Hail to the V
Summer’s Eve is a company that specifically sells feminine hygiene products and has been around for almost four generations (Summer’s Eve). Their latest commercial features a woman putting make up on in a bathroom while conversing with her implied long term boyfriend during his shower. She casually mentions that Summer’s Eve products are, “PH balanced, gentler than soap, and perfectly formulated for a woman’s v.” He was unable to hear her over the water and when he discovered that he was using the product meant for vaginas he became disturbed and rushed to prove his manliness in any and every way conceivable.
Parody is used to sell this product through its play on the standardized middle class white couple, the exaggeration of the man’s masculinity, and the scandal of vaginas. Let me start off by stating that I like this commercial. I find it comedic, effective and relatable. I know that my boyfriend would react similarly to the man in the commercial and I would be laughing the entire time thinking, “What a complete dink”. It is not entirely informative about the range of products, and that is most likely related to my third point, but it does provide you with enough information to know what is going on and what it is you would have to research to find out more about their products.
The characters that Summer’s Eve chose for their commercial are able bodied, white, attractive, heterosexual, middle class, and in a monogamous relationship. This commercial is arguably conventional in the sense that men are generally the greater focus in advertisements and that fact proves true in the Summer’s Eve one at question (Gendered Worlds, 397). The woman, who is in the commercial for only one third of running time despite it being for feminine hygiene products, is depicted as calm and collected. She comes across this way because of her nonchalant response to her boyfriend’s over the top reaction to using her body wash. The setting of the commercial is in a large house with a pool, two cars, and spacious garage in a suburban neighbourhood. It severely plays on the American dream home lifestyle. Even though the commercial stars a male lead for the majority of air time, it is still heavily directed towards women. Whether or not they were in a relationship, the majority of all women have dealt with a senseless man at some point in their life which makes the commercial relatable. The combination of a gorgeous clean home and a simple, but caring man is attractive to the majority of women so it shows a lifestyle that is appealing without truly focusing on the woman at all. I prefer this attempt at relating to women far more than a guilt trip into making a woman believe that she needs to use their product. The company could have taken the route similar to Ponds cream where a woman is left by a man because of questionable odours and was coaxed into using Summer’s Eve products to “keep” her man and dream life.
A potentially problematic area of the commercial are what activities the man believed will assure him of his masculinity after using the body wash. The man in the advertisement can be described as a settled down man’s man. He’s clearly strong and appears to be laid back and easy going, looking almost completely like a man in a beer commercial. A few of the activities that the man engaged in are chopping wood in his backyard, drinking a raw egg, raging on the drums, boxing, doing a belly flop swan dive into a pool, breaking wood with his bare hands, pulling a car by a rope with his teeth, making an iron helmet similar to ones that Roman warriors wore, mowing the lawn on a power lawn mower, and finished off with the most classic, chugging a beer and crushing the can with his hand. The notion that beer helps make a boy a man is expressed in this commercial and is rather troubling. This character fits into the “rugged individual” category of men in commercials. In 1995, Ian Harris reviewed men’s roles on television and came up with the four categories of standard bearers, workers, lovers, and rugged individualists. Rugged individualists are men who engage in dangerous and adventurous acts and athletics (Gendered Worlds, 400). The ridiculous need to prove his manhood after using the body wash is done through these activities. So many of these things are perceived to be me male activities and by having a man perform all of these activities, this commercial only enforces that belief and snowballs it even further.
Despite the commercial being for vaginas, the word is not used once. The company’s slogan is “Hail to the V” and it is used at the end of the advertisement while showcasing their products. During the actual commercial, the letter “v” is used in lieu of saying the word vagina. This is a smart move on Summer’s Eve’s end because what they are talking about is still clear, but by not ever using the word, they are able to avoid the backlash of people claiming that the commercial is inappropriate and offensive. The idea of the word being scandalous and shameful is unfortunate, but if I was pitching the idea for the commercial, I would probably make the same decision. Even if the advertisement does not specifically focus on the products, the point of it is to make people aware of them and they do that effectively and amusingly.
“Summer’s Eve.” Summer’s Eve. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2014.
Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2012. 397. Print.
Aulette, Judy Root., and Judith G. Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford UP, USA, 2012. 400. Print.