Thursday, 23 February 2012

pusing for change

there is now a petition up at regarding tui advertisements. please do go over and sign, if you're interested in this campaign.

it's interesting how there are so many people out there vested in persuading us that the ads are not sexist at all, but failing to explain why. that the advertisements are hardly complimentary to men does not mean they aren't sexist to women. it just means that they are all around bad news.

it seems that advertisers have a real problem in trying to appeal to a male audience. they appear to have a pretty limited imagination. men apparently only respond to:
- sexualised images of women. presenting women as just human beings apparently doesn't work. they think that having women factory workers who aren't sexualised, or women scientists who aren't sexualised, just won't sell products according to the keen brains in the advertising industry who think up these kinds of campaigns

- things that are anti-feminine. i'm certainly not the first to point out that the definition of masculine seems to focus around the opposite to things perceived as feminist. women talk alot, so men grunt. women like dainty, pretty things, so men must have things that are big, square, without adornment.

- the notion that women are nagging killjoys. so you see adds that drown out the noise of women talking, that show women as harridans or overemotional or harsh. women don't have fun, they stop fun. women are overly responsible, men avoid responsibility or commitment because these impinge on true freedom.

i recall a really good post at kiwipolitico a couple of years ago, which i'll quote again here:

But three things stand out about the depiction of ideal NZ men in these ads.


The third and perhaps most interesting aspect of the depiction is its representation of “manly” values. Men are mates; hard drinking, carousing, happy go lucky, staunch (especially when drinking), fast driving, opportunistic and impulsive horn dogs working hard on the ladies. Nowhere in the depiction are there notions of honour, valour, courage, sacrifice, sincerity, solidarity (except with mates), humility, basic intelligence and knowledge of current global affairs, or interest in the needs of women, children and the family. That is a bit odd simply because the early 20 to 35 male demographic is the one that is reproducing the most (presumably a manly trait), has young families, is starting careers and otherwise has the burdens of post-adolescence crashing down on it. Yet the values being reified appear adolescent.

is it wrong to want better from our advertising industry? to expect better and demand change? i don't think so. i think they're quite capable of doing much better. i think they know very well the ways in which they contribute to societal culture - they do, after all, aim to become a meme. an ad that's so well known it becomes part of the cultural knowledge of a society. like those toyota "bugger" ads, the anchor milk family, the goldstein guy, the "it's not ok" campaign, the claytons ad from way back. this is what the best advertising does, and this is what they're all aiming for.

there are plenty who will tell us that there is no point in complaining. or that we are humourless harridans who should sit back and just put up with any and all nonsense. and yet recent activism has shown otherwise. complaints about the libra ad meant that they pulled it and replaced it with the old one of the boyfriend playing star wars in front of the mirror (which i'm not a huge fan of, and again, not so complementary to the guy).

and it appears that the current campaign has at least resulted in the head of advertising for DB breweries being prepared to have a discussion with feminist action. this doesn't necessarily mean that great things will result, and all of a sudden tui will decide to depict both women and men as decent, intelligent human beings. but even if it leads to a small shift, it shows there is some point in pushing for cultural change, and that good things can happen as a result.

as with other bloggers here, i'd like to thank feminist action for their campaign, and especially acknowledge the personal abuse that their spokesperson leonie morris has had to put up with. thank you for being strong and for taking this on. wishing you all the best as you continue with the campaign.


Beerbaron said...

Do you people ever laugh....ever? Such cold soulless automatons...

Humour usual requires a butt for the joke....its swings and rounder about's and what a sad grey place this world would be if you ever get your wish....


Tasha said...

Well this still manages to make me laugh, even if it's really silly.

(plenty of other things make me laugh but this felt appropriate)

stargazer said...

well beerbaron, if the only way you can laugh is to be laughing at other people as the "butt" of a joke, you must live in a pretty nasty environment. many of us have a much wider mental capacity, and can find plenty of things to laugh at that don't involve demeaning other people. so not only is it a funnier world, but also a much nicer one. but there's not much room there for people like you, so best you stay where you are.

Amy said...

One thing I have sometimes wondered is if the beer ads are actually targeting 13-18 year olds?

My logic goes something like this.
* Most NZ teenagers start drinking around age 13-15
* Beer ads seem like they are pitched at teenage boys, not young adults. Obviously they use adult actors but that is probably because a) it's illegal to depict under 18 years olds drinking and b) most teenage boys want to grow up and be men
*The people the alcohol industry makes the most off are heavy drinkers and alcoholics
* Men drink a lot more beer than women, so if they become alcoholics they will likely drink lots of beer on the way
* Very young men (13-16) haven't yet decided which type of beer they drink or got into a habit of buying one particular type
* If ad companies can get young men while they are still becoming heavy drinkers/alcoholics and get them into the habit of buying speights (or whatever) they have got them for what could be the rest of their heavy drinking/alcoholic life

If this is the case, it's still sad that these are the values our beer companies are appealing to/impressing on young men. But it might make more sense of the imagery they are using.

Hugh said...

I've never read that Kiwipolitico post but I find the idea of advertising that promotes "Honour, valour... sacrifice" quite chilling, actually.

Brett Dale said...


I agree with you 100%

You have got it spot on, the Tui ad's are aimed at the underage drinkers, that is their market.

Im sure they have worked this out, and I am surprised no on in the media have questioned them over it.

Trouble said...

Libra presumably changed their campaign because it annoyed their target market - much as I dislike the Tui ads, there's no incentive for Tui and their ad company to change them until their target market gets sick of them. Which could happen - perhaps they go so far that it develops a rep like Lynx, and drinking Tui becomes a liability for young men in the dating market. But it's much harder than targeting Libra.

Going head-on with Tui is one way to get people thinking a little more than they once might have done about sexism in advertising, but it's probably not going to have an effect on the actual Tui campaigns, except to draw attention to them.

Beerbaron said...

No stargazer...its you who fails to live life as its actually set and laid out. Jokes have a butt to varies but the reason that they are funny is that the butt IS funny in the context.Don't like that...? Shift to a different universe and reality.

A Nonny Moose said...

Beerbaron, it goes to show your level of respect for other human beings, especially women in this context, that you get your kicks out of laughing at them.

Did you know it's actually possible to make a joke without using another human being as the punchline? Try it sometime. Because us "humourless feminists" have been doing it for a long time, which is why your proclomations of our lack of humour fall on our bingo cards.

Julie said...

Seeing as how shifting to a different universe is an impractical option, I think it makes perfect sense to try to change the world we live in.