Is it too soon to blog about something other than Michael Jackson's death? I'm still not totally convinced he didn't fake it and move to the Cook Islands.
Fuck it. This has been bugging the shit out of me for a while.
I used to eat Baked Lays chips all the time, 'cause they're pretty good. But now, I just can't bring myself to reach for a bag while grocery shopping, thanks to the Frito-Lay Only In A Woman's World advertising campaign. And I thought Martyrs was scary. But the first time I saw one of these commercials, I was truly horrified. I literally stared, mouth agape, in disbelief at the television even after the two-freaking-minute-long ad ended. Have you seen this stuff?
Against my better judgement, I had to know more. Yes, it's true: Frito-Lay, makers of some of the most delicious salty snacks in all the land, including of course Fritos, Doritos, Cheetos, Tostitos, Funyuns, Miss Vickies chips and Ruffles, are now marketing their Baked Lays, SmartFood and Flat Earth (i.e. "lite") products to chicks with the most inane, vapid and stereotypical advertising they could possibly come up with.
The ads center around four cartoon broads with no noses and club hands who are "navigating life and love" and "fab, funny, fearlessly female." Yes, everyone...they have uteruses and they're not afraid to use them! Something tells me the people who came up with these ads *don't* and *are*.
The campaign's website has bios of each of the chicks. We have Anna, an Asian chick who loves yoga and is a journalist (which is one of those acceptable careers for women in TV and movies, along with teacher, interior designer and event planner). Then we have Cheryl, a black mom who ignores calls from her personal trainer and "sometimes finds herself wishing the annoyingly perfect super-mom next door would have a mental breakdown." Next there's Maya, fashion boutique owner who "hides how much she spends on shopping from her husband." Finally, there's Nikki, an arty singleton who says, "Shopping for cereal was a lot more fun when I cared more about the toy than the fiber!"
We'll get to the blatant female stereotypes in a sec, because we also have a lot of fun racial and looks-based pigeonholing here, too. The Asian does yoga. The black woman drops everything to be supportive. The blonde has big boobs and loves fashion (and lies to her spouse about her out-of-control spending). The redhead is wacky and flighty. It's like According to Jim in cartoon form.
Now we get to the "webisodes." This explains why the original commercial I saw was way too fucking long. They're all meant to be like mini, comic Sex In The City episodes. The first one introduces us to "the girls." One is wearing control top panty hose under a bikini. Another destroys a scale because "we had a misunderstanding." The redhead eats a cookie standing up because "then it doesn't count, right?" (Huh? I don't get it). Already, I have no further interest in any of these people, cartoon or not. Nor do they resemble me or anyone I know. And yet, I forge on for the sake of Stupid & Contagious.
So. I'm going to just give you a little rundown on each of the webisodes, and we'll go from there. And oh my freaking god, there are NINE OF THEM.
• OK, this is the one I saw on TV that left me catatonic with disbelief. The "premier" starts off with the blonde using a Thighmaster and chanting "bikini, bikini, bikini." When the phone rings, the Thighmaster flies across the room and breaks "her skinny mirror." The redhead is crying and all the gals assemble to be good shoulders for her to lean on (and one even gets a crotch buzz from her vibrating phone and blushes) and of course she's sobbing over a guy "Giancarlo" who is leaving her. After the ladies run through a cavalcade of guys the redhead has obsessed over, she reveals that Giancarlo is her hairdresser. And that's when they all go apeshit.
• One of the ladies has the flu and the friends stop by to cheer her up, 'cause that's what true friends do! The sick one says she hasn't been able to eat in days and she's lost four pounds. The others gush "You're so lucky!" and she says "I know! I can almost fit into my skinny jeans!"
• The blonde is having coffee with the black chick before she leaves for a vacation in Mexico. The black chick asks her if she's ready "all over" for a getaway. OK, have you ever in your life asked someone if they're ready for a vacation by asking them if they've waxed? I mean, SERIOUSLY?? Anyway, it gets worse: the blonde then imagines herself disrobing at the beach and people running and screaming because she's pale, hairy and had unclipped toenails. For the love of god...
• One of the gals is at a cosmetics counter with very rosy cheeks. A blonde bimbot says "love your blush". Gal says "Hot flash!" What the hell does this have to do with chips? They are never mentioned or shown!
• The gals are discussing a beautiful day and saying, "You know what this means!" Picnics! Horseback riding! Outdoor yoga for the Asian! And...bikini season! Suddenly everyone is depressed and ordering shit with skim. Again, what does this have to do with chips?? And if this is supposed to encourage us to eat something, this is a really bizarre approach...
• Asian yoga chick is having a nightmare. First a glasses-clad feminist says "Women can do anything!" Then, her mother pops into her mind to say "where are my grandchildren??" Feminist says, "We're more than baby factories! We're strong independent human beings!" Mom says, "You can have a career after the kids leave home!" Then a boyfriend-type character wakes up and puts his arm around her, which sends her into hysterics, yelling, "I can't take all this pressure!" Then mom says, "You should never make the man in your life feel inadequate, dear!" Again, no chips and WHAT THE EVERLOVING FUCK??
• Black chick's husband says they're taking a little Mother's Day trip to a B&B and he's packed her bags for her. They're wearing robes, sipping champagne with their club hands by a warm fire. She says she thinks she should "change" but her brain-dead hubby didn't pack anything that matches!! She bitches at him for not bringing makeup...but he did! A curling iron and some kind of compact! "But I don't curl my hair!" she screams. But she really doesn't care, it's the thought that counts. Then they go out for dinner and *everyone* is staring at her and gasping in horror at her mismatched outfit and garish makeup. Because when you go out, you have to wear makeup even when only shitty, outdated makeup is available . Criminy.
• The blonde is negotiating with a diner chef to have one more piece of pie. She's got plates piled up all around her, like she's had two whole pies already. She told him one slice ago to not respond to threats to his family for another. But then she says, "You do something for me and I'll do something for you" and winks. Jesus H. Christ, she's going to BLOW HIM FOR PIE?? Instead, she gets in his face and demands it, so he gives in. When she's done scarfing it down, she says, "Why did you let me eat that?" OK, pie...not chips. And are we supposed to eat the product or not?? I'm so confused!
• The blonde and Yoga Asian are on treadmills and Blonde is listening to a self-help tape, chanting "I'm bringing out the thin within. Size is just a state of mind. The only thing holding me back is me" and turning up the speed on the treadmill. Her friend asks what exactly the tape is supposed to accomplish and she responds, "To help me maintain control...and fit into a certain dress by Friday." Then she flies off the treadmill and the friend quips "I'm sure that dress will look great...over your full body cast!" HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! When women try to control themselves, it always ends in hilarity!
So here we have:
• Hysteria over hairdressing
• Shoe worship
• Jealousy over other women
• Frivolous grooming
• Weight loss through physical illness (and praise for it)
• Depression over "bikini season"
• Total freak-outs over food
• Men portrayed as clueless idiots
• Compulsive exercise
• Ad nauseum mention of cankles, water weight and hot flashes
What exactly is the goal here? Are we supposed to eat Baked Lays, SmartFood and Flat Earth snacks or not? Because all these ads seem to be geared toward guilt over putting anything in your mouth besides a penis. I mean COME ON! Offensive doesn't even begin to accurately describe this. It's also completely convoluted! In essence, they're saying "Hey, here are our salty, delicious snacks! Since you can't control yourself and stop from eating them, we'll make you feel as guilty as possible for being a fat, vapid failure." Why don't chip companies advertise their wares by showing drunk chicks pigging out on salty snacks with no remorse whatsoever? Funny, clever AND realistic!
I'm guessing this all went through a rigorous testing with sample audiences made up of real women, right? So we can't completely blame the stupid, sexist marketing nitwits. That means some people actually think this is funny and clever. I mean, they've completely rebranded their "lite" products, so obviously a lot of money, time and planning went into this. Just like the ads that show women climaxing over cleaning products, it's meant as distorting feminism to think worrying about this stuff is empowering.
With only 30 seconds to showcase a product, I understand that advertisers don't have time to be completely politically correct in commercials. But come on...this shit is PLAYED OUT. If your target audience is dieting women, be straightforward. Say, "You love chips and these chips taste great and have less calories." It's as simple as that. Don't pander to your audience by trying to relate to women through ridiculous stereotypes. I, for one, would love it.
Plus, men diet, too. It's true! The new kinder, gentler packaging and "women be shoppin'" advertising is excluding at least half your audience. If the chips aren't selling, it's because they're too fucking expensive! Not because of your commercials. Come on, ad agencies...can't we all just get along?
Either way, I'm buying Pringles Lite until they straighten this BS out. At least they fill the can to the top instead of filling half of it with air.
PS The website also invites you to "be one of the girls" by creating your own noseless, club-handed avatar. That's me above. Don't you just love my yellow shoes? Totally hot, right?