Is anyone else baffled and unsettled by advertising here? Apart from the fact that it’s EVERYWHERE (I’m now a BTS advert jingle karaoke champion), I can’t help thinking some of it is misleading to the point of immorality. Besides one Japanese restaurant which promises (via the obligatory catchy theme tune) a veritable taste sensation and in reality comprehensively fails to deliver, my particular beef is with the marketing of beauty products. You’ll be familiar with the formula; it goes like this:
Normal Girl likes Cute Boy. Cute Boy won’t even look at Normal Girl – evidently because of some kind of blemish or aesthetic imperfection. Normal Girl is sad. She buys magical miracle beauty product. Cue Transformation Moment (you know, like in the movies when the dowdy school teacher takes off her glasses, lets her hair down and becomes inexplicably irresistible). Normal Girl becomes a swan and renders Cute Boy speechless and smitten with her radiance and confidence – derived, of course from the product and its effects.
It’s the blatancy of it that affects me most. But I’m not so naïve as to think that this jolly little cautionary tale is exclusive to Thai advertising; it is used the world over, only under more devious disguises. And this has got me to thinking. Growing up, we were bombarded with platitudes like ‘beauty is only skin deep’ and ‘it’s what’s inside that counts’ and simultaneously barraged with contrary media images that, while perhaps more subtle than the one described above, certainly shared the same messages:
‘Hey, teenage girl with low self esteem. Yeah, you. Adhere to these standards of beauty or no one will ever love you.’
‘Whoa there missy, you’d better do something about that unacceptably pale/dark skin, those small boobs and that dimply bum or no-one is ever going to value you or anything you have to contribute.’
So, here is the conundrum, is it true that beauty is only skin deep and it doesn’t matter how ugly a duckling you are and you can do whatever you want – go for it, reach for the stars, follow your dreams…? In which case, all the advertisers can retire (YAY! says Bill Hicks) Or, do we in fact live in a world where, because of the media, looks are inescapably important and will affect your prospects. If this is in fact the case, maybe the Thai approach has some value – at least they are upfront about it.
PS: in looking into this, I have discovered some truly brilliant and funny examples of Thai advertising, so, in the interest of balance, check this out: