This weekend it seemed that the big news was not about giving thanks; it was consumerism: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday made the top headlines. Steven Heller was certainly in the holiday spirit with his lucid and insightful critique of American Apparel’s new ad campaign:
In case you haven’t had time to read Heller’s post, American Apparel is jumping on that old marketer’s bandwagon: SEX. The images are trying hard to be lurid…it’s just that sex is oh so twentieth century.
What do consumers really want? Let’s look at retailers across the price scale and we can see a trend: everyone wants to be a STAR. The new Michael Kors campaign features a limo and a club scene replete with trendsetters bathed in his product. Donna Karan’s bridge line, DKNY, has launched a new campaign with women “caught” by the camera. If you can believe it, there is even a teenage prom dress line called, “Paparazzi.” And last but not least, if you can’t afford a dress, you can go to your local drugstore and purchase some Crest white strips in the 3-D version to attract the shooters.
These images are carefully contrived with a creepy similarity. The lighting is complex, shot at ‘night’ with multiple strobes and of course, the styling is meticulous with luxury dripping from every hand or wrist. The higher the price of goods, the more the presence of the camera is implicit. In the Michael Kors and DKNY images we never see the photographers. The Crest on-air commercial by contrast has the paparazzi out in full force as does the prom dress manufacturer.
If you are a student of photography, you realize no paparazzi image would look as gorgeous—these images express fame as fantasy; a place where no one is fat, no one is ugly, and no one is ordinary. Fame is the new desire. We live in a post sexual society that is pleasured not by intimacy but voyeurism, oversharing and exposition; there are no risks, no diseases and superiority is gained with little effort.
Simply swipe a credit card.