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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Not For Girls Or Gays

(Welcome Althouse readers!)

By now, most people in the US are well aware of the Snickers Super Bowl advert.

It showed two car mechanics who somehow lip-locked whilst eating each end of a Snickers Bar, and to mask their gay overtones embarrassment, they decided to rip their own chest hair out, in a show of masculine bravado.

Here's the commercial on Youtube, which incidentally has three alternate endings.

As law blogger, Ann Althouse, noted:
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign complained and got Masterfoods to withdraw it (after it played during the Super Bowl). I wonder if non-activist gay people and gay-friendly non-gay people are offended by that ad. I think it's funny. It makes fun of guys who are afraid of being gay, which isn't endorsing homophobia. It's mocking it.

Something quite palpable to anyone who watched the ad, during the game.

(Note to The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and Human Rights Campaign: try to get a snappier title. Writing, let alone saying this, is about as accomodating as Margaret Cho is about President Bush. Maybe 'Gays Against Disses'? That works)

In the day of the Borat Phenomenon, which pokes fun at both gays and homophobia in such starkly satiric terms, you'd think that maybe Masterfoods could get away with this ad, without raising a hullabaloo, right?

Nope. We're not there yet. I mean, we're not back there yet. I mean, oh God, you know what I mean.

Anything vaguely touching on the gay angle is not appreciated by those who don't anoint the source as noble in intentions, beforehand -- like a guy who likes to make fun of beefy, working-class, white Southern men, ironically the kind inferred in this commercial.

I personally tittered when I first saw the ad, but it quickly became silly on second showing.

But then that's when it hit me.

Hey! Didn't we have a similar outcry about a candy bar advert in Britain, back in the day (2001)?

That's the year that Nestlé UK came out with their new ad campaign for the venerable Yorkie Bar, featuring the unforgettable tagline:



Woo, it's not for me! Waaaaait a minute. No, no. That's okay. I don't like candy, remember, so woo, yeaghhh! High ten!

As you can imagine, the feminists in the UK, and a good deal many other women besides, had a field day with the situation.

At "The F-Word" British feminist site, one writer actually notes that there are not one, but TWO candy bar ads making the rounds then, which featured anti-woman overtones; the other being the Echo Bar.

Catherine Redfern then says:

Nestle claims to be taking a stand for the “British bloke” and says that by making a chocolate “just for men”, they are offering men something just for them in a changing, confusing world. They have actually used the word “reclaiming”, as if women have “taken” chocolate away from men - despite the obvious fact that chocolate is mainly marketed to women by the people who create it.

But from the ads, they seem to be targeting not “British men” but British, large, bearded, macho, builders. That’s gotta be a limited market, guys.

Hey, that's actually sound argumentation.

Capitalism is not about alienating potential spenders of dosh. It's about targetting the largest common denominator so everyone gets rich, yay!

And then this blogger in America recently pounced on the candy bar, making her muse about what men are entitled to have these days, just for them.

What I want to know is what don't men have left to claim for themselves any more? The remote? I got my own, I don't need yours. Sports? Have at it fellas, I'm truly not interested unless there is a good story. I don't have cable and even if I did I will not be watching ESPN and dang sure not Fox Sports Network.

Hummers? either the automobile or the other kind? Which last I heard (unless you are in the 10% club) you still need a woman. Or some kind of suction device.

10% club? Is this a Shortbus reference I'm not getting? You know, that scene. Anyway.

So I checked the Nestlé site, and found out that indeed, their advert campaign did hinge on making a gender-exclusive statement.

YORKIE - "IT'S NOT FOR GIRLS"

In 2001 the Yorkie "It’s Not for Girls" campaign was launched because, in today’s society, there aren’t many things that a man can look at and say that’s for him.

The 'Not For Girls' campaign theme for Yorkie uses humour, which resonates with today’s British male and simply states that Yorkie is positioning itself as a chocolate bar for men who need a satisfying hunger buster. With five solid chunks of chocolate, it’s a man sized eat!


You know, I kinda had more sympathy and allowed myself a giggle at my own sex' expense BEFORE I read this disclaimer by Nestlé.

Here they just sound rather like schoolboys caught leering at the girl's soccer team, and then claiming they were just doing so because boys will be boys, and anyway, they were there to make fun of the girls playing soccer -- as if such a ridiculous thing as girls knowing about soccer existed, pfff.

And though of course, the emphasis is to draw attention to their product, even bad attention, to increase sales due to exposure, that "man-sized eat" ending hung there like a limpid flag of protest.

They backtracked, soft-pedalled, and went out on the offensive, all in one. How dorky is that?

Without further preamble, here is the Youtube ad featuring the Yorkie Bar "It's Not For Girls!" tagline.

Judge for yourself if it was offensive, or silly, or funny, or "all of the above", that uniquely post-modern response to every ticklish question.



And yes, the ad campaign and chockie bars' wrapper did get axed.

Are you kidding me? Who wants to have a Yorkie Bar, when you can have Wine Gums instead?

SEE ALSO: The Candy Wrapper Museum

P.S.: Remind me, since I am too young to remember, did feminists or outraged males have a collective cow, when the roll-on Secret deodorant was being flogged on the airwaves?



"Strong enough for a MAN, but made for a WOMAN"

My tell-me-if-it's-sexist-or-not Glora Steinem 8-ball just doesn't know what to say about that.

Can you think of other examples of these "for one sex only" advertising campaigns?

And can you imagine the outrage in America by disparate groups, if Nestlé USA were to use the Not For Girls campaign for their candies here?

My dears. We would never hear the end of it.

I guess the only extanct one is, Swanson's Hungry Man TV dinners.

Dudes, if you want to eat one pound of Salisbury Steak, knock yourselves out.

I'm on the Overtown diet.

IN THE COMMENTS: Ruth Anne looks forward to gender-neutral tampon ads; Christine clarifies that the 10% is the Kinseyian percentage attributed to the amount of homosexuals in the population (doh!); Ron remembers a saucy Irish Spring soap ad; whilst Pastor_Jeff reminisces about the allure of Enjoli and Charlie to women of the 1970s, who were starting to live lives outside the home, and wanted to smell right for the occasion, so to speak.

But for those who were still stay-at-home mums, Charlie spoke to a life more sophisticated and fun, as well.

I just thought of another advert, with quasi-sexist-feminist overtones.

The much loved "It's not nice to fool mother nature!" margarine ad.



I vaguely recognise that actress. It's not Bea Arthur of Maude fame, is it?

She's got that same low timbre to her voice, and looks a bit mannish, as aging women did during those burning bra times (vide Bella Abzug).

Labels: , , ,

24 Comments:

  • Well, there's that classic Irish Spring campaign where the woman ends each commercial with "Manly, yes, but I like it too." Here, we have the virtue of blaming sexism on the Irish.

    If only that Russian had had a pound of Salisbury Steak instead of sushi! It is know to absorb all radioactive elements, and not exit your colon for at least 4,5 months....

    By Blogger Ron, at Thu Feb 08, 05:44:00 am GMT-5  

  • I look forward to the gender-neutral tampon ads.

    You know they're good at staunching a gunshot wound...

    By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Thu Feb 08, 07:38:00 am GMT-5  

  • Well, there's that classic Irish Spring campaign where the woman ends each commercial with "Manly, yes, but I like it too."

    Right! I think I've seen that.

    A burly Irish man appears, and an ginger-haired Irish smells him, whilst grabbing his manly biceps, and says that, right?

    I'll try to Youtube.

    Here, we have the virtue of blaming sexism on the Irish.

    What about the Keebler elves? They look gay to me.

    If only that Russian had had a pound of Salisbury Steak instead of sushi! It is know to absorb all radioactive elements, and not exit your colon for at least 4,5 months....

    Ewww...lol. You know, I was going to blog about Sasha Litvenenko, but you know me, I like to come up with an original angle, not just "oh, this Russian journalist dude died" breaking news blogstory.

    I haven't come up with anything yet, but I will, I will...

    But Ron! And Ruth Anne below! You haven't told me specifically your opinions on the Yorkie Bar advert.

    Be honest, Ron, if you find it funny don't think you'll offend!

    I found it funny. Especially the hairy spider. :)

    (If you know me, you'll find that astounding!)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 08:49:00 am GMT-5  

  • I look forward to the gender-neutral tampon ads.

    Or how about those ads for, God I don't even know the product, but they purport to keep a lady "fresh".

    Maybe FDS?

    Of course, I've always personally felt left out during the jock itch ads. I'm sure Gloria Steinem has too.

    You know they're good at staunching a gunshot wound...

    LOL!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 08:51:00 am GMT-5  

  • Ruth Anne is right: They use tampons in Iraq for stopping up big gunshot wounds.

    You want your Litvenenko angle? It was the teapot that was irradiated! Plus, the police screwed up and left the 'hot' teapot there to be used a few more times until they got a clue...

    The Yorkie ad? I find it so oddly funny I'm unsure what to say! It's one thing to make a bad joke, but to keep making that joke in the face of criticism? You wind up thinking about how obtuse the person is and what the hell are they seeing?

    By Blogger Ron, at Thu Feb 08, 09:00:00 am GMT-5  

  • The "10 percent" is a reference to an estimate of how many gay people there are in the united states.

    By Blogger Christine, at Thu Feb 08, 09:14:00 am GMT-5  

  • The Yorkie commercial is very funny and well done! People need to lighten up a bit and not be so fanatical about their own "causes" that they stop seeing humor everywhere!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Thu Feb 08, 09:41:00 am GMT-5  

  • I just saw a Dial soap ad for cleaning your 'mansuit!' Cartoony and dumb!

    By Blogger Ron, at Thu Feb 08, 09:51:00 am GMT-5  

  • According to the BBC, the irradiated teapot came into contact with 128 people, "only" 13 of which had noticeable levels of Polonium radiation!

    You need a "Brown Betty" with a Photoshopped green glow...

    By Blogger Ron, at Thu Feb 08, 10:54:00 am GMT-5  

  • Ruth Anne is right: They use tampons in Iraq for stopping up big gunshot wounds.

    Oh my God. I thought it was a joke on Ruth Anne's part.

    That LOL seems so callous now...

    You want your Litvenenko angle? It was the teapot that was irradiated! Plus, the police screwed up and left the 'hot' teapot there to be used a few more times until they got a clue...

    Wow...well, I think I got my angle, which will include this bit of news, Ron, thanks. :)

    The Yorkie ad? I find it so oddly funny I'm unsure what to say! It's one thing to make a bad joke, but to keep making that joke in the face of criticism? You wind up thinking about how obtuse the person is and what the hell are they seeing?

    My mother said she couldn't understand the Scottish grocer's accent.

    "Are yee surrrre yerrr no' a birrrd?"

    I had to translate it for her. :)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 12:48:00 pm GMT-5  

  • The "10 percent" is a reference to an estimate of how many gay people there are in the united states.

    Doh! Thanks Christine. I feel so parochial now.

    I thought the suction reference had some correlation to the opening scene of Shortbus, where a man is auto-fellating himself.

    Come to think of it, he was gay...

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 12:51:00 pm GMT-5  

  • The Yorkie commercial is very funny and well done! People need to lighten up a bit and not be so fanatical about their own "causes" that they stop seeing humor everywhere!

    I agree, Jose.

    I think we all know when something is truly misogynistic in tone. At least I do (like going to Royal Troon, and being denied access because I was a woman...but it was the WAY the porter said it, with a fussy superior air, that made it very disgusting to me).

    This wasn't one of those times.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 12:54:00 pm GMT-5  


  • You need a "Brown Betty" with a Photoshopped green glow...


    LOL! I might just use that.

    I found what a website says is a sexist Braniff commercial, with the tagline:

    "Because even an airline hostess should look like a girl."

    Snatch!

    (Real Audio link)

    Stews -- as guys like Frank Sinatra used to call them -- get a lot of stick from their employer's advertising campaigns.

    The same site mentions that NOW picketed National Airlines because they used the slogan, "Fly Me".

    And PanAm actually used, "Take Me I'm Yours" showing mini-skirted airhostesses, which also got the Patricia Ireland treatment.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 01:00:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I may be misremembering, but "Fly Me!" used to be on the hip or butt(!) of the miniskirts...

    Troops have used condoms to cover gun barrels of tanks back to North Africa in WWII, and today in Iraq of course. I remember a photo of a gun barrel, --looks, can't find-- that had "wrap that rascal!" on it!

    By Blogger Ron, at Thu Feb 08, 01:44:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Troops have used condoms to cover gun barrels of tanks back to North Africa in WWII, and today in Iraq of course. I remember a photo of a gun barrel, --looks, can't find-- that had "wrap that rascal!" on it!

    Whoa, those are very thin tank barrels.

    I mean, even with the black Magnums, that's a tight fit, no...

    Of course, I have this visual in mind. Rrrr.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 01:52:00 pm GMT-5  

  • The old Virginia Slims ads ("You've come a long way, baby!") didn't say "for women only," but I couldn't imagine a man smoking Virginia Slims.

    My wife and I stll occasionally laugh at the old perfume commercial:

    "I can bring home the bacon,
    Fry it up in a pan,
    And never, never, never let you forget you're the man;
    'Cuz I'm a woman ... Enjoli!"

    And I thought the Yorkie ad was pretty funny, actually.

    By Blogger Pastor_Jeff, at Thu Feb 08, 02:23:00 pm GMT-5  

  • The old Virginia Slims ads ("You've come a long way, baby!") didn't say "for women only," but I couldn't imagine a man smoking Virginia Slims.

    Another good reference, P_J!

    Note how it's okay for products targetted to women, to be sexist, but not the ones for men.

    That's just the way it is, I guess...

    My wife and I stll occasionally laugh at the old perfume commercial:

    "I can bring home the bacon,
    Fry it up in a pan,
    And never, never, never let you forget you're the man;
    'Cuz I'm a woman ... Enjoli!"


    I LOVE that commercial. I saw it on TV-Land once.

    I just never knew it was "Enjoli"...I honestly thought I heard "margarine" (as we say it in Britain, marzhareen).

    And I thought the Yorkie ad was pretty funny, actually.

    Heh, good. :)

    I guess the Charlie perfume commercial is the best way to be pro-woman, and yet not be sexist (somehow in the minds of feminists).

    To use their jargon, it celebrates womanhood on its own terms.

    Whatever. I'm just happy to hear Mel Tormé.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 02:28:00 pm GMT-5  

  • OH! People how could we forget this granddaddy of all "sexist" adverts.

    Joe Namath wearing tights/pantyhose

    Interestingly, it seems not to be a pantyhose commercia, but is flogging Beautymist (I presume a self-tanning lotion? $1.69, takes one back huh?).

    But this Noxema commercial is just dumb.

    What is she supposed to be, Swedish or something?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 02:47:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I think Beauty Mist was pantyhose.

    "Charlie" -- OMG! My mom wore Charlie for years, I think mainly because she saw herself just like the woman in the ad -- life of the party, head-turner, etc. "Kinda young, kinda now -- Charlie; kinda free, kinda Wow!" She wanted to live the Charlie life.

    And I had no idea that Mel Torme did those ads. Cool!

    By Blogger Pastor_Jeff, at Thu Feb 08, 04:01:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I think Beauty Mist was pantyhose.

    You're right. I watched the commercial again.

    "Charlie" -- OMG!

    LOL. Love the reaction. :)

    My mom wore Charlie for years,

    My mother's grandmother (from Austria) looooved Charlie.

    Let's be frank, though.

    Charlie, Enjoli, and wasn't there a third one called Navy or so?, those are all scents which came before the big big 80s wave of perfumes, like Gloria Vanderbilt, Giorgio, Halston, Anaïs Anaïs, Paris by YSL, and of course, Obsession by Calvin Klein, etc.

    Before that new chic wave of perfumes, ladies who wanted to be in fashion, and not smell like their grandmas, of Joy by Jean Patou or Chanel Number 5, liked Charlie a lot.

    And in my mum's grannie's case, there was another factor involved, of why she would ask my mother, to send her a batch from the US, once a year.

    It's kind of reverse snobbism, because foreigners always like to have what is the dernier cri in other countries -- even if sometimes, the people from THAT country, consider it rather low-rent.

    I think mainly because she saw herself just like the woman in the ad -- life of the party, head-turner, etc. "Kinda young, kinda now -- Charlie; kinda free, kinda Wow!" She wanted to live the Charlie life.

    I love how you metre the phrases, P_J. It's spot on. :)

    And I like that your mum found Charlie evocative of a lifestyle, than any actual fondness for the scent itself NECESSARILY.

    I'd say my mum did too, but actually I don't remember her wearing Charlie. I'll ask.

    And I had no idea that Mel Torme did those ads. Cool!

    I know, right! It may be logical, since we're too young to have cottoned on to those details, but I'm glad to have found out now.

    Is it me, or was there a lighthearted CHARM about those hokey commercials, back in the day -- as much in Britain, as in the US?

    "Calgon! Ancient Chinese secret HUH"

    And in the UK:

    "The hands that do dishes can be as soft as your face"

    God, I miss those adverts.

    Cheers,
    victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 06:41:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I don't think I knew about Mel Torme until "Night Court" -- Harry Anderson was a huge Mel fan, and he appeared on the show a few times, I think.

    re: the "Mother Nature" lady. Google knows all. It's Dena Dietrich. She wasn't in many movies, but showed up in lots of TV shows. I believe she played the assistant to Empress Nympho (Madeline Kahn) in History of the World Part I.

    Calgon! My wife and I remember that one, too. We still use the line from that commercial ("Ancient Chinese secret, huh?"). Something that stereotypical could never show up on TV today.

    By Blogger Pastor_Jeff, at Thu Feb 08, 07:13:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I don't think I knew about Mel Torme until "Night Court" -- Harry Anderson was a huge Mel fan, and he appeared on the show a few times, I think.

    Nice. Although I never have watched that show, I do recall hearing about his love of Mel Tormé.

    BTW, I used to confuse Harry Anderson with Harry Connick Jr., who loves Mel coincidentally, too!

    re: the "Mother Nature" lady. Google knows all. It's Dena Dietrich. She wasn't in many movies, but showed up in lots of TV shows. I believe she played the assistant to Empress Nympho (Madeline Kahn) in History of the World Part I.

    OMG! I just looked it up, P_J, because I was SURE I had seen Bea Arthur in that hilarious Brooks movie too.

    BOTH Dena Dietrich and Bea Arthur were featured, check it out.

    Bea Arthur played a Dole officer clerk (I remember her swearing in her big scene, which I considered rather daring back when I was a kid), and Dena Dietrich played "Competance", which I suppose was as you say, the assistant to Empress Nympho (lol).

    And oh dear, but do I see Nigel Hawthorne's name in the list of credits?? I don't remember that, teehee.

    Calgon! My wife and I remember that one, too. We still use the line from that commercial ("Ancient Chinese secret, huh?"). Something that stereotypical could never show up on TV today.

    I know. :(

    Do you know, the funny thing about that Calgon commercial, is that I can do the inflection of that sentence, as if the actors themselves were in front of me.

    "ANcient CHInese seCRET, HUH."

    Just like I can sing the ditty, "hands that do dishes..." with pitch perfect rhythm.

    The things that get branded in one's memories, when one is but a child. Freaky.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Feb 08, 07:31:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I think it was Continental Airlines who had the ditty about "We really move our tails for you." I'm not sure if their stewardesses (that's what they were called back then) wore hot pants -- maybe that was Southwest.

    And yes, "Ancient Chinese secret" is something I think every American of a certain age knows. I know it and I grew up abroad!

    (I found the entire song:

    We're here to make you happy, We're out to make you pleased, You're flying Continental, Your flight will be a breeze. We'll help to make you happy, We'll skip to prove it's true, On Continental Airlines We Move Our Tails For You - (Chorus): We really move our tails for you, We make your every wish come true, Fly Continental Airlines, We really move our tails for you.)

    By Anonymous class factotum, at Fri Feb 09, 02:05:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I think it was Continental Airlines who had the ditty about "We really move our tails for you." I'm not sure if their stewardesses (that's what they were called back then) wore hot pants -- maybe that was Southwest.

    Hot pants, hehe. Reminds me of Royal Caledonian which had very outlandish garb.

    And yes, "Ancient Chinese secret" is something I think every American of a certain age knows. I know it and I grew up abroad!

    I wonder why that is considered bad these days -- because it pegs Chinese people in their "traditional" role as launderers?

    Bah.

    (I found the entire song:

    We're here to make you happy, We're out to make you pleased, You're flying Continental, Your flight will be a breeze. We'll help to make you happy, We'll skip to prove it's true, On Continental Airlines We Move Our Tails For You - (Chorus): We really move our tails for you, We make your every wish come true, Fly Continental Airlines, We really move our tails for you.)


    I can just see an Frank Sinatra-type smack the bottom of a passing stew, as she shimmies down the aisle, can't you?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 09, 08:35:00 pm GMT-5  

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