Archive for April, 2010

Advertisements: Raising The Bar For Women Today
April 28, 2010

The first ad that caught my eye when flipping through People magazine was an ad for Jovan “Satisfaction” fragrance for men and women. At first, I admired the beautiful photo that took up almost the entire page.

It depicted a beautiful blonde gazing into the eyes of a ruggedly handsome man with an unbuttoned shirt, while sitting in a field of wheat, with a lake and an old-fashioned bicycle placed perfectly in the background.

At first, it didn’t appear to be that different from other fragrance ads that I had seen. But then I noticed a ridiculous claim printed on the top left corner of the page. It said, “Improve your love life; 100% satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back!”

I had to read it a second time to process if this was for real. How can a fragrance improve anyone’s love life? The cologne that a guy wears or the perfume that I choose won’t make that much of a difference. It’s completely superficial.

Our culture is intently focused on love and sex. Every girl puts on a show, dressing up in her highest heels, glossing her lips and curling her hair, in an endless pursuit to find the man of her dreams.

But is he really even out there? And is it fair that we as women are expected to flaunt ourselves in an attempt to catch his attention? What I want to know is why we feel the need to conform to the social pressures concerning women and body image.

After taking a close look at that one ad, I kept an eye out for more of the perfume advertisements that I would usually overlook. A few pages later, I came across yet another photo taken in a field of wheat… Weird.

In the picture, a very thin, young girl was laying among the wheat that was flowing in the breeze. She was scantily clad in a white bikini, almost unnoticeable against her fair skin. She clutched an oversized bottle of Marc Jacobs “Daisy” perfume against her chest, a large white flower topping off the cap.

Although the ad was clever, I wondered why the girl had to be wearing so little clothing, and why she was so terribly thin. Just another unrealistic message to the women in society, I suppose. Being thin and half-naked has nothing to do with daisies, and certainly has nothing to do with smelling nice.

With a sigh, I continued flipping through the pages of People magazine. Within seconds,  I turned the page, only to see Halle Berry staring back at me. She wore a slinky purple dress with an orchid pinned on the side, hiking up the hem of the already short ensemble. Emerging soaking wet from the ocean, she could easily catch the attention of anyone passing by the Halle “Pure Orchid” advertisement.

The everyday woman is far too easily influenced by celebrities. Especially after constantly seeing these heavily air-brushed pictures, women’s standards for themselves are set higher. At the same time, men begin to expect even more, disappointed when the women of the real world don’t look like the models they see on paper.

The next fragrance advertisement that I stumbled upon was “Very Hollywood” by Michael Kors. It depicted a glamorous blonde striking a pose on the red carpet in a rhinestoned gown, with her attractive male escort by her side, the paparazzi all focused on her, and a diamond ring that seemed to weigh down her delicate finger.

Once again, another celebrity that sets everyone’s standards unrealistically high. Not to mention, they just had to put a who-knows-how-many-carats diamond ring on her finger as she stands next to her man, and we see the portrayal of a woman who is dependent on men.

As the magazine came to a close, I caught a glimpse of one last fragrance advertisement that just put the icing on the cake. It showed the close up of a girl, only from her lips to her chest, wearing nothing but a necklace and some dewy pink lip gloss. Her lips were seductively parted, ready to nibble on the red candy apple that she held in her perfectly manicured hand.

It portrayed innocence, youth, beauty, and most of all, sex. None of which has anything to do with perfume, and everything to do with influencing our society to pressure women into conforming to some idealistic mold.

Somehow, even though perfume has nothing to do with your body, age, social status or sexuality, advertisers take advantage of women today, manipulating them to buy into the cultural images that are too often portrayed in the media.

Despite the obvious manipulation, we keep on buying the magazines that are filled to the brim with these influential ads, continuing the ongoing pressures on women in our culture today.


Superbad: It’s More Than Just A Movie
April 28, 2010

Superbad. Practically every young person in America has seen it, but do we even realize what’s in the stuff that we’re watching?

Superbad is a humorous movie about three high school boys who try to buy enough alcohol to supply a house party and hopefully get laid, but problems arise, and we watch as they struggle to make it to the party in one piece.

Sure, it seems like this movie is pure entertainment. But the truth is, we take a lot more away from such movies than we are aware of.

As you walk out of the movie theater, you talk amongst your friends about the funniest part, an unexpected twist in the plot, or your favorite character. Afterwards, you know that the movie probably taught you some overall moral or lesson.

But underneath all of that, I’ll bet that you have never noticed that the movie is more than just a few hours of entertainment. It’s a cleverly planned advertising ploy as well.

To start, within the first minute of the movie, the main character pours himself a bowl of Cocoa Puffs cereal. Within the next few minutes, he enters a convenience store with his friend, and we see product labels emerging in every direction.

His friend buys a Red Bull energy drink, and they walk through aisles selling Doritos, Puffs tissues and Skittles. Each product, in the hand of an actor or just in the background, is a tiny advertisement.

These types of every day items, particularly snack foods, were chosen to appeal to the movie’s target audience, which is young people. They are the major consumers of snack products, so viewing them in movies can encourage them to continue buying them.

As the movie progressed, I noticed that several of the characters who played the part of bullies were wearing Puma and Nike brand t-shirts, portraying an athletic, tough-guy image for that brand.

From the start, I knew that there would be a lot of alcohol shown throughout the movie. But to my surprise, most of the bottles of alcohol didn’t have labels on them. Some, on the other hand, were fake brands, like “Goldslick,” which strongly resembled a bottle of Goldschlager. Or, they mentioned “Kyle’s Killer Lemonade,” instead of Mike’s Hard Lemonade.

The only visible label that was a legitimate brand was Old Milwaukee beer, which appeared several times throughout the movie.

I began to wonder, in a movie so focused on alcohol, why wasn’t I seeing more brands? In such a popular movie, why wouldn’t companies be fighting over the chance to have Superbad’s famous character McLovin drinking their beer?

It didn’t seem to make any sense, but then it hit me. Superbad is a movie about underage drinking. One kid bought the alcohol using a fake ID, and everyone at the high school party was clearly under 21 years of age.

It’s possible that alcohol companies didn’t want to advertise in a movie that encourages underage drinking, because that could give a company a bad image. They wouldn’t want to be known as the company that provides alcohol for underage kids.

So, rather than choosing real brands to advertise in the movie, producers made up their own fictitious beer brands to use instead.

It was definitely interesting to watch a movie like Superbad with the perspective of an advertiser in mind. I definitely think I’ll be keeping an eye out for all of those little advertising opportunities during the next movies that I watch.

Fame vs. Family
April 28, 2010

Imagine that you are on vacation with your family. Suddenly, during the time that you have set aside for privacy and relaxation, the paparazzi shows up without notice and snaps a few pictures of you and your family.

When you return home, you discover that those pictures have been published in the tabloids for the world to see.

Now, for the average person, that might actually be really exciting. But for a celebrity who is followed by the press on a daily basis, I would imagine that such an experience would be far from exciting. I think a better word to describe it would be infuriating.

The famous English actor Jude Law is a celebrity who recently suffered from the invasion of privacy that unwanted press can bring.

Jude Law sued the editors of the British magazine Hello! for publishing unauthorized pictures of his children this past January. The photos were taken while Law was on vacation in the Caribbean with his two sons and his daughter, as well as his ex-wife Sadie Frost and girlfriend Sienna Miller.

Law won the lawsuit for invasion of privacy in the beginning of April. The editors of Hello! magazine have agreed to cover Law’s legal costs, as well as paying Law $15,000 in damages. Hello! magazine agreed not to publish any photos of Jude Law’s family and children until they reach at least 18 years of age.

The magazine also will not publish pictures of Law or his family in places in which “he has a reasonable expectation of privacy,” for example when on a personal vacation or in the privacy of his own home.

However, they are still allowed to publish images of Law when taken at places such as the red carpet at a movie premiere, where celebrities should expect to be photographed and interviewed for publication purposes.

Law won the case because the photos were taken while he was on vacation, and should be able to obtain full privacy during that time. He did not give the press permission to take the pictures, let alone to publish them in one of Britain’s most popular celebrity magazines.

Not only did the magazine editors violate Law’s privacy, but also that of his children.

I fully support the court’s ruling. With the increasing ubiquity of the press, celebrities these days have little to no privacy, and they have work hard to obtain small amounts of uninterrupted private time for their personal affairs.

The media today is so pervasive in the lives of all people in many different ways, whether it means as a celebrity having your personal life exposed to the public, or as an average person having various extensions of the media surrounding you constantly in your everyday life.

Court cases such as this one, which highlight the invasive qualities of the press, will no doubt have an impact on the media industry. This proves the need for tighter restrictions on today’s press. The security of a celebrity’s personal privacy should take precedence over the pursuit for the next hot tabloid story.

Say “Cheese”
April 28, 2010

How would you feel if personal photos of you, taken by you, were sent out to cell phones and computers everywhere for the world to see?

Just a few months after suffering through the experience of being abused by her boyfriend Chris Brown, 21-year-old R&B singer Rihanna was brought back into the celebrity spotlight after alleged self-taken nude photos of her were leaked onto the internet.

This news story briefly describes the incident and raises some questions about the situation. Rhianna refused to speak about the incident, and the validity of the photos is being questioned. The photos in which she was seductively posed, yet still dressed, showed her face. The nude photos, on the other hand, did not actually show her face.

Despite the questionable legitimacy of the photos, the whole fiasco has certainly damaged her reputation. There is also question as to whether this whole incident was just a publicity stunt. If it was, then it only helped to draw in an overwhelming amount of negative publicity, tarnishing her image as a celebrity and as a role-model.

This scandalous story only strengthens the notion that we need to be wary of internet security, or lack thereof. Anything and everything can be spread around the internet like wildfire.

Also, since the photos were taken on a cell phone, the issue of “sexting” and the harm it can cause must be taking into consideration.

After all of the negative publicity Rihanna received, if it’s true that the pictures are of her, then it would be great if she could admit to the public that she took those photos. Through her both her widespread popularity as a musician and the attention she received from this scandal, she could easily use a public relations campaign to her advantage.

As a young celebrity, Rihanna is a role model with a predominantly young, female audience. While speaking out to young girls and re-building the respect of her fan base, Rihanna could clean up her image by creating an organization that supports the empowerment of women and acceptance of body image, focusing on resisting societal pressures.

Rihanna could explain the pressures involved in taking and sending the scandalous pictures, and could draw attention to the evolving issue of “sexting” among today’s generation.

As the youth of the millennial generation, we all know how many new problems are arising due to advancements in technology, and “sexting” is one of the most serious issues affecting young people today.

Many young girls are pressured, by peers or boyfriends, into sending out pictures of themselves using their cell phones. When put in the hands of the wrong person, those images can be spread around very easily, and the situation can get out of hand.

Rihanna can mend her image as a role model because she can relate to girls in that kind of situation. Her organization can provide guidance and support for those girls.

This public relations campaign has the potential to backfire, since the legitimacy of the photos is being questioned, causing people to speculate that it may have been a publicity stunt. If that is the case, then it would only further ruin her image, making her look like just another attention crazed celebrity.

Do we really need another Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan, using sex and scandal to draw attention to themselves instead of utilizing their talents?

Hopefully Rihanna can successfully turn this situation around, cleaning up her image and finding a way for her talents, rather than her body, to shine through.

Try Taking a Closer Look at Those Magazine Ads
April 13, 2010

At first, I assumed that Killing Us Softly 3 would be a bland documentary, informing us about trends in the media today that we are all already aware of. But a few minutes into the movie, I realized that it was a lot more interesting than that.

Not only was the narrator really funny, but she mentioned some very interesting points that opened my eyes to some concepts in advertising that I had never thought of before.

One statistic that really caught my attention was that the average person is exposed to over 3,000 ads everyday! The video explained that ads sell values, images and norms–not just products.

The concept that the media influences women to have body image issues and eating disorders has always been apparent. One idea that Killing Us Softly 3 brought to my attention was that the media only portrays models who are flawless and idealistic in comparison to the average woman.

Only 5% of women actually have figures like models, and the pictures printed in magazines are all airbrushed. It is almost physically impossible to force yourself to fit into the mold of a model. If we aim to look like the models in magazines, then failure is basically guaranteed.

It is also interesting to consider that men are effected by the portrayal of women in media as well. When women are depicted in ads as being so perfect and ideal, men have higher expectations for women in real life.

So, not only are women guaranteed failure if they aim to look like the models in ads, but they are also being shut down by men who have been conditioned to have unrealistically high expectations.

Another idea that interested me was that men and women are portrayed very differently in ads.

Men are always portrayed as powerful, being placed higher than women on the page of a magazine, and taking up more space in an image. Women are always lower down on the page, with a smaller figure representing that women are more passive than men. Women are portrayed as innocent and quiet, looking child-like and passively covering their mouths.

Even in ads with children, the boys are aggressive and active, while the girls are timid and obedient.

These are all things that I think we all subconsciously notice, but never really think about. Once these ideas were brought to my attention, everything seemed to be so obvious, and I wonder how I’ve never noticed before.

I guess that’s just how advertising works–messages are slipped right into an ad, and we as consumers soak it right up before we even know its there.