Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Show us your Manuelas, Love

There’s an ad on Spanish telly currently that I feel compelled to tell you about. I want you to see it for yourselves. It’s for underwear from the Italian lingerie company Intimissimi, a brand that until now had passed me by, in a sort of “oh yes they’re everywhere but I never really bought anything there, because they’re sort of everywhere and they’re sort of blandly overpriced” way. 

Until this advert found its way into my living room.
Seriously, you have to watch it.

In said ad, we are introduced to a dashing young brunette in her bra and knickers, who appears to be trying to read and make notes in a chilly-looking industrial warehouse space full of books. Ostensibly, she is studying, because soon, flashing onscreen is Maria: Student, Madrid, accompanied by her voiceover - “I’m a student. I’m curious. I’m determined. I am the warmth of my laughter. This is my story.”  (Ok, I admit this is badly, roughly translated from the Spanish, which is in turn translated from the original Italian ad. But I think you get the idea).The hashtag #imastory was all over the screen first, on a book that opened up for us like an enormous disclaimer. It might as well have said #iamcompletelymadeup or #iamtheficticiouswetdreamofanadvertisingexec. 

I nearly spat out my wine as I guffawed at the screen. But then I realised this wasn’t some kind of Rude Tube rundown of the most laughable adverts of the Hispanophone world, it was really an advert trying to sell bras. It was a woman who REALLY was supposed to be a current student, showing us her push-up Manuelas.

¿En Serio? You might well ask. But this advertising concept is too old, and this material too hackneyed, to get all angry young woman about it. It’s just white noise to my generation. We all know we live in a world where Italian lingerie companies don’t have to give a toss about the messaging they send out to young women, or to young men for that matter. What? They’re just #stories, y’all. Students wear lingerie, and yes, they might study for their finals in said lingerie, and yes they might damn well study in large warehouse spaces filled with books in their bras and knickers, and they would be PERFECTLY within their rights to do so, and without judgement. Haters gonna hate.

The main problem I have with this advert, really, is its ludicrousness. But hey, we’ve all seen worse. So maybe, if we just treat it with the same amount of respect that we’d allow a perfume advert with Brad Pitt spouting some nonsense about things being inevitable, or Keira Knightley showing us it is possible to pout intensely whilst driving a gondola or whatever it is she does in those Chanel ads, it’ll make young women who actually are students, and are really thinking, and actually reading, and might already know all about the male gaze, mainstream media’s scopophiliac, voyeuristic and narcissicistic tendencies, treat this ad like the ad execs’ fantasy it really is, and not go rushing out to buy overpriced bland lingerie at the expense of their next couple of jägerbombs, or their books, for that matter.

In fact, why not let’s all go braless in retaliation and squish a few pennies off Intimissimi’s end of year sales figures, in the meantime? You could choose to flounce around an abandoned warehouse space in your drawers, hashtagging it #nobraday as part of America’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or take @augustadt_iris’s great advice and schedule a mammogram instead