Tag Archives: fashion

Stick Aliens Drink Soda

It’s been awhile since I did a post on the trend in advertising campaigns to not just photoshop women in ads into skinny forms, but to literally make them physically alien and insectoid in their concentration camp images, as something that is supposed to appeal to women in purchasing considerations. And not in a SFF sort of approach where it’s deliberately supposed to be strange, but in ads where we’re supposed to consider them beautiful human woman who we’d want to emulate. If we had elongated spines that turned in ways human bodies can’t actually go.

Previously, these ads have not made much sense in terms of the elegant products they were pitching — upscale fashion, handbags, perfume. And that’s what struck me about them. But this time, it’s a product where skeletalization of the body is directly connected to the product — Diet Coke. That staple of acidic corn syrup and artificial sweeteners that the company keeps pretending starving models drink to look the way they do. Sales of Diet Coke are declining, apparently, (along with non-craft soda in general,) so Diet Coke has launched a new campaign called “It’s Mine” with women grabbing after bottles of Diet Coke now packaged in cutsey colorful graphics of the kind they put on kids’ plastic cups. (Including pink and purple!) That pretty much hits the trifecta: women are easily distracted infants, greedy harpies and obsessive shoppers chasing after purchases.

But it’s this image in particular that ultra goes for the stick alien look:


The dress of course is supposed to resemble Diet Coke itself in a sort of bottle shape. (Hey, they may even have the word “sex” in there subliminally.)

But the woman, oh where to start with the woman. First off, she has one hip that apparently can elongate and swivel outward from her body and around. Her upper torso can twist at a dramatic angle from her lower half, facing forward, while her other leg goes straight back sideways. (Maybe she does yoga.) Her arms are cadaverous and her fingers elongated. Her neck is also elongated, really giving the stick alien appearance, further enhanced by her blonde-ish hair which has been done short and appears in the photo as kind of spiky, in a manner resembling antennae tendrils. (You think they’d do curls for a soda foam resemblance, but I digress.)

She looks, in a word, kind of scary. You would not be surprised to see webbing or ichor or something coming out of her hands and snagging the Diet Coke bottle.

The photo is actually kind of a still shot from a t.v. ad that Diet Coke ran for the Oscars ceremony. (Hence, the ball gown the model wears.) But that ad uses CGI to make the woman’s body like pouring soda with the dress rather than human mobility, and then clearly the image was further photoshopped for print for graphic design reasons over human ones. (In the t.v. ad, when the model drinks the Diet Coke she has caught, her arms are not nearly as frightening.) The print ad is now showing up in various magazines.

Again, it’s one thing to do all the tweaking and glass polishing they regularly do to women in ads. (I can no longer recognize the faces of actresses on magazine covers because they turn them into life-size ceramic dolls.) But to turn a woman in-human, beyond skeletal, does this work to sell the product by just producing a striking image? Maybe it works for something like Diet Coke, but it seems again a fascination of photo editors indulging in surreal art. Rather than selling sex or elegance that might be desired, it’s wiping out the human woman from the image altogether into the otherworldly.

In any case, way to keep it regressive on the product re-packaging and sales pitch, Diet Coke. The soda still tastes awful.


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Stick Aliens in Pretty Dresses Return!

I thought I was kind of done with this topic. After all, there was a rush of plus size models, multi-body size ad campaigns, etc. I didn’t think the stick aliens were gone exactly, but it did seem like there’s been a general turning away in the past few months from making women look inhuman in an attempt to sell clothes. But this just shows I don’t understand fashion. Proenza Schouler, which is apparently a fashion company, had an ad image for their new catalog campaign which has been photoshopped to present a model who has had all the flesh removed from around her spine.

The first ad I mused about was with actress Audrey Tautou in a Channel ad, whose perfectly normal if skinny waist had been shrunk and elongated into non-human proportions that made her look like an alien imitating a human in a long black dress. My question was, how does this sell a romantic, elegant image if the first response of most people is to go, “Eww, what did they do to her waist? That looks gross!” But that little airbrush trick was utterly nothing to the alien proportions Proenza Schouler decided to go with. These people are trying to sell clothes and having this picture will certainly make people look at it for shock value. But they aren’t going to be looking at the clothes or remembering the name of the company. They are looking at a woman who looks inhuman and going, “Eww, gross!” Is “eww, gross” really the image you want associated with your clothes? Maybe it is in the realm of haute couture, I don’t know. What, seriously, goes through the minds of the people in this company who put together, photoshopped and prepared this photo for the campaign? Is it just a desire to be edgy? Aren’t there other ways to be edgy that don’t involve revulsion? Are marketing consultants really claiming that revulsion is an excellent way to develop your brand? Or are they just hoping the Lady GaGa young folk will laugh and say, “They’re so weird and cool, I’ll buy their clothes”? Was it just a way of getting media attention, and if so, what’s the strategy? One day I certainly hope to sit down with a fashion marketing person and find out. Because truly, what’s your first reaction to this:

Mine was to try not to vomit.

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