Saturday, October 19, 2013

Not Like My Good Neighbors: How This State Farm Ad Aligns with Rape Culture

Something's been bothering me for awhile now, and what's a blog for if not to air your thoughts?

State Farm Insurance.

I hold no ill will toward the company as a whole. I also understand that marketing is in the business of selling, and it's a tough business. In fact, I like the Jake from State Farm commercial. It's funny and we don't take it seriously:

Perhaps it fits my demographic.

This ad, the Girl From 4e, seems to be targeted at a different demographic and I do take it seriously.

I can't blame State Farm for wanting to appeal to such a demographic, but I can question their judgment for how they market to men ages 18 - 25.

Why do I object to this commercial?

1) There's the whole thing about referring to an adult woman as a girl. That conversation has been going on for decades. I don't think I need to say any more about it in this post.

2) It caters to a sense of entitlement, specifically men entitled to women. Do we really think that the woman in 4e is happy about being summoned from her space at the whim of this guy? She does give a coquettish smile when she "appears," but I attribute that to the director.

".  . . State Farm is there. With a sandwich." Does this sound at all like, "Hey woman, go make me a sandwich."? (while I sit on the couch)

3) Rape culture is based on the idea that men are entitled to do whatever they want with women and, to a somewhat lesser degree, women are compliant and even happy to participate.

You might make the claim that Unilever is doing the exact same thing. Unilever owns both Dove and Axe. If you are familiar with their ad campaigns it may seem dichotomous. Unilever wants to sell soap. To do so, they have to cater to the demographics, just like any business. Within the context of selling soap, they do a pretty good job, but does anybody over the age of thirteen actually believe bikini-clad women will become entranced and flock to you simply because of your body wash? It's overt and over-the-top.

"The Girl in 4e" is subvert and subtle. It goes beyond selling insurance and instead promotes chauvinism and rape culture. Don't agree? Think I'm making mountains out of mole hills? I just need to chill out? Let's ask Steubenville what they think.

4) The agent. When the hot tub is introduced, with the implicit purpose that the "girl in 4e" would like nothing better than to strip down with these three men she doesn't even know (you'd think if they even had a passing acquaintance they'd at least use her name) and jump in, the agent gives a nod of approval and says, "Nice."

Filing the claim and fixing the window in a quick and efficient manner? That's selling insurance. The sandwich, the girl from 4e, and the hot tub? That's selling something else.

Again, subversive and subtle.

To bring this full circle, my good neighbors are in fact good neighbors, raising conscientious families that don't align at all with this State Farm ad.

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