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Selling Skinny

February 17, 2011

I’m sure you’ve read the hype by now about Pepsi’s new “Skinny” can, available just in time for fashion week. The advertisers claim, “In celebration of beautiful, confident women, Diet Pepsi presents the taller, sassier new Skinny Can.”

There is the fairly blatant message here that beautiful = skinny. How could you celebrate confident women with the previous, stouter can?




But I find it an odd tactic to make our products look like us. I certainly don’t want to look like a pepsi can. And I definitely am not trying to look like a car. The skinny can reminds me of an ad I saw a couple years back. The campus organization I was a part of at that time, Happy Bodies, advertised our upcoming meetings by attacking the imagery we saw in magazines, and asking our fellow students to question it. Clearly I held the same position back then about these ads simply writing, “Are you kidding me?”

The ad reads:

Love what looks… a little like you.

Stylish. Sassy. And the right size for every adventure.The Subaru Forester is the perfect package with curve hugging Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive and a powerful SUBARU BOXER engine. No wonder Forester was named Motor Trend’s 2009 Sport/Utility of the Year. Love. It’s what makes a Subaru, a Subaru

(emphasis mine)

Found in a women’s magazine, this ad argues that we will love their cars because they are stylish, curve-hugging and the “right size for any adventure” – just like us! It’s difficult to push past the “are you kidding me feeling” and get to the impact of these ads, but I’ll try.

One thing I know to be true is that there’s a lot of money to be made by convincing women there’s something wrong with them. (See an example here about “Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation surgery). The cabinets in my bathroom can certainly confirm it, filled with beautifying and anti-aging (what? I’m 22!) products that I’ve never really used. The products that are passed off to us as empowering or as “food” can reach pretty ridiculous levels. Take, Extra Dessert Delights sugarfree gum:”Inspired by real desserts, Extra Dessert Delights comes in mouth-watering Mint Chocolate Chip, Strawberry Shortcake and Key Lime Pie flavors, to help satisfy sweet cravings for only 5 calories per stick.” The Pursuit of Harpynessgives an astute analysis:

Not only is gum not dessert, gum is not food.


One Comment leave one →
  1. February 21, 2011 12:36 AM

    How ridiculous. Ha. A curve hugging car.

    And if anybody cares to know, that strawberry shortcake gum is gross. Somebody gave it to me in a secret santa gift exchange – normally I wouldn’t buy sweet gum. Mint flavors are a thousand millions times better (I am totally addicted to gum).

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