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In a recent commercial for Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. breakfast sandwiches, the company shows an African American woman making biscuits.  The advertisement refers to the woman as a “one trick pony”, which might imply that the only thing that she can do is make biscuits.

After doing some research on the commercial, the woman featured in the ad does, in fact, make biscuits at a Hardee’s in North Carolina; however, the ad could possibly be construed as implied racism.  The representation of race contained in the commercial is not consistent with the underlying narratives discussed in class, but rather uses stereotypes of African American women, which brings to mind the Southern Mammy type frequently seen in movies and television shows.  While the woman in the ad really does make biscuits from scratch for Hardee’s (and was crowned the Best Biscuit Maker of the biggest Hardee’s franchiser in 2009 and 2012, no less!), the voiceover of the ad is what is most offensive when paired with the visual of an older African American woman making biscuits: “The only thing she does do is make biscuits from scratch. She may be a one-trick pony, but it’s one heck of a trick.”  Furthermore, the music playing in the background, “Something You Got” by Wilson Pickett, might bring to mind the Civil Rights Era of the mid-60’s, which is when it was originally released.

When all of the aforementioned elements are combined into one commercial, there is an overtone of stereotypical racism that might somewhat overshadow the real intention of the commercial, which is presumably to sell breakfast sandwiches.  Perhaps Hardee’s should have emphasized the woman’s accomplishments more explicitly rather than referring to her as a “one trick pony” amidst the background of an old-school R&B hit.

 

            In one of McDonald’s most recent commercials for a Happy Meal, the company uses the minions from Despicable Me 2 to lure children into the fast food chain.  This commercial was shown on many networks, but especially on those which primarily feature children’s shows.  The advertisement shows the minions playing with bubbles from milk that came with the Happy Meal and then discusses how much fun it is to choose milk and apples with the meal.

            Marketing towards children has gotten even more complicated in modern times with the addition of social media and the internet.  There have been many studies completed about children and advertising and, according to Klass (2013), “the top four products are fast foods, sugared cereals, sugary drinks, and candy”.  McDonald’s has been the subject of many controversies lately with the push against childhood obesity.  With studies showing that “advertising does help push children and adolescents toward unhealthy behaviors” (Klass, 2013), it makes sense that McDonald’s emphasizes the healthier part of Happy Meals – dairy and fruit – and neglects to mention the other options, which include 300 calorie cheeseburgers, 190 calorie chicken nuggets, and 100 calorie French fries.  It seems fair to assert that the ad is intended to draw children into McDonalds using popular cartoon characters and the promise of a toy.  In addition, it seems as if the fast food chain is attempting to lure parents in to buy their children Happy Meals with the mention of milk and apples.  As always, the trademark yellow M that kids have come to recognize as symbolizing McDonalds was highly present in the ad so there was no question what company was responsible for it.

            McDonalds is probably going the right route by emphasizing the healthy aspects of their Happy Meals and diminishing the mention of the unhealthier food that is included.  Overall, the ad most likely worked by enticing children with the promise of a toy and suckering parents into buying the Happy Meals by making them sound healthier than they really are.  

Bruce Rauner, a Republican candidate for Illinois Governor, created a 30 second television advertisement called “Back to Work.”  Rauner’s ad is intended to detail his job creation initiatives, while also subtly attacking the current governor, Pat Quinn, and his supposed neglect while running the state.  In addition to running on local television stations, the ad is also posted on social media websites like YouTube and Facebook.

Wharton (2013) discusses the general purpose of political advertising and states, “As a form of political communication, political advertising usually aims to persuade and/or propagandise rather than educate” (p. 166).  Taking this into consideration while viewing the ad, it is very noticeable that only one actual fact flashes on the screen: “Unemployment rate up 60% in 5 years.”  While the fact is likely true, it is only visible for a split second and therefore, it could be suggested that Rauner’s intention with the ad is indeed to persuade citizens into voting for him instead of his opponent.

In the ad, Rauner wears a plaid shirt, work coat, and jeans which imply that he is a hardworking, blue-collar man.  Complementing the clothing choice is the background location of a construction site, which also ties to the idea he is selling in the ad – that Rauner can create jobs and create a better economy in Illinois, unlike his opponent.  He discusses “bulldozing the dirt out of Springfield” which might be asserted as a reference to the past corruption so prevalent in Illinois politics, such as the fact that over half of the state’s last seven governors have done prison time.

The accent Rauner took on in the ad is interesting as well.  Rauner drops the g from “ing” words, which is likely another attempt to relate to the working class.  However, when his other campaign videos are viewed, the accent is missing (for example:  Toast and Bruce Rauner on the Road).  Another phrase that stood out was Rauner speaking the words, “I’m a citizen, not a politician.”  While he is most likely attempting to relate to regular citizens of Illinois, a little research on Rauner will reveal that he is actually a multimillionaire businessman whose only experience near politics was time as an advisor to Rahm Emmanuel.  Finally, at the end of the ad, Rauner gestures toward construction machines and states, “It’s time to put these things back to work,” rather than the citizens of Illinois.  Such a statement brings the question to mind of what exactly his goals are as governor.

In order to be perceived as a legitimate candidate while connecting with voters, Rauner attempts to come across as a working-class man by wearing laid back clothes and stating that he’s not a politician.  Overall, it seems fair to assert Rauner’s ad aims to sell both himself as a viable candidate for governor and the idea of bringing jobs back to Illinois after corrupt policies and leaders have pushed those jobs out of the state.  Only time will tell if the method employed in the ad is successful.

 

A recent ad for Radio Shack and a new Beats by Dr. Dre product line called the Beats Pill, which includes pill-shaped speakers, used both an appearance by Robin Thicke as well as his highly popular song, “Blurred Lines.”  The commercial was filmed to mimic Thicke’s music video for the same song and airs frequently on cable stations.  The ad uses only a clip of “Blurred Lines,” but does not alter the lyrics or instrumentation in any way.

Robin Thicke is a great fit for the Beats brand because he is currently very popular, hip, and stylish – all attributes the brand is most likely aiming towards.  Thicke also comes across as edgy and cool, which makes him the perfect spokesman for the Beats’ brand, as the demographic they tend to attract can be considered to have the same personality traits.  The commercial not only promotes the Beats Pill speaker line, but also gives Thicke even more exposure (like he needs it) to promote his newest album that dropped over the summer.  It would be difficult not to have heard the “Blurred Lines” song prior to viewing the ad, which makes the ad even more effective due to the popularity of the song.  There are probably many motives for using Thicke in the ad, one of which is the fact that “Blurred Lines” is so catchy and consumers are more likely to associate that product with the song whenever they hear it – and they definitely hear it, over and over (and over and over).  This concept is discussed by Wharton (2013) when he notes a statement by Clow and Baack:

“Music can be the stimulus that ties a particular musical arrangement, jingle or song to a certain product or company… As soon as the tune begins, consumers know what product is being advertised because they have been conditioned to tie the product to the music.  Brand awareness, brand equity and brand loyalty are easier to develop when consumers are familiar with the music” (p. 101).

Overall, Robin Thicke and his song of summer, “Blurred Lines,” are smart and effective additions to the Radio Shack and Beats by Dr. Dre Pill commercial.  Using such a memorable and familiar song to promote a product will enhance the likelihood that consumers will associate the product with the song whenever they hear it, and therefore be more interested in buying the product.  The ad is suggestive and provocative, just like Thicke’s music video, and it certainly has generated a lot of buzz -mostly negative.  Regardless of consumers’ personal opinions of the ad, they most likely remember both the Beats Pill and Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” which will likely be effective at giving Beats by Dr. Dre more staying power in the personal audio market.

Reference

Wharton, C. (2013). Advertising as culture. Chicago: Intellect.

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Tom Ford is notorious for using sexuality to sell his products, from clothing and accessories to beauty and fragrance.  In this advertisement for Black Orchid perfume, found in many monthly high-fashion magazines such as Vogue and Elle, a very thin female is depicted seductively and leisurely lying on what appears to be a bed.  In one version, she’s completely nude and in another, she is scantily clad; however, in both shots the placement of the perfume bottle is inconspicuous and hard to discern.  This could leave the consumer to wonder what exactly Tom Ford’s Black Orchid is, as well as have problematic effects on the young women typically viewing the ads.

Tom Ford seems to blatantly objectify the female body in his fragrance ads.  Surprisingly, the Black Orchid ads are some of his most conservative, especially compared to those for his men’s fragrance.  This isn’t the first time that Ford has used sex to sell his products – he did the same as Creative Director at Gucci prior to launching his own line.  Because the Black Orchid ads are placed in magazines that young women read, the ads are likely influencing the identities of those women, normalizing visible ribs and provocatively dress (or undress in some cases).  While it may be assumed there is symbolism in using white models for a fragrance called Black Orchid, the brunette shown is Ford’s go-to model and his self-professed epitome of beauty.  The New York Times ran an article on the fragrance when it was released in 2006, and Ford had Old Hollywood glamour in mind when designing the ads:  “For me to put a story back into fragrance and put the fragrance into a beautifully designed bottle and shoot it in a very lush way, this is a reaction to a decade of minimalism that has left people starved for content and substance.”

According to Wharton (2013), “Fashion magazines play a central role in the conditioning of taste and identity for young women and magazines… (and) have an identity predicated on the endorsement of celebrity fashion” (p. 89).  Women have become less dressed, both in life and in ads.  Wharton (2013) states, “From the late 1990s, the concept of glamour has been ever more central in women’s fashion markets.  The body has been on show… Traditional notions of ‘good taste’, attached to restraint and a ‘less is more’ aesthetic, have been largely abandoned by the fashion industry…” (p. 90).

It seems fair to assert that the values of good taste have been thrown out the window in these Tom Ford ads for Black Orchid perfume and replaced with a ‘less is more’ attitude, just as Wharton discusses in the textbook, regardless of Ford’s intentions.  Ads such as these can be challenging to young women whose identities and personalities are forming, because they idealize and promote a culture of provocativeness and promiscuity where sex sells pretty much everything.

*Title lyrics from Jay Z’s “Tom Ford.”

*Note: All of Tom Ford’s advertising can be viewed at the following link:  http://www.tomford.com/#/en/thebrand/beautyandfragranceadvertising/

Self-Introduction

Hi everyone!  My name is Kristie Montgomery and I’m a senior here at IUE, majoring in Communication Studies.  I’m also the mother of two wonderful little boys, Carter and Noah.  Carter is 5 years old and just started kindergarten last week.  Noah is 4 and began attending preschool last week as well.  Between taking the boys to school, soccer practice, doing housework, and working on homework, I’m usually very busy but in my free time I enjoy reading, watching movies, spending time outdoors with my family, listening to music, playing the piano, and traveling when I can.  I was born and raised in Central Illinois, and now I’m raising my own family here too! 

While my major is communication studies, I really enjoy marketing, advertising, and public relations, so I’ve been trying to take the majority of my electives in those areas. I can’t wait to graduate in May 2014, and plan on pursuing a Master’s degree after my Bachelor’s.  I’m looking forward to working with everyone this semester!

ImageCarter (left) and Noah (right) at a local zoo this summer.