I spend a lot of time watching the Food Network, and spending time on any basic cable station leads to seeing ads of… let’s say “variable” quality. Lately, Food Network has started showing holiday themed ads sponsored by Macy’s, listing gift suggestions that all fall into a a general category or theme. In theory it seems like a decent idea- rather than seeing things for one company that has an interest in encouraging to buy their products exclusively, you get a bunch of different things that the store thinks will draw you in period and since they don’t have as a big a stake in a single brand they should (theoretically) give a slightly less biased view.
Until the commercial I saw recently which the presenter claimed were “great gifts for women”. The only items in the ad were sweaters and perfume. Leaving aside the fact that these are two of the most landmine strewn products you can purchase as gifts… that’s it? Nothing else? Nothing electronic, or fun, useful, or unique, or even throwing in a suggestion for a store-branded gift card just as a formality? Sweaters (specifically mentioning ones with sparkly accents, because what woman doesn’t want to look like a cashmere-clad disco ball?), and perfume without even singling out a name or a trend to back it up on that latter one.
Wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to advertise something that actually does something, given the ad’s presence on a network ostensibly devoted to how-to shows? Cookware or appliances would have been a logical assumption, and since most of the shows on the network don’t allow overt product placement in the actual shows (appliances aren’t mentioned by name, product containers are relabeled with fake packaging) wouldn’t have been redundant, but considering the special I had just watched mentioned using power tools, that would have been both interesting and on-point. Or any set of hundreds of other things given that what they ended up shilling had no connection to the place where it was aired anyway. But nope, when you’re buying things specifically for women, it’s all about how she looks rather than what she does.
It’s not the fact that these items were included in the ad that makes me mad, it’s that they’re ALL that was included in the ad. If they had included anything that required skill or intelligence or even a basic interest on the part of the recipient, I wouldn’t have blinked at the inclusion of these. If they had labeled the commercial with a different title indicating that these were a specific kind of gifts for women, that would have been better. It’s the sole reliance on shallow appearance, to the exclusion of everything else on the planet, that irritates me here.