Monday, December 16, 2013

Truth in Advertising

Have you seen the new Special K campaign that encourages us to put an end to Fat Talk? 

So inspirational, right?  Except that the video tells us that fat talk is a barrier to managing our weight, rather than a barrier to being happy or being alive. . .  And this is the same Special K that asked us "What will you gain when you lose?", that promised us we could drop a jean size in two weeks, and that introduced us to weightless Melissa. Remember her?

Pantene is responsible for a simultaneous viral campaign that encourages us to buck the women-as-bossy or-bitchy stereotype and lean in just like Sheryl.  

But is Pantene really after our best interests?  In a Time article, research psychologist Peggy Drexler asks: "After all, is there anything more sexist than the notion that professional women need a hair care brand—or anyone, really—to help them learn to 'be strong and shine'?" Keep in mind, this is the same Pantene of the 1980's "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful" campaign.  Remember her?

Unilever's Dove "Real Beauty" campaign was perhaps the first to market with the purpose of body positivity. But in these ads, which aimed to cast "flawless" women, we saw gradations of thin, curvy physiques with spotless skin and beautiful hair. This is the same Unilever that owns Slim Fast.

These companies don't really care if you love your body or achieve your personal or career goals. If so, they would have built themselves around this philosophy from the start. They want you to buy their products. Consultants have advised them that the route to enviable sales now lies in promoting self-empowerment.  So they are.  But body love and personal growth are independent of cereal, body wash, and shampoo selection, and these campaigns are hypocritical at worst, see through at best. Don't believe the hype.

1 comment:

Tiffany Gholar said...

Great post! I feel like the word "empowerment" kind of loses its power when used by corporations & marketing people. The only people they're empowering are their shareholders.