Friday, May 28, 2010

Day 9: They Jump, You Jump, We All Jump

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In lieu of amusing video advertisements, which I presume we've probably all seen before anyway, I offer my response to some aspects of advertisements and branding for this post, using generalities that most people who've been exposed to some amount of local media should recognize.

A pet peeve of mine is seeing advertisements or overall branding which seems to think that all Malaysian youth are hyper-energetic people with skateboards, hang out in open air parks, and have an affinity for jumping with joy into the air, even though there's really nothing to leap for in the entire advertisement. Eat some kind of snack and everyone turns hyper. Drink some sugary drink and the entire community gets together and starts a flash dance mob.

Actually, I might extend this to other products as well. What's up with the jumping people in banners for youth-related events? Isn't there another way to convey energy, besides springing up with hands thrown high? I'm pretty sure not all youth love to exercise all day by hopping around, and most of the ones I know simply don't.

How many times do you jump in a day anyway?

But vigorous body movement and the energetic youth stereotype isn't the only thing I have against most mainstream brands and advertisements. This one is a biggie: Caucasian worship in local ads. Does having a white man as a poster boy for a completely local event make it any better?

With regard to education-related events, does it imply more successful and accomplished students? Why is there stock footage of smiling foreigners gathered around a conference table plastered on the front page of a local youth conference website?


I'd also never be caught dead buying ridiculously expensive clothing and accessory brands. It implies that I had nothing better to do with my money than to use it to buy something that I don't really need. Plus, most of their commercials are boringly centered around conventional ideas of beauty and fashion.

Writing this reminds me of Tyler Durden in Fight Club pointing out undergarment advertisements on a public bus and remarking how most male bodies don't actually look like the model's (no doubt heavily Photoshopped). I open the New York Times' Style Magazine pullout on Sundays in the dining hall and am forced to wade through tons and tons of variations on airbrushed bodies and bold makeup to find something interesting (city gardens).

Although I seem to find myself more disgusted than convinced by what commercial brands portray in the media nowadays, I'm sure I have a subconscious affinity for some of them. I drank way too much Nantucket Nectar after falling for the simple ploy of getting more bottlecaps so I could read the facts underneath them, for example. I'll always regard Canson as a good paper brand, Faber-Castell for pastels and pens, Winsor and Newton for paint; and I jealously guard my Arches pad. Nothing beats Wacom for art tablets, and Adobe and Corel reign over digital imaging software.

Then again, with the possible exception of the last three, these brands rarely rely on advertisements with sexual undertones, racial bias, or other forms of subtle discrimination, and they're proven to work well anyway.

Charis Loke is a rising sophomore at Brown, concentrating in Biochemistry. Her interests include art and illustration, Tolkien, and procrastination.

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