Today’s topic for discussion is fashion advertising campaigns, particularly controversial ones. Do you feel these are justified in the interests of promoting a brand (no news is bad, just spell my name right)? Or do some cross the line between marketing and malfeasance? Do you think that some campaigns diminish the reputation of apparel producers among consumers in that some of us fail to exercise good taste? Or, is nothing sacred and everything fair game? Then, there’s the question of art; few would deny advertising is also art. Art is often controversial; it is supposed to move people to thought and introspection, being as some propose, a mirror shard. Or is some art too objectionable?
The matter of controversial fashion ad campaigns has been roused anew by Wrangler’s “We Are Animals” ads. The blogosphere is in an uproar over photos and video of what’s described as misogynistic depictions of bruised and murdered women floating like so much detritus in bogs bringing new meaning to the term “killer jeans”. One said:
“So let’s connect the dots here – Wranglers are worn by cowboys. Cowboys like to shoot things. People who shoot things go hunting. People hunt animals. People are animals. Therefore, we shall all wear Wranglers and go headhunting.”
Where do you draw the line between campaigns with controversial graphic images and art -particularly in apparel marketing? And what of free speech? When I see things like this, I have to remind myself that the first amendment isn’t intended to protect speech you like but that which you find abhorrent. Still, I can’t deny I was chilled by the video of hunters lurking in the trees; most cowboys I know are modern day knights in shining armor and this depiction of them made me sad. I don’t know what cowboys think of the ads but I can’t help but think campaigns like this leave more fodder for consumers to heave at us. What do you think? Aside from likely misogynistic interpretations, should Wrangler have exercised better judgment if for no other reason than that the ads could be interpreted as demeaning their core customer?