Relatable Ads in; Sexualized Ads out.
I wrote this ad analysis and thought I’d share it with you guys because I figured some of you may find it to be interesting!
The first thought that comes to mind when thinking about meal replacement drinks probably isn’t the subliminal messages behind the ads that sell the drinks. Meal replacement drinks aren’t necessarily seen as fashionable or sexually, but ads for these products can appeal to these desires, despite their relativity to the product. The ads for Evolve and Slimfast both try to appeal to a real woman’s desires. Slimfast’s sole use of sex for response is not as effective as Evolve’s use of many clever components to appeal to the modern woman.
Both ads target women reading Allure magazine, where the ads were found. Allure magazine, “The Beauty Expert,” has a target audience of women who are interested in beauty, health and aesthetics (Allure). This makes the publication a perfect place for advertisements about meal-replacement drinks. Within that audience, however, these two ads appeal to different needs of a woman. The Slimfast ad uses a strong sexual appeal and the tagline “Get what you really want,” while the Evolve ad caters to a woman on the go. Yes, most women have sexual desires, but to try and use just that appeal to get the point across, especially in regards to buying a meal-replacement drink, won’t always work out well. Magazine audience-wise, appealing to “a woman on the go” who “[thinks] about doing yoga,” “can text at full sprint if necessary,” has “Toned calves from running (errands mostly),” “tokyo drifted into executive parking space” and is “juggling career, friends & 3 online dating profiles” has much more of an effect. It’s a drink “for happy healthy busy bodies,” which is something a lot of Allure readers are looking for.
The Evolve ad, with its animated model, a woman in very fashionable clothing, also appeals to a very fashionable audience: a woman who wants to be polished, even though she’s on the go. She’s got it together, but just doesn’t have time to always eat well, which is a typical situation in the life of a career woman. These points make the Evolve ad incredibly effective, as many women can relate to what’s said. The Slimfast ad is directed towards a woman who has sex, as well as losing weight on the mind. “[Getting] into [her new] pants” is what she says her push for using Slimfast is, but in her mind, her goal is to “get into someone else’s pants.” Being solely sexual, this ad is directed towards a single woman who doesn’t feel comfortable in her own skin, who wants to be more confident and feel sexy.
The Evolve ad is effective especially in its use of visuals. From the text to the animated style of the model, the advertisement stands out and feels personal, unlike some other advertisements or spreads found in Allure magazine. The text, handwritten, gives the advertisement a feel of personal guidance. It looks almost as if a friend jotted down everything they deal with and that Evolve is one less thing for them to worry about. The whole page is reminiscent of something someone might doodle. The model, a casual drawing of a woman, is the epitome of the audience they are trying to reach. Little tidbits are written, pointed at the model, explaining the model’s life and how busy she is. She may be busy, but she still stays healthy thanks to Evolve.
It is important to be relatable in advertising and these tidbits do just that. They create something for a woman to directly relate to and create the illusion that the woman pictured is indeed real. Evolve doesn’t rely on cheap double meanings; they target a strong, career-oriented woman who is constantly moving. None of the remarks surrounding the woman are sexual. They are all parts of a strong, busy and independent woman. Evolve is a company by women for women. It’s geared towards women who really have the best intentions of being healthy, but just don’t have the time. Their entire ad campaign is geared towards busy women, from “bridezillas” to “a mom on the go” (Frey). Not one of their advertisements uses sexual connotations to prove its point; it only needs to relate to busy women to prove extremely effective. Since its launch in January of 2013, its Facebook page has already acquired nearly 13,000 likes, thanks to its great ad campaign. Relating to people is their number one goal, which has proved to be incredibly effective, as they’ve grown rapidly as a company, even trumping Slimfast as customers have said in comments on Evolve’s Facebook page.
The Slimfast ad, using sex as the sole appeal, really doesn’t have much going for it. The ad uses various shades of red, which is a color often paralleled with sex and lust. There is a women’s silhouette with a chat bubble coming out of her mouth saying, “I want to get into my new pants,” while the thought bubble coming out of her head says “I want to get into someone else’s pants.” At the bottom there is a Slimfast bottle and the slogan, “get what you really want,” along with the Slimfast logo. The use of text is somewhat playfully effective, with the opposites of the bold, straight text versus the fun and flirty cursive used for “someone else’s,” but everything else is severely lacking. The goal of Slimfast is to provide a nutritious drink that helps women lose weight. They are saying that if you drink Slimfast that you’ll “get what you really want,” which is sex. Most women have a primal inclination towards sex, but sex cannot be used alone anymore, when everything out there seems to have sexual undertones. In a study where viewers were shown both sexual and non-sexual commercials, it was found that “females remembered non-sexual advertisements better,” supporting that an advertisement focussed solely on sex, such as the Slimfast advertisement, wouldn’t be as effective as another type of ad (Parker, Furnham). In fact, “a recent University of Wisconsin study shows that audiences view ads 10% less favorably if they use sex to sell un-sexy products. This study agrees with the data David Ogilvy accumulated over his long and storied career in advertising… Advertising Professor Jef I. Richards from the University of Texas says, “‘Sex sells, but only if you’re selling sex’” (qtd. in Kalb).
The ad is actually very demeaning in the way that it’s trying to relate to its audience. There is a silhouette of a girl who doesn’t look like she’d necessarily have any problem “[getting] into someone else’s pants”; yet her motivation for using slim fast to lose weight so she can do just that. However, I don’t see that being a big problem unless this girl is extremely disproportional. Having this sexy and average portrayal of a girl who thinks the only thing she needs to do to have sex and maybe even make a guy like her, is lose weight is demeaning towards women. This advertisements sends the idea out to women that weight is all that matters. They could have played towards a woman’s desire to be healthy or lose weight for herself and her confidence, but instead they claim that to “get into someone else’s pants,” you just need to drink Slimfast because it will make you slim, fast. The ad is saying that women don’t say what they think and that their intentions are always sexually based.
Although both ads feature a similar product, their ways of reaching to their audience differ and are different, effectively. Evolve’s effective ad campaign with its connection of understanding with women on the go beats Slimfast’s sexual focus by far. It isn’t only sex that women “really want.”
Allure. Conde Nast. Web. 07 Oct. 2013.
Frey, Leona. “Evolve.” Cargo Collective, Feb. 2013. Web. 07 Oct. 2013.
Kalb, Ira. “Do You Think Sex Sells? Think Again.” Business Insider. 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 14 Oct. 2013.
Parker, Ellie, and Adrian Furnham. “Does Sex Sell? The Effect Of Sexual Programme Content On The Recall Of Sexual And Non-Sexual Advertisements.” Applied Cognitive Psychology 21.9 (2007): 1217-1228. Academic Search Premier. Web. 8 Oct. 2013.