Monday, 6 April 2009

zero for coke

i can't believe the "coke zero" ads they've got on tv at the moment. i've rarely seen such blatant misogynistic crap displayed so openly in advertising. i'm reluctant to give a description if you haven't seen them yet. i'm also no good on you-tube but wouldn't link to a video if there was one available.

but in order to further the discussion, here's a brief description of what the worst one is like (not 100 percent accurate as to wording etc, but i think i've got the general concept covered). this one starts with the title "ideal breakup", with our guy sitting opposite his plainish girlfriend who says something like "you want to break up?" in a pathetic voice. he then takes a pull of coke zero & she turns into a hot busty woman telling him it's perfectly fine for him to break up with her, he should be able to have as many women as he wants, he shouldn't have to be limited to one woman. while she says this lots of hot, scantily clad women are all over him or dancing in the background. next shot is outside, him taking off on his motorbike with at least 5 of these hotties tied on to his bike water-skiing style, whom he pulls along.

maybe it's just me, but i felt really sick watching this. it seemed to be definitive proof that men really hate us - at least men in advertising do. and yes, i'm sure it's all supposed to be just one big joke, and i'm just a sour, bitter, killjoy who takes things far too seriously. but truly, it seems that advertisers are in a race to the bottom, to see who can push the boundaries of offensiveness as far as possible.

and for good reason. any formal complaint about an ad gives them hundreds of thousands of dollars of free publicity. they get to go on tv & radio to complain about the PC police who are clamping down on freedom of expression; about how ridiculously sensitive some peole can be; or my favourite (used extensively for that ad where the husband & wife are physically assaulting each other for use of the 4WD) about how a small number of killjoys are preventing the rest of us from enjoying a good joke - the old "tail-wagging-the-dog" argument, because there were only 16 complaints causing the ad to be pulled & thus spoiling life for the rest of us.

on top of that, talkback hosts and other media commentators spend endless time telling us what a terrible society we have when such ads can't play any more. by the time the brouhaha is over, they've garnered so much more publicity than they would have received just from playing the ad.

but if no-one complains, the ads keep getting worse because they want to keep pushing that boundary until someone does complain. either way, we can't win. and the offensiveness is particularly designed around sexism, because as a society, we now seem to have a lower tolerance for racism (thank goodness). but treating women like brainless sexbots or nagging control freaks is apparently ok. it's somehow easier to use the "PC police, can't take a joke line" when it comes to women.

any ideas of how we can fight back against this stuff? cos i'm pretty much all out of ideas and feeling pretty powerless against it all.

26 comments:

Azlemed said...

You arent the only one offended by these damn ads, we were watching tv when one came on and hubby was like wtf... is that supposed to make me want to drink that?

the ads are shockingly bad and full of sexist rubbish that makes me sick

Moz said...

I'd boycott the product except that I don't drink it now.

To be honest, this sort of rubbish is the least of the problems with Coca-Cola Amatil. From the meta-problem with the ad (that they're pushing addictive poisons at people) to the profoundly negative effects on the environment at every step ("democratising" the market for bottled water, hooray) the whole industry is one I've been avoiding for a long time. It's hard to point out anything worthwhile about them... anyone want to try?

Psycho Milt said...

The message seems to be that Coke Zero is the drink for childish morons with ugly personalities. Next time you see someone holding one of these imitation sugar-waters, feel free to snigger.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone remember those awful Burger Kind adverts? The girls on the horses and that horrible horrible one about good things coming in threes (except for three men cos noone likes gay men right?). I didn't think it could get any worse until I went to their website to complain and discovered this http://bkgirls.netfinity.co.nz/

Anonymous said...

sorry I meant Burger King, not Burger Kind!

Julie said...

Megan Wegan has written about this too.

A Nonny Moose said...

Aww man :( I love my Coke Zero (for the taste), sorry peeps. Please don't think of me as a brainless moron.

But I do agree - I flipped the first time I saw that ad. I feel pretty powerless too. The only thing I can do is be loud and angry within my sphere of influence (we regularly have work water cooler chats about ads) and I cut a bitch on any guy who drops the "just a joke" line on me.

Another one that bugged me was the Primo ads with the bikini clad girls on bouncy balls. Also, I get really fed up at the stereotypical ice cream bill boards with a phallic shot of a girl putting an ice cream to her red lips - the worst are the Magnum ones because of the disembodied lips and dribble of ice cream down one corner of the mouth.

ms poinsettia said...

I've been refusing to buy Coke since those ads started airing. Doesn't make a difference in the big picture but I feel a little better...

muerk said...

How about this for objectification:

http://men.style.com/details/features/landing?id=content_8177

stargazer said...

anonymous, yes one of those burger king ads had a complaint upheld. and didn't they milk that for publicity as much as they could! which is exactly my point. they are desperately waiting for some complaints.

and yeah, the boycotting thing won't work for me cos i don't buy any carbonated soft drinks - mostly for health reasons. i guess i could try to persuade others to boycott it, so moose, could i offer you some apple juice? watermelon juice is yummy too...

stephen said...

I have been a bit puzzled about the return of this kind of advertising.

I remember my late mother co-ordinating campaigns against this sort of thing in the 70s, and by the late 80s they appeared to have petered out.

These ads have sneaked back, at first wrapped in "retro" presentation to provide plausible deniability (we're not sexists! we're just referring to earlier sexism!), but now quite blatant.

For the little it's worth, I did used to get the odd Burger King burger, but I no longer do, because of those stupid ads. I don't buy Tui. And I would boycott Coke Zero, except I never drink the stuff anyway.

A Nonny Moose said...

I want to know who and where are the women in these big advertising companies, and what do they have to do with/say about this sort of advertising?

I know media can be a big boys club but surely SURELY there are some high powered women in the agencies with some say about this stuff?

An oh man, giving up my Coke Zero :( big ask. I've tried and failed in the past, but I'll try again.

Lillybet said...

I am deeply deeply distressed by the Lynx advertising on the Bebo homepage. Please check it out and feel my pain http://www.bebo.com/

Think about how many young women are seeing this when they log into their Bebo pages!!!!

Megan said...

incidentally, I think this is the ad - or a version of it.

Nice use of pole dancing, too.

Megan said...

Oops, forgot the link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WB5aG4NyoYk&feature=related

Emma said...

These ads do piss me off, and my 'meh' threshhold is high. Weird, though, to consciously decide to alienate the female market for a 'diet' drink in favour of pitching to the surely-smaller 'male dickwad' market. They're ghastly, and they haven't even run a token 'female dickwad' ad to balance things out. It's not just one: the whole campaign is repulsive.

stargazer said...

see, i don't believe they're going for either of those markets. they're going directly for the "so-pissed-off-they'll-complain" market, just so they can get the extra free publicity.

Brenda said...

perhaps there's an insight into NZ culture to found in imagining the genders being swapped. I really struggle imagine "mainstream NZ" (who ever they are) getting the same impression from this advert if it was a woman with a gaggle of gorgeous men feeling her up, and then surfing behind her serious motorbike..... but i'm willing to try being that woman ;-) but not if the bike is pink.

now, trying to imagine even more mixed up genders used in that advert - could he be bisexual on that advert? can the guy be felt up by an adoring group of men and women? can NZ primetime TV handle that yet?

and the more scenarios i go through, the more i think WTF has this got to do with softdrink?

Keely said...

I take heart from the fact that my 15yo son said WTF! and refuses to buy it. To him the ad said that women don't drink coke (he didn't even get the zero part, just coke)and only loser men did. My 12yo daughter said it showed coke is a drug if you think it'll give you women, and the 8yo daughter said it was a bit stupid and if that's what the guy thinks, then women wouldn't like him anyway. Ah, youth.

One of the cokezero ads that hasn't made it here yet... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNaVwsx7Fp4

These ads came up today when I was in a uni tutorial covering censorship and pornography. I felt I was banging my head against a wall as I listened to young women claim that it was prudish to believe objectifying/degrading/dehumanising images of women could do harm. We were talking about violent porn at the time.

stephen said...

"Weird, though, to consciously decide to alienate the female market for a 'diet' drink in favour of pitching to the surely-smaller 'male dickwad' market."

My understanding is that Coke Zero basically IS Diet Coke. Presumably there is a small market segment of men who are too health-conscious to drink sugary Coke, and too afraid of girl-germs to drink Diet Coke, and it is these few to whom Coke Zero is supposed to appeal.

But I think Anjum's theory that they might be trying to provoke a publicity-generating uproar is all too plausible.

Random lurker said...

As long as the brand image is imprinted on the mind of the viewer, it is a successful ad. How it's imprinted is irrelevant.

People don't typically buy a product (excluding niche markets) based directly on a particular ad. When someone goes to buy a soft drink, they'll reach for the brand that seems most familiar to them.

This ad will make the brand familiar to a lot of people, even those not in the 'male dickwad' market.

The only people that won't buy the product as a result of the ad are those that are so incensed that they will consciously avoid the product. These I suspect are a minority. And of course as you say, if this minority is vocal, then the brand gets further publicity which will make it seem that much more familiar to others.

DeepRed said...

My thoughts on these adverts were, "what point are they trying to make, anyway?".

I wouldn't at all be surprised if the advertisers were aiming for the Bridge & Tunnel market. Maybe if anyone accuses us of "PC gone mad", we could turn the tables by invoking "lowest common denominator" or "bridge-and-tunnel".

Mary-Lou said...

I understand that none of you "get" it then.

I'll put it simply for you, Coke "Zero" is aimed at the male drinker - just as "Diet" Coke is aimed at the women. I am surprised that none of you mentioned the appalling adverts where sex crazed women ogle men, men bending over etc etc that is on TV every day.

Coke "Zero" are reversing the advertising as it apparently fits the demographics for their drinkers. I am wondering if any of you drink Diet Coke and if so are not wondering the same about their adverts.

So think before bellowing out this as it smacks of double standards.

hungrymama said...

Mary-Lou - I do dislike the diet coke ads immensely but I think these coke zero ads are even more offensive. Admiring someone as they work is a little different to leaving one's girlfriend in order to sleep with many, many strippers

Anna said...

Mary-Lou, both ads are offensive, but to pretend that men are objectified in advertising as often as women, or in the same ways as women, doesn't square with reality very well. In any ad break, you'll see a ratio of about 10:1 in favour of ads which objectify women.

And why not try to moderate your tone a bit when you comment, so it's more polite? The aggressive approach isn't needed, and doesn't add anything to the debate.

Lita said...

I shouted at the telly when I first saw this ad. Cos of course, no point marketing Coke Zero to us women, we are already the Diet Coke target market. Totally ridic ad.