Car ads can get a little dry — all that loading soccer equipment or pulling up to five star hotels or climbing over muddy streams or weaving in and out of traffic cones. No wonder the ad company handling Nissan’s new Juke resorted to a beautiful woman in a bikini. What they came up with isn’t exactly dry, but it’s awfully throw-back, and I don’t mean that in a retro-hipster way. It’s the kind of ad your own mother probably hoped wouldn’t be around for you when your daughters are grown.
It’s sexist in the simplest way: woman = object.
I love what Babble personal blogger Jane Roper has to say about it.
Roper works in advertising. She gets that sex sells and also isn’t so bothered by pics of scantily clad women. But equating a woman to a car? That’s too much. Here’s what she writes in her recent post, “How Much for Your Daughter, Sir?“:
But when it blatantly objectifies women — in this case literally comparing her to an object up for purchase — I lose my ability to just laugh or roll my eyes. When I see a woman laid out on a slab, surrounded by male engineers and a male commentator, being measured and observed as if she’s a thing, and not even given any lines to speak, I feel, as a woman and mother of two daughters, silenced.
I feel like I’ve been plopped into the middle of a fraternity house basement where a bunch of guys are drunkenly rating the hotness / tits / asses of the girls in the sorority house across the street. And I have to sit there listening, and can’t say anything. I can’t crack a joke at their expense. I can’t even get anyone to give me a solo cup of shitty beer from the keg.
Like Jane, I understand the ads are supposed to be clever and funny. But the thing about comparing a woman’s agility, speed, curb appeal, and aerodynamics (?!) to a car is that you’re comparing a woman to something that another person sits in and utterly controls — steering, braking, showing off. Want her to perform optimally? Better pump her full of gas, keep her nice and lubed! If she gets old, lets you down, costs too much — just trade her in or sell her off for Blue Book value.
I’m sure it’s hard selling cars, especially ones that look like the Nissan Juke. It’s not really a handsome car. It also has a stupid name. So I can’t fault the advertisers for resorting to a model in a bikini, who, incidentally, has a name. But why can’t Amber do something interesting? Why can’t she drive the car? Why is she content being so submissive, so unaffected by how that guy is discussing her dimensions without even seeing her as a person?
Here’s one of the ads. You can see the others here.
Photo: MJTR (´ï½¥Ï‰ï½¥) via Flickr