Monday, October 15, 2007

Advertiser Assailed

Unilever Shuns Stereotypes of Women (Unless Talking to Men) -The Campaign for A Commercial-Free Childhood, a consumer group, urges girls to reject the underfed, oversexed images of woman that dominate advertising and singles out Unilever for its hypocrisy. Unilever wins awards for its Real Beauty series of Dove ads, featuring woman of all shapes and sizes. At the same time Unilever's Axe cologne adds feature lingerie clad girl bands and armies of models who are drawn zombie like by the irresistible scent of Axe.

Unilever's ad agency explains the unifying principal. The goal is to make a buck and different ad campaigns target different customers. Women buy Dove and an image campaign works. Young men are persuaded to buy Axe by the prospect of a mob of beautiful woman ripping off their clothes. Not really a new idea. The Campaign's goal is to counter the negative messages about their own bodies that advertisements like Axe send to preteen and teen age girls when seen on outlets like MTV.

Criticizing Unilever as hypocritical may be accurate, but it won't bother the company or its ad agency. Try claiming age and gender orientation discrimination if you want some action, Campaign for A Commercial-Free Childhood. Where's the Axe ad in which the twenty something male applying the product liberally on a deserted beach is suddenly swarmed by a mob of grandmothers or a fleet of Coast Guard vessels? In fact, why stop at the ads, let's take a look at the product. Why no Axe for women who want to meet women, men who want to meet men, senior citizens who just want the extra strength version? Some of these are already covered on YouTube and Axe itself has an entertaining spoof featuring a mysterious aluminum fetish.

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