Beyoncé is an undeniable force of nature in today’s pop culture landscape. Her multiple multi-million dollar endorsements and sold out world tours over her years in the business have solidified her not only as an incredible performer, but also as a valuable asset for consumerism. Beyoncé has established her own brand identity as a powerful, independent, “girl-power” role model and entertainer over her decade long career. Going beyond Beyoncé’s fan merchandise such as t-shirts, books, and cups sold at her concerts, she has been paid millions to be the face of large brands such as L’oreal, Emporio Armani, Got Milk?, Nintendo, and most recently, Pepsi. Robert Goldman and Stephen Papson’s “Advertising in the Age of Accelerated Meaning” states, “Advertisements are structured to boost the value of commodity brand names by attaching them to images that possess social and cultural value” (81). By aligning Beyoncé’s image with a brand, the ideologies of Beyoncé are pushed onto that brand or product; hopefully mutually beneficial to both Beyoncé’s brand and the brand’s image.

            Beyoncé’s most recent advertisement for her new world tour, entitled “The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour,” is a high-production, sleek, and over the top spectacle. While the previous assessment of this commercial provides one great and valid analysis of the advertisement, a more critical depiction of the contradictions between the ideologies in this ad and Beyoncé’s brand identity provide an alternative reading of the advertisement.

            When one thinks of Beyoncé as a brand he or she associates her energetic performances, beauty, elegance, sexy yet wholesome image, and girl power music collection. These are the ideologies consumers are interpolated by and want to buy into in order to embody the image of “Beyoncé”. An immediate contradiction between her brand and this commercial is the title of her upcoming tour, “The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour.” Whereas the majority of her most popular singles “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)”, “Run The World (Girls)”, and “Independent Women Pt. I” radiate female independence and girl power; her newest tour’s title conforms to traditional norms of women taking their husband’s surnames. The adorning of her husband’s photo onto her lavish corset can be viewed as an act of marking herself as an object of his possession. Her husband, Jay-Z, is also headlining a major tour this year, however, he did not name his the “The Mr. Beyoncé Knowles Show.” Her naming her tour after her husband is accepted as normal as it aligns with the traditional societal narrative of women taking their husband’s last names. If Jay-Z were to name his show after his wife, it would be sure to create more controversy because it would go against conventional gender narratives.

            Beyoncé’s luxurious attire in the commercial is reminiscent of centuries old royalty. Although having proclaimed herself “King B” as an act of defying gender role restrictions and asserting her equality to men, Beyoncé conforms to the visual representations of sexy, feminine women in this advertisement. The commercial shows Beyoncé having her presumed servants tie her into her sparkly, tight corset, zip up her thigh high boots, lock in a gold cage on her hips, and place a small crown off centered on her head. Although her outfit can be viewed as regal and luxurious, it is a very sexualized version of a regal queen. The zoomed in shots of just her body parts aids the viewer in viewing her body as a sexual object for the audience to fawn over and consume. The tight corset is famous for being uncomfortable fashion for women throughout history; however, this paired with her thigh high boots plays on the male fantasy of desire. Goldman and Papson discuss the suppression of inequalities in advertisements. The ideology of “suffering pain for fashion” applies only to females in our society and her attire glamorizes the pain that such an outfit can cause. It reinforces the norm that women should sacrifice their comfort in order to sexually please heterosexual males. Her demeanor in the commercial is strong, yet her sexualized attire carries associations of a time in history when women were seen and not heard. This contradicts her independent “King B” image and conforms to the societal norm of sexualizing and objectifying women in the media.

            An interesting question to ponder is whether Beyoncé’s brand would be as successful is she did not follow the norm of sexualizing women in the media? Does Beyoncé’s power lie in her sexuality? If she were to be completely covered and dressed as a true king, instead of sexualized queen, would she still have such a presence in pop culture? Probably not. Successful advertisements contain codes of societal norms for its audience to read and interpret straightforwardly. If Beyoncé truly took on her male persona “King B,” and abandoned traditional sexy feminine characteristics the majority of society would not know what to make of her. 

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