Archives for the month of: April, 2013



With basically every single rapper, from Schoolboy Q(“Swimming Pools(Black Hippy Remix)”) to Rick Ross(“Diced Pineapples”), mentioning Ciroc in their rap lyrics within the past year, Ciroc seems to have taken a very interesting and competitive niche, specifically that of the luxury hard alcohol market. Ciroc’s “Lucky Be A Lady” ad features a star-studded cast, with people like hip hop mogul, P. Diddy and Aaron Paul, actor from the hit show Breaking Bad. They’re all suited up and P. Diddy pep talks them into raking in a couple of million and that they’ll do it all over again the next day.(0:08 of the clip) They get off a private jet and head into Vegas, where beautiful women are and shots (both actual and film shots) of Ciroc are all over the commercial, although there are probably 2-3 actual relatively short clips of Ciroc. This ad is genius in telling a story and having a narrative that associates this luxury, leisurely lifestyle with the product itself.

In Veblen’s “Veblen mentions that “In order to gain and to hold the esteem of men it is not sufficient merely to possess wealth or power. The wealth or power must be put in evidence, for esteem is awarded only on evidence.” (24) This is signified throughout the ad with various products featured. The private jet, the Escalades, tons of beautiful women, and of course, Las Vegas, a city that is known for notorious money spending and one of the cities that promotes leisure as its focal point for visiting. These goods, or this “evidence” as Veblen states, juxtaposed with the fact that they are only drinking Ciroc, associates Ciroc with these high priced, luxury items and the famous, good looking men and women, which basically says that Ciroc is not any high-end alcoholic beverage, it is the high-end alcoholic drink. Veblen then states how a waste of either “time and effort” or a waste of “goods” are excellent “methods of demonstrating the possession of wealth”(53). This ad particularly focuses on a waste of “goods” particularly in gambling casinos in Las Vegas. Considering that P. Diddy & Company are planning to “rake a couple million” and “break the bank,” it is implied that they in fact will spend close to that much. They have expendable wealth if they are talking about millions; wealth they can spend in casinos, women, jets, and even Ciroc.

Veblen calls a “life of leisure” the “readiest and most conclusive evidence of pecuniary strength,” making it a “superior force” that reinforces and promotes living in “ease and comfort” as the ultimate signifier of wealth and comfort. Veblen states leisure is seen as the “ability to afford a life of idleness”(25). What’s great about this ad is that it’s basically framing it in a way that is a spectator sport for the viewer, as they can only watch along as they spend money, win money, drink, dance, and cheers on the rooftop. It’s subtle in it’s meanings and associations and almost has a casualness to it. Ciroc is apparently for people who, as Diddy put it, “work hard, play hard” and are “looking good & feeling good”. They are hard workers, since most are actors, but this ad focuses more on what they do in their leisure time and suggests that they do in fact, play as hard as they work.


Veblen, Thorstein. Conspicuous Consumption. New York: Penguin, 2006. Print.

Figure 1

The latest John Jameson
 whiskey print ads, seen in select subway cars near you, tell the story of a respectful, bearded man and his treasured whiskey. Typical of beer and alcohol advertisements, these ads establish “a pedagogy of youthful masculinity that does not passively teach male consumers about the qualities of their product so much as it encourages consumers to think of their product as essential to creating a stylish and desirable lifestyle” (Messener and Montez de Oca 2005). The focus of these ads is not John Jameson whisky’s distillation process, its ingredients or how it should be consumed; this campaign focuses on the established businessman, his reputation, admirable character and accomplishments.

The bearded man, presumably John Jameson himself (although the real Jameson did not sport a beard,) doesn’t, however, fall under “The Male Consumer as Loser” motif. This comes as a response to the chronotope in which it was published (1882). Just as beer and alcohol advertisements from the 1950s and 1960s involved happily married suburban couples in response to the postwar culture and ideals of the male bread winner and his housewife (1881); and later, the insecurities of deindustrialization and the declining value of wages created ads depicting leisure as lifestyle in 2002; one could argue that the recent recession and increasing power of women in Corporate America is what’s behind the established businessman. He is strong, adored and noble. He worked his way up from the bottom, has stayed true to his roots, and in his world, women are either whores or grandmas, no threat to the man. His character and lifestyle is created through a series of ads. The one I’ve chosen develops the man as strong, successful and with “Taste above all else”.

In this ad, Jameson arm-wrestles over 57 men, beating every one of them. Behind his strength is the urgency to protect his life’s work, his secret distillation process. It’s an honorable cause to the violent outbreak. Further, he and his opponents are in a warehouse full of a couple dozen barrels of Jameson’s whiskey. It might be his distillery or the back room of a storefront. In any case, one knows his whiskey is in high demand and therefore, business is going well. We can see the conviction in John’s eyes. None of the men will beat him, but they can sure try. He wears a vest, well-groomed hair and his signature beard, all signs of his high status and that he is a gentleman. Meanwhile, the next man on line is shirtless with suspenders and another hides his huge belly behind a butcher’s apron – both signal that the men are part of the working class. But Jameson’s whiskey business is so successful, that his rivals include pompous, top-hats too. Last, the one similarity between this alcohol ad from 2013 and the ones from 2002 is the presence of a “hot chick,” or in this case, possibly a whore. The only woman in this scene is sitting at the front of the line, next to all of the action, maybe waiting to depart with the victor. The sleeve of her dress is strategically slipping off her shoulder, just enough to lead curious eyes to her bosom. With greasy, tangled hair, a fist in the air and knees apart, she’s garish, not quite the corset-ridden lady we expect. She may not be ideally beautiful in the way previous hot chicks have been, but she is readily available and on a mission to please.

Through these images, the Irish whiskey company tells consumers that they need not fear failure in a down economy. Contrary to the leisure lifestyle, the established businessman tells them they should have moral character and work hard to get ahead because that’s what strong men do. In addition, considering where these ads were placed, on NYC trains, we can assume its target audience are men and boys traveling to work or school, the cities working and middle class, presumably those hard-hit by the down economy and socioeconomic climb of women.

As an avid user of Google’s many features, I must say that I was absolutely fascinated by this advertisement. As sk3479 illustrates on the original post, this advertisement is a very good example of an ad that serves several of the main functions that we learned about during the beginning of the semester. And needless to say, I agree that this advertisement does, indeed, democratize the world of fashion by bringing those high fashion runways that average people may only view on TV, to our very own homes.

However, as we have moved on to discuss different topics in class, I would like to address some points that might argue otherwise. The most important point I’d like to note is that fashion is one of those cultural needs, as Bordieu states, that “are the product of upbringing and education.” As “a work of art has meaning and interest only for someone who possesses the cultural competence, that is, the code, into which it is encoded,” fashion cannot possibly be interesting for people who are not familiar with it. Inside the advertisement, we can see Asian females who seem like they’re in their 20s, are middle to middle-upper class, and clearly have enough of leisure time, money and affinity to enjoy the idea of a fashion show. Furthermore, despite our globally connected world through the internet, as we can see from the video, only people with computers and projector screens can enjoy this function of Google. Therefore, people who may not know how to use the computer well due to lack of education, or people who don’t have enough money to afford a projector screen in their room would probably not be able to host their own fashion show through Google. As a result, although it may be “democratization of luxury” in that it allows ordinary people to enjoy high fashion shows as their own, because the concept of fashion creates a distinction between classes, the ad also creates a distinction.

 In the last paragraph, sk3479 states that this ad creates the “formation of imagined communities.” To further add to this, I think that the ad also points out to Cosmopolitanism, as we went over during our lecture on April 4th. The app itself is available for anyone, even people who might confine themselves to one location. Nevertheless, through this application, people are able to view clothing from all over the world. For instance, the clothes that were shown on the video weren’t all kimonos; because it is an online application, people are able to go to any website from any country and try the clothes on virtually. May some might even like the clothing and purchase an international shipment. Therefore, the advertisement promotes the idea of cosmopolitanism through engaging their consumers in a “global citizen” mindset. 

In conclusion, I feel that this advertisement can be interpreted beyond just its functions, which shines light on the fact that despite the seemingly “democratizing” nature, it actually makes distinctions, and also carries cosmopolitan ideologies. 

This ad is a combination of Product-image format, Personalized format, and Life-style format. Product-image format is a type of ad that already assumes the viewers to be already aware of the product’s basic function and utilities. Johnnie Walker, similar to most other alcohol/alcoholic beverage advertisements, does not state the basic function of “alcohol” or what kinds of effects alcohol have to our body. Because, alcohol, as known by most consumers, retains detrimental effects such as “loss of breath,” “blackouts,” “heart attacks,” and in extreme case, “death.” Interestingly, Johnnie Walker, since it is aware of the fact that the consumers maintain knowledge about alcohol/hard liquor, the ad is trying to eliminate such knowledge. However, by introducing “rich” socialite’s life-style in its ad, Johnnie Walker is suggesting a different meaning to the product that the product, aside from the possible harmful effects it can bring, actually fits into our lifestyle (“Lifestyle format”), especially for those who are already a member of such “high society” that they utilize the product already in their parties (“Personalized format”).

I think lp1082 made a very interesting observation when he/she says ‘The hyperpoblic depiction of the important man’s life, using words like “leverage, portfolio, and fiduciary,” pokes fun at the idea that scotsch is only for such apparently stuck-up people, aiming to help the “less important” be able to relate to the commercial.’ There are several elements, as mentioned by lp1082, that reveal that this ad is trying to portray seemingly lifestyle of a “high society”; however, such overt portrayal makes the viewers laugh. The ad “trying” to sell the lifestyle of a prosperous, male socialite; however, this ad may not seem very appealing to the “high capital consumers” or “cultural elites” who are attracted by high artistic quality, vagueness, cultural values in ads. For those who retain “high cultural capital” generally share “affluent, educated and diverse” backgrounds. The ad’s efforts to appeal to such readership is because such prosperous, affluent lifestyle maybe shared by those with high cultural capital. The main focus of the ad centers on the male character, who is a wealthy, “party-going” businessmen, who seems like he can have high cultural capital and tastes. Nonetheless, the ad fails to appeal to the intended audience because the ad is too blatant about the desirability of high society and tastes. The “high cultural capital” consumers are greatly interested in cultural, sophistication, connoisseurship, aesthetics and quality rather than how the goods will elevate their financial and social status in a society. It is because, they are already aware of and has almost already forgotten about the fact that they belong to the “affluent and elite” category. Their core interests are not based on “prosperity” or “to show off” but rather becoming “tastemakers” in a society and “culture advocates.” “Rich,” “freedom,” “upper class” are tags that automatically follow the “culture advocates” or “tastemakers.” Even though the ad does not reveal the price of one bottle of Johnnie Walker, it pretty much puts out there that the product belongs to “upper class” businessmen and his acquaintances. 

Therefore, I think the ad successfully incorporates different adv formats that may expand their audience group and outreach. However, the ad may have failed to appeal to their principal, focus audience demographic, which are consumers with high cultural capital.

Work Cited:

Leiss, William, Stephen Kline, and Sut Jhally. “Mobilizing the Culturati.” Social Communication in Advertising: Persons, Products & Images of Well-being. London [etc.: Routledge, 2005. N. pag. Print.

In their article, “The Male Consumer as Loser: Beer and Liquor Ads in Mega Sports Media Events,” Messner and Oca’s phrase of “[men] have each other, and of course, they have their beers,” (Messner, Oca, 1889) suggests that the alcohol is a mean for men to get bond with guy friends and be able to justify their immature behavior. Here, the men in the commercial have each other, and this time, they have their Doritos instead. The 2013 Official Super Bowl Doritos – Fashionista Daddy commercial consists of the conjunctive aspects of ads and gender as ideologies, as well as men’s defense to the “destabilized hegemonic masculinity” (Messner, Oca, 1903). The authors argue that men’s position in society is weakened as women gain social power in the contemporary era; the ideal masculinity of being dominant and serious men is no longer powerful, so that men would like to disguise their blurred masculinity and reconstruct it through the “self-mocking,” (Messner, Oca, 1905) which can justify their immaturity as humor and joke.

In this commercial, the father seems to care more about playing with his friends than playing with his own daughter, seemingly not interested in parenting – a part of house chores – . A girl playing princess is setting the normative view of the world – the dominant ideology of girls with dolls and guys with cars or outdoor activities – and, at the same time, the perpetuation of social meaning of masculinity and femininity is implied when the father is holing a ball contrast to his daughter. However, he and even his friends altogether put funny makeups on and dress up like princesses when the daughter shows the Doritos snack. Their immediate change suggests men’s simplicity and immaturity –since they were easily convinced by just snack -, but the nature of “buddies,” (Messner, Oca, 1887) makes them feel less embarrassed about their silliness and “secure in their bond with each other” (Messner, Oca, 1888~9). Another normative view was reinforced by the wife’s presentation, the woman who just came back from groceries shopping. The positioning of women in this ad clarifies the gender role in household and can be seen as suppressed inequality; house chores are on female. The fact that the man had time to spend with friends but did not plan to take care of his daughter or go groceries shopping with his wife explicitly suggests that house chores heavily depend on women, but displays it as such normality. From my perspective, men are playing smart to reconstruct their masculinity over femininity by embedding the traditional view of what is to be normal in the guise of new feature, the humorous and silly men. According to the authors, the ads these days no longer feature men as hero but as common figures to make male viewers be able to easily identify with (Messner, Oca, 1888). In that way, the ads that include gender hegemony (Messner, Oca, 1880) can be perceived as normal and right, even to the female.

This Doritos commercial is a case that successfully utilized the strategy of alcohol marketing to target male marketing and also helped men to reconstruct masculinity over femininity. However, it is still very uncertain that if masculinity will be reconstructed in this way.  

           As I watch this diet Pepsi ad where Sofia Vergara appears, I also got the message of the ad as the original response put it that diet Pepsi is fun, trendy and even attractive drink. However, I was bothered with this ad. This diet Pepsi ad was so ideological in four different senses that Goldman and Papson have suggested that made me think the ad is nonsense.

            First of all, this ad is ideological in way that ads socially and culturally construct the world. For example in this diet Pepsi ad, ad construct a world where masses as being obsessed with celebrities. Before people on the beach got aware of Vergara’s twitter, it surely seemed like a hot day and lots of people were waiting for Pepsi because they were thirsty. However, as they saw a twit of Vergara, people thought David Beckham, just another celebrity, was more important than their thirst. In other words, people’s obsession on celebrity overcame the basic instinct.  Also, this diet Pepsi ad construct a world where it promotes the idea that Pepsi is the only drink that is going to there in time of the thirst. In the ad, Pepsi is the only drink that is available on the scene.

            Secondly, ads are ideological that they hide inequalities, suppress injustice and disguise power. Clearly, Sofia Vergara lies. However, she appears to feel absolutely no guilt that made lying seems like a moral action. Also, the ad creates and hides inequalities between Sofia Vergara and the others; Sofia Vergara because she is a celebrity and a star, is bothered to stand on line for a pepsi like everyone else. Also, because she is a celebrity and not equal to the other, she can get what she wants at the time of her need, while others have to wait.

            Ads are also ideological that they promote normative vision of our world and our relationship. In this ad, it is normal for masses to recognize the celebrities like Sofia Vergara and David Beckham regardless of where they come from. In real world, that is not always the case. In the States where football is more prominent and popular sports than soccer, people may not recognize David  Beckham. Also, the ad made it normal for masses to follow Sofia Vergara on twitter, which made me question ‘All these women follow Sofia Vergara on twitter yet why aren’t they recognize her?’ 

            Lastly, this diet Pepsi ad is ideological because it reflects the logic of capital. Sofia Vergara, who is a famous celebrity, obviously has better chance of earning more money than anybody on the scene and be a high cultural capital consumer. To prove this, Sofia Vergara is only one on luxurious white cushioned-sunbed while rests are seating on the sand. Also, Vergara seemed to be in a conspicuous leisure;

“the term “leisure” as here used, does not connote indolence and quiescence. What it connotes is nonproductive consumption of time. Time is consumed non-productively (1) from sense of the unworthiness of productive work, and (2) as an evidence of pecuniary ability to afford a life of idleness ”(Veblen 29).  

In sum, more capital ables one to consume more luxurious items and even time.

            This diet Pepsi ad is one of more ideological ads, which made me repeatedly watch it and think over and over.   


As many of our class discussions have touched upon, advertisements promote a normative vision of our world and relationships, especially when it comes to gender roles. They reflect and perpetuate the specific cultural meanings linked with femininity and masculinity circulating in society that have been ingrained into our minds from a young age. By not challenging the stereotypes that many already hold to be true, companies are attempting to create an environment that allows us to be comfortable with our consumption habits, so we are more willing to buy the product and, indirectly, buy into the ideology being presented. We have been taught that a certain set of associations and activities belong exclusively to each gender. Some traits inherently belong to girls that do not and should not be possessed by boys. For example, “…masculinity was defined as synonymous with the male breadwinner, in symmetrical relation to a conception of femininity grounded in the image of the suburban housewife” (Messner & Montez de Oca 1881). Those who do not adhere strictly to these socially constructed categories are quickly deemed as weird and indecent by the public. Although these standards have relaxed nowadays, gender stereotypes still manifest themselves in advertisements to attract as many consumers as possible by appealing to the large audience’s lowest common denominator.
PETA’s banned Super Bowl advertisement called “Veggie Love” speaks to the hegemonic notions of masculinity found in American culture in order to convince its targeted viewership to engage in a practice not normally deemed as manly: Going veg. “Men are supposed to have hearty, even voracious appetites,” which is why most media texts depict males’ meals as large meaty and fatty dishes usually cooked on an outdoor barbecue, such as buffalo wings and hamburgers (Bordo 108). By default, the opposite of these images, which includes dainty food items that are usually eaten with utensils like vegetables, are considered feminine and could never completely satisfy the insatiable appetite of a real man. Thus, being a vegetarian and participating in other dietary restrictions is seen as ladylike and males who follow these lifestyle trends are compromising their masculinity to an extent.
To ease these gender role fulfillment anxieties and recruit more males to join its cause, PETA employed common tropes of heterosexual masculinity in its advertisement, particularly through the use of “hotties”. During this controversial, half minute video, women regarded as sexy by American standards parade around in lingerie and fondle vegetables in a suggestive manner. PETA is appealing to the popular belief “that what men really want is (or at least titillation), a cold beer, and some laughs with the guys” (Messner & Montez de Oca 1890). The females’ main purpose is to be an erotic spectacle for the predominantly, heterosexual male audience (which is assumed since it was created to be televised during the Super Bowl) to fetishize and project their repressed desires onto their silent images. The viewer is asked to indirectly dominate the situation by envisioning himself as the produce these unattainable models are quickly surrendering themselves to since the women do not have much agency, a quality the gender is usually depicted as lacking. The “Average Joe” sitting on the couch reeking of alcohol with crumbs scattered all over his T-shirt is made to believe that he has won the fantasy girl because he changed his consumption practices, an outcome he will probably never experience in reality. Therefore, PETA is persuading the “loser” that if he does the unthinkable of doing something girlie like becoming vegetarian, he will be rewarded with the sexual ability he has always dreamed of. “These beautiful women serve as potential prizes for men’s victories and proper consumption choices” (Messner & Montez de Oca 1887). This unapologetic sexual voyeurism exploits men’s said ceaseless desire to be “good in bed” by aligning it with PETA’s objective to stop animal cruelty in the slogan “Studies show vegetarians have better sex. Go veg.” By utilizing these traditional stereotypes of mens’ roles in society, the advertisement seeks to prove that the normally non-manly activity of abstaining from meat does not mean one is giving up one’s masculinity. Instead, he is transcending his loser status and finally possessing the hottie out of his league.