Advertising- the Old Spice Ad Campaign

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The media, consisting of its various forms, is a very influential socializing agent. Messages fed to us through forms of advertising and marketing have a lasting impression, often changing the ways we think and behave. As the popularity of an ad grows, so does it moral implications, as well as its influence on audiences world wide. This week's topic of “advertising and Difference: Gender and Race” is supported by two articles which examine the effects of adverting and stereotyping on African American culture, as well as females from different cultures.

Eric King Watts and Mark P. Orbe have adopted a critical view in examining one of the most memorable works of advertisement of the 21st century; the Budweiser “Whassup” Superbowl Campaign. Watts and Orbe do a great job in examining just what it is about the ad which forces most of us to laugh hysterically. They soon establish that it is both the familiarity of the ad, as well as the unfamiliarity of the ad which make it so appealing to audiences. They go on to argue that “the ad campaign constitutes and administers cultural 'authenticity' as a market value” (Watts, 258). Watts and Orbe continue on to argue that the success of the ad also relied on “spectacular consumption” and the “reproduction of the 'authentic'”. The authors simply convey the idea that the ad was developed to appeal to a primarily white audience, who's imagination of “authentic” blackness, would prove the ad to be accurate. The ad campaign suggested a male bonding ritual which “every man” can identify with in order to disguise the false “authentic blackness” behind the ad. With the use of focus groups, Watts and Orbe also discovered some other aspects which lent to the success of the “Whassup” campaign. They identified that the level with which the audience could relate to the “experience” of the ad, as well as an unconsciousness of commodification helped render the ad both comical and memorable.

The second article in our course reader for this wee's topic was J. Robyn Goodman's assessment of the impact that thin female figures portrayed by the media has on both Latina and Anglo women. Goodman's assessment of, a commonly discussed issue in regards to media influence; the portrayal of thin women, begins with establishing the media as a socializing agent,transitioning into the effects media has on body image. She progresses to examine how audiences, rather than feel pain when consuming these ideals of thin women, experience pleasure. Goodman attributes this pleasure with the notion of such glamorous images serving as an outlet for a type of escape. She links this idea of escape to the notion of identifactory fantasy. These fantasies “establish excessively thin media models as the 'other', and the viewers gain pleasure in objectifying the 'other'” (Goodman, 282). Goodman further develops her assessment by examining links between thinness and attention, thinness and career, thinness and attraction, as well as thinness and power and control.

This time of year seems to be a crucial make or break point for advertisers, with the Super Bowl and all the hype which surrounds it. Memorable, creative, even controversial advertisements have been established at Super Bowl time. This year did not fail to introduce some new works of art, notably the Old Spice ads. These ads, portraying only one character, are funny, clever and memorable in delivering a message of both desire and cleanliness. In developing an ad campaign, the main character of the Old Spice commercials is often seen carrying out actions of extremely manly, attractive, and comical natures. Although the main character is never seen doing the same thing twice, the message behind the ads never changes. He is often seen wearing nothing but a towel, the ads often originating in a washroom, and progressing into scenes of nature, workplace, even on a boat.

Aesthetically, the Old Spice ads maintain a certain level of fluidity and randomness, evoking a more...
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