When the premiere for Baked Lays, Smart Earth and Smartfood Snacks’ new ad-series “Only in a Woman’s World” aired last night, my mouth literally dropped open…and stayed open for the majority of the two and a half minute commercial. You can check out the ad here or embedded below:
From the first few lines–“Bikini. Bikini. Bikini. [Phone rings, pandemonium ensues. Woman growls into the phone.] Oh, this better be good. I just broke my skinny mirror!”–to the denouement in which we discover that all this chaos stemmed from the loss of a hair dresser, this commercial develops some seriously troubling notions regarding what takes place in “a woman’s world.” (I will admit that I did have a little laugh during the vibrating phone scene, but otherwise, I’m frankly disturbed.)
On top of the premiere ad, there are several shorter webisodes; in one, two of the women visit their sick friend and respond with jealous admiration that she’s lost four pounds due to her cold. In the “Meet the girls” section of the website, where the characters are introduced, Maya’s “secret shame” is that she “hides how much she spends on shopping from her husband” and Cheryl’s “fame among friends” is that she “puts everyone else’s happiness first.” And the e-cards include a gem in which Nikki can hardly listen to her friend talk because she’s so obsessed over having eaten a cookie she doesn’t think she should have eaten. You can even create a “woman’s world” avatar so you can play along with “the girls!”
The whole point of the site, obviously, is advertising Bake Lays, Flat Earth and Smartfood products as alternatives to all those diet foods that don’t work because they aren’t tasty. But in the process the commercials paint this “woman’s world” as a place in which the only things that matter are diet, exercise and men. Do they have to make women seem totally body-obsessed and airheaded in order to sell their products? Will women actually respond to this?