Promotion of Rape Culture in an Ad
by Dark knight on February 27, 2017 - 3:17pm
In Ford's commercial featuring a new car of theirs, one of the main upgrades was the space the owner of the car would have in their trunk. To promote this feature, they decided to show that three women could fit in that trunk. The slogan of the ad was "leave your worries behind". Many different aspects of this ad could be considered offensive. I'll present this ad by explaining why it is provocative, how can ads like these play a role in our society today, and how we can fix this ad without hurting the sales.
First of all, this ad presents numerous problems. It is extremely improper to refer to women as "worries" and that we should just stuff them in the back of our cars. All three have a gag in their mouths disabling them to talk, their hands and feet are tied up as well. All of the women have a look on their face that shows that they are angry and irritated. There is a man in the passenger seat who is a former prime minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi that is holding up a peace with a big smile on his face. Silvio has had is fair share of problems concerning women. According to CNN he “faced charges of sex with an underage nightclub dancer and abuse of power”. In the ad he does not look like he is concerned with the three kidnapped women in the back of his car. There is also a big contrast between the clothes on the man and the clothes on the women. The man is wearing a suit which suggests class and nobility while the women are dressed in a way that their breasts pop out and in short pants which gives off a feeling that the ad is objectifying women as sex toys.
Second of all, the characteristics discussed in the first paragraph could very well have negative consequences in today's society. We know that Ford is a known enterprise and does not usually have controversial ads. They have built a certain reputation and certain people want to have success like the Ford enterprise and look up to them. This is really concerning because people might take this ad seriously and start kidnapping women and putting them in the back of their cars. If Ford can do it, why can't they? Tying not only women, but anyone by the hands and feet and putting them in your trunk is wrong and should not be promoted for any product. In Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising, Anthony Cortese makes a couple of valid points that are worth integrating in this argument. He states that "Since aggression is learned, it is possible that it can be unlearned or, better yet, never taught in the first place. The mass media produce, reproduce, and distribute aggressive, violent, intimidating, or coercive 'scripts', cultural messages that teach us how to behave" (Cortese, 79). Anthony supports the idea that ads teach people how to act, and this ad is teaching us to be violent against women and aggressively kidnap them. He then says that "advertising not only makes this sexual genre of violence abuse tolerable but also unmistakably glorifies it" (Cortese, 85).
Third of all, we can think of numerous ways to change the commercial in a manner that does not affect sales. If Ford wanted to promote the fact that their new car as a lot of room in the trunk, they could of simply put grocery bags or boxes. Those are the items usually found in one's trunk, not women. Furthermore, if Ford really wanted to show that people can fit in the trunk, why are the women tied up? It is unclear whether Ford is promoting the space of their new trunk or the fact that the owner of the vehicle can kidnap up to three women. Once more, if they wanted the attention to be on the space of the trunk, they would not have put tied up women in it to show it off. If anything, sales of the car might have been higher if this ad was not so inappropriate. Even though the company issued a public apology for this ad, it is still hard to believe that the creator of this commercial had good intentions.
To conclude, this ad is a very inappropriate and could have been easily fixed. It potentially promotes kidnapping with the new Ford vehicle due to the space the trunk has. This goes to show that the people responsible for the ad did not put much thought into the idea and did not think about the negative consequence of their idea.
- Anthony Cortese, “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising”, in Provocateur: Images of Women and minorities in Advertising, Third Edition (new York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008): 57-89
2. Peter Wilkinson, and Paul Armstrong. "Berlusconi: Italy's most colorful, controversial public figure." CNN. Cable News Network, 23 Feb. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.
3. Stampler, Laura. "Execs Fired Over Ford Ads Starring Silvio Berlusconi With Tied And Gagged Women." Business Insider. Business Insider, 27 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 Feb. 2017.