Advertising has one, stunningly simple goal: to make you buy stuff. So then it’s always shocking to me to see an ad campaign that has the polar opposite effect; an ad campaign that is so patently offensive it makes me never, ever, not even if they paid me want to buy their product; an ad campaign like the new French “WE ARE ANIMALS” spots for Wrangler.
So, OK, you’re thinking, “I’m not entirely sure what’s going on here. Why is there a person lying wet, muddy and bedraggled at water’s edge. Are dirty, torn-up, leaf-strewn jeans the next acid wash? Wait, is that a corpse?” Alas, to help clear things up in the worst possible way you see the next ad in the campaign.
“WE ARE ANIMALS” apparently means we are animals who are into dead, probably murdered, possibly sexually assaulted women. Wear these jeans, they’re killer! Even from the most basic “buy this” standpoint these ads make no sense. Why would I want to wear a dead girl’s jeans?
Wrangler has traditionally been known as a Western wear company. For years the brand has been synonymous with cowboy boots, 10-gallon hats and dusty rodeos. But as noted on Shakesville earlier this week, the company has been trying to change its riding-and-roping image to appeal to a younger, edgier demographic. In doing so, they’ve fallen off the edge entirely.
From the press release about the campaign:
Our pure, natural instinct to kill? While not all the ads in the campaign celebrate necrophilia chic, they’re all fairly gross. I mean, what about this shot would make you want to buy jeans? Shampoo — maybe; jeans — not even a little.
Then there is the TV spot for the campaign which looks like a camping trip gone horribly, horribly awry.
The disturbing campaign is another example of the routine pictorial disembodiment that happens to women in the media. The same principle at work in the sexist shots of beach volleyball players’ bums is also at work in the gross image of what appear to be woman’s waterlogged corpse. We are cropped to be just parts. No pesky heads, just bodies. And dead bodies at that. Gosh, who else feels like going shopping?