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(en) France, Report on Anti-Advertising Action in Paris, May 16 [fr]

Date Sun, 29 May 2005 09:27:43 +0300


The art of advertising, as everyone knows, is the art of
manipulating the masses. In that sense at least, you do your
profession great honour by creating the Dove campaign. It proves
once again how capable you ad execs are of assimilating subversive
ideas and emptying them of any spirit of resistance, any struggle for
freedom, even including the masses' disgust when they are fed up
with advertising saturation itself.
On May 16 about twenty anti-advertising and feminist activists
showed up at the Ogilvy and Mather agency in Paris to award a
prize to the creators of the new ads for the Dove brand, subsidiary
of the multi-national corporation Unilever. This prize, for the best
advertising recovery of the year, denounced how communication
and marketing experts profit from subversive ideas by making a
mockery of them while continuing to push their sexist and
consumerist expectations on us. Strangely, those responsible for
the Dove campaign did not deign to accept this splendid trophy,
and we left after about an hour after making the tour of their offices
and distributing our fliers and chanting "Abolish advertising
agencies," "Not free for the taking and not for sale, women are not
objects" and "Better to be unemployed than work for an ad
agency." What a beautiful way to brighten up the morning grind for
the ad agency types who had chosen to work on that strike day!
[Pentecost a national holiday but taken back by Raffarin
government in a cynical attempt to profit from 2003 heat wave
deaths. See
http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20050515174727333&query=into%2Bthe%2Bbreach.
(Translator)]

Our flier:

Side 1:

Ogilvy and Mather agency: first prize in the art of brainwashing

The art of advertising, as everyone knows, is the art of
manipulating the masses. In that sense at least, you do your
profession great honour by creating the Dove campaign. It proves
once again how capable you ad execs are of assimilating subversive
ideas and emptying them of any spirit of resistance, any struggle for
freedom, even including the masses' disgust when they are fed up
with advertising saturation itself. With the Dove campaign, you
have excelled at using the growing rejection by women of pitches
relying on images of computer air-brushed anorexic mannequin
clones.

You have now joined the tradition of pseudo-feminist campaigns
that flatter the rebellious spirit in the average woman in order to
better beat her relentlessly over the head with sexist norms. We
remember other campaigns that exploited the same gold mine.
There was a brand of lingerie (Bolero not to name names!) that
claimed to "support" women in their struggle "against drafts." We
remember the spectacular Kookai posters with their gigantic
women dominating tiny men. Then women couldn't say anymore
that you only show them as inferior, right? Aren't you clever! More
recently, Eram shoes had a campaign with a picture of a chair fitted
with pumps, another of an ostrich decked out in ankle boots and
the last one of a naked man wearing high-heeled sandals. The
slogan swore that "No women's bodies have been exploited in this
ad." They are proclaiming that it is "obviously necessary" to exploit
women in their ads because using any other images is "ridiculous."
Nice spin!

You have joined that long tradition of deriding feminist demands
and mocking the struggle of women against sexist representations.
Despite the fad following among some women consumers for your
distorting mirror, we understand the sham full well: behind the
skilful strategy it's 100% sexist advertising you're serving up to us!
Maybe you're fooling yourselves, but you're not fooling us!

Side 2:

Hypocrisy, advertising's indispensable tool

The two new Dove billboard campaigns (Dove is a subsidiary of the
multi-national corporation Unilever) usher in, according to their
creators, a new era in the long history of advertising claims, an era
of "respectful advertising" (sic) pitched at their marketing targets.
By pretending to want to "reveal the hidden beauty in each
woman," they, in fact, reproduce the most fundamental patriarchal
chains. Far from working against the alienation of women, this type
of campaign anchors even more deeply in the minds of women that
their first obligation is to be "beautiful."

Beautiful or nothing

When the Dove campaign asks consumers to choose from two
propositions, it imposes a false dichotomy: a woman can only be
"ugly" or "beautiful." There is no in-between. We are then called
upon to decree if some woman is "dull" or "witty," "wrinkled" or
"wonderful," "grey" or "gorgeous," "chubby" or "dazzling." It is
also a question of pronouncing a judgement without appeal on
women's bodies and exhorting women to be obsessed by their
appearance. Beauty must be the first preoccupation of women.
Without her beauty, how could she exist? How could she attract a
man and keep him? Without one, she will never be happy (really?).
How will she find a job without her beauty? The goal of the Dove
web site's pseudo-questionnaire
(http://www.campaignforrealbeauty.com/"Campaign for Real
Beauty" [sic], Translator) is to sell us a miracle potions that make
us forget our wrinkles, blotchy skin, small breasts and greying
hair—in short, all our flaws that are supposed to make us
long-shots in the seduction competition.

After "TV reality" comes "advertising reality"

Since industrial yoghurt first started being produced, its ad agencies
have bragged about its down home farm origin, priding themselves
on their use of "natural" women in their campaigns. However, that
is to ignore the fact that the women are selected according to
physical and social criteria (perfect skin, not cellulite, having some
curves but not too many, being "feminine," being all smiles, etc.)
This soap peddler wants us to believe that, thanks to his product,
we can resemble a mannequin (the archetype of perfection) even if
means being so malnourished we stop menstruating. Democratic
beauty is the new slogan for ad agencies that want to manage the
homemakers still traumatised by the "porno chic." The added value
of the "real life" is vaunted to get us to worry about what their
propaganda tells us about ourselves. If, despite all their efforts, we
cannot manage to escape ugliness and become beautiful, it will be
our fault, certainly not theirs.

Caricature of solidarity

The shot of a group of women in underwear is a caricature of
women's solidarity. "Unite against cellulite!" could be the
subliminal message of the ad that says, "Dove reaffirms all the
curves." When we say shapes, we don't mean soft ones! The fat
phobia is indeed behind this pseudo-alternative advertising, along
with the competition they try to stir up among women. Under the
cover of celebrating the diversity of bodies, Dove slathers on some
guilt tripping.

Like Benetton, that pretended it was selling some anti-racism with
its sweaters, Dove tries to imply it is restoring the image of women
by beating them over the head with their beauty dictate: we won't
let you be fooled by those hypocritical ad agencies! Advertising
alienates our bodies and minds by programming our self-regard
and how we regard others, by conditioning our lives and desires. Its
most important weapon is the frustration and lack of self-worth for
which the act of buying things is an outlet.

Down with the totalitarianism and brainwashing of the
marketplace! Let's fight daily ad aggression!

Down with sexism and patriarchy! Let's deconstruct the femininity
(and masculinity) that advertising imposes on us!
==========================================
Pubished by A-infos on 23 May 2005
http://www.ainfos.org/fr/ainfos00665.html

Translated from French by SonofTomJoad, Ottawa, Ontario,
Canada

Collectif contre le publisexisme
contrelepublisexisme@samizdat.net

http://publisexisme.samizdat.net

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