(Photos: Found at notcot.com, after a google search for stupid ideas)
(Author’s disclosure: I have not been paid by the company featured in this post or anyone else for that matter.)
I’ve long wanted to write something about advertising and the impact it has on us as a society, and on our gender roles. I heard a quote somewhere (I forget where) saying that advertising is the greatest form of education that isn’t actually called education. How true those words are. This is a rant that I’ve been holding onto for years, forgetting and remembering from time to time. I’d like to get this out into the world – how advertising as education makes equality and all justice (social, environmental, gender) that much harder for us all to achieve.
I remember waiting for the subway on day back in 2007. By this point, advertisers had innovated to create the all consuming, cover-it-all physical ads that are now seemingly normal. No longer did ads only belong in defined physical frames. Depending on the flexibility of a landlord, adverts could now cover anything (stairs, walls, ceilings, or entire buildings – legally or illegally). And so, while waiting for the subway, I spent 3 minutes wondering “what the hell are you thinking?”
Diesel’s Global Warming Ready campaign was built on the notion of style being the most important element of society – clearly. Some, and certainly the creative directors, would suggest that they were drawing attention to an important issue. Others, like me, would suggest that their business model doesn’t really give a shit about global warming. It can’t.
Without question, Diesel also caters to a specific market. My guess is that their audience doesn’t give a shit about the environment, either. And why would they?
Hey now, if I was in South Dakota, and found myself at eye level with Mount Rushmore, my first thought would definitely be “how’s my hair?” or “maybe she needs some lotion” not “holy shit, where’s my next meal coming from?” Or maybe these two are making the best of the inevitable, and should really dress well for it – if indeed, that is what well-dressed looks like. How progressive. It is this severe disconnect that is reinforced by advertising on a day-to-day basis that we all have to combat.
I’m sure locals would love to see Parrots in Moscow, really. These two are surely enjoying the tropical climate, and not having to wear fur in the oppressive Russian winter. Amazingly, parrots are some of the most polite creatures in the world – pigeons could learn a thing or to about considerate defecation practices. How realistic.
Diesel’s reference to romance, and love. Do those satellite dishes in the background even work any more?
It’s clear that 7 years later, nothing has changed with respect to gender stereotypes, roles, and objectification – but that’s to blame on global warming, naturally.
So, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt, and suggest that they were drawing attention to an important cause, which would be the minimum acceptable rationale for this campaign. But wait, you might ask, how can I maintain my glamorous lifestyle without making any changes? Try denial. Or try reading Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything. You’ll find an answer there, and it will cost you less than a pair of jeans.
In this Torontoist post, Christopher Bird says it all: “…the Diesel campaign isn’t going to convince anybody that global warming is a problem, and more likely will convince a few stupid – but crucial – people that it isn’t.”
So what’s the key takeaway? The seemingly fundamental disconnect between reality and consumerism that is necessary for advertising to work. It wreaks havoc on our own points of reference, and rears its uninvited head at the dinner party where one has to contemplate notions and images of self. It normalizes the unnatural and the fantasy. It happens every damn day.
And to think, if all of the energy that went into selling to the masses went into something more useful, like, I don’t know, actual sustainability or education.
I’m thinking that instead of jeans, or lotion, or money, or crap that is really overpriced, people might need this instead in their times of catastrophe.
(Photo: William Colgin)