Okay we’re back. I’m here with Professor
Noreen Duncan and and we’re going to close read an advertisement for Tampax
Pearl tampons. This ad is very funny and I don’t know if
that’s why you selected it. There’s so much humor. but that is surface humor. You
know the ad gets to you, that really clear difference between shabby guy and clean guy. One of the things I say to students and I don’t know what
your practice is on your end, but i say to students one of
the first things to do is just look. Ok. So I say to them, what stands out? What do you see? What’s interesting
to you? What just strikes you? And I think funny is fine,
so let’s start off with like… The first thing I saw.
What was the first thing you see? I had to ask you to look at that again, but the
first thing I was were the colors. It’s so clear that those are deliberately
selected blues and yellows. That the first thing and I wonder if there’s a difference between
the way a male person would see the ad, and female. Because
women, we see colors, most of us, see colors in very meaningful ways. Think of how much time women spend
choosing their clothes, most of us. So I wondered to myself,
why did they choose blue and yellow? Could I reasonably say that the blue is like the sky? It’s clean. It’s a real
contrast to yellow, it really is. There is a darkness in blue even in the palest of blue. There is a real sadness in some shades of blue. Not the blue that’s the primary bottom third of the picture, but the
whole image of the person framed by dark blue in the back. there’s all that sort of vampire-y
midnight, and it’s very exciting. We’re contrasting in the background is kind of dark night blue night time scene with this pop of yellow
and the blue all over. So I know that’s deliberate. We don’t want to go into what colors mean, becuase they mean different things yet we
know how we feel when we see certain colors. And it’s clear that ad holds the mid-nighty image in that it’s lit from the front but not
the back But the yellow is meant for our eyes to go
straight to it. It’s placed in the same way
in both frames. Same spot in both frames. I think it’s interesting
because one of the things you brought up is the fact that it pops out
but this is also, notice that factual information is this tremendous logo. Where’s
the factual informational? Upgrade? That’s it? UPGRADE YOUR LIFE!
Oh that, but we still have the tiny writing But the tiny writing, wait a minute. Upgrade your LIFE. First of all, that in context of the picture, you have this command to you, “Upgrade”. Yeah, and I said to myself why is one guy “upgrade” when I saw the word. I wrote “upgrade?”
with a question mark. but they have an exclamantion mark. But it wasn’t the
language that struck me, it was the arrow. This guy is supposed to be better than the other?
What are you’re saying? It’s like you should upgrade your tampon. You
should upgrade your life. I didn’t think of the tampon, I thought of the two pictures
and the two guys and this big yellow thing. You keep telling me
it’s for tampons and I had to keep going back to the bottom of the
screen and reading the tiny print. It’s more than just tampons.
It doesn’t look like tampons. The pictures are about something
much worse. Or better rather, much better. It’s just saying do you want
to keep going in your life in the same way. Do you want to stay in the
same mode with chicken man or do you want that vampire-y guy there? He’s a real
vampire. That other one with the flowers. I don’t trust him at all.
I like the chicken man. He’s real. Most of my students actually have said
when they look at this ad, “Yeah, you know, but Chicken man’s the one
you wanna party with.” He’s my guy. He’s cuddly too! We’re deviating here.
You told me to read the picture. I don’t trust that guy with the sleek suit and the smirk on his face. Okay. All right! See, women see things differently.
You guys get all clean and dressed up and we’re like,
“I like the chubby guy.” Okay… can I bring us back to our task at hand? Upgrade your life. Now if I look at
this here, first of all there’s a command. In some way, this ad is hitting
into the question of security right?
Shouldn’t you grow up? And part of growing up is “don’t you
really wanna let go of chicken eating guy?” Look, he can’t even tie his shoes. This guy on the right, he’s suave. Look at how he’s looking at you. He’s thinking about you. I don’t know what
the chicken guy is thinking. He looks kinda vague. He looks sort of dim and “duh”. But here’s an interesting thing.
On the bottom there’s a command to you to upgrade your life and
then but there’s this incredible factual information. “Upgrade to new and improved
Tampax Pearl! With three fabulous details, it’s our best
protection ever!” Then we get this breakdown of the
mechanics of the Tampax Pearl tampon. It’s got a built-in backup braid It has a built-in backup braid
It has an absorbent core, which is new, and an anti-slip grip and if you want a free sample you can go
to the website which is http://www.beinggirl.com/upgrade. I wonder who created this ad. You didn’t ask me
to think about that, but that’s why I think I can’t keep looking at that box.
It’s scary. Those three pictures are scary. Why? If you know what a tampon is…
That stuff is scary. It looks painful. It looks hideous. It looks like a torture instrument, and I know what tampons are and what they’re
supposed to do, and those three pictures don’t look anything at all like the good stuff tampons are supposed to do, keep you clean.
Professor Duncan, I think this is a very sanitary way of… This is very scary stuff. Even the big yellow hook on the third pictures out… Oh dear God. But look at the anti slip grip. That’s what I’m telling you
IT’S SCARY! So you asked me to read the ad. Let’s look at the two frames.
Ok, students out there let me just tell you, what Professor Duncan
and I have just done is the first thing you should do we have any kind of
analysis. Just mull it over, even if it’s silly. Even if it’s uh… We’re looking at colors.
there’s a lot of things here to consider. There’s the pictures, the graphics.
There’s the color saturation The choices of the two subjects
that we have in this picture, the placement of the figures and there’s
a lot of things. The choice of colors, the sense of irony. The humor, of course
the humor was the first thing we saw. But what we just did together is what we should do when we read. When we read anything, we’re reading to see what signals has the writer given us? We keep asking ourselves, why do we have
these signals? What comes before this one? What comes next? Why is it placed this way? Why doesnt’ he put this
in some other part of his writing. This is okay.
This is a text and and when you look at a poem too, it’s the same thing. We’re
going to practice with the poem in words and text. One final question I have to ask, tell me something about the girl in the
picture. Who is she? I don’t know, she looks like… I wonder too why her eyes are the way they are. I know they’re supposed to
be looking to the upgrade guy, but I think they’re supposed to be
like a dream. Oh, this is a dream. She’s sort of fantasizing about what an upgrade would look like,
would be like. So the ad is almost suggesting, “Don’t you want to move on to
the next thing? to the better thing? to the upgrade thing?” yeah But, we could be wrong and that’s the beauty
of this, that every person who reads the ad and the
producers of the ad and all the artists, they are quite sure that people will
read a lot into it. But they want you, at the end of the day,
buy a product. They are convincing you to give up your hard-earned dollars
for Tampax Pearl tampons as opposed to some other product. So you buy into all kinds of societal and gender specific ideas. Okay so here’s my question. What do you think this advertisement is
really about? I’m going to say it’s yes of course it’s selling Tampax
Pearl tampons, Let’s wager that it’s more than that. What’s it about really, at the end? I know what you want me to do and the
produces of the ad want me to say that it’s… We could answer that there’s
what Tampax Pearl incorporated, whatever they are, they think it is, and then we could do something as social scientists and say “This is
really what it’s about.” What does this ad reveal about American culture? Let’s ask the question that way. It’s more than… It IS about
American culture it’s American contemporary culture too. It’s about that upgrading is about the guy who has
the job, he has enough money that he can bring you things. And it’s about recognizing that in it, to me it’s really really
retroactive as a kind of nineteen sixties image of an American woman who has that sense that uh… a male is your
“bread winner” he’s your savior, he’s gonna give you stuff and the other person on that with the chicken is merely a person
who will take probably from you and won’t
spend money on you. Actually, quite literally, he’s eating eating the gift. And he’s holding it really tightly too
because you might ask him for a piece. But again, if we’re talking about this
in some sociological way, and we live in American culture in the twenty-first century, It says some some really odd things about what
American women should want. They should want clean, respectable… He’s thinking marriage. I
think it’s interesting, in another version of this advertisement, the graphic is exactly the same, it’s
for older magazine, and instead of holding a box of chocolates in his right
hand, he has the flowers and he has
champagne which is, sort of, you know, this icon of marriage and respectability. But also seduction. Great seduction, that. So the upgrade, uh… if you’re going to
be seduced, you have to be seduced by a person like flowers and chocolates guy. Do you want to seduced chicken man who
may not be responsible enough to know not to bite one of the pieces of
chicken before he even rings the bell. And he is younger. He’s younger than the other one.
So the upgrade would be a more a mature person. How do you know
he’s younger? He’s younger in attitude. Oh, I see. Right right right. Because we are talking about respectability.
He’s short, his face is rounder and all. And the producer of the commercial have made flower guy there neat and clean and looking well shaven, pressed shirt, expensive haircut. He’s doing
all the right things I take it. I don’t trust guys like that. Exactly! But that’s what Tampax Pearl is doing to us. So I think that’s the real joke. That is the joke.
That’s the irony. Is it really an upgrade?
So this is what where you’ve been told.. The old stories tell you this is an
upgrade. It is. So we’re asking you to see it,
to laugh with us and then look at our product. Right. Thank you Professor Duncan. I don’t think you can use what
I just did here but…