Despite it’s disclaimer, this advert made me feel “uncomfortable, awkward, objectified and pointless”

Published: May 22, 2016

We’re all terribly familiar with the pin-up girl persona that women have to adopt in advertisements to make products more appealing. A few days ago, this advert popped up on my newsfeed on Facebook and I laughed along as the actor/model wiggled his butt and referenced the Katrina Kaifs of beverage ads, the Kareena Kapoors of magnum ads and the multitude of lux soap adverts in luxuriously white bath tubs laden with rose petals.

We’ve seen women adorned in robes of silk, where their smooth legs are just as shiny as the fabric. We’ve seen it all. We’re all mind-numbingly familiar with these images.

And we never hear the end of it from human rights activists and feminists. Rightfully so, it’s a societal issue.

But it becomes even more poignant when it’s presented to us in a completely unfamiliar context. It pierces the cocoon of the familiar and makes it unfamiliarly familiar.

Even the actor sarcastically says:

“You know, it’s a good thing that women don’t have to go through this stuff. They never have to feel: uncomfortable. Awkward. Objectified. Pointless.”

Right with you on that one. All of us nod our heads and chuckle as he walks off set and says,

“You know, you don’t have to objectify women to sell a product. So, it’s refreshing to see…”

– wait. What just happened?

Where did this deodorant come from? Are you kidding me?

When did this message against sexist imagery on screen become about an advertisement about this elitist ‘He’ deodorant that is for men who are supposedly ‘above’ this?

No, you don’t need to “objectify women” to sell a product. Except, that is ALL you did.

In an advert of 75 seconds, 60 were spent mocking women as the overly sexed gender in the media, and the remaining 15 were spent promoting these chivalrous gentlemen and their ‘He’ deodorants. It’s like uninterruptedly ridiculing someone in the bluntest of manners, and then saying ‘oh, but I think you’re great!’

When it pertained to a man’s humorous portrayal of the way women are seen in product advertisement, it was thought provoking and amusing. But, as soon as you bring your own product into it and claim that you don’t need to resort to the aforementioned tactics to sell – that is where the problem lies. There is a malicious, conniving undertone that emerges in the entire advert. It, instead, becomes pretentious, arrogant and insulting.  These paradoxes were only created to hook potential buyers and grab people’s attention, only to slap in the deodorant at the end for the few remaining seconds. If you were truly above all that you wouldn’t pitch a product at the expense of women. Your condescension and self-righteous disguise does little for your credibility in the eyes of women and real gentlemen.

This is nothing but a brand war.

What this has done is ridden on the wave of belittlement, while projecting this ‘better than thou’ persona.

This aura of nobility you’re creating is nothing but a fog machine at a pompous dance party: fake, blinding and temporary. If you “He’s” out there were real men, or even remotely valued the attribute of ‘respect’, you wouldn’t have resorted to shaming anyone. This ‘devil in sheep’s clothing’ façade doesn’t fool us.

Next time, pick the right target market – where chivalry has died.

Fatima Nadeem

Fatima Nadeem

The author is a Fine Art graduate from Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture. She is a freelance artist. Apart from a passion for the arts, her hobbies include reading and writing. Instagram: fatimanadeem8

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Supriya Arcot

    Any publicity is good publicity. Theres ‘fame’ hidden in defame . Badnaam huye to kya naam nahi huye ?Recommend

  • LS

    Dear Ms Fatima Nadeem,

    You also need some perspective…

    Have you see AXE, Zataka, Wild Stone deodorant advertisements? I won’t link them here given that you have YouTube access. Also you wrote this…

    “In an advert of 75 seconds, 60 were spent mocking women as the overly sexed gender in the media, and the remaining 15 were spent promoting these chivalrous gentlemen and their ‘He’ deodorants. It’s like uninterruptedly ridiculing someone in the bluntest of manners, and then saying ‘oh, but I think you’re great!’”

    Which basically means that you WERE fine with objectification that has been taking place since years.. but you seem to be against drawing attention to it? Its like to those anti-smoking commercial ads that show the gore and ghastly effects of smoking to deter people from smoking but looks like you would be opposed to that.

    Lastly, It WAS an advertisement!! Advertisements become popular on two most common themes; overall feel good appeal (everyone targets that, because its safe), other is shock value (few target this area because its Risky and can damage Brand Value if it goes wrong)… The advert you are talking about falls in second category…

    I don’t think you need to take advertisements that seriously and find big words like Morality and Chivalry in advertisements. Though I would suggest you look for them in daily walk of life.

    Ability to distinguish real life from reel life is needed, don’t mix them… you are going to have lot of trouble watching advertisements, television serials, and movies.

    Have fun watching these, laugh and be merry… there are lot of other things to worry about :-) (These are very old maybe 1980)

  • Parvez

    Watching the short video with the deliberate twist at the end makes you think ‘…. that was a bit sneaky ‘…..but I would not go further than that.Recommend

  • Read Below

    Oh lighten up woman, a bit of naughtiness hurt nobody!Recommend

  • Pure Ind

    Honestly its high time women stop always pretending like the victim who are objectified by men!! First of all why do women accept to perform in such Adds, arent we aware of the so called models who are ready to strip down if India or Pakistan wins a cricket match?? So there are women who dont mind being objectified as long it profits them. Its purely double standards to play the victim alwaysRecommend

  • Lalit

    Basically what you want is the message being served without the brand being shoved down the viewer’s throat….wake up mam its an advert.Recommend

  • bns

    Are you offended that someone didn’t pay millions of rupees to fight the feminist fight without an agenda?

    Because that’s straight up silly.

    You should be happy that someone, some company, even if for their own profit, is poking fun at, critiquing, a really sick industry that objectifies and thrives on the insecurity of women.

    I really wish everyone would stop being offended so easily. It’s a waste of space and mind.Recommend