In the last few weeks, we’ve discussed in length how advertisers and marketers continually try to catch up and adapt to the changing discourse and practices of real life. We, as consumers, are constantly inundated with media, so it’s up to ad (wo)men to figure out how to break through all the clutter to speak to you, the individual. One corporate approach that’s been harnessed into advertising was a movement to personify and humanize the product. Another course of action is to collapse multiple media texts together in hopes of aligning yourself with a media product that has already established a loyal and discernible fan base. Simple Skincare, a brand endorsed by “sensitive skin experts,” has done both.

In their latest ad campaign, Simple has invested their efforts ($) into getting actress Allison Williams to front the face of the company. The strategic move is not only an appropriate marketing ploy, but speaks to the cultural currency that’s circulating in our lives today. Allison Williams was a great person to nab for celebrity sponsorship. In Social Communication in Advertising (Leiss, Kline, Jhally, Botterill), the authors suggest that there was a great push to “link [] lifestyle to celebrity culture” because “audiences wanted to see Hollywood behind-the-scenes (p. 360).” While this was to suggest that advertisers merely aimed to marry everyday boring people life to everyday star-studded life, Simple Skincare took it literally. And for great measure. In their commercial for Simple cleansing wipes, Allison is filmed on a “behind-the-scenes” set where she is made to intentionally break character. When she says “everyday I’m putting my skin through a lot,” the giant stage light was scripted to shine in her face, making the fresh-faced beauty squint unattractively. The viewer consumes this sequence by unpacking the signifiers: Allison is the girl next door who stumbled upon fame–she exists in real life, has real faults, and has a job (albeit a super glamorous job). The book SCA identifies Simple’s scheme as the perfect balance between relatable and ideal celebrity image: “To fawn excessively over celebrities or to encourage readers to directly mimic a celebrity lifestyle would be considered crass, implying that readers are sheep with no sense of identity…celebrities had to be made to appear as authentic working people (p. 361).” Ergo, Simple products adopt the charming, simple characteristics that Allison has been identified with.

The company’s move to match their image to the much-loved Girls co-star is to tap into youth culture. Youth are constantly wavering between adhering and attacking advertisements, so the means of communicating to that complicated demographic must be done carefully. In SCA’s chapter “The Mobilization of the Yuppies and Generation X,” companies began to reach this market through “disjoined visuals” that speaks to the alienated young consumer. “A sense of ‘rupture’ in advertising messages took place in the Gen X ads…where advertising’s old meanings–its perpetually happy, idealistic, congenial worlds, made better by the product–became farcicial to an audience leery of promotional culture’s hype and unbelievable claims.” Here, Simple Skincare reenacts this idea literally. Allison’s ideal celebrity lifestyle during makeup is interrupted by bringing “behind-the-scenes” to the scene. Although this commercial is still rather “happy, idealistic, congenial..” we see Simple attempting to break down the fourth wall of advertising in an attempt to speak to the Girls and boys of Gen Y. 

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