Exercise 1: Looking at Advertisements

Dana Woolley revisits a 2014 Protein World advert initially discussed in her Looking at Adverts: 2 blog for her Looking at Adverts: 9 blog.

https://www.oca.ac.uk/weareoca/photography/looking-at-adverts-9/ [accessed 20th April 2020]

A picture containing man, phone

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Protein World Advert 2014

Woolley contrasts the public reaction to an advert placed by Protein World in 2015.

A picture containing yellow, woman, bus, black

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Protein World Advert, 2015

Woolley notes that there were significant protests of the 2015 advert and defacement of the posters, and questions why.

Woolley quotes Berger’s opinion that a painting of a man informs the view of his place in the world and thus presents him as the subject, whereas a painting of a woman portrays the woman as an object to be viewed and possessed. (Berger, 1972, p. 47)

On considering the text, Woolley argues that the 2014 advert doesn’t specifically link the man’s body with the caption “Beach Bodies 2014”, whereas the 2015 directly asks the viewer if they are “Beach Body Ready”. The question positioned by a bikini clad female (one whose body can easily be admired or desired) suggests that the advert is aimed at female viewers, encouraging to convert their (presumably not beach body ready) body through the use of protein and weight loss powders. Of course, men gazing at the 2014 advert may not be beach body ready and may compare themselves, but the advert does not encourage them to do so.

The man’s gaze is averted; he may not care if the viewer is gazing, as he knows his position, his power, his desirability. In contrast, the female looks directly at the viewer and her pose is arguably provocative.

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