I don't care what any of the countless critics might spew. Itambé, a Brazilian yogurt company, has The Most Spectacular Advertising Campaign of All Time.
First, let me thank Tony's Kansas City for pointing me toward the ads. I probably wouldn't have found out about them otherwise. It's not breaking news, but it is definitely news to me. Gracias, Senor.
Now, on to the ads themselves. Itambé is selling a "light yogurt". They want to pitch skinny/weight loss.
In the USA, Bob's Light Yogurt would probably run ads featuring cute but chunky gals in exercise gear taking a break from a fun and conversation-filled walk for health. A pleasant voiceover would talk about just how super-duper it is to get in shape and that Bob's Light Yogurt is a great and healthy way to do it! It would be soft-peddled to the max.
Bob's Light Yogurt might take a somewhat riskier tact. They could use a somewhat skinny and sexy-in-a-non-threatening-way gal in the ads. They could really push the envelope with a little before and after picture action. They might mention that eating Bob's, along with an otherwise healthy diet and a doctor-approved exercise plan could result in weight loss.
Jesus, I'm falling asleep after those last two paragraphs and I'm the guy who wrote them. Boring. Probably not all that effective, either.
Brazilians, it seems, are ready to get up in people's shit and tell them that they better lose weight if they want to be hot. No bullshit about friendly chubster get-togethers on the long, slowly-paced journey to better health. No vague promises of a better life upon the adoption of a better lifestyle. Hell, Itambé doesn't even bother to try to fool anyone that their probably-crappy yogurt tastes good.
Itambé mocks fat people.
They've taken a series of iconic movie moments that we all know because they featured hot women and have inserted so-called BBWs in place of the masturbatory fantasies we remember. Sharon Stone is replaced by a gal squeezed into a size 20 dress. The jailbait from American Beauty is plus-sized. Marilyn Monroe is shorter and squatter.
Itambé has coupled the photos with a tagline that argues: "Forget about it. Men's preference will never change. Fit Light Yogurt."
That's right. Dudes like hot chicks so you better stop eating food that makes you chunky. Now THAT's advertising.
As you might guess, there are people who find the ads to be in poor taste. I have a different perspective.
Obviously, I'm a big jerk. I'm a weightist, right? Nope. Not quite. I'm actually leaning toward the tub-o-lard side of things myself these days. After dating and living with stick figures, beauty pageant queens and triathletes, I'm now VERY happily married to an overweight woman. Oh, I'm also pretty well-versed in the feminist literature and have probably read more of it than most women's studies majors. I don't capitalize "bell hooks" and I can leave you in the dust if you want to argue about anything gendered language to Dworkin on sex. More often than not, I actually find a great deal of sense in those feminist arguments, too.
I know, your head is spinning. How can I possibly support these ads in light of those facts? Doesn't that make me a hypocrite of the first order? Don't I understand how these ads reinforce the dangerous beauty myth? Don't I recognize how important it is to reject the objectification of women at every turn? Etc. Etc. Etc.
The answer to all those questions is "no".
The ads are mildly funny. Not just on a "pick on fatty" level, either. I don't feel the need to get into a big discussion about humor on theoretical levels, but they do a few things that really do work well. I think they're sort of clever.
Guys really do get worked up over hot women. That's a fact. Christ, guys get worked up over women who really aren't even all that hot. That's why my post about the Amy Fisher sex tape gets 10x the traffic than the one about Joe Biden. You can argue socialization, but there are some pretty good reasons to believe that human nature also encourages guys to guys to take notice of particular physical features. Tony Romo is dating Jessica simpson. He's not dating the chunky cashier at K-Mart, even though she can sing and act better than Simpson ever will. It's a cruel reality, but it's a reality.
Oh, wouldn't it be nice if it wasn't that way! What about a world where we're judged by what's on the inside! Well, it would also be really nice if the weather was great in Kansas all the time, if I suddenly found a packing crate stuffed with untraceable c-notes, if peace would reign in the Middle East and if I could have a pet chimpanzee who smoked cigarettes and wore "people clothes". None of it is happening, though.
I'm not a hypocrite (this time). I'm honest. I like to look at hot women. That doesn't mean I don't like women who fail to measure up to typical standards of beauty. I don't think that makes them "less than" hot women.
Hey, I'm a baseball fan. I like pitchers with pinpoint control who throw great breaking stuff. I don't, however, view all men incapable of throwing a slider in a 3"x3" slot from 60'6" as Inferior Beings. I like to look at gorgeous women, but I don't think that makes the aforementioned K-Mart cashier sub-human.
It's okay that some of us have gifts and attributes that others don't. I'm taller than some people. I hope they don't hate me for that. I hope they're not planning to plane off the bottom of my feet. I have great blue eyes. i hope I don't need to live in fear of some dull brown-eyed person with a bottle of dye hiding beneath my bed, waiting for me to fall asleep.
The nice thing about the fat/thin/hot/ugly thing is that it is not always an immutable characteristic. It's possible to get skinnier in any number of ways. Maybe not for all people. And, of course, you can't guarantee that losing weight will result in beauty. There are ugly skinny people. However, there are a lot of people who'd probably look better if they dropped weight and it's completely understandable that they'd like to capture some of the hotness mojo. That's super-true of those who might still be looking for a love connection. Being hot is great advertising because it attracts attention.
This all leading to the conclusion that the Brazilian yogurt ads are awesome.
In a world where we too often pretend things like a smokin' body don't matter, the Brazilians are being honest. They are reminding potential consumers of a cold truth: Guys like hot women. There's no sugarcoating with these spots (which makes sense because sugar would just add to those thighs). They're direct. I like it.
Some people have wondered if they'll be effective? I don't know enough about Brazilian culture to provide a good answer to that. I doubt they'd work all that well here in the USA, but they may be perfect in Brazil.
After all, if you go to a carnival in the U.S., you have a very different experience than if you visit Carnival en Rio! Oh, and I do understand that some of those hot Brazilian booties you see in pictures might be attached to trannies, but I prefer not to dwell on that.
Here in America, we have the Dove ads. You know the ones. They feature "regular women". Of course, that's bullshit. The women are chubbier than your average runway model, but they do comport with virtually every other standard of beauty imaginable. They didn't pick your old neighbor Francesca, with her underbite and cottage cheese thighs. Dove just found a few well-rounded hotties. It's the American soft-sell. "You don't have to be beautiful to be beautiful! Just look at these models! They aren't wearing size zero! They aren't wearing Victoria's Secret lingerie. They're so real!"
They were also carefully selected because Dove didn't want any of them to look gross. They chose pretty faces and bigger bodies that weren't scarred, sagging or wildly out of proportion with conventional notions of sexiness. Even the less "beautiful" ads were so well-photographed and framed in perfect context to ameliorate negative reaction to the models.
The Dove ads are offensive because they're disingenuous. They're pretending something doesn't matter when we (and they) all know it does. The Brazilian yogurt ads? Now that's honest.
One last thing... For the record... The girl in the American Beauty ad? She looks reasonably good (others have noticed that, too). The other two ads are better.
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