September 13, 2010

Verizon and the Appropriation of Social-Change Rhetoric

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My fellow send me this video, half as a joke, accompanied by the text: "Didn't really resonate with me..."


I find this advertisement to be funny, but also somewhat anger inducing, and my reasoning behind these feelings is hard to express. I can laugh for a few moments at how aggressively Verizon, a telecom company, is courting the interests of cell-phone dependent young women. This commercial takes itself sooooo seriously, drawing on themes of feminism, racial equality, anti-ageism, and just general hopefulness in an attempt to attract young women to the company. Everything in the commercial, from the young hipsters featured, to the settings they are in, to the contrived dialogue, feels to me very overt and on the nose.

This fact is also what makes me resentful of the video, I suppose. Part of me feels like I should be happy that this video is promoting a message of tolerance and acceptance, since these are ideologies that I honestly do support! The other part of me, however, is annoyed at how Verizon is appropriating progressive rhetoric as a means of selling something. It just doesn't feel genuine.

What do you guys think? (This isn't one of those fake questions to start conversation... I am genuinely confused.) Is this preferable to typical advertising campaigns that marginalize/ignore women, or do ads like this make feminism into a commodity?

P.S. Google search "Verizon and net-neutrality" if you love a good contradiction. Though it's not necessarily wrong, it should be known that Verizon's air does technically has some degree of prejudice, or at least preference, when it comes to their cell data networks.

86 comments:

  1. I don't know,

    I think it's kind of picky to make fun of this and reject it because it's "not sincere enough". It's kind of the message you're trying to send - and becoming mainstream and not a niche idea is the aim.

    If you sort of think of Verizon as just a company trying to make money, you realize that Verizon is using this message to sell their product because they're seeing the market of young, progressive women who want to be heard and respected for their intelligence and opinions as a large enough demographic that they want to tap into.

    If that market is becoming larger, aren't you sort of accomplishing your goal?

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  2. The first time I saw this commercial I fell in love... until it got to the end. I was very surprised when it turned out to be a commercial for verizon since it felt more like a PSA. Of course its problematic that an advertiser's only goal is to sell us something, and they usually do it by telling us what we should like and how we should be. We wind up believing them and often buy their product. But that is why I love it: these are absolutely the ideologies I align myself with, and while they may seem obvious to you and me, I think a lot of people--especially young women--are perfectly content to live their lives without ever realizing that their voices are more powerful than their looks. I see it all the time in my younger sister who loves Teen Vogue and Disney Channel and brushes me off whenever I try to analyze any piece of media. To so many people media is just media, and they'll accept it without much of a filter. But powerful subtlety tunnels into our subconscious and engraves the messages so deeply within ourselves that they affect everything we do. So to have a commercial--even if it is ultimately selling me something--tell me that my voice is powerful and encourage me to intellectually engage with the world instead of insist my skin isn't smooth enough, my hair is too dry, my tummy needs to be controlled by my jeans, etc. is wonderful. The tactics still suck, but I prefer "Your thoughts will be heard if you buy this product" to "You need this product to be sexy" because the former implies that thoughts are the most important thing as opposed to the latter which implies it is to be sexy. Brains vs. bodies.

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  3. I didn't like the ad for two main reasons: one is that I felt they were selling something, but what? It felt like they were selling their "image". Like now I should say to myself "oh Verizon is good company". This feels dooshie to me. The other reason I didn't like the ad was that all the women/girls were very much the cultural norm for beauty. Apart from the the couple of women of color, they all were pretty stereotypical. Thanks for sharing this, though.

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  4. Perhaps they got the idea from Credo Mobile, the company that rebrands Sprint phone service as somehow improving the world.

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  5. Verizon's opposition to net neutrality is absolutely relevant -- and wrong. If they get their way it will be harder for small players to create new online services and ways for people to make their voices heard. Particularly in the mobile realm, they will be able channel everyone's voice through the tools preferred by large corporate interests. Chances are that over time this will mean a marginalization of people and messages that don't fit the consumerist narrative that they want us living in. And certainly, much like how you don't have a right to protest in a mall (as opposed to a public square), it will mean a marginalization of the very political messaging that they are riffing off of in this very advertisment!

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  6. "if my thoughts have flawless delivery"
    That's problematic. There's an often-quoted study that shows women don't apply for jobs unless they fulfill almost all of the listed requirements. Men figure they should go for it if they satisfy some of the requirements.

    The last sentence of this ad puts the bar really high: "if my thoughts have flawless delivery."
    And therefore, if I may draw a conclusion, if my ideas are not acted upon, it's because I've failed. I didn't deliver flawlessly.

    There's a famous monologue from a play by Christopher Durang called "'dentity Crisis" in which a young woman describes going to see a performance of Peter Pan. Tinkerbell dies because the actor on stage has decided that the audience wasn't clapping hard enough to bring her back to health, even though their hands are bleeding.

    The bar is high enough for women to have problems succeeding as it is: do we need it to be placed almost impossibly high?

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  7. Verizon is not in those commercials. Verizon is in that quarter inch thick sheaf of tiny print that is your costumer agreement.

    I just find it amazing that in 2010 people are still unclear on the fact that the only message any advertisement conveys is "buy our product."

    Even giving them a minute of my time discussing their commercial makes me feel like a sucker.

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  8. I agree with Satchel. Those are all beautiful young women telling us something. Why aren't there any older women in the ad? Why can't an older woman who believes in the equality between her and a 16-year-old shine through in this ad? Because she's not part of that demographic?

    I do agree that these ideals proposed in this ad are ultimately good, and it doesn't make it any worse by the fact that Verizon is trying to sell us the air around us. But I do think that in some ways it is using feminism as a commodity. There's something about it that, as someone said before, doesn't sound genuine. Maybe it's only because I don't like serious commercials.

    this reminds me of the "Oh Pioneers!" ad that Levi Strauss came out with last year. Easily the biggest hipster bait ad of the year, full of gay dudes making out and fruitful young people running around the ever-bountiful forests of America. Though it's cool, visually stimulating, and overall a great piece of media, it's still boiled down to the same message: Buy our jeans and you will be proud, heard, and a pioneer. I feel like the same message rings here: Use verizon, be heard, no matter who you are, ESPECIALLY if you're a woman.

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  9. First of all, feminism is absolute bullshit; just like every other group that goes overboard with trying to control your language.
    What pisses ME off about the commercial, is the statement about "...it does not care about the opinion of a man more than a woman!" That's a thinly veiled lie. This commercial falls into legal matters also. When have you EVER known the law to support a man's opinion over a womans?!?! They always side with the woman, even if she's the guilty party!!
    Third, feminismhas already been made into a commodity by women. By interjecting their control-freak nature into as many parts of society as they can; continuously throwing brother under the bus for no reason.
    Fourth, commercials have alway taken advantage of anything and everything. Verizon is nothing special, women are nothing special, society is nothing special; humanity is nothing special.
    Fifth, coorporations aren't just prejudice against women, alright!? Don't put yourselves on a pedestal. They use everything they can to make more money. They don't give a shit about men, women, monetary status (alright maybe they do), race, creed, or education. etc..
    If anything, more commercials descriminate against, and ridicule men, more than women! Open your eyes people!

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  10. Don't forget also that Verizon illegally enabled the government to illegally spy on American citizens and fought vigorously to immune itself from accountability. Progressive, indeed.

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  11. Johnny Marvéll's bizarre and history-blind comments aside, I think the comments here represent a reasonable cross-section of responses to the ad. Juliamarisa's reaction in particular is, I think, the clearest indicator of why this ad fails. No one truly believes that Verizon the corporation cares either way, so the effective direction, scripting and acting is violated at the end by something that reads as the exact opposite.

    On top of this, the ad is all talk and no action. They can run these all they want, but it's empty until they back it up. Just go to that URL. It's no different than their other site content or ads. It's just got a wallpaper that's far less effective than the ad. Any Vz customer knows from experience that this message is irrelevant, and any non-Vz customer knows enough about telecoms to know that this stuff is irrelevant when you're in the mall-box Vz store negotiating with their reps.

    It's a failure because it assumes I care about Verizon's personality, whichI can't imagine anyone does. It's about phones, coverage, and plans. Period.

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  12. This one wants teens to feel that what they have to say IS important. EMPOWERING teen girls to talk on cell phones and text MORE. So of course it's commodifying empowerment, like everything else in this country, health care, politics, education, beauty.....

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  13. The ad's meant to be reflective of the values of the people it's targeted toward, so I'd take it as positive but largely irrelevant. Of course it's disingenuous: it's an advertisement. Verizon cares about gender/age/racial equality the way Coors cares about boobs and BP cares about the gulf of Mexico. What makes it a good thing is that the lie they want to tell about what they care about is a positive, forward thinking one. The company recognizes that lots of people are big on human dignity these days.

    If there's one genuinely positive thing about it, not as a yardstick of progress but as a true good deed, it's that when young people who are just becoming media saturated and haven't picked up that ads don't express a "real" ideology are getting a very forward, catchy, admittedly content-lite version of some good ideas.

    It's reasonable to be mad at the cheapening of a philosophy that's important to you, something with a lot of depth and history being reduced to a highbrow where's the beef, but it's also a fact that anything popular enough gets cheapened that way. The green movement's been experiencing it for a few years now, as anyone who exists near products knows. If anything, it's a shocker that feminism's been used so rarely to sell crap.

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  14. Johnny- I will not tolerate personal insults in the comments on this blog, directed at myself or other commenters. If you have something to say, feel free to express it in a thoughtful and respectful manner. If that is not possible, I ask you to refrain from commenting at all.

    Thanks!

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  15. I think the commercial is trying a bit to hard. It's almost forced. I think a big part of that is the music. It's just TOO earnest.

    Also, as others have pointed out, all the women are fairly conventionally pretty. They don't seem like "real people".

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  16. Johnny, please realize it was still a personal attack, regardless of whether or not you thought it was founded...

    ANYWAY! I thought this was awesome. Like you said, Verizon's use of rhetoric isn't sincere at all - this is a trap for girls who identify with the actresses in the commercial to get Verizon. Yes, that's the purpose of commercials, but it's very sneaky to prey on young girls about their values. It's different from trying to convince you that their actual phone plans are better... They want the "teen feminist/hipster" to think Verizon is more moral than other carriers. And that's completely false.

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  17. And while you're at it with fallacies... ever heard of ad hominem? :)

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  18. If your comment has been deleted and you have questions regarding why, please see the Commenting Policy in the left-hand sidebar.

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  19. Why do you feel that feminism is somehow different from everything else in life in that it doesn't deserve to be exploited to sell something? If Janis Joplin singing "Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes-Benz" can be co-opted and used to sell Mercedes-Benzes, then feminism can be co-opted and used to sell phones.

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  20. I really enjoyed reading most of these comments because they show how different people have different thoughts on things. Both sides have very strong points, which is why I understand Jamie's confusion.
    However, this commercial always did make me slighty angry. I remember the first time I watched it. At first I thought it was a cool commercial that conveyed a positive message. Then the verizon logo popped up and me and my friends who were watching it just kinda looked at eachother and went, "What the heck?"
    The commercial is completely irrelevent to what the company actually does. And, as a fourteen year old girl, the demographic they're trying to reach, I felt a little jaded. It still makes me slightly angry every time I see it, though I can't exactly pinpoint why.

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  21. I really liked this commercial the first time I saw it (I watch a lot of Hulu), but something rubbed me the wrong way. It might be the underlying message of "We know this is what you want, therefore we are showing it to you to make you give us money." I know that's in every commercial, but this one was a little over the top on it.

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  22. I'm so glad you posted about this--the commercial has been bothering me, as well.

    I think what upsets me about the ad is that it has no relevance to the product. It's not like they're one of the socially progressive, small cell companies--they're a large company with a bad pricing scheme and, as you pointed out, have a net neutrality policy which negates a lot of the "free and open information for everyone" vibe this ad has going on.

    I would have preferred them showing real teens who've used Verizon services in interesting way (actually putting this feeling/idea into practice) or an ad showing a kid texting their parents about getting into college or something. Something more relevant to the actual product.

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  23. I thought this was a gardisil commercial the first time I saw it. I was really surprised when I saw Verizon at the end

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  24. I think the content of the message is wonderful, for the most part. I agree with pat on the possibility for this ad to reinforce the "Super Girl" dilemma, young women feeling the need to attain perfection and damaging themselves in the pursuit. However, there is a logical dissonance with me, the ad lists a bunch of good things, says "air" does them, then expects us to buy Verizon. Does Verizon somehow have more air, better air, than their competitors? (Perhaps more hot air?) I think this is why I felt the sense of letdown the first time I saw this was a Verizon commercial rather than a (for example) Girls Inc. commercial.

    I linked to this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yowHM6nqu60) YouTube video on the Axe article regarding the Axe/Dove disconnect, but I think it applies here. Companies do not cave what they say, they want money, they actually have legal obligations to their shareholders to make as much money as they can. While this is inherently depressing, it does paint the above ad in a slightly positive light, as now marketing consultants employed by Verizon believe that the equity issues the ad raises are important enough to society for Verizon to be able to make a few bucks off of them.

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  25. I can't say commercials make me angry anymore? Shrugs. All I know is that Verizon locked down the new Samsung G and is only allowing BING as the search engine. They locked out Google, Yahoo and others.....and immediately faced angry Android fans crying foul. I think they should stick to equality for search engines on open source phones before attacking social problems. It would make their customers much happier.

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  26. The first time I saw the commercial, I thought it was some sort of PSA meant to empower young women. Then Verizon showed up at the end. I had to roll my eyes. An attempt was made, to which I give Verizon props, however they are still trying to sell a product. When Verizon becomes known as a company that does what the ad says, then I'll say "Good job Verizon! Your ads are truthful. I feel better about spending my dollars on your product because of what your company believes in and practices on a daily basis."

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  27. another blogger's views on the commercial:
    http://embracequeer.blogspot.com/2010/07/verizon-emblem-of-girl-power.html

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  28. I, personally, would have to agree with most of the comments posted thus far. I think it's obvious what Verizon is doing here, and I absolutely abhor it. The ideologies being preached in this commercial are indeed positive; I can’t argue with that. However, I feel they lose all meaning when placed in this context. Verizon is not telling young women that they are strong/independent/powerful because they are themselves, they are telling young women that the only way they can become strong/independent/powerful is to support Verizon. Verizon is empowering no one, they are merely playing into the insecurities of their target audience of abled/affluent/cisgendered girls by encouraging this line of thinking. Also, whoever brought up Levi Strauss (Walt Whitman is rolling in his grave) was pretty spot-on in their comparison between the two advertisements. Feminism is to Verizon as poems about Westward expansion are to Levi Strauss, right? However, I’d have to say that Verizon’s leap of logic makes even less sense, considering that Levi Strauss brand jeans were actually first introduced to the general public during the California Gold Rush. Anyway, consumerism still does not equal social change! I, a 17-year-old girl, am actually feelin' pretty offended by this logic. Do these companies really think that all consumers are that gullible? I felt similarly toward Kotex’s new advertising campaign. Though "self-aware" Kotex is using a slightly different schtick, they are still pandering to the same audience, and I still feel like I'm getting tricked. Referencing Bitch Magazine (http://bitchmagazine.org/post/mad-world-too-cool-for-school), I’d like to mention that none of these companies are doing anything too avant-grade. They are only, “Reinforcing... tried and true persuasive tactics disguised as edginess.”


    Also, I’d like to add that Verizon's opposition to net neutrality shows how truly the company values the, err, values mentioned in this newest campaign.

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  29. It's a good ad campaign, targeting young women like you, clearly generating discussion. I'm sure Verizon is making bank off of it. That's it. That what ads do.

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  30. Oh, I'm sure it has been a very successful campaign! But, one isn't necessarily obligated to condone/ignore an advertisement one finds fault with simply because the ad in question is doing its job.

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  31. This is just more proof to add to the fire that most major advertising these days is ran by women.

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  32. The only thing I think of when I see these commercials is "Hey, that's Emily from Lie to Me!" Then I wonder if any of the others are famous-ish, and if they are, why I've never seen them, and if they're not, why there's one who is.

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  33. For everyone who argues that Verizon is using these ideas to sell a product, I ask what are they supposed to do instead? Promote feminism and anti-ageism in order to ______ ? It quite rightly comes across as insincere because it's not the type of company that they are, but even if Verizon were the best most moral and fair company on the planet I feel people would still complain about them using cherished values for marketing. Just the association of a value with marketing seems to cheapen the value because it's now being used. Would it be wrong for a feminist company to use feminism to promote their products? Or does it often end up wrong because no company is perfect?

    I guess I just don't have the same expectations of transparency from commercials. It's kind of impossible to have one that doesn't associate value x with product x. A commercial is supposed to try to sell you a product; if it was just a statement of feminist anti-ageist values then it wouldn't be a commercial. There's really no reason for a company to do that unless they've encountered some sort of Public Relations disaster and are trying to save face. The commercial is actually pretty low on product; without Verizon's logo at the end you wouldn't know who was even "promoting" these values.

    Long story short I don't like the commercial because of its insincerity (feminism and anti-ageism not being values I feel Verizon embodies), but not because of the fact that it's using feminism/anti-ageism to promote a product.

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  34. I felt similarly when Dove started the "real beauty" campaign. On the one hand, they included *gaspshockomg* FRECKLED women in their ads. They advocated teaching young girls self-esteem and confidence so they could succeed. They included more women of color. Good for them. On the other hand, they were still telling all of us, "You need our products to be beautiful."

    I absolutely agree that Verizon's stance on net neutrality is important here. That stance directly contradicts much of the message here: voices, particularly those of young women, being heard. If net neutrality goes by the wayside, Verizon and similar companies will be able to censor content by prioritizing which sites get the most access. Sites advocating for/paying Verizon would therefore get more access.

    On the other hand, it *is* refreshing to see a commercial with a positive image of young people, particularly young women.

    And on a third hand, like pat said earlier, the commercial does set the bar very high with the "flawless delivery" line. We shouldn't have to be flawless to be heard.

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  35. I’ve worked in marketing a long time and I think the problem with the commercial is that while you like the message/commercial, you know the people that created it are not sincere. It’s the same thing we did. You have a target market you want to go after, Hispanic, kids, etc... and you create the ad. I’m not Hispanic or a kid, but my goal may be trying to create something that will resonate with that group and make them want to buy my product. That works when you’re showing those groups using the product or talking about the product, but if you’re having them talk about issues that are important to a group that you’re not really a part of, it comes off as fake.

    If this was produced by a women’s group, you’d be fine, but you know subconsciously, it was just created by an ad agency that doesn’t know anything about you. They just got lucky and said what you were thinking. Actually, it probably came word-for-word from a focus group.

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  36. I love this blog! After reading your take (and the commentators), I posted my own response to this ad here: http://seeingrace.blogspot.com/2010/09/who-gets-heard-internet-access-verizon.html

    I looked at who actually has internet access, who is more likely to have "flawless" ideas, and how this all ties in to the idea of net neutrality.

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  37. I think if we took the fact that verizon is targeting young girls out of this commercial, it would be, for the most part, a good commercial that promotes young girls speaking their mind and also have their ideas taken seriously by adults. But since it's a verizon commercial, it kind of suggests girls are attached to their phones as our main source of communication. The add kind of says, "Buy a verizon phone and thus you as a girl can fully express your ideas." Which also suggests our ideas have no density or depth because we can express them in texts or phone calls.

    I'm also not fond of the fact that the add claims the "air" is not prejudice against those that are black or white. So, then, is it prejudice against everyone else? and is everything else except the "air" prejudice against these groups of people? I know they're targeting mainstream America but it's these sort of small unnoticeable things that resonate in people's minds and create unconscious biases.

    I think it's hard to pinpoint what it is about this add, but it is peculiar.

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  38. I am also annoyed with using these ideals to sell something... However people are subconsciously affected by commercials. They are told what is beautiful and what isn't, what is cool and what isn't, and what is fun and what isn't. Even if their own experiences lead them to disagree, commercials tell them that they are supposed to think these things, and so on some level, they do.

    I would rather have commercials like that, that promote diversity and inclusion, than commercials like the ones for AXE.

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  39. I don't understand when people, especially feminists, get upset when advertising sends the messages they themselves have been trying to send. Might the Verizon ad or the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty be insincere and trying to sell us things? Sure. They are corporations, and in the end, their goal is to sell product. But isn't it better if Verizon says, "Make your voice be heard," than, "OMG get our phone and text your BFF all the time!"? And wouldn't we prefer to hear "You're beautiful just the way you are," from Dove? If nothing else, it gets these messages out into the mainstream media. That, in and of itself, is important.

    As for the "if my words have flawless delivery," I think they were referring to cell phone reception, not perfection in speaking.

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  40. First, having only recently stumbled onto this blog, I'm quite taken. Also, I promise never to use that dreaded phrase, "I think you're over-analyzing...." Heaven forbid you take the time to think and give context to media instead of passively absorbing the message. I happen to like my media over-analyzed, preferably in the form of a good debate!

    As for this particular commercial, I had close to the same first reaction as you. I won't lie, it could be that I read too much optimistic beat generation literature the other day, but I got caught up in the "goodness" of the message and when the Version logo flashed up, it all fell through. I agree with some of the others, it's about insincerity, a problem caused both by the advertisement itself as well as the product.

    For instance, the Dove series already brought up here attempted to label itself with a similarly positive message meant to push product, but I find that while I can objectively put them in the same category, subjectively I find the Dove series to be more effective. First, there is the fact that the Dove commercials seemed to tie in the concept to the product a lot better. Look, you pretty much need to have some soap around, so are you going to buy the brand that's telling your daughter she needs to be unrealistically airbrushed into perfection or the brand that wants her to be a kid! With freckles! Compare that to Version's tie in which is basically, what? That Sprint is out there nefariously editing out female voices? Air treats all things equal, that I can follow, but are we to believe that while air does not care if I am 16 or 30 it DOES take issue with my choice of phone companies? It's a weak link, and that's what makes the ending feel so shallow and stuck on. Well, that and the advertisement itself which sort of throws the Version screen in there with half a heart as if even the time slot itself is having doubts about this "connection".

    I don't think this is a matter of being surprised that a company's bottom line is sell-sell-sell. I think the problem is that the commercial fails. If it did it's job then the message would be more subtle, better placed, and even with the knowledge that it was trying to get us to buy phones we'd still sort of smile at the end because, damn, doesn't it feel good to finally hear some company say what you know to be true? Instead, the ending is tacked on and rings false and fails to leave us with a positive impression. Rather we sit there and feel confused, conflicted, because the script was good but it was so obviously just that, a script and nothing more. It's like having two politicians giving similar speeches. Realistically we tell ourselves that they are more alike than different, that their voting record is nearly identical, that all politicians are pandering and yet we lean towards the one that sounds passionate, that appears interested and driven and to really believe what s/he is saying. Sure, they ACT exactly alike, but that other one doesn't even try and sound interested in the US's position on the International Criminal Court. It makes it too obvious that Version is co-opting our message, and while that would be true regardless, it's like they didn't even care enough to make a truly effective commercial! Come on now, people, you're not even trying.

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  41. First, having only recently stumbled onto this blog, I'm quite taken. Also, I promise never to use that dreaded phrase, "I think you're over-analyzing...." Heaven forbid you take the time to think and give context to media instead of passively absorbing the message. I happen to like my media over-analyzed, preferably in the form of a good debate!

    As for this particular commercial, I had close to the same first reaction as you. I won't lie, it could be that I read too much optimistic beat generation literature the other day, but I got caught up in the "goodness" of the message and when the Version logo flashed up, it all fell through. I agree with some of the others, it's about insincerity, a problem caused both by the advertisement itself as well as the product.

    For instance, the Dove series already brought up here attempted to label itself with a similarly positive message meant to push product, but I find that while I can objectively put them in the same category, subjectively I find the Dove series to be more effective. First, there is the fact that the Dove commercials seemed to tie in the concept to the product a lot better. Look, you pretty much need to have some soap around, so are you going to buy the brand that's telling your daughter she needs to be unrealistically airbrushed into perfection or the brand that wants her to be a kid! With freckles! Compare that to Version's tie in which is basically, what? That Sprint is out there nefariously editing out female voices? Air treats all things equal, that I can follow, but are we to believe that while air does not care if I am 16 or 30 it DOES take issue with my choice of phone companies? It's a weak link, and that's what makes the ending feel so shallow and stuck on. Well, that and the advertisement itself which sort of throws the Version screen in there with half a heart as if even the time slot itself is having doubts about this "connection".

    I don't think this is a matter of being surprised that a company's bottom line is sell-sell-sell. I think the problem is that the commercial fails. If it did it's job then the message would be more subtle, better placed, and even with the knowledge that it was trying to get us to buy phones we'd still sort of smile at the end because, damn, doesn't it feel good to finally hear some company say what you know to be true? Instead, the ending is tacked on and rings false and fails to leave us with a positive impression. Rather we sit there and feel confused, conflicted, because the script was good but it was so obviously just that, a script and nothing more. It's like having two politicians giving similar speeches. Realistically we tell ourselves that they are more alike than different, that their voting record is nearly identical, that all politicians are pandering and yet we lean towards the one that sounds passionate, that appears interested and driven and to really believe what s/he is saying. Sure, they ACT exactly alike, but that other one doesn't even try and sound interested in the US's position on the International Criminal Court. It makes it too obvious that Version is co-opting our message, and while that would be true regardless, it's like they didn't even care enough to make a truly effective commercial! Come on now, people, you're not even trying.

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  42. I would have liked this if it weren't for the fact that it wasn't exactly all-inclusive for women (where are the women that don't suscribe to h&m/urban outfitters type fare? or latinos or asians or other minorities?) and that it had nothing to do with verizon's cell phone company. The intent was overtly to market to an intelligent subgroup (young, feminist, media-cynical, women), which was stupid on their part. It's like trying to sell a television service with channels that don't support the mainstream media to someone doing their graduate thesis paper on companies that try to appear "alternative" as a marketing ploy. It just doesn't work. I'd prefer for them to stay superficial- at least it's genuine.

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  43. It's still a lot better than the old Virginia Slims cigarette ads with the tag line, "You've come a long way, baby." The usual response was, "Yeah, now you can get lung cancer too."

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  44. Since, as a U. Chicago college freshman, you have nothing better to do, let me suggest that you pursue this questioning further by way of a fantastic, but very long, BBC documentary called The Century of the Self. You can watch it via YouTube, and to save you time I'll point you to a quite relevant episode:
    The Century Of The Self - There is a Policeman Inside (4 of 6).

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