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English Version | Allegro ma non troppo

Curiosidades 15. 7. 2021

English Version | Advertisement and Common Sense


What would we be without posters or adverts in general? What would our lives look like without advertisement challenging, provoking and seducing us? We would live less interesting lives, that’s for sure. As the saying goes, even bad publicity is good publicity. Sometimes. Other times it’s just really bad.

© Porsche 1989, Joe’s Porche, an automobile stand, announced the 911 Carrera 4 model of 1989. Apparently, they were ahead of their time: in 1993 the add was premiered on the The One Show, a prestigious contest of creativity in publicity and marketing.

The world of advertisement is a creative universe that connects the product and the target audience. That communication system is the foundation of publicity – now that we have started this analogy we better stick to it – in a complex conjecture that includes the ideas of a certain time as well as reflects them, sometimes amplifying, other times contesting them. How each brand positions its discourse in advertisement, meaning how it approaches and builds its public image, depends on the way it interprets such conjecture: its contemporality, its behavior, its needs, its stereotypes. Each era has its own flaws and virtues and, for that exact reason, should be able to produce the biggest stupidities, as well as the most genius. Of course, if we went back to certain times in history, the stupidities would come more often than the genialities. In the 40s and 50s of the 20th century, for example, chauvinism was not only present but seemed to be the rule. Today, out of context, a lot of adds from those eras – and others – fall on the stupidity they have preserved. Whereas others, from those and different eras, manage to shine, playing with the absurd and the surprising, without the fear of failure, they assume their silliness or accept and manage to live with the possibility of being misunderstood. The advertisements that follow show us examples of such. Some are funny, others are surreal. And then there are those that are just stupid. In a bad way.


© In 1976, Virgin Records went beyond boldness with the poster of The Front Line album witch had several reggae artists’ singles out of the record company’s menu.


© Coke or Coca-Cola or whatever. What matters is that the drink is delicious, according to the lady that is coming back from the fair in this 1954 advert.


© NORML – The National Organization for the Reform Of Marijuana Laws presented in 1977 a movie that contested the use of marijuana. You might not have figured it out at first sight.


 © How inappropriate can an add be on a scale of zero to Panasonic? This 1972 add is right up there: it truly is a Panasonic’s Flip N’Style. It could be anything else, but it’s a hairdryer.


© Oddly enough, it’s an add from the 20th century. In the 60s the pants’ brand Mr. Leggs Slacks came out with this campaign in which the man, made irresistible by his new clothing, is forced to arrange his house for making his wife go crazy – out of desire, we assume. The best we can say about this add is that it is not the worst out of the whole campaign – there’s another one that portrays a woman’s head decorating a tiger skin rug.


© WWF – World Wide Fund for Nature published this advert in 2009. It was quickly noticed. It was also taken out right away, surprising zero people.


© Here, IP Press is advertising for “magazines for men”, in 2007, a new definition of bad taste. To this day, it remains unchallenged.


© A risky German Olympic Committee’s advert that, in 2007, took a pragmatic stand “If you don’t move, you’ll get fat.” David, who hasn’t moved since Michelangelo finished sculpting him, in 1504, got fat. The add, as well as the slogan, were controversial – one can understand why.


© Ethos, intertextuality, the text and the discourse according to Foucault: these are some of the themes that started a debate around this slogan. It is just an add of a Brazilian motel from the beginning of the 21st century. Or is it something more?


© Camel and Chesterfield, two brands of cigarettes exemplify how tobacco used to be promoted in the 40’s and 50’s: reliable, beneficial, sources of pleasure. Doctors were given as examples of consumers. Chesterfield had Ronald Reagan, at that time an actor but decades later elected president of the USA, staring in these adds.


© In the 50’s, Vikelp pills were used to help women avoid the embarrassments than came with being skinny. It promised to transform the “naturally thin in strong creatures full of life”. Strong meaning not thin.


© The question seems rhetorical. The postage meter announced is an artefact that was once used by our ancestors. This advert is from the 1950’s, when the stereotype of the working man supporting his frivolous woman was very much in place.


© Kim Novak’s face, a Lux soap package and a warning that seems to shout something like “Women! Keep you hoo-haw clean”. A classic example of an add that can only be found in nature because one cannot simply make this shit up.


© McDonald’s decided to shake things up, or shake milk up, and put out this add for their new “real” milkshakes. 

Translated from the original, as part of Vogue Portugal's The Nonsense Issue, from July/August 2021.
Full credits and story on the print version.

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