an Ad a Day

A look at the marketing that surrounds us.

Posts Tagged ‘promo-art’

Women of Marvel: More Pin-Up Girls than Heroes

Posted by Rosepixie on April 24, 2010

Being female around Halloween can be challenging.  Having a female child around Halloween is even more challenging.  The problem is that nearly all Halloween costumes sold commercially for women and girls are either SEXY or so over-the-top girly that they may as well be SEXY.  So if you don’t want your four-year-old dressing as either a pink puffy princess or a sexed up version of a pop star, you’re probably out of luck.  Even when we get the option to be something cool, it’s clear that the creators of the costume sort of missed the point.

Take the Women of Marvel line from Disguise, for example.  This line consists of 23 different costumes representing only four different characters (which in itself is sad – Marvel actually does have quite a few great female characters and this line does not represent them well).  The line has costumes designed for different ages, ranging from little girls up through adults.

*sigh*  Pink?  Really?  Really?  Black Cat seems a slightly odd choice for poster girl, as well.  She’s not one of Marvel’s biggest drawing female characters for female fans.  Why not use one of the amazing women from the X-Men, a book extremely popular among female comic fans?  Or Invisible Woman or Spider-Girl, the two biggest female characters really familiar to younger fans?  Or maybe Ms. Marvel who has the company name as part of her name?

But I think I’m missing the point here.  I’m expecting “Women of Marvel” to be a line of costumes representing superheroes.  Maybe I’m mistaken about that impression.

And here we see the real problem.  This isn’t a line of superheroine costumes – it’s a line of pin-up girl costumes.  If they were heroes, the ads would show them, you know, as heroes.  Instead we see them as snapshots being pulled out of Spider-Man’s wallet.  So they aren’t even people – they’re pictures owned by a guy.  Great.  Now there’s something I want to be!  “Mommy, Mommy!  I want to be a pin-up girl for Halloween!  How about that pink Spider-Girl dress?” (Seriously, there are two pink Spider-Girl costumes in the line.)

The marketing sort of explains why the line consists of two characters from an alternate future timeline and two relatively minor characters and none of the actual costumes worn by… any of them (although Emma Frost’s is close, but she’s already SEXY).  And why every single costume is a dress.  The message here is that girls aren’t superheroes, they’re girly sex objects.  Boys can be superheroes, though, with fake muscles and everything!


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Moxie Girls: Be You (but hip)

Posted by Rosepixie on November 8, 2009

The makers of Bratz dolls recently lost the rights to them in a lawsuit and had to create a new product.  Their all new, shiny doll line is the Moxie Girlz (what is it with wordz ending in z?).  Here’s their new commercial:

First thoughts: wow, for a commercial about individuality and being yourself, those were a bunch of awfully similar girls.  Not a non-white girl in the bunch (although the starring girl looked a little darker? maybe? and even the dark-skinned doll has a really light shade of dark skin – see below), all slender and dressed in the same Hannah-Montana-hip way.  Oh yeah, I see a lot of moxie here.

The designer of this line said in a press release (which I lost – sorry) that he was trying to design a line of dolls that were less high fashion than Bratz, more like the actual girls who would be buying them.  He claimed to be aiming for them to look like girls in that range (usually quoted at around 6-10) and be dressed in clothes they might actually wear.  Lets get a closer look at the dolls and see how well that worked:

Moxie Girlz

Ok, they’re vaguely cute dolls in their own way (far more cute than Bratz, anyway), but they don’t look like normal 8-10 year old girls.  First off, the vast majority of 6-10 year old girls don’t have hourglass figures.  Sorry, breasts and hips don’t really start to develop until later for most girls.  Second, while I’ve seen 6-10 year olds that dress elaborately, rarely can they afford this kind of get-up and even more rarely do they spend the kind of time necessary to put one together every day.  At that age most kids have better things to do.  At least they aren’t terribly slutty, though.

So, going back to the commercial, the girls are celebrating their individuality.  But they only talk about being creative and we only see them doing artistic and musical things.  So, what if a girl is into sports or likes doing science experiments or is building her own go-kart?  None of those things go with moxie?  Only arts?  That doesn’t sound very much like it’s really celebrating individuality, it sounds like it’s celebrating the stereotypical “girls are more creative and like to express their feelings and create beautiful things in cooperative groups” view.  That’s not moxie, guys.  That’s mainstream stereotyping.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with girls like the ones in this ad and they can claim as much moxie as anyone else, but what about the science girls and the soccer stars and the girl who volunteers every weekend because she’s going to save the world someday?  Don’t they count?  Barbie may not always get it, but at least their new lines include girls of all different interests (and they have a new line of black dolls who have more accurate black features with a whole range of skin tones from light to very dark).

For the record, my dictionary defines “moxie” as “the ability to face difficulty with spirit, pluck”.

Any one else have different reactions to this (either the dolls or the commercial or both)?

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Happy Halloween: Sexy Dog Costumes!

Posted by Rosepixie on October 31, 2009

Clearly, what everyone really wanted for Halloween was matching sexy costumes for themselves and their dogs!  It’s a good thing that Spoiled Rotten Doggies was there to help us all out with that!

Some of their awesome options:

The Queens of Hearts:

Queen of Hearts Costumes

Candy Corn Witches:

Candy Corn Witch Costumes

Treasure Hunting Pirates:

Treasure Hunting Pirate Costumes

And possibly the most disturbing, Sexy Puppy School Girl:

School Puppy Costume

And… yeah.  I’m not even going to do a commentary on this one.  I will quote from SheFinds, however:

Can something be dressed up in a slut costume if it usually walks around naked?

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Dora: From Explorer to… Girly-Girl?

Posted by Rosepixie on October 28, 2009

One of the most popular (and, consequently, marketable) characters for children right now is Dora the Explorer.  She’s been unbelievably popular for a number of years now with kids in the preschool and toddler ages.  Her popularity cuts across both genders, multiple races (she herself is Latina and speaks both English and Spanish in her show), and a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds.  She’s one of those characters that you probably know well if you’ve spent much time with a toddler or preschooler in America in the past five years.

Dora’s show tells the stories of her adventures with her best friend, Boots (the monkey).  They go everywhere, from jungles and deserts to pirate ships and imaginary storybook lands.  Dora’s done it all.  And she works hard, she really earns her “explorer” title.  She follows a map for each adventure and must overcome obstacles to achieve the goal set before her.  We know that her adventures can’t all be imaginary because one of her friends is the son of some animal conservationists and she goes on quite a few animal rescue missions with him.  He even earned his own spin-off show (a serious rarity in children’s programming), Go, Diego, Go! Dora is not a girl who stays still.  Here she is:

Dora the Explorer

But apparently someone at Nickelodeon has decided that Dora is a) only a girls’ property and b) in need of a make-over.  So Dora is getting a brand new look and a brand new show – Dora’s Explorer Girls.  This time, Dora is a tween who lives in a city and has a bunch of girl friends (but no boys!) and well… doesn’t go on any adventures.

Here’s Dora and her new friends (click for full size):

From the website:

Moms have grown to love Dora the Explorer almost as much as their little girls do.  She’s the perfect role model, a heroine little girls can relate to, learn from, and play with.

But little girls grow up.  (Sigh.)  Yes, it’s true.  Somewhere along the line that gentle, unassuming nature gives way to bold opinions as her world expands.

And older girls need role models, too.

That’s where Dora’s Explorer Girls come in.  This Dora is the same girl at heart, just a little older and on a whole new kind of adventure.  She’s the leader of her group of school friends: Naiya, Kate, Emma and Alana.  They’re the Explorer Girls, and they work together to solve mysteries, help others in their community and have lots of fun along the way.  They’re a whole group of heroines with varying interests and talents that older girls can learn from.

Of course, there will always be little girls.  (Thank goodness.)  So, the Dora we all know and love won’t change a bit.  She’ll still be the same take-charge girl leading your little ones on adventures for years to come.

And now, older girls can continue the friendship for a few more years.

Maybe your big girl would like to be an Explorer Girl?  Check out the rest of the site to start your child on a new adventure with Dora!

Wow.  So, Dora is apparently only appealing to girls (and their moms).  I wonder what that means for all the little boys and dads that I’ve met who absolutely adore Dora the Explorer?  Beyond that, it’s evidently such a tragedy that little girls (who, of course,  are all gentle and unassuming as small children) grow up to *gasp* have their own opinions and personalities!  “Thank goodness” that “there will always be little girls” who “won’t change one bit.”

Um… guys?  Dora had more spunk and personality as that cute, round little girl up top than she does as a thin, rather generically “hip” tween!  From her “Explorer Girls” bio:

Hola! Thanks for checking out the Explorer Girls site.  Soy Dora.  I live in Puerto Verde with my whole family: mi mama, mi papi, y mi abuela.  Plus my little sister Isabella and my little brother Guillermo.  My best friends and I are the Explorer Girls, and we work together to keep our city clean and green.  Whether starting a Save the Rainforest club at school or figuring out a mystery, we love to do everything together!  Todas juntas!

My favorite food: Arroz con pollo.  My papi makes the yummiest chicken and rice!

My favorite sport: It’s a tie between soccer and baseball!

My must-have: My friends, of course!  They’ve always got my back.

You can find me: All over the place!  If I’m not at school or on the soccer field, I’m probably at the Arco Iris Cafe with the Explorer Girls, or at a beach clean-up, or on a bike-a-thon, or volunteering at the animal shelter… there’s just so many great things to do in the city!

Big plans: I’m going to volunteer at the neighborhood animal shelter.  I love my dog, Cora, SOOOO much, and I know we can make a big difference for lots of animals who need a helping hand.  Or paw. 🙂

I don’t like: Litterbugs.

Litterbugs?  Seriously?  That’s the best you could do?  Ok, so Dora went from an “I can (literally) do anything” girl to a rather stereotyped, although clearly well intentioned, and kind of bland tween.  What about her friends?  Are they well rounded characters?  Let’s see – Naiya’s bio should be subtitled “Science Girl”, Kate is the actress (she thanks you for being her audience when you click on her bio), Emma is the musician and Alana is the athlete (soccer may be her only sport, but clearly it’s her identity).  Oh yeah, this is a well-rounded bunch.

And, again, no boys to be seen.  Because you couldn’t really be a tweenaged girl if you even acknowledged that boys exist.  Dora’s best friend was Diego – a boy!  What happened to him?  And what happened to Boots?  Admittedly, it might be hard to explain why there’s a monkey hanging around outside the middle school waiting for you, but still…  Does Dora really seem like the kind of girl who would care?  She’d be off on her way to an adventure in Antarctica before anyone finished asking the question anyway!

But this is clearly being marketed as pink, fashionable and girly.  And being an explorer is none of those things.  Being an explorer means getting dirty, asking questions and forming your own opinions.  And none of those are things that we want girls doing, are they?Of course, it would all be better if they could just stay little girls forever.


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