When I initially set my eyes on this ad, I remember being in awe because it was the first time I had seen Ray-Ban portray a controversial issue. In spring of 2012, popular and growing eyewear brand Ray-Ban launched its first ad campaign that supported the gay/lesbian community while keeping the style trendy and up-to-date.

Ray-Ban’s mainly attempts to tell its consumers to “never hide” (Ray-Ban campaign). We see two middle aged businessmen walking down the street while holding hands in the middle of New York City during the year of 1942. There are people with disapproving faces looking from left and right, and some even turning back while walking just to stare at this gay couple. One of the gay men is wearing a pair of Ray-Ban glasses, and he is strutting down proudly without any sense of shame or embarrassment. This type of scenario is common today; however, why is this advertisement still so powerful?

First of all, during the 1940s, it was socially unacceptable that homosexuals showed affection to each other on the streets. If this happened, in most cases, the public would ostracize gay couples and homosexuality was an act of shame. However, because this ad takes place in the 1940s, it emphasizes the boldness of this couple and constructs the idea that we, the consumers, should be as courageous as these gay men with Ray-Ban glasses. As Goldman and Papson stated in their work, “Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Meaning,” advertisements “ask us to choose and construct our identities out of our consumption choices” (85). Advertisements, such as this Ray-Ban ad, are the catalysts for the social and cultural construction of our worlds because we are so heavily influenced by the messages of the ads. The advertisers of Ray-Ban are influencing us to develop courage and build a sense of identity by consuming a pair of glasses like the male model in the ad. None of the other models in the ad is wearing a pair of glasses, which is a signifier that courage comes from wearing Ray-Bans.

Additionally, the outsiders or the disapproving faces also add to the message. These men and women shoot condescending looks at this gay couple yet none of the outsiders are watching the two men in a straight-forward way. The woman is looking with the corner of her eyes and the man is looking from the back. By sneakily looking at this gay couple, the advertisement suggests that these lookers lack confidence and are solely passive, which contrasts the prideful attitude of the protagonists. Also, the two protagonists are both not wearing hats while the rest of the people do. Perhaps, this usage of hats illustrates the narrow-mindedness of the others, which is not what Ray-Ban is promoting to its consumers: Ray-Ban is telling its audience to be liberal-minded and socially accepting to all types of people in the world.

Ultimately, by publicly supporting the gay community with its advertisement, Ray-Ban promotes the idea of suppressing inequalities and social contradictions that still exists in our society today. We, as consumers, are accepting this contradictory issue as a normative part of our world today by purchasing a pair of Ray-Bans.

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