Monday, October 4, 2010

The Idea Cosmetics Sell

A lot of the literary and textual devices that Kirkham and Weller described in their case study of cosmetic advertisements perfectly connected with my memory of the ads I have seen in the past. One that came to mind was this Neutrogena commercial starring Vannessa Hudgens. Kirkham and Weller describe how these ads are not only "mere depiction of a... thing" (271). Cultural constructions aid in giving further meaning to the product, especially for women. In the end, the company is not just selling a product but a feeling, emotion, and femininity as well. The Neutrogena commercial is all abut cleanliness and purity. For instance, the wash is a soft pastel pink and grapefruit can be considered a fresh and feminine scent. The splash of water is a device that the writers say symbolizes the "fresh cleanliness the product promises" and sensual purification of the woman.
I also couldn't help but think what the company was hoping Vanessa Hudgens herself would symbolize for the viewer. Around the time of this commercial, she was a star in the Disney original TV movie High School Musical, aimed towards an audience of teen age and under with its G-rated portrayal of Hudgen's (Gabriella's) relationship with Zac Efron's character Troy. They are shown as a very innocent couple: the most they do is flirt and hold hands. Vanessa in real life is also shown through Disney as an innocent girly-girl. Before the whole naked picture scandal that ruined this guise of purity, she was the soft spoken epitome of innocence. Neutrogena most likely took this into consideration. With their purifying face wash they were also selling the beautiful, girly-girl, innocence that a well known celebrity like Vanessa would provoke in the minds of those who know her. Cultural construction has caused us to buy not just the product but the feeling their use promises to give. Furthermore, which teenager wouldn't want to use the same facial cleanser as a celebrity like Vanessa Hudgens who gets to date Zac Efron. Neutrogena has made this aspect of beauty, cleanliness, and purity attainable to anyone who can afford drugstore price facial cleanser.

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