Only in a woman’s world

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?

Comments

  1. Carol says

    My husband and I watched this with the sound off and were all “what the hell?” The single curler thing…sheesh.

  2. sbg says

    Oh, I wish you’d never shown me this. I could have lived happily in ignorance.

    I blame Sex and the City for this. (Mostly kidding.)

    Ugh, I don’t know what part of that is the worst. Truly, I can’t decide.

    Do they have to make women seem totally body-obsessed and airheaded in order to sell their products? Will women actually respond to this?

    Well, this woman has responded by vowing to do her utmost not to purchase those products.

  3. Patrick says

    That was bad. And marketed at women. Incredible. Will probably be a success. I will now kill myself to make the pain stop.

  4. says

    I know. Isn’t it horrible? What’s worse, is that I can almost tell what they’re trying to do, how they think they’re trying to be “progressive” with their rendering of the different women’s personalities, and yet they end up making things impossibly worse.

    sbg, sadly, you may be right. “Sex and the City” (which I ashamedly love) and other shows like “Lipstick Jungle” may be to blame, at least in part… I guess it’s always two steps forward, one step back (or one step forward, two steps back, as the case may be).

  5. meerkat says

    all those diet foods that don’t work because they aren’t tasty.

    And because dieting doesn’t work in the first place.

  6. Firebird says

    I can’t help wondering about the women I know (mostly on an acquaintance) who meet (or seem to meet) the descriptions (stereotypes) in the commercials. Are they acting to the expectations they feel are necessary? Are they indoctrinated to the culture’s expectations to the level they don’t realize it’s not natural or healthy? Or are there some women out there that really are like this?

  7. Pat Mathews says

    Sadly, the view of women obsessed with appearance and men now has a basis in hard necessity. We’re in recession and the job-hunting sites make it plain you have to be Wonder Woman to even be considered – and part of that means having the physical appearance demanded by the current standards of beauty. (And don’t get me started on “minimally acceptable” = “looking like a supermodel.”) And it’s not always because some sexist pig likes looking at hot chicks; sometimes it’s about the Corporate Image. (Eek! We can’t have a Size 14 receptionist! It will make us look as if we had no Standards!)

    And men? Well, for many women throughout history this has always been Plan B – in case the job fails, pays too little, or requires her to spend 105% of her salary on looking good enough to keep the job.

    Unfortunately, then, like or or not, such things ARE the competitive edge for those women who can do it. As for the rest of us – lotsa luck, honey.

    Grrr….

  8. says

    Are they indoctrinated to the culture’s expectations to the level they don’t realize it’s not natural or healthy?

    I think this is it. Look how hard toy commercials aimed at tiny children start pushing the gender dichotomy. What little girl does not like stuff that blows up? A little girl who’s been met with hand-wringing and stern glances every time she looks longingly at her brother’s toy grenade. What boy doesn’t like flashy shiny jewelry? You see where I’m going. ;)

    I was kind of left alone to play with whatever toys I liked. I had Barbies and guns. I may be biased by my own feelings, but I tend to think most kids of either gender would enjoy both, if we weren’t programmed to split our focus.

    What Pat Matthews says is also true. It’s a social dynamic that can be changed and needs to be changed, as opposed to a hard-coded genetic predisposition. But it is a reality we’re currently stuck with.

    On another note, I wonder if the commercial thinks it’s being progressive because the women are more upset at losing a hairdresser than a boyfriend. If so… it was kind of a cute joke the first time I saw that on a sitcom back in the 80s. But “progressive” would have been if Giancarlo had turned out to be her IT guy, and all the other women sympathized.

  9. says

    And baked lays were my favorite!!
    ..but this is just too insulting. I thought those baked chips tasted good, but apparently if I eat them it’s just because I’m a shallow airhead who wants to fit into a bikini. Horrifying.

  10. sbg says

    Anyone remember those Yoplait ads which showed a woman covered from head to toe in drab sweats, with a little yellow bikini hanging up for her to stare at longfully as she, daily, consumed her yogurt. Because yogurt makes you skinny, by the end of the commercial she was all ready to shed the sweats, which apparently hid her massive girth, and don that bikini!

    Yay!

    I’ll just say as someone who eats yogurt daily for breakfast, I’ve never magically shrunk in a way that would make me comfy in a bikini. Drinking a glass of skim milk every day has also not produced the slender shape the adverts promise it will.

    I must be broken.

  11. says

    We have it all, folks.

    We have the two ‘feisty’ black friends who’ll drop everything to support those in need.

    We have the advert that has absolutely nothing to do with the product it markets — unless the four ‘girls’ are eating the snacks.

    We have the stereotypes about women and their weight: skinny mirror my ass.

    And we have the assumption that women are only capable of talking about frivolous things such as their hair.

    Oh, I nearly forgot — “Only in a women’s world” should get a prize for the most condescending, patronising pay-off line, ever.

    And the 4 “protagonists” look like grown women, not ‘girls’, to me.

  12. Selam says

    But these snacks are mad good! As shallow and childish these ads are, I’m still going to eat them because they are good, not because I want to be a size -4 (maybe -6…. just joking)
    Seriously, these persumably grown women are no different than the girls in my high school who sometimes talk about this stuff in the locker room.

  13. Dan says

    Pity. I kind of like the animation style.

    “We have the two ‘feisty’ black friends who’ll drop everything to support those in need.”

    The second one is (I think) supposed to be Asian. And neither of them are particularly feisty.

    I love how this is supposed to be a “women’s world” and yet it all revolves around men, or looking good for men.

    Here’s an idea. What would you posters make a “women’s world” ad look like?

  14. sbg says

    What would you posters make a “women’s world” ad look like?

    Take out the word “women’s” so it’s just “the world.”

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