Advertising, Fashion, Food, Humor, Nostalgia

Advertising Icon Transformation

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I know, right?  You’re already uncomfortable.

I love makeovers.  LOVE them.  And even though I love food, the makeovers are my favorite part of Rachael Ray’s show.  And even though I love me some kooky, tipsy Kathy Lee and Hoda banter, my favorite part of Today is the ambush makeover.  And don’t get me started on Clinton and Stacey spiffing stylistically-challenged folks up in straight leg, dark rinse trousers that elongate them.

So I understand the irresistible lure to fix the ugly and the outdated to market a product (although, apparently auto companies have not quite grasped that idea, and have actually gone in reverse for the past forty years, producing uglier, blander models, but that’s neither here nor there.)  Successful advertising often requires changing with the times, and–in the case of the Quaker Oats Company–the need to stop offending particular groups.  On her 100th anniversary, syrup icon Aunt Jemima received her latest makeover.  I totally get the desire (read: pressure) to update her image, but do all transformations have to include a younger, thinner version?

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Truth be told, I’m not digging this current Jemima.  I’m not feeling the nurturing.   Those pearl earrings are more for the boardroom than the kitchen.  I’m not saying you need a do rag to cook, but I do have concerns that stray hairs from her more polished coif may find themselves in my pancake batter.  And I just feel like if I asked her to whip me up some flapjacks, she might not be so keen on it. And before you call me racist, just know that the original Aunt Jemima, Nancy Green, actually was born into slavery in 1834, so the look was indicative of the time, like it or not. I imagine she did have the last laugh (all the way to the bank).  Now onto a W.A.S.P.ier icon…

again–from neatorama

Unlike the changing Jemima faces, who–let’s remember were all paid to represent her–Betty Crocker was never a real person. Her name and face were contrived to appeal to homemakers. Well, I’m a homemaker, and I’m not down with any of these Betties. Talk about a lack of nurturing.  The portraits all look so sterile.  These faces don’t say yummy walnut brownies to me; they say news anchor or banker wife (or “no wire hangers!”).  And I’m almost certain one of them is a Baxter-Birney.  Next!

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I think we can all agree the 2006 Sun Maid Raisin girl makeover was an epic failure.  I prefer the happy Gilda Radner to this creepy CGI no-indentation-in-her-upper-lip-Julia-Roberts-smile Little Red Riding Hood.  The cheerful immigrant girl was clearly up at the crack of dawn to pick grapes, but I doubt the “new and improved” Raisin Barbie would have stumbled home yet.  And something about her armpit bothers me.  And finally…

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In retrospect, maybe the 70s Brawny dude does look like he did a little porn on the side, but at least he looks like a real guy.  Depending on your age (white people) you either have an uncle or a brother who looked like this guy.  And he probably had a name that rhymed with “hairy” to match: a good, solid era-specific name like Gary, Larry, or Barry.  He changed the oil on his Camaro himself (while listening to his Boston eight-track), he drank beer out of cans–not bottles–and gave no thought to wine pairings and manscaping.  This is the guy I want representing the durability and strength of my paper towel.  This guy knows how to clean up a mess.

But the new effete guy?  The one in the red plaid shirt that he just picked up from the dry cleaners?  What’s his name?  Perhaps it rhymes with “Aiden,” as in Brayden, Caden, or Jaden.  How is he going to clean up spilled milk and vodka vomit if he just had his mani-pedi done?  A Brawny guy should not know what exfoliating is, but Caden does.  Honestly, I think fem queens will dig either one, depending on their preference for bears or not, and I’m certain the wording of “Pick A Size” beneath the blonder Tom Selleck is not lost on them.  But speaking as a straight woman with an opinion, I say: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Observation and Interpretation:

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