Culture Jamming

Part I: The Original Advertisement 

In 2011, Italian designer label Miu Miu (subsidiary of Prada) released an advertisement featuring child star Hailee Steinfeld. The advertisement was banned due to misconduct in reliance to the Advertising Standards Agency in the UK. It was seen as irresponsible as it placed a child in a potentially dangerous situation. The most clear notion that is evoked from the image points towards potential stresses that come with being a child celebrity living in the eye of the public, and how this relates to potential depressive behaviour and suicidal tendencies. Prada expressed that the company was not trying to depict Steinfeld in a dangerous situation, rather they were trying to capture a simple moment that Steinfeld was taking to relax in between filming on a hot day. They also wanted to point out that there is no train anywhere in the picture, to try and justify the perilous nature of the situation, she was still safe sitting on the tracks. What the designer cannot justify is Steinfeld’s appearance in the advertisement. She is looking downwards in a disheartening and lost way, with drooped shoulders as she wipes at her eyes. It is clear that the actress is in an unhappy and even possibly distressed or depressed state. Prada claimed the advertisement shows Steinfeld in a mature light, and that it was meant to speak to an audience of adult women, placed in only the highest ranked fashion magazines. Even with this in mind, Steinfeld is still being used by a designer label in an inappropriate way, and unforeseen circumstance prevents Prada from being able to successfully keep this image out of the eyes of younger, more vulnerable women. The designer’s intent behind the advertisement was to use Hailee Steinfeld who had recently been nominated for an oscar due to success in the remake of western classic True Grit (2010), as the advertisement showcased western inspired setting and clothing, to promote Miu Miu’s clothing line being featured in the film as a way of strategic marketing. The designer advantageously recruited Steinfeld, manipulating her success into an image with an underlying message of distress and depression that can be misconstrued by some of the audience.


Part II: The New Advertisement 



The image I created portrays the inappropriate nature behind the original Miu Miu advertisement. Due to Hailee Steinfeld’s excellent work in True Grit (2010) her fame sky-rocketed, and Miu Miu noticed and took advantage of the child actresses’ stardom. The designer utilized her in an advertisement meant to look like the set of the western drama, where she is wearing Miu Miu’s clothing, promoting themselves through her and the movie’s success. I used a black and white backdrop of a train on it’s way to a destination, an image of Hailee Steinfeld that I edited to match the black and white theme, and a cropped small image of some clothing that I photoshopped into her hand.  The new image shows the effect of selling and promoting the designer label through a child’s fame in an unfortunate and potentially dangerous situation. Instead of showcasing Miu Miu’s label in an appropriate and tasteful way, Miu Miu used Steinfeld in an unsettling image. The caption, “Buy these items, or I jump!” is meant to elucidate the unfortunate way large designers mistreat and take advantage of rising child stars and their individual vulnerability to major corporations. The black and white colouring of the image is meant to pay tribute to the depressive muted tones that the original advertisement harnesses in Steinfeld’s expression and posture. Steinfeld was only 14 years of age at the time the picture was taken, and she has received her share of adversity from partaking in the advertising campaign. Living under the pressures of being a celebrity at such a young age, she as a minor should not have to be subjected to this sort of ridicule that Miu Miu facilitated. My intention behind the image was to illustrate a clear idea of the perception that younger and older women alike can take away from the original advertisement. Miu Miu has created an advertisement that defines a sense of heavy heartedness in a child, in a potentially harmful situation, that should not have been shown to susceptible audiences in the case that this could have ignited a harmful influence in their targeted audience.


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