It's an axiom of academic deconstructicons that advertising is a window on society, but it's more accurate to say advertising is society's window on you. And, looking at it this way, it becomes evident that society thinks you're an idiot. Allow me to elaborate.
You've probably never seen this ad, not because it isn't played constantly, but because your mind self-defensively blocks traumatic images from consciousness. Stop acting like a 3rd grade girl at japanese horror marathon and force yourself to look carefully.
I feel like I need to watch The Little Mermaid to detox. Ok, let's go through it, were all the key demos represented?
Hot yoga chick in lululemon? (Cut to windchimes):
Extra gay gay guys with tattoos and accessories-- (they sell skulls):
Crazy stalker ex-GF?
Esse w/ hopping car?
Serial killer w/ mobile killing station?
It's easy to think that the ads are designed to draw in the demo shown in the ads, but that's not the way advertising works, and consequently that's not how America works. If you're watching it, it's for you. These ads play heavy during late and late late night talk shows: the target is boring middle aged white people. Blackberry isn't targeting gays and limber blondes, it's pretending they are already on board so you don't feel like a dork without a touch screen.
In other words, the target is the uptight khakis and Polo salarymen who are otherwise tempted to defect to the iphone/Android as a last ditch attempt at reassuring themselves that the person they were at 20 is still alive in there, underneath the carbgut.
And you can't be subtle with that demo, the message has to detonate like an Athens mailbomb. Here's another Blackberry ad, showing a completely unposed, random human being talking about how he uses the Blackberry to promote his business:
I heard that, yo. But the phone is white and he talks white, so he's ok. "Oh my God, you're such a racist jerk, and a misogynist and a homophobe." Umm, would you mind calling back on a landline? Your iphone is breaking up.
It is an irrelevant coincidence that minorities already purchase more blackberrys than iphones. It doesn't matter to the Dave Mathews fan what they actually buy, what matters is what the image of them buys, and that image, because it does not exist in real life, has to be communicated, not observed. Hence ads.
The point isn't that the iphone isn't cool, or useful, or a superior product, the point is that the demo blackberry is worried about are the ones who secretly worry their phone also brands them. Cool= black and gay, even if you hate black and gay, which you do, which is why they're in the ads. You hate them because you're envious of their freedom, affluence, seeming lack of responsibility, their easy dialogue with sexuality or power, their casual wardrobes.
Hence also the gay guys. You might think gay decorators with bead bracelets are not ideal aspirational images for office workers, but that's why you're in sales and not marketing. What matters is the image: how awesome would it be if your sexual proclivities could be an overt 90% of your identity? Add also the evident self-care, self-absorption, and throw in a partner who doesn't nag and is willing to play along. "Sounds ideal," he replies as he pours utility coffee into an 8oz styrofoam cup. That ideal (we are told) buys Blackberrys, so it's okay if you do, too.
"What planet are you on? Heteros already broadcast their sexuality!" Oh no they don't, not the ones who drink light beers, ask them. Ask them if they don't feel like they have to keep their sexuality suppressed all the time, that they "can't even compliment a woman on her dress" without a trip to HR. They think gay men get a pass on displaying lust, not to mention getting their own parade. It is this perception that makes flamboyant gay men the correct casting for advertising directed at people who cringe at the sight of flamboyant gay men. They know you better than you know yourself. Strike that: they know the lies you tell yourself better than you.
As a marketing strategy this is, of course, doomed to failure. Your Dad can't tell you he's cool, he has to show you he's cool, and he can't because he's your Dad, end of story. Blackberry can't commandeer images to push their agenda, anymore than your Dad can put on a Raiders cap sideways and say, "yo, yo, yo, all my homies agree that abstinence is da bomb!" He has to come at you as Dad, because that's what he is, regardless of what he says he is, anything else is immediately dismissed as a trick.
Blackberry's only chance is to invent an awesome phone, which they can't because they're Canadian (too drunk to do science.)
But Blackberry's market penetration isn't my concern. What interests me is the collateral damage of these ads, of advertising in general. All ads which sell a product inadvertently sell another product, and that product is identity, and they sell it better than their own product. Using these images won't/can't convince you that Blackberry is cool, but they have inadvertently convinced you that these images are cool, that these are the standards of cool. Pick and choose what parts you envy. "Not me! I think for myself!" Of course you do, of course you do.
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