It’s not often I talk about my job, or other interests, on this blog. But recently, I’ve been compelled to share something, and I thought there was no better place to do it. My job, work, interests and passions usually overlap somewhere along the way – I don’t know many people who consider what they do for a living also a hobby – but I’m one of them.
Part of my job involves advertising, marketing, promotion and communications, but as a person, I’m also fascinated by advertising, marketing, promotion and communications. So naturally, when I spot an excellent advert (or equally an atrocious advert), I sit up, pay attention and then share it with someone because I need to talk about it. This week, I saw what I consider to be one of the worst branding efforts I’ve seen for a long time, and it wasn’t because of poor quality camera skills, or a bad script.
I’ll set the scene – I’m about to sit down and eat dinner, when an advert comes on TV with Sir Trevor McDonald. For anyone who isn’t aware of Sir Trev, he’s a famous UK journalist and news reader, who also makes excellent documentaries from time-to-time. He exudes confidence, intelligence and integrity. I’m a big Sir Trev fan, and I usually love his documentaries. Among other things, the advert shows violent scenes – government brutality, children in war zones, bombs exploding. I’m expecting a new documentary recounting Sir Trev’s life and career. I’m excited for this programme. The advert ends, and instead of a date and time to watch the show, I’m presented with a promotion for an eye test from Vision Express, a UK-based optician. I’m baffled. Which Marketer in their right mind thinks this is how to advertise eye tests?! And I’m shocked, disappointed in Sir Trev for agreeing to use that kind of imagery to promote a commercial product. I’m so angered, I complain to Vision Express and ASA (Advertising Standards Authority). I’ve never complained to ASA before, sure I’ve thought some ads were silly, or a little risqué, but I’ve never felt the strong desire to actually complain. Until now.
On the other hand, there are times when I see an advert and think, “Yes! So. Much. Yes!”, because it has so brilliantly tapped into an emotion (John Lewis, every. single. Christmas) that it makes you want to pay attention, makes you want to share the ad and tell others all about it, makes you want to watch it multiple times on YouTube… yes, I am that sad. This week was the week of bad ads, but it was also the week of great ads. Cue Gillette.
I’ve just recently read and reviewed Slammed by Colleen Hoover, which is apt because both the novel and this advert feature spoken word (or slammed) poetry.
They told you, you could be anything.
A beautiful astronaut.
A soccer-playing ballerina. A superstar.
Then said, here’s what you really are.
With a label to size you up and box you in, if you let it.
Step outside that box, and forget it.
When someone labels you “this” or “that”,
use your “and” to take a stand.
With your legs, and your voice, and your head, and your heart.
If someone says, “you’re smart”, say, “yes, and…”
If someone says, “you’re pretty”, say, “yes, and…”
Help them understand.
You are polished nails and a polished mind.
Raw and refined.
Shy and bold. Not just what you’re told.
You are warmth and wisdom
and grace and guts.
No “ifs” or “buts”
Now, I’ve seen some arguments that attack this advert for being “anti-feminist”, because while it’s empowering women, and telling them they can be anything, and promoting the fact that you don’t have to fall into the stereotypical categories of, “smart but unattractive”, or “beautiful but dumb”, it’s also promoting a business in the beauty industry, which in itself makes a fortune from women’s’ insecurities and self-doubt, and apparently it’s also indirectly telling women to shave their legs while filling them full of positive thoughts.
To those people: I strongly disagree.
Beauty businesses have, and will continue to, struggle to lose the negative image they’ve gained over the last 10 or so years. They will be criticised while trying to promote body positive messages to women and young girls, but the important bit is? Lots of them are trying. Dove’s “Real Women” campaign (Dove’s Evolution video is also excellent), Gillette’s #useyourand campaign, and others like them, are doing good things! I don’t remember part of the feminist manifesto being, “you’re never allowed to remove your body hair again”, do you?
What do you think of Vision Express’ advert? Or have you seen any other great and empowering campaigns like Gillette? And would you rather I just stick to books on this blog and leave opinion pieces out of it?? 😀 Get chatting with me in the comments!
The vision ad is just ridiculous! Why would they think that was a good idea?!?! Wow.
But the Gillette ad – that is fantastic. Very powerful. That’s definitely marking done right.
I love getting to know you beyond just books and reading! Keep doing posts like these. xx
So glad others agree with me, because for a while I thought it was just me! I love that Gillette ad, and the ones done by Dove, very powerful – those kind of ads inspire and make me want to get up and do something worthwhile.
Thanks 😀 I know this one was very loosely book/word related, but sometimes I feel like writing/talking about things that are more “lifestyle” type posts, and I debate writing them up. I might dip my toe in the personal waters more often! R x
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I am “meh” on both of those adverts, but then, i’m “meh” on all advertising and promotion and the idea of convincing people to part with money for things they don’t need.
The vision express advert was bad, but i’ve seen much, much worse (mostl car adverts, they always leave me with a “wtf? What were they trying to do there?” feeling. And lynx, don’t even get me started on lynx!). I can see what they were doing with the vision/seeing thing, and i could see how much money Trev must be getting from it.
The venus advert i’m conflicted about. I can see both sides of the feminism argument, but ultimately, that ad is still saying, “You can be anything you want AND shave your legs.” There were so many shots focusing on clean-shaven legs–are they really fooling anyone? They’re suggesting you can be anything… if you have shaved legs. And, i don’t hate them for it–they sell razors, they’re not exactly going to promote not shaving, are they? I just think beauty products (and any advertising, generally–tampons/pads is another that springs to mind) is not the market for empowering women, because it will always come with the proviso of, “if you use this product.”
Also, regarding the feminism manifesto and body hair:
But again, a company trying to sell razors will never want to get that across.
Lol – the Lynx ads are a law on to themselves sometimes. I could see the connection they were trying to make, but it was tenuous, and could have been done much more effectively without the use of the violent imagery I think.
Do you see the “if you use this product” element? I tend to not associate it with the advert, even though it’s intrinsically there, because there is a positive message coming across too, and I tend to focus on that. I don’t use Dove products, because essentially as a consumer I have a choice in what I want to buy/use, but I very much appreciate their Love Your Body campaign using “real” women as their models. It feels like a positive step in beauty industry advertising. R x
[…] A Girl Called Fearless. Discussion-wise, I asked if you ever get overwhelmed by it all, and wrote So. Much. Yes, which one kind reader described as being about women, feminism and books. I know in last […]
[…] So. Much. Yes! […]
Oh. My. Goodness. I swear I just teared up at a razor commercial. That was one of the best commercials I’ve ever seen. I want to show it to my daughter (who won’t even realize that it’s for a razor at this point, since she’s only 11) and then save it forever and show it to her like every year for the rest of her life. What a great message! (And I’m with you – I’m actually fine with a beauty company using a positive message to sell their product. I don’t see the horror in wanting to look pretty sometimes and using a positive message to sell that idea is fine with me.)
Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction
I’m SO glad I wasn’t the only one!! Lol Also, if you liked this one, check out – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN7lt0CYwHg and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs and this one https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhB3l1gCz2E I love them all, and this BIG change we’re seeing in the corporate and advertising industry. It’s about time, and it’s empowering. Yes, these brands are trying to sell something ultimately. But, they’re going to go about doing that anyway. It’s great that they’re putting their influence and power behind these causes, changing mindsets and subconscious. Now all we need is these YouTube campaigns to be broadcast on regular TV!! R x
[…] Rachel at Confessions of a Book Geek talks about advertising and links a really amazing slam poetry style advertisement that I loved. She calls the post SO. MUCH. YES! […]