Week 11; March 24th-30th Blog Entry #3 (Done by L).

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.

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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.

 -L

Works Cited

“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.

 

 

 

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4 Comments

  1. Week 11; March 24th-30th – Comment/Response (Done by S).

    “Hail to the V”! Like you, I must admit when I first saw this commercial I almost fell off my chair laughing, kudos to the advertising teams’ successful use of parody to sell their product. With that being said, let’s get down to the nitty gritty so to speak. Professor Tolmie discussed the risks of using parodies and satire as a vehicle for expressing social messages in week 4 lecture. If used well the effect on-screen can produce sheer brilliance, if not, the result can be quite offensive to viewers. In this case Summer’s Eve would appear to have hit a homerun out of the park. Humour abates though when specific issues are identified within the commercial. Your identification of the fact that the woman portrayed is only visible for 1/3 of the running time of the ad despite the product being made for women is an interesting observation suggesting that while the target audience and purchasing power is women the message actually reinforces an identified uncomfortableness that men express concerning the care and upkeep of feminine places and spaces. I would submit that patriarchal control promoting male prowess and maintaining male authority in society are to blame for this. Like you, I can think of many males I know in my life who would probably respond in the same manner if placed in that situation. Given the choice of humour (used in this ad) that pokes fun at the male response to feminine hygiene products and care or a guilt-trip (as referenced) placed on women for failing to quell their natural female odour I prefer humour. Perhaps that’s because I’m a woman, I wonder if a man feels the same way?

    – S.

  2. Overall, this blog post is very effective in making the reader think about what stimulates these thoughts in men, and even women too. You said that your boyfriend would probably react the same way as the man in the Summer’s Eve commercial did. To me, this is problematic. While I do not doubt that many men would act this way if put in this situation, I find it incredibly wrong that this commercial is allowed to further create these feelings in men. It makes men feel like they have to live up to a socially constructed manhood that is absolutely unrealistic.
    Another thing you mentioned is that these are the immediate thoughts a man has, to go and do as man ‘manly’ things as he can. Where do these things come from? Obviously it is not inherent in man to pull a car by his teeth, or belly-flop into a swimming pool. Additionally, the majority of men don’t enjoy these types of activities, so how can this commercial be so relatable? I know I for one have no desire to pull a car with my teeth.
    Moreover, you said the woman in the commercial had a ‘nonchalant’ attitude about the man’s rage that he’s been using a female product. However, i see a big problem with this. With the fight for equal treatment, women should not be depicted on TV as okay with the sexism that is so obviously displayed in this commercial.

    – M

  3. Having analyzed this commercial myself, I like the different perspective you took when writing your blog. You mention that you like this form of advertisement opposed to the classic “guilt trip into making a woman believe that she needs to use their product”. This made me think of what a typical body wash, shampoo, shaving cream, or any body product commercial was like, and I realized that they usually feature a naked woman or man who is dramatically lathering themselves to smooth, peaceful music. So I have to agree with you that I might prefer a commercial like this that doesn’t sexualize women and men in order to sell a product too. However, I still don’t like the stereotypes created by Summer’s Eve. As for the commercial referencing a woman’s vagina as “v”, I don’t personally love this connection, however bearing in mind that this is a parody, I would think that they made this slogan to prevent backlash like you said, and simply as a joke. Unfortunately however, they can’t win, as I’m sure they are still receiving plenty of criticism, this time for saying “v” and making a vagina seem scandalous.

    – J.

  4. As a white, heterosexual female I agree with you that this commercial was amusing and I know many men who would probably react in the same way that the man in the commercial did. Yet, looking at the commercial from a different perspective I do not like the way they portray the ‘stereotypical’ man. To men who cannot relate to those activities, they are made to feel not as ‘manly’, they are made to feel different. Yet who decides what these stereotypes are, and who is different or not. Society has carved out these ‘ideal’ people and anyone who cannot relate to them are automatically seen as either not manly enough or too feminine. You do raise some good points about preferring these types of commercials to others. I completely agree with that, this one was not as oppressive as others I have seen which objectify women and guilt them into buying a product.
    -R

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