The Original Goodwill Advertisement & Its Analysis
This image was taken from the website, Ads of the World, in which it depicts a print advertisement created by advertisement agency VML for Goodwill, an American non-profit organization that helps people procure jobs in United States. This image shows how donated objects like this red stiletto shown above could provide people, that are depicted in miniature size, work opportunities.
While this advertisement appears to be fine at first glance, upon a closer look at the miniature people represented, we can see that they look to be in the same gender categories. This is not to label that all the miniature people being depicted in this image are from the same gender group, but it certainly appears that way. With the absence of miniature workers who are from a different gender category, this poster suggests that the work provided through donations to Goodwill would be a male-dominated workforce.
In addition to the lack of gender diversity in this image, the elephant in the room, the red stiletto, also evokes much concern. All these seemingly single-gendered workers are working on a red high heel shoe that has been historically attributed to women’s femininity. During the second wave of feminism, feminist activists took a firm stand against high heels and framed them as a sign of oppression. They even went as far as relating high heels to foot-binding practices in imperial China with a poster that described high heels to “American Foot Binding” (National Women’s Health Network Records).
If it is not clear enough, the worker standing on top of the red high heel is again a male. This reinforces men’s hierarchal status, and the patriarchal society which men dominates and continues to cultivate for women. From the underrepresentation in the workforce, the inequality that women face in the workforce, to men steering the narrative of what beauty standards and femininity, this advertisement is thus problematic.
This advertisement subtly implied women’s subservient role in society to the pursuit of femininity. In my jammed version of this advertisement, I would like to not only expose the problems within this imagery, but also drastically change how Goodwill should advertise their movement. Goodwill should make it clear that they exist to help all sorts of people and not just one cohort of people.
Jammed Version of the Advertisement & Its Analysis
In this jammed version of Goodwill’s advertisement, I used the same advertising concept but drastically changed the subjects within it. I added diversity to the miniature workers in the image by including different genders, races, and sexualities. Differing from the original single-gendered miniature workers, I also heavily emphasized women’s role within society in the work force by swapping a male miniature worker standing on top of the shoe with a woman dressing comfortably in a pair of high heels. Here the high heels do not represent women’s oppressive role in society, but shows her fierceness, confidence, powerfulness – a woman in control of herself without boundaries.
In addition, I swapped out the problematic and gender exclusive red stiletto to a basic white sneaker. This alteration provided a gender neutral object that is not biased for either genders. Furthermore, the colour white reveals a clean and blank slate that jobs would be produced from the donation. Unlike the original image, this advertisement would not uphold patriarchy but shows that it is an advertisement that provides work for all genders, races, and sexualities.
The mission statement for this Goodwill’s advertisement seems to be positive, impactful, and evoked a strong sense of community from individuals – “Donate stuff create jobs”. Although the act of donation is individualistic, it is only possible if many people donate. In a sense, donating items that we don’t need anymore as not only become a sustainable option, but a movement that benefits all actors in society as a whole. Therefore, I have replaced the Ad Council’s logo with “Be a part of the movement” in order to properly invoke what I believe Goodwill should have presented.
- “Goodwill: Stiletto.” Ads of the World, 3 Dec. 2016, www.adsoftheworld.com/media/print/goodwill_stiletto.
- National Women’s Health Network Records. “National Women’s Health Network Records, 1963-2011 (Bulk 1976-2000) Finding Aid.” Five College Archives & Manuscript Collections, Sophia Smith Collection Smith College Northampton, MA, asteria.fivecolleges.edu/findaids/sophiasmith/mnsss371_bioghist.html.