Showing posts with label Assvertising. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Assvertising. Show all posts


[Content Note: Misogyny; objectification; violence; heterocentrism.]

Shaker Sarah emails, which I am sharing with her permission:

I just saw this advert outside Farringdon Tube Station in London. It's for a gym called Gymbox. It made me furious: the idea that women only work out to be desirable to men; that sexual harassment is secretly flattering or something women desire; that women send mixed messages, both wanting attention from random strangers and being unreasonably aggressive in fending it off. Hideous.
image of a sidewalk-stand advertisement reading: 'Make builders wolf whistle at you. Then beat them up. Gymbox.'

I also find it interesting, ahem, that clearly "builders" are exclusively men in this construction, which reinforces the narrative that women are never, ever, meant to work out to bulk up, but only to slim down.

Men are meant to work out to get bigger; women are meant to work out to get smaller.

And of course we know what happens to women who use violence in self-defense. Is everyone laughing until their sides ache at the idea that it would be cool for a woman to "beat up" a man who wolf-whistles at her?

If anyone is inclined to send some polite correspondence to Gymbox to ask them to stop using this advert, you can visit their contact page. Or their Facebook page. Or their Twitter.

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[Content Note: Lack of boundaries.]

What in the shit is this commercial?

Video Description: A young white man and a young white woman sit at a small round table at a restaurant. A male voiceover says: "Love drama? Go on a first date." The man on the date pulls out from under the table a hand-puppet that looks exactly like the woman. "My passion is puppetry," he tells her. Close-up on her face as it falls. The shot cuts wide again as the man starts making out with the puppet. "I think we're done here," says the woman, who then gets up and leaves. "Hate drama?" says the male voiceover, as the scene cuts to the woman at a dealership getting keys to a new car (while still wearing her first-date dress). "Go to cars-dot-com. Research, price, find. Only cars-dot-com helps you get the right car without all the drama." The end.

This advert is terrible for about a dozen different reasons, not least of which is that it doesn't even make any goddamned sense, but the thing I hate most about it is its reliance on the increasingly popular designation as "drama" any creepy or outright abusive behavior that a man directs at a woman. Or, often, her reaction to it.

That's not "drama." (Trauma, maybe.) And it's not the equivalent of being inconvenienced by less user-friendly car hunting sites.

The thing is, I'm guessing that the advertiser was hoping that women would find this "creepy first date" scene reminiscent of male car salesmen who can be pushy, aggressive, condescending, rude, and disrespectful of boundaries with female car shoppers, while the scene would simultaneously serve to disguise a commentary on men's very typical hostility for women's boundaries so as not to offend any male viewers who might see themselves in something less "hilarious" than a dude making out with a puppet of his date.

And there's nothing I find more contemptible than an advertiser who wants to reach out to women while protecting men's delicate fee-fees. Especially because the attempt is always gross. Case in point.

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[Content Note: Misogyny; racism; coercion.]

Part wev in an infinitely ongoing series...

Via Shaker KatherineSpins comes this picture of an ad for Athenos Feta cheese:

picture of an older woman wearing a scarf on her head and holding a wood bowl full of feta and watermelon salad, who is meant to be Yiayia, accompanied by text reading: 'Feta & Watermelon Yiayia's Way: 1. Organize arranged marriage for daughter. 2. Crumble Athenos Feta over watermelon in bowl. 3. If daughter resists, call priest. 4. Sprinkle cucumber and mint over salad. 5. Exorcise demon from daughter. 6. Enjoy feta and watermelon salad.'

"YiaYia" is a Greek term of endearment for "grandmother." It's interesting, ahem, how many immigrant groups to the US which were nonwhite many years ago, and then were subsumed into the broad, vague category of "white," are now being used in place of overtly racist stereotypes.

There's definitely a very cynical trend in advertising to appropriate "white ethnic" stereotypes, in order to pluck the same strings as racist stereotypes while hiding behind a defense of white assimilation.

(Which is not to suggest that overly racist stereotypes are not still being used in advertising, because they are. It's just that some advertisers think they're being savvy by pulling this shit, but I SEE YOU.)

Further, I don't know how the hell this advertisement made it through the vetting process without someone flagging that coerced marriage isn't a fucking joke. I can only assume the vetting process consists of holding the mock-up in front of a dog and seeing if she wags her tail.

"Welp, Rosie thinks it looks great! Print it!"

Anyway. Athenos is part of the Kraft Food Group. If you would like to contact Athenos and/or Kraft and ask them to reconsider their advertising strategy, here is some contact information:

Athenos' Facebook page. | Kraft Facebook page.

Athenos on Twitter. | Kraft on Twitter.

Athenos/Kraft contact form.

teaspoon icon Work dem spoons!

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Photo of the Day

image of a 25-foot-high statue of a Godzilla-like creature with a face and hair like billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson in the waves near the shore at an English beach
A 25-foot-high sea creature resembling Richard Branson emerges from the sea on Bournemouth Beach (UK) carrying a TV, laptop, phone, and mobile to celebrate the launch of Virgin Media's Big Kahuna quad-play bundle. [via]
I don't even know. LOL.

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[Content Note: Emotional abuse.]

Have you seen these fucking ads for DirecTV (hereafter "Advertiser") with the straight white guy who's married to a marionette lady and has a kid who is a marionette boy? Jesus Jones, these things are terrible. The basic premise is that the guy is SO THRILLED to have gotten rid of cable wires after getting Advertiser's service that he can't stop talking about how awesome it is to have no wires.

Which is a stupid conceit made even stupider by the fact that Advertiser is basically driving home this WIREFREE UTOPIA message with adverts featuring the guy's marionette family being all freaked out by how he can't STFU about his new blissful wireless life.

The last advert in the series was his having to reassure his kid that his marionette wires are totes awesome (right before the kid gets caught in a ceiling fan), and this is the latest fucking disaster in the series:

The straight white thin young dude is chilling in bed, remote control in hand, staring at a TV on the wall across from him. His white thin young marionette wife — and I cannot emphasize enough that she is a marionette with strings attached to her leading who knows where — comes galloping into the room wearing a white robe and stands between him and the TV. She sighs. "Do you still think I'm pretty?" she asks.

"Of course I do!" he replies. "What's this about?"

She explains: "Since we got [Advertiser's Service], all you talk about is how we can put TVs anywhere without having to look at those ugly wires." She flops her stringed limbs about.

"No, baby," he says, gesturing at the television. "I meant the cable wires, not you!"

As she rips off her robe (in physical defiance of the existence of the wires that are the centerpiece of this garbage advert), she whispers, "Okay then." She reveals a red teddy. Her husband makes a sexyface at her. "So you like what you see?" she asks.

"Yeah, I do," he says. She begins to "dance" for him. "Like it?" she asks. "Yeah," he tells her. She starts doing the Charleston, looking totally desperate. "How about that?" she asks. "Yeah, that's sorta jazzy," he says.

Male voiceover: "Now you don't need to see cable wires and boxes in every room." Blah blah Advertiser info fart.
See, it's meant to be funny because his family members are marionettes, and we're definitely not supposed to see a basic form of emotional abuse replicated for our supposed amusement.

One of the most common forms of emotional abuse within family structures is the expression of negative judgment against people like that by parents, siblings, etc. when one family member is, or will be, a person like that. And one of the most common responses when it's called out is: "I didn't mean you."

Why the fuck is this dynamic, which we're meant to recognize in some way as his self-doubting son appeals for his acceptance and his insecure wife shimmies for his affection, being used to try to sell a TV service, as if it's not abuse because the guy's family aren't human?

Whoever is doing the calculations over at Advertiser that dehumanizing people in order to abuse them is appropriate and amusing needs a remedial math course.

I'll give Danger Guerrero the final word:
This is the second straight commercial where a marionette member of this family has come to this guy with concerns that he considers them to be hideous monsters, because this bozo — who is married to a marionette and has a marionette son — has been running around telling everyone he can corral for 10-15 consecutive seconds how happy he is to be rid of the "ugly" cable wires all over his house. Hey, ding dong, SHUT UP. You're tearing your family apart over six inches of cable that no one even notices because it's stuffed behind a dresser or something. Jesus. This is all just a sad, disturbing mess now. Shut it down.
For real.

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[Content Note: Classism; victim-blaming.]

Two different-sex couples sit in a park having a picnic. One couple, both of whom appear to be white, is dressed in "fancy" sweaters and slacks; the other couple, a man who appears to be white and an Asian woman, are dressed down in a hoodie and cardigan, respectively. They are all young, thin, and kyriarchetypically attractive.

Fancy Couple is drinking from glassware and a ceramic pitcher. Casual Couple is drinking from red plastic party cups and a plastic thermos.

"It's so good to see you guys," says Fancy Woman. "So, what's up?" Fancy Couple pulls lobsters from a picnic basket.

"Well," says Casual Woman, "we finally bought a place."

"Holy cow!" exclaims Fancy Woman.

"You seriously have enough saved to do that?" asks Fancy Man, holding a lobster in his hand.

"We've been putting a little aside each month," says Casual Man, and Casual Woman nods.

When we cut back to Fancy Couple, they're face-down in massage chairs getting massaged by handsome white blond masseurs, and they're eating the lobsters with their bare hands. "Geez!" says Fancy Woman. "By the end of the month, we have nothing left to save!"

"Yeah," says Fancy Man. "I have no idea where it goes!"

"Well," says Casual Woman, "you're spending a lot...? On—"

"Oh. Ah. Mm," groans Fancy Man, his mouth full of lobster, as he gets massaged, totally ignoring Casual Woman.

"Is it good?" asks Fancy Woman. He responds with more groans. Casual Couple exchange a WTF look.

Suddenly Fancy Couple are in a hot air balloon basket and start to lift off. "How is my account overdrawn?!" wonders Fancy Woman.

Over the image of a hot air balloon, a male voiceover says, "When it comes to financial stability, don't get left behind. Get tools and tips for saving at Feed the Pig dot org."
Text indicates that the ad comes care of the Ad Council and AICPA, which is the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

Shaker speedbudget sent me this advertisement with the following text, which I am sharing with her permission: "I saw this horrible ad about saving money last night, and I was ready to throw something at the dang TV. I am living paycheck to paycheck, and it's not because I'm out spending money on lobsters and massages. It's because I don't make enough money to last me from paycheck to paycheck. I have student loan debt and credit card debt from when I was in said school just trying to feed myself. This ad also completely elides the fact that wages have been stagnant for 30 years now while the cost of living has gone up."

This ad is shitty for a whole lot of reasons, not least of which is because it evokes the trope of the irresponsible, extravagant spender living well beyond hir means, which became ubiquitous in public discussions of bankruptcies and home foreclosures at the height of the recession, as a means of redirecting accountability onto individuals and their frivolous spending habits while deflecting corporate responsibility for spiraling healthcare costs and predatory lending, just for a start.

And, yes, it is a big universe, and within it there are people who are financially irresponsible, but mostly these failures are the result of systemic problems, and tropes about failures of "personal responsibility" are the way in which we collectively continue to task individuals with finding solutions to those systemic problems.

It's important to call this bootstraps bullshit out every time we see it.

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[Content Note: Misogynistic tropes; rape culture.]

Shaker Cafeaulait0913 forwarded this Excedrin ad, which features a collection of thin, white, kyriarchitypically attractive women being relieved of their headaches:

A thin, young, white woman and a thin white man in an office approach a mountain of disorganized files. "Aw, this audit will take days," complains the man. The woman sighs. "What a headache," the man says. "Actually," the woman replies, "I don't have a headache anymore. Excedrin really does work fast."

Two very young white children, a boy and a girl, are playing in a well-appointed home. The boy knocks over some toys, which clatter noisily to the floor. "QUIET! MOM HAS A HEADACHE!" yells the girl. Mom, a thin, young, white woman, leans forward from her overstuffed chair. "Had a headache. But now, I don't!"

Over generic graphics of a male head in silhouette showing the medicine "working," a male voiceover says, "With two pain fighters plus a booster, Excedrin ends headaches fast. In fact, for some, relief starts in just 15 minutes."

A thin, young, white, different-sex couple lies in bed. The man is holding a book. The woman says, "Wow, my headache is gone." The man quickly closes the book and turns out the light. The room goes dark. The woman turns on her bedside light, to reveal the man hovering over her eagerly. "Not gonna happen," she says, to the man's chagrin.

Male voiceover: "Excredrin. Headache: Gone."
So, the thing about this ad is that it's clearly geared toward (white, straight, thin, privileged) women, and yet:

1. It uses a male silhouette in the graphics.

2. It uses a male voiceover.

3. It uses, as a punchline, the tired old trope about women using a headache to get out of sex they don't want to have with their husbands. Which, you know, is not actually a funny trope, as it's a reflection of a rape culture in which women must feign pain to delay sex, because their agency and right to simply say no isn't respected.

This certainly isn't the worst entry in this series, but it still gets a thumbs-down. Do better, Excedrin. Thanks.

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[Content Note: Rape jokes; disablist jokes; fat jokes; privilege.]

Shaker Rebekah forwarded me this piece about the series of adverts Ricky Gervais is doing for luxury car brand Audi, which have recently started airing in the US:

To launch its new A3 sedan, Audi of America is turning to Ricky Gervais to drive home the message that consumers should never compromise.

To hammer home the message, it cast Gervais, a comedian who is often blasted by critics for his acidic sense of humor and jokes.

Gervais is featured in an overall branding campaign called "Dues," and a separate shorter spot called "Names," as well as in a series of "Uncompromised Portraits," in which he discusses his process of telling jokes.
I've seen the "Names" spot several times, in which a little girl reads shitty tweets about Gervais, and he says they mean he's doing something right. The other two, I've only seen online, and this "Uncompromised Portrait" ad is hilariously awful:

The ad, filmed in black and white because OF COURSE IT IS, opens with piano music and text onscreen reading: "Audi A3 Presents: An uncompromised portrait. Ricky Gervais, writer, comedian, actor, etc..."

Gervais, sitting facing the camera, says: "I cherish the gasps as much as the laughs and the cheers and the rounds of applause." He makes a gasping noise. "I like that. I didn't turn up to any audience and go, 'What do you like? What shall I do? I do requests.' You know? The reaction after the Golden Globes was weird." This monologue is intercut with images of an empty theater, a man walking in the snow, a train, and other random shit because ART. "You usually have to be a mass murderer for that sort of column inches. But then, you know, by the end, they sort of got it. They went, 'Oh, okay then. He's just telling jokes.' I don't really want to do safe, homogenized stuff that everyone likes a bit, you know? I sort of like doing it my way, 'cause that's the fun. Every day should be filled with doing what you love. That's more important. It's more important than anything." Gervais grins.

Text onscreen: "Whatever you do, stay uncompromised." Audi logo.
Good fucking grief.

First of all: LOL FOREVER at the contention that people who criticized Gervais' garbage routine at the Golden Globes were somehow confused about the fact that he was telling jokes.

Secondly: LOL FOREVER at the assertion that Gervais isn't doing "safe, homogenized stuff" when he's a teller and defender of rape jokes, disablist jokes, and fat jokes (for a start), as if making fun of rape, disabled people, and fat people isn't so old it's got brontosaurus shit in the treads of its sensible shoes.

It is the height of irony that humorists who do bigoted humor are regarded as provocateurs.
I mean, sure, he's a "provocateur" if provocateur is broadly defined enough to encompass a playground antagonist who pokes other children with a stick. If anything designed to provoke any response can make one a provocateur, then give Ricky Gervais his trophy for Provocateur of the Year or whatever.

But "provocateur" really should mean something loftier—not a person who engages in the tiresome bigotry of misogyny and ableism, of racism and xenophobia, homophobia and transphobia, who tells and defends rape jokes, just to elicit an entirely predictable (and legitimate) negative reaction from people getting poked with the stick, who are then immediately dismissed with charges of "humorlessness" or a lack of sophistication required to get the nuances of a joke to which the punchline is, at its essence, you are less than me.

A provocateur, if the word is have real meaning, is someone who challenges existent paradigms and marginalizing narratives, who presents a radical thought that makes people sit rather uncomfortably in their privilege and urges them to wander off the well-worn path of their socialization. It's someone who changes minds.

It isn't someone who calls people "mongs" and pretends that it's brave.
That shit's about as edgy as an abacus.

Finally: All the mirthless laughter in the multiverse at another highly privileged person sagely dispensing the advice that "every day should be filled with doing what you love" because "it's more important than anything." EVEN EATING! OR SHELTER! So go ahead and quit your job at the factory and spend your days DOING WHAT YOU LOVE, because no matter what it is that you love, you can definitely get rich doing it, if only you work hard enough!

Jesus Jones. Everything about this advert is the worst. Except for the fact that it's probably a pretty great choice for selling a luxury car to privileged dipshits who think Gervais is a hero for bravely upholding kyriarchal norms and calling it radical.

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[Content Note: Sexism; gender essentialism.]

What in the shit is this advert from repeat offender Carl's Jr./Hardee's?

Video Description: The X-Men's Mystique, a blue-skinned shapeshifter who is currently played in the film franchise by Jennifer Lawrence but by someone else in this commercial, stands holding a big burger. She suddenly shape-shifts into a burly, traditionally handsome, white man, and then takes a giant bite of the burger.

"MAN UP" appears onscreen. "FOR 2X THE BACON."

The "man's" eyes, as "he" gazes upon a crispy strip of bacon, are Mystique's yellow eyes. "He" crunches down on it, and the shape flips back and forth between Burly Burger Man and Mystique.

"EAT LIKE YOU MEAN IT" appears onscreen, as the words are said by a male voiceover. Cut to an image of the burger beside a fountain drink. The voiceover says, "The Western X-tra bacon thickburger at Carl's Jr. and Hardee's." Followed by a plug for the new X-Men film.
We've talked dozens of times in this space about the pervasive narrative that MEN EAT MEAT, and all the various fast food chains which have had shitty commercials based on this premise. (Burger King and Applebee's are repeat offenders in that specific category.) So I've really got nothing new to say about that tired old gender essentialist chestnut.

However: I will note the irony that a franchise ostensibly concerned with serving as metaphor for marginalized communities would license one of its few recognizable female characters to participate in a garbage gender essentialist trope to sell fast food. Neat.


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[Content Note: Fat hatred.]

This Australian advertisement for Weight Watchers (WW) is one of the grossest—and unintentionally revealing—commentaries on the weight loss industry that I have ever seen (which is really saying something):

Text onscreen: "Dedicated to everyone who refused to give up trying." followed by the WW logo.

Over tinkly music, there is video of what is meant to be a montage of a thin white brunette woman's life (throughout, the aging representations of this woman are thin, white, and brunette): A baby being born; a toddler swimming in a pool; a young girl on a school bus; a teenage girl kissing a white boy; a young woman running into the water on a beach with a white young man; a woman smashing a plate during a fight with a man; a woman on a date with a man; a woman breastfeeding a child; a middle-aged woman negotiating at work; a middle-aged woman standing in her kitchen looking tired; an older woman seeing a doctor with her older white husband.

Over these clips is a female voiceover saying: "You were incredible from minute one. You refused to give up trying. You survived school. You didn't run from your first kiss. You sought out adventure. You fell out of love; bravely back into it. You said yes to always being there. You stood up for what you believed in. You conquered the impossible daily. You won unwinnable battles."

The video then shows a series of individual people: A young thin white woman; a middle-aged thin black man; a young thin white woman; a thin middle-aged white woman;

Over these clips, the female voiceover says: "These are your stories. Never forget how incredible you are."

Text onscreen: "Awaken YOUR incredible. Weight Watchers."
This advertisement is straight-up hateful garbage.

1. WW has a virtually nonexistent success rate for long-term weight loss. Which means that they make lots and lots of money off of people who "refuse to give up trying," hoping that WW's promised "lifestyle change" (i.e. permanent diet) will work for them this time. WW is deeply invested in promoting the idea that if you fail to lose weight on their program, it's down to your lack of effort, not down to their program being garbage that doesn't work for most people on a long-term basis. They are exploiting fat hating narratives that attribute fatness to laziness, and doing it under the auspices of telling fat people we're "incredible."

2. Every person in this video is thin. There isn't a fat person to be seen. This is because images of thin people are supposed to be aspirational for fat people, and because the weight loss industry is explicitly eliminationist: The stated objective is to get rid of fat people. WW on the one hand tells fat people that they're "incredible," but also erases us from the world. The message is, of course, that fat people are really only incredible once we've lost weight—or at least commit ourselves to trying.

3. Pervasive, intense, aggressive fat hatred stops lots of fat people from being able to survive school, or seeking out romantic relationships, or seeking out adventure. It's particularly cruel to show images of thin people doing these things, that many fat people can't or don't do, because of the hatred directed at us for our bodies, with a voiceover suggesting "you're incredible because you've done these things."

4. The takeaway, naturally, is that: "If you haven't done these things, it's because you're fat. And if you're thin, you'll be able to do all of them!" The constant misattribution of restricted lives to "being fat" instead of "being targeted by incessant fat hatred" is bullshit. And WW knows it's bullshit. But they don't make money if fat people don't feel like we don't deserve to live until we are thin.

5. Fuck you, Weight Watchers. I'm fat and incredible. Precisely because I don't consider those mutually exclusive conditions.

[H/T to Marilyn Wann.]

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LOL Sure

The Republican National Committee has a TERRIFIC new ad campaign designed to appeal to Millennials. Starring Scott the Cool Millennial, who you know is cool because he is a white guy who wears tortoiseshell specs and a leather jacket and has carefully unkempt facial hair, the ads are PRETTY COMPELLING. I'm sure you'll agree:

A young white man, as above described, sits in his car. He looks ahead, not at the camera, which is to his side, and says, as though he's reading it from a cue card plastered against his unseen windshield, "I shouldn't have to check my bank account before I fill up my car, but soooooo much of my paycheck ends up going to gas! And we haven't even talked about my heating bill at home. So when it comes to energy policy for this country, I'm for everything—solar, wind, shale gas, oil, whatever. [chuckles] I'm a Republican, because we should have an all-of-the-above energy policy."

The Republican Party elephant logo pops onscreen, accompanied by text reading: "Create Your American Dream."
Alex Pareene, who gets the hat tip, says: "I mean, increased domestic energy production doesn't necessarily lower fuel prices in the U.S. because it is a worldwide market, and 'all of the above' is actually the energy policy of both parties, but, you know, 'whatever,' as the millennials say. 'LOL,' they sext one another. 'Let's frack some shale gas, YOLO.'"


But Scott the Cool Millennial isn't finished yet!

Scott stands on a city street, beside his car, and faces the camera but looks off to one side of it, still as though he's reading from a cue card: "I feel pretty lucky to have a job. So many people I know are unemployed. And it's like their lives are stuck in neutral." The camera pulls back to reveal he's gassing up his car. (LOL.) "So I get ticked off at politicians who say they want to help the unemployed, and then vote for regulations that make it impossible to hire anyone." The camera cuts back in to the closer shot. "Listen, you can't help the unemployed by hurting the people that could employ them. I'm a Republican because my friends need a paycheck, not an empty promise."

The Republican Party elephant logo pops onscreen, accompanied by text reading: "Create Your American Dream."
Regulation of corporations is such a bummer, amirite? It LITERALLY makes it IMPOSSIBLE for corporations to hire people!

There are a couple of problems with that assertion, but I am even more confused by the idea of a 20-something saying he's "ticked off."

Welp, good luck with your campaign, Republicans. I'm sure all the kids will love it!

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False Advertising

[Content Note: Diet talk; disordered eating; hostility to consent.]

Most of us are probably aware, at least on some level, that the "before and after" pictures that accompany many weight loss products aren't legit. Some of them are obviously faked, either via evident Photoshop fuckery or visible attempts to present someone of the same size just dressed in different clothes and sucking in their guts. And some of them are just outright stolen images of people who lost weight:

One such ad, for Wu-Yi Source Tea, claimed to promote weight loss with glowing testimonials from customers. It said one user of the product lost "68 lbs." and offered her photos as proof.

TODAY spoke to Brook Shadwell, who was named and quoted in the ad as saying, "Wu-Yi Tea is the only one I would have used. I'm extremely happy with the results. Looks like I'll be drinking tea now." The ad is "completely false," according to Shadwell.

"I didn't even drink the tea," Shadwell said. "I haven't even tried the tea. I don't even know what this tea is!"

Shadwell, a California mother of two, really did lose the weight — not from any product, but from a year of hard dieting and exercise. Proud of herself, she posted before-and-after photos on her personal blog.

"They took my image from my blog and pulled it to promote their product," Shadwell told TODAY. "I was completely shocked; that's how I felt initially, very shocked."

...One woman's "shrinking" figure has appeared in many ads under many different names: "Jenny Conrad," "Nicole Stevenson," "Kathy Thompson." The truth is, she's a plus-size model from Germany whose image is for sale on stock photo sites. And the "after" shots of her are Photoshopped to make her look thinner.

...Personal trainer Andrew Dixon showed TODAY how easy it can be to go from fat to fit in a flash. "I just slouch down, let my gut hang out, and I haven't shaved yet, so I have no definition," he said, posing for the "before."

Then Dixon quickly shaved his face and chest to "give me some more definition"; slicked back his hair to make it appear time had passed between the photos; changed into slimmer shorts, and added some overhead lighting "which brings shadows below my pecs and in my abs, that sort of pops the muscles out more," he explained.

The "after" shot of the same body, taken just five minutes later, looked dramatically different. "That's why you should question all the before-and-after photos in fitness magazines and advertisements," Dixon said.
Well, it's one reason you should question them. Another reason is because increasing one's fitness doesn't necessarily mean losing weight.

Many people, of all sizes, have a weight "set point," which means, without any significant disordered eating, their body weight will vary somewhere between 10-20 pounds, irrespective of their fitness.

I have been about the same weight for almost two decades, and there have been years where I was chain-smoking and getting no exercise and eating nothing close to the healthiest foods for me, and there have been years where I was not smoking and getting lots of exercise every day and eating the healthiest foods for me, and my weight doesn't significantly vary, even though my fitness and general health do. I feel very different when I'm taking good care of myself, but I don't lose significant weight.

Before I'd encountered the Health at Every Size paradigm, that was very discouraging to me. Now, I just feel good that I feel good!

The thing is that there is a lot of discouragement from feeling good about taking care of oneself if one isn't losing weight. I still hear from my doctor every visit that I need to lose weight. "Portion control!" she chirps at me, after literally never having had a single conversation with me about what my portion sizes are.

And, in a piece for Bustle today, Amy McCarthy writes about being a fat woman with an (under)eating disorder. This line is so right on: "I learned quickly that doctors didn't give a shit how I was losing weight, so long as I was."

Years ago, I was terribly ill with a persistent case of bronchitis for months. I was utterly drained of energy and had completely lost my appetite. Not eating virtually anything at all but an occasional bowl of plain rice resulted in my losing weight. (And facilitated a cycle of having no energy. I was probably eating less than 500 calories a day for about a month.) My doctor was thrilled that I'd lost weight. But was less excited about my dangerously low iron levels. I was instructed to get those iron levels back up, but "try to do it without gaining any of the weight back."

That isn't healthcare.

Healthcare, for fat people, starts with believing truly that taking care of ourselves doesn't necessarily mean weight loss. That our bodies are worth taking care of even if they're fat and stay fat.

Even if our "before" and "after" pictures look exactly the same to a casual viewer.

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[Content Note: Rape culture.]

Shaker Mod aforalpha passed this one along to me—an advert called "Would You Whip It Out at Work?" for UrgentRx Critical Care Aspirin:

Two middle-aged white men are working in a warehouse, loading (or unloading?) boxes onto a pallet. White Man #1 turns to the camera and says, "Am I ready to whip it out? You betcha. I can feel my package in my pocket right now. Having it there makes me feel better. And if old man Dan here needed it, I wouldn't hesitate. I'd whip it out and give it to him." He reaches into his pocket as White Man #2 says, "Whoa whoa whoa whoa!" and holds up his hands. He pulls out a package of UrgentRx Critical Care Aspirin.

Cut to graphics of the product, with a male voiceover saying, "UrgentRx Critical Care Aspirin. It's the flavored fast powder you take right away—" graphic of a disembodied female mouth sticking the tongue out to receive a dose of powder "—to help improve the odds of surviving a heart attack." The camera zooms in through the open mouth and we return to the men in the warehouse.

White Man #2 says, standing with his hand on White Man #1's shoulder, "You'd whip yours out and give it to me?"

White Man #1 pokes him in the chest and replies, "That's the kind of guy I am."

White Man #2 says, "Aww, thanks, man."

Cut to graphics reading: "Whip it out. Save a life." The male voiceover says, "Learn how to save your bacon at"
Ha ha DO YOU GET IT?! It's FUNNY because it's like the guy is talking about whipping out HIS DICK, which would be a sexual assault, but he's really talking about whipping out MEDICINE. Ha ha OH MY ACHING SIDES.

teaspoon icon If you would like to contact UrgentRx and let them know that using sexual assault as a "hilarious" double-entendre in their advertising is a real bullshit move, you can contact them here, leave a note on their Facebook page, and/or tweet at them: @urgentRx.

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[Content Note: Classism; bootstraps; privilege; disablist language.]

I haven't seen this advert myself, but Shaker KatherineSpins sent it to me with a note that it's airing a lot during the Olympics. Everything—every. single. thing.—about this commercial for the Cadillac ELR is gross.

Actor Neal McDonough, a thin, white, middle-aged man starts off standing in front of a pool in "his" backyard, then walks throughout a luxuriously appointed mansion as he talks, eventually going into "his" bedroom then coming out dressed in an expensive suit before getting into a shiny new black Cadillac. The mansion and the car have all the highest-end tech toys and finishes, and "his" family, including thin, white, kyriarchetypically attractive children and wife, are featured as if to suggest they are his beautiful, fancy property, just like everything else.

The dialogue, over these images:
Why do we work so hard? For what? For this? [gestures at pool] For stuff? Other countries, they work, they stroll home, they stop by the café, they take August off. Off. Why aren't you like that? Why aren't we like that? Because we're crazy, driven, hardworking believers, that's why. [high-fives his daughter as he walks by her] Those other countries think we're nuts. Whatever.

Were the Wright Brothers insane? Bill Gates? Les Paul? Ali? Were we nuts when we pointed to the moon? That's right—we went up there, and you know what we got? Bored! So we left. Got a car up there, left the keys in it, do you know why? 'Cuz we're the only ones going back up there, that's why.

But I digress. It's pretty simple: You work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything is possible.

As for all the stuff, that's the upside of only taking two weeks off in August. N'est-ce pas?

Good fucking grief.

I could spend the next six days of my life detailing everything I hate about this classist, nationalistic, privileged, contemptible piece of bootstraps bullshittery, but I'mma just turn it over to you in comments and let you have at it, since I've nothing to say about this rancid slop that I haven't already said about conservative ideology, the "American Dream," prosperity gospel, and other associated Gordon Gecko garbage a thousand times before. Barf almighty.

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[Content Note: Misogyny; eating policing; fat bias.]

I saw this commercial last night. It's for repeat offender Taco Bell's "Loaded Grillers," and it is such a piece of shit:

A young thin white man and a young thin white* woman sit at a bar. The man is eating chicken wings, and the woman is eating a salad, eying the man's chicken wings. Guitar music.

The woman reaches for the plate of wings and grabs one and eats it hungrily, while the man gives her A Look. A male voiceover says: "To all the girlfriends out there who just wanted to try a chicken wing."

Cut to the same couple at a concert, where the woman grabs a nacho off a plate of nachos the man is holding. The man looks frustrated. "Who just wanted to try one of our nachos."

Cut to the same couple at a food truck, where the man is buying an order of fries. The woman grabs a handful of fries and shoves them in her mouth. The man looks sad. "And who said things like 'I'm fine!' when we're ordering chili cheese fries."

Cut to the couple sitting on a couch at a house party, watching a game on the TV. The man takes a bite of a Taco Bell Loaded Griller, which is basically a grilled burrito. The woman looks thwarted. "Sorry! But you're gonna have to get your own."

Cut to images of burritos. "Chili cheese fries and chipotle ranch chicken, grilled inside a tortilla so you don't have to share. Taco Bell's newest Loaded Grillers. Appetizers for just a buck."
Ah, the old "women won't eat—except for MY FOOD!" chestnut, staple of lazy misogynist stand-up comics everywhere.

And an episode of Friends fully one million years ago. Totally trenchant, Taco Bell!

It's a familiar narrative: A cis-het man loves a woman who eats! OMG she ate a steak on our date; that is so awesome, dude! But he hates a woman who isn't perfectly, flawlessly thin. OMG she had visible cellulite on her thighs; that is so gross, dude! And he hates a woman who only orders a salad at dinner, but then steals his food. OMG she ordered a salad, but then ate some of my fries!

And truly—who cannot feel this man's pain? Where are the women who will eat exactly what a man wants them to eat, no more and no less, and always remain exactly how he wants her to look? Human women with bodily functions are so annoying, amirite?

Don't even get him started on women who fart!

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[Content Note: Misogyny; patriarchy; gender essentialism; gender policing.]

Spudsy sent me the heads-up about this abysmal advert, the latest in the "Hail to the V" series produced by Summer's Eve:

A thin, young, white woman stands at a vanity in the bathroom, applying make-up, while a thin, young, white man is in the shower, lathering his body.

Woman: Did you know Summer's Eve Cleansing Wash is PH-balanced and gentler than soap, which makes it perfectly formulated for a woman's V?

Man: Huh?

Woman: Did you know you're using it?

The man freezes, terrified, and looks at the bottle of soap in his hand, which is labeled "Summer's Eve." Guitar music. Cut to a montage of the man doing Very Manly Things: Splitting wood in the backyard, cracking a raw egg into a glass and drinking it, playing drums in the garage, punching a speedbag, belly-flopping into a pool, karate chopping wood planks suspended between two cement blocks, pulling a roped car with his teeth, welding a helmet, mowing the grass on a riding mower while wearing the helmet, drinking beer and crushing the can.

He flops down on the couch beside the woman. "That was close," she says.

Images of the line of Summer's Eve body washes, accompanied by text reading: "Hail to the V."
Every single thing about this commercial is fucking terrible.

Once again, I will note how it is women who are called "the weaker sex," and yet the patriarchy defines men's masculinity as so delicate, so fragile, so easily compromised, that even using a soap intended for women necessitates putting one's body through painful demonstrations of masculine strength in order to protect it.

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What in Assvertising Hell Is This?

[Content Note: Misogyny; sexuality policing; stalking; heterocentrism.]

This is a new ad from Old Spice, which is getting all kinds of media attention at the moment, featuring a series of moms who are "hilariously" lamenting their sons becoming men by wearing Old Spice:

Video Description: A young thin white man stands shirtless in his bedroom applying Old Spice body spray. Tinkly piano music. As he walks out of his bedroom and closes the door behind him, his in-betweenie white middle-aged mom is revealed hiding behind the door. She sings, "Oh I didn't see it coming / But it came in a can." Cut to the young man strolling in a park under an umbrella with a young thin white woman. His mother emerges from the bushes. "Now my sweet son's sprayed into a man."

Cut to another young thin white couple driving down the highway in a red convertible. His in-betweenie white middle-aged mother is clinging to the rear bumper while riding in a laundry basket. She sings, "Mine, too, and hey we know just who to blame..."

Cut to another young thin white couple eating lunch together in a cafeteria. His in-betweenie white middle-aged mom pops up between them. A janitor sweeping nearby turns around, revealing another white middle-aged mom, spying on her son. A chorus of moms sings, "...when our sons have fun with women and misbehave."

Cut to a black middle-aged mom poking her head out of the sand on a beach where her young thin black son is lying on a blanket with his young thin black girlfriend. The mom sings, "Old Spice made a man of my son..." The couple stroll down the beach and she follows them, burrowing through the sand. Cut to another young thin white couple sitting on the beach at the edge of the water. A thin white middle-aged mom washes up on shore near them. She sings, " he's kissing all the women and his chores aren't done."

Cut to another young thin white couple at whom his mom is peeking through cut-outs in the living room blinds. A chorus of moms sings, "He was just my little sweetie / Tiny fingers, hands, and feeties / Now he's touching, kissing, feeling all women because OLD SPICE!"

A white mom peeks through bushes. A white mom throws a tray of cookies into the sand. A white mom's fist punches a chocolate cake. A white mom peers through a window from outside in the rain and cries. A white mom, playing a violin, falls out of the sky into a park just behind her son and his girlfriend. The first white mom slides out from under the couch cushion beside where her son is making out with his girlfriend; the mom slides on her back across the carpet and into another room and up onto another sofa where she picks up knitting.

The mom sings, "Old Spice sprayed a man of my son / Now he smells like a man / And they treat him like one." She cries. Old Spice logo etc.

I mean, look, I'm a fan of absurdery as much as anyone, but what the shit is this mess? So, Old Spice "sprays" boys into men, and what constitutes being a man is making out with girls (because only straight men are men, natch), and mothers lose their everloving fucking minds at the idea of their sons being sexually active so they have to stalk them and weep and destroy baked goods, and WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN UNDERSTAND.

Of course, I don't find anything funny about possessive, over-protective parents who meddle in and police their children's sexuality, whether it's "jokes" about fathers violently policing their daughters' sexuality or "jokes" about mothers overbearingly interfering in their sons' relationships, because, as we all know, I'm the Most Humorless Feminist in all of Nofunnington. So it's no surprise that my ribs aren't tickled by adding a kooky song and some weird graphics to what is essentially a narrative about how women's entire identity is wrapped up in children so mothers of sons lose their shit when their boys turn into men and REPLACE THEIR MOTHERS WITH GIRLS TO HAVE ALL THE SEX WITH.

Oh, I know. It's only a commercial. It's just good fun! Except for how the normalization of this sort of sexuality policing, the wide cultural acceptance of parents having an unhealthy investment in their children's relationship and sex choices, causes harm to lots and lots of people. Yuk yuk.

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I Don't Even Know

Every year at this time, I see eleventy million holiday adverts in which people are buying cars for each other for Christmas and leaving them in the driveway with giant red ribbons on them. And every year, I wonder: Who the fuck is buying each other cars as presents?!

Besides the Romneys, obviously.


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[Content Note: Misogyny.]

Every single year around Christmastime, there is some advert (or multiple adverts) the premise of which is a straight dude buying THE PERFECT GIFT for his wife, so she can use it to do something for him. To wit, this Walmart/KitchenAid commercial, which I have seen 97 zillion times in the last couple of weeks:

As up-tempo Christmas music plays in the background, a middle-aged, in-betweenie sized black man stands in an aisle at Walmart looking at a stand mixer.

A female voiceover says: "It is better to give than receive. Just give someone who loves to bake a KitchenAid mixer."

The man envisions a holiday cake disappearing piece by piece. "Yummy!" says the female voiceover.

Cut back to the man holding the mixer under his arm, while standing in a Superman stance with one hand on his hip, looking into the distance, pleased with himself.

"Dad, you own this season!" says the voiceover. A male voiceover kicks in to talk about the benefits of shopping at Walmart. The end.
Dad, you own this season—for buying something for Mom that she can use to bake you delicious cake!

I find these adverts only slightly less objectionable than the ones where men are buying jewelry with the implication it will get them laid.

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Assvertising, Part Wev

Video Description: A young white man sprays with a garden hose a GIANT white baby sitting in his driveway. Cut to the man walking across a grocery store parking lot and dropping his bags to run across the lot and stop a cart from running into the giant baby sitting in a parking space. Cut to the man opening his garage door to say good morning to the giant baby. A woman's voice says in voiceover: "In the nation, we know how you feel about your car. So when coverage really counts—" Cut to the giant baby crying next to a spraying fire hydrant while the man looks on with angst. "—count on Nationwide Insurance." The baby then turns into a blue muscle car which has hit the hydrant and has a crumpled hood. "Because what's precious to you is precious to us. Just another way we put members first." Cut to the man at a car repair shop, where the car is now a giant baby again, playing with a tire. "Because we don't have shareholders. Join the nation." Cut to info for Nationwide Insurance.

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I hate this commercial. I don't have any insightful commentary about why I hate it, lol. I just HATE IT SO MUCH. And I bet some other people hate it, too, so let's talk about how much we hate it!

Or tell me why you love it! Or have no feelings about it at all!

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