GRSJ 300 Culture Jam Assignment
About Original AD and it’s PROBLEMS:
Fragrance ads are often particularly misleading because they focus on selling not just a scent, but an entire lifestyle. The idea is to convince you that wearing this scent will give the consumers access to a fantasy. They do this because consumers must be convinced before properly evaluating if they like the scent or not! This men’s fragrance advertisement by Michael Kors is especially problematic because of it’s sexist, racist and normative depiction of success while also objectifying the woman in the image.
Michael Kors chose this young, white, blue-eyed man with a muscular build to represent “the ultimate jet setter”. By using the words “jet setter”, they are trying to build an image of an adventurous man who has the freedom and money to go on vacation when he pleases. In addition, he lands his water plane near what looks like a private island and brings a woman with him. This man is hyper masculine, heterosexual and unrestricted. This sends the message that the epitome of a successful and adventurous man must be white, rich and surrounded by at least one woman.
The woman in the image is clearly objectified because she is wearing a small bikini showing lots of skin while also facing away from the camera with sunglasses on. This is an important contrast with the man who is making direct eye contact. It gives the man a powerful look while making it clear that the woman is more of a prop in the scene than an equal contributor. These normative beauty standards, along with the discriminatory picture of success make this advertisement another sad example of how the media continues to repeat the same, harmful images.
The message of success that Michael Kors was portraying is turned on its head in this jammed version of the advertisement. This new version addresses the sexism, racism and normative beauty standards from the original and counteracts them with improved images and text. The inferred claim of success from the original ad is now in bold lettering in place of the brand name. This symbolically replaces the capitalist message from the original version. The word ‘success’ also aims to be thought provoking for the viewers to question how they define their own success.
The message “not just for white men anymore” also addresses the previous advertisement. It calls the continuing racially biased media into question when paired with the image of four diverse women. The image of the women is from a Canadian body positivity photo shoot for “Canadian Curvies”. It was the best image for this ad due to their confidence, diversity of colour and size, and the empowering (and un-objectified) way that they are showing their bodies in swimwear. Their presence in the image suggests that they are the jet setters with the plane or private island, and they are working with each other to achieve success. This is a stark contrast to the isolated and objectified woman in the first image.
Finally, The text on the fragrance bottle has been changed to reflect a non-gendered fragrance. Fragrance products continue to be arbitrarily gendered for consumers despite there being nothing inherently feminine or masculine about a scent. This new scent is marketed as “For You” instead of “For Men”, further emphasizing that success is not measured by gender. I also suggested an alternative slogan for the brand to shift the focus from unrealistic ideals to body positivity: “Am I Beautiful? Of KORS!”.