Why go all-natural? Carl’s Jr.’s latest burger commercial can tell you.
“I love going all natural. It just makes me feel better,” says a voluptuous blond woman wearing little more than…well…anything.
This woman, who has hobbies, goals, dreams, and a personality that we know nothing about, is the spokesperson for the new All-Natural Burger at Carl’s Jr. She is the bait used to convince viewers that their new menu item is worth buying. (Sound familiar? Carl’s Jr. has a long history of employing this tactic.)
As the woman saunters through the farmer’s market au naturel, her breasts bounce like two extremely inviting bowls of jello, covered by miniature triangles of bikini cloth instead of the usual Saran Wrap. All the men at the farmer’s market stop what they’re doing to turn, jaws dropped, and stare unabashedly.
A male narrator boasts over intense electrical guitar background music that this “first ever in fast food” item is made with “no antibiotics, no added hormones, and no steroids.” Oh yeah, he’s describing the all-natural thingy the woman talked about in the beginning…right.
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Clearly, the target of this commercial is straight males, playing on the trend of America’s culinary movement towards more organic sustainable food. So the only people that this ad should have an effect on is straight males, right?
Wrong. The first time I saw that ad, the young woman who was watching TV with me said, “Wow, I wish I could eat burgers and look like that.”
Not only does this ad portray men as wide-eyed buffoons who lose all physical self-control at the site of a woman, it also sets unrealistic standards for how women should appeal to men. This commercial basically says that, in order to be attractive, one must shop at a farmer’s market, preferably almost nude, have long blond hair, and a breast size comparable to honeydew melons (as they do compare in the commercial). And let’s not forget about having the metabolic ability to indulge in fast food, while simultaneously maintaining a slender figure.
Sadly, this is not the only commercial that affects more than just the target audience. Many advertisements have the potential to make multiple populations feel inadequate, and, therefore, dissatisfied with themselves.
Another example is an ad for Kraft’s salad dressing that portrays a man lying nearly naked on a picnic blanket, covered only by the casual draping of the blanket over his male parts. His six-pack abdomen is vibrant, his jaw line chiseled, and the “relaxed” position of his arms behind his head shows off his burly biceps. The fine print reads, “SILVERWARE OPTIONAL. LET’S GET ZESTY.”
This ad may suggest that Kraft’s target consumers are straight women, but it is also selling something to men: the idea that their partner will require that he have the physique of an ancient Greek god, and will enjoy picnicking naked. Because many men do not possess either of those traits, this causes a large portion of the male population to feel like they need to change how they look and what they like to do for fun.
So what do you do the next time you’re the victim of one of these ads, receiving a negative message that didn’t seem intended for you? Change the channel, skip the page, or drive faster past the billboard? These are all great actions to take on the spot. But to make a lasting difference, try writing a letter to the brand, letting them know their advertisement affected you this way. They may need the reminder that they aren’t going to successfully sell their product if they make half of their audience their enemies!
Carina Chiodo is a native of the East Bay Area, and is currently pursuing her Master’s of Science degree in Nutrition. She hopes to one day specialize in Nutrition Education with a focus on eating disorders, body image, and communicating why food is fabulous! She is passionate about empowering young women to acknowledge their amazing potential, and spends most of her free time daydreaming about her next travel destination.