes of women blogging about kids, crafts and cats (ie, the “home blogger”) while men tackle hard-hitting politics, business or geek topics (ie, the “work blogger”). Of course that’s crap – think of Perez Hilton making a killing from the traditional “women’s territory” of celebrity gossip, or Wonkette being a key voice in American politics and policy. And of course, I Can Has Cheezburger ‘ought’ to be a “women’s blog”, but has a vast audience among both genders.

    Still, Technorati found what they call “expected truths”. Women were more likely than men to maintain personal blogs than professional or corporate ones (83% compared to 76% of men). Women favoured personal musings (66% vs 47% of men) and family updates (36% vs 16% of men), and their blog style was more likely to be conversational (75% vs 59% of men). Women also stated that they blogged to keep friends and family updated (45% vs 25% of men) and to interact with like-minded people (69% vs 58% of men).

    But it’s the financials that gave Technorati pause – and should probably give women bloggers pause too. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Blog Watch | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

    Sexing The Vote, Hollywood Style

    Posted by Lee on September 13, 2008

    I wonder if the conversation at the campaign office for Declare Yourself (an American nonpartisan nonprofit campaign to encourage young voters to register) went anything like this:

    Campaign Guy 1:  “Hmmm, we better think of something really good if we want to get the young vote this election, man.”

    Campaign Guy 2: “Free badges?”

    CG 1: “Dude!  It’s not 1952.  No ‘I like Ike’ flower badges.  We need something modern, edgy.”

    CG 2: “What about celebrity endorsements?”

    CG 1: “Yes! Now you’re talking”

    CG 2: “But who should we get?”

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Celebrity, Media Watch, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

    Why Do Brides Wear White? So They Match The Kitchen Appliances!

    Posted by Clem Bastow on September 12, 2008

    Traditionally, the title of this post has always been (to me) little more than the gag on an awesomely awful stubby-holder I picked up in South Australia many moons ago – but today, it’s the advertising ethos of Australian mega retailer Harvey Norman!

    To wit, the “Harvey Norman Promotion” on Pages 54 – 57 of today’s Who Weekly; here’s a sample:

    The intro says, “Did somebody say presents? Harvey Norman has Australia’s largest biggest range of whitegoods and appliances, so you can be on the road to domestic bliss in no time.”

    So, just tallying up what’s wrong with this feature:

    1. The idea of a “white wedding” in the first place
    2. The idea of a wedding being an excuse to grab as many expensive gifts as possible
    3. The notion that women who marry are simply heading down the road to being good housewives (i.e. “domestic bliss”)
    4. The notion that whitegoods and appliances are solely a woman’s domain
    5. The positioning of the “bride” as little more than another “whitegood”

    Have I missed anything?

    Posted in Media Watch, Sex And Love, Watching The Ad Breaks | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

    I Am Not An Animal!

    Posted by Mel Campbell on August 18, 2008

    Sorry to channel The Elephant Man there, but John Merrick’s infamous cry was the first thing I thought when encountering Wrangler’s new “We Are Animals” ad campaign.

    These disturbing images, seemingly evoking discarded dead bodies, were created by French ad agency FFL Paris. Clearly their brief was to move the Wrangler brand away from folksy cowboy imagery and into the edgy territory already occupied by Diesel. It’s very tempting to join in justifiable criticisms that these ads are aestheticising violence against women: to decry the “deeply screwed up culture” behind the imagery and ask angrily if murder is the new black.

    But as Trendhunter notes, the TV commercial puts the confronting print ads a little more in context. The models in the ad are meant to look like wild animals caught on film, and the jeans are meant to be their skins or pelts. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Fashion, Media Watch | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »