I was flipping channels the other day, and happened to spot a new Kmart commercial that managed to be both blandly unremarkable (I feel like I’ve seen it more than once, but I’m not sure) and unexpectedly offensive and annoying. Quite an achievement, that.
The ad in question is for a high definition television set, and features their new mascot, a talking blue light bulb, trying to convince a woman that she should buy one. No, wait: it’s actually trying to talk her into buying the television for her husband. Because obviously women don’t watch television, or care about the clarity of the picture. (I probably don’t need to point out that the light bulb, who knows so much about it, is anthropomorphized as male, right?)
The people behind this ad have actually managed to hit on most of my personal shopping pet peeves in this one teeny commercial- it’s really quite impressive. First there’s the previously mentioned fact that she should be buying the set for her husband rather than because she’s interested in it. Then the light bulb suggests that if she does buy this television, perhaps her husband will buy her ‘something shiny from over there’ while pointing to the jewelry department behind her and hitting two clichés in one shot: that all women want jewelry, especially as gifts from men, and that the best reason to buy something for someone is because of the credit you’ll get out of it. They even used a crystal clear view of a baseball game as one of the perks of the television, because even commercials that appear to focus on women at the beginning must ultimately appeal to men. (The idea that women might watch sports wasn’t acknowledged.)
If they had used just one of these things, I wouldn’t have minded so much. Suggesting that she wasn’t personally interested in the television but she knew that her husband would love it would have been acceptable. Far more preferable would have been her wanting the television period- it’s not exactly rocket science to figure out that women do watch television; they even have a several channels marketed specifically at us. (The quality of those stations is another matter altogether. The point is they exist.) Suggesting that women watch sports would have been downright original, and helpful: the better you can see the game, the more accurately you can call the ref a moron. As it is, I’m left calling Kmart one.