PICK OF THE WEEK: Lux "Balloon"

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Lux - 'Balloon'
Lux - 'Balloon'
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It's the rare ad for a "beauty" product that doesn't offend, pander or just fade into a glossy background of overproduced sameness (and that includes you, Dove. I'm not fooled by the extra pounds and freckles on your "real" models.) It's rarer still for such a spot to actually make you think about the idea of beauty while entertaining you with pretty pictures.

Am I reading too much into a confection like "Balloon?" Maybe. But the way I see it, this spot is not just a big, expensive production number (though it is that). It's downright weird and cheeky and post-ironic, if not post-feminist.

Here we have a woman in a bubble-filled tub borne aloft by a pink balloon. She flies above the cares of the world, dropping soap and suds and her own essence in the form of bathwater on adoring throngs of multi-hued women of every age. Many of the earthbound women are workers in the old school sense—farmers, sweatshop employees, bazaar merchants—some are soldiers and a few are bikinied ladies of leisure.

Is our bathing beauty indulging in the ultimate exercise in self absorption, floating above the real, and often hard, world of women, thinking of nothing but her own pleasure? Or is she a benevolent goddess, urging women to throw off their shackles and re-claim their beauty.

Are the women on the ground empowered as they embrace their sexuality? Or is this just a big dose of oppression served with a spoonful of sugar and a bit of lippy? In either case, the fiery, unmourned death of the lone man ogler who interrupts our lady's journey is certainly a delightful touch (as is the fact that the only other men visible in the spot are tub-carriers).

There's a women-of-the-world-unite tone to the film that could be downright subversive if seen in just the right light.

On the other hand the spot is just a delicious wallow in girlyness and fun to look at. Either way, you have to reckon with it. For a soap spot, that's pretty good.
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