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Culture Jam Assignment

The Original Ad

This Gap (UK) Kids advertising campaign speaks to perpetuate gender stereotypes, and it specifically encourages the differing futures that a girl and a boy would have. The main objective of this ad is to promote a ‘back-to-school’ fashion for children to be trendy and stylish. However, despite of a reasonable fashion objective, the taglines embedded on the ad have created serious public backlash and a patronizing message to young children.

First, the advertisement stereotypes the varying roles of a boy and a girl in the society, such that a boy is expected to be ‘the little scholar’ whereas a girl is deemed as ‘the social butterfly.’ As such, ‘the social butterfly’ implies that the girl can be successful by being popular, not because she is actually qualified. The advertisement portrays a young girl in sparkly cat years wearing a cream sweater with a pink “G” logo, while of the boy it states “shirts + graphic tees = genius idea.” The girl’s sparkly cat ears and pose has created a patronizing image of a girl, suggesting that she only cares about her fashion and has no dreams in becoming a smart, successful individual. In contrast, the boy is wearing an Einstein T-shirt while giving a much more confident pose to portray his bright, intelligent image. Ironically enough, the T-shirt misspelled Einstein as “Einstien,” which further dampens Gap’s image through this ad.

Secondly, there is an underlying element of racism in the advertisement. As this advertisement was designed to be shown in the UK, it fails to acknowledge the cultural diversity of children who go to school in the UK. The advertisement only shows white, blonde children. Indirectly, it defines a successful future only from the perspective of a privileged socioeconomic class, in which fashion plays a role in determining that success. Although the clothes portrayed represent Gap’s fashion style, it gives an exclusive boundary to children of color and different racial backgrounds. As such, this ad arguably ignores the varying financial, cultural and ethnic backgrounds of children who are striving to pursue education and work hard for a successful future.

The Jammed Version of the Ad

The jammed advertisement features different taglines for the girl. In my cultural jamming, I put more focus on the girl’s role, as I attempt to encourage female independence and empowerment through these two changes.

First, the title of the girl, ‘the social butterfly’ is replaced with ‘the whatever-the-hell I want to be.’ As the original ad portrays the girl’s role as a social butterfly, it implies that success can be attained by how popular and sociable a girl. It suggests that girls don’t need brain to be successful, as clothes and popularity are sufficient for them. However, the truth is, the definition of success of any individual should not bound by society’s expectations. In other words, girls can define their own success in whatever way they want to. Unlike the boy’s title of ‘the little scholar,’ I did not try to encourage girls to be equal by being another ‘little scholar.’ Instead, an individual has the freedom to choose their own success through whatever talent and interest they have.

Secondly, the subheading of ‘chambray shirts + logo sweaters are the talk of the playground is now replaced with ‘Hard work + courage are the secret to success.’ Rather than merely promoting the fashion and popular image of a girl, this ad strive to encourage girls to create their own success through hard work and courage. Although fashion can play a role in presenting yourself, it takes more than appearance to be successful. By having the courage to be ‘whatever-the-hell I want to be,’ the jammed advertisement incites a sense of autonomy and independence in a girl’s success. The ad encourages children who are still in school to be more aware of the strength that they have, such that their own efforts and decisions will determine their future.





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