Female as Bacon in Wendy’s ad. Sexualization and objectification of women masked as self acceptance.Female as Bacon in Wendy’s ad. Sexualization and objectification of women masked as self acceptance.
Female Bacon in Wendy’s ad. And why would you care?
Simply because you (and me, too, still) are not sure to what extend the information we absorb from the media affects our perception of ourselves, society, the whole psychological health from that second we open our eyes for the first time, see colours and hear a sound.
Seriously, just imagine the number of times we get programmed with the information surrounding us anywhere, starting from banners to social media posts. So even if you don’t care for advertising (or maybe you are that rare lucky person that never gets to see an ad) I suggest to check this article just for basic awareness of what you might be absorbing from media around you.
I should note that advertising overall can be roughly be divided in “white hat” using various approaches to present a product/service in a good light). The “white” ones use metaphors to present some qualities that are present in the product: through analogy, story, concept.
The “black” ones generate concepts that have nothing to do with the product, while on the surface seem to be harmless.
For example, let’s dig a little deeper and analyze how Wendy’s is using conceptual metaphor (our basic embodied thinking processes) to present their “baconator” as something absolutely unrelated to food. They have a series of the videos but I will just analyze one and leave the rest for your enjoyment:)
So what the heck is conceptual metaphor? Basically it is a process how our minds come to understand complicated or abstract things and relationships. Unlike stylistically metaphors, they can not be replaced or interpreted directly. Things like: beginning and end of life, don’t look back (meaning past), give an idea, pass away, etc.
For example, we say “life passed” wind blows, etc (even though they are not leaving creatures). Sometimes we talk aboutsome things, meaning some other things, creating complex structures: “conceptual blending”. Like, Madonna is a goddess of music. (we need to understand relations between the concept to know the meaning).
Here is what message is actually hidden inside Wendy’s “Baconator” ad:
Let’s go through this step-by-step first:
“Thick is beautiful”, the opposite exaggeration of beauty or simply a call to eat burgers?
The very beginning of the video states “thick cut is beautiful”. Through the further references in the video we can clearly see that bacon is associated, and being spoken about, as a female. There are no other examples or instances of females in the video, while there is a role of an actual man here.
2. “Real man”, but no real women. Aiming at influencing subconscious self image in teenage girls.
More than that, the man in the video, who refers to himself as “real people, like myself”, refers to the female bacons as “teen bacon”, obviously showing that the ad is aimed at teenage girls.
Disturbingly, the stats are showing that girls progressively suffer from low self esteem, indeed, “at ages 14 to 16, 51% of girls are unhappy with their appearance”. (Guardian, 2016). The advertising seem to be, on surface, about self-love and self-acceptance, however it states that only “thick” bacon (aka, female) is beautiful.
3. “Thin Bacon” (aka female) looks so cheap” Negative portrayal of skinny and thin girls as a whole.
Also, when in the beginning of the video, we see 2 women-looking-bacon slices lying on the beach, talking to each other. One slice exclaims: I wish I could look like that “thin-cut bacon in the magazine”, while the other responds : “that flimsy thin bacon looks so cheap”, which proves that the ad portrays female beauty in a very one-sided way by making the skinny girls a very negative thing.
4. Sexualization of female and food. Subconscious blending of food and sex.
When one of the female bacon slices suggests to forget about worrying about being skinny or “thin”, she says, “plus, you want to be on a baconator someday”. And gets a reply “yes, if I am going to be on a baconator, I am going to be myself.” They obviously use sexual references through using a different pronoun (“On” instead of “in”) and the situation change (we see: bacon and burger, we understand: female and male relationship).
I’d like to draw your attention to a few things:
The company, on the surface seems to talk about “being real”. However, we only see a “real” image of a man (which we have plenty examples in life as well as on TV), and as a burger, in a suggesting sexual reference “if you want to be on a baconator one day”. However women is presented as a bacon slice. How is that real?
Imagine, the message here is about being real. Does being real equals being “thick”? if we actually talk about equality, we should be talking about accepting “bacon of all cuts”.
Instead of actually encouraging women/bacon to be “herself” as the ad claims, it seems it actually encourages it to be thicker. Look at the two references: as “real men” like “myself” like bacon a “little thicker”, and “if you want to be on a baconator one day” (aka, if you want to be attractive to males).
Eventually, instead of what it seems to encourage girls to accept themselves as they naturally are, what it actually does, is saying: want to be beautiful and sexy? Go eat more burgers…
Are you interested in discussing advertising messaging and participate in movement for socially responsible advertising? Maybe you recently spotted an unusual/great/ugly video ad? Contact me and send it here: firstname.lastname@example.org