so you didn't order one then i'm guessing...just for patriotism sake...*grin*
My brother and I went to an exhibit on banned political cartoons at the Cartoon Art Museum
several years ago. It was shortly after 9-11, so there was all sorts of cartoon that never ran because they were considered "in poor taste." In many cases I agreed.
However, there was one cartoon featuring a Patriotic Bathroom that we both found hilarious, in part because we've actually seen things like toilet paper with American flags on it. People buy it to be patriotic, but use it in a way that is decidedly unpatriotic.
I have to admit I'm getting over being a sucker for Sanrio products. Blame it on my underpriveleged childhood when Sanrio products (which were very hard to get ahold of in Gunnison, CO) were THE status symbol on the playground. Did you know there's a Hello Kitty toaster that actually TOASTS the image of Hello Kitty onto the toast? Where does that fit into your hierarchy of useless product decoration?
There are Hello Kitty household appliances that do EVERYTHING Hello Kitty.
You'll have to go to the Sanrio anchor store in San Francisco someday. It's... kinda scary, actually.
Hello Kitty is cool as long as it is completely inappropriate.
There was a Hello Kitty store in NY, too, which I always insisted on dragging inappropriate people too.
I always thought the Hello Kitty vibrators were completely inappropriate.
What if it had, say, a picture of a really good-looking shirtless guy? [..] I think I'd ogle the vacuum, but feel awkward about doing it in public -- so that's no good.
*GASP!* I'm just going to pretend that I never even encountered the thought I think you're thinking! You... linguistic overinterpreter!
'tis my fault. I suffer for it.
When it comes to easily swayed consumerism, it's good to be bad.
You tempt me, so I must post here what I was going to say on my blog--that ads are often just dumb. I don't mean that their purpose is dumb--I mean they miss their purpose. And, for some reason, it's the subtler problems that bug me more. Clearly, whoever made that vacuum was either aiming at fairly mindless consumers or just decided to express his patriotism at his business.
But take this example:
Grandfather slaps on aftershave in the bathroom with his grandson and says, "If it burns, that means it's working."
Then he takes out Crest alcohol-free mouthwash. He swishes it around, and has an odd look on his face. Cut to announcer explaining product.
They never return to the grandfather. Here's the message I'm left with from the actors: "If it burns, that means it's working. Crest doesn't burn. So. . . does it work? Announcer-guy says so, but the patriarchal figure who is explaining bathroom products to his grandson seems skeptical.
They needed that moment where the grandfather realizes that his mouth is clean without the burning. Without it, you're left with a wisdom figure who gives you the criteria, which the product fails to meet.
This is just one example of many, many ads. I think the best bet for advertizers is just to get your attention and place the product in context of when/how you would need/want it. But so many national ads have mangled messages--I am amazed these advertizing firms continue to get clients.
Ahh, but you see...you are assuming that the grandfather is a respected figure of wisdom, where as all the kids today know that being old-fashioned is bad. That is a common theme in advertising: "not your father's oldsmobile", etc. This Crest add emphasizes that new is always better, so their new product should be great. The old ways of doing things cannot compare to the new, brighter tomorrow. And old people are dumb fuddy-duddies.
Obviously, Neal, you were raised better than much of a America.
Kittens?!?! LOL - right on.
Glad I got you thinking though.. that's exactly what those posts are intended to do... (Sans lengthy blow-hard beating my own chest)... well.. aside from the first post of the series where I tried to express myself and did so miserably.
I'm intrigued by your take on the subject though.
You know what parallels it, (the way you put it here)? - Kid's stuff.. Like lunch pales, binders, bikes, etc.
Look at stuff for Kids... they're "branded" with all sortsa stuff that had NOTHING do do with the object being decorated.
So WHY is there a Skeletor™ on your lunchbox Billy? Skeletor is a skeleton and obviously doesn't eat...
Cause he's cool!
Why is there an american flag and fireworks on your vacuum cleaner Billy?
Cause America's cool!
's comment, below, clarified some of this thought for me.
Sometimes products are decorated. (And some products are more decoratable than others.) And the decorations really have nothing to do with the product itself, but there's no reason the decoration can't be something that's popular and appealing and cool. Why not put care bears on your kid's sleeping bag? It's just as warm as a plain blue sleeping bag, and kinda cute.
But then there's this line you cross, where the decoration itself starts to become the product, and the actual thing being sold is only a vehicle for the brand. Where instead of selling vacuuming, you're selling patriotism -- dispensed in convenient vacuum form. Instead of selling soda (with neat pictures on the cup!), you're selling a TV show -- in drinkable form.
That's when it gets weird and unhealthy. I think that might be the thing that makes my brain go "That's Just Dumb".
Unless it's kittens, of course. Because ZOMG, KITTENS!
I'm with you. The concept of "useful object" and the concept of "decoration" are
entirely separate to me. And I assume any object can be decorated any way. In
the old days, sewing machines would have flowers or faux Egyptian figures on
'em. So I'm thinking a Snakes on a Plane car vacuum would be as logical as
anything else. And it would make me smile.
On the other hand, I've been known to decorate random friends with an
airbrush when the mood struck me.
*snort* Snakes on a Plane....that movie is soooo gonna suck but I do want it on my lunchbox.
2005-10-15 06:03 pm (UTC)
Kitten vacuum, indeed
My kitten shreds things, which in turn makes me vacuum. She's cute and makes me vacuum. She washes herself, yet shreds things making me vacuum. Cleanliness all around!