Despite my keenness to include all types of television within this blog, I must confess that it was not my intention to start by talking about an advert. However, that was until this Carte Noire advert provoked by far the biggest reaction I’ve had to television all week (a week in which I’ve watched three season finales, no less):
Reports vary on what it actually was that I shouted at our set when the second part of that spot came on in the middle of Harry HIll’s TV Burp, but it definitely contained what might kindly be described as a “generous sprinkling” of swear words, followed by a full minute in which the only words that I could manage to gasp through my rage were “sexist sexist sexist”.
Judging by the comments on the YouTube channel for Carte Noire, watching that advert will make you react into one of two distinct ways:
- aghast outrage
(NB I’m reminded here of Stuart Hall’s work on interpretative positions for readers of cultural texts, which leads me to believe that there must be a third “negotiated” reading of the CN adverts, as well as these dominant and oppositional ones. However, I’m simply too mad to consider it right now. It probably has something to do with it all being “tongue-in-cheek”. Feel free to offer your reading in the comments!)
Clearly, because I’m not a masochist or a sweeping gendered stereotype, I had the second reaction. Further research for this blog involved watching several other ads from the Carte Noire campaign, which reveals that Mr. 5-Year-Plan (official CN name: Mr. Romantic) has a couple of friends too: Mr. Continental (special skills: French accent, lightbulb changing); Mr. Cool (special skills: facial hair, loves BINTM); and Mr. Confident (special skills: surprise orchestration, amenable to criticism).
Firstly, two questions open to all coffee manufacturers and their respective ad agencies:
- Is it just women who buy instant coffee?
- What is it about the buying of instant coffee that apparently requires us to be really, really turned on?
Questions specifically for the villains responsible for the Carte Noire campaign:
- Are you fucking kidding me?
If stereotyping women as being committment-obsessed, shallow and bitchy, and “average” men as domestically incompetent, committment-phobic and uncaring, is going to help CN to sell coffee, to no public outrage, then I guess the question that we all have to ask ourselves is:
How far have we really come since this?