Monday, February 20, 2012

The power of an ad

Over the summer, I was reading a couple of the various ‘light-fluff’ magazines that exist today. This ad appeared in both of them.  It caught my attention.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

I am one of the Class of ’93.

Can you see what it says?  “Get ready, because revenge is a smoothie best served cold.” Which makes no sense until you read the fine print – this is an ad for weight loss.   The smoothies are a meal replacement.

It sent shivers down my spine.

Not, because it is my 20-year school reunion next year – no, I am quite fine about that.   I am possibly even looking forward to it.

No, it's because of all the messages it sends:
  • you can only be happy if you are thin
  • if you were ‘not thin’ at school, you can get revenge now by turning up slim to the reunion
  • presumably if you weren’t slim at school, people were mean and therefore you will need to get revenge
  • the only thing people will be interested in at the reunion you is how you look
  • what really astonished me, is how far ahead their advertisers are thinking. I'm not likely to actually be at my 20-year reunion until the end of next year. So almost 2 years out they are starting to plant in your mind – time to lose weight, time to shape up, you want to look good for that reunion, that one night will be the mark of your success.
I bet if you spoke to the people who designed this ad, they would say they were trying to empower women, to give them tools to get their life more under control.  I say no, I say they are trying to make women feel bad about themselves now, to remember a youth in which they felt bad about themselves, and spend money as a result.

In some ways I am in awe of the marketers – it’s very clever.  They know the minds of women.   They know what we worry about, that we care about how we look and what people think of us.

But more than that, I am offended. There is nothing I can do about either emotion – except to continue to be aware of the power of advertising, even when it’s much more subtle than this ad.

And I can make sure that I don’t judge anyone on the night by how they look.

1 comment:

Caroline E said...

Class of '93? Me too! But I won't be going back to Syd for the Reunion...
Good points about the ad, well spotted.
Caroline E