Wednesday, May 8, 2013

RadioShack Sells Sex in New Dreadfully Banal Ad

I'm not sure what's more sad and predictable: That RadioShack is telling its remaining female customers to talk a long walk on a short pier or that the rest of their customers have bought into it.

RadioShack, a company that is in serious trouble, has become exceedingly desperate and decided that the very real problems their company faces can be solved with a heavy serving of t&a. I think RadioShack could take a more honest approach, however. They could simply play this great classic by DJ Assault and gather a few models together for a car wash scene. Maybe the car would be covered in RadioShack logos. They could try to incorporate the image of electronics in there somehow, but why don't they take a bold, Mad Men-like strategy and forgo the image of the product entirely?

Here is the real ad if you'd like to take a gander:

As Wall Street Journal writer Ann Zimmerman put it, "Not subtle."

My biggest problem with advertisements like these is not that I think it's never okay to sell sex, but that companies selling products that aren't inherently gendered always chose to favor the male gaze. The female gaze doesn't exist to RadioShack, or beer companies, or car companies. I don't have time to list how many companies ignore women and our perspective in these advertisements on a regular basis. The only companies vying for straight women's attention are Oikos, H&M (though I think gay men are also a target in that ad) and Kraft.

Apparently straight men don't eat yogurt or use salad dressing, and looking fashionable is not a high priority. After working with some Rush Limbaugh-listening construction workers who once bragged that Kashi GoLean was both tasty AND healthy (several of whom refused my offer of cookies as they were on a diet), I think these companies could question some of their assumptions about what men and women like.

On top of that, I always find it interesting that these companies can't sell sex in a more sophisticated way. Putting a speaker in a hot dog bun isn't simply offensive because it presents young women as vapid sex objects. The fact that its ad is a black hole of imagination and creativity is cringeworthy in itself. After all, they stole it from a music video.

Women, like men, are sexy. But that doesn't mean we need to be presented as porn stars: silent, mouths agape, kneeling on all fours. It is impossible for many of these companies to design an ad that encompasses this idea: Women can be sexy without being passive objects. Women can be active humans, who have thoughts, say more than two words, have goals unrelated to the male libido and still be sexy doing them.

I think this commercial sells sex tastefully. It's simple and it's enough.

A breakthrough for women? No. And it doesn't have to be. It just allows Christina Hendricks to sell something without getting on all fours or pretending to eat a phallic object. The drink is obviously being compared to Christina Hendrick's image, "classic" and "bold." If we're going to keep selling sex, and targeting straight men, which will happen as long as straight men and alcohol exists, I'd rather that companies refined their advertising and presented women in a way that allowed them to appear more human than fembot. I guess it isn't too much to ask, but a little taste goes a long way.

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