Thursday, January 28, 2010

Genius, or uninspired advertising?

I feel compelled to finally sit down put into words what I feel about American Apparel's 70's porny ad campaign. For a couple of years, my reactions to them have ranged from mild disgust to appreciation for its originality, but I've never thought about it beyond my initial reactions - and I've never really formed a strong opinion about them. But this ends now. They're plastered all over the city these days, which is a bit unusual for Austin because there isn't the same kind of illegal, wheat-pasted, corporate advertisement poster culture like in New York.

So let's start with the things I like about them…

1.Their models look more like everyday people (that is if everyday people looked like pale, unkempt hipster types which is what it's actually like in Austin). At the least, they're not your typical pouty, blonde waif with makeup detonated on their faces. I imagine them having armpit hair, or modeling to support their voracious appetite for consuming Dostoevsky novels in a dark library while the sun shines outside. I can envision them knowing all the words to Hatful of Hollow. They're saying that not just beautiful people can be sexy, but kinda beautiful people can be sexy too!

2. John Ashcroft. Let's not forget that it has only been eight years since our Attorney General had the statue of the Spirit of Justice covered up with an $8000 curtain. The opposite of blatant eroticism is much worse.

3. As militant as I am in avoiding the use of Helvetica, I actually really like it, especially in contrast with expressive imagery. The white space is nice too.

What I don't like about them…

1. Everybody knows that sex sells, so why sell it? As a creative choice, it's uninspiring and lazy.

2. The company began with a conscientious angle and continues to support progressive movements like pro-gay and pro-immigration campaigns, and fair wage employment. Why not highlight these facts? My first positive experience with A.A. was hearing about their endeavors - and it actually made me want to buy their shirts. Also, it's not like they farm out their creative strategy - A.A. does its own design, advertising, and marketing. The guy who takes those porny shots with his camera at his house - he's also the CEO.

I'm not sure if I ever will feel strongly either way about their advertisements and perhaps that's why it makes a good ad campaign - it forces us to confront our own moral boundaries and our own opinions about how the society we live in should function. So for now, they'll continue to distract me while I walk down the street, either disgusting me or titillating me with their refreshing, unsanitized sexuality.

For you, my readers, I leave one last nugget...

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