Culture Jam

Original Ad

This ad is advertising a Gucci perfume. It displays a young, white man naked in a bathtub with a white female, alongside another white female sitting next to the tub. The marketing message is around the theme of guilt, which coincidently, none of the people in the picture seem to be feeling. It is clear by this theme, however, that there is something guilty or taboo about the situation of a naked man with two women. Yet, everyone in the photo seems to be at ease, with the hashtag advertising #guiltynotguilty. The white man has nothing to be guilty of here. He is the product of a privilege, with the opportunity to enjoy whichever “sins” he may choose to indulge in. The man is made to feel blameless in wanting more than he can have. Instead of one woman being enough, he deserves another. Moreover, I believe this image depicts the women as objects for the man to “acquire”. The messaging of this ad tells the story that if you are a young, beautiful and white male, women will be always available. In a culture that values monogamy, this ad shows readers, who are also likely men, that they shouldn’t feel guilty about wanting more.  The image depicts an intersectionality of privilege between race, gender and class, The focal point being a white man, who is presumably wealthy due to the luxurious surroundings. While the word “guilty” is written across the page, it is clear from this messaging that he is anything but. Instead the image leads the reader to believe he will be rewarded for his actions. The problem with this image is that if taken out of this bathroom, the word guilty means something very different in a non-white and poor neighbourhood that is punished, not rewarded for their “vices”.

Altered Ad

In my altered version of the ad, I have added the word “never” change the messaging to be “Never Guilty”. This is a note particularly on the white man, who by default is not guilty for his actions. In addition, I have replaced the #guiltynotguilty hashtag with a #whiteprivilge hashtag because it is a more accurate portrayal of what the advertisement is trying to sell. In reality, the marketers are telling male readers that you are not wrong for your actions if you look a certain way, or have a certain amount of wealth. The white people in this image come from a long line of privilege that allows them to flaunt their vices and be praised, rather then condemned for them. We see this image as luxurious, something to aspire to. Yet this image would not work had these people and especially the man, not been white. Gucci is trying to sell an ideal lifestyle, and that is best exemplified through the image of these three bodies. I hope my alteration invokes the absurdity of how normal these types of ads are in our daily lives. We see over sexualized advertisements that regularly use women’s body as props to highlight the superiority of white men. It is evident that white men are “never guilty” in these scenarios, yet if a woman was in a bathtub with two men, particularly if they weren’t white, the ad would be more racy. It is important not to consume advertisements mindlessly, as they tell us the story of our culture in reference to gender, race, and power roles.