91seconds of Living and Loving and John Lewis Advertising


I am finding myself thinking about advertisements a little more than ever before. I think I thought I tuned them out, but of course that is what everyone says, either way they never really bothered me.

Increasingly they have been p*ssing me off and sparking a sparkling variety of emotions. Perhaps it is because I am curious as to how media influences people not only in what they purchase but in who they are, particularly in regards to gender based identities. Perhaps it is because I watch Mad Men which is set in a New York 1960s ad agency. Perhaps it is because I watch The Apprentice which usually has tasks involving the development of ad campaigns. This causes me to imagine the thought process behind the things I see. (I am not sure if it is even a semi accurate portrayal of how things get done but I suspect the shots of cringing graphic designers copying and pasting up the stereotypical ideas of idiots-with-egos might be realistic.)

I hate being sold a lifestyle and I hate being told what it is to be a woman but somehow I love this John Lewis ad. I first learned of the campaign at the Guardian a while back. John Lewis is a British department store that is known as an old reliable. It is unique in that its employees are referred to a partners as they all have a share in the company. It's selling point is that it is a fair, consistent and people orientated company. The developers Adam & Eve communicated this with emotive success.

Usually women in television adverts are very one dimensional. They are often characters informed heavily by Sex & the City style lifestyles. Shoes and bags and cocktails with the girls kind of thing. Although the female lead in the advert is not challenging stereotypes, she is portrayed as a complete human being. She is an innocent child, a beautiful wife, a caring mother, an ambition career woman and a stylish elderly person. Woman are too often dehumanized in the media by being represented as incomplete people.  I think this plays a huge role in the objectification of woman and so, in violence against women too.

Or perhaps it is the golden light, the Billy Joel cover and the stylish elderly lady that has me.

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