Culture Jam Assignment: Shampoo Ad

The vintage image showcased above depicts the perspective on women in the 1930’s through a shampoo advertisement. Due to a stock market crash that would soon onset the Great Depression, America suffered one of the greatest economic crises of unemployment, bankruptcy, and a steep decline in the industrialized world. As a result, women’s roles remained traditional and domestic, either being nurses, schoolteachers, or chained to their responsibilities at home as mothers or homemakers. Because employment rates were spiked at dangerous heights, the meaning of “home” and the woman’s role to attend to their family were equally as high. Thus, the stereotypical images of women in the kitchen, cleaning, taking care of their children and serving to her husband, were embraced in the culture of this era.

Perhaps it is due to the subservient role of women then, that gives credit to the shampoo advertisement above. Here we see a happy lady with a nice smile on her face. But the tagline, “remember, your hair collects unpleasant odors” is emphasized in a way that suggests “don’t be smiling just yet, remember that your hair stinks!”. And finally, by placing a man with an unimpressed facial expression in there, is a nice way to add “and what kind of man is going to like that?!” into the mix. In my opinion, a more fitting purpose for a shampoo advertisement would be one that tries to address factors in health and hygiene. However, this image alludes to the woman’s personal reasons for using shampoo as a secondary issue, and instead, implies that what they should be worried about, is what other people think – particularly, men. This idea reflects the same image of women mentioned above and how their circumstances in the workplace and domestic services have set a culture of women to be seen as acquiescent to the needs of men.

This second image (play along if you will!) was taken from an advertisement made by my shampoo company that exists today. The product is called “Trivial-Proof Shampoo” and is not only good for keeping your hair fresh and clean, but most importantly, good for dealing with guys who will make a fuss if they can smell an “unpleasant odor” coming from your head. Men that  thought like that can only be found in the past! But “just in case, he’s stuck in the 30’s”, we have the perfect soap for you!

I took the words “culture jamming” quite literally by keeping the vintage setting of the first advertisement and jamming it with modern ideas of my world today. As the “marketing director” of this shampoo brand, I’ve kept a vintage element to make a satire out of the attitudes in the past in order to reveal the absurdity and gender discriminating social messages that covered most media and commercial materials back then. However, the label at the bottom stays true to present time (the font I used is called “futura medium”) and suggests that shallow opinions of women are not fitted nor should be found today.

Furthermore, the woman smiling and the man looking disgruntled is supposed to be interpreted as “remember, he’s more shallow than you think…but don’t worry! Be happy because you have Trivial-Proof shampoo!”. This reverses the role for the female feature in the first image, by making her someone who is empowered by our product rather than someone who is humiliated. Now you can look at the male feature as someone who is not disgruntle or unimpressed, but confused as to why the lady is so cheerful. Hopefully this emphasizes his shallowness even more in a way.

Finally, we chose the word “trivial” for the name of our brand because, as we’ve already established, some men stuck in the past are more concerned with trivial issues like the way someone’s hair smells, rather than directing their concerns towards something  important like the Great Depression. However, if you are purchasing our product with the sole  intentions of  satisfying someone of this intellect, than perhaps, that makes you a shallow and trivial person yourself 🙂

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