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Ralph Lauren’s ad for the Tender Romance fragrance is similar to many ads used today to promote consumer products. I believe this ad, and others like it, attempt to use their models to inspire a false need in consumers and to perpetuate the status quo. This ad portrays a very specific, and narrow, image of what is thought to be an ideal and ‘tender’ romance, of which consumers are supposed to connect and aspire to. However, the issue with this ad and its kind are that they portray images that set unattainable goals and fail to represent the very people they are marketed towards. This ad leaves no room for non-heterosexuals, non-cisgenders, or people of colour. In addition, this ad is an example of the male gaze such that the gaze of both the consumer and the male model are drawn to the female model as a source of pleasure. Ads like these purposefully exclude large portions of our society and perpetuate the long-lasting idea that there is one best way to look, love, and feel.
Deconstructing this image while considering sexuality, it is clear that the ad ignores the reality that a ‘tender romance’ can be found in gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and many other relationships.
Racially, this ad and many others like it continue to exalt Eurocentric images of beauty (blonde hair, slim nose, thin lips, etc.) as superior to all others by continually publishing such images and virtually none else.
As this is a women’s fragrance, this ad also portrays the message that if you use this product, you too can become tender, pliable, and the subject of male attention and the male gaze just as the model before us.
These messages and ideals are subtly fed to consumers on a daily basis and work to reinforce the status quo in today’s society. These ads contribute to the widespread belief that one way of life is normal and all others are deviant. In my culture jamming project, I bring this subtle brain-washing to light.
CULTURE JAMMED AD
The goal of my culture jamming assignment was to bring to light the hidden messages in this ad. This form of propaganda is extremely under-representative of the society we actually live in, and yet these images are the ones most commonly displayed and most easily and readily accepted.
I changed the brand name from Ralph Lauren to Our Society to illustrate that the underlying themes previously mentioned are all products of our society as a whole. In saying out society, I intended to illustrate that this issue of misrepresentation of reality is a broader and more systematic issue than just ad campaigns in magazines.
I changed the name of the perfume from Tender Romance to Hete-Romance (as in heterosexual romance) to highlight that what this ad is really selling is the notion that ‘real’ romance is between a man and a woman who identify as such.
I included the perfume’s ingredients in order to list the main components at work in this ad to maintain the status quo of society. I state these scents were “not-so-subtle” as it is not that difficult to see the ways in which this ad attempts to promote and publicize a specific lifestyle that has been deemed ‘normal’ and ‘appropriate’ by our society.
In comparing the original and the jammed advertisement, I believe the latter says aloud what the former never could. It admits to be biased, misinformed, and misleading. And hopefully, the new image reminds people to discover the latent messages hidden in the manifest advertisements.