Posts tagged ‘advertising’

April 24, 2011

From “Sunset Boulevard” to Madison Avenue: You’ve come a long way, baby

How do you resurrect a decade long moribund singing and/or acting career?

You don’t.

You simply move on.

That business called show, has come a long way since the fictional Norma Desmond shuttered herself in a Sunset Boulevard mansion, with only a supremely faithful butler and a pet monkey to comfort the pain of the irrelevance imposed onto a once glorious star by the vagaries of the ever changing buying public.

Yes, much has changed in the 61 years since the release of the Billy Wilder classic film, starring Gloria Swanson as the mad woman and William Holden as her reluctant boy toy: Your star turn doesn’t have to end pathetically and tragically as Norma’s did when she looks into the camera and emotes “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.”

These days, you don’t have to cage yourself in on Sunset Boulevard if you’re willing to hawk yourself on Madison Avenue. No, your star turn can end pathetically, tragically–and here, is the kicker–and lucratively when you pack on the pounds and  look into the camera for your Jenny Craig commercial.

Or, in the case which fascinates me most at the moment, look into the camera for Gucci and Gillette–with your children in tow.

If you’re Jennifer Lopez, you move on by becoming a judge on American Idol and a brand ambassador, as it is now tres chic to call paid female celebrities whose career was headed into the “Sunset Boulevard” years but for the power of Madison Avenue.

This of course will bring a smile to the faces of those of you familiar with Alexis de Tocqueville’s masterwork Democracy In America.

The entirely democratic desire to go beyond your sphere often leads men in democracies to want to enhance a very coarse profession by a Greek or Latin name. The lower an occupation and the more removed from knowledge, the more pompous and erudite is the name. This is how our tightrope walkers have transformed themselves into acrobats and funambulists.

I don’t now about you, but I was completely taken aback by the  Gucci ad campaign featuring Jennifer Lopez and her children. Haven’t we, you might rightly ask, become culturally committed to condemning Kate plus 8 moms and Octomoms and Charlie Sheen babymoms for dragging their children into the limelight for a buck or two? Isn’t the argument–and hasn’t it been up till now–that what matters most is what’s best for the children?

Well, it turns out, Jennifer and the good folks at Gucci were one step ahead of us. Neither party was willing to leave the ads to speak for themselves as a purely commercial transaction between Ms. Lopez and the launch of the Gucci children’s collection. No, that would have been a bit crass. What made it a bit less crass, classy almost, was the declaration by both parties that the  partnership was– get this– an act of resounding charity.

In order to make the ads go down smoothly, Gucci loudly agreed to make charitable donations to UNICEF and to the Maribel Foundation, which was founded by  Ms. Lopez and her sister. Watch the video here from the Gucci website promoting the acts of charity, if you want to see how even more  surreal and twisted the fashion industry can be than the drunken ravings of John Galliano.

You gotta love the current celebrity fascination with drafting African children into their money laundering schemes. Could it be that they  think Africans are so dumb that they won’t notice they’re mere pawns in  s(l)ick  self serving marketing campaigns that appeal to liberal white guilt?

Just asking because the same clebs, Oprah chief among them, find it much easier to justify vanity projects in Africa than  real hard work on the 3rd world conditions here in the US, including prison reform for black men who somehow get life imprisonment for minor drug dealings when the overwhelming drug consumer is affluent and white. The criminal justice system since the Reagan administration is the  Holocaust of the black community but apparently among  fashionable people of any color, that’s an unfashionable truth. African babies can at least be shopped for as if they were Ralph Lauren paint shades. And what’s more fun than duty free shopping?

And just when I though I had been a good boy by biting  my tongue on the whole matter since October, yesterday out comes Ms. Lopez’s new “Mr. DeMille moment” for Gillette.

You should be particularly struck here by the only rationalization that could trump charity: religion.

“With Venus, Reveal the goddess in you!” may actually be rather pagan religiosity, but religiosity nonetheless. And who could argue with you about using your children to resurrect  your career when you invoke religion just around Easter?

See how all of this works? And you thought the scene in Sunset Boulevard where Norma Desmond stages an elaborate funeral for the monkey was the height of absurdity.

You were wrong. The height of absurdity is Jennifer Lopez pitching you a drugstore product that intimates that you too can have her legs, her beauty, her sexiness, her commercial appeal (not to mention her trainer, her makeup artist, hairdresser, stylist, nanny, etc) all while you truck your kids from ballet to soccer in your minivan after work, wearing Lulu Lemon ( on a good day) and thinking how the hell to convince your kids you are more than a personal assistant, let alone a goddess.

Now that’s some monkey on your back, isn’t it?

Tom Kolovos is the Editor In Chief of aControlledSubstance.

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April 17, 2011

Ashleigh McIvor and the 2012 Acura Commercial

“It works with people. It works with cars. Aggression in its most elegant form.”

This is a brilliant post-feminist car commercial. When did you ever think you would see that?

You’ve seen plenty of commercials implicating  women’s sexual desire with  a man’s desire to “drive.” You’ve seen all the models at car shows used as bright shiny objects to bring the boys “into the showroom.”  You’ve even seen the grounbreaking ads with Martina Navratilova and Subaru.

What you probably haven’t seen is a car ad pitched to men that shows a good deal of respect for women. Especially one that acknowledges that aggression and femininity are not mutually exclusive; that  power and beauty–and the desire for them- is as unproblematically inherent to women as it is to men.

I call it a post feminist commercial because a purely feminist commercial would  feature Ashleigh McIvor , the member of the Canadian national ski cross team and  the first gold medal winner of women’s ski cross at the 2010 Winter Olympics, solely on the slopes, equating her aggression with her style of skiing and not her style in an evening gown. That said–and given the times we live in where world class male athletes like David Beckham and Rafael Nadal unproblematically trade on their sexuality and good looks for Emporio Armani, for instance— this is still a very smart and thoughtful ad.

March 4, 2011

Ancient Family (or My Big Fat Greek Yiayia)

If you are Greek and claim that these Kraft  commercials for Athenos humus–which are pure genius–are offensive, then you are crazier than your yiayia.

My dears, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” was not a comedy. It was a documentary.

Let’s just say that “Modern Family” isn’t exactly hip among the hip replacement crowd  in the Greek/Greek American community.

Not only did my paternal grandmother in Greece behave exactly this way but there are many, many Greek grandmothers in this country right now who behave even worse.

Just ask their children. Go ahead. ASK US!



February 25, 2011

What’s love got to do with it? Swiffer treats women like dirt.

Is it just me or are these the most sexist commercials on television?

I don’t think you need a graduate degree in semiotics to figure out what assumptions are being made about the relationship between single women and the the state of being single itself .

February 21, 2011

Game, Set and Match: Rafa Nadal for Emporio Armani

March 28, 2010

Cialis in Wonderland

I had plenty of time to contemplate the change because the doctor was running an hour behind schedule.

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the  walls of the waiting room were no longer painted an antisceptic grey. They were now a calming warm sandy neutral.

It may be the case that it  seemed like an aesthetic improvement to my eye, simply because  I was there out of concern for my blood pressure, about which, to jump ahead, I had good reason to be concerned.

The walls of the examination room into which the nurse escorted me were also newly painted.  Oh, and look, the wallpaper border, finally, had been  mercifully removed. The changes were calming and welcome, no doubt about it. I was feeling a wee bit better already, despite the wait.

That feeling didn’t last long.

After the nurse made some small talk, took my vitals and left me to wait some more, it was hard not to miss the other change in my doctor’s office since my long overdue visit. The paper that covers the examination table was now covered with the Cialis logo.

“Cialis,” yes, the magic little orange pill that, as the extensive pamphlet on the desk next to the chair in which I was sitting put it, “is indicated for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.”

One pill, “36 hour Cialis is the only ED tablet that’s clinically proven to both work fast, in as little as 30 minutes for some men, and work up to 36 hours.”

The other pill, “Cialis for daily use is clinically, proven low-dose tablet for ED you take every day so you can be ready anytime the moment is right.”

No pressure, guy trapped in examining room alone with reading material. And try not to think of your high blood pressure which, you soon will be told,  is most likely caused by your stressful family life– which in turn might leave little time or desire to “anticipate sexual activity.”

I’m almost sure there was no music being piped overhead but I’m quite sure I had   the urge to sing along with ” target=”_self”>Toby Keith:
I ain’t as good as I once was
I got a few years on me now
But there was a time, back in my prime
When I could really lay it down
And if you need some love tonight
Then I might have just enough
I ain’t as good as I once was
But I’m as good once as I ever was

My doctor’s office, I thought, would be a reasonable place to expect that nothing, let alone my masculinity, would be marketed to me. But there it was staring me in the face: Madison Avenue and Wall Street  pre-emptively looking out for the little big man’s exile on Main Street.

I certainly didn’t need a visit to the doctor’s office to be reminded that advertisers,  have uncovered the sudden dereliction of  American masculinity and have quite benevolently made it their mission to help restore it.

It’s their gift–with purchase, of course–to me and to men anywhere near a television, computer or magazine.

Apparently, the ladies think I  stink at being a man. “Smell like a man, man,” warns Old Spice. “Anything is possible when your man smells like a man and not like a lady.”

Old Spice advertisement
– Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

And I don’t even know what it takes to be  a man, anyway. “Wash like a man, feel like man,” promises Gillette with it’s “Odor Shield” shower gel.

I don’t dress like one. “Wear the pants,” insists Dockers.

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I kowtow for money and romance. I don’t stand up for myself. No matter, though. I am what I drive. Dodge Charger is “Man’s last stand.”

And if all else fails, Calvin Klein X underwear assures me I can prove to you that I’m a man. Wanna see?

Mark your spot and  dummy up.

“Smart may have the brains, but stupid has the balls. Be stupid,” advises the current Diesel campaign ad.

Who knew I was too smart for my own good? That’s probably why my blood pressure is high.

This downward economy  has disproportionately affected male workers. We now have  an educational system where girls  get the best grades and most of the college degrees. And we live in a culture where it’s not unusual that dad may likely stay home with the kids while mom is the primary breadwinner.

Madison Avenue is betting that my masculinity is vulnerably bluefaced and fair game for the bottom line. “I see you,” it tells me not so naively.  Hop aboard  sexism and homophobia. This is a whole new world.

Which brings me back to Cialis and to the pamphlet which, as you might imagine, now has me by the balls.

“In the rare event of an erection lasting more than 4 hours, seek immediate medical attention to avoid long-term injury.” Well, I probably wont be able to afford to see the doctor again, what with all the new purchases I have to make to be a real man.

I’ll just think of Liz Cheney. That should take care of the problem immediately.

“The most common side effects with Cialis were headaches and upset stomach.” Good to know that.  Suppose I ignored the warning  to “not drink alcohol in excess” and suddenly found myself on top of Glenn Beck.

Good to know that the cause of head spinning nausea might not be entirely his fault.