Jesus is a Brand of Jeans: Jean Kilbourne on How Advertising Affects the Way Women Feel
– by Jean Kilbourne
A recent ad for Thule car-rack systems features a child in the backseat of a car, seatbelt on. Next to the child, assorted sporting gear is carefully strapped into a child’s carseat. The headline says: ‘We Know What Matters to You.’ In case one misses the point, further copy adds: ‘Your gear is a priority.’ Another ad features an attractive young couple in bed. The man is on top of the woman, presumably making love to her. However, her face is completely covered by a magazine, open to a double-page photo of a car. The man is gazing passionately at the car. The copy reads, ‘The ultimate attraction.’
These ads are meant to be funny. Taken individually, I suppose they might seem amusing or, at worst, tasteless. As someone who has studied ads for a long time, however, I see them as part of a pattern: just two of many ads that state or imply that products are more important than people. Ads have long promised us a better relationship via a product: buy this and you will be loved. But more recently they have gone beyond that proposition to promise us a relationship with the product itself: buy this and it will love you. The product is not so much the means to an end, as the end itself.
Tags: adversiting and media, Jean Kilbourne, Killing Us Softly documentary, WISH Women's International Summit for Health, women's health
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