Tuesday, February 28


Has anyone noticed the ad campaign for Dewars whisky that's been running the last few months (here in Greece anyway - it's probably older in the rest of the world)?
In case not, here's the concept: a guy/girl has been working at a good, stable, but perhaps somewhat restrictive or stuffy job. Inspired (by Dewars, of course) they quit this job to pursue the "career" they have always wanted - a really cool, "free" job that lets them "express themselves" fully.
There are two versions, one with a guy, one with a girl.
So, the guy: he's a classical concert pianist. He quits, leaving behind his "tux and bow-tie" to play piano in smokey jazz clubs. We see him playing in the club, having a grand old time, everyone cheering him on, loving him, he's letting loose, discovering the music he has always loved, etc. It's quite a nice and effective ad, actually. You really admire this guy, and think he's pretty cool for giving up such a good job for his passion. You probably envy him a bit.
So I was just about to give Dewars some kudos, when I see the girl version.
She's a detective. Woman cop. Which is already a pretty cool job if you ask me. But, get this, she quits her job to go work in a bar, DANCING in a CAGE above the crowd. A CAGE. Oh, and she "kept the handcuffs". WHAT THE *#@%$*&???!!!
So, if we follow the logic of the first ad, dancing in a CAGE is a job to be envied? This woman is cool? To be admired and, perhaps, emulated????
Obviously this ad is not oriented towards the female market, but it is still such a transparent piece of male-chauvenistic, keep-women-in-their-place-dancing-in-a-cage GARBAGE - It really makes my blood boil that people still make these ads - and that there must be a market for them since advertisers supposedly do tons of market research.
And people try to tell me that "my generation" is lucky cause we don't have to deal with sexism.


deviousdiva said...

"And people try to tell me that "my generation" is lucky cause we don't have to deal with sexism"

I find myself screaming at the telly sometimes when I see this rubbish. I haven't seen the girl in a cage one yet, but what the hell is that?
The ones that get to me as well are the "happy housewife" ads. Women skipping and jumping for joy over their shiny floors or that whiter than white shirt they washed and ironed for hubby. Yuck.

Loop said...

YEAH YEAH YEAHS- date with the night .. tHe background music @ Fem adv its really cool. Its one of my favourites band the last two years. Now , lets talk about that girl ( she is hot ) ... after that thought i believe that the Adv was a success . U have a nice girl ( talking 12 languages and playing piano :P) , u have a great track at the background ehm thats it.... u have a great adv for men .

kassandra said...

devious: the "happy housewife" ads are something of a novelty for me, as in Canada (I suppose I should say the states - most of our TV/advertising comes from there) those "darn" feminists actually managed to raise enough consciousness about them that for the most part advertising agencies have been forced to steer clear of that particular gender-stereotyping trap. Instead, they've opted for a humourous style, depicting the happy housewife convincing her unhappy husband to do some housework cause the product makes it easier than he imagines. A step forward? Perhaps, but I'll only be convinced that sexism is dead when we have equal amounts of happy hubbies and housewives frolicking together through their spotless white houses.
In any case, I find it quite amusing, now, to see that type of ads here in Greece - they seem hopelessly outdated and lacking in subtlety to me. I suppose that either awareness has not been raised to as high a level here, or that there are still enough real-life happy housewives in the country to make that type of advertising effective.
Interestingly enough, these ads seem to go entirely over the heads of young Greek women; most of the twenty-somethings I know are curiously incapable of cooking or doing any chores - nor, or so they claim, do they plan on doing it if/when they get married. Encouraging, perhaps, but it must be hell for the parents who support a child who does nothing to help out around the house. It would have been better, perhaps, had the youngg males of Greece started to emulate the women, rather than the other way round.

kassandra said...

Loop: first, are we talking about the same ad? Cause in the one I'm talking about she's not playing the piano - just dancing, scantily clad, in a cage. The Yeah yeah yeahs are playing in the background, though, so let's assume it's the same one.
SO you like the music. Great. You think the girl is hot. Fine. Those are two good reasons you have for liking the ad. However, I think there is a third reason for men to like the ad - or at least that the advertisers were hoping would attract men: studies have shown that men are intimidated by women in powerful positions. For example, men are much more likely to go out with their secretaries than their bosses. So, we have a woman, a detective, who is in a powerful position potentially intimidating to men. The ad depicts her leaving this position, and instead taking up a position that eliminates her power - in fact, she becomes a mere source of entertainment to men. Moreover, since she did this of her own volition, within the framework of "pursuing her dream", the ad is suggesting that women instrinsically prefer to be the plaything, rather than the person in charge.
For the men who do have problems with women in authority, this is a very pleasing message, and very subtly and cleverly communicated by the advertisers, so perhaps they deserve kudos after all. Basically, men may think they like the ad cause of the music, or cause the chick is hot, but in fact, subconsciously, it may be fulfilling their secret (or not so secret?) belief that, not only should women not hold positions of power, but that for a woman to be in a position of power is somehow against her nature - it's not going to be something she truly enjoys.
Now, maybe you really do just like the ad cause of the music and the girl, but I suspect a lot of men out there are going to be liking it for the third reason - and it doesn't end there. Because the ad confirms and validates their opinions, they will feel more confident in expressing these opinions and attitudes towards women.
I meet men like that all the time, men who clearly feel that if a woman is not devoting her life to being an object of attraction to them, she is wasting it. Not only do I find these men very patronising, it literally makes me feel sick that they can't see beyond the fact that I'm a woman and realise/accept that I might have some BRAINS in my head, and be good for something besides looking pretty.
Why should we be encouraging these beliefs of men, through ads like this one, rather than countering them by, for example, showing a woman quitting her job as a stripper to become a detective? Sexy detective, sexy music - why shouldn't the ad be as successful?

Flubberwinkle said...

I've seen the particular ad and it is yet another degrading, belittling commercial about women. Your reply to "loop" says it all. Men regard women as playthings. Men snicker at this ad and are reaffirmed by the market executives (the overwhelming majority being MEN, what a coincidence): "Yeah, treat the bitch like dirt, she likes it, see? She gave up her [police!] career to wiggle her fanny for you!". As long as the advertising agencies continue to lure men's wallets by tugging at their willies, then women will continue to be used as advertising commodities. A vicious cycle that starts with "innocent" above-mentioned ads; then branches out to human trafficking and sustains the deep-rooted inequality of women.

The SeaWitch said...

Greek advertising leaves a lot to be desired. It's still stuck in the 70s mentality where sex reigns supreme. Using sex to sell is completely unoriginal and uninspired. It's the creative director's easy way out. If I were the client, I'd demand some fresh ideas for the money I'm paying them. It's time consumers start complaining. Every time I see an offensive ad, I write the company, the ad agency and mediawatch.com where I forward a copy of the offensive print ad. Years back, Lapin House had an inappropriate billboard and I emailed them. The General Manager apologised for it and informed me that the billboards would be pulled. And true to his word, a couple of days after, all those ads were pulled.
Consumers...especially women...need to voice their displeasure over what they see by taking the time to write formal complaints and forward them to the:
-newspapers the ads appear in
-tv channels the ads appear on
-companies whose products are featured in the ad
-the ad agency who created the ad
Make sure they all know that we will boycott their products until they smarten up. If enough of us do it, things will change.

Loop said...

Re si Cassandra mou kalimera for a start. Actually I forgot my English so I feel sorry for my many spelling mistakes. Lipon , I really don’t know what is the prob here. I really like the AD because it has a nice music background and a nice girl that’s it . and many friends of mine say the same things . Its only the GIRL who is sexy at the Ad . And Sex of course sells.
Why are you going much far than the obvious? Try to think the other way around. IF you had a Boy in the cage very very handsome (which I have seen I an adv) doing the same thing how are you going to feel? ? ? ? ?? ?? ? ???? Are you then going to say all these things regarding men? Try to think the same adv with a product regarding women. A guy in the cage and same story 2 . Hey boss I don’t want to be a cap anymore I want to dance in the cage . Look it’s the same … .. . . except you are not advertising whiskey but a new cool mobile for women .
Look, I have not study media and all these things are quite weird for me .I am trying to have a logic thought around the subject. And in media SEX is selling. Even you look at it from female way or male way . And SEX is the same for both males and females. J

Anonymous said...





tell me if you like the greek grandma making "sushi"

for her greek children ,.........

just the same ,, in the name of profit nothing remains sacred.


== zardoz ==

kassandra said...

flubberwinkle: yes! I'm always afraid to take things to the next level cause some people lose you at that point and assume you're crazy, so thanks for doing it for me!!! :) (I think "she likes it, see" sums up my biggest problem with the ad perfectly.)

seawitch: in response to:
"Using sex to sell is completely unoriginal and uninspired. It's the creative director's easy way out."
Well, first, Greece isn't the only country that primarily relies on sex to sell. I think most countries do - certainly the States/Canada - why? Because it is very effective; it appeals to one of our most basic, primary, urges, and activates a primitive part of our brain - which I think is exactly what advertisers are looking for. Yes it's the easy way out, but as long as advertising exists, so will using sex to sell things. (Whether or not "psychological" advertising is ethical is a whole other issue). And as loops (sort of) says above, ads with sexy guys in them work on girls as well.
The point, however, is that sex does NOT have to be SEXIST, but unfortunately often is. Showing a sexy woman in some contexts and ways can be OK - I'm not one of those who believes that women should not be subject to the "male gaze" at all - after all, if we really believed that, we'd all take up wearing the hijab.
It's the context, and also the body language, that makes many ads using sex offensive. For example, (especially in print ads), women are often portrayed as vulnerable, staring, with trembling eyes, into the camera, ready to be "taken", whereas the sexy guys are almost never looking at the camera, but rather offscreen, in a powerful way that suggests they are somehow "aloof" and don't need to submit to anyone.
(All you guys who don't believe me at this point: pick up a magazine, flick through it, and count how many of the women are looking directly at the camera, and how many of the men are. I think you'll be really surprised. Then think about what the women ads make you feel/suggest about the women in them, and what the men ads do.)
Basically anyway, I think coming down categorically on sex in ads loses the focus of what's really wrong with them.

However, in response to your excellent suggestions on what you can do about ads you find offensive, no matter what the reason, I hope everyone paid very good attention and does as you recommend!!! We should never be afraid or too complacent to act when we see things that bother us, and I'm realy impressed that you actually take measures to do something about it!

loop: my reply to seawitch pretty much sums up what I have to say to you as well. As I said before as well, my problems are not with the sex, but with the subtext - the "story" behind the sex, and what it discreetly communicates:
a) that she quits a job where she has power for one where she is at the disposal of men.
b) the whole symbolism of having her in a cage.
If those two elements were removed - same sexy girl, same music, same concept, only she's dancing on a stage as, for example, the singer in a rock concert, I wouldn't have had this reaction.
Also, in answer to your question, IF I saw the same ad with a guy (which you never would see), and I somehow got off on the fact that he's in a cage, I think I'd have to stop and seriously examine my head to discover what exactly I liked about it. I think that then I'd have to conclude that I had some hidden hostility towards men and that seeing a guy in a cage was fulfilling some subconscious desire I had of seeing them put down or in a position of weakness.
I also think that if such an ad came out, a lot of men would freak out and get angry about it. I can just imagine the response I'd get if I went, for example, to the restaurant I used to work in (with a lot of macho guys), and said "Hey guys, great ad, huh?" They would definitely attack me, call me a man hater, an unnatural woman, ask me what was wrong with me, etc.
I get the feeling (giving you the benefit of doubt) that you aren't one of those macho guys, and the reason you don't get the problem with the ad is that the subtext is just going over your head.
Now, I'm not saying a sexist ad is going to "turn" all men into sexist bastards. People are too smart for that. But too often guys who aren't sexist forget or don't realise that there are still plenty of men out there who are sexist, and really have no clue what it's like being a woman living with them. Well, these men do exist, it's not pretty, and I see no reason to encourage their beliefs through ads like this.

kassandra said...

Zardoz: your comment gets into the whole other issue I referred to of whether psychological advertising is ethical. And I agree, it's not. Pulling on our heart strings/sense of nostalgia is just as manipulative as pulling at our... ahem... sex drives.
But unfortunately I think the only way that will ever change is if capitalism as a system crumbles; advertising and capitalism have developed such a completely symbiotic/interdependent relationship that I think it would be impossible to ever separate the two. (Correct me if I'm wrong?)

Loop said...

my beloved Kassa , I don’t agree with that ….

“I also think that if such an ad came out, a lot of men would freak out and get angry about it. I can just imagine the response I'd get if I went, for example, to the restaurant I used to work in (with a lot of macho guys), and said "Hey guys, great ad, huh?" They would definitely attack me, call me a man hater, an unnatural woman, ask me what was wrong with me, etc. “

no one is going to attack you and say hey what are you talking about. I think that you overreact over that example .and no one will call you a man hater or anything like that. I think the opposite will occure . From my Male point of view ….
Its just a nice well built guy in the cage . They are going to think ok that these guys were not as much beautiful as this guy is in the cell and that’s the reason you will get maybe a negative reaction. That’s it .

@ uk when I finished my Msc I think I have seen a ADV like that on the paper . A Guy almost naked in a cage YES YES IN A CAGE .he looks like a Brad pitt Clone outside a woman a pretty woman and he is giving him some food to eat or candies (I think it was a perfume ) . Now you have the opposite, the guy is a slave in side the cage and he has to do anything that the woman says in order to get his lunch. So you have, the opposite example .i think that women 2… want the man to be an object in order to give him orders to do so. So now the female is on the top telling him want to do? Now the question is … do you label this ad AS SEXIST ad 2? or because it’s a man inside the cage …. It’s a different occasion ?

I agree with your opinions but I don’t agree with the distinctions between male and females SEXIST people . I would like to talk about people as a person not as SEX( female or male ) Why to have only Male sexist people? . I THINK that women are Sexist 2.

Loop said...

and bTW the YEAH YEAH YEAHS are going to launch a new album this spring. :)FYI
kisses :)

kassandra said...

Ah vre loop!
First thank your lucky stars you have never met or conversed with the men I have, as a woman. It is because you haven't met them that you don't get it. I am not just imagining that I would get that kind of reaction - I have got similar reactions from guys many times, on all kinds of issues.
The ad you describe was playing on people's emotions in an entirely different way than the dewar's one. It was presenting an image SO outlandish and unusual that it would get people's attention through shock value. It was not designed so that women would look at it and seriously go "Yeah! Way to go! A man in a cage! I knew it all along - that's where men belong!", but rather for people to look and laugh at it. Nor was the man there by choice which is the key issue in the Dewar's ad.
Maybe you would like to look at people like people, and not divide them into male and female, and ideally so would I. When that day comes, then we can truly say that sexism is dead. But unfortunately, we can't. There are still many men (and, yes, women), who think one way about women, and another about men. But I think most women are sexist towards their own gender, not towards men - I don't think there are many women out there, besides maybe radical feminists, (who these days are a small minority) who think that men have inferior brains to theirs, or don't deserve/aren't capable of acheiving the same kind of success as them, which is, sadly, how a lot of men think about women.
SO let me try one last time to break it down simply, and forgive me if I am repeating myself:
Imagine for a moment that the guy in the "jazz" ad quits his career as a concert pianist to become a male chippendale's stripper. Now, are you going to thing, "Bravo dude! You followed your dream! Congratulations!"? No. Probably if you'd seen that ad, it wouldn't have worked on you because you wouldn't have accepted the concept; you would have though: "Ti malakas! What kind of an idiot would rather be a stripper than a concert pianist?"
Well, when girls watch the "date with the night" ad, that's exactly what we think: what kind of a woman would choose to be a stripper? Women who strip don't do so cause it's a good, empowering job, but because they don't have any other options. SO the basic premise of the ad is completely illogical.
However, the fact that guys who watch the ad don't stop and question it, and realise how ridiculous it is, just goes to show how pervasive sexism is within society. Even guys who aren't overtly sexist will just accept what they are being shown: that it is "natural" for a girl to want to be a stripper.
The guys who made the ad knew all of this very well. Advertisers are very, DEMONICALLY clever at manipulating you, without you even realising it. And a good/effective ad will be designed VERY CAREFULLY, with many "levels of meaning" and underlying elements, so as to appeal to as many different groups of people as possible.
SO this ad's levels are: 'sexy girl' - you've got the attention of all males right there. THEN: 'good music' - you've got the attention of all music buffs right there.
For many guys, including yourself and probably your friends, the message doesn't go any deeper than that. The ad has been effective working just on that level, and there is no DIRECT "harm" in it.
BUT there is another group of guys - as the advertisers know - who have a set of beliefs and opinions that you don't have and can't begin probably to understand. These are the guys who have said things to me like: "But why do you want a career? It's cause you're young; when you're older you'll realise it's better to just get a nice husband and make babies." OR "What are you doing discussing politics? Women can't understand politics" OR worse yet, who think they can just grab my ass when I walk past them in a bar, and that I'll like it, and are really surprised when I don't.
All these things have happened to me, more than once. Every woman has experinced it.
SO when guys like THAT watch the ad, they are seeing something more than just a sexy girl. They are receiving CONFIRMATION of their previously held beliefs that: women don't enjoy and shouldn't have jobs that give them power, that normal women will enjoy being strippers, that it's natural for a woman to be in submissive roles.
Maybe these men won't think these things on a conscious level, that is, form that thought consciously in their minds, but on a deep, subconsious level, that is the message they are getting. And that is the message the advertisers INTENDED for them to be getting, because the advertisers knew it would appeal to this group of men.
Now this is a really simplistic example. It is of course a lot more complicated than that, because, when you put hundereds of thousands of ads like this together, all expressing the same/similar message, you start reaching more people than just those guys - you start reaching EVERYONE, by creating a PERVASIVE, OVERARCHING cultural trend or way of thinking about things. You are setting the "norm" for what is and isn't acceptable behaviour and thinking. Technically, these messages are called MEMES - that's where blogging got it from.
And it is these memes that make it possible for even non-sexist guys to watch this ad, not only without being disturbed by it, but without even stopping to question the LOGIC of it.
So, I think the reason you don't get why this ad is offensive is exactly because of these memes, not because you're a bad/sexist guy. You have just been so IMMERSED in this way of thinking, that you are INNOCULISED towards it. You may not consciously believe the message the ad is giving, but you have been trained to ignore it. You, my friend, are a VICTIM of BRAINWASHING by the advertisers.

Now that's everything! Sorry to harp on about this ad in particular, but I am determined to explain it either until you begin to get what I'm talking about or till I'm blue in the face!

The SeaWitch said...

Kassandra...Greece is definitely 30 years behind in advertising mentality. What I mean by this is that client and agency alike don't even see the red flags when they produce an ad where a child of no more than 6 or 7 years old is dressed in full makeup, mini skirt and high heels in a provocative pose. I saw this ad a few years back for a Greek clothing label. If you attempted that in N. America, the company would have to hire an entire PR team to deal with the backlash from it. I have seen many more examples of the same kind of crass advertising here. I'm not saying that this doesn't happen in N. America...just not with such frequency and with such complacency from the public.

I worked in advertising for 12 years...the last 4 as a production manager. I know the kind of work we went through to make sure that visible minorities and women didn't appear in a demeaning way in our advertising. The financial repurcussions alone of having to pull a national ad campaign are phenomenal.

The advertising industry in Greece has not reached a stage where it is accountable for the advertising it creates...not by the client or the public. In that respect, it is very much decades behind. Raising awareness of such double standards in this industry like you did very well in your blog is commendable. I only wish more people would do the same.

loop...you saw one ad where a man was portrayed in a demeaning light. Now multiply that ad by 2000. If you saw dozens of ads like that every day for a prolonged period of time (years) in print and on tv, I think it would get on your nerves. It would make you feel uncomfortable.

kassandra said...

Seawitch: thank you, and no argument from me that the advertising industry here is years behind. Certainly the media image in general of women in Greece leaves something to be desired (One would think, flipping through the tube, that 90% of women in Greece are peroxide-blonde, giggling bimbos!)
But I think that what raising levels of awareness in other countries has achieved is forcing advertisers for the most part NOT to be more careful about being demeaning, but rather, unfortunately, to be more devious in how they go about doing it.
It's great that your company spent time avoiding that, but I think there are still plenty out there that don't, and I've seen many ads in Canada that I found just as offensive as the Dewars one (which anyway is an international campaign, I think). And complaining to the authorities doesn't necessarily have an effect - just one example: across the street from my apartment in Montreal, Buffalo jeans had, it seemed, permanently reserved wall space for a HUGE banner ad. Each month, a new girl would appear on the wall - always about 14 years old from the look of it, emaciated, with the bruised "heroin-chic" eyes of a startled deer and trembling lips, her shirt ripped open to reveal her bra, and her legs spread suggestively wide open. It still makes me sick that little girls were forced to look at this ad every day on their way to the school down the street, and I was really pleased when eventually someone took to throwing paint balloons at it whenever a new ad came out - wish I'd thought of that myself, actually.
Of course, we should continue to raise awareness here as well, but the problem remains an international one, and it's not enough to single out one country to shoulder all the blame. As more and more people who studied abroad enter the field of advertising here, things will change in Greece as they have elsewhere - they already have, if you look at what the big companies are doing - but not necessarily for the better. I think the messages will remain the same, just become even more insiduous - and thus even more dangerous.

Anonymous said...

zardoz says :

youre right. unfortunetaly.

ill stick to the paint ballons,

for now , just dont know what to do aboyt the telly ,

only not buy the products.

=== Z ===

Emily said...

I agree; the gender dynamics of Greece are very different than those in the states. (Well, OK, very different than my personal experiences in the states, anyway, which are not universal.) I find that some Greek men seem much more comfortable making generalizations about women to my face. It can be frustrating.
I know sex sells, and that's always going to be the case, but it doesn't have to be degrading towards women.

Toula said...

I am very supriesed at the sugestions that this kind of advertising is not used and used successfully in the States. Really, don't take offense buyt that is laugable. There is certinaly more of it in the US than most of the commentators seem aware. Itselss too. The Ab Fitch catalog, the Calvin Klein ads in the Us are just the more well known examples. This idea of using younger and younger sexualizzed wome is something US advertising companies are exporting to places like Greece which are are just copying the trend.

I wonder when is the last time any of you all have looked at US versions of Elle or Maxim!

kassandra said...

Toula: Yes, thank you for pointing that out clearly. I certainly didn't mean to suggest that myself - quite the contrary. Greece is "years behind" because many of their attempts to copy the US's use of sex to sell lack sophistication, and because we still get a lot of what devious called the 'happy housewife' ads. But in terms of the use of 'young, sexualised' women, the US et al is definitely in the lead, with not only Greece, but all the countries of the world, desperately trying to follow suit.

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