Media moguls make us morons

DreCKThere’s a lot of hype going on in the media about the Calvin Klein ads that have recently been paraded in front of the consumer. They are everywhere – in print and on television. They are also ridiculous.

In case you’ve been living in your housing without human contact for the past month (something that is not wholly unfamiliar to architecture students), the commercials and ads are shown in a seedy, “underground” type of flavor, complete with wood paneling. Wood paneling! The invisible man behind the camera is asking these seemingly underage men and women personal questions about their body and just what they’d do to or with it. Yay.

*chuckle* “So, tell me, do you like your body?”

“Yeah, yeah I do.”

“You work out a lot?”

“Nah, I just got one of those natural builds.”

“I see. Will you take off your vest? I like being a perverse and somewhat odd middle-aged individual.”

“No problem. Like the tattoo?”

What mind-numbing intellectual crossfire.

Other advertisements include black and white commercials of generally unattractive people standing around unattractively. At one point an androgynous Asian person says “CK One” while trying to rip (unsuccessfully) their tank top off. What the hell does that even mean?!

What happened to Brooke Shields?

Does anyone even know what it is Calvin Klein sells? By looking at this waste of 15-30 seconds, I can’t figure out if he’s trying to pimp underage kids or just trying to destroy the establishment. Maybe both. I won’t bother looking for the answer if he is going to consistently pander to the lowest common denominator.

You know why he does it? It’s great publicity. It is common knowledge that word of mouth advertising is the best way to get your product out into the public forum. Now, a question: he’s established himself in the media — does he tell you what he’s selling? No. But everyone is talking about these stupid advertisements. Everybody! There is a double spread ad with a girl revealing her panties which must be tacked up on every male’s bulletin board (let’s not discount some of you females too!) in my building.

The campaign also stirs a lot of free media. “Calvin Klein Prosecuted!” the headlines scream. “And in other news, Calvin Klein…” the newscasters proclaim. Calvin Klein is getting free media exposure. So what if it costs him a couple million in legal fees? “A million, ha!”, he says. “I’m saving five million by getting my aristocratic mug plastered all over the evening news and not paying for promos! God, I am just a f–king genius!” And he is. People eat the stuff up.

On a lighter note, commercial response to the ad campaign has been hilarious. Responses from MTV (with Beavis and Butt-head behind the camera), Comedy Central and E! Entertainment have provided more enjoyment from the parodies than the actual commercials themselves. How “Weird Al” Yankovician.

Is this the first time ad agencies have gone for the scandalous print rather than resorting to tamer methods of attracting consumers? Of course not. Benetton had a print ad depicting a white child and a black child. The black child’s hair was styled to look like little horns. The message? White = angelic while black = little spawn of Satan. The response was so drastic in Europe that it was pulled almost immediately. However, it is certainly memorable to many people.

More recently, Sega of America, Inc., began its “Welcome to the Next Level” campaign. Man, are these ads stupid! “Sir, we have a message from the sphincter!” “WHAT’S GOING ON UP THERE?!” yells Mike McShane, a comedian I once respected. What am I supposed to think? That the Sega Saturn is so mind-blowing and heart-pounding that I’ll lose control of my bowels playing Virtual Fighter? Preposterous! But the ad sticks in your mind. That’s what they are hoping on. In a day and age where the average attention span of someone watching television is just over one second, an advertisement that grabs the viewer is a precious use of air time.

Will television ever decide the viewing public is not a bunch of morons? I sure hope so. But until then, I’ll be looking at the long-haired hippie boy who doesn’t want to show off his nipple ring to the voyeur. CK One? No. CK won.