4 Major Ad Campaigns That Have the Wrong Idea of Marketing to Women
Out of all the things America is known for, its use of advertising may seem like an insignificant blurb. Compared to the seeming heroism of NFL football and the conglomeration of ice cold Coca Cola, American advertising is rarely focused on as a culminating part of the country. Yet, whether it is a billboard in Time Square or an ad in the local paper, the advertising industry has a hold on Americans. Consumerism has come to define us and our enormous retail industry accounts for over half of the advertisements published annually. However, some of those are much more effective than others. These four ad campaigns, while presumably had good intentions, completely have the wrong idea when it comes to marketing to women. Not only do these brands set unrealistic expectations, but they cross the line between appropriate and downright wrong.
Guess has taken the United States by storm, as their claim to an all-American mentality goes hand in hand with their number one manufactured product; blue jeans. In an attempt to maintain this selective image, their most recent campaign features three very “American” looking girls. The three girls are what one would label as “blonde bombshells,” which is an extremely derogatory term in itself. This persona has emerged as what is beautiful in American culture, and Guess has exemplified it to the fullest. These models are all posing seductively, puckering full lips with rounded breasts exposed, as if to say “These are how American women look in jeans.” Yet, contrary to the message of this display, America is a melting pot of thousands of cultures and ethnicities.
The all-American blonde is a stereotype that is highly overrated. What claims to be an American brand should represent the true makeup of the country, not just what society and the media has carefully crafted it to be. Blue jeans are a product that should appeal to everyone, as their sheer versatility allows for undistinguished wear. An advertisement like this will lose big revenue in the female department, as the “bombshell” look of the models will intimidate women. Jeans are generally marketed upon the mentality of “fun and fancy free.” However, upon seeing this advertisement, that appeal will be immediately diminished.
Possibly one of the most controversial brands known to America, no company has gathered more backlash than the lingerie conglomerate, Victoria’s Secret. With their long line of gorgeous “angels” that pose for thousands of ad campaigns, catalogs, and even parade down a catwalk wearing enormous glittery angel wings, they are definitely displaying their brand to the American public. While their lingerie is unquestionably racy, the real concern is on their teen aimed spin-off, PINK. PINK is marketed to high-school to college aged girls and even manages to scoop up a large amount of middle-schoolers. This being considered, their products should be age appropriate. Although they do sell basic bras, a myriad of bathing suits and are steadily contributing to the athletic clothes craze, a recent focus has been cast on their underwear.
While their yoga pants often have “LOVE PINK” plastered across the bottom, which is relatively distracting, it is innocent enough. However, some of PINK’s underwear has been adorned with sayings such as “Take It Off,” “Lets Get A Room ,” and “I Get Around.” Not only are these messages tasteless, but they are far from what a 15 year old should be flashing to her friends as she changes for gym. This is could not be farther from what is appropriate to market to young girls, let alone adults. Women should feel empowered and hold the knowledge and ability to make responsible decisions about intimacy. Wearing these demeaning messages around all day may seem playful, but they are extremely discriminatory. Sayings such as these cast a negative light on women as well as make a mockery of intimacy. There is nothing about these underwear that offer feeling of security or comfort, which is why the undergarment was invented to begin with.
Covergirl has begun featuring celebrities in their campaigns that stray from the American definition of beauty; tall, blonde, and the ideal proportion of thin yet buxom. Sofia Vergara of Modern Family is a new Covergirl and has presumably been used to play up her Latin- American heritage and natural sex appeal. Pink has also been featured in Covergirl ads, as her unconventional beauty is most likely intended to send a message that “All looks are beautiful.” However, while the aspect of using women from all ethnic and age backgrounds is profoundly refreshing, the fact of the of matter remains; these women are celebrities. Famous women, although differentiating in their looks, maintain a common thread through their nearly always flawless appearance. Many dole out tens of thousands of dollars annually to teams of makeup artists and hair stylists to keep their image of perfection up and running.
Although Covergirl has diversity in mind, the message they are sending with their makeup is that it will transform your beauty regime and therefore outward appearance into that of a celebrity. This challenge is nearly an impossible feat to pursue for most Americans with an average income. Pink, Vergara and all other celebrities featured in Covergirl advertisements are extremely striking women. However, they would most likely be the first to admit that their porcelain skin and shiny hair definitely do not come naturally, and certainly not through the use of drug-store makeup. While Covergirl has only the intent of selling their products in mind, there is a chance they do not realize that they are attempting to sell a lie. There is no conceivable way that regular girls and women will look like Sofia Vergara in Covergirl Blast Lipstick, when even Vergara herself requires assistance from makeup artists. The excessive airbrushing coupled with the use of seemingly flawless celebrity women just leaves consumers feeling defeated before they even try.
While Dove rocked the world of advertising a few years back when it debuted its “real women” campaign, companies have yet to follow in those groundbreaking footsteps until earlier this year. Aerie, a tween-teenaged underwear brand nestled under the umbrella of the American Eagle Corporation, recently released a series of ads known as “Aerie REAL.” These images depict young models in their undergarments and claim that no retouching has occurred. While this claim is seemingly true and believable, these models most likely range in age from 15-18 and their average weights appear to hover just along the border of 100 pounds. Girls with these proportions do not require retouching to begin with, which is where Aerie’s clever marketing emerges. By dwarfing the significance of natural beauty and relying strictly on technicalities, they are able to disclose that these images represent girls as their true selves. Although a legitimate statement, the advertisements are still an inaccurate portrayal of how most adolescents look in a bra. By using models that fit into the American media mold of young and thing, they conveniently require no refinishing.
This marketing move by Aerie is only prompting girls to feel more insecure about their body images. When potential consumers peruse by the store while shopping with friends, they will see the huge poster of what is labeled as a “real” model. Yet, what Aerie intended to spark a sense of excitement and relatedness will undoubtedly produce a self-demeaning train of thought. These young teens will think to themselves, “Wow, that girl isn’t even retouched and she still looks better than me.” This is unquestionably an advertising backfire.
Why Do They Do This?
The looming question still remains; what prompts companies to approach women’s advertisement from such an uninformed and seemingly sexist angle? It could be due to the belief of the age old tactic that “sex sells,” regardless of the market gender. This is definitely the case for the Guess ad, as the posing models seem to cry for a release from chauvinistic standards.
It could also be an attempt to appeal to the younger generation, as well as the increasing technological and typographic forefront. This aids in explaining Victoria’s Secret’s failed endeavor to channel the teen-like terminology and dialogue characteristic of social media. The back of their PINK underwear appeared more like a “sext” gone wrong than a fun and flirty undergarment.
Covergirl advertisers visibly believed that a celebrity spokesperson would attract both consumer attention and sales. Their bright idea was the most innocent as well as potentially successful, due to the overwhelming American obsession with those in the spotlight. Yet the celebrities’ allure of perfection ultimately resulted in demise, as it is an overwhelming feat for any makeup consumer to parallel the look of someone who is deemed as one of the “most beautiful” women in the world.
Lastly, Aerie’s approach to their REAL campaign was slightly underhanded and with further analysis, their disingenuous motives ring true. Indeed, their claim that their images have received no retouching is verifiably true. However, by utilizing girls that require no retouching to begin with, they coast by the ideals of true beauty and leave tweens and teens feeling more self-conscious than they were with the previously retouched lies.
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