Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Voice of God Washes Whiter

The television is on, and I am watching television adverts. No, I have not lost the PVR, but it's the excellent BBC programme Washes Whiter about the advertising industry, and it is mixing work with pleasure to see something so entertaining.

Interesting that the voiceover was referred to within the advertising creative industry as "the voice of god", that disembodied prompt that triggered the wife to tell the world just how well her washing powder really worked. She often looked upwards to the camera before speaking.

But, apparently, this "voice of god" did not work when advertising men's products - a man needed a genuine source of authority, someone like James Bond, or Jimmy Hill. Men would not talk to a voice from the sky in the way that women would.

And of course, while watching these back and white stereotypes, the 21st century man just laughs at how outdated and sexist those advertisements seem. That evil "old white man elite" seeking to perpetuate its authority ...

... but there is a less discussed counterargument in there. Probably from the 1960s onwards, and certainly today, those who worked in creative advertising have actually been at the forefront of progressive values - but most attempts of their attempts to push the boundaries too far, to try to switch away from stereotypical roles, were met with either incomprehension or distaste by the mass market world, or at least by the focus groups which represented that world.

So yes conservatives, be afraid, the advertising industry really is out to keep changing society.

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