Women and Aging

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Well, if Ellie can start blogs with Rage Against the Machine, then I figure I can throw down a little Beastie Boys…

Now, onto the real topic. Aging.

It happens. We all get older. And even with the most staunch feminist values, we all feel some psychological effects as our bodies age. For women, society’s over-valuing of our looks amplifies our responses to aging.

We know that we’ll have very real consequences in our lives as we lose that ‘precious’ commodity of youthful appearance – and attractiveness to men. Once we move out of the male gaze and onto the supposed sidelines of life, or we fear that we will, we need to look at our own relationship to our bodies and to our age.

There are ways to work with those feelings, and come out on the other side to a place where we can be role models for younger women and show them why it isn’t a bad thing to be an older woman!

Listen to my interview with Dr Vivian Diller to hear her amazing insights on this topic:

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Intimate ‘Connection’? Be their guest

I came across an ad for a Vancouver luxury hotel, the Loden, in a national newspaper over the weekend and was very surprised by the imagery and the message it conveyed.

Take a look at the ad below:  the text reads ‘Intimate Connection, Be Our Guest’. We see a young, attractive women undressed in sultry, expensive-looking lingerie, applying perfume while gazing, disinterestedly, at her male companion who is watching her, (and who is, of course, nearly fully clothed), blurred and seated in the background. My immediate reaction to this advertisement was that this hotel is inviting men to use it for prostitution. Hired an escort for the evening? Use the Loden!

Using sex to sell a product, or an experience, certainly isn’t new; it’s used to sell everything and anything.  This ad uses sexual imagery to market the hotel as a place for sex, encouraging its (male) guests to use it for discreet, ‘intimate connections’, as the ad terms it. Hotels have always been more than just a place to sleep; they offer a private, anonymous space in which people can ignore the social and relational obligations they have in public—and the law, for that matter, as prostitution isn’t really legal in Canada. Hotels have been used as a space to engage in prostitution for a long, long time, but it’s not something they talk about very much, so I was very surprised to see this ad seemingly actively promoting it.

Maybe I’ve read it incorrectly? Maybe this is a rich, heterosexual couple having a romantic weekend? Or maybe they’re having an affair? Mayybeee.

I did contact the hotel, and spoke with the sales-coordinator who stated (I’m paraphrasing here) that the ad was meant to show a feature of the room in which the wall between the bedroom and the bathroom opens up (so that you can be watched while half-naked in the bathroom?!??) and that the hotel does not encourage prostitution.

Marketers usually have a pretty good idea how their ads will be construed, and I doubt they could have missed the message here. Although they may have been attempting to highlight the features of the room, that intent is not at all apparent from the image.

The medium is the message, and I read this as a promotion for the use of the Loden Hotel for prostitution.


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The best commercial of the decade is…a sexist beer ad?

I feel that Leslie’s previous post is an appropriate segway into this one.  It came across my desk, so to speak, that Marketing Mag “the voice of Canada’s marketing industry” is about to announce its Best Of The Decade awards. So, the best Canadian advertising in the last TEN YEARS.   You’d think that some pretty impressive and clever advertising would be in the running. Like, half of the Tim Horton’s commercials that make me cry for no logical reason: “<sniff> I know it’s not fair trade coffee and shuts down local business but…<sob>…I’m so touched to see immigrants drinking Timmy’s coffee at the airport…”

But! I’m not here to talk about Tim Horton’s. Today, MarketingMag.ca profiled one of their top contenders for the Best of the Decade. And, that would be Bud Light and its “History” commercial.  The gist is that, over the decades, the Bud Light Institute has “created” a number of activities and movements to keep women busy while their men drink beer. Check it out:

Despite playing off the most..TIIIIREDD..gender stereotypes (tupperware?) the part that got me the most annoyed is when they stated, “In 1971 we invented feminism.”  First of all, 1971!? Second of all, it is beyond belief condescending to make such a statement no matter how jokey you go about it.

The reasons Marketing Mag gave for its praise of the commercial? That it really bucked the trend of just slapping on a logo at the end of a commercial. It really proved that you could use the brand throughout. Holy crap, I’m SO impressed. Also, apparently women really loved the ad because it was so “absurd.”  Absurd is a good word to describe it.  Too bad they didn’t realize that absurd isn’t synonymous with creative, clever, witty or original.

However, all is not lost. An American equivalent online marketing magazine recently criticized a Heineken commercial for portraying a woman’s uterus as a beer keg. For reals.

Also. Women. Do. In fact. Drink beer. So, we represent a huge real (and potential) market. Let’s support companies and micro brews that refuse to stoop to such low levels of cheap advertising. Check out our podcast on women in the brewing industry here.

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