Is it possible to fight against your own cause, yet still win on all fronts? Apparently it is.
Advertising faces a lot of scrutiny when it comes to shaping the views of society, but that’s often just an easy scapegoat for critics to create a story out of. In his article ‘Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’, David Gauntlett defines the model of media effects as the idea that “The mass media will commonly have direct and reasonably predictable effects upon the behaviour of their fellow human beings” (Gauntlett 1998). His first criticism is that “The effects model tackles social problems ‘backwards.’” Perhaps this is a better way to view the issue within critical analysis of commercial marketing; to understand that advertisers use specific strategies due to the demand of their audience.
As consumers in a vastly connected world, we have a powerful influence on what we’re shown. Advertising is no longer companies simply shoving their message at us; they now have to be aware of what good we want to see them doing (and how they can disguise the bad). Multinational giant ‘Unilever’ is a prime example of this. Through multiple campaigns spanning over several years, ‘Dove’ skin care (owned by Unilever) has developed itself as a brand of empowerment for women. This was a result of a shifting culture and the changing ideas of ‘real beauty’. Could this be a company truly interested in establishing an impact for greater good; a pure example for all others to follow? – No.
As established by multiple commentators, Unilever isn’t the patron saint it wants to be viewed as. Unilever is also the parent company of ‘Lynx’, a brand notorious for its degrading depiction of women. “Accusing Lynx of peddling sexist advertisements is like informing Kyle Sandilands that his material is considered controversial. Well, duh” (Funnell, Miller 2012). Consumers are almost accustomed to the brand’s method of advertising, and the brand loves its publicity; good or bad. The issue that causes the most controversy is the connection between Dove and Lynx. Now, it could be said that this is an outrageous act of corporate hypocrisy; however, Gauntlett challenges people to reflect on things in an almost counter-intuitive way. To see how Unilever simply gives its target audiences what they want (or think they want).
Check out more in the links (not Lynx) below.
Talk to me in the comments or on twitter @brendoncrossing
Gauntlett, D 1998, ‘Ten things wrong with the ‘effects model’, theory.org.uk, Viewed 17 March 2014, http://www.theory.org.uk/effects.htm
Funnell N,Miller D 2012, Sexism dovetails with hypocrisy, Sydney Morning Herald, Viewed 17 March 2014, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/society-and-culture/sexism-dovetails-with-hypocrisy-20120620-20ocf.html