Saturday, October 12, 2013

Do You Want To Better Yourself

It can be sold. Whatever it is, it can be sold. There is not a product or idea in the world that can't be sold. The right advertising campaign can change any opinion. Ideas that have been locked in place for hundreds of years can be shifted and a new target audience made. For instance, prior to the advertising campaign to draw women into the habit of smoking, to use tobacco and smoke cigars and pipes was thought to be a manly room. In Victorian England and before the men had "smoking rooms" and would retire to smoke after dinner. Women sat in the music room, or went to bed. However, during the beginning of advertising the executives realized that by advertising to women they would have access to 50% more customers. All they had to do was change the publics preconceived ideas about who could smoke. Smoking became cool and rebellious for women and was the new habit of entire households for many years to come. 
Interestingly enough women were considered equals in the eyes of the advertisers. They were consumers just as men are. All money is the same. Not the same can be said about the ads produced for women. They were not the same ads targeting men, and the ads targeting women are still starkly different from ads that target men today. Look at the above example for Marlboro, this woman with perfectly sculpted eyebrows is conveyed as something fragile that needed to be defended from the dangerous world, her lips are too fragile for the normal filtered tip, she needs "Ivory Tips" to "protect the lips." This gentle and ladylike habit is portrayed as "Mild as May." 

Ideal is the best situation or possible outcome. An ideal woman is the prettiest, and most womanly type of woman. The ideal woman isn't created by women. Ads during the beginning of the Madison Advertising period were created by men in offices and the men controlling the camera and choosing her clothing. To see these perfect eyebrows and manicured nails tells women this is what they strive for in order to better themselves. Advertisements are always about improving and bettering one's self. 

 Magazines, books, movies and television tell us how we should look and act, as Kilbourne says advertising is "the most powerful educational force in society." (Killbourne, 121). We are visual creatures, imitation is how all organisms learn to function, without it humanity would not survive. This essential trait, therefore is impossible to escape. Humans can not be stopped from trying to copy one another and what is presented before them.  The best we can do is to critique and decide which trends will improve us and which do not set the society on a path to bettering itself. 

Organizations and websites have popped up all over the internet critiquing and reviewing the media about images. Many of these are positive like The encouragement provided by these groups is badly needed. Advocates for change a far and few. Classes have to be made about women, that fact that we are in a class about women and the media points out how badly change is needed. The day that we don't need a class to teach equality is the day that all genders are equal.

Stanford Research into the Impact of Tabacco Advertising.'s%20Cigarettes&subtheme_name=Marlboro. October, 12, 2013

Kilbourne, Jean. "Beauty and the Beast of Advertising." Media & Values. N.p.: Winter, 1989. 121-25. Print.

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