Agency: Lowe Howard-Spink, London
Ad Review rating: 1/2 star
First of all we confess: The Ad Review staff likes breasts.
Sometimes we have been even indecorous in this regard, allowing an appreciative glance to linger into something -- more like a leer. We're not proud of it, necessarily, but we're not denying it, either. We are serial objectifiers, regarding passing women and some of their major body parts in ways that have nothing to do with the women's character or inner beauty.
Whether we are innocent victims of the sexist culture, or instinctive animals acting out genetic imprint, or just loathsome pigs, the fact is we are not somehow righteously blind to the female bosom.
We have not, however, to the best of our knowledge, made any breast-commended purchasing decisions.
Advertisers have calculated perhaps correctly that shameless female objectification may momentarily draw our attention; if they think that also stirs our purchasing libido, they are very much mistaken.
Note to the folks at Braun: That goes double for our mom.
In an astonishingly unapologetic display of flesh peddling, Braun -- via Lowe Howard-Spink, London -- is making two colossal errors. First, in order to impress the young men it imagines to be its best Christmas-season market, it is parading a bunch of grinding, pouting, bikini-clad vixens on screen in possibly the most brazenly sexist spot of the decade.
The ad begins with the onscreen question: "What do you think about when you shave?" The answer comes as a highlight reel of adolescent fantasy, starting with a curvy babe all but spilling out of her leopard-skin bikini. She's got heavy eyeliner, black lipstick and a dirty smile that says, "Why, you clean-shaven young stud, let's exchange bodily fluids before your whiskers grow back."
Next there's the bikini-wearing blonde driving the speedboat, flinching when some bad boy unhooks her bra. Then there's the dangerous-looking woman dancing in her underwear before planting a wet kiss on the lens, and finally a wet, wet, wet water-polo player. They also throw in a shot of a soccer game and a barroom rack of pool, but all the rest of the racks in this commercial are strictly the vavavavoom variety.
Then the voice-over says, "We thought about shaving, so you can think about something else." Then the product shot and the tag: "Braun. Smart thinking."
Thinking? No, glands do not think. Smart? Not even a little bit.
Oh, the theme of erotic preoccupation is true enough. This afflicts even the most enlightened feminists among us, who simply cannot rid ourselves of the aforementioned body-part window shopping and mental parlor game of pathetic erotic supposition.
But what does that have to do with selecting a shaver brand? And -- here's the second major blunder -- what does that have to do with the customer? At Christmastime, who buys shavers for young men? Is it young men?
Why, no. It is the wives, girlfriends, sisters and moms of young men. Will they watch a 30-second pinup calendar and say to themselves, "Oh, my Johnny just loves hooter action. This Braun shaver would be just perfect for him!" We suspect not. Many prospective shaver buyers will be decidedly uninspired by this little peep show. And possibly disgusted. And insulted.
And you could not blame them for watching it, shaking their heads and muttering -- thinking not at all about breasts -- "What a bunch of boobs."
Copyright November 1997, Crain Communications Inc.