This marketing attempt by Belgian brewing company, Stella Artois, plays into the classic “it’s a man’s world” narrative that so often accompanies alcohol advertisements. Pictured is a man and woman appearing to sit across from each other at a table. Both are impeccably dressed and astonishingly beautiful. The man is staring at the woman while she, seemingly disinterested gazes down in hopes of continuing to finish her drink. Following the simplicity of the image, the caption of the billboard reads only “she is a thing of beauty,” alongside a small Stella Artois emblem.
This slogan was likely used due to its dual meaning in this context. The woman in the photograph is clearly attractive but given that this ad is meant to sell a product, often referred to as just Stella (also conveniently a women’s name), it can be inferred that the caption is actually directed towards the beer and not the woman holding it.
I think the most obvious underlying issue of this image is the shameless degradation of women. In that, this ad portrays women as simply something pretty to look at. Or even more troubling, just a mechanism used to sell a product/idea/lifestyle. This image subverts women into being simply the object of a man’s affection and attention based solely off their appearance and sexuality. This act of commodifying women and using sexuality as a marketing tactic is incredibly problematic as it contrasts all of the values of a healthy, fair and functioning society.
My take on the ad features the exact same image as the original. However, it was made to look like the billboard had been vandalized. The spray paint altered caption now reads “she is important and intelligent.” While the modifications were slight, I felt like these changes made a significant impact on the overall appeal and message of the ad. The new slogan worked to address the belittling elements that were ever so present in the original.
The main goal I set out to achieve with this assignment was to give a sense of autonomy and importance back to the woman featured. So often in advertisements and other marketing streams we see women made out to be accessories to the successes and glamours of mens’ lives rather than them being successful, strong individuals on their own. Adding to that concept, I found it aggravating that the original ad failed to recognize that there are so many other, more important aspects to a woman than just her appearance. Therefore I made it my priority to include non-physical attributes in my rendition.
In a society that depends so heavily on innovation and success, I think it’s increasingly important that those values are instilled in everyone – not just men. Both women and men need to be seen as autonomous, important figures in society. Now more than ever, our society experiences near constant exposure to advertisements so it is extremely important that advertisements stay relevant and are aligned with societal values. Having ads like the original that promote such outdated ways of thinking is completely counterintuitive to the progression of our communities.