Assignment 2: Subversive Advertisement

For this assignment, the first products I looked at were those which did not accurately portray the products themselves. Particularly, I was interested in companies like McDonald’s and Taco Bell, who make their food look very full and fresh while the actual product looks sort of soggy and sad. After a bit of research, however, I decided that there was already a lot of critique on that aspect of their advertising, so I wanted to go in a different direction. Some examples can be seen below:

Image     taco-bell-actual-taco

I think food is a major part of advertising on TV and in print. So I decided to look at weight loss programs and try to find an ethical problem in the way those are advertised. I found a lot of information on weight loss supplements, but not many of them are particularly popular, so I looked towards programs instead. Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers were the first to come to mind. It was very easy to see the types of ads they output. Something along the lines of “Look how much weight I lost, I’m so happy now!” Here are some examples:

hart1a_jennifer_hudson_weight_watchers_spokesperson    JennyCraig

After looking at many ads, I decided to critique the before and after shots and the idea that most of the time you don’t see results very quickly. I chose Jenny Craig as a more vulnerable target for a subversive advertisement as many of the reviews I read about the program say that the program did not work effectively and the food provided was bad and expensive. This resulted in the following first draft:


This is a play off of before and after shots, but instead of two shots, I used three of a woman who has not noticeably lost weight. Using three, I hoped to imply a longer period of time that has passed since starting the Jenny Craig program. The difference between the three images of the model is clear, but you have to look closer at the image to see that she does not in fact look much thinner. The purpose of this subtlety is to make you think about what you’re seeing. The meals on the side of the image are meant to show the poor quality and portions of the food, though in this draft, they look out of place. I used a black background to make it seem more negative. While most Jenny Craig ads I have seen are light and bright, which are meant to create a happy atmosphere, I used black to create a darker atmosphere.

Some of the feedback I received agreed with the fact that the food items on the side seemed out of place, and I also was told to experiment with different styles of advertisement, not just before and after shots. In terms of understanding the progression of time through the three images, some people preferred the lack of text while others wanted more information. Because I want to challenge the viewer, I decided to leave the text out of it.

For my final draft, I moved the three images of the model closer together and staggered them to create the effect of a transition from back to front and right to left as an implication of time. I changed the text on the bottom bar to be shorter and cleaner. The purpose of the text is to push viewers in the right direction in case they do not take the time to compare the body shapes of the three images. The addition of the massive pile of packaged meals was to show the true nature of the meals, which are processed and not fresh. See the final image below.



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