Singularity

Tag: advert

Feminism means equality. IN SPACE

by on Jul.14, 2013, under Planet Sam, Rant

avatarI hadn’t heard about the Lynx Apollo mission. Now that I have, I can feel a full-on rage attack coming on.

…press representatives of the Axe-Apollo project in the UK were genuinely surprised that the campaign might be perceived as sexist and reassured that women are more than welcome to join.

Because of course, the tagline “LEAVE A MAN, COME BACK A HERO” isn’t sexist at all. Neither, clearly, is the poster.

Lynx Apollo Jacuzzi poster

Or the ad.

So I’m now rooting for Kate Arkless Gray, @spacekate, who’s not only passionate about getting into space, but also about keeping sexism out of space. Thanks to her efforts, Unilever was obliged to revise competition rules in countries such as Russia, Mexico and the Ukraine, which previously had explicitly banned women from entering.

She’s competing against 249 people for one of 4 spots this weekend. Unfortunately, it looks like the competition is rigged to favour men after all. With the best will in the world, as a competing athlete myself, I know that in a strictly physical competition that isn’t ultra-endurance, the best men will always beat the best women.

There are ways around this, of course, the simplest of which is to take 2 men and 2 women and take the best 2 of each. But will they do that?

Take another look at the poster, at the ad campaign, at the fact they had to be shamed into not excluding women from the competition in some countries. What do you think?

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Plush roadkill for your dog

by on Dec.03, 2011, under Planet Sam

avatarThe Brits are known for their love affair with their pets. There have been documentaries made about it — Nick O’Dwyer’s Most Pampered Pets In Britain, for one. People go a bit mad for their animals, and it can result in them treating their pets as children: they buy them clothes and let them sleep in their beds and then wonder why they end up neurotic and disturbed and in need of assistance from the lovely Victoria Stilwell.

Dogs are dogs as far as I’m concerned. I’m not the sort to be won over by doleful brown eyes trying it on for scraps from the dinner table. I love dogs, and hope that one day our life will allow for us to get one or three —it wouldn’t be fair to the dog to get one before we have the time to commit to ownership— but I don’t believe in treating dogs as if they were human. A dog should certainly be a member of the family, because the family has to be the dog’s pack, but that doesn’t mean they should be treated like the human members of the family, despite current theories suggesting dogs and humans evolved, quite possibly together, to have an instinctive grasp of mutual social language. A bright dog can learn by imitation, and dogs watch their families constantly for instruction and communication the way humans chat to each other. Canines are all about body language.

Given all that, I’m not too sure what to make of JML’s latest range of dog toys, Frood took great delight in pointing out to me:

Crazy Critters are ultra durable and realistic looking plush toys that will provide your best friend with hours of playful fun. What makes them different from other dog toys is that they are stuffing-free, you’ll never have to clean up the mess from a ripped stuffed animal again, plus your pet won’t ever be tempted to eat the stuffing, which could be harmful to its health. Crazy Critters are also machine-washable, so you can use them indoors or outside over and over again.

Fox Critter

Admittedly, it’s a damn sight better than buying them tutus covered in Swarovski crystals or a Calvin Klein jacket or even special dog cologne. Dogs are supposed to enjoy worrying dead animals. They are carnivores, after all.

Still. Those Crazy Critters resemble road kill rather more than the usual dog toys I see, and I think I might feel a bit weird offering my dog a squished fox to rip to shreds, even knowing that the dog wouldn’t think it resembled a squished fox in the slightest. I would know.

Maybe they should be renamed “Countryside Alliance Critters”.

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It’s as bad as goblins in the wardrobe

by on Dec.06, 2010, under Life with Frood, Planet Sam

avatarNow, see, I know I’m not the only person to find the Bird’s Eye Polar Bear adverts creepy. I know this for a fact. Other people find him creepy too. The great divide seems to be whether or not we like him.

Short answer: I don’t.

It’s bad enough that there’s this passive-aggressive, snarky mammal in the freezer that in real life would be ten times my size with feet the size of bicycle wheels, teeth designed for ripping seals apart and a tendency to chomp first, ponder prey-appropriateness later. Bad enough that he’s voiced by an actor I best remember going off his head in Platoon. I mean, is that why he can’t tell whether it’s a pea or a cannonball? Because he’s still having flashbacks?

He tries to tell you what to eat! A polar bear! Who lives in the freezer! And somehow can survive the lack of air and general scarcity of seals in the average British domestic household!

Then I realised. He’s trapped in there, talking to himself, going batshit crazy like Adrian Brody in The Jacket. Playing with the switch that makes the light go on and off until the bulb blows; or fapping into the bags of vegetables while trying to drink himself to death on ice-cold vodka. The only interruption in his interminable life of tedium, imprisoned in the dark with the tupperware boxes filled with solidified leftovers and the peas that escaped from the bag to grow wrinkled and grey in the hoarfrost, is when someone opens the door.

He’s deranged. Anyone would be after being stuck in there. There is no one who could possibly survive that sort of environment mentally intact. But these people, coming to the door, letting in a brief glimpse of daylight and a warmer world of colour and sun… He has to be careful. He can’t scare them off. They might not come back. He has to be nice, friendly, helpful.

There’s nothing quite so creepy as a deranged predator trying to be nice, especially when the mask slips and the simmering rage and hatred sneaks out in the form of sharpened sarcasm:

“Hey, Laura. You know, I love preparing chicken.”

“Really?”

“No, Laura, nobody does.”

“I’m feeling a little neglected… And Clive? Don’t be a stranger.”

I swear the subtext to that reads: “Because if you are, next time you open this door you might just find that I gut you like a pig.”

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It’s not the road, idiot

by on Nov.09, 2010, under Planet Sam, Rant

avatarHere’s another advert that is aimed at a market to which I definitely do not belong. It’s the Michelin Sad Road commerical:

“Once there was a sad stretch of road where drivers just couldn’t stop in time. But along came the Michelin Man, who reminded them that the right tyre changes everything. With the right tyres in place that sad stretch of road wasn’t so sad any more. Michelin Hydroedge tyres stop up to 14 feet shorter.

Michelin, a better way forward.”

This makes me so angry that I honestly have to step away from the keyboard for a couple of seconds to compose myself before launching into what is wrong with this. I mean, to me it’s so bloody OBVIOUS what’s wrong with this that blogging about it is pointless. It’s worse than pointless. It’s bringing additional attention to a manufacturer that should be ashamed of itself for spouting forth complete nonsense.

A good driver will always control the speed of his vehicle such that he can stop in the distance he can see to be clear. It’s not the road’s fault the driver can’t stop in time to avoid running over the cute fluffy animals, it’s the DRIVER’S fault.

British wildlife suffers severe casualties every year. The Mammal Society estimates British annual road casualties account for 100,000 foxes, 100,000 hedgehogs, 50,000 badgers and 30,000-50,000 deer. That’s bad enough. Stick the 3500-odd human KSIs on top of that and you realise that there is carnage going on out there on the roads. Telling drivers they have 14′ more leeway isn’t going to prevent any of those deaths or serious injuries. Michelin isn’t contributing to road safety by saying it’s the fault of the infrastructure and drivers just need to buy their tyres: that’s not merely disingenuous, it’s immoral.

Do I even need to point out that the 14 feet claim is entirely dependent on what speed the car is travelling in the first place? Plus, they tested versus a Goodyear and we have to take Michelin’s word on that being the leading competitor.

Roads aren’t dangerous. Or sad. They are just roads. Take the cars away and there’s nothing dangerous about a road unless it has a live volcano underneath or a tendency to subside randomly and drop the unsuspecting traveller into a pit full of angry piranha. The answer to not being able to stop in time is to drive appropriately for the conditions, not buy different tyres.

Take the cute animated animals away and replace them with live children. How appropriate does that driving seem now?

What this advert is actually telling drivers is the following:

Once there was a stretch of road that all the Clarkson-worshippers thought was ideal for driving along pretending to be that German burd who is so great round the Nürburgring. It had some blind corners and S-bends and the surface wasn’t so great but there weren’t any speed cameras and the police didn’t go there much. There were lots of cute fluffy animals and they had a tendency to wind up flat, squidgy, stinky, entraily pancakes on the tarmac, but who cares about squirrels and bunny rabbits when there’s 500bhp under the bonnet and Golden Earring on the stereo? Then one day the Michelin Man came along and whispered that maybe the next time someone was doing 60mph around a corner with the traction control off it wouldn’t be a rabbit but a stonking great deer with a pair of antlers the size of that rocket car that nearly killed Hamster Hammond, or even a BEAR. But it would be okay if they fitted these special tyres because they’d take a whole 14′ less to stop. That’s a bit more than two Michael Schumachers! No danger of totalling their precious Audi then!

Michelin, giving drivers even more of an excuse to behave like inconsiderate morons.

What drivers SHOULD be told is:

IF YOU CAN’T STOP IN TIME THEN STOP DRIVING LIKE A TOTAL TWUNTSPUD, ARSEHOLE!

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Planet Sam

by on Oct.30, 2010, under Miscellany, Planet Sam, Rant

avatarI’m known to friends for my somewhat literal approach to advertisements. The commercial breaks in TV shows are more likely to provoke a furious reaction than the programme they interrupt. Here on Planet Sam, advertisements are a confusing brantub of mixed messages, inappropriate metaphor and plotlines that evidently haven’t been thought through properly.

I mean, really. Would you buy a stop smoking product that causes you to hallucinate giant cigarettes to the point of attacking them with a frozen chicken? Would you really want to buy a pair of running shoes that came with live scorpions inside?

So here’s my new project. TV ads as seen from Planet Sam, or Why I’m not the target market.

I’m going to start with one that is straightforward rant fodder. The Dulux Paintpod Compact Let’s Colour Campaign.

I shouldn’t have to point out how stupid this is as a piece of 21st century advertising. Mattel has a Barbie campaign that is admirable in telling little girls they can be whatever the hell they want to be, and I actually like the fact that this includes a ballerina. Because the freedom to be a fighter pilot or a policewoman or a surgeon or a bomb disposal expert should never get in the way of those girls who wish to dance.

So what if the baby turned out to be a girl? Is Dulux seriously telling us that their company is so stuck in sexist stereotyping that a failure to predict the sex of an unborn child correctly is a good reason for buying one of their products? A girl can become a footballer. A boy can become a dancer.

Frankly I think both pink and blue are horrible colours for a room, and that’s not just the synaesthesia talking. Blue is too cold a colour, and shading everything like that makes the room smaller and less inviting. The pink room is like being shoved into a vat of rendered animal protein before it’s turned into twizzlers.

What this advert says, on Planet Sam, is that the Dulux Compact Paintpod is the ideal product for those trapped in sexist stereotyping who have the aesthetic taste of an inebriated chicken.

That’s a market to which I can happily claim not to belong.

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It’s a primal thing

by on May.09, 2010, under Planet Sam, Rant

avatarReally, Mattessons? Is it really?

If by “primal” you mean “pandering to sexist stereotypes” then by gods then I think I might just agree with you.

Let’s just take a look at this homage to the Hanna Barbera caveman era, shall we?

What we have is an advert that starts with a man who has a tupperware lunchbox that is empty apart from an apple. Evidently angered by the lack of man-food, he beats upon said box to demonstrate that he desires to be fed. Rather than, for instance, asking his partner if there is anything else to eat or, gods forbid, actually going and getting something for himself.

We cut to a young woman who has either only just noticed she is hungry or is experiencing period pain. It’s hard to tell from her expression. Either way, she too has lost the power of speech and registers her discontent with the state of her belly by slapping it around a bit.

A pair of male hands thumps a shiny green metal table. Splice in shots of several women coming to attention like meerkats seeing an eagle. The shiny green table turns out to be a car, and the hands to belong to a man engaged in that most manly of pursuits: working on the car. Surrounded by sparks and shit, just in case you needed further explanation that being a man is important, hard, dangerous work that only men can do.

A woman trots past, pushing a shopping trolley, looking for something and in a hurry to find it because a man is hungry, is far too busy being a man to find something to eat himself, and it’s her duty as a woman to appease his hunger. She is watched in bafflement by the only character in this advert who shows any sign of having a foot in the real world: the shop assistant. He’s presumably more used to seeing people shopping in their pyjamas, not dressed up like a model for the latest range at Marks & Sparks.

We see teenage girl again. She’s still beating her own abdomen, only now there’s something a bit scary about her expression. Determined. Perhaps she has decided that self-abuse is the only appropriate response to hunger, in case eating makes her fat and thus no longer conventionally beautiful. Because that, obviously, would be a disaster.

Cut to children. Children! Children who have been taught that the correct way to request food is to roar and beat their chests like an enraged silverback. That will stand them in good stead when they reach the age of taking a prospective partner to a restaurant to woo him or her. Rather than picking an item from the menu they will smack themselves and throw a tantrum until someone puts some food in front of them. Charming.

Finally the sausages are acquired. The drums pause, a moment of relief, followed by several shots of food magically appearing in front of the hungry. The women who were responsible for preparing it have been reduced to a single hand, or a sliver of cloth. After all, their only importance is in the fetching of the food. Once food has been acquired they are no longer worthy of attention.

Look at him. The lazy bastard.Note, if you will, that there is not a single man hunting the refrigerated section of the supermarket for cheap processed pork products. No. What we have are some women who, despite doing nothing more than taking a trip down to the shop, have taken the time to apply cosmetics and carefully coif their hair so they will conform suitably to accepted beauty conventions while in a situation where other people might see them.

We have men, doing man-things, and teaching their children that the correct way to express a wish to be fed is not, for instance, asking whoever is the chef of the day what might possibly be for dinner and is there anything they can do to help, but instead to act like an enraged toddler who wants a sweetie. We see that the correct response from the busy woman who not only has a house to run but has her own career (nobody dresses like that for doing the housework) is not to tell them to bloody well get it themselves but to leap up immediately and go all the way to the supermarket for sausages. We learn that a man does not consider an apple to be proper food: only heavily-salted, fatty, processed meat products are satisfactory.

I find it hard to stomach that in the 21st century we are seeing adverts that demonstrate such blatant sexism. The gender stereotyping on display is offensive to both sexes. Anyone who doubts that sexism is an ongoing problem should take a long, hard look at the way men and women are portrayed in the media, particularly in the flash-shorts of commercial advertising.

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Hard hitting

by on Jun.29, 2009, under Cycling

That’s a very good description of an interaction between a car driven by someone unobservant and a cyclist. It’s also a description I saw attached to this infomercial that has been produced to encourage New York drivers to pay more attention to cyclists, rather like the THINK BIKE! campaign here in the UK.

I don’t think this is quite as shocking as the current “It’s 30 for a reason” series of adverts we have here, which include dead children (not real ones, of course, but played by actors), however it does make one point very well: cyclists don’t have the protection of a metal box equipped with safety gear. I do sometimes wonder if some drivers subconsciously extend the sense of security offered to them by their high-tech carriage to other road users.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7YKDrl0Ir0]

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