Great moments in advertising

 

As I tweeted earlier this day, I believe this ad sold exactly zero Snapper Mowers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDJV2z05Fvs

I saw it in the office today, sound off; I was compelled to find it online because the women did this fist-bump / finger-flutter thing that made me want to throw a spanner through the set. Then, of course, they arm-wrestle, with a little callback to the “We Can Do It!” WW2 Rosie the Riveter poster. Meanwhile, the men drive around like passive dorks, looking like they’re on trikes with motors. I hope there’s ice cream afterwards!

Obvious, tiresome, humorless point: the ad would be unacceptable if the roles were reversed. Boring, equally obvious observation: the ad is supposed to be Clever because women don’t talk like this, but of course if the ad suggested in any way that women really don’t talk like this it would be doubleplus ungood. In a just world of gender equality, they would! In fact they do already, but society conspires to shame them if they do. And so on.

The real question is this: what sort of company looks at this ad, considers its target market, and thinks: yeah, that’ll work. Is it possible the real intent of the ad is to make it okay for men to buy a Snapper mower, because his spouse saw the ad and has a positive opinion of the product because the ads were all girrrl-powery and such? 

(BTW, they found the woman who posed for the Rosie the Riveter poster. Her name was Geraldine Hoff Doyle. She did indeed work in a defense plant, but as her wikipedia bio notes: “Because she was a cello player, Hoff feared a hand injury from the metal pressing machines and soon left the factory.”)

Before anyone gets up in my grill, as I never say, and suggests I have issues with strong women:  you should meet my dynamo wife, who has an adamantine spine and a legal mind that makes a leg-hold trap look like a paperclip. It’s not about strong women. I’s about the advertising culture’s belief that expressions of female strength need to be accompanied by milquetoast simpletons, and that men will look at that and think “I’m lame! Dude, you totally nailed it.” 

There are 40 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CoolHand
    The Cloaked Gaijin

    Mmmm, Kaylee.

    If ever there was something to be grumpy at Fox corp about, that would be it.

    • #1
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    @FatDave

    I can’t get worked up about every mediocre ad that tries to be funny.  Would you say this is more annoying than the Geico pig, or Vonage assaulting our ears with that blasted “WooHooHoo” song?  Please, James, ask your doctor about Xanex.  You’re too talented a writer.  We don’t want you to stroke out at dogs barking “The Carol of the Bells.”

    • #2
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    @MrDart

    His question is- “Why did they think this would sell expensive lawn tractors?” 

    I confess I pay attention to advertising in this way as well.  Often the answer (when the ad shows men as total morons) is that, while the product may be used by men, it’s actually sold to women.  But, in this case, I would really want to see the ad agency data that told them that women make the buying decision on riding lawn mowers.  I doubt it. And that assumes that this portrayal would be appealing to women anyway.

    If they seriously thought that men old enough to own a large enough lawn to need a sit-down mower would find that ad appealing (beyond the brief shot of the leggy blonde) I would say that they missed the mark badly.  Not only are the men portrayed as little more than trained animals running a small tractor but the women are acting like the dopey guys who date the potential buyer’s precious daughter. 

    Fire them and call Draper.  The proposition is to get a man to not buy a $400-500 deluxe walk-behind but to spend 6 times as much to sit down.

    • #3
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    @PeterChristofferson

    Hm. I’m actually in the market for a mower right now. Congrats, Snapper: you just got scratched off the list.

    • #4
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    @AnthonyKaiser
    James Lileks:  I mean, everyone’s talking about Arby’s these days because they bailed on the Limbaugh show, and it doesn’t make me more interested in buying a sandwich comprised of meat-slurry compressed with binding agents and served with a “Horsey Sauce,” which sounds like the nasal secretions of Sarah Jessica Parker.  · 9 hours ago

    Huh, and here I was planning on a trip to Arby’s today for lunch.  Now…perhaps a nice salad.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Member
    @AndreaRyan

    James, I completely agree with your reaction to that ad.  When I saw the women standing at the fence I expected them to start drooling over how “hot” their husbands are on those sexy mowers.  THAT would make more sense than this mess of bizarreness they produced.

    Also, I know why you wrote your last paragraph, James, but there’s another observation.  It’s a shame that we have to give disclaimers, now, so we don’t offend anyone as we speak the truth.

    • #6
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    @Pilli
    etoiledunord

    Ken Owsley: I don’t think James actually wrote this post, for two reasons:

    1 – The use of the word spanner, instead of wrench.

    2 – “before anyone gets up in my grill”

    I suppose the next podcast he’ll say something like “You should really go to Encounter books because it’s dope, yo.”

    I’m making a joke, James…!

    Re: Spanner.

    It could just mean that James drives a foreign car, and actually reads the manual. · 8 hours ago

    No. It means that James has lived in the Peoples Leftist Republic of Minneapolis far too long and that he needs to move to Rockingham, NC or to Taledega, AL or to Bristol, TN.

    C’mon James.  Rainch some of that liberal outta yer hair and call that tool a wrainch  like hiz honor Mr. Petty wouldda.

    • #7
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    @JustinC
    Peter Christofferson: Hm. I’m actually in the market for a mower right now. Congrats, Snapper: you just got scratched off the list. · 1 hour ago

    Best mower I have ever owned.  I’m hard on outdoor equipment, and it’s unstoppable and un-killable.  Three years ago, faced with replacing the 20 yr old riding mower, or replacing the engine for $450,  I went with changing out the engine.  Snapper quality is heads and shoulders above most other brands, but their ad department is awful.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAec9QilUrk

    • #8
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    @tabularasa
    Charles Allen: The only stereotypes missing from this ad were scratching and spitting…. · 11 hours ago

    Edited 11 hours ago

    Oh, they were in there, but they had to get it down to 30 seconds.  There are only so many dumb male stereotypes you can fit into a half minute.

    • #9
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    @AaronMiller

    The only perspective from which that ad has any appeal is the picture before you press Play.

    • #10
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    @CharlesAllen

    James, I am certainly with you on the pervasive emasculation that is prevalent in TV shows and ads today (Perhaps Rob’s new show can turn the tide).  But I would argue that the arm-wrestling at the end was not an homage to Rosie, but simply another effort to belittle “stupid things that guys like to do”.  The only stereotypes missing from this ad were scratching and spitting….

    • #11
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    @Yeahok

    The woman on the left became head of the GSA (up until last week) the woman on the right became a waitress in Moorhead and received a huge tip from some fellow citizens.

    • #12
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    @FricosisGuy

    Exactly.  This is not bad enough to be worth much time. 

    Now if they’d put the ladies in ratty ol’ wifebeaters and shorts…

    Fat Dave: I can’t get worked up about every mediocre ad that tries to be funny.  Would you say this is more annoying than the Geico pig, or Vonage assaulting our ears with that blasted “WooHooHoo” song?  Please, James, ask your doctor about Xanex.  You’re too talented a writer.  We don’t want you to stroke out dogs barking “The Carol of the Bells.” · 4 hours ago

    Edited 4 hours ago

    • #13
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    @SchrodingersCat

    I wonder how idiotic the two actresses felt when they saw their performance on TV? Even if the dialogue was spoken by two men, it would come off as moronic and immature, dude!

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Listener
    @FricosisGuy

    Oh, if only they’d put the scratching in…I’d finally see something in the “Jonah’s Fricosis Guy” wheelhouse!

    tabula rasa

    Charles Allen: The only stereotypes missing from this ad were scratching and spitting…. · 11 hours ago

    Edited 11 hours ago

    Oh, they were in there, but they had to get it down to 30 seconds.  There are only so many dumb male stereotypes you can fit into a half minute. · 37 minutes ago

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @BillWalsh

    rosie.jpg

    Geraldine Hoff at the age of 17. Nice of the Germans to take notice. They say she first saw the poster in 1982, and that she never had biceps like that. She was preceded in death by her husband of 66 years, Leo.

    Also, according to another page, she only worked in the plant for a week, but a UPI guy happened to be there that week and snapped a picture of her.

    Two other pictures of the lovely Geraldine, here and here.

    And, as I’m sure Mr. L has observed many a time, amazing how in the ’30s and ’40s, the teenagers looked like adults.

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @Spin

    I don’t think James actually wrote this post, for two reasons:

    1 – The use of the word spanner, instead of wrench.

    2 – “before anyone gets up in my grill”

    I suppose the next podcast he’ll say something like “You should really go to Encounter books because it’s dope, yo.”

    I’m making a joke, James…!

    • #17
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    @docmolloy

    The ad worked. You’re talking about it.. James Lileks you’re such a neo counter culturalist.. right back at ya bro.. flitter finger..

    • #18
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    @SidehillGouger

    After they are done mowing, the men get together and sing Viva Viagra.

    • #19
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    @Douglas
    James Lileks:  

    I mean, everyone’s talking about Arby’s these days because they bailed on the Limbaugh show

    Actually… they didn’t. They made a big deal about their commercials being taken off the air during Limbaugh’s programs, but as you know, such commercials can be a mix of both his sponsors AND local sponsors whose ads are aired throughout the day. EIB confirms that Arby’s has never had a national ad buy with them. The Arby’s ads being pulled during Rush’s show were all local ads. Limbaugh lost exactly Zero Dinero.

    To me it’s a good thing, as Arby’s has outed their leadership as haters of the GOP and conservatism. And not only that, they’re being petty about it. It seems they’re blocking conservative tweeters that are complaining about the anti-Limbaugh campaign. It seems Arby’s CEO is a huge Dem donor. Shock, eh?

    So, I know not to drop any more coin their way. And Rush? He’s added even more sponsors since then. Think I’ll go buy some pink slime on a bun from someone else today.

    • #20
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    @SeverelyLtd

    These sorts of ads don’t bother me because the unintended subtext is:

    ‘Men are more knowledgeable about these mechanical contraptions in spite of progressive’s/society’s efforts to homogenize the sexes. We can minimize them a little by presenting their disgusting patriarchal dominance of the internal combustion engine as goofy dorkism.’

    If the world they portray here (women dominating in men’s traditional areas of achievement while men become ever more drone-like and unnecessary) came to pass, the ad wouldn’t be seen as humorous. No irony, no perceived humor. And they wouldn’t see the need. That’s when I’ll start to worry.

    • #21
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    @wilberforge

    Kinda makes gals look like a couple of real classy chicks, Hey ?

    They missed adding a cooler full of Buds and the porch dogs..

    • #22
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    @Clavius

    I’ve always wanted to be turned into a newt. Or is that neaut?

    • #23
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    @jameslileks

    Doc: sure, I’m talking about it, but people talked about HITLER, too. 

    Sorry for the Godwin. I don’t buy the idea that buzz and chatter is an automatic boon; I mean, everyone’s talking about Arby’s these days because they bailed on the Limbaugh show, and it doesn’t make me more interested in buying a sandwich comprised of meat-slurry compressed with binding agents and served with a “Horsey Sauce,” which sounds like the nasal secretions of Sarah Jessica Parker. 

    • #24
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    @Clavius

    P.S., I own a Husquvarna. Or as my dealer called it, a “Husky.”

    • #25
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    @docmolloy

    James- I take your point but it is just a lawn mower ad. Too bad they didn’t have the women in summery mini skirts; as the old saying went (70’s) with a skirt that short she could cut grass.. oouch! Now that is a snapper..

    • #26
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    @PeterMeza

    The ad just came on whilst watching the news.  I have no idea what they were trying to get across.  Men are stupid because they talk that way?  But the women were talking that way too weren’t they?  I guess they were being ironic?  I agree with James, I don’t know exactly what that has to do with the merchandise.

    • #27
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    @docmolloy

    The art of selling.. getting the public’s attention out in viewer land. Soft, hard, sly, witty, catchy, irony, corny.. so on it goes. Whether Snapper mowers goes out of business will have more to do with whether their Mowers do what the gals claim they do.. Not with some role reversal to get the viewers attention and it seems the ad does that to date.. Meanwhile in Mali..

    • #28
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    @TheCloakedGaijin
    Geraldine Hoff at the age of 17.

    Kaylee-firefly.jpg

    Well, she does look a bit like the mechanic from Firefly.

    Wait!  That’s what she looked like at age 17!?

    • #29
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    @FeliciaB
    James Lileks:  Before anyone gets up in my grill, as I never say, and suggests I have issues with strong women:  you should meet my dynamo wife, who has an adamantine spine and a legal mind that makes a leg-hold trap look like a paperclip. 

    I am hereby officially inviting your lovely (strong) wife to my All Women’s Ricochet Sleepover.  Date and location to be determined.

    • #30
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