Saturday, October 15, 2011

On the art of creating cliches.

       Why do those ads for luxury condos always show a woman in an evening gown, shoes off, slinking on a sofa?

        Why do those luxury fashion ads typically show a beautiful woman standing (a) in an exotic setting or (b) in limbo, against a blank background?

         Why do those ads for expensive handbags usually show a model, with or without clothes on, holding a bag large enough to carry lunch, wine and dinner for a week, looking at the photographer as if to say, "Who let you in?"

         Why do they? Because the writers and art directors on those accounts think they have the luxury of following each other in a well-worn circle. They must think affluent people don't think and don't feel --- they just buy.

          Of course, affluent people have lives as complex as the rest of us. They worry, they have sleepless nights, have dysfunctional families,  go to movies and yoga lessons and watch TV and have dreams just like the rest of us. I don't think the people who create and approve those ads are really in touch with the people who plunk down six dollars for the magazine. What are the customers looking for in those slick four-color pages? Who do they want to look good for --- and why? Are they really buying art, as some designers believe, or is there something they want to reveal, or cover up?

          We're aware that clothes, jewelry and cosmetics make a statement, and that statement can change for different people and different groups.

          People who are truly into fashion are not superficial. They're into something historical and universal. Anthropologists tell us that we humans have been adorning ourselves the best we can since prehistoric times. Psychologists and sociologists tell us why we dress up and why we dress down. Freud even told us why we dream about shoes and gloves. Our values, senses of worth, and lifestyles involve fashion.

          No, the ones who are superficial are the people responsible for those dopey ads that try to make every brand the same as every other brand. They hire a fashion photographer, select a skinny model, fly to a desirable, sometimes remote, location and get out of the way.

          Way out of the way of a lot of the people they're trying to reach.

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