The advertisements I have chosen to address come from Sports Illustrated. Because I am not a frequent reader of this magazine and I was under the impression that it targets a largely male audience, I consulted a couple of male and female coworkers regarding the messages they associate with the advertisements’ images.
The advertisement which stood out the most to the three males and females I talked to features the website for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and divides the top of the page into 9 boxes with images of white females body parts undergoing various spa treatment options from leg wax and eyebrow tweezing to pedicure and facial. In large bold print in the center of each box are time periods required for each of the procedures featured. Below these pictures are a couple of lines of
text: “ That’s a lot of time to watch a game.” “Spas for her.” “Sports for you.” “Only Vegas.” Responses from my coworkers when asked if there is a problem with this advertisement shared that the images and text reinforce stereotypes that women go to spas and men play sports. Two of the men, who are also married, shared that the ad implies that the spa will keep your wife occupied and happy; meanwhile you can steal some time to watch a game without her nagging or keeping tabs on you. One man shared that the ad implies that women have no interest in sports, and men are looking for ways to get away from their wives/girlfriends. The women who viewed the ad pointed out its reinforcement of an expectation that women must spend time and money and endure pain in order to be beautiful. Both men and women suggested that a Las Vegas vacation could be sold differently by featuring a variety of different activities that men and women could enjoy together and inclusion of diverse people engaged in these activities.
The second advertisement discussed with my coworkers features a white woman with long blonde hair and blue eyes wearing a tiny bikini, posing on a beach with water and sky in the background. To the left of her head, from her head to elbow, is an iPhone with a Sports Illustrated App displayed. The text at the top reads: “World’s Sexiest App, SI SWIMSUIT 2010”, in smaller text at the bottom of the page are bullets about the application and the label “Available on the AppStore” is positioned at the model’s crotch. All three men and women shared the same criticism of the advertisement saying that it celebrates a false image of a woman which has been digitally enhanced and is meant to sell sex to men and unattainable beauty to women. The iPhone technology appears to be the product to be sold given that the SI Swimsuit App is a free download, and yet everyone agreed that sex is for sell in this advertisement.
The final advertisement is one that I have chosen. Only a couple of my coworkers offered input about the images in this ad for Michelin Energy Saver A/S tires. The picture features a white Michelin man throwing black tires at a gas pump. The pump has its hose out but in a vulnerable position, the display screen on the pump features a worried expression and I am reminded of the movie “Transformers” as the pump looms larger than life. The Michelin man stands as confident hero, certain that his tires will deliver a deadly blow. The background includes high-rise buildings and shadowy, large phallus jutting up to the sky. Traction, longevity, and fuel efficiency information are displayed at the bottom left of the ad. The use of phallic symbols in the ad is overpowering and off-putting for me personally, but the other problem is one of who and what the Michelin man is? I have always thought he was made of tires, however, he is white. In the ad he even has a white tire around his waist. I have never seen white tires on cars in real life and maybe only once in a movie. As I look at this ad, I wonder why haven’t I questioned this before. I understand that this ad is meant to target males, but does this really work? I would like to know more about how the tires are different from the other models Michelin and its competitors makes rather than swept away in the hype of a “white-tire superhero”.