Monday, April 05, 2010

Wild Cherry Steam Thing?

"I love argument; I love debate. I don't expect anyone just to sit there and agree with me; that's not their job."
~Margaret Thatcher

So what are your first thoughts after looking at this advertisement?

We spent forty minutes today, in one of my visual communication classes, discussing this advertisement. Debating ensued and the whole class was a bit riled up expressing opinions, which were met with more and more opposing arguments.

I believe that if I were flipping through a magazine and saw this ad, the image of the red washer and dryer would catch my eye first, and I'd think, "Oh, cool. Red washer and dryer." I love the color red. I enjoy "pretty things." I'd probably think that it would be cool to have a red laundry room. However, seeing as this particular advertisement was submitted for analysis of text/visual integration, I read the larger print first. My initial thought was, "Well, that's kind of stupid."

The larger text causes the reader to view the woman as rather dumb and silly because she calls the appliance, a "thing." Clearly she's not smart enough to know what the proper names for the appliances she "needs" are called. She clearly doesn't want/need the washer and dryer for it's effectiveness; she only wants it because it's pretty, which is why the discussion of the superior product qualities is in finer print.

I think it's pretty safe to assume, that often when we hear the phrase, "A woman has needs," the writer is referring to her sexual needs. And the following sentence, in the text, saying that she needs "this wild cherry steam thing," drives home the obvious intent to sell with sex. Wild. Cherry. Steam. Thing? Come on, now.

Now, for better or for worse, it's not the fact that the designer/writer of the ad was trying to sell the product with sex that irks me about this ad. It certainly pokes at stereotypes, but so does almost all comedy. I actually think that the play on words is clever and rather understated, due to the image of the woman who is pretty, but appears to look like your average American woman, with a little (very unnoticeable) smirk on her face. She could have been portrayed with an obvious smirk on her face, or bright red lipstick (matching the "wild cherry" color of the appliances), or in a more suggestive environment.

The thing that gets to me, is how instead of just coming across as a woman interested in sex, she just seems stupid. I recognize that they probably thought it was funny, but it just didn't sell me.

What do you think?

A few questions and thoughts to ponder (and leave comments on):

  • Would your opinion of the advertisement change if the woman were a worn-out looking housewife? If so, how?
  • What if she were wearing red lipstick to match the color of the washer and dryer, thus causing her to look a little more sultry in appearance?
  • Would the ad be more or less effective (or offensive) if the woman had a definite smirk on her face (a nod to her understanding the witty/sarcastic text)?
  • What if the ad said, "A man has needs...," and showed George Clooney with 5 o'clock shadow, frozen in mid-wink? Would this be more/less offensive or humorous?
  • There's also the fact that LG named the color of these washers and dryers "wild cherry" and not just simply red...

What sells to you?
Image found on a Google search.


Anonymous said...

splegLike many other ads today, this ad once again adds to our national confusion between "need" and "want." It also uses the time-proven advertising enticement of sexualizing essentially non-sexual items, appliances. Both advertising "hooks" capture our attention and so the campaign is by some standards successful in attaining an advertising goal. Is it right or tasteful? We must leave that evaluation to the buyer. A casual browser might be attracted to a completely unrelated connection between sex and glamour, and the inherently mind-numbing task of doing laundry. But, a serious buyer will want the facts about the machine, m'am. Catchy ads may initially attract a buyer, but facts close the deal. (Personally, I would vote to replace the anonymous woman with Gregory Peck, my all-time favorite. Now HE would grab my attention!)


Anonymous said...

So I'm not going to answer all of your questions, cause I'm feeling lazy. But the thing is, I have a 13 inch computer monitor and when I opened up your blog, all I saw were a picture of a lady and the words next to her face. My first thought was, "this is dirty, and why is elaires posting about this?" Just my first impression, but I can't tell you what I'd think if I saw the whole ad, cause I didn't.